Friday, October 31, 2008



"Ambitious, persuasive and provocative—Mr. Daisey is as much a performer as a raconteur. Funny, shrewd and continually absorbing."

"Once again, Mike Daisey has proven himself that rare theatrical creature: an entertaining performer with something valuable to say. A gripping, vital story."

"Mesmerizing and raucous—a funhouse ride worthy of Dr. Strangelove."

"Masterful command—he is all-powerful for 100 minutes. When he wants you to laugh, you laugh; when he wants you to think, you think. He doesn’t draw you into the stories he tells—not exactly. Rather, he shows how, perhaps unawares, you have been part of them all along."


"Highly entertaining—freewheeling, free-associative, and thought-provoking."

"Daisey is a hellish bad boy—entertaining and disturbing—a sharply humorous commentary on our troubled times."

"Breathtaking—one of the most important shows of the year, if not the most important. Daisey's dazzling new monologue is one of the most exciting evenings of theatre one can have right now."

"There is nothing minimalist about this monologist—if Lenny Bruce was embodied by Zero Mostel and played by Louis Armstrong, the result would closely resemble Mike Daisey."


"He's a crazy-good storyteller—an impressively researched, artfully constructed show."

"A provocative and entertaining examination of post-9/11 America, and the language of security that defines it."

"He's accomplished that rarest of feats: mixing rage and a revolutionary spirit with a well-grounded intelligence and an ability to promote discussion, maybe even solid change."

"Daisey distills vast sources of disparate knowledge, delivered with scathing anger, humor and a sort of gentle wisdom. He's the History Channel, the best of public radio, and the most entertaining guy at the bar—but much, much better."


"A tremendous storyteller and rabble-rouser, his insight and charisma shine through--this piece brings him into the realm of truly amazing theater."

"Daisey offers you few opportunities to wrap yourself in the deceptive idea that all this couldn’t happen here or now - because it already has. He convinces you of the depths of our current mess, and what’s needed to help us survive it: information."

"A blazing verbal facility and acute political intelligence—alternately amusing and disturbing."

"Never any less than fascinating: cutting, humorous, and immensely provocative."

Drama on Miseno's coast
Maybe restaurants will finally slash their exorbitant, ridiculous wine prices.:

Restaurant wine service is an eternally fraught subject. Conflicting opinions have even been slipped into the pages of Slate. Last January, I wrote an article praising American sommeliers; five months later, an indignant Christopher Hitchens demanded to know why such creatures even exist. In denouncing sommeliers, Hitchens hit on an essential point: Restaurants want you to drink as much wine as possible. Not only that: The more you spend on a bottle, the happier they are. They will sometimes even sacrifice a bit of the profit they might earn from solids in order to get clients to pony up for liquids. In a profile last year in The New Yorker, British chef Gordon Ramsay admitted that he kept food prices at his newly opened Manhattan restaurant lower than they needed to be as a way of enticing customers to go crazy on wine.

The emphasis on wine has a simple explanation: Wine sales are the lifeblood of many restaurants. Ronn Wiegand, a Napa, Calif.-based restaurant consultant who holds the rare Master of Wine degree, says that wine accounts for 10 percent to 15 percent of total sales for casual restaurants and as much as 60 percent at fancier establishments. Restaurants generally have low profit margins and thus need to slap markups on pretty much everything they put on the table. But a $250 Bordeaux is obviously going to make a far greater contribution to the bottom line than a turnip, which is why restaurants invest so heavily in their wine programs—not just filling their cellars with excellent rieslings and syrahs but also providing competent sommeliers, good stemware, excellent storage, and other amenities. For decades now, markups of 2.5 to three times the wholesale price have been the industry norm. According to Wiegand, such multiples are an economic necessity for most restaurants; anything less and they may have trouble sustaining themselves. But not every wine on the list has to be marked up at the same rate. So long as the average cost per bottle is in the 2.5-to-three-times-wholesale range, list prices for individual wines need not follow any formula. And, in fact, most restaurants that take wine seriously use a system of progressive markups: They generally slap the biggest markups on inexpensive wines and the lowest ones on pricy bottles (the idea being that the closer an expensive wine is to its retail price, the more apt the customer will be to bite).
Oh Beautiful Crashy iPhone Camera App!

The Lost Years & Last Days of David Foster Wallace : Rolling Stone:

He was six-feet-two, and on a good day he weighed 200 pounds. He wore granny glasses with a head scarf, points knotted at the back, a look that was both pirate-like and housewife-ish. He always wore his hair long. He had dark eyes, soft voice, caveman chin, a lovely, peak-lipped mouth that was his best feature. He walked with an ex-athlete's saunter, a roll from the heels, as if anything physical was a pleasure. David Foster Wallace worked surprising turns on nearly everything: novels, journalism, vacation. His life was an information hunt, collecting hows and whys. "I received 500,000 discrete bits of information today," he once said, "of which maybe 25 are important. My job is to make some sense of it." He wanted to write "stuff about what it feels like to live. Instead of being a relief from what it feels like to live." Readers curled up in the nooks and clearings of his style: his comedy, his brilliance, his humaneness.

His life was a map that ends at the wrong destination. Wallace was an A student through high school, he played football, he played tennis, he wrote a philosophy thesis and a novel before he graduated from Amherst, he went to writing school, published the novel, made a city of squalling, bruising, kneecapping editors and writers fall moony-eyed in love with him. He published a thousand-page novel, received the only award you get in the nation for being a genius, wrote essays providing the best feel anywhere of what it means to be alive in the contemporary world, accepted a special chair at California's Pomona College to teach writing, married, published another book and, last month, hanged himself at age 46.

"The one thing that really should be said about David Foster Wallace is that this was a once-in-a-century talent," says his friend and former editor Colin Harrison. "We may never see a guy like this again in our lifetimes — that I will shout out. He was like a comet flying by at ground level."

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Fanatical game hobbyists often express the opinion that DUNGEONS & DRAGONS will continue as an ever-expanding, always improving game system. TSR and I see it a bit differently. Currently D&D is moving in two directions. There is the “Original” game system and the new ADVANCED D&D® system. New participants can move from the “Basic Set” into either form without undue difficulty — especially as playing aid offerings become more numerous, and that is in process now.

Americans have somehow come to equate change with improvement. Somehow the school of continuing evolution has conceived that D&D can go on in a state of flux, each new version “new and improved!” From a standpoint of sales, I beam broadly at the very thought of an unending string of new, improved, super, energized, versions of D&D being hyped to the loyal followers of the gaming hobby in general and role playing fantasy games in particular.

As a game designer I do not agree, particularly as a gamer who began with chess. The original could benefit from a careful reorganization and expansion to clarify things, and this might be done at some future time. As all of the ADVANCED D&D system is not written yet, it is a bit early for prognostication, but I envision only minor expansions and some rules amending on a gradual, edition to edition, basis.

When you have a fine product, it is time to let well enough alone. I do not believe that hobbyists and casual players should be continually barraged with new rules, new systems, and new drains on their purses. Certainly there will be changes, for the game is not perfect; but I do not believe the game is so imperfect as to require constant improvement.

--Gary Gygax, Dragon Magazine, February 1979
Hot Tickets: Black Keys, Zappa Plays Zappa, Billy Elliot | The New York Observer:

And finally, “If You See Something Say Something” opened at the Public Theater at Joe’s Pub on Monday. Riffing off the hated MTA slogan, Mike Daisey’s monologue constructs a super-critical history of America’s national security structure running from the creation of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico to today’s bloated Department of Homeland Security. All in all, a timely, though not entirely pleasant, reminder of our president's failed administration. Here’s to the next one!
Theater News - Shitstorm!:

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article called "Ten Things Theaters Need to Do Right Now to Save Themselves" that included ideas such as providing child care, building bars, and a five-year moratorium on Shakespeare. The article pissed people right off: "Ten Things" was only 1,000 words long and it generated over 33,000 words in comments. (Samples: "Your articles are worthless, pretentious, uninformed, completely masturbatory..." and "I'd prefer [theater] if I didn't have to spend so much time clapping.")

The Seattle Rep asked if I would host a forum on the article. I suggested we resuscitate Shitstorm. On Monday night, about 150 people showed up for several hours of drinking, talking, shouting, and a closing sing-along to "Don't Stop Believin'" by Journey. (This was the first of what will be several nü-Shitstorms in the coming months.)

The crowd was a menagerie: playwrights; designers; directors from ACT, the Rep, and On the Boards; a swarm of angry actors; a few audience members. One of the Shitstorm rules is that whatever people say can be repeated, but not attributed. A few of the evening's comments follow.
Vancouver Night
George F. Will - Call Him John the Careless:

Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain's question for his briefer was: "So, who is the villain?"
dancing the spidery happy bokeh pokeh!
Poll finds 23% of Texans think Obama is Muslim | Front page | - Houston Chronicle:

A University of Texas poll to be released today shows Republican presidential candidate John McCain and GOP Sen. John Cornyn leading by comfortable margins in Texas, as expected. But the statewide survey of 550 registered voters has one very surprising finding: 23 percent of Texans are convinced that Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama is a Muslim.
The Playgoer: Our Nonprofit-Theatre CEO's:

This built-in expectation that the grunts will continue to watch the income gap between staffer and leadership grow is crucial to our problems. Because it's true--Andre Bishop, Todd Haimes, many of these folks did ineed work for nothing while they grew their original companies. And they do deserve some comfort, some security, and, sure, some "reward," after all that.

But the feeling many get from that generation so often now is: "Hey, I dealt with it back then. So can you." Not in a mean way. But actually as if it's "character building," and all that. Or it's just the sorry reality, and always will be, given how much our culture shits on the theatre.

Keep in mind, when this generation of producers started out in the 60s and 70s, one could still rent an apartment in NYC--even Manhattan--for $200 a month. Or less. When the subway was a quarter. And even Broadway tickets were on average were under $40.

How anyone breaks into the theatre in this town today on a $10,000-$20,000 a year stipend and survives for more than a few years--absent a trust fund--is a miracle.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008


It's tightening...that's a real bounce for McCain. Most projections don't look like it's enough to even make it tight, but we still have a week. Bears watching.
The Last of Sheila - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

The movie was inspired by an irregular series of elaborate, real-life scavenger hunts Sondheim and Perkins arranged for their show business friends (including Lee Remick and George Segal in Manhattan in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The climax of one hunt was staged in the lobby of a seedy flophouse, where participants heard a skipping LP record endlessly repeating the first line of the Harold Arlen/Johnny Mercer standard One for My Baby (and One More for the Road) ("It's quarter to three...") The winning team eventually recognized the clue -- 2:45 -- and immediately headed for room 245 of the hotel, where bottles of Champagne awaited them.
Modern Fabulousity: Stage Addiction: Taking The Subway South:

Another monologue, If You See Something, Say Something -- Mike Daisey's examination of homeland security and nuclear history -- is currently packing in SRO crowds at Joe's Pub tucked inside the Public Theater, and rightly so. Daisey gained widespread attention last spring with his stage treatise How Theatre Failed America; in Something/Something, he again blends societal concern with personal memoir, parsing American political history with his own biography. The piece uses humor like a scalpel, carving the path for a startingly intimate fascination with Los Alamos and the Manhattan Project; if Daisey dawdles a bit over the minutiae of nuclear testing, it still rings with truth and enthusiasm. In other sections, though, the piece brandishes the threat of terrorism with verve, revealing our government's post-9/11 paranoia for the shiny, distracting bauble it is. Daisey has been on "artists to watch" lists too numerous to count of late...and it's deserved. If You See Something, Say Something makes the unmistakable case that Daisey, like Eric Bogosian before him, has become America's leading town crier, shouting into the wind of our desperate times, hoping we can still hear.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

If You See Something Say Something - Time Out New York:

The monologuist Mike Daisey has a masterful command of his art. Sitting alone at a simple desk, he is all-powerful for 100 minutes. When he wants you to laugh, you laugh; when he wants you to think, you think. Often, he can even get you to do both of these things at once. This is certainly the case in his latest project, If You See Something Say Something, in which the storyteller deftly weaves together disparate strands of narrative—about national security, personal insecurity, the military-industrial complex and the nuclear test site at the unholy Trinity, New Mexico—into one of his characteristically complex Daisey chains.

Daisey is a heavy man, prone to profuse sweating, with a frowny face that suggests a perpetual state of mild dismay; his generally thoughtful, probing manner sometimes flares into Lewis Black–style outrage. He is at all times exactly himself, yet in subtle ways, he winds up speaking for everyone. His delivery seems so spontaneous that you hardly notice how elegantly the show is structured, and he is so personable that even his counterintuitive points come off like common sense. The mix of personal and political in Daisey’s work puts him squarely in the Spalding Gray zone, but there is also a hint of Wallace Shawn in his sly subversiveness. He doesn’t draw you into the stories he tells—not exactly. Rather, he shows how, perhaps unawares, you have been part of them all along.
Sheep Pen
Gothamist: Pencil This In:

THEATER: Playwright and performer Mike Daisey—currently the lone member of the elite Gothamist three time interview club—is back at the Public Theater with his new solo show If You See Something Say Something. His previous hit, How Theater Failed America, hilariously skewered (among other things) the theater nerd obsession with Times critic Charles Isherwood. So it's mildly amusing that today the Ish himself weighs in on Daisey's latest opus, which "investigates the secret history of the Department of Homeland Security through the untold story of the father of the neutron bomb and a personal pilgrimage to the Trinity blast site."
Just how far the east...
Fighting the Void: Something in the Zeitgeist:

What I find fascinating is that unlike the opera “Dr. Atomic” which focuses on the story of the bomb’s creation, Daisey is, like me, more interested in the current echoes of the cold war with the present day. He seems to compare the heightened security measures of those two eras, especially those in major U.S. cities post-9/11.

From the review he seems to work from an honest place of fascination with the test site in Los Alamos, NM. The Trinity test site is where 7 Minutes to Midnight starts as this is the event which awakens Kronos, signaling him that it’s the end of the world and freedom awaits. In similar fashion, we move forward in time, examining how the atomic bomb affected us in the 1950s, the 1980s, and even now in the present day. And we’re using the myth of Kronos as a lens in which to see these differing times, taking a more abstract approach to the stories.
Prairie Fire Extraordinaire
Parabasis: How Theater Became America:

I have a friend who works for a theater. This story is going to sound familiar because it's ubiquitous.  He had to fight for a standard of living wage increase last year because the theater has run deficits for years.  Okay, understandable, we have hard times, you care about your company, you make sacrifices. But... and I'm sure you've already guessed what the kicker is here... they're building a multimillion dollar new space.  Even though they're arguing they can't afford to pay their staff a decent wage.  And it's not like they're saying "hey, included in this capital campaign is a wage increase for you guys, so just hold on, its coming".  They're saying "we can't give you this because times are tight".

Now, this friend doesn't come from money, and he doesn't have a spouse with a good job to support him.  Wouldn't you understand if that friend said "fuck this, I'm going to do theater as a hobby that i love and just go fucking make money somewhere?"  And if he did, we'd lose a very talented person who works long hours for shit pay because he loves being in a literary department and helping writers.

This is yet another way that theater has become america.
Pure part one
Theater Review - Examining the Echoes of Doctor Neutron -

Either Mike Daisey has impeccable timing — make that positively uncanny timing — or the gods of theater view this writer and performer with unusual benevolence.

In his absorbing if uneven new monologue, “If You See Something Say Something,” which opened on Monday night at Joe’s Pub, Mr. Daisey recounts the creation of the first atomic bomb at Los Alamos, N.M., in 1945. At the performance I caught, a low rumbling shook the floor just as Mr. Daisey described the white-knuckle moment of detonation.

An elaborate sound effect? No, merely the subway hurtling through a tunnel under Astor Place. I have heard the sound many times before during performances at the Public Theater, but on this occasion the timing was so precise that it added an eerie frisson of verisimilitude to the moment. A snaky chill crawled slowly up my spine and lingered for awhile.
Edge of Night

Monday, October 27, 2008

Confessions of a Naked Sushi Model:

For an hour and a half I laid there, while the men surrounding me drank and ate and stared, and sometimes poked at my bare body. Toward the end, I had to dart my eyes across the ceiling to avoid falling asleep. I was that comfortable, or that wishful for escape.

Changing back into my jeans and T-shirt, I took a first stab at evaluating my brief adventure in exhibitionism. What had I gained? I had an envelope stuffed with $150 of well-earned cash that might go toward an extra hour of therapy, or a new pair of shoes. I had a beautiful pink flower pinned to my hair and a teensy, matching thong still taped to my pelvis. I also had two slightly irritated nipples, a minor buzz from the sake Koko gave me after dinner, and a bizarre story sure to entertain my friends and, if necessary, provoke my parents. Then there was the group of men I’d never met before tonight—and, arguably, still had not “met”—who now possessed the mental image of me half-naked, sprawled across a table, covered in raw fish.

f is for fop
Variety - Theater Review: If You See Something Say Something:

Once again, Mike Daisey has proven himself that rare theatrical creature: An entertaining performer with something valuable to say. In his new monologue, "If You See Something Say Something," Daisey's personal eccentricities ground his critique of America's culture of fear, while hard facts about nuclear weapons and the Department of Homeland Security provoke his funniest observations. Ultimately, he blends the personal and the political so well that American xenophobia seems almost manageable -- a problem any of us can comprehend.
Something Has Been Seen... !
anarchy tooth vs. gold tooth
The Fifth Wall: Sarah Kane and "Blasted":

Critics make a lot out the connection that Kane drew between Blasted and Bosnia. Watching the production at Soho Rep, I also read it as a 9/11 play from a prescient leftie Brit. Read Ian as colonialist America and the soldier as al Qaeda hijackers. I don't like to reduce the play to political symbolism. But I think there's a connection between the European sense of surprise and horror at the Balkan violence and the American freak-out after the attack within our borders. When genocide and terrorism happens somewhere else, it's seen as mass dementia or inherent barbarity; when it happens to you, it's not so easy to dismiss. Kane's trying to shock the audience into seeing itself as Ian.

So, to get back to Isaac's question: what's the value in putting yourself through the play? Like other radical dramas (Woyzeck springs to mind), it shocks you out of complacency. It displays human behavior shorn of all Romantic trappings. It absolutely resists convention and cliché. It expands your conception of what it's possible to show and do onstage.
The Moon Is a Dead World is so alive at Annex - Friday, October 25, 2008:

This play opens with Russian cosmonauts dealing with the calamitous number of dead cosmonauts that have died in service of Russia's race with America into space. These cosmonauts know that there is no time to fix the mistakes that have brought down other rockets, so they know they are going to their death when their flight rotation is up.

This fascinating concept gets more fascinating when one of these cosmonauts ends up in an American observation post, having come back from the dead. The Americans can't believe what they're seeing and the cosmonaut can't understand what just happened to him. However, he realizes that he can read minds and repair his body, and is essentially God-like.

Annex's production, while typically low-budget, is an amazing display of MacGyverism, with working radio equipment, selectively connected lighting and a whole bunch of wedding dress material. Christopher Comte's crisp direction and Max Reichlin's great set design, along with Nate Redford's lighting and Michael Hayes' excellent sound support create a great reality for this unreal play.

The four actors - Zachariah Robinson as the cosmonaut Gregor, Jack Hamblin and Clayton Weller as the Americans in the outpost, and Pamala Mijarov as a female cosmonaut that is resurrected due to Gregor's love for her - are all excellent. Robinson is, at first, a vulnerable, bumbling would-be lover who becomes more and more of a megalomaniac as he understands his God-like power. Jack Hamblin is strong and pragmatic as the older, wiser American. Clayton Weller does a great second banana to the older guy, but finds himself more flexible mentally. Pamala Mijatov has a understated resolve and competence as the love who would not return love, and is all business as a tough cosmonaut.

Some of the dialogue is unforgettably pointed, as when Gregor agrees that he does know the future and what will happen, and Hamblin's character tells him, "Don't ruin it for the rest of us." In context, it's a terrific aphorism for how humanity must live life. Laughs come from unexpected twists and from sometimes grim dialogue with absurd lines thrown in. This is one of the best efforts Annex Theatre has produced, and that's saying a lot.
Ketel One Vodka - Nolet Distillery
Sarah Palin's War on Science:

With Palin, however, the contempt for science may be something a little more sinister than the bluff, empty-headed plain-man's philistinism of McCain. We never get a chance to ask her in detail about these things, but she is known to favor the teaching of creationism in schools (smuggling this crazy idea through customs in the innocent disguise of "teaching the argument," as if there was an argument), and so it is at least probable that she believes all creatures from humans to fruit flies were created just as they are now. This would make DNA or any other kind of research pointless, whether conducted in Paris or not. Projects such as sequencing the DNA of the flu virus, the better to inoculate against it, would not need to be funded. We could all expire happily in the name of God. Gov. Palin also says that she doesn't think humans are responsible for global warming; again, one would like to ask her whether, like some of her co-religionists, she is a "premillenial dispensationalist"—in other words, someone who believes that there is no point in protecting and preserving the natural world, since the end of days will soon be upon us.

Videos taken in the Assembly of God church in Wasilla, Alaska, which she used to attend, show her nodding as a preacher says that Alaska will be "one of the refuge states in the Last Days." For the uninitiated, this is a reference to a crackpot belief, widely held among those who brood on the "End Times," that some parts of the world will end at different times from others, and Alaska will be a big draw as the heavens darken on account of its wide open spaces. An article by Laurie Goodstein in the New York Times gives further gruesome details of the extreme Pentecostalism with which Palin has been associated in the past (perhaps moderating herself, at least in public, as a political career became more attractive). High points, also available on YouTube, show her being "anointed" by an African bishop who claims to cast out witches. The term used in the trade for this hysterical superstitious nonsense is "spiritual warfare," in which true Christian soldiers are trained to fight demons. Palin has spoken at "spiritual warfare" events as recently as June. And only last week the chiller from Wasilla spoke of "prayer warriors" in a radio interview with James Dobson of Focus on the Family, who said that he and his lovely wife, Shirley, had convened a prayer meeting to beseech that "God's perfect will be done on Nov. 4."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Opening day.

It's been the most intense tour of our lives, bringing IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING up into the light. We did it for the very first time in Santa Fe at the Lensic Center on June 26th, just 72 hours after closing HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA Off-Broadway at the Barrow Street. We'd never anticipated the response to HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA would be so intense that it would result in it transferring and extending, until the two monologues were right up against one another. I remember doing a lot of work on IF YOU SEE SOMETHING SAY SOMETHING onstage while performing HOW THEATER FAILED AMERICA, feeling the images slide and click in my my mind, elements sorting and falling, coming together in new combinations nightly while I performed another show entirely.

We've never had so much support for a new monologue, and that became part of the difficulty and high-stakes of its creation: after Santa Fe, where it was performed for many scientists from the weapons labs of Los Alamos, we took it to Washington DC, where we played at Woolly Mammoth. There it sold out to an absurd degree--every single show was packed, and it then extended to nearly double the original run, and we couldn't fit everyone in. In the theater people gave standing ovations, and then after the show in the lobby I heard from many people who felt the opposite--they were furious that I had talked about Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I had an audience member tell me that I was what was wrong with America one night, another tell me they were disgusted with me, and the American Spectator published a smear piece that said I was aiding and abetting terrorists with my seditious language, and that I was a traitor to the American people.

Behind the scenes things were just as contentious. Every night we'd do the show, and then the next morning, early, Jean-Michele and I would do hours and hours of notes—usually about three hours a day. Then I would spend another hour or two rebuilding the outline in response to the discussions...and then it would be time to do the show. There was no time for the show to breathe, as it was constantly up—and there was no time for us to breathe, either. We started to fight during notes, which always happens to some degree, but the arguments became more edged than the past, and both sides starting withdrawing from real discussion, eyeing each other across the table as though it had become a battlefield. Then Jean-Michele's grandmother, whom she's always been very close to, passed away—and this disrupted whatever equilibrium was left. So despite incredible responses and reviews, internally we were really hurting by the time we left DC—and the show was running too long, and needed to come into focus, but no one was left on the team to bring it into focus.

We had August "off", but instead of resting I was a cultural envoy for the US State Department to Tajikistan, which ate up most of the month—it was harrowing and fascinating and life-changing, but it didn't help the work in any way. Then 36 hours after returning from that journey we were on the West Coast, performing at the Time Based Art Festival in Portland. A fantastic experience—tremendous crowds, incredibly live and brilliant audiences, but again there was not a second in the day for reflection and work between performances, and we could feel it was still just beyond our reach.

Then we took it to Maine, for my alma mater in a one-night performance, and then to Chicago at the Museum of Contemporary Art...and this was now just ahead of us beginning previews at the Public. This was our last stand, and we stayed up late, every night, and worked all of every single day—the three performances in Chicago were completely different, with sections growing and shrinking, and the shape finally starting to emerge out of the mist. It had always been there, and that's why the reviews and response had always been good, but there is a difference between the rumor of a thing and the thing itself, and it was here that we wrestled it to the ground.

We also made our peace. We'd imperiled our work and even our marriage, because our collaboration is complete and total. We rededicated ourselves to listening to each other, giving space for ourselves and for the work. A lot of the suffering was because of schedule, overwork, and not giving enough time for us to help the show develop. Only in retrospect is it really clear how dangerous this had been, and how perilously we had threaded the needle.

We started previews at the Public an absurd 48 hours after landing back in NYC—our lighting design was forged and created in one intense day, and then audiences began arriving. We had five previews to shake out bugs before press started arriving, and the press gauntlet has been brutal—every day we wake up and it feels like this is the most important day of our lives, which is what the day before felt like, and the day before that, and onward and onward. What I am most impressed by is Jean-Michele's professionalism and demeanor, which has been a tremendous inspiration to me, and has really helped get through this period.

And now we give it all to you.

This is an illusion, of course—we've been giving it to everyone for night after night, for four months exactly since this monologue was born. But this night is a ritual of completeness, and we take our hands off of the machine, to let it be the monologue it wants to be. I am so happy that we fought hard for it, that we persevered, and I'm deeply grateful to everyone who has helped us on this path—family, colleagues, friends, audiences and you, generous reader.

I will see you on the other side,

Rust and Surf # 2

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Do You Know Where Your Slogan Is? - New York Times:

Another example is “If you see something, say something,” which is the theme of a security campaign introduced in 2002 for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

An online search yesterday for the phrase found 45,500 results on Google, 26,900 on Yahoo and 6,046 on They ranged from creative writing inspired by the slogan ( to a short comic film that uses the theme as its title (

“We wanted something that was punchy and catchy enough to not fade in the background,” said Christopher P. Boylan, a deputy executive director at the M.T.A., “and makes a connection with every one of our passengers.”

At the same time, said Allen Kay, chairman and chief executive at Korey Kay, “there was concern there could be backlash, concern we were using fear tactics,” so consumer research was used to determine perceptions of the theme.

The responses, Mr. Kay said, were along these lines: “People understood that officials could not be everywhere, so the M.T.A. was asking them to participate in each other’s safety.”

Still, there is some resistance to the slogan and its infiltration of the vernacular.

For instance, artists in Sydney, Australia, recently took part in an exhibit that questioned the campaign, which they labeled “a government-sponsored vision of the world” that asks people “to view those around us with fear and suspicion”
La Muerta
For the first time in three months I am at INBOX ZERO. I almost thought I was going to have to declare email bankruptcy at one point.


Karney Hatch, director of the documentary OVERDRAWN, about predatory lending practices in the American banking system. He's on a tour of America doing guerilla screenings on the sides of banks--this is a picture taken at just such a screening. I appear in the documentary, which is why I look like I am about to eat the director in this image.

Details here.
John Hodgman | The A.V. Club:

I have nothing against Sarah Palin. If anything, I think it's sort of tragic. She was clearly a Republican up-and-comer who, if they lose the election, her career has been dealt a very severe blow. We might think that's a good thing, but I'm just saying she was called up too early. She simply had no experience. Never mind whatever her thinking might have been on national issues, but she had never taken a position on a national stage before and she had no experience with the national media and that's what ultimately did her in. She didn't have the training. She's a quick study, obviously, but she's doesn't have the experience to talk to national reporters over and over and over again in a way that could make her seem confident and I think it really undid her.

And just because John McCain wants her to be great in his campaign that doesn't make it so, anymore than just because John McCain wants to believe that if he suspends his campaign and makes serious faces in Washington that the economic crisis will be averted. That's magical thinking. It doesn't make it so just because you want something. Just because John McCain wants to be President does not mean that it must happen.

That's the same magical thinking that really undid Hillary Clinton. It was like, "I don't need to put forward a compelling argument for my candidacy. My candidacy is a compelling argument for my candidacy. I want to be President. Obviously, you all know it's time. Let's get this over with." That wasn't good enough to go against somebody who I think really has looked at the reality of election, saw all the opportunities where he could make gains, saw that she was totally neglecting the caucus states, saw that that was a place where he could take an advantage, planned for it, took the advantage, and won. That's science. Do you know what I mean? That's reality triumphing over magical thinking.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Seattle Weekly - The Moon Is a Dead World:

I’m not entirely sure why Mike Daisey chose the Cold War as the background for his new play—possibly he wanted to avoid the political implications that necessarily accompany stories about more contemporary wars. Instead his focus is unrequited love, which happens to manifest itself in a satirized American listening post. Gregor (Zachariah Robinson), a nearly omnipotent—albeit dead—Soviet soldier, appears before two American officers (Jack Hamblin and Clayton Weller), who take him prisoner. As a general rule, though, don’t take omnipotent beings prisoner. Gregor breaks free with ease and turns the Americans into mental captives. He also covers the post in a warm snow because he feels like it. It doesn’t seem so unreasonable to lash out like that when the woman you love (Pamala Mijatov) rejects you in favor of another man, then dies, then leaves you to die alone only to discover post-mortem that you have superpowers. What do you do, Daisey asks, if you can do anything in the world except make someone love you? The question has been asked before, but certainly not under these particular circumstances. The Moon Is a Dead World is both conceptually and structurally unique, and director Christopher Comte has put together an entertaining production worthy of the script.
Bokeh fire  (Part3/3)  EHBW!!!!
ongoing · Understand Your User:

It’s like this: There’s only one person in the world whose needs and problems you really understand and whom you know exactly how to satisfy: that would be you. So build something that you use all the time, and, unless you’re really weird and different from everyone else, you’ve got a potential winner.

I can relate to this message myself. Everything I’ve done over the years that’s worked out well—software, standards, writing—everything, without exception, was something I did for myself. I’ve done the other thing too: built things based on guesses about what people out there might want or need. Never worked, not once.

I bet if you did a survey of successful musicians, artists, writers, or any group of creatives, you’d hear the same story. Sometimes you can guess what people want, and you might get lucky. But probably not, so go ahead and build what you know for sure one person needs.
Palin’s Makeup Stylist Fetches Highest Salary in 2-Week Period - The Caucus Blog -

Who was the highest paid individual in Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign during the first half of October as it headed down the homestretch?

Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staffer. It was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records.
A Witless Response from the TSA - Jeffrey Goldberg:

Kip Hawley, the TSA administrator, has responded to my article rather tepidly, I think. Read it for yourself, but this paragraph stood out for me:

Clever terrorists can use innovative ways to exploit vulnerabilities. But don't forget that most bombers are not, in fact, clever. Living bomb-makers are usually clever, but the person agreeing to carry it may not be super smart. Even if "all" we do is stop dumb terrorists, we are reducing risk.

Quite astonishing, actually, and something of an admission. As the article says, the entire system is designed to stop stupid terrorists. When it comes to smart terrorists, well, we're on our own.