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Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Telephone Trees and Other Horrors of the 21st Century









I will turn 75 this September so, readers, let me take you back to a world from the last century where things worked like this: 


1.  When you called the phone number of a business or governmental agency a real person answered your call and promptly directed you to the appropriate area of the entity.  This real person spoke English in a clear fashion and could be reasoned with if there was a problem.  I know this is hard to believe, but try.


2.  Life did not revolve around a little machine that you were required to carry with you at all times lest you miss important messages (emails, texts, popup warnings) or be stranded without entertainment.  If you were going to be detained and wanted something to amuse yourself you carried a physical book.  I know this sounds crazy.


3.  You were not exposed to unwanted advertisements in every direction you turned and particularly not when trying to do something important like seeking help in an emergency or troubling situation.  It would have been considered rude to begin a contact with a prospective customer by forcing him/her to first view and then delete an ad.  Businesses doing so would have been shunned into bankruptcy.










But what I miss most about these “good old days” was that the entities with whom you had dealings were very good (on the whole—there were, of course, exceptions) with listening to your problem and suggesting a solution.  Nowadays when you face a problem, say a difficulty caused by your television cable company, there are a number of gloomy steps you can anticipate before you ever get to the final person who might be able to help you.  You can bet you’ll spend something close to an hour before there's any chance of a resolution.






Consider my dilemma of last Saturday.


As a certified Chicago Cubs fan since 1968 (see Related Posts below for the evidence) I have been thrilled since the Cubs finally won the World Series (after a drought lasting since 1908).  My enthusiasm led me this year to signing up (at a cost of over $170) with Spectrum for access to the Major League Baseball channels that broadcast most games on a daily basis.  Every day I hunt up and record the Cubs game and DVR it so that I can watch it at my leisure later in that day or the next, skipping commercials and rain delays and replays and conferences on the mound, etc.  It takes me about two hours to watch a game, and faster if the Cubs get far ahead or behind.


Every so often the game I have chosen fails to record, but this is rare, or was until this past weekend when for two days in a row scheduled recordings failed to materialize. 


With considerable dread (since I have had these dismal telephone battles with Spectrum in the past) I put in a call to Spectrum and encountered the usual telephone tree, starting with a cheery recorded female voice asking me to answer a series of questions (“Is this call in connection with the account listed for the phone number you have used to call us today?”).  I endured various mechanical queries until I was given choices for the next step, and I chose “Cable Box,” hoping it would be right.  Reaching the next branch on the tree I was told there would be a wait but that they would call me back if I wanted them to, so I chose that option and hung up.  Ten minutes later a real person in the voice of a woman who sounded like it had been a long day for her asked me to describe my problem.

 
I launched into an explanation of all of the above, adding that I was paying extra for this service and it was annoying to have it fail me, and then asking how it could be fixed.


“You’ve reached the wrong department,” was her laconic response.  “Let me transfer you to the television branch.”  Trying not to snarl I replied, “Please,” and waited through about two minutes of flute solo until a young man with a confident voice asked how he could help me.  I took a deep breath and recreated my story once again, with the same plea about wasted money, and then waited for his expertise.  “Sounds like you should have rebooted,” he commented dryly.  This annoyed me.  I have in the past rebooted the cable system when told to do so, but didn’t know it was expected of me for any and all problems.  The man smugly replied, “Oh, you should reboot every two weeks to keep the system running properly.”  I felt anger rising in me.  “And how would I have known this?” I asked.  He ignored by question and merely repeated, “It’s just what you should be doing.  Of course we could send out a man to look over the problem in a day or two, but if you’ll just reboot regularly that should solve the problem.”  Suppressing words I first learned in my Navy days and tamping down the urge to demand that some of my wasted money be refunded, I muttered that I would try it and clicked off. 






I did reboot and since then have successfully recorded one game, but I’m still pissed.  Now I must train myself to reboot every two weeks to solve problems that Spectrum itself creates, and (like most consumers in 2018 I'm resigned to accept that it was all my fault) I will probably adapt to this regimen.  I abandoned up any attempt to press Spectrum for a refund of some of my money.  The amount is too small and even though I could make them do it (I’m a Professor of Law and a nationally known expert on consumer legal rights) it would take more effort than it's worth.  Pursuing this with the smug young man I'd been talking to would have led me further into the Spectrum telephone maze before I got to their legal department and explained how easy it would be for me to file a complaint in the Small Claims Court and the joy it would give me to put a garnishment on Spectrum’s bank account if the company didn’t promptly pay up.  I have done such things in the past when sufficiently angered, but recovering, say, $4.84 wouldn’t be a wise expenditure of my time, however pleasurable it would be to annoy Spectrum in this way.  You have to pick your battles, so I surrendered on this one.


But consider what sheep we’ve all become in 2018.  The corporations with whom we must deal (and governmental agencies, etc.) really don’t care if their consumer complaint systems are efficient from the consumer’s point of view.  Their major concern is to set up a system convenient (and cheap as possible) for the company.  The electronic voices get no pay and don’t drain corporate coffers in the way human operators would.  And once most people realize that there is no simple solution that will help, many of them will just live with the agony rather than spend an inappropriate amount of time scaling that telephonic tree, wasting a productive part of the day.  Apparently there’s no profit in making things easy for your customers once you’ve hooked them.








So, damn it, I’m a sheep because I can’t be anything else if I want to watch those Cub games.







Baa!



[Click to enlarge]



-----------------------------------
Related Posts:


"My Sad Tale of Being a Chicago Cubs Fan," May 27, 2015; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/05/my-sad-tale-of-being-chicago-cubs-fan.html

“My Battle with Sony To Get a Refund on a DVD Player”;
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2015/07/my-battle-with-sony-to-get-refund-on.html

"The Payment-In-Full Check: A Powerful Legal Maneuver," April 11, 2011; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2011/04/payment-in-full-check-powerful-legal.html

"I Threaten To Sue Apple Over an iPad Cover," April 8, 2011;
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2011/04/i-threaten-to-sue-apple-over-ipad2.html



Monday, July 2, 2018

Has Trump Taken Over the Supreme Court?






No.  Not yet.  But he’s close. 

It was always improbable that this overblown ego-driven man would run for president, win the office, and then let go of his controls (if there were ever any) completely.  Biographers of his presidency all concur that Trump himself was very surprised by winning.  His original plan was to lose and then capitalize on his loss in big financial and superstar ways.  But win he did!  And, in spite of a wife who only married him for his money and wept when she learned she would have to be the FLOTUS (a term she had to learn as one of many in any immigrant’s struggle with the complexities of the English language), Trump was delighted by the opportunity to run the world!  What a coup!




The man doesn’t play by the rules.  He never understood them.  He doesn’t want to understand them.  For Donald J. Trump it’s okay to be someone who routinely takes advantage of others.  A few bad almost-broke periods aside, DJT has always had money and happily gulped down more even if he had to bribe officials, skirt the law, take money from his followers by lying to them about the frauds he was committing (see Trump University).  It didn’t matter when he was caught bragging about grabbing women’s pussies—hell, he could get away with that even in a world where such things were ruining the careers of powerful and surprised men who did exactly the same thing.  Donald Trump is above consequences!




Plus he doesn’t need to know what other people’s rules are.  He makes his own.  Donald Trump can read, but he doesn’t.  His staff tried to give him memos, and he wouldn’t read them.  There is no evidence he has ever read a book from cover to cover, and that would include “The Art of the Deal,” which was completely written by the man listed as “coauthor” and who now is ashamed of it, donating his profits to charities.

When Trump was first installed in office I (stupidly) assumed he’d change: stop tweeting, act presidential, behave with a new sense of responsibility.


Instead he set about establishing himself as king of the world.  Why not?  His whole life has been improbable.  Becoming the 45th President of the United States was merely the next step.  Now he can repeal all the things about government he doesn’t like, which is most everything, and run the country from the Oval Office.  He doesn't need a Congress.  Hell, they are so divided they haven’t done anything for almost a decade.  Yes, the judiciary has been a pesky problem.  Annoyingly they think they’re better than him, more important than Donald Trump, overseeing his programs and stopping Trumpian progress.


Well the solution to that is to put his men (and the occasional woman) on the bench.  Make them young, very conservative, willing to kiss his hand, and let them line up behind him like other federal officials.  Neil Gorsuch almost was yanked as his first choice for the Supreme Court when he (rashly) stated he wasn’t necessarily beholden to Donald as the confirmation process was going on, but time has shown that he’s behind his nominator all the way, case by case, day by day.  And Trump has been filling the lower federal courts with similar men (and the occasional woman) in large numbers.  




I’ve written recently about how the possible retirement of the swing-voter on the United State Supreme Court, Anthony Kennedy, might upset everything by retiring as soon as the Court’s term ended in June, and, damn it, that’s what he did.  Justice Kennedy, historically in the middle, with four liberals on one side and four conservatives on the other, has been the most powerful judge in the world for years now.  He wrote opinions supporting gay rights and pro-choice, but then held in Citizens United that corporations were “people” too and had the right to contribute billions to electing whomever they wanted in all U.S. elections.  But if Kennedy had held on for only one more year Trump couldn’t have replaced him with a true steadfast conservative.  However, citing a need in his old age (he’s 81) to spend time with his family, he ignored that issue.  Making it easier was that Trump and his advisors have been courting Kennedy for some time, almost begging him to retire now, before the November elections, and assuring him that his replacement would be a stellar one, probably one of his former clerks like Neil Gorsuch; see https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2018/06/donald-trump-justice-anthony-kennedy-retirement.  Surprisingly we now learn that Kennedy’s son was a major financial player in helping Trump get loans in bad times, which caused eyebrows to be raised when it recently came to light.  At the end of Trump's first State of the Union Address as he was leaving the room he shook hands with the members of the Supreme Court present and casually said to Kennedy, "Say hello to your son---he's a good man."  Hmm.


Trump and Kennedy

Why couldn’t Trump have replaced Kennedy with a true conservative if he’d have waited to retire next year?  Because the Democrats are likely to do very well indeed in the November election, possibly taking over both the House and the Senate, and there is no way the new Senate would have confirmed a Scalia (who believed gays to be sinners and abortion murder).  Trump would have been forced to nominate a moderate or leave the ninth seat on the Court vacant.

Ah well, that didn’t happen. Now Trump will be extra careful to pick someone who, once on the Court, won’t suddenly find a heart and vote for liberal plaintiffs (as Justice David Souter did after the first Bush nominated him).  He has already lined up some possible nominees who will vote for whatever result pleases their president, making sure they frequently get to dine at the White House with the Great Man.


What's next?  Well, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was once willing to delay things for eight months when Obama nominated a liberal for the Court, but these days he wants immediate confirmation of whatever far right conservative Trump picks (someone Trump insists must be young enough to be on the Court for 40+ years).  But McConnell has only a 51-49 majority, and if that majority doesn’t hold the nomination won’t go through.  McConnell is hoping John McCain might be healthy enough to vote for the nominee, and for the two female Senators who are pro-choice to be kept in the fold even if the nominee has a tattoo on his chest saying “Roe v. Wade is Dust!  McConnell might also dream that three Democratic senators in states Trump carried by huge margins might be afraid to buck Trump’s nominee, but their Democratic base would be very unhappy if they voted to confirm a knuckle-dragger for the Supreme Court.

[Click to enlarge]


One depressing thought: if the Senate vote on Trump's new nominee is tied 50-50, Vice President Pence will enjoy breaking the tie.  Sad. 

And here’s an even sadder thought: if Hilary had won the presidency we would already have a liberal majority on the Court and Kennedy’s retirement would have merely added to that majority, making it 6 -3.




The next few months are going to be a political maelstrom.  Stay tuned.

 --------------------------
Related Posts:

“A Supreme Court Crisis: The Momentous Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy,” June 6, 2018; https://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2018/06/the-supreme-court-did-not-rule-that.html

“Trump University: A Fraudster for President”? March 10, 2016; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2016/03/trump-university-fraudster-for-president.html




Tuesday, June 19, 2018

I’m Directing the Thriller “Bad Seed”—Come Audition!









I have just recently learned that I will be directing the suspenseful play “Bad Seed” at Little Theatre Off Broadway in Grove City.  It will be my ninth show with them.  Auditions are this coming Sunday and Monday at the theater.  The leads are the mother and the very young girl (eight to ten, or able to play that age).  The plot is described below, but the basic premise is that the little girl may actually have murdered a classmate and the mother has no idea what to do about that.  Casting the little girl will be the challenge.  She has to be able to act, of course, but more than that she has to be able to handle the emotional baggage of playing a child who has no moral compass and would as easily kill someone as argue with them. 

The play has been a favorite of mine since I read it when I was in my early teens (it was a hit on Broadway in the mid-1950s and then a popular movie).  If we do the show justice audiences exit the theater and have trouble getting to sleep that night as they mull over the startling things they’ve just seen happen onstage.

Come out and audition for us!  Talented newbies are welcome.  We’ll hand you segments of the script to study and then read aloud with other actors as you show us what you can do.  You need not come both audition days.  One will do.





Here is the posted notice:


 Little Theatre off Broadway
3981 Broadway
Grove City OH 43123
(614) 875-3919
  
BAD SEED
By: Maxwell Anderson
Adapted from the novel by William March
Directed by Douglas Whaley

In a small Southern town, Colonel and Christine Penmark live with their daughter, Rhoda. On the surface she is sweet, charming, full of old-fashioned graces, loved by her parents, admired by all her elders. But Rhoda's mother has an uneasy feeling about her when one of Rhoda's schoolmates is mysteriously drowned at a picnic, for the boy had won the penmanship medal that Rhoda felt she deserved.  Could this little girl be a killer, and, if so, what should her mother do about that?

Auditions will take place at 7 p.m. on Sunday, June 24thand Monday, June 25th   at 7 p.m. at LTOB, 3981 Broadway, Grove City, Ohio.  Cast calls for 4 women, 6 men, 1 small girl.  Auditions will consist of cold readings from the script.  Bring all schedule conflicts and an acting resume and headshot if you have them. 

If you have questions, please contact the director, Douglas  Whaley, at dglswhaley@aol.com.

Show dates:

Fri. August 10 p.m. Sat. August 11, 8 p.m.                   Sun. August 12, 3 p.m.
THRIFTY THURSDAY: August 16, 7:30 p.m.  ALL TICKETS $10
Fri. August 17, 8 p.m.        Sat. August 18, 8 p.m.                   Sun. August 19, 3 p.m.
THRIFTY THURSDAY: August 23, 7:30 p.m.  ALL TICKETS $10
Fri. August 24, 8 p.m.        Sat. August 25, 8 p.m.                   Sun. August 26, 3 p.m.
Regular admission tickets are adults $15; seniors 60+ $12, students $10. 
To make reservations or ask questions, please phone the theater at (614) 875-3919.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

The Supreme Court Did Not Rule That a Baker May Discriminate Against Gays







This recent decision, Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which I’ve written about before when it first reached the United States Supreme Court (see Related Posts below) pits a Colorado gay couple seeking a wedding cake against a religious baker who refused to make it for them because he believes the bible only allows men and women to marry.  The couple pursued him through the Colorado legal system and ended up with a Colorado Court of Appeals decision in their favor, holding that the baker violated a state statute forbidding discrimination on the basis (among other things) of sexual orientation.  An appeal was taken to the United States Supreme Court, where the Justices would have to draw some sort of line between the First Amendment right to religion freedom and the right of the states to forbid discrimination on various grounds (race, religion, sex, etc.).


[Ginsberg, Kagan, Kennedy,Alito, Roberts, Sotomayer, Thomas, Gorsuch, Breyer]



In my prior post I admitted that this is a hard question because if the Court were to come down in favor of the gay couple it would be ordering the baker to choose between doing something truly against his religious conviction or close his shop.  There are legitimate arguments on both sides, but almost impossible to find one that draws a line fair to everyone.  Further complicating things is that the Court has four liberals (Ginsberg, Breyer, Kagan, and Sotomayer), four conservatives (Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Gorsuch), and Anthony Kennedy, ever in the middle and therefore the most powerful judge on the planet.  Kennedy was also the author of the majority opinion in the Obergefell case establishing a constitutional right for gays to marry, just one of a number of opinions in favor of gay rights he has written throughout his long tenure on the Court.


In the end the Court ducked the issue entirely and held for the baker by saying that the lower Colorado proceedings were unconstitutionally tainted by an announced distaste for religion, thus violating the First Amendment.  That Amendment, Kennedy’s opinion states, forbids discrimination against religion (which of course is true), and the Colorado decisions were wrong in not giving the baker’s religious views serious consideration. 







A couple of things about this:


1.  The baker might still lose if the gay couple renews the Colorado process and this time the Colorado system gives due consideration to the baker’s religious arguments but then finds that they do not outweigh the gays’ right to a wedding cake.


2.  The current Supreme Court opinion does not in any way answer the central question: does a sincere religious belief that gays should not marry justify the baker’s refusal to bake a cake for their wedding?  That won’t be resolved until another case raising that issue reaches the Court.


3.  If Kennedy retires at the end of this month (the Court’s term runs from October through June), Trump will appoint his replacement and then there will be five conservatives to write the next majority opinion, and four liberals dissenting on the losing side.  But if Kennedy hangs on past the November elections and Democrats take over the Senate, then Trump could not get a conservative Justice approved and he would have to nominate a moderate (someone close to Kennedy). 


4.  The decision was 7-2, with two of the liberals (Breyer and Kagan) joining the four conservatives and Kennedy, and two of the liberals (Ginsberg and Sotomayer) dissenting.  This is because (I would guess) that otherwise Kennedy would have joined the four conservatives whole hog, and gays would henceforth be trumped by religious objections to their existence.  After this decision that question is still up in the air, for which I, for one, am grateful.






When the Court next takes up this same issue (and there are cases in the judicial pipeline) what is the likely result?  Well, alas, that depends on who is on the Court.  If it remains the same personnel then, as usual, it would be up to Kennedy.  He waffled in this case, being sympathetic to the argument that it is cruel to make a religious man bake and decorate a cake that conflicts with his deeply held personal beliefs, but then adding:

[A]ny decision in favor of the baker would have to be sufficiently constrained, lest all purveyors of goods and services who object to gay marriages for moral and religious reasons in effect be allowed to put up signs saying “no goods or services will be sold if they will be used for gay marriages,” something that would impose a serious stigma on gay persons.

Oh that’s right, Anthony!  Remember that and cling to it.  The Court has long held that a religious conviction does not permit, for example, a white supremacist who reads the bible as condemning blacks to act upon that belief when conducting a business.  Why should the rules be different if the bible condemns (as it does, see below) gays?  May a Muslim discriminate against a Jew when serving the latter a sandwich in a restaurant?  No.  Then why is this even an issue with gays?  Hmm.  Well, society has historically discriminated against gays and only very recently has this viewpoint shifted so that a majority does not.  Perhaps in 2018 gays are still not worthy of the same protection as other minorities. 


Or perhaps they are.  It all depends on the makeup of the Court when next it must choose between a sincere religious belief and the right of gays to be treated like everybody else.






Anyone interested in the full opinion handed down in this case can find it at https://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/17pdf/16-111_j4el.pdf.


------------------------
Related Posts:


“Must a Baker Create a Cake for a Gay Wedding?  What Will the Supreme Court Likely Say?” September 28, 2017; https://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2017/09/must-baker-create-cake-for-gay-wedding.html

“Does the Bible Condemn Homosexuality and Gay Marriage?” June 29, 2014; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2014/06/does-bible-condemn-homosexuality-and.html

“A Supreme Court Crisis: The Momentous Retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy,” March 26, 2018, https://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2018/03/a-supreme-court-crisis-momentous.html


Tuesday, May 29, 2018

My First Play Will Be Produced Next Year!












I’ve written many legal works (books, articles, student guides, etc.) and two novels (“Imaginary Friend” and “Corbin Milk,” both available on Amazon), and when I was much younger I made stabs at writing plays and musicals, none of which I showed to anyone.  But the first real play I’ve written with the idea of actually getting it performed has just been accepted for a production next year here in Columbus, Ohio.  The play is called “The Turkey Men,” and it has its origin in a true story from the Civil War.  In 2011 I read in the Columbus Dispatch a column by John Switzer.  He's the newspaper's retired Weather Columnist, and he occasionally writes folksy pieces about nature or local events in central Ohio.  I've enjoyed his musings for years, and was very interested when on May 22 of that year he wrote a Memorial Day piece about two graves in Pleasant Cemetery in Madison County.  One is that of a Confederate soldier named Frank Chick who fought under the famous cavalry General Nathan Bedford Forrest ("be there first with the most"), both of them from Tennessee.  The other is Nicholas Brill, an Ohio native and Union Army soldier who encountered Chick when the latter was a prisoner Brill was guarding at Camp Chase in Columbus, Ohio, during the war.  They were not yet 20 at first meeting, but when the war ended Brill invited Chick to come to his home near Mount Sterling, Ohio, and live with him in his cabin on Deer Creek, where they developed a business raising and selling chickens and turkeys.  The two lived together until Chick died in 1922 and Brill a year later.  Known locally as "the turkey men," they were buried next to each other in an area "separated a little bit from the other graves" (why would that be, do you think?). 



In his column contemplating this interesting history, Switzer speculates that this is "a nice story about how two men who were once sworn enemies came to rest in peace side by side throughout eternity." I immediately sent an email to the address Mr. Switzer conveniently provided at the end of his column.  Here it is:

Mr. Switzer:
I have long enjoyed your splendid columns.
Today's column about the Confederate prisoner and his guard who became lifelong friends and lived together—the "turkey men"—struck a chord with me. You say they "somehow became fast friends," and I may have an explanation for that. I'm an aging gay activist here in Columbus, now retired, and it struck me that there's a good chance these men fell in love and became partners. Is there any hint of that? Were either married? Gay couples know how to hide and have done so for centuries.
My best to you.

Douglas Whaley






Mr. Switzer never replied.  Obviously it hadn't occurred to him that the "turkey men" could have been lifelong gay partners, but that's as likely—even more probable—an explanation as any other.  Considered as a romance it's even a better story than two straight bachelors who just happened to live together for over 50 years.  Perhaps the reason I received no reply is that this possibility embarrassed or offended Mr. Switzer, but I'll never know. 


Chick and Brill’s story stayed with me, and I began musing how things would have been for them if in fact their pairing was a romance lasting 54 years, long enough to have had a Golden Anniversary in a time when gay romances in theory didn’t exist at all.  It occurred to me that in a fictional version of their lives I could change their names and do what I wanted with their basic story as a premise.  Instead of creating another novel I decided it was time to write a play with them as the central conceit.  But what kind of a plot?  And how could I make it into a story with one set and five characters (the supposed best setup for getting one’s play produced over and over again)?





The play would be a romance, obviously, but it should also be funny and there must be some real tension going on to move the plot along.  I’ve always loved ghost stories in fiction, and some of my favorite plays concern ghosts (consider Noel Coward’s terrific comedy “Blithe Spirit).  I turned them into ghosts.








I decided to set my play in 2016 and make the two ex-soldiers, now called Alexander Small (the Yank) and Webster Carter (the Confederate) ghosts still inhabiting their old home on the abandoned turkey farm, and now worried that if they materialize at all, as they used to do, they’ll vanish forever.  But these men have lived through much of gay history and have had wonderful adventures and a great romance.  Their quasi-existence is interrupted by the sudden arrival of three people: a man and a woman dragging a sixteen year old lesbian, entrusted to their care by her parents with the hope that they can “pray away the gay” and turn the girl into a happy heterosexual.  Should Alex and Web get involved even if it means their permanent disappearance after over 150 years?  Of course the answer is yes, and how they make themselves known to the girl and what they do to rescue her drives the plot.


In the fall of 2015 I wrote three pages of the play, and then I put it aside.  It germinated for almost a year and then in the summer of 2016 in a four day period I wrote all of the rest of it, sitting at my computer and typing in a fury.  I finished close to midnight on the fourth day and then wandered into the living room and announced to my husband David Vargo that it was done, and asked him if I could read it to him.  I did this with some trepidation.  David is a professional actor/director and he knows a tremendous amount about theater.  He is the nicest person on the planet when it comes to most things, but when you ask him his opinion about something theatrical he will give you the brutal truth, even if you are his husband and the subject is how you are playing a certain role or, as in this case, the merits of the play you’ve just written.  I expected no less, but wanted his frank opinion.  When I finished reading it to him he was all smiles.  “It’s terrific!” he said.  Of course I was very, very pleased.  Since then David, a graphic designer, has created a poster for possible future productions of “The Turkey Men,” and it is featured at the top of this blog post.


I then started the process of trying to find a company that would produce it.  I talked to a number of local playwrights who are friends, and they read it and made suggestions.  They advised me to join the Dramatists Guild, which gives advice on many important topics, and they also told me how to put my play in the standard format for submission to companies across the country, and made suggestions for changing various facets of the play in structure, dialogue, setting, etc. 


My play ends Act One with a love song that one of the Civil War soldiers sings to the other, and I had to write both the lyrics and the music to that song and get it down with proper musical notation.  I then had two different musical experts add all the proper chords and record a professional guitar version of the song so that I could send it out with the script I submitted to companies across the country. 


A couple of months ago one of the major companies here in Columbus offered to produce the show in their 2019 season!  The company wants to do it because of the local connection to the real story, plus my involvement in gay rights here in the city (I am one of the founders of Stonewall Columbus).  The email containing this offer to produce the show was one of the greatest thrills of my life.  It led to lunch with the artistic director of the company, a definite commitment was made, and plans begun (all of which will be revealed at a later date).  What was once just me typing at the computer now will be an actual event unfolding right in front of me as I sit in the audience, surrounded by a community of friends in a city that I love.  I still can’t quite believe it.






Last year at this time, Memorial Day, David and I hopped in the car and drove down to Mt. Sterling, about 30 miles south of Columbus and found Pleasant Cemetery, where Chick and Brill are buried.  The cemetery is of goodly size, but not huge.  The column in the paper had said they were buried together slightly apart from the other graves, so David and I, cell phones in hand, split up and searched.  He found them shortly afterwards and summoned me to their graves which were decorated with an American flag on Brill’s grave and a Confederate one on Chick’s.  John Switzer’s column from the Columbus Dispatch (enclosed in a plastic case and attached to a post between the graves) told their story for all the visitors to see and learn something about their lives.







Now we’ll see if my play, in its fictional, fantastic, and romantic form, adds a new way to think about what these two men really experienced after they blended their lives from 1865 until the early 1920’s.








-------------------
Related Posts:


"The History of Gay Rights in Columbus, Ohio," June 4, 2012; 
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2012/06/history-of-gay-rights-in-columbus.html

"The Aging Gay Rights Activist," March 24, 2010;
http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/03/aging-gay-rights-activist.html

"Strange Songs, Inc.," September 29, 2010; http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2010/09/strange-songs-inc.html

“Why Even Believers Should Read My Atheist Thriller ‘Imaginary Friend’,” October 29, 2013;http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-even-believers-should-read-my.html

“Just Published: My Novel “Corbin Milk,” a Thriller Detailing the Adventures of a Gay CIA Agent,” April 18, 2014;http://douglaswhaley.blogspot.com/2014/04/just-published-my-novel-corbin-milk.html