Fascinating piece on Art and Commerce in the Philadlephia Inquirer today, focusing on the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and Philly Fringe.
You can read the article here. It's mainly a rundown of what's at the Live Arts Festival this year, especially as many of the pieces concern money, economics, wealth and want in different aspects—there's a mention for our new monologue:
In fact, one of monologist Mike Daisey's two shows, copresented with the Philadelphia Theatre Company, is The Last Cargo Cult - about people who do not use money. They live on the eastern side of the remote South Pacific island of Tanna, and Daisey lived with them. His story examines both their beliefs and the international financial crisis.
"It's about how we live in a world that's built on abstraction," says Daisey, "and the underpinnings of our own faith-based economy, built like any religion on absolute faith and trust. It's easy to forget that money is an invention, and we have to believe in it every day for it to have meaning."
What's really interesting is the end of the story:
Ironically, the festival this year has its own little money conundrum: In a copresentation with the Joyce Theater, a major Manhattan home for dance, Live Arts/Fringe has accepted money from the Boeing Co. to present 12 local choreographers, who will be winnowed to a single winner by audience vote over a four-night competition called The A.W.A.R.D. Show! In return, the festival keeps the income from tickets to the performances.
From perusing the web, it appears this competition began in 2006 with the Joyce, and now has spread to other cities. Why is it spreading so far and wide...?
Boeing is sponsoring such shows in four cities. "The people at Boeing are sincere about helping the arts," says Stuccio, in the face of some artists' assertions that the show pits them against one another in a cheesy TV-type reality-show format. The winning choreographer gets $10,000, two runners-up win $1,000.
Let's be clear: Boeing doesn't like art. Boeing is a corporation. Boeing likes the tax break it gets supporting any eligible non-profit. And it chose to send its money with strings that prevent it from helping any artist or art EXCEPT ones who have fought other artists in a cage match for the pleasure of audiences...so whether you think this is a good format or not, Boeing is obviously less interested in art and more interested in live reality TV.
Boeing could choose to give money directly to the festival if it actually cared about supporting work. Hell, it could use the same power it has now to earmark the funds to go directly to choreographers. It didn't want to do that. It wants the choreographers to PROVE they deserve the money, because once you win a fight we know who's the best.
"I'll be totally transparent. I'm a little conflicted about it," Stuccio says. "Should I say to Boeing, no, I'm not going to give money out that way to this community, you keep it? No, I can't do that.
I feel for Nick—it's hard to do the right thing. I wouldn't envy him this situation.
The part that's hard to swallow is that Boeing will be plastered all over the event, Boeing gets the tax breaks for funding it, and Boeing gets perceived by audiences as giving two shits about art. Meanwhile the artists do their work, as they always must, though now it will be perceived through the lens of a competition—they can be publicly judged and assessed for their self-worth and fight one another for lumps of money which wouldn't buy a toilet seat on one of Boeing's planes.
And this is a success story of corporations and the arts working together, because this is America.
I Am The Anonymous Model:
And then there were the models. I knew, when I walked into my new agency, Elite Paris, in September of 2007, that I had found my tribe. They were the sweetest, dirtiest talking, weirdest, comic-book-loving, Internet nerding, most breathtakingly cynical, tallest, hard-drinkingest, Proust-readingest, silliest, one-day-I'm-going-to-fuck-all-this-and-be-a-lawyerest, funniest, toughest crowd I'd ever run with. They were all 16 and 20 and 23, and most were amenable to staying up late and talking about Lech Walesa and the problems of teaching post-WWII history in a country where 15 years ago neighbors turned each other in to the secret police for having an extra chicken. Or they would trash talk creepy clients while drinking white wine out of 7UP bottles in the street because none of us had the money for a bar tab and the apartment was too hot. That was good, too.
New York was the place I kept returning to, at first excitedly, then grudgingly, then with relief, because at least I speak the language and the subway runs all night. (And I did try that goat taco place, and it is good.) Although I traveled widely as a child -- I had lived in four countries before I turned 18, and visited numerous cities in Western Europe and Asia, sometimes for work and sometimes for fun -- I didn't see New York until I was 22. And for that I will be forever grateful: this odd conglomeration of mostly working infrastructure and unimpeachable cultural security, this city where you never have to wonder if the movie will open or the band will play or the author will read, is a place I shall never take for granted.
Snow Leopard Review: Lightened and Enlightened - Snow leopard review - Gizmodo:
On deeper inspection, Snow Leopard's inconspicuous aspects—performance squeezed from underused CPU multicores/GPUs and basic UI tweaks—are found to be the kind of refinement generally reserved for virtuosity. These speed optimizations are deep, reminding me of when a master martial artist puts the entirety of his weight behind a strike (while a neophyte would flails his limbs like a henchman in a Bruce Lee movie). The little UI tweaks are no different than when a great sculptor's chisel works to remove everything non-essential during the final steps on a statue. Challenging 30 years of ever more bloated software tradition, the changes here are about becoming a more effective middleware between the media and the hardware, reducing friction while becoming more useful by, well, being lighter, less visible.
And if you think that's bullshit, well, I can't say you're completely out of your mind, but there's always the consolation that this OS upgrade costs about the same as a used Xbox game.
Policeman busted for feeding Pop-Tarts to gorillas - Boing Boing:
A police office in St. Paul, Minnesota is under investigation for feeding Pop-Tarts to gorillas during an unauthorized after-hours tour of the Como Zoo.
David Byrne Journal: 08.25.09: The Kindle Experience:
Here’s where the rub is. This machine only reads Kindle files and PDFs. And nothing else out there reads Kindle files. It can read other types of files — Word DOCs, MOBI, TXT etc. — but you have to go through Amazon via email, where they’re converted for a small charge, then sent directly to your Kindle. And, you can’t share a book with your friends, even if they too have a Kindle. No doubt, as with MP3 and iTunes, book publishers would only agree to this system if people couldn’t share their purchases. As we know, Apple has relented on this, and has taken DRM off many of their music files. But which ones? How do you know? Years from now, having gone through a few computers, your music collection is unplayable except for the files without DRM. Well, same with these books — if you migrate to a different tablet (the forthcoming Apple one we hear so much about, for example), you are fucked. All the unread books in your Kindle library are stuck on what will eventually become antiquated technology.
Now Playing: Dead Bird Double Feature | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
The second half of Double Feature, in the flesh, is even tougher. In a small, spare room with 12 fluorescent poles, Smith and drummer Jeffrey Mitchell perform a fearsome duet. He pounds the toms and cymbals, filling the room with a wash of percussive noise, panting loudly in the occasional breaks. Smith rocks and jumps, twisting her bird-claw arms and pivoting violently on the balls of her feet. The drums go silent, and she slowly folds herself into a runner's starting posture, walks around the floor on her knees, and flings herself up and around. The drums begin again.
Panting, Smith hauls a table with an unopened bottle of Maker's Mark and five shot glasses into the center of the stage. She lines up the glasses and pours five shots, drinking the first two quickly. The third goes down with more effort and coughing. She stares at the other two slack-jawed and panting, like an exhausted boxer. Smith holds her hand over her mouth to keep the fourth shot in. The fifth she swallows, then immediately vomits back up through her fingers. She looks pissed. The audience winces and leans forward at the same time.
Depression's Evolutionary Roots: Scientific American:
But depression is nature’s way of telling you that you’ve got complex social problems that the mind is intent on solving. Therapies should try to encourage depressive rumination rather than try to stop it, and they should focus on trying to help people solve the problems that trigger their bouts of depression. (There are several effective therapies that focus on just this.) It is also essential, in instances where there is resistance to discussing ruminations, that the therapist try to identify and dismantle those barriers.
When one considers all the evidence, depression seems less like a disorder where the brain is operating in a haphazard way, or malfunctioning. Instead, depression seems more like the vertebrate eye—an intricate, highly organized piece of machinery that performs a specific function.
On the Road - Music - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
A makeup artist I met in Minneapolis said the following rules helped her keep a long-term relationship afloat during the three solid years (!) she spent on a Tina Turner world tour: Make some contact every day without fail, whether by phone, e-mail, or fax, and never go more than three weeks without physical contact. Even if it's just a brief encounter in an airport lounge, find a way to see your bf/gf every 21 days. That way, you're a couple separated by circumstances. Any more than that and you're exes who haven't admitted it yet. This is admittedly both arbitrary and extreme. Plus, not everyone who tours can afford to fly his or her mate out to Winooski, Vermont, for a dirty weekend once a month. However, it does address the fundamental difficulty: remaining engaged. Touring is its own ecosystem, its own time zone. It makes arduous demands on the consciousness even when nothing whatsoever is happening. Abandoning regular life and taking shelter in the hermetic sphere of the van/bus/plane is the blessing and the curse of the experience. You need not have read The Dirt to understand that the road is a hotbed of temptations. But the question of sex with strangers, however complex, is a red herring. The bigger temptation is to check out, rather than fight to straddle two cross-purposeful lives, both of which are entirely real. It's less a question of fighting a war on two fronts than of needing, on some level, to be in two places at once all the time. SEAN NELSON
Suzanne Morrison: The Sausage Maker and his Books:
A friend of hers worked for a sausage maker in Philadelphia for a number of years. The sausage maker was an old, grizzled man who loved to read. He was such a voracious reader, in fact, that he made Erin's friend-- we'll call him Tom-- drive the sausage truck to New York for deliveries so that he could sit on the passenger side and read all the way there.
I picture him a bit like my grandpa, actually: Tall, barrel-chested, with thick fingers like, um, sausages. Forgive me, but his hands are important, because while he read his books from Philly to NYC he did the most peculiar thing: he would read a page front and back and then, in one swift movement, he'd tear the page out of the book and throw it out the window.
I have seen some amazing things in my life. Ray Charles. Macchu Picchu. The Louvre. Pompeii. A Monster Truck Rally. But I have never gasped with baffled wonderment like I did at the end of this little anecdote.
When I got home Kurt and I found seats between stacks of books, our dinner plates resting on tables of John McPhee and Stephen King, and I told him the story. He was as baffled and impressed as I was. I said it was a philosophical difference; the sausage maker could accept that he had spent his allotted time with each page and then let it go. I, on the other hand, am too deeply attached to the past. I keep books I've already read and will never read again because they keep the past in my home, nearby, so that I can relive it any time I want. It's a fear of death, I said. The sausage maker is liberated from that fear. Page-ripping is his yoga.
From my inbox. I thought this was interesting:
"The shortest road from the fringe to the Rep is through New York." | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
It's a condition that persists after success. When Mike Daisey was last in town working on his new show The Last Cargo Cult, he urged friends to come see the nascent, workshop version—not least because he wasn't sure they'd ever get a chance to see the finished version. By the time his tour is over, Daisey will have performed from the Kirk Douglas Theater in Los Angeles to the Sydney Opera House. But Seattle, as far as he can tell, will only see Cult's workshop version at the (perfectly respectable, but relatively small) Richard Hugo House.
Collective Arts Think Tank: First Letter to the Field: What's working, what's not working, recommendations:
What is written below comes out of two meetings that have included presenters, a critic, artists, service organizations and grant-makers. Individually and sometimes together, we have served on panels and town meetings. We came together this year out of a shared set of concerns about what we see as systemic problems facing the field of contemporary live performance. We plan to keep meeting regularly. We hope our observations and recommendations will be useful to you as you determine the best ways to serve the rapidly changing ecosystem for live art.
This letter is split into three parts: The state of the field; possible actions for artists; and possible actions for grant-makers. We do not expect anyone to be able to absorb or implement all these ideas – we are trying to take stock of the situation on a broad level so that all parties are working with the same information toward shared goals. This letter does not endeavor to be the end of a conversation but rather the beginning of a dynamic and strategic dialogue that speaks to our mutual passion and commitment to a thriving community of artists, audience and advocates.
Beijing loves IKEA -- but not for shopping -- latimes.com:
With no plans one Saturday, Zhang Xin told his wife, son and mother to wear something smart and hop into the family sedan. He could have taken them to the Forbidden City or the Great Wall, but he decided on another popular destination -- IKEA.
Riding an escalator past a man lying on a display bed with a book opened on his belly, the clan sauntered into the crush of visitors squeezing onto the showroom path, bumping elbows and nicking ankles with their yellow shopping trolleys.
Zhang said the family needed a respite from the smog and a reliable lunch.
"We just came here for fun," said the 34-year-old office manager. "I suppose we could have gone somewhere else, but it wouldn't have been a complete experience."
The Playgoer: New Stephen Schwartz Opera in Santa Barbara:
This sounds very much like the reasoning by newspaper publishers, on the heels of gutting classical music, books, dance and theater sections over the past three years. It also lends support to Mike Daisey's sardonic postulation in his one-man show, How The Theater Failed America, that the main purpose of arts institutions (and of newspapers too, it would seem) is self-preservation. Unlike CTG, however, a newspaper harbors no illusions of functioning under some non-profit umbrella. In many arts organizations, that distinction has grown increasingly irrelevant.
A Manifesto for Slow Communication - WSJ.com:
We will die, that much is certain; and everyone we have ever loved and cared about will die, too, sometimes—heartbreakingly—before us. Being someone else, traveling the world, making new friends gives us a temporary reprieve from this knowledge, which is spared most of the animal kingdom. Busyness—or the simulated busyness of email addiction—numbs the pain of this awareness, but it can never totally submerge it. Given that our days are limited, our hours precious, we have to decide what we want to do, what we want to say, what and who we care about, and how we want to allocate our time to these things within the limits that do not and cannot change. In short, we need to slow down.
Our society does not often tell us this. Progress, since the dawn of the Industrial Age, is supposed to be a linear upward progression; graphs with upward slopes are a good sign. Processing speeds are always getting faster; broadband now makes dial-up seem like traveling by horse and buggy. Growth is eternal. But only two things grow indefinitely or have indefinite growth firmly ensconced at the heart of their being: cancer and the corporation. For everything else, especially in nature, the consuming fires eventually come and force a starting over.
Fringe leftist losers: wrong even when they're right - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com:
But that is how our political culture works. Throughout the Bush years, those who said demonstrably true things were continuously dismissed as fringe, conspiracy-driven leftist-losers: those who questioned whether Saddam really had WMDs; those who argued that the invasion of Iraq would lead to long-term military bases in that country; those who worried that warrantless eavesdropping and Patriot Act powers would lead to abuses; those who opposed the war in Afghanistan on the ground that it would be drag on for years with no resolution, etc. etc.
Having been proven right about all of those things hasn't changed perceptions any at all.
Tom Ridge on National Security After 9/11 - Washington Whispers (usnews.com):
Tom Ridge, the first head of the 9/11-inspired Department of Homeland Security, wasn't keen on writing a tell-all. But in The Test of Our Times: America Under Siege...and How We Can Be Safe Again, out September 1, Ridge says he wants to shake "public complacency" over security. And to do that, well, he needs to tell all. Especially about the infighting he saw that frustrated his attempts to build a smooth-running department. Among the headlines promoted by publisher Thomas Dunne Books: Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was "blindsided" by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.
Parabasis: The Fringe Is Very Strange:
Add to that, the deal one signs (if it has not been changed by now) is truly a bad one. You have to put up five hundred bucks (in the beginning it was three, I think) you produce it yourself (pay for rehearsal, props, anything) and you don't get to choose your venue, your performance time or date, and often you get a bare hour or less to tech (according to friends who've been in) ... and on top of that, you give away 2% of the subsidiary rights to your work ... you PAY for them to take a chunk of your works future earnings. That's a bad deal.
Bad deal for the artist. Good deal for the Fringe, they risk ... NOTHING. They stand to gain much.
Via Tynes the Elder.
The False Positive of the T.A.Z « blog:
The reality of such spaces is that they exist by virtue of the economic systems we have in place outside the zone. Not everyone is equal or has equal capacity since we only have what we bring inside the zone which, again, is determined by where we are in the outside world. The very structures that gave rise to the abundance there are reinforced upon reentry to the real world. After all, we need to make even more money this coming year so we can have even better blinky gadgets to give away next fall.
Because the feeling of radical freedom has been met in this space there is little to no need to make that potential a reality. It is uncountable the number of people I have met who spend 360 days out of the year in buttoned down desk jobs only to “let their freak flag fly” during a week of adultery and debauchery that is made permissible by some idea that the rules are different in Black Rock City. While the actions may, from some perspectives, be permissible, the consequences of those actions remain beyond the confines of the event.
The irony of course is that far from freeing themselves from the confines of social structures and rules they are wholly adopting the rules and confines of a different culture. No true questioning has gone on.
FROM THE MAILBAG:
I got on your mailing list as a result of an e-mail I sent you after seeing "How Theatre Failed America" in New York.
When I got your e-mail updates about the Last Cargo Cult I was deeply conflicted and slightly annoyed. Why? Let me explain...
Your e-mail suggests the monologue is at least in part an examination of a culture that worships America. This is interesting from an anthropological or ethnological perspective but the thing that concerns me about such an examination is that unless you provide balance in the form of information or commentary from other cultures that DON'T worship America, or that don't like America, or heck even revile America, then you may be playing into some of the worst assumptions Americans make about themselves. Namely that everyone in the world wants to be an American, or if they don't then they're jealous. As a Canadian I assure you, not everyone wants to be an American, and they're not even slightly jealous.
Anyway without having seen your new stuff I'm not sure what to think. I only hope that you aren't so completely marinated in American cultural narcissism that you realize America isn't special or different than anywhere else. Sure maybe these folks on this little island in the middle of nowhere worship America but don't for a second think that the rest of the world feels that way. No offense intended.
Break a leg with your new stuff.
I debated responding, as it is usually better to bite one's tongue.
You haven't seen THE LAST CARGO CULT, but are offended by what the monologue might be about. Rereading your email from May of last year you appear to have been touched by my work, but it would seem clear you have very little faith in me to do a compelling job with this particular material.
I will admit that it rankles a bit that you have seen HTFA, so you are familiar with my work, yet somehow believe I AM SO FUCKING RETARDED that I would have created a monologue with the viewpoints/intentions you express in your email.
Perhaps someday you will see THE LAST CARGO CULT. Perhaps you will not. In any case, you should know that receiving emails from people with feedback about work they haven't seen and have no understanding of is really annoying.
PS: I've decided to unsubscribe you from future announcements, as I don't wish to receive your feedback on other future projects you haven't seen yet.
Request from my friend Karney of the documentary OVERDRAWN:
Over at Digg.com they've teamed up with the Wall Street Journal to ask Treasury Secretary Geithner some questions this Thursday the 20th. Reproduced below is my question. If we Digg it up enough, it will get asked...
"Given the massive bailouts to the banks, how can you allow the predatory practices with which the banks continue to fleece low-income consumers to continue? I'm speaking mostly about so-called overdraft "protection" (similar to a mafioso's protection in that they're really credit at loan-shark prices) and predatory mortgage loans. The Credit Card Bill of Rights was a big step in the right direction. Isn't it time for debit card holders to be given similar protections against exorbitant interest rates?
Don't we the taxpayers now own sizable chunks of these banks, and shouldn't we therefore be able to tell them to stop abusing we the people?"
Here's the link.
Intiman Theater’s No-Frills Approach to Replacing Bartlett Sher - NYTimes.com:
Ms. Whoriskey said she would begin spending time here starting this winter. She has yet to decide whether to buy a home in Seattle or live here part-time. This is a sensitive point for some in Seattle, given that Mr. Sher has been away for long stretches in recent years directing in New York and elsewhere.
The Movie Non-Review: 'GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra':
Sometimes, a film defies conventional narrative and artistic standards so utterly that it seems unfair to judge it by them. G.I. Joe is such a case, a movie that has, through its own inverse accomplishment, earned the right to speak for itself. Consider this a tone poem in 40 scraps of dialogue:
You don't ask to be a part of G.I. Joe. You get asked.
If you're going to shoot something, kill it. Otherwise take up knitting.
The Joes will never know what hit them.
General Hawk is stable now, but he won't be conscious for another day or two.
She was a blonde then.
You have to promise me you will not let my genius egghead little brother get hurt.
I didn't want anyone to see me like this.
I have a target in mind, one the French will never forget.
Deploy the sharks!
Do You Know How Popular I Am? - Film - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Earlier youth movies like Rebel Without a Cause, Easy Rider, Saturday Night Fever, even Risky Business, offered a more or less binary system for audience identification. You were a straight or a rebel, a conformist or an original, an us or a them. Hughes's works expanded the language of youthful alienation. His social cosmology was infinitely more elaborate and self-aware. The hyperarticulate, culturally plugged-in kids in his films understood that the identities available to them were merely arbitrary roles, each burnout as predetermined as every jock—all equally subject to ridicule by rich, beautiful jerks who lived to make you feel unpopular, uncool, unloved. The finales were uplifting, but finales weren't the point (sometimes they sold us out, like Allison's makeover and Andie choosing Blane). The twin suns of the Hughes galaxy were shame and dread. Funny, cute, and underdoggy as they were, his characters were gripped by terror that they might fail to choose a viable self.
The Playgoer: The Pee Wee and Annette Shows:
On the heels of my last post about Center Theatre Group placing its bets on theater companies rather than playwrights for the development of new work, Culture Clash's playwright Richard Montoya wrote me with a very good further distinction, that CTG's commissions of Culture Clash speculate not so much on his troupe, but on the audiences the troupe might attract. It's an interesting point that ties commissions more closely to marketing than I'd thought of.
DING DING DING DING
The Last Cargo Cult - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Mike Daisey's new solo show, The Last Cargo Cult, is all about money and one of the few places in the world where it has limited influence: Tanna, a small island in the South Pacific, 1,100 miles east of Australia. This past February, Daisey flew to Tanna for John Frum Day, a sacred pageant at the base of an active volcano where islanders reenact the history of the United States in song and dance. This year's pageant was nine hours long, including U.S. military drill routines and Barack Obama being chased by a dragon.
Raw Story » Whistleblower: Insurance firms ‘very much’ behind town hall disruptions:
Health insurance companies deserve “a great deal of the blame” for the sometimes violent disruptions to town hall meetings on health care, says a former health insurance company executive turned whistleblower.
Wendell Potter, a former executive with health insurer Cigna who now works as the senior fellow on health care at the Center for Media and Democracy, told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow that health insurance companies “are very much behind the town hall disruptions that you see and a lot of the deception that’s going on in terms of disinformation that many Americans, apparently, are believing.”
Yes and Yes and More and Yes and Why - Theater - The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:
Once they did a show involving a man slicing lemons—dozens and dozens of lemons—during which a second man told a story about a deformed child and a third man hanged himself. Another show starred two actors beating the crap out of each other in a boxing ring in a downtown alley while feathers and goo were rained on them from a high window. Mitchell tells me about a show that required 20 gallons of stage blood to be poured on the floor. "Afterward, someone was like, 'You should put a tarp down for cleanup,'" he said. "And we were like, 'No, we can't put a tarp down because that cheapens it.'"
In other words: Life is a mess. Our shows are a mess. Let it all be a big fucking mess.
What's better – flash memory or hard drives?
Intel will tell us.
The chipmaking giant has conducted its own internal tests on how solid state drives, made up of flash memory, can be incorporated into a corporate computing environment. Intel makes flash drives, so there is clearly a vested interest here, but the tests were conducted by its own IT group.
The results? Hard drives fail around 5 percent of the time. Flash drives will fail around 0.5 percent of the time, according to Dave Buchholz, the IT technology evangelist at Intel who oversaw the tests. Batteries can also last longer in flash-based notebook and give notebook owners 15 percent better battery life.
Hard drives also run about 40 degrees hotter.
7 Insane Conspiracies That Actually Happened | Cracked.com:
In 1933, group of wealthy businessmen that allegedly included the heads of Chase Bank, GM, Goodyear, Standard Oil, the DuPont family and Senator Prescott Bush tried to recruit Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler to lead a military coup against President FDR and install a fascist dictatorship in the United States. And yes, we're talking about the same Prescott Bush who fathered one US President and grandfathered another one.
How to speed read - Boing Boing:
In this short video Chris Matt shows you how to read faster. The trick, he says, is to repeatedly say "AEIOU" or "one, two, three, four," as you read. This prevents you from vocalizing the written words with your larynx. Once you train yourself, you can stop uttering "AEIOU," and you will be able to read much faster than before, or so he says.
Religious Right: Health Care Reform is Against God’s Plan:
The Minnesota Family Councilsays that Obama’s plan for health care reform is against God’s design and, according to its president, God has created government to do certain things. When we reject His design for government, in a sense, we’re rejecting Him.”Pritchard goes on to explain that Obama expects people to trust government, not God and socialist models are against the laws of God and involve rationing and waiting periods for care.
GROGNARDIA: Interview: Steve Winter:
A few people were playing Avalon Hill and SPI games, but most were gathered around a grad student who was maniacally sketching rooms and corridors and monsters on a blackboard. That was my introduction to D&D.
The DM at the blackboard was Corbin. Take away his glasses and shoes and he looked exactly like the centaur from the cover of the original Monster Manual. Corbin would stand in front of a blackboard like a professor and run enormous dungeon crawls with 15 or 20 players at a time. A few of the players had high-level characters (as in, level 5 or so). The rest of us played 1st- and 2nd-level henchmen -- NPCs, essentially -- and we died like flies. We didn't even name our characters until they reached 2nd level. It was nothing to burn through two or three characters in an afternoon. Your goal was to live long enough to become a real member of the adventuring party and not just another nameless corpse on the heap. The only characters who got respect from the higher-level PCs were clerics. As long as you had a healing spell, you were useful. Otherwise, there was no pity in Corbin's dungeons. Low-level characters were there to open doors, peek around corners, and walk down corridors ahead of the heroes, poking everything within reach with a 10-foot pole.
10 amazing truths you already suspected / Go ahead, pretend you didn't know. Pretend it wasn't obvious. Are you sure?:
You are green to the core. Organic everything, grey water, solar, Prius, compost your nail clippings and your urine and your condoms, the works. You have a child, maybe two. You are considering having a third, or maybe even a fourth or fifth. You say you care about reducing your carbon footprint? You say you care deeply about your impact on the ecosphere? You might be lying.
Because of course, deep down, you know that you can compost and recycle your eco-friendly butt off for your entire life and still never come close to matching the reduction in carbon footprint you would gift the planet simply by not having that additional child. It's a rather harsh way to look at it, I admit, but there it is. But of course, personal responsibility has its thresholds, right?
Rocco Landesman, New Endowment Chairman, Sees Arts as Economic Engine - NYTimes.com:
Mr. Landesman, 62, made clear that he has little patience for the disdain with which some politicians still seem to view the endowment, more than a decade after the culture wars that nearly destroyed it.
He was particularly angered, he said, by parts of the debate over whether to include $50 million for the agency in the federal stimulus bill, citing the comment by Mitt Romney, former governor of Massachusetts, on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” in February, that arts money did not belong in the bill. That kind of thinking suggests that “artists don’t have kids to send to college,” Mr. Landesman said, “or food to put on the table, or medical bills to pay.”
In American politics generally, he added: “The arts are a little bit of a target. The subtext is that it is elitist, left wing, maybe even a little gay.”
stevenf.com - The problem with my self-imposed iPhone boycott is...:
So, it was good to see Schiller respond, especially his clarification that Apple did not request the developers remove any words from the dictionary. Although I’m still not sure I fully understand the reasoning that there are a certain set of “more vulgar” (to use Schiller’s own words) swears that are somehow worse than conventional swear words, which therefore requires Ninjawords to have a more restrictive age rating than other store-approved dictionaries. What’s odd is this also contradicts the developers’ own claims that the rejection letter they received cited only examples of conventional swear words as objectionable.
Anyway, this notion of some swear words being worse than others is precisely the sort of muddy decision that has many developers on edge. And Schiller’s letter did not seem to give the impression that there was anything he felt was hazy about that decision. Apple is absolutely within their rights to make judgement calls about what may be deemed “objectionable” before hosting it on their store, but developers have a right to know, to at least a reasonable extent, what to expect before they’ve written their first line of code if it’s going to be Apple’s way or the highway.
Why the arts matter and deserve support -- especially in bleak times - Issues & Ideas - MiamiHerald.com:
Two South Florida dance companies closed recently. West Palm Beach's lively, lovely Ballet Florida filed for bankruptcy two weeks ago, and Miami-Dade's gallant Ballet Gamonet, after months of financial struggle, suspended performances in March and seems unlikely to return.
Meanwhile, American Idol host Ryan Seacrest will get $45 million to stay with the show for another three years, and Goldman Sachs made $4.3 billion in profits from April to June. Presumably, both Goldman execs and Seacrest feel like dancing, though it's doubtful the rest of us would want to watch.
These events may not seem connected, but they are. We've always been a society that values profitability and celebrity above almost all other qualities. That emphasis reached delirious levels in the boom years, even as Ponzi-inspired finance firms shafted the economy and our pop star-obsessed media fed a culture of celebrity sucking stupidity.
Daisey's new monologue goes to Bali Hai | Seattle Times Newspaper:
You're bound to pick up morsels of arcane knowledge from a Daisey show. But you're also likely to laugh at the absurdities and ironies his first-person tales glean from his own adventures, and human endeavors in general. And Daisey delivers such insights with the theatrical authority and flair of a Gen-X Orson Welles.
He hopes that in another of his frequent trips to Seattle (where he and Gregory still have family), he'll perform a run of "If You See Something Say Something," a 2008 show about our homeland response to terrorism. It won raves Off Broadway last year and was recently filmed.
Seven Lies About Lying (Part 1) - Errol Morris Blog - NYTimes.com:
I was talking to Ricky Jay about lying and deception. I had an example from the Bible, specifically about Jacob and his 12 sons. (Five of them are depicted by Velazquez, above.) Ricky interrupted: “Which one? Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Napthali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulon, Joseph or Benjamin?”
“Uh . . . Joseph.”
Ricky Jay is an actor, bibliophile, historian of magic, arguably the greatest living sleight-of-hand artist, and a master of the art of deception. He seemed to be the perfect person to consult on the relationship between deception and lying. After all, it’s his business. I was telling the story about how the brothers sell Joseph into slavery.
Realizations of Rounded Rectangles | UI and us:
If I’m an interaction or experience designer, the machine I am optimizing for is the human. I want a design that takes the least CPU cycles for the same output. And from my current perspective, rounded rectangles provide an example of optimizing a design to reduce human visual system’s CPU cost. There’s only so much visual attention to spend.
What is the visual cognitive cost of…
* …a garish color scheme VS a beautiful one?
* …instantaneous disconnected movement VS smoothly animated motion?
* …one font as compared to another, in a particular context?
An Angry White Guy in Chicago: Outside of the Box:
To catch the latest offering from Amber Kelly and her Theater of Thought you have to drive to a Pawtucket parking lot and stay there. In your car. In the dark.
You will then be instructed to turn your radio to 89.5 FM and soon you will hear two actors talking in a van parked in front of you. The sliding side door of the vehicle is open so you can see the goings-on from your car.
But this production is more akin to a live drive-in movie, where close ups are projected on a screen, or in this case a painted brick wall. Videos of flashback sequences are also seen on the wall.
This is just the latest site-specific project from Kelly who, since she arrived here from New York a couple of years ago, has been putting on plays in unusual locations. Tape, which takes place in a motel room, was staged in a Galilee inn.
Another play about a couple trapped in a snow-bound cabin took place in a shack in someone’s backyard in Narragansett.
Low overhead. Highly creative. Amazingly, those shows that challenge the existing corporate model and use their imagination instead of their checkbook create exciting theater that eschews the cookie-cutter list of plays and musicals that are like the suburbs in their rows and rows of similar little boxes feel.
And it's done without spending the extra dollar. They're done by stretching the one you have. And, you know, thinking like an artist rather than an accountant.
The Time Gawker Put the Washington Post Out of Business - Washington Post - Gawker:
Blogs are killing newspapers. But it's not by mindlessly cutting and pasting from newspaper web sites. Gawker would go out of business if that's all we did.
The bigger threat is that blogs say the things that hidebound newspaper editors are too afraid to let their reporters write.
Hamilton succinctly digested Shapira's piece and gave his post a headline ("'Generational Consultant' Holds America's Fakest Job") and lede ("The fakest job corporate America ever created was 'Branding Consultant' — until now") that probably resembled what Shapira wanted to write but couldn't. It's hard to imagine that in the course of working on his piece — a process that Shapira describes as two hours of sitting in on one of Loehr's courses and what must have been four truly grueling hours of transcribing the session — he didn't have a chuckle or two at lines like, "I want to touch 500,000 lives this year. I am going to touch 500,000 lives this year. I do have spreadsheets that mark how many people I am touching." He suggests as much in his Outlook piece, complaining that Hamilton got to "cherry-pick the funniest quotes." (Emphasis mine.) So why wasn't there an ounce of humor in the profile?
The Playgoer: Why Actors Have Unions:
It actually does remind me of what one reads about how all actors were treated in theatre pre-Equity, in film pre-SAG, and in TV & Radio pre-AFTRA. With nothing constraining producers from inhumane treatment to get the result they want, and actors desperate for work (as desperate as these "contestants" are for fame) the danger of gross exploitation is always present.
The rationalizations of some of the more successful participants could easily be said by many a hoofer taking a non-Equity tour gig, or thespians suffering through "semi-pro" summer Shakespeare fests.
The Last Cargo Cult by Mike Daisey – A Workshop Review | On Portland:
The Last Cargo Cult may not be as polished as a work like Monopoly! , but it does have an amazing energy surrounding it, as if you can almost feel something actively growing and building. Seeing a work at this stage of the creative process is extremely rare; most artists shy away from showing anything that isn't completely done or perfected. This isn't to say that The Last Cargo Cult isn't already an extraordinarily enjoyable, insightful and hilarious monologue – it is. The imperfections act in many ways like a beauty mark on a stunning model and add to the experience of seeing it live and grow.
Mike Daisey – The Last Cargo Cult In Portland, OR:
Not only was it a great story about relatively unknown native peoples and their very rare religious celebration, his story also provided an opportunity for Mr. Daisey to tie in the reality of an artists continued struggle in life between art and business. Specifically, how to make money as an artist while staying true to your personal commitment of sharing your artistic nature in as financially free environment as possible. Mr. Daisey is a phenomenal storyteller and equally intelligent analogy between the realities of our modern financial world and our very human past.
Parabasis: Engage! Enrage!:
Some writers really enjoy the white hot intensity of a fervent argument for its own sake. I am not one of them. Many writers who I respect are. David is, in my experience, one of them. So is Mike Daisey. So is Don Hall. It's fun to them.
This is probably true, though it's because after the arguing we make sweet, sweet love.
Phenomenon - Love in 2-D - NYTimes.com:
Nisan told me that not long ago he had a real girlfriend, but that she dumped him. He carries Nemutan almost everywhere he goes, though he is more self-conscious about it than he may seem at first. “Some people don’t find this funny,” he said, “and it also takes up a lot of room.” He treats her the way any decent man would treat a girlfriend — he takes her out on the weekends to sing karaoke or take purikura, photo-booth pictures imprinted on a sheet of tiny stickers. In the few hours we spent together, I watched him position her gently in the restaurant booth and later in the back seat of his car, making sure to keep her upright and not to touch her private parts. He doesn’t take her to work, but he has a backup body pillow with the same Nemutan cover inside his desk drawer in case he has to work late at his tech-support job. “She’s great for falling asleep with on an office chair.” Nisan has seven Nemutan covers in total — he buys them at Internet auctions and at fan conventions whenever he finds a good deal (he paid $70 for the original). If one gets too faded and dirty from overuse, he layers a new one over it. On the day that I first met Nisan and Nemutan, Nisan was carrying a new Nemutan cover in his bag in case she needed to look fresh for a photograph. He knows it’s weird for a grown man to be so obsessed with a video-game character, but he just can’t imagine life without Nemutan. “When I die, I want to be buried with her in my arms.”
Thanks so much to the wonderful audience who came out to see us at PICA...we had a fantastic evening in a fascinating space, telling this story about money and what it means to us.
I hope we make it back to Portland soon—we're off to Seattle, which still has some tickets available at this link. If you know people who might enjoy the work, please direct them this way.
Thank you again for your care and attention, and have a fantastic T:BA Festival this September!
Apple tries to silence owner of exploding iPod with gagging order - Times Online:
Ken Stanborough, 47, from Liverpool, dropped his 11-year-old daughter Ellie’s iPod Touch last month. “It made a hissing noise,” he said. “I could feel it getting hotter in my hand, and I thought I could see vapour”. Mr Stanborough said he threw the device out of his back door, where “within 30 seconds there was a pop, a big puff of smoke and it went 10ft in the air”.
Mr Stanborough contacted Apple and Argos, where he had bought the device for £162. After being passed around several departments, he spoke to an Apple executive on the telephone. As a result of the conversation, Apple sent a letter to Mr Stanborough denying liability but offering a refund.
The letter also stated that, in accepting the money, Mr Stanborough was to “agree that you will keep the terms and existence of this settlement agreement completely confidential”, and that any breach of confidentiality “may result in Apple seeking injunctive relief, damages and legal costs against the defaulting persons or parties”.
“I thought it was a very disturbing letter,” said Mr Stanborough, who is self-employed and works in electronic security. He refused to sign it.
“They’re putting a life sentence on myself, my daughter and Ellie’s mum, not to say anything to anyone. If we inadvertently did say anything, no matter what, they would take litigation against us. I thought that was absolutely appalling.
“We didn’t ask for compensation, we just asked for our money back,” he added.
GE's silencing of Olbermann and MSNBC's sleazy use of Richard Wolffe - Glenn Greenwald - Salon.com:
The New York Times this morning has a remarkable story, and incredibly, the article's author, Brian Stelter, doesn't even acknowledge, let alone examine, what makes the story so significant. In essence, the chairman of General Electric (which owns MSNBC), Jeffrey Immelt, and the chairman of News Corporation (which owns Fox News), Rupert Murdoch, were brought into a room at a "summit meeting" for CEOs in May, where Charlie Rose tried to engineer an end to the "feud" between MSNBC's Keith Olbermann and Fox's Bill O'Reilly. According to the NYT, both CEOs agreed that the dispute was bad for the interests of the corporate parents, and thus agreed to order their news employees to cease attacking each other's news organizations and employees.
Most notably, the deal wasn't engineered because of a perception that it was hurting either Olbermann or O'Reilly's show, or even that it was hurting MSNBC. To the contrary, as Olbermann himself has acknowledged, his battles with O'Reilly have substantially boosted his ratings. The agreement of the corporate CEOs to cease criticizing each other was motivated by the belief that such criticism was hurting the unrelated corporate interests of GE and News Corp:
Putin dives to bottom of world's deepest lake:
Judo-mad Putin, 56, prides himself on keeping a peak physical condition and has raised eyebrows with a series of adventures over the last years.
Just the day earlier, he clipped a radio transmitter onto a beluga whale named Dasha in Russia's Far East.
Famous official pictures taken during his 2000-2008 presidency showed him fishing with a muscular naked torso that would impress any fitness fanatic while last year he fired a tranquilising dart at a tiger in the Far East.
Mike Daisey Interview – The Last Cargo Cult | On Portland:
Mike Daisey is a breath of fresh air. In an era where there is so much derivative work appearing on stage (look no further than Shrek The Musical, Legally Blonde or Xanadu),Daisey reminds us why we go to live theater in the first place – to see something happen, in the moment.
Unlike many other notable monologists, Mike Daisey does all his performance extemporaneously. His monologues are never rehearsed and the only guide he uses is a set of notes which he amends at the end of every performance.