A cocktail, of sorts

Okay.  Can we talk?

A couple of months ago I was in a liquor store frequented by my Eldest Son1 and came across a bottle of Feni.

Feni, as the label on the bottle has it, is “an exotic spirit 3x distilled from cashew apples and native to Goa, India.  Feni has a rich mysterious taste with fruity flavors of pineapple, citrus, and cashew apple.  Since the 1700s Feni has been popular in Indian cuulture. Feni is to Goa, India, just as Scotch is to Scotland and tequila is to Mexico.”

Well, I mean to say, wot?

Misreading the bottle entirely, I was intrigued by the idea of a “cashew liquor” and thought how much fun it would be to get in on it before all those trendy bartenders featured in liquor.com emails.

Oh my.  The rich, mysterious taste of cashew apples, i.e., the fleshy part of the tree-spawn from which dangles the oh-so-tasty nut, is apparently an acquired cultural taste.  It’s pretty nasty, and I say this as a man who bravely assayed Hog Master liqueur.2

But I persevere.  This evening I decided it was time to face my fears and create something drinkable from this stuff.  The official website was of no help at all—it was rife with recipes involving sweet-and-sour mix and/or Sour Apple schnapps and/or Sprite.  I am not making this up.

So I breathed in the nose of the stuff, took a tiny3 swig, and came up with this:

A Feni cocktail

  • .75 oz Feni
  • .75 oz Butterscotch schnapps
  • .75 oz honey whiskey

Stir with ice, strain, garnish with lemon.

That’s the best that I could do.  It’s drinkable, but if I were you I’d make it with 1/2 oz portions instead.

Equal portions of limoncello and Feni are passable, if you like limoncello.

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1 He is my only son, and hence my eldest.

2 Which I gave to my Eldest Son, who then pranked all of his friends with it.

3 tiny

A pome

No one mourns the armadillo,
No one sighs, so o’er-woe’d.
No one plants the yew or willow
Where he lies beside the road.

Hm. I think it needs moar verses.

edited: changed “grieves” to “mourns” because euphony

edited again: changed “died” to “lies” because euphony

I don’t get it.

I truly don’t understand why Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan aren’t actively campaigning for Hillary Clinton right now.

Let’s face it, I think they have long since realized they personally would be better off if she won the election.  After all, what are the possibilities?

  1. Trump is an enormous drag on the downballot races.  At the moment, there’s a real chance the Republicker Party could lose the Senate and a non-zero chance of the House as well.  Republicker candidates all across the nation are distancing themselves from their candidate for President, even to the extent of running ads that they would “stand up to” Trump if necessary.  A few have gone so far as to actively endorse Hillary Clinton.
  2. And if Trump wins the White House?  What’s it going to look like for McConnell and Ryan when they either have to vote against their President’s legislation or (more likely) are unable to control the crazies in their own party who will surge forward with truly appalling ideas which Trump would sign?  And in the next election?  Do they think they will survive primary challenges from their crazies?
  3. Then we have the problem that the Republickers don’t currently govern or legislate anyway.  They seem to have lost the knack for doing their jobs: the current Congress is the least productive ever.  They can name a post office or two, but they can’t even pass funding to control the Zika virus, much less anything more broadly useful.
  4. They are far more comfortable — certainly more experienced in — opposing the person in the White House.  If they got their candidate in there, they would have to work with him and even, maybe, govern — if they weren’t consumed by mopping up his messes.  [See 1 & 2.]  If Clinton were elected, they could just sit back and continue being whiny-ass titty-baby obstructionists like they are now.

So clearly it would be in their best interests to endorse Hillary Clinton so as not to rock their little boat.

Except for how all the amygdalas they’ve stampeded about Clinton being Satan incarnate would run right over them.

Hm.  Sounds like they’re screwed.

What a pity.

Is Donald Trump addicted to drugs?

Is Donald Trump on drugs?  I don’t know, I’m asking.  So many people think, you know, it’s interesting, that there he is, unable to resist the tiniest criticisms,  lashing out at Mr. and Mrs. Khan as if it were a natural thing when you know it’s not, nobody not on drugs acts like that, do they?  I’m just asking. Many people have told me they think he is because how else do you explain the explosive, petty behavior, the lies, have you noticed how much he says that apparently he just makes up on the spot and then he won’t say he goofed, is that even normal? Is that meth is that how people on meth behave, I don’t know, it’s just a thing I’ve heard.  Rich people don’t use meth, maybe it’s cocaine, could be, or maybe something else. It’s a disgrace if he’s on drugs, but I don’t know, he probably isn’t.  Is he?  I mean, if he were, so many people, but I can’t really tell.  The media should look into it.  I don’t know.  It’s troubling, very troubling. Sad.

I wish to confess.

I’ve done a thing.

Whether it turns out to be a Thing remains to be seen, but if it does, I want this on the record.

Donald J. Trump, the Republican candidate for President of the United States, has been saying outrageous, jawdropping shit since the very beginning of his campaign: Mexican immigrants are rapists; we should kill the families of terrorists; on and on and on, until yesterday’s1 snarky comment requesting that Vladimir Putin hack Hillary Clinton’s emails.

In other words, a candidate for the highest office in the world invited a foreign power to a) cyberattack his opponent, thereby b) influencing an American election.

Jebus.

Can you imagine, I thought, how the howler monkeys would react if Hillary Clinton had said or done any of these things?

We would never hear the end of it, would we?

Can you imagine…

And so I did.  I made up “screenshots” of Fox News with a chyron at the bottom framing Trump’s words and actions as if they had been said by Clinton.  Often I used Trump’s own words.

Here you go:

I then posted all of these on Facebook, without comment.  My liberal friends were puzzled at first, then one by one they caught on.

Here’s one consequence that I think is possible: these are going to get shared, and at some point, one or more of them is going to take on a life of its own.  It’s going to become one of those memes that infect your stream, and probably it’s going to be shared by conservative amygdalas who want to hammer Clinton as hard as they can.2  Since they have spent the last five months practically ignoring Trump saying these things, it won’t even dawn on them that they’re being lied to.3

So if any of these go viral and it all starts getting crazy, then Snopes, here I am.  I did it.  I did all of them.  None of them are true.  They are performance art: imagine if a Democratic politician, particularly Hillary Clinton, had said or done the things that Donald Trump has done.  Fox & Friends would have gone apoplectic.

And for those who got suckered in: no, Snopes is not a “liberal” website.  It’s unfortunate that, as Stephen Colbert always said, “facts have a liberal bias,” but there you go.  Hillary Clinton never said any of those things.  And Fox didn’t gig her for it.  I made it up.  Snopes is correct.

BTW, here’s the original image:

You can find it via Google Image search: fox news chyron

Incidentally, I’m not sharing this post on Facebook, the more better for the joke, I hope.  However, I don’t think it would matter to some of the amygdalas if they followed a link here.  Some of them I’ve dealt with recently would read that these things are not true and that I know because I created them to be deliberate lies, and they would still believe that they could be true.  Even after reading that sentence, they wouldn’t believe it.  Watch and see.

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1 Today’s?  I can’t keep track.

2 Or Bernie/Busters.  They can be pretty amygdalan as well.

3 It never dawns on them.  See my post on the NFL banning the National Anthem, or the recent idiocy about the Democratic National Convention banning the American flag.

Republicker Maths

One of these things is not like the others.

Here was an interesting legal theorem that I had not encountered before, that affirmative action plans and slavery are morally and legally the same gambit, i.e., that both involve one person forcing an “unwanted economic relationship” on another.  (Needless to say, this happened in Wisconsin under the odious lizard-man Scott Walker.)

I’ll make this short.  They are the same in the sense that +5 and -5 have the same absolute value, i.e., |5|.  But even a Republicker —especially a Republicker— would rather have +5 in his bank account than -5.  And that, O Scott Walker, is the difference.

Hillary & Lucifer, BFF…

It seems that, last night at the Republicker National Convention, Ben Carson asked if America was willing to “elect someone as president who has as their role model someone who acknowledges Lucifer?”

::sigh::

What he meant, of course, was that Hillary Clinton admired Saul Alinsky, since she interviewed him and did her senior thesis on the man and his work.  And of course, as we all know, Alinsky is Satan himself.

Hold on, this gets tangled.1

Saul Alinsky was a renowned leftist community organizer back in the day.  His most famous book is 1971’s Rules for Radicals, which you can read in its entirety here.

Essentially, Rules is nothing more than a guidebook for rabble-rousing and in-your-face-itude.  In it, he says such horrific things as:

The democratic ideal springs from the ideas of liberty, equality, majority rule through free elections, protection of the rights of minorities, and freedom to subscribe to multiple loyalties in matters of religion, economics, and politics rather than to a total loyalty to the state. The spirit of democracy is the idea of importance and worth in the individual, and faith in the kind of world where the individual can achieve as much of his potential as possible.

…and…

We have permitted a suicidal situation to unfold wherein revolution and communism have become one. These pages are committed to splitting this political atom, separating this exclusive identification of communism with revolution. If it were possible for the Have-Nots of the world to recognize and accept the idea that revolution did not inevitably mean hate and war, cold or hot, from the United States, that alone would be a great revolution in world politics and the future of man. This is a major reason for my attempt to provide a revolutionary handbook not cast in a communist or capitalist mold, but as a manual for the Have-Nots of the world regardless of the color of their skins or their politics. My aim here is to suggest how to organize for power: how to get it and to use it. I will argue that the failure to use power for a more equitable distribution of the means of life for all people signals the end of the revolution and the start of the counterrevolution. [emphasis mine]

You can see why the Republickers of all stripes weep and gnash their teeth when they hear his name.

Most have never read his book, of course.  Most think it is more along the lines of this bogus email.  In other words, most Republickers think that Alinsky, in 1971, somehow specifically targeted everything they would hold dear in 2016.2   Very danger.  Much radical.

What the bogus email and Dr. Ben Carson have in common is the belief that clearly Alinsky was Satanic in his desire to DESTROY AMERICA, KENNETH, and their evidence is prima facie right there on the dedication page:3

Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to the very first radical: from all our legends, mythology, and history (and who is to know where mythology leaves off and history begins — or which is which), the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom — Lucifer. —SAUL ALINSKY

Mercy.

Let me tell you a story.

Years and years ago, when I was media specialist at East Coweta High School, the assistant principal in charge of curriculum bustled in, needing my assistance.  A mother had come in to complain that her son was being taught Satanic literature in his college-bound senior English lit class, and they wanted my recommendations for an alternative assignment.

I raised my eyebrows and pursed my lips and inquired as to exactly what Satanic literature this woman could possibly be objecting to in the British Lit textbook.  The asst. principal turned to the page and showed me.

It was Paradise Lost, by John Milton.  Right there, opposite the first page of text, was a full-page woodcut illustration of a leather-winged Satan being cast down from Heaven.  There was more: the text contained such damnéd names as Lucifer and Beelzebub. LUCIFER AND BEELZEBUB, KENNETH!

Really?  Really?? I asked the asst. principal.  We’re going to confirm this woman’s crazy, superstitious, ignorant error?

Well, Day-uhl, we have to accommodate parents’ requests, came the reply.

We’re not going to explain to this woman that she’s wrong, that in fact John Milton was a Puritan and wrote Paradise Lost to prove that Christian themes could support epic poetry?  (Leaving aside the fact that Satan is by far the most interesting and dynamic character in the whole piece…)  That her son is in a college prep English class and that he kind of will be expected to know at least something about the poem when he gets to college?

Oh, Day-uhl—as if I were the one who needed to be humored…

So I assigned him “L’Allegro and Il Penseroso“.  Served him right.

Here’s my point.  Alinsky’s “dedication”3 to Lucifer is a witty, ironic reference to Milton’s grand anti-hero Satan, not some grand, evil, bloodsoaked LaVeyan credo.  As others have commented, one could hardly expect Dr. Ben Carson to get it.

And that, unfortunately, seems to be the predominant Republicker mindset on display in Cleveland.

—————

1 This is Ben Carson’s thought processes we’re talking about here, after all.

2 Which, I would like to remind everyone, they did not hold dear in 1971.

3 Only not: it is not a dedication. The Lucifer quote —and two other quotes from Rabbi Hillel and Thomas Paine — are epigraphs, not dedications.  The book is dedicated to his editors and to his wife, on the previous page, the actual dedication page.

Dear Paul Ryan…

Dear Speaker Ryan:

If I may, I’d like to offer a few thoughts on your recent selfie with Republican congressional interns.

As you probably are aware, the Intertubes — snarky bastards that they are — immediately noticed that one thing about the photo.  Was it all the smiling, happy faces of the hopeful young, proud to be interning on Capitol Hill?  Was it your charming face?  (You are handsome, although I’d loosen up the hair a bit or regrow your stubble.) Was it your natural ease with a selfie stick?

Alas, no one seems to have given you credit for any of that.  I will, though.  Kudos for providing these young people such a great opportunity to serve their nation and a start on their path to the corridors of power.  Kudos for giving them (and their proud parents) such a cool moment to remember.  Kudos for your wit in titling your Instagram shot: “I think this sets a record for the most number of #CapitolHill interns in a single selfie. #SpeakerSelfie.”

No, the one thing that everyone noticed about the photo was how white it was.1

Can we talk?

I don’t believe for a second that you or anyone on your staff have excluded people of color from your intern opportunities, although there are some of your fellow congresspersons about whom I am not sure I could say the same.  I’m sure you can very honestly say that the young men and women in the photo are exceptional and, while probably well-connected, the most qualified for the position.

Nor do I believe that anything about this selfie gave you pause.  It never dawned on you that the rest of America might think, “Hm, that group of people looks awfully… homogeneous…”  Nor did it dawn on you that the rest of America might think, “Mhm.  Republicans, amirite?”

Surely you can see what a problem this is for your party.  Even though you did not mean to send the message, the rest of the America got it loud and clear.  Remember Ballew’s Law of Theatre: The audience is always right, even when it’s wrong.2

You’re smart enough to fix this.  You know what you have to do.  In order not to have to second guess every photo op like this, you have to have a room full of people who more accurately represent the rest of America.  And for that to happen, you have to hire those people.

But what if they don’t apply?  That’s a very good question.  Here’s another very good question, which I hope has already occurred to you: if people of color, qualified people of color, are not applying to intern for Republican congresspersons, why not?  And how can you change that?

Can you change that?

Best wishes,

etc.

UPDATE: http://crooksandliars.com/2016/07/organizers-scrambling-replace-white

Merciful Cthulhu, eat me first.

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1 If you like, see if you can spot the one kid of color in the photo.  It’s like Where’s Waldo? only different.

2 Dr. Leighton Ballew, the genius director and founder/chair of the Department of Drama and Theatre at the University of Georgia back in the day.

Ah, past glories…

Fellow Lichtenbergian Jeff Bishop asked me for a photo to include in his new history/compilation book on Coweta County, and I found to my chagrin that I had very few physical photos of my regime as artistic director of the Newnan Community Theatre Company (as it was then known), and the online photos I had were of low quality.

Sic transit gloria mundi, indeed.

However, I did find this photo:

Here I am, singing Count Almaviva in my own translation of Nozze di Figaro, titled Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. This was in the fall of 2002, fourteen years ago.

Mercy, what an accomplishment! I had decided two years before that I would leave the position of artistic director at the end of the 2002 season,1 and I wanted to go out with a bang.  Figaro had been on my bucket list for years, but actually producing it was always sort of out of the question.

But it was clearly a case of now or never—when else would I have the chance?  Who would ever give me a shot like this?  Me, that’s who.

So over the course of 18 months, I worked and worked on translating the thing.  It was actually fun, working out the punchlines — this opera has punchlines — and the rhyme schemes.

Then we had auditions, and wouldn’t you know it, no one suitable auditioned for the Count.  I was forced, forced I tell you, to take the role myself.

I found a reduced orchestration, from the National Opera of Wales, and hired a tiny orchestra.  Dave Dorrell designed a gorgeous set of fabric drops that made the set changes easy,2 the usual gang of angels and elves made the costumes (especially the Act IV masquerade, in which the four principals found themselves dressed in their 18th century parallels). We pulled together the missing chorus members and got to work.

And how did this ultimate vanity project, an 18th-century opera buffa masterpiece, fare with the audiences of Newnan?  Sold out, start to finish, standing room only, thunderous applause.  It was exhilarating.

In order to identify some of the performers in some of the photos I pulled up, I dug out the program and was struck by my Director’s Comments.  I will leave them here:

I always thought that someday I should like to direct opera.  Perhaps one day I shall, but in the meantime, what we’ve done with Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro will serve.

What have we done?  We have taken the world’s most perfect comic musical work and approached it as if it were a brand new script intended for our audiences.  When I translated da Ponte’s libretto, I kept an ear out for natural sounding English and made sure that that the humor  was ratcheted up to the level where it would be funny to a modern audience, not just quaintly amusing. Likewise in our staging, we’ve applied all our experience as musical theatre performers to the score and text, pointing up the jokes and playing out the sheer humanness of the characters.

For they are human, splendidly and foolishly so, as the title of Beaumarchais’s original play suggests: The Follies of a Day.  Everyone sings in the Act IV finale, “Day of fools and night of madness,” and by that point, they all understand exactly what that means, about the others and about themselves as well.  And through them, we see ourselves.

Who hasn’t had to deal with the Count, convinced that everyone and everything is out to get him when he is the author of his own problems?  Who hasn’t been Cherubino, young and in love with love even as he is tormented by the sweet newness of it all? (And who hasn’t written really bad love poetry, like Cherubino’s Act II song, “Ladies, confide in me”?)

With any luck, we haven’t ahd to suffer like the Countess does, but if we have, she shows us how to get the courage to take charge of our own life.  Figaro and Susanna show us the value of humor in a relationship, even at the moments of highest stress in their lives.

And don’t we all hope that forgiveness and completeness are possible?  Don’t we all wish that our problems would resolve themselves in a shower of fireworks and joy in a moonlit garden?  There’s the ache in the brilliant comedy: despite what we think might happen after the curtain comes down and the sun comes up the next morning, for one moment there is redemption, summed up in Mozart’s perfect little world.

That’s our goal tonight, to bring safely through all the lunacies of these wonderful characters to the final haven of the garden, and to send you out into our own night with that perfect joy now a part of your life as it is a part of ours.

Dang, I write good, don’t I?

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1 We ran Jan-Dec in those days; most of us were educators and opening a season along with school would have been stupidly stressful.

2 Fun story: I had in my head that I wanted the color palette to be a muted 50s kind of style, based on my favorite childhood book, The Color Kittens.  I didn’t have my original copy, so I ordered one from Amazon and was astonished to find that it was illustrated by Alice & Martin Provensen, the illustrators of William Blake’s Inn!