I’m a playwright. Some people reading this probably knew that. Others had no idea because (and this isn’t false modesty), “Jenny Bandage vs. the Unpronounceable A.K.R.O.N.Y.M.” is never going to have the kind of reach enjoyed by “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” or “Glengarry Glen Ross.”
I hope, though, that I have a better understanding of the creative process than the estate of Edward Albee or the still very much alive David Mamet.
The Albee estate put a stop to the casting of a black actor in “Virginia Woolf” for reasons that are, surprisingly, kind of logical. Mamet threatens to charge theaters $25,000 if they hold a post show discussion within 2 hours of a performance. And look – it is their work. It’s possible that they both saw what the film industry has done to the works of Stephen King and they simply want no part of it.
On the other hand, they need to lighten up a little bit.
Where the fuck does Mamet get off telling people they don’t have the right to talk about his work? Is he going to be there? Does it matter if someone doesn’t like it or interprets it wrong? Where is the harm to his work? By all current reports, Mamet is a right-wing misogynist jackass and people still produce his work.
In a world dominated by left-wing socially conscious tree huggers (guilty).
As for the estate of Albee – even if there is a really good reason for their objection, the work should be open to interpretation. It should be open to exploration. The play will not suffer irreparable harm if a black actor is cast in a role that was written for a white one.
I’m pretty sure Shakespeare wrote for white guys* but Denzel Washington did pretty OK in “Much Ado About Nothing,” didn’t he? If Shakespeare was going to object in anything about that film, it would probably be Keeanu Reeves, amiright?
As a playwright of considerably less renown, it angers me to read about playwrights (even dead ones) controlling the interpretation of their work. Theater is a collaborative art in which artists hand off their work to other artists and sit back to watch what happens.
Mamet won’t even allow the pronouns in “Glengary Glen Ross” to be changed so a director could cast a woman in any of the roles.
Lighten up, asshole. Your work is not at risk if a couple of women are cast in a male role or if the audience would like to talk about your play.
*Othello being a notable exception although I’m betting that character was originally played by a white guy.
Note – I was out-of-town last week so I have two weeks of stupid shit piled up. I probably won’t get to all of it so I apologize if your favorite annoying thing didn’t make the cut.
Andrew Snelling is a Geologist who is also a creationist. This in itself makes no sense because in order to be both, you need to basically ignore all the evidence that would make you a credible geologist. But he’s got a PhD so we have to accept that he knows stuff about Geology even if he doesn’t actually believe any of it.
So he wanted to do some research, including collecting samples, in the Grand Canyon. Such things are allowed but you have to apply to do so and his application was rejected.
So he’s suing for religious discrimination. You know, because Christians have it so hard in our country.
Heh. Geologist. So hard. Get it?
Anyway, his claim was rejected because it was presumed he would use the samples to “disprove” existing science about the Grand Canyon and since the Grand Canyon is, you know, a protected landmark, they don’t want people taking rock samples to do bad science. Sounds like his application didn’t really say what he was going to use the samples for, either.
Which is probably because he knew he couldn’t say “I’m going to use the samples to prove the Grand Canyon is no more than 6000 years old even though recorded human history goes back further than that and I’m a fucking idiot.”
So he basically asked to take samples without really telling anyone why and they said “no – you can’t just take samples because you have a degree in Geology. You have to have a reason.”
And he’s responding “you hate me because I’m a Christian! I’m going to sue.”
We don’t hate him because he’s a Christian. We hate him because he uses his Christianity as an excuse to be a bad scientist.
I mean, I’m not panicking yet. It is possible the more “moderate” Senate will pass a more “moderate” bill and when this whole thing gets to reconciliation, national health care won’t be as fucked as it will should the House bill become actual law.
Sitting in this seat with a pre-existing condition, I’m worried. I think forcing insurance companies to do away with the pre-existing condition clause was one of the most important parts of the Affordable Care Act.
The legislation looks like it will reduce taxes for wealthy Americans (how fortunate they must feel), increase premiums for people in their 50’s and 60’s, and replace reduced cost health care with tax credits.
I like tax credits. I mean sort of. When you get a tax credit for your health insurance, though, it isn’t the same as paying that much less for your insurance. It means you end up paying a little bit less in taxes. But not the same amount.
So in the end, this bill does what a lot of other conservative bills have done – it reduces the tax burden on rich people and replaces is with a greater expense burden on everyone else.
Rich people with diabetes will still be able to afford their insulin. Middle class people with diabetes will be able to afford their insulin but might have to work an extra job when it is time to send their kids to college. Poor people with diabetes will complain about how they can’t afford their insulin and then be criticized for owning a television.
I mean seriously, why can’t they just sit in their shitty apartment and spend all their spare time thinking about why it’s their fault they are poor?
Actually, that’s not what she said. A lot of Atheists are kind of up in arms and the thing is, I think what she said is worse than if she just targeted atheists.
Asked what causes poverty, she responded:
To me, it’s broken people. People not being in a relationship with their Creator, and therefore, not being in good relationship with their families and their communities, and not being productive members of society. I think that’s the ultimate answer.
So yeah, she could be talking about atheists. But let’s assume, for a moment, that what she meant was broader. She meant that people are poor because they don’t have a good relationship with god. God literally looks down from heaven (or up from heaven given that Earth is a sphere and we don’t actually know where heaven is located) and says “those people don’t go to church enough. I’m going to make them poor.”
It suggests that the only people who are productive members of society are people who have a good relationship with their creator. That would obviously exclude people like Bill Gates, who is an open atheist. He’s clearly not being productive.
It would also include people who call themselves Christians but don’t really go to church or do much to support their faith.
Basically, she’s blaming poverty on a lack of belief in god.
It seems silly to me given that Jesus was poor and I thought his relationship with god was supposed to be pretty solid. Poverty is not caused by god. It is caused by people. People who, like San Antonio Mayor Ivy Taylor, treat poverty as some sort of punishment which people deserve.
They suggest that if we just get poor people to church, god will fix them. Never mind that the poorest states in our nation are some of the most faithful. Faith has nothing to do with poverty. Belief in god doesn’t make you rich or poor any more than atheism makes you rich or poor.
Her answer is insulting to poor people. And atheists. And people of faith. When it comes to hitting a tone-deaf home run, she killed it.
In Crookston, Minnesota, there aren’t a lot of atheists, I’ll wager. I would go so far as to guess even fewer are out about it.
Jeff Carter had a couple of magnetic bumper stickers on his truck that made it clear he’s an atheist. That’s cool, right? I mean, one truck with a few atheist slogans is hardly a problem when there are probably dozens (or hundreds – I didn’t bother to look up the population of Crookston*) of vehicles with Christian bumper stickers in the same town.
Apparently flaunting your atheism in Crookston is not cool, though. At least not cool to the (I assume) Christians who vandalized Carter’s truck.
How do we know they are Christians? Because they wrote phrases like “Jesus is Great” and “God is Life” on his truck. Now I suppose it is possible that a couple of Crookston Jews pissed off at Carter’s atheism but decided they should frame some Christians but that might stretch the imagination a bit too far.
And look – I know these assholes are not indicative of almost every other Christian in the country. Even the ones who voted for Donald Trump. They are outliers.
They serve as a reminder, though. The next time a Christian complains about how they are being oppressed by modern society, remember that there aren’t a lot of atheists going around vandalizing cars with Christian bumper stickers.
I assume because they aren’t really sure what to write on the car. “Science is great?” “I totally came from a monkey (even though I didn’t – monkeys and I share a common ancestor)?” “Atheists make better cookies (citation needed)?”
*I lied – It’s 7,904
United Airlines had a fully booked flight but also had several employees who needed transport to where they would be working the next day. They asked passengers to give up their seats for an $800 travel voucher. Nobody volunteered.
Maybe because it was a Sunday night and they all had work the next day. And their boss wasn’t going to pay them for the day off. What a bunch of selfish pricks.
Anyway, rather than upping the offer (which they totally could have done), the airline opted to pick people at random. And one guy didn’t want to go. So they had security drag him off the airline in front of a bunch of cell phone cameras.
As you might imagine, it has been a bad week for United.
But it has also been a bad week for the passenger who was dragged off the plane. As soon as his name became public, news organizations began to dig into his past and it turns out he’s not a perfect person.
I’m shocked to discover that as everyone else I’ve ever met is completely perfect.
His past transgressions have nothing to do with not wanted to be forced to take a different flight after he paid for his ticket and the airline made some poor planning decisions.
The response from a few corners of the internet have been, basically, he deserved it.
Um…no. The guy was violently removed from the plane. Not removed from the plane. Violently removed from the plane.
You can argue all you like how three other people voluntarily left after being randomly selected. Doesn’t matter. Beating people up just isn’t something you should be doing unless they are a Nazi.
And in spite of all the muckraking our media has done over this fellow, they have not been able to turn up any evidence that the guy is a Nazi. So I’m going to say the beating was entirely unjustified.
He didn’t deserve it. That’s the problem with this whole “let’s wait for all the facts to come out” mentality. It doesn’t matter what type of guy he was. It doesn’t matter if he was a little bit belligerent when told he’d have to leave the plane after buying a ticket.
He was violently removed from the plane. He didn’t deserve it. That is the only fact that matters.
The inspiration for this story began with the cliche opening “It was a dark and stormy night.” While I’m not the first writer to try to come up with something interesting to do with that sentence I can say that I am, for a brief period of time, the most recent.
Because the line is a well worn cliche, I chose to use a character I created for a radio play about three years ago. Rick Dickerson, cliche private eye, seemed like the best character to deal with the most cliche opening line ever.
The result is a short piece that is, I hope, pretty silly.
I’ll be reading this story live during the pre-show to Power Point Karaoke on Friday, April 14th. If you are in the area, you should come and watch! Two other writers will be presenting stories as well!
As always, you are free to comment and share!