Sunday, December 31, 2017

2017 roundup

My hardworking dedicated French teacher Fatiha

The most positive change of 2017 without a doubt was getting serious about French and taking classes at FIAF on the UES. Which was part of my brand new interest in Canada although that technically began in 2016 with the election of Trump. Along with my fascination for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. I made a few Canadian connections thanks to Brooke Johnson and now I'm continuing with Canada in a couple of weeks with my trip to participate in the Montreal Language Exchange.

I became interested in French politics too, obviously because of the language thing but also through my fascination with Emmanuel Macron. One of my favorite blog posts of 2017 was 21st Century Men: Macron, Obama, Trudeau.
I did manage to do a theater production too, and while the experience was not great in terms of money and the hassle of participating in a theater festival (never again!) I felt the show was pretty good and got a positive, if not very in-depth review.

Jenna Sander & Matt DeCapua in NORMA JEANE AT THE PAYNE WHITNEY PSYCHIATRIC CLINIC
I also discovered in 2017 that James Maguire, one of my great-great grandfathers was a captain of industry in the gilded age, although his whisky distilling empire in Eddington PA was long gone before I was grew up just five miles away in Cornwells Heights PA.

So what's ahead for 2018 assuming we continue to survive the Trump presidency? Well of course there is the trip to Montreal, and then a reading of my play Bete Noire, about Trump's obsession with Obama, and then maybe I'll work on my two English-French plays. On sait jamais.

Friday, December 29, 2017

New York City & Montreal

Here I am at the top of Mont Real,
September 2005, back when I
was a redhead (my natural color.)
I went to Canada the first time in 2005 thanks to my daughter having a brief relationship with a woman from Montreal - a college professor whose first language was French as a matter of fact. My ex-boyfriend and I and my daughter headed out in early September so my daughter could have a visit with Melanie. 

It was only for a long weekend but it was pleasant enough, although I would be breaking up with that boyfriend in less than a year and our disintegrating relationship did have an impact on my enjoyment of traveling with him. My daughter had a great time though.

I became re-interested in Montreal a year ago, thanks to mon premiere ministre d'amour - Justin Trudeau, of course and thanks to the election of Donald Trump prompting me to consider moving out of the US, and Montreal was my first choice. Montreal is the biggest city in Quebec, a proudly French-speaking province.

Several French courses later I'm on the verge of being an Intermediate speaker of French, having completed all A2 level courses. 

When you're at A2 level, according to the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) you:
  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Oui, c'est moi.

I'm often told that most people speak English fluently in Montreal and that was my experience in 2005, although I didn't even attempt to speak French then. My daughter, who has been to Montreal many times tells me if you try to speak French to them and they detect your accent, they'll switch to speaking English. Which isn't very hopeful in terms practicing my French. I may chicken-out and end up speaking exclusively in English anyway. I'll have more confidence once I've cleared CEFR level B2. And then I'll be ready to tackle Quebec City, where everybody speaks French, I'm told, and they resent speaking English. I'm currently practicing my French by listening to Radio-Canada Montreal.

One of my ambitions now is to have a Montreal-New York City theater exchange event. I'm thinking of two readings - one in Montreal by Montreal actors of plays written by US native playwrights, and one in NYC with NYC actors of plays written by Montreal native playwrights. Probably in the summer. My pal Doug, a musical theater guy now living in Montreal may work with me on this to arrange the reading. We shall see. 

While poking around the Internet for info about Montreal-NYC connections I discovered this: New York high-speed rail in Wikipedia:

High-speed rail in New York has been a topic that is consistently discussed among legislators, political leaders and in particular, several past governors since the 1990s, but thus far little progress has been made. In his campaign speeches prior to his defeat by Governor George Pataki in 1994, Mario Cuomo promised to bring high speed (maglev) rail up the Hudson Valley and along the Catskill Mountains route.[1] It was not a priority for the subsequent administration...
Montreal to New York City
On October 6, 2005, the Albany Times-Union reported that New York Governor George Pataki and Quebec Premier Jean Charest "called for the creation of high-speed rail service between Montreal and New York City as a way to boost the regional economy during the third Quebec-New York Economic Summit on Wednesday," October 4, 2005. The article claimed that New York was Quebec's main trading partner, which perhaps explains some of the interest in linking the two major cities.[21]
According to a report by the New York State Senate High Speed Rail Task Force, such a route would serve Plattsburgh via Albany.[22]

This sounds like a great idea. The current Amtrak train service between New York City and Montreal is the Adirondack train, which I am planning to take in two weeks for my long Montreal theater weekend, and it is definitely not high-speed, taking eleven hours from NYC - Montreal. For comparison, the drive takes about six hours. 

Or as the Canadian magazine Macleans had it in 2010,  The long, slow ride from NYC to Montréal:
More than ever, I am convinced that a high speed rail connection from Montréal to New York is the way to go. There is much to do and so much in common between those two cities. 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Promoting Evolutionary Psychology at Quillette

I pay attention to Steven Pinker's output since he is still the most well-known promoter of the pseudo-science of evolutionary psychology and in spite of his hobnobbing with racists on a professional level has still not been generally acknowledged as a racist, and thus has hung onto his respectability among the world's intellectuals and semi-intellectuals.

Pinker has every reason to keep promoting evo-psycho, it's the source of his fame. And you can reliably expect Pinker to speak up in defense of those who take his theories of female brain inferiority to the next level - attempting to use them to make public policy: from defending Lawrence Summers, who while president of Harvard and thus having some say in hiring policies suggesting at a conference on diversity and science that lady brains are just not as good at STEM as manly brains; to promoting Helena Cronin who wrote a policy paper (and later turned it into an op-ed for the Guardian) suggesting that the British government institute gender-based employment schemes based on the premises of evo-psycho; to defending James Damore's eco-psychology infused Google memo suggesting that lady brains are just not as good at STEM as manly brains and therefore efforts at diversity hiring are a waste of time.

Steven Pinker is a big fan of Quillette, an online magazine that promotes evolutionary psychology. It was founded by Claire Lehmann, which is remarkable considering Lehmann is female and it's a well-known fact among promoters of evo-psycho that lady brains have  STEM-related insufficiencies. Lehmann is also editor of Quillette, and while, of course, the vast majority of the articles she publishes are written by men, she still presumes as editor to stand in judgement of articles produced by STEM-superior man brains. How odd.

Lehmann apparently feels oppressed by Marxism. Quillette's magazine doesn't offer a search widget, but a Google of "Quillette and Marx" reveals just how obsessed she is with it. Now I've certainly had my issues with Marxists and brocialists, as I've blogged about several times. But as much as I despise Jacobin, even I don't think Marxism is as influential as Quillette seems to think. But then, when you're a libertarian probably everybody else looks like a Marxist.

It's tempting sometimes to believe that evo-psycho is finally recognized for the wishful-thinking just-so story bullshit that it is. It seems to have lost some popularity since the glory days of Pinker's The Blank Slate. And RationalWiki dismisses it, while including the best single line explanation for evolutionary psychology ever written:

EvoPsych 101: Rats and people are the same, but men and women are different.

Quillette is of course in complete agreement with James Damore and went to the trouble to enlist four proponents of evolutionary psychology to defend it, as if those four represent the only scientific opinion possible.

Quillette claims to be a "platform for free thought" but clearly some thoughts are far more worthwhile to Lehmann than others. Criticism of evolutionary psychology by scientists doesn't appear to exist in her universe.

In October of 2017 Quillette was described by Jerry Coyne another True Believer in female mental inferiority described by evolutionary psychology as "the financially struggling Quillette" so perhaps this is another indicator that evo-psycho isn't as popular as it once was. But I think we can count on the fact that some members of a group at the top of any given human hierarchy will always look for explanations for their elevated position on the hierarchy outside of chance. And innate biological superiority will always be used as that explanation.

In any case here are some sources for critiques of evolutionary psychology that you will never hear about from Quillette:

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Donald Trump: still a treasonous psychopath

The reminders of Donald Trump's evil are everywhere, constantly, but I found this article useful: Donald Trump's 60 worst tweets in ThinkProgress.

I blogged about the article on Trump in the New Yorker in 1997, the one which concludes that Trump has no soul. But what really helps in understanding why the government is in such chaos since Trump became president is to know that this is the way Trump likes it:
One day, when I was in Trump’s office, he took a phone call from an investment banker, an opaque conversation that, after he hung up, I asked him to elucidate.
“Whatever complicates the world more I do,” he said.
Come again?
“It’s always good to do things nice and complicated so that nobody can figure it out.”

Friday, December 22, 2017

What the French think Americans sound like

I mentioned the French TV program Quotidien yesterday.  The show appears to be the French answer to The Daily Show. Quotidien means daily.

I was browsing through the videos on the Quotidien Youtube channel and found one in which Macron is talking to Rihanna in English, and the host of Quotidien, Yann Barthes, had an interesting response at 1:10 in the video below.



So basically, to the French, Americans sound like we're growling. We're growling muppets, based on Barthes' hand gestures. 

Also please note they reference "poudre de perlimpinpin" early on in the video.

Finally, if I'm understanding the references to "porno" correctly, in the section after the Rihanna part, French porno has a lot of cosplay.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Bonne anniversaire Emmanuel Macron!

Emmanuel Macron has been president of France for six months and today he just turned 40. What did you do with your life before age 40?


Which means "top 10+ gift ideas for Emmanuel Macron, happy birthday Manu!!!"

It includes two popular Macron tropes. The first is the now-infamous incident in the documentary about Macron's presidential campaign Les coulisses d'une victoire in which he was denied cordon bleu at an IKEA-like establishment because it was only available on the children's menu. I talk about how much they love that here. The documentary is on Netflix and I might have to watch it again for the 20th time.

The second trope is "poudre de Perlimpinpin" a phrase that Macron used in his one-on-one debate with Marine Le Pen. The phrase is considered hysterical in part because it's an old-fashioned term for, essentially, "snake oil." The French TV show Quotidien discusses the issue and points out that the phrase has not been used in public life since 1979, when Macron was 2 years old. Quotidien talks about the documentary here, including the cordon bleu incident.

The French Wikipedia says:
...Emmanuel Macron utilise cette expression pour qualifier la proposition de Marine Le Pen d'expulser tous les fichés S et de « fermer les frontières » d'illusoire pour contrer le terrorisme en disant « Il y a des pays, nombreux malheureusement, qui ne sont pas dans Schengen et qui ont été frappés par le terrorisme. [...] Ce que vous proposez, comme d'habitude, c'est de la poudre de perlimpinpin. ». Le passage est notamment repris par le vidéaste Khaled Freak, dans un morceau diffusé à la radio.
Translation (approximate and abridged ):
On May 3, 2017 during the second round presidential debate Macron used that expression to characterize Marine Le Pen's proposal to close France/Europe in order to fight terrorism, and Macron said 'as usual your proposal is powder of perlimpinpin.' The phrase was used in a music video by Khaled Freak.
Here is the video of Khaled Freak.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Good for you Abigail Disney

If only other people who inherited vast wealth were as honest and socially-conscious and good-hearted as Abigail Disney. 

She's speaking out against the horrific Republican tax scam that just passed in Congress.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Hot New Website I found



This excellent web site is full of lists ranking heads of states by hotness in various categories.


They also sell scented candles and while I was certainly intrigued by a Justin Trudeau-scented candle what really caught my eye was the impeachment-scented candle. They need to include a resignation-scented candle too, just in case.

Monday, December 18, 2017

A chart that pretty much says it all



After we published a list of President Trump’s lies this summer, we heard a common response from his supporters. They said, in effect: Yes, but if you made a similar list for previous presidents, it would be just as bad. 
We’ve set out to make that list. Here, you will find our attempt at a comprehensive catalog of the falsehoods that Barack Obama told while he was president. (We also discuss George W. Bush below, although the lack of real-time fact-checking during his presidency made a comprehensive list impossible.) 
We applied the same conservative standard to Obama and Trump, counting only demonstrably and substantially false statements. The result: Trump is unlike any other modern president. He seems virtually indifferent to reality, often saying whatever helps him make the case he’s trying to make.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Lock Him Up


Got a fundraising letter from Trump's people via email today.

My response:

You’re GOING TO JAIL YOU LYING FILTHY CON-MAN PUSSY-GRABBING TRAITOR!!!!
LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! LOCK HIM UP! 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Justin Trudeau at the Hotel Nelligan

I'm excited to be going to Canada again, in January, less than a year after my Nova Scotia trip. I'm practically a Canadian already.

I'm crashing at a Canadian theater friend's place for most of the time but for my first night I wanted to stay at the Hotel Nelligan. Why? Because Justin Trudeau was there. The image below is a screen cap from one of my favorite videos from my Justin Trudeau en francais collection, which I curated on Youtube. 

I love this particular video because it was shot by one of the Quebec separatists with whom Trudeau is arguing. Trudeau is in his politician mode but he is much less rehearsed, more spontaneous than the other videos I found. It's about as close as you're going to get to a home movie of Trudeau. At the end of the video you see him going into the Hotel Nelligan, which is behind him in the picture here.

I can't understand more than about 40% of what is being said although in my defense the sound quality is not great.



Tuesday, December 12, 2017

My argument about Al Franken with Rebecca Traister on Facebook

This exchange was in response to her article This Moment Isn’t (Just) About Sex. It’s Really About Work. If she had left Franken out of her article I would have been on board with her 100%. 

















Monday, December 11, 2017

George & Michelle


I am really enjoying Obama's "The Audacity of Hope."

NYTimes book reviewer Michio Kakutani is quoted on the back of my copy:
"[Obama] is that rare politician who can actually write - and write movingly and genuinely about himself... [He] strives in these pages to ground his policy thinking in simple common sense... while articulating these ideas in level-headed, nonpartisan prose."
And it's absolutely true. He writes very well.

And bonus, I think I've discovered the first time that George W. Bush took note of Michelle Obama:
"Obama!" the President [Bush] said, shaking my hand. "Come here and meet Laura. Laura, you remember Obama. We saw him on TV during election night. Beautiful family. And that wife of yours - that's one impressive lady."
In the age of Trump it's easy to feel friendly towards Bush, especially when you see photos of him with Michelle Obama. It's hard to believe now that we all once thought he'd go down in history as the worst president ever.

But he was pretty awful. I think his lowest point was the infamous White House Correspondent's dinner joke about looking for weapons of mass destruction. He was re-elected after that. I couldn't believe it. Some Bush hater made this video about it. The point still stands about the wanton awful destruction of the Iraq war.

But if Trump makes George Bush look good, he makes Obama look like a god. Or as I said last year: hyperion to a satyr.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Florent Speroni, le gros connard misogyne qui les Français trouvent si drôle

You can translate this into English here.

Si vous ne comprenez pas pourquoi les Français doivent fortement promouvoir la lutte contre la violence domestique, je voudrais que vous regardiez cette vidéo par Florent Speroni.




L'histoire de la vidéo est que l'homme veut raclette (c'est un plat de fromage on fait avec un gril de fer) et la femme lui dit qu'il fait trop chaud. Et donc il la frappe si fort avec la gril fer qu'elle devent inconsciente. Puis il traîne le corps inconscient sur le sol et le jette dans le coffre de la voiture. Puis ils vont en Norvège et quand ils arrivent, il ouvre la malle pour demander raclette. S'il vous plaît noter, il port des vêtements chauds quand ils arrivent, mais la femme port encore des vêtements légers et elle est tres froid. Pour le sadisme supplémentaire.

Je pense que les Français trouvent cela si drôle parce qu'en France, toutes les femmes sont des esclaves domestiques et si elles refusent de préparer le dîner selon les spécifications exactes de l'homme, l'homme a le droit de la battre.

Speroni n'est pas un troll 4chan caché dans les coins les plus sombres d'Internet avec tous les autres psychopathes. Pas du tout! Il est une célébrité en France! Il n'y a aucun scandale a cause qu'il a créé une vidéo violente et misogyne.

On ne me croit pas? Regardez: Florent Speroni : ce “Parfait inconnu” nancéien si célèbre
Le Parfait Inconnu s'appelle en réalité, Florent Speroni. Diplômé d'une école de commerce, ce nancéien âgé de 28 ans est aujourd'hui scénariste, comédien et réalisateur de vidéos courtes humoristiques.
Peut-être que les Français l'excusent parce qu'il a eu un tumeur. Le magazine "Closer" dit:
Depuis sa victoire face à la maladie, plus rien ne semble être impossible pour Florent Speroni. Il a d'ores et déjà pris une belle revanche sur la vie en devenant une star de l'humour sur Facebook.
Mais je pense que c'est une excuse boiteuse. Et je pense que les Français devraient avoir honte de célébrer un tel fournisseur de misogynie extrême. Faire un blague de violence domestique et de sadisme est une forte indication que les Français ne respectent pas les femmes.

Speroni dit qu'il a créé la vidéo avec un autre appelé LaMortLaVraie. En ce moment, je n'ai pas encore découvert la véritable identité de la personne derrière ce compte Twitter.

(Mais je dois admettre, ca m'aide à apprendre le français, à me battre contre les connards Français.)

Thursday, December 07, 2017

Advice from an Uber Driver


 I took an Uber with my friend Val the other night and as the driver dropped us off he told us he enjoyed overhearing our conversation and that he loves Rachel Maddow too and he suggested we also watch Laurence O'Donnell. 

I have to watch Rachel Maddow every night.

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Miss Willow goes on a hunger strike

She is not going to take it any more.
My cat Miss Willow has always been a pretty picky eater but it's gotten really bad lately. And in the past few years she's gotten thinner, which worries me. Meanwhile my other cat Mr. Fuzz is packing on the pounds. I can't win with these cats - I can't feed Mr. Fuzz less because then what will Miss Willow have to eat?

And so, alarmed that she didn't seem to be eating much of her food this week, I decided to tempt her with rotisserie chicken. Well she certainly did like it! She ate all the dark meat from the entire roast chicken I bought at the supermarket.

After the chicken was consumed (I got the light meat) I switched back to canned wet cat food - some of which is quite expensive. I always have five or six different varieties at any given time because Miss Willow will get tired of one kind of food after a few days and so I have to switch it up. Right now I have chicken pate, chicken and liver feast, salmon and shrimp grill, salmon and spinach, chicken and sweet potato - she usually loves that - and chicken with garden greens.

Well she didn't want any of them on Sunday and I really started to get worried. She's too thin to go even a day without eating, she doesn't exactly have a  layer of fat to live off of. I was worried that maybe she was sick. But she was interested in food - every time I put a new variety of cat food down she would smell it and then do that thing cats do where they pretend to bury something. By the end of the day I had six plates of different cat food on the floor, untouched by Miss Willow, but eaten by Mr. Fuzz, who likes to decorate his food with "real fur" mousies as I documented here.

So it occurred to me that she might be on a hunger strike. Rather than risk her health in a strike-breaking attempt I ran out for another rotisserie chicken.

And sure enough, she gobbled it up. She had just decided she wasn't going to take this cat food crap anymore and it was time to do whatever it took to get the good stuff.

Oy.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Dream Crushers of the theater & TALLEY'S FOLLY

I was pleased to be able to get in another kick at TALLEY'S FOLLY the beloved stalker/bully-as-hero "romantic" comedy that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980.

The theme of this past Saturday's NYCPlaywrights weekly email - you can read it here - was based on allegations against playwright Israel Horowitz and women not being believed and the continuing problem that results when men still dominate everything.

I sometimes wonder if Arthur Miller is to blame for the obnoxious attitudinizing of male playwrights. After all, he was a playwright and he married Marilyn Monroe. Male playwrights who have any level of success must ask themselves: "where's my Marilyn Monroe?" and if she doesn't show up they content themselves by harassing pretty young women in the mistaken belief that just being a playwright will more than compensate for whatever aesthetic and age gaps exist between themselves and their prey.

One of the women harassed by Horowitz and quoted in the NYTimes article about the Horowitz allegations described perfectly the results of the predations of creepy older men on young women starting out their careers:
“I heard a word used recently about people like this — they’re dream crushers,” Ms. Dann said. “(Horowitz) took this thing that was such a beautiful thing, this young hope, this sense of promise, and he just ruined it.”
The Times article includes a trackback to an article from the 1990s when allegations against Horowitz were first made. The gas lighting and smearing of women is on full perfect display:
Weiner suggests that the women’s dissatisfaction with the business director’s possible dismissal may be behind allegations of sexual abuse. He said that the business director was “very emotional about everything” and that the women he spoke to were also “tightly wound, you know what I mean.” He insists they had a chance during their conversations in the fall to tell him if they “were put in fear” by Horovitz’s behavior. He says that “one of the gals” told him about “French kissing,” but nothing more serious than that.
I don't think it's a coincidence that Horowitz wrote a play, OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES with this plot as described in Charles Isherwood's 2016 review:
A more appropriate title for “Out of the Mouths of Babes,” a new play by Israel Horovitz that opened on Sunday at the Cherry Lane Theater, might be “Dead Man’s Harem.” In this improbable and eventually even fantastical comedy, enlivened by an excellent cast including Judith Ivey and Estelle Parsons, four women who have all been involved with the same man gather to mourn him in his Paris apartment. 
First on the scene are Evelyn (Ms. Parsons) and Evvie (Ms. Ivey), who exchange polite conversation that becomes somewhat less polite when Evelyn learns that Evvie used to be called Snookie — a nickname bestowed by the man they both loved (whose name is never mentioned). It was Snookie who broke up Evelyn’s marriage to the man.
The portrait that emerges of this lifelong womanizer is not a very appealing one. He met all the women in his life, it appears — and there were many, including his first wife, the original Snookie, who killed herself after Evelyn came along — when they were students attending his literature classes at the Sorbonne. Serial predator, one might call him today. Plus: He refused to do dishes.
 
But apparently, and we must take it on faith, he was irresistible, at least to the young women dazzled by his intellect and sophistication...
Although he hasn't been accused of sexual harassment, as far as I know, this belief that you can treat young women disrespectfully was on display when right-wing misogynist asshole Jonathan Reynolds wrote about his interactions with his cast:
Now, what does this have to do with GIRLS IN TROUBLE, my play currently in rehearsal at The Flea which consumes about 23 1/2 of my 24-hour day? Just this: we have a vegan in the cast, and I am trying to persuade her of the error of her ways. I've instructed her to stand upside down and then told her she could only have meat and dairy products for a week with the occasional snack of fish just to show her the borderline fascistic rigors of the flip side. She's thinking about it. I didn't have the spirit to bring her the slow-roasted pork, fearing charges of unfair competition: surely she would buckle at the knees and succmb, because there is no denying the pork shoulder. Besides, we need her in the first and third acts, not as a giddy, overfed pig convert too pleasured to make her entrance.
No doubt he thought the actor in question told him she would think about eating meat because his intellect and sophistication were so compelling, not that she was hoping that her association with his play would help her career and she didn't want to risk it all by actually telling the creep what she really thought of him. Reynolds has since removed his post from his blog, possibly after he read my post about it, which he referenced on his blog although the reference link no longer works.

But back to TALLEY'S FOLLY. I have been conducting a one-woman war on that play for seven years now. I'm obviously not winning since the play is still  being produced. But I did include an excerpt from the play in the NYCPlaywrights email, which has a readership of 2500+ (unlike this blog.)

The excerpt is when Sally tries to get away from Matt and he stops her while calling her crazy.

Maybe once it's pointed out to theater people that the tactics used by reviled harassers are the same as those used by the "hero" of TALLEY'S FOLLY they will finally wise up about this noxious play.
     MATT
You're not getting away from me.
     SALLY
Get out of here!
     MATT
Do you realize what you said? Did you hear yourself?
     SALLY
     (Yelling toward the door.)
Buddy! Cliffy! Here he is. Matt Friedman is down here!

(Her last words are muffled by Matt's hand as he grabs her and holds her fast. She tries to speak over his lines.)
     MATT
    (Grabbing her.)
Vilde chaya! you are a crazy woman! We could both be shot with that gun. People do not scream and yell and kick. 
    (She stops struggling.) 
People are blessed with the beautiful gift of reason and communication. 
     (He starts to release her.)

     SALLY
Cliffy! 
     MATT
    (Grabbing her again.)
How can such a thing happen? When they passed out logic everybody in the Ozarks went on a marshmallow roast. You are rational now?

(He releases her. She moves away. Matt stands where he can block her exit.)

Matt stands where he can block her exit. Where have I heard that before?
 The most specific allegation dates to the Aspen Comedy Festival, where the comedian reportedly exposed himself to a female comedy duo in his hotel room and blocked the door when they tried to escape. 
But Matt doesn't just strong-arm Sally - he makes sure to tell her that by resisting him she is crazy:
Vilde chaya! you are a crazy woman! We could both be shot with that gun. People do not scream and yell and kick. 
    (She stops struggling.)  
People are blessed with the beautiful gift of reason and communication. 
And I believe the whole thing is played for laughs. The entire attitude is: that crazy bitch doesn't know what she really wants. But this manly man will sort it out for her. And mind you, this isn't even his primary sin  - that would be him stalking Sally for a year after she told him to go away.

This is a celebrated, beloved, prize-winning play that is still frequently produced. And people wonder why men in the theater think they have the green-light to impose themselves on women. Because our beloved plays tell them they should, and it's hysterically funny and bitches are crazy and it's what she really wanted all along, she just didn't know it.

And that's why the theater is full of dream crushers.

Sunday, December 03, 2017

Justin Trudeau, mon petit ami canadien

Un calendrier mettant en vedette Justin Trudeau, fait actuellement le tour de la toile.
Sur Twitter comme Facebook, les internautes se demandent comment une telle chose a pu se produire. Le calendrier intitulé « Justin Trudeau, My Canadian Boyfriend » (Justin Trudeau, mon petit ami canadien) mise sur la plastique de rêve de notre premier ministre.
Je l'prendrais!

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Ezra Levant, asking for a friend

I keep toying with the idea of writing erotic fan fiction about Justin Trudeau as if written by Ezra Levant. Turns out Levant beat me to the concept long ago...




Meanwhile, which Nazi is Levant supporting now?

Friday, December 01, 2017

Memories of theater past

Production photo, heavily Photoshopped by me from
the 2005 production of TAM LIN.
Nick Lowe as Tam Lin. He's now a big shot
at Marvel Comics and even hashis own Wikipedia page.


The QofF's costume is gorgeous. I
 hated that designer's elven costumes and redid them myself 
to her great resentment but I was very happy with the Queen's get-up.
The decision rendered by Judge Lewis Kaplan on the case of Edward Einhorn vs. Mergatroyd Productions is published in its entirety here.


This is the best part - the actual decision:
For the reasons stated above, and for the reasons stated in defendants' pre-trial memorandum of law, the Court should hold that Nancy McClernan is the sole author of
Tam Lin and that the Plaintiff has no ownership interest in the copyright of her play, nor any independent ownership in its stage directions.
The decision was rendered April 21, 2006 but the Einhorns dragged their heels, abetted by a dysfunctional US Copyright Office and so it took another five years before the Copyright Office de-registered Einhorn's fraudulent "blocking and choreography" copyright.

Ironically, in spite of the fact that so much time and money was spent on my play TAM LIN it was never produced again after 2005. 

This is partly Edward Einhorn's fault of course, but not completely. For one thing it was a ten-character play and I don't have the resources to produce it. Jonathan Flagg was footing the bill as producer in 2005. But also I am now ashamed of the "bed trick" in the middle of the play. It's there because TAM LIN was greatly influenced by the plays of Shakespeare and he uses the bed trick in MEASURE FOR MEASURE and ALL'S WELL THAT ENDS WELL. But really, the "bed trick" is rape and I don't want to do it. Even though the audiences loved it.

But it drives much of the plot of TAM LIN and if I take it out, I have to re-write the play.

And come to think of it, Tam Lin was basically magicked into being a sex slave for the Queen of the Fairies which is also rape. This isn't presented as a good thing but still. TAM LIN is just too rapey for me to want to produce it now.

TAM LIN at this point is for me a learning exercise in playwriting - a very expensive learning exercise thanks to Edward Einhorn. It would have been cheaper to go to the Yale School of Drama. 

But directing in 2005 also convinced me that directing theater is not so mentally challenging and mystical as the theater world and directors themselves would have you believe. It's mostly about having a good script, good actors, reasonable lighting and making sure the audience can see what's going on.

I'm not saying I'm the greatest director and have never made mistakes. But I think my direction work is certainly serviceable by this point. Not that I would refuse to have another person direct my work, but other than Olive Butler nobody has every impressed me with their work. And unless I think they're great I don't want to risk working with them. I have issues with theater directors for obvious reasons.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Stranger Towanda

I couldn't resist doing an homage to the Stranger Things opening title for this NYCPlaywrights video.



I've never seen an entire episode of Stranger Things yet. But I do like the opening credits.

I also like this version of the theme.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Fun with Google Maps

You can walk through NYC museums via Google Maps. 

Museum of Natural History



Metropolitan Museum of Art


Monday, November 27, 2017

Rangiwewehi Poi song recorded in 1996

Still haven't found the lyrics/translation of this song since 2005 when I first blogged about it. That was 12  years ago. You can see me seven years ago on the Youtube page for the video asking in vain for the lyrics. 





But at least today, after all these years, I have found another version of the song. In the video below, I'm not exactly sure where the first song ends and THE song begins but I think it's around 1:45.


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Defending women ~ don't count out mon premiere ministre d'amour!

Never underestimate
le Premiere Ministre d'Amour!
As I said soon after Macron was elected: Let the Macron - Trudeau awesomeness competition begin

Yesterday I blogged about Macron's call to fight violence against women. 

So today my Google alert informs me of this:

In a statement for the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, the PM said Canada must also transform a “culture that devalues women and dismisses their voices.”
And unlike Macron, Trudeau isn't mentioning that "puritan" nonsense. 

Also Macron can't even compete in the "hottest dad" competition. I was surprised that the Trudeau haters didn't point out that his youngest son Hadrien in this photo is dressed as the only female member of the Paw Patrol. This Australian comments with approval.

And now I have an excuse to post a photo of Trudeau. Yay! I don't care what the Internet said in May 2017. I still think Trudeau is hotter - it's the hair. He's also taller than Macron, which doesn't matter to me but many women say height does matter to them.



Saturday, November 25, 2017

Go Macron ~ spoken like a true 21st century man

I've mentioned before on this blog that I consider Macron one of a trio of progressive 21st-century leaders. And he proves it again this week:

‘Sick With Sexism,’ France Must Fight Violence Against Women, Macron Says

Unfortunately France seems to have its own version of evolutionary psychology that says that men should be free to harass women since that is the French way and Macron reiterates it here:
But he also said he did not want France to become a country of “denunciation” where “each relationship between men and women is suspicious.”
“We are not a puritan society,” Mr. Macron said, echoing a longstanding perception in France that gender relations are different here than elsewhere, especially in the United States.
"Puritan" is code-word as this article explains for men in France being permitted to take liberties with women whether or not the women asked for it. Or as this Guardian article has it:
France always prided itself on a tradition of unbridled sexuality and a society based on seduction, where Jacques Chirac kissed female leaders' hands and declared that Michèle Alliot-Marie, who served as justice, defence and foreign minister, had "the best legs" on the right.
Many argued that the dreaded "American puritanism" – the US's strict laws on workplace touching and harassment – would make France a dull place. But now the floodgates have opened on women denouncing French machismo.
This attitude leads to extreme douchbaggery like this, later in the article:
The journalist and philosopher Jean-Francois Kahn dismissed the case as a "troussage de domestique", a phrase suggestive of French aristocrats having non-consensual sex with servants. He later apologised and quit journalism. Women politicians are speaking out. One female Socialist MP wearing trousers and a summer top to a recent commission hearing was reportedly told by a rightwing MP: "Dressed like that, you shouldn't be surprised at being raped."

French society, ruled by men maybe even more than in "Ango-Saxon" countries enjoys the tradition of "unbridled sex" because in practice it's men groping women at will, especially older powerful men groping younger women.

If women started to be as aggressive - especially older women groping young and handsome male underlings, the French, I guarantee you, would suddenly find out that they were rather puritan all along.

It's disappointing that Macron of all people would push that Puritan line since he's living proof that not only can a man be a devoted husband, but his wife can be a generation older than him. 

But then he has to be the leader of French people so his rhetoric has limits.



Friday, November 24, 2017

Evan Marc Katz is a right-wing snowflake who can't tolerate criticism

The king of MRA-style advice con-men Evan Marc Katz wants to have it both ways - first he wants to have a profitable little business telling sad conservative women how to snag "alpha males" by supporting their traditionalist bent in suggesting they behave as passive vessels for manly traditionalist men.

If he stopped there it would be fine. His audience is conservative, he offers conservative advice, it's a closed circle.


But he won't stop there. 

He also feels he has to publicly share his noxious political views which are invariably in the mode of the gender essentialist pseudo science-mongers like Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins and the other cranky old white atheist men yelling at feminists to get off their lawns. 

His latest atrocity was citing hateful anti-feminist Trump-loving queen of internalized misogyny Camille Paglia to attack feminism by misrepresenting it as telling women to be victims. I've loathed Camille Paglia and her anti-feminism for a long time, first mentioning her on this blog in 2006. And she's even more loathsome now with her support for Trump. I didn't think it was possible for that crank to be even more loathsome.

If Katz didn't try to shovel his wretched anti-feminism at the general public I wouldn't bother with him. But it's his political propaganda disguised by an "aw-shucks-I'm-just-a-nice-guy-doin'-his-best-to-help-the-ladies" pose that makes me feel it is necessary to oppose him. 

He's much like Pinker and Dawkins and the other misogynists who like to claim that theirs isn't really a political view when they suggest that the real problem with women having less-successful STEM careers than men is that lady brains just aren't as good at math/science (or not as rational per Sam Harris) as men's brains. They're just pure apolitical science guys, just presenting the impartial truth - it's their critics who have political views, not them.

Predictably, Katz cannot tolerate disagreement and so blocked me on Twitter. Which is what a feminist-hating weasel would do.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Where racism & misogyny meet

This American Life on Gavin McInnes and his racist/misogynist "Proud Boys."

The piece reports that the racist who organized the Charlottesville alt-right rally was a member of the Proud Boys.

Here is McInnes supporting lunatic freak Alex Jones today. 



I have to wonder what kind of relationship McInnes has with his wife and has or had with his mother. According to this Gawker article his wife Emily Jendriasak is a few years younger than him, and is Native American on her mother's side. Since she was 31 in September 2005 that means she's about 43 years old now. Which makes me wonder how much longer the marriage can last since McInnes's hatred of post-menopausal women is extreme.



Interesting that McInnes's mother had a career outside the home according to the Gawker article, as a business teacher. One of the tenets of "Proud Boy"-ism is that women shouldn't work outside the home.

Surprisingly considering McInnes's views of female submission and traditional roles, his wife looks larger in photos than he does, or as this bizarre MRA web site has it: Gavin McInnes brutally skullmogged and heightmogged by his wife. The alt-right are a weird bunch.

Also interesting, the McInneses have only three children. That's not too impressive for a guy who believes that white men should have lots of children. Proud feminist Justin Trudeau has three children too. You'd think McInnes would set an example for his Proud Boy followers by having at least one more child than a guy who is considered a "cuck" by the alt-right. But how is McInnes going to do that when his wife's ovaries are perilously close to drying up? I don't have much hope for this marriage, I think McInnes is going to trade his wife in for a younger model.

Also, this is how he refers to his wife. No I don't give this marriage more than another couple of years.



The gang at Canadaland provide more evidence of the bigotry of McInnes.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Orange is the warmest hybrid

hybrid


While sick with a cold recently and drinking lots of orange juice I decide to look up orange in Wikipedia and to my surprise it turns out that the common orange is technically called the "sweet orange" and a hybrid of the mandarin and the pomelo, which looks like a pear on the outside.

not a hybrid


In fact, it turns out that all known citrus fruits are hybrids of only four original species: the mandarin, the pomelo, the citron and the papeda. So for other examples, the lemon is a cross between the bitter orange (itself a mandarin x pomelo cross like the sweet orange) and the citron, while the key lime is a papeda x citron cross. 

This really makes the phrase "like apples and oranges" even more apt than before, since apples are an original species while oranges are a sub-species. That's like instead of "they fought like cats and dogs" saying "they fought like cats and poodles."

Monday, November 20, 2017

Bon anniversaire français!

It was right around this time last year that I decided to learn French. So after several courses I'm at level B1, which is Intermediate. Tres bien!

Here is all about the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) scale of language fluency.

This page provides reasons for why it's easier to learn English than it is to learn French. Of course the real test would be for someone who speaks a language outside of the Indo-European language family - something like Korean - to try to learn both and then decide. Although of course once they learned one of them, learning the other would be easier than starting from scratch since English and French do have some things in common, especially the multi-syllable words.

But the chart below lays it out better than I've seen before. 

French English (with commentary by me)
accentsin many wordsonly in foreign words (easier!)
agreementyesno (much easier!)
articlesmore commonless common (easier!)
capitalizationless commonmore common (not easier to learn - but easier to read and at least we don't go totally nuts with capitalization like German)
conjugationsdifferent for each grammatical persondifferent only for third person singular (so freaking much easier!)
contractionsrequiredoptional and informal (please note - "optional!")
genderfor all nouns and most pronounsonly for personal pronouns (SO much easier!)
liaisonsyesno (if we decide not to pronounce a letter in a word we stick with that for all occasions - EASIER!)
negationtwo wordsone word (half as difficult)
prepositionscertain verbs require prepositionsmany phrasal verbs (a draw)
rhythmstress at the end of each rhythmic groupstressed syllable in each word, plus stress on important word (OK this one is harder)
Roman numeralsmore common, often ordinal less common, rarely ordinal (easier)
subjunctivecommonrare (WHY DO YOU NEED SPECIAL TENSES FOR MOOD? SO MUCH EASIER IN ENGLISH)



This chart demonstrates conclusively that there are just more things to learn in French. Of the 13 language features listed English takes the easier route in nine cases. Only one feature is more difficult in English, and that's syllable stressing. Which means it only counts in spoken language, not written.

I mean look at this:
  • No accents to learn in English. 
  •  No gender except for personal nouns - in other words no gender for objects like tables and pens. And no "agreement" - agreement means that you have to make sure the articles (the, a) and adjectives you use with your noun have the same gender as the noun. So if you write a feminine word like leg, which is "jambe" all articles and adjectives must be feminine (they "agree" which gender the noun has) so it would be la longue jambe and not le long jambe
  •  And then there are conjugations. 
Here's how you conjugate "to walk": 
  • I walk 
  • You walk 
  • He/she/it walks (this is third person singular) 
  • We walk 
  •  You walk 
  • They walk 

So you have to remember only two different variations on walk. Just stick an S on the end.

 Here is how you conjugate the French word for to walk, marcher
  •  Je marche 
  • Tu marches 
  • Il/elle/on marche
  • Nous marchons
  • Vous marchez
  • Ils/Elles marchent

That's right, there are five variations. And that's just for a "regular" ER ending verb. There are different rules for words that end in IR, other rules for words the end in RE and no rules at all for irregular verbs.

And that's just for present tense. They also have a tense called "imparfait" which means something happened on an ongoing basis in the past. So you can't say "I used to walk all the time." You have to change the word for "walk" itself. So the present tense in French for "I walk all the time" is "Je march toujours." But for "I walked all the time" you say "Je marchais toujours." And yes, of course they have five conjugations for the imparfait form of marcher, since you asked: marchais, marchait, marchions, marchiez, marchaient.

French also has conjugations for future tense, which we do not have at all in English. So if you want to indicate that you will walk in the future you say "I will walk" or "I am going to walk." The word "walk" doesn't get conjugated.

You could say "Je vais marcher" which means I go to walk. The word "to go" in French is the English speaker's best friend. Just say "Je vais" plus the verb and you can do anything in the future, sing, dance, eat, drink, whatever. Je vais chanter, danser, manger, boire. (Yes "boire" is an RE verb and you absolutely cannot guess how it is conjugated. Go here for details.)

Of course you also have to conjugate the word "to go" but at least you already learned that when you learned how to conjugate present tense, and that was hard enough. "To go" is "aller" so guess how they conjugate it? Like this!
  • je vais
  • tu vas
  • il va
  • nous allons
  • vous allez
  • ils vont
This word has six conjugations and only two of them look close to "aller" just to fuck with you. And of course aller has its own million ways to be conjugated in other tenses, but we'll let that alone for now.

So you could get by with "Je vais" but you can't be sure that those damn francophones are going to stick with that form, so you have to learn the future tense conjugations for "to walk"
  • Je marcherais 
  • Tu marcherais 
  • Il/Elle/On marcherait 
  • Nous marcherons 
  • Vous marcherez 
  • Ils/Elles marcheront 
It will take you from level A1 to level B1 (six 30-hour courses in case you're wondering) just to learn all the indicative conjugations. And then they tell you about the "mood" conjugations - the subjonctif. The concept of conjugating "moods"  does not even exist in English. You can read all about it here.

That's it for now but I will be complaining about French plenty more on this blog in the future.

Je vais me plaindre à l'avenir.
OR
Je me plaindrai à l'avenir.

(Plaindre is a "reflex verb" which the chart above fails to mention. One more goddam thing.)