Tuesday, April 30, 2019

The Artistry is so good you forget to look at it.

Rockefeller Center has amazing artwork. It is so amazing that you ignore it. But take a look.  First a view of a doorway to a side building (the Italian building, now housing Banana Republic). Then look at the close up of the actual detail.  It’s gorgeous!!



Pic of today


This is a picture of a very cool building that towered over us this week-end. I posted it as my “mood” today, because this morning I felt overwhelmed.

I am teaching in Stamford  CT this week and to get here I have to take the subway to the train at Grand Central. If I miss the 6:55 and 6:58, the next one isn’t until 7:24 and doesn’t get here until too late.  When everything works, no problem (I was 10 minutes early), but if one of the subways is late, or Grand Central to crowded to cross and get to the train, I miss it. It is a weird overwhelming felling you don’t get when driving.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Independence of the Supreme Court

Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts is in a tough spot. He is a conservative and would, by all signs, vote a conservative line if he was able. But, as Chief Justice, he has to try to be more independent.

The vote on the citizenship question might be the straw that breaks the Supreme Court.

This administration has put a question on the census to ask if a resident is a citizen of the United States. The Administration itself says this will give an undercount of about 6,500,0000 people in the country (about 2%) - even though the Constitution requires an accurate count.

The result of an undercount is that people living in cities, counties and states where the are significant populations of undercounted will not receive the money, services and representatives they are entitled to.  The assumption is that California, Texas, Florida and New York will lose Congressional seats. Republican areas will gain votes and money.

This could all lead to a good conversation, but one wasn’t had. The Cabinet Secretary in charge (Wilber Ross) asked his department if they should add the question, and they said no. So he asked the Department of Homeland Security to “request” the question. They said no. So he leaned on the Justice Department to ask the question.  He finally got a yes, overworked his own advisors and added the question.  Then he lied about how it was loaded. He lied to Congress and was caught.

Three circuit courts (the ones below the Supreme Court) overturned the question. The Supreme Court stepped in and just heard arguments on the question.

It seems pretty clear the conservative judges, including Chief Justice Roberts, will rule to allow the question. In doing so they cited international law (which they usually rail against), the Voting Rights Act (which they gutted) and the right of Departments to define laws (which they have overturned in recent cases). They have literally walked around their own precedents to verbally back this question.

Some case soon was going to break the idea we have an “independent” judiciary, and that will break the country.  This may well be that case.

It’s the perfect date....


Sunday, April 21, 2019

The Muller Report - Just the Facts

Smarter people than me (well, at least more legally minded people) have gone through the Muller Report. Here is their analysis...

(Select it to read better)


Friday, April 19, 2019

Well that was weird as hell!


I went (to the Shed) and saw a show last night. It was called Norma Jean Baker of Troy. And starred one of my all-time favorites, Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming, an Opera Star in the best sense with an amazing voice.

 
It was a show, not a play. More a poem of dance and obsession. It reminded me of the movie Howl, where James Franco recites the poem, as Alan Ginsberg, and the poem plays out around him in action, occasional cartoon and history. Howl is great.

Norman Jean Baker of Troy is not great. It has some great moments. Ben Whishaw is great as always. He has an intensity and voice and movement that is mesmerizing. It is used here to a hypnotic effect. Renée Fleming’s voice is similarly hypnotic and haunting. Her voice is pure energy, rising and falling like a third person in the room.

Putting them together should yield something that is completely different, which NJBOT is. But it should also yield something inviting and urgent, which NJBOT is definitely not.

Renée Fleming as the Transciber

Ben Whishaw recites the lines to a transcriber, Renée Fleming. He describes the fall of Troy substituting Norma Jean for Helen. But is a reflection, a simulacrum, a cloud of Norma Jean (the cloud analogy is used over and over and over again). One that Arthur of Sparta and New York (Arthur Miller, Marilyn Monroe’s 3rd husband), attempts to recover.

Norma Jean is, according to this told rendition, is held by the gods – not in Egypt as in Euripides poem, but at the Chateau Marmont. NJBOT continues in this tale for ninety minutes. The story-teller brings in the story of Persephone as well. All of these women loved and hated and held for their beauty.

As the poem progresses, Whishaw is slowly, very slowly, transforming into Marilyn in her iconic seven-year itch white dress. And Renée moves from simply transcribing to telling the tale and transcribing and singing and helping with make-up.

A shot probably from the second row. I sat in "D" and barely saw their faces.

It ends, as it must, with Whishaw overdosing and going to sleep.

How is it? Well, I loved it and hated it at the same time. Ben Whishaw and Renée Fleming are unimaginably good, because you simply cannot believe it could hold your attention, and it does. Ms. Fleming’s voice is like nothing I’ve ever heard, but I am not an Opera fan.

And the same time, more than a few people walked out.

As for The Shed, it is way too cavernous for this play. The props were human sized and yet so far from most of the people you knew who the pictures were only because you knmow it is Marilyn Monroe. They need to understand how to use the space. The shows at the Park Avenue Armory give me hope for the space.

The Vessel and The Shed

I went to see a show yesterday at "The Shed". It is a new theater in Hudson Yards, where the roof slides open for open air concerts.  Here are the pictures (all pics are mine from Thursday).


The grey pillowy roof is "The Shed" a performance space / art gallery / attempt to build a community at The Hudson Yards - a rather souless mall.

As you can see, it is upstaged by The Vessel, an architectural staircase designed as a point of interest / instagram  monument. And it works, it is very shiny, relatively busy and striking.  My guess is it will not stay that way, it's pretty much a one and done visit, but New York gets enough tourists it may be okay.
Anyway, it was interesting and marginally busy for a Thursday evening.  As for the show, oy, I'll post later, but the site is interesting.



Thursday, April 18, 2019

Hadestown Tempts, Give In

Hadestown takes the audience on a journey from New Orleans to Hell and back, weaving an entrancing spell all the way. It is almost impossible not to be swept along on the ride with Eurydice and Orpheus as they fall in love with spring, each other and life. Eva Noblezada stars as Eurydice and Reeve Carney as Orpheus, the son of a muse and expert with the lyre and song. They meet as Persephone (Amber Gray, simply killing it) rises from Hell to herald Spring back into the world. The celebratory mood is infectious and joy leaps from the talented cast. When Hades (Patrick Page) summons Persephone back to the underworld, darkness descends. And there, in the cold and dark, Eurydice struggles to survive. Orpheus is too busy writing a song to lure springtime back to notice Eurydice’s plight. And so, she makes a literal deal with the devil giving up freedom for food and warmth.
Eva Noblezada, André De Shields, Reeve Carney
 Guiding us on this journey is André de Shields as Hermes. He moves smoothly, bringing the narrative a sultry and seductive voice. That Andre De Shields still commands the stage isn’t a surprise, but the ease of his performance and casual elegance is a pleasure to behold. No less entertaining, albeit harder working, are the spectacular Fates, the three women who entice and direct the actions of mere mortals. These singers, Jewelle Blackman, Yvette Gonzalez-Nacer and Kay Trinidad move with timing, energy and familiarity of a jazz trio (with an admitted nod to the Pointer Sisters). They are the voice of both doubt and hope.
The early mood of Hadestown is light and breezy, but with the undercurrent of deeper forces. And when those deeper forces rise to the fore, bringing us to Hell, we are confronted with a different reality. Hades rules an underworld that embraces productivity and production, without worrying about an output. It is a terrifying and stark place.
Amber gray as Persephone
Hades and Orpheus are both energized by love to create a world to impress and honor their intended partners. But both lose sight of their partners’ desires in their drive to impress them. Both are so infatuated by their creation, Hades in the industrial behemoth and Orpheus in his song, that the original reason for creation is ignored. Recovering the affections of the women then becomes paramount.
The voices and song are excellent. Mr. Carney’s first tentative steps are part of Orpheus finding his voice. Mr. Page’s amazing bass is all about Hades’ knowing his strength. Eurydice and Persephone’s joyful journeys move from revelry to tenderness in the opposite direction.
Even the chorus of five players is exceptional both vocally and visually. Their expressiveness in dance and voice enhanced the show in great ways, and they move as the audience's surrogates.
Rachel Hauck’s scenic design enhances emotions throughout the journey, but Orpheus’ descent into hell is particularly interesting, done with simple lighting effects. Director Rachel Chavkin has brought Anais Mitchell’s songs and book to life magically. Go see it now, while you can still get tickets.
Hadestown
Music, Lyrics & Book: Anaïs Mitchell / Director: Rachel Chavkin | Cast: Reeve Carney, André de Shields, Amber Gray, Eva Noblezada, Patrick Page / website

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Pete - If You Didn't Watch His Announcement - Watch This (only 2 1/2 minutes)

Real Changes in US Foreign Policy Are Flying Under the Radar

I don't want to put a funny graphic or cartoon about this, since there are some very real and frightening changes going on with America's foreign policy under President Trump - and they are escalating without most people noticing.

IRAN
Known - President Trump has pulled out of the Iran Nuclear Deal, but other countries have stayed in. This undermines our foreign policy (fp) and our leverage as Europe seeks to find ways around our financial limitations.
NEW - The US has pronounced the Iranian Army (the Revolutionary Guard) a terrorist organization. Because of early sanctions on the country, the Revolutionary Guard (their army) has monetary interest in many (most - in monetary terms) of the country's companies. Any company or government that deals with them can now be sued. This includes not only allies, but countries we are trying to influence like Iraq and Qatar who deal with Iran and the United States. We have our largest military base in the region in Qatar and a huge presence in Iraq. The US is now, technically, a supporter of terrorism (by dealing with terrorist adjacent entities). (link)

CUBA
Known - The administration has rolled back efforts to engage with Cuba.
NEW - (1) The Trump Administration has broken with the the last 3 administrations (Democrat and Republican) to allow people to sue companies doing business in Cuba. These trials will be held in the United States. European countries and Canada have lobbied hard against this. (link) This has prompted Europeans to note that appeals of these laws against Americans will be legal and happen in Europe. (2) The Administration has outlawed the contracts to Cuban baseball players (an odd way of hitting the government). (link)

YEMEN WAR
NEW - The President just vetoed The Yemen War Powers Act that would pulled United States out of the Yemen Civil War (link)

SAUDI ARABIA
Known - We have supported this country despite their illegal murder of a journalist in Turkey, and their coverup.
NEW - The Administration has not conformed to a legal requirement under the Majnitsky Act to report on the Saudi actions in the murder of the journalist. The administration is not uploading our own laws in order to provide protection to the Saudi government. (LINK)

NORTH KOREA
NEW - The President preemptively overruled sanctions his own government was putting in place.

ISRAEL
Known - (1) We have moved out embassy to Jerusalem, contravening international law (BUT in compliance with our own laws, so that is a 50/50 thing). (2) We have closed our contact office with Palestinians the occupied territories and forced their Washington DC office to close. (3) We recognized Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights (again, contravening international law).
NEW - The Administration has endorsed the annexation of the West Bank settlements - contravening international law, US law and closing the door on a 2 state solution which is official US policy.

BREXIT
Never mind, they are fucked up already and nothing we do will really effect that.

International Agreements the Administration has unilaterally quit:

The Paris Climate Accords
The Iranian Nuclear Containment Agreement
Trans Pacific Partnership (It completed without us and now the administration wants something exactly like that, but with a different name)
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement). - The replacement hasn't been submitted to Congress yet.
South Korean Free Trade Agreement - Again, the replacement hasn't been submitted to Congress yet.

International Organizations the Administration has berated:

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization)
EU (European Union)
WTO (World Trade Organization)
World Bank
United Nations

Countries (* organizations) with no Ambassadors (not a full list): Note: This is bad because, unlike every other American President, Trump demanded all current (he calls them Obama) Ambassadors quit when he was sworn in.

United Nations *
Cuba
Egypt
Jordon
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
South Korea
Turkey
European Union *
ASEAN *
OCED *

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Not Exactly True

File under: Not Exactly True department.

The state of Michigan, given the laws in place does not allow an adoption agency that takes money from the state to discriminate.

If this private, religious agency wants to place it's children and discriminate against LGBT couples, they are more than welcome to, provided they don't take state money. And, this private Catholic Adoption Agency already places children in non-Catholic homes (which is also against their religion!) but they don't complain about that.

If you want to hate the fags - no problem.  But, if you want to legally discriminate against them, you have to move to a deeper red state, like Alabama or Mississippi where they don't have laws about pesky tings like equality under the law. Of course, Catholics haven't always done well down south....

Monday, April 15, 2019

Pete Buttegieg's Announcement

Ed and I watched the full Pete Buttegieg announcement live. It was great.



On a purely political level, he controls his own narrative and sells his strengths. His message was clear - Freedom, Democracy, Security.

On a purely personal level, I was surprisingly moved. The fact a major candidate can thank God, his family and his husband on television was inspiring. Not as a gay man, but as an American where I have had heard nothing but anger and fear since this President was elected.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Totally Jealous of my Brother-In-Law

I am not usually a jealous sort... (What? I'm not!)

But I am totally jealous o my husband's brother Phil. He got to go the final 4 in basketball AND a friend of his (Tony Bennett) coached the winning team.

Phil knew Tony since high school as his dad hired Tony's dad to be coach at UW - Steven's Point. And they have stayed friends.

Phil got to see Tony's Virginia Team play in Charlottesville (an amazing city that Ed doesn't really want to go to) AND then saw Virginia play and win the Final Four.


For those of you not in the states, that is a huge ass deal.

I have also been to a final four. I saw UCLA come t.h.i.s c.l.o.s....e to winning, but lose (to Louisville!) There are few things like the excitement of a final four. And to be connected to the winner's, I mean connect like friend of the coach, that is something.

And it didn't help that my team sucked air so bad this year we didn't even make the playoffs. And didn't deserve to.

So, congrats Phil.  Maybe now you can ride this and stop riding those decade's old Rose Bowl wins to make fun of me.  :-)

Friday, April 12, 2019

Waaaaannnnnnaaaann



Mike Pence whinging....(LINK)

When Bash asked Pence whether he agreed with Buttigieg's assertion that God made him gay, Pence replied, "all of us have our own religious convictions. Pete has his convictions, I have mine."
"I hope that Pete will offer more to the American people than attacks on my Christian faith or attacks on the President as he seeks the highest office in the land," Pence said, later adding, "he'd do well to reflect on the importance of respecting the freedom of religion of every American."
 
What was the horrible thing Pete Buttigieg said?... (LINK)

"If me being gay was a choice, it was a choice that was made far, far above my pay grade," Buttigieg said. "And that's the thing I wish the Mike Pences of the world would understand. That if you got a problem with who I am, your problem is not with me -- your quarrel, sir, is with my creator."
 
Yeah, that sounds like he's attacking your faith (sarcastic font implied)....

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Where are the Canada Geese? Not in Canada

Here is a picture of the two Canada Geese I have seen here in Canada this week. (Or as Jocelyn calls them Canadian Gooses.)

How is it these annoying creatures are scarce here, but ankle deep in goose crap in New York?


Odd Time To Be BiPolar In this Reality



It is a very odd period in history to be bi-polar. I have always had a bit of a problem with Reality (with a capital R). Off and on, over my many many years, I have thought my “life” was some odd test. I assumed that most people weren’t real, and actions were not random, but instead intentionally cruel and designed to judge my (human) reactions.  This is because the “handlers / aliens” didn’t have emotions and had to research them.  Putting me in hyper-stressful, painful and deadly situations helped them to collect this data. It was the only way I had to make sense of it all.

This general assumption on why life was fucked up has been mitigated over the years by the love of friends and Eddie. AND by the introduction of some fairly good meds. I have been generally mentally stable for a few decades.

But  now! Now our country’s conservative base has embraced Russia, China and North Korea. Our nation’s religious base has embraced a braggart adulterer that pays off porn stars he had sex with while his wife was at home with a new-born. States are debating the death penalty for women who find it necessary to terminate their pregnancies. The chief law enforcement officer is engaging in conspiracies. Scientists are belittled and charlatans held up as experts on climate, women’s bodies, pollution, evolution, aerospace and vaccinations.

And that is just our country! Hungary is claiming a Holocaust victim is a Nazi. Israel is declaring non-Jews aren’t people. Poland longs for the good old days of communism. The Russian church is giving sainthood to the Romanovs, leaders so bad they inspired a revolution. England is trying to untie the Brexit knots they tied by blindfolding themselves. Venezuela, the country, is committing suicide by stupidity. A growing number of countries (Uganda, Brunei, Saudi Arabia) have decided that killing people based on who they love is the answer to a question I can’t even hear.

It is like the aliens have decided just fucking with me isn’t enough. Welcome to my world everyone. Turn off the lights when you leave.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Backwards Waterfall in the Faroe Islands


I kind of love this picture. The waterfall is falling up because of the wind.  Yes, it was quite windy that day.

What it means if the US supports Israel in Anexing the West Bank



Israel seems to have elected a government that promises to break international law by annexing the West Bank. What does this mean in actuality, very little. But what does it mean if the US supports them, a lot.

The United States played a key part is creating and inforcing International Law. One key facet of that is that countries aren’t legally allowed to invade and annex land anymore. That is the idea we fought Germany in WW2 to prevent.

Moreover, after WW2 we (via the United Nations) codified this idea into law.  And that law is why we went to war in Korea and Vietnam. That is why we went  to war with Iraq the first time (they annexed Kuwait as their 19th province). That law is why we have sanctions on Russia (they invaded and annexed Crimea). That law is what prevents China from invading Taiwan. That law is what we used to prevent Indonesia from invading East Timor (a country now).

As a principal we support self-rule of individuals, which is why America supports a 2 state solution with Israel and Palestine. But supporting an idea - like self rule - is a bit different than inforcing a law which our government designed and has tried to uphold.

IF we support this, then we support wars for conquest. There is no legal reason we should block Russia from taking over Ukraine or Belarus. No reason to object to China’s actions in the South China Sea. And no reason to object if Syria or Egypt attack Israel to get the land back.  It isn’t a slippery slope, it is a abandoning International Law.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Well this is now happening - Not a TRUMP issue, per say....



It was considered a scare tactic for a while, saying that if adoption agencies could turn away gays, then they could turn away unmarried people or even Jews and Catholics.

It is not a scare tactic now. It is happening in places like South Carolina and Michigan - read the article.

This is what happens when you let religious discrimination be acceptable for a few - the start discriminating against everyone who is an evangelical Christian....

LINK

Monday, April 8, 2019

While I May Occasionally Fail, I Will Attempt to Not Respond to Trump Immediately



President Trump is excellent at driving the conversation. When things get tough, he says something outragious that drives the conversation into new heights of stupidity. Recently it was egging on death threats against a Congresswoman, saying the Democrats hate Israel, telling Jewish voters in American that Bibi Netanyahu was their Prime Minister, claiming his father was born in German (he was born in Queens), claiming we sent $91 Billion dollars to Puerto Rico - we sent $3Billion.

But his lies drown out real conversation. I am going to try to ignore it.

At the very least, not respond for 24 hours. Like the angry email you want to send.  Hopefully this will drown out his most flagrant idiocy.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Bibi Promises to Annex the West Bank if Re-Elected

In a bid to win over very conservatives, Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu promised to annex the West Bank. This will create (or actually codify) a permanent second class / apartheid regime in Israel. It will validate the calls to Boycott / Divest / Sanction Israel, which are not in its best interest.



It is illegal per international law and bound to incite hatred and problems.

It makes it possible, and probable, for many more people to become anti-Israel, without being anti-Jewish. I think it is a bad idea. The government of Israel already says that the state of Israel only belongs to Jewish people. Now annexing millions of Palestinians, it makes a terrible situation into a permanent state.

Friday, April 5, 2019

I Saw Hadestown in Previews

Fan-fucking-tastic...


The picture above is Reeve Carney and Eva Noblezada. He was in Spiderman and is a friend of Ed and I. I visited him after the show because he blew me away. She was Miss Saigon in the lastest version.

This is Amber Gray. She was amazing in Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1912 that we saw with John and Sue. She plays Persphone.

Yes ladies and germs, that is André de Sheilds. Still alive and kicking!!!!  I saw him a zillon years ago in Ain't Misbehaving with Neil Carter!!!! He plays Hermes. André has slowed down a step or two, but he brings it in this show.

And this is me and Reeve after the show.

An Alpine locatoin, no garden needed

I love Alpine Gardens, Faroe Islands is one big alpine garden.  Gorgeous....
 We hiked up this little stream and along the way saw tons of alpine plants. Next time I am going in late May when I get they are blooming...





Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Random shots from our last day in the Faroes

 Our last day in the Faroes, we took a drive through the interior valley of the largest island to an old port (where the church from yesterday was). It was very very pretty.
 I mean, this shot is just picturesque!
And me, I liked it.

Obama’s Day

I was listening to a comic talk about Obama’s Day before a White House Correspondent’s Dinner.

President Obama and Michelle and got up, flew to Alabama to talk to hurricane victims - then to Cape Kennedy to talk to employees- then grave a commence speech in Miami - then went to the Correspondents Dinner that night. THEN they went home, but Obama stays up and killed Bin Laden.

Now, let’s compare to our Very Special Genius President. He rolls out of bed at 3AM, snorts some Aderal and mainlines Jeanne Perrino and tweets until it’s time for his big boy bowel movement where he spends quality time on the crapper and tweets his hate relationships out (McCain, Muller and Shift), then it’s Fox and Friends time and he can use his crayons. It’s sugar comma until noon when he had to read / listen to a one pager one the stage of the world. Then he walks out on the driveway and tells a few lies before buttoning up with Whoppers and fries in a food comma - whines at Melania, locks out  the secret service and call Sean Hannity to whine.

Every third day, it’s golf time.

Pete Buttigieg has plenty of experience.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Real Lutherans don't enjoy Church, but they go....

Lynn and I traveled through the uplands of Faroes and saw many small churches. Most are in towns and still used today.  Many of them have fishing boats hung in the rafters or on window sills.



The church above is typical. Small church, graveyard, still used.
 
 And look at these Pews, these are not people that go to church to relax.


Monday, April 1, 2019

Mayor Pete

As you know, I love Pete Buttigieg - and he is doing well fundraising.

But one of the key reasons I love him is his view of America.

On an Ezra Klein podcast (link), Ezra asked Mayor Pete about being an American. And he had the most interesting answer (which I have to paraphrase).

He said that it is oddly about process. The process of democracy and choosing to be American. For example, the word un-American means to cheat or to renounce democracy or to play unfairly.  There is no real equivalent like un-French or un-German.  We choose to be Americans every time that we participate in democracy and society.

There wasn't a real equivalent to the process of inclusion, except (maybe) the failed policies of Communism.

He lamented that Trumps idea of "American" seems to exclude brown or black people, but that wasn't the Americanism of Republicans in general.

I love that.

About sums it up