This is actually directed by Jean-Michele Gregory--not sure why it didn't make it into the graphic—
Time Out New York: Why the hipster must die:
“The mainstream hipster,” he explained, “is not an artist or a musician. He has an office job, and wears one hat to work and another at night.” Presumably, the latter is a trucker—or a porkpie—hat.
The mouth of a real-estate agent is rarely the source of truth, but Mr. Desjadon knows his territory (and is no doubt cashing in on this knowledge). He has unwittingly explicated the transformation of the hipster into the “indie yuppie,” an avatar we might imagine as the fusion of Kurt Cobain and Adam Gopnik. The indie yuppie is (literally) the child of the bobo, and just as his father the baby boomer did, he has learned to simulate rebellion while procuring and furnishing a comfortable two-bedroom. His haircut may be asymmetrical, but his dog never misses a walk. And around the corner, sleeping on couches, neophyte slackers dream until they wake up late for their temp jobs. The savvy among them soon grasp that they’ve arrived at the party too late.
The Daily Dish: "Verschärfte Vernehmung":
Critics will no doubt say I am accusing the Bush administration of being Hitler. I'm not. There is no comparison between the political system in Germany in 1937 and the U.S. in 2007. What I am reporting is a simple empirical fact: the interrogation methods approved and defended by this president are not new. Many have been used in the past. The very phrase used by the president to describe torture-that-isn't-somehow-torture - "enhanced interrogation techniques" - is a term originally coined by the Nazis. The techniques are indistinguishable. The methods were clearly understood in 1948 as war-crimes. The punishment for them was death.
Michael Moore's "Sicko" (techyum):
I don't have health insurance. A few weeks ago I applied for Blue Cross, and was denied based on "health conditions". I am totally, completely healthy and disease-free. Confused, I called Blue Cross to find out what they could possibly be referring to. After half an hour on the phone, I finally got a representative who explained to me that there were "claims" against my health on my record. I asked what that meant, and was told that because I had *seen a doctor* in the past 12 months, I was not eligible for coverage -- the "claims" were from a doctor filing a report that he'd seen me and prescribed nasal spray for my irritated sinuses. So because I saw a doctor, I was declined coverage, period. No appeal. Incidentally, I've spent the past two weeks in a depressed and fatalistic funk.
The Reeler > Features > "A Hell of an Experience":
He never used storyboards. Never used storyboards. That's a wonderful feeling of freedom you have as an actor, and I've said several times that Stanley was the closest to a theater director that I ever worked with. That was the process you went through. It's just that instead of taking six weeks to rehearse for a play scene by scene by scene, here we were taking hours and sometimes days to rehearse and shoot and rehearse and shoot. And all the time during rehearsals, he insisted: "Do it for real. Do what you think you will do." Because the way he found his first shot, he used to walk around the set with an Arriflex tube and just change lenses, look around, down, up, move away, move around. Once he found his first shot, he knew he could build the scene from that point. But he said: "If you don't do it properly, if you don't do it for real, you could change the way I think about the scene. You could suddenly put a whole new accent on it." You know, it's such a refreshing way for an actor to work. It really is.
Galapagos Art Space -Theater - New York Times:
In a move that has greater symbolic significance than mere real estate hopscotch, Galapagos Art Space, the pioneering bar and performing arts space that helped put Williamsburg, Brooklyn, on the cultural map, is moving a few neighborhoods down the East River, to Dumbo.
Galapagos, which has played host to a broad array of New York’s musicians, dancers, theater artists, performance artists, fine artists and burlesque dancers during its 12-year existence, is scheduled to move into the space, a 102-year-old, 10,000-square-foot former horse stable at 16 Main Street, in the spring or summer of 2008.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #13
Solo storyteller Mike Daisey has been a favorite visitor at Berkeley Rep in recent years with his monologues 21 Dog Years: Doing Time at Amazon.com in 2004 and The Ugly American the following year. Now he's back with not one, not two, but four new monologues. In Great Men of Genius, Daisey shifts from boisterous anecdotes from his own life to the lives of some even more colorful characters. He holds forth on revolutionary German playwright Bertolt Brecht, eccentric Serbian electrical pioneer and Edison rival Nikola Tesla, and two great hucksters, circus impresario P.T. Barnum and science-fiction author and Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard. It's not unusual for Daisey to have several balls in the air at a time, often workshopping a new monologue during the run of another or doing series of one-shot impromptu shows. Rather than write down stories, he refines them by telling them night after night, just like a guy on a barstool, with feedback from his director (and wife) Jean-Michele Gregory.
Slashdot | The Drive For Altruism Is Hardwired:
"The Washington Post is reporting on recent neuroscience research indicating that the brain is pre-wired to enjoy altruism — placing the interests of others ahead of one's own. In studies, '[G]enerosity activated a primitive part of the brain that usually lights up in response to food or sex... Altruism, the experiment suggested, was not a superior moral faculty that suppresses basic selfish urges but rather was basic to the brain, hard-wired and pleasurable.' Such research 'has opened up a new window on what it means to be good,' although many philosophers over recorded history have suggested similar things."
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #12
Gay activists beaten and arrested in Russia | Russia | Guardian Unlimited:
Riot police used violence to break up a gay rights demonstration in Moscow yesterday and arrested several European parliamentarians in what critics say is the latest violation of human rights in Russia.
A group of gay rights activists came under attack from neo-Nazi thugs when they tried to present a petition asking Moscow's mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, to lift a ban on a Gay Pride parade. He has previously dubbed gay rallies "satanic". Witnesses said riot police watched as far-right skinheads chanting "death to homosexuals" beat up several activists.
The police failed to arrest the skinheads but detained several of the Europeans - including the German MP Volker Beck, a member of the Green party, and the radical Italian MEP Marco Capatto. Riot police threw Mr Capatto into a police van. "Why don't you protect us?" he shouted.
"It was absolutely shocking," the gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell told the Guardian yesterday. "The police stood there while people knocked me to the ground and kicked me. Four or five neo-Nazis attacked me. The police watched. At a certain point the police then arrested me and let my neo-Nazi attackers walk free."
LA Weekly - General - American Theater's Failure of Nerve - Steven Leigh Morris - The Essential Online Resource for Los Angeles:
I can’t imagine an unorthodox, once-befuddling little play like Waiting for Godot — with its capacities both to turn the theater on its head and to confound half the audience — standing a chance at a festival like this. Here, the playwrights are in consultation with too many intermediaries, even at the formative stages of their plays, just like in the movies. With no marketing strategy in place, Waiting for Godot was eventually produced in every corner of the globe, on the strength of its conviction and literary merit, stemming from the uncompromising vision of an author who wrote in a kind of solitary confinement. Samuel Beckett certainly didn’t collaborate with directors, dramaturges or anybody else while he was in the formative process of writing, yet this is now the protocol in American new-play development.
Charles Nelson Reilly, Tony-Winning Comic Actor, Dies at 76 - New York Times:
Charles Nelson Reilly, who acted and directed on Broadway but came to be best known for his campy television appearances on talk shows and “Match Game,” died on Friday in Los Angeles. He was 76 and lived in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #11
I Lost My Son to a War I Oppose. We Were Both Doing Our Duty. - washingtonpost.com:
Parents who lose children, whether through accident or illness, inevitably wonder what they could have done to prevent their loss. When my son was killed in Iraq earlier this month at age 27, I found myself pondering my responsibility for his death.
Among the hundreds of messages that my wife and I have received, two bore directly on this question. Both held me personally culpable, insisting that my public opposition to the war had provided aid and comfort to the enemy. Each said that my son's death came as a direct result of my antiwar writings.
This may seem a vile accusation to lay against a grieving father. But in fact, it has become a staple of American political discourse, repeated endlessly by those keen to allow President Bush a free hand in waging his war. By encouraging "the terrorists," opponents of the Iraq conflict increase the risk to U.S. troops. Although the First Amendment protects antiwar critics from being tried for treason, it provides no protection for the hardly less serious charge of failing to support the troops -- today's civic equivalent of dereliction of duty.
What exactly is a father's duty when his son is sent into harm's way?
Boing Boing: Homework sucks: The case against homework:
Sara Bennett and Nancy Kalish 2006 book "The Case Against Homework" is a fine and frightening explosion of the homework myth: that giving kids homework improves their educational outcome. The authors start by tracing the explosion in homework since the eighties, and especially since the advent of the ill-starred No Child Left Behind regime, which has teachers drilling, drilling, drilling their kids on math and reading to the exclusion of all else.
Kindergarten kids are assigned homework. Kids get homework over the weekend. Over vacations. When they're away sick for a day.
What's more, all the credible research on homework suggests that for younger kids, homework has no connection with positive learning outcomes, and for older kids, the benefits of homework level off sharply after the first couple assignments.
Not that most teachers would know this -- homework theory and design isn't on the curriculum at most teachers' colleges, and most teachers surveyed report that they have never received any training on designing and assessing homework.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony, #10
Atheists with Attitude: Books: The New Yorker:
Great portents and disasters turn some minds to God and others away from him. When an unusually bright and long-tailed comet was tracked through the sky in the last two months of 1680, posters and sermons called on Christians to repent. A hen in Rome seemed to confirm that the Day of Judgment was near. On December 2nd, it made an extraordinarily loud cackle and produced an exceptionally large egg, on which could be seen a likeness of the comet, or so it was said. This added to the religious panic. But the comet also sparked a small triumph for rationalism. In the next few years, as Armageddon somehow failed to arrive, a stream of pamphlets across Europe and America argued that heavenly displays were purely natural phenomena. The skeptics won the day. From the eighteenth century onward, no respectable intellectual saw comets as direct messages from God—though there were still some fears that one might eventually hit the earth.
The Silent Treatment - New York Times:
CHICO is a dog.
But Chico is also a Broadway star! He’s in newspaper ads and on posters! The marketing strategy of “Legally Blonde: The Musical” is all but centered on him.
Fine. But two waitresses at B Bar in the East Village thought nothing of scratching his ears while he dined. The world is unfair and it judges by superficialities, like whether one relieves oneself in public.
It was Monday night, one of Chico’s two nights off. Over grilled chicken and baby carrots, he looked by turns world-weary and aloof.
“Rawrf,” he said when the chicken was taken away. But that was all he would volunteer, throughout the entire dinner. “Rawrf.”
Slashdot | Free Ads Can Be Really Expensive:
"Companies are finding that this 'Web 2.0' user participation thing sometimes isn't all its cracked up to be. The New York Times reports on the efforts of big companies to harness consumer enthusiasm for assistance with advertising. Heinz, for example, is running a campaign asking users to submit videos using their product in inventive ways. The problem, of course, is that most of the submissions are utterly terrible. The result is a headache in terms of quality control and making use of the turned in submissions. 'Heinz hopes to show more than five of them, if there are enough that convey a positive, appealing message about Heinz ketchup, he said. But advertising executives who have seen some of the entries say that Heinz may be hard pressed to find any that it is proud to run on television in September. "These are just so bad," said Linda Kaplan Thaler, chief executive of the Kaplan Thaler Group, an advertising agency in New York that is not involved with Heinz's contest. One of the most viewed Heinz videos -- seen, at last count, more than 12,800 times -- ends with a close-up of a mouth with crooked, yellowed teeth. When Ms. Kaplan Thaler saw it, she wondered, "Were his teeth the result of, maybe, too much Heinz?"'"
Slashdot | A "Bill of Lights" to Restrict LEDs on Gadgets?:
"Mike Elgan has had it with useless lights on gadgets and computers. He singles out the Palm Treo and the Dell XPS gaming laptops as being particularly bad with the use of unnecessary lights, and also cites the plethora of LEDs on desktop PCs and peripherals. 'My PC and other computing equipment make my office look like a jet cockpit. I have two LCD monitors, each of which has two indicator lights that flash even when the PC is turned off. The attached sound control has a light on it. My keyboard has multiple lights. The power cord has lights, the printer has lights, and the power button is illuminated. My cable modem and Linksys router flash like crazy all the time. Together, these useless lights create a visual cacophony of blinking, multicolored lights that make me feel like I'm taking part in a NASA stress test for astronaut candidates.' Elgan calls on manufacturers to respect his 'Gadget Bill of Lights' to restrict the use of nag lights and allow users to turn them off. He also says the industry should pay more attention to industrial design when creating new products."
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #9:
Watch and Ward Society:
The Watch and Ward Society was a Boston, Massachusetts organization involved in the censorship of books and the performing arts from the late 19th Century to the middle of the 20th Century.
Founded by John Frank Chase in 1878 as the New England Society for the Suppression of Vice (inspired by Anthony Comstock's New York Society for the Suppression of Vice), it held its first annual meeting in the Park Street Church in 1879. In 1891, it was renamed the Watch and Ward Society after an old volunteer police force, adopting the mission to "watch and ward off evildoers."
At the height of the society's power, the Boston Public Library kept books that had been deemed objectionable in a locked room, publishers and booksellers held back publications for fear of the organization's influence with prosecutors and judges, and plays were performed in a bowdlerized "Boston Version". Elsewhere, the phrase, "Banned in Boston," became a target of parody and a marketing slogan.
Slashdot | Why Microsoft Won't List Claimed Patent Violations:
"Earlier today, Microsoft announced it will begin actively seeking reparations for claimed patent infringement by Linux and the open source community in general. One opinion on why Microsoft won't reveal these 235 alleged IP infringements to the public is that they're afraid of having the claims debunked or challenged — so instead they're waiting until the OS community comes to the bargaining table. But a more optimistic thought is that Microsoft may be afraid to list these supposed violations because it knows the patents can be worked around by the open source community, leaving Microsoft high and dry without any leverage at all."
This Is Your Life (and How You Tell It) - New York Times:
For more than a century, researchers have been trying to work out the raw ingredients that account for personality, the sweetness and neuroses that make Anna Anna, the sluggishness and sensitivity that make Andrew Andrew. They have largely ignored the first-person explanation — the life story that people themselves tell about who they are, and why.
Stories are stories, after all. The attractive stranger at the airport bar hears one version, the parole officer another, and the P.T.A. board gets something entirely different. Moreover, the tone, the lessons, even the facts in a life story can all shift in the changing light of a person’s mood, its major notes turning minor, its depths appearing shallow.
Yet in the past decade or so a handful of psychologists have argued that the quicksilver elements of personal narrative belong in any three-dimensional picture of personality. And a burst of new findings are now helping them make the case. Generous, civic-minded adults from diverse backgrounds tell life stories with very similar and telling features, studies find; so likewise do people who have overcome mental distress through psychotherapy.
Al Gore and Tom Friedman think we're paying attention to the wrong things. - By Jack Shafer - Slate Magazine:
Gore is right to fault celebrity news for blotting out coverage of climate change, health care, immigration, and international relations in such policy journals as People, Star, In Touch, and US Weekly and on such public-affairs programs as Access Hollywood, Entertainment Tonight, and E! News. But a more generous definition of the press—one that includes daily newspapers, weekly magazines, general-interest TV news, and the Web—would find Gore's argument lacking. By my back-of-the envelope estimate, your average big-city daily carries more news about immigration (or other significant issue du jour) in one day than it does about every celebrity on the planet in a full week.
In condemning Britney-obsessed reporters and readers, Gore takes the easy route. If he possessed any real courage in his conviction that news coverage of the frivolous blocks the discussion of serious "issues," he'd attack sports coverage. Sports capture a billion times the attention that celebrities do and probably swallow 20 percent of the news budget of dailies. The reason Gore gives sports coverage a bye while castigating Britney coverage is simple: Sports fans talk back—loudly—and folks who crave entertainment-news coverage are too embarrassed to defend their innocent diversion.
Parabasis: Thoroughly Ensconced:
Second, in a move that can only be accurately called totally fucking lame the ban on gay men giving blood has been renewed. Can I just say how TFL it is that this country still finds ways to not only insult gay people, but perpetuate really hateful negative stereotypes? Awesome. God, could the FDA suck any more than it already does? They let melamine into our food from China, but decide banning gay men from giving blood is a smart move?
Rat Sass » Travelling Light:
Travelling Light is my only play but I instigated a redux of it some years back as a writing/producing project with David Bucci, Lisa D’Amour, Josh Furst, and other rat playwrights. Bucci bought a van with a play commission from Woolly Mammoth and toured northeast out of Texas with his rock band. Lisa left Portland in her Eagle headed toward Minneapolis and New York. I drove this humungous vehicle called the Ratmobile around the country from Memphis to Vegas, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Philadelphia. Josh was with me on the Memphis to LA tour and we collected short plays from other writers enroute to a rat conference. Bucci sent postcards, Lisa sent audiotapes, Josh and I posted web pages and photos from Internet pods at truck stops. I can’t remember the time sequence on all this, but it was a years long relationship. All of us did make a rendezvous once in New York for a two week long performance frenzy at four different venues– HERE, Ohio Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, and Coney Island USA.
The most memorable for me was the one at Coney Island. Bucci played guitar as Lisa sang a song to the dead eye of a Steeplechase horse from the museum. I was Naked Elvis entourage in the bathtub. For the finale Bucci was tied down in a chair. Jennifer Miller, the bearded lady performing in Sideshows by the Seashore downstairs was supposed to come up between acts to perform a striptease for Bucci as she recited some Camile Pagila text but she missed her cue. So it was left to Lisa to take a razor to Bucci’s seven-year-old sideburns as the audience lined up and poured wine over Naked Elvis. The project never ended, just sort of faded away. I still hang with Josh some; he’s moved into the Dean Street hood, but I have lost touch with Lisa and Bucci. I imagine by now they have retired from the road as I have, the price of gas and all.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #8
Apparently I am in a season of controversy, which to some degree I understand--after all, GREAT MEN OF GENIUS talks about L. Ron Hubbard and Scientology, and TONGUES WILL WAG contains autobiographical details of abortion--but it appears to be happening even to my older works.
THE UGLY AMERICAN aired on BBC Radio 4 last week, a rebroadcast from two years earlier when I first recorded it for them, and this time around generated a great deal of heat about language (sound familiar?), appropriateness (also familiar) and subject matter.
The BBC, completists that they are, covered the issue on air--the complete story is posted below.
BBC Feedback program on The Ugly American controversy.
I'm told that there's been so much response to this subject that they are actually doing another follow-up story this week--I'll post the additional audio when it becomes available. For the record, here's the short statement I sent in to the program:
Just to be clear--in last Friday's program, my monologue is introduced by talking about how it is about, "...his adventures, real and imagined...". This is quite inaccurate--this monologue, like all my monologues, is exclusively nonfictional.
I feel this is important, because the complexities of sex and violence in our lives are very real, and all too often we refuse to address them--silence is a common reaction to any controversial subject. THE UGLY AMERICAN strives to wrestle with these forces and address them honestly, without flinching--it is not a simple world we live in. As for listeners were sickened and appalled by a simple word, I would suggest that this says more about the listener than the work.
Gasp!: How I Found Happiness in Theater Again:
Two big things happened last week. I finished a final rewrite of a play and I renewed my Dramatist Guild membership.
This will undoubtedly shock those of you who remember the subtext of my 2005/6 Gasp entries: I quit. I quit theater. I quit playwriting and by the way, fuck off.
So what happened to change my mind?
The goose that laid the golden egg
Died looking up its crotch
To find out how its sphincter worked.
Would you lay well? Don't watch.
Project’s Foes Shown Door in Brooklyn - New York Times:
The letter arrived in Marilyn Oliva’s mailbox yesterday from the Brooklyn borough president, Marty Markowitz. It thanked her for her dedication to the community as a member of Community Board 6, but informed her that her services were no longer needed.
Ms. Oliva was disappointed. She was also not alone. Though community board members’ terms are usually renewed routinely, Mr. Markowitz on Monday replaced at least five longtime members who had sought reappointment to Community Board 6, which covers the brownstone neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Carroll Gardens.
The five members had one thing in common: they voted yes last year on a resolution denouncing Atlantic Yards, the $4 billion development project that Mr. Markowitz has spent three years and much of his political capital extolling.
The Daily Dish: Gore, Lincoln, and Reason:
I have only read Time.com's excerpt of Al Gore's new book, "The Assault On Reason." But there was enough in it that echoes and resonates with my own political evolution on this blog over the past few years that I just ordered it from Amazon. In many ways, I think Gore's career in public life has really taken off since he abandoned the electoral path in politics. He is a thinker and a loner - and the task of electoral politics, something I think he felt obliged to follow because of his father's legacy, never truly suited him. Now, freed to participate in political life as an unelected crusader, he has found his role at last. I hope he doesn't abandon it. He has done more to raise awareness of a critical issue - climate change - as a private citizen than he ever managed as vice-president. I can't help but feel that the death of his father liberated him as well. He seems much happier because he has stopped trying to be someone he isn't.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #7
The Visible Man: An FBI Target Puts His Whole Life Online:
Hasan Elahi whips out his Samsung Pocket PC phone and shows me how he's keeping himself out of Guantanamo. He swivels the camera lens around and snaps a picture of the Manhattan Starbucks where we're dinking coffee. Then he squints and pecks at the phone's touchscreen. "OK! It's uploading now," says the cheery, 35-year-old artist and Rutgers professor, whose bleached-blond hair complements his fluorescent-green pants. "It'll go public in a few seconds. "Sure enough, a moment later the shot appears on the front page of his Web site, TrackingTransience.net.
There are already tons of pictures there. Elahi will post about a hundred today — the rooms he sat in, the food he ate, the coffees he ordered. Poke around his site and you'll find more than 20,000 images stretching back three years. Elahi has documented nearly every waking hour of his life during that time. He posts copies of every debit card transaction, so you can see what he bought, where, and when. A GPS device in his pocket reports his real-time physical location on a map .
Elahi's site is the perfect alibi. Or an audacious art project. Or both. The Bangladeshi-born American says the US government mistakenly listed him on its terrorist watch list — and once you're on, it's hard to get off. To convince the Feds of his innocence, Elahi has made his life an open book. Whenever they want, officials can go to his site and see where he is and what he's doing. Indeed, his server logs show hits from the Pentagon, the Secretary of Defense, and the Executive Office of the President, among others.
Junk Monkey: Another Of My Fifteen Minutes Of Fame:
Listening to Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago, I caught The Ugly American, a very funny little autobiographical play by Mike Daisey, a few days later, by total a hapenstance, I caught Feedback (a Radio 4 listeners' complaints / issues show) in which the play was attacked from all sides for daring to even mention the word 'rape' in a play broadcast during daytime hours.
And Then Jason Grote Turned Itself Inside Out: Obies roundup:
So, Village Voice, we've got plenty of love for you, and we hope we can still be friends after our little unseemly, self-serving rant. We need you. We need you as a palliative to the moribund state of our theater institutions, that fabulous invalid who isn't even really that fabulous anymore. We need your smarts and your willingness to take risks. We grew up longing not for an Oscar, not for a Tony, but for an Obie, and we hope we didn't just blog ourselves out of one. And Alexis, it goes without saying that you continue to rock. But we say this in the gentlest, most human way we can muster: c'mon, guys.
This American Life Completes Documentation Of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence:
CHICAGO—Producers of the long-running Chicago Public Radio program This American Life announced Monday that they have completed their comprehensive 12-year survey of life as a modern upper-middle-class American.
Enlarge Image Ira Glass
Ira Glass compares completing the series to finding out he is a relative of composer Philip Glass.
In what cultural anthropologists are calling a "colossal achievement" in the study of white-collar professionals, the popular radio show has successfully isolated all 7,442 known characteristics of college graduates who earn between $62,500 and $125,000 per year and feel strongly that something should be done about global warming.
Feature Presentation: Financial Page: The New Yorker:
Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, allowing us to do things more quickly and efficiently. But too often it seems to make things harder, leaving us with fifty-button remote controls, digital cameras with hundreds of mysterious features and book-length manuals, and cars with dashboard systems worthy of the space shuttle. This spiral of complexity, often called “feature creep,” costs consumers time, but it also costs businesses money. Product returns in the U.S. cost a hundred billion dollars a year, and a recent study by Elke den Ouden, of Philips Electronics, found that at least half of returned products have nothing wrong with them. Consumers just couldn’t figure out how to use them. Companies now know a great deal about problems of usability and consumer behavior, so why is it that feature creep proves unstoppable?
Enduring Death | Theater | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
What is it about La Bohème that's so durable? Why would you use this opera as the basis for a musical? If La Bohème is a parable, what is the lesson? That last question is what my date from the Tashiro-Kaplan building and I were trying to figure out. Then it occurred to her. She scrawled it on a piece of paper in the dark, during the last act: "Rich people like to watch poor people die."
Journalists quit over censorship | Russia | Guardian Unlimited:
A group of journalists at a state-controlled broadcast news agency in Russia have resigned en masse in one of the few open rebellions in recent years against censorship imposed by the Kremlin.
Eight reporters from the Russian News Service said they could not work under new rules that required them not to interview or mention opposition leaders such as Garry Kasparov and to ensure 50% coverage of "positive news".
Slashdot | Microsoft, Sue Me First:
"Supporters of free and open source solutions have thrown down the gauntlet at Microsoft's feet. Christian Einfeldt of Digital Tipping Point says 'Sue Me First,' and he's not alone. More and more people are signing up and challenging Microsoft to put their lawyers where their mouth is. The open source community is far from running scared. Will Microsoft step up to the plate, or are they just continuing a scare campaign with no real ability to leverage the patents they claim open source is infringing?"
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #6
Design Observer: writings about design & culture:
Then, after a decade, I left my first job. Suddenly I could use any typeface I wanted, and I went nuts. On one of my first projects, I used 37 different fonts on 16 pages. My wife, who had attended Catholic school herself, found this all too familiar. She remembered classmates who had switched to public school after eight years under the nuns: freed at last from demure plaid uniforms, they wore the shortest skirts they could find. "Jesus," she said, looking at one of my multiple font demolition derbies. "You've become a real slut, haven't you?"
It was true. Liberated from monogamy, I became typographically promiscuous.
NPR : The Making of Poems:
I believe in poetry as a way of surviving the emotional chaos, spiritual confusions and traumatic events that come with being alive.
When I was 12 years old, I was responsible for the death of my younger brother in a hunting accident. I held the rifle that killed him. In a single moment, my world changed forever. I felt grief, terror, shame and despair more deeply than I could ever have imagined. In the aftermath, no one in my shattered family could speak to me about my brother's death, and their silence left me alone with all my agonizing emotions. And under those emotions, something even more terrible: a knowledge that all the easy meanings I had lived by until then had been suddenly and utterly abolished.
Office Space: New 'Times' Building Has Crying Rooms:
As the employees of the New York Times make their way into their new headquarters (many of them will migrate today!), there are several changes they will, undoubtedly, note. For one: Editors have offices in the middle of the newsroom floors, in glass-enclosed pod-like structures, instead of tucked away on the sides of floors. Goodbye, privacy! But there's one place on every floor where you can get some peace and quiet: The "Room of Silence." (Very "Superman.") But some Times employees are not-so-affectionately referring to them as the Crying Rooms.
Filmmaker Miranda July's New Book 'No One Belongs Here More Than You' -- New York Magazine:
In the indie universe, Miranda July is a polarizing force. To her near-fanatical followers, she is the undisputed high priestess of the DIY art revolution—a bold, multitalented 33-year-old sprite with a refreshing, almost childlike sincerity who seems to have sprung fully formed from the evergreen forests of Portland, Oregon. They point to the sprawling, highly intelligent body of work she has created over the past decade, ranging from performance art to music to installations at the Whitney Biennial to a Sleater-Kinney video to her 2005 Caméra d’Or–winning art-house hit Me and You and Everyone We Know. They adore what they see as her uncanny ability to mine universal truths from surreal details and illustrate what it’s like to be human and lonely (and a little bit weird) in a post-human era.
But to her detractors (many of whom are just the sort of Cookie Monster– T-shirt-wearing indie-film buffs you’d think would love her), the mere mention of her name sets off groans. For them, she serves up preciousness in place of thoughtfulness, trafficking in the worst faux-earnest indulgences of the post-McSweeney’s brigade.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #5
In writing memoir, the trick, it seems to me, is to establish a double perspective, that will allow the reader to participate vicariously in the experience as it was lived (the confusions and misapprehensions of the child one was, say), while conveying the sophisticated wisdom of one's current self. This second perspective, the author's retrospective employment of a more mature intelligence to interpret the past, is not merely an obligation but a privilege, an opportunity. In any autobiographical narrative, whether memoir or personal essay, the heart of the matter often shines through those passages where the writer analyzes the meaning of his or her experience. The quality of thinking, the depth of insight and the willingness to wrest as much understanding as the writer is humanly capable of arriving at—these are guarantees to the reader that a particular author's sensibility is trustworthy and simpatico. With me, it goes further: I have always been deeply attracted to just those passages where the writing takes an analytical, interpretative turn, and which seem to me the dessert, the reward of prose.
Parabasis: Dana Gioia Earns His Salary:
The reason why we have a system of public and private sponsorship of the arts is that public sponsorship of the arts is woefully insufficient. That's it. It's not a virtuous choice we made on philosophical grounds, it's the reality that exists now because the Government never fulfilled its promise of properly funding the arts.
The result? Very few artists make a living wage from their art, while arts administrators--specifically those in development who spend all year contacting those corporations to get the money the government isn't handing out-- get paid. I should note here that I don't have an axe to grind against arts administrators. I think they're necessary and good people, and many of my friends are in their positions. But the reality remains that the current funding model has lead to an entire class of paid professionals whose job it is to work around the clock to raise that private money.
Homeland Security + RIAA = IP Act of 2007 (techyum):
I really, really wish this was a joke -- the additions and extensions proposed by Gonzales to the reach, fines and punishments for "attempted piracy" are outrageous, frightening, and are tantamount to Orwellian-style thought crime punishment. They're proposing life imprisonment for use of pirated software, easy seizure and sale of computers, wiretapping for Americans they believe to be "attempting piracy", a provision to require the Dept. of Homeland Security to notify the RIAA, and prosecution for "attempts" to infringe copyright. And we all know how well we can trust both the RIAA and HS for their prosecutorial accuracy.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #4
Boing Boing: Crybaby trend: calling anyone you don't like a terrorist:
Twenty years ago, crybabies called people they didn't like "commies." Now they call them "terrorists." Chris says:
There are many crybabies these days who cry "terrorism" when criticized. It's a sickening new trend that needs to crawl back under the rock from which it came. I think boing boing should point out these losers whenever they play the "terrorism card," making light of their cowardice. The URL included reports the Vatican called an Italian comedian a terrorist for criticizing the Pope. Unsurprising, really...
"The Pope says he doesn't believe in evolution. I agree, in fact the Church has never evolved," [Andrea Rivera] said.
He also criticized the Church for refusing to give a Catholic funeral to Piergiorgio Welby, a man who campaigned for euthanasia as he lay paralyzed with muscular dystrophy. He died in December after a doctor agreed to unplug his respirator.
"I can't stand the fact that the Vatican refused a funeral for Welby but that wasn't the case for (Chilean dictator Augusto) Pinochet or (Spanish dictator Francisco) Franco," he said between musical acts at the open-air concert.
“An ounce of performance is worth a pound of promises.”
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #3
The Rise of the High-Tech Preemptive Media Strike | Slog | The Stranger's Blog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:
I’m fascinated by this new public relations strategy, in which the subject of a potentially negative investigative story uses technology to try to torpedo the story-in-progress (and, in doing so, tries to get his or her own version of things out to the public first).
We saw an example of this here in Seattle earlier this year, when one of the people behind Real Change used his blog to launch a preemptive strike against a Seattle Weekly story-in-progress.
Today finds Scientologists using the same kind of techno-guerrilla tactics against the BBC.
Faced with potentially negative press from an upcoming BBC documentary, Scientologists filmed the people filming the documentary, created their own “counter-documentary,” distributed it widely on burned DVDs, and have now released a YouTube video showing a BBC documentary reporter losing his cool and berating the shadow-documentarians.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #2
Guy Drinks. Bird Drinks. Guy Thrives. Bird Drinks. - New York Times:
In certain New York artistic circles the cartoonist Tony Millionaire is famous for once, at the end of a very long night, having sex with a slice of pizza. This was in the mid-’90s, a period when Mr. Millionaire, who is large and striking-looking to begin with, used to favor lime-green leisure suits or a tuxedo with a bottle of vodka in the pocket. He would frequently end an evening by climbing on a table, removing his false teeth and declaring, “I am Tony Millionaire!”
Great article on my friend Mr. Coulton in the NYT:
Sex, Drugs and Updating Your Blog - Jonathan Coulton - New York Times:
Jonathan Coulton sat in Gorilla Coffee in Brooklyn, his Apple PowerBook open before him, and began slogging through the day’s e-mail. Coulton is 36 and shaggily handsome. In September 2005, he quit his job as a computer programmer and, with his wife’s guarded blessing, became a full-time singer and songwriter. He set a quixotic goal for himself: for the next year, he would write and record a song each week, posting each one to his blog. “It was a sort of forced-march approach to creativity,” he admitted to me over the sound of the cafe’s cappuccino frothers. He’d always wanted to be a full-time musician, and he figured the only way to prove to himself he could do it was with a drastic challenge. “I learned that it is possible to squeeze a song out of just about anything,” he said. “But it’s not always an easy or pleasant process.” Given the self-imposed time constraints, the “Thing a Week” songs are remarkably good. Coulton tends toward geeky, witty pop tunes: one song, “Tom Cruise Crazy,” is a sympathetic ode to the fame-addled star, while “Code Monkey” is a rocking anthem about dead-end programming jobs. By the middle of last year, his project had attracted a sizable audience. More than 3,000 people, on average, were visiting his site every day, and his most popular songs were being downloaded as many as 500,000 times; he was making what he described as “a reasonable middle-class living” — between $3,000 and $5,000 a month — by selling CDs and digital downloads of his work on iTunes and on his own site.
Along the way, he discovered a fact that many small-scale recording artists are coming to terms with these days: his fans do not want merely to buy his music. They want to be his friend. And that means they want to interact with him all day long online. They pore over his blog entries, commenting with sympathy and support every time he recounts the difficulty of writing a song. They send e-mail messages, dozens a day, ranging from simple mash notes of the “you rock!” variety to starkly emotional letters, including one by a man who described singing one of Coulton’s love songs to his 6-month-old infant during her heart surgery. Coulton responds to every letter, though as the e-mail volume has grown to as many as 100 messages a day, his replies have grown more and more terse, to the point where he’s now feeling guilty about being rude.
Secrets of the MacDowell Colony #1:
When you die, the question is going to be: “Where you conscious of what you were living through?” If the answer is “No, I wasn’t, I was watching to much TV,” well, then you’re going to Hell. We must feel the pain. We must take that sadness of the times into our bodies. But we must live through it to. That’s what poetry is for.
Albrecht Deserved Much Worse:
Remember Chris Albrecht, the HBO executive who was arrested for assaulting his girlfriend in a parking lot? He blamed the assault on the demon alcohol; media reports focused almost exclusively on what the impact of the assault would be on Albrecht and his employers—ignoring entirely the crime and the victim herself. (As I noted, in an alternate universe, one where we cared more about domestic-violence victims than abusive cable-TV executives, the headline might be something like this: “HBO Executive Assaults Girlfriend, Girlfriend Presses Charges.” Instead, we were told that his leave comes at “an inopportune time” for the network.)
Cult of Mac » Blog Archive » Academic Journal Beaten Down In Pursuit of Apple Design Group:
Every few years, another writer who hasn’t followed Apple’s design heritage for very long decides to figure out where it comes from and why it’s been such a success. And every few readers, they end up talking with people extremely tangential to the process who haven’t been involved for at least 9 years. The latest is poor Daniel Turner, writing for the MIT Technology Review:
But the omerta that prevails at Apple proved too strong. Company representatives declined to speak with me, and sources only tangentially engaged with the industrial-design process said that they could not talk either. When I asked Paul Kunkel, author of the 1997 book AppleDesign, for tips on obtaining interviews, he laughed and said, “Go sit outside the design-group offices with a pizza.” What follows is as clear a picture of the Apple design process as we could get.
Which is to say, very out of date and filled with speculation.
Jobs chided, answers questions at shareholder meeting - Engadget:
Despite being lauded by Greenpeace reps for "A Greener Apple", he opined: "I think [Greenpeace] particularly depends too much on principle and not enough on fact. You guys rate people based on what people say their plans are in the distant future, not what they are doing today. I think you put way too much weight on these glorified principles and way too little weight on science and engineering. It would be very helpful if your organization hired a few more engineers and actually entered into dialog with companies to find out what they are really doing and not just listen to all the flowery language when in reality most of them aren't doing anything. That's my opinion."
Uncertain Principles: Many Worlds, Many Treats:
I'm sitting at the computer typing, when the dog bumps up against my legs. I look down, and she's sniffing the floor around my feet intently.
"What are you doing down there?"
"I'm looking for steak!" she says, wagging her tail hopefully.
"I'm pretty certain that there's no steak down there," I say. "I've never eaten steak at the computer, and I've certainly never dropped any on the floor."
"You did in some universe," she says, still sniffing.
I sigh. "I'm going to move the quantum physics books to a higher shelf, so you can't reach them."
Slashdot | Lawsuit Invokes DMCA to Force DRM Adoption:
"Forbes.com informs us that the company Media Rights Technologies is suing Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, and Real Networks for not using its DRM technology and therefore 'failing to include measures to control access to copyrighted material.' The company alleges that their refusal to use MRT's X1 Recording Control technology constitutes a 'circumvention' of a copyright protection system, which is of course illegal under the Digital Millenium Copryight Act. I would say more, but without controlling access to this paragraph with MRT's products, I fear I have already risked too much ..."
What happened when I followed The Secret's advice for two months. - By Emily Yoffe - Slate Magazine:
Decades before the best seller was published, my father knew the secret of The Secret. He was aware there were people with esoteric knowledge who controlled all the wealth, had all the power, and were specifically excluding him from getting any. He bought the books of his time that promised, like The Secret, to unlock these mysteries. I loved listening to him spin his theories about how things really worked—until either I got too old to believe him anymore, or his spinning took him further and further away from reality. He died with nothing, living under an assumed name.
So, I will acknowledge that I came to The Secret with a negative attitude. When I bought it, I quickly stuffed it into a plastic bag, glancing around Barnes & Noble to make sure I saw no one I knew.
President Obama? Not this time. - The Boston Globe:
Stop me if you've read this column before.
In 1999, I wrote a dreamy tribute to then presidential candidate Bill Bradley and commented: "I don't believe that I will ever live in a country that elects Bill Bradley president. I'd like to live in that country, though."
In 2002, 27 months before Howard Dean's presidential campaign imploded, I wrote: "Howard Dean is the story we tell ourselves every four years; the Paul Tsongas story, the Bruce Babbitt story, the John Anderson story. It is a very diverting fable, this notion of the brilliant, worthy, and committed outsider who has a decent chance of becoming our next president."
No stranger to self-plagiarism, I added: "I wouldn't mind living in a country where Howard Dean was president, but somehow I don't think that I will."
Meet Barack Obama, the BradleyDeanBabbittTsongas of the 2008 election cycle.
Bostonist: Daisey Debut Hits Ground Running:
Mike Daisey was the first to note that there were a few messy spots in his Tuesday night performance of "Tongues Will Wag," the monologue debuted to a rapt American Repertory Theatre audience at the Zero Arrow. He remarked upon that fact as soon as the standing ovation applause subsided.
He was right. "Tongues Will Wag" has a few rough patches - an overly used reference here, a missed identification there. But for a monologue never before spoken, let alone performed, the work was a beautiful two hours of performance that served as a fitting close to Daisey's month-long, three-monologue Cambridge residency.
Last night's performance of TONGUES WILL WAG was a fantastic gift from the audiences at ART--a wonderful full house, ready to hear a brand new story, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity and time. We learned a tremendous amount about the show incredibly quickly, and I'm looking forward to the workshop performances at Berkeley Repertory Theatre and the Cape Cod Theatre Project later this year--it's my hope that TONGUES WILL WAG will have a full production before the end of 2007, and we'll keep our fingers crossed for that.
This is the end of our time at American Repertory Theatre. Today we'll pack up, say goodbye to all the wonderful people we've grown to know so well and tie up our loose ends. Tomorrow Jean-Michele will drop me off at the MacDowell Colony, where I will endeavor to not lose my mind as I write in a cabin in the woods. I hope that my path crosses again in the future with ART and the people of Cambridge--it has been an intense time, and I'm hopeful that we'll work together again in the future. I am reminded of the old Hippocrates maxim, the one that's often truncated--the full version is
Ars longa, vita brevis, occasio praeceps, experimentum periculosum, iudicium difficile.
Translated, it is:
Life is short, the art long, opportunity fleeting, experiment treacherous, judgment difficult.
This is often abridged to "Life is short, art is long", which I believe misses the essential point of urgency--it's not about art being longer than life, but instead about learning one's craft, a process which will end only with our death. It is a process that will never end so long as we breathe, and it has been a pleasure sharing some of that time here in Cambridge.
I don't have a pithy closing in mind, but this morning I was reading and saw one of my favorite poems posted at a website, just serendipitously--and as soon a I saw it, I realized it reminded me intensely of the experience of performing last night for such a fantastic house of people who have shown real dedication to my work--a gift beyond measure.
Meditation at Lagunitas
All the new thinking is about loss.
In this it resembles all the old thinking.
The idea, for example, that each particular erases
the luminous clarity of a general idea. That the clown-
faced woodpecker probing the dead sculpted trunk
of that black birch is, by his presence,
some tragic falling off from a first world
of undivided light. Or the other notion that,
because there is in this world no one thing
to which the bramble of blackberry corresponds,
a word is elegy to what it signifies.
We talked about it late last night and in the voice
of my friend, there was a thin wire of grief, a tone
almost querulous. After a while I understood that
talking this way, everything desolves: justice
pine, hair, woman, you and I. There was a woman
I made love to and I remembered how, holding
her small shoulders in my hands sometimes,
I felt a violent wonder at her presence
like a thirst for salt, for my childhood river
with its island willows, silly music from the pleasure boat,
muddy places where we caught the little orange-silver fish
called pumpkinseed. It hardly had to do with her.
Longing, we say, because desire is full
of endless distances. I must have been the same to her.
But I remember so much, the way her hands dismantled bread,
the thing her father said that hurt her, what
she dreamed. There are moments when the body is as numinous
as words. Days that are the good flesh continuing.
Such tenderness, those afternoons and evenings,
saying blackberry, blackberry, blackberry.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
The Unwhippable | Theater | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
What do you tell people when they ask what it means?
I heard it as a phrase somebody said in a doughnut shop. I was standing in line and there was a little kid running around wild and out of control. It was South Carolina, I think. And a guy behind me said "must don't whip 'um." "Must don't" is a Southern expression, usually derogatory. It means you can tell someone doesn't do something: must don't wash his hair, must don't shop at fancy stores because he has crappy stuff.
To me, it came to mean someone who is wild and out of control. Or refuses to be disciplined. In the show, it refers to ghosts, because ghosts are a phenomenon, an energy that persists after death, something that refuses to be killed. The unwhippable.
Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union. - By Ruth Franklin - Slate Magazine:
With The Yiddish Policemen's Union, Chabon has finally made the only use of genre fiction that a talented writer should: Rather than forcing his own extraordinarily capacious imagination into its stuffy confines, he makes the genre—more precisely, genres—expand to take him in. This novel bursts with so many forms and styles, it's hard to know where to start: It's a noir thriller, a Jewish family saga, a counterhistorical fantasy that manages at once to be utopian and dystopian. Mostly, though, it is a "what if?" story for adults. What if the Jews had lost the Arab-Israeli war, and with it the state of Israel, in 1948, and instead had to settle on a (literally) Godforsaken collection of islands the U.S. government had set aside for them in the Alaskan Panhandle? What would that state look like, sound like, feel like? And what if, 60 years after its settlement, the Jews had to give it back?
"Vaccine Nation - Forward.com":
Today, though, more parents are opting out of childhood vaccinations. They feel that the shots are no longer necessary, that they traumatize children, that they cause illness, and most commonly, that they cause autism. Thousands of anecdotal reports and dozens of poorly designed studies link autism to vaccines, but there has been only one seemingly credible study, published in the British medical journal The Lancet in 1998, that found a link. As it turned out, the study had major methodological flaws. Of the 12 children in the study, some turned out to have had developmental disorders before they were vaccinated and most were clients of a lawyer who was preparing to sue vaccine manufacturers. Oops. The Lancet retracted the study in 2004, and 10 of its 12 co-authors disavowed it.
Thoughts on The Fringe:
When I lived in Minneapolis, an actor who became a great friend finally let me in on his story. He had been in and out of prison throughout the 1950’s, and not until he saw "Waiting for Godot" at San Quentin did he find any sense in the world. Suddenly, he knew that there were others who knew what waiting meant. There were others willing to explore the only thing he had known, in a way he had never imagined. He started reading plays, started performing them in prison, and eventually, with his release began his life as an actor. Through art he discovered himself as an artist.
Artists speak because they must. Underlying their art is an impassioned rejection of complacency and an unspoken realization that to be vulnerable is paradoxically to be strong. This is why I love The Fringe. The passion and the drive is evident; spoken in a new voice, often in a way we never could have imagined.
What is Fringe Theater? To define a genre like Fringe Theater seems to place inappropriate constraints on a form aimed at diversification. To define is to have power over. Definitions lead to rules. Rules create boundaries. Boundaries restrict freedom. And to allow any individual voice to bear the authority of definition allows that voice a power which no other individual or the Fringe community as a whole could equal. So this is not an attempt at definition, but rather an attempt to realize a calling some of us in The Fringe seem to feel.
Tonight's the night--we do TONGUES WILL WAG for the very first time. I can't think of a better way to end our residency at ART than this, nor a more exhilarating, terrifying one--it is always this way, tempered a little by the experience of having gone through it 9 times before with other monologues.
I got a lot of work done yesterday, but much remains to be shaped this morning and afternoon--the principal outline is pretty fuzzy, even at this point, and huge discoveries happened yesterday that upended much of the structure that had been growing in my mind. That sounds negative, but many disruptions are bigger than that, and so was this one--I'm grateful for the new insights, which leaped out of a conversation with Jean-Michele, and I feel certain at this hour that it's a deeper, richer choice.
I regret how vague this all sounds--it's hidden from me as well, I swear. It should all be much clearer after tonight. Please feel free, if you're in the Boston area, to come on down for the birthing.
Debt: Hasbro And Visa Pervert LIFE Board Game To Train Children In Racking Up Credit Card Debt - Consumerist:
As if credit card-related debt wasn't a big enough problem in the U.S., Hasbro and Visa want to fuel the fire. Hasbro is launching a new edition of The Game of Life called Twists and Turns that will replace play money with a Visa-branded card. Matt Collins, Hasbro's vice president of marketing, said of the switch, "When we started to design a completely new edition of the popular game, we knew it was also time to reflect the way people choose to pay and be paid - and replacing cash with Visa was an obvious choice."
They also changed the goal of the game from accumulating the most money to earning the most "life points." Supposedly this a combination of wealth and life experiences, but it's not hard to see parallels between "life points" and the reward points and airlines miles offered by certain credit cards.
Slashdot | Two US States Restrict Used CD Sales:
DrBenway sends us to Ars Technica for a report that Florida and Utah have placed draconian restrictions on the sale of used music CDs; Wisconsin and Rhode Island may soon follow suit. In Florida, stores have to hold on to CDs for 30 days before they can sell them — for store credit only, not cash. Quoting:
"No, you won't spend any time in jail, but you'll certainly feel like a criminal once the local record shop makes copies of all of your identifying information and even collects your fingerprints. Such is the state of affairs in Florida, which now has the dubious distinction of being so anal about the sale of used music CDs that record shops there are starting to get out of the business of dealing with used content because they don't want to pay a $10,000 bond for the 'right' to treat their customers like criminals."
"Okay," he finally said to us. "I'm going to give you some emotions and you'll react to the camera." I was first. "Sad," he said. I did as told. "That's confused," he said. "Sad." He was the confused one, of course; I was totally doing sad. But to make him happy I put on more of a wounded puppy look (all in the eyes), resisting the temptation to also push out my lower lip. "Good," he said. "Amused." Piece of cake. This audition was so stupidly amusing no acting was required. I smiled, eyes twinkling. "Good," he said. "You're a cashier. Start with a neutral face, and then say thank you without speaking." Turning my face into an inscrutable blank canvas, I took a beat, gave a little smile and (the masterstroke) nodded my head. "Very good," he said. You're fucking right it was very good, big guy. An Obie Award-winner and Drama Desk nominee stands before you. I think he gave me one more direction but I forget what it was.
And I always thought: the very simplest words
Must be enough. When I say what things are like
Everyone's heart must be torn to shreds.
That you'll go down if you don't stand up for yourself
Surely you see that.
Technology Review: Different:
Apple, Inc. has made an art of not talking about its products. Fans, journalists, and rumormongers who love it or love to hate it have long had to practice a sort of Kremlinology to gather the merest hints as to what is coming next out of Cupertino.
A case in point is this story, which was to be about the iPhone--about how an innovative and gorgeous piece of technology was conceived, designed, and produced by the vaunted industrial-design team at Apple. Along the way, it would address the larger question of how one company can so consistently excel at making products that become icons, win design awards, and inspire customers.
But the omerta that prevails at Apple proved too strong. Company representatives declined to speak with me, and sources only tangentially engaged with the industrial-design process said that they could not talk either. When I asked Paul Kunkel, author of the 1997 book AppleDesign, for tips on obtaining interviews, he laughed and said, "Go sit outside the design-group offices with a pizza." What follows is as clear a picture of the Apple design process as we could get.
For Iraqi Soldiers, A Medical Morass - washingtonpost.com:
Though Iraqis fight alongside Americans, their destinies diverge upon injury. Wounded U.S. soldiers are typically flown within one day to a first-class military hospital in Germany and arrive within 72 hours at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where amputees receive extensive rehabilitation and prosthetic limbs at a cost to taxpayers of $58,000 to $157,000 per soldier, according to a 2006 study by the American Enterprise Institute-Brookings Institution.
Decent military hospitals existed under Saddam Hussein, but they were looted during the war and their doctors fled. So while some seriously injured Iraqi soldiers now receive initial treatment at sophisticated U.S. military facilities in Iraq, they must recover in public hospitals where medicines and highly trained staff are scarce. There is one military prosthetics clinic in the country, little in the way of mental health services and no burn center.
pt at large: Mike Daisey's "Monopoly..." at the American Repertory Theater:
Two minutes into portly Mike Daisey’s monologue and he’s got it all going on. His pudgy round face is a theater all by itself. Eyebrows rise, fall, twitch. Eyes squint, roll. stare. Mouth and lips contort to give charge to the words coming from them. Voice thunders, wheedles, quietly slows to gently massage each syllable.
Occasionally all of that plus whatever else of him is visible from behind the table he’s sitting at, his only prop other than a glass of water he seldom sips from, go into herky -jerky or balletic pantomime to buttress the words of the story. He’s a one-man band of a storyteller.
Fractals of Change: Microsoft Memories:
So you’re in there presenting your product plan to billg, steveb, and mikemap. Billg typically has his eyes closed and he’s rocking back and forth. He could be asleep; he could be thinking about something else; he could be listening intently to everything you’re saying. The trouble is all are possible and you don’t know which. Obviously, you have to present as if he were listening intently even though you know he isn’t looking at the PowerPoint slides you spent so much time on.
At some point in your presentation billg will say “that’s the dumbest fucking idea I’ve heard since I’ve been at Microsoft.” He looks like he means it. However, since you knew he was going to say this, you can’t really let it faze you. Moreover, you can’t afford to look fazed; remember: he’s a bully.
“What do you disagree with, Bill?” you ask as assertively as you can. He tells you. Maybe it’s the plan for user interface; maybe it’s the product positioning; maybe it’s the technical approach you’re taking to a problem or your evaluation of the enemy (competition). If you see that your dead wrong – you may be, he’s very smart – best to admit it immediately and move on. But, if he’s wrong – which is also often the case – then you CAN’T give in. You will be just as much blamed for doing the wrong thing because billg told you to as you will be if you did it all on your own. This is the moment of truth for a Microsoft manager.
Bus Stories: Takin’ It To The Streets:
I was in Boston early last month and caught Mike Daisey at the Zero Arrow Theater doing a monologue on, among other things, a history of the New York City subway system. He described how the board meets to listen to public input on MTA policies and schedules, current and under consideration. Afterwards, they retire to a boardroom and make the decisions they’d already decided on before the public meeting.
This is how I understand government works. So, naturally, Greg Payne’s letter was a disillusioning experience.
Now that MONOPOLY! has had its run at ART, in the brief window before I fully turn to TONGUES WILL WAG, I thought I'd follow up on the events from two weeks ago. For anyone heartily sick of rehashing those events, please feel free to use the Power of the Internet and look at some lolcats instead.
No, seriously--you do have free will. Last chance for lolcats.
It's an interesting coincidence--I had not been blogging about my work or life in any kind of traditionally "bloggy" manner for a number of years, and had embarked on a project to document this run at American Repertory Theatre when this all went down. I feel I'd be remiss if I didn't give full weight.
I've spoken via email with a lot of students from the school. The majority of them wrote me to apologize about what happened, and I told them that I appreciated the gesture, and there's no need to apologize. They're on a class trip, and even if they had decided to leave the performance (which any audience member is always free to do) they don't have anything to do with a chaperone behaving like an ass and destroying property onstage. And I apologized to them, for any of them that felt painted with a broad brush after what had happened--I stand by my words, but it's been hard watching some choose to use this as an opportunity for cruel and vicious ad hominem attacks.
One of the students I've been corresponding with let me know that he's actually more or less pagan, and I apologized for lumping him in under the banner "Christian", to which he responded, "Hey, I'm pagan at Norco--you're the least of my problems."
That was a good reality check for me--because I didn't invent the appellation "Christian" that this group adopted. The group used it themselves, and used it to identify themselves that way in the theater, in the lobby, to theater staff. In fact, I'd argue that they abused the term by appropriating it as shorthand for intolerance, as a quick and easy way of expressing why my words were unacceptable. I'm sure some in the group weren't Christian, but that didn't stop adults present from labeling them that way. It was only after that evening, once the light of inquiry from reporters shone in that they began referring to themselves exclusively as a public high school.
Some might argue argue that this makes it a less charged situation, but I actually think it's much worse--public schools should have a better grasp of the division of church and state, but it's hardly alien to me--I grew up in Maine, and when I was young we lived in Fort Kent, where it is 99% French-Canadian Catholic. My public primary school actually had a house of religious instruction built just off school property, and we'd have study halls like clockwork where all of the Catholic students would march up the hill, off school property and take CCD classes about the Virgin Mary and whatnot. If you were one of the few Jews or other branches of Christianity in town you couldn't go, and they would actually have those students put their heads down on their desks while we were gone--I remember seeing them in the classroom through the windows on our way back, sitting with their heads down on their folded arms. I remember thinking that it looked a little bit like they were praying.
Some of the students wrote to apologize for David's actions, but believed that the language was indeed inappropriate for them, which is totally fine--I naturally don't agree, but I thought it was very cool that they wrote, and in pretty much every case we had really good correspondence. Given the apparent politics of the Norco High School, it's regrettable that the students didn't see all of INVINCIBLE SUMMER--I think we could have had a truly inspired conversation after the show.
The one disappointing detail that came out of speaking with the students was learning that David never made good on his promise to speak with everyone about what happened. I had asked that he do this, being clear he didn't have to apologize or say anything in particular--I just really wanted everyone on their school trip to actually talk about what had happened out in the open, and he had agreed.
I also let the students know that if they ever want tickets to any of my shows anytime I'd be happy to set them up--I doubt I'll be playing Norco anytime soon, but life is long, and hopefully I'll get to meet some of them face-to-face at some point.
One of the less touched on elements of all this is that the other high school, the one that stayed, was a very different high school than Norco--it was a private high school class made up of senior theater students, who stayed through the show and the talkback afterward. One could posit that this indicates another conflict, a classist one between entitled private schools that teach theatre and public schools that don't, but I don't feel that's really the core of what happened here.
I think it's more a leadership issue. One group had leadership that prepared for their school activity, and the other had terrible leadership--they took their students to a show they didn't assess because they were planning at the last minute, didn't communicate well internally and brought questionable chaperones. If they had any kind of leadership they would have dealt with the situation--left a note at the box office after the incident, left someone to contact and speak with me and theater staff after the performance concluded--really, anything would be more than what happened.
Instead they had to be contacted by me and compelled to discuss this, and that hasn't changed--despite apologies appearing in the press, I never heard from Principal Johnson at any point. I've emailed and left a phone message, but I have heard nothing--and that's important, because it was the behavior I experienced through this entire affair, and I believe without a doubt that if I hadn't posted and called about these events they never would have dealt with at all. One person made a mistake, but all the teachers and chaperones and school officials compounded this by never choosing to communicate. Their silence tells me that if there had been no video, nothing would have ever been said about this--they intended to never look back.
For me, things have returned mostly to order. Talking to David was very helpful for me, and it was a really good conversation--we are very different people, but not nearly as different as these circumstances initially made it seem, and I'll always be grateful that he was sincerely open and spoke with me. I wish he'd talked to the students and everyone, but hey--I'd like a lot of things to happen, and they don't always come true. That doesn't change the conversation we had together, and I remain thankful that he helped me get some closure.
The show outline and notes David destroyed is destroyed--we had hoped it would be usable, but it isn't--so we ran with a photocopy for the rest of the ART run. Now that INVINCIBLE SUMMER is down for a few months I will rebuild it. Between the photocopies and archived notes it should take less than a week, and who knows--maybe it will yield some interesting changes, as I've never had to wipe the slate clean in quite the same way before.
The run passed without further incident, and houses were solid without showing any kind of measurable increase in sales from this kerfuffle, which didn't surprise me. As usual, it was a rave review tied to building word of mouth that sold the last week well. There were a few very strange moments in all this--I received a supportive letter from Harlan Ellison, and I had to tell INSIDE EDITION that I would rather drive a ball-peen hammer into my eyes than be on their show--but with the run concluded I am now turning all my energies toward TONGUES WILL WAG and the future.
Okay, now you can return to the lolcats.
Link to the first post on the incident
Link to the second post
Link to Mike's homepage
Emo in Wal-Mart's crosshairs with its everyday lower prices:
Wal-Mart is such a dominating force that when it enters a market, few rivals are left unscathed. But in the tiny town of Emo, Ont. - population, 1,186 - grocers Dan and Mark Loney found a formula for their store to take on the discount titan.
And they're doing it with Wal-Mart's own products.
A few years ago, Wal-Mart Canada Corp. set up shop in nearby Fort Frances, Ont., forcing the brothers to come up with a new game plan. Emo sits on the U.S. border, so they began crossing regularly to pick up bargain-priced merchandise to stock in their store. They do most of their U.S. bulk buying at Sam's Club, the warehouse chain owned by Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
First Photo From Space:
On October 24, 1946, not long after the end of World War II and years before the Sputnik satellite opened the space age, a group of soldiers and scientists in the New Mexico desert saw something new and wonderful—the first pictures of Earth as seen from space.
The grainy, black-and-white photos were taken from an altitude of 65 miles by a 35-millimeter motion picture camera riding on a V-2 missile launched from the White Sands Missile Range. Snapping a new frame every second and a half, the rocket-borne camera climbed straight up, then fell back to Earth minutes later, slamming into the ground at 500 feet per second. The camera itself was smashed, but the film, protected in a steel cassette, was unharmed.
Fred Rulli was a 19-year-old enlisted man assigned to the recovery team that drove into the desert to retrieve film from those early V-2 shots. When the scientists found the cassette in good shape, he recalls, "They were ecstatic, they were jumping up and down like kids." Later, back at the launch site, "when they first projected [the photos] onto the screen, the scientists just went nuts."
My Way News - Paris Hilton Going to Jail for 45 Days:
A judge sentenced Paris Hilton to 45 days in county jail Friday for violating her probation, putting the brakes on the hotel heiress' famous high life.
Hilton, who parlayed her name and relentless partying into worldwide notoriety, must go to jail by June 5 and she will not be allowed any work release, furloughs, use of an alternative jail or electronic monitoring in lieu of jail, Superior Court Judge Michael T. Sauer ruled after a hearing.
It's the final weekend of MONOPOLY!--it must close Saturday night, and everybody and their brother is coming out of the woodwork to see it after the Globe's review, which I feel really builds on our earlier coverage. It must be said that there was no measurable bump in sales after the kerfuffle, which doesn't surprise me--the incident was compelling for a number of reasons, but it didn't connect with the actual work in a significant way.
What made a difference is what always makes a difference--word of mouth tied to compelling reviews, and the time and care taken to run the show long enough for word to spread. I'd like to thank American Repertory Theatre for the diligence and care they've shown to growing the audiences for these shows--I think we've laid a tremendous foundation for the future.
So if you haven't gotten your tickets to MONOPOLY!, now's the time...and we turn our attention to TONGUES WILL WAG, which is becoming more and more real with each passing day. The house is filling up for Tuesday, and so if you're planning to come and see it born for the first time, you may want to act fast.
Are iPod-banning schools cheating our kids?:
So many college students I've met -- even at some of the nation's top universities -- are there because they have an aptitude for memorization. Many straight-A high school students have few interests, little curiosity and zero inclination toward intellectual discovery. Our system rewards the memorizers and punishes the creative thinkers.
An iPod, when used during tests, is nothing more than a machine that stores and spits out data. By banning iPods and other gadgets, we're teaching kids to actually become iPods -- to become machines that store and spit out data. Instead, we should be teaching them to use iPods -- to use that data and to be human beings who can think -- and leave data storage to the machines.
By banning iPods, we're preparing our kids for a world without the Internet, a world without iPods, a world without electronic gadgets that can store information. But is that the world they're going to live in?
Bostonist: Games Mike Daisey Plays:
Mike Daisey kicks off his monologue "Monopoly!" with the following statement: "I've always had a love for endless games." And then a torrent of thoughts about the legendary board game of the same name come tumbling out of his mouth, and the game gets "bigger, weirder, and stranger."
In the span of an hour and forty-five minutes, "Monopoly!" the monologue indeed grows "bigger, weirder, and stranger" as Daisey pulls together a number of loosely linked stories. Even though the story of Nikola Tesla, Daisey's own tesla coil hi-jinks, Bill Gates lore, and the history of "Monopoly!" don’t seem to have much in common, Daisey's stage presence whisks the audience from story to story.
Film is Dead - David Lynch:
I'm through with film as a medium. For me, film is dead. If you look at what people all over the world are taking still pictures with now, you begin to see what's going to happen.
You have forty-minute takes, automatic focus. They're lightweight. And you can see what you've shot right away. With film you have to go into the lab and you don't know what you've shot until the next day, but with DV, as soon as you're done, you can put it into the computer and go right to work. And there are so many tools. A thousand tools were born this morning, and there'll be ten thousand new tools tomorrow. It happened first in sound. Now everybody's got ProTools, and you can manipulate these sounds, just fine-tune them unbelievably fast. The same thing's happening with the image. It gives you so much control.
Once you start working in that world of DV with small, lightweight equipment and automatic focus, working with film seems so cumbersome. These 35mm film cameras are starting to look like dinosaurs to me. They're huge; they weigh tons. And you've got to move them around. There are so many things that have to be done, and it's all so slow. It kills a lot of possibilities. With DV everything is lighter; you're more mobile. It's far more fluid. You can think on your feet and catch things.
PC World Editor Quits Over Apple Story:
Colleagues at my former outlet, PC World magazine, have told me that Editor-in-Chief Harry McCracken quit abruptly today because the company's new CEO, Colin Crawford, tried to kill a story about Apple and Steve Jobs.
The piece, a whimsical article titled "Ten Things We Hate About Apple," was still in draft form when Crawford killed it. McCracken said no way and walked after Crawford refused to compromise. Apparently Crawford also told editors that product reviews in the magazine were too critical of vendors, especially ones who advertise in the magazine, and that they had to start being nicer to advertisers.
Dry Daisey - The Phoenix:
It’s too bad Invincible Summer monopolized Daisey’s residency at American Repertory Theatre because, for my Monopoly money, this is a far better monologue, hardly impersonal but devoid of self-indulgence as Daisey, never leaving his post behind the table, swings like Tarzan between threads of interconnected story that encompass the methodical Edison’s slap down with visionary immigrant Nikola Tesla over direct versus alternating electrical current; Daisey’s own losing battle to get a 500-pound “lightning-throwing death machine” known as a Tesla Coil into this very monologue; the gravitational power of Bill Gates’s wealth; the dubious history of the Parker Brothers board game of the title; and the merchandising takeover of the monologist’s nondescript (well, sucking) small Maine hometown by Wal-Mart. As Daisey points out, monopoly the game can be endless; likewise corporate proliferation and greed. Human beings, by contrast, are finite – the game of life eventually bangs up against that “black gate” manned by the Reaper. You do not get to pass go or collect $200.
An electrifying monologue for change - The Boston Globe:
CAMBRIDGE -- You'll hear talk about the "electricity" of a night in the theater: the charge you can feel in the air, the deep yet crackling silence that occurs when a performance and an audience truly connect. Mike Daisey wants to generate that kind of electricity, and he does. But he also wants to make the metaphor real -- to charge people up with enough energy to change the world.
Smooth Pebbles : Farewell to Seed SciBlog -- and Why I Don't Blog So Much Lately:
Underlying that, to be quite honest, are increasing doubts about the wisdom of me spending time blogging. I have often found it fun, and a couple times blogging led me to stories I wouldn't otherwise have discovered or developed. But -- for me, anyway -- blogging has not proven a productive or deeply engaging way to write about science or the other things I care and know about enough to write about. For subjects with depth, the form feels too ephemeral (and doesn't pay well enough) to warrant extensive effort. For subjects with little depth ... well, why bother? I can see the attraction to the small-talk aspect of blogging, just as I can see the attraction to cocktail parties. But who has the time? Was a time I had the time, or thought I did. Now I don't feel I do.
Putin not able to track all nukes - Nation/Politics - The Washington Times:
Russian President Vladimir Putin told President Bush he could not account for all of Moscow's nuclear weapons at the same time al Qaeda was seeking to purchase three Russian nuclear devices on the black market, former CIA Director George J. Tenet said.
Boing Boing: EFF explains the law on AACS keys:
EFF's Fred von Lohmann has posted an excellent, incredibly depressing story about the AACS key that's been at the center of so much controversy lately. Basically, the DMCA is such a terrible law that it's almost certainly a losing proposition to publish or link to the key (though Fred says nothing about linking to sites that link to the key).
This is the law of the land, and it stinks. If there was ever an example of why the DMCA needs to die, this is it. The idea that a sixteen-digit number is illegal to possess, to discuss in class, or to post on a news site is offensive to a country where free speech is the first order of the Constitution. The MPAA and RIAA are conspiring to unmake America, to turn this into a country where free expression, due process, and the rule of law take a back-seat to a perpetual set of governmental handouts intended to guarantee the long-term profitability of a small handful of corrupt companies.
MONOPOLY! is up. It was a wonderful house last night, which is essential when bringing back up a show you haven't done in months and months--their energy was just fantastic. We had a very long note session this morning, and my brain is burning with nips and tucks and shifts to implement--while we all had a good time at the theater last night, as usual the first telling ran long, and the inevitable and wonderful process of sharpening the show down to a fine point is accelerated for this mini-run, as we have just a week to do it in. I think we're up to the challenge. It is hard, wrestling between the work that must be done and exhaustion--it's been a pitched battle for a lot of this run, and it is especially clear today that I need to be careful how hard I push changes to ensure I have the energy needed to implement them. It's not always cut and dried.
Crossposted to the ART blog.
Parabasis: The Rug Removed:
In the United States, the NEA has a budget of $139.4 million US dollars, none of which (by law) can go to individual artists. What does this translate to in terms of per capita spending on the arts? We spend $460K per person in the United States on the arts. The Danes spend roughly $12 MILLION per person on the arts. (To make the point even starker, if we were to raise the NEA's budget to keep up with the Danish government's budget it would come out to something around $3.6 billion dollars). This is despite the fact that the US's GDP is $13.22 trillion dollars and Denmark's GDP is $256 billion dollars.
I state all of this as an introduction to the issue that I want to explore which is the imminent demise of the non-profit Off Broadway/Regional theatre paradigm in America. Pretty much every single problem in American theatre that we think of as artistic can be traced back to financial factors, almost (and I only say "almost" to cover my ass, I can't actually think of one right now) every single issue we bloggers have been trying to shed some light on can be traced back to money. Lack of risk-taking amongst artistic directors? Check. New Plays being constantly developed instead of produced? Check. Lack of arts education leading to lack of interested audiences leading to shitty coverage for the art in the Times? Check. Losing an enormous amount of talent to film and TV? Check.
So how does this all connect?
Digg the Blog » Blog Archive » Digg This: 09-f9-11-02-9d-74-e3-5b-d8-41-56-c5-63-56-88-c0:
But now, after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
Damian Fowler on the plight of the young American playwright | Theatre story | Guardian Unlimited Arts:
This is a disastrous showing for US dramatists. The last generation of great American playwrights included writers like David Mamet, David Rabe and Sam Shepard. The more recent crop of well-known names is more likely to have moved into television or Hollywood, following a hit on Broadway. Such names include Neil LaBute, Kenneth Lonergan, Stephen Adly Guirgis and Suzan Lori-Parks. And why not? Given the choice between a $5,000 advance for a Broadway play and $1.5m for a screenplay, what would you do? The choice really is that stark. "The plight of the American playwright is very serious," says Breglio. "Producers certainly don't want to take a high risk on a new playwright."
However, in a strange transatlantic calculation, the chances of a British or Irish play making it on Broadway are seemingly greater than their US equivalents.
Variety.com - Actor Tom Poston dies at 85:
Comic actor Tom Poston, who won an Emmy on "The Steve Allen Show" and was Emmy nommed for "Newhart," "Mork and Mindy" and "Coach," died April 30 in Los Angeles after a brief illness. He was 85.
Poston was best known for playing George Utley on "Newhart" and his guest appearances on "The Bob Newhart Show." His Emmy win came in 1959 for his role playing the befuddled Everyman as part of the Allen's stock company along with Don Knotts and Louie Nye.
It's opening day. Frequent readers will know that this is akin to a holiday in our lives--a holiday you work for, which means when it comes out right you really feel that you've earned it. I feel rested up and recovered from INVINCIBLE SUMMER, and my notes for MONOPOLY! are in as much order as they are going to get.
From here it is a toboggan ride: we tech at noon for four hours, when we'll set all the lights and make many important decisions relentlessly, one after another, until there are no more to make. Then I'll probably take another walk, sit on the stage in the space and take everything in one last time, and then pull the trigger. It's funny--I know this story well, and in a week I'll be going through the same thing magnified immensely as I open TONGUES WILL WAG for the very first time. But for today, I'm not thinking about that.
If you're in the greater Boston area, come on down and see what happens.
Crossposted to the ART blog
A big gorgeous cover story on my friend Lauren in the LA Weekly. Go Lauren!
Lauren Weedman’s Search for Home - Joe Donnelly:
You may not know about Lauren Weedman. She’s not a big star. She may be someday, or she may not, but when she’s onstage I’d advise that you duck — painful truths go whizzing by like bullets, send-ups rain down like bombs, an uncensored id explodes like shrapnel out of some internal minefield. It kills me like art. Killer art. I’m not sure we’ve seen anyone like Lauren Weedman before.
In her latest one-woman journey to the center of her psyche, Bust, which ran for three mostly sold-out dates in March at REDCAT, Weedman details the descent of a naive, self-absorbed creature/victim of Hollywood into the bowels of the prison system, where she has volunteered as a kind of inmate pal in a program called Behind Bars. Along the way, Weedman, acting about 15 different roles, mercilessly, lovingly and hilariously skewers her vapid network of friends and colleagues (unforgettable is her pillorying of a women’s mag editor and a dog-rescuing friend), the inane prison bureaucracy, the self-defeating prisoners, the earnest volunteers and mostly herself. And while I’m watching it, I’m shitting my pants at how funny and poignant, ferocious and precise the whole thing is, and all I can think is: Who is she? Why isn’t she a huge star? And I’ve got to meet this woman.