What would a city look like without undocumented immigrants? – video

Charlotte, North Carolina is a ‘gateway city’ for immigrants, who prop up its construction, health and food industries – not to mention its tax base. If all undocumented workers were to be deported, as the Trump administration is threatening, the consequences could be dire.

Acclaimed puppeteer Ronnie Burkett comes to Vancouver BC

When Ronnie Burkett first started doing The Daisy Theatre, coming March 21 to April 9  at the Historic Theatre at the Cultch on Commercial Drive, the show was conspicuously lacking in personality. In fact, it was lacking three personalities: What the puppeteer calls “the holy trinity” of Schnitzel, Esme Massengill and Edna Rural, veterans of star-making appearances in previous Burkett shows.

After traveling the world, Ronnie brings his production to Vancouver, BC.

Ages 16+. Patrons under the age of 16 will not be admitted.

Audience favourite Esme Gassengill returns in The Daisy Theatre, running from March 21 to April 9 at the Historic Theatre at the Cultch. Alejandro Santiago

“It was only halfway through the run when, walking the dogs one night, I thought, ‘For heaven’s sake, it’s really rare that a performer, especially a puppeteer, will get a signature character,’ ” Burkett recalls. “And I had retired three great signature characters. So the next day we started redesigning and rebuilding them and put them into the show.”

The Daisy Theatre was originally prepared for Toronto’s Luminato Festival in 2013. Initially, the show incorporated mini-plays by 10 Canadian playwrights that Burkett had commissioned. But that didn’t go over so well.

“The audience told me they didn’t like it,” Burkett says. “Some worked, some didn’t. But pretty quickly the Daisy just got its own thing going.”

In its current format, The Daisy Theatre “is kind of like a vaudeville show,” says Burkett. It’s a combination of set pieces and improv, with new characters and returning favourites, song-and-dance numbers and scenes from theatre classics.

The latter category includes what Burkett calls “Canada’s worst actress” doing “a bastardized version of the crypt scene from Romeo and Juliet.” A newer character is an elderly male English teacher who loves to perform Tennessee Williams’ female roles. “I’m not in any earnest way doing Shakespeare or Tennessee Williams,” Burkett says. “They’re springboards for these characters.”

Since he formed Ronnie Burkett Theatre of Marionettes in 1986, the Alberta native’s adult-oriented fantasias have made him one of the world’s best known puppeteers. The Daisy Theatre is his 13th show, following hits like Penny Plain, Billy Twinkle, 10 Days on Earth, Provenance, and the trilogy of Tinka’s New Dress, Street of Blood and Happy.

Burkett had been preparing a new scripted piece for this year, but the demand — it’s returning to Vancouver for the fourth time — for The Daisy Theatre has pushed back the new show.

“The Daisy, I think, is something I’m going to do until I die,” says the 60-year-old Burkett. “I might put it to bed and do something else, but it will always happen because it’s a really good reminder of how to play with the audience. And it’s a great little lab because I’m not held to a full script or conceit.”

The Daisy has been a welcome relief from the scripted material, he says, not just because of the subject matter but also the size of venues that he has been playing.

“What The Daisy Theatre did was reminded me that puppets work best when they’re small and subversive,” says Burkett. “I don’t want 800 people in the audience anymore. That was a goal for years, to get into the legitimate venues. When I did I realized it was too big. Nobody was close enough to see the puppets. I couldn’t smell the audience, and they couldn’t smell me working.”

When it comes to the smell of the audience, Vancouver rates highly by Burkett’s standards — especially since new people keep coming out to the shows, along with returning customers. And that audience is diverse.

“I look out at a Vancouver audience, and there’s no one demographic. Everyone’s out there. That’s the great, democratic thing about the Daisy Theatre,” he says. “And it’s good to laugh with an audience again. Some of the work had gotten so dark and so serious that it was just like, ‘I’ve gotta lighten up.’ The Daisy allows me that.”

From the upcoming events section of The Georgia Straight in Vancouver:

Editor’s choice

The Daisy Theatre at the Cultch

It’s a show that changes every night, and for those who have seen it, it’s like an addiction. Which of his warped and wonderfully wrought characters will puppet genius Ronnie Burkett bring back for the return of the Daisy Theatre? Will it be drag queen Dinah Dooya? Lounge singer Rosemary Focaccia? Fairy child Schnitzel? Or “Canada’s oldest and worst actress”, Miss Lillian Lunkhead? We can’t tell you—the man has more than 40 to pull from—but if you’ve never caught the one-of-a-kind marionette show for adults before, you’re in for a wild mix of cabaret and vaudeville on strings, of course. Over the years, we’ve raved about the show: “These moments surpass anything you get from most evenings at the theatre.” Go see what the fuss is about, or lose yourself in the twisted world for a second or third time.

The Daisy Theatre is at the Cultch from March 21 to April 9.

My ex-wife and I had done puppet shows for years and I had the good fortune to see one of Ronnie’s performances after my divorce. I highly recommend his shows to every adult. More about Ronnie on his Facebook page, and The Canadian Encyclopedia.

Who Wins and Loses in Trump’s Proposed Budget

A Superfund cleanup site in Montana. Federal funding for such cleanups of hazardous wastes would be reduced by about a third. Credit James Snook/Associated Press

President Trump released a partial outline of his 2018 budget on Thursday, proposing billions of dollars in spending cuts to most government agencies to pay for large increases in military and homeland security spending, resulting in a 1.2 percent cut in discretionary spending over all. (Source: New York Times)

The tough choices he promised would eliminate longstanding staples of American life.

Gone would be federal financing for public television, the arts and humanities. Federal support for long-distance Amtrak train service would be eliminated. Washington would get out of the business of helping clean up the Chesapeake Bay or the Great Lakes.

While he may not care about East Coast elites upset about ending financing for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities, some of the agencies and programs that would be “zeroed out” are institutions in parts of the country that Mr. Trump won last November.

Among the agencies to be cut off, for instance, would be the Appalachian Regional Commission, a federal-state agency founded in 1965 to promote economic development and infrastructure in some of the poorest parts of the United States.

Mr. Trump and his aides argue that many of these programs have long since passed their usefulness or would be better off run and paid for at the state or local level. While he talked about the ravaged inner cities in his Inaugural Address, Mr. Trump would eliminate $3 billion in funding for the Community Development Block Grant program that helps provide affordable housing. The president argued in his budget that “the program is not well targeted to the poorest populations and has not demonstrated results.”

Instead of spreading the cost of affordable housing across all of the United States Trump passes the buck to state and local levels, making areas needing affordable housing the most raise taxes and fees to provide affordable housing.

Nice going Mr. Trump. The poor get poorer and the rich get richer. You’re certainly making America Great Again. For the wealthy.

Discretionary spending, in billions

Agency 2017 baseline 2018 proposal Change . Pct change
Environmental Protection Agency $8.2 $5.7 $2.6 –31%
State and other development programs 38.0 27.1 –10.9 –29%
Agriculture 22.6 17.9 –4.7 –21%
Labor 12.2 9.6 –2.5 –21%
Justice 20.3 16.2 –4.0 –20%
Health and Human Services 77.7 65.1 –12.6 –16%
Commerce 9.2 7.8 –1.5 –16%
Education 68.2 59.0 –9.2 –14%
Transportation 18.6 16.2 –2.4 –13%
Housing and Urban Development 36.0 31.7 –4.3 –12%
Interior 13.2 11.6 –1.5 –12%
Energy 29.7 28.0 –1.7 –6%
Treasury 11.7 11.2 –0.5 –4%
NASA 19.2 19.1 –0.2 –1%
Veterans Affairs 74.5 78.9 +4.4 +6%
Homeland Security 41.3 44.1 +2.8 +7%
Defense 521.7 574.0 +52.3 +10%
Note: Totals are shown for fiscal years, which begin in October. They reflect base budget levels for each department, which do not include supplemental money for disaster relief, emergencies or additional war spending. They do include offsetting receipts and proposed changes in mandatory programs (CHIMPS) that are used to offset discretionary spending.

The proposal would also eliminate funding for nearly 20 smaller independent agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Legal Services Corporation, which finances legal aid groups.

The blueprint does not include tax proposals or other revenue ideas, and outlines only proposals for discretionary spending, which is money appropriated annually by Congress. Discretionary spending makes up less than one-third of all federal spending. It does not include interest payments on the federal debt or so-called mandatory spending on large programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

Read the more detailed and complete article on the New York Times.

Dance scenes from old movies put to Bruno Mars music

Michael Binder is what you would call a “movie aficionado” through and through. He’s probably watched just about every single movie you’ve ever heard of, twice. In fact, Binder loves movies so much that he’s managed to make a career writing about them and talking about them for his hundreds of followers.

But when he saw the mega viral hit that featured a bunch of dance scenes from popular movies matched up to the incredibly popular song, “Uptown Funk,” he was instantly inspired to do a similar mashup, only he wanted to use dance scenes from movies that only came out of the Golden Age of cinema.

It took him a long while to find the perfect clips which properly conveyed the energy and passion, but after he scanned through hundreds and hundreds of movies from 1953 and earlier, he finally edited together an absolutely stunning video featuring some of our favorite dancers and singers.

It’s pretty amazing to watch legends like, Gene Kelly, Shirley Temple, Judy Garland, and Fred Astaire dance to one of the catchiest songs ever!

The amount of time it must have taken to edit this whole piece together is truly astounding. Not only did Binder have to be aware of the dance sequence in his head, but he had to time it properly with the music without speeding up or slowing down the original footage.