Friday, April 21, 2017

Quite A Moment

Thank you to Kip Nivens and Bob Elliott of Kokopelli Theatre of Kansas City for bringing my short play “A Moment of Clarity” to life at the New Play Lab at the William Inge Theatre Festival Thursday afternoon. It was a magic moment made all the better by their performance.

Last night we saw a reading of “Ada and the Engine,” a new play by Lauren M. Gunderson, the Otis Guernsey New Voices award-winner.  It is, is a sense, a prequel to the film “Hidden Figures,” the story of the African-American women behind the scenes doing the math to get NASA to the moon in the early 1960’s.  In this play, it was the story of Ada Byron Lovelace who worked with Charles Babbage in the 1840’s to develop the first “analytical engine,” a machine the size of a ballroom that does math.  Today you have them in your pocket.  It was an interesting premise, a statement for love and feminism, and very nicely staged.

Today I get to listen in on a conversation with Beth Henley, this year’s Inge honoree and the playwright who gave us “Crimes of the Heart.”  Then later this morning I’m doing a workshop on dramatic criticism called “Writing on Writing.”  Please bring paper and a writing implement (or the electronic version thereof).

Last night we had cocktails and noshes at the home of Alf Landon, the former governor of Kansas who ran against FDR in 1936.  He lost, but his house still stands, and quite a nice place it is.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Meeting New Friends

One of the things I look forward to at the Inge Festival is meeting people who’ve never been here before and watching them discover what I’ve known for a long time: this is a casual affair and everybody hangs out with everybody.  Sure, we have movie stars and Broadway playwrights, but we also have struggling actors and budget analysts who write plays because it’s cheaper than therapy and doesn’t damage their liver.  Everybody has fun.

Last night I had a nice chat with an actor who delivered one of the most famous lines in movie history: “Open the pod bay door please, Hal.”  Keir Dullea is a charming and quiet man, and we found that we have some connections — we both did plays at the Cherry County Playhouse in Traverse City, Michigan — and his stage credentials are legion.  We talked about everything from Quaker schools to jet lag.

Today my play gets its reading and talk-back, and then tonight we’re having a reading of a new play by Lauren Gunderson, the winner of the Otis Guernsey New Voices award.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Welcome to Independence

Welcome to Independence, Kansas, and the Apple Tree Inn, the Algonquin Hotel of the prairie. In the last twenty-five years I’ve met and chatted and stayed up into the wee hours of the morning singing songs in the lobby with some legendary theatre people, ranging from Edward Albee to Shirley Knight to Jane Alexander to Pat Hingle to August Wilson to Robert Anderson to Christopher Durang and many others. This is my theatre family reunion.

The New Play Lab is already underway, but I need to get a few things done — like get something to eat — and then tonight we have a welcoming barbecue at the college and meeting my fellow playwrights and making some new friends.  Tomorrow is my play’s reading and a lot of other things, so … I’ll post when I can and share what I have.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Heading Home

We’ve had a good time at the Inge Festival.  I’ve made some new friends, communed with fellow playwrights, shared stories about getting plays read and produced, and found out that I’m not the only one who gets up at 3 a.m. to write blog posts.

This year we had some reminiscences of years past, including the gala dinner at the Independence Country Club, a place I haven’t been to since 2001.  I also had a moment in the library where I saw a book I had read back in grad school about American theatre and the prominence that the theatres were giving to the voices of the then-younger playwrights such as Lanford Wilson and Sam Shepard.  The author seemed to think that they were replacing the great American playwrights such as Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller, as if they would supplant them and those of the old guard would no longer be important voices on the stage.

I’m glad to see that hasn’t come to pass.  The writers that followed them will have writers who will follow as well, as they are now, but there will always be room for good writing no matter when it was written, and people will come and see good theatre and listen to exciting and challenging words.

So now I head home with my mission: keep writing.

Books on Sale 04-23-16

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Friday, April 22, 2016

A Leap Too Far

Last night we saw a production of William Inge’s “Where’s Daddy?” marking the 50th anniversary of the play and the return to the play by Barbara Dana who was in the original cast on Broadway.  This was a good production — fine acting with Ms. Dana playing Mrs. Bigelow, the mother of the character she played on Broadway, and well-directed by Karen Carpenter — but in the end the play itself is a mess.  Inge was trying to get back into the good graces of the critics who had labeled him as hokey, a playwright whose time had passed, and out of tune with the modern times of the 1960’s.  He tried to write something that spoke to modern problems and even tried to be hip by including a black couple as neighbors and having a character actually say out loud, “Do you think I’m a homosexual?”

There are two stories in “Where’s Daddy?”: the young couple struggling with their marriage and the impending birth of their child, and the young father’s conflicted feelings about his adoptive father figure and his questioning about his own sexuality.  In previous works Inge has been able to meld stories like these together, but in this play it does not work.  Rather than meld, they collide.

“Where’s Daddy?” takes Inge into territories where he has only hinted at before, but rather than the subtlety that we’d seen in previous works, he takes leaps.

It was a leap too far.  The play ran two weeks and he never really tried for Broadway again.  He moved to California to teach playwriting and continued with his life-long battle with depression.  Seven years later he was dead by his own hand.

His suicide was not a direct result of the failure of “Where’s Daddy?”, but it is apparent from the time that he felt he had to please the critics, which is a dangerous and futile goal.  One thing I have always believed as a writer is that you must first write for the characters and yourself.  Nothing else matters because nothing else will be truer.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

New Plays and Old Friends

I spent the rest of yesterday catching up with friends that I’ve made over the last 25 years here at the festival; some of them look like there’s a picture of them in the attic going to hell (h/t Oscar Wilde).

I also spent time listening to new plays as the part of the Play Lab series.  Mine will be presented this afternoon.  In the words of Robert Anderson, years from now when you talk of this — and you will — be kind.

Scripts at Inge 04-17-15

Shameless self-promotion: my books on sale.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Welcome to Independence, Kansas

All the flights were on time, the car was ready, the road was clear, the weather was overcast but no rain, and so the Old Professor and I rolled into Independence around 11:30 CDT.  We picked up our registration swag, checked into the Apple Tree Inn, and went across the street to the first of the luncheon series: the history of the festival.

The Play Labs start this afternoon, but I have time for a nap.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Nothing To Sneeze At

Here I am, 24 hours before the 35th William Inge Theatre Festival, and my allergies kick in.

Claritin, do your thing.

This is as good a time as any to tell you that from now through Sunday I’ll be in Inge mode: blogging about theatre and related fun but on a really limited basis because I just checked the schedule and I will be really busy.  There’s a New Play Lab where thirty-five short plays will be read and discussed, and I have one being done.  I’m also presenting a paper at the scholars conference, plus serving on a couple of panels.  Joining me for his third trip to Inge is The Old Professor who also is having one of his plays done in the Lab.

There will be the usual tributes and gala dinners and plays, including a production of the rarely-seen Inge play, “Where’s Daddy?” starring Barbara Dana.

According to my count, this is my 25th Inge Festival.  I think I’m getting the hang of it.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Reflections on Inge

I promised a report on this year’s William Inge Festival, but Jeffrey Sweet, one of theatre’s best historians and critics, was there when we honored playwright Donald Margulies, and I humbly defer to him.

Independence has no Amtrak station. No regular bus service connects it to the outside world. The airport you use to get there is in Tulsa, which is in another state. If you want to get to Independence, you have to muster determination. And yet, every year for the past 34 years, a substantial number of actors, writers and directors—largely from New York and Los Angeles—gather there to celebrate that season’s honoree.

Truth to tell, Independence is a place that Inge—a gay man seeking a life in the arts—fled at the earliest opportunity. Still, he brought Independence’s influence with him to Broadway in such long-running plays as Picnic, Bus Stop, Dark at the Top of the Stairs and Come Back, Little Sheba.

It’s also where a film based on one of his screenplays was shot. There’s a story about that: A house owned by a lady in the town struck the producers as a likely location, and some of the filmmakers visited it to talk to her about it. Later, someone asked the lady about the visit. “Oh,” she said, “that funny little Billy Inge.  He came by with some Chinaman and some Jew.” These were legendary cinematographer James Wong Howe and director Eliza Kazan—who was Greek, not Jewish, though the confusion was hardly uncommon. (Boris Kaufman ended up shooting the film instead of Howe.) The film was Splendor in the Grass.

Margulies, who hails from Brooklyn and whose work owes little discernible debt to Inge, was done proud by this year’s Inge Festival. One evening was devoted to a reading of his most recent play, The Country House. The story concerns a middle-aged actor whose family make room for him because of the biological connection but otherwise treat him with ill-concealed condescension because he doesn’t have the talent they do. When it played Broadway, some of the critics, paying overmuch attention to the influence of Chekhov, gave it a sniffy reception. It deserves better.

donald-margulies_inge-fest

Donald Margulies, center, with theatre students from Labette County High School.

[…]

For their part, the gregarious, generous Kansans around us on the night of the Saturday night banquet at the Booth Hotel didn’t seem likely to go bonkers. There were salutes to the small army of volunteers who each year work hundreds of hours to bring a taste of professional theatre to Independence.  (The town doesn’t have a big enough audience to support an ongoing professional company.) After the festivities, I found myself chatting with a girl who talked about being introduced to Inge’s plays in high school. I remarked about what might be gleaned from his plays about how life was lived during and after the Depression in places like Independence, and about how his portraits of women, Jews and closeted gays struggling in such towns offers a reminder of how profoundly America’s social attitudes have changed in the intervening years. “I don’t know,” the girl said. “Independence is still a pretty conservative place.”

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Buy The Book

Here at the Inge Festival one thing we writers like to do is shamelessly self-promote our work while going for the full humble-brag.  “Why, yes, I’ve written a few little plays and they’ve had some productions.  And oh yes, they’re on sale in the lobby and I happen to have a couple of copies here in my suitcase.  May I sign them for you?  Will that be cash or credit?”

Scripts at Inge 04-17-15

“Ask Me Anything and Other Short Plays” (red) “Can’t Live Without You” (yellow)

Well, we’re not all as brazen as that, but hey, if you’ve got ’em, sell ’em.

Today is the scholars’ conference where I will present my paper on the one-act plays of William Inge, then go to an event in a storefront in downtown Independence called “Writers Write Here.”  The idea is for writers to show a work in progress and how they actually write.  In other words, I’ll be writing in front of an audience.  It just so happens I have a work in progress to show them… plus copies of my other works.  What a coincidence.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Greetings From Kansas

No, Gov. Brownback’s storm troopers were not waiting at the border to fend me off.  He apparently cut gaydar out of the state budget along with education and welfare for cruise ships.

The flights were uneventful and American Airlines has new planes with entertainment centers in each seat, including coach, so you can watch TV or, as I did, an interactive map showing the plane’s path and “3D” viewing from various angles, including a cockpit view.  It’s mesmerizing and almost makes you forget you’re wedged into a seat that harkens back to riding in the front seat of a 1963 Volkswagen, except the VW had more legroom.

I got to Independence Community College and the Inge Theatre where the festival is based and saw my books on sale including the revised edition of Ask Me Anything and Other Short Plays.  Yay!  Now I’m checked into the hotel and planning a little nap before tonight’s reading of Donald Margulies’ new play.

There will be more later about the weekend and even some pictures.

The Inge Festival

It’s that time of year again…

Inge Theatre outside daytime

The William Inge Theatre on the campus of Independence Community College

This weekend is the 34th annual William Inge Theatre Festival, and my twenty-fourth trip to the town of Independence, Kansas.  Long-time readers know of my annual pilgrimage where for three days I get to resume my other identity as a theatre scholar and playwright full-time.

My first Inge Festival was in 1991 when the honoree was Edward Albee.  This year the recognition for distinguished achievement goes to Donald Margulies.

So, who’s William Inge?  Well, among other things, he won the Pulitzer Prize for the play Picnic and an Oscar for the screenplay for Splendor in the Grass.  At the height of his fame in the early 1950’s he was considered to be one of the best American playwrights of the time along with Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.  He wrote many plays, including a collection of short plays.  His works are revived on Broadway every so often, including a stand-out production of Come Back, Little Sheba starring S. Epatha Merkerson in 2008 that should have won the Tony that year.  But fame and adulation doesn’t last forever or ensure happiness, and in 1973, convinced that he had lost his ability to tell any more stories, he committed suicide at the age of 60.  He is buried in Independence under a simple marker with his name, dates, and the word “Playwright.”

Since I’m going to be traveling today and diving in to the festivities, blogging will be light and variable until I get back Monday night.  But I’ll be putting up some reflections on theatre and perhaps some pictures, so I hope you’ll stop by.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Talking About Writing

Today I have the Scholars Conference where I’ll be presenting my paper.  Unlike the last couple of years, I froze it on Tuesday night and printed it out first thing Wednesday morning before I left for the airport.  I will be delivering it acoustically… that is, I won’t be reading it off the computer as I did before but off the paper at the rostrum.

I spent most of Friday listening to writers talk about writing, so when I came back to the hotel to get rested and ready for the gala dinner, I did a little work on a play that I started a couple of years ago and haven’t gotten past Act I, Scene 2.  Thank you, Arthur Kopit.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written about the writing process, and I don’t plan to launch into a long post about it now (you’re welcome), but coming to Inge always makes me re-evaluate the process I go through when I write.  That covers everything from your average BBWW blog rant to a novel or play.  I’ve had the chance to do that this week, too, and in a lot of ways hearing how really successful and brilliant writers do it has affirmed my own methods.

What a relief.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Works In Progress

It was a day of workshops and fun stuff at the William Inge Festival on Thursday.  I spent the morning in a discussion on Arthur Kopit’s new play BecauseHeCan which led to some interesting perspectives on privacy and what we think of as reality in an connected world.

That was followed by a workshop for high school students in monologues and audition techniques led by John Schuck.  For those of you too young to remember the Painless Pole from the 1970 film of M*A*S*H, you’ll recognize him from numerous appearances on TV including Law & Order SVU and national tours of the musical Annie playing the role of Daddy Warbucks.  He is a gentle and encouraging teacher for the students, and they had a great time.

After lunch I sat in on a musical theatre workshop with Barry Bostwick.  This too was geared to high school students — one of the Inge Festival’s best aspects is its outreach to young theatre students — and it was both entertaining and educational.  (But no, he didn’t sing anything from Rocky Horror.)

That was followed by an energetic acting workshop with George West Carruth, one of the guest actors who performed in BecauseHeCan.  For me it was like going back to my undergrad acting classes.  I’m sure I’ll be a little sore this morning.

Last night we saw a staged reading of the first draft of Mat Smart’s play The Great Barrier.  Mat is the Otis Guernsey New Voices award winner this year.  It is a recognition of promising playwrights, and so far it’s proved to be prescient: past winners include Joe DiPietro, who won the Tony for Memphis.

Today we will continue with the Conversation with Arthur Kopit.  Then tonight is the Gala dinner.  Yes, I brought along a coat and tie.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

In Stages

Last night at the opening of the 33rd William Inge Festival, we saw a staged reading of Arthur Kopit’s play BecauseHeCan.  It’s described as a “techno-thriller,” and it was really quite good; a tale of intrigue, doubt, deceit, and mistrust all bound together by the internet and its virtual reality capabilities.

One of the readers was Barry Bostwick, an actor with a long list of stage and screen credits, not the least of which includes Danny Zuko in Grease and the mayor on Spin City.  He was part of a good ensemble directed by Jane Unger.

Doing a play in a reading makes it sound like there is something lacking; there’s no set, no costumes, few if any props, and the actors stand on the stage behind music stands reading off a script.  How can the audience expect to get a sense of the play and the characters if that’s all they have to go with?

Actually, a lot.  In the hands of good actors, a script can come alive by the words alone, and a good director who trusts both the word and the ability of the actors can make the play come to life with as much depth and nuance as if they had all the trimmings.  All it takes is for them to trust both the play and themselves.

(Full disclosure: This coming Sunday night, my play Can’t Live Without You will be done in a staged reading at SoBe Arts on Miami Beach.  Therefore I’ve been thinking a lot about staged readings for the last couple of weeks.)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Welcome to Independence, Kansas

I made it to Independence and I’m settled into my room at the Apple Tree Inn, my home here for the last 23 visits to the William Inge Festival.

Inge Theatre outside daytime

 

The festivities begin tonight with dinner and a reading of Arthur Kopit’s new play.  Mr. Kopit is the honoree this year, and I’m looking forward to seeing my Inge family again.

A bit of playwriting karma: I’m in the same room I was in in 2006 when I wrote my ten-minute play Ask Me Anything for Tina Howe’s master class.  It took about twenty minutes to write it, and it’s my most-produced work.

Travel Day

Inge ICA photoI’m on the way to the 33rd annual William Inge Theatre Festival in Independence, Kansas.  For you regular readers you know what that means: four days of theatre and writing from the home town of the playwright who wrote Come Back, Little Sheba, Picnic, Bus Stop, Dark at the Top of the Stairs, and won the Oscar for the screenplay for Splendor in the Grass.

It also means that blogging will continue to be light and variable, and when I do, it will be about the goings-on at the Festival.

I’ll check in when I get to the Apple Tree Inn and get settled.  Until then, if you’re at DFW this morning, you might see me running like crazy to make my connection to Tulsa.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Looking Back/Looking Forward

Okay, campers, it’s time for my annual re-cap and prognostication for the past year and the year coming up.  Let’s see how I did a year ago.

– President Obama moves into his second term with pretty much the same situation in Washington and Congress as he has had for the last two years, so nothing will really get done.  The budget matters, including the fake drama of the Fiscal Cliff, will still be around in some form because it’s a lot easier to kick it down the road than actually do something, especially when you have a Republican Party that absolutely refuses to work with the president on anything at all.  It has nothing to do with policy, deficits or debt, taxes or revenue.  The reason is pretty simple: they don’t like him, and so like a kid in grade school who refuses to do his math homework because he hates the teacher, they refuse to budge.  You can pick your excuses, ranging from his Spock-like demeanor to his refusal to suck up to the Villagers, but most of it comes down to the unspoken reason that dare not speak its name: he’s black.  No one dares say that out loud, but get three beers in any Republican, and I’ll bet they’ll admit it by saying “He’s not one of us.”  How many dog whistles do you need?  A big tell was that in the last-minute budget negotiations, Mitch McConnell went to Vice President Joe Biden as the go-between the Congress and the president.  Why?  Because Mr. Biden was in the Senate and knows how to talk to them, and also because he’s the white guy.  So we will have another year of gridlock, and the new Congress will make the one just concluded look good.

That one was pretty easy, and I’m sorry I got it right.

– The Supreme Court will rule the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8 are unconstitutional.  It will be a very close vote, probably 5-4 on both cases, and they will narrowly rule on both cases, doing their best not to fling open the doors to marriage equality with a blanket ruling and leave the rest of it up to the states.  But they will both go down.  On the other hand, they will rule against Affirmative Action.  I also think there will be some changes to the make-up of the Court with at least one retirement, either voluntary or by the hand of fate.

Right on gay rights and marriage equality and a punt of Affirmative Action.  I had no idea about the decimation of the Voting Rights Act, but then who did?  And the court roster remains intact.

– Even if we went over the fiscal cliff or curb or speed-bump, the economy will continue to improve, with the unemployment rate going below 7% by Labor Day.  I know this only because I know that our economy, like the water level in the Great Lakes, goes in cycles no matter what the hand of Wall Street or Washington does… unless they completely screw it up like the last time and make it even worse.

A little too optimistic on the unemployment rate, but the economy really is getting better.

– After the extreme weather we saw in 2012, at long last we will move to do something about climate change or global warming or whatever it is fashionably called.  It won’t be done by Congress, however; it will be because the people who make a living off the climate, such as agriculture and coastal enterprises such as fishing and tourism, will make it happen through their own efforts.  (Yeah, I’m being extremely optimistic on this one.  A year from now I will happily concede I blew it.)

Blew it.

– The extremism from the right that entertained us in 2012 will continue, albeit muted because 2013 isn’t an election year except in New Jersey, where Chris Christie will be re-elected and start his Howard Dean-like campaign for the presidency in 2016.  The GOP will refuse to acknowledge they have a problem, but as 2014 looms and the wingers that were elected in 2010 face re-election, they will find themselves scrambling hard for candidates that can survive primary battles where the nutsery reigns and then win the general election.  The only reason Governors Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Snyder of Michigan, Scott Walker of Wisconsin, and John Kasich of Ohio will be re-elected in 2014 is if the Democrats don’t move in for the kill.

Not muted, and did not see Ted Cruz coming.  That’s not because he’s a formidable force to be reckoned with, but I thought that even the Republicans have their limits.  I guess not.

– I’ve given up predicting the Tigers’ future this year.  Surprise me, boys.

They did pretty well, and it was fun to see them live at Marlins Park.  But I was happy to see the Red Sox come from the cellar to the dome to win.

– We will lose the requisite number of celebrities and friends as life goes on. As I always say, it’s important to cherish them while they are with us.

Losing Nelson Mandela, Peter O’Toole and James Gandolfini in the same year was a shock, but we all lost friends and loved ones who did not get a spread in The New York Times.  I hold them in the Light.

– Personally, this year looks good on a couple of fronts.  The Pontiac is due back from the body shop this week, and I have formally entered it in its first national Antique Automobile of America car show to take place in Lakeland, Florida, in February.  Things are looking better at work with the Miami-Dade County Public Schools getting a number of important grants, including a $32 million program from Race To The Top for math preparation, and the District won the coveted Broad Prize for Urban Education this past fall.  One of my short plays has been selected for production in May 2013 at the Lake Worth Playhouse’s Short Cuts series, and hope springs eternal for a full-scale production again of Can’t Live Without You here in Florida.  This time I have a good director who would love to do it if we can get a theatre.  I’ll be off to the William Inge Festival in May to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Inge’s birth, and plans are in the works for our annual trip to Stratford, Ontario, next summer.  My family continues to enjoy good health and good spirits.  The blessings continue.  (PS: No, I still don’t have a Twitter account.)

The Pontiac earned its first Driver Participation badge last February and goes for its second in February 2014.  Work continues to go on and the District is doing well: no F schools this year, a marked improvement over the last five years.  My short play, Ask Me Anything, has now been produced more times than any of my other full-length works (two on-stage and one directing project), and my writing continues.  It looks like our trip to Stratford in August was our last trip, simply because of relocation and logistics, but who knows?  My family continues to enjoy good health and good spirits.  And I finally have a Twitter account: @BobbyBBWW.

Now the predictions:

– Despite the terrible roll-out and start-up of Obamacare and the opportunity it handed the Republican campaign strategists, the healthcare law will not be as big an issue in the 2014 mid-terms that all the Villagers say it will be.  By the time the campaign hits the final stretch, the law will be so entrenched that even the people who claim they hate it — even though they support what it does — will have a hard time trying to run candidates who promise to repeal it.  Still, the GOP noise machine and Tea Party hard-core is locked in on re-electing their safe base and the morning after the 2014 mid-terms will show a House still in the hands of the GOP and the Senate closer to 50-50.

– Immigration reform and gun control will go nowhere because it’s the same Congress we had in 2013 and they didn’t do jack-shit.

– By December 31, 2014 it will be a foregone conclusion that Hillary Clinton will be running for president.  Joe Biden will play coy with the Villagers about running, but in the end he’ll demur to Ms. Clinton.  The Benghazi! non-scandal will be long gone except for the nutsery who still think Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  The GOP will be lining up its merry band that includes Ted Cruz, Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, and just for laughs, Rand Paul and Mike Huckabee.  President Obama’s approval numbers will be back up in the 50% range.

– Florida Gov. Rick Scott will lose his re-election bid to Charlie Crist, the newly minted Democrat, and Marco Rubio’s star will be as faded in GOP national politics as Pauly Shore’s is among Oscar voters.  He’ll pick up a primary challenge from the far right, but he’ll be safe in 2016 because the Democrats have nobody to run against him.

– Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin, John Kasich of Ohio, Rick Snyder of Michigan, and Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania will all face tough re-election campaigns, but Mr. Kasich and Mr. Snyder will probably squeak by.  Mr. Corbett is out, and just for laughs, the people of Maine will toss their gaffe-prone Tea Party guv Paul LePage.

– The national economy will continue to expand and the drive for the living wage movement will take hold.  The unemployment numbers will finally get below 7.0% and stay there.

– Marriage equality will spread to more states as more cases based on the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2013 are heard.  Indiana will vote on a ban on same-sex marriage in November 2014, and it will lose narrowly. But same-sex won’t be the law of the land yet, and I predict that unless the Supreme Court issues a sweeping ruling, Texas will be the last hold-out.

– The Supreme Court will rule 5-4 that Hobby Lobby or any for-profit non-religious corporation does not have the right “to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.”

– This will be a rebuilding year for the Detroit Tigers now that Jim Leyland has retired.  They’ll do respectably well and may even win the division again, but it’s time for a breather.

– Fidel Castro will finally hop the twig, and the slow thaw between the U.S. and Cuba will begin as the generation that is as old as Castro continues to fade away.

– We will lose the requisite number of celebrities and friends as life goes on. As I always say, it’s important to cherish them while they are with us.

– Personally, life will continue at its gentle pace in good health and good spirits.  In September I will turn 62 and begin the first steps towards eventual retirement, but that won’t be for a long time yet.  I’ve already started on my paper for the William Inge Theatre Festival in March, and I continue to write and produce blog posts.  My parents are happily settled into their “life enrichment community,” and I hope to visit them this summer.  I might even get a smartphone this year, but don’t bet on it.

– The Ford Mustang will turn 50 years old in April 2014.  That’s not the longest continuous run of an American car model — the Corvette started in 1953 — but it’s an impressive run for a car that re-defined the auto industry.  My prediction is that it will last another fifty.

– And of course, the usual prediction: One year from now I’ll write a post just like this one, look back at this one, and think, “Gee, that was dumb.” Or not.

Okay, readers, it’s your turn.  What do you predict will befall us in 2014?