*ding!*

I’m only printing the following from the Talking Points Memo blog because it makes my comments seem semi-smart. Despite this, it’s interesting.

S

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Obama: Reagan Changed Direction Of Country In Way Bill Clinton Didn’t
By Greg Sargent – January 16, 2008, 3:19PM
This is interesting — Obama is turning up the volume of his argument with what he terms Clinton style “incremental” change, arguing that Ronald Reagan fundamentally changed the direction of America in a way Bill Clinton didn’t. Obama made his case in a sit-down interview with officials from the Reno Gazette-Journal…

Some will find Obama’s words about Reagan overly kind. And this is the first time I’ve heard him mention Bill Clinton in the context of saying such generous stuff about Reagan.

But Obama is also making an argument about the readiness of the electorate for change, comparing today’s desire for a new direction with the electorate’s mood in 1980. In this context, Obama is presenting himself as a potentially transformational figure in opposition to Hillary, who, Obama has been arguing, is unequipped to tap into the public’s mood due to her coming of age in the sixties and her involvement in the political battles of the 1990s.

Juxtaposing Reagan and Bill Clinton in this way, however, decidedly takes his argument to a whole new level.

Straight from the Huckatollah

A bit ago, when I was handicapping the candidates (not that they don’t seem capable of handicapping themselves), I sorta kinda maybe suggested that Mike Huckabee was, how shall we say, a little out of touch with reality (i.e., completely Looney Tunes).

Today this story comes out, and if you weren’t scared of Huckleberry Hound before, now’s the time to dust off the passport….Huck: We Need To Amend The Constitution, Bring It In Line With God
By Eric Kleefeld – January 15, 2008, 1:00PM

At a Michigan campaign event last night, Mike Huckabee gave an interesting reason for why he wants to amend the Constitution to ban both abortion and gay marriage: Otherwise, the Constitution would be in conflict with God.

Huckabee first observed that some of his opponents don’t want to amend the Constitution on both of these topics. “But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God,” Huckabee said. “And that’s what we need to do, is to amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than try to change God’s standards.”

Speaking of which…


…here’s a production shot from Wet Paint, the piece in Dead of Winter that I wrote specifically for The Bluestockings and which will be a world premiere. Soon, we’ll have a short promotional film on The Bluestocking’s website; I’ll let people know when it’s up and running.

The still’s from a seance that begins to get a little…odd.

Steve

Just Plain Dead


There is no fatigue like theatre fatigue.

It’s like getting caught in a riptide. At night. In cold water. You just have to ride it and hope you’ll stay afloat until it lets go of you, and you can drift back to shore, which, depending on the show, will be opening or closing night.

Which is to say, I’m deep in the wild of rehearsals, press, phone calls, e-mails, and errands for Dead of Winter and, actually, having an absolutely wonderful time. (Only people who have been there understand the pleasure of hearing themselves say, “Do we have enough gels?”) If you don’t fight the riptide, you can enjoy the ride…like you can enjoy riding a motorcycle on wet pavement. It’s still tough, tiring work, but it has its pleasures, and one of those is watching the play (or plays, in this case) take shape, rolling into focus, the actors taking your words and building people out of them. I’ve been doing this for…for some time, let’s say, and I still marvel at images and sounds swirling around my head ending up as words on a page, then becoming characters who you care about, hate, laugh at, or, in the case of these ghost stories, creep the hell out of you. It’s seriously weird to be watching something I wrote and feeling the hair rise on my arms. At one point, if anyone had been looking at me instead of the actors, I probably would have seemed stricken because I was pretty much thinking: Jesus, what kind of sick bastard wrote this?

All good signs, but I’m way too close to it to judge. I do marvel, however, at the director’s craft, which makes all these various elements somehow come together. I have an idea how it works and I’ve directed a time or two, but it’s just fascinating to watch someone who knows what she’s doing (in this case, Lisa Abbott) make it synch up, connect, and work. I can roughly imagine how it’ll look, sound, and feel, but the director knows, and she’s shaping the clay in four dimensions. It’s amazing.

And I know my company, Pavement Productions, is the co-producer (with Portland’s The Bluestockings), but damn if this thing doesn’t feel like it has potential. The actors are working like hell, the designers are coming up with great stuff, and, well, I’ve said my piece about the director. When all the elements come together….

Though it sounds like a cliche, given that these are plays about ghosts, it feels like there’s something spooky going on here. Some kind of…voodoo. And that’s what theatre’s all about.

Now if I can just keep my head above water.

Nineteen days to go….

When you screw up…

…do it big:

NEW YORK Rick Karlin of the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union has created a bit of a buzz in the newly race-charged race between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama by posting on the paper’s blog, Capitol Confidential, the following:

“I suppose there could be lots of tea leaf reading in this one, but now its AG [Attorney General] Andrew Cuomo on Talk 1300, minutes after the governor came on. Cuomo, to be fair, has been on the radio show a few times, if memory serves me, but his take on Hillary’s win in NH is that that small-state primary with its retail politics is a good thing. ‘It’s not a TV crazed race. Frankly you can’t buy your way into it,’ Cuomo said. ‘You can’t shuck and jive at a press conference,’ he added. ‘All those moves you can make with the press don’t work when you’re in someone’s living room.’”

I’m betting Bill Clinton’s face just exploded.

Standing on the Eve of New Hampshire

So the first real primary starts today, unlike Iowa (which for Republicans is like tossing names in a hat and which for Democrats is like Roberts Rules on acid), and it’s time to make a total ass of myself and handicap the candidates.

Democrats
Obama: Short on experience, good organizer, smart and sparkling with charisma. Winner.
Clinton: Long on experience and smart, but charisma of a sewer commissioner. Loser.
Edwards: Medium experience, smart, some charisma but ultimately lightweight. Loser.
Richardson: Long on experience, short on name recognition, so little charisma that I can barely remember what he looks like. Loser.
Kucinich: Can’t even spell the crazy bastard’s name. Loser.

Republicans
McCain: Long on experience and older than grandpa. Loser.
Romney: Artificial intelligence. Loser.
Guiliani: The more you know him, the less you like him. Loser.
Huckabee: Medium domestic experience, foreign policy moron, high on charisma, but completely crazy and believes in Adam and Eve. Loser.
Thompson: Needs frequent naps. Loser.
Ron Paul: Utterly bugfuck. Loser.

And there you have it. If I left anyone out, it means I couldn’t remember them. In other words: loser.

Morning Maniac Music

“Okay people, you have heard the heavy groups. Now it’s time for morning maniac music. Believe it. It’s a new dawn.” — Grace Slick introducing the song “Volunteers” at WoodstockGoddamn I love politics. Some people dig sports, know all sorts of obscure stats on who played center for the Cowboys in the Seventies, etc. Other people play the ponies. There’s a vice for everybody, as Shannon Wheeler (who writes and draws the “Too Much Coffee Man” comic) puts it: you can’t escape addiction–choose yours wisely.

Just as every gambler taps out and every sports geek sees their team slaughtered now and again, those of us who love politics get used to being lied to and watching our ship slide toward the rocks. Don’t get me wrong: if there’s anything the last eight years has taught approximately 78% of the U.S. population, it is that it matters who wins. But for the true politics junkie, the journey is literally half the high. Which is why we get all wired on nights like tonight.

Because it wasn’t just that Barack Obama beat the supposedly unbeatable Hillary Clinton (or that other guy) or that Mike Huckabee (who?) beat the hair farmer from Mass. who spent $7 million dollars of his own bucks; it’s that they both won decisively. And there’s nothing more fun than taking the conventional wisdom and tossing it out the 27th-story window to watch it fall and shatter into, uh, 7 million pieces.

This isn’t to say Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States (and certainly doesn’t mean Huckabee will be). But it does intimate that 2008 may be one of those seismic elections where pretty much everything changes, the pros get smashed, and we wake up November 4th a little freaked.

It’s funny, because I’ve been through one of those. It sucked, unfortunately, but there’s no denying that 1980, when Reagan was elected, completely changed the landscape and left us with a legacy that we’re still dealing with. (I know Republicans liked to crown Bush II as the new Reagan, but I said all along that he was the new Nixon, and that’s what he turned out to be. I get one right once in awhile.) I was barely hatched when Kennedy won in ’60, but I watched the Democrats wander in the wilderness for years in search of a new Jack, just the way rock critics wistfully kept trying to find a new Dylan in the Seventies. There was one Jack Kennedy; there’s one Bob Dylan. End of story.

I know Obama reminds some people of Kennedy, and there’s a little bit of that New Frontier gleam in his eyes, but, in truth, Obama reminds me of Reagan. Not in any policy sense imaginable–there he’s, if anything, the anti-Reagan. But he’s got that rock star thing budding, that catch in the throat that he might be real thing, and he can speak. Really speak. Smack you in the head and nail the imagination speak. And even if you hated Reagan as thoroughly as I did, there was something goddamn infuriatingly likable about the guy that would just drive you crazy. That quality wins elections and changes political landscapes.

As for Huckabee, he might get croaked in New Hampshire, probably by McCain and Romney–though Mitt has that past the due date smell beginning to waft from him, but he’s poised to do well in South Carolina with the social conservatives, and if he rebounds out of there, he might have a chance. Which would be beautiful, man, because you will see the bloodiest civil war in a national party since McGovern won the Democratic nomination in 1972. If Huckabee somehow survives that, he’s gonna look like he’s been dragged behind a truck for a year, and the Democratic nominee, whoever that is, will cream him the way Johnson creamed Goldwater.

Clinton’s strong in New Hampshire. She might beat Obama there, which would set up an epic battle in South Carolina, where Edwards will be a factor unless he gets so totally croaked in New Hampshire that he’s no longer viable. (I like John Edwards, but, ironically enough for a famously successful trial lawyer, he just can’t seem to close the sale.) So if this is a three-act, it looks like tonight we’ve seen Act I, New Hampshire could be Act II, and South Carolina could be Act III. No matter what, it was a great night for Obama, an exciting night for Huckabee, a chance at survival for Edwards (though not a strong one), a sobering night for Clinton, and a suck-ass night for Romney, who deserves it ’cause he’s an animatronic construct.

Goddamn, I love politics.

How the World Sees Us

On my friend Patrick Wohlmut’s blog “i want to be sedated,” he recently wrote that writer’s fans apparently like a rough and tumble, pseudo-bohemian image. To wit:

My friend Steve Patterson should, by all rights, be extraordinarily famous. Not only is he a kick-ass writer, he has the kind of look that screams, “Hard Drinking, World Traveling, Gonzo Journalist.” It’s very appealing.This is extraordinary to me because, of course, I don’t know whatever he’s talking about. In my mind’s eye, I seem to be just another mild-mannered editor by day who tends to his garden and just occasionally writes plays where people jam guns in the mouths of other people and scream. Go figure. But, hey, if it helps sales….

Steve

P.S.: It should be noted that Patrick is also a certified kick-ass writer.