Thursday, March 24, 2005

Peter Pan unveiled

Well, I guess it's most appropriate for me to now comment and capture my Broadway, er, my RiverPark Center debut in the production of Peter Pan.

Suffice it to say that I am very pleased that I got involved, and that my first role had more of a significance than I initially hoped.

Let me first summarize that this is my first ever appearance in a theatrical production on stage. So here I am, 33, never have acted much less "danced" on stage, and I'm playing in front of a nearly sold out crowd of say 1,000-1,500 people.

Ok, having got that out of the way, let me comment on my experience. I certainly recall entering the first day of practice that I was indeed out of place. I'm sure I was perceived as an area homeless man strolling in off the street, with my personally iconoclast frayed blue jeans and probably a New Orleans Jazz Fest shirt from 2002 or 2003. Those are about the only two t-shirts I wear out of the house. Everyone else was wearing leotards, dance shoes, and appropriate dance practice attire. I'm sure they perceived me to be the loser.

As if first day of practice dance attire malfunction in choice was not enough, need I mention the fact that this was a dance production, with minor acting involved? Hey, I got involved because I wanted to be the guy that would appear cool after the production because he did such a good job standing in the very, very, very back for 30 seconds of the two hour production!? Oh geez, that first day of practice illustrated that I was going to be the one that would have to be learned in dance moves and theatrical performance. Well, of course that's what I'm after in my theatrical career, but I did not want to achieve that in my first ever performance!

Practice, practice, practice. What I learned over the month or so of weekend practices was that it would all be worked out, very methodically, by practice. The first practice is the dump day, the dumping of all of the moves, lines, acting, etc.. into the empty skulls of the performers. Sure, let them sort it out over a month or so and then give the public what they want.

And we did. I was able to wonderfully, if I do say so myself, piece together the parts of the puzzle rather successfully. (Did I mention I did the worm dance move in the first scene at dead center frontstage?) The evidence presented by my 5 year old does not have to be proof enough, for even my third year law student wife was amazed by my, no, our production of Peter Pan. It must have been because I shewed away my traditional jean practice garb for a more acceptable presentation of dance attire: uh, well some black Starter jogging pants and black slip on shoes was as close as I could get!

It was nice doning a new identity for a while. I know I sought that by being involved in the production. It must be the essence of the creative, theatrical mind, in this case. How do you interpret your role? What value do you give to your movement, your dress, your demeanor, your blackened teeth? I'm so glad I decided to learn about the history of pirates prior to the show. Most importantly, I'm glad I found that listing of pirate quotations, and used the "Arghhh! Kiss me I got scurvy!" one. That went over well with a few of the moms in the crowd.

It was certainly a pleasure to be witness to a different kind of middle/high school extracurrricular activity. I was unable to do so at that age during my academic career, but saw something quite incredible as an opportunity for teens. From the crowd they are quite graceful, as I witnessed the Dance of the Oceanic Nymphs during rehearsal. Do they know how absolutely incredible their interpretation is? For on the back stage, they are the teenagers as you and I: searching for belonging, identity, acceptance. I'm intrigued about the perspective their dance gives them on that identity they strive to achieve.

Standing offstage during rehearsal at the RiverPark Center and during the performance was a treat. My what bright lights and appearance beyond the black curtain can do to someone's persona. And for the moment or moments you are on stage, you are the catalyst of entertainment for those seeking creative redemption. You, rather your portrayel of a role, dictates the link between excitement and boredom, love and hate, anger and joy. But just as in "normal" life the pinnacle of behavior, of normative action is not achieved. You give your character, as you give yourself, what you can. Sometimes it is the best, sometimes it is the most appropriate, sometimes it's not good enough. I try to leave it on the stage, as long as the interpretation lingers with the audience.

So that's how Tinker Bell flies!!! So that's how the stage feels under my feet!!! So this is what the 'backstage' looks like!!! So this is why I got involved!!! And this is why I'll do it again!!! Yes, I can mark this off my checklist of things I want to do. Hmmmm, I think I'll volunteer for the Theatre Workshop.

Monday, March 21, 2005

Social Class and the US Economy: The uneven burden of money's higher cost

By Ron Scherer

Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

NEW YORK – The cost of being a borrower is rising.

As the Federal Reserve raises interest rates - as it is expected to do again Tuesday - everyone from students to car buyers to anyone carrying a credit-card balance will start to notice that lenders are charging more.

To read the entirety of this article, click here

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

NPR : States Scramble to Solve High Medicaid Costs

Talk of the Nation, March 14, 2005 · Texas warns that Medicaid costs could leave the state broke. Florida is considering semi-privatization -- and in Kansas, the governor wants to extend coverage to more who need it.

Read and hear more about the national medicaid crisis from National Public Radio by clicking here.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Public Life Advocate: The Tracker (March 2005)

This edition of The Tracker can be found in print publication of the Public Life Advocate at the website of the Public Life Foundation.

* Kentucky’s median malpractice payout in 2002 was only half what it was in

* The total dollar amount of malpractice payouts in Kentucky declined 4.1% from 1995 to 2002.

* In Kentucky, there were five medical malpractice payouts exceeding $1 million in 2002, compared with six payouts in 1995. The average number of payouts of $1 million or more during the past eight years has been 3.2 annually.

* According to the Kentucky Medical Association, 819 doctors left the state during 2001 and 2002.

* The Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure reports a decrease of 19 doctors for that two-year period.

* Of the 1,273 physicians who left Kentucky as of 2003, 31% went to neighboring states such as Indiana, Ohio and Tennessee, where insurance premiums are, on average, lower.

* Eighty-two of Kentucky’s 100 counties have no obstetricians – or just one

* Medical malpractice costs have risen an average of 11.6% a year since 1975 in contrast to an average annual increase of 9.4% for overall tort costs.

* A poll conducted by the Courier Journal in early 2004 found that 68% of Kentuckians favor a limit on malpractice awards.

* 78% of responders from Northern Kentucky favored limits; 77% in South central Kentucky; 70% in Western Kentucky and the Bluegrass area; 67% in Louisville and 56% in Eastern Kentucky.

* Kentucky’s ratio of doctors-to-residents has grown at a rate exceeding that of Indiana, Missouri, Ohio and Tennessee – including some states that impose malpractice caps.

* An estimated 600 to 1,400 hospital deaths in Kentucky each year occur due to preventable medical errors – costing residents, families and communities $244 million to $416 million each year.

* The annual cost of medical malpractice insurance to Kentucky’s health care providers is $81.8 million.

* According to the federal government’s National Practitioner Data Bank, 4.7% of Kentucky’s doctors have been responsible for 49.9% of all malpractice payouts to patients.

* In Kentucky, 83.3% of doctors have not made a medical malpractice payout since
September 1990.

* As of early 2004, 12 % of Kentucky doctors (17 of 141) who made three or more malpractice payouts since 1990 were disciplined by the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. Only 20 percent (11 of 55) who made four or more malpractice payouts were disciplined.

* On average, medical malpractice insurance comprises 2.8% of a Kentucky doctor’s income.

* Each year 32,000 older adults suffer from hip fractures—contributing to more than 1,500 deaths—attributable to drug-induced falls.

* Two million older Americans are addicted or at risk of addiction to minor tranquilizers or sleeping pills because they have used them daily for at least one year.

* According to the Fortune 500 in 2002, the drug industry ranked second among all business sectors in return on shareholder equity, with a rate more than two-and-a-half times the 2002 Fortune 500 median (27.6% compared with 10.2%).

* In the 1990s, the drug industry’s profitability grew to almost four times the Fortune 500 median.

* Vioxx (arthritis medication now off the market) was more heavily advertised in 2000 than Budweiser and Pepsi.

* Pfizer (maker of Benadryl, Celebrex, Cortizone, Lipitor, Neosporin, Rolaids, Sudafed, Viagra, Zoloft, Zyrtec, and other medications) had more profits in 2001 than all of the Fortune 500 homebuilding, apparel, railroad and publishing companies combined.

* Of the 50 most popular drugs discovered, 45 were discovered with taxpayer-funded research.

* Compared to all other industries, the federal tax burden on the drug industry is 40% lower.

* According to the National Institute of Health, taxpayer-funded scientists conducted 55 percent of the research projects that led to the discovery and development of the top five selling drugs in 1995.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Globalization and Health

Mexico's Minister of Health talks about the role that disease, violence, and malnutrition play in the dialogue over global economic development.

Read this article in its entirety by clicking here.