Friday, January 18, 2019

First Read-Through

On Tuesday night the cast of ‘Can’t Live Without You’ met for the first time to get to know each other, their characters, and read the script out loud so that the director and I could see how it all comes together.  (Spoiler alert: really well.)  So here we are:

The cast for Can’t Live Without You – A Play by Philip Middleton Williams: left to right, AJ Ruiz, Carla Zackson Heller, some dude, Robert Ayala, Anthony Wolff, and Leslie Zivin Kandel, all under the stellar direction of Jerry Jensen.

I’ve set up a Facebook page — click the link above — and read all about it as we go from page to stage.  You’ll find bios of the cast and other tidbits.  If you want to buy tickets, go here.

And while we’re at it, here’s the poster for the show.

On with the show.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Looking Back/Looking Forward

Time for my annual recap and predictions for this year and next.  Let’s look back at how I did a year ago.

  • There will be indictments at a very high level in the administration as the Mueller investigation rumbles on.  Plea bargains and deals will be made and revelations will come forth, and by summer there will be genuine questions about whether or not the administration will survive.  But there won’t be a move to impeach Trump as long as there are Republican majorities in the Congress, and invoking the 25th Amendment is a non-starter.

I’ll give myself a B on that since it was pretty much that way a year ago and the gears of justice grind slowly but irresistibly.  No high-level members of the administration were indicted, but shame and scandal did bring down an impressive number of folks who had hard passes to the West Wing.

  • The Democrats will make great gains in the mid-term elections in November.  This is a safe bet because the party out of power usually does in the first mid-term of new president.  The Democrats will take back the Senate and narrow the gap in the House to the point that Speaker Paul Ryan with either quit or be so powerless that he’s just hanging around to collect pension points.  (No, he will not lose his re-election bid.)

I’ll go with a C on that since I hit the nail on the head in the first sentence; I should have just left it there.  But no; I had it backwards: the House flipped but the GOP still has the Senate, and who knew that Paul Ryan would decide to quit?

  • There will be a vacancy on the Supreme Court, but it won’t happen until after the mid-terms and Trump’s appointment will flail as the Democrats in the Senate block the confirmation on the grounds that the next president gets to choose the replacement.

I’ll take an A- on that since I got the timing wrong, but I think Brett Kavanaugh did a great job of flailing (“I like beer!”) before the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The predator still got on the court, though, and we all hold RBG in the Light for at least another two years.

  • There will be irrefutable proof that the Russians not only meddled in the 2016 U.S. election, but they’ve had a hand in elections in Europe as well and will be a factor in the U.S. mid-terms.  Vladimir Putin will be re-elected, of course.

A+ Duh.

  • Raul Castro will figure out a way to still run Cuba even if he steps down as president, and there will be no lessening of the authoritarian rule.

Another A+, but what did anyone expect?  Trump’s half-assed attempts to restrain trade with Cuba, along with Marco Rubio doing his yapping perrito act, only make it more ironic when it’s the administration’s policy to cozy up to dictators like Putin and the Saudis.  If Trump owned a hotel in Havana he’d be down there in a second sucking up to the regime with video to prove it.

  • The U.S. economy will continue to grow, but there will be dark clouds on the horizon as the deficit grows thanks to the giveaways in the GOP tax bill.  If the GOP engineers cuts to entitlement programs and the number of uninsured for healthcare increases, the strain on the economy will be too much.

I’ll take a B on this since I didn’t factor in tariffs and the trade war(s) he’s launched that led to wild uncertainty in the markets, not to mention Trump’s bashing of the Fed chair that he appointed and told him to do what he’s doing.

  • This “America First” foreign policy will backfire.  All it does is tell our allies “You’re on your own.”  If we ever need them, they’re more likely to turn their backs on us.

I get an A on this because it has and they are.

  • The white supremacist movement will not abate.  Count on seeing more violence against minorities and more mass shootings.

Sadly, a very predictable A on that.

  • A viable Democratic candidate will emerge as a major contender for the 2020 election, and it will most likely be a woman.  Sen. Elizabeth Warren is considered to be the default, but I wouldn’t rule out Sen. Kamala Harris of California or Sen. Kristen Gillibrand of New York just yet.  (Sen. Gillibrand would drive Trump even further around the bend.  She was appointed to the Senate to fill Hillary Clinton’s seat when she became Secretary of State in 2009.)

I get a B on this because it was rather easy to spot and I’m already getting begging e-mails from Ms. Harris.

  • On a personal level, this will be a busy year for my work in theatre with a full production of “All Together Now” opening in March and several other works out there for consideration.  I will also be entering my last full year of employment in my present job (retirement happens in August 2019) but I’ll keep working.

This was a great year for my playwriting with a lot of new friends and opportunities out there and more to come in 2019 (see below).

  • People and fads we never heard about will have their fifteen minutes.

Yep.  I’ve already blocked them out.

Okay, on to the predictions.

  • Barring natural causes or intervention from an outside force, Trump will still be in office on December 31, 2019.  There is no way he will leave voluntarily and even with the House of Representatives in Democratic control and articles of impeachment being drafted they will not get to the Senate floor because the Republicans are either too afraid to rile up the base or they’re too enamored of their own grip on power to care about the government being headed by a poor imitation of a tin-pot banana republic authoritarian douche-canoe.
  • The Mueller Report will be released to Congress and even though it’s supposed to be classified it will be leaked with great fanfare and pundit predictions of the end of the Trump administration with calls for frog-marching him and his minions out of the West Wing.  Despite that, see above.
  • There will be no wall.  There never will be.  Immigration will still be a triggering issue as even more refugees die in U.S. custody.
  • There will be no meaningful changes to gun laws even if the NRA goes broke.  There will be more mass shootings, thoughts and prayers will be offered, and we’ll be told yet again that now is not the time to talk about it.
  • Obamacare will survive its latest challenge because the ruling by the judge in Texas declaring the entire law unconstitutional will be tossed and turned into a case study in law schools everywhere on the topic of exasperatingly stupid reasoning.
  • Roe vs. Wade will still stand.
  • With the Democrats in control of the House, the government will be in permanent gridlock even after they work out some sort of deal to end the current shutdown over the mythological wall.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi will become the Willie Horton for the GOP base and blamed for everything from budget deficits to the toast falling butter-side down.
  • We will have a pretty good idea who the Democratic front-runner will be in 2020.  I think Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s chances are still good (she announced her exploratory committee as I was writing this), as are Sen. Kamala Harris’s, and don’t count out Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio, but who knew that Beto O’Rourke, a charismatic loser in the Texas senate race, would raise a lot of hopes?  That said, fifteen years ago when I started this blog, Howard Dean looked like the guy who was going to beat George W. Bush.
  • The economy will continue with its wild gyrations, pretty much following the gyrations of the mood of Trump and his thumb-driven Twitter-fed economic exhortations.  The tax cuts and the tariffs will land on the backs of the people who provide the income to the government and the deficit will soon be out there beyond the Tesla in outer space.  But unlike that Martian-bound convertible, the economy will come crashing back to Earth (probably about the time I retire in August) and Trump will blame everyone else.
  • There will be a natural event that will convince even skeptics that climate change and sea level rise is real and happening.  Unfortunately, nothing will be done about it even if lots of lives are lost because [spoiler alert] nothing ever is done.
  • I’m going out on a limb here with foreign affairs predictions, but I have a feeling that Brexit will end up in the dustbin of history.
  • Personally, this will be a transition year.  My retirement from Miami-Dade County Public Schools occurs officially on August 31, 2019, and I’m already actively looking for something both meaningful and income-producing to do after that.  (E-mail me for a copy of my resume; nothing ventured, nothing sprained.)  My play “Can’t Live Without You” opens at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton, Florida, for a two-week run on March 30, and I’m planning on returning to the William Inge Theatre Festival for the 28th time, either with a play or most assuredly with a scholarly paper.  I have my bid in for a variety of other theatre events and productions; I think I’m getting the hang of this playwriting thing.
  • I will do this again next year.  I hope.  As Bobby says, “Hope is my greatest weakness.”

Okay, your turn.  Meanwhile, I wish continued good health and a long life to all of you and hope you make it through 2019 none the worse for wear.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Fifteen Years

Today marks fifteen years since November 8, 2003, when I sat down to set up this blog on Blogger and wrote the first post of Bark Bark Woof Woof.  Back then I was living in a little apartment in unincorporated Miami-Dade County, I was a little over a year into my job with the public schools, and I was in my early fifties, single, and had visions of becoming part of the burgeoning blogosphere and a famous writer.  We were a year away from the 2004 election and outraged at the excesses of the Bush administration and vowing to take our country back from the warmongering and arrogant GOP.  I drove a Mustang convertible and had a Pontiac station wagon in the parking lot awaiting restoration, knowing it would be another ten years before it would be considered old enough to enter in antique car shows.

Well, fifteen years later, I’ve moved twice, changed servers twice, updated the blog from Blogger to WordPress with the invaluable guidance and expertise of my brother, and, according to the stats counter, written over 28,000 posts.  With a few exceptions due to weather and internet access, I’ve written every post and written something (or at least put up something) every day, be it a simple observation — How about those Tigers? — or a long essay on something that strikes me as important and worth sharing, be it marriage equality or nostalgia about leaving my old home town.  Much water has gone under the bridge, but some things have not changed: I still work for the public schools, I still have a Mustang convertible (though not the same one), and I still have the Pontiac, now restored and going to car shows.  And I’m still finding things to wax long or short about, and I’m still getting up at 3 a.m. to look at the world and try to find some way to make sense of it all.

This is the place where I say thank you to you, the reader, for coming here whenever you do and seeing what I’ve put up, and for those of you who comment, a sincere thanks for your support, your guidance, your corrections, and your indulgence.  I’ve gotten to know many of you in real life and I truly appreciate your friendship and support.

By the way, when I started this blog I made a somewhat diligent effort to keep my real name off the pages because I was pretty sure that writing an opinion blog while working for the public schools could cause issues.  Well, I’m less than a year away from retirement, I’ve rarely if ever written about anything to do with my work (and when I have it’s been supportive), and it doesn’t take a crack team of cyberanalysts to figure out who I am.  So I’ll tell you: my real name is Philip Middleton Williams, and if you want to know about my playwriting, you can look me up on the New Play Exchange.  I will still blog under the name Mustang Bobby and credit my alter-ego Bobby Cramer with all the work because he’s still a large part of my creative writing.  He will get his turn on stage next March when “Can’t Live Without You” opens at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton.

Anyway, fifteen years down and many more to come.  What’s next?

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Dramatic News

The Playgroup LLC and the Willow Theatre of Boca Raton present:

Donny Hollenbeck thinks he has created the perfect life for himself. He has a lucrative writing career, a nice girlfriend, and a great-looking home in Florida. But when Bobby Cramer, a character from a novel he abandoned years ago, pays him a visit, he starts to realize the place where his dreams took a wrong turn.

Opening Friday, March 30 through Sunday, April 7, 2019.  Subscription sales start today; individual tickets go on sale on September 1.  For more information, click here.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Friday, March 2, 2018

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Home And Garden

My play “All Together Now” opens tomorrow night at the Willow Theatre in Boca Raton, Florida, produced by The Playgroup and directed by Joyce Sweeney.

Here’s a look at the set, designed by Nick LoMonte.  As several of the characters note, “Wow, this is a nice place.”

Photo by David Ehrlich.

It’s what I imagined the home of Paul Henderson and Adam Connolly would look like when I wrote the play.  And that’s the best thing I can hope for.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

“Can’t Live Without You” Memories

Ten years ago tonight, “Can’t Live Without You” opened at Manhattan Rep. It was my first — but hopefully not my last — play produced in New York. I made the trip from Miami to see it, and along with my parents who flew in from Toledo and my brother and sister-in-law who came up from Baltimore, and my nephew who came in from the upper East Side, we sat in the tiny (40 seat) theatre above a Duane Reade and watched as Donny, Bobby, Anna, Barbara, and Nick dealt with the changes that come with facing real life even if it’s prompted by a fictional character.

Ten years later “Can’t Live Without You” shoulders on; it placed in The Playgroup’s 2017 playwriting contest, and hope springs eternal for a production in South Florida where the play takes place. As Bobby says, “Hope is my greatest weakness.”

Thank you, Rachel Charlop-Powers, Tom Pilutik, Gary Lee Mahmoud, Will Poston, Mary Fassino, Adam Natale, and Ken Wolf for making this playwright’s dream come true.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Friday, September 29, 2017

“Exquisite”

After the reading of my play “A Moment of Clarity” at the Midwest Dramatists Conference this morning, one of the audience members told me that the play was “exquisite.”

I’m not going to argue with that.

We have had a lot of great plays shared today and I’m looking forward to more tomorrow.  And the rumors of the death of theatre in America are greatly exaggerated.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Friday, November 6, 2015

Twelve Years

This Sunday marks the twelfth anniversary of the start of this blog.  Since very few people stop by here on Sundays, I thought I’d take a moment while I have your attention to note the occasion.

A lot has happened since that first post, but I still look forward every day to taking note of the big and little things that are going on in our crazy world.  As I’ve said on every other anniversary, I couldn’t do this — and I wouldn’t — if I didn’t think I was at least giving you something to think about, to laugh about, to remember, or even take action.

So, thank you.  What’s next?

Monday, February 16, 2015

A Nice Surprise

A friend called me late last week and asked if I subscribed to Hemmings Classic Car magazine.  When I told him I didn’t, he said I should get the April 2015 edition and read Executive Editor Richard Lentinello’s column.  He then proceeded to read me the fifth paragraph about his visit to the Lake Mirror Classic in Lakeland, Florida and the blue 1988 Pontiac 6000 LE station wagon he spotted at the street show.

That’s my car.  Needless to say, I was stunned, humbled, honored, and blown away to hear what he wrote, and yesterday that friend gave me his copy of the magazine.  To get recognition at a show or national meet for my car is one thing, but to have it singled out in one of the most prestigious and well-respected automobile publications it quite another.

 

Hemmings Classic Car Lentinello April 2015

Here’s the car in question at Lake Mirror last October.

004PS: I now have a subscription to Hemmings Classic Car magazine.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Winding Down

Today is my last day at work before the two-week winter holiday.  Yesterday we had our annual office luncheon and Secret Santa gift exchange (thank you, Carmen!).  I missed that part of it because I was doing our first-ever live webinar in financial training.

This week has already been interesting.  On Monday the transmission in the Mustang basically fell apart, so I’ve been driving the Pontiac all week.  (At least I know its transmission is in good shape.)  I’ve been in rehearsal for a one-act play that I wrote for the New Theatre’s Miami 1-Acts Festival winter season.  Normally the playwright isn’t involved with the play after the first reading or so, but in this case the director couldn’t find an actor to play one of the roles, so for the first time since 1995, I’m performing on stage.  I’ve never acted in a play that I wrote, so this is an interesting learning experience as I occasionally wonder who wrote this shit?

Miami 1-Acts Winter 2014

I’ve also had a play selected for the Miami version of the national One-Minute Play Festival that goes on in January, so I’ll be meeting with the director of my offering for that sometime in the next couple of weeks.

This is my roundabout way of telling you that things are going to get a little quiet after today until New Year’s.  Posting will be light and variable through the break, but I will be here when I’m not doing something else like working on another play still in the works or one of the several other projects, plus a crossword or two.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Short Takes

Chemical weapons exposure in Iraq acknowledged by U.S.

Court rules in favor of bans on marriage equality.

U.S. makes secret contact with Iran about ISIS.

No further outbreaks of Ebola in Texas; all those being monitored have been cleared.

Some Navy SEALs are cashing in on claiming to have killed bin Laden.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Friday, November 8, 2013

Ten Years

Ten years ago today — Saturday, November 8, 2003 — I wrote this:

Here Goes…

Welcome to Bark Bark Woof Woof, a blog dedicated to my take on life, the universe and everything with my unique sense of dry amusement. The title comes from a guy I once worked for who said “bark bark woof woof” instead of “et cetera, et cetera,” and in memory of my dog, Sam, who was my best friend for 13 years.

Since then, I’ve moved to two different places, been through three computers, I’m on my second Mustang, and written close to 20,000 posts here.  Three presidential elections, ten Detroit Tiger seasons, a couple of hurricanes, one off-off-Broadway production, over a thousand music videos, theatre festivals, car shows, innumerable cultural references to Mel Brooks, M*A*S*H, and the Marx Brothers, and all — I hope — with the sense of humor and insight that I aspired to when I said that I was just “trying to get through life without bumping into the furniture.”

Something like this does not happen in a vacuum, even when some of my posts suck.  I started out by being a commenter at other blogs and met like-minded people who amazed and inspired me to try it for myself.  That’s how I met NTodd, who, it turns out, spent his childhood in my home town, and who served — and still does — as mentor and touchstone for what’s worth writing about.  Soon I met a lot of other bloggers and made friends and actually met a couple of them in person.  That is one of the enigmas of this craft: you form close bonds with people you’ve never met.

Among those are Melissa McEwan at Shakesville, who one day casually dropped me a note inviting me to be a contributor.  I was stunned and honored beyond words, and from that has grown a bond that has taught me so much about being a better person, a listener, and a feminist.  There is so much to admire about Melissa’s strength, courage, and just plain Liss-ness.

Michael J.W. Stickings at The Reaction has been a good friend and teacher, and being a part of his group is both an honour (the blog is based in Canada) and a welcome challenge to keep up to the standards that he sets for liberalism unbound.  Every year when I go to Stratford we talk about meeting in person, and some day it will happen.

None of what you see here would be possible without the help and guidance of my brother CLW.  Not just on the technical side — the countless hours of design work front and back and support when hackers attack — but also for the brotherly love and inspiration of topics and views that go way beyond C++.

I know that if I listed all the people who have been a part of these ten years, I’d be rattling off names for a long, long, time, and the cake would get stale.  So let me say to each of you who has been with me since 2003 or if you just clicked on the link last week: thank you.  I appreciate you more than you know, and as Bilbo Baggins famously said, “I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”

And with that… here’s the cake.

BBWW 10th Birthday Cake

What’s next?

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

It’s Not All About You, Glenn

I’ve had a great deal of respect for Glenn Greenwald’s work over the years, and I still think he’s a good reporter in a lot of respects.  So I’m disappointed to see that he’s let his role in l’affaire Snowden turn him into some kind of caricature of a crusading journalist out to tell The Truth no matter what happens.

Case in point: he is telling us via Democracy Now that the alerts issued by the State Department that closed a number of embassies in Muslim areas around the world are a thinly-veiled plan to silence him.

“Here we are in the midst of one the most intense debates and sustain debates that we’ve had in a very long time in this country over the dangers of excess surveillance, and suddenly an administration that has spent two claiming that it has decimated Al-Qaeda decides that there is this massive threat that involves the closing of embassies and consulates throughout the world,” Greenwald explained. “And within literally an amount of hours, the likes of Saxby Chambliss and Lindsey Graham join with the White House and Democrats in Congress — who, remember, are the leading defenders of the NSA at this point — to exploit that terrorist threat, and to insist that it shows that the NSA and these programs are necessary.”

This whole story went from serious to sheesh when people became obsessed about where Edward Snowden conducted his personal hygiene while stuck in the transit zone at the Moscow airport, and when the reporter who broke the story made it more about him than the fact that why yes, the NSA does know when you clicked on HotStuds On-Line and told your wife it was just a silly billing mistake from Comcast.

HT to LGF.