Saturday, March 30, 2002

My friend Glenn disputes that the NYT's contention that web has become a boring, malaise-ridden place.

Friday, March 29, 2002

Well, this is really disturbing and funny: The Beatles wanted to film the Lord of the Rings in the 60s, casting themselves as all the major characters. The mind boggles.

Thursday, March 28, 2002

Great article today on the commercialization and borification that the Web has undergone, making it more and more dull. You would think that as more and more people came online we'd have endless diversity, but in the end it seems we get one N'Sync mp3 on endless repeat, mixed with my friends at selling us every last item on earth.

From the article:"How did the Web arrive at this juncture? Some people say that the rush to make money, in which profits mattered more than passion, was a significant driver."

As the Web Matures, Fun Is Hard to Find

How the hell do you lose track of something like this?

Smallpox Vaccine Turns Up

Malcolm Gladwell's latest essay in the New Yorker is a very interesting exploration of the social life of paper. Coming from Amazon, one of the places where the dream of a paperless office was absolutely NOT realized, I was captivated by this short essay on the benefits of paper as an information medium and Gladwell's analysis of how we use piles to organize and simulate our thought patterns. Neat stuff, especially on Dewey of decimal system fame.

Milton Berle and Dudley Moore have both left the building...and we are all the lesser for their absence. These two men were kings, and knowing we won't see any new and perfectly arch comments or half-drunken rejoinders again makes me very sad.

Wednesday, March 27, 2002

Woke up at 7am this morning thanks to construction next construction I mean "pneumatic drill", and by next door I mean "three feet from the head of my bed." God bless New York for its intimacies, but there are days when you wish that everyone could give you a little more peace and room. On the other hand it is a lovely spring afternoon, and while it is a tad chilly I can't complain about the sun and crystal-hard sky, or the way I can finally type this from the garden for the first time this year, even if occasionally my thoughts are punctuated by staccato jackhammer bursts.

I started out very fatigued because I hadn't gotten to sleep until 3am after a run of the show at the Cherry Lane for about 60 people, a showcase of where we are at in the rehearsal process. It went well--the show is really shaping up, and more than shaping concerns now the piece needs running, tightening and a heightened attention to emotional details. In other words, the recipe may be correct but now there's the matter of adjusting how much from each dish we give people, and how we arrange the course of the meal. That sounds less important, but it is may like goat cheese, but if you have to eat a pound and a half of it at one sitting you won't be liking it much anymore.

The book goes to press this Friday, and we are closing up the very last minute's so final and deliberate, and it's strange to watch the book walking off to live unaltered while I continue to tune and adjust the live show. It's amazing to see how far they've diverged from one another, and see how the two different mediums play different melodies with the same source material...they've really separated.

I need to go fax some forms, something I can't do easily despite all the technology in my house, so I need to cut this short. More soon.

Following up on the story from the other day, it appears that hundreds of Enron employees are contacting Playboy to pose nude. You know, when they don't protect your 401(k) packages a girl needs to make ends meet somehow...

Monday, March 25, 2002

Playboy to assemble "Women of Enron" issue.

Things are reaching a suicidal pace over here at Daisey Labs. The show is in full rehearsals now, and the work has really been intensive...Jean-Michele and Dan Fields have torn apart the show from top to bottom, and we've taken a lot of time putting it all back together again. Because I don't work from a script, creating a rehearsal process to identify material and shape it has been a big part of the process. It's a little like tearing an airplane apart, but not having any actual need to lay each piece out on a big sheet and then slowly figure out what they all do. It's been challenging work with a lot of pitfalls and roadbumps, but I'm very pleased with where we are heading...and I feel that I now have a much better idea of my own internal process of structuring and creating stories, which will make working on other shows a lot easier.

We've finished up all the filming for now, and Mr. Tynes heads back to Seattle tonight. We tried to show him a good time, and I think we did, but it's been mostly intensive work--he's taking a few well-deserved days off right now to actually see some of New York before he leaves town.

I have some more revisioning and editing of my outline to pack in before I get into rehearsal today.

Sunday, March 24, 2002

MAXIM had a Greatest City on Earth cover article this month that changes from city to city...they sent a different issue to different cities, so each city would feel like it was the best. Then they screwed up in Philadelphia, and hilarity ensued. I like MAXIM, because it keeps getting shallower and more advertising-driven than I even thought humanly just amazes me.

Saturday, March 23, 2002

THE GRADUATE was an interesting experience...we had rush tickets, so we were seated very close to the stage, which is interesting in such a huge house that has been optimized for the viewing of 1000+ people in a gigantic space. I was amazed, even with all my training, at how voices can project and carry--people weren't shouting at us at the distance we were at, but they filled the house. It's nice to see skills like that beingt put to work.

(Now I'll put on my theater critic hat.)

The set is a very interesting door motif, which captures the blandness of suburban living but makes it smart and spicy as well. There are some nice touches, and the transition pieces played downstage worked particularly well. There are also some lovely lighting choices, though some of the scenes turn out a tad dark for my taste, leaning on atmospherics rather than clarity.

The acting was good, but never exceptional...Kathleen Turner is a lot less "Body Heat" in this and a lot more "Battleship Potempkin" can really feel how mean she is, and the alcoholism is emphasized in the stage version. Her sexiness is not a strong factor, which makes the affair more dark and loathesome than the film's. Alicia Silverstone has a weird role that she does what she can with, but she seems to mostly vacillate between prepubescent child and idealistic nitwit--not her fault, really, as that's mainly what's written.

Jason Biggs has the hardest row to hoe. The main character of THE GRADUATE was so iconically captured by Dustin Hoffman in the film version that Biggs has an awful lot to live up to, and he just can't achieve it. I'm not certain who could, as the film allows certain intimacies that make the listless desperation of a lost young man much easier to communicate. In the second half he really picks up, after he finally has the objective of wooing the girl.

The weirdest element by far is the choice to end the play in a far different place than the movie. I don't know all the reasons they've done this...ending on a bus would be hard in a stage space, it wouldn't allow Kathleen Turner a big ending speech and it simply might come off in a TERRIBLE way on stage.

Instead they've completely re-envisioned the ending, using material from the original book perhaps, and while it is serviceable and might work it tastes very strange. Instead of being left with two people on a bus who may or may not have anything in common we get more pat and trite Hollywood resolutions--still barbed, but clear choices. That's the opposite of the film version, and in my mind was the film's greatest strength.

The new ending has some weight to it--it's not a total disaster. But by removing what mystery was central to the movie it distorts its source material instead of creating something fresh, and while it will be interesting to people who've seen the movie, it feels ultimately false.

(Theater critic hat off.)

So, not a total loss, and I'm certain with these stars and this name the play will do alright even if the critics savage it. It's not terrible by any length, but get rush's not worth full price.

We've been shooting video for the site all day down at Galapagos, a great bar over in Williamsburg, which actually wraps up ten days of shooting all over New York. All that video will now be traveling home with Mr. Tynes for editing, and delicious new movies will begin springing onto the site shortly thereafter.

Tonight is a brief respite from all the fear and uncertainty: we're going to see THE GRADUATE, with Kathleen Turner (of Body Heat), Alicia Silverstone (of Clueless) and Jason Biggs (of American Pie). We have good seats that we got on the cheap, so we're close to the stage...I will be doing my best to resist yelling, "PIEFUCKER! IT'S THE PIEFUCKER!" when Mr. Biggs makes his entrance.

More after the show.

Friday, March 22, 2002

Tickets are now available through Telecharge!

Thursday, March 21, 2002

Creepy applications of existing scannable driver's licenses

Wednesday, March 20, 2002

This is the coolest technology I've seen demonstrated in ages. The company's home page has more information on how it works.

Monday, March 18, 2002

A Reuters opinion piece details the seemingly inevitable cancelation of POLITICALLY INCORRECT. Maher can be an ass, but he has balls...the article makes a great point that there isn't any other television like this: precious little mixes comedy and commentary, a combination close to my heart.

I'm sad because I was hoping that one day I'd get to be a guest on the show, where my raison d'etre would be to act like a flaming liberal for the first third of the show, then become an ardent conservative for the next third, and in the final portion have an on-screen conversion to radical libertarianism. Usually people on P.I. never change their opinions one iota from start to finish, which isn't surprising as it is all of 22 minutes long.

Ah, well. It looks like a reprieve is unlikely, and it was never my favorite show, but I doubt we need the talk show which will doubtlessly replace it.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Roger Ebert explains why the fact that I missed seeing RESIDENT EVIL this weekend is actually a blessing. Who knew that was going to be bad...the long, noble history of video games turned into successful motion pictures would seem to indicate a sure thing. Funny world.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

I was so busy filming Friday that I missed the turmoil over Amazon and Toys R Us. Touted often as an example of how Amazon is a network with unlimited potential more than a simple retailer, sources are saying that Amazon is stretched thin, that there is grumbling unhappiness from other partners like Expedia, Hotwire and that Amazon overcharges, underdelivers and isn't the blissful business partner they expected. The latest casualty is Toys R Us, with 30% sales drops after shunting business to Amazon. On news of the troubles Amazon's stock headed down 8%.

New York Times: Amazon's sad toy story

New York Daily News: Toys 'R' Us Earnings Sink 30%

Seattle Times: Amazon stock slides after Toys R Us report

And with a late entry for the bad business idea awards, we have this: a video game company that is paying people to advertise on their headstones.

Friday, March 15, 2002

Business 2.0 presents their 101 Dumbest Moments in Business for the last year, and it's great. My favorite:

A dozen Burger King marketing execs suffer first- and second-degree burns while walking over hot coals as part of a team-building retreat in October. One of the injured, a VP for product marketing aptly named Dana Frydman, tries to put a positive spin on having her feet flame-broiled like so much ground chuck. "It made you feel a sense of empowerment and that you can accomplish anything," she tells the Miami Herald.

What on earth is Milla Jovovich wearing in this publicity shot for RESIDENT EVIL? It looks like she's in a micro-miniskirt, which is silly enough, but she seems to be wearing a red cocktail dress over the skirt, which is just bizarre.

God forgive me, I keep wanting to see this film. It's not so much the Milla...she doesn't really do it for me. It's more the weird previews I keep seeing for the film which end in a MATRIX-style karate kicking of an undead Doberman's head. There's something so improbable and delightful about attacking a really large, recently deceased dog with martial arts that insistently begs me to see this film. The fact that Webmaster John, my chief accomplice in the viewing of all terrible cinema, is in town only heightens my expectations.

Luckily I'll be busy shooting film all day long on some projects with John, which should keep me away from this movie...that weird assemblage dress Milla's got on should serve as a final warning to me, and I'll try to stay on the straight and narrow.

Thursday, March 14, 2002

Now this story sounds eerily like every post-apocalyptic film I've ever seen. And while dissections of fame are frequently tedious, this is a pleasantly meaty and well-built analysis of the 16th minute of fame...all these hordes of half-celebrities clinging television time on "Fear Factor" and "Weakest Link." I think it is a very interesting growth industry for television--I love that Darva Conger can *still* get into the news, now that I can only faintly remember why she has any celebrity in the first place.

Fashion do's and don'ts guide from David Sedaris in the pages of Esquire. What a nice young man.

"That's the way I feel after I see Chevy Chase movies," said Hicks. "I pace the floor, I can't sleep, I'm frightened. Are they makin' another 'Fletch'? How does this guy do it -- is it a pact with the devil? Every one of his movies sucks. And then I go, 'Maybe they should, you know, skin Chevy Chase and put his skin on a funny person.'"

Wednesday, March 13, 2002

Here is a geek-talk briefing on the wonders of Google from the inestimable Cory Doctorow. The counterpoint can be found here at Slashdot, where Richard Selzer discusses Google's weaknesses and AltaVista's strengths, which is interesting as I was trashing AltaVista earlier today.

I know, I know...geek talk abounds. Later today I will talk about theater and writing, but how could that be better than discussing the nature of search engine indexing?

If you're like me, you've found you rely on Google to handle all your searching--it's fast, effective and it's the least compromised by corporate entities. This article at the BBC talks about "Googlebombing," a new tactic being used to artificially inflate rankings and ensure your site is near the top. It's the sort of thing that made Altavista unusable a few years ago--I hope the people at Google can fix it. Thought you should know in case all your searches for "roman aqueducts" start beinging up "make $$$$ NOW!" and "Hair Loss Solutions!"

The interesting case of Ravi Gunvant Desai, a Harvard graduate and dot-com executive that appears to be unable to stop himself from lying.

Tuesday, March 12, 2002

Well, here it is--the site has been completely overhauled. I've been neglecting the old site for a couple of weeks, working on this new version with Webmaster John and Editor Jean-Michele, and let me tell you it is a relief to see it actually go live. We outgrew the old nav structure about as soon as we moved into it, and now this blog is front and center on the main page, which makes sense as it's what everyone checks most often. I'm fond of what we've done, but it is a work in progress--so please email us if you should see problems or issues that need tending to.

There's so much to discuss, including the confirmed run at the Cherry Lane, the upcoming book tour and a million other flittering thoughts, but I just had a really solid, sharp performance of the first 1/2 of the show tonight, for an invited audience, and now I am thoroughly exhausted. Tomorrow I'll fill in details on the theater, the process we're going through, the book's status and more on the website. For now I want to relax in the tub and stop thinking, for just a few minutes, about all this great hoopla.

The light spikes from the WTC are breathtaking.

A decent look at the benefits of using nukes to propel rockets. Interesting, though it will anger dolphin-huggers.

Friday, March 08, 2002

Tuesday, March 05, 2002

This is a well-documentedBush/Enron chronology that has a definite leftist bent, but does a good job backing up a lot of its main contentions.

Monday, March 04, 2002

Like to waste time on the Web? Of course you do. Aaron Clinger has built this intriguing Shockwave construction for your amusement...thanks to Chris for bringing it to my attention.

Known more for its literate smut, Nerve offers this opinion piece on Britney Spears. It's a little easy, since Spears has made herself an easy target, but the author accurately diagnoses the problems that will keep haunting her image.

Ginger passes along this brief anecdote in her blog that I found moving because it is so common and inescapable. I'm being cryptic so you'll follow the link; it's worth the trip.

Saturday, March 02, 2002

I can't believe that a supposedly internet-savvy Republican running for governor of California is sending spam. I wish I could go and vote against him...but there's some revenge, like this statement from his ISP informing the world his site has been kicked for spamming. When his site returns, I urge you to go visit and lay waste to his server, flood his inboxes and sign him up for every free sample of female Viagra and barely-legal sexxx club you can find on the net. I know I will.

Friday, March 01, 2002

Ladies and Gentlemen, I present THE EYE OF ARGON, which very well may be the worst piece of fiction in existence, anywhere. I could not look away from this car wreck.

From Reuters: Inc. chief executive and founder Jeff Bezos accelerated his selling of Amazon stock this month, unloading his biggest stake ever in the Internet retailer.

Mr. Bezos sold 2.95 million in Amazon shares valued at about $36.2 million during the first week of February, company spokesman Bill Curry confirmed. That exceeded Mr. Bezos's share sales for all of last year in both total number of shares and dollar value of shares sold. Mr. Bezos sold 2.2 million shares valued at approximately $27.3 million during 2001, according to Thomson Financial/Lancer Analytics, which tracks insider data and regulatory filings.

Some analysts said Amazon should provide an explanation for the February increase. "I do think this is a big enough deviation from historical patterns that I'm surprised there wasn't some explanation given," said Lauren Levitan, an analyst at Robertson Stephens.

This piece on the fall of Excite@Home shows exactly how the cable giant failed to provide service, and how that slopiness caught up to the company in spades, despite the best efforts of hired guns brought in to turn it around. I had Excite@Home service in 2000, and it was one of the most miserable experiences I have ever had with any company--it warms my heart to read that I wasn't crazy when I experienced one email out of every three not getting to its destination. I remember telling the CS rep that it was that bad and listening to them read from their three-ring binder of approved answers how my Macintosh must be eating the messages. If I could have those hours back now...well, it's good to know that in this postmortem they admit that for every million messages, 350,000 were failing. i only wish they were still around so I could throw a book at them, or get in on a class action suit. Bastards.