Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Fake News Frenzy

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 10:50 AM

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  • BigStock

The most recent presidential campaign has reignited many Americans' Facebook rants about "journalism these days," and how it's all turned into a biased, money-centered propaganda machine. No one could log into Facebook during the run up to the election without reading one or more lofty diatribes on why the candidate they support will be the next Messiah and how "the media" has a merciless vendetta against him or her.

Yes, news organizations all across the country missed an important mark while covering the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump by writing that Trump's victory was a "shock." I'd bet good money that many hard-core Trump supporters didn't share that same sentiment, so why was it spreading like wildfire in election night coverage?

Regardless, a generalized hatred for media coverage is unjustified. After all, journalists are the ones who maintain your Fourth Estate and are ultimately the glue that keep your democracy intact. I recently saw a tweet by Sarah Jeong, a contributing editor to the online publication Motherboard, that said, "Audiences say 'journalism' when they liked it and 'media' when they don't," which in my experience so far could not be more accurate. Journalists are undoubtedly a public pain in the derriere, but we're also an undoubtedly necessary one.
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As a budding journalist myself, I have seen these rants by my own peers and have taken them personally at times—even if it was aimed at a national outlet. While my youthful idealism is still somewhat intact (but diminishes a little more with every passing semester), I am not naive enough to deny that poorly-written and completely false reporting is still out there. It's out there more often than it should be.

The most recent outrage over the unvetted Russian dossier is a particularly painful controversy for those of us trying to save the reputation of reliable reporting. However, the overwhelming majority of news and journalism in the world is still fair and truthful, and it's a shame that the hysteria over fake news gets more spotlight time than the incredible, breakthrough work that reporters kill themselves for and sacrifice personal time and sleep for every single day.

For all the readers out there, I humbly ask you to hear my takeaway plea: keep an open mind about journalism and the news industry. Sure, it has flaws, but every other industry does too. How can the world expect improvements in our field if you don't even give us up-and-comers a chance to prove you wrong?

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Cinema Clips: Paterson

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 9:04 AM


Adam Driver plays the title character in writer-director Jim Jarmusch’s latest, a bus driver with a penchant for poetry.

His name is Paterson, he lives in Paterson, New Jersey, and he sets his folded clothes out every night so he’s good to go in the morning. His wife, Laura (Golshifteh Farahani) aspires to be a country music singer, eagerly awaiting a new guitar the couple can barely afford (Also, it must be noted that she can’t play guitar).

The film offers no substantial plot; it’s simply a snapshot of a normal, pleasant life being led by two people who aspire to create art in their spare time. Jarmusch always does well with these sort of observational stories, and this is no exception.

Driver is terrific here, capping a great year that included Midnight Special and a great performance in the muddled Silence. It’s a funny, sweet performance without him really trying to be funny or sweet. The big events in this movie consist of Paterson taking his bulldog for a walk or meeting a fellow young poet who makes him feel insubstantial.

If you love Jarmusch, you will love this movie.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Song of the Day: 'St. James Infirmary' by Allen Toussaint

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 5:09 PM

The first thing you do when you hear the late great Allen Toussant’s take "St. James Infirmary" is at the first imprint of sound consider the amount of times this anonymous standard has been recorded, much less played in a dormant piano bar by a pair of hands that feel its languishing generosity. 
Allen Toussaint on stage at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans, 2009 - MARIE CARIANNA
  • Marie Carianna
  • Allen Toussaint on stage at the Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans, 2009

And now, the slow tap dance is moving with a handclap and you’re inside of it: the restrained piano that fingers the keys, then loves them in full honor of both song and instrument, trading space with the acoustic guitar, and bending the strings with such passion where not one note is wasted, nor a single lyric sung, free of his classic horn charts that through the decades made so many seminal albums great. Here on the Bright Mississippi, released well after Katrina, in 2009, the river that gives and takes equally from its people. A land that could only raise an artistry, in all things beautiful and impoverished, this, the majesty of Louisiana, and of Allen Toussaint.


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Laughing Stock: Safe Space for Dirty Comedy

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 11:00 AM

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“Safe Space Comedy” is a newish thing in U.S. comedy clubs. By proclaiming “safe space comedy,” a club or event hopes to assure women that they can enjoy a trigger-free show without fear of harassment. The idea originated from high-profile harassment complaints in revered Los Angeles and Chicago improv theatres. Recent growth in the trend responds to Donald Trump’s very open misogyny. His vulgarity likely will encourage others to abandon whatever sensitivity they’ve portrayed during the Obamian years of arguable comity. Women now anticipate being demeaned on the regular, and not just emotionally.

For good or ill “dirty comedy” has enjoyed a long history of popularity. It has traditionally evoked laughs at the expense of, not only women and relationships, but also every flavor of what we’ve called “diversity” in recent years. Gary Hood, for years a godfather to Tucson standup, but a victim 2016’s relentless death march, is often imitated for the way he asked, “Clean or dirty?” Doug Stanhope, a national comedian out of Bisbee, boasts a large following for some apparently drunken, slothful and often filthy sets. Your humble scribe first laughed to the raunch of Red Foxx records her sophomore-year best friend sometimes brought over from her brother’s collection. Two new open mics could let Tucson comedy fans have it both ways. Mo Urban, who co-hosts the popular Comedy at the Wench series, has launched a new open mic at the early-for-comedy-hour of 6:30 p.m., the third Wednesday of every month. It’s at Café Passe, 415 N. Fourth Ave. A social worker who’s been outspoken about comedy offensive to women, she says “I have not defined the space, but I think it’s been safe because people know me.”

Meanwhile, Tucson comedy regular “Jose Joey G,” who first presented comedy at the Screening Room, now promises what he calls a “safe space” for “dirty” comedy at The Mint Cocktails, 3540 E. Grant Road. Having taken heat from some women comics after a routine based on one of Donald Trump’s more egregious quotes, he says he wanted to create an open mic where audience members might be less likely to harass comedians about objectification and insensitive references to body parts. The Mint, which opens 10 a.m., daily, is said to be Tucson’s second-oldest dive bar (after the Buffet). It features male and female burlesque performers on weekends. A permanent comedy schedule hasn’t jelled yet; follow The Mint on Facebook for calendar info.

Delores Needs a Home

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 10:00 AM

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Hi, I'm Delores!

I'm a pretty 3.5-year-old mama dog and I need a home. I was found as a stray so the Humane Society of Southern Arizona doesn't know a lot about my history. They do know that I love other dogs and I love to run!

I'm part of the Jog-A-Dog program so I get to go on an extra long run with volunteers and it's my favorite part of the day! I'm looking for a home where I can get daily exercise, play time and maybe a doggy friend to hang out with!

I need a home, but if you aren't looking to adopt you can still help homeless pets like me by donating to HSSA's fund to build a new home!

They are asking people like you to help them raise 3 million dollars! Click here for more information about the new shelter and how you can help today!

If you want to give me a home give HSSA a call at 520-327-6088 ext. 173 for more information!

Lots of love,
Delores (836517)

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Hidden Figures: A Captivating Story of Incredible Women

Posted By on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 at 8:46 AM


Katherine Johnson, one of the most brilliant mathematicians of the last century—and still going at age 98—gets the movie she deserves with Hidden Figures, an entertaining, enlightening and educational look at the contributions of her and her cohorts to NASA and space flight in the late 1950s and after.

Johnson was part of a segregated division at NASA in the ’50s, a wing of mathematicians who did the work that actual computers do today. The movie depicts the humiliation she and two other historical African American figures, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson, went through while solving equations that helped put men safely into space and return them to their families.

The women had to put up with a lot of racist bullshit on their way to, during and after work, and the film shows their hardships, albeit in PG fashion. There was a stretch where Johnson was making monumental calculations for the likes of Alan Shepard, yet she wasn’t allowed to use bathrooms in her building or drink from the same coffee pot as her white counterparts.

Taraji P. Henson plays Johnson, the “smart one” astronaut John Glenn personally demanded check the coordinates before his historical flight launched. Henson is perfection in the role, depicting Johnson as the super awesome nerd she is. She has a scene where she takes her fellow mathematicians at NASA to task for their racist ways, and it’s a stunner. Henson gives the film, and Johnson, the true sense of majesty they deserve.

Octavia Spencer is her usual great self as Vaughan, doing the work of a supervisor without the title and curious about that new IBM thing they just installed down the hall. Vaughan would become crucial to the implementation of computers at NASA, as well as being the agency’s first African American supervisor.

As Jackson, NASA’s first female African American aeronautical engineer, singer Janelle Monae is so good, it’s easy to forget that this is just her second movie role. (She was also excellent in 2016’s Moonlight.) Monae acts with the confidence of somebody who has been at it for decades, not a single year. She is undoubtedly one of cinema’s great 2016 discoveries.

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Friday, January 13, 2017

LTW Offers a Generous Dose of Sweetness and Surprise in Buyer & Cellar

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 3:25 PM

For those who may have welcomed 2017 with not a large dose of cheerful anticipation, get thee to Live Theatre Workshop's production of Buyer and Cellar, a very funny—and very well done—one-man script about the shopping mall underneath one of the buildings on Barbra Streisand's compound in Malibu. 
Keith Wick in Buyer & Cellar at Live Theatre Workshop.
  • Keith Wick in Buyer & Cellar at Live Theatre Workshop.

Yes. You read correctly. An underground shopping mall. On Streisand's compound. Complete with a dress shoppe holding her collection of gowns and costumes from her movies and shows and other events; an antique shoppe decked out with only the finest wares; a doll shoppe with exquisite representations of a real hobbyist's dream. And, let's not forget, a yogurt machine and a commercial popcorn popper. And, of course, a manager who runs the whole thing. But no, this mall is not open to the public. It exists for the entertainment and diversion of The Lady herself.
This is playwright Jonathan Tolins' story of Alex More, an actor, as evidenced by his portrayal of the mayor of Toontown at Disneyland, who got the boot for some unsavory, stress-related behavior. But somehow he impresses the Young Frankenstein-Cloris Leachman-like dominatrix compound manager, Sharon, a humorless troll, according to Alex, that he would be perfect for this particular role as manager of a private mall on Barbra Streisand's private compound.

And he is. It's a pretty lonely job, though, since the Lady Herself rarely comes to the shop-pes, as Alex playfully pronounces it.

But this is not really a story of Alex's loneliness, except as it relates to the time that he has to make observations about numerous things in his mall-managing role. It's a story of a funny, real guy and his rather peculiar interaction with a movie star and music legend. His tale includes his boyfriend who knows way more about Barbra than Alex does. His story also presents us with a poignant suggestion of how not only eccentric, but lonely and isolated the Great Lady might actually be.

Embodying Alex is actor Keith Wick, who without question is one of the best actors in Tucson. He's been a regular at Live Theatre Workshop for years, and he impresses with every role. This role requires an uber-capable journeyman, and Wick, although his performance opening night was not quite at what will be its apex, is just the man.

The qualities required for this role are plentiful in a performer like Wick, whose work always is grounded in skill as well as talent. This is an enormous undertaking. The role requires being able not just to hold our attention for almost an hour and 45 minutes, but infusing that attention with humor and insight and a welcoming persona. It requires someone who's not snarky or prone to mean-spiritedness but one with an ability to make light where it needs to be. It requires a believable character, one never cruel or unkind, especially because of the subject.  

Continue reading »

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U.S. Rep. Grijalva Won't Be Attending the Trump Inauguration

Posted By on Fri, Jan 13, 2017 at 11:00 AM


Congressman Raul Grijalva told his House colleagues today he won't be attending Donald Trump's presidential inauguration:

Thank you Mr. Chairman. I rise today to tell my constituents that I will not be attending the inauguration of Donald Trump as our next president. My absence is not motivated by disrespect for the office, or motivated by disrespect for the government that we have in this great democracy. But as an individual act – yes, of defiance – at the disrespect shown to millions and millions of Americans by this incoming administration, and by the actions we are taking here in this Congress.

The majority of voters rejected Trump. They deserve respect. The 20 million plus Americans threatened by the repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement deserve respect. The millions who did not vote because they blame both parties deserve respect.

I will be at home in Arizona, meeting with seniors, the immigrant community, folks that care about the environment and climate change, healthcare providers. [I will be] marching in Tucson with folks who will demand respect. I will be talking about the need to defend and protect the future for all Americans. Rather than participate in the inauguration, I will be participating in my district and reaffirming, and renewing, this democracy, and the people that are part of it.

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Staff Pick

HAXAN: WITCHCRAFT THROUGH THE AGES

Grave robbing, torture, possessed nuns, and a satanic Sabbath: this legendary 1922 silent film uses a series… More

@ Loft Cinema Sun., Jan. 22, 7:30 p.m. 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.

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