Commentary

You get used to losing things as you age. Wallets. Cell phones. Even my favorite baseball cap disappeared for a couple of months, then materialized under a couch cushion. (It was found there because my wife had looked under that cushion for my car keys.)

But there’s one vital possession that a person like me should never lose. One of the most treasured tools in the cartoonist’s toolbox is a thing called “a sense of humor.” And mine is gone.

“Our most vulnerable” is a term we use to transfer an audience’s pity from others and onto whoever isusing the term.

Consider its use: when we label groups such as the homeless, the elderly, and children as “our most vulnerable” we draw attention away from them as people and onto whatever probably terrible scheme we have in mind.

Every so often, a book comes along that has everyone in book world talking about how amazing it is before it’s even been published. Sometimes, that book actually lives up to the early hype. There There, the debut novel by Tommy Orange, lives up to it and more.

Carla Venable is a guitarist and vocalist and founding member of Women Without Purses, a band that she has been with since the early 1990s. Along the way group has issued three CDs and performed numerous live shows, including an opening slot for Janis Ian.

You know what you don’t see much of these days? PG-rated movies. I looked it up: Only 16 percent of movies last year were rated PG. This isn’t actually anything new, it’s been going on for a while, but it’s for a reason—the perception is that PG movies don’t sell. PG-13 is where the big money is. In reality, PG does just fine financially, but that doesn’t matter—studio execs want PG-13, so that’s what they get.

The new comedy Uncle Drew is a prime example of this. It’s pretty much a PG movie that I guess does just enough to get a PG-13 rating.

visitwichita.com

The City of Wichita has released its vague budget-cutting plan and CityArts is presented as a prime target. In the plan, buried on page 41, is a simple paragraph, under the heading “Cultural Funding” which states that arts in Wichita have evolved since CityArts was originally opened. And that one option is to restructure CityArts operations. Estimated savings: $100,000 to $300,000.

My interpretation of the paragraph is that city government feels the arts in Wichita have evolved past a place like CityArts so it’s no longer needed, vital, or necessary.

Every once in a while there’s good live music on TV. The best shows are by smaller nonprofits: my favorite, Austin City Limits is on PBS, the BBC has Later… With Jools Holland, and of course NPR has video streams of Live From Here and Tiny Desk Concerts. But these are small, specialty programs aimed at the cognoscenti.

Katie Williams has three books under her publishing belt--two books written for young adults and now one that falls into the general fiction category. But don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing "general” about it.

Tell the Machine Goodnight is slightly futuristic, but I’d hesitate to categorize it as science fiction. The characters, too, fight generalization. Their voices are unique and so are their experiences. The character development, the dialog, the writing--well… everything works. 

variety.com

If you're a fan of jukebox musicals, it may interest you to know that a musical featuring the songs of Michael Jackson is currently in development, and is expected to hit the Broadway stage in 2020. Matching the talent in the music are two heavy hitters: Tony Award-winner Christopher Wheeldon, as director and choreographer, and the twice-winning Pulitzer Prize playwright Lynn Nottage, who is writing the book for the production. The musical, which is yet to be titled, is inspired by the life of Jackson, with the cooperation of the Michael Jackson Estate.

Netflix

Scientific concepts have long existed in hip hop music, sometimes expressed in the mathematics of Five Percenter ideology, or in more procedural ways, like referring to the recording studio as a laboratory, suggesting the crafting of music is akin to the creation of a science experiment. And while these themes are widespread, my guess is that if you ask a hip hop fan which emcee they most associate with science, 9 out of 10 of them will answer with the GZA of the Wu-Tang clan.

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