Friday, July 19, 2019

Hamilton (an opera review post, part two)

"Ladies and gentlemen, you coulda been anywhere in the world tonight!
"But you're here...!"

Okay, maybe you couldn't have been anywhere, and maybe you're not here -- actually, looking around me, I know that you're not -- but you get the message, I'm sure.
Or, at least, I hope you do.

As I said last post, we in my family were kind of early adopters of the whole Hamilton thing. Christmas of 2015 was full of Hamilton merchandise, and we hadn't done more than listen to it online before that. A lot. Seriously. A LOT. But after Christmas, there were CDs and, then, the music went everywhere with us. I did mention, didn't I (last post), that 2/3 of my kids know the entire thing, basically, by heart. Actually, the 1/3 might also know it, but he tries to feign indifference to Hamilton. (It's complicated.)

At any rate, it's the kind of immersion that makes me wonder about the necessity of seeing the actual stage production.
Let me tell you a brief story:

Once upon a time, I had never been to Disneyland. When my extended family found out, they were amazed and dumbfounded and decided that had to change. But I'd been to Six Flags, many of them many many times, and didn't get the big deal. I mean, it's just a bigger amusement park, right? Boy, was I wrong about that. It's the difference between a McDonald's cheeseburger and the best hamburger you've ever had, unless a McDonald's cheeseburger is the best burger you've ever had, in which case I'm very sad for you.

Yes, what I'm saying is that the stage production is so worth seeing. It was... tremendous.

That said, there is one hangup I have with Lin-Manuel Miranda over Hamilton. It's a small hangup because the work is, overall, amazing, but it's still there, and I would definitely point it out in any other piece of work (and have). Miranda needlessly changes the history in a few places. I'm not talking about changes one might make to a story so that it would flow more smoothly or something; he just changes some facts here and there. Even though they're relatively "small" things, in this day and age, I think it's dangerous. For one thing, it gives people who want to detract from the larger Truth of the work an opening to do so. But, also, since people tend to not bother with knowing history stuff, it leads them to believe things that aren't true. You know 99% of people who have seen this had no idea who Alexander Hamilton was before they saw Hamilton. [Yes, I pulled that number out of my butt. It's a metaphor because I have no idea what the actual percentage is, but I know that it's very very high.]

Of course, he did write it before all of the fake news and alternative facts, so maybe he wouldn't do it that way again. It just happened that it exploded onto the scene and was quickly followed by the quasi-reality we're all living through right now.

Other than that, there's nothing bad I can say about Hamilton in general. It's a great opera. Even I know some of the songs. And seeing it live... well, it took it up another level.

For one thing, there are a few things you can't get from just listening to it, things I didn't really realize I hadn't gotten until I saw it. I didn't know I was missing stuff, because I was out of context from the action on the stage but, when you see the performance, the lyrics in places click into place and it's like, "Oh! That's what that means!" Plus, I don't have the best ear, so I can't always tell when I'm listening to it who is singing what in the pieces where there are a lot of singers telling different bits, like in the opening number, so, for me, it was really nice to be able to see who was singing what.

As you can see from the picture,
the stage was pretty impressive. There were rotating portions of the stage as well that produced some interesting effects at points as people were rotated in opposite directions or were able to walk without moving across the stage.

The cast was great, even Simon Longnight as Lafayette, at which point I didn't care for him because of the nasal pitch to his voice, but I wasn't sure if it was him I wasn't liking so much as the faux French accent for the character. In the second part of the production, he becomes Thomas Jefferson, and he was completely enjoyable as Jefferson, so it was the accent that was the issue in the first part. At any rate, that's the only part of the entire production I have any quibble with, and that's hardly even a thing.

Julia Harriman, as Eliza, was powerful powerful during "Burn." I was surprised at how powerful.

Donald Webber gave a similarly powerful performance of "Wait for It."

Isaiah Johnson was amazing as Washington, possibly the best in the case? I don't know. I have a hard time judging that kind of thing. Like I said, I don't have the best ear.

Rick Negron's calves stole the scene as King George, but he was still great. It's not his fault all of us (seriously, we all noticed) noticed the size of his calves. Also, I want to point out, there are parts of the production that contain George where he's not singing, so you never know until you see it. It was so awesome to see him dance around the stage during "The Reyonlds Pamphlet."

And, then, there's  Julius Thomas as Hamilton. He was amazing. I mean, probably not the best singer up there, but he has to carry the show, and he certainly did that. Also, he came out after the show and signed autographs and let people take selfies with him and was so gracious about all of it. Thanking people for being there and supporting the show while allowing them to take up his time when you know he has to be tired and wants to just go home already. I was super impressed.

Look, if you have the chance to go see Hamilton, you should do it. It's an amazing show with fabulous music, and it's playing in several venues across the U.S. and on tour as well. I know you might have to "Wait for It," we did, but it is well worth it. I want to go again.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Hamilton (an opera review post, part one)

Okay, let's talk about the elephant I just brought into the room: I called this an "opera review post." Why would I do such a thing when Hamilton is clearly not an opera.
I'm just gonna guess that you don't actually know what an opera is. You just have a vague cultural idea of opera as some snooty upper class thing full of boring classical music and languages you don't understand.
And, well, unfortunately, that's kind of what opera has become, but it's not what it actually is. Oh, and when I say "kind of" what it's become, I actually mean that's not at all what it's become, but I can understand why so many people think of that way: It's how I used to think of it, too.

So what is opera, then? And what makes it different from musical theater?
Or from a play?
Well, both opera and musical theater fit under the broader category of what a play is. We tend to think of plays as the things without music, but they're all plays. If you add a few songs (or more than a few) but the play still consists of mostly spoken dialogue, you get musical theater. If it's a completely sung work, it's an opera.
Don't look at me like that, I'm talking about definitions, here, and definitions are important.

Look at it like this:
When opera was the entertainment of the day, opera was not a snooty upper class thing. Opera was entertainment for the masses and full of popular music. Classical music wasn't written to be classical -- there was no such thing at the time -- it was written to be popular. It's only "classical" now because it has endured. That's how popular it was. You'd probably be surprised at how much of the music you'd recognize if you became an opera-goer. (Just sayin'.) This was Top 40 stuff, is all I'm sayin'.

Also, opera wasn't written in other languages to be inaccessible to people. They were written in the languages of the people watching them. So, you know, French and Italian, especially. Some German. Other languages, too, just not much English. Look, I don't know why the British didn't get into opera writing. If they had, maybe we'd have different ideas about opera these days, but they didn't. Probably something to do with their "stiff upper lip" personality thing. It's a mystery to me. What it means, though, is that all of the big, famous operas from the past are mostly French or Italian, which means that when we think of operas, we get this idea that they have to be written in some other language.

It's the Three Wise Men, okay. It's all assumptions with no facts to back it up.

Hamilton is a sung work. There's really nothing spoken in it. A line or two here or there for emphasis, if you want to get all technical about it, but one word spoken without music doesn't make it not a sung work, so don't try to go all musical theater on me. And, no, the line between opera and musical theater can be blurry, but it's not so blurry that it extends to a word or two.

Hamilton is full of popular music. It's very singable. I know, because 2/3 of my kids know the entire thing by heart. It's also in the language of the people, which I'm just gonna say again, older operas were not written in some special "opera language," they were written in the languages of the audiences and the composers. It's not surprising, then, that Hamilton is in English.

So, Hamilton is an opera, which means that if you've seen Hamilton or listened to Hamilton, you've been interacting with opera. If you enjoyed Hamilton, you're enjoying opera.
It's not my fault; I'm not making this stuff up.

It also means that Lin-Manuel Miranda is the most famous opera singer in America.

My family's involvement with Hamilton began in the fall of 2015. NPR did a piece about it which my wife heard on her way home from work. She came home and played a bit of it for me, sure that I wasn't going to like it. Hip-hop isn't exactly my style of music. She was astonished when I liked it and told her to let it play. Maybe it was that I already liked Alexander Hamilton and had thought since high school that he's kinda gotten the short end of the stick. Maybe the music is just that catchy. Maybe it was a double-full blue blood moon and the tides were both extremely high and non-existent. I suppose it doesn't really matter why, but I liked it and, because, at that moment, I told my wife to let it play so my daughter heard it and she liked it and, well, it just cascaded from there.

We were all very disappointed that it only won 11 Tony awards.

All of which is to say that we didn't just go see Hamilton because it was a thing to do and people talk about it a lot. It was a dream-fulfillment thing, especially for my daughter. And it was her birthday present, which we will probably never be able to top.

None of which has anything to do with the performance that we saw, but that will have to be next time...

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Rebels: "Legacy of Mandalore" (Ep. 3.16)

-- "Maybe things have changed. They might be happy to see you."

You know, crash landings in spaceships in the Star Wars universe is way safer than crashing a car here in ours. I mean, no one ever dies. Or is even hurt. Sometimes, the spaceships aren't even hurt that bad. I suppose 40 years of precedence is hard to overcome. No, I don't know why I've never realized this before, but this episode gets us going with a crash landing, and the realization sort of just hit me like a spaceship to the skull. Not only is everyone fine, but the spaceship doesn't need any repairs.


Mandalore has gone over to the Empire, something I'm not sure I've mentioned in any of my earlier reviews, and their armor looks pretty cool in white. Sabine has gone home with the darksaber to try to rally support to the Rebellion. Hi-jinks ensue.
By hi-jinks I mean betrayal and family conflict.

This episode marks a turning point in the series. I'm not sure what kind of turning point, but I will say that Ezra and Kanan leave Mandalore with only Chopper, leaving two of their companions behind.
Yeah, read between the lines; I'm not spelling it all out for you.
Or go watch the episode.

"Didn't you tell them who you were?"
"That's probably why they're shooting at us."

"That went better than expected."
"That was better?"

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Spider-Man: Far From Home (a movie review post)

I'm sure I've said it before, but Spider-Man is and always has been my favorite superhero. For as long as I've had a favorite superhero, that is, which is a long time, at least since I was four. I know I was four because I had this Spider-Man toy that I loved, and I remember playing with it at the house we lived in when I was four. It included a tube of stuff you could use to make spiderwebs, and I got in trouble pretty frequently for making webs between the spindles on the backs of our chairs.

Mysterio, on the other hand, has never been one of my favorite characters in the Spider-verse. And this bit may sound spoilery, but I'm not being spoilery because Marvel has done such an excellent job of setting up the MCU as its own place, and you can't take anything from the comics as being binding for the MCU. As far as villains go, Kraven was always my favorite when I was a kid then, later, it was Hobgoblin. Mysterio just wasn't that interesting but, man, has he been around for a long time, so it's cool to see Marvel pull him into the MCU in a way that makes much more sense than his comics origins. And Jake Gyllenhaal was great in the role. He really made it work.

He makes it work because the real crisis in the movie is Peter dealing with the death of Tony Stark. Both with his personal loss -- And, remember, for Peter, it hasn't actually been all that long since his Uncle Ben died. Tony is the second father figure for Peter to lose since he's been in high school. -- and the pressure from those around him to step up and be, basically, the Iron Spider. It's a lot to deal with and Quentin (Mysterio) is the only one around Peter offering him any support. Being fatherly.

And that's all I'll say about that.

The movie is a lot of fun, much of it dealing with Peter trying to work up the courage to tell MJ how he feels about her, something which is probably a "welcome" distraction for him rather than dealing with the pressure from all of the adults around him and the constant reminders that Start is dead. Yeah, I did say that the teenage romantic angst was something welcome for Peter, and he tries his best to avoid being Spider-Man just so that he can deal with what he sees as the romantic tension between the two of them.

I suppose the real question is, "Is it as good as Homecoming?" I'd have to say that it's not but, also, that it's not far off. It's definitely setting the stage for things that are to come, both for the next Spider-Man movie and the MCU in general, while dealing with Peter's personal issues and conflicts. If you're an MCU fan or a Spider-Man fan, it's certainly not to be missed.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Men in Black: International (a movie review post)

My first question is, "Why isn't this movie making more money?" Seriously, what the heck? It's like people can't deal with any deviation from the original but, yet, are going to complain about the thing if it's just like the original. Which, I suppose, explains the success of those inane Angry Speed movies, but you can get away with that kind of stuff when you toss your story out the window in favor of fast cars and explosions. Hmph, also explains the success of that last Max movie: fast driving, chases, and misogyny; can't beat that combo, I guess.

Anyway... None of that has to do with MiB: International, which was a delightfully fun movie. I'm not sure if there's any actor out there, right now, who is more fun to watch than Chris Hemsworth, and he was a lot of fun in this movie.

But I get that this is not Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. You know why? Because THIS IS NOT WILL SMITH AND TOMMY LEE JONES! This is not a story about Agents J and K. Why would you explore other stories in the Men-in-Black world and just stick new actors into previous character types? This one is about looking around the agency and seeing what else is there, not reproducing the same story that has already been told. This isn't a remake; if it were, you could make a case for trying to reproduce that same chemistry and with the same archetypes.

In fact, I would barely call this re-boot other than that they've taken a franchise that hasn't been touched in a while and made a new movie in that world in the hopes that it would lead to more movies, which it probably won't, based on its performance, and that's too bad, because this is a good movie. It deserves a lot of credit for not falling back into the tropes of the previous movies.

So, anyway...
Emma Thompson was perfect as Agent O; I wouldn't have dis-enjoyed it if they'd had more of her in the movie. Kumail was pretty great as Pawny. And Hemsworth and Tessa Thompson had great chemistry and worked well together. There really needs to be a sequel to this movie to keep these characters onscreen together.
Yeah, I didn't mention Liam Neeson. He was fine. I'm just not that impressed with him these days. He's entered the realm of always just playing Liam Neeson, so he was what I would say is the weak link of the movie. Fortunately, he's not in the movie that much.

All of which is to say, you should give the movie a chance if this is at all your kind of thing at all. Liam Neeson aside.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Orlando (an opera review post)

After having said, just this week, what I said about the general director of SFO and more traditional productions of classic operas, here's one that's... not. Which does not change the validity of my statement; the productions have still been trending toward "traditional" rather than "experimental" or "updated" or whatever you want to call anything that isn't set in its traditional setting. But, yes, Orlando gets a more modern setting, and it's a very good thing. I'm not sure how I would have felt about it if it had been done as written. As it is, I'm still conflicted over it.

Orlando is by Handel. Yes, that Handel, the Messiah one. Which means it's pretty. It's also everything that people who have never seen opera think opera is: people singing one line over and over again for five minutes. Okay, maybe three lines, but Orlando is really like that. This could be reduced to a not-even-very-long short story, even shorter if it was dialogue-based.

All that, and it makes use of one of my least favorite writing devices: the deus ex machina.

This production is set during World War II rather than it's original setting, and the opera becomes something much more interesting than having the problem solved by "god" coming down and making everything right. In this case, it's solved by a rather pompous psychiatrist and electroshock treatment. Of course, the electroshock treatment does seem to affect everyone involved, not just the receiver of the treatment, but it's much better than Zeus waving his hands around and making everything good again.

Here's something fun:
My brother, who is six years younger than me, sang in a boys' choir when he was probably about six or seven. Due to his association with that particular choir, I picked up a few tidbits of information about choirs of that sort, the main being that in the not too distant past, even, it was not uncommon for the best of these singers to be castrated before puberty so that they could retain their high-pitched voices into adulthood. Yeah, I'll just let that sink in a few moments...

You ready to go on yet?

So... Handel had a favored lead male singer who was one of these men who had been castrated to retain his voice, and Handel wrote the part of Orlando for that specific singer. Needless to say, it is, at best, a difficult role for a male to play these days, so SFO cast a woman in the role, which seems to be the norm. I don't know; I haven't done any research on the history of Orlando and at what point it became commonplace to have a woman in the role.

Anyway... None of that has any bearing on the actual opera production. It's just free trivia for you.

It took me a while to get into this one. It starts with this whole thing with the doctor/wizard Zoroastro trying to convince Orlando that he should forsake love and get back to his duty in the war because, you know, he's a war hero, and there are still Nazis to kill. That's probably advice Orlando should have taken because the woman he was in love with was in love with someone else, and so we have a conflict. It's a much more complicated conflict than that, though, more like a love tangle than a love triangle. After awhile, the story got interesting enough to draw me in. It just takes a while when it takes half an hour to cover a few sentences of story.

The set was pretty interesting. They set it in a hospital because Orlando has been wounded and this is where he had been making his recovery. It was, on the surface, a fairly simple set, just a spinning wall that could be different rooms as they turned it from one side to the other. It was very effective.

In the end, I liked it. A lot more than I expected to. It's sort of a stand-in-place-and-sing kind of opera, but the director turned it into a piece that plenty of movement and action. It was good. It helped to pull the audience, or, at least, me, into the performance.

Christina Gansch, who played the nurse Dorinda, really stood out. She was clever and funny and, really, made her role the center of the performance.

I don't know that I'd want to see this opera again, but I'm glad I saw this production of it.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Carmen (an opera review post)

Carmen marks the first opera I have seen more than once. Evidently, it's one of SFO's favorite operas to perform, so I suppose you should expect another Carmen review in two to three years. This was a different production than the one we saw last time, and, I have to say, this one fell short. It's something that I'm saying that, too, because, at the point of the intermission, I announced to my wife, "I like this one better than the last one." I was wrong. But I'll get more to that in a moment or three.

First of all, this was a much more traditional production than the previous one. What I'm learning is that the new general director of SFO, having taken over in 2016, just after we started attending, is very much a traditionalist in his approach to the productions of older operas. He's British, so maybe that's why? It's not that they don't perform newer operas, after all, since we've been going, they've debuted several new opera productions, but, since he's been in charge, the trend has been to return all the staple operas to more traditional styles of productions. So, last time we saw Carmen, we had a show set in the 60s or 70s, while this recent production returned us to the 1800s. I don't know that this traditionalist approach is a detriment or not, but Carmen, in particular, seems to be ready for a more up-to-date interpretation.

I believe the reason I liked the first half of this particular production as much as I did is that Don Jose, the male lead, is not actually in it much. I enjoyed J'Nai Bridges in her role as Carmen. She very much embodied the character and was fun to watch. Matthew Polenzani, however, was barely believable in his role as Don Jose. He creates no romantic, sexual, or violent tension, and all three of those things are required in the male lead.

I would kind of love to break it all down, but I think that would take too long and, ultimately, prove to be uninteresting, so I'll give the highlights:
1. Polenzani turns what should have been a highly charged meeting of sexual tension into something that more resembles insta-love, as he ignored Carmen during the entire exchange. Once she's off the stage he picks up a flower she threw at him and decides he's in love with her.
2. During the pivotal scene where Jose is forced into running off to the mountains with Carmen, it doesn't actually feel forced. It comes across more as an "oh, well..."
3. During the final scene, Carmen keeps going on about how Jose should just go ahead and kill her if that's what he's going to do, but Polenzani managed to be so non-threatening throughout the production that it comes across as emo whining on the part of Carmen rather than any real threat upon her life. It makes her murder somewhat out of the blue and arbitrary feeling, more like he did because she was saying it rather than there being any threat of murder hanging in the air.

It's so bad, in fact, that when the romantic rival shows up, I really felt like Carmen should go off with him. You're not supposed to be rooting for this guy and, in the previous production we saw, I wasn't. In the that one, he felt like the villain he was supposed to be but, in this one, he felt like the better option. You could feel his passion for Carmen and could support that over Jose's milk-toast ambivalence.

Now, I realize that a lot of these issues could be directorial, but I think the lack of believable passion from Don Jose falls squarely on Polenzani's shoulders. Unless, maybe, the director told him to be as uninterested as possible, but I highly doubt that. Maybe it all would have been fine if I had just shut my eyes and listened to the music only but, then, I wouldn't have understood it because I need the translation on the screens.

All of which is to say that the specific production can make a huge difference in an opera. Yes, I knew that... in my head... but I had never experienced it before. Not in an opera, anyway. It's interesting to get this perspective.

Monday, July 8, 2019

A Delicacy of Eggs

Eggs are like writing.
No, seriously.
Look, I know, everything is like writing, but eggs are really like writing.
It's about the attitude.
I mean, it's only eggs, right?
Anyone can cook an egg.
That's how people feel about eggs, and it's true as far as that goes. There are certain things with eggs anyone ought to be able to do proficiently enough so that they're edible. Minimally. Hard boiled. Scrambled. Egg over hard. (Look, I didn't know what it was called; I had to look it up. Dumb name, and I never make them that way, because, basically, that's an unskilled way to make a fried egg.)
And people seem to think that "everyone has a story in them," which may or may not be true, but people say it all the time.
There's this attitude that anyone can write if only they sat down to do it.
Like anyone can make eggs.

But not everyone can make good eggs. If anyone and everyone could do it, diner eggs wouldn't need salt or hot sauce or ketchup. They would just be good and you could eat them without a bunch of augmentation. But when was the last time you had eggs at a diner that didn't taste like paper?
When's the last time you made eggs that didn't taste like paper?

The problem with eggs is that they actually take a lot of attention. That is, if you want them to be good, they do. They're only "easy" to make when you don't care what you're getting as the end product.

Let me give you an example:
I make what we in my house call fancy eggs. They're "fancy" because they're all creamy and stuff. In fact, they have cream in them.
And here's the problem with eggs:
A recipe won't get you where you want to go, not with eggs. There's no "cook for four minutes" that will get you good eggs every time you make them. Or, probably, any time you make them.
So fancy eggs start out as mostly conventional scrambled eggs. [No, I'm not giving out any of my cooking secrets! They were hard won, and you can go figure out your own secrets!] Then, when they're almost done, almost but not quite, you turn the heat off, add in the cream, and mix it in in the still hot skillet.

This did come from a recipe book, but the book is... well, it's not anymore clear than I just was about when and how to add in the cream. Why? Because you have to be standing there watching the eggs to know when. In fact, you have to work these eggs the entire time they're cooking if you want them to turn out right. There's none of this pouring the eggs into the skillet and doing something else for a few moments while the eggs cook on their own, then stirring them up a bit and going back to the other thing, repeat until eggs are done. [I know that's how you do it, because, when you make plain old scrambled eggs, that works just fine. Fine enough, at any rate.] But for these eggs, you have to work them the whole time and you have to pay attention to just how cooked they are so that you know when to add the cream.
Too soon and you have runny, soupy eggs that no one is going to want to eat.
Too late and the eggs are cooked through and the cream won't mix in so you have scrambled eggs sitting in a puddle of cream.
How do you know when you're at the correct moment to add the cream? Experience.

No two eggs are alike. It's similar to why I hate recipes that call for two cloves of garlic. What does that even mean? Garlic cloves can vary in size from the size of your pinky nail to the size of your thumb (or thereabouts, it's close enough, okay!). You have to be more specific. And who only wants just two cloves of garlic anyway? Wimps, that's who!
Look, what I'm saying is that you don't get the same volume of egg goop from six eggs from one time to the next, so the cooking time required is going to be different every single time. Sure, the difference is a matter of seconds, but when your eggs go from not-done-enough for cream to too-done for cream within about 10 or 12 seconds, you don't have any time to play around with. You have to be working the eggs and have the cream ready to go in. Also, the amount of cream has to vary somewhat, and you can only tell how much to put in by paying attention to the eggs.

It's expertise.

I know I started all of this by comparing this whole egg thing to writing, and it's a good metaphor. Most books are diner eggs, and that's probably all I need to say about that.
However, I think this is also a good metaphor for democracy. ["Oh, god, does everything have to be politics?" Well, yes, I think maybe it does. Right now, at any rate.] I think we in the United States took our democracy for granted, had that whole "it's only voting" mindset. We quit paying attention to it and let it get too done. Maybe burned. Maybe ruined. I don't know. I suppose we'll find out in 2020. If Trump (#fakepresident) wins again, legitimately or not, we'll know that democracy is over in the USA. The Republicans will be too firmly entrenched and civil rights will really begin to become a thing of the past. They're working hard at making that so right now.
Sorry, women, take your shoes off and get your asses back in the kitchen.
Sorry, black men... Yeah... Just, I'm sorry. I have nothing quippy to say to that.

If Trump (#fakepresident) loses... Well, it may also already be too late if he loses. I suppose we'll have to wait and see how that plays out. One thing is certain, he's not going to pass over the reins of power peacefully. At the very least, he's going to start screaming that the election was rigged, which is where things will get dicey. It's all going to depend on how his followers, both in and out of the government, respond to his throwing a tantrum. It may mean that it's time to throw that skillet of eggs in the trash and start again.
But I hope not.
Because it will mean that blood is being spilled.
And blood is already being spilled.
Or put in cages.
People being allowed to die, at any rate.

What all of this comes down to is that if you want to be good at something, at anything, you have to pay attention to it. You have to practice it. You have to do it. You can't leave your eggs to cook themselves, and you can't allow other people to take care of the vote you ought to be casting.
And putting words on a page in sentence format doesn't mean you're going to have a book worth reading.