Keep Calm & Carry On!

I haven’t written much on my blog this year. The daily nonsense, insanity and idiotic, bumbling evil of Trump’s regime have left me type-tied. What to say about so much crazy? How to parry to so many lies?

I’ve left the Trump jokes to the staffs of The Daily Show, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Kimmel and Saturday Night Live. They’ve kept up the satiric fight very well without my two cents. Crafting jokes about a man-child whose words and actions are frequently beyond satire is a challenge. Simply holding up the mirror has often been enough. I’ve enjoyed watching our best comedians skewer the Great Orange Gasbag on a nightly basis.

But Trump’s latest dust-up with the Mayor of London, and the breathless, hyperbolic tone of the 24/7 media coverage of recent terrorist attacks has finally riled me enough to put down my remote, get off the couch, and vent.

Vent, that is, via a brief history lesson.

To be sure, the media (other than FOX News) quickly pointed out that Trump’s god-awful Tweet denigrating the Mayor of London for suggesting there was “no reason to be alarmed” about the London Bridge attacks took the mayor’s words out of context. Mayor Sadiq Khan was clearly referring to the increased presence of armed police on he streets of London – where, unlike in militarized America, London “Bobbies” don’t usually carry guns.

The_Home_Front_in_Britain_during_the_Second_World_War_HU44272But that’s not where my mind went. My mind went to London during The Blitz — and the motto “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Had Mayor Kahn actually said there was no reason to be alarmed by the latest cowardly terrorist attack on his magnificent, open city – he’d have been standing proudly in the shoes of Winston Churchill, King George VI, and the millions of Londoners who endured The Blitz with a stiff upper lip.

_96345490_mediaitem96345140And the media need a history lesson as well. London was never “on edge” because of the London Bridge attack, nor was the UK still “reeling” from the bombing in Manchester. And – this very morning – I somehow doubt, despite breathless CNN commentary, that Paris in “on edge” because one man attacked one cop with a hammer. Such lazy, hysterical media tropes amplify the terrorists’ small, desperate, murderous acts into something much large than they are.

Illustrated London News 24 Aug 1940 cHow did Londoners react to The Blitz? And what was The Blitz? Hey, CNN and MSNBC – maybe the past few days have been a missed opportunity to put things in historical perspective? It’s a cinch Trump has no knowledge of history – but he does watch TV.

blitz-milkman-xlarge_trans_NvBQzQNjv4Bqp89yY2HZvOT8bnVoffPh0YbpZ8xvcmIwf8FF2Vl6e84The seven innocent deaths in the London attack and the 22 lives lost in the Manchester bombing cannot be discounted. They must all be mourned. But we do them all dishonor when we lose perspective and help to make their deaths a propaganda victory for the terrorists. The Nazis tried to terrorize England on an infinitely larger scale – and they failed to break the spirit of the British people. What chance does ISIS have if Trump and the ratings-hungry media don’t play into their hands?

Consider this. (Donald, are you listening?)

firmen-during-the-blitzStarting on September 7, 1940, the German air force bombed London for 56 out of the next 57 days and nights. The Nazis continued their night bombing campaign until May 11, 1941, when Hitler called off the raids so he could use his bombers for his invasion of Russia.

More than a million homes in London were destroyed or damaged — and more than 40,000 civilians were killed, nearly half of them were Londoners.

Your_Courage,_Your_Cheerfulness,_Your_Resolution_Will_Bring_Us_Victory.svgAnd what was the British response? “Keep Calm and Carry On.”

Still listening, Donald? (Of course not. You don’t have the attention span.)

Have 70 post-world war years of relative peace left us incapable of processing the difference between individual acts of murder and mayhem – and true existential threats? (Like global climate change?)

In contrast to today’s constant mass media blather about London, Manchester and Paris “reeling” and “on edge” after these latest attacks, historians tell us that the 8 months of bombing during The Blitz failed to demoralize the British or significantly damage their wartime economy. In fact, Britain’s war industries continued to expand. And, hey, New Yorkers made it through the horrors of 9-11 without surrendering to fear. Keep Calm and Carry On. That’s how we face down evil.

You face it like this defiant English lady…DBdieUNXkAA-5Fa

Or this defiant English lady…41192DFD00000578-4572804-But_author_J_K_Rowling_quickly_hit_back_claiming_it_was_playing_-m-1_1496665711302

Or like the Mayor of London.


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Emilia Stands Up for Comedy in 2017

e-art-2-copyimage1-21226306My very funny standup comedienne daughter Emilia is hosting her first show of the New Year at the Sycamore Tavern in Hollywood this Friday, February 24 at 7:30 pm. Doors open at 7:00. (Get there early and enjoy an adult beverage or two.)

The Sycamore Tavern is located at 7038 Sunset Boulevard
(Sunset & La Brea) – and tickets are $10.

oAmong the comics that will be performing is one of our favorites, T.K. – a purveyor of classic, old school standup, featuring rapid-fire jokes that would make Henny Youngman, Bob Hope and Rodney Dangerfield laugh out loud and spit their drinks through their nose.

Emilia’s damn funny, too.

Victoria will be there. Join her and share some laughs with Emilia and friends.

We all need some good laughs (and a few stiff drinks) right about now, don’t we?

Perhaps one of these fine beverages will take the edge off life with Trump?1481769510412

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What More Can I Say? Go, Girls, Go!



January 26, 2017 · 7:49 pm

An Image Worth a Thousand Words…



January 20, 2017 · 11:03 am

Just One Week Until the Party Starts!

new-show-art-2In just one week, The Practical Theatre Company will be saying goodbye to 2016 and ringing in the New Year with comedy and song – and your favorite adult beverages.

nye-art-a-copyTickets are going fast for Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party on December 30 and 31 at Evanston’s new Studio5 (Dempster & Dodge). There aren’t many tickets left for the New Year’s Eve performance, but you can still reserve seats by clicking here.

PTC vets Paul Barrosse, Victoria Zielinski and Dana Olsen will perform comedy sketches and songs from “The Vic & Paul & Dana Show”, as well as new material crafted for this special variety revue – styled after those classic holiday specials hosted by Andy Williams, Bing and Dean.

Music director and keyboard wiz Steve Rashid will lead a quartet featuring drummer Rockin’ Ronny Crawford, Don Stiernberg on guitar and mandolin, and bassist Jim Cox.

Members of the PTC’s second generation will also perform, including standup comedienne Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Breaks’ Daniel Rashid, singer-songwriter Eva B. Ross and drummer Robert Rashid.

Studio5 features full bar service – and acres of free parking.

The New Year’s Eve performance includes light food and a New Year’s party with live music and dancing after the show.mohp-banner-1-copy


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Just Two Weeks Until the New Year’s Fun Begins…


Paul Barrosse, Victoria Zielinski and Dana Olsen veterans of Practical Theatre Co., founded by Northwestern students in the 1980s, are hosting a holiday show Dec. 30 and 31 at Studio5 in Evanston. (Bradford Rogne)


Myrna Petlickiscreen-shot-2016-12-16-at-11-50-56-am

Pioneer Press

Three veterans of the Practical Theatre Co. will once again share its signature blend of social commentary and comedy in “Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party,” Dec. 30 and 31 at Evanston’s new Studio5.

Husband and wife Paul Barrosse and Victoria Zielinski of Los Angeles, and Evanston resident Dana Olsen, were members of the company founded by Northwestern University students, which achieved acclaim throughout the 1980s.

The trio first reunited onstage four years ago at the Wilmette Theatre, performing a variety show called, “Mr. Olsen’s Neighborhood.” Two years ago, they did “Mr. Olsen’s New Year’s Rockin’ Neighborhood” at 27 Live. Last year, the three of them presented a version of the current show in Los Angeles, joined by longtime friend Steve Rashid of Evanston, a noted musician and composer, who co-owns Studio5 with wife Bea Rashid.

“We thought, this being an election year, this would be a perfect time to collaborate,” Zielinski said. “We collaborated on the sketches, imagining Hillary Clinton’s presidency and Donald Trump as a kind of jokester. Now we’re scrambling to rewrite two central numbers.”

“Which we think we’ve done successfully,” Barrosse added. “But it’s been a mixture of laughter and tears.”

Olsen, who hosts, describes the show as, “Our sort of tribute to the old network holiday shows you used to see on NBC, like Dean Martin or Bob Hope or Andy Williams used to host.”

Zielinski added, “Those are the things, as we grew up, we would go to in front of the television at Christmastime. Now that we’re getting to be a little bit older, we thought it would be funny to mix the Practical Theatre zaniness with kind of an Andy Williams Christmas special.”

In one of Olsen’s favorite sketches, he plays an administrative official at Northwestern who is talking to two professors. “They’re delivering the results of a very arcane research project that they’re pitching to the university,” he said.

In another Olsen favorite, the three performers play a trio of animals, which Olsen admitted is tough on his back.

“We’ll be getting into film noire,” Barrosse added, and then revealed, “Victoria is wincing because she doesn’t want me to give away any premises. She wants nothing but surprises.”

“I’m not wincing,” Zielinski interjected. “It’s my normal attitude.”

She added that this show lets audiences know, “There’s a real excitement and sex and fun to being over 50 and having a great time from a comedic standpoint. It’s not a voice that you hear represented a lot onstage.”

Music director Rashid on keyboards will lead a quartet featuring drummer Ronny Crawford, Don Stiernberg on guitar and mandolin, and bassist Jim Cox.

Talented members of the second generation will also perform. That includes standup comedians Emilia Barrosse and Giggle Breaks’ Daniel Rashid. Barrosse and Zielinski’s other daughter, singer Eva B. Ross will also entertain, as will Rashid’s son, drummer Robert Rashid.

Steve Rashid knows how spontaneous his Practical Theatre Company friends can be. “From a musical standpoint, I have to always be prepared because anything could happen.”

‘Mr. Olsen’s Holiday Party’

When: 8 p.m. Dec. 30 and 31

Where: Studio5, 1934 Dempster St., Evanston

Tickets: $35-$45 Dec. 30; $60-$75 Dec. 31, which includes light food and post-show dancing


Copyright © 2016, Chicago Tribune

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Emilia’s Pre-Christmas Comedy Tour


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