Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Not So Evolved

I just spent 15 minutes watching a video of beautiful young women, and I'm thoroughly disgusted. I'll explain. I was watching excerpts of the 51 Miss USA contestants answering the question "Should evolution be taught in schools?" if you're like me, you'l watch it as you watch a horror flick -- you can't look, but you look anyway. I could not believe what I was hearing. Since when is science a matter of opinion? I also think these young women were coached to be uncontroversial at all costs. The result is deplorable. Watch it...if you can stomach it.

Pretty? Yes, pretty dismal.
-Jack Simony

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fun Summer Seaminess

I was fortunate enough to be invited to an "invited dress rehearsal" for Measure for Measure at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park. I didn't have to wait on line from 3 AM until 1 PM, and I had a marvelous seat for what proved to be a fine production of a play that is often challenging to pull off.

The play is one of Shakespeare's "Problem Plays." Curiously, this summer, the Public Theatre has decided to produce two of the three "Problem Plays" -- the two plays in all of Shakespeare's canon containing "the bed trick", in which a man thinks he is sleeping with one woman while actually sleeping with another who has come in her stead under the cover of darkness. The two plays ("All's Well that Ends Well" is the second of the two) are being performed in repertory throughout the summer.

It's a curious choice, to offer up those two rather disquieting plays as the Park's summer fare this season. Even tragedies leave the audience more satisfied than upset at the end, whereas the "Problem Plays" are so named because while they fit the genre of romantic comedy, the catharsis they purport to achieve at the end is anything but, and audiences tend to leave feeling like they need a shower. But in for a penny, in for a pound, I suppose. It will be interesting to see how the performers navigate their different roles in the two productions, and it will be interesting to experience back-to-back "Problem Plays."

"Measure for Measure" is skillfully presented under the direction of David Esbjornson. A deconstructed but completely seedy Vienna is artfully and fully realized with the clever set by Scott Pask, and the costumes by Elizabeth Hope Clancy strike the perfect note. But it is the actors in the comedic roles of Pompey (Carson Elrod) and Lucio (Reg Rogers) who steal the show. They are remarkable. I'd wait on line from 3 AM until 1 PM to see them in these roles again.
-Jack Simony

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wal-Mart Loses Appeal (no pun intended)

You've surely seen the commercials: A well-groomed, articulate and likable fellow explains how he decided against a corporate job in order to move up through the ranks at Wal-Mart from stockboy to manager. A frank-speaking, earnest young woman describes the pride she takes in her work, and her choice to pursue a career path on the floor of a Wal-Mart. They articulate what a wonderful employer Wal-Mart is, how they could't want better.

Have you filled out your application yet? No? Apparently, the Appellate Court of Pennsylvania wasn't buying it either. Wal-Mart just lost its appeal of the 2006 ruling that awarded $187.6 million to workers who had been denied meal and rest breaks in order to boost store productivity and profits, in violation of appropriate labor practices.

The judgment may be reduced slightly, but only to adjust for legal fees that had been double-counted.

It seems Wal-Mart must do more than damage-control -- it must pay damages. Hefty damages. I'm glad to see it. At what point will companies finally understand that their profits should reflect the quality both of their products AND of their employment practices? Wal-Mart wants to be an example of successful business practices. It's going to be made an example of, all right. But I don't think this is exactly what Corporate had in mind. They'd have been better off saving the money on the commercials and treating their employees with decency. They'd have broken even on the commercials...but would have been far ahead in public opinion. Never mind the karma that comes of not taking advantage of the disenfranchised.
-Jack Simony

Monday, June 6, 2011

Best Blogs of 2011

I am not a Blogger (capital "B"), I'm more of a blogger. I read or hear or see something in the world and am occasionally moved to write about the experience. Perhaps the blogs get read, perhaps they don't. But the process of writing them is in and of itself satisfying.

It also has sparked an interest in blogging, generally. People blog about absolutely everything under the the sun and everything beyond it.

Time Magazine posts its "Best Blogs of the Year." This year's list is a well-rounded selection of entries from politics to economics to fashion to cars to sports to lists (yes, lists made the list!) to climate change to itemizations of the contents of the backpacks and handbags of everyday people (yielding fascinating insights into the personalities of said people) to analyses of every David Bowie song to video games and gaming to celebrities to the minutia of a mom's everyday life. The writing on these sites ranges from funny to crisp to elegant; it is all good. The content is surprising, fresh and interesting. The Times' list has something for everyone.,29569,2075431,00.html

Go! Skim! It'll do you good.
-Jack Simony

Thursday, June 2, 2011

The Food Pyramid Gets a Renovation

First Lady Michele Obama will unveil today an updated version of the food pyramid, to replace the current icon.

The new icon depicts more clearly the information it wishes to convey. It is the hope of the First Lady that it will help consumers make healthier food choices.

It seems like a small gesture, however it could be a useful tool for those who need the visual aids. Michele Obama is waging a war on many fronts to diminish malnutrition and obesity in our country. People mistakenly assume that an obese person is not malnourished when, in fact, the two problems are the two sides of one coin: The food available to our nation's poor is low in nutrition and high in fillers and such that cause obesity. Hence, our nation's poor tend to be both obese and malnourished. I applaud Michele Obama's endeavors on behalf of our nation's hungry. If the new food pyramid icon is part of the educational component of this endeavor, terrific. Enjoy the new icon, everyone.
-Jack Simony