Cubs Give Fans the Greatest Gift: Time

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“The Cubs’ first playoff match doesn’t happen until October 7. There are weeks left of the MLB’s regular season – 19 days of joyous, easygoing rest. The Cubs are the best team in baseball and with few exceptions, these guys are an endearing, likeable bunch. I’m just shy of middle age but well-read and acquainted with many a senior fan. There’s never been a better year to be a member of Wrigleyville Nation.

The playoffs and their requisite nail-biting, restless tension will be here soon enough. Let’s try something new, shall we Cub fans? Let’s enjoy the triumph and continue to embrace the target. There’s no reason to disregard Manager Extraordinaire Joe’s Maddon’s directive, stressing about events that haven’t yet occurred. I write these words for myself as much as the other anxiety-riddled citizens of Cubs Nation.”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.

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Missing in Action: The Week’s Overlooked News Stories

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We’re back! The BeckySarwate.com Team took a break from this feature over the summer. But with the runup to the November 8 presidential election in full swing, we figured some worthy stories are bound to fall through the cracks. We’re here to help draw attention to the serious, silly and uplifting news items you might have missed this week…

Muslim woman set on fire in suspected hate crime

While Donald Trump has been haranguing Hillary Clinton after her now-famous “basket of deplorables” comment, a disturbing trend of attacks against Muslims continues. One can’t overlook the possible connection between Trump, his hateful rhetoric and proposed ban on Muslims and these misguided vigilantes. Back in August, an Imam and his assistant were murdered near a Mosque in New York City. This week’s hate crime once again took place in New York City when a woman wearing a traditional head covering had her garments set on fire outside a high-end clothing store. The BeckySarwate.com Team members are rabid consumers of cable news, and Trump’s quest for apology after Clinton’s accurate description of some of his supporters has been given exponentially more coverage than this crime. Once again, the media should be ashamed of themselves and its skewed priorities.

NCAA bans North Carolina from championship events

So called ‘religious liberty laws’  have been a hot topic for much of 2016. In fact, prior to the summer hiatus, this weekly feature highlighted the consequences facing the state of Georgia over this very issue.  Apparently North Carolina learned nothing from their neighbor to the south. How is it that certain states refuse to wake up and realize segregation is bad for business and for humanity? Oh, and they also refuse to acknowledge that the civil rights movement happened and was largely successful. It’s time for members of a certain political party to move on and accept that humans are humans. Period.

ABC execs apparently didn’t get the memo that people don’t like Ryan Lochte 

Our team experienced a collective jaw-dropping shock when the cast list for Season 23 of Dancing With the Stars was announced earlier this month. Ryan Lochte? Really? The d-bag who very recently concocted an absurd (read: totally made up) robbery story during the Olympic Games in Rio? The guy who, at the time of his casting, hadn’t yet been handed his punishment for creating international tension by the United States Olympic Committee? Ultimately he received a 10-month ban from the sport. Lochte disgraced this fine nation at the competetive level when we’re already grappling with enough humiliation from The Orange One. Yes indeed, this is who ABC figured would make a fine and popular contestant for their long-running celebrity entertainment program. It seems we weren’t the only ones to object. Click the link above for some semi-hilarious evidence that Lochte is not exactly America’s Sweetheart.

New York Fashion Week makes history 

This week’s feel-good story comes at a time when divisiveness seems to be the norm. Indonesian designer Anniesa Hasibuan debuted her collection this week with models wearing hijab, thumbing her nose at those who protest the modest religious garb. It’s enough that she shared this message of inclusiveness at her first ever NYFW show, but the more touching story is the reaction from the crowd. The display concluded with a standing ovation, something the event’s press manager has never seen in all her years in the industry. We are all about trail-blazing, strong women at BeckySarwate.com and this gal has stolen our hearts.

Obama Says What Clinton Can’t And The Media Won’t

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“Hillary Clinton has to be so careful with everything she says, every look that she gives, it’s quite a marvel she’s avoided agoraphobia over three decades of public service. The pressure and double standards would cause others to crack. But Hillary is nothing if not a fighter and she also has a not-so-secret weapon in her arsenal: POTUS.

In the final weeks before November 8, Team Clinton has vowed to focus on positive messages, pivoting away from haranguing Trump – however deserved. But as she recovered at home from pneumonia this week, Barack Obama had no problem stepping up in her absence. He’s been forcefully critical of Trump throughout campaign season. Earlier this week he reminded America of exactly why he won two terms and continues to enjoy high approval ratings.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

‘Liberal’ Media Equally Unbalanced On Hillary’s Pneumonia

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“There were no surprises regarding the non-stop Sunday coverage from cable news networks. Of course, the lead story throughout the day should have been the landmark 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, with a smattering of reporting on the NFL’s first weekend games of the season. But when one of our two presidential candidates faints in public, we expect media hysteria. Those 24-hour news networks have a lot of airtime to fill and not much appetite for critical thinking or investigation.

However, this story more than any other has turned America’s mass market journalism upside down. Because I find myself fuming at three liberal, female media personalities who happen to be personal heroes. Meanwhile, I’m in complete agreement with Lanny Davis of Fox News. What a country.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

After 20 Years, No One Should Be Surprised By Matt Lauer’s Blatant Misogyny

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“It’s gratifying to see Matt Lauer pilloried as he deserves after Wednesday night’s pathetic excuse for forum moderation. However, the pile-on is about 20 years overdue. Lauer took over Today Show hosting duties in January 1997 after longtime anchor Bryant Gumbel stepped down. The last two decades have featured a parade of female co-hosts with whom Lauer is rumored to have clashed, engaged in extra-marital affairs or otherwise disrespected. Crackerjack work picking this guy to host such an important presidential event, NBC.

On average, American women watch 40 minutes more per day of television than men. This disparity is even greater when it comes to morning news/talk programming. This means that a number of female viewers of Lauer’s disgraceful Wednesday night belly flop were likely unsurprised by the misogynist prime time performance. Let’s review a few of Lauer’s “challenges” with the opposing gender over the years.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Ultra American: A Patriot Act

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Azhar Usman

Silk Road Rising is doing something unique and exciting on the Chicago theater landscape. Per its website, Silk Road “tell[s] stories through primarily Asian American and Middle Eastern American lenses. In representing communities that intersect and overlap, we advance a polycultural worldview.” Although the mission is presented in this way as demographically specific, the company’s quality work appeals to all artistic cohorts.

My last Silk Road experience was back in 2011 with the Chicago premiere of David Hwang’s “Yellow Face.” Part memoir, part fiction, the production was consistent with the company’s brand: stories of relatable American culture intertwined with the global community and world history. To be part of a Silk Road audience is to be entertained — and educated. It’s never a bad thing when good work also leaves one better informed.

I had to view “Ultra American: A Patriot Act,” the one-man show from American Muslim comedian Azhar Usman to learn, for example, that there are less than 16 million Jews on the planet. This seemed impossible, especially to a native of Chicago where Jewish culture is prominent and rich. So I Googled it on the way home. Sure enough, 70 years after the Holocaust, population numbers of the beleaguered people have yet to regain pre-World War II levels.

I should have wept over this revelation but I was too busy laughing at Usman’s description of growing up in Skokie, attending so many bar mitzvahs that he became jealous of the “chosen” people. The man labeled “America’s Funniest Muslim” by CNN also manages to turn a life spent profiled by airport security and fellow passengers into a laugh riot.

“Ultra American” is “good, but not great,” as my companion for the evening accurately put it. But the periodic giggles and opportunity to understand how Muslims grapple with the double consciousness forced upon U.S. people of color? Well worth the reasonable $25 ticket price.

What keeps the production from being great is a phenomenon that Usman focuses upon at the end of his 80-minute set: “projection.” While sharing gallows humor vignettes about the life of a traveling comedian who matches the physical stereotype of a terrorist, Usman concludes that everyone’s story involves projecting our attitudes, prejudices and experiences on another. It’s a solid philosophical point.

The problem comes early in the show when the performer levels some tough accusations at white Middle America, which frankly he must. After all, this is the year in which Donald Trump rose to become the alt right, hate-filled standard bearer of the Republican Party. This did not occur overnight or in a vacuum and Usman could not reasonably be expected to avoid racism. It would be a dereliction of duty.

What’s interesting however is the number of times he directly addresses white audience members and tells them to “relax” or “laugh,” claiming to feel rising tension in the room. Ironically, this is an act of projection that reveals the performer’s own biases. It is he who appears to be uncomfortable indicting certain segments of Caucasian culture, when it must be clear that bigots of any kind are unlikely to purchase a ticket to his show. Moments of genuine community laughter were sometimes met with an abrupt end by a weird strain of defensiveness.

As the production runs through September 25, there is still time for Usman to refine his approach. Don’t anticipate controversy for the audience. Trust them to get there on their own, and laugh at the absurdity of it all.

“Ultra American: A Patriot Act” runs through September 25 at the Chicago Temple, 77 W Washington Street, Chicago, IL. For information or tickets, call 312-857-1234, ext. 201, or visit the Ultra American website.

After Mid-August Rest, Jason Heyward Comes Back in a Big Way

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“Since returning to the lineup, Heyward has five multi-hit games in eight starts, including the one-man devastation handed to the Giants. As concerned Cub fans have come to realize, baseball Zen-master Maddon knows more than any of us. He said of Heyward’s high-performance turnaround, ‘I really believe when a very good major league player may be struggling, if he just sits and watches a major league game being played and then understands, `I’m one of the best’,” it does something internally.’

With the Cubs inches away from a single-digit magic number, Heyward’s resurgence is great news for Wrigleyville Nation. It’s also a huge potential migraine for other playoff contenders. Fansided’s Robert Davis editorialized, ‘As Cubs fans begin remodeling for their ‘Clinch Parties,’ it may be best for managers around the league to redo their approach to Chicago’s lineup.'”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.