Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The 10,000 Hours Rule (Creativity Tuesday) | mama nervosa:

As has been well-documented, I like instant gratification a lot. And as has also been documented, I just don’t have a lot of time to dick around, and I am craving creative outlet, and I can write so much more in an hour than I can draw. I can sing so much in my car, and get good (again) so much faster. I was singing in the car on the drive home after seeing Mike Daisey’s transcendant “American Utopias” performance, and I felt myself move to the next level of singing ability: high notes were suddenly easier to reach, my lung capacity has grown just a little, my voice is more nimble over notes than it was a month ago. I love that.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seth's Blog: Should you work for free?:

The challenge of this calculus is that it keeps changing--the landscape changes and so does your work. When I started my professional speaking career fifteen years ago, not only did I speak for free, my company even paid money to sponsor events so I could speak for free. When TED offered me a chance to speak for free, years later, I took it, because, in fact, the quality of the audience, the attention to detail and the chance to make an impact all made it worth it. But when SXSW, a corporation that makes millions of dollars a year, offers me a chance to be a speaker, pay my own way and hope to get some attention from their very overloaded audience, it's easier for me to say, "free makes no sense here."

Monday, February 25, 2013

A Summer with Stanley Kubrick | Unframed The LACMA Blog:

Another mystery quickly developed when the studio received a call from the manager of the Loews Capitol Theatre, MGM’s 5,500-seat showcase theater on Broadway (second largest in New York after Radio City Music Hall’s 5,700 seats). The projectionist was threatening to go on strike and close the theater, which meant no more showings of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Someone saying they were from MGM had gone into the projection booth and was using a chisel to file the aperture frame to remove the built up dust from the carbon arc projectors so that there would be sharp, not fuzzy, edges on the theater screen.

The arclight, or carbon-arc lighting, was the illumination source in movie projectors at the time. As the carbon rods burned down, they smoked and threw off dust that would adhere to the edges of the aperture frame with the result of projecting fuzzy edges on the screen. Kubrick did not like the distraction of fuzzy edges, so he brought his chisel into the projection booth to clean the edges so 2001 would be seen with crisp, clean edges on the screen. The mystery of where Kubrick had been was solved, and all future projectionists of 2001: A Space Odyssey would receive written instructions from the director stating how he expected his movie to be projected.

Former White House Press Secretary: Treating Drones Like a Secret Is 'Inherently Crazy' - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic:

"When I went through the process of becoming press secretary, one of the first things they told me was, 'You're not even to acknowledge the drone program. You're not even to discuss that it exists,'" he answered, explaining how that made for some awkward interactions with a press corps that knew it was real. "Here's what's inherently crazy about that proposition: You're being asked a question based on reporting of a program that exists. So you're the official government spokesperson acting as if the entire program -- pay no attention to the man behind the curtain."

That's a Wizard of Oz allusion. A federal judge has previously written that Team Obama's secrecy claims remind her of Alice in Wonderland. Gibbs went on to say, "I think what the president has seen is, our denial of the existence of the program when it's obviously happening undermines people's confidence overall in the decisions that their government makes."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Used bookstore in Iowa City with a great idea--some books are wrapped up surprises. You don't know what they are, and buy them based on a six word clue written on the wrapping. Used bookstores win because in an era when algorithms seem to dominate, it's the space with the most interesting actual curating. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Five Technical Rehearsals in India

Created and Performed by Mike Daisey
Directed by Jean-Michele Gregory

One Performance Only
Joe's Pub at the Public Theater
March 12th at 9:30pm


The latest piece in an explosion of new work by Mike Daisey,
Five Technical Rehearsals in India is the technicolor story of his five-city tour across India, told through the narrative of five disastrous technical rehearsals in five different theaters across the country. From the slums of Calcutta to the high-tech warrens of India’s call centers, from Bollywood prop shops to Bombay curry houses, from the American consulate’s political maneuverings to a multinational corporation’s hunger for workers, Daisey takes us on an unforgettable journey across a brilliant and unpredictable land…and in the process discovers anew the illusion and enduring power of theatrical performance.

"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. He is at all times exactly himself, yet in subtle ways, he winds up speaking for everyone. He doesn’t draw you into the stories he tells—instead he shows how, perhaps unawares, you have been part of them all along."

"Daisey's skill is that he is able to talk about the historical and make it human, the personal and make it universal, so that the listener is both informed and transformed."

"What distinguishes him from most solo performers is how elegantly he blends personal stories, historical digressions and philosophical ruminations. He has the curiosity of a highly literate dilettante and a preoccupation with alternative histories, secrets large and small, and the fuzzy line where truth and fiction blur. Mr. Daisey’s greatest subject is himself."

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Stupid, Stupid xBox!! « iLike.code:

xBox’s primary critical problem is the lack of a functional and growing platform ecosystem for small developers to sell digitally-/network-distributed (non-disc) content through to the installed base of xBox customers, period. Why can’t I write a game for xBox tomorrow using $100 worth of tools and my existing Windows laptop and test it on my home xBox or at my friends’ houses? Why can’t I then distribute it digitally in a decent online store, give up a 30% cut and strike it rich if it’s a great game, like I can for Android, for iPhone, or for iPad? Oh, wait, I can… sort of. Read some of the fine-print at the xBox registered developer program page (that “membership” would cost you $10,000/year and a ton of paperwork, with Microsoft holding veto power over your game being published), navigate the mess through to learning about XBLA (also costly, paperwork and veto approval) and you may end up learning about a carved off little hard-to-find store with a few thousand stunted games referred to as XBLIG where Microsoft has ceded their veto power (and instead just does nothing to promote your games). This is where indie developers have found they can go in order to not make money on xBox, despite an installed base of 76M devices. Microsoft, you are idiotic to have ceded not just indie game developers but also a generation of loyal kids and teens to making games for other people’s mobile devices.

Friday, February 15, 2013

ArtsEmerson ignites TNT Festival of contemporary theater - Theater & art - The Boston Globe:

One festival participant who’s already well known to Boston audiences is Daisey, who’ll perform “American Utopias” Friday and Saturday on the Paramount’s main stage. The monologist was already penciled in on ArtsEmerson’s schedule before the festival was set, and tickets to his show are not included in festival passes.

Orchard has a longstanding relationship with Daisey, and says he wasn’t put off by the controversy that erupted in 2012 over fabrications in Daisey’s “The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs,” for which the performer eventually apologized.

“There’s an example of an artist who is evolving in ways that come from both positive and negative experiences, as we all do,” Orchard says. “I totally and fully and confidently back Mike Daisey the artist. If I was bringing in Mike Daisey as a journalist, I would have some second thoughts. But I’m not.”

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Die Hard's Latest Breaks New Ground in Incoherence and Stupidity - Page 1 - Movies - New York - Village Voice:

One thing that is clear is that one of those heroes is purportedly "John McClane," a human male we've seen before. But time and indifferent scripting have streamlined him for nothing but brute, relentless motion, leaving us with an engine part we may as well just call Die Hard. He's embodied, again, by Bruce Willis. The other hero is Die Hard Jr. (Jai Courtney). Junior is a CIA agent who—if I have this straight—is sent undercover to Moscow to pretend to attempt to murder an oligarch in a nightclub so that he—Die Hard Jr.—can wind up testifying in the trial of a Russian political prisoner whom the CIA will bust out of a Moscow courtroom so that he—the political prisoner—can lead Die Hard Jr. to a very important file. Your interpretation of all this might vary from mine, as no two viewers will assemble the same narrative from this Rorschach of running men, crashing glass, and hollered exposition.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

“Art Is What You Can Get Away With”: Intervening Warhol with Miguel Gutierrez | Art21 Blog:

MG: I made a song called “Like Money on The Wall” out of his quotation. [sings] Say you’re going to buy a two hundred thousand dollar painting / I think you should take that money / tie it up and hang it on the wall / then when someone visited you / the first thing they would see is the money on the wall.

That’s genius. This idea that instead of getting a two-hundred thousand dollar painting, just tie that money up on the wall because that’s basically what you’re trying to show people. I do think it’s really satisfying to hear that named. Though it’s funny because I was singing the song next to an actual Warhol on the museum’s wall.

Even as he was playing into this intense bourgeois notion of artist and patron and commission, he was completely aware of its implications, and how it can belie the process of making work, exposure, need, and voice.

MP: And motivation.

MG: Yes, and who has access and who doesn’t.

How Netflix is turning viewers into puppets -

I hit the pause button roughly one-third of the way through the first episode of “House of Cards,” the political drama premiering on Netflix Feb. 1. By doing so, I created what is known in the world of Big Data as an “event” — a discrete action that could be logged, recorded and analyzed. Every single day, Netflix, by far the largest provider of commercial streaming video programming in the United States, registers hundreds of millions of such events. As a consequence, the company knows more about our viewing habits than many of us realize. Netflix doesn’t know merely what we’re watching, but when, where and with what kind of device we’re watching. It keeps a record of every time we pause the action — or rewind, or fast-forward — and how many of us abandon a show entirely after watching for a few minutes.

Netflix might not know exactly why I personally hit the pause button — I was checking on my sick son, home from school with the flu — but if enough people pause or rewind or fast-forward at the same place during the same show, the data crunchers can start to make some inferences. Perhaps the action slowed down too much to hold viewer interest — bored now! — or maybe the plot became too convoluted. Or maybe that sex scene was just so hot it had to be watched again. If enough of us never end up restarting the show after taking a break, the inference could be even stronger: maybe the show just sucked.

Marco Rubio's Water-Bottle Moment : The New Yorker:

It was a defensible act, and perhaps several minutes overdue, but physically clumsy to such a magnificent degree that it smudged out the actual meaning of everything he had said before and everything he would say after. That such a thing could happen, that Rubio’s very human need for water in a time of stress could become the defining moment of a fourteen-minute policy speech, will be cited by many contrarians as further evidence of the shallowness and vapidity of the media class and of the public at large. Well, fine, but that’s scoring easy points—and no one will suggest that what Rubio said about the housing crisis, government spending, or which party cares more about solving the immigration crisis is somehow not important or worth discussing. But it is significant, too, that the people watching the speech, people who are at once an audience to entertainment and participants in the civic enterprise, found it so transfixing. Twitter, which gives quick voice to the American cultural id, was the venue for a flood of mocking and gleeful gut responses. (The best, for my money, came later, from the flop-sweat extraordinaire Albert Brooks: “I didn’t see Marco Rubio’s speech but I just got a residual check.”) Yet the flexing cleverness may have obscured a deeper feeling that we, as seasoned viewers of bland and staged political theatre, had just made an uncomfortable personal connection that we were not expecting, and did not enjoy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Jonah Lehrer Apologizes, Cashes In On Notoriety - Forbes:

If you commit serious, highly public ethical breaches, in journalism or any other field, you don’t have to apologize. You can remain silent. Disappear. Go into another field. If you want to return to the endeavor whose rules you violated, along the public’s trust and institutional standards designed to maintain that trust, it’s reasonable to expect some kind of reckoning. That’s what we have Oprah for. Lance Armstrong-style confessionals may be overrated, but they serve a purpose.

But such confessionals demand at least the trappings of sincerity, whether it’s truly felt or not. By taking $20,000 for his mea culpa (an amount most working freelance journalists could put to good use), Lehrer casts the whole thing into doubt. The problem is self-evident. You can’t put a price on honesty. Would he have said the same things for $10,000, or $500, or nothing? If he’d been paid $50,000, would we have gotten an even-more abject self-reflection? Before today, I didn’t think you could prostitute a “I throw myself on the mercy of the court of public opinion” statement. I was wrong.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Racism Doesn't Exist in Tech Because White Tech Blog Millionaire Jason Calacanis Has Never Seen It:

Silicon Valley is built on a series of myths, but none is more important than the myth that individual resolve can overcome the weight and inertia of systems. (There is someone out there right now, I guarantee you, seeking to "pivot" race, and thereby "disrupt" racism.) Calacanis and his ilk have no interest in examining the systemic effects and implicit biases that, in aggregate, result in white, male mastheads and employee lists because it might lead them to understand that their success was determined not by their talent and drive only but also by the institutional advantages of their whiteness and maleness.

Such an understanding would be dangerous to Silicon Valley, not just because it would undermine its own maverick self-image, but because it would demonstrate that there are systems and forces that no single individual can overcome, no matter how many Tim Ferriss books he's read. "The resolve of the individual" didn't make Calacanis' stint as manager of Netscape successful; it also didn't save Mahalo. It's not going to magically make Twitter or Tumblr profitable, either. Once that's understood, who's going to keep pumping capital into the valley?

This American Life Tells Local Podcaster: No Whores Allowed - San Francisco - Arts - The Exhibitionist:

At first glance, Chicago Public Media's action could sound like a mundane, predictable, and maybe even reasonable request. Organizations of all kinds are required by law to protect their copyrights and trademarks or lose them to the public domain. And the name of Q's podcast certainly evokes Glass's classic show. But a closer look makes CPM's actions against Q seem specifically targeted to avoid being associated with whores, rather than part of a general strategy to protect their brand. Other podcasts with similar titles include This American Life Total, for fans of Magic the Gathering and other trading card games; This American Wife, which has over 60 episodes and directly parodies Ira Glass; and This American Horror Story, for fans of the television show. In addition, PBS airs a weekly series about the environment called This American Land. It's hard to argue that CPM and Glass have been diligent in asserting exclusive rights to use of "This American _________" in media productions.

A blog post by sex worker activist Maggie Mayhem spoke for many: "Our stories aren't often told because they're illegal to talk about and that creates the isolation that can drive you crazy over time.... We cannot access the resources that Ira Glass has to tell our banned, censored, taboo, NSFW stories, but we live and experience every moment. To hear that NPR would threaten a lawsuit to a podcast being run out of an apartment that is telling a story that is just as real and American as all the others but is literally illegal to share in the format of its namesake is disgusting."

The action against Siouxsie Q and its responses does prove the truth of that one simple insight that has made This American Life so beloved in our culture: Stories are important. In this case, the staff of This American Life have stepped out of their usual role of reporting on stories and instead become part of one. To sex workers, it's a story that is as familiar as it is ugly.

"It's less about the name," Siouxsie Q says, "and more about the narrative of people with power telling people without power how they should get their voices out there."

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Longer, louder, faster: A manifesto of sorts | Superfluities Redux:

In terms of excessive length, the most recent example is the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma’s Life & Times. The first four parts of this very long work (which may, in the end, reach 24 hours) can be experienced either as a marathon or sequentially. This requires, obviously, a major investment of time (and in some cases money) for anyone who wishes to experience it as a whole. Because of this, it raises the question whether or not the audience for this experience is composed of a rather peculiar elite: an elite that can afford the time and the money to see it. After all, time spent with Life & Times is time not spent someplace else, at work, with family, or at even another play. Through its excessive vision and practice, is NTOK actually alienating and shutting out that portion of the audience that does not have the temporal or economic resources to attend?

And it is perhaps a question of resources. What I am left with, in the end, is a question about whether the theatre should concentrate on doing more with less once again, instead of more with more (or, in the worst cases, less with more). We are constantly reminded of the extent to which corporations and governments are co-opting swathes of land, of money, of natural resources that might be better left to the conservation of smaller groups. When theatre artists attempt to similarly exploit those resources — of sensual tolerance, of attention, of individual agency, of time, of money — is it not just as arrogant, just as authoritarian? Is it not yet another imposition of the collective or the dictatorial artist upon individual consciousness and the ability to make sense of the world? If we are encouraged to conserve our planet’s resources for the use of others, artists should consider conserving these resources for the use of other artists and their audiences as well.