Friday, June 28, 2013

The Nance with Nathan Lane

A really thought provoking play.

Here’s a quick synopsis of the play:
In 1937 Chauncey Miles is a star in a poor burlesque theatre company in New York City, playing a “nance”, a “stock character who was a flamingly effeminate homosexual.” Chauncey is gay and looks for men at an automat, but he must be careful or he could be arrested. There he meets Ned, newly arrived in the City, and they become romantically involved.

The mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, is trying to end burlesque, in part by persecuting the gay population. Chauncey, in court, defends burlesque and free expression. He comes to understand that he cannot be monogamous. Finally, he appears on stage in complete drag, playing an old prostitute.

In 1937 Chauncey Miles is a star in a poor burlesque theatre company in New York City, playing a “nance”, a “stock character who was a flamingly effeminate homosexual.” Chauncey is gay and looks for men at an automat, but he must be careful or he could be arrested. There he meets Ned, newly arrived in the City, and they become romantically involved.

The mayor of New York, Fiorello La Guardia, is trying to end burlesque, in part by persecuting the gay population. Chauncey, in court, defends burlesque and free expression. He comes to understand that he cannot be monogamous. Finally, he appears on stage in complete drag, playing an old prostitute.

In the end Ned and Chauncey meet again at the automat and kiss. Chauncey is arrested. The theater is closed. The other performers relocate to Jersey but Chauncey can only go if he tells his parole board who he kissed. He refuses. The last scene is Chauncey walking on stage in the empty theater. Something falls from the ceiling. Then as the curtain comes down you hear something else falling. It leaves you wondering if something fell on him or it’s just a metaphor for Chauncey’s life falling apart.

The set is on a turn table. The places we see are the burlesque theater, the back stage of burlesque theater and Chauncey’s apartment.

Nathan Lane is great as Chauncey. He plays the burlesque parts of the show to the hilt. This is where most of the laughs of the show take place. Off the stage Chauncey life is not so funny. He makes a big deal that the crack down on the shows is only an election move. Once the election is over things will ease up. You see Chauncey is gay but also a Republican. He constantly fights with a member of the show that is a communist. In one very memorable line she says to Chauncey your Republicans let you down and my communists let me down. Even though they fight you tell the affection they have for one another.

Chauncey’s love interest Ned is played by Jonny Orsini (here’s a story about him from the New York Times). I think that Lane and Orsini have great chemistry.

He is great. He starts out as a wide eyed innocent when Chauncey picks him up at the automat. Gradually he evolves as he is suddenly thrust on stage when one of the burlesque performers quits. His first time on the burlesque stage are hysterical. But gradually he finds his way. He loves Chauncey and is ready to settle down with him. But somehow Chauncey can’t do it.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The Trip Up to New York and Kinky Boots

For once track work on the Metro worked to my advantage. Several stations above Rhode Island Avenue were closed due to track maintenance. That meant trains started running from Rhode Island. I got down to Union Station at about 7:20. More than enough time to catch the 8 am bus up to New York.

I met up with my friend, Christian, who I was going up with. There were actually two buses going up at about the same time (which would be similar on the way back and is there as story to go with that). So lots of people going to NYC. We got the seats with the extra room. They are across from the front stairwell in the bus so the seats in front of our seats aren't there. Talk about your extra leg room!

No problems going up at all. A little slow down with construction which is to be expected. The real slow point in the whole trip is usually the Lincoln Tunnel. No problems there either. Arrived just on time.

We wondered up toward Times Square and grabbed lunch. Then headed off to Kinky Boots at the Al Hirschfeld Theatre. It was neat that there were some of Hirscheld's cartoons in the upper lobby.

This is from Into the Woods

This is from Bye Bye Birdie

We had great seats in the center row T. And Kinky Boots was just fantastic from start to finish.

Here's a little of a review from the New York Times:

... sincerity comes through in “Kinky Boots.” So does the defiant quirkiness that made even Ms. Lauper’s gooier recordings palatable. The leading players here — notably Stark Sands, Billy Porter and Annaleigh Ashford — pick up on the trademark Lauper mix of sentimentality and eccentricity, but each makes it his or her own.

Under Mr. Mitchell’s precise and affectionate direction, they do what you want performers in musicals to do: they define specific characters by the way they sing and move. From their entrances, the cast members build up a bank of good vibrations.

Billy Porter is incredible and you understand exactly why he won the Tony for best lead in a musical with numbers like Land of Lola, Sex is in the Heel and especially Hold Me in Your Heart. And speaking of heart, the real heart of the show, at least to me, is Charlie played by Stark Sands. He's the emotional center of the story. It's his journey that we follow and his struggles that define the direction the story goes. In all everyone was fantastic. Just a wonderful fun show.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Another Great Trip to New York

Another great trip to New York.

It was a little different from the usual day trip up. Actually stayed over night. It allowed for a visit down to the 9/11 Memorial.

I'm going through pictures and will do some posts about the trip in the next couple of days. I'm still recovering from the trip. The bus back was a little late in leaving and there is an interesting story about that.

For now a couple of pictures from another fantastic trip to NYC.

Times Square. I don't think I've seen so many people in Times Square then on this trip. And it was packed any time of day.

A church near the hotel I stayed at.

Construction down by the 9/11 Memorial

Sunday, June 23, 2013

At the World Trade Center

Went down to see the World Trade Center. 

Waking Up in NYC

Waking up in NYC. Just got back from the very nice breakfast spread at the hotel. 

We saw The Nace last night with Nathan Lane. A very funny yet sad play. They we played tourist. Finally ended up in a bar. Had a few drinks and headed "home" for a good night sleep. 

Heading out shortly. Not sure where we will be off to. 

This afternoon we are seeing Alan Cumming in Macbeth. Then tonight is the Broadway Cares charity event. Then back home on the bus!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Having a Blast in New York

Actually staying over night this time. Just got out of seeing Kinky Boots. What an incredible show. No wonder it won the Tony for Best Musical and Billy Porter won for best lead actor in a musical. 

At the hotel for a little rest and then out again. 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

A Laugh from Peanuts — Sally Jumps Rope

To celebrate the just about the end of the week. Here's a fun series from Peanuts. Enjoy.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

They’re Listening In, Well Kinda Sort Of

I’ve been thinking about this since the story broke about the NSA collecting data on all of us. But then again there’s nothing to be concerned about. The administration has assured us this is all legal. They informed Congress after all and Congress will monitor the program to make sure it is all legal. I almost fell out of my chair laughing at that one.

Eric Cantor’s reaction shows how concerned everyone should be
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor says Congress enacted legislation authorizing broader information-gathering powers in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and it “was done in a constitutional manner.”

But now, Cantor tells CBS “This Morning,” many lawmakers “don’t know what happened and we’ve got to find out.”

Yes, maybe instead of trying for the umpteenth time to repeal the Affordable Care Act you might actually try and do your job. This response is supposed to make me feel better about what the NSA is doing. Here’s the number two Republican in the House and he sounds completely clueless as to what’s going on. I might also add Cantor is a long time supporter of the Patriot Act who doesn’t seem to understand what the damn Act says or authorizes.

There’s an excellent article from the Post that answers some basic questions on what the NSA is doing.

An important point in the article:

The program appears to be based on Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the government to obtain business records that are relevant to an ongoing terrorism investigation. That’s a pretty permissive standard, but the Electronic Frontier Foundation argues that Congress intended to authorize information requests relevant to a specific terrorism investigation. Hoovering up the phone records of every person in the United States seems inconsistent with that requirement. We can’t all be terrorism suspects.

The major suppliers (Yahoo being the latest) of this data the phone companies and internet providers are now asking to be able to release more information on what the government asks be turned over:

Yahoo’s call for the United States to allow companies to disclose more information on FISA requests comes after similar calls from Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Google in the wake of news reports outlining a National Security Agency surveillance program that uses data from these consumer tech companies. In recent days, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have also released broad information on how many national-security related requests they’ve received from the U.S. government.

The president has said: also categorically denied that the NSA can listen to U.S. citizens’ telephone calls or target their e-mails without obtaining a court warrant.

The assurances from the government from the president on down don’t really reassure me all that much. This is a massive amount of information that the government will hold on for forever. Who knows what new technology down the road will come along and be able to extract even more information from this data.

If nothing else there needs to be a discussion on just what the NSA is doing. The exact details do not need to be discussed but the general outline needs to be described. This will allow the people to understand exactly what data the government is going after. The line of "trust us" is just not going to work. We’ve been down that road before and it lead to a huge disaster called Iraq. Let’s not repeat the same mistake.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

2Political Episode 88


2Political Podcast Episode 88 is now available. You can listen to it or download it from the podcast site, You can leave comments there as well as download or listen to any episode (you can access the five most recent episodes from the list on the right side of my blog).

FINALLY!! Arthur was busier than ever, but we also had technical problems that took him awhile to work out in editing. Good thing he finished, because he has another one to edit.

Anyway, this episode is a little unusual: Politics are just in the background as we talk about a bunch of stuff. We begin with an update on Jason’s billing saga, move on to special days, and then a more extended talk about the Internet problems Arthur has faced recently, which kept us from being able to record a new episode until this one.

That leads to talk about customer service and on to iTunes and then the cloud. That, in turn, leads to talk about Adobe’s Creative Cloud and open source alternatives.

Then we talk about movies. Really. Arthur even explains why he’s never seen “The Hobbit”. This actually touches on politics!

Everyone’s welcome to comment (agree or disagree!).

Get 2Poltical Podcast for free on iTunes

Monday, June 17, 2013

Man of Steel

I saw this on Sunday the 9:30 show. A friend had seen it Friday in 3D and said it didn’t add all that much to the movie. (I have to say I find 3D doesn’t add all that much. Star Trek being the notable exception of the films I’ve seen lately.)

There was the usual strangeness of getting into the theater. I went to the Regal Cinema at Gallery Place. There was a security guard who opened the door for each person coming in. I’m not sure why they just don’t unlock one of the doors and have the guard stand there.

I got my ticket. For some reason I got the senior discount. So I got to save a buck. I’m not complaining about that.

I found the theater. It was about the smallest one in the entire complex. It sat around 100 people. The screen was not all that big. I wondered around and looked at the movie posters because I’d gotten there early. For a moment I thought I could get a pair of 3D glasses out of the return boxes near the entrance to each individual theater and see the thing in 3D. I thought it was kind of shitty to be in the smallest theater in the place to see the regular version of the movie. But I decided not to.

I got in my seat around 9:15. Eventually around 40 or more people in the theater. The slide saying to turn off your cell phone and not to talk during the film came up. And then it stayed up. 9:30 passed and then 9:35. Someone finally went out and told someone that the movie wasn’t playing. More time passed. A guy in front of me called someone in the movie theater (I have no idea how he got a number). He said the 9:30 movie wasn’t working in and I told him theater 3. More time passed. Still no movie. During all of this no one from the theater management came in to tell us what was going on. Finally someone did show up and suddenly the lights went out and the movie started. The only thing we missed were the endless previews that they show because they went straight into the movie. My thought was we didn’t miss anything.

Now on to the movie.

As Box Office Mojo put it:

In need of a major franchise to fill the void left by Harry Potter and The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. put their all in to making sure Man of Steel was a hit. As far as franchise reboots go, they started in a good place: while Superman is immensely popular, audiences have largely forgotten about Superman Returns, and therefore Man of Steel never faced the same kind of skepticism that surrounded The Amazing Spider-Man last year.

I think this was a very good start for a franchise reboot.

I think Henry Cavill is great as the Man of Steel. He has a great screen presence and you really do believe he’s Superman.

The take this time is Clark’s attempt to fit in as a normal person. For him to blend in and not use his power and thus not be noticed. Jonathan Kent instills in Clark the belief that people will not be able to accept who he really is. He will scare and frighten people That he needs to hide himself and his powers until the time is truly right to show himself to the world. This comes into very clear focus when Jonathan dies. It is one of the best not action scenes of the movie. Clark has this continual conflict of trying to keep a low profile but events test him on this. There is the bus accident as a child. The oil rig explosion when he's an adult. Does he let people die or does he do something to save them? (This is another stand out scene of the movie.)

It's also interesting that you have him with a beard. I think the first time that's ever been done. This again reinforces his desire to blend into the back ground and not be noticed. The beard acts as a further disguise to hide who he really is.

There is of course the inevitable conflict with General Zod and his band of merry mercenaries. They show up and try to conquer the planet. Here's the ultimate conflict for Superman (which he's referred to only two or three times in the entire movie). Which destiny does he choose? Which race does he choose?

The fight scenes are spectacular. But, and this is my only real problem with the movie, there are too many of them. Just a little less mayhem and destruction would have made for a better film. Also I think the scenes on Krypton run a little long as well.

In all a really really fun movie to see. Here's hoping the man of steel takes to the air again.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Charlie Invades the Underwear Draw, Part I

This morning I left a drawer to my dresser open. It happened to be the underwear drawer. Charlie decided he had to get into it. Linus came along and wanted very much to get Charlie out of the drawer.

Linus trying to get at Charlie

Going after Charlie again

Linus almost gets Charlie

Charlie in the drawer

Charlie Invades the Underwear Draw, Part II

Here Linus finally forces Charlie out of the drawer.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Pups in the Park.

National fans of the four legged variety. It's pups in the park. 

Hope Springs Eternal

At another Nationals game. Hoping they can start turning around their season with a win.

A Ballgame on My Birthday with My Brother

Wednesday was my birthday. It was a really great day.

I had lunch with my friend Stu at one of our favorite places, Franklin's. I had a cheddar burger. Yum!

Then I went to a Nationals game.

My brother just so happened to be in town on business. The hotel he happened to be staying at was a couple of blocks from the park. It was possible he would have a dinner meeting but in the early afternoon he decided we'd go to the game. Mark very graciously game up his seat so my brother and I could go to the game together.

In an it's a small world moment, my friend Lis was going to the game with a group from her son's school. She said to look for a bunch of people in green t-shirts. As my brother and I were entering the park, we ran into them. Now we had debated where to eat dinner. Turns out we ate it at his hotel. But if we had gone to the park we would never have run into Lis.

It was very fun being at the game on my birthday with my brother. The game was not all that exciting since the Nationals lost 10-1 to the Mets. For a different results with the Mets go here.

After the game I went back to my brother's hotel for a little while. It was a really wonderful night. I don't think we'd been to a game together since my dad's 85th birthday and that was a minor league game. The last time we'd been to a professional game together well that's been years and years.

Here are a couple of pictures from the game.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Playing Tourist

What an incredible day it was today.

Bright, sunny and very mild.

Perfect weather to play tourist. I have this week off and that's exactly what I did.

I met up with my friend Stu at 15th and Constitution and we went to some museums.

I think these pictures will give you an idea of just how great a day it was.

The American History Museum — Kill the Wabbit

Here's an pencil drawing of the very famous Bugs Bunny cartoon What's Opera, Doc?

And here is that classic cartoon.

At the Natural History Museum

I really enjoy wandering around the Smithsonian Museums. It's like visiting an old friend. Many things are the same but every once in a while you run into something new.

Here are some pictures of the galleries we went through today.