Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Donald Jumps The Shark…

As of today, March 22, 2018, Donald Trump has jumped the shark.

I know that seems impossible.

220px-Fonzie_jumps_the_sharkEver since Fonzie took to water skis and jumped over a shark on a fifth-season episode of “Happy Days” in the fall of 1977 – “jumping the shark” has come to mean that moment when an enterprise has gone beyond belief, sanity or relevancy and soared into absurdity and inconsequence.

Then again, on second thought, I only wish today’s events had rendered Trump inconsequential.

Still, I can’t escape the feeling that The Donald has – given today’s events – jumped the genus selachimorpha.

Think about what we learned today. Just today. Just on this one, singular day.

And imagine if the President involved was not named Trump. (If his name was, perhaps Obama?) And yet, even though his name is Trump — it’s still incredible. (Though, perversely, all-too-credible — given that Trump is the guy involved.)

MI-BJ392_GALLEO_G_20110502182208Today we learned that…

The President’s lead attorney, John Dowd, has quit the legal team that’s defending Trump against Special Counselor Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. It seems Dowd might have gotten upset that Trump just hired a new lawyer — a FOX News conspiracy hack named Joe Digenova. Or it could be because Trump just won’t listen to sound legal advice. Who knows? Chaos reigns.

636544528223527311-AP-GERMANY-SECURITY-CONFERENCE-97604626On this same day we learn that Trump’s National Security Advisor, General H.R. McMaster is out – and right wing, war hawk, bull-goose-loony John Bolton is taking his place.

Are you psyched for war in North Korea and Iran? Did you love the Iraq War? If so, John Bolton is your man.

481314159.jpg.0So, how does Trump – who ran on his blistering critique of the war in Iraq as a huge mistake, now embrace one of the primary advocates of that mistaken war? Who knows? Chaos reigns.

And then there’s Trump’s opening salvo in a new trade war with China. Today, The Donald announced tariffs directed at China that prompted the Dow-Jones Index to plummet 724 points.

Trump’s tariff announcement and subsequent Dow plunge would normally be the big news of the day. In fact, any of these stories would’ve been the major headline of the month in any other presidential administration.

But not in Donnie’s dystopian dynasty…

Somehow — perhaps through his mad, calculating, perverse subgenius — Trump managed to bury what would surely have been the biggest scandal of any prior Presidency.

nn_kwe_trump_stormy_daniels_180320_1920x1080.nbcnews-ux-1080-600Playboy centerfold Karen MacDougal appeared on CNN today.

She spoke to Anderson Cooper in an exclusive interview and detailed a year-long sexual affair she had with Trump in the very same year that Donnie’s wife Melania gave birth to their son – and the same year he was also carrying on with Stormy Daniels.

All this madness in just one day.

Our national head is spinning.

And it isn’t event Stormy Sunday yet.49F3553000000578-5482961-Donald_Trump_and_porn_Stormy_Daniels_aka_Stephanie_Clifford_pose-a-102_1520614068866

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A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall…

R-2057737-1261406197.jpegWe modern, sophisticated, educated folk tend to dismiss the idea of prophets: people who can see the future and comment on what’s coming.

But give a listen to this song by Bob Dylan – who was just 22-years old when “A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall” was released on May 27, 1963 — on the album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan.

Freewheelin’? Not on this song.

Bob Dylan may well be the greatest poet writing in the English language since Shakespeare. Listen to his song – and read the lyrics. I will say no more.

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son
And where have you been, my darling young one
I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests
I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son
And what did you see, my darling young one
I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it
I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it
I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’
I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’
I saw a white ladder all covered with water
I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken
I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son?
And what did you hear, my darling young one?
I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warnin’
Heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world
Heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’
Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’
Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’
Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter
Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

Oh, what did you meet, my blue-eyed son?
Who did you meet, my darling young one?
I met a young child beside a dead pony
I met a white man who walked a black dog
I met a young woman whose body was burning
I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow
I met one man who was wounded in love
I met another man who was wounded with hatred
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son?
And what’ll you do now, my darling young one?
I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’
I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest
Where the people are many and their hands are all empty
Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters
Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison
And the executioner’s face is always well hidden
Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten
Where black is the color, where none is the number
And I’ll tell it and think it and speak it and breathe it
And reflect it from the mountain so all souls can see it
Then I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’
But I’ll know my song well before I start singin’
And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard
It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall.

Recall these lines – and think about them. This was a young man, barely an adult in the early 1960’s, and he saw – and sang about – these images…

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans

I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children

Heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’

Heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’

I met a white man who walked a black dog

I met a young woman whose body was burning

Where the people are many and their hands are all empty

Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters

Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison

Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten

Where black is the color, where none is the number

How could such a young man see the future (and his present) so clearly?

Now, tell me there’s no such thing as prophecy…

 

 

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Parkland, Revolution & Gun Control

2a-678x381Okay, so I’m confused. Let’s review…

The Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States reads…

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”2ndAmendment

As a student of English, I appreciate the specificity of the language – and the importance of punctuation. You can’t separate a parenthetical clause from the body of a sentence and reinterpret the meaning of the sentence to suit your ideology.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

gun_lawsThe Framers — our esteemed Founding Fathers – were clearly concerned (fresh from a Revolutionary War against Britain) that we have a well-drilled local militia ready to take the field and battle against foreign aggressors. Citizen soldiers (the famous Minutemen) were therefore, armed, drilled, and prepared to face foreign armies.

But foreign invasion is simply NOT a concern today. (Unless it’s a Russian-style cyber invasion.)

banner.revSo, why do we Americans allow civilians to own military-style semi-automatic weapons? (Automatic — if you factor in bump-stocks.) Are the NRA-loving folks armed with such high-powered weapons members of a “well regulated Militia?”

I think NOT.

2nd-amendment-gun-rifle-right-to-bear-arms-pro-gun-t-shirtsSo, given that Our Founders were Englishmen (or, at least, descendants of English speakers) versed in the King’s English, they could not have envisioned the situation we confront today: untold thousands of high-powered weapons in the hands of paranoid people who aren’t members of a “well regulated Militia.”

Sorry, Wayne LaPierre, I call your bullshit. And so do the student survivors of the mass school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Like Australia – and all the other civilized countries in the world, we cannot accept mass shootings in our schools — or Country Music concerts — or anywhere else.color-Sec-amend-NRA

It’s time for effective gun control!

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My PyeongChang Diary (Part 4)

I’ve been in South Korea for almost a week now.

Every day, I’ve been tramping to and from our hotel to the Phoenix Park resort where the Olympic snowboarding events are being held – and where we’re making our brief documentary on the 20-year history of Olympic snowboarding. (To be shown before the closing ceremony.)

I’ve also been taking advantage of the hotel’s gym, knocking off some kilometers on the treadmill – and working up a sweat.

Between my gym clothes and the various layers I wear each day to insulate myself from the chilly winter weather in the snow-covered mountains of PyeongChang, it’s time to do my laundry. Two bags full.

But nothing is easy for this innocent abroad.

And, as you’ll see below, the simple task of washing my clothes turned out to be an adventure…

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To do your laundry, you must first FIND the laundry room. My journey of discovery begins in the 6th floor lobby of The White Hotel. Outside, there’s a haze obscuring the mountains. The location of the laundry room will prove no less obscure.

3

The sign next to the elevator indicates several points of interest. The laundry room is not among them. In retrospect, that may only seem to be the case because I can’t read Korean.

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The signage in the elevator gets me no closer to my goal. At left, it’s clear that I should not lean up against the elevator door — and that, perhaps, I shouldn’t stick my hand in it. The sign at right is anyone’s guess. Though not a Korean, of course. A Korean would’t have to guess. But I’m at a loss.

4

Emerging from the elevator on the lobby level, I arrive first at this room. But it’s clearly not the laundry. It’s the hotel gift shop. It’s very pretty — but I’ve never seen anyone in it: not a customer or even a clerk. Many very artsy objects are displayed. The whole setup is a mystery to me. So is the location of the laundry room.

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Next to the gift shop is the business center. I have never seen business stuff being done there. Usually, I see one or two Koreans reading there. (Perhaps enjoying Sendak?) And this morning, I saw a gold medal skier walk into this room with a fifth of scotch and a glass. Business? Maybe.

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Moving down the hallway, the signage directs me to several rooms — but not to the laundry room.

9.5

Past the restaurant and banquet rooms — at the end of the hallway — is another elevator. Convinced the laundry room is not on the lobby level, I descend into the basement.

12

I rode the elevator with this Korean man. He was bringing kegs of beer to the lobby beer garden. Alas, it was his first time at The White Hotel — so he couldn’t help me find the laundry room.

13

As the beer vendor exited to the parking lot, I turned my head to the right — and there it was!

Wash

It looks simple enough. A washer and a dryer, clearly labeled, complete with instructions.

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This may look like a lot of money — but it will take most of it to get my one load of laundry done. The washer is 5,000 South Korean won — and so is the dryer. 5,000 won is about $4.61 in U.S. currency. Detergent cost 500 won — or about 46 cents. Same for a sheet of fabric softener.

Det

Now, the real trouble begins. After I insert my 500 won coin, I discover that the vending machine is OUT of detergent. The bottom row has laundry bags. The next row up has fabric softener. But the two top rows dedicated to detergent are empty. Completely empty.

19

I take the elevator back up to the lobby level and ask these ladies for help. The girls on the right are sweet and want to help — but they have no clue what I’m talking about. Luckily, the older lady on the left (obviously a manager) knows just who to call. Interestingly, when she makes the call, I notice that, as she spoke, the Korean word for “detergent” appeared to “detergent”.

Gut.png

This fellow was dispatched to assist me. He came down with me to the laundry room, opened a utility closet and presented me with ONE packet of laundry detergent. But he didn’t re-stock the machine. He checked to see that it was, indeed, empty — but evidently stocking vending machines is not in his job description. I was very grateful nonetheless.

Drum.png

The helpful man instructed me to put the detergent into the bin on top of the machine. However, a sticker on the machine told me to put the detergent in the drum. I took the machine’s advice.

25

In went my 5,000 won…

Button.png

And now, another conundrum. Instructions on top of the washer clearly say “Press start button”. But there doesn’t seem to be a “start button”. There is, however (written in English!) a “stop/pause” button. I press it — and the washing machine lurches into action. Go figure.

29

Success at last!

30

After getting my laundry done, I walked down — as I do every day — to The Phoenix Park Hotel: our entrance to the extreme sports Olympic venue.

33

As I enter the hotel lobby, bundled against the cold, I ask myself, “How soon will these clothes need to be washed?” and “Do I really need to wear so many layers?”

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A Comic Celebration to Remember!

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For two frigid but otherwise fun and fulfilling weeks on Chicago’s North Shore, the cast and crew of “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration” staged a series of shows that rang in the New Year with satire, song and classic comic shtick. The three packed performances proved once again that The Practical Theatre Company and its motto “Art is Good” are alive and well in the Windy City.

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The Practical Theatre is like “Brigadoon” these days: a magical, fleeting moment of entertainment that vanishes as suddenly as it appears. For those of you who were not able to be among the receptive crowds that gathered at Studio5 in Evanston to witness this rare theatrical event – please enjoy the following photos, taken by former Chicago Tribune photographer Chuck Osgood at final dress rehearsal.

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The Opening Number: “It’s been a year to remember — to forget!”

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“Ed & Ellen & Ned” — Ed (Paul Barrosse) & Ellen (Victoria Zielinski) and Ned (Dana Olsen) share a moment in an airport bar with a young man (Daniel Rashid) who digs older women.

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Eva B Ross sings “Thou Swell” backed by Steve Rashid (keys) & The Studio5 All Stars: Rockin’ Ronny Crawford (drums), Joe Policastro (bass), Don Stille (accordion) and Don Stiernberg (guitar)

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“Limbo” — A bickering couple (Vic & Dana) find themselves in a state of suspended afterlife.

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“Parents” — Dana and Shelly Goldstein play parents with a lot of good (and not so good) advice for their high school graduate, bound for Northwestern University.

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“Please Come to Starbucks” — Paul is a forlorn, lovesick guy from Cleveland who lost his girl (Vic) to the Southern California dream. He seeks her out in a mournful musical complaint.

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“Stop Talking About Him” — A young couple (Daniel Rashid & Emilia Barrosse) struggle with the nagging, negative, inescapable influence of Donald Trump on their relationship.

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“Cut In Line” — This is the moment that an unlucky guy (Paul) discovers that the guy to whom he just gave his place in line (Dana) is the 1,000,000th customer and winner of a million dollars!

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The Mr. Olsen’ Dancers perform “We’re In The Money”

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Dana & Eva perform a multi-lingual duet of “Let it Snow” — just before it goes way off the rails.

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With sexual harassment dominating the news, the dancers make a statement.

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Don Stille burns up his accordion solo in “The Possible Side Effects Polka”

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The Mr. Olsen Dancers step lively in “The Possible Side Effects Polka”

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Emilia Barrosse opens the second act with an original stand-up comedy set.

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“Ed & Elena” — Ed (Paul) is about to get a big surprise from buxom blonde Elena (Vic).

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Steve Rashid performs a nostalgic musical tribute to George W. Bush — with beautiful, inspirational music by Steve and indescribable words by Dubya himself.

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The Mr. Olsen Dancers kick up a wild western rumpus.

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“Whisky Tasting” — Miss Vicky’s hootch has finally gotten the best of Paul’s boozing cowpoke.

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Groovy Shelly sings “The Middle Aging of The Age of Aquarius”

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“Meet the Robot” — Guess who’s coming to dinner? Your daughter’s synthetic human boyfriend, that’s who.

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A proper 19th Century minuet gets a bit topsy-turvy.

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Roland Masterton (Paul) and Elizabeth Cuddleton (Vic) share a long, long, long developing romance a’la Jane Austen — through correspondence, shipwreck, and a mortal duel .

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Donald J. Trump meets “Hamilton” in a rap production number. “How does a bastard, orange, TV show host with a toupe’, dropped in the middle of a polarized time in our America — with hands so freaking teeny — rise up to be the Mango Mussolini?”

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“What’s you name, man?” “Inmate number 45!”

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The Closing: “Resist! Resist! — and keep your sanity. Do your best, it’s a test — of our humanity.”

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Just Two More Chances to Enjoy “Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration”!

26114583_1533547770095784_2100298101981055015_oThere are only two more opportunities to enjoy the funniest and most fun New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore: tonight and New Year’s Eve.

(All photos in this post were taken by Chuck Osgood at the final dress rehearsal)

26114696_1533549313428963_9163814806155948867_oYou still have a chance to reserve your seats for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston.

Tickets are on sale here!

The Practical Theatre returns with another entertaining comedy and music revue featuring veteran improvisational comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen. It’s a fun-filled party in the style of The Lawrence Welk Show, filled with laughter, satire and song.

26060201_1533549290095632_162225552277657537_oJoining the cast are the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, including Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro and Don Stiernberg on guitar. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

26197980_1533549580095603_7893809850602960003_oAnd — The Mr. Olsen Dancers are back – and better than ever!

The show on New Year’s Eve will be followed by live music and a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into the New Year! (And enjoy tasty food, too!)

Studio5 is Evanston’s hippest, most intimate performing arts venue, with comfortable seats, great sight lines, state of the art sound and lights, and acres of free parking. Tickets are on sale here!

There will be a cash bar for both shows. Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

Don’t miss your last chance to join the biggest party of the year! 26172349_1533549093428985_9201868929486565217_oPoster 2017 NYE #6

 

 

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15 Days until Big New Year’s Eve Fun!

Poster 2017 NYE #6Tickets are going fast for the funniest and most fun New Year’s party on Chicago’s North Shore.

Reserve your seats now for Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration at Studio5 in Evanston.

Following last year’s hit holiday engagement at Studio5, The Practical Theatre returns with another entertaining comedy and music revue featuring veteran improv-comedy writer-performers Victoria Zielinski, Paul Barrosse and Dana Olsen.

Mr. Olsen’s Champagne Celebration is a fun-filled party in the style of The Lawrence Welk Show, filled with laughter, satire and song.

CastJoining the cast are the PTC’s musical director, Steve Rashid, songbird Eva B. Ross, standup comic Emilia Barrosse, Giggle Break’s own Daniel Rashid, cabaret chanteuse Shelly Goldstein — and the Studio5 All-Star Band, including Rockin’ Ronny Crawford on drums, Don Stille on accordion, bassist Joe Policastro and Don Stiernberg on every stringed instrument a man can possibly play. Plus percussionist Robert Rashid.

Did we mention The Mr. Olsen Dancers?? Oh yeah. They’re back – and better than ever!

It’s a limited engagement – with just three shows on Friday December 29, Saturday December 30 and Sunday December 31. Tickets are on sale now here!

https://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3105065

The big show on December 31st will be followed by live music and a fabulous dance party — as we invite you all to swing into the New Year! (And enjoy tasty food, too!)

Studio5 is Evanston’s hippest, most intimate performing arts venue, with comfortable seats, great sight lines, state of the art sound and lights, and lots of free parking.

There will be a cash bar for all three shows. Doors open for cocktails at 7:30.

Don’t miss the biggest party of the year!

 

 

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