Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Liberal hordes attack Christmas

"So, as usual, the bureaucratic solution was to kill the mosquito with a shotgun: Instead of exempting those minority students from participation, red-tape artists concluded that any display of Christmas at school had to be prohibited."-- What We Now Know, week of Dec. 20
When I went to an all white public school in rural Arkansas, minority students (those who weren't Christian) were "exempted from participation" by being allowed to stand in the hall doing nothing while the rest of the class read the King James bible parts referring to the birth of Jesus. I was the only one in the hall. I would later be attacked in the school yard by "Christian" bullies who were too chicken shit to attack me one at a time. I would have to fight three or four of these crusaders who were teaching the heathen a lesson, while their good "Christian" friends cheered them on.

So, the next time someone spews a generalization about how liberals react to being force-fed beliefs, in a public institution, that aren't their beliefs, and how ALL liberals and liberal bureaucracies over-react to this treatment, I'll remember the crusading red-necks who kicked me in the face while I was on the ground. And I'll think, gee, maybe if someone kicked Bill O'Reilly in the face while he was being beaten by a gang of vicious liberal Atheists, maybe he would be a little less likely to to complain when we try to force the LACK of religion in public places.

But I agree that if the "Christians" who want to force their beliefs on everyone would tone it down, do their worshipping in church instead of in court (how ironic that the Republican Reverend Falwell would threaten Boston with hundreds of swarming lawyers - aren't liberals the ones who sue over the littlest things?) or schools, this argument would be gone. The fact is, it is the Christian right that has created this fight, and it is mostly FAUX news and O'Reilly who started it. Their whining about attacks on Christmas are pitiful attempts to further separate this country in terms of religiosity. If Bill and his friends think this country isn't religious enough, I know a brand new theocracy they could go help liberate from the sectarian hordes.

In the mean time, I'll wait in the hall while you people pray to your lord. I hope you remember all the great things he said, like that which you do to the least among us (see the recent budget cuts be republicans to pay for tax cuts to millionaires), and a camel going through the eye of a needle before a rich man will get into heaven (see the presidential cabinet with the most millionaires ever).

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Pesticide-free tropical Hawaiian flowers

tropical flowers Hawaiian flowers Hana flowers

Yes, Hana Flowers is one of my Search Engine Optimization clients. No, I don't get a cut of each sale. I believe in what they do. The good folks at Hana Flowers, in Hana, Maui, Hawaii, grow pesticide-free flowers, which are hand-picked, hand-washed in bio-degradeable soap, and hand-packed in wet paper, before they are shipped to your door anywhere in the world.

Floral workers who work for the major on-line florists are subjected to horrible working conditions, including heavy doses of pesticides. By voting with your dollars and buying tropical flowers from Hana Flowers, you will be doing yourself, floral workers, and the planet a big favor.

Besides, just look at those awesome tropical bouquets!

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates

America's most famous advance team gets a little lost.

Cross posted at dKos and My left wing.

After four months of discovering how the state disability insurance program of California works, I'm back at the Mark Taper Forum theater in LA, tech rehearsing Lewis and Clark Reach the Euphrates. The last play I did here was Stuff Happens, which was a critical look at the run up to the Iraq war, featuring Keith Carradine as George Bush. That was back in July and August. Since then, Bush's poll numbers have steadily tanked. While this play isn't as directly critical of the Bush administration, it does explore American interventionist policies in wars based on questionable intelligence, and I'm hoping it will lead us to Bush approval numbers somewhere in Cheney land (end snark). When it comes to actual impact on Bush’s numbers, hopefully there will be many more Lawrence Wilkersons.

Meanwhile, over here on the West Coast, Lewis and Clark, sent by President Jefferson to explore the new Louisiana Purchase, get a little lost in time and space. After trying to entice the Sioux Nation to convert to capitalistic democracy, they stumble into US wars of aggression, starting in Cuba with Teddy Roosevelt and the rough riders, then to the Philippines, where a US commander laments the guerrilla tactics used against the US Army, to Viet Nam, and eventually, Iraq. We're still in tech rehearsals and we just got to Viet Nam, but I've gotten the idea. Throughout US history, leaders have lied to pursue an interventionist, if not outright imperialistic, foreign policy.

There's a lot of comic relief in this play (Lewis and Clark are smoking a joint in Vietnam right now, complaining that it’s the worst tobacco they’ve ever tasted), and it's probably necessary considering the seriousness of the subject matter. I'll be able to get a better feel for it's effectiveness when I see the whole thing at our first preview Thursday. What I've seen so far is intriguing, if only for its ambition. Taking these two American icons into the future they helped create is an adventurous way to compare and contrast the early American vision of expansion with the corporate military industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about.

Lewis and Clark are, to say the least, confused. But their views of the role of the American Philosophy actually fit into every time and place. Their denial of their predicaments is eerily reminiscent of Bush administration’s insistence that everything will be OK. Their superiority, politely expressed as conviction that everyone would want to be like America, inadvertently insults or unconsciously instills confidence, depending on whether they’re dealing with Native Americans, a black slave, Teddy Roosevelt, Army commanders in the Philippines, a CIA agent in Vietnam, or when they finally reach the Euphrates. The point, it seems, is that they might actually fit into any American adventure, and that's a scary thought.

While the fear of an enemy hasn't changed much over the centuries, our knowledge, or at least our potential to learn about an enemy, has. In Lewis and Clark's day, America was a little country, afraid of the superpowers of the day. Even in Roosevelt's day, America was still limited in what it could know about the rest of the world, in the diplomatic and military sense. It was extremely difficult for us to find out about the world, especially with the likes of William Randolph Hearst practicing yellow journalism. But as we move into Vietnam and Iraq, we have become a huge power with the ability, if not the balls, to find out the truth about our supposed enemies, And the thread of powerful people ignoring facts, or generating lies, for profit, runs as clear as an 1806 river through time, from Hearst's yellow journalism whipping up “humanitarian” enthusiasm for the Spanish American war, to the gulf of Tonkin fiasco furthering our involvement in Vietnam, to the fact that as late as October of 2004, Seventy-five percent of Bush supporters said they believed that Iraq was providing "substantial" support to al Qaeda.

Maybe this is something every generation has to learn for itself, the hard way. Perhaps even the greatest generation, if not threatened with an actual threat, would have allowed someone in power to manufacture one. But maybe, just maybe, if we write about it, create plays about it, film movies about it, and tell our kids about it, perhaps a generation soon will figure out how to avoid these messy, expensive frauds we let these egomaniacal plutocrats get us into.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Hey, Bill O'Reilly, come on over to my house...

O'Reilly Blasted for Coit Tower Comments

Bill O'Reilly:

"If al-Qaida comes in here and blows you up, we're not going to do anything about it. We're going to say, look, every other place in America is off limits to you, except San Francisco. You want to blow up the Coit Tower? Go ahead."

John Hanley, president of the San Francisco Firefighter's Union Local 798:

"Coit Tower is a monument to the bravery of the men and women of the San Francisco Fire Department. When Bill O'Reilly makes an attack on Coit Tower, he's attacking us and our bravery. Mr. O'Reilly, maybe we should bring you into some of our burning buildings and see how brave you are."

Bill O'Reilly Enemies List - Sign Up Tonight

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Bush: Please come campaign for Arnold next year...

I mean think about it, other than the war in Iraq, the Katrina disaster, the deficit, the CIA leak, torture, stopping stem cell research, homeland security, global warming, and undercutting science, we've yet to really feel the negative effects of the Bush administration. -- Bill Maher
In Ohio, the Republican party used Diebold and discrimination at the polls to beat back the Reform Ohio proposals. Big suprise. In NYC, a liberal billionaire got re-elected as Mayor, but he is a Republican, so that was a win. In Texas, the red-neck right passed an anti-gay-marriage bill that is going to make all marriages illegal.

Other than that, the negative effects of the Bush administration were felt far and wide yesterday, when Democrats won two governorships, beat a traitor from their party for Mayor of St. Paul, beat an anti-gay marriage proposal in Maine, a crazy anti-tax proposal in Washington, and all of Arnold's $60 million dollars worth of idiocy.

On to '06.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Millions of deaths at BushCo's feet

I've seen arguments about why we shouldn't compare Bush to Hitler, and I agree with Bill Maher. We shouldn't do that because Hitler was a decorated soldier who fought on the front lines. But, generally, I think comparisons to Hitler make the left look a little loony, unless, of course, we carefully explain why we're making the comparison.

The environmental damage being done by the Bush administration will, in the long run, cause more deaths than the Nazis ever dreamed of.

Raping the world for the sake of corporate profit is the name of the BushCo game. Be it war, drilling, mining, logging, anti-environmental trade pacts, killing environmental treaties, not cleaning up Super Fund sites, or gutting rules and regulations meant to conserve and protect the natural world, these vicious thugs are seriously screwing up the planet, and it's going to kill many millions of people. Lung diseases, cancers, starvation, unsanitary and polluted water supplies, you name it -- the BushCo is doing everything they can to maximize profits at the cost of people's lives everywhere.

And this isn't like the "collateral damage" of 100,000 dead civilians in Iraq. The BushCo PR agents can't say, well, we honestly try to minimize the damage done by global warming. Hell, until very recently, the denied it was even happening. And it wasn't until very, very recently that Bush admitted that humans are causing climate change. But has he done anything about it, aside from some lame us suggestion that we conserve more energy?

Climate change is just a small part of the picture. Through globalization, the process that allows Bush friends to spread environmental harm to third world countries, the deaths are really piling up. From e-waste to strip mining, from clear cutting to industrial sludge, BushCo makes sure that third world countries do whatever they have to do to their environments and their citizens to pay off the debts they've accrued from the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and countless other capitalist sources for economic invasions of third world countries.

By stripping these countries of their natural resources and forcing them to privatize their public utilities, the Global robber barons ensure that the poor people of these countries will remain poor, further expanding the corporate sponsored economic cleansing of millions of people who do not contribute to their bottom line. From Monsanto's global proprietary seed campaign to deforestation of the Brazillian rain forest, the BushCo lead in viral irresponsible capitalism has opened the door for global conglomerates to do whatever they want, to whomever they want, with no threat of repercussions or criminal investigations. Enron was just the beginning of a perverted type of corporate accounting that is, to put it bluntly, completely unaccountable.

Cross-posted at the Daily KOS.

Monday, October 31, 2005

Bush Approval Ratings

Paraphrasing here:
66% of Americans think George W. Bush is doing a poor job on Iraq. The other 34% think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church. -- Amy Poehler, SNL, 10-29-05

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Boycott List

Please, when you can, boycott these companies (and their products, following) that gave heavily to the Republican Party. Of course, anything to do with FOX should be punished.


1. Altria
2. Microsoft
3. UPS
4. AT&T
6. Citigroup
7. Pfizer
8. FedEx Corp.
9. Wal-Mart
10. Bristol-Myers
11. GlaxoSmithKline
12. ExxonMobil
13. Anheuser Busch
14. Time Warner
15. ChevronTexaco
16. PepsiCo
17. Schering Plough
18. Wyeth
19. Ford
20. Alticor Inc.
21. Archer Daniels Midland
22. AMR Corp
23. General Motors
24. BP plc
25. Disney

The following products are produced by the above companies and should be boycotted. Print out this list and keep it handy when shopping.

Marlboro, L&M, Basic, Virginia Slims, Parliament, Merit, Benson & Hedges, Lark, Chesterfield, Cambridge

Capri Sun, Country Time, Crystal Light, Kool-Aid, Tang

General Foods, International Coffees, Gevalia, Maxwell House, Sanka, Yuban

Baker's, Balance, Breyer's yogurt, Calumet, Certo, Cool Whip, Dream Whip, Ever-Fresh, Handi-Snacks, Jell-O, Light n' Lively low-fat yogurt, Sure-Jell

Alpha-Bits, Banana Nut Crunch, Blueberry Morning, 100% Bran, Bran Flakes, Cranberry Almond Crunch, Cream of Wheat, Cream of Rice, Fruit & Fibre, Golden Crisp, Grape-Nuts, Great Grains, Honey Bunches of Oats, Honeycomb, Oreo O's, Pebbles, Raisin Bran, Shredded Wheat, Toasties, Waffle Crisp

Cookies and crackers
Barnum's Animals, Better Cheddars, Kraft Cheese Nips, Chips Ahoy!, Handi-Snacks, Honey Maid, Newton's, Nilla, Nutter Butter, Oreo, Premium, Ritz, SnackWell's, Stella D'Oro, Teddy Grahams, Triscuit, Wheat Thins

Cornnuts, Planter's nuts

Pet snacks

Altoids, Creme Savers, Fruit Snacks, Gummi Savers, Jet-Puffed, Kraft caramels, Life Savers, Milka, Terry's, Toblerone, Trolli

Athenos, Cheez Whiz, Churny, Cracker Barrel, Deli Deluxe, Easy Cheese, Hoffman's, Kraft, Philadelphia, Polly-O, Temptee, Velveeta

Dairy products
Breakstone's sour cream and cottage cheese, Knudsen sour cream and cottage cheese, Kraft dips, Light n' Lively low-fat cottage cheese

'Ready meals'
Fresh Prep, It's Pasta Anytime, Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Minute, Stove Top, Taco BellTM, Velveeta shells and cheese

Condiments, sauces, etc.
A.1. steak sauce, marinades and Worcestershire sauce; Bull's-Eye, Good Seasons, Grey Poupon, Kraft barbecue sauce, mayonnaise, salad dressings and mustard; Miracle Whip, Oven Fry, Seven Seas, Shake 'N Bake

Meats and meat alternatives
Louis Rich, Lunchables, Oscar Mayer, Boca

Pickles and sauerkraut

California Pizza KitchenTM, DiGiorno, Jack's, Tombstone

Microsoft Windows



MBNA Credit

Citibank - various financial products including banking services, credit cards, mortgages and loans.

Actifed, Anusol, Benylin
Benadryl, BENGAY, Corn Huskers, Cortizone, Desitin, Dramamine, e.p.t,
Emetrol, Efferdent, Effergrip, Fresh 'n Brite, Gelusil, Hemorid, Kaopectate, Listerine, Listermint, Lubriderm, Luden's, Micatin, Nasalcrom, Neosporin, Nicotrol, Pacquin, Pediacare, Plax, Polysporin, Progaine, Rogaine, Rolaids, Sinutab, Sudafed, Tucks, Unisom, Visine, Wart-Off, Zantac 75



Exedrin analgesics (painkillers), Boost energy drinks, ChoiceDM diabetic snacks, skin care, oral care and footcare products; Enfamil infant formulas.

Abreva cold sore remedy
Alluna herbal sleeping tablets, Aquafresh toothpaste
Citrucel laxative
Contac cold and 'flu remedies
Ecotrin aspirin
Gaviscon heartburn remedy Nicorette nicotine patches
Os-Cal calcium supplements
Tagament and Tums heartburn remedies

Exxon petrol and lubricants

ExxonMobil credit cards.


Budweiser, Michelob, ZiegenBock, Pacific Ridge Pale Ale, Busch, Natural

Malt liquors
Hurricane Malt Liquor, King Cobra

Malt beverages
Bacardi Silver Raz, Bacardi Silver O3, Bacardi Silver, Tequiza, "Doc's" Hard Lemon

Non-alcoholic beverages
180, O'Doul's, Busch NA

Theme parks
Busch Gardens, SeaWorld

Internet service providers and browsers
AOL, Netscape Navigator

Television networks
HBO, Cinemax, Warner Bros, CNN, Cartoon Network

Movie companies
Warner Bros studios, New Line Cinema, Hanna-Barbera, Castle Rock Entertainment

Little, Brown and Company, Warner Books

Time Inc magazines, DC Comics, IPC magazines

Chevron and Texaco petrol

Pepsi, Mountain Dew, Code Red, Sierra Mist, Lipton Brisk, Lipton Iced Tea, FruitWorks, AMP, Aquafina, Mr. Green, Mug Root Beer, Slice, Frappuccino, Quaker, Sugar Puffs

A+D babycare products Afrin nasal spray Claritin allergy treatment CoricidinHPB cold and 'flu remedy Correctol Drixoral allergy/sinus remedy GyneLotrimin Dr Scholl's footcare, Coppertone sun lotion

Advil painkillers, Alavert allergy remedy, Anbesol toothache remedy, Caltrate calcium supplement, Centrum vitamins, Chap Stick lip balm, Dimetapp cold and allergy medicine, FiberCon and Freelax laxatives, Preparation H haemorrhoid cream, Primatene asthma treatment, Robitussin cold and 'flu remedy

Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, Mazda, Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin Hertz car rental

Quixtar toiletries and cleaning products, Body Series toiletries, Artistry cosmetics, Satinique shampoo, Glister toothpaste

Novasoy calcium supplement NutriSoy protein supplement Soy7 pasta, Natural Source supplements

American Airlines flights

Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Holden, Hummer, Isuzu, Oldsmobile, Opel, Pontiac, Saab, Saturn, Subaru, Suzuki, Vauxhall

BP, Amoco and ARCO petrol and diesel

Walt Disney toys, stores, publications and films.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

My Apologies to Texas Democrats

Both of you. But I can't explain how great it is to have the most blue collar team, from one of the Bluest states, home of Barack Obama, kick the ass of the team from the mother of all red states in 4 games. A shutout. With the redest of president's parents there.

Hats off to the Chicago White Sox, from the immigrant, multi-ethnic, multi-colored neighborhoods of South Chicago, who beat the Texas energy-pollution capital of the world, Houston--home of Enron and Oil companies run by the ultra-wealthy friends of Bush.

Well, fuck them. Fuck the Bushes. Fuck Tom DeLay and all the rich rednecks in the Houston suburb of Sugarland. Fuck Kay Hutchinson. Fuck Rick Perry. They've been shipping shit and pollution to the rest of the world for years, and they thought they couldn't lose. The team run by a 41 year-old Venezuelan just kicked their team's ass in a sweep of epic proportions, fueled by the kind of heart and drive that makes baseball the great game that it is.

Sweeping generalizations, sure. Are there Republicans on the south side of Chicago? Of course. But the symbolism couldn't be more fitting for the times. Considering the problems of the Texas-based junta that has seriously fucked up entire world in 5 long years, this is that final symbolic straw that broke the pipeline's back. Maybe some humble pie will get Texas back on track. Hell, maybe they'll even re-elect Ann Richards.


Monday, October 24, 2005

The Leaker and Mrs. Wilson (pdf)

Trying to explain the whole Plamegate/CIA leak mess to your children? Try this very simple picture book that makes it so easy a first grader, or even Bush voter, could understand it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Prez Iraq team fought to squelch war critics

The New York Daily News World & National Report does a little background on why these treasonous theocratic plutocrats wanted to seriously fuck with anyone who dared debate them. I don't give a shit if they, and "the previous administration," all agreed Saddam actually had WMD. The fact is, BushCo didn't care about the truth as much as they cared about convincing everyone of their truth. So they passed off some badly forged letters through the Italians that claimed Saddam sought yellowcake from Niger. Wilson proved Saddam did no such thing. How dare he contradict the President of the US? They were going to show him, and they broke at least one law doing it.

Now they should have to pay. This president is a spoiled little frat boy who appoints his frat buddies to important positions they suck at. They have fucked up Iraq, this country, and most of the world. Their environmental record is a joke. The incompetence has cost trillions and will cost trillions more. And they're still coming back for more.

Fuck them. And fuck every Bush voter who has the balls to defend them now. Ted Rall has interesting suggestions about what should happen to them.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Abramoff and the Gottis

Check out my Daily KOS post on breaking news regarding Tom DeLay's good friend, Jack Abramoff, and his ties to mafioso types arrested today for murdeing Abramoff's business partner. If only there was a male prostitute "reporter" involved in this, maybe the media would pay attention.

Friday, September 23, 2005

Friday, September 16, 2005

For those of you who say that Democrats are a spineless bunch with no ideas, I dare you to read this energy speech by Sen. Barack Obama, and then come back here and comment on how much Democrats suck.
Today I’d like to give you another example of a deal that Washington could make with Detroit. We’d start by raising the fuel economy standards in this country by 3% a year over the next fifteen years. But to help our auto industry make the transition – to give them the competitive edge they need against their foreign counterparts – we’d pay for part of the biggest costs they face today: retiree health care. Right now, health care costs represent $1,500 of the price of every GM car that’s made. By picking up part of the tab for the health care costs of their retirees, we’d
be lifting a huge burden off the auto industry so that they’ll invest in the technology that will finally reduce America’s dependence on foreign oil.
Sounds like a good idea to me. And I know it's something I'll never hear out of George Bush's mouth.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

I've been posting Hurricane Katrina related Bush treason over at the Bush Treason blog. Apparently the facade has been ripped off the Republican "Christianity." Perhaps the best version of that I heard lately wasn't even Katrina related. It was on the Daily show Tuesday night in a bit called Heavy Vetting. At about 2:12, Stewart, after going after some pretty lame ass Democrats, plays Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn's tearful plea for less divisiveness and mindless partisanship which is "almost hateful." Right. He then quotes Coburn's devisive and hateful statements from the past:
"The Gay community is the greatest threat to our freedom that we face today." -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R) Oklahoma, Spring 2004

"I favor the death penalty for abortionists." -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R) Oklahoma, July 9, 2004
If it weren't for John Stewart for the last five years, I'd be as crazy as Tom Coburn.

Check out the latest great google bomb for the word asshole. Great song by Jim's Big Ego.

Finally, my Asia travel agent friend and client, Anne Leveque, is in Hainan Provence China. She's an Asian Travel specialist who visits everywhere she sends people. So, she's vacationing in the Oriental Hawaii and blogging her adventures on Hainan Island on her South Pacific, Hawaii, and Asia travel blog.

Monday, August 22, 2005

Salt Lake City Mayor Calls for Massive Anti-Bush protest

Yes, he's a Democrat, but he's a Democrat in a non-partisan post in the capitol city of the most conservative state in the nation. And he's calling for "...a collaboration of health-care-provision advocates, seniors, the (gay, lesbian and bisexual and transsexual) community, anti-Patriot Act advocates and other civil libertarians, anti-war folks, pro-Social Security advocates, environmental advocates, anti-nuclear-testing advocates, and anti-nuclear-waste-shipment-and-storage advocates..." to protest the President in Salt Lake today, where he just gave a speech to the VFW.

They have transsexuals in Salt Lake City?

Rocky Anderson probably lost some votes, but his conscience is clear. Hell, just to be able to get on CNN by phone and list all the reasons you shouldn't like Bush is worth retiring over, I would think.

Mike Parkin, the senior vice commander of the VFW's Atomic Post 4355 in Salt Lake City called Anderson "very unpatriotic" and "despicable." Anderson's reply?
Patriotism demands that people speak out when we see our government officials acting in such antidemocratic and deceitful ways to the people of our country.
Damn straight.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

After twisting my ankle in a stupid accident, I've been laid up for a while, reading a lot, playing video games, and just wasting time, since I've really felt apathetic regarding politics lately. But the Cindy Sheehan protest outside Bush's ranch has recently perked up my interest. Today I wake up to this:

In U.S. heartland, anxiety over Iraq, oil

Soldier's Mother Inspires Protests Across U.S.

Not to mention the Global Warming trip by Republicans like Snowe and McCain, the criminal charges against the Republican Ohio Governor, DeLay lover and lobbyist Abramoff indicted, the Plame affair about to blow, reports of 9-11 screw ups by Pentagon lawyers, and whole shit-load of other neo-con heartburn fuel, and I feel much, much better.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Stuff Happens, then it doesn't

That's the life of this theater. Plays generally only last 6 to 8 weeks. Just when you're having a good time, time for another.

Stuff Happens has been especially fun for me. This is a great cast that's very politically aware, especially of the importance of the material they're working with. I've had some great hallway discussions with Keith Carradine, John Michael Higgins, John Vickery, Stephen Spinella, Brian George, Jay Harrik, Alan Oppenheimer, Julian Sands and my friend from Lion King, the original Scar on Broadway, John Vickery. We've all been talking about the Valerie Plame case with great interest and hope that this is the case they'll all get caught on.

I encourage everyone I know to go see this when it goes to New York. The cast may change a little when it heads to Broadway, but one thing's for sure. This play will make you think. And laugh. And worry.

I'd like to thank everyone here at the Taper on this run. As a very political stagehand, I must say this has been my favorite play of all the ones I've worked on, and you all made it that way.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Backstage Conversations about a Character Not in the Play

This past Sunday, I broke the breaking news about Rove being the leak in the Valerie Plame crime to the actors backstage at the Mark Taper Forum, where the play Stuff Happens is in its last two weeks. It was weird. I was telling George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney that Karl Rove probably broke the law by leaking Valerie Plame's cover to the press.

Well, I was telling the actors who play those parts. It's a shame there's no Karl Rove in the play. It would have been positively surreal to tell that actor that his character was, hopefully, only weeks away from the Frog March.

Backstage at the Taper being a decidedly Blue State, there was a sense of eagerness, which has now, a few days later, settled into a kind of cynical hope. We've all realized that these sleaze bags are going to get the best lawyers in the world to try to weazel them out of this.

It's a complicated deal, indeed. Democrats have such simple scandals. Republicans know how to keep the public interested in kidnapped children or 'Lil Kim. They make their scandals excrutiatingly complicated.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Back to Stuff Happens

As the assistant soundman at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, I cover for the boss when he goes on vacation, which is what I'll be doing for the next three weeks. As you may know from my posts over the last few weeks, we're doing the play Stuff Happens until July 17. It's a powerful bit of drama based on recent history, and the reviews (links in older posts below) have been very good.

Opening night was a big success, with the longest standing ovation I've ever seen in this theater (part of which was for Gordon Davidson, because this is his last play to direct here). The largely liberal audiences have enjoyed the play, for the most part.

Except for one part. Throughout the play, the action stops for brief monologues by various people with very different points of view. The pro-war liberal often gets applause for the passion of his humanitarian arguement for the war, which is suprising considering the liberal leanings of the audiences. But at the top of the second act, a Palestinian woman, obviously educated and articulate, speaks from the point of view of her people. The reason for America's attack on Iraq, she says, is to support America's $3 billion per year colony in the middle east, Israel.

The boos, on some nights, are loud and long.

I find it astounding that these Jews are so pro-Israel that they can't shut up long enough to entertain the idea that the way the US treats Israel might have something to do with perceptions of America's war in Iraq. Specifically, early in the play Bush favors unleashing Sharon because sometimes a show of force by just one side can "really clarify things." It shocks me that these otherwise liberal Jews are so wrapped up in their hatred for Palestinians that they would loudly boo a play! Do they not see the irony? I wonder if their anger blocks their ears to the last line of this woman's monologue: "We are the Jews of the Jews." Do they not realize that the poverty in the Palestinian camps, the use of the Palestinians as cheap labor, and the killing of Palestinian civilians in retaliation for terrorists killing Jews - do they not see how Americans killing Arab civilians in Iraq fuels the same fire of hatred?

Of course I can't know for sure if these are the Mark Taper Forum regulars booing, or if this Iraq War history play has just brought in a different kind of Zionist theater goer, but to hear a liberal audience laughing at Bush's insincerity one minute and booing a Palestinian who sees America's involvement in the middle east as support for Israel really pisses me off. I'd like to see some Palestenian protesters out in front of the theater when the audience leaves, just to make them face their bigotry a little longer.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Sen. Durbin's Guantanamo Statement

The Chicken Hawk brigade got it's marching orders yesterday, to defend torture and attack anyone who questions it. After reading from an FBI report of torture at Gitmo, the Rethuglicans have focused their fire on anyone who would dare question God's chosen leader, defending our "right" to torture anyone we want, due process and possible repurcussions to our troops be damned. Of course the cowards who drool over the pain we're inflicting on people are the ones not in line at the recruiting station. I doubt if they would volunteer to fight their favorite war, even if they were guaranteed a primo torture assignment.

Forum? No funds? Small room?

That's what the let John Conyers have to talk about the Downing Street Memo, and what it means in terms of pressuring Bush to draw up an exit strategy. I wonder how long Halliburton and Bechtel will stay once the troops are gone? Don't we still have bases in Japan and Germany? I hear Saddam's old digs in Bagdad (now in the Green Zone) are right nice.

House Democrat's forum to examine Downing Street memo

In case you haven't been keeping up, Knight-Ridder was the first to carry the DSM story. I'm sure they won't be the last.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Stuff Happens at the Mark Taper Forum Gets the Longest Ovation I've Ever Seen There

I've been working at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles off and on since 1998. I've never seen a standing ovation last until the house lights came up. Last Sunday night, it seemed like they would have gone longer for Gordon Davidson's last directorial effort.

David Hare's Stuff Happens got a great review the next day in the Los Angeles Times the next day by James C. Taylor, and that's good news too, because Center Theater Group could use that kind of press these days. The house has been full everynight, the crowds have been enthusiastic, and the fact that the play attempts, and largely succeeds at being fair to all sides in this HUGE argument, will hopefully fuel the word of mouth that theater apparently depends on to survive these days.

Another good review appeared in the San Francisco Chronical: It tickles and it disturbs. 'Stuff Happens' probes the personalities behind the rush to invade Iraq by Rob Kendt.

Yet another good review can be found at the U-Daily Bulletin:
'Stuff Happens' a political 'mission accomplished,' by Evan Henerson.

Of course, if you're not familiar with Gordon Davidson, you should read this review in the NYT:
Los Angeles Director Bows Out in Timely Fashion by Bernard Weinraub, which has a great photograph of Gordon and David Hare in front of the abalone shell wall in the lower lobby of the Taper.

Arianna Huffington was at the premiere, and had this to say about the play, amoung other things.

As the assistant soundman at the Taper, my only criticisms of the play are technical. The projection that had been designed by Ming Cho Lee and Marc Rosenthal was cut. Originally planned to be a big part of the play, David Hare, who had a lot of control for an author, hated it and had it all cut. So much for the $20,000 reflective material drop that stretches 50 feet across the stage as the backdrop. The White House image, which is actually on the drop and brought up by backlight, is not projection, and is the only feature of the set aside from 5 doors and a lot of tables, chairs, and two podiums.

A quick note on the Presidential Desk: it is an exact replica of the desk in the Oval Office, actually made of Mahogany -- very heavy (which prop guys hate). I'm sure it looked like the real thing before they painted it black.

This minimalistic set built for projection is all black, which creates a depressing setting for a play that is depressing enough already. When something funny happens, like an ironic quote from one of the main characters, I find myself chuckling and thinking, damn, that would be funnier if it weren't true. Sitting in a dark theater, with a dark set, listening to Dick Cheney talk about his 5 student deferments, or Donald Rumsfeld calling the UN a "context," or Colin Powell saying we know Saddam has weapons because we still have the receipts, more blackness is the last thing you want.

But you get it from the lighting. The front lighting is provided almost entirely by a spot light run by my friend Bill Mourner, one of the best in the business. Despite the fact that he has over 100 "pickups" in the play, he manages to keep up with the pace, something many spot-ops would have trouble with. Most of the rest of the lighting is either straight down, or backlight, which makes for a dark, shadowy, well, Bush-Cheney feel. The only thing missing is Darth Vader.

But maybe the effect works differently on people who haven't spent the last five years following every lie, cheat, fake, attack, smirk, malaprop, mischaracterization, scowl, and war this neo-con cabal has hammered through our skull. Maybe I'm just too depressed about what's happened to this country to begin with. Hopefully people who haven't been paying that much attention will be shocked into getting off their ass and voting.

Too bad this play won't wind up anywhere near a swing state.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Stage Invades History by David Hare

David Hare's piece in today's LA Times is a great read for anyone interested in recent history and theater. The buzz surrounding his new play, Stuff Happens, which I've been blogging about throughout our production weeks at the Mark Taper Forum, has grown into a steady drone, I would imagine not unlike the sound made by one of our military's predator drones.

Hare explains how the play came to be, and how it became what it is: an amalgum of facts and well researched imaginary goings-on in the halls and offices of the most powerful people on earth. If you can't get to LA to see it, don't worry, it will be in New York soon enough, I would imagine. And you can buy a copy of the Stuff Happens script here.

Also in today's LA Times is a great article about my friend Gordon Davidson, who is directing Stuff Happens. He chose this play as his last, after 38 years as Artistic Director at the Center Theater Group, because he wanted to do something important and timely as his last hurrah. I'd say he's done that, and more. He's an icon of American Theater, and he will be missed. Read what Davidson has to say about Stuff Happens in the Play's Program (pdf).

Saturday, May 28, 2005

If you're not frothing at the mouth, you lose and election, and then really bad Stuff Happens

I bought the book form of the script for Stuff Happens so I could quote a couple of passages that I really like. Much of the play is made up of direct quotes from the various characters like Bush and Rumsfeld. The play starts with a quote from WH Auden:
The inevitable is what will seem to happen to you purely by chance.
The real is what will strike you as really absurd.
Unless you are certain you are dreaming, it is certainly a dream of your own.
Unless you exclaim - "There must be some mistake" - you must be mistaken.
It's certainly a great way to start a play about the neo-con run up to war. But I discovered a quote at the front of this book that is not in the play that I like even better:
All of us have heard this term "preventive war" since the earliest days of Hitler. In this day and time... I don't believe there is such a thing; and frankly, I wouldn't even listen to anyone seriously that came in and talked about such a thing. -- Dwight Eisenhower
And then there's this one to follow that up:
It is useless to attempt to reason a man out of a thing he was never reasoned into. -- Jonathan Swift
Well, that certainly explains why, despite his passionate pleas to Bush as imagined by David Hare, the author of Stuff Happens, Colin Powell eventually caves in and stops trying to convince these narrow minded fools that they are doing the whole thing wrong. If it all unfolded the way Hare imagines, and it seems likely, then Powell managed to talk Bush into going to the UN, Cheney didn't like it much, and a series of blunders and arrogance turned the whole thing into a debacle, leading to Cheney and Rumsfeld getting their way in the end. Powell comes out looking good, since a play like this needs a good guy of some sort... But in the end, he sells out, plays the good soldier, and does what he's told. We all know how that story ends. The man who could have been the first black President is in a garage somewhere working on his Volvo. At one point, Powell is talking to Bush. Rice is there. He goes off on an impassioned speech about how fucked up this war will be once you invade, and how wrong Wolfowitz and his source (Chalabi) probably are. When he finishes, the audience has applauded every night! It's a great theater moment. But he goes on. Rice asks him what he wants. He says he wants his country to be less arrogant.
POWELL: I want us to go abut this in a different way. Three thousand of our citizens died. They died in an unforgivable attack. But that doesn't license us to behave like idiots. If we reach the point where everyone is secretly hoping that America gets a bloody nose, then we're going to find it very hard indeed to call on freinds when we need them.

BUSH: I've said before: this isn't a popularity contest, Colin. It isn't about being popular.

POWELL: No, it isn't, you're right.


POWELL: It's about being effective. And the present policy of being high-handed as possible with as many countries as possible is profoundly counter-productive. It won't work. There's an element of hypocrisy, George. We were trading with the guy [Saddam]! Not long ago. People keep asking, how do we know he's got weapons of mass destruction? How do we know? Because we've still got the receipts!
This has gotten a big laugh and even some applause every night. During the moments like this during the play, it's a lot like the Fahrenheit 9/11 audiences.

This weekend ends my run on the production phase of Stuff Happens (click the link for tickets and info). I'll be back to fill in for my boss, the master soundman, from June 24th to July 10th. Drop me a line if you're interested in saying hi when you come to see it.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Hissing from the Audience at David Hare's ANTI-BUSH Play, Stuff Happens

Well, I think David Hare, the author of Stuff Happens, would have a problem with calling it an anti-Bush play. But it is. It's a history play, with a decidedly ironic view of the events leading up to the Iraq war. Most of the narration points out the facts that guide the theater-goer down the path to depression and disgust. I can't think of anything that's pro-Bush that mentions Chilabi intellegence source Curveball.

We've had two previews now and the audiences have loved it. Partial standing ovations. Hissing in the appropriate points. Lots of laughter. It's like going to Farhenheit 9-11, except it's more in-depth, better researched, very factual, and 2.75 hours long.

As I mentioned in last night's diary, there is a short program being handed out to the audience for the previews which include a note from the author and some quotes of interest. I asked Hare last night if those quotes were his choices, and he said "some." This Pope Urban II quote about the first crusade was not chosen by Hare, although it is certainly fitting.

Therefore I say to you that God, who implanted this in your breasts, has drawn it forth from you. Let that, then, be your war cry in battle, because it is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon your enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: "It is the will of God! It is the will of God!"-- Pope Urban II, summoning the faithful to the First Crusade, 1095

One quote that Hare did pick is from George HW Bush:

Trying to eliminate Saddam, extending the ground war into an occupation of Iraq, would have violated our guideline about not changing objectives in midstream, engaging in "mission creep," and would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under those circumstances, there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-conciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nation's mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different -- and perhaps barren -- outcome. -- George HW Bush and Brent Scowcroft, A World Transformed

Copies of the script are being sold in book form outside the theater, and I'll grab one tonight. There are many quotes in the play that are very memorable, and I'll put a few up here.

You can get your copy of the David Hare play Stuff Happens here.

Crossposted at Supak's Daily KOS.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

First Preview of Stuff Happens

They're laughing, applauding, and even guffawing. I think David Hare, with whom I've had a few conversations now, has a hit on his hands. When the pro-war monologue in the beginning of the show got applause, Mr. Hare thinks that's because there are some pro-war people in the audience. But this is LA Theater. Not exactly a conservative hot bed. The pro-war speech comes from a new labor leader in England, and it is compassionate, about how we've freed an opressed people and they're better off now. I think a lot of Americans, even the ultra-liberal LA theater goers feel a lot of guilt for what's happened to Iraq, and the speech helps relieve that guilt by suggesting that because Iraqis are better off now, everything else doesn't matter. Maybe they just clapped because they want to believe that.

Problem is, as I told Mr. Hare, as he nodded, we have to question now, are they better off? Are less people dying everyday now? Is sewage, electric, transportation, and all the other measures of a society BETTER?

I see a lot of nodding in the audience, a lot of head scratching, and I hope to catch some conversation bits on the way out tonight. I hope this thing does well. We need more people questioning the direction this country has taken, and we need more art to make people think about it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

What is a mainstream American?

"Rush Limbaugh has been married four times and divorced four times. He's got a drug problem. He's 53 and he has no kids. Tell me how he's mainstream American."--Ed Schultz
My Boss, who's sitting on the other end of the aisle, teching the audio for Stuff Happens, sent me that quote a few minutes ago, from this story at Big Ed's site.

I got to thinking about that, since I've been busy writing this big post about the play over at the Daily KOS. These Americans in the White House like to act like they're mainstream, but they're not. The rabid ditto heads who vote for them like to think of themselves as good Americans, but they're not. Good Americans educate themselves before elections. For example, in the last election, I would say a good American would be able to tell you who attacked us on 9/11. I'll give you a hint. It wasn't Saddam Hussein.

Here's another hint. "I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."--GWB, 3/13/02

Mainstream Americans these days, when polled, say they don't approve of Bush, and they say, by a BIG margin, they'd rather have Democrats in control of congress.

Mainstream Americans don't lie and cheat to get what they want. They play by the rules, they work hard, and they do their homework.

Those are the people who I hope come to see Stuff Happens.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

During the long, boring process called tech rehersals, my boss Jeff Bryan, Master Soundman at the Mark Taper Forum, and I sit in the backrow of the theater taking cues, and surfing the net on our laptops. Jeff took the time, perhaps inspired by the depressing factual events of the Bush administration in the play we're doing (Stuff Happens), wrote a great letter through the site protesting the Frist Nuclear Option about to take place over Senate filibusters of extreme judegs.
Dear Senators,

As I am sure you must be aware, the consequences of the so called Nuclear
Option are far reaching and devastating to our country and our freedom.
For over two hundred years the Senate has fulfilled its constitutional
duty of advice and consent. This process has never been a rubber stamp
and nor should it become one. Both parties when they found themselves in
the minority have used the filibuster as a tool to promote full debate,
compromise, and consensus. This process minimizes the potential disaster
of courts filled with the ideological extremes, either from the far left
or far right. Unfortunately there are those of you who now would choose
to destroy that time tested process. I urge you to reconsider your
actions. Just as FDR was not allowed to "stack" the court to obtain short
term goals you should not change the rules to do like wise.

To those of you who insist upon this disastrous course I would
respectfully call your attention to the ancient roman tradition of the
triumphal march. In the same chariot with the triumphant general there
rode a slave who kept saying "Look Behind!" Meaning "Look to the
aftermath- look at all the years that remain. Do not be puffed up or
elated at your present good-fortune." A bell and a whip were fastened to
the chariot, and these signified that it was possible for him to meet with
misfortune even to the extent of being scourged or condemned to death.
Senators, history has taught us that no party stays in power forever and
what you seek today may come back to haunt you terribly in the future.
Well, said, Jeff. Sometimes I wish we could send the entire Republican party to a world history course. There is so much they seem destined to repeat.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Finally, Some Meaty Stuff Happens

I just sat through the best scene yet, where Colin Powell takes Bush and Rice to task over the arrogance of the administration in going to war with Iraq, and arrogance and hypocrasy in general. I'm sitting here wishing that this actually happened. Maybe it did. Maybe Powell really did bitch to Bush about how we went to war too quickly without the UN and a real coalition. One thing's for sure, if Powell really did give this moving speech I just heard, Bush still blew him off. It would certainly explain why Powell is no longer in the White House. It would also explain why he's one of the few Republicans I ever liked.

But it doesn't explain why, if he really felt this way, once they failed to get the UN and a real coalition, Powell went along with it. He didn't come out and tell the truth, like Paul O'Neill and Richard Clark did. Maybe it's just the good soldier in him.

And if this is even close to what really happened, then I sure wish Powell had been the president on 9-11 instead of Cheney, er, Bush. But then again, I wish anyone would have been president instead of them.

Great scene.

Oh, and print out the Stuff Happens Discovery Guide before you see the show.

Stuff Happens and We Need to Make Them Step In It

Stuff Happens Again and Again...

First full day of rehersal for Stuff Happens at the Mark Taper Forum (see previous posts for details). It's a lot of starting and stopping, since it's a tech rehersal, but I've seen several Bush quotes used that are worth mentioning. One of my favorites is used in the segment of the play where Tony Blair calls Bush to say that British special forces were tracking Bin Laden when they were ordered out by American forces.
"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."--GWB, 3/13/02
While Bush tells Blair it was an operational thing, not an order from the White House, Cheney sits smugly frowning, and there can be little doubt that these guys are screwing the poodle.

This is cross-posted at The Daily KOS.

I'm starting to see a pattern in this play, where the Bush administration is viewed not so much by a fly on the wall, but as a Brit on the wall, with the kind of in-depth critical eye on the goings on that seems to be missing in America these days. For those of us who actually read internet news from a wide variety of sources, including British ones, a lot of the facts in the play are common knowledge. Many people, hopefully, will wonder how much is real and how much is made up, and hopefully they'll go look things up. And many others will think it's liberal bullshit, although I'd be suprised if any of them will shell out the cash for a ticket.

There are some Republican season ticket holders to the Taper, I've followed them to their Escalades and Jaguars with W04 stickers after shows, and I wonder if they'll be here, or if they'll have the balls to walk out. I hope so. That's the kind of head-in-the-sand reaction I would expect from right wing blinder wearers, and the kind of controvery creating action that will sell tickets.

I've also seen a couple of thoughtful monologues from various characters that frame the issues in very enlightening ways, and set the action in terms of times, locations, and philosophies.

The set is large and black. All black. Walls, floor, chairs, tables. On our color monitors throughout the house it looks like a black and white movie. I've been working at the Taper on and off since 1998, and I've never seen a set so dark, or one that forgoes the typical thrust stage in this horseshoe theatre. A large chunk of the action takes place at the same level as the front row audience, making the whole theater seem like congress during the state of the union speech, for example.

It raises the question of dark comedy vs. a tired liberal audience verging on depression already. I wonder how much we can take....

Since it's only a tech rehersal today, the actors are kind of cruising, knowing they can and will be interupted at any moment, so it's hard to get a good feel for how they're playing it. The scene they're working on at the moment is Tony Blair visiting the Bush ranch in Crawford, trying to convince Bush that he needs UN support to make the Iraq invasion legal. Bush follows along to seem interested and polite, but Keith Carradine is very adept at playing the guy who listens and nods enough to look like he's getting it, then goes off and does whatever he wants. At the end of the scene, Bush tells Blair the same thing he was spinning to the public, that there were "no war plans on the table." That they're "just looking at their options." It becomes obvious that Blair's long eloquent speech about diplomacy, UN apporval, and being able to convince his cabinet and people that this wasn't something that a "group in Washington" had already made up their minds on, is a big waste of time to Bush, who has no qualms lying to his face about the decision.

This thread of the sneaky kind of we're-not-actually-lying (heh heh) childish bullshit is pervasive throughout the play's Bush administration hired marketeers who had obviously made up their minds to invade Iraq even before 9-11. This isn't a play for the conspiracy theorists who are convinced Bush knew about 9-11, or even that a missile, not a plane, hit the Pentagon. This is a play based on a very basic fact: the neo-cons were going to war with Iraq and everything else, including lying to Tony Blair, was Madison Ave. meets Pennsylvania Ave.

Friday, May 20, 2005

More Stuff Happens

Anyone who can get to LA between May 25 and July 17 should come see Stuff Happens at the Mark Taper Forum. I'm setting up the projection, as I've mentioned before, and resisting the temptation to plug in all kinds of fun images. There's only one projection, for now, at the very end, and it's a portrait of Bush, Cheney, Rice, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Powell, and Tenet. It's like torture having to look at their faces while I tweak the images.

This is cross posted from Supak at the DailyKOS.

What I saw of the play last night, in the first visit to the stage by the actors, was brilliant. David Hare, the author, has researched what went on behind closed doors in the Bush administration from Day One, and the play is a chronology of actual, and assumed, events. The assumed events are quite likely, given the actual ones. All of the quotes to the press I saw in the small rehersal last night were actual quotes. Scenes like the first National Security briefing were based on actual accounts, like from Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill's book.

Stuff Happens was performed in London (here's a preview) but the cast here in LA, featuring Keith Carradine as Bush, and Lorraine Toussaint as Rice, will be completely different. This will be Gordon Davidson's last play with the Center Theater Group of LA.

Yesterday, Gordon saw me and asked me what I thought so far (he and I have talked politics many times) I told him I was extremely happy he chose this as his last play, and that it needed more projection (just a gentle kid since I won't actually be on this show, except to replace my boss as the soundman for three weeks).

Next time I see him, I'm going to ask him if they have plans for heckelers. The stage is very wide, and the main action happens at floor level, eye-to-eye with the audience. The set, designed by Ming Cho Lee, tries to make the audience feel like a part of the play, and I'm hoping they'll have some pre-planened anti-heckler lines.

One other set note, which will clue you in to some of the craziness that goes into a play like this: they had an exact replica of the president's mahogany desk built, and it ways about 400 pounds. I'm sure it looked beautiful and precise, before they painted it black to match the rest of the set... Sounds like something Bush would do.

"I wanna paint this desk black, heh heh, to blot out any stains Clinton might have left on it..."

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Stuff Happens is Underway

When the actors, who have been rehersing Stuff Happens for weeks, finally get on stage for the first time, it's an interesting moment to say the least. Some are overly dramatic, testing the space for echos, walking around the audience, while others simply go right to work, getting the spacing right, the distances from off stage to on, the distances down steps, etc. The general "getting the feel" of the place attitude is different for every one of the 22 actors.

In what is apparently the beginning of the play (I don't have a script and haven't seen one), the players are introduced with a bit of background. From Hans Blix to Condoleeza Rice, each of the major players is introudced with some ironic bit of the history (Cheney dodging the draft, Wolfowitz preaching that Vietnam was an abuse of US power). Many of the actors play alternate characters, like the press, while various speakers take turns narrating bits of transition.

Law and Order fans will be happy to know that Condoleeza Rice is being played by Lorraine Toussaint, or Shambala Green, who kicked Stone's ass in court a few times (who didn't?). I can already see that this is going to portray Secretary of State Powell as a decent guy who is dumbfounded by the singlemindedness and ignorance of the new administration. Same for Paul O'Neill. George Tenant looks like he's on board with the agenda from the get go.

Hard to tell too much now, but it has potential, that's for sure.
I posted the following at the Daily KOS yesterday, where it got lost in the great flood of liberal opinion there. This play is going to be very important. From what I'm seeing right now, with the actors on stage for the first time, it has a very historical feel, yet with a bit of irreverance and some very dark humor. Here's yesterday's post:

I'm sitting here in the back row of the Mark Taper Forum, where my IATSE Local 33 brothers and siters are installing the set for Stuff Happens, a new play by David Hare, Directed by Gordon Davidson. After over 35 years as the Artistic Director for the Center Theater Group in LA, Gordon is going out with a bang (much like he came in), doing this play about the Bush administration's charge to war. After this it's retirement for the man who changed the face of Los Angeles Theater.

There is a 50 foot wide reflective drop that when back lit, has a large picture of the front of the White House. The set, designed by Ming Cho Lee, drops down to floor level, where the actors will be on the same level as the front row of the audience. Everyone who has seen rehersals says it's great, that you laugh to keep from crying, and that it's meticulously researched. The flier reads:
Stuff Happens is a brand new play about the series of events that led to the conflict in Iraq and the parts played by world political leaders, in particular President George W. Bush and his inner circle of foreign policy advisors. From the early search for weapons of mass destruction and the long shadow cast by 9/11, to the drive to remove the tyrannical Saddam Hussein from power, to the thousands of questions relating to oil, terror, Al Qaeda and more, Stuff Happens explores through public record and through David Hare's meticulous research what most likely happened behind the closed doors of power. Hare has fashioned a compelling narrative on recent history, and a riveting drama about the frustrations of power and the limits of diplomacy.
The play stars Tyrees Allen, Henry Brown, Jane Carr, Keith Carradine (as Bush), Mitchell Edmonds, Brian George, Kip Gilman, James Gleason, Francis Guinana, James Handy, Jay Harik, John Michael Higgins, Anna Khaja, John Ratter Lee, Dakin Matthews, Paul Messinger, Alan Oppenheimer, Julian Sands, Stephen Spinella, Lorraine Toussaint, Inger Tudor, and my friend John Vickery, who played Scar in the LA production of Lion King (which I ran the automation on).

The title of the play is, of course, based on the famous Rumsfeld Iraq looting quote from April 11, 2003: "Stuff happens... and freedom's untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things."

I'm setting up the audio and the projection for the show (the projection is just one cue at the end), and I will be running both the audio and projection for three weeks when my boss, Master Saoundman Jeff Bryan, goes on vacation in June and July. I will be logging my experience at my main blog: Backstage with Supak. I'll do some cross posting to here as reminders to all the KOSsacks who I hope to see in the theater! I'll be in the audience opening night, and I'll be running the audio/video June 22 through July 10. Drop me a note if you plan to attend: ssupak at yahoo dot com.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

I've been beefing up my anti-Bush blog, Bush Treason and Treachery. Figured I'd be posting here a lot in the coming weeks, while I help set up the new play, Stuff Happens, at the Mark Taper Forum.

I'll be setting up projection, which will probably be cut, for one projection cue, presumably at the end. The last time I set up a projection for a Ming Cho Lee designed set, he cut the water that would have washed over the set of Enigma Variations at the Taper, starring Donald Sutherland. What a beautiful set that was. I have heard that the set for Stuff Happens will actually be a lowered stage, ripping up the regular floor at the Taper to make the stage as low as possible.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

I'm running the audio for Electricidad at the Mark Taper Forum in LA right now, so I have to type quietly. This play is a Latino version of Electra by Sophocles, and it's amazing how the 2400 year old play holds up. The whole revenge over my Dad thing is so Bush.

Meanwhile, halfway across the country, the American Taliban, led by James Dobson, are busy with another step toward creating an Evangelical Theocracy in this country.
"If there was a God, I wouldn't be making government cheese quesadillas." -- Electricidad's Grandmother.
The next play here will be Gordon Davidson's last, and it's called Stuff Happens, the story of the Bush Administration's selling of the war in Iraq. It's based on the Rumsfeld quote:
"Stuff happens!…And it’s untidy, and freedom’s untidy, and free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things." -- Donald Rumsfeld, US Secretary of Defense, April 11, 2003, when asked to comment on the widespread looting of Baghdad.
I will be setting up the projection for the show, starting production in mid May, assuming they decide to use it, and I will be the soundman for a few weeks, while Jeff, the head soundman, takes his vacation. You will be hearing about it here.

Monday, April 18, 2005

The Motor City Madman should be arrested for incindiary speech.

Don't miss my Daily KOS blog about The Nuge losing his mind, sceaming remember the Alamo to a bunch of racist gun owners in Texas, and advocating an overthrow of the US rule of law, abolishing the 7th amendment, and vigilante enforced death penalties for burglary and other crimes short of murder.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Catskill Mountains Forest Preserve

Fellow environmentalists should check out our Catskills wallpaper pictures section, where I've posted new pictures of Platte Clove, a beautiful wilderness area preserved and cared for by The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. Robin and I were taken up there by my new favorite Republican (and I told him that's not saying much), John LaValle, who is working as our real estate agent in the Woodstock area of upstate New York. John volunteers time with the Catskill Center, and has worked hard to preserve land in New York. Kudos. My new saying on the subject of Woodstock area politics? Even the Republicans are liberal!

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Heading to the Catskills...

for a week and we'll have lot's of New York free wallpaper pictures of spring in the Catskills when we get back! I'll try to post a few to our wallpaper blog while on the road, but it's going to be a busy week, so no promises.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

WesPAC | Securing America

I started posting to the Daily Kos lately and was impressed to see that Gen. Wes Clark is one of the few potential presidents who is openly supported. In fact, up to now, he's the only one. While I've been a Clark Supporter for a long time (I'm an Arkansan who lives in LA now, soon to move to NY), I'm new to the Daily KOS, but Armando, one of the KOS regulars and best, often suggests General Clark should run. And when you read the comments left on Armando's posts, you'll see lots of people who agree with him.

Everyone who reads this should go to a lefty blog and leave a comment that supports Wes Clark. Make your comment topical and work the Clark comment into the flow. Make links to Wes Clark using HTML. Make his name link [to]. OR make the words potential president link to here. More links to General Clark can be one of our first strategic moves on the internet.

Saturday, March 26, 2005

I Knew This Would Be Good

When my wife Robin, who was angry about the Terry Schiavo case asked me to build Questions for Christians, I knew it was going to be good. Today, Robin got her best Christian Answer yet, regarding her out of the box thinking regarding abortion and homosexuality. But, as I had hoped would happen, the commenter, Jay, went beyond the scope of the question in question, and spoke to the bigger picture of her new blog. It is worth-while reading indeed.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

And Now for Something Completely Different

For proof that my wife really thinks outside of the box, I refer you to her latest inquiry at Questions for Christians:
If science develops a test to determine sexual orientation in the womb, will you fight to save [homosexuals] from abortions?
I can't wait to see the replies to this one! Great job, Rob!

Friday, March 18, 2005

Questions for Christians

On this day of concern for feeding Terry Schiavo, which, ironically, none of these hypocritical protesting pro-lifers cared about while she was starving herself into this state, my wife Robin and I have unveiled Robin's new blog, Questions for Christians. For now we're inviting anyone to come answer her questions. If we get death threats from Christians (which will raise more questions), we'll have to carefully moderate the comments. But for now, we're going to let anyone have their say.

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Supak at the Daily Kos

I'm not really sure why I hadn't joined up at the Truth and Fair Argument Squad, AKA The Daily KOS. Probably because it's more work. But I've been reading some great stuff there, and couldn't resist setting up my own section to help keep track of it all.

Friday, March 11, 2005

House Ethics Panel in Gridlock

Just another speed bump in Tom DeLay's NASCAR-speed run through the ethics regulations of the US House. For Tom DeLay, the real meat is, and always will be, back home in Texas, where the crimes he's "allegedly" committed could pile up high enough to throw his ass out of office. At the very least, his next election will be even more interesting than the last.

DeLay always depended on big money to dupe the brainwashed Texans in his Houston X-urb district (drawn up just for him), and now he's fucked with his bread and butter. Lobbyists are going to think twice before dumping cash in his lap. He will still get piles of cash, but there will be increased scrutiny on every dime. This will make it harder to out spend his opponent 10 to 1 like he did in 04. In the mean time, Richard Morrison is continuing his campaign against DeLay.

And here is a chance for Democrats in the Dean age to show DeLay our new trick. There is no reason why any congressman in any district should ever have to take money from any corporate interest that is anti-consumer or anti-environment. Thanks to Dean's fundraising prowess through the internet, we now have a chance to raise money for any candidate directly from the people. I encourage anyone listening to send Richard Morrison $11.11 and donate anything you can to the DNC. Pennies in a pile...

I've become a grassroots member of the DNC at $10 a month.

And if you're wondering why I think it's so important to go after this red-neck SOB who managed to lie and cheat his way to the majority leader position of the People's House, I have one quote from the Hammer himself:
"It has never been proven that air toxics are hazardous to people."--Quoted in Houston Chronicle 10-28-90

Thursday, March 10, 2005

In first defeat of second term, Bush's pollution bill dies in Senate

See? It's not hopeless. Of course, my environmentally mental wife Robin pointed out in the LA Times article about this that there are still plenty of things they can do to help their big polluting friends. While direct action from the executive is limited, it's still possible for them to allow more pollution without any congressional action.

On the bright side, however, this is a major block to an aggressive anti-environmental bill from the Bushies. All we needed was Lincoln Chaffee and Jim Jeffords to make the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee split 9-9. And so it dies there. Of course, depending on moderate Republicans to fight these kind of bills is all we have at the moment, there is promise that standing up to these kind of things will raise the level of awareness among voters.

The fact that Kerry hardly ever talked about the environment drove me nuts. The only environmental question in all three debates came from a citizen in debate 2, so the press just ignored the issue. And now, as people read about fish so loaded with mercury that you can't eat them, pesticides causing cancer, and a myriad of other environmental disasters, maybe the Democrats will wake up and realize that a vast majority of Americans want more environmental protection, not less. Combined with the kind of populism many Democrats had to bail on to help the credit card companies that donate to them (like Joe Biden), working people everywhere might actually believe that Democrats fight for them.

For more on the missed populist opportunity, and why it was missed by some Democrats, see this post of mine at the Daily KOS. Here's a clip:
One of the other failures here is that, once they knew it would pass, the Democrats didn't even do as the woman who argued with Biden in the hearings suggested: address the outrageous fees and usury rates they supposedly have to charge to cover their losses. The Dems could have made it a clearer issue to the public by playing up the populism side of it, pointing out that consumers were giving something up, but not the CC companies. No guarantee of lower rates, like with any deregulation.

Monday, March 07, 2005

More from the Conversations with Stagehands files. We've veered off into religion.
I'm agnostic. I really don't know what the definition of spiritual is. I know it's big. It would include wiccans, nature worship, pagans, and even Buddhists, who really don't believe in God. I think in many ways an atheist could be considered spiritual, since they believe in the non-existence of God. As my daughter Jasmine told me when she was 6:
"Daddy, you can't be an atheist, you don't have any faith."
I guess that's why I'm not sure if I could be called spiritual, since I'm very scientific, really. If I don't know something, I don't want to pretend I do, or convince myself to have some revelation so I can stop drinking or whatever. The realizations I've come to, the mistakes I've made, the good I've done are all because of me. That's all I can really know. So, I'm not going to try to theorize about some other explanation for That Which I See.

My apologies to Bertrand Russell and my symbolic logic professor.
I always remember this from Russell:
"I wish to propose for the reader's favourable consideration a doctrine which may, I fear, appear wildly paradoxical and subversive. The doctrine in question is this: that it is undesirable to believe a proposition when there is no ground whatever for supposing it true."

Sunday, March 06, 2005

My Half of a Conversation about a Prime Mover

My stagehand friend Jeff made a post to our union newsgroup in response to some study saying Atheism is waning in Europe.
Hey, whoa, whoa, whoa... Aldous Huxley, like Hunter S. Thompson, is one of my heroes. Huxley, like Thompson, wrote under the influence, and was very good at it. He didn't just do drugs in his old age, and what's wrong with that anyway? You say it like doing mushrooms occasionally, especially when you're old and not too worried about your long-term health anyway, is immoral or something.

One reason atheism is not expanding is because of what my daughter said to me when she was 6: "You can't be an atheist, Dad, because you have no faith."

I think a lot of people who used to think of themselves as atheists have just realized that they're really agnostic. That being said, and knowing a little about logic, ONLY flawed logic calls for a prime mover.

To posit a God only complicates your ontology.

A exists.

A exists because B made it.

Logic demands proofs. What is your proof that B made A? Oh, right, there is none. So, then the second statement is illogical.

"The best answer is usually the simplest." Albert Einstein, who refused to believe this axiom in the case of religion.

"The individual who is aware and in possession of free will must have some characteristics or have some embodiment of or at least a reflection of the Image of his Maker since intelligence and free will are not quantifiable they must, logically, not be of this universe."

Damn, that sounds like Plato, Jeff. It assumes a lot, including a maker. Why is it impossible for me to be aware and in possession of free will because that's how our brains evolved? Over millions of years of natural selection, brains with those abilities have managed to breed more than brains without them. Pretty logical, no?

Intelligence and free will are not quantifiable? Hmmm.. I'd say you have a lot of intelligence. I'd say [a Bush loving rapture-ready union brother] doesn't. Quantification complete.

Free will? A tougher argument. To argue that everything we do isn't determined is like trying to argue that everything in the universe didn't double in size last night.
I'm sure my friend Jeff knows there's no hard feelings.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

The Birth of Neo-Gonzo (not affiliated in any way with the Muppet or the movement surrounding the Great one) is my blog about Hunter S. Thompson. Today I made a couple of posts to make up for the fact that I was late on commenting on a few HST stories, like ?Counselor?. The last entry, Frank Rich's comparison of HST and Dan Rather, touches on an issue that's near to my heart. I maintain that The Daily Show with Jon Stewart has been passed the torch of true gonzo journalism. Last week, for example, Samantha Bee made two anti-lawyer crusaders look like complete idiots. She did it in a story in the greatest of Gonzo traditions of Satire and Sarcasm. HST would have been proud.

While Frank Rich's story focuses on how different journalism has become from Thompson's hard-hitting, pre-blogger blog style, I'm realizing that Rich is missing what a million "stoned slackers" have been tuning into every night, especially since the Bush Junta took over. Rich might have missed the Emy's that Stewart and the Daily Show won. Those Emy's were for the entertainment value of the "fake news" show, but anyone who has ever seen the Daily Show will tell you, they get at more truth through their "fake" news than Brian Williams ever will.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Frank Supak, Hollywood Bowl Master Soundman, died 3/3/2000:

"We are evolving toward simplicity."
Yesterday was the fifth anniversary of my father's death. Half of the day had gone by before I remembered. I was on my way to pick up Spencer at baseball practice, and it just dawned on me.

And it reminded me of the day Dad died. I had just picked Spence up from his bus stop, and before I could say anything, he asked me what happens to people when they die. Probably just coincidence. That's the kind of things five year olds ask. But, I like to think it's an example of how children know everything.

For a little soundman dialogue, see the post below, which includes a letter from my soundman friend Phil Allen, in which he had some very nice things to say about Dad, who was the Hollywood Bowl soundman from 1970 to 1993.

Friday, February 25, 2005

Higher Search Engine Ranks

I make a living creating higher search engine ranks for my clients. You could always read about how to make your website get higher search engine ranks, and learn over years the way I did, through research, trial, and error. Or, if you're a busy small business owner or executive, maybe you're just looking for someone to hire to make your site come up with higher search engine ranks. Either way, you should check out my new Search Engine Optimization Blog. If you want to learn something, hopefully there will be something there for you. If you're looking to hire someone, you can read my SEO blog to see that I know what I'm talking about.

While I'm on the subject, Blogs can help your site show up higher on the search engines. I have a Blogs for Small Businesses Program that is dedicated to helping small business owners use a blog to attract and retain customers. I run a blog on the subject, Supak Blogs for Business Blogs Blog.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

The Birth of Neo-Gonzo:

Bush is really the evil one here and it is more than just him. We are the Nazis in this game and I don't like it. I am embarrassed and I am pissed off. I mean to say something. I think a lot of people in this country agree with me - a lot than that are saying anything...we'll see what happens to me if I get my head cut off next week -- it is always unknown or bushy-haired strangers who commit suicide right afterwards with no witnesses.—Hunter S. Thompson
That's just one of the quotes at my new Hunter S. Thompson Blog, where I've been posting quotes, links, and pictures this week, as we prepare for the event of the century, Hunter S. Thompson's ashes being shot out of a cannon. They'll load it up, packing it with black powder, his ashes, a big wad of paper, and light the fuse, and the agony of the burn, the waiting will drag for an eternity until BANG what's left of the Gonzo poet will mix with fire and smoke and acceleration in the clean, crisp Colorado air, where it will hang for the rest of time.

Monday, February 21, 2005

'Gonzo' Godfather Hunter S. Thompson Kills Himself:

"A 1994 essay in Rolling Stone written as an obituary for former President Richard Nixon was typical. At a time when many commentators offered a more generous re-assessment of Nixon's legacy, Thompson called him 'a liar, a quitter and a bastard. A cheap crook and a merciless war criminal.'"
That's why I loved Hunter S. Thompson. One of the toughest mostly-liberal people I've ever read. He was a gun nut, but not against reasonable gun control. He regularly used the word fag, but didn't hate gay people. His tough persona made him a better journalist than any of these quivering tubs of lard who are so scared Bush won't call on them that they won't ask any hard questions.

Thompson was a master at finding the meaning of things through what they were not. His character's famous drug binges in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas helped me realize that one of the reasons HST had such a unique grasp on reality was because he had a strangle-hold on unreality.
"...two bags of grass, seventy-five pellets of mescaline, five sheets of high-powered blotter acid, a salt shaker half-full of cocaine and a whole galaxy of multicolored uppers, downers, screamers, laughers.....also a quart of tequila, a quart of rum, a case of Budweiser, a pint of raw ether, and two dozen amyls...but the only thing that worried me was the ether. There is nothing in the world more helpless and irresponsible than a man in the dephts of an ether binge..."
What shined through for me were the LIBERAL values of not being helpless and irresponsible. This "responsiblity" vein that Thompson often touched on has been stolen by a bunch of fat cat bastards in this country, most of whom never had a day of hard work in thier lives. Thompson rescued the idea of personal responsibility by putting it in the most absurdly irresponsible situations and rescuing it through wit, hard work, and luck.

And finally, perhaps the most fitting quote of the day.
We are all wired into a survival trip now. No more of the speed that fueled that 60's. That was the fatal flaw in Tim Leary's trip. He crashed around America selling "consciousness expansion" without ever giving a thought to the grim meat-hook realities that were lying in wait for all the people who took him seriously... All those pathetically eager acid freaks who thought they could buy Peace and Understanding for three bucks a hit. But their loss and failure is ours too. What Leary took down with him was the central illusion of a whole life-style that he helped create... a generation of permanent cripples, failed seekers, who never understood the essential old-mystic fallacy of the Acid Culture: the desperate assumption that somebody... or at least some force - is tending the light at the end of the tunnel.

Hunter S. Thompson

7-18-1939 to 2-20-2005

I just found out Hunter S. Thompson killed himself today. With a gun, of course. Ironically, it was a Canadian Press story I saw first.

While I'm pretty sure he'd hate any kind of sappy bullshit where we lament the loss of a great American writer, I can't help myself. He wasn't just a writer. He created a whole fucking genre. He kept the knee deep shit of our times real by twisting it in the drug induced blender of fiction, but it poured out more true than journalism ever could. While the fascist, psuedo-religious cults running this plutocracy will celebrate the deep funk that led to this man's demise, those of us who understood his twisted tunnel to the truth will never forget what he did for us, and for that sick sack of shit we call reality.

His last work: Hey Rube : Blood Sport, the Bush Doctrine, and the Downward Spiral of Dumbness - Modern History from the Sports Desk

Quotes from Hey Rube:

"No sir, not a chance. Mr. Jones does not even pretend to know what's happening in America Right now, and neither does any-one else..."

"We are living in dangerously weird times now. Smart people just shrug and admit they're dazed and confused. The only ones left with any confidence at all are the New Dumb. It is the beginning of the end of our world as we knew it. Doom is the operative ethic." - Written in the year 2000.

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Winter Wallpaper Scenes of upstate New York from Robin SupakRobin took some great winter wallpaper pictures while she was in New York recently. I'm not sure why Robin always winds up taking the winter wallpaper photographs... Maybe it's my aversion to the cold, or the fact that she can ski circles around me, literally. Some of the pics in this series were taken while she was on snowshoes. While I didn't get to go on this trip, I'm pretty sure she could snowshoe circles around me too.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

A dialogue about the Hollywood Bowl feedback problem

After my Dad died in March, 2000, I searched the internet to find references to him. When I found an engineer who had a few bad things to say about my old man, we had a little civilized dialogue.

Today, I got this letter from one of the great sound engineers of our day, Phil Allen, who I've had the pleasure to work with on several occasions. Thanks, Phil.

I was searching for the Hollywood Sound web site to see if they had a PM-5D for rent, and my google search also pulled up a page in a Procol Harum site about some disaster they had many moons ago that they conveniently blamed on the "union sound engineer." Just as I finished reading it and had my blood thoroughly boiling, and my resolve up to send the whole mess to you so you could put up some sort of defense, I found a link on their site to a letter you wrote about your dad. They were nice enough to include a much more detailed account along with your letter, offering a more plausible, less bumper sticker rendition of the events.

I should have known you would be on the trail. As one of probably thousands of young, obnoxious, arrogant sound mixers who played the Bowl, I can attest to the fact that your dad was a gem. He saved me from ruin, and let me walk away still thinking I was a damn genius. Not only was he a great guy, and a great soundman, he was out there on the crest of the first wave. What he did, and the gear he did it with, was amazing. It is so easy to recline behind my Cadac and mass of computers in front of my line arrays and bitch about how tough I have it, but the truth is if it wasn't for your dad and a handful of guys like him I would be selling CD players at Best Buy.

I browsed your sites and I was so proud, and grateful once again, that I can tell everybody I mixed at the Bowl when Frank Supak was there.

Missing you,
Phil Allen