Saturday, May 13, 2017

Nothing Succeeds Like Success Metrics

"Nothing succeeds like success"--Sir Arthur Helps, 1868

"No, fuck you, nothing succeeds like Success Metrics(TM)"--me, 2017

Portland. As you well know, I think this place is awesome. But there are many ways it is also not awesome. Many of those ways are related to local governance. The city's use of neighborhood associations, based on San Francisco's structure, adopted back in the 1970s and meant to provide a touch point between the city and its residents might be outdated*.

The city's public school system, Portland Public Schools, has a board elected at large but serving as a representative from one of 7 districts across the city. Each board member represents the city at large; this design is meant to ensure that the board includes white people from a variety of upscale neighborhoods.

It's laudable to want this geographic distribution, but it's aggravating that people from outside my district (district 4) get to pick the white person (it's not just white guys) from my district who sits on the board. Yes, I get to do the same for theirs but still, it feels wrong (and feelings trump thinking when they're my feelings).

Which is a long way of discussing the campaign mailer I received on behalf of a candidate (my ballot was returned a week ago and I've already gotten a text message confirming that it's been received). Among the ideas espoused by the candidate is something called "success metrics."

Finally someone is talking about metrics. Schools have long ignored the importance of metrics and, even worse, they typically don't care about success. By embracing success and metrics in the form of success metrics, they would be bringing Portland Public Schools into the 19th century.

I'm really sad that they never adopted my patented (patent pending) G.R.A.D.E. system of success metrics:

    G: Gradated
    R: Representation of
    A: Academic
    D: Development
    E: Experienced

By issuing G.R.A.D.E., schools will be able to monitor a student's success and communicate that to his/her parents. The system costs a mere $1.77 per student per year, with a $1,200 per school set-up charge. Please make checks payable to me.

* It uses a pre-internet approach where geographic proximity makes communication faster and easier. The city could do more with existing resources if a single office used social and traditional media to communicate and enhanced that with resources to ensure that minority groups, like the city's Cambodian or Russian communities, were being served. But I'm not going to say anything about that since, as a former Chair of a neighborhood association, I don't want it to become a whole thing.

For Your Consideration: Ted Danson

Outstanding Actor in a Comedy, The Good Place

Just when you think you've seen Ted Danson's range (from A to B*), BOOM, here comes Ted in a brilliant and unexpected performance. He warmly rounds out the thankless straight man aspect with a kooky ebullience that I, well, did not expect. (Editorially speaking I am saying that I did not expect him to give an unexpected performance... I really should change one of those to "surprise" but instead I'm pointing out this flaw to y'all... welcome to my head.)

I am a bit torn between pushing Danson as lead vs. supporting (as I know most Emmy voters read my blog, such influence can be daunting) but ultimately I decided on lead. There are other aspects of the show that are also Emmy worthy (art direction and costumes, for example) but those are secure in their own merits and the other performers are on their own for securing their nominations. Sorry Kristen. But it would be a shame if Danson was overlooked in a sea of Donald Glover, Jeffrey Tambor, Anthony Anderson, William H. Macy types. You know the ones.

* He also did The Onion Field and CSI: Somewhere.

Musical Theater Therapy: "Find Your Grail"

From Spamalot

Song of the Day: "Second One to Know"

Chris Stapleton rocking out on his follow up to whatever the name of that last album was called.

Song: "Second One to Know"
Artist: Chris Stapleton

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Could I Leave You?"

Sondheim from Follies via Putting it Together and the iconic Carol Burnett.

Song of the Day: "The Spell"

I'm not going to say anything about Afghan Whigs so I don't piss Becky off...

Song: "The Spell"
Artist: Afghan Whigs

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Song of the Day: "Love Yourself"

Mary J. Blige tells me to love myself.

Done and done.

Also Kanye was there. (True story.)

Oh and the New York Times has my back on the awesomeness of The London Sessions.

Song: "Love Yourself"
Artist: Mary J. Blige/Kanye West

Monday, May 8, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "I Am Changing"

Featuring Amber Riley from her award-winning performance in Dreamgirls.

Mine's The White One: The Least You Can Do

As a white guy, I sleep soundly every night knowing that I am always in the right. I don't get followed around in stores, except by salespeople on commission, or pulled over by cops for no reason.

Nor do I wonder whether someone might have drugged my cocktail or could be following me to my car like some girls do. Certainly not at my current weight.

But it's possible that as a white guy I don't perceive the amount of privilege that helps keep white guys in power despite, you know, our clear history of fucking shit up. Or maybe it's true that every other type of person is just worse. Maybe both are true. Regardless, this article about a potential blind spot for the whites when they are friends with people of color, is worth reading if only to be dismissive of afterward. (Pfff, who would ever do such a thing?!!!)
"I can hear your responses in my head, because they’re what I think too: but doesn’t that mean I’ll feel nervous to talk to my friend because I’ll be nervous of fucking it up? Yes. Your friend of color is already doing that because fucking up in a racist society means they could literally be killed. You can be a little nervous and uncomfortable and think before you speak more for your friend, it’s literally the least you can do."--One Strike, You're Out: Fucking It Up With Your Friend Of Color
Of course, most White Christian Americans, which is to say most Christian Americans, which is to say most Americans, feel that Christians suffer discrimination more than any other religion. So where's the warnings to all them liberal elite Muslim-loving Jew-loving liberals about not making real Americans sad?

Didn't think so.

Thanks Obama.

The clear lesson is don't be friends with people who aren't of the same race as you. Problem solved.

Song of the Day: "Want You Back"

I feel like this counts as Haim's sophomore outing, but I've been wrong in the past. Fingers crossed they avoid a disappointing release.

Song: "Want You Back"
Artist: Haim

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Musical Theater Therapy: "Turn It Off"

From the smash hit Book of Mormon.

For Your Consideration: Dr. Ken

Suzy Nakamura, Outstanding Actress in a Comedy "Allison Finds a Lump"
Jonathon Slavin, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy "Ken Learns Korean" & "Allison's Thanksgiving Meltdown"
Mike Sikowitz Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series "Allison's Thanksgiving Meltdown"

In its first season, Dr. Ken was an unlikely comfort show for me. It was generally panned by critics, but I always enjoyed its family-friendly humor the same way I enjoy Reba or The Nanny. I was a bit surprised it was renewed for a second season, but I was more surprised by the quality of the second season. The show's managed to touch on topics ranging from breast cancer and homelessness to depression, Marfan Syndrome and cultural identity.

It's like a modern day Kate & Allie except, you know, funny.

It's also one of a few sitcoms on ABC that doesn't use a narrator or the mockumentary format as a storytelling crutch. Fresh Off the Boat dropped its narrator after season 1, but The Real O'Neals, Blackish, The Middle, Modern Family, these are some of ABC's mainstay shows (and The Real O'Neals). And when I look across some of the highest profile sitcoms on the other networks (Big Bang Theory, The Great Indoors, Making History, Two Broke Girls, Superstore... fucking Superstore and The Great Indoors, these are shit shows... Mom, fucking Mom is horrible) I believe that the best 6 episodes of Dr. Ken are as good as the best 6 episodes from any other network comedy from this season.

The decision to increase Nakamura's presence in the show was smart and unfolds nicely with her joining the team at Ken's work place. She effectively replaces Kim Simes, a ditzy nurse or something, who I swear came directly from an episode of Becker. Nakamura's got fine comic timing and delivery, and she would have been wasted otherwise. Whether she was given more screen time with a plan to feature her in some great episodes, or if the great episodes emerged after giving her more screen time probably shouldn't matter. The end result is great.

In this era of peak television, I doubt Emmy voters will give the show a fair shake, but I am confident that an objective viewer would find more merit in Dr. Ken than in Mom. Fucking Mom.

Sadly, stupidly, ABC doesn't have a lot of clips for me to embed here, but I've made one for myself of Jonathan Slavin's work from "Allison's Thanksgiving Meltdown" (Nakamura is excellent in this episode, but her breast cancer scare episode has Emmy bait written all over it, so I'm recommending the more orthodox selection between the 2 episodes).

Song of the Day: "Fun"

Blondie are still rocking 40 years into their career. At first blush this is too over produced (note: "too over produced" is redundant, but "over produced" doesn't seem to work on its own) for them.

Hopefully I'll warm to it.

Or I'll dismiss with the idea that I have to like it.

Song: "Fun"
Artist: Blondie