Just Say No No No!

I understand there was some sort of major sporting event thing last Sunday before the new episode of Glee aired. Not really sure what that was all about, but apparently it was important enough that the President threw a party for it at the White House.  As often happens with these type of things, the media reported every bit of minutiae they could get their hands on. One of those rather trivial things was the list of foods served at said party.

Looking at that menu, it seems a fairly typical party menu. In fact, according to the article in the link, it was specifically designed to feature foods from the two states that were playing against each other in said sporting event. That’s actually a pretty smart way to theme a menu, in my opinion. If this was served at your next door neighbors barbecue, you’d likely be pretty happy about it. (Yes, of course there are exceptions, one size never fits all. But I think a majority of people would find something they’d enjoy eating.)

But this was served in the Obama White House. And Michelle Obama is a spokesperson in the fight against childhood obesity. So how did I find out about it? Someone posted an article about it (not actually the one I linked to) to Facebook, with a comment saying, “Michelle Obama, don’t tell me what I should feed my kids when you feed yours this crap.”

Over on the Slacktivist blog, we have a phrase for comments like this. It is “fractally wrong”. There are so many points that are wrong about this comment, it is hard to even know where to start. But I’ll see what I can do.

1. Michelle Obama has never tried to tell anyone what to feed their kids. She has made general recommendations, none of which are particularly controversial. Eat more fruits and vegetables, reduce portion sizes, stop drinking sugary drinks. These are things I hear from my doctor/dentist at every visit, and I figure most other people do as well. And no one complains. We take the advice or we don’t. Heck, I heard more from Michelle Obama explaining about the menu because of these kinds of stupid criticisms, than I have over the past several months about it, so it isn’t like she’s been all in everyone’s face about it, either. (Unlike some previous first ladies and their causes.)

2. One of the dogwhistles in this comment is the “Don’t tell me what to do”, which implies that the first lady is trying to legislate her recommendations. This is absurd. No legislation has been put forth in the country to mandate what people eat. In fact, compared to other countries, we have very few food regulations, and those we do have are in the interests of public safety (and many of those are inadequate, which is why we have  food-related disease outbreaks every so often again.) Regardless of what Fox News and their ilk like to espouse, no one is planning to force you to buy free-range chickens, soybeans or tofu. No elementary school has outlawed cookies. No one is going to go through your kitchen and fine you if you have unhealthy foods.

3. A Super Bowl party is a special occasion. It is not every day. If this menu was Michelle Obama’s weekly grocery list, maybe there would be a justifiable criticism here. Unless your health is in imminent danger (and this is true in some cases), indulging every once in a while is good for you. It gives you something to look forward to, which makes it easier to eat healthier at other times (Yeah, I should probably have the salad now instead of the cheesesteak, but next week is my birthday, so I can have cake!)

I mean, we can argue for days and pages about whether childhood obesity is as big of a problem as it is being made out to be, or whether the metrics for obesity are useful, or any number of other points. But does anyone really think that “kids should eat healthier and parents should encourage that” is a bad message? I mean, it can be if accompanied by either an explicit or implicit “you are a bad parent and your child is a bad person because they are fat”, but I can’t say I’ve seen Michelle Obama do this. I am willing to be corrected, if someone shows that she does engage in this kind of guilt-tripping, fat-shaming behavior.

Seriously, I feel that if Michelle Obama had take up Nancy Reagan’s old cause, we’d have a drug culture in the US that hasn’t been seen since the ’60s. Or if she took up Barbara Bush’s cause, we’d be hearing that teaching kids to read is subversive and undermines democracy.

This needs to stop. Really. It is actually in the Conservatives’ best interest to stop it. Here’s the thing. Many people see this type of thing for what it is: an attempt to demonize and create attacks on strawmen who don’t exist. Do it often enough, and it undermines your entire message. People who know what you are doing will stop paying attention to what you say, because of it. And if you DO have a valid point to make, it gets lost in the buzz, and no one hears it.

Case in point: health care reform. There were a lot of sound, justifiable  criticisms of the new health care law. The thing was, we didn’t hear them. Why? Because Conservatives kept talking about non-existent “death panels” and how a public option would be the end of democracy as we know it and that we could couldn’t do anything like Canada’s health care system because it is SO terrible. All of these things (and many other things that were said) were verifiably false, and anyone who thought about it for 5 minutes knew they were false. So we stopped paying attention. Maybe if they had focused on actual shortcoming of the bill, solutions could have been found, and we’d have had a stronger bill.

But then, maybe that’s asking too much. Right now, if anyone with the last name Obama started volunteering for the Anti-Kitty Burning Association, felines in every Republican household would be in danger. If Republicans and Conservatives would stop automatically opposing everything the President (or his family) does, we could make the world a whole lot brighter, we could make the load a little lighter. Ya know?

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My Life in the Theater: After Callbacks (Waiting)

Back from the callbacks for Jeffrey. Was planning to wait until after sleep to post about it, but as the director said he would be emailing us tomorrow about our roles, I wanted to get some of my thoughts out before I heard.

Let’s start with the good news. I’ve been told I’m definitely in the show. What I’m waiting to hear about is what part (or parts, if I’m in the ensemble) I got. This is great news in and of itself. Truly, I do love the show, and being involved in any way would be great. Plus, I really like all the people I’ve met so far. The other people in the cast and the directing staff are all great people. I think it is really going to be a fun time.

And the bad news. I don’t think I got the lead. There was a guy there tonight who was at the second set of auditions earlier. While they did have me read for Jeffrey a couple of times, they definitely had him reading much more often. And after they let us all go, they asked 5 of the people to stay behind. Three of those people were ones who really only read one part, meaning it was sure they were cast. (There was a very young guy who was the only one in the age range to play Darius, the only woman at the callbacks (and only one female part), and the really hot guy who only read for Steve (no one else read Steve either.)  So my guess is that the other two were given Sterling and Jeffrey, and they told them that there, after the rest of us left. As chorus members,  they still need to divide up the various parts between us. So they need more time for us. Yeah, I could be wrong, but I doubt it.

Right now, I’m feeling pretty depressed. As I said, I really wanted that part. But I’ll get over it. I’m sure the other guy will do a great job. Parts of his readings were fantastic. Other parts, not so much, but I’m sure the director can fix that. So I’ll wallow for a day or two, then move on. The readthrough is on Monday night, so I’m sure I’ll be done with the brooding by then.

And, yes, very much feeling the Natalie syndrome. The rest of the episode is that once Natalie tells the casting board that she wants the part of Nellie and gives a great audition, Tuttie gets talked into auditioning (she always got the lead, but had decided to sit this show out), and beats out Natalie for the role at the last minute. That’s exactly how I feel. It’s okay. It happens. It’s happened to me before, and it’ll likely happen again. But I really wanted that part. *SIGH*

My Life in the Theater: After the Audition

So, I just got back from the auditions for Jeffrey, and I have to say, I’m freaking out a little. I went into this audition with absolutely no expectations. It was primarily for me to get a feel for the process they use, and to get my face seen a bit, so they recognize me next time. And, I’ll admit, it was also to get me out of the house for something other than going to a bar.

Now, I didn’t totally discount getting a part. I’m a good actor. And one of my specialties is doing a variety of parts. There are three parts in this show that do several roles. I thought I might get one of those parts. Maybe.

The director did have me read several of the parts involved in those three multi-role people. But he also had me read for Jeffrey. The lead. Which is fine, as a director myself, I often have people read for roles I’m not really considering them for, just to see what they can do.

But he also asked me to stay until the end of the audition. A number of other people were told they were done, and had already left. And the last several times I read, I was reading the part of Jeffrey. In fact, I was the only one reading the part of Jeffrey. Now, that doesn’t mean anything, really. The director could have certainly have just wanted to see me read more often because I’m an unknown quantity to him. But it could also mean that he is very interested in casting me in that role.

And that is what has me freaking out. I haven’t been on stage in over 2 years now. And Jeffrey is in almost every scene in this show (hence the show being named after him). That’s a lot of lines, a lot of blocking, a lot of acting, and a lot of memorizing. The show essentially succeeds or fails on his shoulders. That’s a lot of responsibility. Yes, I know I can do it, but still…it’s been a long time.

Then, there is what I call the “Natalie syndrome.” Did you ever see the episode of The Facts of Life where Natalie is trying out for South Pacific? She really wants the lead, but is afraid to say so for fear of tempting the fates. I love being on stage, and I don’t really care about the specific part. There are supporting roles that can be a lot of fun, sometimes more so than the lead. There are very few parts that I have ever really said, “Wow, I need to play that some day.” But this is one of them. I really want this part. I really, really, really want this part. I wouldn’t let myself say so earlier, because I didn’t think it was in the realm of possibility. But now it seems it is. Maybe. But just the possibility is making me all nervous again. I really want this part, and now I’m scared I might blow it. There are callbacks tomorrow night, which I have been told to come to. So it isn’t out of my hands yet. I gave a great read tonight, hopefully I’ll do just as good tomorrow, and land this role. If not, any of the other parts would be great as well. But I really, really, really want to play Jeffrey. I guess I’ll just have to freak out more until tomorrow night. Ugh.

Editor’s Note: I began writing this right after I came back from the audition, but got so tired I couldn’t see straight, so I continued it the next day, which is why it is posted on a different date from the last post. I am actually now about to get ready to leave for the callback. More on that tomorrow morning.

My Life in the Theater: Before the Audition

So, in about 15 minutes, I have to start getting ready to go to my first audition since I moved to Las Vegas over 2 months ago. When I lived outside of Philly, I was very active in community theater, and made a lot of friends through it. (I also got a lot of my other friends involved in it.) But since moving, I haven’t really had a chance to find somewhere to get involved.

A long time back, I had done some research into community theaters in Vegas, and ran across the Las Vegas Little Theater. Looking at their seasons in the past, they have done a lot of shows I was interested in. And this season is no exception. In fact, they are doing a show I have tried to get a couple of theaters in PA to do, and was unsuccessful: Jeffrey by Paul Rudnick. The story is a comedy about a man who decides to stop having sex because of AIDS, then finds someone who could be the love of his life – except he is HIV positive. Managing to be hysterically funny, but still deal with AIDS as a serious subject, I have been in love with this script since I first read it. So seeing the audition notice on LVLT’s website, I decided to go try out.

There are 3-4 parts I think I would be right for, including the lead. But I’m not greedy, I’ll take anything. But I haven’t gone to any kind of audition in over 2 years, and the ones before that for a long time were in front of people I knew well. This time will be in front of total strangers, without even anyone else I know auditioning. So yeah, I’m a little nervous. Okay, A LOT nervous. I’m really not expecting to get a part, but it would be nice.

And I’m figuring that if I do get a part, or even if I get another part somewhere else, I’m going to want to blog about my experiences with the show. So I may as well start here. Wish me luck!

Untitled Opening Post

So here I am. I’ve been meaning to start an actual blog for years now, and to start this specific one for several months, and somehow, I just never got around to it. But like one of my favorite on-line persons, who also started his blog recently, I’m feeling a need to vent.

Not quite going to do it in this post, however. The specific event that I feel need to vent about is long, complicated, possibly a bit polarizing, and probably not a good first introduction. It’ll come in the next few days though, I promise. And I do have another post almost ready to go from previous attempts at getting this blog going, and that may go up first.

In the meantime, this will be something I doubt you will see much of on this blog: a fairly short post. I tend to be a little verbose on occasion (working on that, and better at it in text than IRL). But in the future, there will be posts on books, politics, theater, religion (or lack thereof), movies, television, thoughts on moving to a new city (something I just did recently), thoughts on job hunting (something I am about to start doing), or various other topics that come to mind that I feel like discussing (or just venting about). I don’t really intend to keep this blog too focused, as I am not too focused myself, nor am I an expert on anything or specialize in anything.

So this is me. Or will be me. A part of me, anyway. And I hope to learn as much as I put out. I make no claims to be perfect, and find logic and valid disagreement to be a good thing. But as Rachel Maddow often says, “You can’t make stuff up, and you can’t threaten to shoot anyone.” Other than that, let’s talk.