Very Bad Theater

Over the years I’ve participated in every performing art except dance. There are unenforced rules that guide every good performer. The Show Must Go On. Always Leave Them Wanting More. Don’t Work With Kids or Animals. And one that is just as important, but seldom discussed: Give Them What You Promised.

If you said you were going to make them laugh or cry, make them laugh or cry. If you advertised a show that would amaze them, you better amaze them. If you promised a show that would change their life, you won’t be able to deliver, so don’t make that promise.

If you’re an actor, you should respect and love your audience. They could have stayed home and watched Netflix. They could have made the easy, unimaginative decision to go to a movie. Instead, they spent good money, in bad money times, to come to your theater and sit in the dark and give you an opportunity to entertain them. You owe them.

Unless they’re disruptive, an actor should never, ever, single someone out and make them uncomfortable. It’s stupidly unprofessional. It ruins the show. It’s bad theater.

When Mike Pence went to see “Hamilton,” the audience was so upset he was there, and booed so long and loudly, that the show was paused briefly to give them a chance to start acting like grownups.

At the end of the show, one of the actors lectured Pence from the stage with a subtly snarky attack.

The Left is delighted, saying it was wonderful and classy. They are, as usual, wrong. Lecturing an audience member from the stage is not, never has been and never will be, wonderful or classy.

Pence is an ignorant, hate-filled, vile human being. He is a Christian Supremacist who thinks gays should be “converted,” supports the PATRIOT act, believes evolution is a lie, wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, cheers “stop and frisk,” loves having BigBrother spy on us, and wants to keep throwing people in prison for possessing an unapproved plant. He should be roundly and soundly critiqued for all of that, and more, often. But none of his vileness justifies publicly chastising him from the theater stage. It was the wrong venue.

It would have been perfectly acceptable to do it in the theater lobby, or at a political rally, or a press conference, or even shouting it at him while he was walking down the street. But in a theater, where he was a paying customer, it was wrong and unprofessional and Very Bad Theater.

Having said all that…

trump

The reaction from his boss is entertaining and appalling. Donald fired up his Tiny Trump Twitter-Tapping Fingers® and whined about it like a perpetually offended SJW. Two weeks ago he was elected on a platform of being anti-PC. Now he’s actually calling for a Safe Space! As I publish this, days later, he’s still at it, twittering away like an angry twelve-year-old.

Mr. Pence, if you’re going to put your vile self one heartbeat away from the presidency, you’re going to have to learn how to handle complaints, ridicule, insults and verbal attacks with grace and style, regardless of the source. Having the Howler Monkey grouse about it for you is gutless and pathetically weak. To quote a line you wouldn’t recognize from a playwright you wouldn’t understand: “Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.”

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The People Who Voted For Trump

Hillary lost the electoral college, which is the only thing that matters, but won the popular vote by a mere .3%. Against a buffoon like Trump. With the nearly all of the media on her side. With her party squeezing out a more popular candidate to hand her the nomination. With the payoffs (bribes in advance) she received from every sector of big business. Point. Three. Percent. That’s pathetic. That’s a rounding error.

Hillary’s almost daily scandals from Wikileaks, which her supporters shrugged off, proved over and over again that she is a duplicitous weasel. Obamacare, which she promised to expand, is a massive failure, and more huge rate increases, on top of the last huge rate increases, and the huge rate increases before that, left people scared and angry. Her stance on gun control inspired RTKABA fans to stockpile guns and ammo, and imagine that The Government was going to strip them of one of their most important rights. Her plan to finance a massive influx of fundamentalist Muslims terrified anyone who is watching how they’re behaving in Europe right now.

But there is another reason, perhaps the biggest reason of all, that people voted for Trump (as opposed to merely voting against Hillary.)

The far left has spent the last several years smugly insisting that everyone who disagrees with them is a racist, sexist, homophobic, ignorant, misogynistic Nazi. They’ve used “white” as a racial slur and “cisgendered” as an insult.

This is especially prevalent in social media. If you politely say, “Here are three reasons I think this particular Obama policy is a bad idea,” there is an approximately 100% chance someone will reply, “You just don’t like having a black president.” If you say, “I agree with about 80% of what you’re proposing, but here is why I think you’re wrong about the rest,” you can be certain someone will inform you that your opinion doesn’t matter because you’re white or straight or male.

It’s even worse in the 3D world, where they literally scream and screech to drown out anyone they don’t like, and get people fired for perfectly innocent comments.

These approaches aren’t meant to enlighten or convince anyone, but to shut down the conversation. And it works. There are only a few ways to handle such creatures. You can insult them, you can ridicule them, or you can flip them off and walk away.

And a substantial percentage of the people on the receiving end of such vitriol kept their middle finger extended, walked into to voting booth with it still raised, and used it to pull down the lever* for the Howler Monkey.

The screechers on the left, in their infinite ignorance, haven’t figured this out yet, and instead of taking a deep breath and trying to figure what they did wrong, have *raised* the volume of their screeching by an order of magnitude.

My personal opinion of Trump voters is based solely on many conversations with friends and acquaintances who actually like The Orange One. None of them are anything like the stereotype painted by the far left.

Racist: Not a single one. I don’t hang out with racists.
Homophobic: Nope. Not one.
Misogynist: Again, not a single one. Many of them are women.
Anti-immigration: Most of them, although they’ll mostly upset about illegal immigration.
Anti-free trade: Most of them.
Anti-Obamacare: Every one of them.
Anti-abortion: Most of them.
War Mongers: Some of them. I’d say it’s about 60-40 split between those who want to ramp up our wars and those who want to bring everyone home and just worry about our own borders.
People who think Snowden and Assange are heroes: All of them.
People who dislike government in general: Nearly all of them.
Hard working people who are disgusted with the status quo in government: Every single one of them.
Low Information Voters: None of them. Every Trump fan I know is well-informed about politics, history, and a plethora of other subjects. I often strongly disagree with their conclusions, but I know they didn’t reach them via ignorance.

Your experience may be different, especially if you’re a lefty who has built themselves a nice little echo chamber of Big Brother fanboys who join you in condemning anyone with the impertinence to have a different opinion, and has never actually had a beer or smoked a cigar with a Trump supporter.

I despise Trump. And Hillary. Both are deeply horrible people, but that doesn’t mean the people who voted for either of them are horrible. They’re just people, and with a few exceptions (like the screechers) are good and decent people. They are desperate to Make Things Better and are under the mistaken impression that The Government can accomplish that. That is their biggest error in judgment.

If you’re a lefty who is going to keep spewing your stupid, uninformed opinion that Trump supporters are all bigoted, ignorant rednecks, get away from me. Go somewhere else and stew in your own juices, someplace out of earshot, because I’m tired your smug superiority and hateful bigotry, which dwarfs the bigotry you imagine pervades the minds of Trump fans.

And stop by CVS and pick up a four-year supply of Preparation H. I hear that helps with butthurt.

– – –
*Yes, I know there are no levers any more. I miss those old machines. They gave a nice click when you flicked a lever up or down, and a loud, satisfying Ka-Chunk when you pulled the big lever over to finalize your vote and open the curtain. They were solid and substantial, and made you feel like you were doing something worthwhile. You weren’t, but at least it felt like you were.

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Libertarians, Let’s Grow Up

Libertarians have always been plagued by Purity Tests. An Anarcho-Capitalist will scream at a Minarchist: “You want me to be 10% a slave? You Have No Morals!” A 90% libertarian is evil and needs to be reeducated, but only after being subjected to heaps of ridicule. We measure each other, arguing over who has the biggest L. In the process, potential allies are alienated.

The top three presidential candidates for the Libertarian party were Austin Petersen, John McAfee, and the winner, Gary Johnson.

Austin has no political experience, is barely old enough to run, and his primary claim to fame is being extremity nasty on Twitter. (“You tubby piece of shit, you couldn’t even approach 1/4 of the pyramid of pussy that I swim in on a regular basis. It’s because I have class, motherfucker!”) How presidential! He is, however, more libertarian than Johnson.

McAfee, a cybersecurity expert, pioneered anti-virus software, then sold his company for an estimated 100 million dollars. He moved to Belize, and after getting involved in some shady operations, became a paranoid hermit. He got over it, returned to the US, and ran for the Libertarian party’s nomination. He is also more libertarian than Johnson.

If the LP had nominated either of them, there would be much rejoicing, but it would only be audible to the party faithful. The mass media would ignore it, with the exception of a little, quickly forgotten paragraph here and there. But it’s been a little more than a week since Johnson’s nomination and we’ve already seen extensive articles about him all over the media. The Wall Street Journal, Time, GQ, Investors Business Daily and USA Today (to name a few) have published extensive articles on him. And we’re just getting started.

Which makes a lot of libertarians very angry. In blogs and social medial, they rant about what a lousy choice he is, how the party has lost its soul, how his supporters have no morals or integrity, and wah wah wha and blah blah blah.

I’ve been following politics forever, and I’ve never seen a national election like this. Voters usually get behind their party’s nominees, even if they have some reservations. Not this time. Most Democrats despise Hillary. Most Republicans hate Trump. And who can blame them? Hillary is a engorged pussbag of corruption and fraud. Trump is a dung-flinging howler monkey. They are both vile.

And then along comes Gary, with a great back story. As a young man, he started his own door-to-door handyman business and built it into a successful company with more than a thousand employees. (How’s that for job creation?) He sold it, and then went on to get elected as a Republican governor in New Mexico, where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2-1. He was enthusiastically re-elected four years later. He left the state with a billion dollar surplus, and a job growth rate that was the envy of just about every other state.

Oh, and for fun he climbs mountains (he’s climbed the highest mountain on every continent) and does Iron Man triathlons, making him even manlier than Hillary. Or Trump, for that matter. Voters like having someone manly in the oval office.

I’m not blind to his faults. He’s great in one-on-one conversations, but in the Libertarian debates he stumbled on some of the difficult questions. He’s about 89% libertarian – I wish the number were higher. But that’s 89% more libertarian than the other two skid-marks we’re being offered.

Libertarians have been a footnote in American politics since the party was formed way back in 1971. Finally, we have an opportunity to get our ideas out there in front of the masses. There’s even a slim chance he could win, although it would take some unlikely circumstances.  Best of all, the increased publicity for the party will make it possible for other Libertarians to win smaller offices all over the country, and that could start a slow but fundamental change in the way we do government. But for that to happen, we need the complainers and saboteurs calling themselves libertarians to put on their big-boy pants and stop whining like a petulant children. Yes, there were more Pure libertarian’s available. But unlike The Pure, this guy has a chance to make a real difference. Fellow libertarians, unless you’re still enamored with losing and Purity tests, it’s time to grow up.

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Memorial Day

Boots

One Boot For Each Serviceman Killed Since 9/11

We’ll see dozen of pictures like this used to create memes this weekend. Typically, the text will say something about them dying for freedom or sacrificing their lives for our liberty. They are designed to elicit emotions of pride and honor, but they have a different effect on me.

The last time a soldier died for our freedom was in World War II. Every soldier since has died for the politics and/or the wealth of people they’ve never met. They didn’t sacrifice their lives for our country. They threw their life away for a con job.

These pictures don’t make me feel pride or patriotism, but complete and utter disgust for the politicians and corporate moguls who sent them to their deaths for nothing more than their own profit.

I also feel a profound sadness for the soldiers who gave away their lives. I feel sorrow for the steaks they’ll never eat, the jokes they’ll never tell, the children they’ll never father, the songs they’ll never sing, the arguments they’ll never have, the loves and broken hearts they would have experienced, the dogs they would have thrown Frisbees for, the great and common things they would have accomplished had they enjoyed a long life.

507060-National-Cemetery

The sadness deepens when I think of their families. The parents who spent twenty years raising a fine kid only to see him slain. The young woman who will never again see the love of her life. The kids who will never have dad read them another bedtime story, or get them to do something goofy while mom’s back is turned, or yell at them to turn the TV down, or be lifted to his shoulders so they can see the parade better.

I could never disrespect them. I could never say anything bad about them, other than that they were fooled, and we all get fooled from time to time.

But don’t expect me to celebrate their deaths. Do you dare use their loss to try and make me feel pride in the government that had them killed.

If anything, these displays want me to stand up against war, any war. And I encourage everyone to do the same. There is very little any of us can do, but that shouldn’t stop us from doing it. The best way to honor our fallen solders is to stop making more of them.

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The Quick Hitts Podcast is Back

After a four-year podfade, the Quick Hitts podcast is back!

Since the show faded, a lot of folks have asked about it returning. Some of you even pleaded for it. (Actual quote: “Please, please, PLEASE bring it back.”) So I conducted an experiment.

My plan was to do six shows – a minimum of one every two weeks – and ask people to email me if they were listening. After six shows I’d decide if there were enough responses, (I had a number in mind) to keep going.

I published “Trigger Warnings” late Tuesday night. February 16th, without telling anyone about it. I wanted to make sure the feed was working correctly, and a few other technical details were in place, before I announced it the next evening.

Before I announced it, there were a dozen responses in my mailbox. Two people responded less than 45 minutes after I uploaded the show, which means they saw it immediately, late at night, in a four-year-old feed, and listened to it right away.

By Friday the experiment was finished. I’d exceeded the number of responses I hoped to see after six shows.

So….it’s back! There are two new shows waiting for you, with more to come on a regular basis. The commitment is to a new show every two weeks, although that’s a minimum – you may get more.

I remember making the website for it, back in 2005. It was first time I didn’t have to worry about keeping picture files small, since everyone using it would be on broadband.

I’d always loved the art work on old pulp fiction novels, so I built it around that.windowcity I thought it looked cool at the time, but the sheer number of shows has turned it into a mess. It needs to be rebuilt from scratch, and I’ll be doing that, eventually, but right now I’m concentrating more on getting shows out. (If someone could smartenize me on the best way to publish podcasts on a WordPress platform, I’d appreciate it.)

If you haven’t heard it yet, search for “Quick Hitts” on your favorite podcatcher. In addition to the new shows, there are over a hundred past episodes. They’re all in the same feed, so they’re easy to listen to.

To all of you who pestered me about this for the past four years: Thank you. It was your persistence that brought it back.

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Bringing People Together

This is a very good ad. It’s well-produced, well presented, and appeals to our basic emotions.

And it’s a reason so many of us are deeply afraid of a Bernie presidency.

I don’t want the government to bring me together with anyone. I, and I alone, should get to pick who I get together with. They, and they alone, get to decide if they want to get together with me. Choosing your own associations is one of the most basic of all human rights.

You want to get us together, Bernie? Then get out of the damn way. Let us peacefully decide what we want to do and who we want to do it with. Let us start a business doing whatever we want, without thousands of dollars worth of permits and three-inch-thick books of regulations. Let us decide for ourselves how we want to live our lives, and keep the resources we need to do it.

A half a lifetime ago, I was part of an informal group of cigar smokers who regularly met at a brew pub, where we were welcomed by the management. There were about twenty of us. It would be hard to imagine a more diverse group. We were different races, had different educational backgrounds and were on different rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. Our politics and religious beliefs were all over the place. We had different jobs and different interests. The only thing we all had in common was the love of fine cigars.

We’d meet at a large table, light up good cigars (often gifting some back and forth), and have some good drinks. Then we’d have a good meal, followed by another round of cigars.

Everything was good, but the conversations – the conversations were great. We’d joke and discuss and debate and explain and argue and be charming and offensive and everything in between, and never once, in all the years we did it, was a voice ever raised in anger. Nothing brings out good conversation better than fine cigars.

Your tribes took that from us, Bernie. Your Government Tribe and your Nanny Tribe reached in with their diseased claws and ripped it from our lives. They intentionally destroyed something wonderful that brought people together.

Give that back to us, Bernie. That, and a thousand other things you’ve ruined for us. Yes, we do want to come together, but we want to do it on our own, and we can only do it if you get the hell out of our way.

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I Don’t Want To Be An Angel

I was smoking my pipe at the edge of a park that had been infested with Word of Life preachers, when young girl approached me. She was about sixteen, short and cute and lightly pimpled. Full of confidence, she smiled, looked me in the eye and asked, “Are you sure you’re going to heaven?”

I took a pull on my pipe – pipes are great for dramatic pauses – and said, “I sure hope not. All the good musicians are in hell. I like Handel’s Messiah and I’m sure the angels do a kick-ass version, but it would get tiresome after a few days. I want to hear Hendrix and Jerry Garcia and Stevie Ray Vaughn and Janis Joplin and Keith Moon and The Ramones, and I’m sure none of them are in heaven.”

She froze. She had never heard that answer, and probably never heard of any of those musicians. There was fifteen or twenty seconds of dead silence between us. She was uncomfortable. I was amused. Then she took a breath, regained her composure and launched into her well-rehearsed script.

Most religions promise a joyful afterlife as a disembodied spirit. Few believers really think about how unsatisfying that would be. Me, I never want to be an angel.

boredWe assume angels can hear and see, but they can’t bite into a freshly picked corn cob, roasted to perfection, slathered with real butter and topped off with a sprinkle of salt. They can’t savor a fine cigar, or sip some good whiskey, or gulp a cold beer. They’ll never again experience the exhilaration and exhaustion of hot, messy sex. Something as simple as the touch of a lover will be nothing more than a memory. They may be able to listen to music, but they’ll never stand on a stage in front of people who have paid to be entertained, banging on a cheap guitar and pouring their heart into a performance.

Eating junk food? Nope. Biting into a perfectly cooked steak? Never again. Experimenting in the kitchen, usually making something awesome but occasionally creating something horrible? They don’t get to do that.

They can’t take a long walk through a pleasant path, accompanied by a frisky dog. They can’t stand in a crowd watching fireworks and smile at the conversations around them. That street magician, who is wowing the crowd, doesn’t surprise or amaze them. A “Coming Soon” sign, announcing an interesting restaurant, won’t give them a pleasurable little ping of anticipation. There will be no guy with a purple Mohawk walking by.

They’ll never stand back and admire the house they just painted and say, “Damn, that looks good.” They won’t experience the heart palpations of narrowly avoiding a car accident with some skillful driving. They can’t calm down that angry customer, or close that difficult sale. The exhilaration of solving a difficult problem is foreign to them.

Whacking that ball and watching it sail into the sky. Changing a muddy tire without messing up your good clothes and still making it to the job interview on time. Working out a deal that satisfies everyone. Brownies, warm from the oven, washed down with a glass of cold milk. Mulling over a big mistake and figuring out what you did wrong, and not doing it again. Learning the secret to getting along with people you don’t like. Opening a package containing something really cool that you’ve been wanting for a long time. Finding a hidden treasure at a yard sale. Going into the attic and discovering something you like and forgot about. Sitting around a fire pit with friends and beers on a chilly night. Swimming in a brisk lake. Racing down the road with the wind in your face. None of it, ever again. Not for them.

No thanks.

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