Defacing Michael Jackson

DMJ_1600x1200

“The play is an odd choice for Flying Elephant Productions’ inaugural theater season conclusion. The theatre describes itself as ‘a company dedicated to presenting the musicals and plays of marginalized communities and then helping them market for future productions.’

What then to say about a choice of source material that features an overly casual storyline about pedophilia? Are abused children not the most marginalized voices of all? Child sexual abuse featured prominently in the prurient headlines generated by the King of Pop in his later years. It’s impossible that anyone who followed Jackson’s career has forgotten the allegations.

Defacing Michael Jackson desires to keep the focus on the historical challenges of racial experience and disharmony, and Michael Jackson is undoubtedly an important cipher for that discussion. By attempting to normalize pedophilia in the play’s script and staging, however, a disturbing piece of Jackson’s legacy becomes inconsequential. It was so jarring to see such a nonchalant exploration of child abuse within the context of Squire’s play that this reviewer found it hard to think of anything else. The work’s intermittent and erratic approach becomes an unfortunate and morally aimless distraction.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.

Advertisements

As Trump Continues to Move NFL Patriotism Goal Post, Football Enthusiasm Takes a Knee

NFL

“Last week at one of his authoritarian parties in Montana, POTUS 45 reminded us all that old adages become repeated truths for good reason. If you give a selfish bully an inch, he will take a mile (or more). The party’s chain, once successfully yanked, shall be perpetually pulled.

So it is with the NFL’s terrible late-May ‘compromise policy’ toward players kneeling during the National Anthem. Come this fall, men are ordered to adjourn to the locker room to spare team owners the unattractive TV visuals of black people engaging in peaceful protest. This rule change was also a thinly disguised Hail Mary pass at appeasing the Human Cheeto.

Suckers! The league’s free speech suppressive capitulation only led Trump to opine (to much rural, white Montana hooting) in typical, erudite style: ‘Isn’t that worse than not standing? You know? I think that’s worse.'”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

The 2018 MLB All-Star Game and Trump’s Overseas Trip: Two Complicated Breaks

Baseball

“Of course not all of the press coverage around the 2018 All-Star Game will surround toxic political air and infrastructure debates. There’s always plenty for sports pundits and fans to grumble about related to the NL and AL team lineups. This year is no exception. Rucker Haringey writes of Blake Snell and the 5 Biggest 2018 All-Star Game Snubs. His list includes the Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher as well as the Washington Nationals’ own starting shortstop Trea Turner.

Certain Chicago Cub fans, who might also happen to be Contemptor contributors, are miffed at the absence of rock star outfielder Albert Almora Jr. from the NL roster.  Among all National League batters, Almora sits in third place with a current average of .317. However, Almora is a victim here, not of subjective fan voting, but rather mismanagement by Windy City favorite son Joe Maddon (Yes. I said it. Come at me, Internet).

Next week offers mid-summer breaks of several sorts. Although President Trump will be overseas potentially signing over what’s left of our national dignity to Vladimir Putin, he will at least be out of American airspace. This era of deregulation notwithstanding, the oxygen always smells a bit sweeter when the Very Stable Genius decamps. And on the lighter side of U.S. life and continuity, baseball fans can enjoy a couple of days with stakes no higher than selecting game time snacks (no more of this World Series home advantage stuff). We deserve the psychological reprieve.”

Read the full post at Contemptor.

Cubs Ready with Hot Bats to Avenge Reds’ June Sweep

w_towel

With a day off before the Chicago Cubs welcome the Cincinnati Reds to Wrigley Field for a three-game series, it’s clear our Cubbies are hot in more ways than one. Last weekend’s home series versus the Minnesota Twins saw heat indices inside the park reach nearly 110 degrees Fahrenheit. While the boys in blue suffered little more than Albert Almora Jr.’s swelter-induced leg cramps on June 30, the Twins had three men brought down. Eddie Rosario, Bobby Wilson, and Max Kepler all exited early, receiving intravenous fluids to recover from extreme game conditions.

The standings have been even hotter than the weather. The Cubs have won six games in a row, and seven of their last nine, since being skunked by the same Reds club in a four-game, late June sweep. The team will be looking to avenge the Great American Ballpark massacre at the Friendly Confines, with game one starting at 1:20 PM tomorrow afternoon. There’s good reason to believe the Cubbies will in fact fare better against their last place, National League Central Division rivals this time around. Right now, everything seems to be working – on the mound(ish), at the bat, and in the field.

While sweeping the Twins last weekend was enjoyable, as winning always is, Cubs pitching left much to be desired. The squad allowed a total of 25 runs in the three-game series from June 29 to July 1. In today’s Chicago Tribunereporter Mark Gonzales wrote of the beleaguered staff:

“The need for starting depth is glaring, especially in light of the inconsistencies of Kyle Hendricks, Tyler Chatwood and Jose Quintana….Any contribution from Yu Darvish should be perceived as a bonus, considering the time he has missed and the time needed to rebound from his triceps strain.”

It was the Cubs’ bats that saved them in the Twins series. Happily, this week’s two-game set with the Detroit Tigers featured better quality starts from Hendricks and Quintana, and good bullpen work from Pedro Strop. Mike Montgomery, who has been a solid rotation filler throughout the team’s mound struggles, will take the field tomorrow to continue making the case that he deserves a regular slot.

While the Cubbies search for starter and bullpen reliability remains a challenge with an improving outlook, there’s no mixed messages at the plate. Simply put, the bats are swinging, and making all kinds of contact. It’s not hard to win six games in a row when the players collaborate for 56 total runs. As of the time of this writing, the Chicago Cubs have eight regular guys hitting .280 or better. In reverse order, they are Tommy La Stella, Kris Bryant (who should be coming off the DL any minute now), Addison Russell, Willson Contreras, Javy Baez, Jason Heyward (finally looking worth that huge contract), Ben Zobrist and of course, Albert Almora Jr.

Almora, whom Joe Maddon refuses to start everyday, to the great frustration of many fans, is currently hitting .329. That’s good enough for second place in the National League, a mere two points behind Scooter Gennett. This guy should be making a trip to the All-Star Game. But I digress…

Finally, the Cubs recent defensive game is cause for great optimism as Chicago takes on the Reds at home this weekend. We are gifted with some of the best fielders in baseball. On June 20, Michael Cerami of Bleacher Nation wrote:

“Take the ‘Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF)’ stat, for example. It measures a player’s defensive value relative to league average and adds in a positional adjustment to compare defensive value across multiple positions…9-10 runs of DEF (above or below the league average of ‘0’) is equal to one win. So by that measure, the Cubs are not just the best defensive squad in baseball this season, but they might just owe as many as four wins to their defense.”

The baseball fundamentals are strong as the Cubs approach the mid-season break. As opposed to this same time last year, we look like a team ready for a strong playoff chase. And we stand ready to vindicate June’s humiliation in The Queen City.

Tilikum

Tilikum-6-1024x683

“I found but one aspect of Rae Colon’s source material supremely disappointing. And that is the work’s bi-polar relationship with female empowerment. For example, Dawn is a tough if imperfect advocate drowned by indecision and male subjugation. At the same time, Tilikum’s orca lady neighbors are presented as fearful survivors by turn, morphing into an aquatic iteration of Macbeth’s witches by play’s end. Tilikum is ultimately stripped of his agency, left understood as the tool of white male imprisonment and female bewitchment. The awkward ending undermines an otherwise powerful emerging female voice in contemporary theater.”

Read the full post at The Broadway Blog.