Monday, March 26, 2018

The MARCH and the Ensuing MADNESS



It is clear that the historic March for Our Lives held around the world on March 24, 2018 was historic. 

Despite’s CBS’ pathetically low-ball estimate of 200,000 in Washington D.C. on Face the Nation, everyone who was there, including me, knows that the organizers’ crowd estimates were north of 800,000.  Whose expertise was CBS employing—Sean Spicer?  #hocopolitics

Nonetheless, the real ugliness in our country had emerged prior to the actual day of the marches and rallies and now, noting the success and the stalwartness of the organizers led in part by Emma Gonzalez, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and dozens of others, the so-called adults—overwhelmingly Trump supporters based on their Twitter accounts—have taken to cyberbullying to condemn the future leaders of the United States.

Here is an example from one of the turdballs on Twitter, Bill Mitchell.



Mr. Hogg has been lambasted before as his profile skyrocketed following the mass murders in Parkland.  They attacked him for being “coached” and now they’re taking to Twitter to insult his physical appearance.  These are so-called adults!!!!

Ms. Gonzalez has been frequently referred to as a “skinhead lesbian,” and the extreme right has been doctoring photos on social media to present her ripping up the Constitution when in fact, it was a paper target. (see image at Right comparing the two.)

And Cameron Kasky was accused of being a crisis actor, which he famously defanged, “I’ve been acting since Kindergarden in Ms. Blakely’s production of The Rainbow People. I was the narrator and since then I’ve been lucky enough to be in Little Shop of Horrors, Fiddler On The Roof and if you’ve seen those you'd know I’m not somebody who deserves any money for acting,” he said on the Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Further evidence is here.

All these young people want to do is help prevent other kids from being murdered by gunfire in schools and elsewhere. And they are right to threaten lawmakers with voting them out of office if they don’t take the appropriate action. 

For those noble goals, they become victims of “very fine people” who showed their true colors yet again.  America and the world can see quite vividly who the real adults are and who the real children are.

Monday, March 19, 2018

My Case for LGBT Representation on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee


By Bob Ford

I am running to retain my position on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee.  As such, I am the only openly LGBTQ candidate in the race that consists of 30 candidates.  It is vital that the Central Committee, whose principal task among others is to find and support progressive Democrats, have LGBTQ representation.   #hocopolitics

While others may profess their support for LGBTQ rights and equality, being actually LGBTQ and having lived through the journey of coming out and dealing with issues that directly impact the LGBTQ population make me uniquely qualified to represent and promote LGBTQ interests.

I am an active member of PFLAG-Howard County and I serve on the Howard County Human Rights Commission, the #OneHoward steering committee and the county executive’s LGBT Round Table.

To be clear, I am in no way suggesting that I be voted to remain on the Central Committee solely because I’m gay. There’s more to me than that.

In addition to being a hard-working, fair-minded, pragmatic and calming voice of reason on the Central Committee these past four years, I had earned my proven progressive bona fides long before the word “progressive” entered our political lexicon.

I am a pro-labor, pro-civil rights, pro-human rights, pro-LGBT rights, pro-choice, pro-gun reform, pro-environment, pro-universal health care, and pro-economic opportunity Democrat ever since I became active in the political process and have never wavered. And I continue to fight for inclusion, openness and equality, not exclusion.

During elections I have been a tireless participant for numerous Democratic candidates and causes by burning shoe leather door-knocking on their behalf, literature dropping, phone banking, envelope stuffing, working the polls, sign holding, marching in neighborhood parades for local Democrats, staffing tables at a spectrum of events, participating in Black Lives Matter demonstrations, and contributing a good deal of money towards candidates’ campaigns.

So, I am not just simply wrapping myself in the rainbow flag.  Yet, for way too long, LGBT people have been marginalized and shunned by the major political parties.  It was not until the Obama presidency when the LGBTQ community was finally invited to the table. I am running to fight for our rightful place.

The LGBTQ community is a key and growing component of the Howard County and Maryland Democratic Party. The latest estimates indicate there are at least 9,000 voters in Howard County who identify as LGBTQ.  Adding in our families, friends, co-workers, neighbors and allies, we have emerged as a potent coalition within the party.

Moreover, Howard County was among the leading jurisdictions in Maryland to have defeated Question 6—a referendum that would have undone the Maryland legislature’s passage of a law that legalized same-sex marriage in 2012—by a significant 59% - 41% margin.  I believe that acceptance of LGBTQ people has further increased over the past six years thus strengthening the LGBTQ coalition.

Despite the important gains stemming from marriage quality and gender identity protections, so much work remains to combat bullying in our schools including cyber bullying, fighting discrimination in the foster care and juvenile justice systems and homelessness among LGBTQ youth, to name a few. These tend to impact transgender individuals the most.

For all these reasons it is imperative that there is a voice on the Howard County Democratic Central Committee to represent our LGBTQ citizens.  This is how Howard County can truly move forward.

Note that I am not seeking or accepting contributions.  Please visit and Like my Facebook page for updates on the campaign and vote for me on June 26.



Authority: Bob Ford, 5912 Trotter Rd. 21029

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Preview: Gertrude Stein and a Companion at Fells Point Corner Theatre


Gertrude Stein and a Companion by Win Wells is the bittersweet telling of the love and lives of celebrated writer Gertrude Stein and her life partner Alice Toklas. Winner of Best Play at the Edinburgh Festival, Sydney Theatre Festival, and Vita Award for Best Play in South Africa, this two woman show spans decades and takes on multiple figures in the ladies’ world, from reporters and German soldiers to Hemingway and Picasso.

"The evening is a joy...Brisk, fun and literate." - Gannett Newspapers

"The interplay gives the piece a spark beyond the page. It takes this very specific story and peels off its layers, revealing a fascinating study in human relations, in marriage, in the science of compromise and the art of enduring love." - Chicago Reader

Director Anne Hammontree, along with the talented Marianne Angelella and Andrea Bush, bring Gertrude Stein and a Companion to life. Fells Point Corner Theatre is excited to share this imaginative exploration of love and time, written in homage of Alice’s biting wit, Gertrude’s poetry, and their colorful world that sparked the movement of Modern Art.

Admission: $19 for Sundays, $24 for Fridays/Saturdays.

Dates: Runs through Sunday, March 25th, 2018 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St., Baltimore, MD 21231 Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 2:00 p.m. There will be a Saturday Matinee on March 10.

*There will also be a Pay What You Can Thursday performance on March 1, which will be an open dress rehearsal.*

For tickets, visit www.fpct.org.


Monday, March 05, 2018

A ‘Brilliant’ Performance at Olney

Alexander Strain      Photo: Stan Barouh

When one attends the theater with the hope of experiencing some laughter to escape from everyday problems, the last thing you would expect is a play whose underlying theme is depression and suicide.  Yet, Every Brilliant Thing, a play by Duncan Macmillan with Jonny Donahoe, manages to pull that off. 

Olney Theatre Center’s artistic director Jason Loewith directed this unusual one-man performance starring Alexander Strain that is currently playing in the black box Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab at Olney.  The intimate theater is set up with four audience seating sections surrounding a small stage that had, inexplicably, a bunch of Oriental rugs spread on the floor.   #hocoarts

But is it really a one-man show as advertised?  Well, it is if you discount the dozens of audience members who, prior to the show, received directly from the lead performer pieces of paper and other items containing a numerical cue and text with which to participate throughout the play.  These folks either shout out an item from a list of brilliant things in the world or briefly play a character. 

That list had been devised by a boy beginning at age seven after learning of his mother’s attempted suicide. Through the narration by Mr. Strain, we find out that the purpose of the list is to demonstrate that with all the wonders and joys in the world enumerated on it, life is worth living. 

It starts out with childish ideas, such as ice cream and staying up past bedtime.  Then as the play progresses, Mr. Strain moves through adolescence and young adulthood where he adds items.  Peeing in the ocean where nobody will know is such an entry.  Falling in love is another.  So is waking up next to someone. Even “The prospect of dressing up as a Mexican wrestler”—my assigned line—was included as number 777,777.

On and on it goes with audience members reeling off another item. Ultimately he succeeds to form a list nearing the million mark—verbally skipping hundreds of thousands, of course—since it is only a one-hour play.

Yet, it is Mr. Strain, a multiple Helen Hayes Award nominee and one-time Helen Hayes winner, who works with the audience, partly through improvisational quips, that makes the performance so entertaining and sturdy.  Audience members play such roles as a veterinarian who is asked to euthanize the boy’s dog; a teacher who takes her shoe and sock off to create a sock puppet; his father; and his girlfriend then later wife. 

Mr. Strain’s fast-on-his feet retorts and ad libs along with his entering all four sections of the audience at one time or another create a cabaret atmosphere, what with the in-the-round set and the audience involvement.  He exudes warmth, charm and sincerity to augment his well-timed humorous lines while also exhibiting the sorrow his character feels throughout his life to this point. Adding to the superlative performance is Mr. Strain’s high level of energy that provides much action and movement on the stage.

Sprinkled throughout are bits and pieces of music that had an impact on his life adeptly handled by sound designers Jane Behre and Ryan Gravett.

Let’s hand out praise to those audience members who played these characters the evening the play was reviewed.  They’re not actors but seemed to emit the needed pathos when called upon and were convincing.  The rest of the audience was appreciative. Each performance will bring in a new “supporting cast,” which will add a dimension of unpredictability.

Interwoven with the comical features, however, is the reality of mental illness, depression and suicide attempts and how these can affect a family and one’s view of the world and life itself. 

It is during a conversation with his father (Mr. Strain portrayed the father, and an audience member played him as a seven year-old) whereby through a series of “why” questions, the youngster learns from his father his mother’s unhappiness and eventual attempt to hurt herself.  This segment is the most compelling, emotional, gut-wrenching part of the play. 

Photo: Stan Barouh
Noting the sensitivity of the subject matter, the theater’s program contains a page devoted to suicide prevention including a list of resources to consult if an audience member or someone he or she knows is suffering from suicidal thoughts.

But the heaviness of the subject matter does not linger too long as the list continues to be divulged with Duncan Macmillan’s witty words and Mr. Strain’s frolicking delivery creating the needed balance. 

The short play scampers along at a brisk, somewhat frenetic pace.  It is a unique presentation on many levels, and  it is moving as well as entertaining.  You should definitely put  Every Brilliant Thing on your own list of things to do.

Running Time. One hour with no intermission.

Advisory: Every Brilliant Thing contains adult subject matter and is not suitable for children under age 13.

Every Brilliant Thing runs through April 1 at the Mulitz-Gudelsky Theatre Lab, Olney Theatre Center, 2001 Olney-Sandy Spring Road, Olney, MD 20832. Tickets may be purchased by calling 301-924-3400 or by visiting online .  


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Olney Theatre Center’s 2018-19 Season


SOUTH PACIFIC

 Music by Richard Rodgers • Lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II • Book by Oscar Hammerstein II and Joshua Logan • Adapted from the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel Tales of the South Pacific by James A. Michener • Music Direction by Kristen Rosenfeld • Choreography by Darren Lee • Directed by Alan Muraoka

AUGUST 31 - OCTOBER 7, 2018 • MAINSTAGE

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LABOUR OF LOVE

A comedy by James Graham • Directed by Leora Morris

SEPTEMBER 26 - OCTOBER 28, 2018 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB

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ELF THE MUSICAL

 Book by Thomas Meehan and Bob Martin • Music by Matthew Sklar • Lyrics by Chad Beguelin • Based on the New Line Cinema film by David Berenbaum • Music Direction by Angie Benson • Choreography by Tara Jeanne Vallee • Directed by Michael Bobbitt

NOVEMBER 9, 2018 - JANUARY 6, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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ONCE

 Book by Enda Walsh • Music and Lyrics by Glen Hansard and Mark√©ta Irglov√° • Based on the motion picture written and directed by John Carney • Music Direction by Christopher Youstra • Directed and Choreographed by Marcia M. Dodge

FEBRUARY 6 - MARCH 10, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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OIL

 By Ella Hickson • Directed by Tracy Brigden

FEBRUARY 27 - MARCH 31, 2019 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB

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A COMEDY OF TENORS

 By Ken Ludwig • Directed by Jason King Jones

APRIL 10 - MAY 12, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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THE MARY STUART PROJECT

 Based on the play by Friedrich Schiller • Adapted by Jason Loewith and the company • Directed by Jason Loewith

MAY 8 - JUNE 9, 2019 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB

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ROALD'S DAHL MATILDA THE MUSICAL

 Book by Dennis Kelly • Music and Lyrics by Tim Minchin

JUNE 21 - JULY 21, 2019 • MAINSTAGE

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TIGER STYLE!

 By Mike Lew

JULY 17 - AUGUST 18, 2019 • MULITZ-GUDELSKY THEATRE LAB