Saturday, August 1, 2020
I asked the man for mayonnaise
He gave me mustard instead.
I told him I prefer white, not yellow
To sit upon my bread.
To see him look at me in disgust
As he handed me that jar
Made me wonder what it was I did;
Had I really gone too far?
But, no, I was in my rights to say:
“I do not like that spread.
And as for ketchup, I confess
I just don’t like that red.”
“Some would grab a packet or two
Of spicy barbeque;
But brown is ugly and not right.
I see it. Why can’t you?”
“Relish on a sandwich with a shade like green
Is not understandable.
And orange is a color I won’t allow
To pass my mandible.”
“That Thai satay is much too brown
And srahacha is just too pink
Salsa is crimson; it’s out too.
That’s just the way I think.”
“’You are what you eat,’ as the pundits say,
Which is why I won’t eat black.
The colors of the rainbow may appeal to you,
But they’re not what I will snack.”
“So out with chutney and out with honey
They will never be on my diet.
Just give me my white mayonnaise
Or I will not be quiet.”
The man with the mustard heard my thoughts,
But I was shocked by what he said.
“I don’t hate those condiments half as much
As the color of your bread.”
©2020 Alan Smason
Thursday, July 23, 2020
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Seen under an electronic microscope, the virus that causes COVID-19.
For good or bad, we have taken collective action in what may prove to be a judicious application of resources available to us now or, conversely, might later be viewed as a set of grossly overprotective and unnecessary medical measures. In any case, I would rather err on the side of overkill rather than be caught unprepared and unable to respond to this very real threat.
The danger to me personally is minimal. I am at the age where authorities say I should be concerned, but I am in very good health and have a better than average immune system. The threat is not only to me; it's to my elderly loved ones and friends, most especially my 88-year-old mother, who is now in frail health.
I would not want to put her at risk due to my careless and unthinking actions. Also, who knows? Statistically, most victims have been elderly patients. Yet, the first two people who have died in New Orleans since the outbreak of COVID-19 were both in their 50s, one 58 and the other 53 years old. While they did each have underlying medical problems, the threat to middle-aged adults is very real. One of the more recent victims – a member of my own religious community – was 84. Others were octogenarians and nonagenarians. That does not give me a reason to be consoled in any way.
The problem for me is that I am by nature a very gregarious creature. I enjoy meeting people and talking, walking and greeting them. I find nothing more frustrating than to keep myself entertained and in a virtual bubble.
But this is the new normal and I am going to have to make the necessary adjustments to accept this as both necessary and in the best interests of all concerned.
Except for take out, there's no restaurants. No bars. No parades. And, for me, the worst reality check, no theatre. For a theatre critic, the thought of how to cope is almost surreal. Given the lack of open theaters, it is understandable that the public would be less focused on the plight of the actors, producers, technical and administrative staffs who collectively are the grease behind the monolith of local theatre.
But theatre is the salve that calms society in hard times and we need it during this crisis more than ever. The sooner theatre is restored to our city, the sooner we will know we have weathered this storm and moved past it.
Saturday, October 19, 2019
©2019 Alan Smason
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
The fact is I have many more outlets to write these days and the time to delve into my inner psyche has become limited in more ways than I can readily admit. My writing has brought me awards in journalism I could never have envisioned three years ago. I have seen my stock rise high despite the fact that my value as a writer is still under appreciated and barely compensated.
Of course, writing a blog rarely leads to untold wealth or riches. What has been essential in these postings is that I write the truth as I see it, unfiltered or unaffected by the opinions of others.
In these days of highly charged politics and ultra sensitive social media trolls, it has become increasingly difficult to feel comfortable to speak my own mind.
And yet, I must.
If there ever was a time when I should be speaking out about the climate under which America lives these days, it is now.
We have become so intolerant of each other that an errant phrase on social media can bring about immediate doom to celebrities and politicians alike. Of course, there are some politicians who are Teflon-coated, who it seems escape scrutiny and condemnation despite egregious rantings. Again, these are the times under which we live.
But Tweets and viral posts notwithstanding, I am finding myself discomfited in the lack of a sense of humor in America today. I am afraid that few can recall Will Rogers and his simple take on what made our country and our people great. Even the affable and kindly Fred Rogers would take exception as to how hardened our nation has become and how we have passed the innocence of our most precious resource – our children – into the flames of fear and mistrust and tempered them with credos of greed and self-absorption.
Perhaps it is the knowledge that our government has separated innocent children from their parents and imprisoned them without the benefit of trial and a sense of fair play. Maybe it is the senseless loss of life at places like night clubs, supermarkets, movie theaters, outdoor concerts, shopping malls, workplaces or any place where gatherings of people enjoying life or going about their business become soft targets and part of an ever spiraling list of mass shootings by assault rifles.
The rise of organized hate by small-minded men and women who blame the ills of the world on religions or people whose skins are a different hue is something I could never have fathomed as a child. We had fought two world wars stamping out the designs and encroachment of foreign powers on faraway shores in the first and halting the spread of governments that fostered genocide and glorified killing in direct conflict with our ideals of freedom and liberty in the second.
During the Cold War, I believed that the good of humanity promoted within a system of capitalism where individuals could better themselves would eventually defeat the premise of Communism that men had to share what they earned or wait for the government to parcel it out. That belief turned into reality in the 1990s and America seemed to be a beacon for the world again.
I would never have considered that the America of my youth could fall from its pedestal of being the leader of the Free World and a moral nation that others would want to emulate and morph into a nation led by the super rich and super greedy with corruption and amorality as its most prominent features.
We have become a litigious society where juries are awarding incredible sums of money to victims of corporate greed which have addicted thousands in order to fatten their wallets or who have looked the other way when putting products on the market. There is little chance that tort reform will reign in the rampant filings by hungry attorneys hoping to find their pot of gold at the end of the judicial rainbow.
Doctors are also under siege by self-appointed financial wizards who have managed to administer health organizations on their behalf and perpetuated a system wherein they realize greater profit by denying benefits to those in dire need. Medical malpractice costs have forced many physicians who might have established solo practices in the past into forming corporate partnerships as a measure of self-preservation and protection. The days of a kindly Marcus Welby, M.D., who makes house calls is sadly over. Instead, new concepts like urgent care centers have sprung up and patients are paying visits to emergency rooms in droves due to the demands of insurance policies.
Health care has become a major determinant in keeping a job or seeking employment elsewhere and programs like Medicare are having to raise the age levels of those seeking benefits. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that my child will have to wait until 70 years of age or higher to qualify for Medicare.
As a boy, I was a Cub Scout and Boy Scout. Even the simple nature of Scouting for boys and girls has become shrouded in controversy. For decades, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) was vilified for its standards for adult leaders and youth which prevented gays from entry into its membership. After protracted legal challenges and a historic plebiscite by its members, those policies were eliminated and membership extended to those who had formerly been shunned.
Today, the BSA and the Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. (GSUSA) are embroiled in a new legal battle over which gender belongs with what organization. Facing historic lows in membership, the BSA announced plans two years ago to open its entire ranks to girls, notably in the Cub Scouts and the newly-renamed Scouts BSA (formerly the Boy Scouts). Even though co-ed units are the standard around the world, including in England, where Scouting was founded, the GSUSA has challenged the BSA in court.
Due to that battle and the inordinately burdensome task of paying out millions to victims of alleged child abuse, the BSA has already announced its own plans to declare bankruptcy should they need to protect their assets. Many alleged victims of abuse have recently been given a second chance to charge individuals and organizations by legislation passed on a state level such as in California, New York and New Jersey. Victims need to be compensated, of course, but in many cases the problems arose within religious organizations who partnered with the BSA and the alleged incidents occurred as far back as four decades ago. Sadly, many of the offending adults were often sheltered by those who wished to not visit scandal or shame upon their religion and the BSA was never informed of these crimes at the time they occurred.
Throughout the course of writing these words, I feel the same outrage as when our nation was shaken to its core through assassinations and divided by waging a war on many fronts in Southeast Asia and against each other at home.
Those were certainly not the good old days, but even then I knew we would get better as a nation and move past the division and derision. These days I am not so sure.
We have never become more connected through devices and the media that update us as to our world in ways we could only have imagined two decades ago. Yet, despite this connectivity, we are a nation of lonely people, seeking to live out life vicariously through these devices while hardly lifting up our heads to acknowledge one another at the dinner table.
Thus I find myself sitting at a computer adding more words to the blogosphere while mulling all of this over.
Am I being authentic and genuine? Yes.
Will these musings convey my angst and disdain for where we are as a nation? Probably.
Do I feel better? Maybe.
Does any of this make sense? Doubtful.
Saturday, July 14, 2018
With such an appropriate acronym, APT continues to mount stellar productions in two theaters - one, a 1,089-seat outdoor amphitheater and the other, an intimate indoor arena of more than 200 seats. With an annual budget of more than $6 million and a dedicated core staff, the company's repertory of as many as nine plays attracts more than 100,000 people to this quaint and sleepy town from June through November.
In recent years, the American Theatre Critics Association (ATCA), the professional organization of theatre reviewers, writers and journalists, has held its annual conference in cities like San Francisco, Philadelphia and New Orleans. This summer, however, they have taken to the Wisconsin woods to partner with APT so that its membership could take advantage of five of its offerings: Shakespeare's As You Like It, Eugene Ionesco's Exit the King, Athol Fugard's Blood Knot, George Fuquhar's The Recruiting Officer and Garson Kanin's Born Yesterday.
In addition to the lifeblood of theatre offerings, APT has brought dozens of its own staff and nearby theatre critics, artistic directors, theatre podcasters and designers to inform and inspire ATCA attendees. Among the topics covered were sessions on copyright law, racial equity, period comedy productions and what is happening in the heartland of theatre in America's dairyland.
The beautiful setting of The House on the Rock Resort replete with a Bobby Jones-designed golf course has served as the nexus for ATCA's members to engage in heated debates about the future of the organization and its direction. Members are passionate about the organization, but in these perilous times when traditional journalism has given way to modern means of expression on the Internet and through social media, there are questions that must be posed and the very nature of theatre criticism examined.