Tonight is my nominal evening off--Jean-Michele is enjoying hers right now, at a dinner party whose theme is the life of Archimedes. I'm looking forward to getting the story from here of how it was--I'm at the apartment, getting ready for MONOPOLY!
It's not much to look at--I read and reskim the outline haphazardly, flipping to sections, staring, then staring at the wall. I have taken a couple of long walks, and I'll be taking a couple more before we open tomorrow. I listen and relisten to music and walk my way through the monologue, which is arranged in my mind like a room...I am not formally trained in memory palaces, but having studied it haphazardly I can tell that my self-taught forms are definitely related. I have an uncle who is quite adept at mnemotechnics, able to imprint a deck of 52 cards in any order and then relate to you each card that comes up by summoning up the accompanying image he imprinted. I learned about that before I was a monologuist, and I remember it made a big impression on me--perhaps because of the form I would eventually practice.
So each monologue is a room, more or less, and when the show is not up it isn't possible to turn on the lights and see where everything is--but one can walk around in the dark, with a good flashlight, and make certain the dresser is still on the east wall, that the vanity is next to the hassock, that the oak tabletop still has teethmaks in its corners--that everything is intact and ready to be lit up by and for the audience. That's what I'm doing tonight. There's very little of what other actors do--there are no "lines" to study, and I rarely listen to recordings of the monologue, though on occasion I will if I am particularly cramped by some detail I can't stop thinking about--I'm certainly no Luddite or purist. On the whole it exists as an extremely internal process--there's not much of anything to look at, but tonight I am working very hard to ensure the monologue is ready for tomorrow.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
The Clear Card: Trade Privacy for Convenience (techyum):
When I'm standing in those long airport security lines, I often find myself thinking about how incredibly safe I feel thanks to the Patriot Act and the diligent, thoughtful work of the TSA. But, I also think, gosh darn these lines are long. I wish there was a way I could show my trust in the government, my faith in the Patriot Act and the TSA, and find a more convenient way to travel. Hell, I'd *pay money* and give up a few freedoms just to not wait in long lines. Well, now I can!
It's FlyClear's Clear Card (first spotted here) which is a biometric card that is getting its own express line in airports all over the US. Enroll in FlyClear's program for $99 USD, then submit to a “Security Threat Assessment” -- an extensive background check through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), including registering biometric information such as iris scans and multiple finger prints, among other ways to make you a completely trackable, docile animal. But don't fret, this information is *safe* with the TSA, who will keep you "in the clear" by conducting "continuous security reviews of Clear members".
Coming Online Soon: The Five-Minute ‘Charlie’s Angels’ - New York Times:
Sony Television is planning in June to introduce an Internet-based service called the Minisode Network, initially offering the mini-shows for an exclusive run on MySpace. (The company may consider establishing a separate Internet channel called the Minisode Network later.)
However and wherever it appears, the network will consist of a lineup of tightly edited versions of shows lifted off the shelves of Sony’s television library. These are not clips of the shows, but actual episodes with beginnings, middles and ends, all told in under six minutes.
As Steve Mosko, the president of Sony Television, described it, “So in ‘Charlie Angels,’ they have a meeting, Charlie’s on the intercom telling them what the assignment is, there’s a couple of fights, and then a chase, and they catch the bad guy. Then they’re back home wrapping it up.”
“T. J. Hooker,” an especially formulaic cop show from the early 1980s, can be seen in short bursts of action as William Shatner interrogates suspects, fires shots and chases bad guys. “Shatner is just hilarious,” Mr. Mosko said.
I've received thousands of letters, from the hateful to the incredibly supportive--this one is from an old friend, John Moe, a public radio host, recovering playwright, successful father, and man about town.
So I watched the video of the religious folks walking out of your performance and read all your accounts and everything, and came away with one question:
Wasn't that theater? Like not in the sense of artifice but in the sense of public spectacle and interaction and a live event that all in attendance shared? Didn't it have high stakes, surprise, a feeling of immediacy that couldn't be had on film or YouTube? It was very upsetting, clearly, but isn't it sort of supposed to? It wasn't the show you had planned, but aren't all performances subject to risk, though rarely taking the form of something like this?
I mean all respect to what you're doing and all, don't get me wrong. And yeah, it's pretty stupid to walk out on a show and all that (why go in the first place?). But leaving aside the water pourer (more on him in a moment), I just don't see what was so wrong about it all. They had a visceral reaction to what they were seeing, they decided it exceeded their capacity to endure, they wanted to leave, and they left. In a big group. I tell you, Mike, the look on your face as they did that was the kind of brutal honest shock few actors can ever muster. And you engaged with them, as was your right I think, and they chose not to engage back, as I think was their right too. They said what they had to say with their walking out. You had the kind of emotional life that some people waste years in Meisner programs dreaming of (John Moe, Rutgers Univ. MFA program).
I don't know, with the exception of the water pourer, it seems to me like you've created this honest theatrical experience with your shows where you, under your own name and without a script, talk to people who you recognize as being in the room (and not, like, a Cherry Orchard). And then these people respond to your stories by up and leaving (en masse, high spectacle). Were it not for the water pourer, it seems pretty organic.
See, I don't really like theater most of the time. Almost all of it sucks, I think, and so I don't go much. I find it stupid and pretentious almost all the time. Just seems like a bunch of pompous people screwing around. Still. And I'm 38. I just don't ever believe it because I don't trust the motives of the practitioners and find the experience tedious. I'd rather read. Or go see a band. Or take a walk. But I really wish I was there at your theater that night.
Now, the water pourer. That was an interesting guy. I draw the line a while before pouring water on the stage. You shouldn't do that. Did he know that was your only copy of the notes for the show on the stage with you? Do you announce that as part of the show? Is there a special reason for doing that? I mean, one mustn't run up on stage and do something like that, of course, duh, but I wonder if in these performances you've created an environment where everyone is SO connected, if the 4th wall has been SO obliterated that the line of right and wrong is blurrier than it would be in a William Inge play or some sort of downtown, artsy postmodern fiasco. Not to blame you for his action at all but I wonder about the interpersonal vibe.
Years ago, I was in a really terrible late night at Empty Space and some drunks were yelling at us during the show. And we all just went on with the show, though flustered. Finally they got up and left on their own. But I will go to my grave regretting that we didn't just pour off the stage and start a fistfight on the spot. Like, you want to change the show tonight, you douchebags? Okay then, it's on, now it's a fucking fight scene, right? I almost didn't begrudge them their drunk bellowing, I just wish we had properly listened and responded the way actors are supposed to.
So really, Mike, my question is this: when all is said and done, wasn't it all at least kind of fucking awesome what happened?
Slashdot | RIAA Claims Ownership of All Artist Royalties For Internet Radio:
"With the furor over the impending rate hike for Internet radio stations, wouldn't a good solution be for streaming internet stations to simply not play RIAA-affiliated labels' music and focus on independent artists? Sounds good, except that the RIAA's affiliate organization SoundExchange claims it has the right to collect royalties for any artist, no matter if they have signed with an RIAA label or not. 'SoundExchange (the RIAA) considers any digital performance of a song as falling under their compulsory license. If any artist records a song, SoundExchange has the right to collect royalties for its performance on Internet radio. Artists can offer to download their music for free, but they cannot offer their songs to Internet radio for free ... So how it works is that SoundExchange collects money through compulsory royalties from Webcasters and holds onto the money. If a label or artist wants their share of the money, they must become a member of SoundExchange and pay a fee to collect their royalties.'"
Daughters of Catastrophe: Our Brand Is Development:
Well that takes me back. Because I myself hated to see the end of the squalid and legendary Squid Row Tavern, where I saw Jesse Bernstein read "More Noise, Please!" fresh out of his typewriter, and Bay Area poet Jack Foley read marvelous works in progress.
You see, in the 1990s some nutty developer stripped out Squid Row Tavern and replaced it with this shamrocky joint called Kincora--yet another faux Irish pub that featured nothing legendary as far as I was concerned. So, pardon my cynicism, but after SRT went without a whimper, I stopped caring about that corner. Knock it down. Who cares?
Whatever crummy stupid place you squatted in when you were young, that's the golden memory spot, I guess.
Boing Boing: Write an essay in Chicago, go to jail:
In Chicago, it is apparently a criminal offense for a high school student to write an essay that "alarms and disturbs" the teacher.
Dion says: "A straight A student is arrested and charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct (and removed from the school) for writing an essay that mimics the content of violent video games, in the context of a creative writing class assignment. While some concern about the content is well-understandable, and some investigation appropriate, the reflex to criminalize represents a view that sees adolescents and young adult expression as a dangerous series of risk factors that increasingly require arrest and preventive detention."
It's the final four performances of INVINCIBLE SUMMER at ART--the insanity of the last week has finally receded a bit, letting me surface long enough to post this before diving in to these final performances, and prepare to switch over to MONOPOLY! It's strange to think that soon I won't be telling this particular story every night, as I have grown very used to INVINCIBLE SUMMER over the last month, but that's the rare joy of my particular form--it won't die when I put it down, but simply sleep and wait until I tell it again in the future. It makes the closing less bittersweet than a traditional production, but I'll miss this run all the same--it has been punctuated by so many strange events, above and beyond my notes being destroyed in performance, that we've joked that it's a cursed production. Cursed or not, we'll ride it into the ground this weekend, and I hope to do it proud.
We met with Derek yesterday to discuss changes for MONOPOLY!--we're planning on changing a number of variables in the space, with a new table, new seating and new lighting to accentuate the very real differences between the two works. INVINCIBLE SUMMER is much more gut and heart driven, whereas MONOPOLY! is more cerebral, with more intertwined storylines that lie against one another, so we're hoping to build a different vocabulary of lights to guide people through. It will be very interesting to have an audience versed in one monologue see MONOPOLY!--it's a rare opportunity to develop work that builds on one another, and see what that achieves.
For my part, I have been looking over the outline loosely, but this weekend in the heat of INVINCIBLE SUMMER I will have to start really turning MONOPOLY! on to have it fully ready in time--a one day turnaround is hard, but we knew that going in, and I think with the right mindset it's completely doable. It's times like these I am grateful the monologues are not memorized by performed extemporaneously--I don't think I'd be nearly as flexible were it the other way.
Crossposted to the ART blog
The Sorrow and the Pity | Film | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Thirty years ago, Woody Allen wrote, directed, and starred in Annie Hall, the 1977 masterpiece that rewrote the rules for romantic comedy, made Diane Keaton a superstar, and earned the one and only Best Picture Oscar for an Allen film. This week, Annie Hall returns with a weeklong run at Northwest Film Forum. If you've never seen it, you must. If you watch it at least twice a year, here's your chance to see it on the big screen.
Harold Pinter - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
There are two silences. One when no word is spoken. The other when perhaps a torrent of language is being employed. This speech is speaking of a language locked beneath it. That is its continual reference. The speech we hear is an indication of that which we don't hear. It is a necessary avoidance, a violent, sly, anguished or mocking smoke screen which keeps the other in its place. When true silence falls we are still left with echo but are nearer nakedness. One way of looking at speech is to say that it is a constant stratagem to cover nakedness.
Ten Years (And Counting):
Sunday, the 22nd of April, marks the tenth anniversary of Panic's incorporation.
I started working with Cabel and learning what is now known as the Carbon API slightly before that, in October of the previous year. But April 22, 1997 is the filing date of our original incorporation as an LLC. (We later changed to an Inc. at the urging of our CPA.)
So, it's the closest thing to a corporate birthday that we have.
To put this in perspective, when we founded Panic, I was coding on a PowerMac 7500/132 (as in 132 MHz, or 0.1 GHz) running System 7.5, with probably in the neighborhood of 4 to 8 MB of RAM.
Gil Amelio was running Apple (into the ground). You could still go to a store and buy a Newton, if you wanted to. I was doing nightly backups to 3.5" floppies. Windows 95 was still the most current version of Windows.
Marc Fisher - Lawyer's Price For Missing Pants: $65 Million - washingtonpost.com:
When the neighborhood dry cleaner misplaced Roy Pearson's pants, he took action. He complained. He demanded compensation. And then he sued. Man, did he sue.
Two years, thousands of pages of legal documents and many hundreds of hours of investigative work later, Pearson is seeking to make Custom Cleaners pay -- would you believe more than the payroll of the entire Washington Nationals roster?
He says he deserves millions for the damages he suffered by not getting his pants back, for his litigation costs, for "mental suffering, inconvenience and discomfort," for the value of the time he has spent on the lawsuit, for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years and for a replacement suit, according to court papers.
Pearson is demanding $65,462,500. The original alteration work on the pants cost $10.50.
Gothamist: Paris Hilton's Autopsy In Williamsburg:
Nothing says "responsibility" like Paris Hilton. This prom season, the socialite's naked "corpse" will be used as an educational tool for teens getting ready for the big dance. The "corpse" was created by Daniel Edwards, who Hilton herself had reportedly commissioned to create a sculpture of her for Los Angeles' Sunset Strip. This probably isn't what she had in mind. The interactive PSA will be a life-sized replica of Hilton (with her privelaged pup Tinkerbell) wearing a tiara, gripping on to her cell phone, and containing...removable innards in her opened abdominal cavity. Somehow this is meant to warn teenagers about the hazards of underage drinking.
Young-Jean Lee Makes a None-Too-Joyful Noise by Alexis Soloski:
Playwright Young Jean Lee gave up caffeine two years ago, but this renunciation hasn't exactly mellowed her. Over a glass of cranberry juice, in the innocuous surroundings of an Au Bon Pain, she can summon startling rage, inveighing against her hipster peers. Lee on smugness: "How can you be so complacent and so fucked-up and so sure that you're right about everything?" On self-interest: "It's morally wrong to be this selfish and this spoiled." On whining: "This constant depression and anxiety is taken completely dead seriously when we live in almost unbelievable privilege." But she saves her harshest words for herself. "That's totally me," she sighs. "I am so typical."
RIAA: DRM is Pro-Consumer; Gizmodo: Shut Up, Idiots. - Gizmodo:
Earlier this week at the Digital Summit in Nashville, RIAA ringleader Mitch Bainwol spoke on the RIAA's litigious nature and their love of DRM. Unsurprisingly, he let loose with a bunch of steamy, BS-scented PR-speak that we're here to smash into a thousand little pieces.
Jack Valenti, 85; former Hollywood lobbyist pioneered film ratings system - Los Angeles Times:
Jack Valenti, the urbane Washington lobbyist who served as Hollywood's public face for nearly four decades and was best known for creating the film ratings system, died Thursday afternoon, according to Warren Cowan, his longtime friend. He was 85.
Theater offensive? - Arts - The Phoenix:
Every night, prior to his monologue Invincible Summer , which runs at the American Repertory Theatre (ART) in Harvard Square through April 29, Mike Daisey says the audience is warned. He paraphrases: “Ladies and gentlemen, this show will be performed in the patois and idiom of New York City. Turn your fucking cell phones off or we’ll shove them so far up your ass you’ll never find them again.”
Point taken. But last Thursday night, Daisey, sitting at a spare table onstage with just a glass of water and a handwritten outline, was flabbergasted when, during a segment of the soliloquy about “fucking Paris Hilton,” a group of 87 students and chaperones from Southern California’s Norco High School, who’d been in Boston for a choral competition, simultaneously got up and filed out of the theater. As they did, one parent chaperone punctuated their exodus by pouring a bottle of water all over Daisey’s notes, destroying them.
Disgusted Beyond Belief: My Views on Abortion:
In the weeks after this happened, I reflected on some other things as well. While I was upset at losing the little one that I saw on those ultrasounds, it did not feel even 1/100th of how I'd have felt if we'd lost my then 17 month old daughter. Not even close. We did not have a funeral. We did mourn, in a way, but nothing like you'd do with a baby who has been born. In short, just instinctively, we knew it was nothing like that. It was a seed of a person, but it really wasn't a person yet, not in our awareness. Nobody really treats a 9 week old fetus like that. Not even pro-lifers. More food for thought.
Parabasis: My Younger Brother Responds to INVINCIBLE SUMMER:
My quasi-Orthodox younger brother who is a library science masters student at Simmons in Boston went to go see Invincible Summer. I asked him to write a response to the show so I could post it on the blog. So... here you go... from Lee The Brother:
The Medium, the Message, the Drama of TV’s Q & A:
Ginia Bellafante, former NYT Style reporter suddenly turned theatre critic, has a telling second paragraph to her review of Frost/Nixon:
The journalist and his adversary faced each other on a white shag rug in moiré armchairs the color of an unwashed taxi. The effect of the arrangement is startling now, and it prompts us to consider just how deep into the crevices of American life the big Nixonian mess seemed to cast its dust. The whole louche, chaotic, regrettable aesthetic of the 1970s is on display, and right along with it, the visual logic implies, the culprit of all the disorder.
Could have been torn from the pages of Domino, couldn't it? You can take the reporter out of the Style section...
Gothamist: The Belle Of The Jar:
Thus begins The Bell Jar, a novel whose film adaptation Julia Stiles will star in and produce. Sylvia Plath's 1950s-era drama centers around Esther Greenwood, who - while spending a summer in Manhattan - grows troubled and eventually descends into mental illness, attempting suicide several times. She likens her depression to being trapped under a bell jar, struggling for breath...this is a dark novel, exploring the dark side of the human psyche. Yet according to Variety, Stiles wants to make the film...lighthearted, and keep focus on the more uplifting elements. Celine Rattray, of Plum Pictures (attached to produce the film with Stiles), says "Esther Greenwood has a strong outlook on life, and we're really looking to bring out the humor in the character. We don't want to do a depressing descent into the world of suicide."
White House Privacy Board Says It's All Good:
The panel, which is part of the White House's executive office, also said that oversight of government interrogation techniques, CIA 'black prisons,' and renditions of non-Americans to certain torture in other countries is beyond their scope of duty.
The panel, created by Congress in 2004, held its first public meeting in December 2006, where it refused to take questions from the media and declined to share what it had learned about the government's snooping program aimed at Americans' overseas communications.
LSD as Therapy? Write about It, Get Barred from US:
When Feldmar looks back on what has happened, he concludes that he was operating out of a sense of safety that has become dated in the last six years, since 9-11. His real mistake was to write about his drug experiences and post this on the web, even in a respected journal like Janus Head. He acknowledges that he had not considered posting on the Internet the risk that it turned out to be. So many of his generation share his experience in experimenting with drugs, after all. He believed it was safe to communicate about the past from the depth of retrospection and that this would be a useful grain of personal wisdom to share with others. He now warns his friends to think twice before they post anything about their personal lives on the web.
"I didn't heed the ancient Alchemists' dictum, 'Do, dare, and be silent,'" Feldmar says. "And yet, the experience of being treated as undesirable was shocking. The helplessness, the utter uselessness of trying to be seen as I know myself and as I am known generally by those I care about and who care about me, the reduction of me to an undesirable offender, was truly frightening. I became aware of the fragility of my identity, the brittleness of a way of life.
It has been an intense few days, and I would like to thank the thousands of people who have sent me emails, which have been overwhelmingly positive and supportive. They've come from everywhere, and in an age when we often seem terribly divided, especially in this country, it really means a great deal. Though now I will be answering email well into 2010, things could be much worse--when you let something explosive loose on the internet you can never predict how it will all go down. As of now I'm glad that I posted the video. I think it captures what it was really like in that theatre, and how incredibly chilling and incredibly dorky it was at the same time.
The group responsible for the incident is from a public high school, though they identified themselves to me as a Christian group as they fled the theater--it's barely audible on the YouTube clip, as an adult tells me they are a Christian group, then flees for the door, refusing to engage with me. Then in the lobby of the theater and on the phone to the box office they identified themselves again and again as a Christian group--I don't know what that says about the division of church and state in Norco, California. As a group, the people in charge freely identified themselves as a Christian group, until reporters call and they remember they are from a public high school.
As has been covered in other media outlets, I know now that the group bought their tickets that day. I have now spoken with the box office staff person who spoke with a representative from the school--when asked if the show had appropriate content for high school students, they were told it had strong language and adult situations. There are multiple corroborating witnesses to this phone conversation.
It bears noting that in fact, there were two high schools there that night--and the other high school STAYED, enjoyed the show, and I had a very good talk with them after the show discussing the work. That high school confirms that they were informed about the language and content of the show when they asked--the box office informs anyone who asks what the show contains.
I did speak with an administrator from the school, and with the individual who ruined my work. I think it's important to note that *I* found and called *them*--it is clear to me that I never would have heard from any of them again had I not hunted them down. In fact, they were surprised to hear from me, which I think speaks to the lack of understanding and civility on their part. My work had been assaulted, and I had a clear vision of this man standing above me, destroying my work, with hatred in his eyes. I refused to be a victim twice--first by being assaulted, and second by committing the sin of silence. So I knew I had to find them, and speak with the man who did this.
The first person I managed to reach was an administrator with the group, a woman who started the conversation repeating the same statement time and again, which undercut her apology: she insisted it was a "safety issue", and that "we had to get our students out of there." There was no discussion of language or appropriateness--it had become a safety issue, as though the students were in danger of being physically assaulted. I think it is tremendously chilling that the language of the war on terror, the language of security, has been appropriated for even this--we can't even begin a dialogue about what is and is not appropriate, because it has all become a "safety" issue. That ends a conversation before it has even begun.
She also insisted that they asked if the show was "clean"--a construction I think is a repulsive way to ask about content, and the way she said "clean", the finality of it, stays with me. I told her that I wasn't interested in that, but would prefer to talk about the assault and vandalization of my work, at which she became slightly more contrite.
I told her I would need to talk to the man responsible for destroying my work. She hedged and said that she'd let him know I wanted him to get in touch, but that she didn't know if he'd want to do that. I told her that I had a videotape of him destroying my work and a couple hundred witnesses, and that it was very important that I hear from him immediately. She then agreed, and I found it disappointing that a veiled threat had to be used just to bring people to the table for a simple conversation.
After talking to her I performed the show for the first time since the incident happened, and I had a hard time. Because the shows aren't scripted the relationship with my audience is key, and I was slightly hesitant--I could feel myself closing up over myself, wanting to hide. I pushed through, but it was sobering to see the damage done, real damage that extends beyond the event itself. I had hoped that it would shake off.
After the show, I reached the man who attacked my work on the phone. I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous--Jean-Michele didn't even understand why I would call him; she was afraid he would simply attack me again--but I knew, especially after that second performance, that I had to try to find some communion with him. If I could look this person in the eye, hear their words and know them I would be able to move beyond that moment at the table. Never forgetting, but being able to walk forward--being able to breathe.
His name is David. At the beginning of the conversation there was a lot of silence--long, long silences that neither of us were willing to puncture. First I made him understand what he had done--that these were the only set of notes for the show, how I work with them, what he had cost me in terms of my physical work and in terms of what it had been like that next night to go out in front of them. I needed him to understand what he had taken from me.
He quietly said that he had heard me, and that he understood.
I gradually opened him up by listening, and responding, the one-on-one version of what I do with an audience. We talked about many things, for almost an hour, and step by step, his story emerged.
He has three kids--one is 21, and two are 17--and he's terrified of the world. Terrified by violence, and sex, and he sees it all linked together--a horrifying world filled with darkness, pornography and filth that threatens his children, has threatened them all his life. They're older now, but he says he still sees things the same way--and that the only way to protect his children and himself is to lock it all out of his life.
He also said he's had anger-control issues for years, and sometimes acts of rage come over him--he explodes, and then has to apologize, and doesn't know why it happens. He tries to lock it down, but it happens, and he's ashamed of it. I told him that regardless of where we both stand, I felt very strongly that the repression of walling off everything in the world and viewing it all as filth is connecting with these outbursts, and that it isn't going to work--until you deal with the root causes, and deal with the world, his anger and rage would keep using him.
He agreed with this.
It wasn't all agreement--he reiterated the administrator's line that it had been a "security issue" (his words) and that "we had to get our kids out of there". He said at one point, "You're probably more *liberal* than I am" and the word *liberal* had this hook on the end of it, one that he probably didn't even intend, but it was unavoidable for him--it sounded edged, like a slur.
He also casually used a coarse racial epithet to refer to black people in a very loose, unnecessary analogy, which was remarkable to me--in a situation where violence resulted from offense at language, our worlds are so far apart that he didn't think for a moment about throwing out this word. I believe strongly that everyone is free to speak, but we are also accountable for our speech--the casual indifference of it shocked me under the circumstances of our conversation.
The moment that was most illuminating was this:
We have been talking for quite some time, making progress, when I mention offhandedly in response to something that I had been raised Catholic.
At this, he makes this little sound: "oh!" It's a tiny exclamation, upward-inflected. I hear that sound, and my heart sinks.
It's a sound of surprise he makes, and of recognition. Of fellowship. And immediately, everything he says is the same, but it is surrounded with a superstructure of scripture--there are supporting arguments from Jesus, the apostles, the whole nine yards. His cadence and language is entirely different, because now he is drawing on over two thousand years of religious writing to enfold and magnify his arguments.
For the first time in the conversation, in my heart, I am furious.
What was I before that moment? I thought we were trying to speak to one another and I was honest with you--but this is your real face, and I only earn the right to see it if I say the right password and get let into your club.
Who was I before? Was I nobody? Was I simply a *liberal*, the word with the hook on the end of it? A dirty, pornographic artist? A purveyor of filth?
No. It's worse than that, worse than labels. I know the truth. I was no one. I was no one to you, not a real person at all--I wasn't real when you destroyed my work, and until the moment I said the magic word I wasn't real. When he made that sound, he betrayed his heart and finally spoke the truth, and I could see him fully. Now I know him, and now he has no power over me.
We keep talking, and now that I can see him completely he's just an angry man, angry and impotent. He is sorry, though not so sorry that he sought me out--and when I ask what the people in his group are saying about what happened, he confesses that no one is talking about it.
I ask him to do one thing for me. I ask him to talk to everyone in the group together, parents and students alike, and talk to them about what happened. I do not even ask him to apologize, nor do I dictate what he should say--that's his prerogative. I simply ask that he open the door for the conversation be allowed to happen. I believe in the truth, and I want him to let the group speak its mind to him and to itself. I do not know if he did this--I hope that he did, and I will continue to hope.
And then I forgive him. He is very quiet--he is obviously shocked. And I tell him, "I want you to remember that a liberal atheist has forgiven you today. I don't want you to ever forget that, as long as you live, do not forget what happened here. I don't have God behind me, but I speak for myself, and I forgive you for myself, and for you. Never forget this."
He said that he would. I wished him good luck, good luck with everything. He wished me the same.
Link to post from two weeks later at the end of the run.
Link to original post.
Link to Mike's homepage.
Last night's performance of INVINCIBLE SUMMER was disrupted when eighty seven members of a Christian group walked out of the show en masse, and chose to physically attack my work by pouring water on and destroying the original of the show outline.
I'm still dealing with all the ramifications, but here's what it felt like from my end: I am performing the show to a packed house, when suddenly the lights start coming up in the house as a flood of people start walking down the aisles--they looked like a flock of birds who'd been startled, the way they all moved so quickly, and at the same moment...it was shocking, to see them surging down the aisles. The show halted as they fled, and at this moment a member of their group strode up to the table, stood looking down on me and poured water all over the outline, drenching everything in a kind of anti-baptism.
I sat behind the table, looking up in his face with shock. My job onstage is to be as open as possible, to weave the show without a script as it comes, and this leaves me very emotionally available--and vulnerable, if an audience chooses to abuse that trust. I doubt I will ever forget the look in his face as he defaced the only original of the handwritten show outline--it was a look of hatred, and disgust, and utter and consuming pride.
It is a face I have seen in Riefenstahl's work, and in my dreams, but never on another human face, never an arm's length from me--never directed at me, hating me, hating my words and the story that I've chosen to tell. That face is not Christian, by any definition Christ would be proud to call his own--its naked righteousness and contempt have nothing to do with the godhead, and everything to do with pathetic human pride at its very worst.
And it wounded me in my heart, because I trusted these people. Scared parents and scared teachers running from a theater because words might hurt them, and so consumed by fear that they have to lash out at the work, literally break it apart, drown it. They've made me afraid of my audience, afraid of my craft, just the smallest amount, and that's the trust I will have to relearn tonight and every night. That's the work--the only way out is through, I tell my students, and it is true for me and it is true for everybody.
I tried to engage with the group as they fled, but they ran out like cowards, and not one of them would stand and discuss with me what they'd done. That cowardice still takes my breath away--that they wouldn't stand and speak like men and women and tell me in their voices their grievances. In spite of everything, I still believe--Jean-Michele says that's one of the reasons I'm a monologuist--and I fought to the end to get a single voice to speak and reckon with me, but they ran and didn't look back.
I had to stay onstage and tend to my audience, who was wounded and reeling--they looked stunned and shaken, as Jean-Michele and Kevin cleaned the table I talked to everyone, normalizing the pressures, rebuilding connections. We talked a bit, then I restarted the show, which was intense from a cold start--like passing a six pound kidney stone--and hesitantly, shakily, they came with me and we comforted each other with the story. At the end of the show they gave a standing ovation, which I didn't earn--they applauded because they had been through the same thing, and worked as hard as I did to carry the story to its conclusion. They were magnificent.
After the show I told the audience something, and it's been rolling around in my mind. It's common to think things will never happen where you are--never in Cambridge, never in New York, never in Seattle--that sort of thing, whatever it is, never happens here, not in our community. Then it happens, right in front of you, and you realize you were blind to it, that you forgot that intolerance and zealotry and viciousness are human currency everywhere, and it takes your breath away. You want to curl up and pretend it never happened, because they were fools, idiots--you make excuses and move on. Do the next show. Breathe. Forget.
But they are not simply fools and idiots--I saw them. They are young and old, they are teachers and students, they are each and every one of us. We are the same family, even if it hurts. The hard truth is that you reap what you sow, and I will not sow hatred and discontent--I refuse. I will not forget what that man, older than I am today, did to my work. I will not forget the cowed silence of those who left. I will not forget their judgment and their arrogance--but I will not hate.
I will listen. I will listen and learn and remember what has passed here, and when I tell it back it will be louder and longer and clearer. When I tell it back there will be place in the story for you and you and even you.
Read the followup post about the aftermath and my confrontation with the man who vandalized my work.
Link to Mike's homepage.
I Shared Dorms With . . .:
You were my best man, once, and another of my (first) wedding party commented with an unmistakeable certitude, "That guy really is the best man." And you were. I didn't give you a tenth of what you gave me. I owe you, my friend. I called you brother once. I meant it, and I miss you.
I'm pushing forty. I have so much. But I miss so much.
I remember so clearly Jason playing me this song.
The earth is weeping, the sky is shaking
The stars split to their core
And every proton and unnamed neutron
Is fusing in my bones
And an unnamed mammal is darkly rising
As man burns from his tomb
And I look at this as a blissful moment
To fly into the sun
Britain's Dickens World: Theme park with a Twist:
In Dickens World, rat catchers hunt vermin on London's cobbled streets, pickpockets roam the alleys -- and visitors line up for a fun-tastic water ride.
A new theme park inspired by the work of Charles Dickens aims to transform a 70,000-square-foot warehouse near London into a teeming -- and family-friendly -- corner of Victorian England.
Literary purists may balk, but the attraction's backers are confident.
Mr. Excitement News: Richard Nelson's Address to ART/NY:
I sit with young writers and hear how they now leave chunks of their plays purposely badly written - hoping that the 'help' they receive will concentrate on these areas and not on others that they care about. Tricks, games that many a screenwriter has learned over time, but now finding their way into the writing of plays.
Now no doubt many of you are thinking - but the plays aren't finished, they need help, and they do get better.
Again, I am not saying that a playwright should avoid and ignore comments and reactions to his work, quite the opposite. But I am saying that our mindset toward playwrights should be this: 1) the playwright knows what he is doing, 2) perhaps the play as presented is as it should be. So that the onus for change is not on the playwright but on others, on the theater. And the theater is there with a full array of tools to support the playwright as he or she attempts to improve upon his or her play. How to improve a play should be the domain of the writer, with the theater supplying potential tools, a reading say, or a workshop with clearly delineated goals. These are tools that should evolve out of a need, as opposed to being a given.
Chinese Political Prisoner Sues in U.S. Court, Saying Yahoo Helped Identify Dissidents - New York Times:
A Chinese political prisoner and his wife sued Yahoo in federal court Wednesday, accusing the company of abetting the commission of torture by helping Chinese authorities identify political dissidents who were later beaten and imprisoned.
The suit, filed under the Alien Tort Claims Act and the Torture Victims Protection Act, is believed to be the first of its kind against an Internet company for its activities in China.
Wang Xiaoning, who according to the suit is serving a 10-year prison sentence in China; his wife, Yu Ling; and other unnamed defendants seek damages and an injunction barring Yahoo from identifying dissidents to Chinese authorities.
Dell casts doubts on Vista:
Dell today revealed that it will restore the option to use Windows XP on some of its home systems, marking a potentially damaging blow to Microsoft's hopes for the newer Windows Vista. The Dimension E520 and E521 as well as virtually all of the company's Inspiron notebooks can immediately be custom-ordered with XP in Home or Professional editions, giving cautious buyers the opportunity to use the earlier OS. The change in policy was the result of user feedback, Dell claims.
Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart, a Last Link to Glamorous New York - New York Magazine's Daily Intelligencer:
Kitty Carlisle Hart belonged to the heyday of the '21' Club and Sardi's, of Harpo Marx acting up at parties where George Gershwin (who once proposed to her) played only his own songs. Her death today, at a vibrant 96, severs one of the last links to a New York that had more glamour than celebrity, more sophistication than wealth. In a newspaper interview a few years ago — between cabaret engagements, dates with beaux, and the other social commitments incumbent upon a "living landmark" of the city — she wondered what had happened to the place. Decades ago, she recalled, "we used to get all dressed up and go out dancing, then we'd go out for breakfast, and then we'd go to work the next day. I don't know why they don't do that anymore."
macosxhints.com - An easier QuickTime Pro file splitting technique:
I have a long file (call it movie.mov) that I want to split into several different parts. This can be easily accomplished using Quicktime Pro, but usually it requires dragging the selectors around to the start and end points, which can be difficult to target precisely, especially on a longer movie (I'm working with one now that started out as almost two hours). On the other hand, pausing the movie and moving the cursor using the left and right arrow keys moves so slowly, it seems to take forever to get to the right moment. 2br Then I found an easier way: using the keyboard (at least for the important parts):
In Reversal, Justices Back Ban on Method of Abortion - New York Times:
The Supreme Court reversed course on abortion on Wednesday, upholding the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-to-4 decision that promises to reframe the abortion debate and define the young Roberts court.
The most important vote was that of the newest justice, Samuel A. Alito Jr. In another 5-to-4 decision seven years ago, his predecessor, Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, voted to strike down a similar state law. Justice Alito’s vote to uphold the federal law made the difference in the outcome announced Wednesday.
The decision, the first in which the court has upheld a ban on a specific method of abortion, means that doctors who perform the prohibited procedure may face criminal prosecution, fines and up to two years in prison. The federal law, enacted in 2003, had been blocked from taking effect by the lower court rulings that the Supreme Court overturned.
Interview: Will Friedwald, Owner Of The Worlds Largest iTunes Collection:
Will Friedwald proclaims he has the world largest iTunes collection. An avid listener to Jazz music, and a writer for the New York Sun, Will spends his days in front of his Power Mac G5 running “The Maxtix”, his mammoth 200,000 track iTunes library.
Will took some time out of his rigirous daily schudule and took some time to talk with me about iTunes, his music collection, and how he manages it.
The question we all want to know. How large is your iTunes music collection?
I just re-compiled the main library (something that takes about six hours – I only do it a few times a year!). Here are the new stats:
849 GB | 172,150 tracks | 809.2 days
2,935 artists | 11,561 albums
iTunes library database file - 282 MB
iTunes library XML file - 259 MB
The End of a 1,400-Year-Old Business:
The world's oldest continuously operating family business ended its impressive run last year. Japanese temple builder Kongo Gumi, in operation under the founders' descendants since 578, succumbed to excess debt and an unfavorable business climate in 2006.
How do you make a family business last for 14 centuries?
We're halfway through the run of INVINCIBLE SUMMER, and things are looking good--audience numbers are trending upward, and I'm delighted to be in the thick of the run. Due to an exceeding unfortunate encounter with some bad Indian food my day off on Monday wasn't nearly the faerieland of fun I had anticipated--I'm only now fully getting back to myself. It's amazing how much the body rejects food that isn't good for it, and how *thoroughly* it does so--it's a remarkable machine.
Last night's show was a revelation; I was only 80% of the way back, I felt, but the audience was utterly fantastic and full, and their generosity helped me climb back to where I needed to be for them. There was a standing ovation at the end, which should never be an absolute measure of a show's success, but it was so heart-warming that it happened on a Tuesday, when I was feeling weak in the knees, really affirms my faith in this process. It was a surprisingly magical night.
I wanted to take a moment to talk about the idea of working extemporaneously. A number of folks who see the show often, ushers and the like, have noted that they expect the show to change more from telling to telling, and while they are polite I can tell that what they're wondering is if the show is actually memorized--after all, they can't tell what's changing night to night.
That's a byproduct of doing it eight times a week--just because something isn't memorized doesn't mean it doesn't have form and structure, and especially when you're telling the same story again and again you find the ways you like to tell it and it remains remarkably consistent throughout. Now once I put INVINCIBLE SUMMER down for a few months and return to it it will have shifted, and if you saw the first performances here at ART you'd see quite a few changes that then settle down--it's part of the natural breathing of the piece. It's a living thing, theatre that exists without a script, and part of that living is that it finds a shape and form that is stable in the long term. By contrast, MONOPOLY! will be much more volatile, as it only has six performances here, and TONGUES WILL WAG will be one giant discovery, as that will be the first time it will have ever been told.
So don't be surprised if two different performances of INVINCIBLE SUMMER sound similar, any more than hearing someone tell a long and complicated story again and again might resemble one another, or a musician's signature song has the same bridge in the middle--it doesn't mean that the work is scripted, and it doesn't mean it isn't still changing day by day.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
Mass Media - The Summer That Changed Everything:
"A wise man once said never go to bed angry … stay up and fight," the advice that Mike Daisey's father offered on his wedding day. A clash of humor and sincerity, Daisey's new monologue, "Invincible Summer," is playing through this month at the Zero Arrow Theater in Harvard Square. Like all of Daisey's monologues, "Invincible Summer" is a tightly woven tapestry of human emotion. Intricately united historical fact, humorous anecdotes, and personal reflections are what make up Daisey's solitary masterpieces.
Websurdity » Blog Archive » Uncomfortable Questions: Was the Death Star Attack an Inside Job?:
We’ve all heard the “official conspiracy theory” of the Death Star attack. We all know about Luke Skywalker and his ragtag bunch of rebels, how they mounted a foolhardy attack on the most powerful, well-defended battle station ever built. And we’ve all seen the video over, and over, and over, of the one-in-a-million shot that resulted in a massive chain reaction that not just damaged, but completely obliterated that massive technological wonder.
Like many citizens of the Empire, I was fed this story when I was growing up. But as I watched the video, I began to realize that all was not as it seemed. And the more I questioned the official story, the deeper into the rabbit hole I went.
Presented here are some of the results of my soul-searching regarding this painful event. Like many citizens, I have many questions that I would like answered: was the mighty Imperial government really too incompetent to prevent a handful of untrained nerf-herders from destroying one of their most prized assets? Or are they hiding something from us? Who was really behind the attack? Why did they want the Death Star destroyed? No matter what the answers, we have a problem.
Below is a summary of my book, Uncomfortable Questions: An Analysis of the Death Star Attack, which presents compelling evidence that we all may be the victims of a fraud of immense proportions.
Culturebot » The Pulitzer Prize for Drama Goes to…:
David Lindsay-Abaire’s Rabbit Hole. Along with a tidy sum of 10,000 dollars. Here’s where it gets interesting. According to Playbill, “The Pulitzer jury had nominated three plays — Orpheus X by Rinde Eckert; Bulrusher by Eisa Davis; and Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue by Quiara Alegria Hudes — however, the board decided to bypass the nominations and chose a play that hadn’t been nominated by the jury.” So, let’s get this straight, the jury, made up of “Ben Brantley (chief drama critic, New York Times), Kimberly W. Benston (Professor of English at Haverford College), Karen D’Souza (Drama Critic for the San Jose Mercury News), Rohan Preston (Theatre critic for the Star Tribune of Minneapolis-St. Paul), Paula Vogel (playwright, Professor of English at Brown University)” opted to select some lesser known works, and then the Board decided it didn’t like their choices and gave the prize, and prize money, to Lindsay-Abaire? That’s a nice “eff you” to Brantley and co.
Boing Boing: AT&T's vision for the Internet in 1993:
The Paleo-Future blog has just concluded a six-part video series based AT&T's 1993 video "Connections: AT&T's Vision of the Future." This is an early-Internet-era promotional for AT&T's futuristic, net-based services, and is hilariously wrong in really interesting ways. Futurism always tells you more about the superstitions and ambitions of the era in which it was written than it does about the actual future. In this cast, AT&T conceives of the Internet as something profoundly organized and polished, something that works a lot more like AOL than the net as we know it. Plus, lots of virtual reality: always the virtual reality, back in 1993!
Fast-track laws to target terror DVDs | The Courier-Mail:
CENSORSHIP laws could be widened within three weeks to include a ban on pro-terrorism films, Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.
Mr Ruddock has instructed officials to seek agreement from the states as soon as possible to change the censorship laws so that hate films praising terrorists could be banned.
Sony Pictures DVD's have a new a copy protection that makes the movies unplayable on some Sony (& other makes) DVD players! « Sony Strikes Again:
Sony Tech: We know about this problem. Its our new copy protection that’s making these discs unplayable in some players including our own, we do not intend to change the copy protection. The only correction to this problem is a firmware update to your player. The electronics division know about this and should have given you this information.
Me: OK send me the firmware update.
Sony Tech: We do not have one as yet.
Me: OK (a bit frustrated) when will it be available?
Sony Tech: It could be 2 weeks it could be a month, we don’t know.
He then took my phone number and said ”they” would let me know when the firmware update is available, but declined to take my address saying that they would get that when the update was available.
Video Podcast To Become A Paper Book! - Gawker:
You know, the publishing industry is such a wondrous magical place—like a Disneyland where all the animatronic characters are made out of money!—that of course video podcasters want in.
For instance: It only takes most publishers 18 to 24 months to publish a book! They also have these innovative ideas of promotion—as a Published Author, you might be allowed to fly yourself to Chicago and/or Miami, sometimes Iowa City, to read to an audience of 12 or 13 people at a Barnes and Noble!
And when your Kirkus and/or Publisher's Weekly reviews come out, and their wild praise contains one critical note, suddenly the PR people at your publisher are occupied with other projects. Then, surely unrelatedly, your $20,000 advance doesn't earn out and everyone scratches their heads in puzzlement.
It's the most retarded shell game on earth. And also the most technophobic, ass-backwards, financially-dumb-headed industry in the world. (Well, maybe second, behind office water delivery businesses. But at least they know how to charge the right prices for their product.)
Oskar Eustis-Public Theater- Bertolt Brecht - New York Times:
The story of how Brecht’s face ended up on a Meissen porcelain plate in 1975 is a piece of lesson theater unto itself. So is how the plate ended up displayed on a Brooklyn bookshelf as the prize possession of Oskar Eustis, the artistic director of the Public Theater.
The plate was given to Mr. Eustis by his mother in the late 1970s when he was about 20 and visiting her in East Berlin. A longtime Communist, she had left Minnesota, where she had raised Mr. Eustis, and gone with her second husband to teach at Humboldt University in East Berlin.
At first, Mr. Eustis was charmed by the notion that the East German regime would put an intellectual hero like Brecht on a commemorative plate. (Would the Franklin Mint put Tony Kushner’s face on one?) But as his knowledge of Brecht grew and the East German government fell, Mr. Eustis learned that there is more to kitsch than decoration.
Are mobile phones wiping out our bees? - Independent Online Edition > Wildlife:
It seems like the plot of a particularly far-fetched horror film. But some scientists suggest that our love of the mobile phone could cause massive food shortages, as the world's harvests fail.
They are putting forward the theory that radiation given off by mobile phones and other hi-tech gadgets is a possible answer to one of the more bizarre mysteries ever to happen in the natural world - the abrupt disappearance of the bees that pollinate crops. Late last week, some bee-keepers claimed that the phenomenon - which started in the US, then spread to continental Europe - was beginning to hit Britain as well.
The theory is that radiation from mobile phones interferes with bees' navigation systems, preventing the famously homeloving species from finding their way back to their hives. Improbable as it may seem, there is now evidence to back this up.
It's Saturday afternoon, in the thin window I have between a matinee and an evening performance. I have talkbacks on Saturdays, so that window is even thinner than it appears--and when you factor in warm-up and cool-down time, it's no time at all.
People, even performers, who don't do eight show a week runs don't always understand the craft of shaping your time through the week. For example, five of the eight shows I do a week at ART are all within 48 hours--Friday night, two shows Saturday, two shows Sunday. It's a slalom course, and you can't really train for that kind of run in school--they can work your voice, but to learn to do long runs you mainly just have to spend time doing them, as any Broadway trooper will tell you. In the monologues the principle is the same, though the entire show depends on one person's state of mind, so I find I become very hermetic and protective of my energy in a long run--small changes and variances that wouldn't bother me when living my normal life become amplified. I suspect that it's this effect that leads to accusations of "diva-ishness" made against people who perform--it's a pain in the ass to live your life in anticipation of living intensely a few hours a day, and makes it hard to be present the rest of the time.
You do get used to it over time--I find it exhilarating, though it is also all-consuming. When we ran 21 DOG YEARS I did triples on occasion--2, 5 and 8--during weeks when I needed an extra day off for book touring. That was hard, but sustainable. When we go to Berkeley Rep this June with GREAT MEN OF GENIUS we're going to be running the four monologues in repertory, and on Sundays I'll do marathons of all four--quadruples! People keep asking me how I'm going to do that, and the answer of course is, "very carefully." I'm excited about the marathons--I feel I'm at a point now where I can handle that, and I feel invigorated by the challenge.
In other show trivia: Bob Brustein, founder of ART and many other theatres, came ad saw the show this week and was incredibly warm afterward--he seemed genuinely moved, which was wonderful. Ryan McKittrick and Julia Smeliansky came today, and we'll be talking to Ryan's class at Brandeis this Friday about the work--should be fun.
Now I head back to the theater.
Crossposted to the ART blog
they must need bears - the leaded window opened to move the dancing candleflame:
Some writing advice by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. on the subject of short stories, from Bagombo Snuff Box:
1. Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.
2. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.
3. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water.
4. Every sentence must do one of two things -- reveal character or advance the action.*
5. Start as close to the end as possible.
6. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them -- in order that the reader may see what they are made of.
7. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia.
8. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
Behind the Fall of Imus, A Digital Brush Fire - WSJ.com:
At 6:14 a.m. on Wednesday, April 4, relatively few people were tuned into the "Imus in the Morning Show" when Don Imus referred to the Rutgers women's basketball team as "nappy-headed ho's."
Ryan Chiachiere was. A 26-year-old researcher in Washington, D.C., for liberal watchdog organization Media Matters for America, he was assigned to monitor Mr. Imus's program. Mr. Chiachiere clipped the video, alerted his bosses and started working on a blog post for the organization's Web site.
Yesterday, after eight days of dizzying activity, CBS pulled the plug on Mr. Imus's hugely successful radio show. One day earlier, MSNBC had canceled its broadcast of the show on cable TV. CBS had originally suspended Mr. Imus for two weeks, but succumbed amid an escalating national outcry and an exodus of big advertisers. "All of us have been deeply upset and revulsed by the statements that were made on our air," CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves said yesterday in a written statement.
Our Prejudices, Ourselves - New York Times:
Our nation, historically bursting with generosity toward strangers, remains remarkably unkind toward its own. Just under our gleaming patina of inclusiveness, we harbor corroding guts. America, I tell you that it doesn’t matter how many times you brush your teeth. If your insides are rotting your breath will stink. So, how do you people choose which hate to embrace, which to forgive with a wink and a week in rehab, and which to protest? Where’s my copy of that rule book?
Let me cite a non-volatile example of how prejudice can cohabit unchecked with good intentions. I am a huge fan of David Letterman’s. I watch the opening of his show a couple of times a week and have done so for decades. Without fail, in his opening monologue or skit Mr. Letterman makes a joke about someone being fat. I kid you not. Will that destroy our nation? Should he be fired or lose his sponsors? Obviously not.
But I think that there is something deeper going on at the Letterman studio than coincidence. And, as I’ve said, I cite this example simply to illustrate that all kinds of prejudice exist in the human heart. Some are harmless. Some not so harmless. But we need to understand who we are if we wish to change. (In the interest of full disclosure, I should confess to not only being a gay American, but also a fat one. Yes, I’m a double winner.)
Here's a review of INVINCIBLE SUMMER from WGBH Boston:
www.kansascity.com | 04/11/2007 | Imus isn’t the real bad guy:
Thank you, Don Imus. You’ve given us (black people) an excuse to avoid our real problem.
You’ve given Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson another opportunity to pretend that the old fight, which is now the safe and lucrative fight, is still the most important fight in our push for true economic and social equality.
You’ve given Vivian Stringer and Rutgers the chance to hold a nationally televised recruiting celebration expertly disguised as a news conference to respond to your poor attempt at humor.
Thank you, Don Imus. You extended Black History Month to April, and we can once again wallow in victimhood, protest like it’s 1965 and delude ourselves into believing that fixing your hatred is more necessary than eradicating our self-hatred.
The bigots win again.
People I Felt Sorry For At The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Premiere | The A.V. Club:
3. The girl wearing stilettos, an expensive black dress, and a velvet jacket. Apparently she thought she would be on the red carpet instead of 18 guys from Cartoon Network and an oversized milkshake. Over-dressing for an event is always a little embarrassing, but over-dressing for an event that features a guy dressed like ground meat is pretty humiliating.
Slashdot | Democrats Appoint RIAA Shill For Convention:
An anonymous reader sends us to Boing Boing for a report that "the Director of Communications for the RIAA, Jenni Engebretsen, has been appointed Deputy CEO for Public Affairs for the upcoming Democratic National Convention in Denver." The DNC site has the official press release. Cory Doctorow notes that the RIAA is the most hated "corporation" in America, having beaten out Halliburton and Wal-Mart for the honor, and writes for the DNC's attention, "This represents a potential shear with the left-wing blogosphere."
Playbill News: Works by Daisey, Moses, Berman, Provenz on Tap for July's Cape Cod Theatre Project:
Works by Mike Daisey, Itamar Moses, Brooke Berman and Jessica Provenz will be offered at the 13th annual Cape Cod Theatre Project this July in Falmouth, MA.
CCTP's mission is to develop new American plays. Of the 42 plays developed since 1995, 27 have gone on to full productions at stages across the country.
Sun-rise in New York:
When the Sun was born in 2002, media soothsayers predicted that it would never find a permanent place in New York's brutally competitive newspaper market and that the hearse would arrive within two years. But the Sun is still here, and on April 16 it will mark its fifth anniversary. Although it is funded by a coterie of wealthy individuals, published on a shoestring and edited by a tenacious journalist, Seth Lipsky, the paper is not a financial success: Last year Lipsky told journalism students at Columbia that the Sun lost $1 million a month. But those losses amount to pocket change for the proprietors, whose investment and ongoing commitment have yielded something else: a broadsheet that injects conservative ideology into the country's most influential philanthropic, intellectual and media hub; a paper whose day-to-day coverage of New York City emphasizes lower taxes, school vouchers and free-market solutions to urban problems; a paper whose elegant culture pages hold their own against the Times in quality and sophistication; a paper that breaks news and crusades on a single issue; a paper that functions as a journalistic SWAT team against individuals and institutions seen as hostile to Israel and Jews; and a paper that unapologetically displays the scalps of its victims.
Quantum secrets of photosynthesis revealed:
Through photosynthesis, green plants and cyanobacteria are able to transfer sunlight energy to molecular reaction centers for conversion into chemical energy with nearly 100-percent efficiency. Speed is the key - the transfer of the solar energy takes place almost instantaneously so little energy is wasted as heat. How photosynthesis achieves this near instantaneous energy transfer is a long-standing mystery that may have finally been solved.
A study led by researchers with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) and the University of California (UC) at Berkeley reports that the answer lies in quantum mechanical effects. Results of the study are presented in the April 12, 2007 issue of the journal Nature.
"We have obtained the first direct evidence that remarkably long-lived wavelike electronic quantum coherence plays an important part in energy transfer processes during photosynthesis," said Graham Fleming, the principal investigator for the study. “This wavelike characteristic can explain the extreme efficiency of the energy transfer because it enables the system to simultaneously sample all the potential energy pathways and choose the most efficient one.”
The Alameda-Weehawken Burrito Tunnel:
Who can imagine New York City without the Mission burrito? Like the Yankees, the Brooklyn Bridge or the bagel, the oversize burritos have become a New York institution. And yet it wasn’t long ago that it was impossible to find a good burrito of any kind in the city. As the 30th anniversary of the Alameda-Weehawken burrito tunnel approaches, it’s worth taking a look at the remarkable sequence of events that takes place between the time we click “deliver” on the burrito.nyc.us.gov website and the moment that our hot El Farolito burrito arrives in the lunchroom with its satisfying pneumatic hiss.
The story begins in any of the three dozen taquerias supplying the Bay Area Feeder Network, an expansive spiderweb of tubes running through San Francisco’s Mission district as far south as the “Burrito Bordeaux” region of Palo Alto and Mountain View. Electronic displays in each taqueria light up in real time with orders placed on the East Coast, and within minutes a fresh burrito has been assembled, rolled in foil, marked and dropped down one of the small vertical tubes that rise like organ pipes in restaurant kitchens throughout the city.
We've put together a trailer with our friends here at American Repertory Theatre for INVINCIBLE SUMMER--take a look.
So what I want this year is the courage for theatre companies and theatre artists to look calmly and clearly at the bottom line, to take an X-ray, if you will, of the underlying structures. I want board members to start asking if the money paid to actors (and designers, and stagehands, and musicians, and front-of-house staff) is fair, and how it measures up to the money spent on, say, patron amenities. I want corporations to stop setting up false dichotomies between donating to the arts and other social goods, like living wages and health benefits, especially when they have no problem paying eight-figure salaries with exorbitant stock options to their top executives. I want to never hear the phrase “unpaid internship” again – particularly if it’s coming from well-heeled cultural institutions that then wring their hands over how hard it is to build diverse audiences. And I want to see a few plays that suggest that maybe, just maybe, what we do to earn our living matters, because it has some effect on who we are, how we live, how we feel about the world, and how we contribute to the greater community good.
Boston Metro Spotlight: April 2007: Fresh as a Daisey City Spotlight on TheaterMania.com:
Anticipation is running high for seriocomic monologist Mike Daisey's appearance at the American Repertory Theatre's Zero Arrow space. He's bringing Invincible Summer, his searing look at his Brooklyn neighborhood pre- and post-9/11, to the theater (April 4-29), with two more of his works due there in May.
Artistic Injustice « American Repertory Theatre:
Consider The New York Times, an organ on which so many of us depend for clarity and balance. It is ironic that the same newspaper that editorializes so eloquently against corruption in the political administration now bears so much responsibility for helping to corrupt our culture. Look what has happened, for example, to the Sunday “Arts and Leisure” pages, once popularly known as the “Drama” section, and now often indistinguishable from the “Style” section of the same newspaper. In the past, it used to routinely publish numerous background features, reviews, and idea pieces about theatre in New York and elsewhere. Today, its front page is largely devoted to columns about the careers and collisions of rock, rap, and hip-hop stars, when it is not running multiple stories about “American Idol.”
Now I love gossip and popular entertainment as well as the next guy, but isn’t there a place for serious theatre in this Sunday section any more? References to plays have been relegated to a column or two on page five, unless there is a big numbing commercial musical or some media-soaked British import like The Coast of Utopia lumbering towards Broadway. I realize the changes at the Times are part of its effort to keep financially afloat when the print media are failing to attract enough readers. And yet, despite its abject bow to cultural illiteracy, The New York Times continues to regard itself as the maker of theatrical standards. The New York Post recently reported an angry encounter between the playwright David Hare (whose The Vertical Hour was recently backhanded by the Times) and the paper’s managing director, Jill Abramson. Hare accused the Times (correctly in my opinion) of having little interest in theatre, and even less in plays. Ms. Abramson allegedly replied, “Listen, it is not our obligation to like or care about the theater. It is our obligation to arbitrate it. We are the central arbiter of taste and culture in the city of New York.”
The most depressing thing about this statement is that, whether or not Ms. Abramason said it, it is true.
Gothamist: Second Avenue Subway Groundbreaking Day!:
It's been 33 years since the last Second Avenue Subway groundbreaking, so it's high time for new generations of straphangers to revel in the hope of a new subway line. We also expect the public -- especially the Upper East Side-residing public -- to become jaded with construction delays, traffic issues, and noise. Here's the press release from the MTA:
Tomorrow morning's historic groundbreaking ceremony for the Second Avenue Subway can be seen by all New Yorkers live on NY1, beginning at 10:30 a.m. The groundbreaking ceremony will take place in one of the subway tunnels built under Second Ave. in the 1970s but never used. Due to the limited capacity of the tunnel, the MTA arranged for the live broadcast with NY1 and will open its board room at 347 Madison Avenue for members of the public to join MTA staff for a public viewing and celebration.
A Note To Memoirists About Time - Gawker:
VONNEGUT: "Every day we walked into the city and dug into basements and shelters to get the corpses out.... The Germans got funeral pyres going, burning the bodies.... 130,000 corpses were hidden underground. It was a terribly elaborate Easter egg hunt.... [O]nly one person on the entire planet benefited from the raid, which must have cost tens of millions of dollars. The raid didn't shorten the war by half a second, didn't weaken a German defense or attack anywhere, didn't free a single person from a death camp. Only one person benefited—not two or five or ten. Just one.
INTERVIEWER: And who was that?
VONNEGUT: Me. I got three dollars for each person killed. Imagine that.
Kurt Vonnegut, Novelist Who Caught the Imagination of His Age, Is Dead at 84 - New York Times:
Kurt Vonnegut, whose dark comic talent and urgent moral vision in novels like “Slaughterhouse-Five,” “Cat’s Cradle” and “God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater” caught the temper of his times and the imagination of a generation, died last night in Manhattan. He was 84 and had homes in Manhattan and in Sagaponack on Long Island.
Invincible Summer - Cambridge - Theater - Boston Globe:
He's been called a cross between Noam Chomsky and Jack Black, with comic delivery ''so sharp it draws blood.'' But this charismatic storyteller is not just going for laughs. In ''Invincible Summer,'' Mike Daisey takes on the massive political, social, and emotional upheaval of Sept. 11 through a personal lens that is both comic and heartbreaking, beginning that last glorious summer just before everything turned upside down.
THE BOSTON REVIEWS ARE IN FOR INVINCIBLE SUMMER:
Sharp-witted, passionately delivered talk about matters both small and huge, at once utterly individual and achingly universal.
He takes seemingly incongruent topics and mixes them with personal experiences to create the dramatic equivalent of a classic cocktail: there’s a balance of strong, sweet, and sour components and a few dashes of bitters. Each night the same story emerges differently; he could be a hip-hop artist freestyling, or a Baptist preacher.
Daisey knows what makes a story great.
Daisey radiates heat like the fiery orb of New York’s dreaded summer sun. His delivery can be acerbic, his voice and inflection taking on a distinct Lewis Black edge; in his calmer moments, Daisey sounds more like Garrison Keillor, as he zeroes in - implacably, with perfect deadpan control of his colorful vocabulary - on his pitch-perfect payoffs.
Autobiography and commentary, scripted and spontaneous, the monologue showcases its author's performance chops and detail-rich narrative style. Daisey has a knack for pushing the boundaries of comedy and candor, with unflinchingly honest descriptions that show the performer's personal strengths and weaknesses. The result is cathartic.
I just finished running through the press we've received in Boston for INVINCIBLE SUMMER so far, and created a set of pull quotes. In my experience, the creating of quotes is a perilous act--you can easily fall on the side of too much modesty, or too much schlock. I'll address each.
This is the problem most people are familiar with, as Broadway and Hollywood are absolutely riddled with it--this is the problem where everything! ends! in! exclamation! points! and so forth. I've never seen the New York Times use punctuation like that, but that doesn't seem to stop some people. They also amngle meaning, subtract all the words, make up new sentences and never use ellipses.
This is ultimately a tragedy of the commons situation, because as producers batter the reviewers words into submission they abuse the trust that readers have for the critical establishment, which means they ultimately find themselves doubting and disregarding reviews more...which damages the producers goals, as people won't think the reviews mean anything eventually. This doesn't stop people from doing it, however.
This tends to afflict people at the other end of the scale--like independent artists starting out, or in my experience almost everyone doing theater in the greater Seattle area, as Seattle is a traditionally extremely modest city.
Modesty does have its place, but one must not forget that pull quotes are marketing and message first and foremost, and if you do not sound confident of your own product people will detect that and act accordingly. Many people making pull quotes also adhere almost legalistically to rules of adaptation, using [brackets] and...ellipses with great abandon, so you get quotes like:
"[He] is a fantastic [performer]...wonderful...warm and inviting [work]."
No one wants to see that show--it looks like a legal argument.
First I read all the reviews. Then I read them again. This step is important--often when someone is invested in a review, you await it with baited breath, but when it arrives your eyes glide over it quickly. I let myself do it the natural way first, but then put my producer hat on and do it again, with feeling. I'll admit that it hurts when I disagree with the notices, but I console myself by knowing that after I do this thoroughly I won't need to do it again.
Second, this culling should be done ASAP. Pull quotes are most useful in the atmosphere just after the reviews have landed, so don't wait--get your materials together. After all, you can always make different pull quotes for a later run--what's important is striking now.
Now I re-read the review (hopefully online) with a text document open, and I drop any chunk of text that looks promising, pruning them out of the review. I visualize this step as being like a fisherman--this is what I've caught, and what can I make from it? If I view it as material and material alone it makes it easier to work with the words, and look at them in the cold, unvarnished light of marketing. In the end, a review is what one person wrote when they saw your work on one night. Fantastic or dreadful, that's all it is--and now it becomes a tool for the artist, which is empowering.
But not *too* empowering--it's important to adhere to some guidelines, and while I've never quantified them like I am here, these are the ones I try to follow:
• Don't make shit up. This is obvious, but you can't simply write the pull quote you want out of whole cloth.
• Ellipses are your friend, but not your best friend. I use ellipses when appropriate--when two thoughts I'd like to connect have another thought between them that I'd like to omit. I do not use ellipses if I prune a word out for grammatical consideration--sometimes a sentence out of context looks bizarre, and so I fix the tenses, of change "he" to "Daisey", things like that. One of my rule of thumbs is that if the reporter knocked on my door now, would I feel comfortable showing him or her what I've done? The answer has to be yes.
• Respect the critic's intentions. If a critic disliked the show, but said that your performance was stellar, it is fair to use a quote that says your performance was stellar. But if a critic said your performance stunk, it is in no way fair to somehow edit a version that says your performance was great.
• When possible use the whole. Whole sentences, whole thoughts--I'm a big believer in longer quotes over shorter ones, though they have their place as well, and the same rule applies. By using whole ideas and sentences you avoid having to use ellipses much of the time, and I feel that audiences trust that more--and I know I look for full sentences when I'm assessing the trustworthiness of a piece...and whenever possible, I provide links to the full review. Naturally, that doesn't always work--such as when the review is mixed--but that's the hope.
That's all for now--next up I'll post the actual pull quotes we've made for the run so far, which thanks to the excellent notices haven't been very hard to create.
Crossposted to the ART blog
Blackbird - Review - Theater - New York Times:
Theatrical as well as emotional nakedness may explain why “Blackbird,” a bare-bones drama by a largely unheralded 40-year-old Scottish playwright, stole this year’s Laurence Olivier Award for best new play in London from flashy and deserving contenders by big-name writers, like Tom Stoppard’s “Rock ’n’ Roll” and Peter Morgan’s “Frost/Nixon.”
Unlike those plays, which deconstruct world events with bright intellectual showmanship, “Blackbird” is theater at its most elemental: one man, one woman, one set and a head-to-head confrontation, about events long past, that occurs in real time. Its characters are not well spoken or even particularly insightful. What emerges as truth — which is less a matter of facts than of feeling — occurs despite themselves.
Threat Level: Spy Chief Seeks to Expand Power:
The new director of national intelligence is seeking to expand the government's ability to conduct black bag searches, allow the National Security Agency to spy on foreigners inside the United States without a warrant, kill off lawsuits against telecoms for helping the government spy on American's phone calls, and make it easier for the government to get phone and email records, even as the FBI remains mired in a scandal over its illegal and widespread use of a Patriot Act power, according to the Associated Press.
Hamster Powered Paper Shredder - Gizmodo:
See, this is the circle of life. This concept design of a hamster cage almost leaves me speechless. The paper shredder on top of the cage is powered by the hamster and it created the paper that can serve as the hamster bedding.
heather corinna: pure as the driven slush » Blog Archive »:
The local clinic which was full, and the two general local doctors offices I called referred me to a low-income clinic here (I use the term loosely), where the fee to just get in is $300, and the patient reviews are a nightmare. Apparently, $300 buys you a medically-schooled “I don’t know” an awful lot. The real kicker there, though, was that growing up in healthcare systems, working within one area of healthcare, I have a good idea of what things cost. So, knowing that with what I was asking for, at your regular doc’s office, I’d be talking an $80 - $150 bill (basic ear, nose and throat checkup, maybe a throat culture, possibly a new patient fee), I went ahead and called the regular docs.
But despite making clear I would be paying cash, they would not see me, because I was uninsured. This is a new one. And the irony isn’t lost on me: they’d not see me, ostensibly because, what — my bills would bounce? But they would refer me to a clinic where the cost would easily have been twice as much. Nice.
Boing Boing: Treasury Dept's 250-page list of bad names:
If you want to buy a car or a house and your name kind-of, sort-of matches a possible, suspected, conceivable alias of someone who might could be a terrorist, get ready for a fight.
The Office of Foreign Asset Control's list of "specially designated nationals" is a list of people who might be terrorists. Or might have the same names as terrorists. Or might sound like the same name as a terrorist. Or might sound like a name that a terrorist might make up, but hasn't.
The list is 250 pages long. If you do business with a person on the list, you can pay $10 million in fines and go to jail for 30 years. "Doing business" can be as simple as selling one of those people a sandwich. Not an anthrax sandwich -- like a roast beef on rye.
Microsoft "dead," at a turning point?:
Microsoft may be at a turning point in its future, according to actions taken by key figures today and over the weekend. Goldman Sachs financial analyst Sarah Friar today removed Microsoft from its conviction list, noting that while the stock was still worth buying it no longer had the same allure as before. A fundamental shift in the market towards the web and the resulting independence from Microsoft's software were cited as the primary reasons, as users no longer needed Windows or desktop utilities for an increasing number of tasks.
"Vista may be the last big operating system developed by the company," Friar said. Microsoft still plans a revision to Vista codenamed "Vienna" for 2009.
A lot of the reviews have landed, and they're very positive. Bostonist and Edge Boston were excellent, as was the Phoenix. Metro's review was mixed--they liked me and the performance a great deal, but were uncomfortable with 9/11, which is a risk you have to take when you work with charged material.
The Boston Globe review turned out very interestingly. It clearly would be a total rave if the Globe had come on any night except Easter Sunday--most of the review is one of the most effusive of my career, and an intelligent, informed effusiveness at that. But our failure to pack the house effectively and prepare for what we knew was a very important review was critical to wounding what should have been a triumph: by neglecting the audience, the element that must NEVER be ignored in live performance, we snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. It's a very important lesson in the theater: more than marketing, more than PR, more than fundraising it is always the audience that matters most: first, last and always.
It is still a very good review--miraculously it holds that particular night of the show separate from the act of seeing the show--but I don't know if it will communicate to people reading it that they should come down to the theater. I hope that the confluence of different positive notices, coupled with the feature on Friday in the Globe, will help--it remains to be seen. I have given up crossing fingers, and now I am crossing toes.
There's not much for me to do in this regard, though I am doing some radio spots and we'll be creating pull quotes, which is the term used for extracting quotes from longer pieces for the purpose of letting people know about a show. In the spirit of transparency that I'm following during this run I'll dissect what goes into making good pull quotes, how to keep them honest while still showing the work in its best light, and how I choose to navigate the slippery slope of what is and is not fair and balanced in editing the words of critics.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
Stop and pick this Daisey - The Boston Globe:
All this teeters on the edge of solipsism, but Daisey pulls it back by remaining wryly aware that his is only one of the millions of stories of that day, and not a particularly eventful one at that. But that, he seems to suggest, is why he wants to tell it: to remind us that Sept. 11 was not just a national catastrophe but a specific event with specific repercussions in many individual lives.
And that, in case you're wondering, is how Camus comes in. Daisey never makes the connections explicit, but there's a critical moment when it's impossible not to hear the French existentialist's cool, crystalline insistence that no matter what surrounds us, it's our inner being -- our "invincible summer" -- that determines our fate. When he was halfway across the bridge, Daisey says, the first tower fell, and "everyone made a choice": to stop and look, to look but not stop, or to keep walking without even glancing back.
That's the kind of moment that, on the right night, can create an enchanted hush in a theater.
September songs - Arts - The Phoenix:
But Daisey, citing influences as diverse as Lewis Black and Martin Luther King, would be the first to tell you he is not Spalding Gray. For one thing, he’s more interested in looking into the filthy, democratic maw of the MTA than at the lint at his midsection. Whenever his material threatens to go places he doesn’t want to, he returns — with deliberate and dramatic abruptness — to the underground warren of trains, which the Maine-raised Seattle emigrant has come to see as a sort of teeming metaphor for the awe-inspiring if hopelessly begrimed civility of his improbable, egotistic adopted town. And New York’s historical quirks are only one of the many things that whet his interest. In 21 Dog Years: Doing Time @ Amazon.com, his breakout piece, Daisey ponders his and our national obsession with getting rich in the shadow of the Internet. And Monopoly!, which he’ll perform at Zero Arrow Theatre May 1-5, brings together the war between Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla over electricity, Microsoft’s anti-trust suit, the history of the board game, and the wolfing of the performer’s home town by Wal-Mart. Sounds like a lot to chew, but the guy’s got a big mouth.
Boing Boing: HOWTO make pancakes with heroin works:
This pictorial HOWTO depicts a step-by-step method for cooking pancakes in the manner of fixing a shot of heroin, drawing the ingredients up through syringes, squeezing them into a spoon's bowl, and heating the spoon over a Zippo.
The Brooklyn Paper: Organic crime in Bay Ridge:
The first rule of Milk Club is you don’t talk about Milk Club.
The second rule of Milk Club is you do not talk about Milk Club.
That’s what I learned this week while investigating what my wife described as Brooklyn’s Underground Raw Milk Movement.
“I know something you might have some interest in that one of my friends is into, but I doubt you will be able to find anyone who will talk about it,” she told me. “She’s smuggling milk that isn’t pasteurized from a farm in Pennsylvania to her Bay Ridge apartment.”
“If the government finds out they could shut her down, shut the farmer down, shut everyone down.”
For drinking raw milk?
"When I tried to use the curb-side check in at the Sunport, I was denied a boarding pass because I was on the Terrorist Watch list. I was instructed to go inside and talk to a clerk. At this point, I should note that I am not only the McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence (emeritus) but also a retired Marine colonel. I fought in the Korean War as a young lieutenant, was wounded, and decorated for heroism. I remained a professional soldier for more than five years and then accepted a commission as a reserve office, serving for an additional 19 years."
"I presented my credentials from the Marine Corps to a very polite clerk for American Airlines. One of the two people to whom I talked asked a question and offered a frightening comment: "Have you been in any peace marches? We ban a lot of people from flying because of that." I explained that I had not so marched but had, in September, 2006, given a lecture at Princeton, televised and put on the Web, highly critical of George Bush for his many violations of the Constitution. "That'll do it," the man said. "
"After carefully examining my credentials, the clerk asked if he could take them to TSA officials. I agreed. He returned about ten minutes later and said I could have a boarding pass, but added: "I must warn you, they=re going to ransack your luggage." On my return flight, I had no problem with obtaining a boarding pass, but my luggage was "lost." Airlines do lose a lot of luggage and this "loss" could have been a mere coincidence. In light of previous events, however, I'm a tad skeptical."
"I confess to having been furious that any American citizen would be singled out for governmental harassment because he or she criticized any elected official, Democrat or Republican. That harassment is, in and of itself, a flagrant violation not only of the First Amendment but also of our entire scheme of constitutional government. This effort to punish a critic states my lecture's argument far more eloquently and forcefully than I ever could. Further, that an administration headed by two men who had "had other priorities" than to risk their own lives when their turn to fight for their country came up, should brand as a threat to the United States a person who did not run away but stood up and fought for his country and was wounded in battle, goes beyond the outrageous. Although less lethal, it is of the same evil ilk as punishing Ambassador Joseph Wilson for criticizing Bush's false claims by "outing" his wife, Valerie Plaime, thereby putting at risk her life as well as the lives of many people with whom she had had contact as an agent of the CIA. ..."
Daisey Delivers In "Invincible Summer"
Armed with an elastic face and hands prone to waving wildly or slapping against his head, the performer is able to infuse depictions of New York with high-octane physicality that conveys the stress that comes with trying to master vast new terrain. Gilbert Gottfried-reminiscent shrieks are used to convey the dastardly heat of a city summer, while happy-go-lucky head bobs poke fun at the minions that descend into the dungeons of the subway each day. Daisey is prone to shouts, outbursts, exclamations -- all delivered with laugh-inducing wide eyes and gesticulations.
But it is in his moments of subtlety that Daisey gives "Invincible Summer" its soul. After one particularly boisterous comedy sequence, the performer sits still in his chair as a circle of light tightens around him. As he describes the moment in which his father announces his impending divorce, only his hands move.
Clench. "We're divorcing." Unclench. "We're not going to be together." Clench. "We are separating."
The delivery of a later line was so poignant that Bostonist wanted to write the words down, but Saturday's audience was so intently focused on the moment that even the sound of a pen on paper would have broken the power of the silence.
EDGE Boston :: Entertainment :: Theatre:
"I believe that the subway is democracy," Daisey says at one point - or said at the performance I attended, which is no guarantee that he’ll repeat the phrase at subsequent iterations. By this, he means that people of all classes and occupations find themselves crammed into the same limited space, and they all have the same visceral urge to fight for breathing room: Daisey references an inner voice urging him to strike back at the press of bodies, saying, "Shiv someone!" But the democracy of the subway also means that "everyone holds back, and that’s civilization, the promise that everyone makes and expects: to refrain, to hold themselves within themselves." If Daisey’s monologue can be said to have a single uniting theme, it’s that of civilization - and the way in which it was betrayed by terrorists, who not only broke that promise, but see it as their place to live and act outside of it. The regrettable parallel Daisey discovers as he post-mortems the shock and trauma of 9/11 and its wake is that our own American leadership has also begun to see itself as existing above, and independent of, civil niceties like law and social compacts.
All of this is linked to the monologue’s secondary theme, that of family. Daisey begins his monologue with the story of his own wedding to wife Jean-Michele Gregory (who also directs Daisey’s performances), and ends it with an account of his sister’s nuptials. In between, he talks about the dissolution of his parents’ marriage, analyzes the bewildering phenomenon of meeting his father’s new girlfriend ("I flew right out of my body" the moment he saw her touching his father in an intimate manner), and explores the ways in which rational people can suddenly "break" emotionally - and physically; whether it’s a mind snapping in two with berserker rage or primal fear, or four thousand New Yorkers being pulverized into airborne motes that settle into the soup at a local restaurant, that theme of human destruction looms large in the work, and with it Daisey ties a close correlation between the American family and America itself.
NYO - New York World - Bungalowing Iraq:
It was after midnight last Saturday, and Bungalow 8 was filling up. I wanted to ask the famously exclusive nightclub’s regular patrons their thoughts about Iraq.
By the bar stood Laura Choi, a 25-year-old wearing a black-and-white-striped Marni dress. She said she did not support the war.
“Living in Europe, I feel like I always have to defend myself, and people are always attacking me,” she said. “I mean, I’m in Paris, I’ll sit down for dinner with a bunch of French people, and they’ll just attack Bush. I’m not a Bush supporter, and yet I feel, as an American, I have to defend my country.”
Interior designer Brinton Brewster, 38, was also very upset.
“We were brought into the war under false pretenses, the public was lied to, and we’re creating another generation of terrorists,” he said.
“Unfortunately, the ‘fabulous people’ get a bad rap,” he continued. “Just because we live life in a certain way, they think we don’t have compassion for other people. It’s just not the truth. But you know, what really upsets me, honestly, is the propensity of the media to focus on Lindsay Lohan going in and out of rehab. I don’t care about celebrities and what they’re doing. I’ve met them all.”
Emily, a history major at Princeton University, took a seat. “I am upset by the Iraq War, but I don’t focus on it, because it’s a negative energy,” she said. “I think we are overanalyzing the situation. I mean, here we are at Bungalow 8!”
Next up was a blond woman in her late 30’s. She was wearing a black fedora from the men’s department at Bergdorf Goodman, a black Moschino dress and shoes by Christian Loubouton. I asked her about Iraq.
“A rack? You mean titties? Like a really big rack?”
“Don’t ever waste a moment in life. Fly to the moon and play amongst the stars, be happy, understand how lucky we are—and don’t fight,” she said. “I feel personally connected in one way—I’m a mother, and every day in Iraq somebody is losing their child. My little girl will never go to Iraq. I’m sorry, she’ll go to Prada.”
Tonight marks the end of our first week of performances at ART, and the end of the reviewer gauntlet--we had 10 press seats for Friday, 22 for Saturday and only 1 tonight. Friday and Saturday were fantastic shows, with Saturday's being particularly energetic, with a very full house.
Tonight was a different story--Easter Sunday. The dreaded holiday show, a terrible idea from the get-go. The house was tiny, almost as tiny as Thursday, but we were ready and I changed my attack in many places. When the energy isn't there from the audiences side you have to hover and run them in little circles, ramping up to a level of intimacy they're comfortable with, and though tough I felt we got to a very interesting place--by the close it had become a very intimate show, the boundaries lower than usual, and while still artistically measured I thought that given the situation I'd made the best possible soup with the bones.
Unfortunately, of all the reviewers it could be, the one reviewer tonight is the Boston Globe. Now, theater people like to pretend reviews don't matter, and in a sense they do not--but in another, very real sense they do, as they become the press and barometer that helps people find a work. We can't live in a vacuum, and press is vital to getting word out about good work. I don't know why the Globe chose to come on Easter Sunday--that's their prerogative--but given the hay I was handed by the size of the house and the disposition of the people, I did everything I could to spin gold. In the spirit of transparency I'll say that while I'll take the Pepsi Challenge with theatrical events everywhere, I don't really know what the reviewer tonight will write...it could really break in any of a number of directions, which is why at the end of the day you play your gut and the piece, never the critics, because they'll break your hearts.
So as the week ends I feel mixed--I love what the work is doing here at ART, and the show looks marvelous in the space, but I'm hoping that a lot of details like recording audio and video can get fixed early this week, and I hope that we'll get our arms around these audience numbers. I'll probably be working all day tomorrow, my day off, on these issues--a normal actor would take a break, but as the playwright/creator/progenitor I can't afford that kind of detachment. I will take a nap, I hope--I could use some extra rest.
Crossposted to the ART blog
Pearls Before Breakfast - washingtonpost.com:
Each passerby had a quick choice to make, one familiar to commuters in any urban area where the occasional street performer is part of the cityscape: Do you stop and listen? Do you hurry past with a blend of guilt and irritation, aware of your cupidity but annoyed by the unbidden demand on your time and your wallet? Do you throw in a buck, just to be polite? Does your decision change if he's really bad? What if he's really good? Do you have time for beauty? Shouldn't you? What's the moral mathematics of the moment?
On that Friday in January, those private questions would be answered in an unusually public way. No one knew it, but the fiddler standing against a bare wall outside the Metro in an indoor arcade at the top of the escalators was one of the finest classical musicians in the world, playing some of the most elegant music ever written on one of the most valuable violins ever made. His performance was arranged by The Washington Post as an experiment in context, perception and priorities -- as well as an unblinking assessment of public taste: In a banal setting at an inconvenient time, would beauty transcend?
things i know for sure: Filthy Dirty Habit:
Alright, so I am officially obsessed.
I can't believe I'm admitting this, but I can't stop watching America's Next Top Model.
It's disgusting, I know, but I can't help it. I love it. I love Tyra and her supermodel/homegirl routine, and how her voice gets all lilty and breathy when she's trying to impart some sort of soul-seeking model wisdom to the harem. I love all the girls and how they sort of lay their long-limbs over each other when they're hanging out in their super-fly model palace. I love the wierd disturbing psycho-drama of watching 12, 11, 10, 9, etc., girls all clawing their way up the model food-chain (and along the way, oh yes, FINDING themselves. Because what better place to find yourself really than a house filled with cameras and a lot of tempermental amazonians). But what I really really really really really love, is watching them all struggle through their photo shoots, and then getting to see each of their best photos afterwards, while the judges critique them on the spot. I do not know why I find this so unutterably compelling. I have never been much for the fashion world, but the whole thing is just so goddamn theatrical...I can't help myself. (Yeah, theatre, that's it, I llike it cause it's thee-a-tre, see!)
BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | American space 'nerd' blasts off:
Billionaire Charles Simonyi, 58, who led development of Microsoft's Word, lifted off from the Baikonur space station in Kazakhstan at 1731 GMT.
He is the 450th person to enter orbit and the $25m ride makes him, by his own admission, "the first nerd in space".
Alt Coffee, the Alphabet City hangout notable for its quality Internet access, scary bathroom, and diverse clientele, closed this week. Owner Nick Bodor is not losing his business, but simply rearranging it to fit the style of a changed neighborhood. He will be re-opening after renovations transform it into Hopscotch, a coffehouse where it's likely a diaper-changing table in the bathroom will replace the sign instructing "No OD's Allowed."
Had our first talkback today, which we have after the Saturday matinees--it seemed to go well. I railed about the state of the American theatre, which is a subject I can sometimes find hard to control if I walk down that road, but the audience seemed engaged and interested and generally great.
Sign you're performing in Cambridge: an audience email, very positive, correcting my grammar.
Tonight's the official opening, and it feels great--the show is breathing at a brisk 80 minutes, audiences have been solid and getting more solid, and we're getting ready to head over to the theater. I'll take my walk around the Charles River, and JM is getting dressed up, as befits a director. The dog even looks engaged--he can tell something is up, and is looking for an angle that will land him some extra kibble.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
Wired 15.04: The See-Through CEO:
Radical forms of transparency are now the norm at startups - and even some Fortune 500 companies. It is a strange and abrupt reversal of corporate values. Not long ago, the only public statements a company ever made were professionally written press releases and the rare, stage-managed speech by the CEO. Now firms spill information in torrents, posting internal memos and strategy goals, letting everyone from the top dog to shop-floor workers blog publicly about what their firm is doing right - and wrong. Jonathan Schwartz, the CEO of Sun Microsystems, dishes company dirt and apologizes to startups he's accidentally screwed. Venture capitalists now demand that CEOs be fluent in blogspeak. In February, after JetBlue trapped passengers for hours in its storm-grounded planes and canceled 1,100 flights, CEO David Neeleman tried to deflect the blast of bad publicity by using YouTube to air his own blunt mea culpa. Microsoft, once a paragon of buttoned-down control, now posts uncensored internal videos - and encourages its engineers to blog freely about their projects (see page 140). The very process of developing ideas, products, and messages is changing - from musing about it in a room with your top people to throwing it out on the Web and asking the global smartmob for a little help. That's how this article was written: I've been blogging about it since I started, and some of the reader input I received is reproduced on these pages.1
Tonight's show went well--stronger audience, and very invested in what was happening. If this keeps trending up we'll be in a good place, and the show is tightening--tonight we hit 80 minutes, which is much, much faster than the monologue has ever been before, but I'm quite happy with the pacing and the pauses.
Took some photos the other night for new publicity stills--here is my favorite. Click to enlarge
Onward and upward,
Crossposted to the ART blog
Bostonist: Meet Mike Daisey:
Mike Daisey is a monologuist.
It’s a term that can be broken down into the act of telling stories to an audience through the uses of narrative structure and spontaneity. The Mainer-turned-Brooklynite has a table, glass of water and rough story outline available to him to weave together elements of his life, history and surroundings.
"Invincible Summer," currently in a run at the American Repertory Theatre's Zero Arrow in Cambridge, touches upon Daisey's adaptation to New York life, his parents' divorce, the history of NYC's subway system and 9/11 during one tumultuous span of time.
The work is the first of three monologues that the performer, dubbed a "master storyteller" by the New York Times, will perform during a month-long residency at the Zero Arrow. “Invincible Summer" is slated to run until April 29; Daisey will navigate the electricity battle between Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison, Microsoft, Daisey's hometown and the Monopoly board game during "Monopoly!" in early May; he will then cap his Cambridge residency with a one-night only performance of the brand-new “Tongues Will Wag” on May 8.
Bostonist chatted with Daisey to discuss the art form, the universality of storytelling and just why people have an easy time talking to him after the curtain call.
Theatre Communications Group - American Theatre - April 2007:
Asked if he is competitive, Breuer replies, "What am I competitive about? Anybody who was truly competitive would put all their energies in a money board. That's how supposedly it works in New York. Look at the Wooster Group—they've owned a theatre all their lives. Look at the difference between us and Bob Wilson. Look at the difference between us and Richard Foreman. Maybe it's a class thing. They have access to funding and support. Other than art, Richard has never worked a day in his life. I've had hundreds of jobs. The competitiveness is against the system itself. The system is out there to crunch me. To avoid it, I have to be crass. I think it has to do with class. We're not upper middle class like everybody else in the avant-garde. Maybe Mabou Mines is the only truly lower-class theatre."
Hussein's Prewar Ties To Al-Qaeda Discounted - washingtonpost.com:
Captured Iraqi documents and intelligence interrogations of Saddam Hussein and two former aides "all confirmed" that Hussein's regime was not directly cooperating with al-Qaeda before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, according to a declassified Defense Department report released yesterday.
The declassified version of the report, by acting Inspector General Thomas F. Gimble, also contains new details about the intelligence community's prewar consensus that the Iraqi government and al-Qaeda figures had only limited contacts, and about its judgments that reports of deeper links were based on dubious or unconfirmed information. The report had been released in summary form in February.
The report's release came on the same day that Vice President Cheney, appearing on Rush Limbaugh's radio program, repeated his allegation that al-Qaeda was operating inside Iraq "before we ever launched" the war, under the direction of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the terrorist killed last June.
The Wicked Stage:
"He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire."
"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure."
"Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I'll waste no time reading it."
"He can compress the most words into the smallest idea of any man I know."
"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it."
"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it."
"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends."
"I feel so miserable without you; it's almost like having you here."
"He is a self-made man and worships his creator."
"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing trivial."
Irvin S. Cobb
"He is not only dull himself, he is the cause of dullness in others."
"He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up."
"He had delusions of adequacy."
"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of human knowledge."
Thomas Brackett Reed
"He inherited some good instincts from his Quaker forebears, but by diligent hard work, he overcame them."
James Reston, about Richard Nixon
"In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily."
Charles, Count Talleyrand
"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him."
"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork."
"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go."
"He has Van Gogh's ear for music."
Storytelling 'in the moment' drives Daisey - The Boston Globe:
Mike Daisey sits at a desk and tells stories. With only a pad of legal paper holding a few notes, the remarkably expressive performance artist riffs on cubicle culture, 9/11, creativity, and Microsoft, but always, he remains the average citizen at the center of the maelstrom. He's developing a growing cult following for his uncanny ability to mix personal stories of love and loss with surprising insight into issues of the day.
What a pair of days we've had.
Yesterday we opened here at ART, which went wonderfully--a great evening, with an energetic audience. I enjoyed the show thoroughly form my side, and the whole endeavor felt like the most glorious kind of play, rather than work. After the show we stayed in the lobby for hours, drinking beer and gossiping with the staff about theater, life, theater, careers, theater and more theater. Jean-Michele brought Baci (our pug) over from the apartment which is right nearby and he romped around the lobby, trying to drink everyone's beer. It was the best of times.
I woke up today tired, and had a long notes session with Jean-Michele, where she suggested a few deft but MASSIVE changes to the mid-show structure. Suddenly I was up against the clock--we teched to alter a bunch of light cues in response to the reality of seeing the show for the first time, and I was racing to get the outline amended in time. I had scissors, tape, new pads, stickies, cutting and recutting pages, taping one new section to an old section, forging a new shape for the middle of the show in the half-hour before house opened. I just barely managed to close it up as we opened the house...
...and an extremely small number of people walked in. We're talking a 20% full house--very rough territory. The monologues are built extemporaneously, and this makes them very alive, but it also means that they are more responsive to low energy as well, and as the show opened the energy was hideously low. The first few scenes were deadly silent from the house. Like the grave.
Now, I've been doing this a long time, and when this happens the key element is to never panic. I try to not pander to the audience--ultimately they're smarter than I am, and even in a sparse house they outnumber me by a wide margin. I played the house slowly, building small victory on victories, and by midpoint in the show they had relaxed enough and forgotten their loneliness enough to make some noise...and by the close of the show we were in a good place.
Nonetheless it hurts like hell--a house that light, right at the top of the run, on the heels of a full house, is always a shock. It's also hard to be in the midst of changes to our outline and flight plan when caught unawares--there's a terror to the audience dissolving down, born out of the fear that if there are too few, in too large a space, they will disperse and no longer form an audience as a whole, and be merely a series of individuals. Some of my best friends are individuals, but individuals aren't good at having the higher-order social reactions that make audiences such interesting animals.
When you run an energy debt like that, you pay the bank--I feel like I climbed a mountain dragging a cart behind me. I'm exhausted, but I'm glad we made it to the top--as i get older that's something that happens more often, even when the house isn't there for you, and I'm glad it worked.
We'll see what tomorrow brings. As they say, sometimes you're the hammer, and sometimes you're the anvil. On particularly bad days you're caught between.
Crossposted to the ART blog
Great mention of the incomparable Heidi Schreck in this week's Time Out New York:
Half Rack | Features | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
I had also just finished caring for a friend in my house while she went through brain surgery for a suspected cancerous tumor. By "just finished," I mean: There were 24 hours between when that friend left my house and when I walked into Swedish for my mammogram appointment. I had years of experience sitting in hospital waiting rooms contemplating other people's mortality. Brushing up against my own mortality, however, was like descending into the undercity tunnels of a much less familiar country.
Cancer takes you right to a cliff, and you have to choose quickly. Something. Jump.
Time Out New York / 20 dirty secrets:
When Sherie Rene Scott took a hiatus last year from Broadway’s Dirty Rotten Scoundrels to star in Signature Theatre Company’s acclaimed revival of Landscape of the Body, her new salary—Equity Off Broadway scale, or roughly $400 a week after taxes—represented less than 5 percent of what she had been earning in DRS. “My baby-sitter made more money than me,” Scott recalls with a rueful laugh. Life onstage may seem glamorous, but actors can often earn more money on unemployment.
"Bums and indolents, all of us working there realized our days were numbered. So we relaxed and waited for them to find out how inept we were. Meanwhile, we lived with the system, gave them a few honest hours, and drank together at night."
Tonight's the night...we have just a few last things to put in place, and then the whole enterprise swings into serious motion. It's a gray and blustery opening day, but a wonderful one nevertheless--the show is in great shape, and I'm just the right amalgam of readiness and nervousness that means we've come to the right spot. We spent the morning at the Loeb having meetings with the staff, talking about future plans for MONOPOLY! and TONGUES WILL WAG, and ensuring we've got everything set for the big undertaking of tonight's show.
Tonight is a preview, but it isn't, really--it's the opening. Openings have become political things that shift and move depending on when the papers and right people are there, but for me the opening is always when the audience arrives and we can actually tell the story--until then all is simply rehearsal, and in the case of these stories not even that, as we can't see them told without someone to tell them to.
It's funny--when I was a student at a small, microivy college in Maine I would come down to Cambridge with friends and hardly even dare to imagine working at somewhere like ART, and now here I am. I don't feel intimidated, but I do feel charged with purpose and meaning, and I hope that we all have a great experience at the theater this evening.
I'll see you on the other side,
Crossposted to the ART blog
Daring Fireball: A Quick, Possibly Incomplete Guide to What Gets Installed by the Google Desktop Installer:
Today, Google released Google Desktop for Mac, which, in a nutshell, is more or less a competitor to Spotlight. I’ve only had time to give it a cursory examination, but it’s clearly a deep and complex set of software. I say “set” because Google Desktop is not just one piece of software, it’s a system with numerous components. A simple drag-and-drop installation wouldn’t work.
But Google doesn’t use Apple’s standard installer, either. Google Desktop is delivered using another new Google app, called Google Updater. This app is a meta installer for various Google Mac apps, including, as of today, Google Desktop, Earth, Notifier, and Picasa Uploader. It doesn’t contain the software for any of these apps, instead, it downloads the latest version when you choose to install or update them. It also provides a simple one-button interface for uninstalling these apps.
It’s a slick, easy-to-use piece of software, but alas, it lacks anything like the aforementioned Show Files feature of Apple’s installer. There’s no way to tell what files it’s going to install, or where.
This matters with Google Desktop, because there are a lot of files, and they’re installed into some interesting — if not suspicious — locations.
Colin McEnroe | To Wit: Paging Dr. Freud! Or...Happiness Is a Warm ...:
If you had any doubt that the invasion of Iraq was "triggered" at least partly by George W. Bush's untreated thicket of psychological issues related to his father -- pretty much the classic paradoxical melange of wanting both to protect Dad and triumph over him -- consider this: he keeps the severed penis of his father's chief rival in his office. Well, symbolically. Sometimes a pistol is just a pistol. Not this time. Not when you have attempted to "rescue" and diminish your father in one fell swoop using the might of the American military. (In retrospect, buying the baseball team was the first sign of unresolved Oedipal conflict. All those sticks and balls.)
Rolling Stone : The Last Confessions of E. Howard Hunt:
Once, when the old spymaster thought he was dying, his eldest son came to visit him at his home in Miami. The scourges recently had been constant and terrible: lupus, pneumonia, cancers of the jaw and prostate, gangrene, the amputation of his left leg. It was like something was eating him up. Long past were his years of heroic service to the country. In the CIA, he'd helped mastermind the violent removal of a duly elected leftist president in Guatemala and assisted in subterfuges that led to the murder of Che Guevara. But no longer could you see in him the suave, pipe-smoking, cocktail-party-loving clandestine operative whose Cold War exploits he himself had, almost obsessively, turned into novels, one of which, East of Farewell, the New York Times once called "the best sea story" of World War II. Diminished too were the old bad memories, of the Bay of Pigs debacle that derailed his CIA career for good, of the Watergate Hotel fiasco, of his first wife's death, of thirty-three months in U.S. prisons -- of, in fact, a furious lifetime mainly of failure, disappointment and pain. But his firstborn son -- he named him St. John; Saint, for short -- was by his side now. And he still had a secret or two left to share before it was all over.
Welcome to Ikeatown | Art & Architecture | Guardian Unlimited Arts:
BoKlok (pronounced "book look", Swedish for "smart living") is Ikea's biggest idea yet. Having seized the market for affordable home furnishings in the past decade, the Swedish retail giant is now planning to provide the homes themselves. They've already built some 3,500 BoKlok dwellings across Scandinavia - and now they're coming to the UK.
Jokes about homebuyers being handed a pile of flatpack boxes and one of those fiddly little Allen keys are greeted with forced "haven't heard that one before" smiles at BoKlok's HQ in Malmo. "Yes, we get a lot of that, even though they're built in factories by skilled craftsmen," says Ewa Magnusson, BoKlok's marketing manager. BoKlok, she explains, is actually a joint venture between Ikea and the Swedish construction giant Skanska, and is being built under licence in the UK by Live Smart@Home, a subsidiary of the Home property group.
BoKlok homes don't exactly come in flatpacks, but they're not far off. The timber-framed buildings are almost entirely prefabricated. They are usually brought to the site on the back of trucks as pre-assembled units, like Portakabins, with the interiors already fitted out. Each apartment is made up of two of these units, which are simply moved into position by crane. Put on the roof and exterior wall cladding, plumb and wire it in, and it's ready to live in. The typical BoKlok arrangement is an L-shaped, two-storey block with three apartments on each floor. One such block can be put up in a day.
Cut-and-Paste Is a Skill, Too - washingtonpost.com:
I have a confession to make: Today I plagiarized multiple documents at work. I took the writing of others and presented it to my supervisor as if it were my own. It was an open secret that my entire report, written "by Jason Johnson," had been composed by others and that I had been merely an editor. Instead of a reprimand, I was rewarded with a post-briefing latte.
But on some level, it still felt wrong. Before coming to work at my current company, I spent most of the past 15 years as an educator, advising students from second-graders to college seniors that taking the work of others and presenting it as your own is morally wrong and intellectually dishonest. I've fretted over proper citations and labored with students over the highly subjective art of paraphrasing.
Now I watch my former teaching colleagues grade papers not simply by marking a dangling participle here or an incomplete thought there, but by Googling phrases from their students' work, searching for the suspected source of yet another cut-and-paste job. I wonder if that's really what teachers should be doing. As kids today plagiarize more and more from the Internet, the old-fashioned term paper -- composed by sweating students on a typewriter as they sat elbow-deep in reference books -- has no useful heir in the digital age. It's time for schools and educators to recognize the truth: The term paper is dead.
EDGE Boston :: Gay Boston :: Entertainment :: Theatre:
Mike Daisey has earned a critical reputation as a master monologuist - that is to say, his form of stage craft is not to present a play, per se, but to present a narration full of ideas, images, and emotion using not characters, props, and scripted dialogue, but rather a general outline of the ideas and thematic threads he wishes to explore and his own quick wits. In other words, though Daisey knows the broad shape of the material he’s presenting for any given performance, the specifics come to him as he’s speaking - and the results have garnered raves.
Critics use words like "elegant," "raucous," and "gifted" to describe Daisey’s monologues and his personal style. "Half the fun of Mike Daisey is watching him spin out a tangle of ideas," wrote The Villager, "and wondering how he’ll lasso them into a coherent story."
Truly, this was the main concern your EDGE interviewer had: how to talk about material that had to be heard to be experienced?
ARTicles: Falling from Grace:
“I’m sorry if I’m going on and on,” Mike Daisey says brightly. “But that happens when you talk to a monologuist.”
A monologuist is a person who delivers monologues; in Daisey’s case a single monologue comprises an entire evening’s entertainment. Daisey “goes on and on” with such panache that his one-man shows are a hit from coast to coast. Unlike many solo performers, Daisey does not portray characters; instead, he goes onstage as himself. “I’m not an actor,” he says. “I’m a storyteller.” Seated behind a table with a glass of water in easy reach, Daisey weaves a narrative web, braiding together story lines and blending in metaphors. He juxtaposes autobiographical events with global events, compelling the audience to see each through the lens of the other.
For the past twenty-five years, monologuists like Daisey have played a major role in American theatre. In 1979 Spalding Gray debuted his monologue Sex and Death to the Age 14 at the Performing Garage in New York. The piece examined Gray’s childhood in Barrington, Rhode Island, and he followed it with other autobiographical pieces, including Swimming to Cambodia, A Personal History of the American Theatre, and 47 Beds. Critic Theodore Shank declared Spalding’s monologues the “most literally autobiographical work that has been presented in the theatre.” While autobiographical material has always provided fodder for stand-up comedians, satirists, and writers of all kinds, it remains rare in the theatre for a performer to use himself as his text.
Enter Mike Daisey.
Science and the Stradivarius (April 2000) - Physics World - PhysicsWeb:
Is there really a lost secret that sets Stradivarius violins apart from the best instruments made today? After more than a hundred years of vigorous debate, this question remains highly contentious, provoking strongly held but divergent views among players, violin makers and scientists alike. All of the greatest violinists of modern times certainly believe it to be true, and invariably perform on violins by Stradivari or Guarneri in preference to modern instruments.
Violins by the great Italian makers are, of course, beautiful works of art in their own right, and are coveted by collectors as well as players. Particularly outstanding violins have reputedly changed hands for over a million pounds. In contrast, fine modern instruments typically cost about £10 000, while factory-made violins for beginners can be bought for under £100. Do such prices really reflect such large differences in quality?
Daisey offers fresh riffs on real life - Arts & Culture - BostonHerald.com:
Put down that notebook. The new memoir is a monologue, and Mike Daisey is its rising star.
A 34-year-old Maine native and Brooklyn resident, Daisey is performing not one, not two, but three different monologues at the American Repertory Theatre’s Zero Arrow Theatre in Cambridge: "Invincible Summer," Wednesday night though April 29; "Monopoly!," May 1-5; and his new "Tongues Will Wag," May 8.
"I love that I can create a world onstage with nothing but me, a table, a chair and a glass of water," Daisey said. "On certain nights -- good nights -- it’s magic."
Few days are as daunting as tech, which went well, all things considered. The concerns of our monologues are different than a traditional play, though much of the vocabulary is the same, and ART staff did a fantastic job rising to the challenge--it was a very smooth experience, and I'm really excited about some of the visions we've been able to realize.
Some of the key differences between teching the monologues and traditional plays:
•A traditional play has much more movement in space than the monologues, so you have to light the space, not the floor. The monologues have only one fixed point for lighting, and so the choices become much more sculptural--for a lot of the space, you really are lighting according to how the light hangs in the space, as you know what needs to be lit for visibility.
•A traditional play isn't concerned with video and audio recording, as a normal play doesn't have an ever-changing text to keep track of.
•A traditional play uses lines to call cues--none of our cues trigger on lines, but instead on physical motions in the space that I use to signal when a scene is ready for a shift.
•A traditional play has a set; we endeavor to make our "set" look selected and chosen, but ultimately mirror the real table and chair that they are. In the end I feel like we spend a lot of care and time on our version of the table and chair choices, pouring over every detail--when there isn't much to look at, the audience sees everything intensely. Even the water glass matters.
•A traditional play has a full rehearsal, but we don't rehearse without an audience as there's no story to tell without an audience--so we do cue-to-cues, work the timings and strategies, and the real test is the first performance tomorrow.
Crossposted to the ART blog
Slashdot | Daylight Saving Change Saved No Power:
Brett writes "Results from energy companies are coming in, and the word is that moving Daylight Saving Time forward three weeks had no measurable impact on power consumption. The attempt by the US Congress to make it look like they were doing something about the energy crisis has been exposed as the waste it is. But the new DST is probably here to stay — letting the bill expire would mean re-patching a lot of systems again next year. So much for saving energy."
From a helpful individual in the Boston area:
The Off The Fence Post:
The monologist Mike Daisey is appearing this week in Cambridge, Massachusetts. On his blog, he solicited advice about what he should do while in Cambridge. The following is what I adviced him not to do...
Dear Mike Daisey:
Well, you asked for it. Advice on what to do and what not to do while you're working in the shadows of the Hancock and Prudential towers across the river in Boston.
Here's tip #1: Do not, I repeat. Do. Not...
Click through to read the rest--I'm off to tech.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
Levy: Death to DRM? - Newsweek Steven Levy - MSNBC.com:
Still, something sticks in the craw here. If the higher price were presented solely as a consequence of the higher sound quality of songs in the new format (which cost more to process and send because of the increased file size), that would be one thing. But both EMI and Apple see the new format as having two selling points--the sound quality and the lack of DRM. I find it curious that people are being asked to pay for the removal of something that the sellers now tacitly agree is a failure. If DRM doesn’t stop piracy and instead hampers people from legal enjoyment of music they pay for, there’s simply no justification to charge people more to buy songs without it. Surely Apple and EMI are not implying that people who pay 99 cents for songs are crooks who can’t be trusted, and those who pay $1.29 are pure souls who would never think of infringing.
Interestingly, the higher price does not kick in when you buy an entire album. When you purchase a whole album on iTunes, the non-DRM, high-quality format is available at the same price.
Grieving couple commits suicide after dog dies | Oddly Enough | Reuters.com:
HYDERABAD, India (Reuters) - Unable to come to terms with the death of their pet dog, an elderly couple in southern India committed suicide by hanging themselves, police said on Monday.
We've arrived in Cambridge, which looks for all the world like an American vision of London, and promptly got completely lost--after two days I think it's safe to say that nowhere I've ever been has a greater density of one-way streets that exist in a non-Euclidean geometry than the streets around Harvard Square. We won't have a car for most of the run, and I have to say that both of us are actually relieved about that.
We begin principal work in tech tomorrow--we chose from among a number of tables and chairs today, and we'll be in tech all day tomorrow getting the details worked out. Previews start Wednesday, which feels very soon, but the show is ready thanks to the fantastic run at Yale, and I'm confident we're in a good place on the performance side.
If people reading this have any advice for us while we live for the next five weeks in Cambridge, please feel free to drop me a line. More soon.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
Boing Boing: Declassified NRO video: Forty Years of Reconnaissance:
This is one of those cases where reality is far weirder than anything a parodist could imagine: "NRO: Forty Years of Reconnaissance."
It's a now-declassified, um, music video by and in praise of the National Reconnaissance Office, the once super-secret spy agency responsible for the U.S.'s satellite and aerial reconnaissance missions.
An Open Letter To My Whole Foods Orange Juice - Gawker:
Dear Gallon of Orange Juice,
Just last Sunday I picked you up from your brightly lit case at Bowery Whole Foods. Why I picked you, only God can say. Had I not picked you, your fate surely would have traced a different course. Just last Sunday, I stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Liev Schrieber, the Brando of our generation, and we together eyed the rows and columns of fresh squeezed juice, a tropical spreadsheet. His hand, which is also the Brando's hand of our generation, reached out and plucked your citrus brother from his place while I grabbed your handle and threw you, callously, on top of a bunch of asparagus I had picked up next to The Soprano's Will Janowitz.
The Daily Dish: Cheney vs Churchill:
There was a time when being a Republican or even voting for a Republican meant or implied, at least, some sort of commitment to individual liberty vis-a-vis the government. That time is over. Those of us who care about liberty, whether we choose to fight for it inside the GOP or as Democrats or outside as non-partisan freedom-lovers, need to understand that this idea of conservatism as an ally of freedom is currently in eclipse in the GOP. I noted yesterday the staggering casualness with which Republicans are now judging their candidates on their willingness as president to exercise the right to detain any American at will, imprison him without charges, subject him to kangaroo military courts, and torture him if necessary.
Colin McEnroe | To Wit: Give Me Your Answer, Do:
If you get a chance to see this guy, do so. Mike Daisey just finished a very short run at the second stage of Yale Rep, and he'll be up in Cambridge during April. I wanted to see him partly because I've been toying with the idea of developing a monologue. It seems like a natural extension of everything else I do. I participated, very briefly, in a memoir conference at Trinity College this weekend and, even doing a very short reading with some other memorists, it struck me that radio has made me more of a performer than most writers. What is a monologue, I thought, but a fusion of what I do on radio and what I do as a memoirist and writer of personal narratives?
Culturebot.org: No More Little Theatre?:
Just got an email from Jeff Jones who is one of the co-curators of Little Theatre which said, in part, "Tonic is closing on April 13,
and Little Theatre--at least @ Tonic--must go with it."