Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Today's Trivia

The first fruit eaten in space was a peach.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


Just a reminder, if you're in the Highland, IL area this weekend or next (Oct. 2, 3, 9, & 10 @ 7:30pm and Oct. 4 @ 2:00pm), come on out to the Upper Elementary School, 1800 Lindenthal Ave. and see a great American piece of dramatic theatre, 12 Angry Men. The cast is outstanding and have worked really hard. The show also marks by directorial debut. This really is a show you won't want to miss!

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Government Can

Here's a funny video I found. So true. So true.

August 2009: Media Consumed

Books Read
Schooled     Anisha Lakhani
Extreme Animals  Nicola Davies
*Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?     Neil Gaiman, et al
The Boy Who Dared    Susan Campbell Bartoletti
One in a Hundred Million     Marion Urichich
*Superman & Wonderwoman: Whom Gods Destroy     Chris Claremont, et al
+#12 Angry Men     Sherman Sergel
+Night Must Fall     Emlyn Williams
Lil' Abner
     Norman Panama & Melvin Frank
+Flowers for Algernon     David Rogers
+The Rainmaker     Richard Nash

* Denotes a graphic novel or TPB.
+ Denotes a play.
# Denotes a previously read work.

Of the books I read in August, there's only two I wish to mention. The first is Schooled. The novel has gotten some mixed criticism, but it's really not too bad of a debut novel. It's about an Ivy League graduate who enters the teaching profession and becomes sucked into the world of private tutoring. It's not a book that everyone will enjoy, but if you have an interest in education or teaching, I think you would enjoy it. The other book is the play Flowers for Algernon. It's based on the novel of the same name. I read a short story version of the novel when I was in 8th grade and it remains my favorite short story of all time. The play is an incredible drama and the best play I've read in the past five years. I highly recommend it and if you ever get a chance to be in or see the show, then do it.

Movies Viewed for the First Time
Green Lantern: First Flight
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
District 9
The Last Mimzy
Judge Dredd

In August, I got to see both the worst and best film of 2009 that I've seen so far.  The worst is G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. My brother treated me to this film. He had been eager to see the movie. Even he said it was BAD. Terrible dialogue.  Awful special effects. They take G.I.Joe from being an American special ops force and turn it into a global initiative.  In fact, the only thing worth seeing in this movie was the 2 minute cameo from Brendan Fraser.  The best movie so far in 2009 is District 9. It's fresh and original and has just the right mix of drama and action, with a good dose of sci-fi mixed in. Highly recommended.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Kristin Chenoweth Wins an Emmy

Just so everyone knows, this grand dame of the theatre, Kristin Chenoweth, just picked up an Emmy to go along with her Tony. I bet Oscar won't be all that far behind.

Congratulations, Kristin!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A March on Washington

Over a million people were marching on Washington last Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009. Hardly anything has been reported about it in the old media. Why?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Hard Road Theatre Delivers the Drama With 12 ANGRY MEN

Beginning on Oct. 2, Hard Road Theatre Productions, in association with the Highland Arts Council, and sponsored by Tom Hill and Burroughs, Hepler, Broom, MacDonald, and Hebrank of Edwardsville will be presenting the classic piece of American drama, 12 Angry Men.

The show is directed by Tom Varner, with assistance from Sarah Connor. The cast includes Jami Hirsch of St. Jacob, Philip Herlitz of Maryville, Adam Betz of Alton, Gentry Herlitz and Megan Rauh of Collinsville, John Goldsmith and Linda Collman of Greenville, and Highland residents John Volker, Elaine Guillot, Jeff Eye, Bill Sullivan, Rob Bowman, and John Taylor.

Varner said that, “One of the great things about this play is that it really shows what a great system we have in this country and how wise the founders were in establishing the 7th Amendment in the Constitution. It might not be a perfect system, but most of the time it works.” A former English teacher, Varner used the play as part of the curriculum in some of his classes. “The original teleplay for 12 Angry Men was written in 1954. When I first taught it in my classes I thought most of the students would be turned off. Instead, it ended up being one of their favorite things we studied. A lot has changed since 1954, but the show is just as relevant now as it was then. It really speaks to people no matter where they come from or where they are in life.”

Performances of 12 Angry Men are scheduled for 7:30p.m.on Oct. 2, 3, 9, & 10 and for 2:00p.m.on Oct. 4. All shows will be held at the Highland Elementary Auditorium at 1800 Lindenthal Ave., Highland, IL.

Tickets are $8 for adults, $7 for seniors, and $6 for children. Tickets are available at the auditorium one hour prior to each performance. All seating is general admission.

Adapted by Sherman Sergel from the Oscar-nominated movie by Reginald Rose and starring Henry Fonda, 12 Angry Men is an intense drama set in July 1959. A jury gathers after a murder trial to deliberate and decide the verdict of an accused teenager. The case appears to be open-and-shut as most of the jurors seem convinced the accused is guilty. However, one juror isn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt and begins to open the others’ eyes to the weakness of the case. The jury room soon becomes a tense and heated place as each of the jurors face their own prejudices, failures, and shortcomings as they struggle to reach a unanimous verdict.

Hard Road Theatre Productions is a non-profit theatre organization committed to providing the larger Highland area with high-quality, affordable, live productions. For more information about 12 Angry Men , Hard Road Theatre, or further ticket information, visit the Hard Road website at www.hardroad.org or call 618-654-7748.

Friday, September 11, 2009

July 2009: Media Consumed

Books Read
Common Sense Glenn Beck
Common Sense Thomas Paine
Wrapped-Up Foxtrot Bill Amend
Thinking Like a Director Michael Bloom
#Red Son Mark Millar, et al
*+12 Angry Men Sherman Sergel

# Denotes a graphic novel or TPB.
* Denotes a previously read work.
+ Denotes a play.

Out of the works I read in July, the two I highly recommend are Thomas Paine's Common Sense and the graphic novel Red Son. Paine's work should be required reading of all high school students that are juniors or older. The language, though a bit more flowery than what is casually used today, is actually fairly easy to follow and understand and the logic of the text is flawless. Also, many of the ideas are just as relevant today as they were over 200 years ago.

Red Son is an Elseworlds story that has Superman landing in the Soviet Union instead of the United States. I was a bit disappointed by the end, but the overall story, how it is imagined, and how it ties real history into the history of DC is brilliant. It's probably the best Elseworlds story ever written.

Movies Viewed for the First Time
12 Angry Men (1997 Cable Version)
Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs
Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon
Beowulf & Grendel
Reefer Madness: The Musical

The only movies I found that I really enjoyed from July were Behind the Mask and Reefer Madness: The Musical. Behind the Mask is a deconstruction of the horror genre that instead of being a full out parody is actually a homage to the genre that ends up adding a new dimension to it. It's filmed as a documentary about a real life serial killer (ala Mike Myers) named Leslie Vernon who has allowed a film career to document his life as her prepares to make the transition into the big time. There are a lot of funny bits in the film, but the heart of the movie are in the personal moments and conversations with Leslie and the director of the film.

Reefer Madness: The Musical is a parody of a 1930s film about the dangers of marijuana.I have yet to see the original movie, but the musical is hilarious plus it has Kristen Bell in a starring role.

Girls in Bikinis and 12 ANGRY MEN

This parody of a classic scene from 12 ANGRY MEN isn't quite as entertaining as the Sesame Street one. But, there is some humor there. Also, it applies to a completely different demographic than the Sesame Street clip from a couple of weeks ago and as I begin ramping up the publicity for my show (which opens in 3 weeks), the exposure might do us some good.

Health Care and the 800 Pound Gorilla

Another great video from PoliticalMath illustrating a major problem with President Obama's recent proposals to health care reform.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

On Stealing Liberty and Being Presidential

Tonight (Wed. Sept. 9, 2009), President Obama delivered an address on health care reform to both Houses of Congress that was televised and broadcast around the country. The President spoke for over an hour, clearly illustrating that even though Lincoln is one of his political heroes, he definitely didn't learn anything about speaking from him (President Lincoln was often ridiculed for delivering short speeches). There's a lot that I could say about the President's speech. However, there are two things I wish to address.

The first is in regards to this part of the speech: "That's why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers."

I am completely opposed to such an action. To begin with, the comparison between auto liability insurance and health insurance is not a valid comparison (not to mention that statistically most accidents that occur where a driver is uninsured that driver is an illegal alien). Sure, they are both types of insurance, but that's where the similarities end. It's like saying that people who raise bananas and people who raise chickens are both farmers because they both raise things. They might both be farmers, but they are completely different types of farmers. However, besides the fallacy of this argument there is the more important and critical issue of the President seeking to take away more of our freedom and liberty. It's bad enough that in my state to drive a car you're required by law to have liability insurance. However, at least that's on a state level. It's not a national thing. President Obama wants this to be national. To do so is an infringement of the 10th Amendment of the Constitution. We've had enough of our liberties and freedoms stolen by the federal government in the past five years. It's time that it stopped.

The other thing I can address from the speech regards this statement: "Some of people's concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren't so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple."

Apparently neither the President or his advisers have read H.R.3200 (a massive 1,000+ bill that is the only one available for public scrutiny). Now, though I'm not a lawyer, I am trained in English. I know how words and phrases work, even a lot of legalese. I've only read about 20 pages of the bill, but it's so full of bullshit that's all I could handle. However, I made it a point to read the "death panel" parts. Though it is true that the bill doesn't set up a direct "death panel", persay, it does make a point of "advanced care planning" and "end of life care" which, "may range from an indication for full treatment to an indication to limit some or all or specified interventions." In other words upon implementation one of the "physicians" that has been approved by the government can choose to deny treatment to someone. Though the wording of opponents of H.R.3200, especially in regards to this part of the bill, is a bit hyperbolic, it is not cynical, it is not irresponsible, it is not a lie. That statement in and of itself is completely unPresidential and doesn't bode well for a man who campaigned upon being above the political fray.