R. I. P. Elijah E. Cummings

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

America lost a great man today with the death of Representative Elijah E. Cummings from Maryland at the age of 68.

Mr. Cummings, a brilliant orator, was a tireless advocate for social justice, and he spoke for the causes of the poor and the left-behind in the United States of America. Among his causes were fights for health care and justice for all Americans, regardless of class, race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation.

He spoke of the need for civility in the government but also the absolute necessity for the government to serve the people’s needs. He battled for justice and against injustice. He advocated for the defense of democracy. He was a tireless American patriot.

He will be missed.

He was a great American.

R. I. P. Elijah E. Cummings

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(https://pixabay.com)

More Insanity and Horror–Another School Shooting

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The American insanity with guns continues. Yet, another school shooting has occurred in Denver with at least one dead and seven others wounded.

I expect  that two things will happen: media coverage will decrease as we, as a society, become desensitized to these terrible events; and the other is that spineless politicians who are either afraid of the gun lobby or in their pockets will offer their thoughts and prayers. They will, however, take no action. They will simply hope that American citizens forget this latest tragedy, and they will treat the situation as normal.

This must end. I, for one, will never support any politician who does not support gun control laws. This horrible situation must change.

This is a call to political action: if you agree that serious gun control must be enacted, then do not vote for any politician, on any level, who does not support gun control.

Children, teachers, and parents should not have to face this insanity in our society.

If you agree with this idea, please tweet and reblog this post.

Remember, Always — It Can Happen Here

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In 1935, Sinclair Lewis, in It Can’t Happen Here, spoke to the idea that many Americans held that fascism could not occur in the United States of America. His book is satirical, frightening, and, unfortunately, still applicable.

1984 by George Orwell details the action of dictatorship set  in a dystopian future. Unfortunately, the lies of politicians as they deny their support for fascists and white power fanatics, illustrates Orwell’s understanding of how dictatorships can work.

Erik Larson’s nonfiction history book In The Garden of Beasts, 2011, detailed the experience of Ambassador Dodd in Berlin in the 1930s, during the rise and solidification of Hitler’s power, and it is a terrifying read.

We must always remember that it can happen here, that bigotry and hatred can lead to terrible results. That white nationalists and neo-nazis brought their horror and bigotry to Charlottesville, VA resulting in violence and death should make all Americans, regardless of political party, Democrat, Republican, or Independent, aware of what can happen. Since then other attacks on innocent people, both in the United States and around the world, continue to occur. The horror of the brutalities in New Zealand affects all of us.

We should all be frightened of the possibilities of such hatred. We should also speak to the singular lack of condemnation by President Trump of the neo-nazis and white power groups. As President, he should not have said that there were good people “on many sides” in Charlottesville, VA, and he has claimed that white nationalists are not a big problem in the world.

This problem is, however, enormous and terrifying. This is an issue of hatred, brought by those who worship hatred and the defeated, in World War II, obscenities of Hitler. The President should have, without equivocation, stated his condemnation of their actions and beliefs. And we must be aware that the fascist beliefs are regrowing in our world.

We must always remember that fascism, bigotry, hatred, and dictatorship can occur here as it can anywhere. As Americans, whose freedom was paid for in blood, by those who fought in World War Two, we must speak out against such injustice and horror. As members of the world community, we must condemn such actions and support the victims of this horror.

There should be no place for neo-nazis, white nationialists, and bigotry in the United States of America nor in the world. If we do not speak out, then we are condoning this horror. We must remember that silence is complicity in evil.

Who Are Some Of Your Favorite American Poets?

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As I continue this series, I realized that with some categories, it is necessary to be more specific than I had been. Poets are one such group; I thought I would begin this discussion with American poets and then move on in later posts to poets from other places.

It is still an enormous task to choose several favorite poets, but since it is my series, I must do so. Here are my choices:

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Robert Frost

Without a doubt, Robert Frost is one of the most important American poets. He wrote many poems set in rural America, and his works earned him the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Many who do not read much poetry are familiar with his famous poem: “The Road Not Taken.”

My next choice:

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes was a poet of the 20th Century, and he was one of the most important of the creative minds who made up the Harlem Renaissance. Hughes wrote about life for African-Americans and about themes that dealt with the entirety of the American experience. One of his best know poems is “Dream Deferred.”

My third choice is a poet whom I have featured in this blog before:

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Robert Fillman

Mr. Fillman has a book of his poems being published this spring– November Weather Spell. I completely expect that, in the future, Robert Fillman will be recognized as one of the most important American poets.

Here is a link to the book page: November Weather Spell

and to his homepage: robertfillman.com

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My question to all of you is–who are some of your favorite American poets?

Who Are Some of Your Favorite Playwrights?

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It is time to continue this series about favorite writers, and I do not think I am close to finishing it! I have many ideas in mind about writers and questions about which ones you like.

For this post, I am wondering about playwrights. I have been involved with theater and drama since I was very young. I have been an actor, a director, an acting coach, and I teach drama at college, mainly at the Wescoe School of Muhlenberg College in Allentown, PA.

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The first of my favorite playwrights begins with the one who is the center of literature, William Shakespeare. I have also been involved with Shakespeare most of my life. I have read his plays many times, and it is difficult to choose the ones I think most important, but I will try. My favorite Shakespeare plays are A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Henry V, and Hamlet.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org)

Arthur Miller, a modernist American playwright, worked in the 20th Century. Among his best plays are Death Of A Salesman, All My Sons, and The Crucible. His work is powerful, and he explores major themes of America and the world.

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(By Thebogsideartists – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=43934304)

My third choice is Brian Friel, a playwright who lived from 1929-2015. He emerged as an Irish playwright and became one of the most well known and important writers in the world. Among his plays are Translations, Dancing At Lughnasa, and Philadelphia, Here I Come!

My question to all of you then is — who are some of your favorite playwrights?

Favorite Christmas Movies Revisited: White Christmas

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White Christmas, the 1954 film about two former soldier who turn song and dance men and who help their former commander as he attempts to run a floundering ski resort, has special meaning to me. It stars Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, and Rosemary Clooney and was directed by Michael Curtiz. It features the songs of Irving Berlin.  As a major piece of American film history, that would be enough to be of interest to me, but it has a much more profound connection.

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My parents were both of “the greatest generation,” which is a description with which I agree. They were born and raised during the depression and were part of the multitudes of America who fought and supported World War II. My father was a Marine, and my mother worked in the Signal Corps.  This group of Americans had a toughness that was forged in the fire of great tumult, both national and international.

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(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Signal_Corps_%28United_States_Army%29)

 My mother loved this movie, and it was a tradition in our family to watch it when it aired on television, which was, if I remember correctly, every Christmas Eve. If not that night, then it was always on a nearby night. Of course, as a child who was born a while after World War II, it was all ancient history to me then, but for my mother and father, it spoke directly to their lives and to their hopes and dreams.

Both of my parents have been gone for quite a while now, over 20 years–they were married for 48 years and died within 2 years of each other. As I have become older, I have learned to appreciate what my parents did for us, which, I have to admit, when I was young and stupid, I did not. To paraphrase Mark Twain, –it is amazing how smart my parents got as I got older. And I appreciate and try to continue some of the family traditions, including watching White Christmas, but now with my beloved wife.  I still feel the connection to my Mom and Pop when I watch this movie.  This movie speaks to the connection of people, of hope, of joy, of happiness, and of the power of music.

And I wish we would have a white Christmas, but I think it will not happen this year.

Perhaps next year.

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An Attack On American Democracy

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American democracy is under attack–the threat of the bombs that have been found that were aimed at numerous people, including political figures, business people, artists, and leaders from national intelligence–has precedent only in the assassination of President Lincoln. That conspiracy intended to kill 3 other government figures and bring down the Union.

There can be no doubt that this is a domestic terrorist attack, and all Americans should be horrified by these actions. These are the kind of actions that put many people, including the people who work in the postal facilities and offices where the bombs were sent, into grave danger. This is an attack clearly focused on one political side. I would condemn this kind of action, no matter who is the focus.

We are supposed to be Americans, regardless of political party affiliation. After 9/11, we had a brief moment of unity. We need to end the hatred and divisiveness that threatens all of us.

I also want to commend the various law enforcement agencies who are investigating these horrific attempts at mass assassination, including the FBI, the ATF, NYPD, and other police forces. They are doing excellent work, and I hope they identify the person or persons behind this threat quickly.

I also pray that our country, The United States of America, can remember what unites us. We are stronger than anyone who would threaten or attempt to terrify us.

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