An Anxious Germany Awaits the Trump Administration

Germany is hungry for information about what to expect from the Trump administration. Will President Trump withdraw the United States from the Iran deal and the Paris agreement? Will he let Vladimir Putin run rampant in Eastern Europe? Will he continue to provoke China? Will he tweet at four in the morning to announce policy proposals?

Detlef Wachter, head of the division of security policy at the Federal Chancellery, said Germany is extremely anxious to see how the new U.S. administration will interact with Putin’s Russia. Though Trump’s campaign statements about NATO caused some alarm in Germany, they did reignite a discussion about burden-sharing among NATO members. Germany, for its part, does want to adhere to its commitment of spending 2 percent of its GDP on defense, according to several officials. Germany currently spends 1.19 percent.

At the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP), an independent, non-partisan, and nonprofit membership organization, think tank, and publisher, Dr. Jana Puglierin, head of the Alfred von Oppenheim Center for European Policy Studies program, and other DGAP experts said that following Russia’s interference in the U.S. presidential election, Europeans are very anxious about the same thing happening during France’s election in May and Germany’s election in September.

Professor Dr. Andrea Römmele of the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin questioned the role of mainstream media following the U.S. election.

"In the United States, all major media outlets endorsed Clinton, but Trump used tweets and won," she said. "What’s the relevance of the media now?"

Bertram Eisenhauer, head of the Sunday edition of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ), one of the largest newspapers in Europe, said there’s a growing distrust of the media in Germany, just like in the United States. He mentioned the increasing use of the term "lugenpresse," or lying press, a term successfully used by the Nazis to fight the media in the 1930s and used again by some Trump supporters during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"There is a broad movement of people now who do not believe anything they read in the paper unless it confirms certain preconceptions they have," said Eisenhauer. "If you say crime is rising because of the refugees, they will believe it, but if you say crime is not rising, they will think you’re lying."

Nora Müller, executive director of international affairs at the Körber Foundation, said policymakers in Berlin are overwhelmed by the expectations of other countries these days. Matthias Nass, chief international correspondent of Die Zeit, the largest weekly newspaper in Europe, agreed.

"Transatlantic relations are getting very interesting again," he said. "The German government was not prepared for the outcome of the U.S. election. We do not know what to expect from the Trump administration. But whoever the leaders are, the United States and Europe have to work together. We face these challenges together."

Nass said it’s important for Europe to know if the Trump administration wants to continue having Germany and France be the drivers of the Minsk talks, or if he wants the United States to take over talking to Russia about Ukraine.

"We hope the United States lives up to its obligations, treaties, and agreements, and we need to do that, too," he said. "There has to be trust on both sides. This doesn’t exist yet. Europe is not in a good state right now. We have a rise of nationalism that I didn’t expect in my lifetime. Many players look to Germany with high expectations, but America can’t expect Germany to take a lead that is not coordinated by all our neighbors. We don’t speak for Europe. Berlin might have a strong voice, but it is only one of 28 voices."

Germans and their government are very reluctant to build up their military and to use force abroad. Kapitän zur See Hans-Jörg Detlefsen, deputy director of security policy at the Ministry of Defense, went so far as to say Germany is reluctant to commit troops to UN peacekeeping forces. Pacifism is a long-standing tradition in German society, due in no small part to World War II. If the United States, under President Trump, becomes more isolationist and withdraws from the Middle East, Germany will not and cannot fill that gap, officials said.

Germany is also not immune to the populist trends shaking up the establishment around the world, including in the United States with the election of Trump, in the United Kingdom with the Brexit vote, in Italy with the rejection of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s reform referendum, in the Philippines with the election of Rodrigo Duterte, and in Colombia with the rejection of the first peace deal with FARC rebels, to cite a few examples. A new far right-wing populist and Euroskeptic political party called Alternative für Deutschland (Alternative for Germany, AfD) is gaining traction in Germany. AfD has won seats in several state parliaments and is expected to win anywhere from 5 to 12 percent of the seats in the national parliament in September 2017. The party was formed a couple of years ago in opposition to the euro, but quickly adopted a xenophobic, anti-immigrant platform in response to the influx of refugees in Germany.

On December 6, German Chancellor Angela Merkel delivered a speech to the annual conference of her party, the Christian Democratic Union, in which she accepted her party’s nomination as its candidate for another four-year term, called for a ban on full-face veils, and moved to the right on refugees. "A situation like the one in the late summer of 2015 cannot, should not, and must not be repeated," she said, referring to terrorist attacks allegedly carried out by refugees. Another string of attacks were carried out in summer 2016, and in December a truck ploughed through a Christmas market in Berlin, killing 12 people. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack.

Merkel has received criticism for opening the door to over a million refugees, but many Germans are still supportive of hosting and integrating refugees into their society. At the Hamburg Chamber of Crafts, a nonprofit corporation under public law that provides services to the skilled crafts sector, Securing Skilled Workers department head Gesine Keßler-Mohr said incoming refugees help counter the low birth rate and aging population problem in Germany, which is one of the lowest in Europe.

"There is a deep, ongoing discussion about the value of immigration and how it will change German society," she said.

Eisenhauer spoke about his newspaper’s struggle to cover a recent controversial story about an 18-year-old German college student who was raped and strangled to death in a small university town, allegedly by a 17-year-old unaccompanied minor and former refugee from Afghanistan applying for asylum in Germany.

"Is this a regional story? A political story? Should it go on page one? Should we make the connection to the refugees coming in? Will our coverage fan the flames of xenophobia?" said Eisenhauer, describing the discussion in their newsroom about how to cover the story. They ultimately decided not to put it on page one, but displayed it prominently inside the paper.

The Chamber of Crafts and Chamber of Commerce are deeply involved in the effort to integrate refugees into the German labor market by providing vocational training, language classes, cross-cultural competence training, and other services to make sure refugees have the necessary qualifications to do the jobs they are being assigned to.

The German government’s foreign policy, under Merkel’s leadership, is focused on thinking more comprehensively about solving problems in regions such as the Middle East and North Africa before refugees leave those areas and head for Europe. They hope that the Trump administration sees the value in this strategy and that the United States follows suit.
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Pacific Council communications associate Justin Chapman recently traveled to Berlin, Frankfurt, and Hamburg, Germany for the "Think Transatlantic" Study Tour, sponsored by the German Federal Foreign Office. Meetings with government, media, economic, and think tank officials featured discussions on a range of transatlantic issues, including NATO, refugees, Russia, President-elect Donald Trump, and more.

In the spirit of fostering transatlantic dialogue, next week I will travel to Germany to represent the Pacific Council on International Policy during the German Federal Foreign Office’s "Think Transatlantic" Study Tour, an informational visit for young writers and researchers of U.S. think tanks.

I will visit Frankfurt, Hamburg, and Berlin to meet with officials from the Federal Chancellery, the Bundestag (Parliament), the Federal Ministry of Defense, the European Central Bank, the Bundesbank (German Federal Bank), the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper, the Die Zeit newspaper, the German Council on Foreign Relations, the Körber Foundation, the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, the Hertie School of Governance, and more.

In a letter to president and CEO Dr. Jerrold D. Green inviting the Pacific Council to participate in the study tour, German Ambassador to the United States Peter Wittig wrote, "In times of myriad crises and shifting global influence, we should deepen our alliance across the Atlantic and ensure its continuity. For this, we need the next generation of government and public policy leaders. To help build that next generation of transatlanticists, the German Embassy over the past years has invited young, promising experts from a select number of think tanks and other institutions to gain firsthand experience in Germany on foreign, political, business, security, media, and economic policy issues."

Stay tuned to the Pacific Council’s Newsroom, Twitter, and Facebook during the first two weeks of December 2016 for dispatches from Germany as I engage in a dialogue with high-ranking German decision-makers and government leaders, the scientific community, and members of the media and private sector. Also stay tuned to my personal travel blog, Junket Journal, for posts on my trip to Germany and Geneva, Switzerland.

'Come together'

Bernie Sanders talks about resisting Trump’s policies, reforming the Democratic Party and his new book at the Alex Theatre

By Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/1/2016

“Rethink your role in the political process,” Bernie Sanders told a packed house Tuesday at the Alex Theatre in Glendale. “It’s great that you vote every two or four years, but we need more than that to be effective. We need to mobilize millions of people to get engaged in the political process and join this fight to move a progressive agenda forward.”

The Independent senator from Vermont and former Democratic presidential candidate first addressed the crowd solo at a podium on stage and then was interviewed by comedian Sarah Silverman to promote his new book, Our Revolution: A Future to Believe In. Sanders’ wife Jane was in attendance and received a standing ovation.

“It’s important for everyone to remember that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by over 2 million votes,” said Sanders. “In his delusional manner, Mr. Trump has not recognized that, but nonetheless it is a fact. And what that means is Mr. Trump does not have a mandate.”

When Silverman came out on stage, a few audience members loudly booed. During the primaries, Silverman was a staunch supporter of Sanders, but after Hillary Clinton won the nomination, Silverman threw her support behind Clinton, much to the dismay of die-hard Sanders supporters. During the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia in July, Silverman told Sanders supporters who were protesting that they were “being ridiculous.” When she came on stage at the Alex on Tuesday, one audience member who booed also shouted, “You’re ridiculous, Sarah!” She didn’t respond, and Sanders thanked her for supporting his campaign before they moved on to the interview.

“The first question I should ask you, something that’s been on everyone’s minds since the election, which is, ‘What the fuck?’” Silverman said.

“Is that the entire question?” Sanders laughed. “As we try to figure out how best to deal with President Trump — and I am as reluctant as you are to say that phrase — people must not think members of Congress can do this alone. We need a mass movement of millions of people who are engaged in the political process.”

He added that people won’t agree on every issue, but there is one area progressives cannot compromise on: bigotry.

“In many ways bigotry was the cornerstone of Trump’s campaign,” Sanders said. “But when we look back at the history of this country, as the result of the millions of people who struggled against discrimination over 200 years, we have come a long way and made real progress. So our message to Mr. Trump is, ‘We are not going back.’”

However, he added that those who think all of Trump’s supporters are racists, sexists and homophobes are mistaken.

“Some of them certainly are, but I don’t think the vast majority of them are,” he said. “We live in a very silo-ized world, meaning we end up only associating with people who think like us. What Trump did was very clever. He, of all people, said, ‘I hear your pain, and I will take on the political, economic, and media establishment.’ What he tapped into in many parts of this country is a pain and level of despair which you never see on television, but is very real. People don’t feel like they have a sense of purpose.”

Another reason Trump won the election, Sanders added, is because of the weakness of the Democratic Party. If the Democratic Party had done nothing else but raise the minimum wage to a living wage during their eight years in power, he said, they would have reached those who voted for Trump.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer, the incoming Senate Minority Leader, recently appointed Sanders to be part of the Senate Democrats’ leadership team. Sanders will handle outreach to key party constituencies.

“And I assure you, I will do outreach,” he said. “What we are going to try to do is completely restructure and reform the Democratic Party and make it into a grassroots party which welcomes working people and young people and people who are prepared to demand that we have a government and an economy that works for all of us and not just the one percent.”

Sanders mentioned that he got in trouble two weeks ago for saying, “It is not good enough for someone to say, ‘I’m a woman! Vote for me!’” In making the argument against identity politics for the sake of identity politics, many interpreted Sanders’ comments as criticism of Clinton’s campaign.

“Let me repeat it,” he told the Glendale crowd on Tuesday. “It is not good enough to support a candidate just because they are black or gay or a woman. They have to have the courage to stand up to big money interests. We need a party that has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, the drug companies, the insurance companies, the fossil fuel industry and all of the powers that be. This country in many respects is moving toward an oligarchic form of society. A handful of billionaires control our economic and political life. If you’re not willing to engage in that struggle, well then I don’t think you’re doing serious politics.”

Fortunately, Sanders said, the American people are on the side of a progressive agenda.

“Whether it’s raising the minimum wage to a living wage, ensuring pay equity for women, putting millions of people to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, demanding that Donald Trump and his billionaire friends start paying their fair share of taxes, making public colleges tuition-free and addressing the planetary crisis of climate change, there is overwhelming support for these ideas,” he said.

In order to make those ideas a reality, though, more people will need to get involved in the political process and vote.

“Just the other day — it’s hard to keep up with Trump’s tweets — he claimed millions of people voted illegally,” Sanders said. “That is total and absolute nonsense. When he said that, what he was really doing was sending a message to Republican leaders all over the country that they have got to increase their efforts toward voter suppression. That’s what that message was about. Republicans don’t want people to vote. We need to make voting as easy as possible. We want the highest voter turnout in the world, not the lowest.”

The event was sponsored by Vroman’s Bookstore and was originally slated to take place at All Saints Church in Pasadena, but was moved to the Alex due to overwhelming popular demand.

Sanders’ book has two parts: one is about his presidential campaign and the other is an outline for a progressive economic, environmental, racial and social justice agenda. Considered a fringe candidate in the beginning with no money, political organization, or name recognition, Sanders took on the Democratic establishment, received more than 13 million votes and won 22 states during the primaries.

“I left the campaign with a sense of optimism,” he said. “I know these are tough times, but there are extraordinary people across this country. I don’t have all the answers. Nobody I know does. We’re going to have to come together on this. If we put our minds to it, if we do not allow demagogues to divide us up by race or sexual orientation or whatever, if we stand together, there is nothing we cannot accomplish.”

Fight the power

Battle lines are drawn in the struggle against Trump’s divisive policy plans

By Mercedes Blackehart and Justin Chapman, Pasadena Weekly, 12/1/2016

Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Los Angeles and a dozen other major US cities for several days following the surprise election of Donald J. Trump as the 45th president of the United States, even though Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by more than 2 million votes.

Incensed by Trump’s rhetoric about banning Muslims, building a wall along the border with Mexico to keep out the “rapists and drug dealers,” and grabbing women’s genitals and kissing them without consent, people of all ages and walks of life — including families with small children in strollers — expressed their outrage at the next president’s proposed policies.

Making it clear what he thinks of the First Amendment, and repeating a claim that has since been debunked, on Nov. 10 Trump tweeted, “Just had a very open and successful presidential election. Now professional protesters, incited by the media, are protesting. Very unfair!”

This photo essay was taken during the Nov. 12 protest in downtown Los Angeles. The rally began with speeches at MacArthur Park, then marched east through the streets of downtown Los Angeles to the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building. Following more political speeches at the federal building, throngs of protesters marched off in different directions, with most heading back to MacArthur Park.

The LAPD said there were 8,000 protesters, but there were clearly tens of thousands more people in the streets than that. Countless officers blocked the entrances to the Harbor (110) and Hollywood (101) freeways after protesters in previous days shut down freeways across the country.

Despite media rhetoric about these being violent riots, this protest was entirely peaceful, with several protesters seen shaking hands with police officers and thanking them for their service. In return, some officers threw up peace signs to the passing crowd. Cars stuck in traffic because of the protest honked their horns in solidarity with the protesters.

One man attempted to argue with a group of young female protesters about the purpose of the protest. “None of us dispute the election result,” one protester responded. “That’s not the point. It’s about showing our resistance to this man and what he stands for.”

These were some of the chants heard during the demonstration:

“No Trump! No KKK! No racist USA!” a chant later used by Green Day during the American Music Awards on Nov. 20.

“My body, my choice!” female protesters yelled, followed by male protesters yelling, “Her body, her choice!”

“When immigrants are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back! When Muslims are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back! When women are under attack, what do we do? Stand up, fight back!”

And of course, the signature chant was “Not my president!” a refrain seldom heard in Los Angeles since the George W. Bush era.

Back at MacArthur Park, protesters filled the intersection at West Sixth and South Alvarado streets for hours. Dozens of police officers in riot gear lined up in the middle of the street, awaiting orders to disperse the crowd. After several tense moments on the cusp of potential violence, police decided to stand down and drove their vehicles away from the protest.

'Beauty' Fights Back

Author and activist Ellen Snortland’s documentary on women’s self-defense screens Friday at Laemmle Playhouse 7

By Justin Chapman, 11/10/2016, Pasadena Weekly

Ellen Snortland first published her book “Beauty Bites Beast: Awakening the Warrior Within Women and Girls” in 1999. A powerful treatise calling for women to take charge of their own self-defense both verbally and physically when being attacked, she has spent the past 10 years turning the book into a documentary of the same name.

The film just finished a weeklong run in New York City and begins a second weeklong run starting tomorrow at the Laemmle Playhouse 7 in Pasadena. The film will air four times a day until Nov. 17 as part of a campaign to make the documentary eligible for the Academy Awards and Independent Spirit Awards.

“I primarily identified as a writer and author, not a filmmaker,” said Snortland, a longtime Pasadena Weekly columnist. “But I thought, ‘You know what? There are a whole bunch of idiots that make movies all the time. I’m an idiot, I can do this.’ I’m a little bit of a poster girl for ‘it can be done.’”

Taking Action, Saving Lives

The documentary is a natural extension of Snortland’s lifelong work around women’s self-defense. She serves on the board of IMPACT Personal Safety, a nonprofit started in 1985 that trains women, men and children in full-force, full-impact self-defense and boundary-setting techniques. She grew up in Colorado and South Dakota, received a juris doctorate from Loyola Law School, founded the first all-female theater company in the early 1970s, acted in and directed several TV shows during the 1980s, attended United Nations world conferences and annual UN meetings as an nongovernmental organization (NGO) delegate and journalist and wrote and performs a one-woman show about growing up as a Norwegian American. She is also the co-author of “The Safety Godmothers: The ABCs of Awareness, Boundaries and Confidence for Teens” with Lisa Gaeta.

The documentary was funded entirely by individual contributions as small as $5 all the way up to $100,000. The project has cost about $250,000 as well as another $250,000 with in-kind contributions. In partnership with Providence Entertainment Group and El HaLev, “Beauty Bites Beast” screened in Israel earlier this year and has been accepted into the Nova Scotia Sunrise and Delhi International film festivals.

The documentary was scheduled to play at the 40th Montreal World Film Festival in September, but managerial and financial problems led to last-minute resignations of many staff members and cancellations of two-thirds of screenings. “Beauty Bites Beast” played for 12 minutes before the projector broke down. One of the festival jurors was found dead in his hotel room. (Read Snortland’s column “When ‘Best’ Isn’t Good Enough” in the Oct. 6 issue of the Weekly for the full story).

Undeterred, Snortland is aiming high by applying for the Academy Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards because she believes the film’s message is so important that it saves lives.

“I made it for people to take action,” she said. “To make sure they get their children trained in what we call empowerment self-defense. I want them to come away with the understanding that the drive to defend oneself is not a gendered attribute. And I’m out to impact at a policy level. We want to get DVDs to legislators, to the people who make decisions about grants.”

The documentary points out that the Violence Against Women Act of 1993, its reauthorization in 2013 and the White House Task Force on Ending Sexual Assaults Against Students in 2014 include no mentions of self-defense.

“It’s all oriented toward before and after being attacked. There’s nothing about what to do during an attack,” said Snortland. “My movie is the ‘during’ part. In the surveys we hand out at screenings we ask, ‘Has your view of violence against women shifted after seeing this documentary?’ Our ‘yes’ rate is 90 percent.”

Ending Violence Against Women

The documentary came about after Snortland met an American in 2006 who owned a factory in Tijuana. At the time, hundreds of women were being kidnapped, raped and killed in Juarez. The factory owner read the “Beauty Bites Beast” book and asked Snortland to train his female workers in Tijuana on how to defend themselves. She agreed, as long as she could film the sessions. Those scenes are among the most powerful in the film, showing impoverished women undergoing a remarkable transformation in realizing that they are not powerless to defend themselves. Dolores Huerta, co-founder of United Farm Workers, delivered their graduation speech at the end of the sessions.

Nagin Cox, an assistant at IMPACT and spacecraft systems engineer at JPL, also traveled to Tijuana with Snortland to help train the women. Cox called the experience “amazing and rewarding.”

“The themes of empowering women and women’s self-defense are universal,” said Cox. “It’s not just about women learning to physically defend themselves; it’s about women learning that they have a right to their voice, that they have a right to be heard.”

Dr. Munazza Yaqoob of the International Islamic University invited Snortland and her husband Ken Gruberman, who serves as co-producer of the film, to screen “Beauty Bites Beast” to a group of 300 Islamic female scholars and researchers at the Critical Thinking Forum in the Pakistani cities of Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore early next month.

“We are blown away by the prospect of sharing the liberating message of ‘Beauty Bites Beast’ with young female Islamic scholars who are ready, willing and able to take on shifting the conversation about ending violence against women,” Snortland wrote on the Indiegogo campaign she created to help fund the trip.

“Female elephants, lions — all are just as fierce in self-defense as males,” feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem said about the documentary. “Only our species is taught to be ‘feminine’ and defenseless.  ‘Beauty Bites Beast’ shows how women around the world are taking back our strengths and lives.”

For more information, visit beautybitesbeast.com.

'Together Again'

Comedy legends Eric Idle and John Cleese of Monty Python reunite for a two-man show at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium

By Justin Chapman, 11/03/2016, Pasadena Weekly

On Nov. 18, 2014, Eric Idle interviewed fellow Monty Python member John Cleese at the Alex Theatre in Glendale about his memoir, “So, Anyway …” The video was viewed more than a half-million times on YouTube, proving to Idle and Cleese that there is still a healthy appetite for everything Monty Python-related. Cleese got the idea to take their two-man show on the road.

Following a successful run last fall on the East Coast as well as a sold-out run in Australia and New Zealand in February, “Together Again at Last ... For the Very First Time” has embarked on a third tour on the West Coast and Canada through at least Dec. 3, including a show at the Pasadena Civic Auditorium on Nov. 11.

“It was just something rather wonderful, two old people getting together after 50 years,” Idle, 73, told the Pasadena Weekly in a recent phone interview. “It wasn’t something I planned, but it turned into a very pleasant evening with an old friend talking about old times. It’s become more like a double autobiography in an odd way now.”

Silliness Required

The show is partly scripted and partly improv, combining storytelling, sketches, musical numbers, exclusive footage and aquatic juggling.

“We gave it a shape but we don’t lock it down,” said Idle. “So we can go anywhere we want to, which is great at our age because we forget the words to sketches and we can just own up. And then the audience laughs even more if we’ve forgotten it. But we don’t go anywhere that we’ve been; we don’t do Python sketches that they know. We do stuff from other things we’ve done that we like and make us laugh still.”

Although they haven’t performed the show since the Brexit vote, Idle said the topic will likely come up during the new tour because he was against the United Kingdom leaving the European Union and Cleese was in favor of it.

“I’m sure Brexit will come up and we’ll abuse each other,” Idle said. “John will say how wonderful it is and I’ll point to how many pounds I’ve lost. It’s amazing to me that something as stupid as a referendum did this, which is the wrong way to deal with something so complex. It was an opinion poll; there’s no legal basis requiring the government to act on it. If they had any balls they’d say, ‘We think this is a bad move.’ You want people deciding these things who know what they’re dealing with, not people who are frightened of immigrants by endless headlines in the Daily Express. It is insane.”

Fun Science

The comedy icons have created a whole new act two for this tour that focuses on how Monty Python remained popular for more than a half-century and where they stand now.

“There’s sort of a nice banter that is established very early on when [Cleese] is complaining about how much he’s paid in divorces and then he attacks me for being with my wife for nearly 40 years and says it’s for lack of imagination, and I say, ‘Well, yeah, but [one woman] is a lot cheaper.’ There’s a nice level of affectionate banter and memories. It’s a very sweet, unusual show.”

Cleese told the Weekly last year that “Together Again” is “the most enjoyable project I’ve ever had.”

“We came off stage after [the original Alex Theatre show] and all we knew was that the audience had laughed a great deal and we couldn’t quite remember what we’d said,” Cleese said.

Idle’s latest project is a musical Christmas special for the BBC called “The Entire Universe.” The show covers the entire history of the universe with “real science that’s interrupted by real silliness,” Idle said.

“Everybody watches TV at Christmas because they get together with their relatives and they can’t stand each other so they get drunk and watch television,” he said.

At the end Stephen Hawking sings “The Galaxy Song,” which Idle wrote for the 1983 film “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.” Tim Peake, an astronaut who spent the summer on the International Space Station, also makes an appearance.

“When we got the idea we just thought, ‘This is just such a great subject. We have to do something really silly with it,’” said Idle. “As you must.”

Carry On

Although well known as an actor and singer-songwriter, Idle said he prefers writing to performing. He is the author of the novels “Hello Sailor” and “The Road to Mars,” as well as the musicals “Spamalot” and “Not the Messiah,” a parody of the 1979 film “Monty Python’s Life of Brian.”

“I get to stay home here in LA and hunker down and write, and bit by bit you try to isolate what you might want to be interested in and what’s worth doing in the short amount of time left, and what you don’t want to do,” said Idle. “It’s been fun ever since ‘Spamalot’ to be able to say, ‘What do I actually want to write?’ I try to keep myself interested and honest.”

“Spamalot,” which premiered in 2005, is a critically acclaimed and Tony Award-winning Broadway musical based on the 1975 film “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.”

“We wrote ‘Spamalot’ as a series of little sketches, and then we crammed it together,” said Idle. “It was a very fun show to put together and rehearse and change [from the film], because you have to change things from what they are if you change the medium. Although there was almost nothing we couldn’t do on stage because they’re just pretending to ride horses.”

After “Spamalot” premiered, the Pythons lost a lawsuit by Mark Forstater, a producer of the original film. The court ordered the Pythons to pay £800,000 in fees and back royalties to Forstater in 2013 because “Spamalot” was so similar to the film.

To pay the settlement, the surviving members of Monty Python performed a reunion show in 2014 called “Monty Python Live (Mostly): One Down, Five to Go” at the 20,000-seat O2 Arena in London that sold out in 43.5 seconds. Founding Python members Michael Palin, Terry Jones, Terry Gilliam, Idle and Cleese all participated. The sixth founding member, Graham Chapman (no relation to the reporter), died in 1989 at the age of 48.

Cleese infamously delivered a brilliant, oddball eulogy at Chapman’s funeral, saying, “I guess we’re all thinking how sad it is that a man of such talent, such capability and kindness, of such intelligence should now be so suddenly spirited away at the age of only 48, before he’d achieved many of the things of which he was capable, and before he’d had enough fun. Well, I feel that I should say, ‘Nonsense. Good riddance to him, the freeloading bastard! I hope he fries.’”

Idle performed his fan-favorite song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” at the funeral.

‘Let’s Do It’

Following the 2014 reunion show, Palin made it clear to the rest of the group that he was no longer interested in doing Python shows. A few years ago, Jones began developing dementia, which was publicly announced in September. With Gilliam busy directing films, that left Idle and Cleese to carry on the Python banner.

“We got a very generous offer to do a show in Australia, and Michael, who’s always polite, just didn’t want to do it,” said Cleese. “Eric and I said, ‘Well, if Michael doesn’t want to do it, is there any reason why we can’t do something like we did in Glendale?’ We thought about it for a while and said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

Idle pointed out that the upcoming performance of “Together Again” in Pasadena is practically a homecoming for the show that was born next door in Glendale.

“I love Pasadena,” said Idle, who lives in Los Angeles. “It’s where I go for my day off. I get all my tea from Chado [Tea Room] and I go to Vroman’s [Bookstore] all the time. It’s kind of normal. It’s not like Beverly Hills, it’s a real place, a lovely little small town.”

For tickets and more information, visit cleeseandidle.com.