THE CRITICS HAVE SPOKEN ABOUT IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING:
"Ambitious, persuasive and provocative—Mr. Daisey is as much a performer as a raconteur. Funny, shrewd and continually absorbing."
NEW YORK TIMES
"Once again, Mike Daisey has proven himself that rare theatrical creature: an entertaining performer with something valuable to say. A gripping, vital story."
"Mesmerizing and raucous—a funhouse ride worthy of Dr. Strangelove."
"Masterful command—he is all-powerful for 100 minutes. When he wants you to laugh, you laugh; when he wants you to think, you think. He doesn’t draw you into the stories he tells—not exactly. Rather, he shows how, perhaps unawares, you have been part of them all along."
TIME OUT NEW YORK
"Highly entertaining—freewheeling, free-associative, and thought-provoking."
NEW YORK POST
"Daisey is a hellish bad boy—entertaining and disturbing—a sharply humorous commentary on our troubled times."
"Breathtaking—one of the most important shows of the year, if not the most important. Daisey's dazzling new monologue is one of the most exciting evenings of theatre one can have right now."
"There is nothing minimalist about this monologist—if Lenny Bruce was embodied by Zero Mostel and played by Louis Armstrong, the result would closely resemble Mike Daisey."
"He's a crazy-good storyteller—an impressively researched, artfully constructed show."
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
"A provocative and entertaining examination of post-9/11 America, and the language of security that defines it."
"He's accomplished that rarest of feats: mixing rage and a revolutionary spirit with a well-grounded intelligence and an ability to promote discussion, maybe even solid change."
"Daisey distills vast sources of disparate knowledge, delivered with scathing anger, humor and a sort of gentle wisdom. He's the History Channel, the best of public radio, and the most entertaining guy at the bar—but much, much better."
"A tremendous storyteller and rabble-rouser, his insight and charisma shine through--this piece brings him into the realm of truly amazing theater."
"Daisey offers you few opportunities to wrap yourself in the deceptive idea that all this couldn’t happen here or now - because it already has. He convinces you of the depths of our current mess, and what’s needed to help us survive it: information."
"A blazing verbal facility and acute political intelligence—alternately amusing and disturbing."
"Never any less than fascinating: cutting, humorous, and immensely provocative."
AMERICAN THEATER WEB
Maybe restaurants will finally slash their exorbitant, ridiculous wine prices.:
Restaurant wine service is an eternally fraught subject. Conflicting opinions have even been slipped into the pages of Slate. Last January, I wrote an article praising American sommeliers; five months later, an indignant Christopher Hitchens demanded to know why such creatures even exist. In denouncing sommeliers, Hitchens hit on an essential point: Restaurants want you to drink as much wine as possible. Not only that: The more you spend on a bottle, the happier they are. They will sometimes even sacrifice a bit of the profit they might earn from solids in order to get clients to pony up for liquids. In a profile last year in The New Yorker, British chef Gordon Ramsay admitted that he kept food prices at his newly opened Manhattan restaurant lower than they needed to be as a way of enticing customers to go crazy on wine.
The emphasis on wine has a simple explanation: Wine sales are the lifeblood of many restaurants. Ronn Wiegand, a Napa, Calif.-based restaurant consultant who holds the rare Master of Wine degree, says that wine accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of total sales for casual restaurants and as much as 60 percent at fancier establishments. Restaurants generally have low profit margins and thus need to slap markups on pretty much everything they put on the table. But a $250 Bordeaux is obviously going to make a far greater contribution to the bottom line than a turnip, which is why restaurants invest so heavily in their wine programs—not just filling their cellars with excellent rieslings and syrahs but also providing competent sommeliers, good stemware, excellent storage, and other amenities. For decades now, markups of 2.5 to three times the wholesale price have been the industry norm. According to Wiegand, such multiples are an economic necessity for most restaurants; anything less and they may have trouble sustaining themselves. But not every wine on the list has to be marked up at the same rate. So long as the average cost per bottle is in the 2.5-to-three-times-wholesale range, list prices for individual wines need not follow any formula. And, in fact, most restaurants that take wine seriously use a system of progressive markups: They generally slap the biggest markups on inexpensive wines and the lowest ones on pricy bottles (the idea being that the closer an expensive wine is to its retail price, the more apt the customer will be to bite).
Oh Beautiful Crashy iPhone Camera App!
The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace : Rolling Stone:
He was six-feet-two, and on a good day he weighed 200 pounds. He wore granny glasses with a head scarf, points knotted at the back, a look that was both pirate-like and housewife-ish. He always wore his hair long. He had dark eyes, soft voice, caveman chin, a lovely, peak-lipped mouth that was his best feature. He walked with an ex-athlete's saunter, a roll from the heels, as if anything physical was a pleasure. David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live." Readers curled up in the nooks and clearings of his style: his comedy, his brilliance, his humaneness.
His life was a map that ends at the wrong destination. Wallace was an A student through high school, he played football, he played tennis, he wrote a philosophy thesis and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, he went to writing school, published the novel, made a city of squalling, bruising, kneecapping editors and writers fall moony-eyed in love with him. He published a thousand-page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California's Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book and, last month, hanged himself at age 46.
"The one thing that really should be said about David Foster Wallace is that this was a once-in-a-century talent," says his friend and former editor Colin Harrison. "We may never see a guy like this again in our lifetimes — that I will shout out. He was like a comet flying by at ground level."
Fanatical game hobbyists often express the opinion that DUNGEONS & DRAGONS will continue as an ever-expanding, always improving game system. TSR and I see it a bit differently. Currently D&D is moving in two directions. There is the “Original” game system and the new ADVANCED D&D® system. New participants can move from the “Basic Set” into either form without undue difficulty — especially as playing aid offerings become more numerous, and that is in process now.
Americans have somehow come to equate change with improvement. Somehow the school of continuing evolution has conceived that D&D can go on in a state of flux, each new version “new and improved!” From a standpoint of sales, I beam broadly at the very thought of an unending string of new, improved, super, energized, versions of D&D being hyped to the loyal followers of the gaming hobby in general and role playing fantasy games in particular.
As a game designer I do not agree, particularly as a gamer who began with chess. The original could benefit from a careful reorganization and expansion to clarify things, and this might be done at some future time. As all of the ADVANCED D&D system is not written yet, it is a bit early for prognostication, but I envision only minor expansions and some rules amending on a gradual, edition to edition, basis.
When you have a fine product, it is time to let well enough alone. I do not believe that hobbyists and casual players should be continually barraged with new rules, new systems, and new drains on their purses. Certainly there will be changes, for the game is not perfect; but I do not believe the game is so imperfect as to require constant improvement.
--Gary Gygax, Dragon Magazine, February 1979
Hot Tickets: Black Keys, Zappa Plays Zappa, Billy Elliot | The New York Observer:
And finally, “If You See Something Say Something” opened at the Public Theater at Joe’s Pub on Monday. Riffing off the hated MTA slogan, Mike Daisey’s monologue constructs a super-critical history of America’s national security structure running from the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico to today’s bloated Department of Homeland Security. All in all, a timely, though not entirely pleasant, reminder of our president's failed administration. Here’s to the next one!
Theater News - Shitstorm!:
A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called "Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves" that included ideas such as providing child care, building bars, and a five-year moratorium on Shakespeare. The article pissed people right off: "Ten Things" was only 1,000 words long and it generated over 33,000 words in comments. (Samples: "Your articles are worthless, pretentious, uninformed, completely masturbatory..." and "I'd prefer [theater] if I didn't have to spend so much time clapping.")
The Seattle Rep asked if I would host a forum on the article. I suggested we resuscitate Shitstorm. On Monday night, about 150 people showed up for several hours of drinking, talking, shouting, and a closing sing-along to "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. (This was the first of what will be several nü-Shitstorms in the coming months.)
The crowd was a menagerie: playwrights; designers; directors from ACT, the Rep, and On the Boards; a swarm of angry actors; a few audience members. One of the Shitstorm rules is that whatever people say can be repeated, but not attributed. A few of the evening's comments follow.
George F. Will - Call Him John the Careless:
Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain's question for his briefer was: "So, who is the villain?"
Poll finds 23% of Texans think Obama is Muslim | Front page | Chron.com - Houston Chronicle:
A University of Texas poll to be released today shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain and GOP Sen. John Cornyn leading by comfortable margins in Texas, as expected. But the statewide survey of 550 registered voters has one very surprising finding: 23 percent of Texans are convinced that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The Playgoer: Our Nonprofit-Theatre CEO's:
This built-in expectation that the grunts will continue to watch the income gap between staffer and leadership grow is crucial to our problems. Because it's true--Andre Bishop, Todd Haimes, many of these folks did ineed work for nothing while they grew their original companies. And they do deserve some comfort, some security, and, sure, some "reward," after all that.
But the feeling many get from that generation so often now is: "Hey, I dealt with it back then. So can you." Not in a mean way. But actually as if it's "character building," and all that. Or it's just the sorry reality, and always will be, given how much our culture shits on the theatre.
Keep in mind, when this generation of producers started out in the 60s and 70s, one could still rent an apartment in NYC--even Manhattan--for $200 a month. Or less. When the subway was a quarter. And even Broadway tickets were on average were under $40.
How anyone breaks into the theatre in this town today on a $10,000-$20,000 a year stipend and survives for more than a few years--absent a trust fund--is a miracle.
It's tightening...that's a real bounce for McCain. Most projections don't look like it's enough to even make it tight, but we still have a week. Bears watching.
The Last of Sheila - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The movie was inspired by an irregular series of elaborate, real-life scavenger hunts Sondheim and Perkins arranged for their show business friends (including Lee Remick and George Segal in Manhattan in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The climax of one hunt was staged in the lobby of a seedy flophouse, where participants heard a skipping LP record endlessly repeating the first line of the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer standard One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) ("It's quarter to three...") The winning team eventually recognized the clue -- 2:45 -- and immediately headed for room 245 of the hotel, where bottles of Champagne awaited them.
Modern Fabulousity: Stage Addiction: Taking The Subway South:
Another monologue, If You See Something, Say Something -- Mike Daisey's examination of homeland security and nuclear history -- is currently packing in SRO crowds at Joe's Pub tucked inside the Public Theater, and rightly so. Daisey gained widespread attention last spring with his stage treatise How Theatre Failed America; in Something/Something, he again blends societal concern with personal memoir, parsing American political history with his own biography. The piece uses humor like a scalpel, carving the path for a startingly intimate fascination with Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project; if Daisey dawdles a bit over the minutiae of nuclear testing, it still rings with truth and enthusiasm. In other sections, though, the piece brandishes the threat of terrorism with verve, revealing our government's post-9/11 paranoia for the shiny, distracting bauble it is. Daisey has been on "artists to watch" lists too numerous to count of late...and it's deserved. If You See Something, Say Something makes the unmistakable case that Daisey, like Eric Bogosian before him, has become America's leading town crier, shouting into the wind of our desperate times, hoping we can still hear.
If You See Something Say Something - Time Out New York:
The monologuist Mike Daisey has a masterful command of his art. Sitting alone at a simple desk, he is all-powerful for 100 minutes. When he wants you to laugh, you laugh; when he wants you to think, you think. Often, he can even get you to do both of these things at once. This is certainly the case in his latest project, If You See Something Say Something, in which the storyteller deftly weaves together disparate strands of narrative—about national security, personal insecurity, the military-industrial complex and the nuclear test site at the unholy Trinity, New Mexico—into one of his characteristically complex Daisey chains.
Daisey is a heavy man, prone to profuse sweating, with a frowny face that suggests a perpetual state of mild dismay; his generally thoughtful, probing manner sometimes flares into Lewis Black–style outrage. He is at all times exactly himself, yet in subtle ways, he winds up speaking for everyone. His delivery seems so spontaneous that you hardly notice how elegantly the show is structured, and he is so personable that even his counterintuitive points come off like common sense. The mix of personal and political in Daisey’s work puts him squarely in the Spalding Gray zone, but there is also a hint of Wallace Shawn in his sly subversiveness. He doesn’t draw you into the stories he tells—not exactly. Rather, he shows how, perhaps unawares, you have been part of them all along.
Gothamist: Pencil This In:
THEATER: Playwright and performer Mike Daisey—currently the lone member of the elite Gothamist three time interview club—is back at the Public Theater with his new solo show If You See Something Say Something. His previous hit, How Theater Failed America, hilariously skewered (among other things) the theater nerd obsession with Times critic Charles Isherwood. So it's mildly amusing that today the Ish himself weighs in on Daisey's latest opus, which "investigates the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security through the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb and a personal pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site."
Fighting the Void: Something in the Zeitgeist:
What I find fascinating is that unlike the opera “Dr. Atomic” which focuses on the story of the bomb’s creation, Daisey is, like me, more interested in the current echoes of the cold war with the present day. He seems to compare the heightened security measures of those two eras, especially those in major U.S. cities post-9/11.
From the review he seems to work from an honest place of fascination with the test site in Los Alamos, NM. The Trinity test site is where 7 Minutes to Midnight starts as this is the event which awakens Kronos, signaling him that it’s the end of the world and freedom awaits. In similar fashion, we move forward in time, examining how the atomic bomb affected us in the 1950s, the 1980s, and even now in the present day. And we’re using the myth of Kronos as a lens in which to see these differing times, taking a more abstract approach to the stories.
Parabasis: How Theater Became America:
I have a friend who works for a theater. This story is going to sound familiar because it's ubiquitous. He had to fight for a standard of living wage increase last year because the theater has run deficits for years. Okay, understandable, we have hard times, you care about your company, you make sacrifices. But... and I'm sure you've already guessed what the kicker is here... they're building a multimillion dollar new space. Even though they're arguing they can't afford to pay their staff a decent wage. And it's not like they're saying "hey, included in this capital campaign is a wage increase for you guys, so just hold on, its coming". They're saying "we can't give you this because times are tight".
Now, this friend doesn't come from money, and he doesn't have a spouse with a good job to support him. Wouldn't you understand if that friend said "fuck this, I'm going to do theater as a hobby that i love and just go fucking make money somewhere?" And if he did, we'd lose a very talented person who works long hours for shit pay because he loves being in a literary department and helping writers.
This is yet another way that theater has become america.
Theater Review - Examining the Echoes of Doctor Neutron - NYTimes.com:
Either Mike Daisey has impeccable timing — make that positively uncanny timing — or the gods of theater view this writer and performer with unusual benevolence.
In his absorbing if uneven new monologue, “If You See Something Say Something,” which opened on Monday night at Joe’s Pub, Mr. Daisey recounts the creation of the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, N.M., in 1945. At the performance I caught, a low rumbling shook the floor just as Mr. Daisey described the white-knuckle moment of detonation.
An elaborate sound effect? No, merely the subway hurtling through a tunnel under Astor Place. I have heard the sound many times before during performances at the Public Theater, but on this occasion the timing was so precise that it added an eerie frisson of verisimilitude to the moment. A snaky chill crawled slowly up my spine and lingered for awhile.
Confessions of a Naked Sushi Model: vanityfair.com:
For an hour and a half I laid there, while the men surrounding me drank and ate and stared, and sometimes poked at my bare body. Toward the end, I had to dart my eyes across the ceiling to avoid falling asleep. I was that comfortable, or that wishful for escape.
Changing back into my jeans and T-shirt, I took a first stab at evaluating my brief adventure in exhibitionism. What had I gained? I had an envelope stuffed with $150 of well-earned cash that might go toward an extra hour of therapy, or a new pair of shoes. I had a beautiful pink flower pinned to my hair and a teensy, matching thong still taped to my pelvis. I also had two slightly irritated nipples, a minor buzz from the sake Koko gave me after dinner, and a bizarre story sure to entertain my friends and, if necessary, provoke my parents. Then there was the group of men I’d never met before tonight—and, arguably, still had not “met”—who now possessed the mental image of me half-naked, sprawled across a table, covered in raw fish.
Variety - Theater Review: If You See Something Say Something:
Once again, Mike Daisey has proven himself that rare theatrical creature: An entertaining performer with something valuable to say. In his new monologue, "If You See Something Say Something," Daisey's personal eccentricities ground his critique of America's culture of fear, while hard facts about nuclear weapons and the Department of Homeland Security provoke his funniest observations. Ultimately, he blends the personal and the political so well that American xenophobia seems almost manageable -- a problem any of us can comprehend.
The Fifth Wall: Sarah Kane and "Blasted":
Critics make a lot out the connection that Kane drew between Blasted and Bosnia. Watching the production at Soho Rep, I also read it as a 9/11 play from a prescient leftie Brit. Read Ian as colonialist America and the soldier as al Qaeda hijackers. I don't like to reduce the play to political symbolism. But I think there's a connection between the European sense of surprise and horror at the Balkan violence and the American freak-out after the attack within our borders. When genocide and terrorism happens somewhere else, it's seen as mass dementia or inherent barbarity; when it happens to you, it's not so easy to dismiss. Kane's trying to shock the audience into seeing itself as Ian.
So, to get back to Isaac's question: what's the value in putting yourself through the play? Like other radical dramas (Woyzeck springs to mind), it shocks you out of complacency. It displays human behavior shorn of all Romantic trappings. It absolutely resists convention and cliché. It expands your conception of what it's possible to show and do onstage.
The Moon Is a Dead World is so alive at Annex - Friday, October 25, 2008:
This play opens with Russian cosmonauts dealing with the calamitous number of dead cosmonauts that have died in service of Russia's race with America into space. These cosmonauts know that there is no time to fix the mistakes that have brought down other rockets, so they know they are going to their death when their flight rotation is up.
This fascinating concept gets more fascinating when one of these cosmonauts ends up in an American observation post, having come back from the dead. The Americans can't believe what they're seeing and the cosmonaut can't understand what just happened to him. However, he realizes that he can read minds and repair his body, and is essentially God-like.
Annex's production, while typically low-budget, is an amazing display of MacGyverism, with working radio equipment, selectively connected lighting and a whole bunch of wedding dress material. Christopher Comte's crisp direction and Max Reichlin's great set design, along with Nate Redford's lighting and Michael Hayes' excellent sound support create a great reality for this unreal play.
The four actors - Zachariah Robinson as the cosmonaut Gregor, Jack Hamblin and Clayton Weller as the Americans in the outpost, and Pamala Mijarov as a female cosmonaut that is resurrected due to Gregor's love for her - are all excellent. Robinson is, at first, a vulnerable, bumbling would-be lover who becomes more and more of a megalomaniac as he understands his God-like power. Jack Hamblin is strong and pragmatic as the older, wiser American. Clayton Weller does a great second banana to the older guy, but finds himself more flexible mentally. Pamala Mijatov has a understated resolve and competence as the love who would not return love, and is all business as a tough cosmonaut.
Some of the dialogue is unforgettably pointed, as when Gregor agrees that he does know the future and what will happen, and Hamblin's character tells him, "Don't ruin it for the rest of us." In context, it's a terrific aphorism for how humanity must live life. Laughs come from unexpected twists and from sometimes grim dialogue with absurd lines thrown in. This is one of the best efforts Annex Theatre has produced, and that's saying a lot.
Sarah Palin's War on Science:
With Palin, however, the contempt for science may be something a little more sinister than the bluff, empty-headed plain-man's philistinism of McCain. We never get a chance to ask her in detail about these things, but she is known to favor the teaching of creationism in schools (smuggling this crazy idea through customs in the innocent disguise of "teaching the argument," as if there was an argument), and so it is at least probable that she believes all creatures from humans to fruit flies were created just as they are now. This would make DNA or any other kind of research pointless, whether conducted in Paris or not. Projects such as sequencing the DNA of the flu virus, the better to inoculate against it, would not need to be funded. We could all expire happily in the name of God. Gov. Palin also says that she doesn't think humans are responsible for global warming; again, one would like to ask her whether, like some of her co-religionists, she is a "premillenial dispensationalist"—in other words, someone who believes that there is no point in protecting and preserving the natural world, since the end of days will soon be upon us.
Videos taken in the Assembly of God church in Wasilla, Alaska, which she used to attend, show her nodding as a preacher says that Alaska will be "one of the refuge states in the Last Days." For the uninitiated, this is a reference to a crackpot belief, widely held among those who brood on the "End Times," that some parts of the world will end at different times from others, and Alaska will be a big draw as the heavens darken on account of its wide open spaces. An article by Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times gives further gruesome details of the extreme Pentecostalism with which Palin has been associated in the past (perhaps moderating herself, at least in public, as a political career became more attractive). High points, also available on YouTube, show her being "anointed" by an African bishop who claims to cast out witches. The term used in the trade for this hysterical superstitious nonsense is "spiritual warfare," in which true Christian soldiers are trained to fight demons. Palin has spoken at "spiritual warfare" events as recently as June. And only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of "prayer warriors" in a radio interview with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that "God's perfect will be done on Nov. 4."
It's been the most intense tour of our lives, bringing IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING up into the light. We did it for the very first time in Santa Fe at the Lensic Center on June 26th, just 72 hours after closing HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street. We'd never anticipated the response to HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA would be so intense that it would result in it transferring and extending, until the two monologues were right up against one another. I remember doing a lot of work on IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING onstage while performing HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA, feeling the images slide and click in my my mind, elements sorting and falling, coming together in new combinations nightly while I performed another show entirely.
We've never had so much support for a new monologue, and that became part of the difficulty and high-stakes of its creation: after Santa Fe, where it was performed for many scientists from the weapons labs of Los Alamos, we took it to Washington DC, where we played at Woolly Mammoth. There it sold out to an absurd degree--every single show was packed, and it then extended to nearly double the original run, and we couldn't fit everyone in. In the theater people gave standing ovations, and then after the show in the lobby I heard from many people who felt the opposite--they were furious that I had talked about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I had an audience member tell me that I was what was wrong with America one night, another tell me they were disgusted with me, and the American Spectator published a smear piece that said I was aiding and abetting terrorists with my seditious language, and that I was a traitor to the American people.
Behind the scenes things were just as contentious. Every night we'd do the show, and then the next morning, early, Jean-Michele and I would do hours and hours of notes—usually about three hours a day. Then I would spend another hour or two rebuilding the outline in response to the discussions...and then it would be time to do the show. There was no time for the show to breathe, as it was constantly up—and there was no time for us to breathe, either. We started to fight during notes, which always happens to some degree, but the arguments became more edged than the past, and both sides starting withdrawing from real discussion, eyeing each other across the table as though it had become a battlefield. Then Jean-Michele's grandmother, whom she's always been very close to, passed away—and this disrupted whatever equilibrium was left. So despite incredible responses and reviews, internally we were really hurting by the time we left DC—and the show was running too long, and needed to come into focus, but no one was left on the team to bring it into focus.
We had August "off", but instead of resting I was a cultural envoy for the US State Department to Tajikistan, which ate up most of the month—it was harrowing and fascinating and life-changing, but it didn't help the work in any way. Then 36 hours after returning from that journey we were on the West Coast, performing at the Time Based Art Festival in Portland. A fantastic experience—tremendous crowds, incredibly live and brilliant audiences, but again there was not a second in the day for reflection and work between performances, and we could feel it was still just beyond our reach.
Then we took it to Maine, for my alma mater in a one-night performance, and then to Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art...and this was now just ahead of us beginning previews at the Public. This was our last stand, and we stayed up late, every night, and worked all of every single day—the three performances in Chicago were completely different, with sections growing and shrinking, and the shape finally starting to emerge out of the mist. It had always been there, and that's why the reviews and response had always been good, but there is a difference between the rumor of a thing and the thing itself, and it was here that we wrestled it to the ground.
We also made our peace. We'd imperiled our work and even our marriage, because our collaboration is complete and total. We rededicated ourselves to listening to each other, giving space for ourselves and for the work. A lot of the suffering was because of schedule, overwork, and not giving enough time for us to help the show develop. Only in retrospect is it really clear how dangerous this had been, and how perilously we had threaded the needle.
We started previews at the Public an absurd 48 hours after landing back in NYC—our lighting design was forged and created in one intense day, and then audiences began arriving. We had five previews to shake out bugs before press started arriving, and the press gauntlet has been brutal—every day we wake up and it feels like this is the most important day of our lives, which is what the day before felt like, and the day before that, and onward and onward. What I am most impressed by is Jean-Michele's professionalism and demeanor, which has been a tremendous inspiration to me, and has really helped get through this period.
And now we give it all to you.
This is an illusion, of course—we've been giving it to everyone for night after night, for four months exactly since this monologue was born. But this night is a ritual of completeness, and we take our hands off of the machine, to let it be the monologue it wants to be. I am so happy that we fought hard for it, that we persevered, and I'm deeply grateful to everyone who has helped us on this path—family, colleagues, friends, audiences and you, generous reader.
I will see you on the other side,
Do You Know Where Your Slogan Is? - New York Times:
Another example is “If you see something, say something,” which is the theme of a security campaign introduced in 2002 for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
An online search yesterday for the phrase found 45,500 results on Google, 26,900 on Yahoo and 6,046 on MSN.com. They ranged from creative writing inspired by the slogan (saysomething.org.au) to a short comic film that uses the theme as its title (imdb.com/title/tt0801339/).
“We wanted something that was punchy and catchy enough to not fade in the background,” said Christopher P. Boylan, a deputy executive director at the M.T.A., “and makes a connection with every one of our passengers.”
At the same time, said Allen Kay, chairman and chief executive at Korey Kay, “there was concern there could be backlash, concern we were using fear tactics,” so consumer research was used to determine perceptions of the theme.
The responses, Mr. Kay said, were along these lines: “People understood that officials could not be everywhere, so the M.T.A. was asking them to participate in each other’s safety.”
Still, there is some resistance to the slogan and its infiltration of the vernacular.
For instance, artists in Sydney, Australia, recently took part in an exhibit that questioned the campaign, which they labeled “a government-sponsored vision of the world” that asks people “to view those around us with fear and suspicion”
For the first time in three months I am at INBOX ZERO. I almost thought I was going to have to declare email bankruptcy at one point.
Karney Hatch, director of the documentary OVERDRAWN, about predatory lending practices in the American banking system. He's on a tour of America doing guerilla screenings on the sides of banks--this is a picture taken at just such a screening. I appear in the documentary, which is why I look like I am about to eat the director in this image.
John Hodgman | The A.V. Club:
I have nothing against Sarah Palin. If anything, I think it's sort of tragic. She was clearly a Republican up-and-comer who, if they lose the election, her career has been dealt a very severe blow. We might think that's a good thing, but I'm just saying she was called up too early. She simply had no experience. Never mind whatever her thinking might have been on national issues, but she had never taken a position on a national stage before and she had no experience with the national media and that's what ultimately did her in. She didn't have the training. She's a quick study, obviously, but she's doesn't have the experience to talk to national reporters over and over and over again in a way that could make her seem confident and I think it really undid her.
And just because John McCain wants her to be great in his campaign that doesn't make it so, anymore than just because John McCain wants to believe that if he suspends his campaign and makes serious faces in Washington that the economic crisis will be averted. That's magical thinking. It doesn't make it so just because you want something. Just because John McCain wants to be President does not mean that it must happen.
That's the same magical thinking that really undid Hillary Clinton. It was like, "I don't need to put forward a compelling argument for my candidacy. My candidacy is a compelling argument for my candidacy. I want to be President. Obviously, you all know it's time. Let's get this over with." That wasn't good enough to go against somebody who I think really has looked at the reality of election, saw all the opportunities where he could make gains, saw that she was totally neglecting the caucus states, saw that that was a place where he could take an advantage, planned for it, took the advantage, and won. That's science. Do you know what I mean? That's reality triumphing over magical thinking.
Seattle Weekly - The Moon Is a Dead World:
I’m not entirely sure why Mike Daisey chose the Cold War as the background for his new play—possibly he wanted to avoid the political implications that necessarily accompany stories about more contemporary wars. Instead his focus is unrequited love, which happens to manifest itself in a satirized American listening post. Gregor (Zachariah Robinson), a nearly omnipotent—albeit dead—Soviet soldier, appears before two American officers (Jack Hamblin and Clayton Weller), who take him prisoner. As a general rule, though, don’t take omnipotent beings prisoner. Gregor breaks free with ease and turns the Americans into mental captives. He also covers the post in a warm snow because he feels like it. It doesn’t seem so unreasonable to lash out like that when the woman you love (Pamala Mijatov) rejects you in favor of another man, then dies, then leaves you to die alone only to discover post-mortem that you have superpowers. What do you do, Daisey asks, if you can do anything in the world except make someone love you? The question has been asked before, but certainly not under these particular circumstances. The Moon Is a Dead World is both conceptually and structurally unique, and director Christopher Comte has put together an entertaining production worthy of the script.
ongoing · Understand Your User:
It’s like this: There’s only one person in the world whose needs and problems you really understand and whom you know exactly how to satisfy: that would be you. So build something that you use all the time, and, unless you’re really weird and different from everyone else, you’ve got a potential winner.
I can relate to this message myself. Everything I’ve done over the years that’s worked out well—software, standards, writing—everything, without exception, was something I did for myself. I’ve done the other thing too: built things based on guesses about what people out there might want or need. Never worked, not once.
I bet if you did a survey of successful musicians, artists, writers, or any group of creatives, you’d hear the same story. Sometimes you can guess what people want, and you might get lucky. But probably not, so go ahead and build what you know for sure one person needs.
Palin’s Makeup Stylist Fetches Highest Salary in 2-Week Period - The Caucus Blog - NYTimes.com:
Who was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?
Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staffer. It was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.
Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records.
A Witless Response from the TSA - Jeffrey Goldberg:
Kip Hawley, the TSA administrator, has responded to my article rather tepidly, I think. Read it for yourself, but this paragraph stood out for me:
Clever terrorists can use innovative ways to exploit vulnerabilities. But don't forget that most bombers are not, in fact, clever. Living bomb-makers are usually clever, but the person agreeing to carry it may not be super smart. Even if "all" we do is stop dumb terrorists, we are reducing risk.
Quite astonishing, actually, and something of an admission. As the article says, the entire system is designed to stop stupid terrorists. When it comes to smart terrorists, well, we're on our own.
Review: A few days with the T-Mobile G1, the first Google Android phone - Boing Boing Gadgets:
So why don't I love the G1?
It's ugly, for one. Call me shallow if you must, but I'd call myself human: we respond to physical elegance in people and in objects and the G1 is a lumpen, crooked, creaking slab. (That creaking comes from hinges on the flip-up screen that reveals the keyboard, which makes an altogether more appealingly solid clack.) And the ugliness extends into the operating system itself, which at a minimum needs to update its icon set. Colorful, rounded icons have never been Google's most attractive corporate hallmark, but at least on the web they indicated a down-to-businessness that had a certain charm. On the phone, however, they just look chintzy.
Its keyboard is adequate. But the inclusion of a secondary system of navigation — not the keyboard, but the scroll ball and the four buttons surrounding it — make for a schizophrenic user experience. Should I use the touchscreen here? you'll sometimes wonder when the scroll ball doesn't seem to work. Then you'll touch the screen and find it somehow enables the scroll ball to work again.
Worse, going back a step in menus and applications is almost always handled by the physical Back button next to the scroll ball, which means often you have to take your hand away from the touchscreen to hit a physical button before returning your finger back to the screen.
wcbstv.com - 'Aye' And Mighty: Bloomberg's Wish Is Granted:
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's bid to run for a third term got the all-clear Thursday when the City Council voted to allow term limits to be extended from 8 to 12 years.
Emotional and often outspoken council members voted 29-22 in favor of the extension that now allows officeholders three consecutive four-year terms. About two-thirds of the City Council is currently in their second term.
The council debate began around 2:30 with passionate views on both sides. Council Speaker Christine Quinn got the debate rolling, echoing Bloomberg's argument that the Wall Street meltdown needed experienced hands like himself and the other elected officials.
"In challenging times like this, the voters should have the choice of keeping the current leadership, the current mayor, the current City Council," she said.
But opponents argued the decision should be up to the people, not the officials who would also be affected by a term limit extension.
"If you do this, you are undermining the very people who voted for you," Councilman Charles Barron argued. "Even though the mayor will win today, he is the big loser, because he lost democracy, he lost the favor of the people."
The Mind-BlackBerry Problem:
Last month, 25 people died and 130 were injured in a train crash near Los Angeles. The cause, apparently, was a cell phone. In three hours of work before the crash, one of the engineers received 28 text messages and sent 29 more. He sent his last message 22 seconds before impact, just after passing a signal that would have alerted him to the disaster ahead.
Scientists call this phenomenon "cognitive capture" or "inattention blindness." The mind, captured by the world inside the phone, becomes blind to the world outside it. Millions of people move among us in this half-absent state. Mentally, they're living in another world. It's like the Rapture, except that they've left their bodies behind.
You see them everywhere. The woman alone in the grocery store, a bud in her ear, having an animated conversation with a wall of canned soup. The driver who drifts into your lane while counseling an invisible client. The jogger crossing four lanes of traffic, lost in her iPod. The dad who ignores his kids, living in his BlackBerry the way an alcoholic lives in a bottle.
michaelhayes: Oh our sweet dead Moon.:
I recently completed sound design for Annex Theatre's new play: The Moon is a Dead World.
The play is written by Mike Daisey, his first actually, who is a fairly successful and lively monologist.
When I was asked to do the show I nearly gave my knee-jerk "NO." that I've been cultivating for a while now. It's taken a lot of work to get to where I can turn these things down, since I always say "yes!". But, between Fog People, Hands of Kali, and mixing the Deepsleep Narcotics Company record I've got my hands MORE than full.
But, the director mentioned he was thinking of more ambient soundscape type sounds, which of course is my bread and butter and something I excelled at before I even knew anything about audio. Also seeing an opportunity to try and turn the delivery process on its head a little bit and do something a little more than put a bunch of sounds on a CD and I was hooked.
Theater Review - 'Blasted' - Humanity Gets Only a Bit Part in Sarah Kane’s Play - NYTimes.com:
Now “Blasted,” whose author died a suicide in 1999, has finally arrived in New York in a first-rate production that opened Thursday night at the Soho Rep on Walker Street, filling a significant gap in the history of contemporary theater here. And this is not — repeat not — one of those occasions on which you look back wonderingly at the naïveté of an earlier decade and think, “What on earth was all the fuss about?”
As impeccably staged by Sarah Benson and acted by a three-member ensemble with the bravery of hang gliders in a storm, Ms. Kane’s fierce study in the human instinct for inhumanity still registers off the Richter scale. “Enjoy it,” I overheard a man, who was obviously familiar with the play, saying to an arriving audience member. He then stopped to correct himself. “Well, maybe not enjoy. ...”
Why the Republicans Must Lose: Nothing short of defeat will put the GOP back on its limited government track - Reason Magazine:
While I'm not thrilled at the prospect of an Obama administration (especially with a friendly Congress), the Republicans still need to get their clocks cleaned in two weeks, for a couple of reasons.
First, they had their shot at holding power, and they failed. They've failed in staying true to their principles of limited government and free markets. They've failed in preventing elected leaders of their party from becoming corrupted by the trappings of power, and they've failed to hold those leaders accountable after the fact. Congressional Republicans failed to rein in the Bush administration's naked bid to vastly expand the power of the presidency (a failure they're going to come to regret should Obama take office in January). They failed to apply due scrutiny and skepticism to the administration's claims before undertaking Congress' most solemn task—sending the nation to war. I could go on.
As for the Bush administration, the only consistent principle we've seen from the White House over the last eight years is that of elevating the American president (and, I guess, the vice president) to that of an elected dictator. That isn't hyperbole. This administration believes that on any issue that can remotely be tied to foreign policy or national security (and on quite a few other issues as well), the president has boundless, limitless, unchecked power to do anything he wants. They believe that on these matters, neither Congress nor the courts can restrain him.
On Theatre and Politics - Matthew Freeman: If You See Something Say Something:
Last night, Pam and I caught a preview of Mike Daisey's new monologue If You See Something Say Something at Joe's Pub.
We loved it. As much as I enjoyed and was engaged by How Theater Failed America, I think I this piece is stronger. Daisey's interlocking narratives of his own visit to Los Alamos, Sam Cohen's work on the Neutron Bomb (particularly harrowing and bizarre) and the history of "Homeland Security" create a psychological portait of our most destructive impulses.
The piece is puncuated perfectly by his writerly style and appealing performance. It's topical, certainly liberal, but never detached or sophmorically infuriated. Daisey has more than an instinct for a good story: he has a curiousity that augments the entire proceedings.
People over 55 dream in black and white? - Boing Boing:
Psychology researchers have suggested that if you grew up on black and white TV, you are more likely to dream in monochrome than people who have watched color TV all their lives.
Afghan student gets 20 years instead of death for blasphemy - Los Angeles Times:
In a case that has illustrated Afghanistan's drift toward a more radically conservative brand of Islam as well as the fragility of its legal system, an appeals court Tuesday overturned a death sentence for a student convicted of blasphemy but sentenced him to 20 years in prison.
The student, Parwez Kambakhsh, 24, ran afoul of Afghan authorities last year when he circulated an article about women's rights under Islam after downloading it from the Internet. He was studying at the time in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, where he also worked as a part-time journalist for local newspapers.
Arrested by security police and initially held without charges, he was eventually tried on blasphemy charges, convicted and sentenced to death.
Theater Review (NYC): Woyzeck by Georg Buchner at UNDER St. Marks and BAM:
Let’s compare the two descriptions of the play:
1. A relatively straightforward, conservative staging, with the main innovation being a group of sirens torturing a conflicted, sympathetic Woyzeck into committing his murderous act. A nymphomaniac Marie who is killed by stabbing. Set against the backdrop of the War in Iraq, with “Amazing Grace” and “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” featured heavily. Virtually flawless execution.
2. A wild, ravenous production by an Icelandic theater troupe, featuring circus theatricals, an industrial set, a beach ball, and a ridiculous use of a pool. Punk rock enfant terrible Nick Cave wrote the music and lyrics (along with Warren Ellis). Marie is played as a conflicted, sympathetic women in a Snow White dress caught in an impossible situation by a suave Drum Major in a purple suit. A pathetic, monkey-like Woyzeck in his underwear, which looks like a diaper. Multiple problems with the sound and crowd control.
30 years ago, the former would have been in the opera house, and the latter in the experimental East Village theater. But comparing these two productions of Woyzeck showed me just how much the public role of experimental theater has changed. Once a haven for daring, wild, and unbridled theater, the East Village and off-off-Broadway have gotten more predictable, safe, and maybe even stale. Meanwhile, mainstream, upper-middle-class, and older audiences are more willing to pay good money to see wild, over-the-top productions by foreign directors. The question that remains is whether this social arrangement, which may be unprecedented in artistic history, is any better or worse than what we’ve had in the past.
Spiral of silence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The spiral of silence is a political science and mass communication theory propounded by the German political scientist Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann. The theory asserts that a person is less likely to voice an opinion on a topic if one feels that one is in the minority for fear of reprisal or isolation from the majority (Anderson 1996: 214; Miller 2005: 277).
The Lack of Love:
Has Mike Daisey grown tired of hearing himself talk? The storyteller from Maine—who launched his theater career in Seattle with a monologue about working at Amazon.com, before moving to New York—has finally written a play.
Daisey has a rich, restless imagination. His monologues amble through the halls of the American mind—Monopoly! concerned Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, Microsoft, board games, experimental theater, Wal-Mart, and his Maine hometown—and the new play, titled The Moon Is a Dead World, is set in a remote military outpost in Greenland during the Cold War.
Steve Jobs’s Home Run With the iPhone - Bits Blog - NYTimes.com:
Apple generates so much hype and gratuitous superlatives that it can be hard to distinguish when it has done something that is truly remarkable. But going over what Apple said in its earnings release and conference call Tuesday, it’s clear that the dimensions of its cellphone business — its sales, profits and market share — deserve the strongest words of praise that can be summoned.
Less than two years after saying it would enter the business, Apple now says it is the third-biggest maker of cellphones in the world by revenue, after Nokia and Samsung. And it sold more phones than Research In Motion, the maker of the iconic BlackBerry.
How Anti-Intellectual Is Palin?:
Here's one way to look at the question: how has Palin brought up her own kids? Her eldest son is a high-school drop-out. Her eldest daughter has had, so far as one can tell from press reports, very uneven attendance in high school, and no plans for college. Her other daughters seem to spend a lot of time traveling the country with their mom at tax-payers' expense. I've seen them at several rallies with the Palins this fall. Are they not in school?
The least one can say is that none of her children seems to have been brought up thinking that college is something to aspire to. And her new son-in-law just dropped out of high school as well.
Sarah Palin's own record of several colleges over several years - ending with a degree in sports journalism - tells you a lot. So does her interest in policing the Wasilla library as mayor and using the town's money for a sports stadium. She cut funding for the town museum and opposed building a new library.
Daring Fireball: The Phone Company:
So not only is Windows Mobile growth significantly slower than what Microsoft had publicly anticipated, but the iPhone seems set to surpass unit sales of all Windows Mobile phones combined next year. In fact, given that Apple acknowledged during yesterday’s conference call that, including October sales to date, they’ve already surpassed 10 million iPhones sold for calendar year 2008, the iPhone may well already be outselling all Windows Mobile phones combined.
The entire iPhone platform is only 15 months old. The cheapest model still costs $199. The room for growth in this market is unlike anything Apple has ever seen. So the question is: Despite continuing strong iPod sales and record-breaking Mac sales, how long until the iPhone is undeniably the primary product and platform made by Apple?
My answer: Not long.
And I think Apple’s executive team sees it the same way.
Stop covering Palin until she gives a press conference. - By Christopher Hitchens - Slate Magazine:
I would like to ask her whether by this she means that creationism ought to be given equal time in science classes. And I have a follow-up: How many years old does the Republican nominee for the vice presidency of the United States believe the Earth to be? There are several other questions I would like to ask her, as, no doubt, would you. Lots of luck with that, because it seems that the Grand Old Party intends to go all the way to Election Day without exposing the No. 2 person on its ticket—the person who would become chief executive if President John McCain succumbed to illness—to a press conference. I have been as fair as possible in quoting Gov. Palin. I have used only sentences from her that make some sort of grammatical sense. It would have been easy enough—and relevant enough—to cite answers that she gave to Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric that appeared to be uttered in no known language.
At numerous rallies where the atmosphere has been, shall we say, a little uncivil, Gov. Palin has accused Sen. Obama of accusing our forces in Afghanistan of simply bombing villages. Only a moment's work is required to discover that the words complained of were never uttered in that form and that they occurred in a speech that stressed the need for more ground troops as opposed to more airstrikes (a recommendation, by the way, that begins to look more sapient each week, at least in respect of the airstrikes). Again, I have a question: Did Palin know that she was telling a lie? Or did her handlers simply assume that she would read anything that was put in front of her, however mendacious? And which would be worse? And when will she issue the needful retraction? There seems no way of putting her in a forum where these points could be raised. So, continued media coverage of her appearances is no better than lending a megaphone to a demagogue, the better to amplify her propaganda.
The Joy of the Ensemble - WSJ.com:
Most of the faults she found were those you'd expect in precocious young students -- overzealousness, emotional extravagance, a cluster of tropes that come under the gaudy umbrella of hyper-Andrew-Lloyd-Webber-ism (or, in the movie realm, Dreamgirls-ism). An actor's term she invoked more than once was "presentational," meaning you're pushing, you're selling yourself, you're outside the song instead of in it. In a couple of cases, she asked the performer to take the song down half an octave or more, thus reducing the need to draw on false energy, or to sit down with another singer, knees touching knees, and sing quietly to her or him rather than to the audience. In each case, she tried to elicit the qualities that all good teachers value -- simplicity, specificity, truth -- while assuring these talented young people that their efforts would be rewarded. Audiences eagerly "fall into authenticity," she said.
Clearly this was not just a class about singing, but about good acting as the bedrock of good singing. It was a distillation of fundamentals that do indeed still apply, to motion pictures as well as to musical theater, and a demonstration of how to apply them. And the astonishing thing was how quickly the students got it, as if all they had needed was permission to come back to themselves. Defenses dropped, posturing vanished, real feelings shone through. One singer was able, almost instantly, to turn a palpably false phrase into a piercingly beautiful passage that left people in the audience gasping. I was one of gaspers, and for a while I wondered why I was so deeply moved. Then I realized that the class had brought me back to myself too.
Theater Review - 'The Pumpkin Pie Show' - Clay McLeod Chapman Returns With His Stories of Horror and Melancholy - NYTimes.com:
The age of the great horror stars is long past, but tucked away in a dark basement theater under the bustling street life of the East Village, an intense moon-faced artist is gleefully summoning some of those old ghosts just in time for Halloween. With the trembling voice of Vincent Price and the sinister presence of Boris Karloff, Clay McLeod Chapman — playwright and co-star of “The Pumpkin Pie Show,” a series of gripping, often unnerving short plays rooted in classic gothic literature — has been unsettling audiences with this evolving collection for a decade.
Via Brendan Kiley:
A few years ago, people used to gather at the Rendezvous for raucous, quarterly pub forums on special topics in theater. It was a crucible for ideas—fun, productive, generally tipsy, and occasionally harrowing.
We called it Shitstorm. We're bringing it back. We'd love you to join us.
WHEN: Monday, October 27 at 7:30 pm.
WHERE: The Seattle Repertory Theater.
THE TOPIC: The "10 Things" article The Stranger published a few weeks ago and the discussion it inspired about new works, old subscribers, unions, critics, and the theater world's collective entitlement complex.
(You can read it, and its 120 comments, here)
THE FORMAT: Just like we used to do at the Rendezvous: I'll speak briefly (5 to 10 minutes), someone else will speak briefly, and then the free-for-all begins, moderated by Matthew Richter.
And it's free.
THREE CHEERS FOR: The Rep, for suggesting this forum and being good sports. True to the Shitstorm spirit, the Rep is providing continuous bar service throughout, with cheap drinks.
My email list is a little haphazard—please forward this to quality folks who would enrich the discussion.
(And an RSVP will help us guess what kind of supplies we'll need.)
The Things He Carried | Jeffrey Goldberg:
Suspicious that the measures put in place after the attacks of September 11 to prevent further such attacks are almost entirely for show—security theater is the term of art—I have for some time now been testing, in modest ways, their effectiveness.
Because the TSA’s security regimen seems to be mainly thing-based—most of its 44,500 airport officers are assigned to truffle through carry-on bags for things like guns, bombs, three-ounce tubes of anthrax, Crest toothpaste, nail clippers, Snapple, and so on—I focused my efforts on bringing bad things through security in many different airports, primarily my home airport, Washington’s Reagan National, the one situated approximately 17 feet from the Pentagon, but also in Los Angeles, New York, Miami, Chicago, and at the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport.
And because I have a fair amount of experience reporting on terrorists, and because terrorist groups produce large quantities of branded knickknacks, I’ve amassed an inspiring collection of al-Qaeda T-shirts, Islamic Jihad flags, Hezbollah videotapes, and inflatable Yasir Arafat dolls (really). All these things I’ve carried with me through airports across the country. I’ve also carried, at various times: pocketknives, matches from hotels in Beirut and Peshawar, dust masks, lengths of rope, cigarette lighters, nail clippers, eight-ounce tubes of toothpaste (in my front pocket), bottles of Fiji Water (which is foreign), and, of course, box cutters. I was selected for secondary screening four times—out of dozens of passages through security checkpoints—during this extended experiment. At one screening, I was relieved of a pair of nail clippers; during another, a can of shaving cream.
During one secondary inspection, at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, I was wearing under my shirt a spectacular, only-in-America device called a “Beerbelly,” a neoprene sling that holds a polyurethane bladder and drinking tube. The Beerbelly, designed originally to sneak alcohol—up to 80 ounces—into football games, can quite obviously be used to sneak up to 80 ounces of liquid through airport security. (The company that manufactures the Beerbelly also makes something called a “Winerack,” a bra that holds up to 25 ounces of booze and is recommended, according to the company’s Web site, for PTA meetings.) My Beerbelly, which fit comfortably over my beer belly, contained two cans’ worth of Bud Light at the time of the inspection. It went undetected. The eight-ounce bottle of water in my carry-on bag, however, was seized by the federal government.
On another occasion, at LaGuardia, in New York, the transportation-security officer in charge of my secondary screening emptied my carry-on bag of nearly everything it contained, including a yellow, three-foot-by-four-foot Hezbollah flag, purchased at a Hezbollah gift shop in south Lebanon. The flag features, as its charming main image, an upraised fist clutching an AK-47 automatic rifle. Atop the rifle is a line of Arabic writing that reads Then surely the party of God are they who will be triumphant. The officer took the flag and spread it out on the inspection table. She finished her inspection, gave me back my flag, and told me I could go. I said, “That’s a Hezbollah flag.” She said, “Uh-huh.” Not “Uh-huh, I’ve been trained to recognize the symbols of anti-American terror groups, but after careful inspection of your physical person, your behavior, and your last name, I’ve come to the conclusion that you are not a Bekaa Valley–trained threat to the United States commercial aviation system,” but “Uh-huh, I’m going on break, why are you talking to me?”
The Smart Set: Confessions of a Community Theater Critic - September 11, 2007:
Then there are the shoebox theaters trying to squeeze out a little applause from people willing to watch. That population — people who like to watch plays just for the hell of it — is admittedly getting older and smaller. Now, in a world where it's constantly pounded in our heads that there's someone more interesting going on somewhere else, people need to be told why they're doing it and what they're going to get out of it. In Baltimore's community theater, that's not always clear. There aren't any big names, and no one's breaking new ground. It's not guerilla theater, and it's not fringe theater. It's exclusive, durable, conservative, filled with core actors and playwrights who are a little jealous of their turf and a little grumpy with people who wonder why they don't take a few more risks. You can't blame them: They've created a small comfort zone in a city where theater is underfunded, overlooked, and loved by a shrinking crowd of advocates. Whenever I try to play Frank Rich with them, there's one question I can't get out of my head: Does the world need one more unread reviewer telling unseen actors to stick to their day jobs?
The End of Libertarianism:
The best thing you can say about libertarians is that because their views derive from abstract theory, they tend to be highly principled and rigorous in their logic. Those outside of government at places like the Cato Institute and Reason magazine are just as consistent in their opposition to government bailouts as to the kind of regulation that might have prevented one from being necessary. "Let failed banks fail" is the purist line. This approach would deliver a wonderful lesson in personal responsibility, creating thousands of new jobs in the soup-kitchen and food-pantry industries.
The worst thing you can say about libertarians is that they are intellectually immature, frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school. Like other ideologues, libertarians react to the world's failing to conform to their model by asking where the world went wrong. Their heroic view of capitalism makes it difficult for them to accept that markets can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources or that financial systems without vigorous government oversight and the capacity for pragmatic intervention constitute a recipe for disaster.
Putin's dog gets a satellite collar | International | Reuters:
Putin interrupted a meeting of officials who were discussing the virtues of the Russia's new satellite global positioning system GLONASS to monitor cattle and wild animals.
"Can I use it for my dog?," he asked, according to the account of the meeting posted on the government website www.gov.ru
Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov, a close friend of Putin, said the collar, which weighs 170 grams (6 ounces) and is equipped with transmitters, had been ready for Koni some time ago and now was the time to test it.
It was immediately slipped on the dog.
"She looks sad," Ivanov said. "Her free life is over."
"She is wagging her tail. That means she likes it," Putin said.
Full-length 'The Moon Is a Dead World' is a new phase for solo performer Mike Daisey:
Although Daisey has been successful enough to be hosted at larger venues, he has maintained ties to the Seattle fringe scene where he began."There was interest from a number of other theaters," he said, "but the interest from Annex was so strong and positive it was an easy thing to decide to let them produce the show."
It's also different in that Daisey does not perform in the production himself. Taking charge of his own work, though, has kept his material from languishing.
"For most playwrights, the belief is that you write it, send it off and watch other people ruin it," he said. "I'm a pragmatic theater artist; all of it is actualized."
(Minor rant: why is it when I write a play, my work is now "full-length"? The monologues are pretty damn full on their own, and in fact the last few monologues are all longer than MOON is.
I'll tell you why: because there is an ingrained belief that plays are a mature art form, and solo performers are fucking around, playing with themselves until they get around to MATURING as an artist and write a goddamned play. It's infuriating.)
Patrick Ruffini, the demise of the right and the Democratic alternative:
If those who spent the last eight years vigorously opposing the radicalism, militarism, and anti-constitutional abuses of the Bush administration fail to oppose the Democratic leadership with equal fervor when they violate the same principles -- as they inevitably will -- then the humiliation of the Right and its removal from power will be emotionally satisfying, perfectly just, and a very mild improvement, but will ensure the continuation rather than the termination of most of the worst abuses of this government.
I know pictures can be out of context...but man, he really does make a lot of weird expressions, and Obama's composure just makes it all the more extreme.
A GOP mailing in Virginia:
How to fix the Department of Homeland Security | Salon:
While the nation's attention is on the largest financial bailout in U.S. history, there is another bequest of the Bush administration to the next president that is a hallmark of government expansion and big spending: The U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
DHS was created in the aftermath of Sept. 11 to protect America from terrorism and in the process created a ball of bureaucracy that cannot be easily untangled. The establishment of DHS, the most important civilian agency for ensuring the nation's security, represented the largest reorganization of the federal government since Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal. Within DHS are the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Transportation Security Administration, the Coast Guard, Customs and Border Protection, the Secret Service and 12 other components in charge of critical government functions including immigration and nuclear detection. The secretary of the Department of Homeland Security oversees all of this and is the public face for raising and lowering the National Threat Advisory (currently, yellow), making this appointment one of the most important facing the president. Eighty-six congressional committees have oversight of DHS.
When the presidential candidates talk about big government, it doesn't get any bigger than the Department of Homeland Security. So why then are John McCain and Barack Obama silent on DHS?
Matthew Yglesias » The Pretense:
For your morning thought, consider that it’s pretty remarkable how firmly the media is clinging to the pretense that we’re watching a close, interesting election contest. In fact, Barack Obama has a lead in the polls that no challenger has ever overcome for as long as polling has existed. On top of that, his Electoral College numbers have consistently outperformed his popular vote numbers. And I’ve never heard a single person so much as try to argue that Obama doesn’t have a superior “ground game.” Obviously, McCain could win, but if he turns it around and does that’d be a really remarkable turn of events.
Farewell FireWire? - The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW):
No company has pushed IEEE-1394 (the technical name for FireWire) more than Apple (though Sony is close). The iPod was a FireWire device until its fifth revision in 2004 (USB adapters were available for the third and fourth generation units). Target Disk Mode is arguably one of the most useful Mac diagnostic tools. As long as you have a FireWire hard drive, you can safely migrate, repair or perform component tests on Mac, without damaging the internal drive.
As of right now, there is no true support for USB devices in target disk mode. Yes, you can boot from a USB device, but it's not the same as TDM. It's a shame that they are now phasing out this feature, and without a genuine successor. I don't want to start a USB 2.0 vs. FireWire 400 argument, but for sustained transfer, power consumption and the ability to daisy-chain devices, FireWire remains superior, especially under OS X (other operating systems don't benefit from FireWire as much). I mean, if you are going to get rid of FireWire, at least give us an eSATA port. That would at least be a better alternative for external drives than USB 2.0.
Goodbye, schadenfreude; hello, fail:
It's nearly impossible to pinpoint the first reference, given how common the verb fail is, but online commenters suggest it started with a 1998 Neo Geo arcade game called Blazing Star. (References to the fail meme go as far back as 2003.) Of all the game's obvious draws—among them fast-paced action, disco music, and anime-style cut scenes—its staying power comes from its wonderfully terrible Japanese-to-English translations. If you beat a level, the screen flashes with the words: "You beat it! Your skill is great!" If you lose, you are mocked: "You fail it! Your skill is not enough! See you next time! Bye bye!"
R. Winsome: Review- Mike Daisey's If You See Something Say Something:
As I walked into Mike Daisey's show at the MCA I told Kate that as much as I've been looking forward to seeing him perform, i was a little concerned about what the show would actually be. I've heard Mike described as a "populist voice" which, i've grown to translate into "anti-intellectual whiner". After spending an hour and a half sitting 20 feet in front of him at eye level while he ranted and raved, taught me a thing or two about Herman Kahn and all but accused the audience of selling our democracy out, I can assure you he was mis-described. This guy's incredibly well structured, thoroughly researched and informative monolouge places far to high a value on individual freedom, honesty, and radical autonomy to be populist. Christ, he's sometimes downright misanthropic, complete with childhood dreams of nuclear anihilation. Populists are all about telling people what they want to hear and making promises no one could keep. Mike Daisey tells the audience that our founding fathers were terrorists, that our "security" is absurd, and that "if you think either candidate in this election will change everything, you're a fool."
For those in Seattle, my first play opens there this Friday:
This first play by acclaimed monologuist Mike Daisey (21 Dog Years, Monopoly, How Theater Failed America) weaves a vision of the brutal history of the Soviet space program with an unbelievable premise: a dead cosmonaut is called back down to Earth on a radio wave when Americans in a remote Arctic base hear the beating of his dying heart. A dark and hilarious fairy tale set against the Cold War, it asks what we risk in the struggle between will and humanity, and what it means to love beyond death itself.
Ticket details are available here.
Seattlest: A Dialogue with Newly Minted Playwright Mike Daisey:
Q: What's the motivation for returning to this theme of extraordinary people or extraordinary situations?
MD: Extraordinary stories give us a large canvas to see ourselves in. Ultimately, while I don’t think the play is anything as crass as allegory, I do think it’s interesting to talk allegorically about what power does to people: how it affects the decisions that people and governments make as they accumulate power, how that power shifts and warps them. It’s odd, they’re mostly unrelated works, but I was writing If You See Something, Say Something at the same time, and that's about the father of the neutron bomb, about the era of American supremacy that was born with the invention of the atomic bomb, how that radically altered our relationship to ourselves and the rest of the world, when we began to view ourselves as a superpower. In this play I’m using a fantastical landscape to address a very human questions that we all face in our lives: We all have immense power over other people in one form or another, over parents, over children, in our jobs. How we use that power says something about our humanity. So I hope a small human lesson comes out of this larger landscape.
Mike Daisey makes fine Chicago debut:
Daisey remains seated, a la Gray, at a simple wooden desk with only a glass of water and a few notes for company. But instead of recounting internal neuroses, Daisey's material relies more on first-person, semi-gonzo reportage from the perspective of the everyday, no-special-access dude. And he has a keen and snarky satirical ear for the ironies and contradictions of the American cultural-political-industrial complex.
The new monologue, "If You See Something, Say Something," forges links between Daisey's trip to the site of the first nuclear bomb detonation and the brief, fraught history of the Department of Homeland Security. It notes the weird relationship between aggression and fear in the post-9/11 world, argues the dangers of standing armies who will always find something to do, attacks the morality of the atomic bomb and kvetches about airport security.
It's a very literate, richly researched and frequently very funny show.
Sarah Palin's radical right-wing mentors | Salon News:
Extremists Mark Chryson and Steve Stoll helped launch Palin’s political career in Alaska, and in return had influence over policy. “Her door was open,” says Chryson — and still is.
City Arts Seattle: So Long, Seattle: October 2008:
"The institutions have grown large, metastasized, at the expense of the actors, the designers - the artists," Ballard argues. "The weekly acting salary at the big Seattle theatres was between $700 and $900 back in the early nineties. The price range for acting at the big theatres in 2008 is . . . between $700 and $900. It hasn't changed in over fifteen years!
"In Seattle the median income is now $45,000 a year. Last year, working all the time, I made $25,000. At the age of fifty-four. And $3,000 of that was unemployment." He's taught locally to supplement his income but says that even full-time veteran teachers of theatre at the university level here might make hardly more than $30,000 a year.
"I'm mad as hell and I can't pay my bills anymore!" Ballard declares. This even though he is a single man without a family, has been steadily employed from 1974 on and, since at least 1979, has been in the top tier of all Equity union actors across America in terms of number of weeks worked annually.
"I left Seattle and full-time acting simply because I could no longer make ends meet. I was working more and more and harder and harder and making less and less money." Just before the teaching offer came from Savannah - and before the economy began to tank - Ballard was taking a course to get a real-estate broker's license.
"I'm not a young guy anymore," he says, plaintively. "I can't hop on a bike and deliver messages."
But he's well equipped to deliver his message of reform. He stresses that he's not just bellyaching on his own behalf; he wants the wider community to grasp the professional's plight and how it threatens the art form.
Tourist Blasts Off in Russian Rocket - NYTimes.com:
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan, Oct 12 (Reuters) - U.S. business tycoon Richard Garriott blasted off into space aboard a Russian rocket on Sunday watched by his father, a NASA astronaut who went into space at the height of the Cold War.
The Russian Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on the Kazakh steppes as planned just after 1.00 p.m. local time (0700 GMT).
Garriott, a video game developer from Texas, paid $35 million to fly into space alongside U.S. astronaut Michael Fincke and Russian cosmonaut Yury Lonchakov.
Tossed cigarettes and bad Sinatra —then 'Clifton' gets weird -- chicagotribune.com:
I don't think I've ever left a show I was reviewing. But somewhere around 2 a.m. Friday morning, it dawned on me that the whole point of this show was to keep performing until everybody had left and the performers had all collapsed. Anyway, four hours of Tony "Goldfinger" Clifton was enough. By then, there were only a couple dozen of us left.
Clifton, you might recall, was a creation of the late comedian Andy Kaufman. He's a parody of the faded and wholly untalented Vegas sleazeball—a girl-groping lounge lizard with a Dean Martin repertoire, a faux-Sinatra repartee and the dirtiest jokes imaginable. He is now played by former Kaufman sidekick Bob Zmuda. Zmuda does not admit this in public.
Zmuda is, in fact, a gifted improviser, albeit a terrifying one without any semblance of aesthetic boundary. It isn't so much the profane material here that gets under your skin—although it does, it does. It's Zmuda's total assumption of character—it feels even an invasion of armed buffalo wouldn't snap him back to reality. God help him and those who play with him.
Insider’s Projects Drained Missile-Defense Millions - NYTimes.com:
They huddled in a quiet corner at the US Airways lounge at Ronald Reagan National Airport, sipping bottomless cups of coffee as they plotted to turn America’s missile defense program into a personal cash machine.
Michael Cantrell, an engineer at the Army Space and Missile Defense Command headquarters in Huntsville, Ala., along with his deputy, Doug Ennis, had lined up millions of dollars from Congress for defense companies. Now, Mr. Cantrell decided, it was time to take a cut.
“The contractors are making a killing,” Mr. Cantrell recalled thinking at the meeting, in 2000. “The lobbyists are getting their fees, and the contractors and lobbyists are writing out campaign checks to the politicians. Everybody is making money here — except us.”
Within months, Mr. Cantrell began getting personal checks from contractors and later returned to the airport with Mr. Ennis to pick up a briefcase stuffed with $75,000. The two men eventually collected more than $1.6 million in kickbacks, through 2007, prompting them to plead guilty this year to corruption charges.
Mr. Cantrell readily acknowledges concocting the crime. But what has drawn little scrutiny are his activities leading up to it. Thanks to important allies in Congress, he extracted nearly $350 million for projects the Pentagon did not want, wasting taxpayer money on what would become dead-end ventures.
Brendan Kiley wrote a manifesto of sorts at The Stranger--called Ten Things Theaters Need To Do Right Now to Save Themselves. Thought I'd run down my reactions to his Top Ten.
1. Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already.
I get the sentiment, but I don't think this is such a hot idea. His five year moratorium on all Shakespeare would actually mean a generation of high school students would never hear any Shakespeare, and I think that's not a good idea. I also question that Shakespeare is actually the anvil that's keeping most theaters from innovative programming.
2. Tell us something we don't know.
The sentence is a great impetus, and I'm behind a lot of these ideas.
3. Produce dirty, fast, and often.
I'm also a fan of this as well.
4. Get them young.
Agreed, though I would have liked more specifics on how to do that...I think almost all theaters KNOW they need to do this, but they're befuddled as to HOW.
5. Offer child care.
Much more specific than any of the other proposals, this seems like a workable idea...and I agree, it sounds a lot better than many current theater education programs--more hands-on, more apt to generate real interest in theater, and generally more kickass.
6. Fight for real estate.
I feel like this is happening now--I mean, for those in the know (and they tend to be the ones who survive) fight for affordable arts spaces all the time.
7. Build bars.
Brendan ignores that many theaters have liquor licenses now--they often have bars, but they suck. The fact is that the current theatrical management across America doesn't understand nightlife well, or they would be club owners rather than theater operators. So more than getting licenses, it's the matter of understanding how to make something cool. Much harder to fix.
8. Boors' night out.
Eh. There are a lot more interesting ways to truly build community--like doing work that springs out of and from the stories of the community itself, environmental theater, immersive theater--than apeing conventions from another era and having people throw shit at actors. This one is weak.
9. Expect poverty.
Sigh. Brendan, everyone ALREADY expects poverty, so this is not news to anyone. And no one is sitting around "expecting" a living wage for "talent and a mountain of grad-school debt". That's just dumb and a straw man argument. You'd think the way some people write about actor's entitlement that we had an issue in America where they were OVERpaid rather than UNDERpaid.
10. Drop out of graduate school.
Agreed, wholeheartedly. Get out and learn it in the theaters, kids.
BIGGEST OMISSION: TICKET PRICES.
Brendan, how did you forget this?
Bismarck Tribune Online - World and National News:
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Sarah Palin unlawfully abused her power as governor by trying to have her former brother-in-law fired as a state trooper, the chief investigator of an Alaska legislative panel concluded Friday. The politically charged inquiry imperiled her reputation as a reformer on John McCain's Republican ticket.
FiveThirtyEight.com: Electoral Projections Done Right: On the Road: Dueling Rallies, Ohio:
The language that the two candidates used on yet another rough economic day showed contrast. For Obama's part, threaded through an extensive discussion of economic policy were repeated phrases: "I have confidence," "I believe in you," "we can do this," "we're in this together," and "together, we cannot fail." On the other hand, Palin's comments were directed at Obama -- she was in full hockey agitator mode -- "terrorist," "judgment," "ambition." As for DHL shutting down 8,000 jobs in Wilmington, "we're gonna do something about it." Obama is afraid of mavericks. And Obama is a very dangerous guy who can't be trusted. Big disconnect from the day's events. While most of the 10,500 or so people cheered loudly, I noticed a number of people who stood with arms folded as the attacks unrolled.
Paramount Unaware ‘South Park’ Hated On Spielberg & Lucas & ‘Indy 4′:
I've learned Paramount's top execs missed last night's South Park episode viciously spoofing Steven Spielberg and George Lucas for "raping" Indiana Jones in this summer's fourquel. No, I mean really recreating those rape scenes from The Accused and Deliverance and scattering them throughout as the "B" story in "The China Probrem" episode about the racist "horror" of the post-Olympics Chinese taking over the world. My info is that Paramount will look into this on Friday with parent company Viacom which produces the savage adult toon.
I learned about the episode, watched it online, and thought OH MY GOD.
Remember how Tom Cruise was upset with Viacom for South Park's airing of the infamous "Trapped in the Closet" episode? I can't begin to imagine what Brad Grey and Rob Moore, and Spielberg and Lucas, will say to Viacom. After all, the DVD of Indiana Jones And The Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull comes out in just days. And Paramount confirmed to me this week that an Indiana Jones 5 is a very, very real possibility and Lucas has already begun development on it.
Mike Daisey: If You See Something Say Something @ Museum of Contemporary Art - Flavorpill Chicago:
Mike Daisey takes the stage looking like your schlubby, good-natured cousin and armed only with a glass of water and a scribbled outline — then he explodes into storyteller mode. His fervent, searingly funny unscripted monologues interweave personal anecdotes with obsessive investigations into our nation's secret histories. Our government's long-running fixation with homeland security is the performer's newest subject, and he goes as far back as the first atomic-bomb test 60 years ago. It's a journey through the dark heart of America, as Daisey puts it, but wry, pitch-perfect comedy is our means of transport — with some uneasy truths stowed in the hold.
Storefront Rebellion: How the MCA failed Chicago theater:
I found it to be a massively frustrating missed opportunity. Rather than theater people of all stripes having a real conversation about what institutional theater looks like from their own perspectives, we got a bunch of artistic directors and executive directors of major and mid-major theaters. And Jenny Magnus.
With folks like moderator Michael Halberstam and Kathryn Lipuma of Writers', Martha Lavey and David Hawkanson of Steppenwolf and Charlie Newell of Court dominating the conversation with talk of their executive philosophies, the panel began to sound like an institution-ese HR meeting, the kind of TCG "breakout session" Daisey pokes fun at in HTFA.
I really was wondering what Curious Theater Branch's Magnus was doing there—and when she finally spoke up, she admitted she was too. But after she laid out her case for alternative models like Curious, which stays out of the unions, chooses not to grow, and pays its actors ten percent off the top, it seemed to be acknowledged and then ignored.
The moment I came closest to raising my hand—though hand-raising had not been encouraged—was when James Bohnen of Remy Bumppo corrected something Halberstam had said to him and American Theater Company's PJ Paparelli, about their three companies being about the same size. Halberstam had mentioned that Writers' budget was about $3 million a year. "Actually we're only about a third of your size," Bohnen said. "Our budget is just over a million." Um, isn't using budget size as the prevailing measure of a theater's size a symptom of the problems Mike is talking about? What about other metrics, like number of shows produced per year? Number of performances? Number of years in existence? Number of actors paid a living wage?
AP Exclusive: Documents say detainee near insanity - Forbes.com:
A U.S. military officer warned Pentagon officials that an American detainee was being driven nearly insane by months of punishing isolation and sensory deprivation in a U.S. military brig, according to documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to The Associated Press.
The Bush administration ordered the men to be held in military jails as "enemy combatants" for years of interrogations without criminal charges, which would not have been allowed in civilian jails.
The men were interrogated by the CIA and Defense Intelligence Agency, repeatedly denied access to attorneys and mail from home and contact with anyone other than guards and their interrogators. They were deprived of natural light for months and for years were forbidden even minor distractions such as a soccer ball or a dictionary.
"I will continue to do what I can to help this individual maintain his sanity, but in my opinion we're working with borrowed time," an unidentified Navy brig official wrote of prisoner Yaser Esam Hamdi in 2002. "I would like to have some form of an incentive program in place to reward him for his continued good behavior, but more so, to keep him from whacking out on me."
The Dangerous Panic On The Far Right:
There was always going to be a point of revolt and panic for a core group of Americans who believe that Obama simply cannot be president - because he's black or liberal or young or relatively new. This is that point. As the polls suggest a strong victory, the Hannity-Limbaugh-Steyn-O'Reilly base are going into shock and extreme rage. McCain and Palin have decided to stoke this rage, to foment it, to encourage paranoid notions that somehow Obama is a "secret" terrorist or Islamist or foreigner. These are base emotions in both sense of the word.
But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies - not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.
For God's sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first.
Mike Daisey: If You See Something Say Something @ Museum of Contemporary Art - Flavorpill Chicago:
Mike Daisey takes the stage looking like your schlubby, good-natured cousin and armed only with a glass of water and a scribbled outline — then he explodes into storyteller mode. His fervent, searingly funny unscripted monologues interweave personal anecdotes with obsessive investigations into our nation's secret histories. Our government's long-running fixation with homeland security is the performer's newest subject, and he goes as far back as the first atomic-bomb test 60 years ago. It's a journey through the dark heart of America, as Daisey puts it, but wry, pitch-perfect comedy is our means of transport — with some uneasy truths stowed in the hold.
Make-Believe Maverick : Rolling Stone:
Soon after McCain hit the ground in Hanoi, the code went out the window. "I'll give you military information if you will take me to the hospital," he later admitted pleading with his captors. McCain now insists the offer was a bluff, designed to fool the enemy into giving him medical treatment. In fact, his wounds were attended to only after the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a Navy admiral. What has never been disclosed is the manner in which they found out: McCain told them. According to Dramesi, one of the few POWs who remained silent under years of torture, McCain tried to justify his behavior while they were still prisoners. "I had to tell them," he insisted to Dramesi, "or I would have died in bed."
Dramesi says he has no desire to dishonor McCain's service, but he believes that celebrating the downed pilot's behavior as heroic — "he wasn't exceptional one way or the other" — has a corrosive effect on military discipline. "This business of my country before my life?" Dramesi says. "Well, he had that opportunity and failed miserably. If it really were country first, John McCain would probably be walking around without one or two arms or legs — or he'd be dead."
I actually think the cynics will be disappointed in Obama (although I think Kerry is damn right about Obama on free trade).
The staggering truth is that he's actually quite sincere and calm enough to avoid rank dishonor. He's still a pol, of course, and has cut a few corners in this campaign. But he's nowhere near as slimy as Clinton.
Power will corrupt him, I'm sure. Which is why I intend to go into fair but dogged conservative opposition if he wins this election. He needs a fierce press if he is to be kept on his toes.
“What’s great about this country is that America started the tradition where the richest consumers buy essentially the same things as the poorest. You can be watching TV and see Coca-Cola, and you know that the President drinks Coke, Liz Taylor drinks Coke, and just think, you can drink Coke, too. A Coke is a Coke and no amount of money can get you a better Coke than the one the bum on the corner is drinking. All the Cokes are the same and all the Cokes are good. Liz Taylor knows it, the President knows it, the bum knows it, and you know it.”
— Andy Warhol
What is my life going to be?: Performance art update volume one (or two, no one yeah one):
I also commend the Writer's Theatre for having a person from the office-y side of their business (I am not sure if she was their marketing director or their CFO or Development Head or what) come and speak to the artists. Because let's face it those are the people who live really comfortably and get paid a ton and are not artists (well most frequently are not artists). She spoke about why (well kind of about why) she and her like get paid more than actors. She spoke about how she doesn't even like to compare the two, and how it makes her uncomfortable to speak about it. She was uncomfortable opening herself up to questions from a roomful of artists, but she very bravely did it. Go her!
The only really exciting moment was when Mike Daisey talked about how part of the state of the liveliness of the art can be seen in the posters for local arts scene (galleries, bands, concerts, plays, etc) on the wall of local restaurants and cafes. He travels a lot and says that usually the theatre posters (in that whole wall) are the lamest. And I am inclined to agree with him. This was the only thing that ruffled the hackles of the artistic directors (yeah I mixed my metaphors whatever I do it). They all got kind of quiet and defensive. It was very interesting.
iragamerman: "I got more records than the KGB (so, no funny business).":
I went to this round-table discussion last night with Mike Daisey and a bunch of Chicago theatre illuminati about "How Theatre Failed America".
It wound up being a discussion about the difference between the Admin staff of a theatre vs. the artistic staff of a theatre.
It was a really interesting discussion because frankly, as a theatre artist, I've never really HEARD from Admin staff.
People like Martha Lavey from Steppenwolf talked. A bunch of folks from Writers Theatre.
And it was mostly all about money.
I had wanted a bit more than that. More about how regional theatres aren't appealing to young people. Etc.
But it was mostly about money. Which was still cool.
Because I found that A LOT of these theatres are operating on 1 million dollar a year budgets.
Which is about what my office makes.
And is actually jack shit when you factor in salaries, rent, etc.
Meaning NO ONE is getting much money.
Especially the artists.
So the purpose of this symposium was to sort of question the idea if that was ok.
And it got me thinking about MY OWN work and the realization that I don't have much expectation to get paid for my work.
Which is fucked up of me.
It got me thinking about a lot of things regarding theatre.
I can't really talk about them now because I have to go back to work.
Gone Are the Days of 27 Plays | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Hey theaters: Recall that 20 years ago, in 1988, Annex Theater produced 27 plays, 16 of them world premieres—and hang your heads in shame. This season, Annex will produce 10 plays, four of them world premieres, which is still pretty good. Washington Ensemble Theatre will only produce three plays, one of them a world premiere. (A kinda, sorta world premiere: It’s a re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus.)
What else happened in 1988? Nirvana started recording Bleach—and played a concert at Annex Theater. By the next year, Nirvana was on their first world tour.
The lesson: Produce enough new plays and Kurt Cobain will come back from the grave and play your house.
Credit Default Swaps: $60 Trillion of Bullshit | Slog | The Stranger | Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Car insurance makes sense. If I drive or own a car, I better have some way to pay for repairs and healthcare if I fuck up.
And it makes sense that the insurance company better be tightly regulated—forced to keep enough liquid assets around to pay out claims. If the insurance company failed to pay up, it would be a nightmare for everyone.
Credit Default Swaps (CDS) started out as insurance for bonds. For a percent or two a year of the face value of the bond, you received a contract to pay the face value of a bond if the issuing company defaults. This is little different than life insurance, homeowners insurance or car insurance.
The trouble started in 2000, when the Commodity Futures Modernization Act explicitly banned the regulation of these sorts of contracts. Funny things started to happen; people took out CDS contracts on bonds they didn’t hold.
This would be like me insuring your car. Why on earth would I do that? It’s a bet. If you get in an accident, I get paid; I’m gambling on your failure.
I could be even more clever, and eliminate my risk entirely—at least on paper.
Time Out Chicago: The TOC Blog Five things to do today - Oct 7:
Monologuist Daisey, who’s performing this weekend at the MCA Theater (his first Chicago appearance), caused a stir earlier this year around the country—and particularly in the theatrical corners of the blogosphere—with his piece about perceived failures of the regional theater movement, namely that they’ve let big donors and big buildings become more important than art. In this roundtable, artistic directors of Chicago theaters from Steppenwolf to Curious Theatre Branch discuss Daisey’s ideas and the need to balance the institutional and the artistic. 6pm. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago Ave. (312-280-2660, mcachicago.org). El: Red to Chicago. Bus: 3, 10, 26, 66 (24hrs), 125, 143, 144, 145, 146, 147, 151 (24hrs). FREE!
For those who read the site via RSS, I'm headed to Chicago today—we have performances of IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING this Friday through Sunday at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Details and tickets available here.
Tonight I'll be participating in a roundtable on the state of American Theatre with Martha Lavey, Artistic Director of Steppenwolf, Michael Halberstam, Founder and Artistic Director of the Writers' Theatre, and the Court Theatre's Charles Newell. That's happening at 6pm at the museum this evening, and is free—full details may be found here.
If you have advice about things for us to do in Chicago, please feel free to drop me a line.
Denver police union T-shirt: "We get up early to beat the crowds" - Boing Boing:
The Denver police union is selling T-shirts commemorating the good times they had last month. It costs just $10, which is quite a deal!
The back of the shirts reads, "We get up early to beat the crowds" and "2008 DNC," and has a caricature of a police officer holding a baton.
Detective Nick Rogers, a member of the Police Protective Association board, said police often issue T-shirts to commemorate big events.
Rogers said each Denver officer was given one of the shirts free and others are on sale for $10 each at police union offices.
To be clear, this is what McCain wants—it's about fixing the word TERRORIST next to Obama's name now.
Theater Oobleck has no Managing Director, no Artistic Director, no Technical Director, no Musical Director, no production directors. This is now second nature to us; second nature to a degree that we are surprised when people are surprised by it; second nature to a degree that the whole thing seems rather mundane to me and I must admit to having to strain a little in order to manufacture the BRASH EXCLAMATIVE TONE with which I proclaimed NO DIRECTOR! above and which I will try to maintain below. The fact is that the Director is a newcomer to the theater, and he/she (usually he) has served his purpose! He came in as the Outsider to reform the Theater. Now he pretends he has always been there! Here's a quote from an article someone gave me years ago... I forget the author's name:
"Putting the burden of innovation on the director is like putting the prime minister in charge of the revolution, for the director, insofar as he remains a director, cannot help but defend that kind of theater in which he has a place of importance, suppressing those ancient models of the theater which do not require his services."
Best in Show: October | Metromix New York:
Cutting through the white noise and BS, Mike Daisey is on hand at the Public Theater to describe not-so-simple truths about the American character. This extraordinary monologist is one of the most vital performers in New York City today. His latest work, "If You See Something Say Something," provides a history of American paranoia and propaganda by exhuming the mad science and madder strategy of the U.S. government during the Cold War.
Why Obama is getting criminal justice policy wrong:
When Sen. Barack Obama expressed concern early in the primary season that there are more young black men in prison than in college, he raised hope that he might be the first major-party candidate in a generation to adopt a more nuanced criminal policy than the typical "longer sentences, more prisons, more cops." As it turns out, Obama was wrong on the numbers. But the sentiment was right—one in nine black men between the ages of 20 and 34 is currently behind bars.
Obama has also heartened advocates for criminal justice reform by expressing reservations about mandatory minimum sentences, at least for nonviolent offenders. He said he would end federal raids on medical marijuana dispensaries in states where they're legal. And he has expressed some welcome dismay about America's incarceration rate, which is the highest in the world.
But in the last month, Obama's line on criminal justice has been a lot less encouraging. His running mate selection of Joe Biden, long one of the Senate's most strident crime hawks and staunchest drug warriors, was telling. Since the vice-presidential pick, Obama and Biden have embraced criminal justice policies geared toward a larger federal presence in law enforcement, a trend that started in the Nixon administration and that has skewed local police priorities toward the slogan-based crime policies of Congress, like "more arrests" and "stop coddling criminals."
In particular, Biden and Obama have promised to beef up two federal grant programs critics say have exacerbated many of the very problems Obama expressed concern about earlier in the primaries. Obama and Biden's position shows an unwillingness to think critically about criminal justice. They are opting instead for the reflexive belief that more federal involvement is always preferable to less.
Please Pick Mike Daisey | Newcity Stage:
Most famous for harshly accusing regional theater of betraying its local actors (in his typically blunt monologue “How Theater Failed America”), Mike Daisey is one of the most visible monologuists around—and one of the most provocative. The New York Times called him “one of the finest solo performers of his generation,” a sweet if vague tribute that speaks both to his appeal with intelligentsia and to the difficulty of defining exactly what his focus is. (Other monologues have covered monopoly, the cold war and great men of genius.)
If Women Were More Like Men: Why Females Earn Less - TIME:
A new study looks at this problem in a wonderfully inventive way. In previous studies, academics have looked at variables like years of education and the effects of outside forces such as nondiscrimination policies. But gender was always the constant. What if it didn't have to be? What if you could construct an experiment in which a random sample of adults unexpectedly changes sexes before work one day? Kristen Schilt, a sociologist at the University of Chicago and Matthew Wiswall, an economist at New York University, couldn't quite pull off that study. But they have come up with the first systematic analysis of the experiences of transgender people in the labor force. And what they found suggests that raw discrimination remains potent in U.S. companies.
Schilt and Wiswall found that women who become men (known as FTMs) do significantly better than men who become women (MTFs). MTFs in the study earned, on average, 32% less after they transitioned from male to female, even after the authors controlled for factors like education levels. FTMs earned an average of 1.5% more. The study was just published in the Berkeley Electronic Press' peer-reviewed Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.
Dow plunges 800 points amid global sell-off: Financial News - Yahoo! Finance:
Wall Street suffered through another traumatic session Monday, with the Dow Jones industrials plunging as much as 800 points and setting a new record for a one-day point drop as investors despaired that the credit crisis would take a heavy toll around the world. The Dow also fell below 10,000 for the first time since 2004, and all the major indexes fell more than 7 percent.
The catalyst for the selling was the growing realization that the Bush administration's $700 billion rescue plan and steps taken by other governments won't work quickly to unfreeze the credit markets. Global banks, hobbled by wrong-way bets on mortgage securities, remain starved for cash as credit has dried up.
That sent stocks spiraling downward in the U.S., Europe and Asia, and drove investors to sink money into the relative safety of U.S. government debt. Fears about a global recession also caused oil to drop below $90 a barrel; and the benchmark index that gauges fear in the market jumped to the highest level in its 18-year history.
War and Sex: Who’s Afraid of Sarah Kane?:
Though it was the first work staged in Ms. Kane’s short career — she committed suicide in 1999 at age 28, leaving only five plays behind — “Blasted” immediately established her as an important voice in modern playwriting. But the things that make the play remarkable also make it challenging to produce.
On the most obvious level, it bursts with audacious violence. Drawing parallels between sexual assault and the cruelty of war, the plot follows an older man and a younger woman as they hide from combat inside an opulent hotel room. The war then literally and figuratively invades their space, subjecting them to Jacobean-style horror. One stage direction has eyeballs being sucked out and eaten, and another has a dead infant getting buried under the floor.
The Playgoer: Robert Wilson at USC:
On the evening before his production of Madama Butterfly returned to L.A. (at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion), Robert Wilson addressed an assembly of students, faculty and a few invited guests at the Bing Theatre on the USC campus.
In rumpled black jacket and trousers and soft black shoes (over a white shirt), the designer-director walked onto the stage and stood still, and in silence, for about five minutes – eliciting a few awkward giggles, but mostly a kind of hypnosis.
When he eventually spoke, which he did for almost two hours, he sometimes stopped, mid-sentence, and froze, for longer than the standard attention span usually tolerates – either to gather his thoughts, or to make a point about the standard, diminishing attention span.
TV and even theater, he noted, contain a rhythm of stop-start-stop-start. Quick bursts and cessations of energy. “No no no no no no,” he squealed in a falsetto, chiding, as though speaking to children.
Because each movement of music, each motion of gesture is connected to the preceding movement or motion. Animals understand this. They remember through their muscles. For this reason, he, explained, beginning actors must first learn how to stand on a stage in silence, and then how to walk across a stage, like a cat.
Back in her time as a Christianist culture warrior in Wasilla, Alaska, Sarah Palin demanded total transparency from her moderate Republican opponent:
Within a few months, Palin was officially challenging Stein and exploiting the cultural shift masterfully. She welcomed a national anti-abortion group in to carpet bomb Wasilla with pink postcards affirming her pro-life bona fides. She orchestrated an NRA endorsement and a mailing from the group falsely proclaiming Stein, a lifelong hunter, "anti-gun." (Stein complained to the local newspaper that Palin was telling voters he wanted to "melt down" all the firearms in the state.) And, in a move practically out of Karl Rove's playbook, she dwelled on how Stein's wife used her maiden name, going so far as to demand a marriage certificate as proof of their nuptials. Palin's campaign literature proclaimed her "deeply devoted to conservative family values"--all in the context of an ostensibly nonpartisan election. (Stein himself was a moderate Republican.)
So it is part of Palin's record to demand the marriage license of a fellow Republican, but to ask for any medical confirmation of the mysterious birth of Trig earlier this year, any affidavit from the obstetrician, any objective evidence at all that Trig is indeed Sarah Palin's biological child is, well, in the words of John Podhoretz, "virtually unspeakable." Look: this is usually not hard at all. Births are recorded at the hospitals where they occur. And, as you might expect, there's a long list of babies born at Mat-Su Medical center, where we are told Trig was born on April 18 this year. But for some reason, Trig Palin's name is not among them.
Why would a hospital exhaustively record all births on their premises and leave out easily the most famous baby ever born there? There were only 24 births at Mat-Su in April of this year: it's not like they could have mislaid one. So why is there no formal record of Trig's birth? This is not an "unspeakable" question. It's a simple factual one. Presumably there's an explanation. Perhaps the Palins decided that it would be an invasion of Trig's privacy to have the birth actually recorded in the hospital where he was born. But at least they should be able to tell us that. Or perhaps the hospital decided for some reason not to record that one birth. I have no idea. I do know that if Sarah Palin were running against Sarah Palin, she would demand evidence, as she did with something just as accessible with respect to John Stein's marriage license.
Like J.P. Morgan, Warren E. Buffett Braves a Crisis - NYTimes.com:
He called the current crisis an economic Pearl Harbor, requiring immediate action. Its biggest single cause, he explained, was the real estate bubble. “Three hundred million Americans, their lending institutions, their government, their media, all believed that house prices were going to go up consistently,” he said. “Lending was done based on it, and everybody did a lot of foolish things.”
As far back as 2003, Mr. Buffett had warned that the complex securities at the center of today’s troubles — once so profitable, but now toxic — were “financial weapons of mass destruction.” These securities were engineered by the math quants on Wall Street, and in the interview Mr. Buffett expressed his disdain: “Beware of geeks bearing formulas.”
The Bush/Palin World View:
Ron Suskind captures it best in this vignette from 2001 as one of Bush's top economic advisers actually said in a meeting in the president's presence that Bush's fiscal insouciance was bad policy:
According to senior administration officials who learned of the encounter soon after it happened, President Bush looked at the man. "I don't ever want to hear you use those words in my presence again," he said.
"What words, Mr. President?"
"Bad policy," President Bush said. "If I decide to do it, by definition it's good policy. I thought you got that."
The advisor was dismissed. The meeting was over.
Eight years later, we have a woman on the ticket whose record in Alaska is identical: utterly fixed, utterly immune to criticism, and, much of the time, utterly wrong.
Ready for the racism? This is from a member of the McCain/Palin campaign's Leadership Team in Virginia:
Theatre Communications Group - American Theatre - October 2008:
Sheila Callaghan doesn’t finish sentences. She tumbles forward through a flood of images and ideas, sometimes pausing to recall how she arrived at this particular spot in the conversation. There’s a giddy energy about her, and she’s a magnet for people and discussion.
Callaghan’s writing, likewise, seems to filter in everything around her before spinning back onto the page. Though she’s often tagged with various nebulous labels (“downtown” and “language playwright” are two, and neither is totally unfounded), her plays defy categorization. They are sexy, punky, smart, sophisticated, literate, edgy, tightly woven, big, crass, witty, exquisite. They swell with moments of the unreal but never let go of a narrative thread. They expand and contract to underscore everyday grit and epic ache.
“She writes the kind of plays you can’t wait to crack open,” says director Kip Fagan, who began working with Callaghan more than a decade ago at Seattle’s Printer’s Devil Theater, which Callaghan calls her first professional-development home. “She works in a lot of different idioms, but whether the play is naturalistic, like Lascivious Something, or a totally dystopian, theatrical story, like We Are Not These Hands, there’s a buoyancy that can be missing in a lot of more formally adventurous writing. There’s nothing dry about her plays.”
An Angry White Guy in Chicago: The Cultural Bleed of the NEA:
Gioia did a lot for the NEA - he bolstered the budget, instituted lots of reading programs, pushed jazz as America's only indigenous art form - all after a fifteen year beating the agency took after the fallout from the NEA Four* and Congress's insistence that the NEA was not their responsibility.
So, if the former corporate executive-turned-poet did such a bang up job, what the fuck has happened in the past six years that leaves a bad taste in my mouth?
Simply put, instead of fighting the conservatives so offended by the work of individual artists or spending the money allocated on actual art, Gioia made the NEA the arts branch of the Department of Education.
Alaska vs. Hawaii:
Why is Alaska authentically American when Hawaii is not? At bottom, of course, it's a silly question. Both states, while disconnected geographically from the continental United States, are populated with people whose American-ness is beyond dispute. Every corner of each one of the 50 states is "authentically American." But Alaska leans Republican while Hawaii leans Democratic, and the GOP long ago intimidated the media into believing that only Republican strongholds represent the "real America." These Republican strongholds are usually sparsely populated, and I suppose the media's been sold on the idea that because the United States started out as an agrarian nation, rural areas are somehow more authentic than urban ones.
But if it's really true, as Palin said in the debate, that Americans are tired of "constantly looking backwards," then perhaps it's time we noticed that, as Rachael Larimore points out in Slate's "XX Factor" blog, 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in metropolitan areas. We city-dwellers make no claim to being more "authentically American" than Alaskans or the inhabitants of any of this country's many other big open spaces. But we are, by dispassionate numerical reckoning, more typical. And while most people probably don't think of Hawaii as an urban state, 70 percent of its 1.3 million inhabitants live in and around Honolulu, the state's biggest city. In Alaska, by contrast, only 42 percent of its 670,000 inhabitants live in and around Anchorage, that state's biggest city. So if either of the last two states admitted to the union has any claim to being more characteristic of the nation as a whole, it's Hawaii, not Alaska.
I'm not suggesting that Obama start prancing around obnoxiously declaring himself more authentically American than Sarah Palin. But I do wish the press would set aside its sepia-tinted glasses and consider this country as it is, and not as self-interestedly sentimental Republicans want us to think it is.
Name That Economy:
What should we call the economic model emerging from this crisis of capitalism? Despite the collectivization of losses and risk, it doesn't qualify as even reluctant socialism. Government ownership of private assets is being presented as a last-ditch expedient, not a policy goal. Yet it's inaccurate to describe our economy, either pre- or post-Paulson, as simply laissez faire. A system in which government must frequently intervene to protect the world from the results of private financial misjudgment is modified capitalism—part invisible hand, part helping hand. This leaves us with a pressing problem of both conceptualization and nomenclature.
FIVE THINGS TO LEARN ABOUT ... Mike Daisey | Chicago Tribune :
Because Spalding Gray is no longer alive, Daisey, 35, is probably America’s most prominent theatrical monologuist. Like Gray, he sits behind a desk and riffs on matters micro and macro, personal and political. But the two are very different in style and preoccupation. Gray deliberately created a claustrophobic universe and was predominantly interested in the boundaries and manifestations of neurosis. Daisey has expounded on subjects as broad and varied as the Department of Homeland Security (the subject of his show next weekend at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art), the fabulist/novelist James Frey, scientist Nikola Tesla, public transportation, Monopoly and the Cold War. “Spalding worked extemporaneously but would lock his shows over time,” Daisey says. “I always perform extemporaneously.”
Biden Palin Vice Presidential Debate 2008 Transcript:
If you really want to decide what these people believe about the issues I recommend you read some of this rather than watch the tapes.
The Choice: Comment: The New Yorker:
Perhaps nothing revealed McCain’s cynicism more than his choice of Sarah Palin, the former mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, who had been governor of that state for twenty-one months, as the Republican nominee for Vice-President. In the interviews she has given since her nomination, she has had difficulty uttering coherent unscripted responses about the most basic issues of the day. We are watching a candidate for Vice-President cram for her ongoing exam in elementary domestic and foreign policy. This is funny as a Tina Fey routine on “Saturday Night Live,” but as a vision of the political future it’s deeply unsettling. Palin has no business being the backup to a President of any age, much less to one who is seventy-two and in imperfect health. In choosing her, McCain committed an act of breathtaking heedlessness and irresponsibility. Obama’s choice, Joe Biden, is not without imperfections. His tongue sometimes runs in advance of his mind, providing his own fodder for late-night comedians, but there is no comparison with Palin. His deep experience in foreign affairs, the judiciary, and social policy makes him an assuring and complementary partner for Obama.
The longer the campaign goes on, the more the issues of personality and character have reflected badly on McCain. Unless appearances are very deceiving, he is impulsive, impatient, self-dramatizing, erratic, and a compulsive risk-taker. These qualities may have contributed to his usefulness as a “maverick” senator. But in a President they would be a menace.
A statement that he made like that is downright dangerous because leaders like Ahmadinejad who would seek to acquire nuclear weapons and wipe off the face of the earth an ally like we have in Israel should not be met with without preconditions and diplomatic efforts being undertaken first.
Nuculer Meltdown - The Stump:
Asked about the circumstances that might allow for the use of nuclear weapons, Palin seemed to panic and gave a comically hollow answer involving something to do about nukes as "the end all and be all" and how evil regimes must not have them.
Then Gwen Ifill allowed her to change the subject to Afghanistan, whereupon Palin implied that Barack Obama cast the conflict there as some kind of a war against innocent civilians. For good measure, she seemed to suggest that's it's not even true to say that US air strikes there have killed a lot of civiians, which of course is has been a major tragedy and strategic problem there.
I think Palin is giving a cosmetically strong performance so far, but on the substance it's a horrorshow.
Parents Give Up Youths Under Law Meant for Babies - NYTimes.com:
The biggest shock to public officials came last week, when a single father walked into an Omaha hospital and surrendered nine of his 10 children, ages 1 to 17, saying that his wife had died and he could no longer cope with the burden of raising them.
In total last month, 15 older children in Nebraska were dropped off by a beleaguered parent or custodial aunt or grandmother who said the children were unmanageable.
Officials have called the abandonments a misuse of a new law that was mainly intended to prevent so-called Dumpster babies — the abandonment of newborns by young, terrified mothers — but instead has been used to hand off out-of-control teenagers or, in the case of the father of 10, to escape financial and personal despair.
Live Blogging by Rick Klein: Working the Refs:
Just as clearly, this is silly and -- even in the age of anything-goes spin -- just not right. First, nobody knows what Ifill is going to write; Ifill herself says she hasn’t written the section on Obama yet, and the book will be about a whole generation of black leaders, not just Obama.
Second, no one seriously questions the journalistic credentials of the PBS veteran, who also did stints at NBC News and The New York Times.
Third, Ifill’s authorship of this book should have surprised precisely no one in political circles. Six weeks ago, the book merited a mention in Time magazine. Last month, The Washington Post wrote about it.
For this to suddenly become an “issue” right before the debate is a disservice to a talented journalist. It fits with the McCain campaign’s efforts to rail against the media -- but does Team McCain really think it will win an election because people think it win anger the MSM?
A lesson in the failures of "fair use" (Lessig Blog):
But this whole mess demonstrates clearly, in my view, the need for us to get beyond the "fair use" analysis. This is an amateur remix of popular culture. It should be completely exempt from copyright restrictions. When it gets used commercially (by, say, YouTube), then, in my view, YouTube should be responsible for the work it is profiting from -- through a flat, collective license, for example, either created by law, or negotiated by the parties. But only then should there be a "copyright event." Until it is used commercially in that sense, the creator should be free to (re)create without employing a lawyer to muddle through the mess of complexity fair use law is. The law has no useful function in this context. Or put differently, amateur remix needs to be deregulated.
Instead, of course, the law today has it exactly backwards. It is the creator of this work who is the alleged copyright infringer under current law. And YouTube who is immune from liability so long as it removes the work as soon as it can.
Jonathan Martin's Blog: McCain pulling out of Michigan - Politico.com:
John McCain is pulling out of Michigan, according to two Republicans, a stunning move a month away from Election Day that indicates the difficulty Republicans are having in finding blue states to put in play.
McCain will go off TV in Michigan, stop dropping mail there and send most of his staff to more competitive states, including Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida. Wisconsin went for Kerry in 2004, Ohio and Florida for Bush.
36 Hours of Alarm and Action as Crisis Spiraled - NYTimes.com:
The real problem was that a handful of hedge funds that used the firm’s London office to handle their trades had billions of dollars in balances frozen in the bankruptcy.
Diamondback Capital Management, for instance, a $3 billion hedge fund, told its investors that 14.9 percent of its assets were locked up in the Lehman bankruptcy — money it could not extract. A number of other hedge funds were in the same predicament. (When called for comment, Diamondback officials did not respond.)
As this news spread, every other hedge fund manager had to worry about whether the balances they had at other Wall Street firms might suffer a similar fate. And Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs were the two biggest firms left that served this back-office role. That is why Mr. Ackman’s investors were calling him. And that is what caused hedge funds to pull money out of Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs, hedge their exposure by buying credit-default swaps that would cover losses if either firm couldn’t pay money they owed — or do both.
It was fear, not greed, that was driving everyone’s actions.
Best Bets, Oct. 2-Oct. 8 | burlingtonfreepress.com | The Burlington Free Press:
Mike Daisey brings his show “Great Men of Genius: Nikola Tesla” to the University of Vermont Lane Series at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4 at the UVM Recital Hall. In a show that combines storytelling, personal narrative, monologue and electrical engineering, Daisey focuses on the life of Nikola Tesla, a scientist and visionary who sparred with Thomas Edison and died insane and penniless writing love sonnets to pigeons after bringing the world electricity as we know it.
We're off this AM on a short tour—first stop is MAINE, land of my forefathers and mis-spent youth, where we'll be performing at Colby College, an institution that was foolish enough to allow me to matriculate.
Show details are in the sidebar, but the long and the short is that there is one show only,
and it is this FRIDAY at 7:30pm at the theater.
The Playgoer: The Civilians Play L.A.:
I write this by way of introducing the grand opening of UCLA Live's Seventh Annual International Theater Festival, and U.S. premier of adapter-director Barry Kosky's staging of Edward Allen Poe's “The Tell-Tale Heart” -- a one-man performance featuring Austrian actor Martin Niedermair. The show and festival are supposed to open tomorrow (Wednesday), but they won't, because Niedermair isn't coming.
He would like to come, but the Department of Homeland Security has denied his visa.
His visa is being denied because Actors Equity has determined that the role, being recited in English, could, conceivably be played by an American, and Homeland Security routinely checks in with the appropriate labor union in order to make its determination of whether to grant a work-related visa.
Explained Equity spokesperson Maria Somma, the organization subcontracted by UCLA Live to petition for artists' visas, Traffic Control Group, Ltd., submitted paperwork that said the performance was culturally unique. “We rejected that because we didn't find anything that was culturally unique about it.”
GigaOM White Paper: The Facts & Fiction of Bandwidth Caps - GigaOM:
Beginning on Wednesday, Comcast, the largest broadband service provider in the U.S., is going to start capping the total amount of data you can transfer using their broadband connection — to 250GB per month. With this move, the cable company will become the symbol of a new Internet era, one that is both monitored and metered. It is an era that threatens to limit innovation and to a large extent, the possibilities for new startups.
I have been very vocal about the short-sightedness of this decision being made by Comcast (and some other carriers), and along with my colleague Stacey Higginbotham, have been covering the story pretty closely. It is a clear and present danger to the way we use the Internet in this country.