Saturday, July 30, 2011

At least one more time on Government Debt Ceiling issues

What I really want to call this would result in too many swear words, and I hope I have a better vocabulary than that. This country has devolved into one of a rising population below the poverty line, a shrinking middle class, and 1% who controls more than 80% of the money. And that 1% pays little to no taxes. They do not want to pay taxes. They want those of us who live below the poverty line to pay taxes, the shrinking middle class to pay taxes, those who are out of work to pay taxes. They want us to have little to no education, little to no health care, and no Social Security. No Veterans' Benefits. No Welfare. They would be happier if we would all just curl up and die, leaving any property we might own to them.
I have had it with the rich who do not produce jobs, who outsource jobs, who pay no taxes, who do no charity work, who don't believe in social welfare, or the golden rule.
I take back anything I said earlier about being willing to compromise that didn't include taxing the rich. (Did I say that? surely not.) Tax them to the gills, but certainly at least tax them in a way that doesn't include loopholes. Tax and spend! If by spend you mean: Pay our bills, why yes, Senator, that is precisely what I mean. And I note that many of the bills we have run up include a great deal of pork for your state, your home town, your county. I also note you personally have benefited from your lobbyists, your backers, your friends, your cronies. I notice that YOU have healthcare, a paycheck, a home, schools for your children. And who is that pays for those things exactly? Oh that's right: the government. Kiss my foot. And then, raise the debt ceiling!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Social Security Checks

Even if the government does go into default, Social Security still has money in its account to pay benefits. There is no reason not to send out Social Security checks unless the government raids the SS account to pay its other bills -- like payroll to Congress or something it thinks is more important than the old and disabled, or the widows and children of deceased workers.
When the media, or the politicos tell the public that the government isn't going to send out Social Security checks, they do so in order to WAKE US UP. We are now counting down the days until the government runs out of its ability to borrow any more money.
We have not been paying attention, because we do not think we ARE the government. Well, what do we think WE THE PEOPLE OF THESE UNITED STATES means? We elect these representatives, these congress people who are at loggerheads, who don't seem able to reach a compromise so that our government can pay its bills. WE do. YOU and I do. We have to light the fire under their chairs.
We have to write our congress people, sign petitions, call them on the phone, send email, tweet, however you reach your representatives. NOW IS THE TIME. Okay, I'm sorry to be be shouting. I'm a little impatient. With all of us. Especially with our so-called representatives.
We have to get to yes.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

US Debt Ceiling, Are You Kidding Me?

This is getting serious. John Boehner storms out AGAIN. President Obama has offered serious cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and asked for taxes from the rich and corporations. I don't know why the corporations complain, they don't pay them anyway. Seriously, GM takes in how many billions and pays ZERO taxes? Do you read these news articles about what the corporations don't pay? They have a 35% tax rate, but so many loopholes that they never pay anything at all. Apparently Republicans think no services should be given to the poor, only to the rich, and only the middle class should pay taxes. Poor have no money, rich want to hold onto their money, and corporations are too slick to ever give out any money. So, if you're middle class you are totally screwed.
For starters, Social Security should be taken out of everyone's paycheck, regardless of how much one earns. Right now that is capped at 100,000. Why? They still give you a benefit check if you earn over 100,000. Pay up. Also, close down those corporate loopholes. Give them credit for doing good works, but tax them fairly.
And until Congress can reach a compromise how about we shut off their pay? That's right, all payment to Congress is suspended until agreement is reached. What do you want to bet agreement is reached before August 2nd?

RIP Amy Winehouse

I was planning to post about the debt ceiling in the US today. But then word came that Amy Winehouse was found dead in her apartment, of a presumed overdose. Her father is on an airplane, not knowing that she is lying dead, while millions of us are already reading and writing and talking about it. They have already made her a member of the Forever 27 Club, along with Janis, Jimi and Morrison.

So many people are FaceBooking, Tweeting about Amy that her death was a given, because of her addiction. That's easy to say now that she is dead. But people do overcome addiction, even when it looks as though they will fail. And there are celebrities who are still struggling while in the limelight. I want you to know, even though they don't, that I am pulling for them. Lindsay, Brittany, you're in that group. You CAN make it. Millions of people want you to.

It was a happy day when Robert Downey, Jr. turned the corner. He struggled mightily in front of everyone, and seemed lost so many times. Let's hope he never has to struggle that hard again. He is a brilliant man with so much talent and we are so lucky to get to be the beneficiaries of it. That is how I feel about all the people I know who are survivors of their addictions, who are making it in this world in spite of that terrible disease. They are heroes. Addiction is a killer.

We are going to have to do better as a society. We have recognized that addiction is a disease. We have devised various ways to deal with that. But we still attach a stigma on the one hand and glamorize it on the other. We lose family and friends and our celebrity darlings. These are real people with real talents. We have to do better. We need our people who have talents and skills in the areas of science, medicine, counseling, celebrity wrangling, psychology, to start putting their heads together to save our future generations from addition. And as for the rest of us we need to stop stigmatizing and glamorizing ... however and whenever we can.

Addiction runs rampant in my own family. I have survivors, I have practicing alcoholics, I have family members who think they have control. We all know which ones we are. How about you? Are you untouched?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blue Roses

Awhile back (Gearing Up post) I wrote that I was going to do a major rewrite of Blue Roses. Then last weekend I ran into Andrew Wardenaar at JAW. He loves Blue Roses, and can't imagine why I'd want to rewrite it. He's right, of course. There's nothing wrong with the play. I have a new idea about the characters. So what I should be doing is writing a NEW PLAY. A new play with the same characters, a companion piece. [smack to the forehead].
When I wrote the Gearing Up post, I said I was going to begin by using Save the Cat, and I am. Tomorrow. This is my public commitment to begin tomorrow. Even though I am still struggling with my brain, I can begin by re-reading Save the Cat, and making notes, making note cards. The beautiful thing is: I already have my characters! As a companion piece the play can be a prequel, a sequel, or even set at the same time, in a different place. Or even the same place. Oh, this is going to be fun.
What are you doing to exercise your creativity right now? Please share.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Dress that Changed My Life

I was just reading a blog about a designer that believes he makes dresses that can change women's lives. Really? Have you ever had or even worn a dress or ANY article of clothing that changed your life?
My last post was about the possibility of the US government defaulting on its debt, and today I'm writing about dresses that could change your life. Really, Sandra? Really? Has the economy turned around? Has Congress suddenly decided to compromise? Maybe. The President is endorsing bipartisan "deal on debt", and the so-called Gang of Six [Senators] are pressing forward on something that appears to be a bipartisan compromise that will include slashing the budget and raising revenue. Including some cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.
Also new today: President Obama has endorsed the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. All in all a red-letter day. Or maybe a red dress day. Secretary Clinton has not endorsed the repeal of DOMA, nor has she come out in favor of same sex marriage. Come on, Hillary.
I have had a lot of favorite clothing items in my life beginning with that cranberry red silk velvet dress that I outgrew at the age of four and am still writing about. I've worn dresses that made me feel beautiful, and one that I hallucinated in and that hallucination became a self-fulfilling prophecy ... that was sad and horrible. Was that life-changing? If so, it was in a bad way. Every now and then I go through my wardrobe and through out everything that makes me feel fat or dumpy. Even if I bought it last week.
I can remember almost everything I ever wore at events that were life changing, but nothing I ever wore actually changed my life. What about you? What was it? Where did you get it? In what way did your life change? Did you become a better person? A better singer? Suddenly you could dance? Oh wait a minute! I never walked until my mom bought me a pair of shoes, but the minute she laced them up on me I took off walking. Does that count?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Our Government in Default

Because I studied Economics at University, I would expect myself to be more educated on this topic. Instead, I find that I am lying awake worrying at night instead of reading up. Like others, I signed a bunch of petitions and hoped that my representatives in Congress would find a way out of this gridlock. I even refused to sign the last few haranguing President Obama on the subject of Social Security -- even though that is the majority of what I live on these days -- because I'm willing to give a little just to end this stalemate.
I am dismayed that our country has come to this, and I blame RACISM. I fear and believe that the Republicans were so shocked and outraged that we elected President Obama that they are doing everything they can to ensure his is a one term presidency. And within a very short time of his taking the reins, Democrats too began to lose patience. Apparently they thought they had elected a savior rather than a politician. And so, we failed him. Had all of us who elected him stood behind him from the outset, really backed him all the way, we would not be in this mess. But we didn't. And now he is having to try to steer his way, almost completely alone.
We will blame him for this default.
And when that happens, or whatever happens -- because what miracle could happen now to overturn these past few years? Even finding and killing Osama bin Laden didn't make much difference. Whatever happens, we will be a long time waiting for our next president of color.
So, if you are like me, worrying what will happen if our government chooses default over compromise, think about why we are making that choice. Why the two parties can't reach a compromise. Why our President is up there in his shirt sleeves mucking out the stalls all alone.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Plawrights Festival here in Portland this weekend and next

I'm starting my weekend out right: with a brand new play by a woman playwright, right here in Portland. This year, it's the ONLY play by a woman in this annual festival of new plays. I never miss this festival. Not only is the festival free, but it is a chance to see new works by playwrights from across the country, and thanks to the commitment of Portland Center Stage, new works from Oregon's playwrights as well (the Made in Oregon series). Any playwright in the area who is worth her salt is in attendance, learning, relearning, or honing her craft, while simultaneously networking and being entertained. As my long-time writing partner always says: we can always learn something, even if it's only what NOT to do. I've learned what TO do, from the most seasoned to the freshest youngsters who are still in high school -- the curtain raisers.
This year we'll see some sort of avant-garde work in the men's restroom. A couple of years ago it was the women's.
Read all about Andrea Stolowitz's play below, and join me there this Saturday, won't you? 4pm sharp. No! Come early and grab a sandwich or a drink, schmooz, people watch, network with other creatives like yourself.

The JAW Festival opens with with Made in Oregon series, featuring works-in-progress from Oregon writers, with performances at 4pm and 8pm July 16h & 17th on the Main Stage. Admission is free and no reservations are required for Made in Oregon readings.

Gerding Theater at the Armory
128 NW Eleventh Avenue
Portland, Oregon 97209 | 503-445-3700

Antarktikos by Andrea Stolowitz
Directed by Gemma Whelan
Saturday, July 16 at 4pm
Main Stage

Somewhere between Oregon and Antarctica lie several points on a continuum: Susan, a writer at an artists residency at the South Pole; Captain Robert Falcon Scott, leader of the British Antarctic expedition of 1912; and Hilary, Susan's 21-year-old daughter. When an insomniac EMT named Alex becomes the hapless link among them, time collapses, geographies blend and destinies emerge.

About the playwright: Andrea Stolowitz is a graduate of the MFA playwriting program at UC-San Diego. Her plays have been developed and produced nationally and internationally at theaters like the Old Globe, The Long Wharf, Victory Gardens, and the Cherry Lane. Antarktikos was written in Sept. 2010 and has been developed at Artists Repertory Theater, Key City Public Theater, The New Harmony Project, and White Pine Productions. It was a finalist for Play Penn and Premiere Stages. Andrea serves as the Oregon Regional Representative to the Dramatists Guild, is a proud member of Playwrights West, and teaches at Willamette University.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Gearing Up

Although I do think that most of my energy, creative and otherwise, is going towards healing my body from the fall, I can feel my brain trying to steer itself back toward writing creatively again. I have two big projects: a major rewrite of "Blue Roses" and a minor rewrite of "The Godmother." Blue Roses first I think, because I'm excited about it. Although the characters from The Godmother periodically harass me, even in my dreams, to DO SOMETHING, to get the play produced. That bunch, they want out of the box. Each character has a full life that wants to be lived onstage. I could do an entire series with these characters, if I had the chance. I could see them in a TV series, for sure.
I would love to see them in an onstage series, although that is so hard to do. Not that a TV series isn't hard to do! Right? Where would THAT money come from? I guess what I mean is, that because a local production seems more doable, it seems harder. The TV idea would be completely up to someone else who came along and bought the rights.
The point is, I have enough ideas, enough character background and story to write the material. These gangsters are kicking at the file cabinet all the time. Where they are it's 1928, Kansas City, Missouri, and Prohibition is in full swing. Not really enforced in KC because of politics, so the Irish Mob is doing great. The Godmother is a young butch dyke who has just taken over for her murdered brother. She is Tomboy McCorkle and she chooses for her second Mr. Uppity Jones. Half her crew is African-American, half her girls are too. She's got a thing for her widowed sister-in-law Corker, and she's got a younger brother to raise. She's also got some serious competition to watch out for with Chee Chee di Mayo and his boys. So, you can see I'm gonna have to get to them soon.
Blue Roses is getting a complete overhaul. The current protagonist will become a background player as one of the background players steps up to take over the story. I'm excited about it. It makes so much more sense in my mind already. I'll tell you more after I complete a draft.
How do you gear up to write new creative works? do you outline? mind map? talk about your work or keep it secret? I'm planning to use Blake Snyder's Save the Cat to outline Blue Roses this time, just as I did when I wrote The Godmother. It is a screenwriting book, but it works for the stage as well. Tell me your writing secrets! I'm spilling mine.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The Day the Cast Came Off

At last the cast is off my right arm. It was only two weeks. I don't know what I was thinking. I nearly passed out from the pain when my arm was freed. Seriously. They had to lay me down, get a pillow, a wet rag for my head, some orange juice ... and wait. I guess I thought that my arm would have magically healed while encased in fiberglass and I could do everything as before. Alas no. I also have a sprained wrist, so I have a brace as well as a sling now. If anything I'm even more encumbered. I can take those off, in fact I have to take them off and exercise my arm at times during the day. Also ice the elbow 20 minutes a day.
The arm doesn't have a huge range of motion yet. The fingers are good to go, not so the thumb (I think that's to do with the wrist). My elbow looks like a grapefruit, size and color. Very nice.
Doc gave me a large container of Vicodin to encourage my doing my daily exercises. As my brain has been mush anyway, I don't see how it can hurt. I think all my faculties have gone toward healing these past two weeks. I am curious to see how long it will take me to get back in writing shape. Physically and mentally. Stay tuned if you have the patience!
And, please ... do write and say what your own experience has been in similar circumstances. Has injury ever affected your creativity?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

I Saw a Successful Writer Last Night

I went to Willamette Writers' monthly meeting here in Portland yesterday evening where we always have a speaker, and I ALWAYS learn something. Last night I mostly just had a great time watching a young fellow describe his experience of "winning the writer's equivalent of the lottery." (Quote by Cynthia Whitcomb who introduced him.) Daniel is the man who sold his first fiction novel -- when he had written 100 pages -- to Steven Spielberg. The finished book "Robopocalypse" opened in 13th place on the NY Times Best Seller list. He's been consulted all this past year by Dreamworks about the robots they're building, and rightfully so because he has a Ph.D in robotics.
See this isn't really a lottery. This is a smart guy writing about what he knows and what he has a great passion for. Everything he has written (non-fiction up to now) has been successful because he is a hard worker, clever, quick-witted, and passionate. And yes there was some luck involved, but not as much as you might think.
What did I learn this time? Don't hold back, use everything I have, this might be the only book I write so do my best, and follow every lead for a shot at publishing/agent/etc. Daniel has used everything he learned in academia to aid him in his writing career. Smart man.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

I Am a New Yorker

Never mind that I do not now, nor have I ever -- in thisd lifetime -- been a resident of New York. Since the first time I read about NYC I wanted to move there, live there. The first time I flew into La Guardia I had this feeling in my stomach: I'm coming home. By the next afternoon, as I was walking the streets of Greenwich Village, people were asking me directions, and I was giving them -- correctly. I have a good sense of direction and I pay attention. I don't know why people ask me for directions, but it happens.
I saw many, many Off- and Off-Off-Broadway shows on that first trip, no Broadway shows. It was 1979. My collaborator and I were there to visit with American Place Theatre about the possibility of their producing our play, but they weren't comfortable with our requirement of an all-woman cast, so there went that dream, onto the next.
Over the years I have returned to NYC as many times as I could afford it. I have made many friends in NY, and friends have moved to NY. I've subscribed to The New Yorker since 1981 and read the blurbs about the current shows, arts, music as avidly as if I were planning my weekly outings. I read the New York Times for news and arts the same way.
So what keeps me from moving to Manhattan, Brooklyn, or Queens? Not money, though I have none to speak of. I live small and frugally, I could manage. No, I stay where I am because of family.
I was born with a huge case of wanderlust. I love to travel. I have, in fact, travelled. Now that my resources are so limited I just want to be near my family. And they don't want to live in NYC. Nor could we afford to, as a family. So I'm looking to my next visit to New York, my real home.