Musical Script Available

If anyone wants to read the script to my musical Eden in Babylon, I’ve got it posted right here:

EDEN IN BABYLON (MUSICAL LIBRETTO)

I had been working on some revisions, mainly removing some of the harsher “street language,” so as to increase the likelihood it might be produced at the high school level.   Prior to COVID-19, we began discussing shooting for a high school production, since at that level, there is no taboo against producing large-cast shows.   

As an American musical in the tradition of Rodgers & Hammerstein, Eden in Babylon has a cast of 27, which is fairly large.  This makes it difficult to produce in a world that naturally values economy.   The musical is usually rejected these days on cast size alone, without anyone actually looking at the script.

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I knew this when I was writing it.   But I guess I had a chip on my shoulder.  You see, I like the traditional American musical.  It’s a nice medium between the straight play (Shaw, Albee, etc.) and British Comic Light Opera (such as Gilbert & Sullivan.)  It’s also a uniquely American genre — though perhaps that point can be argued.   

I had this crazy idea that if I used the traditional American musical concept — which is to present life not as it is, but as it ought to be) – and wrote a musical in traditional American musical form, I might just be able to appeal to those who can afford season’s tickets at community or regional theaters — you know, people who enjoy musicals.

This musical is largely about Youth Homelessness in 21st Century America — though that doesn’t become apparent till the third scene.   I figure that homeless people in general probably won’t comprise much of the audience.   But that’s fine.  Homeless people already know what that lifestyle is like.   

What I’m trying to do with this show is appeal to people who want to be entertained on a sheer entertainment level.  If they want to be educated, edified, or enlightened, there’s plenty of that available in the meantime.

And the final Scene definitely does not present life as it is.   But it sure presents it as it ought to be.    So — hope you like my work.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

  

Gratitude List 1532

(1) I am thankful that my daughter is in my life today.   It makes me feel good to know that, whatever might have gone wrong, I’m not the type of dad that I keep hearing some of these Kids tell me about.   I’ve made mistakes — but at least I care.  Some of those so-called fathers did not even care — and worse.

(2) Thankful for this desk.  For my Lenovo IdeaPad, which safely returned from a warranty fix-up.    Thankful for Audacity free audio editing software, because I got into the multi-tracking and the mixing last night or the first time, and it was all I could do to stop mixing Zazen’s song, I was so thrilled.  This opens up a whole new world of creative possibilities.  I can actually even place musical underscores at key moments in my oral presentations.  It’s amazing what technology can do, if properly utilized.

(3) Grateful for the revelation that when I lost my cool recently, I was basically mad at all the other people on the team because I wasn’t doing my job.   True, they weren’t doing their jobs either, but it’s my job to make sure they do their jobs, and they’re definitely not going to be about doing it without pay and without pressure of definite deadline if I don’t kinda gently get on them about it, now and again.   So, I’m glad I saw the light.  I got my work cut out for me now.

(4) Just ran six miles — my longest run since I’ve been in North Idaho, I’m ashamed to say — and it feels great.  Looking forward to getting a lot of work done tonight.

(5) Looking forward to meeting my new student on Zoom for the third time tomorrow, and to having coffee thereafter with my buddy Tom, the fellow who helps with the four-hand job of putting the smartphone on the tripod.  But other than that once-or-twice-daily step-out, I mostly continue to be grateful to be sheltering in place.  It’s teaching me to be grateful for the place I have for shelter.   For a long time, there was no such place.   Things really could be — and have been — a lot worse than they are today.

“I believe I am better than the people who are trying to reform me.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Midnight Screams

I’ve not given you any music for a while, though I said I would.   Here’s Zazen Matossian singing “Midnight Screams”  from my musical Eden in Babylon.  We got the right groove on the song this time, though it could use some development.  Zazen is a junior at Moscow High School in Moscow, Idaho.   

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

Entitlement, Patriotism and Fascism

Submitted to Spokane Faith and Values on May 15, 2020.

We’ve all been hearing recently about protests that are taking place as a reaction to some of the more disturbing ramifications of social distancing. It is only natural that a rebellion should arise, while so many Americans are out of work and forced to stay at home. Naturally, people begin to feel oppressed under such circumstances, and it is to be expected that some would take to the streets.

However, there is something unusual about the nature of these protests. We see people showing up at City Hall with assault rifles, waving American flags, flaming with indignation over their privileges having been removed. Ostensibly, tyrannical governors are to blame. There is a feeling that these anti-American authority figures are exploiting the current crisis in order to rob their constituents of their Constitutional rights.

alt right protesters
Protesters outside City Hall in Topeka, Kansas on April 23, 2020 (Jay Biggerstaff, USA Today Network.)

One such protest occurred in Spokane earlier this month, in response to Gov. Inslee’s having extended the stay-at-home order through the end of May. Their rallying cry was: “Freedom is the cure!”

But let’s examine that statement. Is freedom, in and of itself, a “cure?” What does the word “freedom” suggest in such a context? And what does that freedom cure? Obviously, to put oneself and others at greater risk of contracting a deadly disease could not possibly be a cure for that disease. But what does it cure? Where is the healing power in an excessive show of freedom?

We need to start thinking like Americans again,” one of the protesters is quoted as having said. But how is an American supposed to be thinking in such a situation? Is it “American” to demand personal freedom at the expense of the health of countless others?

It would seem that such an attitude is actually antithetical to the spirit in which this country was founded. Here we have been taught since grade school that each of us has the right to do whatever we want to do, so long as it does not interfere with the rights of others. But the more wanton form of freedom that these protesters appear to be advocating does interfere with the rights of others. If people are going to be congregating in my vicinity without wearing face masks or paying attention to my need that they be safely distanced from me, that interferes with my right to take reasonable care of my health.

So it can’t possibly be really about freedom. What it’s about is entitlement.

In a USA Today article dated April 29th, former Chief of Homeland Security and Governor of Pennsylvania Tom Ridge has this to say:

These self-absorbed and selfish Americans complain they are irritated, anxious, bored, upset — unhappy that their lives have been affected by this temporary restraint on their freedoms.”

Ridge, who was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor for his service in Vietnam, is keen to clarify that true patriotism is not about entitlement – it’s about sacrifice.

In this war against the indiscriminate and lethal enemy, nurses, doctors, ambulance drivers and countless other health care workers are serving on the front lines. While wearing a different uniform, they are surely putting their lives at risk just as I did as a young Army staff sergeant 50 years ago.”

Ridge continues: “As a veteran, I look at these protests with a different perspective and believe many veterans would agree.”

One can only imagine how people displaying such a flagrant sense of entitlement might appear to heroic men and women who have made great personal sacrifices in the service of their country. It is also disturbing that these demands would be associated with “patriotism.” If prisoners of war who loved their country could serve years in foreign jails, why cannot our own citizens, professing that same love for America, last out more than a couple months of sheltering in their own homes?

It is understandable that with all the economic and emotional factors involved, the nature of social distancing would drive a lot of people mad. But that’s not the point I’m driving at. It’s the combination of entitlement with patriotism that is of concern here.

It’s one thing to have an entitled attitude. We run across it all the time. It’s another thing to mix entitlement with nationalism. And where have we seen this before? The spirit in Nazi Germany might not have been much different than this.

Hitler’s followers committed abhorrent atrocities in a spirit of total entitlement. In addition to feeling they had the right to participate in the murder of six million Jews, they felt justified in targeting the weakest elements of society – the disabled, the terminally ill, and the homeless – and sending such people to concentration camps and to their deaths.

While I don’t want to indulge a trendy comparison of modern America to Nazi Germany, I think it is interesting to see where such references emerge and who is saying them. Often, we find people accused of being “Fascist” by the very people whom I observe to be moving in the direction of Fascism.

At a Trader Joe’s in Palo Verdes, California, a woman was kicked out for refusing to wear a mask. Her reaction was captured on video, where she went on and on about this being the “land of the free and the home of the brave.” The inference is that they had no right to remove her from the store. The truth is that store owners have the right to decide on whatever policy they choose.

What is even more interesting is that the people who promulgated this video on youtube, who call themselves the “Lockdown Channel,” refer to the people wearing masks as “sheep” and to those who enforce such rules as “Gestapo.”

She advises the employees and customers that the fear of a pandemic is being used to take away our freedoms, there is no law or reason to wear a mask and that they are acting like Gestapo and Sheep!”

In reality, there is nothing about setting a store policy regarding the wearing of masks that even remotely resembles the actions of a force composed of nearly 600,000 Germans who by the end of World War II were killing thousands of people every day.

But there is something about the combination of entitlement and patriotism that resembles the spirit of Fascism that engulfed Germany in the 30’s. If we are to look at today’s events in light of history and reason, we need to be careful to discern where the nexus between Fascism and America truly lies.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Theology Afield

“Theology Afield” is a group of spiritual seekers, comprised largely of members of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Moscow, Idaho.  Though I am not a member of that church, I was welcomed into that group when we still met in the reading room of our beloved One World Cafe.  Below is an excerpt from our first Zoom meeting, held last Thursday the 16th.   Kenton Bird, the group facilitator and Professor of Journalism at the University of Idaho, asked I and the others a very timely question.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

A Musical Note

I’ve been sorely tempted to post one of these two new piano tracks that I recorded on the Baldwin Grand at my church with the help of my pastor’s Motorola smartphone.   This is an especially strong temptation in light of my having promised to post more music, and less written text, at this time of our common trial.

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The reason why I haven’t been posting more music can be summed up in two words: technical difficulties.

The reason why I don’t want to post either of these two new tracks is on another plane.  They’re supposed to be piano tracks used in our interactive production of my musical, Eden in Babylon.  If I posted them prematurely, without the other musicians and singers involved, it might hex it.

So, I guarantee you that you will soon see a singer, a bass player, and a pianist (Yours Truly) performing my song “Midnight Screams” in three different places at three different times.   The beauty of it is that it all comes together at once.  

This all is reminding me of a time when I asked a woman to marry me.  She said yes, but told me not to tell anyone yet, because it might “hex” it.  Of course, I told everybody.  Five days later, her ex-husband found out about it, and she was more-or-less forced to call off the engagement.

Oh well.  Perhaps our sudden mutual feeling of having fallen in love was little more than a fleeting infatuation.  Still, I have no desire to repeat past indiscretion.  As you all know, I am virtually already married to Eden in Babylon.

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way. 

 

Sixth Column Published on Religious News Site

My sixth column, concerning how the coronavirus has been impacting homeless populations, has now been published on Spokane Faith and Values, thanks to editor-in-chief Tracy Simmons.   The column includes interviews with a number of people currently experiencing homelessness in very different parts of the country.  

Capture

HOMELESSNESS DURING COVID-19

Please donate to Eden in Babylon.
A little bit goes a long, long way.