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Broccoli's Blog

Working in a public place, I hear one phrase over and over again:

"Is this what I pay taxes for?"

I usually don't respond, because whenever anybody starts yelling about how their taxes aren't paying for what they'd like them to pay for, it's a sure sign they're only a few steps away from dementia, ignorance, or both.

It's not that I don't think you should have an interest in where your taxes go, but to use it as an excuse to complain about something you don't like seems fruitless.

I mean, don't we all pay taxes?

The people who make the rules you don't like pay taxes.

The people who benefit from the services you don't agree with pay taxes.

The guy you're yelling at who works behind a desk pays taxes.

What if he were to say to you--

"You know, I don't pay taxes so you can yell at me."

Have we then reached mutually assured destruction?

The fact is, if we really knew what our taxes were going towards, we'd probably be mortified. And if we could wield the money we pay in taxes to get what we want, there would be anarchy.

For example, I would never pay another dime to support any kind of war or religion, and instead, I'd take that money and put it towards doing whatever it takes to get someone to open a Starbucks in my living room.

I jest--but not really.

If you're going to yell about taxes, go yell in the IRS office. Don't yell at a school principal or a town clerk or someone so low on the totem pole they're probably only getting one penny of your taxes in their pay--if that.

Or maybe this is a better way to look at it--Don't take a 'No' from someone who never had the power to give you a 'Yes' in the first place.

Trust me, I work for the government, and I can't do anything. I mean, I can do my job, but I can't enact any sort of change except for smiling at people and telling them I'm sorry they're upset while they pull their hair out and tell me I'm incompetent.

I'm not incompetent, I'm just powerless--there's a …   More

Broccoli's Blog

Dear Taylor Swift,

I didn't think it was possible, but you've done it. You've really done it.

The "Milking a Break-Up for All It's Worth" Award always seemed like it would be held by Alanis Morissette, but after listening to your latest single "We Are Never Getting Back Together" I think we finally have to hand that title over to you.

Bravo.

Now, if you would, I'd like to suggest that you find something else to write about.

I know what you're thinking--what else IS there to write about?

Tay Tay, I have you covered.

I'm sending you this list--it's a variety of things I'm sure you've experienced that I think you should consider exploring musically. Surely it'll expand your range as a songwriter, but more importantly, it'll stop me from cringing whenever I turn on the radio, worrying that I'll be assaulted with "You Left Me" or "You Left My Heart" or "My Heart, Your Hurt" or whatever other melodic assault you plan on unleashing.

So here are some topics:

1) Your pick-up truck breaking down on the way to the prom.

2) Losing your student council seat to a girl with an overbite.

3) Not getting nominated for an Emmy for your riveting performance on "CSI."

4) Dating someone with the same first name as you. Title it "I Called Your Name (And We Both Came)."

5) Entering a pie eating contest.

6) Bacon. Just bacon.

7) A song where you compare yourself to Nelson Mandela.

8) The five minutes where people felt bad for you after the whole Kanye thing and then started hating you again.

9) All the boys you told People magazine you were dating when you really weren't dating any of them.

10) Having to sell your New Kids on the Block dolls at a yard sale so you can go to space camp. (Trust me, it's painful.)

If you use any of these, please don't feel the need to give me credit.

Just send the money.

Your most indifferent listener,

Kevin Broccoli

Kevin Broccoli is a local writer, actor, and director living and working in …   More

Broccoli's blog

"It looks like we're going to have to remake Spiderman."

"Didn't we just remake Spiderman?"

"No, we rebooted it."

"Huh?"

"New cast, new director--"

"But we told the same story we told in the first one."

"Exactly. We rebooted it. When you reboot, you have to go back to the beginning."

"Okay."

"Or 'a' beginning. You can't just pick up where you left off."

"So Superman Returns was a--"

"Continuation."

"And Batman Begins was a--"

"Reboot."

"And Sparkle?"

"Remake."

"And when a rapper redoes a hit song?"

"Remix."

"Why don't we just come up with something new?"

"Look, nobody wants to stop making Spiderman movies more than me, but whenever we make one, people go see it, so we can't stop making them."

"So why not just continue the story?"

"Because people might have missed it the last time it came out. You have to cater to the new people."

"But won't that just make the old people mad?"

"We don't care about old people. Old people are not our concern."

"I don't mean actual old people, I just mean people who have an actual investment in the franchise."

"They'll still show up."

"Why?"

"So they can complain about what we've done to their franchise."

"So what else are you planning to reboot?"

"Harry Potter."

"What was wrong with the way it ended?"

"It ended. That's what was wrong with it. When something is profitable, you don't just end it. Do you know any business owner who says--'You know what? We made a lot of money this year. Let's just quit while we're ahead.'"

"How are you going to reboot it?"

"We're going to have a kid in America named Harry find out he's a vampire and fight zombies."

"That doesn't sound anything like Harry Potter."

"Sure it does. His name is Harry and he fights things."

"Can't you just leave it alone?"

"We really can't."

"Or at least remake it."

"We would, but none of us want to go back and watch the original."

"Because you don't want to see …   More

What’s been in negotiations since last summer is finally settled – Ocean State Theatre Company will no longer be the producing entity at Theatre by the Sea.

“We found out very recently, about a week ago,” said Amiee Turner, the producing artistic director and president of Ocean State Theatre Company in an interview Friday.

Now, Bill Hanney, the owner of Theatre by the Sea, will step into the role of producer at the venue.

Turner said she could not speak on why Hanney made the decision; she said what she knew was outlined in a press release sent by Ocean State Theatre Company late Friday morning.

“Based on my recent experience as owner and producer at North Shore Music Theatre and my desire to share productions between the two venues, I have decided to take on the responsibility for productions at Theatre By The Sea,” said Hanney, who also operates North Shore Music Theatre in Massachusetts, in a press release. “I want to thank Ocean State Theatre Company for their commitment over the past five years in bringing live theatre back to the Theatre By The Sea stage and wish them great success with their new venture in Warwick.”

Hanney was not immediately available for comment.

Ocean State Theatre Company (OSTC) has been the producing entity at the historic Matunuck barn playhouse since its re-opening in 2007. Since then, the company has been on a year-to-year contract, with the exception of a two-year contract from 2010 to 2012.

Turner said she is “personally disappointed” with Hanney’s decision. Still, she’s trying to look on the bright side, and said the goal of OSTC was to ensure that Theatre by the Sea re-opened and stayed open.

“Ocean State Theatre Company was formed to re-open Theatre by the Sea,” she said. “The important thing for people that love Theatre by the Sea is that it will be open next year. In that regard, we’re very …   More

Broccoli's Blog

Last week while working at the Johnston library, I overheard two women talking about Jersey Shore cast member (and Johnston native) Pauly D.

WOMAN #1: He used to be at my house all the time when he was a kid. These people who get all excited over him don't even know him.

WOMAN #2: They're always taking credit. He took me to the prom.

WOMAN #1: I went to the prom with him too. He's like my brother's best friend.

WOMAN #2: And he takes care of his parents.

WOMAN #1: He's very good to his parents.

WOMAN #2: Nice to have something to be proud of.

I wish I could tell you what they said after that, but my head had already exploded.

Of all the odd Rhode Island behaviors that mystifies me, the obsession with being proud of anybody that just happened to walk through the state at some point is the one that confuses me the most.

It took everything I had not to yell--"If someone's a millionaire, and they're parents are still living in Johnston, they're not taking care of their parents--trust me."

But I refrained.

Why are people proud of Pauly D?

I realize when we have to come up with a list of "Famous Rhode Islanders" it's not that long, but that doesn't mean we need to take credit for someone who's on a show that, at its peak, was being called "proof of the downfall of Western civilization."

Most of us experienced the same thing when Richard Hatch won Survivor.

"Yay! A Rhode Islander won! ...After walking around naked the whole time, stabbing everybody in the back, and being an all-around d-bag."

Yes, by all means, let's lay claim to THAT guy.

I'll refrain from commenting on what it teaches kids to idolize people who earned their fame by acting promiscuous in hot tubs and spouting moronic catchphrases because I don't want to sound like Tipper Gore, but I will say that perhaps we need to reevaluate what we think should be making us "proud."

Just a thought.

Kevin Broccoli is a local writer, actor, and director living and …   More

Follow my lede

If the age-old adage about cats having nine lives is true, then 19-year-old Sydney is only on number two.

It was 11 days ago that Maddie Eustis, a 16-year-old East Greenwich high school student noticed that she hadn’t seen her cat, Sydney, all day. She asked her mother, Maureen, if she had seen the domestic short-hair Maddie’s parents had adopted close to the time they got married. Maureen hadn’t seen the cat either.

The pair scoured the house: Sydney wasn’t in her favorite spot in the basement; she wasn’t hiding under the couch; she wasn’t anywhere inside.

Although Sydney wasn’t typically an outdoor cat, she did sometimes venture into the back yard. Maddie confessed they hadn’t been keeping a close eye on Sydney that day since her grandparents were over.

“She must have slipped the fence,” thought Maddie.

Maddie, a volunteer at the East Greenwich Animal Protection League (EGAPL), texted her friend Nancy Dyer, who also serves as the head of cat adoption at the League. Maddie told her how sad she and her family were about their missing cat. Dyer offered her sympathies; she understood.

Still, there was no sign of Sydney. Hours passed. Night fell. They Eustis family began to lose hope.

After eleven days passed, Maddie and her mom decided that Sydney, as some animals have been known to do, went somewhere to die. Being a small, 5-pound cat with old age and hearing problems working against her, the Eustis family was certain they would never see Sydney again. Life went on, Maddie went off to field hockey camp, and the Eustis family tried to cope with the loss of their companion of nearly 20 years.

It was July 27 when the East Greenwich Animal Control picked up a stray cat wandering around a residential area. She was an older cat that didn’t like to be held but was otherwise friendly. They kept the cat at the North Kingston Animal Hospital for three days, and once they determined she …   More

Broccoli's Blog

I'm pretty sure I know what Entertainment Weekly's album of the year is going to be.

(This is a little game I play with myself--see if I can peg what pop culture items are going to wind up on year-end lists now that 2012 is already more than half over.)

Unless something unbelievably brilliant comes out between now and December, it would seem that Fiona Apple's The Idler Wheel... will take the top spot.

Do I agree that it should? Yes.

Did I listen to it? Yes.

Did I listen to it more than once? No.

When I tell people that I think the best album of the year is one I only listened to once, they shake their heads at me.

"It can't be that good if you only listened to it once."

It occurred to me after I heard this that music is the only art form in which we demand that something have substance AND make us want to experience it over and over again.

I've only seen Gone with the Wind once.

I've only read The Grapes of Wrath once.

I've only ever seen any episode of The Sopranos once.

And when I mention that to people, they seem to think it's totally reasonable. You don't have to experience any of those things more than once to understand their importance.

Yet with music we feel like a great album means one you can't help but listen to over and over.

We say this despite the fact that some music is meant to be intense, uncomfortable, or even disturbing. And that's fine--as long as it's also catchy, otherwise it's no good--right?

In all actuality, I'm a believer that it shouldn't take too many tries for something to make an impression on you. Sure, some stuff is better the second time around, but most things grab you right away.

The Idler Wheel isn't what I'm listening to right now, but I can appreciate the workmanship that went into it. Top Ten and Best of Lists aren't necessarily about what your favorite movie, show, or album is of any particular year, but what you were most impressed by--or maybe I'm wrong.

What do you …   More

Broccoli's Blog

I think I've discovered the secret to working with the general public in Rhode Island.

Be rude.

Sound crazy?

Trust me, it might not be.

When you do theater (and work a day job in addition to that), you end up interacting with a diverse group of strangers on a regular basis.

You start to develop theories--some crazy (Why does everybody in the market decide to check out at the same time? It's a conspiracy!)--and some not so crazy.

Here's my this-might-not-be-so-crazy theory:

I think people respect you a little bit more when you're rude to them.

Or at least, rude people seem to respect you more when you're rude to them. Maybe it's like anything else--maybe they just like having someone speak their language to them.

It seems a little absurd, but I've seen too many examples to make me think it's a fluke, and I'm starting to wonder if it's a Rhode Island thing.

When I was a teenager, I worked a few retail jobs, and I always saw the same situation play out time and again. Some irate customer would be giving some corporate drone a hard time, and the drone would have to stay calm and polite, which only seemed to exacerbate the jerk that was yelling at them. One time, a fellow co-worker of mine, not being able to help herself, blurted out--

"Sir, you're being a jerk."

This seemed to have some magical effect on the guy. He immediately stopped yelling at our supervisor, and got much quieter. It was almost like having someone be polite to him was the equivalent of throwing gasoline on his fire. Rudeness was the water we needed.

I guess it might be a little like the jungle: You have to stare down the lion or it eats you. (I've seen a few restaurant customers who actually seemed capable of this.)

Years later, I still run into situations like that time and again.

Now, I'm not advocating rudeness if someone's not being rude to you. And I guess rudeness even when someone's being rude to you might cost you your job in a lot of scenarios, …   More

Broccoli's Blog

This is one of those trending news topics that seems to have ten conflicting accounts, so bear with me for a paragraph. Daniel Tosh, comedian and host of Comedy Central's "Tosh.0" (a show where Internet videos are played and mocked by Tosh) is taking a lot of heat because, allegedly, he made a rape joke at a comedy club, a woman got offended and as she was leaving, Tosh asked the crowd if it would be funny for everyone to rape her.

Or something like that. I couldn't be bothered to look up all the different articles to achieve some sort of "accuracy." I'm a blogger, not a journalist. Regardless of what Tosh said, I still think he should lose his job, and it hasn't nothing to do with the fact that he may or may not have told a rape joke.

I think he should lose his job because he's just not funny.

First off, let's address the elephant. You can't say anything is never funny in any context in any way. That's ridiculous. I've heard funny Titanic jokes, funny Helen Keller jokes, and yes, funny 9/11 jokes. Would I tell them? Probably not. But I found them funny. That makes them funny. Not because I'm the determiner (determiner--is that a word?) of what is and isn't funny, but because there isn't a determiner (I think it's a word) which means if someone find what you said funny, then congratulations, it's a funny joke.

Now, I have no doubt in my mind that if Daniel Tosh told a rape joke, it probably wasn't funny at all and the only people who would have laughed would be misogynistic stoned frat boys who probably would roofie some poor high school senior at one of their keg parties. I also know, however, that a smarter comedian could probably come up with a joke about rape that would be funny and maybe even unoffensive.

Ultimately, if I argue for anything, it's for free speech and that you can't put limitations on what's funny.

I would also argue, however, that Daniel Tosh should lose his job because his job is to be funny and he's not.

Not at all.

He …   More

Broccoli's Blog

In terms of pet peeves, the biggest one I have is going to see a show that calls for minority actors only to find myself watching a bunch of Caucasians shamelessly hop around onstage singing "Run and Tell That" from Hairspray or "America" from West Side Story.

I don't know when every community theater got together and decided that when the creators of a show ask for minority actors, they're really just suggesting it, but the trend needs to stop.

If a show calls for an African-American, Asian, or Hispanic actor, there's usually a reason for it. Maybe the author(s) felt it was important to the character's background. Maybe they wanted to ensure that their show would always have a diverse look to it. Maybe it's their show and not yours and you should honor their decision regardless of how much you want to do In the Heights but can't find the actors you need.

Ultimately, it is unfortunate that sometimes minority actors can be hard to find, but that doesn't then give a theater to completely disregard the author's intent. It also looks completely ridiculous when an audience shows up for Rent and there isn't a single minority actor in the cast (I think I saw four of those in a row when Rent was licensed to community theaters. I'm sure Jonathan Larsen was doing belly flops in the grave that year.)

Every time I come across an example of this, I see this image in my head of a director throwing a temper tantrum because they want to do Miss Saigon but can't find the Asian actors, but gosh darnit they're just going to do it anyway, because their audiences won't say anything.

That last part is what always gets me. Whenever I bring up that an actor in a show was miscast, for any reason, people always act as if I'm being a stickler and Arthur Laurents would have been totally okay with Maria in West Side Story being played by a Swedish girl with red hair.

One of the factors in choosing a show is making sure you have the cast for it. That means if you really want …   More

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