Monday, November 29, 2010

Leslie Nielsen, 1926-2010

Like many, I grew up watching Leslie Nielsen only as the uproariously funny comic actor; I didn't realize until much later that he had started out as a serious one. How I loved his work.

(It's only fitting that I learned of his passing from Peter Serafinowicz's twitter feed.)

[image via]

Friday, November 19, 2010

c'mon, it's funny

I can understand if purityrannical Americans got all hot-and-bothered about such a thing, but Europeans? I expected more out of you, Old World:
Spanish politicians have criticised a video by the Young Socialists in Catalonia in which a woman simulates an orgasm while casting her vote.

Both Socialist and opposition politicians have attacked the campaign video.

The equality minister called it "misleading" advertising.

In the video the young woman gets increasingly excited as she votes for the Socialist Party in this month's regional elections in Catalonia.

It concludes with the phrase, "Voting is a pleasure", after she puts her voting slip in the ballot box.

The leader of the conservative opposition Popular Party of Catalonia, Alicia Sanchez-Camacho, said the video was an "attack on the dignity of women".
Although Socialist equality minister Bibiana Aido wins the day:
"If it was true, electoral participation would go up greatly, but I think we are dealing with a misleading advert."
[BBC News]

the coi podcast programming changes

Hey there, sports fans.

We're still finalizing episodes of the COI podcast, but I can tell you about some details and some changes coming to the program.

  • First, we'll be switching from a two-week release schedule to a three-week schedule.
  • Second, I'd like to release the first of the new episodes before the New Year so, you know, fingers crossed on that.
  • Third, the live COI podcast episodes will be released in a ten-episode arc. So it'll take up a lot of the months to come. (We might very well be recording new live episodes in 2011 as we still release 2010 episodes. Yikes, does that makes us the Moth or something?)

Thursday, November 18, 2010

done and done

We mentioned this not too long ago, but now here's your proof.

Along with the Democratic majority, say goodbye to the closest we'd come to a Congress that represented women to a degree that could, albeit only by a very generous application of the term, be termed fair.

Here are some of the ones we'll be losing, courtesy the CSMonitor.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

shattering the audience

Politico announced this week that it was releasing PoliticoPro, a site with wonky details for policy "professionals"; subscriptions are expected to cost thousands per year. According to Columbia Journalism Review,
Politico Pro’s expected staff of forty journalists will provide “high-impact, high-velocity reporting on the politics of energy, technology and health care reform” for political and policy professionals.
It kinda sounds like they'll be doing what they're already doing, but with bigger words -- or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they'll use acronyms without defining them, since the readership will be assumed to be "in the know."

So I think COItc should offer something similar, and I'm happy to announce that in 2011 we will be offering COIPro for discerning audience members.

  • A $500 annual subscription will provide live performances without programs or pre-show music (that stuff is for the plebes)
  • $1,000 gets you expedited shows without the first half -- you're provided an index card with the gist of the first act and actors will speed through to the final moment of the play, assuming you know what you're about and don't need all that padding for beginners.
  • For $10,000 you can just sit with the playwright in his apartment while he stares at his navel.

There is no larger audience: there are only insiders and suckers. (You'll need to check the wallets to see which is which.)

the black market is the black market

An interesting side note in the aftermath of the defeat of Proposition 19 this month: don't worry, law-n-order nutjobs -- even if pot had become legal, Mexican drug cartels are well ahead of you, branching out into illicit software sales.

In an age when cash is increasingly digital, war is waged via computer virus, mega corporations battle each other over our contact lists, and those same corporations do little more to pile their (digital) billions than aggregate data, the propaganda undertaken to demonize software piracy will make Reefer Madness look restrained by comparison.

The absurdity that underlies stringent prosecution of software piracy makes for Dr. Seuss-like reading:
The most vociferous critics of Microsoft and the overall proprietary software industry describe the anti-piracy crusade as a sophisticated dog-and-pony show. They say the software makers tolerate a certain level of piracy because they would rather have people use their products — even if counterfeit — than pick up lower-cost alternatives. At the same time, the critics say, the software companies conduct periodic raids to remind customers and partners that playing by the rules makes sense.

“It has always been in Microsoft’s interests for software to be available at two different prices — expensive for the people that can afford it and inexpensive for those that can’t,” Mr. Eben] Moglen[, a Columbia Law professor,] says. “At the end of the day, if you’re a monopolist, you have to tolerate a large number of copies you don’t get paid for just to keep everyone hooked.”
We get caught up in the thing that is prohibited -- whether it's illicit narcotics (as opposed to controlled substances) and prohibited forms of media copying -- and instead it would behoove us to look at the boundaries between what is forbidden and what is allowed. That boundary tells us more about ourselves as a society than how many joints we smoke or songs we download for free.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

"my problem is, it's become tribal"

Jon Stewart's full conversation with Rachel Maddow about his Rally to Restore etc etc etc... and its implications for pundits on both the left and right is n outstanding conversation. It's hard to believe that a conversation of this caliber and duration is allowed to exist on television (oh, wait, of course it isn't. The unedited version is only online).

The whole point is that you have to watch all 49 minutes of it. If we can't sustain our attentions for that long, well -- we get what we deserve in the 24-hour cable news cycle, then:

Monday, November 15, 2010

really, guys ... they're fascists. you can't see it?

For those who suspected that our collective ridicule of Governor Palin and Sideshow Glenn was us whistling past the graveyard, those gut instincts are proving correct. Clearly, if he's a clown, Beck is a Stephen King-type clown.

His attacks on George Soros have revealed something darker in Beck's paranoiac psyche. Clearly Soros, guilty of the twin sins of being richer than beck and disagreeing with Beck, is part of a larger conspiracy:
Throughout three programs this week, Mr. Beck has portrayed Mr. Soros, a billionaire investor and philanthropist, as a “puppet master” who is “notorious for collapsing economies and regimes all around the world” and whose “next target” is the United States. Citing Mr. Soros’s statements about the decline of the dollar, Mr. Beck said, “Not only does he want to bring America to her knees, financially, he wants to reap obscene profits off us as well.”

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, took issue with Mr. Beck’s depiction of Mr. Soros as a “Jewish boy helping sending the Jews to the death camps,” calling it “offensive” and “horrific.”
Doesn't this all sound familiar? Deriding a sub-section of society as being the puppet master financiers constituting a fifth column that wants to destroy the country from within. Really? Not setting off alarm bells at all?

[NYT; image via Osborne Ink]

Friday, November 12, 2010

coi podcast update

Finished the first edited episode of the live COI podcasts! (Only 15 more to go...)

To the four of you who actually listen to these: do you ever listen to the end of the episodes? I didn't think so. I kill myself to get the credits right, without thinking about the fact that no one listens through to the end.

I guess it's a holdover from the days of my youth when I listened to terrestrial radio (what's that?) -- specifically, WNYC's rebroadcast of Harry Shearer's Le Show originating out of the LeShowDome in Santa Monica on Sunday nights. I always felt a wistfulness as he read the final notes over the swell of music ("the home ... of the homeless") as a cherished conversation was coming to an end.

Anyway. Right. The point is, I really shouldn't bother. (But I will.)

Lineup and release schedule to follow.

I'm with you up to a point

Look, I like a curmudgeonly counter-cultural position as much as the next curmudgeon, but there is such a thing as taking a good argument too far:
Television drama should say more about the world we live in today and not rely on costumes, irony and pastiche, according to the award-winning screenwriter Jimmy McGovern. The television veteran behind the uncompromising hit shows Cracker and The Street is calling for dramas that reflect reality and have a strong point to make.

"Why write drama that doesn't matter?" he asked this weekend. Commenting on the high viewing figures for costume dramas such as ITV's Downton Abbey and the popularity of arch adventure shows such as Dr Who, McGovern said he believed the best writing took itself seriously, as well as taking its audience seriously.
Hey hey hey -- I like Dr. Who.

"Why have a BBC complaints unit in the first place? They tell me, 'Jimmy, it is in case you offend anybody,' and I say, 'I am a writer. That is my job.' Just imagine if it said on my headstone that I had never offended anybody – I would turn in my grave."
That? That is just awesome.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

reading this week (11/12)

Our friends at the Crossroads Theatre Project have something to tell us about:

WHAT: Staged reading for Tulpa, or Anne&Me combined with birthday party for Anne Hathaway (aka Andy aka Jack). There will be cake. There will be balloons. There may be party hats.
WHEN: Friday, November 12 at 8pm
WHERE: WOW Cafe Theatre, 59 E. 4th Street, New York, NY
WHY: Fundraising for Crossroads Theatre Project and WOW Cafe Theatre.
HOW: Click on the Fractured Atlas button below to send a donation to Crossroads Theatre Project. Suggested donation $10. $25 or more lets you join the raffle for an autographed copy of the script. $50 gets you your own autographed copy of the script (no raffle needed). All donors will be named on the playbill.

When Anne Hathaway crawls out of your television, what do you do?

Tulpa, or Anne&Me tells the story of a Black lesbian with an overactive imagination who forges an unlikely bond with Anne Hathaway. Guided by two guardian angels of Blackness (or are they voices in her head?), she struggles to connect with Anne across the thorny barrier between Black and White women. Through a series of visitations merging memory, reality and fantasy, Tulpa, or Anne&Me wrestles with the racial tensions that haunt even our most intimate relationships.

Raw, intimate, and unapologetic, Tulpa, or Anne&Me blends pop culture, Tibetan mysticism and womanism to begin the conversation about race that Black women and White women have never been allowed to have. Until now.

Read what some people are saying about Tulpa, or Anne&Me at:

Crossroads Theatre Project is a collaboration of new Black playwrights whose works explore how race intersects with other identities and challenge mainstream ideas about Black theatre.

The crossroads are rooted in African folklore, Vodou, and Delta blues as a place where strange and unexpected things happen. Anything can happen on the crossroads. You can speak with the dead, meet the spirits of your ancestors, or even sell your soul to the Devil.

Crossroads Theatre Project is the anti-Chitlin Circuit created to break barriers and undermine stereotypes by presenting thoughtful new stories by and about African Americans today. In the simplest terms, this means: no maids; no crackheads; no Tyler Perry.

The vision of Crossroads Theatre Project is nearly identical to 13P. The idea is to use our shared passion for theater and our status as Othered to empower us when it comes to gathering resources and reaching out to potential audiences and creative partners. We're committed to giving people theatre by and about us that challenges what people assume we stand for and/or are interested in. The goal of Crossroads Theatre Project is to incubate the works of new Black playwrights from first draft through full production.

Read more about Crossroads Theatre Project here.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Everything they tell you is a lie

A rocket was launched in Southern California. The video is here. Clearly that happened. The Pentagon is mum -- bizarrely so:
[John] Pike[, director of the U.S.-based security analyst group] said he didn't understand why the military had not recognized the contrail of an aircraft. "The Air Force must ... understand how contrails are formed," he said. "Why they can't get some major out to belabor the obvious, I don't know."
I'll tell you why: because they know exactly what it is, and they're not telling.

When I was a kid, two Air Force bombers flew in concentric circles at a low altitude over Brooklyn over and over again. People on the street stopped and stared. Having read my fair share of crazy-but-plausible military coup porn, I thought I knew what was going on. But now that alien infiltration of our planet has been proven, I'm not so sure.

(Seriously, y'all, the Pentagon knows something.)

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

[sausage gets made] we have a cast!

Remember those faces from our post about the script reading? They're all in. [Bonus points to anyone who can name them all. You, sir or madam, would be crowned a true off-off connoisseur.]

We're beginning our fundraising campaign which will be much more entertaining than my ramblings, but if you're a regular reader of this blog, you might have an inkling of the caliber of our productions.

Maybe you're ready to help us start a solid foundation on which to build without all the bells and whistles?

(Or, stay tuned for bells and whistles.)

Monday, November 8, 2010

last week's election was worse than we thought

The Boston Herald's Joe Battenfeld:
Here’s the message for Scott Brown that I gleaned from last week’s election: Scott, run for president.
Oh. My. God.

when are 1's and 0's more than 1's and 0's?

In an interesting way, the Economist lays bare the difference between the Pentagon Papers and Wikileaks (sub req'd). Interestingly, both have intimately involved newspapers in their release (for a great breakdown of the Papers, by the way, see this book), the leakers at the center of each have similar biographies, and both laid bare data which showed the military was being less-than-truthful about its campaigns. But there's one huge difference: Daniel Ellsberg understood that his principled stand meant persecution, the near-destruction of his life, and the possibility of imprisonment. Julian Assange is doing everything he can to avoid punishment -- indeed, avoiding any culpability for actual or collateral damage:
Mr Ellsberg turned himself in, willing to be held accountable for what he has done. He faced charges—eventually dismissed—under America’s Espionage Act. In contrast, WikiLeaks distributes its servers to take advantage of whistle-blower laws in Sweden, Belgium, Iceland and America. Mr Assange enjoys the protection of several liberal democracies, but is not really accountable to any of them.

What is more, Mr Assange seems unwilling to reflect on the risks of what he is doing. Amnesty International has complained that documents in WikiLeaks’ release on Afghanistan were not sufficiently edited, and thus likely to endanger Afghans who had worked for the coalition. Even such supporters as Birgitta Jonsdottir, an Icelandic member of parliament, has expressed disappointment over how the documents were released. Mr Assange disagrees, saying that nobody needed protection as a result of the release—citing, of all sources, NATO in Kabul. In contrast, Mr Ellsberg is more self-critical and concedes, for instance, that the publication of the Pentagon Papers actually had no effect on the war in Vietnam.
In essence, Assange is doing to the Pentagon's data what Mark Zuckerberg is doing to yours: grabbing it, doing what he likes with it, and then claiming it's no big deal because it's a new digital age.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

november chill TONIGHT

Join us tonight for two short works and excellent music.

The Technician and Missed by Sergei Burbank, directed by Eileen Trilli
featuring Tatiana Gomberg and Paul Bomba

Music by Carly Howard and Open to the Hound
Linger Lounge
533 Atlantic Avenue | Brooklyn
7pm | Admission: pay-what-you-can

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

vote, motherf*ckers

In 1994, Mario Cuomo ran for his fourth consecutive term as Governor of New York. While the state had suffered along with everyone else as a result of the latest recession, Cuomo was the relatively well-respected incumbent Democratic governor of a solidly blue state.

Because so many voters had grown accustomed to having Cuomo as governor, not many bothered to show up to vote. With roughly 30% of eligible voters turning out, George Pataki was sent to the Governor's Mansion as part of the 1994 Republican Revolution.

Pataki took an emergency stop-gap decision taken by Governor Cuomo in the face of financial crisis to reduce MTA overhead -- using credit to maintain the subways and buses of New York City -- and turned it into longstanding fiscal policy, something it was never intended to do.

As a result, all service cuts and fare hikes taken in 2009-2010 are because budget funding was never restored to its early 1990s levels, because an indifferent electorate allowed a public-service-slashing conservative win an election he would have no right winning had people been paying more attention in the first place.

The Moral: Midterm elections matter, despite your disillusionment/boredom/cynicism.

Bonus Moral: You can't bitch about fare hikes unless you are a registered and active voter in New York City.

Monday, November 1, 2010

if you need help finding a mirror I'll get one

It's fitting that the NY Times will help write its own epitaph, as Jeremy Peters scratches his head in the Sunday edition as to this explosion of enmity towards the news media from both the left and right, apparently out of nowhere.
News media experts say that an attack-the-press strategy can make sense as a pure political play. While polling has shown that majorities of Republicans and conservatives have long harbored suspicions about the news media, there has been a surge in negative feelings among Democrats and liberals.

The biennial Pew Research Center poll on public attitudes about the news media found last year that much of the growth in negative perceptions about the media has been driven by Democrats. For the first time last year, a majority of Democrats, 59 percent, said that reporting from news organizations is often inaccurate. That figure was just 43 percent in 2007.

Michael Dimock, an associate director at Pew, said this reflected a tendency by Democrats to shift part of the blame for their recent misfortunes on the press. But he said he also believed it was about something broader: a mistrust of large institutions.

“Whether it’s the press, whether it’s government, there has been this lowering of credibility in a lot of institutions in America,” Mr. Dimock said. “You name it. It’s hard to find a group or institution that isn’t being viewed more skeptically these days.”
No, no, no guys -- it's afar simpler explanation: it's not institutions, it's you. They explained this to you at the Rally to Restore Sanity the day before you published this:

Oh wait, that's right, you didn't send any correspondents. Not because you don't know how to do your job, but you're worried about how you, the watchers, will be watched.

[A post-script: all of the content at the links and embedded video in this blog post are covered -- sometimes literally -- with advertisements. Why that isn't that a source of concern about the perception of media companies? Nah, it's the politicians...]