Wednesday, September 30, 2009

2:22 PM

amanda fucking palmer » blog:

i can’t help it: i come from a street performance background. i spent years gradually building up a tolerance to the inbuilt shame that society puts on laying your hat/tipjar on the ground and asking the public to support your art.

and for the last 10 years, i have been working my ass off in a different way: tirelessly making music, traveling the world, connecting with people, trying to keep my balance, almost never taking a break and, frankly, not making a fortune doing it. i still struggle to pay my rent sometimes. i’m still more or less in debt from my last record. i’ll lay it all out for you in another blog. it’s just math.

if you think i’m going to pass up a chance to put my hat back down in front of the collected audience on my virtual sidewalk and ask them to give their hard-earned money directly to me instead of to roadrunner records, warner music group, ticketmaster, and everyone else out there who’s been shamelessly raping both fan and artist for years, you’re crazy.

the critics are welcome to criticize.
they do not have to attend the party.
and even if they attend the party with rolling eyes, they will not be charged.
they will be hugged, they will be accepted and entertained, and they will not be given the hairy eyeball if they leave the room without tipping.
chances are they’ll tell a friend about the next party, and their friend will probably leave a dollar. and tell someone else.

taking my stand as a virtual street performer is the best thing that’s happened to my career and i revel in it.
and i love bringing people along for the ride.

i believe in the future of cheap art, creative enterprise, and an honorable public who will put their money where there mouth is, or rather, their spare change where their heart is.

2:18 PM

Scarlet - SkyCam

4:05 AM

It's her season...

4:04 AM

Apple Genius Bar: iPhones' 30% Call Drop Is "Normal" in New York - Apple - Gizmodo:

Giz reader Manoj took his iPhone to the Genius Bar to have it looked at because it was dropping calls left and right, and AT&T swore stuff was totally kosher on their end, so he thought something was wrong with his phone. After doing a stat dump, the Genius showed Manoj that his iPhone had actually dropped 22 percent of calls.

The jawdropper: The Genius told Manoj that's actually excellent compared to most people in the New York area, where a 30 percent dropped call rate is the average. There was nothing Apple could do for Manoj. His phone was totally fine. Which means there's nothing Apple can do for rest of us.

Ridiculous, and downright insulting.

2:36 AM


2:35 AM

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Microsoft's grinning robots or the Brotherhood of the Mac. Which is worse? ·

Charlie Brooker’s thesis is “I hate Windows, but I hate strawmen Mac evangelists more, so I’m going to marinate in my misery just to stick it to these imaginary fanboys. I’m unhappy and unproductive, and I’m going to stay unhappy and unproductive—that’ll show ‘em.”

Finishing the sentence “I’ll never buy a Mac because” with anything but “it doesn’t meet my needs” means you don’t get to accuse Apple users of making irrational purchasing decisions based on slavish adherence to an ideology.

2:44 PM


3:45 AM

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oliver in motion

7:39 PM

Entangled Giant - The New York Review of Books:

But the momentum of accumulating powers in the executive is not easily reversed, checked, or even slowed. It was not created by the Bush administration. The whole history of America since World War II caused an inertial transfer of power toward the executive branch. The monopoly on use of nuclear weaponry, the cult of the commander in chief, the worldwide network of military bases to maintain nuclear alert and supremacy, the secret intelligence agencies, the entire national security state, the classification and clearance systems, the expansion of state secrets, the withholding of evidence and information, the permanent emergency that has melded World War II with the cold war and the cold war with the "war on terror"—all these make a vast and intricate structure that may not yield to effort at dismantling it. Sixty-eight straight years of war emergency powers (1941–2009) have made the abnormal normal, and constitutional diminishment the settled order.

7:39 PM

Sunday, September 27, 2009

12:28 PM

2:02 AM

Saturday, September 26, 2009

10:06 PM


2:17 PM


3:37 AM

Friday, September 25, 2009

6:08 PM

Thursday, September 24, 2009


3:28 AM

Apple’s Secrecy Strategy Ain’t Easy (MS Pink Phones) | Cult of Mac:

And this is why Apple’s ability to create, sustain, and often exceed hype is such a remarkable thing. There have been leaks at times, but nothing this big, ever. Instead, Apple manages to stoke the rumor fires just enough that we all have some notion of what it might make next — we’re all convinced that Apple’s making a tablet — but none of us have any idea of what the actual thing will be. We don’t even know which operating system such a tablet will run.

Maintaining that mystique requires incredible loyalty from your employees, extreme paranoia, and even an unwillingness to let any of your partners touch or see the final devices. It’s the stumbles of Apple’s competitors that remind me just how special Steve Jobs and team are when they’re at the top of their game. The reason the entire tech media corps went insane for the iPhone was that it was a great product and a huge surprise at once.

3:25 AM

2:53 AM

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Katie Couric's salary exceeds combined budgets of NPR's top news shows - Boing Boing:

Michael Massing of the Columbia Journalism Review digs up some startling info that helps explain why network TV news is knee-deep in FAIL while National Public Radio thrives:

Katie Couric's annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR's Morning Edition and All Things Considered combined. Couric's salary comes to an estimated $15 million a year; NPR spends $6 million a year on its morning show and $5 million on its afternoon one. NPR has seventeen foreign bureaus (which costs it another $9.4 million a year); CBS has twelve. Few figures, I think, better capture the absurd financial structure of the network news.

10:35 PM

7:40 PM

7:25 PM

5:31 PM

5:31 PM

12:49 AM

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


8:26 PM

France gives final approval to three-strikes law | Electronista:

The system won't give those accused full access to the court system but should still give them a 'fast track' system that still lets them defend themselves. An initially proposed system would have handed all control of the punishment to a non-legal authority and was rejected as unconstitutional earlier this year, forcing a modification to accommodate basic legal rights.

Critics still maintain that the system is skewed heavily in favor of the accusing music labels and movie studios, which can disrupt a user without definitive proof that links a particular person to an Internet connection. They have also argued the bill represents a violation of piracy by encouraging media organizations to scan users' Internet traffic without their consent and that it ignores the increasing nature of Internet access as an important utility.

8:09 PM

Monday, September 21, 2009

10:17 PM

10:17 PM

9:42 AM

2:06 AM

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2:05 AM

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Where's the world's best food?:

The Guardian lists the best 50 foods to eat and where to get them. I've had a few of these (ravioli at Babbo, pork at Gramercy, pho at Pho 24, pastrami at Katz's, etc.) but, sucker that I am for such things, I particularly enjoyed reading about the Turkish olive oil available at an electrical supply shop in London.

3:59 AM


3:46 AM

Jim Rutter's Twitter response to my critique from the other day:


Like a lot of Twitter posting, this sounds good in 140 characters but makes very little sense.

In my original post I linked to his full review, so that it could be assessed alongside my critique. I quoted nothing out of context, and I didn't use information out of context in assessing the review--Mr. Rutter's affiliation with the Libertarian party is a matter of public record, and appears on the bio he provides for the site where he reviews. The arguments I made are sound, clear, and supported by audio recordings of the show and the talkback.

Also, let's be clear about the power relationship: when an artist has the temerity to respond to a critic, the artist is the one in a position to take a fall. A critic has an implied and express trust that their work is even-handed and aesthetically sound, and if an artist challenges that, especially in a review about their own work, they will probably lose. Tactically it is always better to concede and move on, especially from a poor review on a website in a city I do not live in—drawing attention to writers who despise your work is not tactically sound.

I didn't do that because I felt the discussion was worth it in this case—that the formal issues of rigor and bias were worth commenting on, and using it as an opportunity to reflect on the state of our criticism. I will probably pay for this.

What I'm saying is that I have no "dirty tricks" to play—I'm the artist whose work was reviewed. I have been thorough, polite, and I am the one who risks by engaging in discussion. If Mr. Rutter believes my response is full of "dirty tricks", he is deeply mistaken.

Given the disappointing tenor of this response, barring the unforeseen this will be my last word on the matter.

3:43 AM

Saturday, September 19, 2009

5:48 PM

Scrappy Days - Page 6:

Scrappy did exactly what he was supposed to do: He got Scooby Doo renewed for another season. I don't think he was a good addition to the format and the fact that he could talk, while his Uncle Scooby sorta couldn't, tore the already-frail "reality," to use that word in the loosest-possible manner. Then again, the underlying premise of "there's no such thing as ghosts" was shredded somewhat during the seasons that the show had guest stars and so Scooby was teaming up with Speed Buggy (a talking car) and Jeannie (a genie). Later, of course, they gave up altogether on the notion that the supernatural did not exist and had Scooby and Shaggy chased by real werewolves and mummies and space aliens.

2:26 PM

Friday, September 18, 2009

6:47 PM

6:42 PM

Early Rowers

2:30 PM

blue eyes just smile to the world

2:30 PM

In Philadelphia I had the interesting opportunity to find out what would happen if HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA was reviewed by an avowed Libertarian.

What I learned is an old lesson: good criticism relies on rigor, analysis, reporting, and an awareness of ideological blind spots.
This review by Jim Rutter has none of these qualities.

As is my usual technique when I do these infrequent responses, I will refrain from commenting on the aesthetic assessment of the work, and simply address the portions of the review that pertain to the arguments of the piece.

The review starts, strangely, with a review of the post-show discussion:

“During the audience discussion following Mike Daisey’s monologue about the market forces that have ruined regional theater in America, a young woman asked Daisey how he could reach more young people with his message about theater and hope.

“Lower the ticket prices,” Daisey replied. To which Nick Stuccio, director of the Live Arts festival, shouted back from his seat: “They’re 15 dollars!”

So much for Daisey’s understanding of the simple economic concept of price elasticity.”

I am well aware of price elasticity, but the simple fact is that the tickets are not 15 dollars: they were $25 and $30 for each night of the show. Elemental fact-checking on Rutter’s part should have discovered that. Discounts may be available, but I address the weakness of discounting in the piece itself, and I won’t repeat myself here. I stand by the answer that within the context of the Philadelphia Live Arts Festival and its collision of a curated festival with a traditional fringe, that ticket price is a roadblock.

Rutter will however go on to distort this comment I made in an aftershow discussion, in response to a specific question from a student, as a basis for dismissing my understanding of my workplace wholesale.

To base the show’s assessment on a post-show discussion indicates, at best, a confusion about basic protocol about art and framing. At worst it’s simply unethical, as it indicates a desire to twist the art until it can be quickly dismissed on an ideological basis.

Rutter summarizes my assessment of the economic situation in the American theater as follows:

“As for economics, Daisey bemoans the theater as a slaughterhouse rather than a workplace, where few artists can make a sufficiently decent living to settle down and raise a family. He condemns regional theaters that abandoned local artists in favor of New York actors, a practice that, he argues, resulted in a massive disconnect between actors and communities, and an unsustainable situation where audiences “are drying up and dying off.” Mostly, Daisey laments that America’s theaters have become corporations packaging and commodifying their art.”

This is largely accurate, and he appears to take no issue with this assessment. He continues:

“How would Daisey solve this problem? He wants to lower ticket prices to create greater accessibility for audiences, while at the same time producing compelling art and paying actors a living wage— a strategy that, as I recall, was a resounding success in Soviet Russia.”

This would be damning, if in fact I said anything resembling this in the monologue. I do not posit some magical solution to an incredibly complex and difficult economic issues that afflicts my field.

The question of ticket prices is a complex one, and I talk at some length about the complexities of it in the piece—from ever-increasing discounts based on age, to the fact that theaters crave new audiences but are terrified by the change that will bring.

I do point out that our current emphasis is in the pouring of resources into buildings in terms of capital development, and we do not invest in people or art to any degree—and the brain drain that results from this is choking off the theater, and stifling our ability to make a thriving future.

“Daisey further laments that theater companies pay more to development and marketing professionals than to artists. But how else are theater troupes supposed to raise funds? Even Jesus lacked much of a following until the Apostle Paul revved up his PR machine.”

This is reductive and untrue. I do lament that we pay theater workers far below a living wage…but the answer is not to turn on each other and try to strip other workers in the theater of THEIR sub-market wages.

It’s not as though ANYONE is getting rich working in the non-profit theater, and the piece is exceedingly clear about this, and about my respect and admiration for everyone who dedicates themselves to the theater in all ways. Only someone who is not aggressively not listening, and interesting in portraying my position as divisive would believe I said anything like this.

“I walked out of the Suzanne Roberts Theatre into a sea of coeds on Broad Street sporting short skirts and baggy pants— young, full of life, and bursting with the confident knowledge that the world is still waiting to open up to them. No doubt they had just emerged from watching Transformers in a movie theater before heading for a pitcher of beer at a bar. Not a bad way for kids to spend 15 measly bucks.

What, by contrast, would compel any mentally healthy 20-year-old to attend a highly acclaimed (albeit depressing) American classic like, say, The Glass Menagerie— even if admission was free?”

This disconnect is featured in the monologue prominently—the idea that the work can adapt to change without fundamentally examining the assumptions of our theater, and that change is inevitable and must be confronted. I wouldn’t put it with the same degree of cynicism that Mr. Rutter uses, but fundamentally he is not at all wrong that the American theater fails to make itself relevant to the culture at large.

Finally, there is a virulent anti-actor bigotry in the writing—his writing is laced with expressions like:

“He succeeds in demonstrating only that actors know nothing about economics.”

“Why do I doubt that an actor can supply the answer?”

It is as familiar as it is tired—I’m sure Mr. Rutter loves watching actors on stage, so long as they know their place and keep their mouths shut. The problem isn't the bias—we all have bias—but his inability to recognize or address it in the writing.

Mr. Rutter has chosen in this review not to engage in critical discourse, but to indulge his biases. He was predisposed by his political beliefs, and used whatever tools were available, including reaching outside the art itself, to find copy that could be distorted until it made his thesis stick. I suspect his motivations are connected to his ideology, and tied to his pride in his training in economics, which he is not shy about sharing in his writing.

Why would someone so well educated engage in such a sloppy indictment?

Because it is a theater review. It is writing utterly without consequences or conversation. There is no healthy discourse in our theatrical culture. Healthier art forms engage in actual dialogue—critical assessments are more than the final word, but the beginning of a true conversation. Critics can expect responses.

In the theater, bound by space and time specificness, criticism is often the final word—and with a lack of discourse, it pales and withers. Most disappointingly we teach our critics that there is no need for rigor, because there are no consequences or feedback. Crushed between the twin rocks of grim journalism and the grim theater, they are under tremendous pressure, and the field is responding by flattening, emptying out and vanishing.

Mr. Rutter seems like he could be an intelligent writer, and we need every sharp writer we can get in the theater. One can hope that his criticism in the future will rise above what he turned in on this occasion.

1:53 PM

Thursday, September 17, 2009

The watchtowers

6:19 PM


6:19 PM

4:54 PM

Phawker » Blog Archive » FRINGE REVIEW: How Theater Failed America:

Mike Daisey may be one of the great thinkers of our generation. He speaks truth to power, sometimes roaring, sometimes whispering, always entertaining. I can only add to the praise that’s already been heaped upon his shoulders. He’s saying what we already know, but are afraid to say publicly. In his show How Theater Failed America, he’s pointing out not so much that theater has failed America, but that America is failing theater. What makes this magical is not what he says, but how. Daisey’s relentless, nearly two-hour monologue holds two interwoven stories. One, with the stage lights exposing every nook and cranny of the bare stage at Philadelphia Theater Company, tells us about the business of theater. In his description, theaters have become massive machines, slouching forward churning out shows with no regard to community, artists, or social impact, and audiences are shrinking.

4:52 PM

Mike Daisey discusses faith and the global crisis: The American religion: Arts: Theater:

As Wall Street financial giants tumbled like a set of cheap dominoes last fall, Daisey was struck by an article about an island where the last surviving cargo cult was not only in existence, but actually thriving. Its inhabitants actually worship "cargo"—American materialism and commodities. They devoutly believe that an apocryphal American named John Frum, who visited the islands when the U.S. used it as a staging area during World War II, will return one day as a result of their prayers and ceremonies, bringing bounty and prosperity for all.

They wait for him, much as a fundamentalist Christian awaits rapture. And all day long, every Feb. 15, the islanders ritually celebrate the history of America in theater, dance and song.

4:09 PM

sleep walk, sleep talk

4:08 PM

I'll be on NPR's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED tonight talking about arts organizations and their crucial choices now in a critical time.

3:57 PM

3:12 PM

11:33 AM


11:14 AM

Ofay | Slog | The Stranger, Seattle's Only Newspaper:

Nobody knows where "ofay" comes from, but a few guesses. From the Online Etymological Dictionary:

Amer.Eng. black slang, "white person," 1925, of unknown origin. If, as is sometimes claimed, it derives from an African word, none corresponding to it has been found. Perhaps the most plausible speculation is Yoruba ófé "to disappear" (as from a powerful enemy), with the sense transf. from the word of self-protection to the source of the threat. OED regards the main alternative theory, that it is pig Latin for foe, to be an "implausible guess."

Another theory is that the Yoruba ófé was spoken to make the white person disappear. It also might come from the Ibibio word "afia," which means "light-colored."

11:11 AM


11:11 AM

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Direct Evidence Of Role Of Sleep In Memory Formation Is Uncovered:

A Rutgers University, Newark and Collége de France, Paris research team has pinpointed for the first time the mechanism that takes place during sleep that causes learning and memory formation to occur.

It’s been known for more than a century that sleep somehow is important for learning and memory. Sigmund Freud further suspected that what we learned during the day was “rehearsed” by the brain during dreaming, allowing memories to form. And while much recent research has focused on the correlative links between the hippocampus and memory consolidation, what had not been identified was the specific processes that cause long-term memories to form.

10:52 AM

Julie Atlas Muz

10:52 AM

The Absurd critique and the materialist critique at the Fringe.:

Under the faintest of blue light, Mike parted the curtains and walked silently – like a ghost, only outlines of his plentiful figure visible – to the desk at stage front. He paused, and took a seat. Except for occasionally wild gesticulations, this was to be the only movement on stage for the next hundred minutes. And when the lights came up, Mike was off – like a horse race – launching into his piece with all the intensity I remembered.

How does one review a monologue? On must re-tell it, in parts.

10:00 AM

It never stops until we give in. (Day twenty nine)

10:00 AM

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the shallow end

11:32 PM

Phillyist: News, events, music, film, and everything else cool about Philadelphia:

When I found out that Mike Daisey was going to be performing at this year's Live Arts Festival, I got super excited. I'd been wanting to see his monologue How Theatre Failed America for quite some time. And the things he had to say in that show really resonated with me.

I have to admit, I was a bit less interested in The Last Cargo Cult, until I learned what a cargo cult is. Daisey's monologue details his time spent living among the last cargo cult on the island of Tanna, who worship John Frum, a perhaps mythological figure who went to the island during WWII. The people who worship John Frum believe him to be a messiah, who will bring them wealth and other American goodies if they follow him. Daisey ties his experiences with the cargo cult into the current mess that is the financial market and leads his audience to think long and hard about this thing called money and why we value it—and our stuff—so much.

A kind of modern day Homer, minus the blindness, lyre, and dactylic hexameter, Daisey is a thoroughly engaging storyteller. He blends humor with poignant, spot on commentary, making you laugh and while you're laughing, actually think about what's going on. Both his monologues have closed now, but I really hope he comes back next year.

11:41 AM


11:16 AM

Monday, September 14, 2009

9:18 AM

9:17 AM

Philadelphia Free Library System is shutting down - Boing Boing:

The Philadelphia Free Library system is broke, and they're shutting it down, including cancelling "all branch and regional library programs, programs for children and teens, after school programs, computer classes, and programs for adults" and "all children programs, programs to support small businesses and job seekers, computer classes and after school programs" and "all library visits to schools, day care centers, senior centers and other community centers" and "all community meetings" and "all GED, ABE and ESL program."

Just look at that list of all the things libraries do for our communities, all the ways they help the least among us, the vulnerable, the children, the elderly. Think of every wonderful thing that happened to you among the shelves of a library. Think of the millions of lifelong love-affairs with literacy sparked in the collections of those libraries. Think of every person whose life was forever changed for the better in those buildings.

Think of the nobility of libraries and librarianship, the great scar that the Burning of Alexandria gouged in human history. Think of the archivists who barricaded themselves in the Hermitage during the Siege of Leningrad, slowly starving and freezing to death but refusing to desert their posts for fear that the collections they guarded would become firewood.

Think of the librarians who took a stand during the darkest years of the PATRIOT Act and refused to turn over patron records. Think of the moral unimpeachability of those whose trade is universal access to all human knowledge.

Picture an entire city, a modern, wealthy place, in the richest country in the world, in which the vital services provided by libraries are withdrawn due to political brinksmanship and an unwillingness to spare one banker's bonus worth of tax-dollars to sustain an entire region's connection with human culture and knowledge and community.

Think of it and ask yourself what the hell has happened to us.

1:29 AM

Big M Break Area

1:27 AM

Playbill News: Here at Last: A Preview of the Fall 2009 Off-Broadway Season:

Telling their stories solo and first-person will be: Mike Daisey, talking about his time on a remote South Pacific island whose inhabitants worship America at the base of a constantly erupting volcano in The Last Cargo Cult, at the Public Theater in December; Charlayne Woodard, discussing the ways she has mentored the children in her life, in The Night Watcher, starting Sept. 22 at Primary Stages; and Lynn Redgrave in Nightingale, a play inspired by her maternal grandmother, Beatrice Kempson, the least-known member of the Redgrave acting dynasty, starting Oct. 15 at Manhattan Theatre Club.

12:19 AM

water bird

12:19 AM

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Jim Carroll, 60, Poet and Punk Rocker, Dies - Obituary (Obit) -

Jim Carroll, the poet and punk rocker in the outlaw tradition of Rimbaud and Burroughs who chronicled his wild youth in “The Basketball Diaries,” died on Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.

10:33 PM

the shallow end

10:33 PM

The mysterious equilibrium of zombies - The Boston Globe:

In the final scenes of “The Dark Knight” (spoiler alert!), the Joker gives the following choice to the passengers of two ferries: they can either blow up the other boat and save themselves, or themselves be blown up. If no one decides within a certain amount of time, both ferries are destroyed.

The typical moviegoer pretty much thinks one thing: Batman better show up now. But the mathematician immediately recognizes the Joker’s trap as a variation on the classic problem of the prisoner’s dilemma, where two individuals, each isolated in a prison cell, are given a choice: betray their friend and go free, or cooperate by saying nothing, and be given a short prison sentence. If each betrays the other, however, they will get a longer prison sentence.

This seminal problem in game theory has an important property: while cooperation is a more socially beneficial strategy, it is actually a more “stable” strategy for each person to betray the other, since this makes each better off independent of the whims of his friend. This behavior is known as a Nash equilibrium and is named after John Nash, well-known from the more obviously mathematical film, “A Beautiful Mind.”

10:30 PM


2:02 AM

The Three Faces of Maggie (3)

12:40 AM

Posthumous Gratitude | n+1:

After David Foster Wallace's tragic death last September 12, while unburdening my shelf of his works to give them a good nostalgic thumbing-through, I remembered an LP in my collection—plucked several summers ago from the dollar bin of a liquidating Cambridge record store—by an artist with the same name as one of Wallace's most memorable characters. The album, called Priorities, was by Michael Pemulis, whose literary namesake is the twitchy Allstonian best friend cum drug dealer of Hal Incandenza, protagonist of Infinite Jest. Despite the coincidence of names and appealing cover art, the uninspiring bar-band-trapped-in-a-studio sound had caused me to quickly banish Michael Pemulis to the bottom of a milk crate.

When I pulled the album out last September, though, I noticed it had been recorded in Phoenix, where some of Infinite Jest takes place, and released in 1987, the year that Wallace graduated with an MFA from the University of Arizona.

12:40 AM


12:40 AM

I Will Not Read Your Fucking Script - New York News - Runnin' Scared:

I will not read your fucking script.

That's simple enough, isn't it? "I will not read your fucking script." What's not clear about that? There's nothing personal about it, nothing loaded, nothing complicated. I simply have no interest in reading your fucking screenplay. None whatsoever.

If that seems unfair, I'll make you a deal. In return for you not asking me to read your fucking script, I will not ask you to wash my fucking car, or take my fucking picture, or represent me in fucking court, or take out my fucking gall bladder, or whatever the fuck it is that you do for a living.

You're a lovely person. Whatever time we've spent together has, I'm sure, been pleasurable for both of us. I quite enjoyed that conversation we once had about structure and theme, and why Sergio Leone is the greatest director who ever lived. Yes, we bonded, and yes, I wish you luck in all your endeavors, and it would thrill me no end to hear that you had sold your screenplay, and that it had been made into the best movie since Godfather Part II.

But I will not read your fucking script.

12:35 AM

Saturday, September 12, 2009


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12:05 AM

The Arts: The Bitch of Broad Street - Philadelphia Magazine -

At first, Zinman was flattered that I wanted to interview her. There were plans for dinner, for a show downtown. And then, she canceled. She called to explain.

“I’ve done my homework,” she said, launching into a de facto review of both this magazine and me. She’d read the magazine’s article in June about the allegations against Bill Cosby. (“What you did to him was atrocious.”) She’d read the personal essay I wrote in May about my difficult transition into motherhood. (“I was appalled. … I thought to myself, ‘If she’s willing to say all of that stuff about herself and her family, what is she going to do to me?’”)

“You also wrote about body piercing,” she said, referring to a piece I did for another magazine in 1994. “I don’t want to have anything to do with that.”

“But, Toby, you don’t have anything to do with that.”

“I do not want you to write about me,” she said, again.

And that was that.

Ironically, not a single other person I spoke to declined to be interviewed. And most of those people had far more to lose — their jobs, their theaters, their reputations. One would think the critic — in the position she has, with the support of her editors, with her national stature — had the least at stake. All she risked was being criticized herself.

12:05 AM

12:05 AM

Friday, September 11, 2009

Happy First Post-9/11 9/11! - 9/11 - Gawker:

Shortly after (or maybe during) that day, our president at the time, a little fuckhead no one liked, handed over the reins to the most psychotic elements of his administration. In the vast national wave of jingoism, paranoia, dread, and fear that followed, he and his friends led us into an unrelated war they'd been planning beforehand, allowed the CIA to wiretap and torture anyone they liked (and encouraged the CIA to wiretap and torture even more than they were comfortable with!), and regularly insisted that our memory of that day should not be sullied with critical thinking or expressions of anything other than still-palpable fear. This played better in the sorts of places that had nothing to fear from international terrorism, but plenty of formerly reasonable-acting people in the major targets did play along, both out of personal conviction and partisan duty.
12:51 PM


12:47 PM

Is Obama the first president to get heckled during an address to Congress?:

Is Obama really the first president to get heckled during an address to Congress?

It depends on what you mean by heckle. Members of Congress frequently express their disapproval audibly during a presidential speech. When Bill Clinton outlined his health care plan in 1993, for example, some Republicans snickered, shook their heads, made faces, and even shouted "no." And when George W. Bush claimed in his 2005 State of the Union that Social Security will be "exhausted and bankrupt by 2042," Democrats responded with boos. (At the time, several political talk-show hosts, including Ted Koppel of ABC, claimed such booing was unprecedented.) But last night may be the first time a congressman went beyond communal muttering—and interrupted the president with a loud and denigrating retort.

9:50 AM

9:48 AM

9:48 AM

The Last Cargo Cult | Show | 2009 Philadelphia Live Arts Festival :: Philadelphia City Paper:

It’s hard to be anti-materialistic in a culture that has such “fuckin’ awesome stuff,” notes veteran storyteller Mike Daisey in his new monologue about the meaning of money. In fact, American materialism is literally worshiped on at least one primitive South Pacific island that Daisey visited and describes with great humor during this 100-minute economics class/travelogue/sit-down comedy routine. The Last Cargo Cult is still definitely worth the money.

9:47 AM

Thursday, September 10, 2009

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10:06 AM

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Snow Leopard:

As I recall, when the first screenshots of OS X appeared, they showed (what I assume was) the NeXTStep OS with a few Apple cosmetics swiped on: a "Finder" whose only interface was what we now know as Column View, and no Apple menu at all (just a decorative blue Apple in the middle of the menu bar with no actual function). There was a huge outcry from the installed base of Mac users, and OS X was adjusted to look/work more like the Mac OS we were all used to. Sort of, anyway. It felt like Steve & crew resented having to do this at the time, and that resentment has continued to the present.

So I don't think the sadly missed genius features of the Classic Mac OS (such as the configurable Apple menu) will ever return. What's not widely known, it seems, is that the OS X crew is all-new: many came along with Steve from NeXT, many have come on later, but no one who worked on the Classic Mac OS is working on OS X. Unlike the 20 million or so Mac users that Apple already had ca. 2000, none of the OS X developers has ever worked on / lived with the Classic Mac OS, so they really have no idea what we're missing. They don't have the "muscle memory" we do; to them the Classic Mac OS is as foreign as, say, Amiga -- except that they keep having to "emulate" it (when they probably think they could do better on their own) for all these cranky old fogies. I expect they're bewildered as to what all us old Mac users are complaining about. They give us this great OS with all these great features, and all we do is carp!

Remember, Steve Himself never worked on a Mac after 1986 -- that's even before the famous, fondly-remembered System 6! And I've read that when he returned to Apple, he pointedly installed a NeXTStation in his office, and used it until OS X became functional.

9:53 AM

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Brooklyn Bridge at Night

2:58 PM

Windows 7 allows remote blue-screen attacks | Electronista:

Windows 7 when it ships next month will be vulnerable to an attack that hasn't been possible since 1999, a new vulnerability found by a security researcher shows. Sending a deliberately malformed network negotiation request can force a Windows 7 system into a page fault that triggers a "blue screen of death" error, even without the user's help in launching the code. The attack affects both 32-bit and 64-bit versions of the OS.

The flaw stems from the rewritten network stack inherited from Vista, which itself has also been discovered as vulnerable to the attack. Although Microsoft had patched the exploits out of Windows 2000 and XP, the complete overhaul is now thought to reintroduce a problem that hasn't existed since earlier Windows releases.

2:44 PM


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1:06 AM

Monday, September 07, 2009

3:56 PM

Blue & Yellow does make a Green Splash

3:25 PM

I'm thankful for the warm and receptive audiences who came out for HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA.

Reception to the show has been interesting: incredibly warm from artists and's often that way with this show, but here I've had long, fantastic conversations with people I've just met, and the workers at the theaters in the city, from the technicians to the stage managers to the actors have been wonderful.

On the other hand, it has been cool to chilly from arts administrators running theaters in Philly. A number have made it clear that nothing in the monologue relates to anything in their world. I can only assume they are working in a better world than I am.

Or perhaps, more accurately, they live in a world untouched by the concerns I raise because they refuse to look--if you lock yourself up inside your tower and refuse to look outside, what I have to say may seem to have no relevance. After all, they never see these things, even though it's right in front of them. And if you feel powerless to amend the inequities, over time it's easier to just let your eyesight go.

Still, it's hard to appreciate that level of cognitive dissonance until you've actually seen it coming from people who honestly love the show, but do not understand that all of us in the theater are complicit.

It gives you the sense of how we lose track of the human thread in our institutions, despite the best of intentions.

3:02 PM

2:53 PM

Mike Daisey’s “How Theater Failed America” « Threat Quality Press:

I say this, also, as a person who is generally contemptuous of monologists and solo performance artists. Daisey is great. Masterful comic timing, and astonishing breadth and variety from a man who spends the entire time sitting in a chair, brilliantly interweaving hilarious theatrical misadventures with acerbic social commentary and a pervasive, ominous sense of doom.

Because doom is really what he’s talking about right now, and he’s mashed up the unalloyed joy of panic-stricken, seat-of-the-pants shit theater that anyone who’s ever worked in the field knows–full well and by heart. There are no memories among actors or writers or directors more treasured than the shows that almost didn’t work, the plays that held together by spit and bailing wire and increasingly desperate prayers to St. Genesius. And that adrenal terror, that limbic euphoria is mashed up directly, both starkly and still cleanly, with the deep despair of a man who is watching his art form suffering a malaise of disinterest. There’s no middle ground in a performance like this–it was humor and misery and nothing in between, because fuck you. If you wanted to be bored, you should have stayed at home.

2:31 PM

12:03 AM

Sunday, September 06, 2009


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11:01 AM

Saturday, September 05, 2009

7:17 PM

How Theater Failed America | Show | 2009 Philly Live Arts & Fringe :: Philadelphia City Paper:

Beginning like a standup comedy routine (though Mike Daisey sits at a table the entire time) and featuring personal tales filled with pathos, How Theater Failed America winds up as a stinging indictment of how we failed theater through corporatization, freeze-dried actors and devaluation of the arts. Daisey peppers the show with inside baseball about how theater really works, behind the velvet curtain. It ain’t pretty. Frequently hilarious and reminiscent of Spalding Gray or Eric Bogosian, Daisey is a riveting monologist with terrific acting chops -- his facial expressions alone are worth the price admission.

5:35 PM


5:25 PM

3:31 PM

3:31 PM

Coverage in Philadelphia has been good, so I'm not complaining—they say that all press is good press, right?

And I understand that many journalists preview my work without actually being familiar with it at all—many are good at gleaning info from the web, so that it can be hard to tell they are totally in the dark...

...but once in a while a journalist writes something about my work that is so strange I can't let it pass without comment. From this preview blurb by A.D. Amorosi in Philadelphia's City Paper

Imagine if you will the on-point cultural reportage of Laurie Anderson minus all the overrehearsed tech-savvy sarcasm but plus the freneticism of Lewis Black, if only he were pinned behind a desk — and you wind up with monologuist Mike Daisey.

Laurie Anderson? Really? I'm nothing like Laurie Anderson. I mean, we're both mammals, so there's that.

But the writer knows he's off-base, so he adds a dash of Lewis Black (whom I am in the same universe as) and subtracts all of Laurie's...sarcasm. Except Laurie isn't sarcastic. But somehow this algebra leaves us

It gets weirder.

A big man with a big hurt, this NYC dweller sucker punches the newsy macabre in the face with each pretty-much-unrehearsed production.

WTF? What or who is the "newsy macabre" that I am, apparently, punching? Who the fuck talks this way? And what does it mean?

And what the fuck is "a big man with a big hurt"? That sounds good, like I'm a
Dashiel Hammett mystery, but I don't actually know what that means.

It goes on like that, with commentary on monologues that writer has never seen and has no idea of their content or scope. The author never cops to the fact that they have no fucking idea what they're writing about.

For what it's worth, it is positive.

I suspect it is worth very little.

12:51 PM


12:40 PM

Friday, September 04, 2009

TL & EHM: spin.

2:41 PM


12:58 PM

Blind Man's Bluff

12:46 PM

Daring Fireball Linked List: NYT Story on AT&T's Inability to Handle the iPhone:

The headline is “iPhone Users Love the Device, but Hate Its Slowness”, but where by “slowness” they mean “network”. They charge a premium for crummy service, still don’t offer tethering or MMS, and the problems are getting worse, not better.

Update 3pm: They’ve changed the headline to “Customers Angered as iPhones Overload AT&T”, which is, in a way, more accurate, but to me seems to be casting the blame for the problems on iPhone users rather than AT&T. It’s a pro-AT&T spin on the situation that makes no sense. The only thing iPhone users are doing is using the service for which they pay.

12:46 PM

9:53 AM

The Apple upgrade problem:

Deep down, when I stop to think about it, I know (or have otherwise convinced myself) that these purchases were worth it and that Apple's ease of upgrade works almost exactly how it should. But my gut tells me that I've been ripped off. The "newness" cognitive jolt humans get is almost entirely absent. I don't know if Apple is aware of this (I'd guess yes) and don't know if it even matters to them (because, like I said, this is the way that it should work...and look at those sales figures), but it's got to be having some small effect. People want to feel, emotionally speaking, that their money is well-spent and impeccable branding, funny commericals, and the sense of belonging to a hip lifestyle that Apple tries to engender in its customers can only go so far.

1:50 AM

the path of bamboo, revisited #5 (near Tenryuuji temple, Kyoto)

1:49 AM

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Fall theater preview: Off-Broadway | Metromix New York:

Finally, the Public brings our favorite monologuist Mike Daisey back for another engagement. We never miss one of Daisey's uproarious and awesome shows. This time around, he'll discuss belief and the power of American culture; for research, Daisey spent a month with a cargo cult in the South Pacific.

9:43 PM

9:23 PM

Parabasis: Hard Times Two:

A theatre offering training to its local actor pool can be a good long-term strategy towards building a more robust stable of local talent to hire. But it has to come with actually hiring people as well or else you end up in the situation where people move away because they feel they have to go to New York (or Chicago or LA) to continue to grow as artists. Also, having seen theatre in Seattle and known a lot of theatre artists who either are or were from there, I too chafe at the idea that what Seattle's local artists need first and foremost is more training. There are other cities I've been to that don't have a lot of local talent, and there offering training programs makes a lot of sense... you're building the next generation of actors and also can provide teaching jobs that can help local artists make the rent. But that's not the situation in Seattle as far as I can tell. I doubt the reason Heidi Schreck moved to NY was so she could take more classes.

12:56 PM

Parabasis: Hard Times Even Harder For Local Actors:

This Seatlle Times story is getting a lot of theatrosphere play. Basically, the issue is that as budgets decrease, the larger LORT houses are shrinking the cast sizes of their shows, and the lower the cast size, the fewer opportunities for actors. This gets compounded by the use of out of town talent.. the few roles that are available are generally cast out of town or, in the case of touring one-and-two-hander shows like Wishful Drinking or The 39 Steps, already have casts.

I imagine that- given that it's still not clear (as far as I know) that Kate Whorisky is even moving to the city where she'll run the second largest theater in town- that the worries are fairly well founded.

12:52 PM


12:21 PM

The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

Cohen is right that this should not be a partisan matter, as Cheney has so shrewdly made it, turning the Republicans into the party of torture, and prepping to blame Obama for the next terror attack, which is inevitable. But he is wrong that torture is complicated. It isn't. It was never complicated before Bush and Cheney instituted it. It was once an exceptional, once-in-a-lifetime, ticking bomb extra-legal necessity. Now it is legitimate according to Charles Krauthammer, the chief intellectual architect of the torture regime, if it saves merely one life.

One more point that Cohen simply ignores. Torture is illegal. It is a war crime. You cannot get to the point of debating its pros and cons until you have changed the law, removed the US from Geneva and the UN Convention on Torture and placed the US legally on the same ground as the enemy. That's the only legal way to do it - by repealing the laws against it. But the laws were not repealed; they were secretly broken; and those who broke the law, the former president and vice-president chief among them, are above the law in Washington.

That's all; and that's everything, isn't it?

10:13 AM

10:13 AM

New York Theater - Theater Criticism Reconfigured:

When the news broke that these two organizations, which jointly manage Broadway's annual Tony Awards, had decided to remove the first-night theater press from the ranks of Tony voters, my first action was to e-mail my editor that I wouldn't be reviewing Burn the Floor, Broadway's new ballroom-dance compilation, an Australian import that has been trekking around the world for some years. As a Tony voter, I might have felt obliged to go: The nominations are so eccentric that you never know what may or may not end up on the ballot, and the ballot always specifies that you may not vote in a given category unless you've seen all the nominees. My new non-voter status has liberated me from events like Burn the Floor. Unluckily for its producers, my editor has no space outside my column for it either, so their show will get no Village Voice review. Let the League and the Wing deal with it.

Some of my colleagues on the press list are dismayed by the Tony administrators' decision; some are downright irate. For me, it's a blessed release.

9:49 AM


1:21 AM

For a Digital Pioneer, the Web Was No Safety Net -

Last week, in his first extended visit to New York in eight years, he said the $741 in his pocket was all the money he had in the world. He was in town for the opening of a documentary about him, “We Live in Public,” which portrays him as a visionary of the digital age, an eccentric who eventually retreated to an apple farm upstate to reboot his brain after a lifetime’s worth of media static.

“He is one of the 10 most important people in the history of the Internet,” said Jason Calacanis, an entrepreneur of digital media who once chronicled New York’s tech scene in his publication, The Silicon Alley Reporter. “He may not be the most famous.”

On a walking tour of SoHo, Mr. Harris admitted that he has missed the spotlight his companies and spectacles once attracted. Standing outside 353 Broadway, where his bunker experiment had been, he recalled: “One time after the bunker, we had this party called the Media Mirror. For three hours it hit this perfect groove. Fine women, the hum of the people talking, the feeling you get when you know you’re at the right place in the right time in the world. It’s like being high on heroin for three hours and then you can’t get any more no matter what you do.”

12:30 AM

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


11:25 PM


More Evidence That Snow Leopard Is a Touchscreen Operating System | Cult of Mac:

The more I play with Snow Leopard, the more it looks like it’s designed to run Apple’s upcoming tablet.

Look at Expose in the Dock — the new feature that reveals all an application’s open windows when you click and hold the application’s icon. It’s tailor-made for fingers. Even more convincing is Stacks in the Dock. Hit a folder icon in the dock, and up pops the folder and all its files. Each icon is a big target for your finger, and the window has a big, fat slider for scrolling up and down (no more fiddly little arrows at the top or bottom). Both of these UI tweaks scream ‘touchscreen.’

And then today I discovered an unheralded feature that the minute I saw it, I thought, “Game over! Here’s rock-solid proof that Snow Leopard is designed for touchscreens. This is a tablet operating system.”

The new UI element s a virtual keyboard, a must-have for a tablet. Snow Leopard includes a big virtual keyboard that looks clearly designed for typing on a touchscreen. It’s a big, bold version of the iPhone’s virtual keyboard with large keys that scream “type me!”

8:30 PM

6:37 PM

12:32 AM