🗳 What Makes the USA: Loyalty to the Constitution, or the President?

Today, on the van ride home, we discussed an interesting scenario: Suppose we hold the election in November, and the Democratic nominee resoundingly wins the popular vote, and wins the electoral college. Donald Trump refuses to accept the result of the election for whatever reason his ego comes up with, declares a “national emergency”, suspends Congress, and refuses to leave his office.

A large number of the Blue-leaning states consider this to be an unconstitutional act, and decide that he has abdicated his oath of office. They declare themselves to be the real United States of America, proclaim their loyalty to the original Constitution, and inaugurate the duly elected President and Vice President based on the electoral college results. They reconstitute Congress, with whatever Representatives and Senators from their states who wish to remain in the new Western United States of America and Eastern United States of America (from both parties), in a new location. They retain whichever Justices of the Supreme Court wish to come over. States hold special elections to fill vacancies, and (quite likely) DC and Puerto Rico are admitted as states. A good portion of the military would also likely come over, as they are more loyal to the Constitution than the President.

Is this secession?

After all, the “new” United States are loyal to the Constitution, have as leadership a President and Vice President that were elected following that Constitution. On the other hand, the United States of Trump have suspended the Constitution, and are following a President that holds office without authority of the vote, and only by virtue of his suspending and ignoring the election results.

Would we see a civil war where the “new” US (the USA) tries to regain the Trump-loyalists (UST)? Probably not. Would the UST try to wage war against the “new” USA, or would they have the attitude of “good riddance” to the Liberals and RINOs? How might property and facilities be divided?

One might think this is far-fetched, but I do think it is a possibility if Trump refuses to leave. Note that this is NOT the scenario where Trump gets elected and attempts to suspend the Constitution. A secession in that case is more problematic: although there is loyalty to the Constitution, you do have a duly-elected President. Although, if there is an investigation that shows the vote was tampered with and Trump really didn’t win the election, then it might happen.

Interesting thought experiment.

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🗯️ Four Things to Remember … and a little bit more

Four important things to remember this election season:

  1. You will not find a candidate that 100% matches your political positions. This means you must compromise on the candidate that comes closest, remembering that…
  2. Any broad policy initiatives must be approved by Congress, and will assuredly change. As we keep reminding those who support Trump: the President is not King. There is only a limited amount that can be done through Executive Order. Most policy needs to come through Congress, and all appropriations need to come through Congress — and bold broad initiatives, such as healthcare, require funding. This means that whatever position the candidate takes will not make it into law in exactly that form. Don’t think you’ll get “Medicare for All”, for example, as that likely won’t make it through Congress.
  3. ANY of the Democratic candidates is better than Trump. This is a key point to remember. Any of the Democrats will respect the role of Congress and the role of the diplomatic and intelligence communities. None will attempt to be autocratic like Trump. So you don’t like Bloomberg because he’s a rich oligarch and buying the election? Even at that, he’s better than Trump. Don’t like Bernie because he’s an angry old white man? Still better than Trump. Don’t like Pete because of his corporate connections and inexperience? Still better than Trump. Don’t like Biden because of his gaffes and history? Still better than Trump. Always remember: ANY of these candidates is better than Trump.
  4. Not voting is a vote for Trump. Thinking of sitting out the election because you don’t like the Democratic candidate that was nominated? Think again. Not voting gives more power to the people voting for Trump. So unless you think having Trump in office is better than than whomever is the Democratic nominee is, make sure you get out to vote.

and here’s the little bit more:

  1. A Democratic Senate Solves Many Problems. It is vital we take back the Senate, so if you live in a state where a Republican senate seat is on the ballot, vote for the Democratic candidate. If we have over 51% in the Senate, we can do another impeachment trial — but this time with witnesses. If we can get near 2/3rds, there is the possibility of removing Trump from office even if he is reelected. Having a Democratic senate will also allow House initiated legislation to finally reach the President’s desk (winning the White House means nothing if legislation gets blocked in the Senate), and provides a real check on the power of appointment — especially of judges.
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🗯️It’s Not the Language; It’s the Constitutional Trampling

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Recently, I’ve had a few friends post articles or pen screeds implying that the reason Democrats do not like Trump is because of his course language.

My reaction to that is to call “Bullshit!” Much as I wish he behaved with more decorum, we’ve had Presidents that spoke coursely before, from Lyndon Johnson to Richard Nixon. If Trump’s worst aspect was his language, I could live with it.

These friends equally go on about how they love his support of life (meaning his current stance on abortion, as he certainly doesn’t sanctify all lives), and his support of Christian values (while not living them himself, which they indicate is acceptable citing King Cyrus).

My reaction to that, again, is to call “Bullshit!”. The job of the President is to uphold the Constitution. That’s the oath that is sworn at inauguration, not an oath to the Bible. The Constitution explicitly states that there shall not be a state religion, nor shall the government interfere with the practice of your religion That means religion is a personal matter for YOU to do. The President should not be dictating one religions beliefs over anothers. If you don’t believe in abortion, then don’t have one.

What offends me from this President is not his language. It is his blatent disregard for the Constitution and the separation of powers. It is his lack of respect for Congress, his lack of respect for Judges that don’t agree with him and side with the law. It is his abuse of his position to take actions that would have been unthinkable for any other President. It is his thinking he is above the law. It is his failure to represent the entire nation instead of just his base.

And for those who proclaim his support of Christian values: what he promotes is decidedly UN-Christian. To my understanding, Christ taught to take care of the poor and the suffering. If the poor or suffering aren’t in a womb, Trump would throw them in the street and cut their welfare. The Bible teaches us to treat the stranger with respect. Trump insults the stranger. Christ threw the moneylenders out of the Temple. Trump embraces the moneylenders and big business, and helps them take advantage of the people even more.

For this particular Impeachment charge, Trump may be acquitted by the Senate. He was able to manipulate the Republican senators in a partisan way to keep evidence hidden and suppress the facts. He prevented a true investigation of his behavior. If President Obama or Clinton had attempted such obstruction, well … let’s just say there is a double standard at play. But it is important to remember that the Senate voting to not remove him from office is not an acquittal of the charges — merely a demonstration that they didn’t want to establish the precedent of removal. Even acquittals by a court doesn’t mean innocence — unless you believe that OJ was really innocent and is still looking for the killer. They sometimes mean the court was just skillfully manipulated by shady legal tricks in front of the bar, or corruption or pressure tactics behind the bar.

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🗯️ Lunchtime Impeachment Thoughts

userpic=divided-nationReading the news while eating lunch brought up some general observations on the impeachment circus:

  • The Republicans need to think beyond this moment and this President, and consider very carefully about what they are doing and the precedent they are setting. Pendulums swing, and eventually they will be out of power. Do they want a Democratic president, whom they believe to be abusing their power, to be able to be tried for impeachment and suppress all evidence and arguments in Congress? Do they want that Democratic president to be able to withhold witnesses? If this had been Bill Clinton, or a President Hillary Clinton, how would they have felt? One would think, if they weren’t under the cult of personality around Trump, that they wouldn’t want to be setting this precedent for the Democrats to abuse in the future.
  • The voting public needs to watch this process carefully, and ask the question: If the President was innocent of these charges, why wouldn’t he be having those who can prove his innocence going in front of Congress to make the case? Why is he suppressing all witnesses and all exonerating information? These considerations won’t make any difference to those already under Trump’s cult of personality (his diehard base), nor will they make any difference to the diehard Democratic base. However, those Republicans moderates who have been tolerating this President need to ask themselves those questions: Why isn’t he out there bringing in counter-witnesses that prove his innocence? What is he hiding?
  • Lastly, all voters need to consider this circus when determining their votes for their House and Senate representation. Especially for the Senate: they took an oath to be bipartisan, and to objectively consider the evidence. What does this say about their trustworthiness when they fail to keep that oath: they fail to allow bi-partisan evidence to be presented, and they fail to objectively obtain and review evidence.

There may be a long game at play here. Even though this attempt to remove Trump may fail, it is likely that Democratic control of the House will remain, and the Democrats may take the Senate. If that happens, and if Trump is reelected, there will be more impeachment charges … and this time, the subpoenas will fly, and all the dirty details will come out (unless Trump finds some excuse for an emergency and suspends Congress — which he can do under the Constitution). If that happens, we need to be really scared (although that does not give the President the power of appropriations or to make laws).

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🗯️ Finesse, or Lack Thereof

userpic=trumpLet’s start off with the basics: Soleimani was not a good man. The world is a better place without him. But this is NOT how you do it.

Here’s the key point: Although he directed terrorist groups, he was not a “terrorist leader” unaffiliated with a government. He was a top General in the Iranian military — a country that Congress has not declared war against.

Just imagine if China or some other country with whom we have testy relations launched a drone strike against one of the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and killed him while he was in another country. How would we react? Would we treat that as an act of war?

This is why Trump’s attempt to “wag the dog” — to distract attention from his impeachment and draw attention to himself is so bad. His failure to think ahead, to think about the potential consequences of the action, has put the entire nation in danger.

There are many ways that this nation could have taken out Soleimani without it appearing to be a military operation approved by the President. That’s called finesse, and it is how you prevent war. But this President thinks only about himself and his popularity with his base, and how to look good in the news. He doesn’t know finesse.

The Iranian leadership has put a high bounty on Trump’s head. Just imagine the repercussions if someone takes them up on that offer.

They say they will only hit military targets. But again, imagine the repercussions if they do and American soldiers are killed. We, of course, will escalate … with a country that will not hesitate to do a small demonstration of their nuclear capability.

So suppose they make this personal, and go after a Trump property. Imagine how Mr. Ego will respond. Again, not good.

So suppose they take to the cyber-realm, and work against Trump in the election. Even that is fraught with peril, for it then provides the argument for him to invalidate the election results. After all, it’s OK if Russia meddles on his behalf, but for a country to work against him…

Although Soleimani’s death is a good thing, I can’t see how in the long run, anything good comes from this.

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🗯️ Political Observations: Lessons To Learn

userpic=divided-nationOver the last week, a number of political thoughts have been swirling around my head. I think it is time to get them out:

  • While on a drive recently, I was binge-listening to the latest season of the Start Up Podcast on Church Planting. They had a very interesting episode on theology of evangelical churches. One standard position is “complementarianism”, which is the view that women is complementary to man, and that they should never have a leadership position. For the evangelicals, this may have been an unspoken reason why Hillary was unacceptable, and why there is so much hatred of her assuming leadership. But that’s the past. What is the lesson here?  Namely, a man of any color is more acceptable to them than a woman would be. If our goal is to retake the White House — which is a must in 2020 if not before — we need to keep this in mind when choosing candidates. We must take care to not needlessly shoot ourselves in the foot.
  • In fact, it would be astute of us to understand exactly why Evangelicals support Trump, despite all his faults. Here’s a good explanation. Here’s a real telling quote: “They want the return of Protestant privilege in American culture. The loss of Protestant privilege, and the reality of religious plurality, is driving them crazy.” For all their protestations about Sharia law, they want a Christian nation where Christians have the privilege, and those who are not are second class citizens. I’m not sure there is a way to turn these folks around, unless they can believe there is a different anointed candidate that will press their goals. What is the lesson here? We must work on the non-evangelical Christians — those who believe in what Christ actually said and did, as opposed to evangelical beliefs, and demonstrate how Trump is not building a better world.
  • Trump is also using fear to bring his supporters to the polls, implying that Liberals will use violence to overturn all he has done for the evangelical community. We know that is not the reality, but fear is a powerful motivator. What is the lesson here? We must work to counter that, and use all means necessary to turn out the vote: get people registered, help them get to the polls, and get all those who have been sitting on their hands not voting to get out and vote and make a difference.
  • We need to learn how Trump voters see themselves, and see the Liberals. Here, the name Dinesh D’Souza is critical. D’Souza’s latest movie, Death of a Nation, compares Donald Trump to Abraham Lincoln, and his Democratic opponents to Nazis. Yes, you’ve read that right. I have friends on FB that believe it — and this is what feeds into the fear of AntiFa. They don’t recognize the party ideological swap that occurred in the mid-1960s as a result of the Southern Strategy. What is the lesson here? We must continue to demonstrably counter — with patience — their view of Liberals. We need to demonstrate there isn’t a unified thought, and just as with Conservatives, there is a broad spectrum of views.
  • We’ve all commented on how many Trump supporters seem to have drunk the Kool-Aide, and think whatever he does will benefit them. I know many such supporters who are on limited means who have partaken that beverage. Yet he is making life more expensive. His tariffs on imported vehicles and parts will make even US made vehicles more expensive, and the new trade deal with Mexico will make them even more expensive. Will this awaken them? Probably not. What is the lesson here? We must keep hammering home how Trump’s policies are making things more expensive, and how wages are not increasing enough to compensate, making the economic condition of lower and middle classes worse (while the rich are getting richer).
  • One thing I’ve noted from many Trump supporters is an attitude of … not quite hate, but of “get off my lawn”. They seemingly are angry at everything: liberals, taxes, other people, society. Trump speaks to them because he reflects anger — his whole “schtick” is to intentionally do things that piss off the people he does not like, and to revel in their reactions. What is the lesson here? As Liberals, what must our response be to this? First, we must not react with anger in return, for that is the reaction that they want. We must learn to deflect that anger, and infuriate them even more by being nice and reasonable in response. Remember: Don’t feed the trolls. Set the example, and attract the moderates who are tired of the anger.
  • We’ve seen lately how Trump is angry at Google for returning more negative results about him. Setting aside the question of why the President is bothering to search himself online (narcissist, me thinks), what he doesn’t understand is that it is just an algorithm, one that returns what is out there on the web, and giving priority to links on sites that have proven themselves over time to be trustworthy. Algorithms can only return what is out there, and there is much less on the web that is positive about Trump, and the sites that are positive about Trump get much less links. What is the lesson here? If you have a blog, link to reputable articles only. If you are on Facebook, share reputable articles. Help the algorithms find the truth, simply by posting the truth.
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📰 Lighting the Political Fires

As I continue the process of clearing out the news chum, here is a collection of articles that should serve as political incendiary catalysts, sure to light that political spark of discussion:

  • Nobel Laureate Economist Says American Inequality Didn’t Just Happen. It Was Created. Quote: “Those with power used that power to strengthen their economic and political positions, or at the very least to maintain them. They also attempted to shape thinking, to make acceptable differences in income that would otherwise be odious.”
  • Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a Democratic Socialists of America member. Here’s what that means. Just as Trump was a whistle to the hard right folks, Bernie Sanders was a whistle to the hard left. We’ve seen the growth of a subgroup in the Democratic party called the Democratic Socialists. This isn’t a particular party, and it isn’t your father’s socialism. Further, it doesn’t add up financially.
  • Why Are Jews So Pro-Choice? Abortion / Choice. It is one of the driving forces of those on the right to oppose it. But it is also one of those areas where those who aren’t that ilk of Christian feel they are having a Christian moral shoved down their throats. Here’s an explanation of the Jewish position.
  • I Was Fired For Criticizing Trump. We have a President who seems to feel any criticism of him is fake, and he’s convinced some in the news profession that criticism is not allows. What happens when a liberal editorial cartoons runs into a change of ownership at his paper?
  • How to be an uncivil Trump resister without leading a vigilante mob. We’ve all heard the calls for civility. But when should you be uncivil, and how?
  • Immigration in America. Think immigration is a new problem? It is both what made America, and what some claim is destroying it. But do you understand it? Here’s a visualization of immigration to America as the rings in a tree trunk.
  • Trump’s Republican Party, explained in one photo. A real T-shirt at a Trump rally read: “I’d rather be Russian than a Democrat”. This captures what Trump’s identity politics has done to America, and how it can destroy this country. Since when has the Russian system of government with its dictatorship, false democracy, and draconian laws been better that what we have in America, even with the opposition party? I wrote about this with respect to Israel and their new National law about Jews coming first a few weeks ago. Identity politics — in which one group is 100% right and the other group is subhuman — is destructive.
  • Remaining Trump Supporters. What camp do you fall into: (1) Too arrogant to admit Trump was a mistake; (2) Too embarrassed to admit it; or (3) Too dumb to see it?
  • Fake News (no link here — just look at any Trump tweet). A challenge of the day, for those who purport that the news is “Fake”: Find multiple verifiable sources demonstrating a pattern of false news from the source claimed to be fake, other than the one making the claim that it is fake. A couple of times is human error: there needs to be a verifiable ongoing pattern of falsehood, from sources across the spectrum that can be verified.  Note: Bias is different than Fake. Biased news can have the bias filtered out, but is ultimately based on the truth and that underlying truth can be verified. Fake news is false and untrue, and cannot be verified.

As I say, “ready, set, discuss”.

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🎭 Oh, the Pain! | Trojan Women and Asperger’s @HFF18

userpic=fringeBoth of our Saturday Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB) dealt with pain, coming at it from two different angles. But that doesn’t mean the shows were pains: once was excellent, the other was pretty good. But first, however, my stock description of what the Fringe Festival is:

* For those unfamiliar with  Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), there are over 390 different shows occurring in the heart of Hollywood, with most along the stretch of Santa Monica Blvd from Western to W of LaBrea, and between Hollywood Blvd and Melrose. The shows run from 5 minutes to 2 hours, from one person shows to gigantic casts, from mimes to musicals. They have one — and only one — thing in common: they have to be able to load into a theatre in 15 minutes or less, and get out afterwards in the same time. You never know what you will see: it could be complete crap, it could be the start of a major new show. The shows and scheduling thereof are a nightmare to coordinate, but you could easily end up seeing four to five shows in a day. However, you can be guaranteed of a good time.

And now, on to our Saturday shows…. and note that, after the shows, there’s a little bit more. Suffice it to say it is a tribute to 140, or perhaps a bit more, characters.


Trojan Women (HFF18)Our first show, Trojan Women, was billed as follows in the Hollywood Fringe online catalog:

In perhaps one of the first recorded pieces of theater in the Western canon that passes the Bechdel test, Euripides’ Trojan Women tells a story of women who are stronger than gods. Trojan Women offers an unapologetic and powerful look at the act of community-building during times of grief, the gendered violence of war, and the messy aftermath of both real and mythic Greek conquests. Written circa 415 BCE and set immediately after the Trojan War, Trojan Women follows in real time the lives of nine remaining Trojan women (and two Greek men) as their city is captured.

For those unfamiliar, the “Bechdel Test” refers to a test was popularized by Alison Bechdel’s comic Dykes to Watch Out For, in a 1985 strip called The Rule.  It is used to evaluate how women are protrayed in fiction. It consists of three simple requirements: (1) It has to have at least two [named] women in it; (2) Who talk to each other; (3) About something besides a man. I’d say this is mostly true, although there are a fair references to men — both as part of the conquering force, the Greeks, and references to children lost. But first, I should perhaps describe the story to you. That, in turn, requires some background for those unfamiliar with ancient Greek myths. Here’s how the program described it, edited a little:

Well before the story in the play started, the Gods had a party on Mt. Olympus. They chose to not invite Eris, the Goddess of Discord, perhaps because they felt she would ruin the vibe. Angered by this slight, Eris devised a way to ensure that she ruined their night. She threw a golden apple (known always after as The Apple of Discord) on which she had inscribed “to the fairest” into the party. Naturally, Hera (Goddess of Women), Aphrodite (Goddess of Love) and Athena (Goddess of Wisdom and War) each assumed the apple was for them. A fight ensued, and the three goddesses demanded that Zeus determine which of them was the fairest and deserved the apple. Knowing better than to get in the middle of this argument, Zeus suggested that Paris of Troy, a mortal he knew to have good judgement, should make the call. Each Goddess promised something different to Paris if he chose her: Hera promised immense power, Athena promised incredible strength, and Aphrodite promised the love of the most beautiful woman in the world. Paris chose Aphrodite, and thus, the love of Helen was promised to him.

The events that followed, and why they occurred, are still up to interpretation. We know Paris visited Greece while Greece and Troy were on good terms, and we know that Helen left her husband, Menelaus, and got on Paris’ boat headed back to Troy. Upon hearing that Helen was gone, Menelaus approached his brother Agamemnon, and they decided to wage war on Troy. This war lasted for ten years, and ended with Odysseus’ Trojan Horse. Greek soldiers hid inside a giant steel steed, which they had presented as a “Congrats on winning the war” present. In the middle of the night, while the Trojans celebrated what they thought was a victory, the Greek soldiers crept out of the horse, unlocked the gates of Troy for the rest of the soldiers who were waiting, and sacked the city. During that night, Paris died. Priam, King of Troy, died. Hector, Troy’s most steady and masterful warrior, had died days earlier. Almost all of the city is killed or enslaved. Left behind are only the Trojan Women. And Helen.

This play, which was the third part of a trilogy about the Trojan War by the Greek playwright Euripides, opens on a war camp in Troy after the Trojans have already lost to the Greeks. What follows is detailed well in the Wikipedia synopsis; you may find the story harder to follow on stage (I did) due to unfamiliarity with the backstory and the style of language used.  Here’s the essence: The play follows the fates of the women of Troy after their city has been sacked, their husbands killed, and as they and their remaining families are about to be taken away as slaves. The focus is on how much the Trojan women have suffered as their grief is compounded when the Greeks dole out additional deaths and divide their shares of women. Through out play, a Greek herald, Talthybius, arrives to tell the women their fates. This includes the fact that the dethroned queen Hecuba will be taken away with the Greek general Odysseus, and Cassandra is destined to become the conquering general Agamemnon’s concubine. Cassandra, who can see the future, is morbidly delighted by this news: she sees that when they arrive in Argos, her new master’s embittered wife Clytemnestra will kill both her and her new master. However, Cassandra is also cursed so that her visions of the future are never believed, and she is carried off. From the widowed princess Andromache, wife of Hecuba’s late son Hector, Hecuba learns from her that her youngest daughter, Polyxena, has been killed as a sacrifice at the tomb of the Greek warrior Achilles.  Andromache’s lot is to be the concubine of Achilles’ son Neoptolemus, and Andromache’s her baby son, Astyanax, has been condemned to die. Helen, who started this mess although not one of the Trojan women, is supposed to suffer greatly as well: Menelaus arrives to take her back to Greece with him where a death sentence awaits her. Helen begs and tries to seduce her husband into sparing her life. Menelaus remains resolved to kill her. Near the end of the play, Talthybius returns, carrying with him the body of little Astyanax on Hector’s shield. Andromache’s wish had been to bury her child herself, performing the proper rituals according to Trojan ways, but her ship had already departed. Talthybius gives the corpse to Hecuba, who prepares the body of her grandson for burial before they are finally taken off with Odysseus. Much of the play is the women bemoaning what they have lost.

This is an ambitious play for a Fringe company to mount; I know the Santa Clarita Shakespeare Company is doing it for one weekend in July at the site formerly known as REP East. Luckily, Project Nongenue succeeded: the production was excellent. Even if you can’t follow the specifics of the story well, you can get the gist of the performances. And those performances? Just “wow”. Moving and beautiful, clearly demonstrating the anguish that these women were going through. Director Olivia Buntaine (FB), assisted by Elizabeth Jane Birmingham (FB), with movement direction by Christine Breihan (FB), have worked with the performance ensemble to create nothing less than a work of art.

Leading the performance team, at least in my book were Kay Capasso (FB) as Eris, who narrated the events, and Taylor Jackson Ross (FB) as the former queen, Hecuba. Ross draws your eyes; I found myself unable to keep my focus off of her when she was involved in the main action. Capasso, on the other hand, is always swooping around, narrating the action and providing sardonic commentary. Both were great.

The main cohort of women in the camp with Hecuba were Liz Eldridge (FB) as Leader; Elizabeth Jane Birmingham (FB) as Iris, and Avrielle Corti (FB) as Zosime.  All gave strong performance, although the version of the story didn’t allow the audience to learn that much about them individually and as characters.

Popping in and out of the proceedings, either as Talthybius the messenger, or as Menelaus, Helen’s husband, was Cameron Rose (FB). He had the unenviable job of (a) being the only man in the company, and (b) being the bearer of bad news. He handled both well.

The remaining characters generally came in for a scene or two, advanced their storylines, and departed: Kyra Morling as Cassandra, Celia Mandela (FB) as Andromarche, and Daphne Gabriel (FB) as Helen. All had strong performances; I particularly likes Gabriel’s Helen, and Morling’s Cassandra.

The production design of the show was simple: essentially clotheslines with cloth screens and some ladders, with a few props and use of fabric to represent the baby Astyanax. This design was by Cameron Rose (FB). It was supported by Leslie Rose (FB)’s lighting design, and Rich Rose (FB)’s scenic consultation. Costumes were by Elizabeth Jane Birmingham (FB). Robert Arthur Angell (FB) provided Dramaturgy. Al Washburn (FB) did the graphic/web design. Backstage drums by Robert Arthur Angell (FB) and Al Washburn (FB). The production was produced by Robert Arthur Angell (FB). No credit was provided with respect to the translation of the Greek playwright Euripides, or who adapted it for the Fringe stage and time limits.

As I write this, there is one more performance of Trojan Women: June 22 at 8pm.


Pain in My Asperger's (HFF18)A staple at any Fringe Festival is the one person show. Sometimes they are painful and self indulgent; sometimes they soar to wonderful places — but you can be guaranteed that if you go to a Fringe Festival, you’ll have a fair number from which to choose. HFF18 was no exception. We chose  Pain in my Asperger’s based on the subject matter; here’s the description from the Fringe guide:

Actor/musician, Jeremy Ebenstein, through story and song, takes audiences through his humorous, inspiring, yet often heartbreaking story of living a life with Asperger’s Syndrome. With eight original songs and compositions, Ebenstein chronicles his journey from childhood to adulthood, addressing universal issues like childhood bullying, hopeful romance, and overcoming depression, to his unique take on the struggles of everyday life, from relationships, to being able to hold down the simplest of jobs, yet always striving towards his dreams of being accepted and living a successful life. It’s a story of hope and love, not only for those suffering with Asperger’s Syndrome, who need to overcome the additional challenges that Asperger’s presents, but for all who have ever hoped and dreamed about making something of themselves.

Given that we work with engineers every day, are engineers ourselves, and know numerous folks on the spectrum, this show seemed to hit home. So we decided to see it.

In general, Jeremy Ebenstein (FB) does a good job. His story is moving, and it takes a lot of courage — especially for an Aspie — to get up on stage and tell it. It could use with a bit of editing — at times, it seemed to drag and one had to fight the urge to look at the cell phone for the time. But I view that as a side effect of the Aspie desire to tell too much information; I urge the directing and advising team to see if perhaps ten minutes might be cut — some repetitive examples, perhaps some of the approaches.

However, overall, the ultimate story told by Ebenstein was good. It captured well the difficulties for someone on the spectrum to achieve in the dramatic field. The stories of him in school, and his attempts at forming relationships, were quite good. Luckily, Ebenstein found his music — music is a wonderful too to help people get through so much. His rendition of “Over The Rainbow” during the show was astounding; his other songs were good, although a bit less memorable.

The script for the show was developed by Ebenstein with Jack Fry (FB) in the Jack Fry Solo Workshops. Direction was by Jack Fry (FB) . I’ll note that we’ve seen Fry on stage before, at HFF16, as EInstein. Debra Ehrhardt (FB) served as producer and creative consultant.

There is one more performance of Pain in my Asperger’s : 6/20 at 7:45PM.


The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter LibraryAfter the show, we had one more stop to make: we had to see the Donald Trump Presidential Library. To be more specific, it was the pop-up installation of The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library in West Hollywood (it was there last weekend and this weekend; today is the last day). This museum is dedicated to preserving Donald Trump’s favorite medium of communication: the tweet. The website has a virtual tour, but there are areas devoted to all aspects of his tweets: the people he mentions and disparages, his history of tweeting, the story of how he has used his tweets for good or bad; how he has tweeted about foreign countries, and so forth.

In some ways, this is serious. All Presidential Communications are part of the national archives, and his tweets are being saved in the National Archives. So this is probably the first … perhaps scholarly is too strong … study of these Presidential records. They paint a picture of a man with too much time on his handsa man who spends too much time on a gold-plated thronea man who watches far too much “Fox and Friends” … a man who prefers to take his constantly changing and contradictory messages directly to the medium in pre-packaged mouth-sized soundbites.

That give you indigestion.

Seriously, the exhibit was a hoot. It really shows who the man is, which is the point of these archives. Expect future archives of the ripped-up but later reassembled papers received in the Oval Office. Probably with the President’s scribbles annotations on them.

In crayon.

Plus, when you go the library, you get your own “Donald Trump Twitter Name”. I was “Oily Dan”.

The Daily Show Presents: The Donald J. Trump Presidential Twitter Library continues in West Hollywood, at 631 N Robertson, until 10pm today.

***

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre (or music) critic; I am, however, a regular theatre and music audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre and concerts in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I currently subscribe at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) [the company formerly known as Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB)], the Hollywood Pantages (FB), Actors Co-op (FB), the Chromolume Theatre (FBז״ל, a mini-subscription at the Soraya [nee the Valley Performing Arts Center (VPAC)] (FB), and the Ahmanson Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals). I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows:

It’s June — ah, June. That, my friends, means only one thing: the Hollywood Fringe Festival (FB), Here’s our June schedule:

July will be a tad less busy. It starts with the 50th Anniversary of Gindling Hilltop Camp, followed by On Your Feet at the Hollywood Pantages (FB). For the next weekend, as Jane Eyre The Musical from Chromolume Theatre (FB) looks to be a dead parrot ⚰🐦., we’ve replaced it with Tabletop, a reading of a new musical about tabletop RPGs at the Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse (FB). The third weekend in July brings a Bat Mitzvah in Victorville, and Beauty and The Beast at 5 Star Theatricals (FB) that evening on Saturday, and a hold for the OperaWorks (FB) “Opera ReConstructed” at CSUN on Sunday. The last weekend may be a Muse/ique (FB) show. August starts with Waitress at the Hollywood Pantages (FB) on Saturday, and the Actors Co-Op Too! production of Always Andrews: A Musical Tribute to the Andrews Sisters on Sunday at Actors Co-op (FB). The next weekend brings the last Actors Co-Op Too! production, Twelfth Night, or What You Will at Actors Co-op (FB). There may also be a production of The Most Happy Fella at MTW — I’m not sure about it, but the hold date is on the calendar.

As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Better-LemonsMusicals in LA@ This StageFootlights, as well as productions I see on GoldstarLA Stage TixPlays411 or that are sent to me by publicists or the venues themselves. Note: Lastly, want to know how to attend lots of live stuff affordably? Take a look at my post on How to attend Live Theatre on a Budget.

 

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