Monday, October 19, 2009


I am a very lucky student. We get to obtain tickets to amazing shows for very little money here at Penn. Our most recent venture was to MacHomer, a one man show derived from Shakespeare's play Macbeth. The twist? One man plays all the characters - and all the characters are from the Simpsons TV show. I thought Alex might like this, and having grown up watching the Simpsons (jeez, I was 11 when it started!) I thought I might enjoy it too. Rick Miller is the writer and performer of the show, and it apparently came from backstage humor during a performance of the actual Macbeth. Miller is phenomenal - energentic, funny, over the top, really entertaining and extremely talented. I had a blast. The play was very short (maybe a little over an hour or so) with no intermission, but I didn't get bored or itch to move around. Miller has a myriad number of voices he lends to the play and the giant TV screen behind him helps you identify the characters he is emulating. The dialogue is a bit fast, and sometimes is exactly what Shakespeare himself wrote, so it's funny to hear Homer quote some of the more famous Macbeth lines, like
"Is this a dagger which I see before me,
The handle toward my hand?"
And then have is say, "Or is it a pizza?". It's also funny to see Marge as the murderous Lady Macbeth, encouraging Homer to go out and kill in order to become queen. There are references to present day pop culture, as well as a wonderful encore in which Miller sings a great song by many, many characters. Altogether, this is a great re-interpretation of Macbeth, and I would higly recommend checking it out, especially if you are even remotely a Simpsons fan.

Monday, October 12, 2009


So, I fully admit that I'm behind on the whole "movie watching"
thing. We rented Michael Moore's Sicko this past weekend, mostly because of the loud roar over health care that's been going on for some time now. I have to say, this is Moore's best film yet. His first movies had this greatly brazen asshole trying to get into GM or Nike headquarters, trying to make a point. At the time, I loved it because I had never really seen movie making quite like that. In this film, Moore actually lets the people tell their own stories. And short of a little ridiculous excursion to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Moore actually hits the nail on the head. He is able to interview many, many people all over the country to drive home the point that big insurance companies have wrecked our health care system. We are the only developed nation to not offer universal health care. And we seem to care only about profits and money making than anything else. Why else would we have publicly traded insurance companies? How do insurance companies make a profit? By denying your claims. Who denies your claims? Doctors hired by the insurance companies to maintain a certain percentage of denials in order to make a profit. The current ways of denying claims is to say you have a "pre-existing condition" or that you have had in the past something that you did not disclose, say a cold or the flu. It's thoroughly disturbing that we do not have any sort of health coverage for a significant part of the population and that those of us who are insured are insured on a tenuous level (as in, it can be taken away from you at a moment's notice). This movie was interesting, provocative and sad. It was hard to watch and even harder to comprehend why we would deny basic medical service to people in need. This is not the Hippocratic Oath that doctors take. This goes against every tenent in health care - to do no harm. Insurance companies are greedy, selfish and unnecessary. The saddest thing to me is that the health care reform Obama is trying to push through is being so changed and altered by big insurance companies that I fear it will do nothing to change our health care predicament. I think we need drastic changes that may never happen.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Haiku Sickie-Face Friday

Sneezing and coughing
aching and sniffling and
stuffy and loopy.


Haven't been this sick
in a long time (thank god) but
am slowly healing


The flu kicked my ass
swiftly and took prisoners
weekend rest and bed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Dear Ken Burns,

I have been watching the new documentary on America's National Parks by Ken Burns (showing now on PBS). I don't know what it is about his film-making, his cinematography, the narration, but it's amazing. His stories are so touching, recalling a day long ago when the US was struggling to set up the National Parks system. Not only are there beautiful landscapes of the varied lands across our country, but they follow people and their stories - normal, regular people who traveled to the parks, or people who advocated for the parks formations. It's a story of politics, as well as the "American Dream" and the last few remaining untouched spots in our country. This documentary, like Burns' others, is touching, heartfelt and astonishing. It literally has made me cry on several occasions. I am looking forward to the other installments of this series. Good on ya, Ken!