Well, we leave in just a few hours for Berkeley. Here's the details and calendar for both 21 DOG YEARS and the new show, which is actually a very old show, WASTING YOUR BREATH.
Between the cross-country trip, getting the shows active again and lots of publishing deadlines, expect blogging to be sparse--unless I am in desperate need of procrastination. But if you're in the Bay Area, please look me up at the show--I'm the one on the stage, doing all that talking.
Doesn't California have anything useful to do with its time, other than restricting Gmail? I'm a privacy hound, but this is silly--people are already reading my mail at the ISP level with scripts, because otherwise we'd be wallowing in spam. Well, I mean, I still am wallowing--but wallowing DEEPER.
I'll be in Berkeley on Monday, and looking forward to it--I'll see if I can get this Gmail thing sorted out while I'm there.
Tammy Lafky has a computer at home but said she doesn't use it. "I don't know how," the 41-year-old woman said, somewhat sheepishly. But her 15-year-old daughter, Cassandra, does. And what Cassandra may have done, like millions of other teenagers and adults around the world, landed Lafky in legal hot water this week that could cost her thousands of dollars.
Lafky, a sugar mill worker and single mother in Bird Island, a farming community 90 miles west of St. Paul, became the first Minnesotan sued by name by the recording industry this week for allegedly downloading copyrighted music illegally. The lawsuit has stunned Lafky, who earns $12 an hour and faces penalties that top $500,000. (...)
A record company attorney from Los Angeles contacted Lafky about a week ago, telling Lafky she could owe up to $540,000, but the companies would settle for $4,000. "I told her I don't have the money," Lafky said. "She told me to go talk to a lawyer and I told her I don't have no money to talk to a lawyer." Lafky said she clears $21,000 a year from her job and gets no child support.
Read the rest of the kneecapping story here.
Yes, it actually flies.
There are a lot of toolbars in Word. What happens if you turn them all on?
Adobe was really onto something with those palettes, eh?
While Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld may not have signed a ban on new consumer digital-imaging technologies, he did express clear concern about the unforeseen impact of such technologies during the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on May 7.
"People are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and passing them off, against the law, to the media, to our surprise, when they had not even arrived in the Pentagon," Rumsfeld said.
This is Rumsfeld at his worst--he's doing everything he can to spread Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt. The photos are "unbelievable"? That's doubletalk--they're PHOTOS, and he doesn't like them because they aren't controlled by the military.
The only defense the military has against photo devices is national security, which is a good defense--ubiquitious cameras may make covert operations difficult. But that isn't happening yet, and he doesn't even mention it here--he's just upset that information is getting free that makes him look bad.
It's pathetic--I at least expected a valid defense.
The past is inaccurate. Whoever lives long enough knows how much what he has seen with his own eyes becomes overgrown with rumor, legend, a magnifying or belittling hearsay. “It was not like that at all!”--he would like to exclaim, but will not, for they would have seen only his moving lips without hearing his voice.
Wireless Pill Camera.
Sometimes my brain boils and all my secret thoughts that are trapped inside me are too much, and they strain the hinges on my heartbox, and crack its locks. My blood is my toner. My passion is my postscript font.
I looked into the room a moment ago,
and this is what I saw--
my chair in its place by the window,
the book turned facedown on the table.
And on the sill, the cigarette
left burning in its ashtray.
Malingerer! my uncle yelled at me
so long ago. He was right.
I've set aside time today,
same as every day,
for doing nothing at all.
I'm hosting a benefit for The Field this evening--here are details:
We invite you to join us for The Field's benefit and GoTour website launch party on Monday, May 24, 6:00-10:00pm, hosted by Bubby's Brooklyn. The evening will feature a picnic style barbeque from 6pm to 8pm with drink specials until 7pm. There will be a silent auction and performance beginning at 8pm. Raffle tickets will be available for prizes such as airfare for two, a weekend getaway for eight, and a catered dinner for eight. Silent auction items include rehearsal space, various city walking tours, a wine excursion for two, a case of champagne, tickets to DTW and The Joyce, and much more!
Bubby's is located at 1 Main Street at Water Street in DUMBO. Tickets are $25 (kids under 12 attend free).
Come on by if you're available--great food, great prizes and an excellent view of the skyline.
untitled A stupid OSX trick:
You can speed up Safari by decreasing the delay in opening web pages. To do so:
1. Quit Safari
2. Open Terminal
defaults write com.apple.Safari WebKitInitialTimedLayoutDelay -float 0.25
Hit return, close Terminal
4. Restart Safari
The difference is quite noticeable.
Look, don't we pay enough in taxes to keep our intelligence services undeceived by piss-pot countries like Iran? Apparently not. You know the story--when people are saying what you want to hear, the unwise listen with their ears closed.
A lovely post by Danny Gregory on the pens he loves--all are under $10, and he includes drawings of the pens themselves, along with usage tips.
This is a verified still from the new DVD of Return of the Jedi. Every time I think it can't get any worse, that I think Lucas can't find a way to piss me off further, he somehow sneaks in and punches me in the nuts.
I am republishing this review from Seattle's The Stranger in its entirety...I know Herbert well, and I think his work is really fascinating.
The musical theatrics of Herbert Bergel are not a universal taste, but those who love his work embrace it tightly. Whether portraying the Cuban revolution or teenagers shopping for an amplifier, his indie-rock operettas consistently feature prosaic lyrics (often mundane conversations written in rhyming couplets), quirky yet ordinary characters, and willfully (almost aggressively) unpolished singing. Birds in Winter pushes this tendency to an outright celebration of the commonplace; it's a film of the Northwest Film Forum's executive director, Michael Seiwerath, and his family having breakfast and going to Gig Harbor, accompanied by a live score featuring two bands (one in monk uniforms, the other in false mustaches) and a six-person choir. There are moments of flashiness--choreographed joggers haunting Seiwerath as he walks to a barbershop, the drunken revels of the Typing Explosion (which includes Seiwerath's wife, Rachel Kessler)--but by and large the events are humble. One song describes shopping for weather stripping; another praises doughnuts and chocolate milk. This could all be too precious to bear, but Bergel doesn't try to make the ordinary anything but ordinary. You, the audience member, are given free rein to find children eating doughnuts affecting or banal. While I wasn't as moved by Birds in Winter as some other audience members were, I did find it completely delightful. In some of Bergel's previous work, the songs have sounded a bit too much the same; here, he's got a wider range of moods and textures, making for a satisfying piece. You have one weekend left to see Birds in Winter. Don't miss out.
Let me know if anyone knows anything about Andy Kaufman's return. The site he's using to rant on about transcendental meditation and vanishing from the world is here.
Mac Wellman writes today in the Voice about a new wave of playwrights and collaborators. Full disclosure: all the people we know who are working with each other are basically mentioned in this article, and my affiliations with these folks range from close friendship to casual acquaintancehood, but none are strangers to me at all.
I *think* Wellman posits that cross-affiliating is a positive thing for theatre, but I question whether it's new at all--it indicates that a scene is brewing, and a pretty solid one at that, but his article is organized strangely, with a muzzy, overly-wordy setup--he describes the crop of new plays in this way:
This is neither the arch and histrionic skepticism of the absurdists nor the equally histrionic cynicism of what passes for postmodernism. For the best of this new work is more intellectually and emotionally grounded than these earlier movements. Grounded in a paradoxical lack of groundedness.
Then the article devolves into a series of ITEM statements that don't draw connections between them. Given that Wellman has taught half the people in this nascent scene, the ITEM entries almost read like ADVERTISEMENT tags instead.
Don't get me wrong--I love a lot of these folks, and it's a good list of some of the most interesting stuff happening downtown, but a little synthesis would go a long way. A few of his observations near the end on how institutions like the Wooster Group are impossible now are excellent, but the piece really cries out for a good edit and a second try, especially given how truly gifted a lot of the artists he mentions are.
Addendum: There's a piece by Andy over at Culturebot that reacts off another element in the article: the contention that these artists are poverty-stricken, when almost all of them are products of university systems.
I have wrestled with this myself, as I inhabit both worlds--I have a degree from a microivy, but then have spent years toiling in the garage theaters of Seattle where even the idea of a subsidized life in the theater is a joke. Growing up in Maine put me face to face with poverty in ways that are hard to communicate to fellow artists, on a personal level...it's a different universe than NYC, no matter how badass one likes to pretend to be.
I do love Andy's phrase: The Theater of Privilege. That's an excellent expression, and I intend to fucking run with it. Maybe we can make it the new IT thing to say.
This Thursday I am performing at the HEEB Storytelling Night--details may be found here.
On Monday I am hosting the GoTour.org launch party and The Field Benefit at the lovely and spacious Bubby's of Tribeca! It's a picnic with drinks, excellent barbeque and local artists will be providing the entertainment. Details can be found at The Field's website...come on by if you want to get some excellent ribs and support some organizations that really make a difference in artists' lives. You can read about The Field's mission here.
Thanks to everyone who came out for the last night of ALL STORIES ARE FICTION in the current run, the highlight of which was my dog drinking water from shot glasses at the Grassroots Tavern. He's a trooper, that one.
I would wax nostalgic and rhapsodic about how the night went, how the people were, etc. but I haven't the time--I'm behind, still behind, so far behind I can see myself on the road ahead of me, so this will have to suffice for bloggy digressions for now.
A number of people forwarded me this NYT article on screenwriters working out of coffee shops and all the dos and don'ts of the culture. I suffer through this kind of endless workspace analysis every day--it's such a delight to see others suffering as I have suffered.
Not too much blogging over the weekend, because I was both busy and because something is b0rked with my blogging software--I'm actually writing this in a webbrowser, the old skool way, and it reminds me of posting when I was visiting Europe and using public terminals. I do have to say that in the 2 years or so since then Blogger has really improved the interface--this is actually pretty nice to compose in.
Tonight is the last night of ALL STORIES ARE FICTION for this run, an opening and a closing in the same evening. I'm feeling a little ridiculously nostalgic--after all, there's no reason we won't do more of these shows in the future--but it's been such a great experience making new theater every week...I haven't done that since UIYG in Seattle for one summer, and never with my own shows. It was a very successful experiment--I've learned a lot about my own process, and gotten better as the run has progressed, which is gratifying. I'm also more aware of my own weaknesses, especially getting to compare my work on THE UGLY AMERICAN to the ASAF shows side-by-side--that was illuminating, to see how longer reflection and refinement can really pay off.
I'll miss P.S.122, even for the summer--it's been a wonderful place to work. I'll miss the folks who've been coming to so many shows, and going out to the Grassroots...it's been a series of small rituals, one built on another, and it's been grand.
who among us has not felt the dread
when sizing up a chicken
conveniently stripped of feathers and head
the easier to stick in
to the oven this thing shaped like me
with sallow, goose-pimpled skin
four limbs fall slack like a sleeping baby
I cradle your back and make you take
an onion down your cavity
and it’s patty cake, patty cake
into the oven you go
when you come out our meal you’ll make
and no one will bury your bones
Talented director and friend Paul Willis will be unleashing his vision of Hedda Gabbler this June at the Seattle International Film Festival. The official site is sparse as of yet, but I've seen what's coming and it looks outstanding--if you're in Seattle be certain to buy tickets soon for the showings on June 12th and 13th at the Egyptian.
My brother on the current regime:
...gold-plated, constitution amending, freedom taking Dinobots.
This strikes me as being unfair to Grimlock, but hey, life can be rough.
Interesting article on world building, comics and gaming. It's a tad didactic at times, but I really enjoyed it, especially the self-referential comics...comics are one of the few areas where I don't mind a dollop of self-referentialism.
I never know how to do this, but Mike Arauz posted a very nice review/summation of ALL STORIES ARE FICTION over at the Greene Street Salon site. It feels weird linking to praise about myself, but on the other hand, this is a blog, so c'est la vie. I'll leave the ethical conundrums for others to parse out.
As Mike graciously points out, I have only one more performance at P.S.122 this spring:
Monday May 17th at 7:30 PM
at PS 122
1st Ave and 9th Street
Last night was the big Rave Revue, a benefit at Capitale held by P.S.122 and FEVA for Mark Russell. Mark has been the artistic director at P.S. for several hundred years, and with his departure folks wanted to celebrate everything he'd done.
Capitale is, in fact, the set from the first Batman movie--the scene where Vicky Vale and The Joker have lunch and Batman comes through the window in the ceiling. You know..."Where does he get such wonderful toys?"--that place. I kept waiting for that to happen all night.
The fact that all sorts of crazy club nightlife was out in force only accentuated the effect--it looked like a Gotham City Masquerade, with trannies in high pumps, the Blue Bunny in his diaphanous attire and a cast of hundreds, dressed up or dressed down, depending on your perspective.
There were performances by Eric Bogosian, Karen Findlay, Meredith Monk and tons more, running from the sublime to the half-baked. My friend Jonathan ended the evening engaging in a full-on boxing match with another artist while Julie strutted across the stage, calling out round numbers by tearing off her clothing and spitting fake blood into the air.
We saw tons of folks we hadn't seen in too long, caught up with people, drank...oh, you know. It was such a delight that even though I've only been in this town a paltry 3 years this summer, I have such a community--so bright and brash and occasionally stupid--and how happy I am to be a part of it all.
It was worth it all, even though I am now unbelievably behind the eight ball. Ha! Mush! Mush!
Some people don't realize how terrible the diploma mill scandal is.
"Assistant Secretary of Defense Charles Abell has a master's from Columbus University, a diploma mill Louisiana shut down. Deputy Assistant Secretary Patricia Walker lists among her degrees, a bachelor's from Pacific Western, a diploma mill banned in Oregon and under investigation in Hawaii."--CBS News story.
These two, at least, are indeed just below cabinet level. We're not talking about minor functionaries--this is an appalling and frightening level of educational fraud. With that said, I am awarding a doctorate in Coolosity from the University of My Ass.
A picture from the lightning storm happening right now, taken over at Prospect Park.
Just back from the premiere of HOMEBODY/KABUL at BAM. It's a fantastic and torturous production--four hours long, convoluted and dense, opening with a tremendous monologue that is the peak of the evening--Linda Emond gives a marvelous and revelatory performance that pushes back the bad reputations that cling to solo shows and shines a light on what it can do. Here's a brief item on her and the role...I simply can't say enough about her work here.
The rest of the show is a decrescendo from that height--it has flashes and moments of brilliance, especially as we pull past the three hour mark, but ultimately doesn't live up to that initial promise the Homebody makes at the top. Two decisions stand out in my mind as deeply flawed, and they're featured in this Playbill article:
a)The decision to NOT end Act One with the Homebody monologue. Instead now a few scenes from what was Act Two play out, which feels anticlimactic and wrong. It feels like this is being done to goose the audience, to make them feel they should stay for Acts Two and Three...it's pandery, and leaves those scenes feeling orphaned and lose drive.
b)Maggie Gyllenhaal. She seems like a terrific woman, and quite respected for her work in film so far, but she doesn't make it work in this production. She has a breathy quality in her voice that grates eventually, and her range isn't there--though she gets every other scene and sells the hell out of what she does understand, time and time again Kushner's script betrays the fact that she doesn't have her arms around this show. This isn't a case of a screen star not having stage chops--it's just not working correctly here, and I'd much rather see Ms. Gyllenhaal in an ensemble role in the future.
Both of these decisions fall at the feet of Frank Galati, the show's director. He has not done his work here--he can't keep his actors audible to large chunks of the house, can't make Gyllenhaal's scenes work, can't seem to open the doors and let Kushner's play really take off. Even with all these failures it's an immensely enjoyable show, which is testament to some tremendous performances and Kushner's tireless work.
On the gossipy side, the afterparty was very nice. Tony Kushner fidgets a lot, Kristen Dunst is very polite and Maggie Gyllenhaal looks great in a party dress. Also, if you are peeing next to Ben Brantley at intermission, don't look at his penis. That's rude.
Yes, kids--it's NASCAR ballet.
The messed up, scarily ubiquitous face of the pay day loan industry.
All Stories Are Fiction #11:
THE DARK ART OF PROCRASTINATION
The inescapability of deadlines and the beautiful misdirections required to avoid them.
7:30 pm at P.S.122. Just ten little dollars for all this disorder.
Yes, this is the scene in PRYMATE where the female researcher is masturbating the gorilla to keep him from attacking.
No, I'm not joking. As you may imagine, it closed rather quickly.
By counting pixels, these intrepid researchers can read blacked-out words in government documents.
The Times features a piece today on all the weird lit events I perform at. Apparently they've reached critical mass and now the NYT has been alerted...which probably means that folks will be lamenting the LGB series as "over" in about fifteen minutes. It was fun while it lasted, wasn't it?
Words, words, words.Our surroundings are so thoroughly saturated with images and logos, both still and moving, that forbidding artists to use them in their work is like barring 19th-century landscape painters from depicting trees on their canvases. Pop culture is our landscape. It is at times wonderful. Most of us would not want to live without it. But it is also insidious and aggressive. The stuff is all around us, and society benefits from multiple means of staving it off. We are entitled to have artists, as well as political cartoonists, composers and writers, portray, parody and dissect it.
~From this piece in the Times.
This is an outstanding piece of nostalgia. if you ever fiddled with tape drives, obsessively playing Elite and Lode Runner, this is for you.
A good friend from Microsoft wrote to tell me that the Longhorn specs listed here the other day are craaaaazy. Those specs are actually just musings about what a high-end machine might run, not minimums.
The same friend explains that there are many reasons why WinFS isn't simply a locking-in mechanism, as Vaughn-Nichols talks about. I agree, insofar as an advanced file system that works like a database is a hell of a lot better than what folks have now...but that doesn't address the 10 patents a day deal, and I do believe that elements within MSFT are very interested in locking out the Open Source community. At the same time many believe the horse has left the barn, if it was ever in the barn in the first place, and they need to win by being ubiquitious and first-class, since they can't win on cheap.
A real letter, from this month's JEST magazine.
Dear Sir, Madam, or other:
Thanks for the heads up on raising the already usurious rate of interest on my credit card to 27.99%. What an incredible number.
Granted, I have no one to blame for my current predicament but myself. I had the opportunity to keep my interest rate at 0% for a while, but I missed a payment because I had no money, which is why I had too much credit card debt in the first place. There are a number of other ways I could have obtained this money, but I chose to male a deal with the white devil. By the way, that's you. Incidentally, I have no idea if you are white or not. I am, although I do enjoy the rap music.
Completely beside the point.
Anyway, I got the notice you send me today. You know the one I'm taking about? It's entitled, "Important notice for [bank name blacked out] Credit Cardmember Agreement."
I think you could have given it a catchier name, like "Hey Cardmember, Fuck You!" or, "Hey Debtor, Bend Over and Take It Like a Poor Man!"
I reject your terms. In accordance with the requirements you have set forth to enable me to do that, I have cut up my card. I won't use it anymore, and I will, as soon as possible, pay off or transfer my full debt load. I don't care if I have to suck dick seven nights a week and twice on Sundays. You people are criminals and vampires, and I despise you with every poverty-stricken fiber of my being. You won't get another dime from me.
If I knew exactly where you were and how to get in, and I could afford to make the trip (which, lucky for you, I can't), I would visit your office, climb up on your desk and take a dump. Additionally, I hope that as you go to sleep tonight you realize that it is because of your conscienceless strong-arm tactics that capitalism has a bad name.
You could have had a nice fat 15 or even 20%. Instead you'll have nothing. Thank you for your time, you piece of shit.
PS: While you and you cubicle buddies are giggling about the insane vitriol contained in this letter, please do me the honor of picturing me fucking your mother.
Sean, I salute you!
Cost of some common liquids by the gallon, so we can all imagine filling cars with Diet Snapple.
Diet Snapple 16 oz $1.29 .............. $10.32 per gallon
Lipton Ice Tea 16 oz $1.19 ............$9.52 per gallon
Gatorade 20 oz $1.59 ................... $10.17 per gallon
Ocean Spray 16 oz $1.25 .............. $10.00 per gallon
Brake Fluid 12 oz $3.15 .............. $33.60 per gallon
Vick's Nyquil 6 oz $8.35................ $178.13 per gallon
Pepto Bismol 4 oz $3.85 .............. $123.20 per gallon
Whiteout 7 oz $1.39 .................... $25.42 per gallon
Scope 1.5 oz $0.99 ........................$84.48 per gallon
Evian water 9 oz $1.49...............$21.19 per gallon
Thanks to Mike Browne for the legwork.
I have been waiting for someone to write this article in the midst of all the manufactured Friends nostalgia--I've always felt that it was a show with a byzantine plot, at least after the first few seasons. The few times I've watched it in the last five years there's always something inexplicable happening, as I haven't been trained from birth in all the Friendsian nuances.
Solid analysis from Fred Kaplan on why Our Idiot couldn't simply tell the world he's sorry. I like Sullivan often, but he's dodging--he's spent the day knocking Ted Rall rather than dealing with the awful half-excuses our President has offered people we've tortured.
My friend Glenn beats the stuffing out of Walt Mossberg. Okay, that's kind of a fib--he's really just taking on WIRED magazine's poor choice to enshrine Walt without much reflection or research. Good stuff.
Article from the NYT on the Imagine Festival, accompanied by a great picture of my friend (and the festival's co-organizer) Boo:
No wonder I'm having a hard time getting together with her for brunch...it's quite a read, with a huge assortment of interlinked arts groups doing their thang during the Republican convention this summer.
Yikes. Expected MSFT "Longhorn" system requirements:
Microsoft is expected to recommend that the "average" Longhorn PC feature a dual-core CPU running at 4 to 6GHz; a minimum of 2 gigs of RAM; up to a terabyte of storage; a 1 Gbit, built-in, Ethernet-wired port and an 802.11g wireless link; and a graphics processor that runs three times faster than those on the market today.
2 gigs of RAM? A terabyte of storage? Granted, Longhorn doesn't land until 2006, but some of this sounds crazy--it'll be interesting to hear what shakes out from WinHEC.
The audio sound beam. Both fascinating and disturbing.
Breaking all the rules of nature, the Hypersonic Sound Beam allows audio messages to literally travel through space in the shape of a flashlight beam. The sound remains invisible and silent, until the beam makes impact with the surface or person it has been meant to impact. At that precise point of impact, the sound waves disperse and the audio portion of the message magically becomes audible at that particular point.
Amazingly, visitors who enter or cross the invisible sound envelopes created by the Sound Beam will experience your message INSIDE THEIR HEAD; as if they were wearing headphones.
Rosie O'Donnell plays a fat, retarded woman riding a bus. Those who saw my show last night understand why I'm linking to this.
Yes, I am buying one immediately.
Hmmm. Microsoft is filing 10 patents as day...why? The answer is not innovation, but fear--they'll need all the legal firepower they can get to make Longhorn (the next MSFT OS release) as open-source unfriendly as possible. When you can't hold onto your customers with features and value, turn it over to the lawyers and legislate a lock-in. Dirty, dirty business to come. Vaughn-Nichols cracks it open here.
My friend Zach writes about the 48 Hour Film Project he's doing this year. The big surprise--his group is creating an animated film in that short time, which is horrendously hard and complex undertaking.
Just a quick announcement about this year's 48 Hour Film Project, happening this weekend (May 7-9) with screenings of completed films in the AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD, on May 12-14. This year I'm leading a team which will create an _animated_ film, so it should be neat (or a complete disaster). Tickets are bound to sell quickly, so go to http://www.afi.com/ and click on the Silver Theater link to buy them.
Our team's showing on Wednesday, May 12, at 7:15 PM, and that'll be our ONLY showing, unless we make the "best of" screenings. So buy a ticket today!
If you want to follow their progress, they have a blog set up for discussing their preparations--it's pretty interesting stuff.
Google set their IPO target at $2,718,281,828, which is the natural log value, "e."
Those crazy kids!
Whew--just got back. My thanks to everyone who came out for the show--it was a big success in my book, and I'm thrilled to have had this opportunity to start working with Manhattan Theatre Club. Now I am going to take a big nap.
Ah. Opening Day.
I'll be out of commission most of the day, getting things ready down at MTC. Due to outstanding response the show is full and there's a waiting list on the reservation line, but I have it on good authority that MTC expects to get everyone who comes a seat.
Man, I'm nervous as a little schoolgirl.
(That sounds dirtier than I intended.)
Omigod. Don't stop--run immediately and read this TNR article on the Kabbalah Center in LA.
Just finished the modifications to the outline for tomorrow's performance at Manhattan Theatre Club. I'm buzzing so much, I'll need to walk a couple of miles to get to bed tonight.