Friday, July 10, 2009

Best Blog In Tennessee - A Summer Full of Fun

I'm not sure what the best blog in Tennessee might be, but it seemed a catchy headline to note that yes I have been most active in the non-online world this week so please pardon my absence and let me get you all caught up. Our town is bursting at the seams this summer with some live theatrical shows for the entire family so let me fill you in.

I have been most busy with rehearsals for the production of Roald Dahl's "James and The Giant Peach" for Rose Center's Summer Players program, which opens for three shows only, July 31, August 1 and 2. Showtimes are 8 pm Friday and Saturday and 2 pm on Sunday. I promise to put some cast photos up next week -- and this cast of young actors are fantastic. And yes, I'm still designing set pieces and am about to start making the Giant Peach itself plus the giant Octopus which will be large and appropriately aquatic. Some hints of the images are here, but you'd best just come see the show to see the Final Product. Call Rose Center at 423-581-4330 for tickets and find out how you can support the show through ads in our program too, but do that ASAP!!

The cast includes:

James -- Graham Christophel

Aunt Spiker - Page Winstead

Aunt Sponge - Emily Ray

Grashopper - Hannah Beth Moorehouse

Ladybird - Jamie Afghani

Earthworm - Eric Miller

Centipede - Chelsea Helton

Spider - Carli Rick

Tour Guide/Reporter/1st Officer - Erica McCoige

Mr. Trotter/Old Man/ Captain - Austin Pratt

Mrs. Trotter/2nd Officer - Sunny Edmonds

Sharks, Octopus, Tour Group and Tech Crew -
Josh Mattocks
Kylian Andrew
Sunny Edmonds
and some others to be announced

Assistant Director/Stage Mgr-- Autumn Leming

Plus my enormous thanks to all their parents who are working on costumes and sets and selling ads and planning concessions and selling tickets and are working as hard as the cast, AND all the staff at Rose Center, whose commitment to our community and promoting arts and education and other community services always astounds me and makes Morristown a better town.

Bringing to life on stage a Giant Peach and aquatic monsters and giant insects is terrific fun, and we all often laugh like crazed goofballs at times and I know they'll make the audience laugh just as hard. The creative energy we are making daily is practically beyond description. There is nothing better, plain and simple.

I am so thankful to the Rose Center for allowing me to direct this performance and I want to encourage you to support them to -- they've got some other fine performances coming up soon too, like the concert on July 17th with The Dirty Guv'nahs, Limo Wreck and Jenna and the Juvies -- ticket info and more is here on the Rose Center page.

Our town has a whole summer full of fun going on right now - tonight, the Morristown Theatre Guild, which is celebrating it's 75th Season, opens up their production of "High School Musical 2" -- check out their Facebook page here. Here again are some very talented local actors and tech crews making some fantastic entertainment. Here's a clip from the rehearsals and interviews with the cast:

Also opening at the end of July and running through August is Morristown's Encore Theatrical production of the musical "The Producers", and you can check out their Facebook page here. In fact, one of the cast of "The Producers", Susan Christophel, is the mother of the young fellow playing James in the Giant Peach, Graham Christophel. Our town is chocked full o' talent, people.

Come spend some fine summer evenings with us and you'll have a great time, we promise!!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Sen. Ramsey Fails At Tea Party Math

Cultivating his supporters for a run for Governor of Tennessee, Sen. Ron Ramsey spoke with a passion at a "tea party" rally in the Tri-Cities this weekend, but he (or the Johnson City Press typesetters and/or their reporter) failed to realize just when the Declaration of Independence was created.

I’m excited about these (events). It’s exactly how our country got started. If you look back 223 years ago today ... there were 56 men that walked out of a building there at Independence Hall and had the Declaration of Independence,” Ramsey said. “Just ordinary people just like us. Ordinary people with no political agenda other than they wanted to be free and that’s exactly what we’re doing here today."

Missed it by a few years, there Senator. 223 years would put the date at 1786, not 1776. And let's be honest too - there were crystal clear agendas - a desire to be the next governor for Sen. Ramsey,- and that the extraordinary writers of that declaration did indeed have very strong political agendas, from freedom to taxation to dreams of a new nation. I'd call those mistaken comments a Political Fail on a couple of levels.

I wrote some yesterday about the multiple mini-protests in East Tennessee, with numerous Republican officials in attendance. And what I wrote yesterday continues to amaze me - crowds of people decrying how bad Congress and the President are -- even though East TN has consistently elected only Republicans to Congress, for more than 120 years in the case of the 1st Congressional District.

Maybe the tea warriors need to think about getting someone other than Republicans elected as their representative if real change is their goal. Otherwise, just what are they protesting?

Maybe, as the photo from the Johnson City Press shows, the events are meant to simply praise certain cable news channels:

Monday, July 06, 2009

Rep. Phil Roe's Odd Tea Party

According to the OpenPen blog, 1st District Congressman Dr. Phil Roe (aka Dr No) had some fiery words to stir the crowd -- but just what was he calling on the crowd to do?

(Rep. Roe also made time to attend a few other "tea party" events, along with the former 1st District Congressman David Davis, State Senator Steve Southerland
R-1st, of Morristown, and state Rep. David Hawk, R-5th, of Greeneville, but they did not speak and were not recognized by any of the speakers and other elected officials.)

Chris Lambert at OpenPen writes:

While I have my own differences with the Tea Party crowds and some of the reasons that they claim have brought them together, I fully respect and appreciate their right to protest and gather to voice their concerns. But what really confuses me is their timing and I have to ask, where were they for the past eight and a half years? The timing is highly suspect in many eyes, coming right after a very heated campaign and election of a Democratic President. So why all of a sudden, have these protests started popping up? They rail against government spending and the economic collapse, two areas where the previous administration redefined our perception of the terms and set the stage for the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression. Where were the Tea Party protests then? I ask because I would have considered joining them myself, if these are the two areas that are the most troubling to this group. I think all of us, irrespective of our political ideology, could get behind a movement to hold our government accountable for rampant and out of control spending across the spectrum of our government."
"Dr. Phil Roe, our Congressman, decided that he would use the opportunity to fill in the Tea Party protesters on just what he is doing in Washington – voting No at every opportunity on every issue, much like the rest of the Republican Party. He also had this interesting quote to give to the crowd:

“It’s not about firecrackers. It’s about 56 people standing up declaring themselves independent of a king and we might have to do it again,” Roe said.

That raises some interesting questions about Congressman Roe and what he feels is needed at this point. Looking at his words, it’s plain that he see’s President Obama as a “King”. Does Congressman Roe believe, like many others in the Tea Party protests, that another revolution is somehow warranted because of policy differences with the present administration? I thought we had a political system that was designed to prevent such horrific things from occurring, mainly through the ballot box and through such offices as the one that Dr. Roe now holds? So why is it that Congressman Roe feels that our current state as a nation rises to such a level as to suggest such a thing? It’s clear by his own presence at this protest that he was playing to the crowd, but does Congressman Roe have the backbone to refuse all Federal funds coming his way to our district? That’s the only way that he can put his money where his mouth is and prove to all of us that he really is standing against what he perceives as a threat to our “freedom”. And going further, how exactly are our freedoms being threatened by this administration? The last time I checked, the Bill of Rights is still intact (albeit after 8 years of being threatened in many ways).

I find it very strange that I didn’t see Dr. Roe in the streets a few years ago, when President George W. Bush was spending our country into oblivion and making some of the worst decisions on an international scale that have cost our country billions and an immeasurable amount in human suffering. Now, a new administration comes along that just happens to not be of the same political party of Dr. Roe, and he’s outraged and ready to take to the streets? Call me skeptical of his intentions."

Meanwhile, former congressman Davis offered this comment:

The event’s keynote speaker, former U.S. Rep. David Davis, spoke out against politicians using the tax code as a tool for social engineering.

“They use it to control our behavior, steer our choices and change the way we live our lives,” Davis, a Johnson City Republican, said of the tax code. “Our elected representatives should only use taxes to fund the necessities of government, and they must put a stop to both social engineering and corporate bailouts.”

Before he spoke, Davis was asked if his remarks represented an unofficial kickoff to his 2010 campaign to unseat Roe.

“I haven’t decided whether I’m going to run yet,” said Davis, who lost to Roe in the 2008 GOP primary. “I’m keeping the door open. This event is really about freedom and liberty. ... We’ve lost our faith in God as a Christian nation. And we’ve lost our faith in the Constitution. If we get back to those two things, America continues to be a shining city on the hill.”

When asked why “Tea Parties” weren’t held when the policies of former President George W. Bush were adding to the national debt, Davis responded: “I think there should have been. The Republicans spent too much money. But this is not a Republican crowd. This is not a Democrat crowd. This is an American crowd. I think Americans right now are fed up with politicians.”

Part of me is rather proud that citizens feel duty-bound to speak out on how our government works. But the real work is done day-to-day, talking directly to elected officials, writing letters and making phone calls, encouraging discussion among friends and family, taking part in community groups whose goals include improving the quality of life on local, state and national levels.

But here's the problem in the 1st District - voters have allowed for only representatives from the Republican Party to hold office for over 120 years in Congress. Maybe that's the problem you should fix first.


Tennessee, Others Say Goodbye to Rest Stops

Via the Wall Street Journal:

Later this month, cash-strapped Virginia plans to barricade entrances and switch off the plumbing and electricity at nearly half its highway rest areas. Other states also are lowering budgetary axes on the public pit stops that have lined the interstate highway system since its creation in 1956.

"But rest stops aren't going quietly.

"Truckers, blind merchants and a dogged historian are fighting to preserve them. If the battle is lost, every long-distance motorist will need "a strong rear end and a strong bladder" to hit the road, warns John Townsend, an official with the American Automobile Association in Washington.

There are about 2,500 rest areas along the interstates. State governments build and maintain them. Most have remained steadfastly utilitarian: a parking lot, a simple building with toilets, a few picnic benches, and maybe some vending machines. Because many of the interstates bypassed cities and towns, travelers often had no other options when they needed to pull off the road.

But over the years, big clusters of gas stations, fast-food outlets and motels have sprung up just off interstate exits in all but the most remote parts of the country. A national directory lists nearly 2,500 privately owned truck stops, each with at least 10 parking spaces and two showers. Even Wal-Mart Stores Inc. -- which permits overnight stays by recreational vehicles at most of its more than 4,000 locations -- offers a popular alternative to old-fashioned rest areas.

A growing number of states have come to see rest areas as obsolete. Rather than spend the money on maintenance and repairs, states began closing them.

Louisiana has closed 24 of its 34 rest areas since 2000, four of them last year. Maine, Vermont and Colorado have recently announced plans to shutter more rest areas because of cash constraints. Rhode Island, Tennessee, Arizona and others are thinking of doing likewise."