Monday, June 30, 2008

Ruslana Korshunova, No Longer Anonymous:

Over the weekend a successful young fashion model touched off a minor media circus by killing herself. Almost immediately, details of the beautiful life cut tragically short swooped in to fill blanks; the apocryphal tale of her "discovery" by benevolent industry scouts; her melancholy poems; how she'd been watching "Ghost" the night before. It was mostly bullshit. But there is something about great beauty that inoculates us to the more mundane realities of life, which was that Ruslana Korshunova was an immigrant from a desperately poor country who came to New York at a scarily young age to make money to send back to her parents. In that way she was no different from the tens of thousands of kids from former socialist states whose parents send them thousands of miles to work in restaurants and gas stations. It's generally more legal, and the living conditions a little nicer, but as our anonymous model columnist Tatiana has discussed before in this space, the people governing a model's fate are no less predatory and self-interested, and the experience is only slightly less anonymous.

9:45 PM


2:11 PM


12:44 PM How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Fringe:

Though the Toronto Fringe's 148 shows are selected by random lottery, the majority of the theatre, comedy and dance festival's programming has become quite predictable.

You can always count on at least one Something Unlikely: The Musical! (this year's edition includes Fart Factory, Hockey and Floozy: The Musicals!), a feminist twist on Shakespeare (this year: 'Beth), a couple of plays about the jobs actors work in between gigs (The Reservation, set in a restaurant, and Silver and Stinky, about bike couriers), as well as more autobiographical solo shows than you can shake a microphone stand at.

As an example of how much of an artistic echo chamber the Fringe has become, note that the 2008 edition has not one, not two, but three shows with titles that riff on Dr. Strangelove: How I Stopped Worrying and Learnt to Love The Mall, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Abortion and, last but not deceased, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Zombie Master. (The zombie play is another Fringe mainstay.)

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Sunday, June 29, 2008

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Saturday, June 28, 2008

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Friday, June 27, 2008

Letter to the Editor of American Theatre Magazine | New York Acting & Theater Blog:

I believe the title of Teresa Eyring’s article “How Theatre Saved America, Part I” is misleading. “How Bloomsburg Theatre Ensemble saved Bloomsburg, PA,” would have been entirely more appropriate. I applaud Eyring for highlighting BTE, but this topic is too massive to be covered in a two-part, two page article. To highlight only one of seven listed theatre ensembles and then tell readers that the American theater is “saving America” is incredibly insufficient. If American Theatre magazine and TCG are truly concerned about this problem they should devote an entire issue to it. Interview both sides talking with everyone involved including board members, artistic directors, actors, playwrights, etc. A good place to start is the blogging community as there are many artists, practitioners and educators sharing their struggles and points of view. Also highlight more theaters outside the major metropolitan hubs showing how they are accomplishing ensemble work and providing a living wage for the artists. As well, if permission is granted, the issue should also include Mike Daisey
's monologue How Theatre Failed America, which would serve as an additional source for this contentious issue.

7:08 PM

7:04 PM

AT&T Whistleblower: Spy Bill Creates 'Infrastructure for a Police State' | Threat Level from

Today’s vote by Congress effectively gives retroactive immunity to the telecom companies and  endorses an all-powerful president. It’s a Congressional coup against the Constitution.

The Democratic leadership is touting the deal as a "compromise," but in fact they have endorsed the infamous Nuremberg defense: "Just following orders." The judge can only check their paperwork. This cynical deal is a Democratic exercise in deceit and cowardice.

1:39 PM

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Thursday, June 26, 2008

Five Myths About the New Wiretapping Law:

Sometime today, the Senate is likely to approve the most comprehensive overhaul of American surveillance law since the Watergate era. Unless you're a government lawyer, a legal scholar, a masochist, or an insomniac, chances are you haven't read the 114-page bill. Don't beat yourself up: Neither have most of the 293 House members who voted for it last week. Ditto the mainstream press, who seem to have relied chiefly on summaries provided by the same lawmakers who hadn't read it.

To be fair, wiretapping is so classified, and the language of the bill so opaque, that no one without a "top secret" clearance can say with any authority just how much surveillance the proposal will authorize the government to do. (The best assessment yet comes from former Justice Department official David Kris, who deems the legislation "so intricate" that it risks confusing even "the government officials who must apply it.")

Out of the echo chamber of ignorance and self-serving political cant, a number of myths have begun to emerge. We may never know for sure everything that this new legislation entails. But here are a few things that it most certainly doesn't.

3:16 PM

1:58 PM

rejoice, for Hot Bee-Ass Wednesday is here again!

12:22 PM

One more short interview—this one is from Performance New Mexico with Spencer Beckwith. You can listen to it here.

12:21 PM

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11:10 AM

Preview article on IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING from the New Mexican:

Iyss Newmexican
Read the whole thing here.

12:24 AM

that doesn't look good...

12:22 AM

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Mike Daisey’s Final Roundtable: Ideology vs. Experience | New York Acting & Theater Blog:

Out of all the highly experienced panel members I was drawn most to the ideas of Oskar Eustis, the Artistic Director of the Public Theater. One idea mentioned was the fact that the American theater should go the way of the American public libraries. Free for all. As talked about all over the theater scene the budget to run the American theaters is a drop in the hat of the national budget. I appreciated that he made sure to say that this was not going to get any artists rich, but that it would be a healthy alternative to the capitalistic view that is running the current non-profit theater system.

Naturally he used the example of the Delacorte theater in Central Park. The current play Hamlet recieved bad reviews from the New York Times, but is still “selling out” shows because of the very fact the tickets are free and the production value is of quality. He presented to the Public’s board the idea of having free tickets for the shows in the downtown space. The board could not imagine such a thing. Which brought Eustis to the crux of his point. That ideology will always trump experience. Experience says that when tickets are free people will come to the Public’s productions, but the ideology says that theater can not be run on this model as it has to make money and there are no other options but to sell tickets. Eustis said the national ideology surrounding how theater is run in America must change. He has hope because the current administration in the big institutional theaters will soon be gone and the next generation can “take them over” and issue reform.

10:41 PM

Enough is enough

10:41 PM

Here's our first interview for IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING: it's with the Santa Fe Radio Cafe, recorded at a great bakery in Santa Fe, at a table as people ate and worked around us--very neat idea for a show. The host Mary-Charlotte was really sharp--we covered a lot of ground about the new piece.

Listen to the interview here.

3:14 PM


2:59 PM

The Playgoer: My Night With Daisey:

It's a deft balance he achieves in the monologue, since the connection between the two strands remains unspoken. It's up to the audience to contrast in their own minds the thrill of creating theatre "by any means necessary" and the deadness we encounter so much in our larger nonprofits. The solution of course is NOT necessarily to return to Daisey's 5-person college rep-company adventure "Theatre on the Pond". But to find some medium in between, one could say. Allow for a company to have the energy and purpose of Theatre on the Pond with just a little more budget, and audience. But one without the other just won't do it anymore.

2:57 PM

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

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4:52 AM

Technology Liberation Front » Archive » FISA Capitulation: Bad Policy, Bad Politics:

Barack Obama is supporting the FISA bill. That pretty much seals it: Russ Feingold and Chris Dodd may filibuster, but we already know that there are enough Democrats willing to break ranks to reach cloture, and with the party’s figurehead on board, none of them are likely to switch sides. Obama says he’s going to try to strip out the immunity provision, but this is obviously so much political theater. If he were serious about doing that he’d be saying he planned to oppose the “compromise” until the immunity provision got stripped out. The fact that he’s committing himself to support the overall bill whether or not it comes with immunity is proof that he doesn’t really care about getting rid of immunity. And why would he? A few angry liberals may decide not to give to his campaign, but he’s already got a lopsided fundraising advantage over John McCain, and in the long run he probably wants to stay on the good side of a powerful lobby that could prove useful to him once he’s in the Oval Office. Same goes for Steny Hoyer: Obama will need his support when it comes time to nationalize the health care system, so why risk alienating Hoyer just to make Glenn Greenwald happy?

We are, in other words, right back to the narrative where being “strong” on national security means trashing the constitution. Within that frame, Democrats are always going to lose because they’re never going to be as enthusiastic about Constitution-trashing as the Republicans (well, I hope so anyway. Bill Clinton did his best). So by conceding the premise and saying, in effect, “we can trash the constitution too!” the Democrats were setting themselves up for future political problems. Because if the Democrats are carbon copies of the Republicans on national security issues, why not go for the real thing?

4:32 AM


4:32 AM

Monday, June 23, 2008

Obama's support for the FISA "compromise" - Glenn Greenwald -

In the past 24 hours, specifically beginning with the moment Barack Obama announced that he now supports the Cheney/Rockefeller/Hoyer House bill, there have magically arisen -- in places where one would never have expected to find them -- all sorts of claims about why this FISA "compromise" isn't really so bad after all. People who spent the week railing against Steny Hoyer as an evil, craven enabler of the Bush administration -- or who spent the last several months identically railing against Jay Rockefeller -- suddenly changed their minds completely when Barack Obama announced that he would do the same thing as they did. What had been a vicious assault on our Constitution, and corrupt complicity to conceal Bush lawbreaking, magically and instantaneously transformed into a perfectly understandable position, even a shrewd and commendable decision, that we should not only accept, but be grateful for as undertaken by Obama for our Own Good.

Accompanying those claims are a whole array of factually false statements about the bill, deployed in service of defending Obama's indefensible -- and deeply unprincipled -- support for this "compromise."

9:20 PM

Point du jour | night break

11:12 AM

This Artist's Life: Making it work in NYC: How Did Theatre Fail America?:

Saw Mike Daisey's "How Theater Failed America" last night at the Barrow Street Theatre. Brilliant. If I had seen it before its closing night, I would have probably been back several times. There was an excellent roundtable to follow the performance, which included Oskar Eustis (Artistic Director of the Public Theater), Richard Nelson, Jayne Houdyshell, Gregory Mosher, Aaron Landesman, John Eisner and Garrett Eisler. I definitely look forward to applying some of the issues and suggestions to reclaim the theatre, to COTE. Mike Daisey will be back in New York in the fall with a new monologue called "If You See Something, Say Something".

10:44 AM

track of faith

9:57 AM


9:57 AM

Theatre de la Jeune Lune:

In 1978 Barbra Berlovitz, Vincent Gracieux, and Dominique Serrand began an adventure called Theatre de la Jeune Lune. They were soon joined by Robert Rosen and eventually Steve Epp and innumerable other collaborators. Over the past 30 years we have created nearly 100 productions, performed for hundreds of thousands of people in cities across the United States and in France, but primarily and most importantly in Minneapolis. For the first 14 years we were itinerant, making the most of any venue we found ourselves in. Then in 1992, with an amazing groundswell of support, we purchased and renovated the Allied Van Lines building in the Minneapolis warehouse district. We excavated the interior of this historic building to create a stunningly innovative and award winning performance space, opening our new artistic home to the public on November 18th of that year.

Sixteen years later we are faced with an excruciating decision. With the organization burdened by mounting and unmanageable debt, the Board of Directors has voted to put Jeune Lune's home up for sale. After much soul searching and extensive fundraising and debt management efforts, we have determined it to be the only prudent and fiscally responsible choice. What has been acclaimed, as one of the most striking and unique theatre spaces in the country will go dark. It is a huge loss, a loss for us, for all of the artists who work with us, for our audience and for the community at large, both locally and nationally.

And with the building, we have decided that the time has come to bid adieu to the theatre ensemble we have all known as Jeune Lune.

9:53 AM


9:53 AM

George Carlin, Splenetic Comedian, Dies at 71:

George Carlin, the Grammy-Award winning standup comedian and actor who was hailed for his irreverent social commentary, poignant observations of the absurdities of everyday life and language, and groundbreaking routines like “Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television,” died in Santa Monica, Calif., on Sunday. He was 71.


Although some criticized parts of his later work as too contentious, Mr. Carlin defended the material, insisting that his comedy had always been driven by an intolerance for the shortcomings of humanity and society. “Scratch any cynic,” he said, “and you’ll find a disappointed idealist.”

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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Tonight is the last performance of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Barrow Street.

It's been six months since we launched the show at Under The Radar in January, which seems like a lifetime ago--it's grown and refined so much, and I'm indebted by all the people who have done so much to make that possible. It's really a list that could go on and on: Mark Russell, Shanta Thanke, Oskar Eustis, AJ Epstein, Scott Morfee, Nicole Borelli Hearn, Jenny Werner, Theresa Eyring, Cris Buchner and many, many more.

We're putting this one to bed tonight--there are no dates booked for it in the future, though there is talk, and hopefully it will be back one day...but it is moving to think that this could be the last time I perform it.

My old professor Dick Sewell used to say, "Let's put this pig in the meat grinder!" before shows sometimes, and he'd laugh maniacally. No one ever understood it, but it was totally infectious--and the older I get, and the more shows I have under my belt, the more and more it makes sense to me.

Now I will go and put this pig in the meat grinder!

5:01 PM

3:28 PM


12:56 PM

The Woman Who Fell in Love with the Berlin Wall:

Like millions of sweethearts across the globe, Wall Winther has found true love. Her husband, in his prime, was a stalwart of immense stature, a domineering presence who was feared throughout his homeland and infamous the world over. Events haven’t been too kind to his physical state, but the couple’s love remains strong. You might think Wall Winther is lucky to be attached to such a celebrity, but it’s unlikely the couple will be gracing the cover of Hello! any time soon. That’s because Wall Winther’s other half is the Berlin Wall.

Wall Winther (whose original name was Eija-Riita Eklaf) is an Objectum-Sexual, or OS for short. Most OSes harbour their passions in private, terrified of rejection by society. But they can still form meaningful relationships, even if their partners might be considered unconventional. “It’s an orientation, like hetero or homosexuality,” explains Kiowa, a US-based OS who moderates an internet forum for like-minded souls. “We’re emotionally and physically attracted to objects. Replacing the term ‘hetero’ with ‘object’ would accurately describe OS.”

Wall Winther agrees. “We see things as living beings,” she says. “That’s a must. Otherwise you can’t fall in love with an object.” Wall Winther is attracted mostly to constructions with plenty of parallel lines – buildings, fences, bridges, gates and, in one case, a guillotine. But other OS fetishists might be turned on by the intricate workings of a turbine or television set, the delicate curves of a shiny sports car, the rigid harshness of a railtrack, or the bell end of a trumpet.

3:35 AM


3:07 AM

Who says you need a CD Recorder to burn CDs?

2:35 AM


2:28 AM

I'm delighted to announce our first national tour--we'll be performing IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING, a monologue about the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security, what it means to be secure, and the price we are willing to pay for it.

Lensic Performing Arts Center
June 26th to 28th

Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company
July 11th to 20th

Time-Based Art Festival
September 11th to 14th

Colby College
October 3rd

Museum of Contemporary Art
October 10th to 12th

The Public Theater
October 15th to November 30th

We're ecstatic to birth the monologue next week in Santa Fe, where it will be seen by many who know intimately the work of the Los Alamos weapons labs, and then travel to DC so that those who run the Department of Homeland Security can have it in their backyard. After stops in the Northwest, my alma mater, and Chicago, we'll end the tour with a full production at the Public Theater.

Details and ticketing links can be found at, and a longer description of the show follows at the end of this email.

This is also the final weekend to see
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at the Barrow Street Theater. We're booked up for the foreseeable future, so see it now or see it never.

Be seeing you,





A New Monologue
Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

About the Show:

Called “the master storyteller” by the New York Times for his groundbreaking monologues, Mike Daisey tackles a story at the heart of our world today: the surprising, secret history of the Department of Homeland Security. This is woven together with the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb—called “the perfect capitalist weapon” for the way it kills civilians while leaving cities and industries intact—and a pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site, where atomic fire rewrote history a half a century ago and ushered in an age of American supremacy. Combining damning fact and searing personal history, Daisey takes us on a journey through the dark heart of America, in search of answers for what it means to be secure, and the price we are willing to pay for it.

Praise for Mike Daisey:

"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur. Mr. Daisey’s greatest subject is himself."
New York Times

"Sharp-witted, passionately delivered talk about matters both small and huge, at once utterly individual and achingly universal."
Boston Globe

"Daisey’s skill is that he is able to talk about the historical and make it human, the personal and make it universal, so that the listener is both informed and transformed."
Paper Magazine

"The insightful hostility of the best comedy."
The New Yorker

2:24 AM

melting in the slow heat of a summer night, damp with the dark air & thoughts of you

2:23 AM

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The EsoCritic: Theater Review: How Theater Failed America:

Having worked in theater in a variety of performance, writing, and yes, administrative jobs, I was surprised to learn how common my experience must be, judging from Daisey’s own trajectory. Less surprising is how universal the desire for a Reformation Movement in the American theater is… or at least a very public gossip session. It’s too early yet to say whether Daisey will be the industry’s Martin Luther, but it is impossible to confuse him with Thomas More, and he’s certainly no gossipy hen.

The fact is How Theater Failed America is more sophisticated than any manifesto, far funnier and more entertaining than an excommunication, and unlike the average Union Square zealot or university stowaway, Mike Daisey knows what of he speaks. Many times his performance made me think that if South Park’s Eric Cartman grew to adulthood and used his powers for good instead of evil, this is what it might look like.

11:58 PM

Things are weird without you

11:58 PM

Obama Supports Telecom Amnesty Bill | Threat Level from

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama supports the spy bill compromise passed by the House Friday, despite having opposed retroactive amnesty to telecoms that helped with the President's secret, warrantless wiretapping.

The measure expands the government's ability to install blanket wiretaps inside domestic communication infrastructure and frees the nation's phone and internet companies from lawsuits accusing them of massive violations of their customers' privacy. The Senate is expected to take up and pass the Bush-approved bill next week.

The bill is widely perceived as a victory for the White House, and was agreed to by Democrats out of a fear of being labeled soft on terrorism in the upcoming elections.

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Parabasis: YouTube is Changing Everything (For the Better!):

When blogging became a widespread phenomenon there was the hope, the promise, that people's standards for paid writing would perhaps get higher.  After all, if there's a hundred really great film reviewers (or political commentators) regularly churning out high quality material for peanuts, why should we listen to Richard Roeper? In reaction to this, the mainstream media regularly unleashed a series of stories about blogger ethics, blogger meanness and other blogger badness to try to delegitimize it's closest competitor.  I remember thinking that the theotrosphere had arrived when the Times did a piece on how corrupt bloggers (whom I'd never heard of) were given special treatment to review plays, including celebrity access etc.  These stories became common for awhile (mostly in political realms) but now that the blogosphere is an accepted reality everywhere except spellcheck, the Times itself now hosts a large numbers of great blogs and has gotten rid of TimesSelect, which limited people's access to their online content.

And now, perhaps, the same thing is happening with YouTube.  YouTube is changing the way we think about film.  If a movie is meant to be just entertaining well... then it has to be more entertaining than 90 minutes of entertaining YouTube clips, or else it's not worth your money.  The more free stuff is out there, the more value must be added for each dollar you spend on something. Our standards as a culture may actually be changing for the better.

10:25 PM

fuji milf?

10:25 PM

House passes wiretap telcom immunity bill - Boing Boing:

House Democrats covered themselves in shame today, joining with Republicans to pass a bill granting amnesty to the cowardly telephone companies who helped the President's office with its illegal bulk-wiretapping campaign that spied on every American call and email without any judicial oversight. What's more, the bill also allows this to continue going on in the future. Who needs the fourth amendment?

4:44 PM


4:41 PM

George Bush's latest powers, courtesy of the Democratic Congress - Glenn Greenwald -

Perhaps the most repellent part of this bill (though that's obviously a close competition) is 802(c) of the telecom amnesty section. That says that the Attorney General can declare that the documents he submits to the court in order to get these lawsuits dismissed are secret, and once he declares that, then: (a) the plaintiffs and their lawyers won't ever see the documents and (b) the court is barred from referencing them in any way when it dismisses the lawsuit. All the court can do is issue an order saying that the lawsuits are dismissed, but it is barred from saying why they're being dismissed or what the basis is for the dismissal.

So basically, one day in the near future, we're all going to learn that one of our federal courts dismissed all of the lawsuits against the telecoms. But we're never going to be able to know why the lawsuits were dismissed or what documents were given by the Government to force the court to dismiss the lawsuits. Not only won't we, the public, know that, neither will the plaintiffs' lawyers. Nobody will know except the Judge and the Government because it will all be shrouded in compelled secrecy, and the Judge will be barred by this law from describing or even referencing the grounds for dismissal in any way. Freedom is on the march.

11:35 AM


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12:47 AM

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Prelude to a gangbang / Violet Blue asks Chuck Palahniuk about his new porn novel, 'Snuff':

We're standing in a Mission bar, and Tristan Taormino has just finished poking my cleavage with her index finger and giggling, when she says, "So. The story goes like this. One night, Hunter S. Thompson calls up Susie Bright. It's late, and he says, 'It's Hunter. Tell me everything you know about statistics on bestiality. Details.'

"Except Hunter had the wrong number. He hadn't called Susie, but some other woman whose number was a digit off. But the minute the woman realized who was on the phone, she hopped on her computer and started researching for him. The next day she got a hold of Susie and said, 'You wouldn't believe this, but ...'"

10:18 PM

Out of reach

10:18 PM

Theater Talk's New Theater Corps: How Theater Failed America:

Mike Daisey quickly gets to the point in How Theater Failed America, because his monologue has more important goals than the schaudenfraud desire to see Charles Isherwood, Disney, and the lot get theirs. His goal isn’t some global-warming summit filled with hot air and no answers (though he does get aboil): it’s How Theater Failed Mike Daisey. His vibrant drop-of-a-dime storytelling—always sincere—lands between the steadfast directness of Spalding Grey and the manic energy of Chris Farley.

9:33 PM


7:22 PM

a boy and his bunny

6:54 PM

Congress set to vote on telecom spying immunity TOMORROW -- write to your rep NOW!  - Boing Boing

After weeks of empty rhetoric about coming to a "compromise" on new spying laws, the House of Representatives is set to vote on telecom immunity tomorrow. The bill is HR 6304 and contains the exact same blanket immunity provisions, only with a few cosmetic changes so that political spin doctors can claim that it actually provides meaningful court review.

Whether or not Congress decides to offer immunity for telecoms that cooperated in warrantless spying programs is a key part of the broader battle over the Bush Administration's legal doctrine of unchecked executive power.

If you live in the US, please visit, find your Representative's phone number in Washington D.C., and tell them to oppose immunity for lawbreaking telecoms!

6:53 PM

4:32 PM

DramaBiz magazine -Web Exclusive:

There may be no better way to infuriate those in the theatrical community than by creating a show called “How Theater Failed America.” In the one-man show, which recently moved from Joe’s Pub to off-Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre, veteran monologist Mike Daisey makes the case that the regional theatre movement has lost its way by abandoning locally-based, community-nurturing theatre to focus instead on wasteful building projects.

Unsurprisingly, the response from many in the theatre has been dismissive. In The New York Times, The Huntington Theatre Company’s Nicholas Martin called some of Daisey’s proposed solutions, including creating endowments for local actors that would cover salary and health insurance, “facile and often naive,” and Kurt Beattie, artistic director of Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre, referred to the show as “shallow” and “inapplicable to my theatre community.”

DramaBiz New York correspondent Larry Getlen met with Daisey in their downtown Brooklyn neighborhood to further explore Daisey’s take on the state of theatre today. (Note: Daisey will also be holding panel discussions about these issues after his Barrow Street shows with participants including Eric Bogosian and Robert Brustein.) This article is Part I of an edited excerpt of that conversation.

4:32 PM


2:39 PM

The hand emerges from the Bokeh Beast

1:57 PM

153/365 Storm Clouds

4:02 AM

Deals with Iraq are set to bring oil giants back - International Herald Tribune:

Four Western oil companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP — the original partners in the Iraq Petroleum Company — along with Chevron and a number of smaller oil companies, are in talks with Iraq's Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service Iraq's largest fields, according to ministry officials, oil company officials and an American diplomat.

The deals, expected to be announced on June 30, will lay the foundation for the first commercial work for the major companies in Iraq since the American invasion, and open a new and potentially lucrative country for their operations.

4:01 AM

Falling Bokeh

4:01 AM

The Arts | Intiman's Bartlett Sher takes home his first Tony | Seattle Times Newspaper:

Sher's win catapults him to the top of the A-list of Broadway directors. Though he moved recently from Seattle to New York, and has various Big Apple projects in the works (including a new musical about martial-arts superstar Bruce Lee), Sher is contracted through 2009 to head Intiman, where he just staged the new play "Namaste Man."

Asked if his win helps his hometown company he said, "Of course it does — it helps us attract better artists, better producers and other things down the road." He also mentioned that Intiman will develop "a big Disney musical next year," with the title to be revealed later.

Thank God Intiman is doing their part to help develop the next Disney musical--I was concerned that Disney might not have the energy and resources to make that happen. It's good that we have regional non-profit theaters, working for the public good, to ensure that megacorporations like Disney can have their voices heard. That is exactly where I like to see our arts funding going.

2:52 AM

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


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1:32 PM

Slashdot | Wikileaks Gets Hold of Counterinsurgency Manual:

"The document, which has been verified, is official US Special Forces doctrine. It directly advocates training paramilitaries, pervasive surveillance, censorship, press control and restrictions on labor unions & political parties. It directly advocates warrantless searches, detainment without charge and the suspension of habeas corpus. It directly advocates bribery, employing terrorists, false flag operations and concealing human rights abuses from journalists. And it directly advocates the extensive use of 'psychological operations' (propaganda) to make these and other 'population & resource control' measures more palatable."

1:26 PM

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

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8:24 PM


1:51 AM

Steve Jobs and Apple's $19 billion sneeze | Chris Ayres - Times Online:

So what happened? The problem, it turned out, was the video of Mr Jobs's presentation that circulated on YouTube. Bloggers noticed that the Apple chief looked a bit thinner than usual, which - naturally - led to speculation about his imminent death. I say naturally, because Mr Jobs recovered from pancreatic cancer a few years back, but didn't announce it publicly until he was in the clear. This time, Apple went on the offensive, announcing that Mr Jobs had a “common bug”. Alas, that wasn't enough to stop $19 billion vanishing from the company's stock market value.

Which proves, I think, that the description of Mr Jobs as a “rock star” is no longer accurate. After all, dying is usually a good career move for a rock star. No, he is a deity - a messiah in Apple's corporate theocracy. And when God catches flu, people get worried.

1:48 AM


1:06 AM

Monday, June 16, 2008


6:46 PM

The L Magazine, How Theater Failed America :

But Daisey takes aim at something other than the crucifixion of theatrical products. His real target is us, i.e. anyone making, viewing or passing judgment on the theater. Secondly, and much more vocally, the regional theater movement. A movement that, like its biggest funders, is of the Baby Boom generation. Born in the early 1950s, the thing has now grown gray and fat, spending indiscriminately, with the gutless assumption that the money will just magically keep coming in even after the funders die, that somehow their own children will manage to pay off their outsized debts. Daisey is interested in taking regional theater back down to size, reminding it of its original prime mover — the idealistic urge to train and nurture local theater artists and build committed and long-term relationships not only with those artists but also with the audience.

5:00 PM


5:00 PM

For personal reasons I will be offline for the next few days--I've set up the blog to post some articles automatically, but I may not actually be posting or responding for a while.

3:55 PM


3:54 PM

Equity Flees SF - lies like truth:

The American Actors Equity Association (AEA) is pulling out of San Francisco.

On June 5, members of the Equity Bay Area Advisory Committee received a letter from Equity's headquarters advising them of the organization's decision to close San Francisco's AEA office. "Over the next several months we will transition the administration of San Francisco/Bay Area Equity companies to our Los Angeles office," the letter, signed by AEA President Mark Zimmerman and Executive Director John P Connolly, read.

Bay Area actors are reacting strongly to the news.

"There has been no consultation with the local membership regarding problems maintaining the office, no discussion about why there has been a problem maintaining a local rep, and no conversation at all with local membership," says Bay Area Equity member, Steven Pawley. "The decision was announced to us by staff members only and it was presented as a decision already made."

11:13 AM

once in a blue moon..

1:35 AM

Geoff and Dan Hoyle make a life onstage:

You might not pick them out of a crowd, even a small one, and peg them as father and son. Geoff Hoyle, 62, has a native Englishman's fair complexion and thinning rust-colored hair and wears an expression poised between quizzical perplexity and antic madness on his almond-shaped face. Dan Hoyle, 28, with a shock of dark hair and teeth gleaming brightly in his firm-jawed wide smile, projects the open-faced confidence and self-effacing modesty of a happy San Francisco hometowner on the rise.

Both Hoyles have made their life on the stage, Geoff as a multifaceted actor, solo performer and Pickle Family Circus clown and Dan as creator of bravura solo shows that include "Tings Dey Happen," about Nigerian oil politics. But even there the similarities aren't so apparent.

12:26 AM

Sunday, June 15, 2008


5:06 PM

A Celebration, And Indictment --

"Why did you come?" asks Mike Daisey at the start of his off-Broadway show, "How Theater Failed America," a provocative monologue that skewers and celebrates the not-for-profit theater.

"No, really," he says, seated at a wooden table with nothing but a glass of water and some notes before him. "Why did you come? Why show up to hear a story you already know?"

Perhaps it's because Daisey's funny and fierce tales from the theatrical crypt are being spoken out loud, not by arts insiders over late-night drinks or bitch sessions after rehearsals, but publicly for all to hear.

It's the reason the show is attracting many high-profile theater folks, including James Bundy, artistic director of the Yale Repertory Theatre in New Haven and dean of the School of Drama, who last week participated in an after-show "round-table."

A few days later, Daisey performed his show in Denver during the National Performing Arts Convention and followed it up in a talk-back in front of hundreds of not-for-profit theater professionals.

Daisey's show is a cross between the personal storytelling of Spalding Gray and the comic rants of Lewis Back. Over the course of 90 minutes, Daisey exposes some of the dirty little secrets of the nonprofit theater world.

5:05 PM

2561838140 Ea5F985155 O

2:33 PM

Life on Mars?

2:29 PM


2:51 AM

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Fox News Would Like To Take a Moment To Remind You That the Obamas Are As Black As Satan’s Festering, Baby-Eating Soul:

It sure as hell matters to Fox News, which is why it’s dog whistling about Barack so loudly that it’s vibrating the windows. Calling Michelle Obama a “baby mama” isn’t just Fox News having a happy casual larf; it’s using urban slang to a) remind you the Obamas are black, b) belittle a woman of considerable personal accomplishment, and c) frame Barack Obama’s relationship to his wife and children in a way that insults him, minimizes his love for and commitment to his family, and reinforces stereotypes about black men. Someone at Fox News just ought to call Barack Obama “boy” at some point so we can have all the cards right out there on the table.

12:12 PM

Sitting in Rain

12:11 PM

How we read online:

That's Jakob Nielsen's theory. He's a usability expert who writes an influential biweekly column on such topics as eye-tracking research, Web design errors, and banner blindness. (Links, btw, give a text more authority, making you more likely to stick around.)

Nielsen champions the idea of information foraging. Humans are informavores. On the Internet, we hunt for facts. In earlier days, when switching between sites was time-consuming, we tended to stay in one place and dig. Now we assess a site quickly, looking for an "information scent." We move on if there doesn't seem to be any food around.

12:08 PM


12:02 PM

Friday, June 13, 2008


10:08 PM

The Portland Mercury | Blogtown, PDX | Artists Rep Creates Resident Acting Company:

This is a move in the right direction, and it brought to mind this article by monologist Mike Daisey (who will be in town for TBA this fall), about the death of the regional theater system and what it means to local talent when theaters outsource:

When regional theaters need artists today, they outsource: They ship the actors, designers, and directors in from New York and slam them together to make the show. To use a sports analogy, theaters have gone from a local league with players you knew intimately to a different lineup for every game, made of players you’ll never see again, coached by a stranger, on a field you have no connection to.

The outsourcing conversation feels particularly relevant on the heels of the Drammys. Most of the awards given to Portland Center Stage went to people who were brought in from elsewhere, which kind of strikes me as complete bullshit. It’s no commentary on the quality of the work PCS was honored for—I sure can’t argue with the Outstanding Production nod to Twelfth Night, for example—but if you’re going to insist that these are “local” theater awards and not allow any touring productions or non-locally produced shows to compete, where’s the logic in then recognizing what is essentially touring talent, brought in from New York to work on a single project?

10:08 PM


5:19 PM

'How Theater Failed America' Offers Free Beer Tony Sunday (

In celebration of Tony® night on Sunday, June 15, FREE BEER will be available to all audience members (21+) at the 7:00 PM performance of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA, Mike Daisey’s monologue about theater, failure, passion and hope. HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA recently transferred directly from a sold-out, critically-acclaimed run at Joe’s Pub to a strictly limited 6-week engagement (through Sunday, June 22) at Off-Broadway’s Barrow Street Theatre, where it has been drawing rave reviews. Created and performed by Mike Daisey and directed by Jean-Michele Gregory, the show began performances at the Barrow Street Theatre on Friday, May 16.

3:12 PM

Dungeon Runners: Dungeon Runner's Gold-Excreeting Bling Gnome Spotted:

The Bling Gnome is a pet of sort that runs around in the game as you play picking up all of the gold dropped from the baddies you kill while playing the free-to-play massive game. The gnome can also be told to pick up dropped items that aren't rare and eat them. He then poops out gold as a reward... seriously.

I love this idea, it saves all of the hassle of having to go back to town and sell off the crap you horde while out in the wilds adventuring.

3:12 PM

My Brain Hurts

3:12 PM

Arts, Briefly - Vets Are Going Public - Brief -

The Public Theater’s 2008-9 season will include new works by playwright royalty, some big-name directors and a couple of visits from Public leaders past, the theater announced on Thursday. Starting things off is the long-anticipated New York production of Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman’s musical “Bounce,” directed by John Doyle, followed by the latest from the monologist Mike Daisey, “If You See Something Say Something”

3:06 PM

Self Portrait 2008

3:06 PM

Sustainability - Program Notes:

It started with a great discussion of Mike Daisey's outstanding "How Theatre Failed America." Daisey has raised important issues, and I was glad to hear him willing to stand up for actors. I became angry about a comment one attendee made that implied -- no, that actually stated -- that it reflected a sense of entitlement to insist that theatre artists be allowed to lead a reasonably stable life. In my opinion, the idea that "nobody asked you to go into the theatre, and so don't expect anything but the most marginal existence" is destructive, and resembles the same words used against coal miners and auto workers when they would go on strike for better pay or working conditions. To commit your life to theatre does not involve a vow of poverty, to my knowledge, and to regard it as entitlement to expect a living wage devalues artists.

2:02 PM

Sur les quais de Barcelone

2:02 PM

Sondheim, Lucas and Durang To Head Public's 08-09 Season (

The Public Theater’s Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Mara Manus  announced today that the 2008-2009 Season will feature premieres by Mike Daisey, Christopher Durang, John Guare, Danny Hoch, Craig Lucas, Stephen Sondheim, and Tracey Scott Wilson.

11:46 AM

11:37 AM

11:35 AM

” Come to (or at*) the theater at jamYe waXman:

The point is, this is the second to last weekend to see Mike Daisey, a serial monologist, do what he has gotten rave reviews for doing best. Weaving an intricate story of his life, in and out of the theater, and keeping you on the edge of your seat, or at least in your seat, for the course of the ride.

11:34 AM


11:28 AM

Actors Guild of Lexington: Has Theatre Failed America?:

Mike Daisey's provocative solo performance How Theater Failed America has had the TCG Conference buzzing, as it seems as if many of the attendees are indicted in his piece. Last night's sold out, standing room only performance included a number of major figures in the regional theatre field in the audience, including Pulitzer prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel, Actors Theatre of Louisville Artistic Director Marc Masterson, Alliance Theatre Artistic Director Susan Booth, current TCG executive director Theresa Eyering and former TCG executive director Ben Cameron.

11:21 AM

I still get butterflies...

11:21 AM

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The session went great--looking forward to debriefing later.
Heading to the airport. So long TCG! So long muffins! So long badges and agendas and conference schedules!

4:42 PM

4:38 PM

Next challenge: survive the response session. So very tired. Feels like ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK.

8:14 AM

A new day dawns.
8:04 AM

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

This is it. I am onstage, just before house opening. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
8:50 PM

The yellow cheese, the white cheese and the yellow-and-white cheese.
5:31 PM

5:01 PM

Part of the immense TARGET logo for a party at the arts conference.


3:22 PM

3:07 PM

12:02 PM

You know you've arrived when your agency makes schwag.
11:31 AM

So far, so good. The part of Denver we're in is mostly megaliths--gigantic buildings that look torn from another world. On the way to the gargantuan convention center we pass one shuttered local business after another--the money the center (and the adjoining mega arts complex) brings isn't intended for these folks, but for the nouveau ridge chains that strive to not be identifiable as chains but they obviously are.

Last night's event was good--the TCG folks are hospitable hosts, and many of the people I spoke with are excited for the show this evening. The challenge will be to affect them--to reach behind their armor and their administrative regard and shake them.  That is what will be challenging.

We have tech in a few hours, and the performance is this evening. In between are all the kibbitzing, gladhanding, and genuine connecting that goes with any conference. I hope to be up for today.

11:25 AM

1:37 AM

12:16 AM

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

We're off to Denver for the 2008 TCG National Conference, where we will be performing HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA for the conference. I'm really looking forward to seeing how it's received--we're walking into the heart of the American theater institution with a piece that is deeply critical of the status quo, which many of these people make a living maintaining.

I remain optimistic--TCG invited us, which many thought impossible, and I've met many collegues in the last six months who are fighting like hell to embrace change--so I am determined to be warm, open and receptive to the conference, in hopes that it will be constructive.

I'll be moblogging from the conference--if you see me there, stop by and say hello. I don't bite. Much.

12:57 PM

canal tunnel

9:53 AM

light rain shower on bus shelter window

9:53 AM

Monday, June 09, 2008

Slashdot | TSA Bans Flight If You Refuse To Show ID:

mytrip notes a CNet blog entry on the recent TSA rule change banning flight to anyone who refuses to produce ID. It's OK if you claim to have lost or forgotten your ID — you undergo a pat-down and hand search of your carry-on bag and you're on your way. The new rule goes into effect June 21. "The change of rules seems to be a pretty obvious case of security theater. Real terrorists do not refuse to show ID. They claim to have lost their ID, or they use a fake. TSA's new rules only protect us from a non-existent breed of terrorists who are unable to lie."

9:59 PM


8:29 PM


8:26 PM


8:26 PM

Stage and Cinema-How Theater Failed America - Off Broadway theater review:

And how wonderful that, at such a moment, a kindred spirit comes along, someone who reminds us that we are not alone, that we are not the only ones who take seriously the things we cherish, that we are not the only angry ones, and that we can actually have a few laughs – maybe a lot more than a few – about the whole damned process. Enter Mike Daisey, a monologist who has been amassing audiences over the years but who has been eluding me personally, until, thanks to the discovery of his newest piece, How Theater Failed America, the gentleman, in all his majestic sense of wonderment, and sitting at a plain black desk in a puddle of perspiration, has totally captured my heart, revived my aging spirit, and made me feel, despite the weariness in my bones, young again. And I can’t remember laughing so hard at any other event which took place within the four walls of a theater this season. If you see only one show for the rest of the summer, I would suggest that How Theater Failed America is that one show.

11:32 AM


2:49 AM the making of: Holy Crap, Pittsburgh Rent-a-Guard Slashes Vija Celmins Painting:

A guard at the Carnegie International defaced a Vija Celmins painting, Night Sky #2, making a "long vertical gouge" with a key. The conservator calls it a "total loss," though the Art Institute of Chicago, which owns the 1991 painting, said they would look at the possibility of repairing it.

Though the story only surfaced on Friday in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the incident occurred on May 16th [a Friday]. The guard, an Azerbaijani immigrant named Timur Serebrykov, was confronted about the action and arrested on May 20th [a Tuesday]. He initially denied any wrongdoing, but then he confessed, adding, "I didn't like the painting."

2:37 AM


2:37 AM

Sunday, June 08, 2008

1:19 PM

Show Showdown: How Theater Failed America:

Spalding Grey meets Chris Farley? I don't know how else to really talk about the manic energy that Mike Daisey brings to such serious and well-spoken topics, but it's his cross of personal stories and irrepressible personality that make this man such a powerful monologist. Because he spends the whole evening sitting at a table, there's no sense of showboating and, because he speaks without a script (extemporaneously, to a well-rehearsed extent), his connection with the audience seems more direct, more intimate.

12:31 PM

Saturday, June 07, 2008

6:44 PM

Lose Something? : clusterflock:

A couple things have turned up lately. One, a 30-foot lighthouse that once overlooked Wellfleet Harbor in Massachusetts, and was presumed destroyed in 1925, has been found at the southern end of San Francisco Bay, and, two, a 4,000 year old pyramid believed to have been discovered by an archaeologist almost 200 years ago has been found again.

5:16 PM


4:51 PM

Miss Indigo Blue - Fans

2:40 AM


Producers not involved in "Young Frankenstein" call the drastic salary cuts unprecedented.

"I've never heard of trying to get your stars to renew their contract by offering them half their salary," one says. "It's innovative. But everything they've done on this show is innovative."

Yeah. Like the $450 ticket.

2:39 AM


China's All-Seeing Eye : Rolling Stone:

Thirty years ago, the city of Shenzhen didn't exist. Back in those days, it was a string of small fishing villages and collectively run rice paddies, a place of rutted dirt roads and traditional temples. That was before the Communist Party chose it — thanks to its location close to Hong Kong's port — to be China's first "special economic zone," one of only four areas where capitalism would be permitted on a trial basis. The theory behind the experiment was that the "real" China would keep its socialist soul intact while profiting from the private-sector jobs and industrial development created in Shenzhen. The result was a city of pure commerce, undiluted by history or rooted culture — the crack cocaine of capitalism. It was a force so addictive to investors that the Shenzhen experiment quickly expanded, swallowing not just the surrounding Pearl River Delta, which now houses roughly 100,000 factories, but much of the rest of the country as well. Today, Shenzhen is a city of 12.4 million people, and there is a good chance that at least half of everything you own was made here: iPods, laptops, sneakers, flatscreen TVs, cellphones, jeans, maybe your desk chair, possibly your car and almost certainly your printer. Hundreds of luxury condominiums tower over the city; many are more than 40 stories high, topped with three-story penthouses. Newer neighborhoods like Keji Yuan are packed with ostentatiously modern corporate campuses and decadent shopping malls. Rem Koolhaas, Prada's favorite architect, is building a stock exchange in Shenzhen that looks like it floats — a design intended, he says, to "suggest and illustrate the process of the market." A still-under-construction superlight subway will soon connect it all at high speed; every car has multiple TV screens broadcasting over a Wi-Fi network. At night, the entire city lights up like a pimped-out Hummer, with each five-star hotel and office tower competing over who can put on the best light show.

2:34 AM

just jamming out

2:34 AM

Megan McArdle (June 04, 2008) - All hail Comrade Fenty:

Can you say Police State? The Examiner has the scoop on a controversial new program announced today that would create so-called "Neighborhood Safety Zones" which would serve to partially seal off certain parts of the city. D.C. Police would set-up checkpoints in targeted areas, demand to see ID and refuse admittance to people who don't live there, work there or have a “legitimate reason” to be there. Wow. Just, wow.

2:28 AM

sheik zayed road fantasy

2:23 AM

And I swear, in that moment

2:20 AM

Trinity Rep’s business model a rarity on national scene - Providence Business News:

Rhode Island theater-goers long have appreciated Providence’s Trinity Repertory Company, though an intense debate taking place in national theater circles suggests they may be luckier than they realize to watch a growing rarity – a true regional company.

The examination of the purported death of the regional repertory company in America is framed most eloquently by author and monologist Mike Daisey in his controversial one-man show, “How Theater Failed America,” now at the Barrow Street Theatre in Manhattan. Almost all of America’s regional theaters, in blind pursuit of growth, devote too much money to bigger buildings and flashy one-shot stars from out of town, Daisey said, sacrificing “the essential core of the theater” – a resident acting company. He urges a return to the repertory model in which theaters provide steady work for a stable troupe of performers for the sake, he said in published interviews, of “connection, continuity and community.”

2:00 AM

Friday, June 06, 2008

2:26 PM

12:40 PM

Day.157.366 + S5Q00879

11:44 AM

HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA: It's time to break some rules, people! - Artsy Schmartsy:

This might seem like a Sysiphisian riddle, where the theater in America gets it’s act together and then does something to self-destruct. But I don’t see it that way if we as theater artists in this country can start the tidal change needed in this country regarding the troubles with getting audiences to remain engaged in new ideas in the theater. That tidal change will come when theater artists decide to take off the mantel of persecution and fear and change the rules mid game of the mad dash hopscotch match that is theater.

The hard fact of the matter is that America actually wants theater to fail us. We don’t want theatre to be the be all end all, we don’t want it to keep its promise to us to be dedicated to making regional stories happen at regional theaters, and we don’t want actors and actresses being involved in the day-to-day operations of producing theater.

11:44 AM

Thursday, June 05, 2008

into the strenuous briefness

7:36 PM

Bevan On Clinton:

There was no serious mathematical possibility for her to win at least a month or two ago. And historically, losing candidates concede after the last primary has delivered an insurmountable victory to his or her opponent - and usually long before. Those were the rules the Clintons set for Jerry Brown back in 1992; they are rules everyone else follows. I see no reason to acquiesce to the delusions and pathologies of Clinton entitlement.

7:35 PM

Sharing is caring

3:05 PM

Gothamist: Suspected 9/11 Mastermind: "I be a Martyr":

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who federal authorities accuse of proposing and overseeing the September 11, 2001 attacks on the U.S., appeared in a military courtroom today at the Guantanamo Bay Naval Base in Cuba. Mohammed said he would represent himself and, when told he could face the death penalty if convicted, "Yes, this is what I wish, to be a martyr for a long time. I will, God willing, have this, by you."

2:33 PM


2:33 PM

Parabasis: Panelly Goodness!:

So... this past weekend, I sat on a post-show roundtable type thing for Mike Daisey's How Theater Failed America.  So.. how did it go?:

1:23 PM

Can we have som privacy?

1:05 PM

The Snake

11:57 AM

Gothamist: Rev. Billy Rallies Against Privatizing the Pavilion:

Reverend Billy climbed to the roof of the Pavilion building in Union Square last night around 6:30 p.m. to hang a banner reading: Not For Sale. While he was up there, he gave the passersby a lesson on why the historic free speech structure cannot be turned into a private, upscale restaurant; reminding people that the first Labor Day in 1882 took place there, and that one "shouldn’t have to buy a $15 appetizer to have access to this building.”

11:52 AM

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Brugge houses

3:12 PM

Pushing Up Daisey: Mencken-Loving Critic’s Sputtering Sentimental Journey | The New York Observer:

There’s a drama critic in every man (and woman, of course). Audiences can be pretty severe critics, and, in private, theater folk can be, too. An actor-writer by the name of Mike Daisey is a rarity, however: He goes onstage to criticize theater publicly.

And it pays off, apparently. Mr. Daisey’s How Theater Failed America has now moved from Joe’s Pub to the Barrow Street Theatre downtown, and judging by the enthusiastic response he received on a recent Saturday night, a lot of people are enjoying hearing him tell us how badly theater is doing.

He isn’t a happy critic, though; he’s a furious and sentimental one. He forgives theater for humiliating him (and all actors). Anyone who quotes H. L. Mencken in his program notes is the performer for me: “Every normal man must be tempted at times to spit upon his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

1:34 AM

Day 246: I Never Loved You, CPU

1:33 AM

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Enemy of Innovation : Branding Strategy Insider:

I remember reading something prophetic in an entertaining tome by Mike Daisey called 21 Dog Years. In the book, Mike recounted his short-lived time working in a call center at If memory serves me right, he was routinely reprimanded for poor stats, i.e. average number of calls handled per hour, average minutes per  call, etc., and at one point was told, in no uncertain terms, to improve his numbers—to become more productive—or else.  So how did Mike respond to that request? He did what any misdirected, time-starved and pressured employee would do. He innovated!  From that point forward, on every fifth call that Mike answered he immediately hung up in the customer’s ear.  His numbers soared!

8:16 PM

Rainbow Sprinkles

8:16 PM

The Clinton juggernaut coughs and splutters to a halt - Times Online:

Seventeen months after she sat regally in her New York living room and calmly declared: “I'm in and I'm in to win,” Hillary Clinton stands on a stage in a stifling hot shed in South Dakota, coughing and spluttering, as her daughter, Chelsea, grabs the microphone from her hand to take over the show.

“A long campaign,” the former First Lady chokes out between sips of water. Her husband, red-faced and exhausted - and having just apologised for another angry outburst in front of reporters - looks on wistfully at the final rally of his wife's presidential bid, an endeavour that has been transformed from an inevitable juggernaut into a costly train wreck.

4:50 PM


4:07 PM

The Gerbil’s Revenge: Musical Events: The New Yorker:

But pitch correction has also taken on a second life, as an effect. You’ve probably heard it, most recently on the No. 1 song in the country, Lil Wayne’s lazy, mildly naughty rap “Lollipop.” Auto-Tune, properly torqued up, is the rare edit that calls attention to itself. Auto-Tune software detects pitch, and when a vocal is routed through Auto-Tune, and a setting called “retune speed” is set to zero, warbling begins. This, roughly, is what happens: Auto-Tune locates the pitch of a recorded vocal, and moves that recorded information to the nearest “correct” note in a scale, which is selected by the user. With the speed set to zero, unnaturally rapid corrections eliminate portamento, the musical term for the slide between two pitches. Portamento is a natural aspect of speaking and singing, central to making people sound like people. A nonmusical example of portamento would be “up-speak,” a verbal tic common in some people under thirty. (Can you imagine the end of every sentence rising in pitch? Like a question?) Processed at zero speed, Auto-Tune turns the lolling curves of the human voice into a zigzag of right-angled steps. These steps may represent “perfect” pitches, but when sung pitches alternate too quickly the result sounds unnatural, a fluttering that is described by some engineers as “the gerbil” and by others as “robotic.”

The first popular example of Auto-Tune’s distorting effect was Cher’s 1998 hit “Believe,” produced by Mark Taylor and Brian Rawling. During the first verse, Auto-Tune makes the phrase “I can’t break through” wobble so much that it’s hard to discern. More successful is the gentler variation in the following line, “so sad that you’re leaving,” which highlights the software’s strength. Auto-Tune can produce a controlled version of losing control, hinting at various histrionic stations of the human voice—crying, sighing, laughing—without troubling the singer. It is notable that “Believe” ’s big chorus—“Do you believe in life after love?”—is delivered (mostly) in a full, human-sounding voice, with no robotic modifications. You can only feel so bad for a robot.

4:06 PM



Ofelia Librarian at Folkbibliotek, Stockholm—I like to read biographies and fictional novels. I’m very fond of Joanne Harris, especially of her book Chocolat. People tease me about it but I can’t help it—I’m a sucker for French vineyards, romance and I like the slow tempo in her books.

When I was a teenager I read a book on the life of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, one of my favourite French painters. It was the kind of reading experience I will never forget. I read for two days without sleeping, I couldn’t put it aside—I had to know what would happen to him next, and when I was done I couldn’t stop crying. My mum got really worried about me. I even went to Paris to see where he had lived. I really loved that book back then, but I’m not sure if I would react the same way now.

3:52 PM

remnants of a romantic era

11:43 AM

Hawk Wings » Blog Archive » Immobile me: An idle thought:

I love Apple as much as the next guy. Probably more than the next guy. But today has been another day on which — as the .Mac outage report clinically put it — “100% of members were unable to access mail using an IMAP client.”

You can read some less clincal reactions from .Mac users on Apple Discussions.

Apple are very good at sending nicely produced, well-polished emails about new Apple hardware and software products and new items in the iTunes Store. It obviously spends money and effort in producing them. It cares about these things.

How hard would it be to send an email to .Mac users warning that “scheduled maintenance” is about to take place over an eight or twelve (or whatever) hour window, and that connectivity to .Mac services may be affected?

11:34 AM

just how safe exactly???

4:41 AM

headless lenin

4:41 AM

2492093666 5A9484D1Dd

4:03 AM

Promise of New York « Culturebot:

PS: speaking of politics - go see Mike Daisey’s show How Theater Failed America at the Barrow Street Theater. I finally got to see it on Friday night and wanted to stand up and cheer. Anyone who is making theater in New York - or anywhere in America, really - should see this show. It raises some really good questions and offers some really intelligent insights. Kudos to Daisey!

12:36 AM


12:36 AM

Monday, June 02, 2008

I don't normally post this here, but I'm really under the weather--so if you haven't heard from me, that's why.
10:28 PM


10:24 PM

Huron Daily Tribune > AP HEADLINES:

The man who designed the Pringles potato crisp packaging system was so proud of his accomplishment that a portion of his ashes has been buried in one of the iconic cans.

Fredric J. Baur, of Cincinnati, died May 4 at Vitas Hospice in Cincinnati, his family said. He was 89.

Baur's children said they honored his request to bury him in one of the cans by placing part of his cremated remains in a Pringles container in his grave in suburban Springfield Township.

5:38 PM

hand again

2:11 PM


If novels were more like mmorpgs -

- The publisher and author wouldn't expect you to finish the book.
- Most of the action, cool imagery, and editing would be concentrated in the first five chapters, where more people could see it.
- The first chapter would be a tutorial on how to read the book. Every time.
- Special attention would be paid in the first appearance of the question mark and the exclamation point.
- The colon makes its appearance in Chapter Seven: There is no particular mention of it.
- It will be assumed that everyone will know the ending, thanks to spoilers on the internet.
- Most people aren't really reading the book for the story, so don't throw in anything that gets in the way of the words appearing on the page.
- The last three chapters are considered "high end content" and expected to be read only in groups, like book clubs.
- If you finish the book, the author sends you a cookie.
- Your advanced reading copy would be more like a beta weekend. If you didn't like something, it would be gone from the final book.
- Three weeks after purchase, ninjas break into your home and replace the book with a version with all the typos corrected.
- Three months after purchase, ninjas break into your home and replace the book with a version where the protagonist is less powerful. You find out about this from people on the net complaining about the hero being nerfed.
- Three years after purchase, if not enough people are reading the book, ninjas break into your home and remove all copies.
- Your credit card reflects an ongoing charge for owning the book, whether you are reading it or not.

2:07 PM

Ross Douthat (June 01, 2008) - The Dog That Didn't Bark (Politics):

It's interesting that Purdum and VF are coming out with this piece now, with Hillary Clinton's campaign more or less finished, since this sort of gossip has been in circulation for a while - to the point where if you'd asked me nine months ago to list the major roadblocks to Hillary's near-inevitable nomination, I would have put her husband's possible tomcatting right up there with her Iraq War vote. In the event, the Big He did end up having an impact on the race, but it was public gaffes that mattered, not his private vices. I'm not sure what to make of the lack of coverage on this front: It could suggest that there's vastly more smoke than fire where Clinton's post-Presidential priapism is concerned; it could suggest that Clinton's handlers are really, really good at putting out the fires in question (though it doesn't sound that way from Purdum's piece); or it could suggest a conspiracy of silence on the part of the media, based on the fear that pulling the trigger on such stories could get them accused of gossip-mongering or invading the Clintons' privacy.

1:39 PM


1:39 PM

11:28 AM

Monkey Disaster: All I Need Is A Truck To Drive Through Those Holes:

When I worked at Amazon in the late 90s, the company did not yet have real security badges (too busy taking over the world and hiring me for jobs I was unqualified to do). So they gave us pieces of construction paper with our names on it. We were expected to hold these up to poorly paid inattentive security guards as we walked past. Sometimes, often, the guards would be across the lobby and would yell, "Can I see your badge?" and we'd hold them up even though nothing could be checked or verified. We could be holding up any piece of blue paper in the world. This system is not in place today but it was in place at one time.

There are creeps and bad parents who have been denied custody but try to get it anyway and corporate spies and disgruntled employees in the world. And they must be stopped. But there are a thousand really stupid security systems in place that actually make things worse and make it harder to stop bad folks because they fool people who should be in control of the situation into thinking that security is under control when it is absolutely not.

11:28 AM


10:11 AM

JUST SHOWS TO GO YOU: How Theater Failed America:

The Times, the "Internets", the Mermaids on skates: Mike Daisey makes it known right at the top of his brilliant, energizing ninety-minute monologue that he's not interested in these usual superficial complaints about what's wrong with theatre today. His targets are more systemic: theatre in America is broken, and the reasons are more cultural than economic. He puts over his lively state of the art address in the manner of a trusted truth-telling friend, using personal recollections and experiences to ease in and out of his (ultimately sobering) grand statements. The success of the piece is that it is capable of being strong and provocative without being assaultive, informed and informative without being the least bit dry. Its genius is that it has been carefully crafted to empower the audience and to covertly rally us into action; for theatre lovers, this is not to be missed.

10:07 AM

You've got 5 minutes

10:06 AM

The Wright Guard, page 1 - Arts - Seattle Weekly:

In and out of the sessions, playwrights talked a lot about new strategies to get their plays produced—working with local colleges and universities, encouraging mainstages and fringe companies to co-produce new plays, even banding together into collectives to produce each others' work, an increasingly popular model that's cropped up in Los Angeles (Playwrights 6), Minneapolis (Workhaus Collective), and New York (13P), among other places. Ki Gottberg—whose new show Hairy Baby opened at Seattle University's Lee Center the weekend of the conference—mentioned that her most successful model yet was the one she followed for The Compendium of Nastiness: She wrote a play for a single actor, converted her garage into a 15-seat theater (which she called The Womb), and ran the tech herself. The show opened in late 2005 and ran for eleven months.

As for me, the more I heard about the coming conflagration that will destroy our regional theaters, the more I thought about my own heroes—Sam Shepard, David Mamet, Tony Kushner. These playwrights, and men and women like them, have been saving the theater as long as I've been alive. It's time for those of us who write for the stage to stop thinking of ourselves as victims, and step up. Because history shows that time and again, every time theater experiences a resurgence into the popular culture, playwrights have led the charge.

9:54 AM

9:53 AM

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Tonight's roundtable after the performance:


Jim Nicola (Artistic Director for New York Theatre Workshop)
Steve Bodow (Head writer of the Daily Show and Elevator Repair Service member)
Rocco Landesman (Tony-award winning producer, ANGELS IN AMERICA, THE PRODUCERS)
Morgan Jenness (Literary agent, former literary manager of the Public Theater)
David Cote (Theatre editor for Time Out New York)
Isaac Butler (Freelance director and theatre blogger)

Come on by and check it out,


3:34 PM

for charlie, and the distance between us/space inside ourselves

3:09 PM

NOVA | Absolute Zero | Absolute Hot | PBS:

Is there an opposite to absolute zero?

Seems like an innocent enough question, right? Absolute zero is 0 on the Kelvin scale, or about minus 460 F. You can't get colder than that; it would be like trying to go south from the South Pole. Is there a corresponding maximum possible temperature?

Well, the answer, depending on which theoretical physicist you ask, is yes, no, or maybe. Huh? you ask. Yeah, that's how I felt. And the question doesn't just mess with the minds of physics dummies like me. Several physicists begged off of trying to answer it, referring me to colleagues. Even ones who did talk about it said things like "It's a little bit out of my comfort zone" and "I think I'd like to ruminate over it." After I posed it to one cosmologist, there was dead silence on the other end of the line for long enough that I wondered if we had a dropped call.

I had touched a nerve, because, unbeknownst to me, the highest-temperature question gets to the heart of current inquiries and proposed theories in cosmology and theoretical physics. Indeed, scientists who work in these fields are zealously trying to answer that question. Why? Because, in some sense, nothing less than the future course of physics rests on the answer.

2:52 PM


12:32 AM

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12:29 AM

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12:27 AM

It Wouldn't Be a Convention Without Seminars | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:

But then I attended a Q&A with Jeff Bezos. The room was packed. Bezos talked about the Kindle and then a Wired Magazine editor asked him questions. This was a very thorough Q&A session. The only two hardball questions I’m surprised that Bezos didn’t get asked were: “Why are you so great?” and “Can I just give you a blowjob right here and now?” This is pretty depressing for a whole lot of reasons, mostly the symbolic kind.

12:26 AM


12:26 AM

Metropolis Ensemble:

Metropolis Ensemble is pleased to offer a free download of Sports et Divertissements, recorded live at The Times Center in New York City on April 10, 2008. Erik Satie's twenty-one brilliant thumbnail sketches are presented in a delightful arrangement for chamber orchestra by David Bruce, and featuring our resident funny-man Mike Daisey.

12:06 AM