Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: The Classic Regency Romance—Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem! Quirk Books $12.95 : Chronicle Books:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies features the original text of Jane Austen's beloved novel with all-new scenes of bone-crunching zombie action. As our story opens, a mysterious plague has fallen upon the quiet English village of Meryton—and the dead are returning to life!
Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet is determined to wipe out the zombie menace, but she's soon distracted by the arrival of the haughty and arrogant Mr. Darcy. What ensues is a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield as Elizabeth wages war against hordes of flesh-eating undead.
The Playgoer: Bush's NEA: Dana Gioia's Parting Shot:
Here's some other high/lowlights in the report.
* "The number of nonprofit theaters in the United States has doubled over a 15-year period." 1990-2005, that is. From 1,000-2,000.
* In 1990 "earned income" (as in ticket sales) made up about 65% of all revenue for those companies. Today it's down to about 50%. "Contributions" has picked up the shortfall.
* Of those "contributions" the trend over the last two decades is now demonstrably (not that you ever doubted it) toward greater individual and corporate giving and dwindling government funding. But look at this: Back in 1987 individual giving still was the highest source at 32% of total contributions. But federal/state/local government grants were a close second at 26%. By last count in 2002, the "individuals" piece of the pie is up to 40% and the government portion has sunk ten points (15.6%)--that's now fourth place, overtaken by "Foundations" (21.7%) and "Businesses" (17%).
* Blaming high ticket prices for the decline of the audience? Nonsense! "Theater ticket sales do not appear to respond strongly to price changes. Statistical models predict that a 20 percent price hike in low-end subscription or single tickets will reduce total attendance by only 2 percent." Wait there's more, in the small print of a footnote: "Further increases in attendance per performance appear to be linked with increases in the highest ticket prices that theaters offer." Go figure. I guess it's the old "if it ain't pricey, it ain't classy" phenomenon.
So what have we learned today?
Why the world's economic leaders blame the catastrophe on the system instead of themselves. - By Daniel Gross - Slate Magazine:
At a CNBC event yesterday, groups of 10 to 12 people sat at tables and mooted three questions: Which policy assumption failed? Which regulatory failure proved to be the largest systemic shock? And which market failure proved most damaging? The answers were obvious: poor regulation of the shadow banking system, mispricing of risk, the failure of models. But there was very little talk about the people who helped design and justify the systems, the mispricing, and the models. At one point, someone in the crowd stood up and said: "It's intriguing nobody is to blame. In other industries, there are consequences if you make toxic products that hurt people. Policy makers need to make it clear that there are serious consequences for that type of behavior." Big applause! And yet aside from the odd mention of Alan Greenspan and an oblique reference to Robert Rubin, the former treasury secretary who became a senior executive at Citigroup, there was little talk of individual players who had responsibility.
The dismissal of human agency is ironic, but also predictable. Just as financial markets in the United States privatize profits and socialize losses, Davos and other conferences like this privatize success (by chalking it up to individuals) and socialize failure (by blaming it on large systemic problems).
The Davos Man is supposed to be gracious and civil. Not this year. - By Daniel Gross - Slate Magazine:
Even though we're in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, schadenfreude is a sentiment generally frowned on at Davos. Rather, the powerful and wealthy congratulate themselves for taking time out of their busy schedules to ponder the plight of the less fortunate. One of the unofficial Davos events is the "Refugee Run," a simulation of life as a refugee, complete with hostile, armed rebels, power outages, and barbed wire.
The Arts | Monologuist Mike Daisey at Kirkland Performance Center | Seattle Times Newspaper:
Seattle-honed, nationally acclaimed solo artist Mike Daisey returns to the area this weekend with two works. His bitingly satirical rumination on American innovation and corporate power, "Monopoly!," plays at 8 tonight; then Daisey will perform his monologue about his Brooklyn neighborhood before and after Sept. 11, 2001 — called "Invincible Summer" — at 8 p.m. Saturday. Both shows are at the Kirkland Performance Center, 350 Kirkland Ave., Kirkland; $10-$25 (425-893-9900 or www.kpcenter.org).
For James Urbaniak:
It's soy. You're welcome.
The military should close its torture school. I know because I graduated from it.:
I served in the Marine Corps in the 1990s, and I attended SERE as a young lieutenant in November 1995. I have since been to Iraq three times (as a reporter), and I can attest that the school isn't relevant to the threats American soldiers face abroad. It resembles more of an elaborate hazing ritual than actual training.
While I was in the school, I lived like an animal. I was hooded, beaten, starved, stripped naked, and hosed down in the December air until I became hypothermic. At one point, I couldn't speak because I was shivering so hard. Thrown into a 3-by-3-foot cage with only a rusted coffee can to piss into, I was told that the worst had yet to come. I was violently interrogated three times. When I forgot my prisoner number, I was strapped to a gurney and made to watch as a fellow prisoner was water-boarded a foot away from me. I will never forget the sound of that young sailor choking, seemingly near death, paying for my mistake. I remember only the sound because, try as I might, I couldn't force myself to look at his face. I was next. But for some reason, the guards just dropped the hose on my chest, the water soaking my uniform.
What a 1988 college thesis by the former vice president's daughter tells us about the Bush presidency:
When I worked at the library at Colorado College, I quickly discovered the job had few perks. The free book loans on demand were little better than subprime mortgages when you realized anyone could get them. The only "exclusive" benefit was the chance to keep manuscripts the library threw out. Usually, I had a limited selection of titles, like Proceedings From the Third Workshop on Genetics of Bark Beetles and Associated Micro-Organisms. But occasionally I stumbled across a gem. Rummaging through a bin of discarded books one day, I saw an unusual spine: "CHENEY The Evolution of Presidential War Powers 1988."
In 1988, while Dick Cheney was Wyoming's sole representative in the House of Representatives, his daughter's senior thesis was quietly published in Colorado Springs. The 125-page treatise argued that, constitutionally and historically, presidents have virtually unchecked powers in war. Thirteen years before her father became vice president, she had symbolically authored the first legal memorandum of the Bush administration, laying out the same arguments that would eventually justify Guantanamo and extraordinary rendition, wiretapping of American citizens, and, broadly, the unitary theory of the executive that shaped the Bush presidency.
In a few weeks I'm traveling to the remote island of Tanna, a tiny speck at the end of the Vanuatu island chain in the South Pacific. It is the location of the last cargo cult in the world: a religion created by islanders after Americans built temporary bases here during WWII.
The religion revolves around the worship of American power, and the summoning of America's power back to the island through sympathetic magic. Islanders enact rituals where they wear whiteface and create costumes that look like military uniforms, and sit at bamboo tables to "type" on bamboo recreations of typewriters...because they saw American servicemen doing the same, and it made the cargo come, and with it the power of America.
From the Wikipedia entry about the John Frum cult:
"In 1941, followers of John Frum rid themselves of their money in a frenzy of spending, left the missionary churches, schools, villages and plantations, and moved further inland to celebrate traditional custom through feasts, dances and rituals. The movement gained popularity in the 1940s when some 300,000 American troops established themselves in Vanuatu. The islanders were impressed both by the egalitarianism of the Americans and their obvious wealth and power. This led them to conflate perceived benefactors such as Uncle Sam, Santa Claus and John the Baptist into a mythic figure who would empower the island peoples by giving them cargo wealth."
Meticulous simulacra have been created—life-size models of McDonnell Douglas DC-9 aircraft, lovingly shaped from bamboo and straw, totems made to call power back to the island. Control towers of bamboo, whole runways accurate to an inch but made of palm fronds—a universe constructed from faith that they could compel America to return to the island.
Now the religion is over fifty years old, and the islanders' faith has evolved with the times. Today the village elders watch CNN on satellite uplink...and they write new hymns to draw out the power of America, based on the news events they see occurring in that far-off land.
I will be there for a massive celebration, held once a year, when the islanders recreate the stories of America from across the sea. They will re-enact the events of the past year—I hope I will see Obama be inaugurated a second time—in great detail. I will be there for this event, and remaining for a number of weeks to interview and see what I can learn of their lives.
Then I will be touring Australia, where I'll be performing the very earliest notes toward a new monologue. Tentatively titled THE LAST CARGO CULT, it will explore stories of belief, trust and sympathetic magic from the cargo cults by weaving them against stories of belief, trust, and sympathetic magic from a more familiar source: the international financial crisis.
From the belief in the infallibility of markets that gave birth to it, to the trust economy that we rely on to keep the modern world running, to our ultimate achievement in abstraction and sympathetic magic—money—I hope to wrestle with the largest questions of what the collapse means, and what can we see about the system we've created that underlies everything we do. I'm speaking with experts from that world now, from financiers to hedge fund traders to economists...email me if you have expertise in these areas and would like to talk.
Finance is a lens we use to define our world, and in doing so we become subject to the world we've created, bound to the laws we lay down. I'm hoping to use each culture to illuminate the other in an honest attempt to find, between the seemingly primitive and the achingly modern, a human answer.
That's the hope. It is terribly early yet, and there's much to do.
I will be performing early versions of this work across Australia, with performances in Perth, Melbourne, and Sydney during March—as dates are locked down I will update mikedaisey.com with complete details.
When I return to America in March we'll be presenting an early version of the piece in conjunction with a run of HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA at Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles—details are available at my site.
Be seeing you,
PS: A life on the road: we are now in Seattle, where we perform MONOPOLY! this Friday night and INVINCIBLE SUMMER this Saturday, and then up to Vancouver for the PuSh Festival. This will be the only time these monologues will be done in the region, so if you're so inclined, buy tickets now before it is too late:
FT.com / Comment / Analysis - The game changer:
What about credit default swaps? Here I take a more radical view than most people. The prevailing view is that they ought to be traded on regulated exchanges. I believe they are toxic and should be used only by prescription. They could be used to insure actual bonds but – in light of their asymmetric character – not to speculate against countries or companies.
CDS are not, however, the only synthetic financial instruments that have proved toxic. The same applies to the slicing and dicing of collateralised debt obligations and to the portfolio insurance contracts that caused the stock market crash of 1987, to mention only two that have done a lot of damage. The issuance of stock is closely regulated by authorities such as the Securities and Exchange Commission; why not the issuance of derivatives and other synthetic instruments? The role of reflexivity and the asymmetries identified earlier ought to prompt a rejection of the efficient market hypothesis and a thorough reconsideration of the regulatory regime.
Irreversible climate change due to carbon dioxide emissions — PNAS:
The severity of damaging human-induced climate change depends not only on the magnitude of the change but also on the potential for irreversibility. This paper shows that the climate change that takes place due to increases in carbon dioxide concentration is largely irreversible for 1,000 years after emissions stop. Following cessation of emissions, removal of atmospheric carbon dioxide decreases radiative forcing, but is largely compensated by slower loss of heat to the ocean, so that atmospheric temperatures do not drop significantly for at least 1,000 years.
Parabasis: One Quick Thought On Ticket Prices:
This is what I want to say though: The idea that we won't on some subconscious level have different, higher expectations for a $75.00 show vs. a $15.00 show is naive in the extreme. We expect (culturally I'm sayin' here) value and price to equal out in some way, and when they don't, we tend to feel much worse about the value than we normally would. Seeing a so-so show for $75.00 pisses me off. Seeing a so-so show for $18.00 does not. I'm more and more realizing that this (emotional) response is not one I am choosing, it's due to a set of (culturally created perhaps) assumptions about what money means and how it interacts with value. Our audiences are going to have fairly similar assumptions when they come in to see our shows.
This is one of the many reasons why high ticket prices are self-defeating.
Seattle Calendar - Mike Daisey - page 1 - Seattle Weekly:
Mike Daisey possesses a singular skill that suits his profession to a T: He can talk about himself at great length with great charm, without seeming self-absorbed. While others might parlay this skill into little more than entertaining at family gatherings, Daisey’s made it the backbone of his performance career, crafting a series of monologues that pretend to deal with such eclectic subjects as eccentric geniuses, Amazon.com, America’s nuclear industry, and the death of American theater, while actually being about how these subjects affect his life and fascinate his cynically playful eye. Daisey, who honed his craft here for over a decade, has performed most of his pieces in Seattle, save one: Invincible Summer, a monologue chronicling his move to New York in 2001, his eyewitness account of 9/11, and its aftermath. When I last asked him about the piece, he admitted that he’s often asked by Seattleites when he’s going to stage it here, and that some of them seem weirdly resentful that they’ve been denied the chance to round out the Daisey canon. Well, Daiseyphiles, now’s your chance, though you’ll have to cross the lake to hear what happened when the big guy made the jump from our little burg to the dark bohemian underground of Brooklyn. (On Friday, Daisey offers Monopoly!, about Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison, and the Parker Brothers board game.)
APB from the NY NeoFuturists:
HEY! YOU!! Are you a wildly creative theatrical mastermind? Then check this out:
The New York Neo-Futurists are seeking new members for their creative & prolific ensemble to write/perform/direct in their open-run of TOO MUCH LIGHT MAKES THE BABY GO BLIND (now in its 5th year), an ever-changing attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes that the NY Times calls "an entire fringe festival in one show." This is a unique and demanding show, requiring a long-term commitment. It is strongly suggested that you see Too Much Light before auditioning.
Auditions (by appointment only) will be held on February 2 & 8
Callbacks will be held on February 14 & 15. (Auditioners must be present for both days of callbacks.)
People of color & LGBT encouraged.
For more info, go to: http://www.nyneofuturists.org/site/index.php?/site/audition/
To set up an appointment, email firstname.lastname@example.org
Excuses: John Thain and the Art of the Modern Non-Apology Apology:
Is there an excuse former Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain hasn't trotted out to explain why his fall is not his fault?
Thain, who resigned last Thursday. He had come under fire for four main sins:
* Not disclosing more quickly Merrill's $15.3 billion in losses for the fourth quarter.
* Asking for a $10 million bonus for himself.
* Paying Merrill Lynch employees $4 billion in bonuses, normally given in January, in December, before Bank of America closed on the acquisition.
* Spending $1.2 million a year ago to renovate his office and three other rooms, including an $87,000 rug and a $35,000 commode.
For each of these, Thain has an excuse.
* The world has changed. Thain told CNBC about the renovation, "It is clear to me in today's world that it was a mistake."
* My predecessor was a jerk. In the same interview, Thain said that former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal's office "was very different than the general decor of Merrill's offices. It really would have been very difficult for me to use it in the form that it was in. … It needed to be renovated no matter what." And Thain will pay Bank of America back for the $1.2 million
* I told them everything. In a memo to Merrill employees, Thain said that Bank of America "learned about these losses when we did." On the bonuses: "The timing of the payments for both the cash and stock were all determined together with Bank of America."
* And they were okay with it. Steele Alphin, Bank of America's chief administrative officer, wrote an email, leaked to Dealbreaker, which defended Thain in early December when the question of Thain's bonus first came up:
John was not asking for a $10MM bonus, but simply to be paid fairly and anything paid him paid less than Lewis, if Ken is to receive a bonus. John had already accepted that if Ken was to be at zero, he would be at zero. Or, if Ken was below $10MM, he would be significantly below $10MM. John's reputation has not been damaged with our directors or management team which now includes him.
The important thing: None of these deals with the actual substance of the complaint.
Disagree with a flight attendant? You're a terrorist - Boing Boing:
So I'd assumed that he was just a little puffed-up martinet making idle threats, but it appears we got off lucky. According to this, plenty of passengers who disagreed with a flight crew are now classed as "terrorists" in international databases and subject to incredible hassle and are even at risk of being detained when they fly.
Not a bad business to be in: for most companies, all they can do when a customer has an argument with a rep is ask them to leave. Airlines get to punish their customers by having them arrested as terrorists. I guess we're lucky the record industry doesn't have the same ability.
Adam Szymkowicz: Advice for playwrights starting out:
1. Are you sure you want to be a playwright? How about a screenwriter or TV writer or fiction writer? Not that you can’t do them all, but it helps, I think, to concentrate and get really good at one at a time and you should think about if you want that one thing to be a playwright. Being a playwright is hard. One of my profs once said to me you have to work hard at it for at least 10 years before you start to see any movement.
Then you reach that threshold but it continues to be hard. Yes, it can be great to see your work on a stage. If you love the theatre, I mean really love the theatre and more than anything want to write plays, I guess you should do it, but you should know, there is a lot of competition, a lot of great work, a lot of baby boomers who get the season slots first.
And there is not much money. Not a lot of resources.
So are you still sure you want to be a playwright? Okay, go on to number 2 if you’re sure, otherwise go read someone’s blog who started out as something else.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall - Errol Morris Blog - NYTimes.com:
And I turned to one of my editors — First I said, “Oh, my God.” And he said, “What?” And I said, “You’ve got to see this picture of Bush. This is really stunning.” And I flipped it over to him to process and his first reaction was, “Wow.” And I said, “If he wasn’t just back there behind that door crying, I don’t know what that look on his face is.” Because he just looks absolutely devastated as he comes through this door after essentially ending his eight year presidency. And it’s just really striking. He just looks absolutely devastated.
Oh Really? Really??? « Culturebot:
Young Jean Lee & Thomas Bradshaw both studied with Mac Wellman at Brooklyn College. She did a show at the Ontological and Mark Russell booked her at PS122. Mark had left by the time Young Jean’s show was being developed (Pullman, WA) and during that time I got to know both of them.
And when Young Jean brought Thomas by the office to talk about his work I pushed it through and supported it and advocated for it with Vallejo who went on to promote and foster both of these artists. During my brief tenure at IRT I gave both Thomas and Young Jean residencies to develop the shows that Als ultimately wrote about in the New Yorker. Not to forget Soho Rep, Little Theater, The Brick, The Flea, BAX and all the other places that have supported these writers along the way and informed the discussions in and around the work.
The larger issue is that these artists, this idea, this “new trend” does not arise in a vacuum. There is a huge, rich, diverse, complicated, underfunded ecosystem where these “trends” are nurtured, explored, devised, discussed and refined. And it is NOT part of the mainstream theater world. I started Culturebot to cover THAT world - and thus I’ve been writing - and talking - about this “new trend in American theatre” for a long time.
Op-Ed Columnist - Will Obama Save Liberalism? - NYTimes.com:
This is William Kristol’s last column.
THAT PRETTY PRETTY; or THE RAPE PLAY
written by Sheila Callaghan
directed by Kip Fagan
A pair of radical feminist ex-strippers scour the country on a murderous rampage against right-wing pro-lifers, blogging about their exploits in gruesome detail. Meanwhile, a scruffy screenwriter named Owen tries to bang out his magnum opus in a hotel room as his best friend Rodney ("The Rod") holds forth on rape and other manly enterprises. When Owen decides to incorporate the strippers into his screenplay, the boundaries of reality begin to blur, and only a visit from Jane Fonda can help keep worlds from blowing apart. Sheila Callaghan's THAT PRETTY PRETTY; OR, THE RAPE PLAY is a violently funny and disturbing excavation of the dirty corners of our imaginations.
Tickets found here!
A Reporter at Large: Atomic John: Reporting & Essays: The New Yorker:
The single, blinding release of pure energy over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, marked a startling and permanent break with our prior understandings of the visible world. Yet for more than sixty years the technology behind the explosion has remained a state secret. The United States government has never divulged the engineering specifications of the first atomic bombs, not even after other countries have produced generations of ever more powerful nuclear weapons. In the decades since the Second World War, dozens of historians have attempted to divine the precise mechanics of the Hiroshima bomb, nicknamed Little Boy, and of the bomb that fell three days later on Nagasaki, known as Fat Man. The most prominent is Richard Rhodes, who won a Pulitzer Prize, in 1988, for his dazzling and meticulous book “The Making of the Atomic Bomb.” But the most accurate account of the bomb’s inner workings—an unnervingly detailed reconstruction, based on old photographs and documents—has been written by a sixty-one-year-old truck driver from Waukesha, Wisconsin, named John Coster-Mullen, who was once a commercial photographer, and has never received a college degree.
Religion: Pope Reinstates Holocaust-Denying Bishop:
Now that American Muslims have been thoroughly demonized in the last presidential election, Pope Benedict XVI seems keen to open another religious rift, between Catholics and Jews.
He is reinstating Bishop Richard Williamson, who does not believe 6 million Jews were gassed by the Germans during the Nazi regime, he says it was more like 200,000, not a holocaust at all. See the interview above, taped just this past November and aired last week in Sweden.
Benedict is also broadening the use of "a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews" and reinstating three other hard-line bishops in an effort to bring right-wing schismatic groups back into the fold, according to the Times.
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (January 25, 2009) - Parsing Obama:
The men who ordered a man tied to a chair, doused in water, and chilled to hypothermia so intense he had to be rushed to emergency medical care, the men who presided over at least two dozen and at most a hundred prisoners tortured to death, the men who ordered an American servicewoman to smear fake menstrual blood over a Muslim's face in order to win a war against Jihadism, the men who ordered innocents stripped naked, sexually abused, terrified by dogs, or cast into darkness with no possibility of a future, and did all this in the name of the Constitution of the United States, the men who gave the signal in wartime that there were no limits to what could be done to prisoners of war and reaped a whirlwind of abuse and torture that will haunt American servicemembers for decades: these men will earn the judgment of history. It will be brutal.
We will need some formal and comprehensive record of all that happened, and the Congress will surely begin to move on that (and they should not exempt their own members from scrutiny either). And as specific allegations of torture emerge, the Justice Department will have no option but to prosecute. To ignore such charges is itself a dereliction of constitutional duty.
The Fortress of Jason Grote: And The Critic-O-Meter:
This is a good idea: a blog that aggregates theater reviews, put together by Isaac Butler and Rob Weinert-Kendt. Like other critics of the endeavor, I'm not crazy about the assignment of letter grades to plays, but I do really like the fact that they aggregate all of the reviews in one spot.
I Am Here: One Man's Experiment With the Location-Aware Lifestyle:
To test whether I was being paranoid, I ran a little experiment. On a sunny Saturday, I spotted a woman in Golden Gate Park taking a photo with a 3G iPhone. Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map. At home I searched the Flickr map, and score—a shot from today. I clicked through to the user's photostream and determined it was the woman I had seen earlier. After adjusting the settings so that only her shots appeared on the map, I saw a cluster of images in one location. Clicking on them revealed photos of an apartment interior—a bedroom, a kitchen, a filthy living room. Now I know where she lives.
Tales of the Rampant Coyote: The Black Triangle:
Our company financial controller and acting HR lady, Jen, came in to see what incredible things the engineers and artists had come up with. Everyone was staring at a television set hooked up to a development box for the Sony Playstation. There, on the screen, against a single-color background, was a black triangle.
“It’s a black triangle,” she said in an amused but sarcastic voice. One of the engine programmers tried to explain, but she shook her head and went back to her office. I could almost hear her thoughts… “We’ve got ten months to deliver two games to Sony, and they are cheering over a black triangle? THAT took them nearly a month to develop?”
What she later came to realize (and explain to others) was that the black triangle was a pioneer. It wasn’t just that we’d managed to get a triangle onto the screen. That could be done in about a day. It was the journey the triangle had taken to get up on the screen. It had passed through our new modeling tools, through two different intermediate converter programs, had been loaded up as a complete database, and been rendered through a fairly complex scene hierarchy, fully textured and lit (though there were no lights, so the triangle came out looking black). The black triangle demonstrated that the foundation was finally complete – the core of a fairly complex system was completed, and we were now ready to put it to work doing cool stuff. By the end of the day, we had complete models on the screen, manipulating them with the controllers. Within a week, we had an environment to move the model through.
Afterwards, we came to refer to certain types of accomplishments as “black triangles.” These are important accomplishments that take a lot of effort to achieve, but upon completion you don’t have much to show for it – only that more work can now proceed. It takes someone who really knows the guts of what you are doing to appreciate a black triangle.
Portland Mercury | Blogtown, PDX | Liveblogging Apollo:
I'm sitting in the lobby at the Armory waiting for the doors to open at Apollo, Portland Center Stage's new 3.5-hour, multimedia production about Nazis, and outer space, and... stuff. Tonight's the "Twitter and live-blog friendly performance," which means that the balcony is full of new media types on laptops and iphones
It's weird. I'm going to liveblog it. I'm curious about the entire experience: how watching a play while plugged into the internet changes the viewing experience; if it's even possible to pay attention to a 3.5 hour play when the entire, endlessly diverting internet is at my fingertips; if this is a new, possibly improved way of relating to theater, or simply a novel PR hook. I'll post updates after the jump, and I might follow it on Twitter as well: alisonhallett if you're interested.
The Quitter Economy:
"The reason we're seeing liquation rather than bankruptcy from so many retailers is because people are hopeless," says Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research at the Economic Policy Institute. "We're still looking at a very bad year in 2009 and probably most of 2010, so it's very difficult to be optimistic about reorganizing and coming out of it stronger."
Liquidation has become the corporate analog to residential foreclosures—with banks slow to restructure mortgages to help out shaky borrowers, and borrowers quick to "mail in the keys" to the bank when the value of their house plummets. Foreclosures rose 79 percent in 2007 and spiked another 81 percent in 2008, to a record 2.3 million households. "It wouldn't surprise me if we approach 3 million households in 2009," said Rick Sharga, senior vice president of RealtyTrac, which compiles foreclosure data. At the same time, hedge funds, which helped foment the boom, have started mailing in their own keys. If a fund suffers losses in a year, the managers can't start earning lucrative performance fees unless the fund returns above its high-water mark. Rather than soldier on, many operators have opted to simply fold, returning money to investors.
Companies, homeowners, and money managers willing to quit rather than fight is both a symptom of the nation's deep economic woes and emblematic of the challenge the Obama administration faces. More than a mere "economic crisis" is facing Barack Obama. Our Yes, We Can president is going to have to fix a No, We Can't economy.
The Rumpus Long Interview With Steven Soderbergh - The Rumpus.net:
The Rumpus: I love so many of your movies, but they seem very different. I can’t connect “Sex, Lies, and Videotape” to “Out of Sight” to “Traffic.” And I can’t connect “Traffic” to “Che” at all. Am I missing something there?
SODERBERGH: The good news is that I don’t have to know if there’s a link. Wells had a great quote once where some critic asked him a similar question. He said, “I’m the bird, and you’re the ornithologist.” I don’t really sit down and think on a macro level how or if these things are connected. They obviously are in the sense that I wanted to make them. And so there must be something in them that I’m drawn to.
The Clyde Fitch Report: From the Blogroll VII:
Mike also references a Gawker post about stunt casting on Broadway that is, to be blunt, a poor excuse for the writer of that post to call attention to his own ignorance and silliness and penchant for unclever whining. People, this is the theatre. It has always been, and always will be, utterly predicated on stars, at least at the commercial level. The truth is that if the dude who wrote that Gawker post had any history in his pocket, he would know that when Hollywood stars shun the stage -- as they have been wont to do in the past and shall, no doubt, be wont to do once more at some point -- everybody in the theatre will run up and down the avenues fretting about theatre not being hip and crying "How will we fill our seats" and asking "Why is the theatre so stuffy?" and on and on.
The truth is that we should be encouraging film actors to do the theater thing and critics, moreover, should stop being adenoidal idiots about it when reviewing them. I don't mean giving film stars free passes, just to be clear. What I mean that it is in the interest of the theatre to have them visit, to critique them in a way that is constructive and encourages them to return. Diddy Combs did the theatre more favors when he did A Raisin in the Sun, his, um, questionable chops aside, than anyone I can think of in the last 10 years.
Layoffs: Microsoft's Self-Destructing Email Pink Slips:
Fired employees often say impolite things. But only at Microsoft are their pink slips unprintable. The software giant fired 1,400 people this week with specially encoded, read-only email.
A tipster who saw one of the notices says the email had DRM restrictions — similar to the ones that prevent the copying of music files — that prevented it from being forwarded or printed, and instructed the 1,400 fired employees to pack up their things and go home, where their severance package would be mailed: "No meeting with their boss. No meeting with HR. Nada."
From an email I received earlier:
Dear Mr. Daisey-
I heard a feature on your work on NPR a few months ago and wrote a poem based on the piece.
I am a first year MFA candidate (poetry) at Brooklyn College and I was struck by the poetry of your Tesla monologues.
I hope you enjoy the poem.
he collecting june bugs little baby boy while I fly steel wings
pigeon hone home or alternate nests of wires
nests of feathers and dust spark and blow the brick wide substation
my war for your entire house
my love sleeps in hotel rooms unmarried
my love’s visions stuck burrs in my dreams
Obama Sides With Bush in Spy Case | Threat Level from Wired.com:
The Obama administration fell in line with the Bush administration Thursday when it urged a federal judge to set aside a ruling in a closely watched spy case weighing whether a U.S. president may bypass Congress and establish a program of eavesdropping on Americans without warrants.
The Theatre: Broadway Stunt Casting Increasingly Popular, Annoying:
Did you hear that collective grumble that rose up among young male actors in New York when Haley frickin' Joel Osment got cast in the ill-fated revival of David Mamet's American Buffalo? The kid got that role simply because he starred in a couple of shitty movies ten years ago. He'd done little to no acting since. But producers, desperate for ticket sales, will throw just about any known screen actor into a significant role in a play, despite their lack of any discernible chops. Which is, you know, kind of a slap in the face to actual "theatre people." The more it happens, the more true straddlers of both mediums—your Mary Louise Parkers, your Laura Linneys, your Ethan Hawkes—get lumped in with the sad pile. The stunt casting cheapens the medium, reducing it to just an excuse to see your favorite star live and saying things. (Who the hell really wanted to see Pygmalion? No, they just wanted to see Angela Chase up close.)
Parabasis: Are You A Teaching Artist?:
One of my fellow National Arts Policy Committee Droogies is putting together a massive study of teaching artists in America. This is an important time for such a study, part of Obama's arts policy is the creation of Artist Corps, so figuring out how teaching artists work etc. and so forth. Here's all the info (you get a free This American Life compilation!):
The Raw Story | Whistleblower: NSA spied on everyone, targeted journalists:
Former National Security Agency analyst Russell Tice, who helped expose the NSA's warrantless wiretapping in December 2005, has now come forward with even more startling allegations. Tice told MSNBC's Keith Olbermann on Wednesday that the programs that spied on Americans were not only much broader than previously acknowledged but specifically targeted journalists.
Patrick McGoohan: Son of a Bitch:
McGoohan was the driving creative force behind the series, as well as its star, so it's no wonder that it served as a perfect showcase for his talents. Finally, we have a man who hates the world stuck in a world that justifies that hate. In the anonymous Village, Number Six is prodded, tested, tricked, seduced, compelled, and tortured by a shadowy force whose ultimate purpose is never revealed, and all of it done for a simple piece of information that it wouldn't take more than a sentence or two to reveal. It's not even all that important—they only want to know why he quit his job. No state secrets, nothing involving missile plans or code words or anything technical like that; simply his motivation for leaving an exciting, well-paid (one assumes) position at British Intelligence. It almost seems rude of Six not to tell them. Sure, they drugged and kidnapped him, but they do give him room and board and a quite lovely seaside vacation. All very comforting, provided you don't swim too far.
We never find out why Six resigned, but those of us playing at home come closer to figuring it than any of the various Number Twos. For McGoohan, motivation is a personal thing, and regardless of how insignificant the questions may seem, the right not to answer them is of innumerable value. At its heart, The Prisoner is about the ways in which society seeks to crush and compromise the individual, to force people into blind acceptance so that the trains run on time, the clocks are always set, and faces are forever smiling. Out of all his movie and TV work, it's here that McGoohan's fury finds its true purpose. His is the passion of anyone who's ever been told to fit in, to quiet down, to agree more, to listen less, to know one's place, to never question it. For once, we aren't the target of his anger, we share it. For all the outcasts, here is someone who wouldn't compromise how nicely he was asked to.
Star Wars: Retold (by someone who hasn't seen it)
The Stranger | Slog | Obama Team Gutted Rail; Most Stimulus Highway Projects Not "Shovel-Ready":
As Matthew Yglesias notes, less than half the money dedicated to new infrastructure projects in the House-Obama stimulus plan—a plan that was gutted, supposedly at the behest of Obama economic advisor Larry Summers, to eliminate $17 billion in proposed spending on public transportation—will be spent in the next two years. That means, first and foremost, that those highway projects won't do anything to lift the nation out of recession—the stated primary goal of the economic stimulus. And it's especially disappointing given that, as Grist reports, there are at least $50 billion in backlogged repair projects for public transit systems ready to go right now. Prioritizing highways that won't be built for years at the expense of shovel-ready transit projects that could help the economy today makes no logistical sense. It's a political decision, not an economic one.
In my recent conversations with theater artists, we often talk about the insane cost of MFA theater programs--future artists get saddled with over $100,000 in debt for many three year programs.
What makes this reprehensible is that there is no rational way for the VAST majority artists to repay this massive debt through the practice of their art. You would think that an industry would adapt to those circumstances, and that this would result in less MFA programs...but instead they're at colleges across the country, and their advertisements fuel our industry. AMERICAN THEATRE magazine appears to be supported entirely by ads for MFA programs.
This deepens these programs' legitimacy, and the participants dig themselves in more and more. When I talk to young people in schools, I am constantly asked which MFA programs I would recommend. They are routinely lied to and told baldly that without MFA training they couldn't possibly be ready to perform for the public. In undergraduate programs professors of the theater (who very often have never come near the professional theater) push students on to further studies, encouraging them to believe they need further training before working.
In this way our best and brightest, who want so badly to do the right thing and are willing to sacrifice to make their careers work, get saddled with the largest debts, ensuring that they'll have the hardest time staying in the profession.
What brought this up for me today was this Slate article with advice for young lawyers in debt. The advice-seeker writes:
Dear Patty and Sandy,
I'm a law student in my final year, pondering my career plans. I'll be clerking for a judge for one year following law school but am torn as to where I'll go next. Law school usually results in an enormous amount of student loan debt, and I'll be no exception: I'm looking at roughly $100,000. I've always been driven toward public service and government work, and wanted a career in law in order to help those unable to help themselves. I'm considering a career in refugee law or perhaps as a public defender or district attorney. The trouble, of course, is that these positions pay salaries that would present a challenge even without law school loans to pay off. The conventional wisdom from a number of friends, family, and fellow students seems to be taking a high-paying job with a private law firm for a few years in order to pay off loans is the prudent course, particularly in difficult economic times. I don't want to work for a law firm: When I was a little girl, I dreamed of saving the world, not of billing hours. Still ... $100,000 is a daunting number. Any advice?
Then two skilled and experienced lawyers then give the young woman heartfelt advice.
Where is this process happening in theater? Where are older actors and artists advising the next generation on what to do with their debt? This is an essential process, and we learn nothing if each generation has to blindly stumble forward.
I'll tell you where they are: they are nowhere. They have no answers, and no venues to speak them in. Artists in the American theater see a life devoid of support, to such an extent that they have no answers for themselves, much less the next generation.
There are no "corporate jobs" in the American theater that one can take for a few years to reduce that law-school-sized debt. At least there are none that don't involve leaving the theater entirely, or making it a nighttime career while you struggle at a day job, scraping up the cash needed to pay the massive debt you incurred, and closing the door on making it a viable career you could invest yourself in full-time.
But there is one way.
The equivalent of the corporate job in the American theater is to work in academia. Keep climbing the ladder, and then you can finally pull a salary which, while small, is still more stable and more supported than artists will receive. Then those artists become complicit in the system, and perpetuate the cycle of abuse by passing their debt on to the next generation.
It is a broken system, and a huge number of artists and schools are complicit in this failure.
“Why Theatre?” « Notes from Forum Theatre:
Inspired by the ongoing discussions both at Woolly Mammoth’s How Theatre Failed America and here, on the blog, we will be holding a special OpenForum event on Monday. The “round table” will be focused on many of the topics raised by you, in the comments section of our recent postings. Titled “Why Theatre?,” we will discuss how the medium fits in today’s cultural environment, who it’s being done for, and how it can remain relevant for the future.
It all kicks off at 7pm on Monday, the 26th, at Woolly Mammoth. Let’s continue the conversation.
This is fascinating, awesome, and terrible in a number of ways: it is a bootlegged recording of Patti LuPone tearing an audience member a new one during the final performance of GYPSY because the audience member was taking photographs:
I think this is a very interesting clip, for a number of reasons.
First, this really throws into stark relief the disconnect between theater and recording: this clip has been listened to 80,638 times as of this posting. The St. James Theatre has 1,690 seats. The equivalent of nearly 48 sold-out Broadway houses have heard this clip in the 4 days since it was posted.
I'm not using this as an opportunity to say that this means that these experiences are EQUIVALENT--and that's an important detail. Futurists who don't understand theater often claim it is "dead" and certainly marginal by pointing to how few can participate in an event, tally up the numbers and call it a day. (Even more often than that they don't think about theater at all, sadly.)
I am saying that one experience does not invalidate the other—the existence of this clip doesn't make the production less valued, as listening to a recording in my web browser in no way resembles the live experience of being in the St. James Theatre.
I'm also not using it in an argument about what ticket prices should be: $100+ for GYPSY tickets, or free at YouTube.
It is interesting to think about how this recording is not temporally bound, as theater is—now that GYPSY is over, the most enduring record of that experience exists at that YouTube link. It's the scarcity of the theatrical experience that makes it valuable over time, but in our modern age that scarcity of experience doesn't mean you can't find ways to communicate...
...but in fact, it does mean that. AEA regulations are complete straightjackets on recording live events, regardless or whether the recordings are used commercially or not, and it ends up killing the baby in the crib before we can see what the future might be.
It's also instructive how the tropes of the theater do and don't transfer to the net—in the YouTube comments a large number of people hold Ms. LuPone to task for her unprofessionalism. I'd argue that most of the talk in the theaterosphere considers other factors, like diva-hood and the rudeness of flash photography in performances—what interests me is how those tropes get flipped when folks from the outside world are suddenly inside the theater.
From my point of view as a performer I am sympathetic to Ms. LuPone's issues—I've had people take photographs at performances, and it is a pain in the ass. Since I'm not performing in a giant rock arena, photography really impacts—it's often painfully clear that it is happening, and it can be very disruptive.
For my money the biggest issue isn't flash photography, as most idiots know to turn their flash off. My bigger issue is AF-assist light, which is the orange light that comes on just before you take a picture—most people don't know how to disable it, and it shines right into my eyes when performing, and it sucks. I am hoping that cellphone cameras get better and better, WITHOUT AF-assist, so that when people take a picture it will be silent and inobtrusive.
I may be different than other performers, but I have no issues with people recording my shows, both audio, still image, and video, so long as that recording in no way affects the experience of the room for me or for my audiences. I would further expect that if folks posted those materials to the net they wouldn't charge for them (duh) and that if I asked them to take something down, they would. I see recordings of live events like theater as fossil records—invaluable perhaps in generating a history, but ultimately frozen and lifeless and incapable of communicating what it was like to actually be there.
The fact that they are not the event itself isn't a repudiation, however—it's fantastic. It means they can be leveraged and used to bring glimpses of what endures about the theater above the cultural waterline into the light. It's a glimpse of a possible future where the AEA can behave rationally and change the underlying rules about recording in theaters. By clinging to the past they jeopardize their place in the future, and we need to work toward change now.
Daily Kos: RIP 50-state strategy:
There reason that there's an inherent conflict with turning the DNC into Obama's 2012 reelection effort is that there's no reason for the Obama operation to have staffers in Utah. But there's a reason for the Democratic Party to have staffers in Utah -- helping Democrats get elected to important local- and state-level offices and building a bench for federal offices.
If Obama's DNC wants to staff up in battleground states, then great. But the rest of the states shouldn't be discarded. We've been down that road before, and it wasn't pretty.
Flat N All That:
Like George W. Bush with his Bushisms, Friedman came up with lines so hilarious you couldn’t make them up even if you were trying—and when you tried to actually picture the “illustrative” figures of speech he offered to explain himself, what you often ended up with was pure physical comedy of the Buster Keaton/Three Stooges school, with whole nations and peoples slipping and falling on the misplaced banana peels of his literary endeavors.
Remember Friedman’s take on Bush’s Iraq policy? “It’s OK to throw out your steering wheel,” he wrote, “as long as you remember you’re driving without one.” Picture that for a minute. Or how about Friedman’s analysis of America’s foreign policy outlook last May:
The first rule of holes is when you’re in one, stop digging.When you’re in three, bring a lot of shovels.”
First of all, how can any single person be in three holes at once? Secondly, what the fuck is he talking about? If you’re supposed to stop digging when you’re in one hole, why should you dig more in three? How does that even begin to make sense? It’s stuff like this that makes me wonder if the editors over at the New York Times editorial page spend their afternoons dropping acid or drinking rubbing alcohol. Sending a line like that into print is the journalism equivalent of a security guard at a nuke plant waving a pair of mullahs in explosive vests through the front gate. It should never, ever happen.
Harper’s Index: A retrospective of the Bush era (Harper's Magazine):
Number of news stories from 1998 to Election Day 2000 containing “George W. Bush” and “aura of inevitability”: 206
Amount for which Bush successfully sued Enterprise Rent-A-Car in 1999: $2,500
Year in which a political candidate first sued Palm Beach County over problems with hanging chads: 1984
Total amount the Bush campaign paid Enron and Halliburton for use of corporate jets during the 2000 recount: $15,400
Percentage of Bush’s first 189 appointees who also served in his father’s administration: 42
Minimum number of Bush appointees who have regulated industries they used to represent as lobbyists: 98
Years before becoming energy secretary that Spencer Abraham cosponsored a bill to abolish the Department of Energy: 2
Number of Chevron oil tankers named after Condoleezza Rice, at the time she became foreign policy adviser: 1
Date on which the GAO sued Dick Cheney to force the release of documents related to current U.S. energy policy: 2/22/02
Number of other officials the GAO has sued over access to federal records: 0
Months before September 11, 2001, that Cheney’s Energy Task Force investigated Iraq’s oil resources: 6
Hours after the 9/11 attacks that an Alaska congressman speculated they may have been committed by “eco-terrorists”: 9
Date on which the first contract for a book about September 11 was signed: 9/13/01
Number of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and North African men detained in the U.S. in the eight weeks after 9/11: 1,182
Number of them ever charged with a terrorism-related crime: 0
Number charged with an immigration violation: 762
Days since the federal government first placed the nation under an “elevated terror alert” that the level has been relaxed: 0
Minimum number of calls the FBI received in fall 2001 from Utah residents claiming to have seen Osama bin Laden: 20
Number of box cutters taken from U.S. airline passengers since January 2002: 105,075
Percentage of Americans in 2006 who believed that U.S. Muslims should have to carry special I.D.: 39
Chances an American in 2002 believed the government should regulate comedy routines that make light of terrorism: 2 in 5
Rank of Mom, Dad, and Rudolph Giuliani among those whom 2002 college graduates said they most wished to emulate: 1, 2, 3
Number of members of the rock band Anthrax who said they hoarded Cipro so as to avoid an “ironic death”: 1
Estimated total calories members of Congress burned giving Bush’s 2002 State of the Union standing ovations: 22,000
Percentage of the amendments in the Bill of Rights that are violated by the USA PATRIOT Act, according to the ACLU: 50
Minimum number of laws that Bush signing statements have exempted his administration from following: 1,069
Estimated number of U.S. intelligence reports on Iraq that were based on information from a single defector: 100
Number of times the defector had ever been interviewed by U.S. intelligence agents: 0
Date on which Bush said of Osama bin Laden, “I truly am not that concerned about him”: 3/13/02
Days after the U.S. invaded Iraq that Sony trademarked “Shock & Awe” for video games: 1
Days later that the company gave up the trademark, citing “regrettable bad judgment”: 25
Number of books by Henry Kissinger found in Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz’s mansion: 2
Number by then–New York Times reporter Judith Miller: 1
Factor by which an Iraqi in 2006 was more likely to die than in the last year of the Saddam regime: 3.6
Factor by which the cause of death was more likely to be violence: 120
Chance that an Iraqi has fled his or her home since the beginning of the war: 1 in 6
Portion of Baghdad residents in 2007 who had a family member or friend wounded or killed since 2003: 3/4
Percentage of U.S. veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who have filed for disability with the VA: 35
Chance that an Iraq war veteran who has served two or more tours now has post-traumatic stress disorder: 1 in 4
Number of all U.S. war veterans who have been denied Veterans Administration health care since 2003: 452,677
Number of eligibility restrictions for admission into the Army that have been loosened since 2003: 9
Percentage change from 2004 to 2007 in the number of Army recruits admitted despite having been charged with a felony: +295
Date on which the White House announced it had stopped looking for WMDs in Iraq: 1/12/05
Years since his acquittal that O. J. Simpson has said he is still looking for his wife’s “real killers”: 13
Minimum number of close-up photographs of Bush’s hands owned by his current chief of staff, Josh Bolten: 4
Number of vehicles in the motorcade that transports Bush to his regular bike ride in Maryland: 6
Estimated total miles he has ridden his bike as president: 5,400
Portion of his presidency he has spent at or en route to vacation spots: 1/3
Minimum number of times that Frederick Douglass was beaten in what is now Donald Rumsfeld’s vacation home: 25
Estimated number of juveniles whom the United States has detained as enemy combatants since 2002: 2,500
Minimum number of detainees who were tortured to death in U.S. custody: 8
Minimum number of extraordinary renditions that the United States has made since 2006: 200
Date on which USA Today added Guantánamo to its weather map: 1/3/05
Number of incidents of torture on prime-time network TV shows from 2002 to 2007: 897
Number on shows during the previous seven years: 110
Percentage change since 2000 in U.S. emigration to Canada: +79
Number of the thirty-eight Iraq war veterans who have run for Congress who were Democrats: 21
Percentage of Republicans in 2005 who said they would vote for Bush over George Washington: 62
Seconds it took a Maryland consultant in 2004 to pick a Diebold voting machine’s lock and remove its memory card: 10
Number of states John Kerry would have won in 2004 if votes by poor Americans were the only ones counted: 40
Number if votes by rich Americans were the only ones counted: 4
Portion of all U.S. income gains during the Bush Administration that have gone to the top 1 percent of earners: 3/4
Increase since 2000 in the number of Americans living at less than half the federal poverty level: 3,500,000
Percentage change since 2001 in the average amount U.S. workers spend on out-of-pocket medical expenses: +172
Estimated percentage by which Social Security benefits would have declined if Bush’s privatization plan had passed: –15
Percentage change since 2002 in the number of U.S. teens using illegal drugs: –9
Percentage change in the number of adults in their fifties doing so: +121
Number of times FDA officials met with consumer and patient groups as they revised drug-review policy in 2006: 5
Number of times they met with industry representatives: 113
Amount the Justice Department spent in 2001 installing curtains to cover two seminude statues of Justice: $8,650
Number of Republican officials who have been investigated by the Justice Department since 2001: 196
Number of Democratic officials who have been: 890
Number of White House officials in 2006 and 2007 authorized to discuss pending criminal cases with the DOJ: 711
Number of Clinton officials ever authorized to do so: 4
Years since a White House official as senior as I. Lewis Libby had been indicted while in office: 130
Number of U.S. cities and towns that have passed resolutions calling for the impeachment of President Bush: 92
Percentage change since 2001 in U.S. government spending on paper shredding: +466
Percentage of EPA scientists who say they have experienced political interference with their work since 2002: 60
Change since 2001 in the percentage of Americans who believe humans are causing climate change: –4
Number of total additions made to the U.S. endangered-species list under Bush: 61
Average number made yearly under Clinton: 65
Minimum number of pheasant hunts Dick Cheney has gone on since he shot a hunting companion in 2006: 5
Days after Hurricane Katrina hit that Cheney’s office ordered an electric company to restore power to two oil pipelines: 1
Days after the hurricane that the White House authorized sending federal troops into New Orleans: 4
Portion of the $3.3 billion in federal Hurricane Katrina relief spent by Mississippi that has benefited poor residents: 1/4
Percentage change in the number of Louisiana and Mississippi newborns named Katrina in the year after the storm: +153
Rank of Nevaeh, “heaven” spelled backward, among the fastest growing names given to American newborns since 2000: 1
Months, beginning in 2001, that the federal government’s online condom fact sheet disappeared from its website : 17
Minimum amount that religious groups received in congressional earmarks from 2003 to 2006: $209,000,000
Amount such groups received during the previous fourteen years: $107,000,000
Percentage change from 2003 to 2007 in the amount of money invested in U.S. faith-based mutual funds: +88
Average annualized percentage return during that time in the Christian and Muslim funds, respectively: +11, +15
Number of feet the Ground Zero pit has been built up since the site was fully cleared in 2002: 30
Number of 980-foot-plus “Super Tall” towers built in the Arab world in the seven years since 9/11: 4
Year by which the third and final phase of the 2003 “road map” to a Palestinian state was to have been reached: 2005
Estimated number of the twenty-five provisions of the first phase that have yet to be completed: 12
Number of times in 2007 that U.S. media called General David Petraeus “King David”: 14
Percentage change during the first ten months of the Iraq war “surge” in the number of Iraqis detained in U.S.-run prisons: +63
Percentage change in the number of Iraqis aged nine to seventeen detained: +285
Ratio of the entire U.S. federal budget in 1957, adjusted for inflation, to the amount spent so far on the Iraq war: 1:1
Estimated amount Bush-era policies will cost the U.S. in new debt and accrued obligations: $10,350,000,000,000 (see page 31)
Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during Bush’s presidency: +31
Percentage change during Reagan’s and Clinton’s, respectively: +16, +0.3
Ratio in 1999 of the number of U.S. federal employees to the number of private employees on government contracts: 15:6
Ratio in 2006: 14:15
Total value of U.S. government contracts in 2000 that were awarded without competitive bidding: $73,000,000,000
Total in 2007: $146,000,000,000
Number of the five directors of the No Child Left Behind reading program with financial ties to a curriculum they developed: 4
Amount by which the federal government has underfunded its estimated cost to implement NCLB: $71,000,000,000
Minimum number of copies sold, since it was released in 2006, of Flipping Houses for Dummies: 45,000
Chance that the buyer of a U.S. home in 2006 now has “negative equity,” i.e., the debt on the home exceeds its value: 1 in 5
Estimated value of Henry Paulson’s Goldman Sachs stock when he became Treasury Secretary and sold it: $575,000,000
Estimated value of that stock today: $238,000,000
Salary in 2006 of the White House’s newly created Director for Lessons Learned: $106,641
Minimum number of Bush-related books published since 2001: 606
Number of words in the first sentence of Bill Clinton’s memoir and in that of George W. Bush’s, respectively: 49, 5
Minimum number of nicknames Bush has given to associates during his presidency: 75
Number of associates with the last name Jackson he has dubbed “Action Jackson”: 2
Number of press conferences at which Bush has referred to a question as a “trick”: 14
Number of times he has declared an event or outcome not to be “acceptable”: 149
Rank of Bush among U.S. presidents with the highest disapproval rating: 1
Average percentage of Americans who approved of the job Bush was doing during his second term: 37
Percentage of Russians today who approve of the direction their country took under Stalin: 37
Space: Forty Years Ago, A Cosmonaut Experienced What Can Only Be Described as 'Hell':
To say the event went smoothly would be, well, a total frickin' lie, as cosmonaut Boris Volynov would experience one of space flight's most harrowing reentries on this most historic trip.
After his craft, the Soyuz 5, failed to separate from its service module, it began the descent facing the wrong way. As the heat shield got an unparalleled view of the cosmos, the flimsy entry hatch, with its one-inch of insulation and a window, received the brunt of reentry. Things began to melt and stink and smoke, and the hatch itself bulged inwards from the stress of reentry. If the craft had not miraculously righted itself, poor Volynov would have cooked to death in temperatures reaching 5,000 degrees.
But that wasn't the end—the parachute still had to partially fail, and there was the missed landing spot to worry about too. The former only resulted in broken teeth and a mouthful of blood (phew!). The latter almost killed him for a third time in 30 minutes, as the Ural Mountains were -40 degrees when he landed there, some 2,000 kilometers short of the LZ.
Lucky for Volynov, some nearby peasants kept him warm in their hut until help arrived. As a token of their appreciation, the Soviet government then forbade him from talking about the incident because of the ongoing space race with the U.S. News of the event only surfaced relatively recently in 1997.
From a reader:
Last night I stumbled upon the transcript of a heated Wikipedia debate among a clique of clunkheads who wanted to delete any reference to your existence in their hallowed pages two years ago. When you get down to the part with the debate between Calton (who, apparently, thinks national press coverage means people might have heard of you) and this blowhard Wikipedia administrator Encephalon who apparently thinks the BBC is some sort of vanity press, it becomes some of the funniest shit of all time:
I was going to say this is an illustration of why Wikipedia sucks, but then again it's somewhat useful and these cabals of power trip airheads exist everywhere in society.
Bailout Is a No-Strings Windfall to Bankers, if Not to Borrowers - NYTimes.com:
At the Palm Beach Ritz-Carlton last November, John C. Hope III, the chairman of Whitney National Bank in New Orleans, stood before a ballroom full of Wall Street analysts and explained how his bank intended to use its $300 million in federal bailout money.
“Make more loans?” Mr. Hope said. “We’re not going to change our business model or our credit policies to accommodate the needs of the public sector as they see it to have us make more loans.”
Europe charges Microsoft with abuse of monopoly again - Network World:
Microsoft was formally charged with monopoly abuse by Europe's top antitrust authority, the European Commission, over the way it bundles the Internet Explorer browser with Windows.
The move follows an unsuccessful attempt by U.S. authorities nine years ago to strip Internet Explorer (IE) of its unfair advantage over competing browsers. European authorities were more successful in their prosecution of Microsoft over similar antitrust offenses five years ago, fining the company over €1.6 billion and ordering it to change the way it does business.
Who's Your Daddy: Why Steve Jobs's Health Matters to Us:
Were he anyone else, Jobs's assertion of a right to privacy would be the end of the matter. But what's private within a family? By erasing the boundaries between consumer and community, fan and family, Jobs has created a brand loyalty to Apple that has contributed to the improbable comeback he lead and the company's current good fortune. But Apple's $25 billion cash horde has come at a cost he didn't count on: The thought that Jobs owes the people whose lives he has touched with his gadgetry a debt that's not counted in dollars.
Report: 80% of Stop-and-Frisks Are Black, Latino - Gothamist:
The Center for Constitution Rights analyzed NYPD data between 2005 and the first half of 2008 and found, "approximately 80 percent of total stops made were of Blacks and Latinos, who comprise 25 percent and 28 percent of New York City’s total population, respectively. During this same time period, only approximately 10 percent of stops were of Whites, who comprise 44 percent of the city’s population."
99seats: Bailouts or I Don't Mean To Be A Dick, But...:
When I first heard that they were $300,000 in the hole, I was shocked. The financial crisis had hit a lot of places in a lot of different ways, but it seemed like a lot of money to suddenly go missing. Way too much money. I was actually very gratified to read that article, because then it makes sense. Plus I was glad to find that there were consequences for someone. Like the bankers and the bailout, too often with arts organizations, they have these shortfalls and whatnot and do these fundraising pushes, but the people at the top keep their jobs. That doesn't make any sense at all. If we expect the CEO of Lehman Brothers to step down, we should expect the CEO of a theatre to step down. We should expect the board to step down. Their whole job, legally, is to check the numbers and make sure everything is kosher. And clearly, they didn't.
These things happen in theatres because we let them happen. Bad managers, sometimes even criminal managers come along and they bankrupt our theatres and we all bond together in the spirit of kumbaya and the community and bail them out. And, sure, they hire better managers immediately, but we all know that down the line, there will be another bad manager, or overoptimistic manager, or whatever. Like the banking industry, most theatres are living just outside of their means and eventually, it's going to catch up to them. But have no fear: they can just beg their way out of it.
My Way News - Report: Over 8 in 10 corporations have tax havens:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Eighty-three of the nation's 100 largest corporations, including Citigroup, Bank of America and News Corp. (NWSA), had subsidiaries in offshore tax havens in 2007, and some of the companies received federal bailout funding, a government watchdog said Friday.
The Government Accountability Office released a report that said Bank of America Inc., Citigroup Inc. (C) and Morgan Stanley (MS) all had more than 100 units in countries that maintain low or no taxes. The three financial institutions were included in the $700 billion financial bailout approved by Congress.
What's Wrong With Theater? | The American Prospect:
A first step is making the money that is given to theaters and other arts work toward the aim of allowing financially strapped theaters -- especially those who boast spiffy new spaces -- to put actors, directors, and other professional theater workers first.
Government at all levels could attach strings to grants to compel the largest recipients of its arts largesse to help smaller companies by sharing space and logistical support. Pushing public universities to open up their stage -- often fallow during breaks between semesters -- to smaller companies might also pay dividends. And government could help all arts organizations to pool resources so that one of the largest costs of hiring and maintaining an ensemble of actors -- health insurance -- becomes affordable for artists at all stages of their career.
Daisey suggests that magnificent new stages -- funded by taxpayers and capital campaigns -- have not solved the American theatre’s problems. "Theatre is not a building," he observes. "It’s the people." Shifting the resources that government does make available to theaters and other arts organizations to emphasize an investment in those people is the best first step toward moving them from failures to success.
Matthew Yglesias » Above the Law?:
And, look, the idea of enforcing the laws inherently involves the idea of looking backwards. If John Yoo walked down Pennsylvania Avenue and shot a guy in the head, we wouldn’t say “we need to look forward as opposed to looking backwards” even though it would be as true as ever that it’s important to look forward. And more than one person has died as a result of Bush-era torture policies.
The idea of an accountability-free executive is bound to have some appeal to a new administration. On the one hand, embracing it earns you plaudits for bipartisanship. On the other hand, you’re the executive now, so why not embrace it? But for the rest of us it’s not such a great deal.
Public Arts : Artists and Obama (2009-01-16):
Studio 360 asked some of our favorite artists what they wanted from our soon-to-be president. Including: sculptor Richard Serra, musician David Harrington of the Kronos Quartet, writer Cintra Wilson, chef Wylie Dufresne, Musician DJ Rekha, monologist Mike Daisey, and actor Sarah Jones.
Reviewed: How Theater Failed America at Woolly Mammoth - Theater Review - Washington City Paper:
What's most powerful about How Theater Failed America, though, isn't Daisey's takedown of the gotta-build-a-building urge (which will certainly strike home for D.C. audiences who've wondered who'll fill all the new local seats) or his indictment of the creative compromises that (he argues) inevitably come with bigger budgets and broader constituencies. It's the inescapable sense that Daisey is angry about the failings of theater's biggest institutions chiefly because theater is the thing he literally can't live without.
The jokes and the jabs, you see, are mostly filler. The real meat of How Theater Failed America is a trio of movingly told, delicately shaded stories about Daisey's onstage adventures—in Seattle's fringiest venues, as a teacher coaching a half-baked high-school festival production, with a madly ambitious repertory company one glorious Maine summer—and the hushed, shadowed memory of a time when there was none of that wild invention to come between the actor and a darkness that almost claimed him. The bile and the ire and the scorn boil off when he's telling these stories, and what surfaces is...would you call it tenderness? Joy?
I would, and it's infectious—and whether your passion is theater or cars or, I dunno, cowherding—it'll remind you of everything you once thought possible and make you wonder whether it can't be possible still.
Playgoer writes about the review for Wickets in the NYT, which fails to mention the fact that the entire production is a riff/deconstruction of Fornes' Fefu and Her Friends.
Eisler is a critic, so he is gentle in pointing out that the NYT review has completely missed this point. He's generous and exceedingly fair in his assessment, and his piece today talks about the NYT making a choice to speak from a populist viewpoint.
I am not a critic, so let me give a more blunt, real-world take: Claudia La Rocco saw Wickets and wrote her review with no knowledge of Fornes, no sense of any connections between this work and any other work, and has no idea even now that she missed the thrust of the production. It's not a choice—it's ignorance.
Read the review again—it's blazingly clear. She's compelled by some of the mysterious language and moments of the play—a critic passingly familiar with Fornes would have known what was up. She didn't have any idea, and that's why it's not in the review.
Damningly, she simply needed to read the program—Eisler says it is listed prominently—or look at any of the promotional or press materials for the show, which are absolutely crystal clear about the connection with Fornes.
It's not Claudia's fault entirely—she's out of her depths. You can see from her Times profile page that she's a dance critic, and a quick perusal of her history writing for the paper reveals that she covers, unsurprisingly, dance. She writes very honestly about her origins as a dance critic:
One day, my editor asked me what I knew about dance, and did I think I could write about it. A little, I answered, and sure, if she gave me several months to prepare.
She smiled, pityingly. Shortly thereafter I was informed that Mikhail Baryshnikov would be performing soon, and that I would be reviewing him.
Voila! A dance critic was born. Thus began several months of humiliating myself in international print and online (not to mention my agita). The evidence of my gross initial ineptitude is still out there, lurking, all too Google-able. Who knew that some of the most terrifying experiences of my young adult life would take place in a theater?
The real story here is newspapers, which are constrained and squeezed more and more, put reporters in situations to be critics when they have no grounding in the field they are reviewing...and it flattens out their ability to respond with depth. I myself was reviewed a few years ago by a NYT reporter whose credentials rested entirely in the Style section—it's a disappointing experience for everyone involved.
Can Claudia La Rocco review plays? Yes, but perhaps she needs more time to prepare and more support from the paper.
Should the NYT have assigned Claudia to review Wickets? No, not at this time, but increasingly papers throw people into the water and let them sink or swim.
Does this "system" come with a price? Yes—it diminishes the respect we have in the critical establishment, and tarnishes the long-term viability of newspapers in an evolving world.
In the Hall - News - In the Hall - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
The P-I's closure will also mean the loss of Seattle's only truly local daily paper. The Times may have "Seattle" in its name, but it is relentlessly suburban, in ways both frivolous (a recent holiday supplement featured a photo of Seattle that was clearly taken from Bellevue) and portentous (the majority of its editorial board lives outside the city). That perspective matters—it means that instead of front-page stories about local campaigns, for example, we get headlines like "Obama gives area trio 'gift of friendship'" and "Gregoire's inaugural bash: ice sculptures and sashimi," and editorials supporting roads, opposing density, and backing Dino Rossi (really).
Could Seattle have survived as a two-newspaper town? Probably not. But with last week's announcement, I can't help but feel that the wrong guys won.
Crime: Bernie Madoff's Amazing Do-Nothing Business:
Bernie Madoff's financial scam gets more impressive by the day. How long do you think he was defrauding people? Five years? Fifteen years? How about, oh, 40 years or so:
Officials at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, known as FINRA, told The Post that after examining more than 40 years' worth of financial records from Madoff's now-defunct broker dealer, there are no signs that Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities ever traded shares on behalf of the investment-advisory business at the center of the scandal.
The startling findings contradict statements that Madoff's advisory clients received showing hundreds, if not thousands of trades, completed by the broker dealer every year.
That means, according to these investigators, who went through the books back to 1960, all the trades he reported to his clients were totally fraudulent. This guy was a really good criminal. And it would seem logical that the longer they find that his scam went on, the more embarrassing it becomes that he wasn't caught—either by regulators or by the money managers who rushed to invest their clients' money with him.
FTD.de - Kleine Amerikakunde (8): How Theater Failed America - International:
Auch lohnt es sich, das Theater mit dem merkwürdigsten Namen aufzusuchen, in Washington ist es das "Wooly Mammoth". Dort nämlich hat mir endlich jemand aus dem Herzen gesprochen: "How Theater failed America" heißt die Show des Alleinunterhalters Mike Daisey, der sich in einem zweistündigen Monolog über die Misere des amerikanischen Theaters auslässt, in das die Jugend nicht mehr reingeht und in dem die Sponsoren viel Geld für große Gebäude und wenig Geld für Schauspieler ausgeben. Daisey kann binnen Sekunden von saukomisch auf wütend auf traurig auf nachdenklich umschalten, er ist ein Meister seines Fachs. Am Ende wusste ich zwar immer noch nicht, warum das alles so gekommen ist, wie er es beschreibt, aber eines weiß ich: Das war seit langer Zeit zum ersten Mal richtig gutes Theater.
The Stranger | Slog | Faceless Babies and Acne:
The only twist is that in order to take Accutane, you have to join an FDA program called "I Pledge," which sounds creepily like an abstinence cult—and actually isn't all that far off from an abstinence cult. Before you can get the drug, you have to take not one but two pregnancy tests. The dosage is six months. Every month you have to take another pregnancy test. The reason is that Accutane causes severe birth defects, she says. The way she rests on the word "severe" makes me think it causes babies not to have faces, not just miss a finger or something.
Then she tells me that in addition to the tests, you also have to prove that you are on not one but two forms of birth control. "We prefer a hormonal course," she says, meaning the pill, along with condoms. I am not accustomed to being told what other people prefer I do with my uterus quite so starkly. Evidently you sign something saying you're using the condoms and the doctor prescribes you the pills, too. Or you get an IUD implanted. I didn't get the sense that, say, pledging to use condoms and a diaphragm would be sufficient.
Curbed: Will This Become the Golden Age for Brooklyn Tenants?:
The question is, when middle and upper-middle class renters' leases in Brooklyn are up, are they going to move (back?) into Manhattan now that rents are becoming more affordable and high-income tenants are vanishing? My gut feeling is that after living in Brooklyn for years, having gotten acquainted with local bars and restaurants, theaters, galleries, bookstores, coffee shops, etc., they will feel no desire to move into high rise "luxury" condos with corporate retail and tourists everywhere. The unique things that made Manhattan desirable to long-term New Yorkers were largely destroyed and replaced with soulless trashy opulence. Neighborhood fabrics have been destroyed and temporarily replaced by legions of lusty materialistic isolationists who earn and consume, but offer nothing of lasting value to the community. I think this will be a golden age for brownstone Brooklyn tenants.
Noises On: Mike Daisey takes sharp aim at the institution of theater and turns it into a provocative piece of, well... theater: Metro Weekly magazine:
Is theater doing what theater should be doing- Has the art form lost its way in a desire to be profitable and comfortable- How long before some artistic director figures out how to save money by successfully mounting a production with no actors- Consider that the next time you're looking for a ''Fair Trade'' label on your coffee. Where's the ''Fair Wage'' logo on your theater program-
And, how is it that this entire system continues to operate-
It's the last question that is most intriguing and the one that Daisey's mix of cultural observation and stories from his life in theater brings most sharply into focus.
Ricardo Montalban, Actor, Dies at 88 - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com:
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Ricardo Montalban, the Mexican-born actor who became a star in splashy MGM musicals and later as the wish-fulfilling Mr. Roarke in TV's ''Fantasy Island,'' died Wednesday morning at his home, his family said. He was 88.
The Zipper Factory to Close Without Warning:
Lee Z. Davis, Owner & Proprietor of The Zipper Factory, announced today the sudden closing of both the theater and the tavern effective immediately.
Thomas Edison and his ridiculous EULA:
Another L.A. theater critic gets the ax | Culture Monster | Los Angeles Times:
Culture Monster just got word that longtime Los Angeles theater and arts critic Jim Farber was let go today.
Farber, whose wrote for the Daily Breeze for nearly 16 years, said the news came as a surprise to him since he reviewed and wrote nearly all features on classical music, opera and fine art, in addition to coverage of the stage.
“We’ve all got a target printed on our backs,” he said. “We arts writers –- at least in print –- are a dying breed.”
The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan (January 13, 2009) - Bush's Last Presser:
This is what happened. 9/11 occurred. Cheney and Bush decided that to get the intelligence they wanted and didn't have, they would start torturing prisoners for information. They told their legal people to provide legal defenses, however strained and bizarre, and talked themselves into believing that it wasn't torture. They set up a major torture camp in Gitmo and many smaller ones around the world; they told their military and CIA to take all the gloves off. They did this consciously and with clear pre-meditation. They stuck with their policy even after its essence was exposed so painfully at Abu Ghraib. They were in too deep to go back then. And they deeply believed that the constitution allowed the president unlimited powers in wartime - and that war time was now for ever. The Constitution, in Cheney views, empowers the presidency to permanent near-dictatorial status for the indefinite future. The dictatorial powers - unencumbered by no law and no treaty - extend to American citizens and on American soil.
This is what they believed. And this is what they did. It was and is illegal. And immoral. And deeply destructive of the need to garner reliable intelligence and to protect American soldiers from future torture at the hands of the enemy. And the dreadful truth is: Bush clearly had no qualms or conflict in this. But he won't own it. History must make him own it. And the rule of law should make him accountable.
EXCERPT FROM ANOTHER LIFE, WHEN I WORKED ON A SKETCH COMEDY TELEVISION SHOW, LIKE "30 ROCK" BUT IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST WITH A LOWER BUDGET AND LESS WITTY QUIPS BEING TOSSED ABOUT:
Open Thread: How Theater Failed America « Notes from Forum Theatre:
I was really glad to have this discussion. It was one of the few moments that I have felt a sense of being a part of the theater community in DC. Regardless of what shape I think or feel it’s in, I guess I am a part of it in my own way too. Mike Daisey’s point was, we all share a responsibility in helping create and shape the world around us, and that includes those of us in the theater.
One question still rings out to me: To whom is theater today speaking to? To each artistic director: what populations do you serve? Which groups do you aim to serve, think you serve, and really serve?
You could drop the theater tickets down to zero dollars and would you fill the seats? The DC Hip Hop Theatre Festival is free, sponsored by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, and they pack it in. Lincoln Theater regularly pack in its 900-seat theater. But I would argue that those aren’t the people who are coming to see the well-known established theater companies’ seasons. DC is still Chocolate City, though less so now than earlier. DC is also a predominantly working class city as well — probably more so in the past. Do the theater audiences and industry folk represent the demographics of the city? If not, why is that?
Crime: Bernie Madoff Wants to Make a Deal:
Federal prosecutors acknowledged in a court order released Monday that Mr. Madoff’s lawyer, Ira Lee Sorkin, is “engaging in discussions concerning a possible disposition of this case.”
While Mr. Sorkin would not comment, several former prosecutors said that language clearly indicated that the discussions were about a deal in which Mr. Madoff would agree to plead guilty in exchange for some type of leniency.
So the question is: What the fuck does Bernie Madoff have to offer, really? Where is his leverage, besides in his imagination (finance double entendre!). Sure, he could save the government the trouble of trying him. But with one of the biggest scams in history at stake, would a trial not be a valuable thing for the public? If people don't get some measure retribution by seeing Bernie squirm, they're likely to burn his house down, or something, not that we advocate that sort of thing, but if some guy steals millions of bucks from you, you're gonna punch him in the face, metaphorically or otherwise.
DRM Isn't Dead:
In return for letting Apple build up its inventory, the labels needed assurances that iTunes wouldn't be a haven for piracy. Having been burned by Napster, music biz bigwigs were understandably concerned that putting MP3s up "for sale" would be tantamount to giving away their catalogs to music-thieving college students. Apple assuaged these fears by creating a "digital rights management" plan called FairPlay, which prevented customers from putting songs on more than five different computers or from burning any playlist more than seven times. In addition, iTunes songs would not work with non-Apple hardware and software, and Apple's devices wouldn't accept copy-protected songs purchased from most other online stores. At first, these last two restrictions sat well with the recording industry; keeping downloaded songs tied to the iPod would limit piracy, the labels believed. But then the iPod became a phenomenon. Suddenly everybody had one—and the only place to buy music for the iPod was through iTunes, which would go on to become the most popular music retailer in the country. The irony was delicious, even poetic, the industry hoisted with its own petard: By demanding DRM, the labels had tied their songs to a single hardware and software platform and had inadvertently given Steve Jobs total control over their business.
'How Theater Failed': Daisey Has Thorns - washingtonpost.com:
Mike Daisey repeatedly sticks his finger in his employer's eye during the one-man "How Theater Failed America," offering a scorched-earth critique of the dramatic world's rampant creative failure and moral hypocrisy.
He calls out major not-for-profit companies for gutless programming and caving in to a corporate marketing mentality. Instead of raising pots of money for new buildings, Daisey suggests (even while acting in Woolly Mammoth's handsome new space), artistic directors should be sticking to the regional theater movement's first principles: nurturing acting troupes.
Yet the show is better -- more varied -- than the unchained soapbox scold promised by its "graceless, bombastic title" (Daisey's words). "How Theater Failed America" is a funny, surprisingly supple performance about life in the theater, the ecstatic highs and the aching, humiliating lows, rendered here with explosive humor and a dark edge of tragedy.
A positive review today in the Washington Times for the show, but in keeping with my decision to correct policy errors and misinterpretations, I'm going to comment on one part of the review, quoted here:
His solution to shrinking audiences and a staggering lack of interest by most Americans seems charmingly naive - bringing back the repertory system with companies of actors and artistic teams who make art together.
That would be charmingly naive, if in fact that were my solution, which it is not.
I never advocate in the piece for a return to the past—I'm very clearly calling for artists to be in residence within theaters, working and belonging to those communities. This could take the form of an acting company, but it can also be playwrights, designers...the specifics of what works will vary from theater to theater, and community to community. The scale of any undertaking will also vary, and will depend immensely on circumstances on the ground at each institution.
The one thing I can assure you will never happen is that a photocopy of the repertory system will be put in place—that would make no sense whatsoever, especially since with the loss of all the other companies, there'd be no ecosystem. What I'm talking about is what comes next, not what has been.
This is a common failure of imagination people have when grappling with issues—our only solutions are to do what we do now, or to do what we used to do.
That may create a sense of community within the theater, but will it fill empty seats?
What I'm proposing can and will—because the effort is not some namsy-pansy effort to create feel-good "community" for its own end, but to make a team of artists in service to their community that the community then has a vested interest in the work of. We call it "community", but in sports circles it is also called "team pride", and it is a potent force the American theater has squandered...and it is exactly what we need now.
Arts, Briefly - In the Wings - NYTimes.com:
Mr. Cromer’s recent Chicago production of Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” is coming to the Barrow Street Theater. The production marks the first collaboration between Jean Doumanian Productions and Barrow Street; they have announced an Off Broadway producing alliance. “Our Town” will feature Mr. Cromer in the role of the Stage Manager in a production that takes place in and around the audience. The theater will be redesigned for the show, which begins previews Feb. 17.
Y-chromosomal Adam - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
In human genetics, Y-chromosomal Adam (Y-MRCA) is the patrilineal human most recent common ancestor (MRCA) from whom all Y chromosomes in living men are descended. Y-chromosomal Adam is thus the male counterpart of Mitochondrial Eve (the mt-MRCA), the matrilineal human most recent common ancestor, from whom all mitochondrial DNA in living humans is descended, although they lived at different times.
By analyzing DNA from people in all regions of the world, geneticist Spencer Wells has concluded that all humans alive today are descended from a single man who lived in Africa around 60,000 years ago.
"Synergy" means no need to "save" or "sync" on Palm's pre:
Users just make changes to their data (contacts, calendar, mail, etc.), and Palm's webOS handles committing those changes to whatever canonical data source it is accessing in the cloud. And herein lies the most important difference between the webOS and Apple's iPhone OS: the iPhone was originally designed under the assumption that the canonical source of a user's data (contacts, calendar, music, tasks, etc.) is a Mac. Palms webOS, in contrast, presumes that cloud-based services are the canonical source for your data (with the possible exception of media, which we don't know about yet).
The Phoenix > Theater > Joan Didion on stage, Spalding Gray on the page:
And he accurately divides the monologuist into Gray the man on a cultural reconnaissance mission, Gray the artist who shapes the material, and Gray the performer acting his own naive, ironic persona: Huck Finn in pursuit of spiritualism and sex. But Demastes does not address the way in which, increasingly, the art cannibalized the life — until the moment in 2001 when a serious car crash led to the impairment and depression from which Gray never recovered. At least the performer had the forethought to compose his own droll, uncanny epitaph: "An American Original: Troubled, Inner-Directed, and Cannot Type."
The Enigma in Chief:
As George W. Bush once noted, "You never know what your history is going to be like until long after you're gone." What I think he was trying to say is that, over time, historians may evolve toward a more positive view of his presidency than the one held by most of his contemporaries.
At the moment, this seems a vain hope. Bush's three most obvious legacies are his decision to invade Iraq, his framing of a global war on terror after Sept. 11, and the massive financial crisis. Each of these constitutes a separate epic in presidential misjudgment and mismanagement. It remains a brainteaser to come up with ways, however minor, in which Bush changed government, politics, or the world for the better. Among presidential historians, it is hardly an eccentric view that 43 ranks as America's worst president ever. On the other hand, he has nowhere to go but up.
The Importance of Being, You Know, Earnest: How Theater Failed America @ Woolly Mammoth - DCist:
But the personal really is political, and once the 35-year-old Daisey begins vividly to recall his salad days as an actor-manager, the show takes on resonance and heft. Whether he's talking about the 63-player comedia dell'arte he assembled for a regional one-act competition during a stint teaching high school (despite lacking even an undergraduate degree to call his own at the time), or the six-person troupe he founded in a part of Western Maine where the moose outnumber the people, or the Seattle production of Jean Genet's The Balcony wherein those sitting in the front rows must have wished they hadn't -- it's clear that theater saved his life. And the notion that a storyteller of Daisey's skill and generosity might still be working at Amazon without that peculiar institution is itself an strong argument for keeping it around.
How can the only piracy-proof story form ever invented be losing its audience even faster than the recording industry, for crying out loud? If How Theater Failed America doesn't quite answer that question, it passionately reinforces the importance of asking it. That's something. Actually, that's a lot.
Parabasis: Should There Be A Cabinet-Level Arts Czar?:
The future of arts funding in America is not solely about increasing funding the NEA and State Arts Councils. It is instead about embedding the arts comprehensively throughout federal and state government agencies. It's about arts based diplomacy at State, it's about using Community Development Block Grants to help with arts real estate issues, its about using the Small Business Administration to help new arts organizations start. It's about different agencies having resident artists (did you know Laurie Anderson was NASA's resident artist for two years?). It's about the Department of Education handling arts education. Its about viewing art as a necessary part of society that's therefore integrated into the levers that make that society move.
As a rule theater artists don't respond directly to reviews—there's a strong tradition that to do so is classless and doesn't allow the work to speak for itself, and a a general rule it's one that I agree with.
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA is a different beast in some respects—because so much of what it says is about our industry itself, I've been thinking it might change this paradigm in a limited way. As an experiment I'm responding to some of the points in this review where they are about policy and position—I won't be responding to any of the review which directly addresses the performance itself.
"He suggests that corporations have commodified theater and have sacrificed artistic vision for growth and self-preservation."
To be clear, I have suggested that institutions have adopted an increasingly corporatized business model, and that they've sacrificed continuity and community by outsourcing artists. I do believe this impacts artistic vision over time, but my arguments are pitched at a deeper and more fundamental issue than programming. The show is largely agnostic with regards to programming decisions, and that is by design.
"But anyone - individual or corporation - can produce theater..."
This is manifestly untrue, and in fact the monologue is dedicated in part to its refutation. Only people understand theater. A corporation can hire people to make theater, but they can not actually produce any theater, because they do not understand it.
"...and self-preservation is an imperative of far broader range than theater. In fact, we seldom see companies unconcerned with self-preservation because such companies are generally, um, not preserved."
I agree—in fact, I speak about this at length in the fifth scene—the need of all corporations and institutions to perpetuate themselves, which is a part of the central conundrum of all growth. The fact that this process is far larger than theater is clearly acknowledged in the piece, and its the wrestling between our need and desire for institutions and the loss of control that inevitably comes with growth that is central to understanding the state of theater today. I don't understand how this point refutes what was said in the show—it may be that I am not comprehending what Mr. Treanor is getting at here.
"Daisey believes that the gorgeous new buildings American theaters are constructing have trapped them into uninspired, ultraconservative productions."
Once again, my concern is that the emphasis on buildings and real estate traps theaters into not creating artistic ensembles that draw strength from their communities, which then in turn weaken the art form by outsourcing acting and not giving necessary stability to the artists that could actually be the backbone of those theaters. While I do think this kind of corporate thinking in many cases leads to bad productions, I was very clear in scene three that often it does work—many individual productions are excellent, when individual artists make things work, regardless of the environment they are in. This is not only a flattening of the piece—it is just not what I'm speaking about.
"Freedom from expensive surroundings is no guarantee of theatrical quality."
I never implied that it was. Many terrible plays being produced in cheap venues constantly, certainly.
The error here is conflating an absolute of "theatrical quality" with my intentions. I'm interested in a fundamental shift in how the regional theaters of America conceive of themselves, and a value change that involves foster and supporting artists within their cities to create work. It's my belief that local connection and continuity plays a large part of the tissue needed to make things work.
Do we need theatrical quality? Absolutely. Of course we do—that's obvious. HOW we achieve that end, and what kind of theater we have in this country to make these productions happen is the concern of my monologue. Once again, the piece does not slavishly concern itself with the kinds of theater being performed—the concern is that the living moment and experience is happening, AND that it be working toward environments where communities can form to actually care and foster that work.
"The solution is to produce good theater, which is a success whether it is produced in a spare room behind a bar or in a 750-seat amphitheater, or on Woolly Mammoth's main stage."
While I appreciate the warmth and spirit in which this is intended, I have to actually disagree with this as a solution—it presupposes that the problem with our theater today is that people simply don't do enough good theater. If more good theater were being done, everything would solve itself.
This is, sadly, extremely naive. The truth is that arts dollars and funding is dominated by huge theaters, which eat up resources. The truth is that these large theaters dictate the terms of an industry which currently doesn't value artists or community, and instead seems them as disposable, replaceable, trash. It also does nothing to address the real issues in diminishing audience volume and diminishing mindshare.
While every great production is a wondrous thing to be celebrated, we still have an obligation as people who love and are compelled by theater to ask serious questions and push back when needed. Turning a blind eye by saying "if it's good art, it's good" is wrong—it's letting a broken marketplace dictate the terms of what it will mean to be a theater artist in America in the 21st century. It simplifies a complex landscape into a thumbs-up, thumbs-down landscape and that's not what we need.
We Love DC » Blog Archive » We Love Arts: How Theater Failed America:
This isn’t a defense of theater in disguise either, though Daisey’s sharp edges and biting wit are accompanied by an obvious love of live performance and stories of rosy and not-so-rosy memories of a life on stage. Daisey’s piece is a curious combination of feature story and biography that works well, each part providing illumination for the other.
Daisey’s control of the room is a big part of why it works. There were moments I missed because people nearby were laughing so hard, but during the powerful moments you could have heard a pin drop. Daisey leads everyone along the emotional path he wants them on and nobody wanders away.
Eric Schmidt wishes Google could save newspapers - Jan. 7, 2009:
Maybe their time has just come and gone?
No. They don't have a problem of demand for their product, the news. People love the news. They love reading, discussing it, adding to it, annotating it. The Internet has made the news more accessible. There's a problem with advertising, classifieds and the cost itself of a newspaper: physical printing, delivery and so on. And so the business model gets squeezed.
So what else can Google do?
We have a mechanism that enhances online subscriptions, but part of the reason it doesn't take off is that the culture of the Internet is that information wants to be free. We've tried to get newspapers to have more tightly integrated products with ours. We'd like to help them better monetize their customer base. We have tools that make that easier. I wish I had a brilliant idea, but I don't. These little things help, but they don't fundamentally solve the problem.
A year ago I started performing a show about the state of American theater. In it I spoke about the dangers of corporatization, the devaluation of our work and workers, the loss of coherent vision, and the over-leveraged state of many of the largest American theaters.
More than a polemic, I wanted to tell a story about theater, failure, passion, and hope. It was a cautionary tale, but also an attempt to inspire: to call back to our roots for why some of us might have chosen to dedicate our lives to live performance, to embrace and honor that original fire that I believe we need now more than ever.
This week I open that monologue in Washington DC in a changed landscape. Across the country theaters are closing, an echo of a national and international economic crisis. Sections of the show that used to talk about the possibility of a reckoning in the future are suddenly dated, overtaken by the future blowing in with sudden force to become an unmistakable reality.
If you live in Washington DC, please join us at Woolly Mammoth Theater, where HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA plays this January. Select performances are accompanied by roundtable discussions about the state of American theater, with theater professionals and artists from across the spectrum coming together to talk about the state of our art today.
You'll find full details at the end of this email, and the link for show tickets and information is here.
At the end of January we head out to the Pacific Northwest for three shows.
First up is a two night engagement at the Kirkland Performance Center, where I'll be performing MONOPOLY! on the 30th, and INVINCIBLE SUMMER (in its Northwest premiere) on the 31st. This is my only appearance in the Seattle area this time around, and the only chance to see INVINCIBLE SUMMER. Details here.
We then head up to Vancouver BC for the PuSh Festival, where I will be reprising MONOPOLY! on February 4th, and giving the keynote for the PuSh Festival on February 5th.
Entitled HOW THEATER CAN WIN, I'll be outlining my arguments for how theater can not only survive but thrive in our modern world, and what needs to happen to make that a reality. After a year of performing this monologue, and a year of refining my arguments and ideas, I'm ready talk about what comes next. In this season of change, I think we all are.
Be seeing you,
HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA
A monologue about theater, failure, passion, and hope.
"A sardonic rebuke to the corporate types who hold American theater hostage and a powerful sense of the wonder of theater."
NEW YORK TIMES
"Blending political anger with striking personal stories, this piece should reach anyone who believes in live performance."
"Daisey is a working man's Spalding Gray: boyish passion meshed with refined contemplation...not only vastly entertaining, it's also a call to action."
TIME OUT NEW YORK
"His transfixing delivery underscores his central point: theatre is a wave, not a particle, and the current system isn't doing it—or us—justice."
THE NEW YORKER
A monologue about the New York subway system and the summer before everything changed.
"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur. Mr. Daisey’s greatest subject is himself."
NEW YORK TIMES
"Sharp-witted, passionately delivered talk about matters both small and huge, at once utterly individual and achingly universal."
"Daisey's skill is that he is able to talk about the historical and make it human, the personal and make it universal, so that the listener is both informed and transformed."
"He has a knack for detailed descriptions and keen observations ... His stories are often raucously funny, but the solo performer also probes more intense and painful subjects in a compelling manner ... and isn't afraid of expressing some of his own less-than-politically-correct emotions."
Tesla, Edison, Microsoft, Wal-Mart and the War for Tomorrow
"Relentlessly interesting . . . a brilliantly spun narrative. His show is ultimately about the messy and often unjust process of making official history. He fights back the best way he knows how—by telling even better stories."
NEW YORK TIMES
"Layering outrage, official and underground history, personal memoir and rollicking humor, Daisey makes you think, feel and question. And he makes you laugh — hearty laughter, cathartic and barbed. Spellbinding."
"Sharp-witted, passionately delivered talk about matters both small and huge, at once utterly individual and achingly universal."
"Monopoly! is the work of a true writer, an inspiring and compassionate activist, and a relentlessly curious historian—a rich tapestry of historical research, personal memoir, and social commentary that creates the illusion of past and present, of timelessness."
Tickets in Kirkland
Tickets at the PuSh Festival
HOW THEATER CAN WIN
A Keynote Address and Manifesto
PuSh Festival, Vancouver BC
February 5th at 4pm
The Journey From Rendition to Freedom - The New York Times - Video Library:
Muhammad Saad Iqbal was seized by the C.I.A. after 9/11, interrogated in a secret prison in Egypt, then sent on to Bagram Airbase and Guantanamo. This is a firsthand account of torture and rendition.
We’ve never been in the money - Time Out Chicago:
Common sense would indicate that live theater, that perishable art form already on America’s endangered-species list, stands little chance for survival in the post-Bush economy. Broadway is inarguably in crisis: Hitherto bankable enterprises Grease, Young Frankenstein, Hairspray, Spring Awakening, Spamalot and Gypsy will all shutter within the month of January. A study released by the National Endowment for the Arts in December tells us that the supply of nonmusical theater has outstripped the consumer demand for it. And print journalism, that de facto form of arts marketing that buoys consumer interest, continues to downsize; several of the country’s longtime theater critics have seen their jobs excised as casualties of professional journalism’s war with the Internet.
Why, then, are Chicago plays selling so well?
Beijing to Get A Broadway of Its Own - ArtsBeat Blog - NYTimes.com:
The distance between a Broadway show and an authentic Chinese meal is about to get a lot shorter, at least for theatergoers in the Eastern hemisphere. A $686 million construction project will bring a 32-theater complex to Beijing, where imports of Western musicals and other shows will play year-round, Variety reported. The entertainment complex is being built by Beijing Shibo Real Estate in the city’s Haidian district, and is expected to run more than 100 shows a year.
How Newspapers Tried to Invent the Web:
Newspapers deserve bragging rights for having homesteaded the Web long before most government agencies and major corporations knew what a URL was. Given the industry's early tenancy, deep pockets, and history of paranoid experimentation with new communication forms, one would expect to find plenty in the way of innovations and spin-offs.
But that's not the case, and I think I know why: From the beginning, newspapers sought to invent the Web in their own image by repurposing the copy, values, and temperament found in their ink-and-paper editions. Despite being early arrivals, despite having spent millions on manpower and hardware, despite all the animations, links, videos, databases, and other software tricks found on their sites, every newspaper Web site is instantly identifiable as a newspaper Web site. By succeeding, they failed to invent the Web.
Marginal Revolution: Time travel back to 1000 A.D.: Survival tips:
I wanted to ask for survival tips in case I am unexpectedly transported to a random location in Europe (say for instance current France/Benelux/Germany) in the year 1000 AD (plus or minus 200 years). I assume that such transportation would leave me with what I am wearing, what I know, and nothing else. Any advice would help.
FILE UNDER SCALABILITY ISSUES IN FACEBOOK:
Rusty superpower in need of careful driver | Matthew Parris - Times Online:
But maybe destiny has other plans. America's fate in the half-century ahead is not to be transfigured, but to be relegated. Steering your team through a relegation can be as important a test of leadership as handling a promotion, but it is a different test. Though he may not yet know it, the role for which the US President-elect has been chosen is the management of national decline. He will be the first US president in history to accept, and (if he has the gift) to teach, not the possibilities but the constraints of power.
The fate of his predecessor George W.Bush was to test almost to destruction the theory of the limitlessness of American wealth and power - and of the potency of the American democratic ideal too. With one last heave he pitched his country into a violent and ruinous contest with what at times seemed the whole world, and the whole world's opinion. He failed, luminously.
But maybe somebody had to.
Groundhog Week - lies like truth:
It's interesting that both of these organizations recently acquired new artistic directors among much media hooplah and the announcement of Bold New Artistic Horizons. I wonder how much information Marco Barriccelli, who joined Shakespeare Santa Cruz a year ago, and Loretta Greco, who arrived at The Magic in the summer, knew about the financial situations of their respective organizations when they signed their artistic director contracts? Were they kept in the dark, at least to some degree, about the bareness of the theatres' coffers when they signed on? Or did they somehow imagine that the red marks on the accounting ledgers would miraculously disappear in the wake of high quality productions, euphoric reviews and packed houses?
I ask, because no one in their right mind would uproot their lives from the East Coast as both of these highly-regarded directors did and travel across the country to watch their professional lives take this kind of wretched turn.
www.dcexaminer.com >> Entertainment:
1. "How Theater Failed America": Created and performed by Mike Daisey, this one-man show is full of pointed wit and no-holds-barred attacks. Returning after his successful run of "If You See Something Say Something," this time Daisey takes on the American theater, seeing it as a shrinking world with smaller audiences each year. Implicating himself and the system he functions in, Daisey seeks answers to dangerous questions about the art of theater.
Folks are always wondering when I will be offering another workshop. The short answer is that I don't know. But I do know that Ms. Woodbury is an extremely sharp, perceptive, and empathic person, so I thought I'd forward this announcement about a workshop she's offering in LA.
with HEATHER WOODBURY
a four-day workshop for writers and performers on creating from the dramatic imagination
taught by acclaimed playwright/performer of epic plays, & published novelist, Heather Woodbury.
Inaugurate your own imagination: January 2009
2-weekends 12-6pm, January 10th, 11th, 17th
-final class, Sun., Jan. 18th, 2:30-8pm: performance for invited audience-
AT BANG STUDIO 457 N. FAIRFAX 90036
Los Angeles email email@example.com or call 323-653-6886 to register.
Starting with the premise that the first impulse is the magic one, Heather will introduce you to her method of "instant performance," locating your innate capacity to give life to something that is fully formed from the moment you transmit it. We will then crystallize that initial impulse to point the way toward making work of lasting value.
In order for the originator of solo work to successfully captivate and hold an audience, rigorous demands must be met but also unique opportunities for invention are offered. This intensive workshop explores how these solo performance methods - of conjuring character, inventing natural speech and locating place- can be applied to generating writing of every kind and to infusing performance with live-wire authenticity.
For solo show originators, actors, and for writers of all stripes, this is writing on the tongue and stage, as an alternate to, and enhancement of, writing on the page.
Heather is an award-winning performer and writer known for her groundbreaking multi-character solo and ensemble works, which combine the immediacy of performance art with a novel's length and scope. Her 10-hour, 100-character solo play, What Ever: An American Odyssey in Eight Acts (published by Faber/Farrar, Strauss & Giroux) was hailed as a "Whitmanesque vision of America" [Chicago Sun-Times] and cited as "a masterwork of the solo form" by the NY Times. It was adapted as a radio play hosted by Ira Glass. Woodbury has received multiple awards, grants and fellowships for her subsequent works. Her play Tale of 2Cities: An American Joyride on Multiple Tracks won a 2007 OBIE (Outstanding Achievement in Off-Broadway Production) for ensemble performance. And in 2006 she was awarded the inaugural Spalding Gray Award honoring writer/performers who are "fearless innovators." Heather has taught professional workshops for A.S.K. Theatre Projects in Los Angeles, Northeastern University in Boston, St. Edward's University in Austin and University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. She has conducted performances and lectures for students at Yale, SMU, Northwestern, UCLA and NYU. She will be Master-Artist-in-Residence at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida in 2009.
For more information visit: heatherwoodbury.com
quotes about heather woodbury's work:
"a triumph of unfettered creativity"
"like living inside a novel"
Richard Linklater, film director
Monologist Mike Daisey Presents 'How Theater Failed America' at Woolly Mammoth - washingtonpost.com:
"The American theater as an institution is an institution," he says. "And it's lost track of the human element that makes theater successful."
Daisey, one of the most compelling monologists working today, addresses what he sees as a dire situation in his one-man show "How Theater Failed America," which opens Wednesday at Woolly Mammoth Theatre.
The problem, he says, is this: When times got tough, local troupes and companies made the wrong cuts. Repertory theaters stopped employing their own actors and developing distinctive productions. They gave up trying to sustain themselves with ticket sales and grew ever more dependent on corporate donors and wealthy benefactors. They bought real estate and built bigger, glitzier houses while community artists increasingly starved.
"This has been a very insidious process that's poisoned a large amount of American theater and has huge ramifications," says Daisey, who has been performing the show for a year now, to a loud and inharmonious response from the theater community.
Daisey, last seen in Washington with the enthusiastically received production "If You See Something Say Something," says his intention is to sound "a wake-up call."
The Stranger | Slog | Abandoned: Erotomania:
How far did you get into it?
Only about forty pages.
Was there one sentence that put you off?
Why can't you finish it?
I never thought I'd say this, but there's too much sex. Consider this sentence: "I'd be flown out to Duluth or Boise for a day's work on shows that were already running and return home in time to find my dick as deeply embedded in the soft wet folds of her pussy as the engravings are on the sarcophagus of an Egyptian empress." It's like Henry Miller on speed and without an editor.
Russia: New Russian law ends jury trials for 'crimes against state' - Los Angeles Times:
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paused in the last, quiet hours of a dying year to sign into law a controversial bill that eliminates jury trials for "crimes against the state," a move that lawyers and human rights groups fear will be the start of a dangerous exertion of Kremlin control over government critics.
The law does away with jury trials for a variety of offenses, leaving people accused of treason, revolt, sabotage, espionage or terrorism at the mercy of three judges rather than a panel of peers. Critics say the law is dangerous because judges in Russia are vulnerable to manipulation and intimidation by the government.
A parallel piece of legislation, pushed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and still awaiting discussion in parliament, seeks to expand the legal definition of treason to such a degree that observers fear that anybody who criticizes the government could be rounded up by police -- and, because of the law signed Wednesday, tried without a jury.
Human rights groups and lawyers have warned that the changes to Russia's criminal code, largely undiscussed in the state media, would allow the government to crack down on any whispers of dissent. The changes also seek a stronger hand for the FSB, the modern incarnation of the Soviet KGB, by giving the state wider latitude in cases that fall under intelligence agency rather than police jurisdiction. Some critics point to the days of dictator Josef Stalin as a comparable legal structure.
Broadway critics leave Gotham - Entertainment News, Legit News, Media - Variety:
A string of departures in the Broadway critics corps, several of them spurred by the attrition of print media in the struggling economy, has left old-school observers questioning the longevity of theater criticism as a journalistic institution.
With the power of print reviews already lessened by the rising prominence of the chorus of Internet voices, legit scribes find themselves in the same boat as film critics, also prey to the fall of print media.
Will theater suffer? The critics certainly think so. But others in the legit community are similarly concerned, fearing media coverage of theater will become increasingly marginalized and business will be hurt in the long run.
Year Without a Summer - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:
The crop failures of the “Year without Summer” forced the family of Joseph Smith to move from Sharon, Vermont to Palmyra, New York, precipitating a series of events culminating in the publication of the Book of Mormon and the founding of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In July 1816 "incessant rainfall" during that "wet, ungenial summer" forced Mary Shelley, John William Polidori and their friends to stay indoors for much of their Swiss holiday. They decided to have a contest, seeing who could write the scariest story, leading Shelley to write Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus and Polidori to write The Vampyre.
The Year without a Summer also inspired Lord Byron to write his 1816 poem Darkness.
From a conversation about Butz at Playgoer, he comments:
Basically I was struck by Mike's criticism of going onstage off-book when he himself famously always has written notes on stage for his monologue-shows. I ribbed him about that, and he replied that his kind of monologue show just isn't compatible to playing a role in a narrative play.
Perhaps. This also recalled for me a question I always had about Spalding Gray--a trailblazer in Daisey's format. As is evident from all his filmed monologues, a notebook was always one of Gray's standard props on stage, and he duly turned the pages throughout. But when I saw him live once, it became clear to me he NEVER actually read from the notebook. So what do we call that? Interesting strategy to make audience THINK you're on-book when you're actually not. (Perhaps he needed the security of it there. Or was it just a clever onstage signifier of "storytelling"?)
I'm just going to say my piece in bullet points, as it's easier.
* I'm not Spalding, so I can't really speak for what he's doing onstage. I have been told by a number of people close to him that Spalding's goal was to "lock" his pieces, so that they did become scripted over time, and if that is true then we aren't really practicing the same format, especially as far as this question goes.
* With my work, there is no script of any kind, ever. The narrative is created as it is performed, discovered at that moment, and it shifts and bends from performance to performance. We can discuss how much it changes, which varies immensely depending on where in a monologue's life cycle we are, but it looks and feels nothing like memorizing fixed lines whatsoever.
* For me, the outline serves as signal and symbol of our compact. I use the outline intermittently in performance--but in the creating of the outline, and in its amending, a huge amount of structural work is done. It is serving as a kind of focusing tool and process for that, and so a large part of its importance is invisible, as it occurs in the generation and amendation of the show.
* In either event, you'd never see me "reading" from the outline, as it is an outline--there's nothing to read in a literal sense. Read out loud there would be a stream of nonsensical sentences, line drawings, resonant phrases that never appear in work, and incomprehensible (to others) schematics. It would make no sense, and doesn't look like a script in the least.
* Through all of this, I'm commenting as an actor with regards to memorization--I've been in well over a hundred shows in my lifetime that are not monologues, and in those I work as a traditional actor, so I'm very well-versed in memorization and its pitfalls. I am, in fact, much better at monologuing than I am at memorization--I don't have any native skill at it, but use visualization to create ladders that make it work. Years of working as a monologuist haven't helped, as it's completely different.
The True Professional Behind Piven, Speed the Plow Debacle | DENNIS BAKER LLC:
The theaterosphere lit up as Mike Daisey critiqued Butz for being unprofessional in performing the role without being fully memorized. An unprepared Butz was pegged as a hero when it seems like he could have waited another week as there was an understudy who was quite proficient. Daisey's critique was debated by a couple of other bloggers.
An argument that was presented was the producers aided this unprofessionalism for the sake of promoting the show, and the NY Times ate it up. The producers would rather send a semi-popular actor on stage with a script than a no-name understudy who had his lines memorized and was prepared. I am impressed Backstage chose to focus the attention on understudy Jordan Lage. Lage is a 25 year veteran who has seen it all. As a working actor, his story intrigues me the most. He spoke honestly about the process to Backstage and took it all in stride. His perspective is refreshing in light of someone like Piven. This is where the true story lies and in fact it would not have been much of a story because Lage is a professional who was ready to do his job when it was called upon. There is no drama in a man showing up to do the job he is paid for and to do it well. And unfortunately drama sells tickets.