Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, August 20, 2016

MVNews this week:  Page B:2



Mountain Views-News Saturday, August 13, 2016 

Jeff’s Book Pics By Jeff Brown

On the Marquee: 

Notes from the Sierra MadrePlayhouse


by Margot Lee Shetterly

 The phenomenal 
true story of the black 
female mathematicians 
at NASA whose 
calculations helped 
fuel some of America’s 
greatest achievements in 
space. Soon to be a major 
motion picture starring 
Taraji P. Henson, 
Octavia Spencer, Janelle 
Monae, Kirsten Dunst, 
and Kevin Costner.
Before John Glenn 
orbited the earth, or 
Neil Armstrong walked 
on the moon, a group of 
dedicated female mathematicians known as “human 
computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding 
machines to calculate the numbers that would 
launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.Among 
these problem-solvers were a group of exceptionally 
talented African American women, some of the 
brightest minds of their generation. Originally 
relegated to teaching math in the South’s segregated 
public schools, they were called into service during 
the labor shortages of World War II, when America’s 
aeronautics industry was in dire need of anyone who 
had the right stuff. Suddenly, these overlooked math 
whizzes had a shot at jobs worthy of their skills, and 
they answered Uncle Sam’s call, moving to Hampton, 
Virginia and the fascinating, high-energy world 
of the Langley Memorial Aeronautical Laboratory.
Even as Virginia’s Jim Crow laws required them to 
be segregated from their white counterparts, the 
women of Langley’s all-black “West Computing” 
group helped America achieve one of the things 
it desired most: a decisive victory over the Soviet 
Union in the Cold War, and complete domination 
of the heavens.Starting in World War II and moving 
through to the Cold War, the Civil Rights Movement 
and the Space Race, Hidden Figures follows the 
interwoven accounts of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary 
Jackson, Katherine Johnson and Christine Darden, 
four African American women who participated 
in some of NASA’s greatest successes. It chronicles 
their careers over nearly three decades they faced 
challenges, forged alliances and used their intellect 
to change their own lives, and their country’s future.


by Maya Jasanoff

This groundbreaking 
National Book Critics Award 
Winning book offers the 
first global history of the 
loyalist exodus to Canada, 
the Caribbean, Sierra Leone, 
India, and beyond.At the end 
of the American Revolution, 
sixty thousand Americans 
loyal to the British cause 
fled the United States and 
became refugees throughout 
the British Empire. Liberty’s 
Exiles tells their story. This surprising new account 
of the founding of the United States and the shaping 
of the post-revolutionary world traces extraordinary 
journeys like the one of Elizabeth Johnston, a 
young mother from Georgia, who led her growing 
family to Britain, Jamaica, and Canada, questing 
for a home; black loyalists such as David George, 
who escaped from slavery in Virginia and went on 
to found Baptist congregations in Nova Scotia and 
Sierra Leone; and Mohawk Indian leader Joseph 
Brant, who tried to find autonomy for his people 
in Ontario. Ambitious, original, and personality-
filled, this book is at once an intimate narrative 
history and a provocative analysis that changes how 
we see the revolution’s “losers” and their legacies.


by Rosa Brooks 
The first serious book to 
examine what happens 
when the ancient 
boundary between war 
and peace is erased.Once, 
war was a temporary 
state of affairs—a violent 
but brief interlude 
between times of peace. 
Today, America’s wars 
are everywhere and 
forever: our enemies 
change constantly and 
rarely wear uniforms, 
and virtually anything 
can become a weapon. 
As war expands, so does 
the role of the US military. Today, military personnel 
don’t just “kill people and break stuff.” Instead, they 
analyze computer code, train Afghan judges, build 
Ebola isolation wards, eavesdrop on electronic 
communications, develop soap operas, and patrol 
for pirates. You name it, the military does it.Brooks 
traces this seismic shift in how America wages war 
from an unconventional perspective—that of a 
former top Pentagon official who is the daughter of 
two anti-war protesters and a human rights activist 
married to an Army Green Beret. Her experiences 
lead her to an urgent warning: When the boundaries 
around war disappear, we risk destroying America’s 
founding values and the laws and institutions we’ve 
built—and undermining the international rules 
and organizations that keep our world from sliding 
towards chaos. If Russia and China have recently 
grown bolder in their foreign adventures, it’s no 
accident; US precedents have paved the way for the 
increasingly unconstrained use of military power 
by states around the globe. Meanwhile, we continue 
to pile new tasks onto the military, making it 
increasingly ill-prepared for the threats America will 
face in the years to come.By turns a memoir, a work 
of journalism, a scholarly exploration into history, 
anthropology and law, and a rallying cry, this book 
transforms the familiar into the alien, showing us 
that the culture we inhabit is reshaping us in ways 
we may suspect, but don’t really understand. It’s the 
kind of book that will leave you moved, astonished, 
and profoundly disturbed, for the world around us 
is quietly changing beyond recognition and time is 
running out to make things right.


By Artistic Director, Christian Lebano

I’ve mentioned before that I am a work 
in progress as an Artistic Director. I have 
learned so much these last few years – but 
still, I get walloped by events and have to 
muster the fight and energy to keep moving 

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling 
Bee closes this Sunday with a completely 
sold-out weekend. This follows an almost 
sold-out weekend last week. After running 
for six weeks this Ovation Recommended and 
extremely well-reviewed show started selling. 
The difference – Frances Baum Nicholson’s 
review appeared in the Star-News. I have 
discounted the value of reviews before, but 
now I’ve had to adjust my thinking and accept 
that some reviews in certain outlets CAN 
make a difference. I wish it had happened 
sooner – for the cast, who played for houses 
some nights of 35 and for the Playhouse, 
which still relies on box office to make our 
budget. We’ll end up losing money on this 
show and we shouldn’t have.

CarneyMagic is on stage next from Thursday, 
August 25 through Sunday, August 28. For 
those of you who missed John Carney’s show 
in May, here’s your chance to see one of the 
world’s best sleight-of-hand magicians. There 
are still tickets available for every show. I do 
hope you’ll come out to see him – you will be 
so glad you did.

We’ve had to postpone Bee-luther-hatchee until January. Suddenly one of the creative team 
members became unavailable and we decided to postpone the show rather than go on without them. 
This may be a blessing in disguise as it gives us more time to properly market this unknown show 
AND will allow it to coincide with Black History Month. A more natural fit for the show. I’m very 
disappointed, however, as it was going to be my return to acting. I know the cast was disappointed 
when I contacted them, but we felt we had to make this decision. I do hope it goes off as plan – I 
think it is a very worthy show.

We now have a hole in our programming and I’m going to have to do some dancing to fill it. We 
have a couple of prospects, but nothing sure.

We also had to cancel the Off the Page Reading of Foxfire this Monday night. We didn’t get the rights 
in time to properly cast and rehearse the reading. I’m sorry to disappoint the many patrons who 
look forward to this new series, but again, given our small staff, it became too difficult to substitute 
something else at the last minute.

So these are the lessons I’m learning. Lessons that keep me up at night. I still think my time at the 
Playhouse is worth the stress. I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished and thrill to hear the wonderful 
comments we get.

This is your Playhouse. Please let me hear from you. Please visit our website at SierraMadrePlayhouse.
org or call Mary at 626.355.4318 to purchase tickets. 

All Things Considered By Jeff Brown


Michael Phelps swims fast, but not fast enough 
to beat Uncle Sam, who awaits him at the finish 
line each time he wins a medal. His total income 
tax bill for the 2016 Games? Up to about $55,000 
for his five golds and one silver.Olympic athletes 
who bring home medals also bring home cash — 
$25,000 for gold, $15,000 for silver and $10,000 
for bronze — paid for by the United States 
Olympic Committee. Like any prize winner, 
from a jackpot hitter to a Nobel Prize recipient, 
the athletes are taxed because Olympic medals 
and cash bonuses are considered income, said 
Steven Gill, associate professor of accounting 
at San Diego State University.The maximum 
possible ”victory tax” on the bonus for each 
gold medal, using the top tax rate of 39.6% for 
the nation’s highest earners, is $9,900, according 
to Americans for Tax Reform. For silver, it’s 
$5,940, and for bronze it’s $3,960. Athletes in 
lower tax brackets would owe less — and keep in 
mind that some or all of their massive training 
expenses would likely be deductible, whether 
they treat their sport as a business or a hobby.
Congress has tried to give Olympic athletes a 
tax break. In 2012, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., 
introduced a bill to shield medals and bonuses 
from Uncle Sam, but it died. “We can all agree 
that these Olympians who dedicate their lives to 
athletic excellence should not be punished when 
they achieve it,” Rubio said in a statement then.
As for Phelps and his maximum Olympic tax bill 
of $55,440, don’t worry. He probably won’t have a 
hard time paying up. His net worth is about $55 
million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.


By Sean Kayden

In 2014, Young The Giant’s 
second album “Mind Over 
Matter,” which debuted at 
No. 7 on the Billboard Top 
200, showcased the band 
evolving artistically from their 
straightforward rock debut. The 
quintet’s self-titled first record, 
dating back to 2011, featured radio hits like “Cough Syrup” 
and “My Body.” The Orange County natives went with a 
louder, more synth driven record on “Mind Over Matter,” an 
approach deemed necessary to differentiate from their first 
album. Now another two years have gone by and the band 
is at crossroads. Where do they go from here professionally? 
There’s seems to be a limit on how many directional changes 
one band can make in rock music these days. After all, many 
people thing rock and guitars are simply dead in this new 
generation. As they’ve attempted to do so before, the band 
has been given the task (by themselves) to make another 
daring change with the recently released third LP, “Home of 
the Strange.” Personally, I’ve always thought the band was 
good, but have yet to reach greatness with any of their overall 
albums. The act definitely have crafted some wonderful songs 
within their repertoire, however these handful songs come off 
two records that more or less don’t stand out in the complete 
sense. Honestly, YTG have always took second fiddle to 
another SoCal band of the name, Local Natives, a much 
superior and refined five-piece act. However, as another few 
years have gone by, can Young The Giant finally take the true 
artistic leap forward they’re anxiously searching for?

 The step forward begins with opening number, “Amerika.” 
It’s a leading contender for the best track off the record and 
proves to have some deeper lyrical undertones. “It’s a rich kids 
game / And I didn’t grow up with a throne / It’s all it really is,” is 
taken from “Amerika,” the dreamy, dynamically layered, and 
snyth driven starter. The band has said it’s taken the political 
road with “Home of the Strange.” In such a time like this, the 
youth movement is huge and Young the Giant have a voice too, 
as they have self-proclaimed. That voice being actually heard 
is another story, but the band explores what the American 
Dream means in 2016 – lust, excess, power and sex. One side 
of the coin is wonderment and the other is disappointment. So 
far, the start here is solid. The low-key anthem second single is 
“Something To Believe In,” the follow-up track on the record 
to “Amerika.” It’s definitely radio-friendly with another robust 
showcase for lead vocalist Sameer Gadhia, who sings with 
absolute fortitude. It’s a prime example of the group exploring 
different echoes, which are a bit darker and more complex. 
Lyrically, I’m not captivated but the contemporary feel and 
catchy phrase, “I’ll give you something to believe in” certifies 
something charming for me. One of my favorite tracks off 
the record is titled, “Mr. Know-It-All.” It’s not my favorite for 
obvious reasons, I like purely for the overall composition and 
the sound of Gadhia’s voice. It won’t spin heads with the corny 
lyrics, but it’s downright addicting. Musically, Young the Giant 
push their once known boundaries into new elevations. It’s 
such a convincing showcase on the technical side, but lyrically 
it falters in becoming something engrossing or quotable. The 
lyrics “You’re Mr. Know-It-All / She’s staring at her phone / 
And even though you sit together / You feel so alone / It’s such 
a tragedy / When people hardly speak / Try to live up to the 
person you pretend to be / You’re Mr. Know-It-All,” are sung 
here as if something really important needs to be stated, but 
it’s a simple set up and a painfully distinctive observation of 
today’s youth culture (when’s the last time you saw someone 
under the age of 23 not on their cellphone?). If you don’t look 
beyond the surface of the track, there’s much to fall in love with.

 “Repeat” starts off with an acoustic guitar, bringing us 
back to Young The Giant’s roots. However, not too long 
after it begins, the arrangement blossoms into a full-fledge 
rock song. In another attempt and a successful one I might 
add, the band comes together with a tune that ignites into 
something wonderfully dynamic. Young The Giant covers 
a bountiful sonic space with their third full-length record. A 
standout track, “Repeat,” features the band’s best lyric—“The 
world’s not empty / It’s how you want it to be.” It’s sort of what 
the album is striving for thematically. A record inspired and 
created by young individuals going through an identity crisis, 
a time of directionless, and finding the greater meaning to 
everything from the search to the achievement and from 
failure to success (and remaining there for as long as possible). 
Unfortunately, the band comes up tragically short in making 
a strong or memorable finish with “Nothing’s Over” and title 
track, “Home of the Strange.” Both tracks are sorely generic 
in execution leaving the listener savagely disappointed after 
a string of solid tracks like the aforementioned “Repeat,” the 
melodic and only track featuring additional vocals, “Titus Was 
Born” and the slow tempo endeavor, “Art Exhibit.” “Home of 
The Strange” is an album caught up with ideas, concepts, and 
beliefs. Does it clearly execute and flesh out those thoughts 
completely? Not entirely. In a world where music seems too 
artificial and missing any substance, Young The Giant try to 
mix carefree vibes with a strong voice. I’m not totally sure they 
have reached their lofty goals, but there’s plenty to embrace 
here to dismiss many, but not all of the band’s shortcomings. 

 Grade: 7.5 out of 10

Key Tracks: “Amerika,” “Mr. Know-It-All,” “Titus Was Born,” 

Young The Giant – “Home of the Strange”

Artist: Young The Giant

Album: Home of the Strange

Label: Fueled By Ramen

Release Date: August 12th, 2016

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