Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Lennon or McCartney

I want to say McCartney. Partly because Lennon is the "cool" choice, and partly because I'm a big admirer of Paul McCartney's character and I'm in awe of his drive and his artistic imagination.

But when I review my favorite Beatles songs, I have more Lennon than McCartney songs in the list.

My list has changed over the years, of course, but this is where I stand now.

  • A Day in the Life
  • And Your Bird Can Sing
  • Ballad of John and Yoko
  • Everybody's Got Something to Hide Except Me and My Monkey
  • Happiness is a Warm Gun
  • Hey Bulldog
  • I've Just Seen a Face
  • Rain
  • Strawberry Fields Forever
  • You've Got to Hide Your Love Away

Sgt. Peppers - 50 years ago this summer
The only one of those that's primarily McCartney is "I've Just Seen a Face."

But it's entirely possible that I've listened to the classics like Eleanor Rigby, Yellow Submarine and Hey Jude so often I've gone right off of them.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Albee's art

No underwear art
Edward Albee died last September and they are getting around to selling his art collection to fund his foundation.  I've blogged about his foundation on NYCPlaywrights, since it is an opportunity for writers.

I was sorry to see that the NYTimes article about his art did not include a photo of the art of Albee's boyfriend, but then I was in Albee's loft back in 1999 so he could have redecorated many times since then. 

I blogged about my tour of Albee's apartment here. I'm lucky to have survived thanks to the "elevator" in his loft at that time.

No underwear art here either

Monday, June 26, 2017

Trump '97

In contrast to Obama, Trudeau and Macron, whom I blogged about recently, is Donald Trump. Trump is definitely not a 21st century man, he embodies all the worst aspects of 20th century men.

The New Yorker did a profile of Trump twenty years ago and it's clear that Trump has not changed at all during that time. In contrast to the 21st century men, Trump's utter contempt for women is ancient and pure:
Trump introduced me to “our resident physician, Dr. Ginger Lea Southall”—a recent chiropractic-college graduate. As Dr. Ginger, out of earshot, manipulated the sore back of a grateful member, I asked Trump where she had done her training. “I’m not sure,” he said. “Baywatch Medical School? Does that sound right? I’ll tell you the truth. Once I saw Dr. Ginger’s photograph, I didn’t really need to look at her résumé or anyone else’s. Are you asking, ‘Did we hire her because she’d trained at Mount Sinai for fifteen years?’ The answer is no. And I’ll tell you why: because by the time she’s spent fifteen years at Mount Sinai, we don’t want to look at her.”
Dr. Ginger is still around, by the way.

As much as I despise Trump, even I was a little shocked by the way the article ends:
What about the Trump Tower apartment? Would that sit empty?
“Well, I wouldn’t sell that. And, of course, there’s no one who would ever build an apartment like that. The penthouse at Trump International isn’t nearly as big. It’s maybe seven thousand square feet. But it’s got a living room that is the most spectacular residential room in New York. A twenty-five-foot ceiling. I’m telling you, the best room anywhere. Do you understand?”
I think I did: the only apartment with a better view than the best apartment in the world was the same apartment. Except for the one across the Park, which had the most spectacular living room in the world. No one had ever seen a granite house before. And, most important, every square inch belonged to Trump, who had aspired to and achieved the ultimate luxury, an existence unmolested by the rumbling of a soul. “Trump”—a fellow with universal recognition but with a suspicion that an interior life was an intolerable inconvenience, a creature everywhere and nowhere, uniquely capable of inhabiting it all at once, all alone. ♦
The author Mark Singer literally says that Trump does not have a soul. Wow. But then I've long believed that Trump is a sociopath. Using the Hare Psychopathy Checklist:
...the clinician scores 20 items that measure central elements of the psychopathic character. The items cover the nature of the subject's interpersonal relationships; his or her affective or emotional involvement; responses to other people and to situations; evidence of social deviance; and lifestyle. The material thus covers two key aspects that help define the psychopath: selfish and unfeeling victimization of other people, and an unstable and antisocial lifestyle. 
The twenty traits assessed by the PCL-R score are:
  • glib and superficial charm
  • grandiose (exaggeratedly high) estimation of self
  • need for stimulation
  • pathological lying
  • cunning and manipulativeness
  • lack of remorse or guilt
  • shallow affect (superficial emotional responsiveness)
  • callousness and lack of empathy
  • parasitic lifestyle
  • poor behavioral controls
  • sexual promiscuity
  • early behavior problems
  • lack of realistic long-term goals
  • impulsivity
  • irresponsibility
  • failure to accept responsibility for own actions
  • many short-term marital relationships
  • juvenile delinquency
  • revocation of conditional release
  • criminal versatility

Is there a single one of these items that does not sound like Donald Trump?

The article also reveals that the current strategy that Trump is using in the White House is an old and completely deliberate one:
His strategy—suing the Malkin-Helmsley group for a hundred million dollars, alleging, among other things, that they’ve violated the leases by allowing the building to become a “rodent infested” commercial slum—has proved fruitless. In February, when an armed madman on the eighty-sixth-floor observation deck killed a sightseer and wounded six others before shooting himself, it seemed a foregone conclusion that Trump, ever vigilant, would exploit the tragedy, and he did not disappoint. “Leona Helmsley should be ashamed of herself,” he told the Post.
One day, when I was in Trump’s office, he took a phone call from an investment banker, an opaque conversation that, after he hung up, I asked him to elucidate.
“Whatever complicates the world more I do,” he said.
Come again?
“It’s always good to do things nice and complicated so that nobody can figure it out.”
Another aspect of Trump that is the most striking is his aloneness - the New Yorker article is titled "Trump Solo" and that aloneness is the focus of a recent essay by Rebecca Solnit entitled "The Loneliness of Donald Trump." I thought the ending was especially powerful:
The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence. He must know somewhere below the surface he skates on that he has destroyed his image, and like Dorian Gray before him, will be devoured by his own corrosion in due time too. One way or another this will kill him, though he may drag down millions with him. One way or another, he knows he has stepped off a cliff, pronounced himself king of the air, and is in freefall. Another dungheap awaits his landing; the dung is all his; when he plunges into it he will be, at last, a self-made man.
And of course the sane people of the world, who oppose Trump, like to imagine Trump self destructing. But there's little reason to doubt that as he descends into the dung he will use his favorite tactic, complicating things:
“It’s always good to do things nice and complicated so that nobody can figure it out.”
And there's no telling the disasters that may be generated by Trump's complications.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Backstage drama out on the street

An actor friend invited me to see a show he's in, opening this week. So I looked around on social media to see what it's about and I appear to have stumbled on some backstage drama which the director of the show has put out on the street. 

I came upon this message on her Twitter feed - she is speaking about herself in the third person.

And it looks a lot like she's talking about my actor friend, based on what I've seen of the rest of the cast.

Three years ago, I was directing/producing a play of mine. One day, in the middle of our run, I happened to end up standing behind one of the actors in my show, we'll call her "C", who was waiting for an elevator. It was crowded around the elevator and I didn't get a chance to get close enough to say hi to her and I couldn't get her attention. 

She began chatting with the literary manager of a theater company which had offices in the same building as our theater - they knew each other from a production C had done for his theater company. The literary manager, whom I had never met, was facing me. He asked C how the show was going and I couldn't hear what she said but I could hear what he said in response and it was something like "oh, OK, we'll talk about something else then."

Now the thing is, I had already begun to get a sense that C did not like me - even before I offered her the role. But I felt that I owed the role to her since she had been part of readings of the play while I was developing it - for years - and I almost never paid her for the readings, at least in the early years.

And this is why I now always pay actors for readings, no matter how informal. So I will never feel guilt-tripped into casting someone ever again. But I always have to learn everything the hard way. *sigh*

During rehearsals with C it became even clearer that I had been right - she did not like me. She would pull stupid diva stunts like demanding that instead of clear plastic cups for the "wine" (white grape juice) in a scene, they had to be real stemware. Luckily the other actor talked her out of it. And she insisted on filling the grape juice to the top of the cup, which made it difficult for the stage crew to strike the cup without spilling during the scene change. I was the stage crew.

So the elevator finally came and I got in with the literary director and C. I could tell C was nervous that I might have overheard her, but I said nothing about it. Instead I gave the literary manager a postcard to our show and invited him to attend for free.

Obviously I had no plans to ever work with C again, but I was certainly not going to let her know that, not during the run of the show. I always treat my actors well during the run of the show, no matter what, because it's my show, and the less stressed out the actors are, the better my show will be. So I can't imagine giving into the impulse to publicly attack an actor during a show.

Based on the rest of the director's social media issuances it appears theater director is her full-time job. To say that posting this message on Twitter during rehearsals is unprofessional - especially since my actor friend is a follower of hers on Twitter -  is an understatement. She is basically sabotaging her own show.

And the thing is, the actor in question has always been a consummate professional, in my experience. He's almost never late to rehearsal, and in fact he's often early. He has ideas of his own about his character, some of which are very good, but he also takes direction beautifully, and is almost always upbeat and friendly during rehearsal and the show's run. And he's always off book way ahead of everybody else and learns other actors' lines too, sometimes before they do. And because he learns the entire script inside and out, and because he has a laser-like focus on what is happening while he is performing, when other actors forget their lines he will rescue them. I've seen that happen on several occasions and I have been incredibly grateful for it. 

So I can't imagine what this director's problem is with my actor friend, although I have my theories, based on other things she has posted on her Instagram account during the course of rehearsals. But whatever her issues are with him, throwing it up on social media for all to see is completely wrong and she needs to reconsider her career as a director.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

21st Century Men: Macron, Obama, Trudeau

I finally saw the movie "20th Century Women" on the recommendation of an actor I worked with this year. I'm not sure exactly why she recommended it to me, possibly because I'm around the same age as the character played by Annette Bening - although I think the hair style they gave her character is awful and makes her look older. But the actor also might have recommended it to me because it mentions feminism - a lot more than any non-documentary movie I've ever seen - and I happened to mention during one of our rehearsals that Justin Trudeau was the perfect man because of his self-declared feminism.

I'm sure he isn't really a perfect man, but he's pretty damn great. Of course people on the far left complain about him because no politician is good enough for them since Lenin. I've already had unpleasant exchanges with some of them on Twitter. It's my theory that the Far Left is forever hoping for a perfect father figure to make all their socialist dreams come true - and Bernie Sanders was happy to try to step into that role.

"20th Century Women" was OK. There isn't much of a story but it has some nice moments. And there's that talk of feminism. But if you had told me back in 1979 that one day there would be a head of state who proudly declared himself a feminist, I'd have thought you were smoking too much weed.

And it's funny because the principles of feminism were fairly well-agreed upon in the young person circles I traveled in back then. I guess I just never expected the rest of the world to catch up to feminism as fast as it did. Which doesn't make sense since the rest of the developed world has long since caught up with us quasi-hippies on the issue of natural foods and vegetarianism: Whole Foods has been a national chain since the 90s. In 1979 if you wanted tofu or herbal tea you couldn't get them at the grocery store, you had to go to a small funky health food store in a big city.

Justin Trudeau was the first head of state, male or female, that I ever heard of who referred to himself as a feminist.

I just melt every time Justin Trudeau declares himself to be a feminist as he did yet again recently in this appearance in Toronto sponsored by the NYTimes.

But only fairly recently have I discovered there are other self-declared feminist heads of state.

But one thing that makes me optimistic for (his daughters) is that this is an extraordinary time to be a woman. The progress we’ve made in the past 100 years, 50 years, and, yes, even the past eight years has made life significantly better for my daughters than it was for my grandmothers. And I say that not just as President but also as a feminist.
Emmanuel Macron is also a self-declared feminist as I wrote about recently.

Here's Macron teaming up with Arnold Schwarteznegger to make the planet great again.

Obama, Trudeau and Macron all had very different upbringings. Macron is the son of two small-town doctors, Obama was raised by a single mother who was a kind of academic bohemian, and Trudeau spent much of his childhood with his father the Prime Minister. But one thing they all have in common is that none of their mothers were stay-at-home housewives. And Obama and Macron both seemed to have had very close relationships with their maternal grandmothers.

Obama had been braced for the possibility the woman whom he credits with raising him might not live to see possibly his proudest moment as he headed into the election in which he is favoured over John McCain. With so much at stake in the final hours before the polls, Obama carried on campaigning last night, telling a crowd in Charlotte, North Carolina: "She has gone home, and she died peacefully in her sleep with my sister at her side."
But his refuge was the flat of his grandmother Manette, where he went after school and at weekends. Manette’s mother, a cleaner, had been illiterate, and education had become a family obsession. Manette, who had worked as a headteacher, spent hours having her grandson read aloud. “After school, we’d drink hot chocolate and listen to Chopin,” he recalled. “His self-confidence comes from his grandmother,” said François-Xavier Bourmaud, Macron’s biographer. “She was a reformist socialist who coloured his political engagement very young.”
As for Trudeau, I don't know what his connection with his grandmothers was like but he certainly had a very complex relationship with his mother as I blogged about here.

It should be noted that Obama, Macron and Trudeau all have apparent admiration for each other - Obama and Trudeau famously have a "bromance"; Trudeau and Macron were videotaped having a long talk during the G7 summit - in French of course - and Macron called Obama during his presidential campaign for advice - and for an excellent public relations coup.

How wonderful that these most excellent of men declare themselves to be feminists - outloud, in public proudly. The word "feminist" matters.

Don't tell Obama words don't matter.

The three of them all seem to have excellent relationships with their wives and with women in general. But it's one thing that these three excellent men are good husbands and fathers (step-father in Macron's case) and self-declared feminists - it's another thing that each of them has achieved the highest elected office in their respective lands.

And that just blows my mind. I never thought I'd see such a thing. A failure of the imagination on my part? Or an inclination to be anti-authoritarian, or maybe a life-long pessimism habit. 

But seriously, wow. 

I love these 21st Century Men.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Finally it can be admitted - summer is horrible - especially in NYC

Illustration from the article
I was very gratified to read this article in the NYTimes recently, Admit it, Summer's Terrible:
On summer days, New York City can be as much as 10 degrees warmer than its surrounding areas, because of the asphalt, concrete and metal that trap the heat. We’re certainly living on an urban heat island, one that seems to shimmer and expand during the long, sweltering days. Everything gets louder, closer, brighter.
I completely agree. I wrote a sonnet about the coming of Autumn and expressed my contempt for summer.

Of course plenty of people feel differently. People who like heat. People who like to be outside doing physical things more than they like to be inside doing intellectual things. People who have somewhere nice to go and someone nice to go with them. 

The only time I ever managed to have a whole week long summer vacation with a romantic partner was September 1999, when my ex Jonathan and I rented a house in Cape May Point. We invited a bunch of friends to visit us and they all unexpectedly took us up on it and it's when I realized my former friend Mary Kay was a raging bitch when she refused to give up the large master bedroom she had claimed for herself when my friend Rebecca and husband and baby showed up and were forced to take the much smaller room. A little later Mary Kay causally mentioned she had declawed her cat and that was the final straw.

They all stayed for a few days at the beginning of the week. As they were leaving I came down with the flu and was bed-ridden for the next few days, and then as I was feeling a little better we were hit with Hurricane Floyd. The last day of our rental it was nice and sunny but I was too weak from fighting off the flu to do anything much and we went home.

Summer has always been hyped up so much it's bound to be disappointing. Much like life itself.

Only three months until blessed Autumn.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

MSM catches up with me ~ Ezra Levant begins to achieve the notoriety he craves

Screen cap of Levant right before he declares:
"Justin Trudeau is a gorgeous man."
I've been writing about Ezra Levant for awhile and on Monday I posted a blog post about his connection to the Public Theater protest - and now Salon has caught up:

Loomer, 24, is a journalist and activist for The Rebel Media, the Canadian right-wing organization founded by Ezra Levant. “Through a mix of online engagement, commenting, advocacy, and events, we don’t just report the news, we participate in it,” their site’s About Us page states. Loomer argued that she rushed the stage and disrupted the play because she was standing up for her country, as well as President Donald Trump. She also called the production’s depiction of the president as Julius Caesar to be “assassination porn.”
It appears that Loomer was prepared for the both the promotional and legal consequences of her actions.

I'm glad Ezra Levant is becoming known for the asshole he is. And Levant is such a shady character, so lacking in integrity that even though he is Jewish he's happy to support anti-Semites, as Joe Conason reports:
It’s important to note that Loomer works for right-wing Canadian media outlet Rebel Media, and until late May, so did Posobiec. The blog Canadaland describes it as a Breitbart-esque site filled with contributors who “have called for a new Crusade to expel Muslims from the ‘Holy Land,” outlined what they “hate about the Jews,” and most recently, said that British Muslims are “enemy combatants,” at least some of whom should be placed into camps.”
I was excited to discover Canadaland via Conason - they really don't like Levant and they keep track of him. And they report when his employees, with his help, rant against Jews:
On Tuesday morning, a day and a half after denying he hates Jews, The Rebel Media’s Gavin McInnes posted a video entitled “10 Things I Hate About Jews.”
But within 12 hours, and after receiving some blowback, The Rebel made the unusual move of changing the title to “10 Things I Hate About Israel.”
“I chose both headlines,” Rebel head Ezra Levant tells CANADALAND in an email. “I liked the first one because it was provocative; but then I changed it to the second one because it was more descriptive. I should probably have stayed with my first instincts.”
Well I already believe it's very likely that Levant hates himself for being gay, so I wouldn't be surprised if he also hates himself for being Jewish. He's a seriously screwed up person.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Canadian road trip, take 2

On consideration I realized that my original Canadian road trip plan had far too much driving involved and so decided to prune the trip down to only Nova Scotia and then plan to visit Montreal another time. 

But also instead of driving the whole way I'm going to take trains and a ferry to get to Nova Scotia and then rent a car when I'm there because frankly Nova Scotia has a virtually non-existent public transportation network. Although you can take two ferries to NS. 

And Brooke Johnson's one-woman show is selling tickets finally.

Now I just have to renew my passport.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Global Alt-Right Movement Part 3 - Ezra Levant again

Another person associated with Canadian alt-right Rebel Media, owned by Justin Trudeau-obsessive Ezra Levant is inserting themselves into American politics:

A woman who later identified herself on social media as Laura Loomer jumped onto the stage just after the assassination of Caesar and began shouting, “Stop the normalization of political violence against the right,” and, “This is violence against Donald Trump.” Ms. Loomer describes herself as a “a right-wing investigative journalist and activist” who has previously worked with James O’Keefe, the conservative activist known for selectively edited undercover video investigations.
Ms. Loomer’s interruption of the scene was being recorded by a man in the audience who began shouting, “You are all Goebbels,” a reference to the Hitler aide and Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels. On social media, Jack Posobiec, an activist who supports President Trump and has been associated with conspiracy theories, identified himself as Ms. Loomer’s collaborator.

The article doesn't mention The Rebel or Levant, but a quick glance at Loomer's Twitter profile indicates she works for Rebel TV.

The article mentions Jack Posobiec, whom I blogged about last week - another associate of Ezra Levant.

Legitimate Canadian journalist Jeet Heer provides some insight via Twitter into the operations of Rebel media:

The link via Frank Magazine Ottawa gives more details.

So Rebel Media is basically paying its people to attack American institutions.

More evidence.

I still think Levant does most of what he does to try to get the attention of Justin Trudeau. I discuss his apparent homoerotic fascination with Trudeau here.

And I still think this was the happiest moment of Ezra Levant's life.

Levant interviews Trudeau for Sun Media directly after Trudeau won the boxing match against Patrick Brazeau

There were protestors outside the theater for last night's showing of JULIUS CAESAR but so far I haven't heard any of them work for Rebel.

So where have I been, while all this excitement is going on and the Delacorte Theater is a 10-minute walk from my apartment?

I've been sick in bed all weekend with a nasty cold. *sigh*

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Watergate & me

I came to awareness of the adult world during the age of Watergate.

My parents never spoke about politics to us kids, being fairly apolitical, if generally right-leaning, but my best friend Laura's mother was a fervent Democrat and I had been recruited by her to come along with her and Laura, putting George McGovern flyers in mailboxes around the neighborhood. My very first introduction to politics.

While I was attending Our Lady of Fatima school we had a school assembly with a lawyer, I have no idea why. But during the Q and A I took the opportunity to raise my hand and ask: "can you explain Watergate?"

As I remember it, this brought the house down - or at least the nuns and the lawyer laughed and shook their heads. I forgot what the lawyer said in response, but he did not explain Watergate. Looking back now, they were probably all Republicans and it was probably a distasteful subject to them.

One of my most enduring memories of Laura's mother was her spending hours every day on her sofa watching the Watergate hearings.

My family moved away from that neighborhood, to Pennsauken New Jersey, as the Watergate train rolled along and my adolescence kicked in. The book "All the President's Men" was release and the woman I babysat for had a copy so I read it. Then when I went on my first date with my first real boyfriend, I chose the film we would see - the movie version of "All the President's Men." I've watched that film several times since and went to an event - is it really almost eight years ago? - at the Brooklyn Academy of Music with Redford, Woodward and Bernstein.

So now we have the Trump administration which seems will inevitably end in resignation or impeachment. Or given Trump's age and bad personal health habits, possibly a heart attack.

Although I wouldn't completely rule out the Trump presidency ending with Trump, one step ahead of treason proceedings, being granted asylum in Russia, while other people, including Jared and Ivanka, are left holding the bag.

MSNBC showed a video this weekend, "All the President's Men, Revisited." This was originally released in 2013 during the notably scandal-free second term of Barack Obama. And yet in spite of that, a recurring observation made by the interviewees (including Rachel Maddow and Jon Stewart) is "this could happen again." And James Carville goes so far as to say:
"One thing about Watergate, it was going to change the culture of Washington. It did no such thing. Of course this kind of thing is going to happen again and it's going to happen on a much much bigger scale."

This was four years ago, when the prospect of a Donald Trump presidency was still a punchline.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Every day I write the book (II)

One of the charming aspects of living in Manhattan, especially near Central Park is the free live entertainment. 

I was walking home through the park tonight after my last French class for level Advanced Beginner 201 when I had the distinct impression I was hearing Elvis Costello singing. 

And sure enough it was him doing a show in the middle of the park, and as I was passing by he sang one of my absolutely most favorite songs by him, "Everyday I Write the Book." The song is great in itself but it also has meaning for me because at the time I first heard the song I was switching over from concentrating my artistic endeavors in graphic arts to literary arts and also I was in love with this guy, whom I worked with at the time. 


Don't tell me you don't know what love is
When you're old enough to know better
When you find strange hands in your sweater
When your dreamboat turns out to be a footnote
I'm a man with a mission in two or three editions

And I'm giving you a longing look
Everyday, everyday, everyday I write the book

Chapter One we didn't really get along
Chapter Two I think I fell in love with you
You said you'd stand by me in the middle of Chapter Three
But you were up to your old tricks in Chapters Four, Five and Six


The way you walk
The way you talk, and try to kiss me, and laugh
In four or five paragraphs
All your compliments and your cutting remarks
Are captured here in my quotation marks


Don't tell me you don't know the difference
Between a lover and a fighter
With my pen and my electric typewriter
Even in a perfect world where everyone was equal
I'd still own the film rights and be working on the sequel

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The semi-known Trudeau

Together again!
So I'm all about Macron these days but what about mon premiere ministre d'amour?

I mentioned that many Americans didn't know who Trudeau was when he was elected Prime Minister in October 2015. Well it looks like he's still not as well known as you would think, consider probably 99.99 % of Canadians know who Donald Trump is:

Almost 50 per cent of Americans don’t know who Justin Trudeau is: poll

 A new poll offers some insight into how American respondents see foreign leaders, including Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Americans have a more favourable than unfavourable view of Trudeau, according to the survey by Public Policy Polling.
It says he’s viewed positively by 31 per cent of Americans, negatively by 20 per cent, and is unknown to almost half of respondents.
And now I have a good excuse to post another photo of Trudeau.

I found this appearance by Trudeau at what appears to be the Canadian version of the White House Correspondents dinner (which Trump skipped this year.) Trudeau is surprisingly bitchy here - in English and French, of course. It's a nice change of pace. Granted some of this is strictly inside-baseball Canadian politics, but he does get in some other joke material, not only Sean Spicer, but also his handshake with Trump and a reference to #trudeaueulogies.

Monday, June 12, 2017

It's Macron on a bicycle. Happy Monday!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

The Global Alt-Right Movement Part 2

The Global Alt-Right Movement Part 1

The New York Times has an interesting article about the way the alt-right media defends Trump through lies. And especially interesting to me is his connection to Ezra Levant who I've mentioned several times this year on this blog:
Mr. Posobiec, a 33-year-old Navy veteran, was until recently the bureau chief for a right-wing website based in Canada called The Rebel. Its founder, Ezra Levant, said Mr. Posobiec was no longer employed there.
“We wish him well,” Mr. Levant said, offering only that Mr. Posobiec’s promulgation of the Rich conspiracy had nothing to do with his departure.
I became interested in Ezra Levant through Levant's obsession, which I believe is at least part sexual, with Justin Trudeau, which has been evident since at least 2012.

Another buddy of Ezra Levant's was recently mentioned in the NYTimes, Gavin McInness
Many in the movement, like Mr. Chapman and Mr. McInnes, say they are supporters of Mr. Trump’s agenda to tighten immigration and fight political correctness.
Posibiec may be a former employee of Levant, but McInnes is currently working for Levant. It's interesting that it's not considered significant that Canadians are inserting themselves into American politics.
The founder of the Proud Boys, Mr. McInnes, 46, a Canadian with a hipster-lumberjack aesthetic, is no stranger to controversy. He helped found Vice Media and edited its edgy magazine before leaving in 2007 over differences with his partners. In one episode that drew his colleagues’ ire, he told The New York Times in 2003, “I love being white.”
I've mentioned McInnes on this blog, in reference to the connection between Steven Pinker and the alt-right. McInness considers Pinker a hero.

McInness and Posobiec are pals, of course. Here's McInness retweeting Posobiec.

The Canadian alt-right has an incoherent view of homosexuality. McInness went so far as to make out with Milo Yiannopoulos while working for Rebel Media:

But yet a year later McInnes tweeted this:

So apparently being gay is good when it offends conservative Muslims, but bad all the rest of the time.

I think it's highly possible that, like Ezra Levant, McInness is a (barely) closeted homosexual. His revulsion towards female bodies is extreme. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Too-sexy Macron

Context is everything. Listening to the song Sexy Macro by Les Gogettes, several times and I discerned the words "Montpellier" and "le fac" which is the French slang for "le facultie" meaning the university. So I did some Googling and discovered what the guy is singing about:

Woman held after 'mailing erotic pics' to French minister
A 29-year-old woman has been placed in police custody for allegedly sending "malicious messages" and "erotic photos" to France's Minister for Economy, Emmanuel Macron.
The woman, a law student, is understood to have sent the messages over a period of several months, starting in September.
She was arrested on Thursday at her home in Montpellier for sending "repeated malicious messages aimed at disturbing the peace of others", Midi Libre reports.
The messages, in which she referred to Macron as her "love" and which included erotic photos of herself, were reportedly sent to the minister's personal email address.

So now I think the song is being sung from the point of view of the law student. But I'm still not sure. 

Je vais continué chercher le signifie vraiment!

Friday, June 09, 2017

Sexy Macron

I think this dude is sincerely saying he finds Emmanuel Macron to be sexy, but it's hard to tell, I'm only getting like 30% of the words (songs are SO hard to understand - even in English) - I'll know I'm fluent in La Francais when I finally understand songs.

He does compare Macron to Johnny Depp.

Thursday, June 08, 2017

C'est très drôle, Siri

Siri has taken to making puns when you ask her to tell you a joke. And then she laughs at her own joke.

It says "let's be serious" with a pun on
Siri-eux = serieux. MDR!

My French lessons are coming along. We've gotten into le tense future - L'AVENIR!

I've been listening to French radio to improve my comprehension of normal French speaking at franceinfo. I must be getting pretty good, too, since they announced the attack at London bridge while I was listening, before I heard about it through English language sources, and I understood what they were talking about. Tres bien.

Also while listening I heard a French version of the opening credits for StarTrek. 


Wednesday, June 07, 2017

More insanity from SJWs

Frank Bruni doesn't call the students at Evergreen State College "Social Justice Warriors" but that is what they are. And you can tell they are because the tactic used by the students is to:
1. Call all who disagree with them on an issue touching race "racist"
2. Shut down the discussion
The only thing that's lacking is the third step, which is claiming that anybody who complains the discussion was shut down is suffering from "white fragility."

Step 1. Call those who disagree racists:

I asked Bridges about the epithets hung on Weinstein. He said that such terms are being deployed too readily and casually.
“Using the word ‘racist’ halts the conversation,” he said. “It just ends it. It doesn’t explore the beliefs, the values, the behaviors that comprise individuals.”
Isn’t he, too, being characterized as racist?
“Of course,” he said. “It’s just the way discourse goes these days.”

Step 2. Shut down the discussion.

Confronted with a loud barrage of questions, he asks the students, “Would you like to hear the answer or not?”
“No!” several shout. And there you have it. They’re not conducting an interrogation. They’re staging an inquisition.

That is the very essence of Social Justice Warriors.

But what of Robin DiAngelo? Here she is being quoted in the Hamilton Spectator recently:

This is where I'd like to bring up white fragility. Dr. Robin DiAngelo, who created the phase, states "White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as white fragility. White fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves."
As always, DiAngelo is lying about white people.

There are few whites (if you can identify exactly who counts as "white") who are unaware of racial injustices in the United States. Many white people, probably a majority, are aware that there are penalties involved with being non-white in the US.

But as always, Social Justice Warriors don't do nuance. They believe in simple explanations for simple minds.

True story: 

One summer when I was eight years old my two younger brothers and I were at a kind of day camp at the local public school. We attended the Catholic school during the school year, but the Catholic school didn't have a summer day camp. 

My brothers and I had no knowledge of the racial strife going on at that time in the world at large. My parents were not political people and so we certainly wouldn't have heard anything through them. We lived in an all-white suburb of Philadelphia. A choice of location which, I feel compelled to point out, neither my brothers nor I had any say in. 

One day me and my brothers were sitting in the grass outside the school. I don't remember there being any adults around, I'm not sure why. I assume there should have been some adult oversight of a bunch of little kids. In any case, in the distance was a crowd of black kids, around my age, maybe some a little older. My brothers and I had no feelings about the black kids, one way or another. And suddenly the black kids started chanting something like: "oh, ah, get off of our land." And began walking towards us. In my eight-year-old wisdom I said to my younger brothers: "we don't have to move - we aren't on their land. This is the school's land." So we remained seated, our own little sit-in you might say - although of course we had no knowledge of the sit-ins that happened during the struggle for civil rights in the South.

And so the black kids marched over us, kicking us as they went. We told our parents about it afterwards and we weren't sent back to the public school day camp after that. 

 I still feel guilty I let my younger brothers get kicked around because I was so naive. I had no idea at the time why those kids would decide to target us. It's clear to me now that they targeted us because we were white.

As an adult I understand that the black kids had a better idea of the ongoing civil rights struggle and that's why they targeted us for our ethnicity, while we didn't understand the background for why they targeted us. Because yes, black people have suffered horrifically in this country and were struggling to make the world more fair through the Civil Rights movement. And the black kids were clued into the struggle. But the victims of oppression are not necessarily saints. And the response to oppression often results in targeting innocents. My brothers and I, although white, were innocent of perpetrating wrongs against black people. But we were trampled on anyway. 

It's not the worst thing that could ever happen, obviously, but it's not nothing

Tuesday, June 06, 2017


I assume that one reason you see so many more women than men in yoga classes is because men see the practice as insufficiently macho - just silly breathing and sitting with your legs crossed, etc.

Well yoga is hard. And not just because they make you do the plank position often.

However there is rarely pressure from yoga instructors to get students into uncomfortable postures. At most they will occasionally walk around the room giving tips on positioning. The only time I've ever seen anything else is when I took an "Open Level" yoga class at the yoga studio about fifty steps from my apartment. Open Level means any level, but the instructor, the guy who owns the studio, seemed displeased with my Level One  presence in the class and warned me it was "Open Level" which apparently in his mind meant hardest level.

But I thought I was holding my own throughout the class. Obviously not as good as many of the people taking the class with years of yoga practice but still. I don't know why my inability to assume some of the harder poses fully should have bothered anybody. 

So about three-quarters of the way through the class, I'm standing in a pose that requires an upper torso twist and I wasn't twisted fully enough for this guy and so he grabbed me and forced my body into the position.

And it felt like he crushed my lungs. I should have left the class right then but I was too stunned and out of breath to make an executive decision and so I hobbled along for the rest of the class and by the time he had everybody doing handstands I just sat there and watched, still stunned and worried about my vital organs.

Of course I never took a class with that creep again. And I decided to stick to Level One from henceforth no matter how inconvenient the times they offer for that level. 

I know I'm getting better at yoga  though because I'm better at Shavasana. Since yoga is hard, by the end of a one-hour session it's very likely you'll be worn out and dripping with sweat. So the final pose at the end of a yoga session is Shavasana: "a pose usually done at the end of a yoga practice in which practitioners lay flat on their backs with the heels spread as wide as the yoga mat and the arms at the sides of the body, palms facing upward."

Also known as "corpse pose" - you just lie there flat on your back.

And I used to have a horrible time with it because of the curvature of my back. I could not comfortably lie on my back with my legs fully against the ground. And now after two years of yoga practice I can get into shavasana right away without any discomfort. Victory!

I've been doing yoga for two years now. Admittedly I haven't done it regularly until the last three months and even now I still don't always make it to yoga class regularly twice a week. But getting old is no time to wuss out of body-strengthening methods. If anything one needs to do yoga more often as one gets older, like this 98 year old yoga teacher. Wow.

Monday, June 05, 2017

Move over Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp!

You can click to make
the image larger.
French learners are well acquainted with the acronym "Dr. & Mrs. Vandertramp" which is used to help remember which of the verbs in the passee compose conjugation format use "etre" (to be) instead of "avoir" (to have).

Voila here is the document that is usually handed out to students of French. Meet the Vandertramps!

So we were introduced to the French future tense in class last week and would't you know it, there are irregular versions of future tense verbs. I wondered in class why there wasn't a device similar to the Vandertramp one to help French learners. 

My teacher suggested that maybe I should create one if I really wanted one.

So I did. And now I know why nobody has ever created one before. Because unlike with passee compose, where only the endings of the verbs change, in le tense futur a couple of the verbs completely change, including the first letter, which changes the acronym.

And I didn't even realize it until I put it all down in Photoshop. Oh well, it was a learning experience. 


I feel like Dr. Facemapps would run advertisements in the NY Subway system.

Volitional language learners are something of an eccentric crew so we get lots of comedy mileage out of the name "Vandertramp" inserting the name into many French learning scenario situations.

One of the many French language learning channels I follow on Youtube is "Damon and Jo" which you can see here. They created a scenario where Jo plays the role of Mrs. Vandertramp.

Because c'est très drôle!

Mort de rire!


Sunday, June 04, 2017

The Strawberry Report

The strawberries growing along the walkway next to the Central Park reservoir have lost their yellow flowers and have teeny tiny little buds - and not many either. They are going to produce tiny strawberries.

 They were mostly interested in sending out shoots and spreading further. Voila.

Probably because they are growing in a very shady area. I assume that some random person put them there and not the horticulturists who run the Park since horticulturists would have known better than growing strawberry plants in the shade.

I will check in again with them next week.

Saturday, June 03, 2017

The fundamentalism of Social Justice Warriors

I generally like Arthur Chu. I follow him on Twitter. I've quoted him with approval. I think his piece Your Princess is in Another Castle is great.

But unfortunately like so many other erstwhile smart and decent people, the subject of race completely short-circuits his rational thought processes.

Because when it comes to race, Social Justice Warriors are fundamentalists in comparison to other liberals. They are fanatical and constantly looking for chances to denounce others who are not as fanatical.

You can see the fundamentalism of Social Justice Warriors in action in this series of tweets Chu wrote in reference to Bill Maher using the term "house nigger" in a non-racist context.

But in the world of the SJWs, there is no context in which the word "nigger" may be used. The very sound of the word itself is a crime against humanity much like saying "Goddam" is always a sin to fundamentalist Christians. If you use the word "Goddam" you are a sinner. To a SJW, if you use the word "nigger" you are a racist. End of discussion. SJWs are not interested in context.

Others pointed out to Chu that Maher had no problem writing a check for a million dollars for Obama's 2012 presidential campaign. But to Chu, writing a check for a million dollars to a black candidate means nothing. The only thing that matters is that Maher used the taboo word.

And Chu used the word "indulgence" to describe Maher's donation. To Chu, to Social Justice Warriors, using the N-word, once, regardless of context more than balances out donating a million dollars to a black man's campaign. That is the religious intensity with which Social Justice Warriors view taboo words - they believe uttering a bad word is literally worth more than a million dollars of "indulgences."

One of the big differences between the Catholic Church and Protestantism is that Catholics believe that "good works" may ameliorate the wrath of God. So even if you have committed some (non-mortal) sins in your day and died before confessing them during the Sacrament of Confession, your kindliness and decency would weigh in your favor and you might go to Purgatory instead of Hell.

Like all human systems this one was abused - "good works" eventually became synonymous with "donating money to the Catholic Church" and so sinning was essentially monetized. The richer you were the more sins you could get away with as long as your forked over "indulgences." And so Protestants reacted by not only creating sects which refused indulgences but which also refused to count any good actions as beneficent.

Protestants came to believe that your actions as a moral human being mean nothing. In some sects they believe that only declaring that Jesus is your savior will save you from an eternity of hellfire. In other sects they are even more extreme - there is nothing you can do to save yourself from going to Hell, you are already predestined for Hell before you are born.

Much like Robin DiAngelo, the queen of the Social Justice Warriors, believes that all white people are racist simply by being born white, and neither their intentions nor their good works matter. You may have marched in Civil Rights rallies, married a non-white person, donated to the NAACP, campaigned for Obama, spoke out against a racist at work, or all of the above and you assume that a rational person would look at those actions and pause before declaring you a racist.

But Social Justice Warriors are not rational. And they are looking to point a finger at heretics. It's their greatest joy.

It would be interesting to do a study and see what percentage of Social Justice Warriors come from fundamentalist Protestant backgrounds. 

Friday, June 02, 2017

Canadian Road Trip - the planning begins

Five days, three Canadian provinces, five US states
And maybe 3 - 4 Canadian theater productions.


Thursday, June 01, 2017

WOMEN IN THE AGE OF TRUMP - done and done

I have to admit I'm relieved I'm finally done with the WOMEN IN THE AGE OF TRUMP project for NYCPlaywrights which I began shortly after Trump won the election BUT NOT THE POPULAR VOTE.

So how's TRUMP doing so far? Well, in addition to being an international douchebag, a disgrace and a traitor to his country, he's a laughingstock thanks to his careless, possibly Alzheimer's infused tweets.