News Chum Stew for 170114: Theatre, Judaism, Feminism, and Zombies

To close out the week, a tasty news chum stew, wherein I pull out the chunks and provide commentary to chew on:

  • Dealing with Ticket Scalpers. Ken Davenport had an interesting commentary on the ticket resale market, triggered by the news that Hamilton in London is going to a ticketless system — instead, you swipe your payment card for entry. I have a number of problems with this — primarily, that it hurts legitimate patrons. Things come up in life, and occasionally you need to change your tickets to a different date — but they are non-refundable. You bought the tickets — you should be able to give them to a friend (possibly being reimbursed for cost), or donate them to a charity; these anti-scalping measures seem to prevent that. As for Cameron Macintosh and Hamilton, it is a very bad idea. Not only does it disenfranchise those with cash — who are often the younger audiences we must get into theatre, but how often had you had to ice a card due to fraud and replaced it with a new card and new number.  Unfortunately, it is a fact of life: when you have a limited highly desired product, there will be a secondary resale market.
  • Steve Allen Theatre Going Away. I received some sad theatre news this week in a mailing from the Trepany House Theatre Company: In Summer 2017, the CFI-LA building and the Steve Allen Theatre inside will be torn down this summer to make room for new condos. CFI-LA confirmed this in their latest newsletter: “CFI has accepted a favorable offer on the property where the Center for Inquiry–Los Angeles now resides, and this vibrant and active branch is expected to have a great new location by the fall. This is a positive development for CFI–L.A., which will mean a brand new home for the community, and the resources to keep it thriving.” This is sad — the Steve Allen Theatre was home to Meeting of Minds (which was created by Allen), and the memory of Allen is too important to disappear.
  • Jewish Feminism and Brotherhood Privilege. Soferet Jen Taylor Friedman created Tfillin Barbie a few years ago. In response to Mattel releasing a set of Barbies in all shapes, colors, and sizes, Jen has created an Intersectional Barbie Dream Minyan “because Jewish feminism shouldn’t be only for white girls.” I love the copy Jen wrote; here’s the first paragraph to give you an idea: “Maybe some of them are Sephardic and some are Maghrebi and one is an adult convert and one was adopted and converted as a child. One of them has blue hair. One of them has red hair, and one of them has red highlights. Nobody in this minyan ever says “But where are you really from?” or “But surely you weren’t born Jewish.” Some of them are what Mattel calls “curvy.” Some of them are short.” I especially the last sentence: “In principle, Kens are welcome in this minyan, but today they’re outside fixing breakfast, which is why you can’t see them.” That’s the men’s club for you. Always fixing the food in the back. I’ll bet they are using a BBQ.
  • Body Positivity and Modeling. If you’ve been reading here recently, you know I’ve been talking about body positivity. Perhaps it is because I find all people beautiful and enjoy watching the diversity (especially of the opposite sex) — and people are at their most beautiful when they are happy with themselves. That’s why I supported The Nu Project and its message. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a recent interview with Emme on the A-Plus blog caught my eye. In particular, I appreciate it when she said, “It’s not a hidden, hushed conversation anymore. Every day, women are showing themselves in all forms of dress (or undress) on social media where you would NEVER [have seen] this in the ’90s. A revolution of female strength and power — thin, medium, and curvy — is at hand. It’s a time to feel blessed to be in! It begs me to say men also are gaining from this liberation. Body image and self-esteem are not only a woman’s trip. Men are on it and dealing with very similar issues, but feel ashamed to speak up about it. The eating disorder clinics are full with young men, fathers, and boys — reflecting the phenomenon today.” This all goes back to the key line from my favorite musical, Two Gentlemen of Verona: “You can’t love another without loving yourself.”
  • Rights and the Backlash . Have you ever been somewhere where a group that was in the minority started exerting their rights, and the members of the formerly privileged group started fighting back? Did this fighting back often progress to violence against the minority group, disturbing images, and even more disturbing behavior? Was the end conclusion something you liked? I’m not talking about Donald Trump here (although I well could be); rather, my cousin has brought to my attention a very interesting article about the situation in South Korea between women and men. Feminism is rising in South Koren, and a deep-seated misogynist backlash is coming out (just like the “white privilege” backlash after #blacklivesmatter). It’s getting ugly. A really interesting article, well worth reading.
  • The Zombies of Penzance. Don’t you just love that title. The Zombies of Penzance is a new musical that is about to have a reading and a staging in St. Louis. I just love the description, and look forward to this being staged in LA: “In The Zombies of Penzance (subtitled At Night Come the Flesh Eaters), according to press notes, “Major-General Stanley is a retired zombie hunter, who doesn’t want his daughters marrying the dreaded Zombies of Penzance (for obvious reasons). According to documents found with the manuscripts, Gilbert and Sullivan finished work on The Zombies of Penzance in mid-1878, but their producer Richard D’Oyly-Carte refused to produce it, calling it vulgar, impolitic, and unchristian, and in one letter, ‘an operatic abomination, an obscene foray into the darkest of the occult arts.’ In a letter to his cousin, Gilbert expressed his deep disappointment, writing ‘I fear the walking dead shall be the end of me yet.’ Until now, music scholars had been baffled by that reference. After a battle that almost ended the partnership, the team reluctantly agreed to rewrite their show, and in 1879, D’Oyly-Carte debuted the much more conventional, revised version, The Pirates of Penzance, which added the characters of Ruth and the policemen, and eliminated all references to zombism.””
  • Genealogy and Personal Information. Genealogists have a hard problem — especially amateur genealogists. You want to share the information to get the most knowledge about your family tree, and you want to be able to research online, but you have to be careful about exposing PII (personally identifyable information). There’s loads of PII in genealogy: addresses, mother’s maiden names, birthplaces, school dates and locations, and such. You’ll see why that is a risk when you think about all those password questions you get. This has come to the forefront of people’s attention with a story going viral on Facebook about how one genealogy site has scraped public databases to get addresses, and has published them for free. This has everyone up in arms, but they are forgetting one fact: this is information that was already PUBLIC. If someone was stalking you, they don’t need this site to do it. The information is easily discovered with a bit of Google-fu. Still, you can opt out if you wish. I likely won’t bother: I was in my last house 10+ years, and this house 10+ years, and am easy to find. [Not to mention that of all the Faigin’s out there, I’m not in their database. Cousins are. I’m not.]
  • Housing Style. I live in a single-story ranch house. But what makes such a house a “ranch house”. What is “Cape Cod”? Here’s a handy guide on personal housing architectural styles. What type of house do you live in?
  • Gluten-Free and Fads. Lastly, an article that explores the question: Is gluten-free more than a fad? By that, the real question they mean is: Should gluten-free be for more than just celiacs? These other folks are known as “PWAGs;” in the medical jargon: “people without celiac disease avoiding gluten.” [Note that this is a very different thing than a PAWG, so be careful when you search, although a PWAG can be a PAWG]. They’re often stigmatized as faddish foodies or placebo-addled hypochondriacs who don’t understand the science behind a serious health problem. According to a new study published this month in the journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings, their number tripled between 2009 and 2014, while the number of cases of celiac disease stayed flat. The article notes that there is growing evidence that severe gluten sensitivities exist outside the realm of celiac disease; further, researchers simply don’t know how many of the people following a gluten-free diet may actually have a legitimate health complaint.  It notes how many PWAGs (glad I didn’t mistype that) find relief in a gluten-free diet, and people still aren’t sure why.



Loops and Orphans

One of my hobbies is geneology. Recently, I’ve been integrating a GEDCOM (family tree data) file from a cousin, which is actually quite a bit of work. It involved using a GED file comparison, determining where there are differences, and bringing in the missing people or data. This brings in all sort of problems: different conventions for naming cities, different fields in a record, different naming conventions for missing names… all of which take time to correct. Further, sometimes this transfer can involve moving entire subtrees of ancestors and their spouses, or descendents and their spouses. That can create unintended problems, especially when people marry the sister of a spouse when the spouse dies, or brothers from one family marry sisters from another family. This suddenly can create large duplicate trees without your even realizing it. This happened Sunday, when suddenly a tree brought in 530 people… most of which were duplicates that I had to merge by hand.

A few days later, I think I’ve gotten all the duplicates and regularlized the database, except for place names. Back to the comparisons…


Bad Start, Good Ending

Today I woke up with a headache. This is a bad thing, likely caused by (a) my daughter having allergy noises during the night, and (b) kids in the hotel.

Still, we attempted to muddle on. We started the morning by going to the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, which is an art museum housed in a former art-deco post office. My headache was rapidly approaching killer stage, although I did enjoy the Sylvia Hyman display, which was clay sculptures of everyday objects like paper, boxes, pencils, crayons, etc. that were 100% lifelike. It was totally amazing.

Alas, the headache continued to get worse, so we returned to the hotel. After a 2nd Maxalt, 2 Codeine, and 2 Naproxin, it finally abated… just in time for the highlight of the evening… the Weinbaum-Jacobus reunion. This was the first regathering of the family in 150 years. We learned of the pivotal role of the family in the establishment of Reform Jewry in Nashville, as well as other facts… such as the connection to Stanley G. Weinbaum of Science Fiction fame (inspiration to Asimov and Roddenberry, who has a crater named after him on Mars), Weinbaums that worked with Samuel Gompers and Hellen Keller, and the connection to the Werthams of Driving Miss Daisy. We also learned of some relatives who live out in Los Angeles who were really neat people; we’ll get together with them when we return to Los Angeles. We also saw a movie on the history of the Jews of Nashville. It was a really fun evening, a true once-in-a-lifetime event.

Tomorrow we’ll be getting together with my Cousin Les and visiting the Grand Old Opry, the Opryland Complex, and Opry Mills.


Another Family Reunion

As folks know, I’ve been writing about the upcoming family reunion of the Weinbaum side of the family. Last night, I had a family reunion of a different sort, when the_lone_piperthe_lone_piper and his friend, Maria, came over to visit. the_lone_piperthe_lone_piper is a relative on my father’s side; his great grandmother was my grandfather’s sister (which makes us second cousins, once removed). He was in the area for the 2007 Highland Games in Pomona, for his hobby is music and bagpipes. Those of you in the Davis area may have heard of him, or if not, may have heard him :-). He lives up in Davis, and regularly plays his pipes in the area (and he does know of a few of the Prankster folks, as confirmed by ellipticcurve, who joined us for dinner).

In any case, this was my first time meeting him, and it was a great evening. We had fun talking about all sorts of subjects and fandoms, moving the discussion from this and that. Yet another relative to put on the “neat person” side of the column! Hopefully we’ll get to see him again the next time he’s in the area… and that time, we’ll invite over my Uncle Tom to explore more how music runs in the family.