Saturday, June 23, 2012

Theatre nerd first-world problems

Ever have a burr under your saddle about something and no one to complain to? Feel like you could Tweet it till Christmas but no one would notice? I did - a complaint about an annoying trend in live theatre. I decided to open my big fat mouth and say something about it, and wrote this piece for Howlround, which is a website for theatre nerds like me.

http://www.howlround.com/here%E2%80%99s-your-hat-what%E2%80%99s-your-hurry-by-barry-martin/

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Beware of Greeks bearing ballots

This was NOT the "Greek" topic I was thinking of.
I was sitting around looking for an excuse for not memorizing the lines I need to memorize, and I started thinking about how I am part of a fairly small subset of American men today - those who were excited about both European Cup soccer and the Tony Awards in the same day - and naturally that led me to furrowing my brow over the prospect of the Greeks voting this week on whether to stick with the euro or not.

My life is complicated and I'm sure you feel sorry for me.

In any case, it seemed like the only option was to pour another large glass of cheap red wine and give this whole mess some thought. Strap in, here we go.

We owe the Greeks a lot. They gave us the foundation for western civilization as we know it, developing essential concepts like democracy, geometry, and theatre, and useful things like maps, plumbing and baklava.

Without the Greeks, we might not have the Olympics, and we might have never discovered columns, let alone having three varieties of them. Thank you, Greeks.

Without the Greeks, maybe the Romans would never have come along, because it seems like the Romans copied the Greeks a lot while adding a lot of fun, bloody stuff. And without the Romans, we might live in a world without all the excellent Italian stuff like Da Vinci and Dean Martin and pizza, and who wants to live in that world, right? So again, thank you, Greeks.

Here's where we get to the problem. While the Italians, over the last century or so, have given us just minor annoyances like Sacco and Vanzetti, Mussolini, the Red Brigades and The Godfather Part 3, the Greeks are on the verge of causing us some serious trouble. Later this week, the Greeks are set to vote on keeping the euro, and if they vote the way they're expected to - which means, who knows what the fuck they're thinking - we're in a world of hurt.

At the core of it we have the problem that the Greeks are leading the world now not in mathematical theorems or philosophy but in the "I want something for nothing" category. In the last couple of years, they have taken to the streets to express their staunch belief in a government-mandated 51 weeks a year of paid vacation and a retirement age of 31. If they vote down the euro, which they might do because they think it will turn back the clock somehow, that virus of entitlement might spread through the rest of Europe (except for Germany where they will turn it away with an efficiently stern look) and before you know it, we will all be taking a hit on our Facebook stock, because all this shit is somehow connected and as soon as I get it figured out I'll be too busy counting my money to worry about who's going to win the Tony for Best Musical tonight.

I understand the Greeks. They're saying, "Hey, I am descended from Euripides and Demosthenes and Pericles and we invented ALL THOSE COLUMNS so you owe me, mister! If I wanted to work hard I'd be an 8 year-old Chinese girl, ok?" And I get that. I can imagine what it feels like to know your best days were 2,000 years ago when you kicked some Trojan ass.

All the same, the whole inter-connected planetary economic system is in need of some confidence right now. Maybe for just a week the Greeks could be as apathetic about voting as Americans?