Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The True Spirit of Halloween

Most folks have forgotten about the true meaning of Halloween. Caught up in conspicuous consumption, people try to outdo one another in the amount of goodies handed out, the garishness of their decorations and even the cost of their costumes. Few seem to remember what this holiday is all about.

For those who care, Halloween is All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints’ Day. It’s a time for Christians to embrace the notions of family, community and respect for the dead. This last notion seems to be entirely lost in the modern version of Halloween. In fact, people seem to go out of their way to make fun of the dead with their front lawn graveyards and their elaborate costumes of ghouls, ghosts and goblins.

I, for one, long for the days when we would all gather around the family pumpkin, honor the dead and give thanks for family and the bountiful pumpkin harvest. Or something like that. It’s been so long that the details are a little fuzzy. But it was definitely a more meaningful ceremony than today’s mass genuflection at the alter of sugar-filled treats.

Is this the way we want to raise our children? Do we want to not only condone but encourage disrespect for the dead? Can we really justify stuffing them full of unhealthy, high-calorie snacks?

And what sort of message are we giving our kids when they can roam from neighborhood to neighborhood getting free handouts? This is nothing more than a tacit endorsement of creeping socialism, the dreaded scourge of our society. With this kind of training, today’s children will grow up to have all kinds of unreasonable expectations like universal healthcare and an increased minimum wage.

There is nothing wrong with materialism ‘per se’ but materialism without capitalism is just plain wrong. If we are to continue this annual candy free-for-all then we should at least couch it in terms we can all admire and respect.

We don’t want our kids to get the idea that they can get something for nothing. Instead, let’s make kids pay for the candy we give them or at least perform some household chores as payment in kind. For example, they could do a bit of weeding for a chocolate bar or clean off the dried egg on the car windshield in return for a bag or two of chips.

It’s probably unreasonable to expect everyone to acknowledge and celebrate the religious significance of Halloween. After all, apparently we’re no longer all Christians. For better or worse, Halloween has become secularized. But let’s not allow it to fall forever into the hands of those who would simply exploit it for cultural and commercial gain.

That’s why I intend to turn my back on the spectacle that Halloween has become. I will respect All Hallows Eve for what it was intended to be. No costumes or candy or parties for me. In order to preserve the traditional meaning of the holiday, I intend to quietly celebrate at home in the basement with the curtains drawn and the lights turned off. Happy Halloween.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Big Apple Fantasy Series

Last night’s game between the Boston Red Sox and the Colorado Rockies signalled the start of the 2007 World Series. At least for most fans. But for New Yorkers, it meant the beginning of their own imaginary series in a world where Alex Rodriquez never strikes out and Tom Glavine never loses. Here’s a summary of this year’s edition of New Yorkers’ ongoing fantasy match-up:

October 24
Meeting for the tenth straight time, the Mets and the Yankees square off in the 2007 Fantasy Series. Having finished twenty games ahead of the Phillies, the Mets swept the Cubs and then the Rockies. The Yankees had a tougher road to the final having dropped a game to both the Red Sox and the Indians. Perhaps because of that extra effort, the Yankees lose the first game to a flame-throwing Orlando Hernandez.

October 25
In a ten inning nailbiter, the Mets take game two on a walk-off home run by Carlos Delgado. Pedro Martinez pitches seven strong innings for the Mets and Mike Mussina keeps the Yanks in the game. George Steinbrenner begins selling off the Yankee roster.

October 27
Back in their home park, the Yankees bounce back with a masterful pitching performance by lefthander Andy Petitte. After the Mets’ series victory last year, the Yankees hope to regain their winning ways and start another six-series winning streak.

October 28
The Yankees win game four to knot the series at two games apiece. Steinbrenner rehires fired players and the team looks ahead to game five. Joe Torre tentatively offered a five-year extension on his ten-year contract but selflessly decides to wait until the series is over.

October 29
Game five is a slugfest with each team collecting two dozen hits including five homers each. The Mets take the lead in the top of the ninth but Derek Jeter slams a three-run shot in the bottom half to make the final 15-14 and put the Yankees up a game.

October 31
Back in the friendly confines of Shea Stadium, the Mets throw a Halloween scare into the Yankees with a 10-1 pounding. Led by the five-hit performance of Moises Alou, the Mets tie the series at three games apiece. Steinbrenner renews trade talks and Joe Torre packs his bags just in case.

November 1
Game seven lasts a record-breaking 25 innings when it is finally called at 4 in the morning when both rosters become too depleted. Immediately dubbed "The Greatest Game of All Time", game seven sets records for most runs, most hits, most extra-inning lead changes and most triple plays. Commissioner Bud Selig declares game seven a tie and awards the World Series to both teams. "Hey," says Commissioner Selig. "So long as a New York team wins, who really cares?"

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

"W", The Musical

PLAYBILL March, 2009
Gerald R. Ford Theatre

Under the direction of James Baker and George H. W. Bush

"W" - A musical tragi-comedy in two acts

Based on the Administration of America’s 43rd President
Choreography by the Republican National Committee
Original Broadway Cast Recording by The White House and 8½ Minute Gap Recordings Inc.

Synopsis: "W"

Somewhere between a Shakespearean drama and a Marx Brothers comedy, this new musical tells the story of an accidental president. From the rousing opening number "I Can’t Believe I Won" (reprised in act two) to the mournful final number "Sorry About That", "W" is a nonstop entertainment of miscues, mistakes and malapropisms.

The play opens with the unlikeliest of American presidents - W, an incurious cowboy wannabe hand-picked by the Republican elite to run in 2000. In a surprising turnaround, W, with the help of the right wing of the Supreme Court, snatches victory from the jaws of a half-million vote defeat and sends the former Vice President, Sore Loser, packing back to his home in Tennessee.

Nine months of mediocrity explodes into unprecedented popularity for W when the terrorists attack and fell the twin towers. W pursues the enemy in Afghanistan but then mysteriously takes a wrong turn and invades Iraq. All seems forgiven with the big aircraft carrier showstopper "Mission Accomplished" until the conquered country descends into predictable chaos.

Act two opens with W reprising the song "I Can’t Believe I Won." Despite his bumbling incompetent ways, he manages to "swift boat" his dull Democratic opponent Lurch and magically transform a narrow victory into a giant pot of political capital to spend.

Despite winning reelection, W finds things going from bad to worse as his pals mishandle everything from Katrina to Iraq to social security reform. Even with his bunker-bound buddy Darth Vader admitting no mistakes and taking every prisoner, W can’t avoid becoming America’s worst two-term president of all time and possibly the worst president since Millard Fillmore. Little surprise that the show ends with a brief soliloquy followed by the mournful apologetic cast song "Sorry About That."

Cast (in order of appearance)
W......................................................George W. Bush
Sore Loser.......................................Al Gore

Majority Members of the Supreme Court
Uppity..............................................Clarence Thomas
Pinafore............................................William Rehnquist
Near Right.......................................Anthony Kennedy
Right.................................................Sandra Day O’Connor
Whacko Right..................................Antonin Scalia

Darth Vader.....................................Dick Cheney
Turd Blossom...................................Karl Rove
First Lady..........................................Laura Bush
Wolfy..................................................Paul Wolfowitz
Fall Guy.............................................Colin Powell
Condi..................................................Condoleeza Rice
Brownie..............................................Michael Brown
Scooter................................................I. Lewis Libby
Rummy...............................................Donald Rumsfeld
Lurch...................................................John Kerry

Understudies: Understudies never substitute for listed players unless a specific announcement for the appearance is made at the time of the performance.

Understudy for Dick Cheney - GEORGE W. BUSH; for Donald Rumsfeld - ROBERT GATES; for I. Lewis Libby - DAVID ADDINGTON; for Al Gore - HILLARY CLINTON; for John Kerry - BARACK OBAMA; for William Rehnquist - JOHN ROBERTS; for Colin Powell - CONDOLEEZA RICE.

Scenes and Musical Numbers

ACT ONE Washington, D. C.
Prologue: "I Can’t Believe I Won".........................W and the right wing majority of the Court
Scene 1: "Let’s Help the Rich".............................Darth Vader and Turd Blossom
Scene 2: "Summer on the Ranch"........................W and Laura
Scene 3: "The Towers are Falling - My Poll Number’s Rising..........W
Scene 4: "Let’s Do Iraq"......................................Wolfy, Darth Vader & Turd Blossom
"No, No, No, Maybe".............................Fall Guy
Scene 5: "Mission Accomplished".........................W & Turd Blossom
Scene 6: "What Went Wrong?"...............................Wolfy, Rummy and Turd Blossom
"Blue Skies"..............................................Darth Vader

ACT TWO Somewhere in The White House
Scene 1: "I Can’t Believe I Won" (reprise)..............W & the Swift Boat Veterans
Scene 2: "Spending My Political Capital".................W & Darth Vader
Scene 3: "Between Iraq and a Hard Place".................Rummy & Condi
Scene 4: "A Heckuva Job"...........................................Brownie & W
Scene 5: "All Hail Halliburton"...................................Turd Blossom & Scooter
"We’re in the Money"....................................Darth Vader & friends
Scene 6: "I Don’t Care For Polls".................................W
"Never Admit Your Mistakes".........................Darth Vader
"Shoot First and Ask Questions Later"..............Darth Vader and his lawyer
Scene 7: "Lame Ducks Gotta Fly".....................................W, Darth Vader & Turd Blossom
Scene 8: "Finale: Sorry About That"..................................W followed by Darth Vader, Rummy, Turd Blossom and then the entire cast including the right wing majority of the Supreme Court and the Swift Boat Veterans.

Friday, October 05, 2007

The Yeshiva in Yellowknife

Last winter’s surprise hit sitcom “Little Mosque on the Prairie” launched its new season this week. Not content to rest on its laurels, however, the CBC has reportedly been hard at work developing other shows with distinctly Canadian multicultural themes. Shows like:

Le Coin du Petrol
Looking to piggyback on the success of CTV’s hit show “Corner Gas”, this new CBC sitcom is set in the semi-fictional rural Qu├ębec town of Riviere du Chien that just got its first third world immigrant. Laugh along with the townsfolk each week as they try to find new ways to torment their newest resident. From publishing a list of local standards to burning a cross on the newcomer’s lawn to putting sugar in his gas tank, the hilarity never ends --- unless he finally decides to leave town.

Back Door Challenge
A new CBC quiz show features a panel of distinguished experts trying to guess the occupations of various Canadian landed immigrants. Watch as the puzzled panellists struggle to determine what low-paying tasks that week’s highly-educated guests are actually performing. Whether it’s the taxi-driving doctor or the street-sweeping engineer, the laughs are nonstop as the experts repeatedly misidentify the contestants’ new Canadian jobs.

Urbanland Who’s Who
The CBC has decided to update its old popular sixty-second wildlife spots with a modern twist. Now viewers will be provided with the identifying traits and characteristics of Canada’s newest inhabitants from the turban-crested Mountie to the burka-clad swimmer. One segment centers on the habits of that old Canadian wildlife favorite: the pandering politician.

The Yeshiva in Yellowknife
What happens when a group of Jewish rabbis decides to open a yeshiva in the capital of the Northwest Territories? Hilarity and tons of laughs, that’s what, in this new CBC sitcom. Still working on accommodating their native population, the citizens of Yellowknife now also have to try to “keep it kosher.” Talmud-type tensions flare up only to have them parsed by the seminary’s rabbinate including a helpful suggestion in a future episode to come together for a Christmas production of “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Cricket Night in Canada
Saturday night is traditionally hockey night in Canada. Looking to appeal to a more multicultural citizenry, the CBC is planning to make Friday night “Cricket Night in Canada.” Broadcasting from the more than half a dozen cricket pitches scattered across the land, the People’s Network is looking to strike it rich with another low-budget, high-revenue sporting event. The hope is to not only attract first generation ethnic viewers from cricket-loving lands but to also finally educate native-born Canadians on how the damned game is actually played.