Sunday, December 29, 2013


Write something already...  Transitioned the old tower to the new NAS.  Can't quite figure out how to make iTunes work smoothly with remote files...  Terrorist attackes in Russia in the run up to the Olympics aren't confidence inspiring...  Getting ready for another First Night Pittsburgh - I think this is number seven...  Really over hearing from people that "don't like Obamacare."  The program has barely started.  That's not distaste, it's fear...  Mrs. TANBI and I are watching season one of Game of Thrones.  It's not as porny as I was lead to believe (yet anyway)...  One of the top stories of the year in Pittsburgh news was the duck.  We ought to look more closely at what we call news...  The Steelers missed it by that much, or at least Succup missed it by that much...  CMU has created an official response to "stress culture" on campus; and no it isn't getting everyone in a room and shouting: "GET OVER IT ALREADY"...  We had a fine time visiting Arizona last week even if it was a little chilly...  The NSA has been intercepting computers between vendors and customers to install spying devices.  That's some staggering logistics work...  The nursery is coming together.  I did the other toy box today...  Ted Cruz is still a Senator...  The other day I bought a laminator because it was on Woot and who doesn't need a laminator?  Yesterday we used it on a paying gig...  Was a bummer to see that Dominick's is going out of business.  Probably more of a bummer for people that actually still shopped there...  This version of Firefox doesn't know the word laminator...  I finished a Honeydo item that's been hanging around since almost when we bought the house today.  Took maybe 10 minutes.  I should write a book on procrastination (when I get around to it)...  Looks like my best man Mitch got engaged.  At least his Facebook appears to show he asked...  The weather really didn't give me a chance to finish up the yardwork this fall.  Maybe we'll have an atypical warm, dry January...  The truck is making an "I'm really very old" kind of sounds.  Not something I was looking forward to...  We're still working on names...  I sucked it up and read my FCEs.  Apparently my feedback could use some work.  Tell me something I didn't know.  Also, if you care so much about feedback, why not come by the office and ask?  More complained than had come by...  I splurged out of control and bought more items for my garage shop.  With what I spent I probably ought to make something... American Hustle is worth a trip to the multiplex...  We were at the BW3 the other night when it was over-run by MMA fans.  Who knew?  Not us...  Someone needs to show me how to use this new game console emulator...  If someone buys something for you off of one of your registries or wish lists, and you are a Prime subscriber, then they should get the free 2 day shipping you would if you'd bought it yourself.  Sez me...

Saturday, December 28, 2013

This Week's Matchup & Last Week's Scores

Fairly certain we're out of this and just playing out the string.  Here's this week - it looks pretty good:

but we all know what that's worth.  Here's last week, which also looked much much better than this:

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

All David Honor Roll

Haven't done one of these in a while I think.

Congrats to everyone that had a great semester:

Jess Bertollo
Jamila Cobham
AJ Cook
Luke Foco
Shannon Henley
Sophie Hood
Micheal James
Adam Kennard
Cat Meyendorff
Frank Meyer
Chris Norville
Andrew O'Keefe
Phillip Rheinheimer
Becca Stoll
Zoe Westbrook

Well Done!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

I Can See the End

Last day, last session.

Tuesday PM Session:

Winding things up are Junior TD Sean...

... I screwed up his picture and we had to reshoot.

And Senior PM/SM Zoe...

... in whom I appear to have triggered an existential crisis by asking:

What makes you unique?

What do you want?

What's next?

Truth be told those are tough questions for anyone.

And the Semester Reviews Continue

Last day.

Tuesday AM Session:

We start out with Senior PM/SM/Sound Designer Becca...

... I'm not sure what's up with this pose.

Next is Junior PM/SM Kassondra...

... she asked if I wanted a smile or a frown.  I left it to her.

And wrapping up the morning is Senior PM/SM/Scenic Designer Sophia...

... there was a lot on this board that wasn't PM/SM or Scenic Design.

1 Out of 9 Won't Get It Done

Monday, December 16, 2013

It's Like They Never End

Monday PM Session:

We start, move on, and wrap up with Sophomore TD Isaac...

... who makes these schedules anyway?

The Fall Reviews Continue

Back from a restful weekend.

Monday AM Session:

First up is Senior PM/SM AJ...

... it's nice when the guys decide to wear a tie.

Next is newly minted Sophomore PM/SM Camille...

... who intends to take as much Technical Direction as possible!

Moving along to Junior BXA TD Cathy...

... she appears to have no arms.

And wrapping up with newly minted Sophomore TD Simone...

... her eyes were closed, I should have checked.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Finish up the Week

One more session before the weekend.

Friday PM Session:

Starting out our last session of the week is Sophomore BXA PM/SM Aamer...

... as last minute advice I told him to wear pants.

Next up is newly minted Sophomore PM/SM Jess...

... Sarah wants Jess to stand up straight.

Rounding out the week is Senior PM/SM Tim...

...his nose probably looks better the original way.

Semester Reviews Day Two

With the grads behind us we move on to the undergrads.

Friday AM Session:

We'll start off with JuniorTD David...

... he had a project this semester where he created a company called  Allegheny Sceneshop Solutions - or ASS (oops).

Next we have newly minted Sophomore PM/SM Lindsay...

... we'll have to get all her paperwork going the same way next time.

Moving along to Junior BXA PM/SM Rachel...

... who spends as much of her crits talking about buggy as we will let her.

Finishing up the first session is Senior PM/SM Shannon...

... she had me change up the PPP syllabus - for the better I think.

End of a Long Day

Good grad admissions numbers have meant that "Grad Day" needs three sessions to get to everyone.  Any better on the recruiting end and we'll probably have to break this format.

Thursday Evening Session:

Beginning this session with Grad2TD Adam...

... he had a working Shoji fan.

Next is Grad1PM/SM Attitra...

... who's board had everyone thinking about Elle Woods.

Moving on to Grad3TD Luke...

... he was like a straw hat away from being "Brother Luke."

Wrapping up a long day is Grad2PM/SM Tyler...

... who displayed the "Don't Suck" button as a tribute.

Semester Reviews Continued

Grad Day continues.

Thursday PM Session:

We start off with Grad1PM/SM Abagail...

... for a short time this fall she was a member of my spelling police.

Next is Grad1TD Frank...

... Frank might be roadie scale.

Moving on to Grad3PM/SM Jessica...

... she's also been a big part of the #NFTRW Podcast team.

And we round out the session with Grad2TD Joe...

... he learned Inventor this semester.  I guess I should put that on my list.

Fall 2013 Semester Reviews

A few pictures.  The first day, Thursday, in the fall has become "Grad Thursday."  We start there.

Thursday, AM Session:

Starting with Grad2TD Andrew...

... who's crit board may be violating an NDE.

Moving on to Grad2PM/SM Christina...

... who did some lovely Technical Direction paperwork.

And then Grad3PM/SM Jamila...

... she's researching a festival in Braddock for her thesis.

Next is Grad3PM/SM Cat...

... she's been doing a great job for me on the Podcast.

Finishing up the first session we have Grad2PM/SM Jody...

... ok, that's not Jody.

Saturday, December 14, 2013


So, the NAS is assembled and running, and what I've discovered is how little I know about using the darn thing...  Really depressing to have gotten to the one year Newtown anniversary with so little having happened...  The Steelers play tomorrow night.  It's possible nobody really cares...  Wondering if going to see the Hobbit sequel without having seen the first one is a bad idea...  It seems like we're evading most of the snow this time, although the alternate has been rain, which has been swell...  Halfway through the fall semester reviews.  I'll probably post some pictures tomorrow...  I've now had a lousy cold with a cough for three weeks.  Here's hoping it can finish running its course already...  The #Nerdland show on MSNBC might be the best news show on television these days...  Haven't heard much about the website recently.  I guess the website is working...  I decided this semester to not let the grading pile up on me.  Now that the semester is over I can say for certain that I didn't make that goal...  After consideration I am fairly sure I need a garbage can for my desk at home...  Roku and Slingbox got together finally and I am thrilled... I finished binging Leverage on Netflix.  The series had a good ending, but I wish it hadn't so much ended.  Also, all things being equal I would rather watch Hustle...  Mulling over the idea of doing a "David's Crit" again, and yet it never seems to happen...  Got myself a couple of new dad books.  I'm not sure it will help...  I think I would like to give an unqualified recommendation for the EyeFi SD card.  I got one for my camera a while ago but hadn't really used it yet.  Then this week a bunch of stuff just happened automatically - no cables, no menus, way cool... 

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are some posts from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time...

Substantive Work

From the President | Actors' Equity Association: Substantive work is what I think we’re all looking for: work that means something, work that challenges us, work that makes a difference. Sometimes that’s a meaty role, sometimes it’s being a modest part of a terrific production, sometimes it’s just a job that makes a significant contribution to our monthly nut.

Nelson Mandela dies: His legacy to the arts Many people know that Nelson Mandela’s life inspired novels, poems, plays and films, but few people know how powerful his effect on the theater was and how powerful the theater’s effect was on him.
The theater served as a mirror to Mandela, each side influencing and reflecting the other, placing them both in time.

Frank Rich on His Friendship With Stephen Sondheim

New York Magazine: There are few things that remain constant in life, but for me one of them is this: Stephen Sondheim’s work has touched me for more than half a century. It did so when I was first listening to records as a child, when I didn’t know his name or much else, and it does so right this minute, as songs of middle-aged regret like “Too Many Mornings” and “You Must Meet My Wife” are randomly shuffled into my headphones by iTunes. It’s unusual to remain so loyal to a single artist. We tend to outgrow our early tastes and heroes. It’s even more unlikely to have that artist materialize in person and play a crucial role in one’s life—as Sondheim first did when I was 21 and he was 40. Since then, with some lengthy intermissions along the way, he’s been a mentor, an occasional antagonist, a friend, and even an unwitting surrogate parent.

Contract Mumbo Jumbo You Really Should Read (And Understand)

Pro Sound Web: It’s been 45 days, you’ve completed the work and you haven’t received final payment. Now you find out your contract included a paid-when-paid provision you didn’t notice. Sound familiar? You are not alone.
Let’s identify some of the most significant contract clauses to watch out for when reviewing your prospective subcontract agreement.
By taking the time to understand and negotiate these danger clauses, it also paves the way for a greater understanding of the shifting risks toward the subcontractor.

Seek Nominees for Jefferson Mentorship Program Two African-American students will be chosen to attend the Fort Worth 2014 Conference & Stage Expo as part of a new diversity mentorship program honoring the late Tayneshia Jefferson.
Any USITT member may nominate a deserving African-American student for the Tayneshia Jefferson Mentorship Program by submitting a letter of recommendation to by January 29.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Something different this week: all from one article...

Student #1 left a new comment on your post "Racist? Why Not Multicultural?":

I agree with the previous comments that the school is probably not serving various cultural dishes to the students, and I am all for introducing children to different cultures and flavors. However, discriminating against the sandwich is ridiculous. I'm going to say that the school believes sandwiches are what white kids eat. This is probably due to the fact that Anglo-Saxon England coined the term "sandwich" for the Earl of Sandwich. But I guess the school didn't know that the first sandwich was made by a Jewish man who placed meat inside two pieces of matzah. And I guess the school didn't know that flatbreads were used to wrap and scoop up food in Western Asia and Northern Africa, making the sandwich a multicultural dish. Not only is the sandwich tasty, but it is easy to eat with your hands on the go. I also don't understand what the definition of "racist" is in this school. Just by assuming that certain cultures like to eat certain foods is racist. I guess they can't serve pasta because that would only appeal to Italian children. And I guess they can't serve hamburgers and hot dogs because that would only appeal to the German children. Like Jess said, this country is a melting pot. We all came to this country as immigrants and slowly began to accept several cultures. If the school gets rid of sandwiches, wouldn't that be (by their terms) racist against white children? I believe that is called "reverse racism." I wonder what food the school will deem acceptable to eat. I'm going to say that they will try to find an American food that can be eaten by any culture. What is American food anyway? Everything was stolen from other countries! I guess we will have to give American children Deep Fried Oreos, Buffalo Wings, and Turduckens for lunch from now on. 
Student #2 left a new comment on your post "Racist? Why Not Multicultural?":
I thought long and hard about if I should even comment on this… but this little paragraph below told me I should:

"Me? Well, I am finally going to quit fighting the obvious. I spend a lot of time criticizing the policies of our President and his administration and am considered a racist because of it. Oprah says so. Al Sharpton says so. So many say so I'm tired of denying it"

I think that the author just wanted to write something and they did. I am happy that they now know that they are racist. Welcome to a large club. Now moving on with my thoughts!

As per usual people like to side track the public from the bigger racist issues facing the world and concentrate on the stupid, insignificant babble to make it appear as though everyone who uses the word "racist" is just throwing it around nowadays. I HAVE NO PATIENCE FOR NONSENSE LIKE THIS! Why talk about a sandwich?? Why, but if we must talk about food, so be it. I cannot comment on what schools in America serve, as I have only attended ONE which has a high population of international students, therefore they try their hardest to be very INCLUSIVE. When you cater to a large international population you have to. Does that happen in other schools? Probably not! If we want to discuss this food thing and non-inclusive and inclusive food, then let us do it. Let's change menus every week to include options for all types of kids; Muslim, Indian, Caribbean, Japanese, Chinese, African, American, Cuban, etc. Let's be INCLUSIVE. Which I think is the word that they were looking for. Don't worry it happens all the time, people like to misuse words to have better articles.

Why not focus on the REAL RACIST ISSUES.. Like the little girl who was asked to TAME her hair at a private school because it was seen as distracting. Why not talk about Trevon. Why not talk about schools selecting plays which do not cater to the black student population. Why not talk about the real issues instead of dancing around it with more insulting concoctions such as a sandwich! Really? Let's talk about how some students would drop racist comments in classes, but teachers would say nothing. Let's talk about how the KKK is allowed to hold meetings in 2013! Let's talk about how people think that it is OKAY to have black jokes or how black people actually allow it.

Let us get to the real issues.

I can't entertain this any further! God be with us all! 
Student #3 left a new comment on your post "Racist? Why Not Multicultural?":
***After reading the original article from The Examiner, I re-thought my stance on this argument and needed to amend my thoughts to come from an informed place.***

"This, according to the powers that be is indicative of our exercising our "white privilege". I didn't even know there was such a thing." For the record after I read this completely ignorant and obtuse statement this author completely lost me and I stopped caring about what the author had to say. But for the purpose of being able to make an informed and relevant argument (something this author clearly has no interest in doing) I muscled through.

This article and author completely missed the point. I don't necessarily agree that labeling PB and J's as racist is right. Not because I disagree with the rational behind the argument but because I think the term racist is incorrect and focuses the argument in the wrong direction. I think that the more appropriate term would be un-inclusive. PB and J sandwiches are not inclusive. The original point behind describing PB and J sandwiches’ as racist comes from the food being used as an example in class, and “what about Somali or Hispanic students who don’t eat sandwiches.” I'm not going to regale you with my awful experiences in public schools and feeling like an outsider because what I ate at home was different then what my peers ate. But that did shape the way that I engaged or rather did not engage with my fellow elementary school kids and didn’t feel comfortable asking certain questions to my teachers because I thought I was weird or different. Knowing about my past experiences with being culturally isolated and thinking about how using that as an example in class or in an exercises would make me feel as a child, alienating me from my peers is not the type of environment one should be creating in a classroom. And for my Mom who paid taxes, money that goes into my education, why should I have to feel that way?

And honestly for this author to say that the problem of a PB and J comes from the word “sandwich” and how it’s “indicative of white privilege”...That’s not the point. It’s not about the stupid sandwich. It’s about student’s not being able to relate or understand something and this is a block in their education. The sandwich is just an example. The larger issue is that that multiculturalism isn't supported or a priority in schools and that's wrong. Also a lot of this authors argument is really unsupported, she makes a lot of stupid comments about people blowing something up out of proportion, while not even addressing the original issue or posing solutions or compromise! 

She complains about how ridiculous it is that we are considering a silly food item as racist, but it really is about raising awareness about being inclusive and supporting all students!

And finally, a few of my peers mention the term melting pot, and that it's not our job to "cater to other cultures". Newsflash, America's composed of many other cultures, and if public education is meant to educate and serve the community, then it definitely should be considerate and proactive about making students feel safe and nurtured about having and learning about different cultures. You view "catering to somebody else's culture" as being a problem? Well I think cultural supremacy is a larger one. And it's not catering, it's making the world a more inclusive place. If you have a problem with that then you should really reassess why you think that way.
Student #4 left a new comment on your post "Racist? Why Not Multicultural?":
PB and J's are racist. I'm sorry can we all just take a second to look at that sentence. Okay good. Now someone please tell me why this is even a thing?

I understand that we can't solve the "race" problem in our country by not talking about it, but being as superficial and might I say stupid about the topic as to call PB and J's racist, or to say that we don't used enough multicultural names in our classrooms is just plain perposturous. Also, on the note of using multicultural names and cultural foods in lessons, I would like to point out that I am half black and first generation on my paternal side and yet my name is entirely american and I grew up eating, guess what PB and J. If anything, these silly assumptions of what racism is diminishes the reality of what it actually is racism.

I would like to take a moment now to urge you all to disregard the blog post we are all commenting on as it sorely misses the point of the article it was based on and ask you to read the real article by the examiner.

The point is that our terminology in the classroom ostracizes students. The reason that our minority students are not engaged in the classroom is because they feel no connection to word problems like " joe eats two PB and J sandwiches…". I'm sorry but does anyone feel a connection to those problems? I sure don't. If you want to engage students in the classroom, make you're lectures engaging. It's not an issue of color, and I find it astounding that people still think that the color of ones skin or their ethnicity is the reason they are failing in school.

There are a few different type of students. Their are those who will find interest in what ever you present to them because they are just naturally curious. Then there are those who don't want to learn and don't want to try but they have parents who push them to try harder, or in some cases parents who pay someone else to push their children to try harder in school and last there are those you don't have a desire to learn in the classroom and don't have anyone out side of the classroom to push them for a myriad of reasons. That might be due to socioeconomic status, that might just be apathy, but blaming it on race and cultural differences misses the point altogether.

This whole issue isn't a race one, its an educational one pushed towards race by misunderstanding. Then again if society it saying that PB and J's are racist, the problem with our education system is a little more obvious than we'd like to think. 
Student #5  left a new comment on your post "Racist? Why Not Multicultural?":
I was confused by this article, since it's very vague about why sandwiches are actually racist, so I to the actual source and read the article about the school (the link to which is hidden very far down in the article, which makes me suspicious that this author wasn't trying to make a point about this actual occurrence, but rather use it as a base for a rather tangential argument). The whole sandwiches-are-racist thing was something that the principal used as an example of "racism," although I think it's more an example of white culture being predominant in all of our educational system. The situation was that if a teacher asked a question mentionning a PB&J sandwich (for example, a math problem involving John eating a sandwich a day for 3 weeks), it might alienate kids who never eat PB&J sandwiches. It's the same concept as using multicultural names in word problems instead of just "white" ones- if you're teaching a class full of "black and brown boys" using examples of sandwiches when they've only ever eaten tortillas, it's going to alienate them and make them care less about the class.

It's a bizarre and irrelevant example of something that is an actual problem- that curriculum are often very focused on white culture. For example, how many dead white men did we learn about in history class? I know I only read one book by a black female author in high school. Institutionalized racism is an actual and serious problem that needs to be addressed, but when it is obsessed over to this level it begins looking silly, which defeats the purpose of the entire cause.

With that being said, this whole thing is a little bit silly- both the original statement of PB&J sandwiches being racist, as well as the fact that this was actually taken seriously enough to be reported as news, and then this guy's total overreaction to it.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

Girls Shouldn't Try Raunchy Comedy, Variety Critic Says

Girls Shouldn't Try Raunchy Comedy, Variety Critic Says: Variety's television critic Brian Lowry let slip a bizarre opinion this morning while reviewing Sarah Silverman's upcoming HBO comedy special We Are Miracles—namely, that because she's a woman, she shouldn't be "as dirty as the guys." Uh. What?

Arts head: Purni Morell, artistic director, Unicorn theatre

Culture professionals network | Guardian Professional: The Unicorn was founded in 1947 as a touring theatre that operated out the back of a van and took plays around the country for children. Its core founding philosophy was that plays for children should be treated as, made the same way and judged the same way as plays for adults. Today, the Unicorn serves an audience aged zero to 21-years-old. At the moment, the majority of our audience comes from London and we're about half school audiences, half family audiences. We programme around 30 shows a year, of which about half to two-thirds are our own productions.

101 Plays by The New Americans, or on Latinidad

HowlRound: A couple of realizations have emerged from the National Gathering of the Latina/o Theatre Commons in Boston. Among them are two that pertain specifically to the knowledge and accessibility of Latina/o plays. We recognize that: 1. There is a great need for a catalog or list of Latina/o works for the general public, and 2. we need to determine which plays we presently consider to be influential works to us as theater makers. - See more at:

The Aesthetic Evolution of Eco Theater

HowlRound: Eco theater’s modern aesthetic began not in theater, but with the conservationist and naturalist writers of the nineteenth century. It can be argued that Henry David Thoreau, John Ruskin, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, and their contemporaries radically redefined our conceptual relationship to the natural world. They sought to achieve not merely a balance with nature, but a reverence and subjugation to it. These writers and other conservationist and naturalist authors, artists, and politicians led in large part to the formation of our national parks and first environmental legislation. Later theorists and artists in theater and literature have come to call this early writing and the later work inspired by it, ecocriticism.

Girls Against Boys: What's Wrong With the (Latest) Beastie Boys Lawsuit

Electronic Frontier Foundation: “Oh no!” said the email that went round the EFF office on Friday. Could it be true that the Beastie Boys had unleashed the legal hounds to shut down a parody ad that uses the group's classic misogynistic ditty, “Girls”? Surely not. As remix pioneers, the Beastie Boys are the veterans of many legal battles against copyright maximalists. The Beastie Boys aren’t copyright bullies, they fight those bullies. Right?

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Monday, November 25, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

As usual, by Friday morning.  This week's contenders:

Student #1 left a new comment on your post "Fightaturgy: Towards a Dramaturgy of Stage Violenc...":

"It is my own feeling that consistency and dramatic effectiveness trump historical accuracy, but specific choices must be made by the performers and production staff."

This quote is fascinating, because as I was reading the article, I kept thinking, yes, it's interesting that it means different things when an actor has his japanese sword on the left or the right, but will the audience really understand that? Perhaps it will help the actor psychologically, but if it doesn't, then does it really matter? The quote above clarified this for me, because it points out that while we should aim to put on historically accurate productions, the most effective choices on stage may not be congruent with historically accurate details. It's a trade-off. In most cases, honestly, I doubt that the audience would even notice.

I appreciate this author's efforts to explain why violence is more than violence itself. The intentions behind violence and the cultural implications of different violent acts can have a huge effect on how actors play the violence and how the audience perceives it. I'm sure that playwrights would appreciate this article, because they don't just put violence in their plays because they can. (I'm not sure that the same can be said for movies, but that's a whole different story.) This is a great example of how thorough dramaturgical research can enhance a production for both performers and their audiences. 
Student #2 left a new comment on your post "Some Art Institutions Deserve to Fail":
With the increase of digital downloads and personal access to art I think it is important to draw the line to or redraw a line to the question "what is art?". Surely it would be wrong to discount pop art as something that is not art however maybe we are experiencing an access to the arts that allows everything created to be popular and therefor subjected to personal objectification. However I do not want to delve into that but instead I wish to talk on the idea of art in the mechanical age of replication and reproduction. This idea that I am drawing on come from Walter Benjamin the author of "The work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction". He wrote that art's level of exact replication has been growing to greater and greater levels to the point where there are only on characteristic that can separate an original copy to that of an imitation. He writes "Even the most perfect reproduction of a work of art is lacking in one element:its presence in time and space, its unique existence at the place where it happens to be." (Benjamin 2) So yes as art ordinations begin to fail probably because of the ability of technology to replicate that time and space it can still never replace the original time and performance. Perhaps that would mean for a call of new works of art. Where the time and space of that work is contemporary and with a great influx of original work, the recordings of classics will stay recordings. We can no long view the original performance of Handel's "Messiah" However we can travel to and original run and performance of a brand new musical. If arts organization keep preforming the classics than failure could be inevitably the end of that organization, however new works could also run an organization into the ground with lack of marketing and interest. Either way failure still presents it self as an option despite technology and poor management. We as a culture decided what is valuable and invaluable art, and therefor which ordinations will succeed or fail. 
Student #3 left a new comment on your post "Finding Common Ground":
As someone who's partner is a computer scientist while I am an artist I'm obviously on the side of thinking that artists and scientists make good partners. I never thought I would fall for a scientist, but despite focusing on different subjects, we both have to think creatively about our work and we meet in the middle when it comes to playing music. At any rate, I kind of think it could be a little boring to be with someone who did the same thing as me, though I know there are many people who do the same thing and it works out beautifully…so, it totally depends, but I know my world is constantly tweaked and expanded through talking with him and it has a big impact on my work. My partner and I always have things to teach each other about our separate focuses, and through it I think we both learn a lot, gain different perspectives and ways of looking at our own work…through each others work. I think that people who don't have this opportunity are missing out. I have met scientists who are so extremely entrenched in what they do that they have no concept of what I do and honestly look down on it. But, they haven't given a chance to really listen and look. I'm sure there are scientists too that have met artists that refuse to even accept the scientists world. It definitely depends on the open nature of the relationship. I think this salon sounds amazing -- what a great way to create communication between the arts and sciences and work toward better understanding and collaboration between the fields. 
Student #4 left a new comment on your post "Here’s Lady Gaga in a Flying Dress Because Okay, S...":
I think there are two definitions of flight: physical flight and mental flight (freedom and escape). I had recently watched Lady Gaga wear her new flying machine, Volantis, and I was not impressed. She chose physical flight with absolutely no mental flight. Yes, she physically flew, but she was bound to the machine. She was imprisoned and petrified by the machine. It is interesting in that the machine is controlling the human’s actions, but still. Perhaps this is saying something about technology overpowering creativity. I didn’t really find the idea interesting either. After all, do we not see physical flight with planes? Haven’t we seen this before? This is an old idea. We have seen man try to accomplish physical flight for the self in Icarus and Franz Reichelt, both of whom failed to achieve continuous flight. Mental flight has a much deeper meaning. It dives into the human mind, which is already a fragile labyrinth, and releases our inner desires. A desire to escape society’s confinements. A desire to free one’s self and soul. Unfortunately, this is very difficult to show through physical flight. One reason why it is so difficult is that man doesn’t really know what his desires are. His desires are biased and limited to what he knows. How does he know he does not want something he does not know? Another difficulty is transporting your interior thoughts (that is, if you think you have found them) to your exterior figure.
I think flight needs a pulse or at least a breath. When I think of flight, I think of an inhalation after a brief suffocation showing that release and escape. Lady Gaga was trapped. She almost looked like a stone statue with no life at all. She had no breath. 
Student #5 left a new comment on your post "The Catwalk of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire":
While what Trisch Summerville did for The Hunger Games might not be technically "costume design," I feel it might have been the best way to make this movie. I never even realized that every costume in a movie was personally designed by the costume designer- I always assumed that, especially for minor characters, there was a certain amount of "farming out" that happened. Since movies usually have such huge casts and cover so many different days, each with a different costume, it seems ridiculous to demand that for a person to be qualified as the costume designer they must have designed every item worn by anyone in the movie. especially in a movie such as this, which is supposed to be set in a sort of dystopian near-future, it can be even more effective to use modern clothing, rather than constructing it all. I also find it odd that the author described the use of McQueen pieces as a "risky choice" of fear of spoiling the "illusion" and implying that "high fashion may well be art but, as with Effie herself, is also vacuous and trivial." This doesn't sound like a random choice that has unfortunate and unintended implications- this sounds like a deliberate design decision which was meant to convey just that. There is a lot of design that can happen in the choosing of clothing for characters, and the choice to use clothing from the "real world" can be as much a design decision as choosing to make them all from a certain kind of fabric, or using a certain color palette throughout the movie.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Worth a Look

Here are a few articles from last week's Greenpage that might be worth your time:

An Eye for Opera

Carnegie Mellon University | CMU: Opera glasses may look a little different in the future. Carnegie Mellon University alumnus Thomas Rhodes (HNZ'11) is testing Google Glass for the opera industry. By applying the technology to the art form, he hopes to provide audiences with a new perspective that is entertaining and educational. The device, which resembles lens-free eyeglasses, emits a floating display. The user can ask the device to translate voice, send email, record video and take photographs.

Invention, Innovation & Creating Real Change

Culturebot: The Performing Arts in a New Era, a 2001 RAND report written by Kevin McCarthy, Arthur Brooks, Julia Lowell, and Laura Zakaras and funded with support from The Pew Charitable Trusts, when viewed in retrospect, is remarkably prescient. The research brief presages many cultural shifts among audiences, artists and arts organizations. It is remarkable that twelve years later the sector as a whole is still wrestling with these issues as if they were new conditions and has made little progress despite the efforts of the innovation agenda.

Everything’s Turning Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals

Dangerous Minds: One of my favorite books of the last few months is Everything’s Coming Up Profits: The Golden Age of Industrial Musicals. Co-written by Steve Young, a long-time writer for Late Show with David Letterman, and Sport Murphy, a professional musician and pop-culture historian, the book is a tribute to a bizarre, fascinating world that I never knew existed, but had only heard about through back-alley innuendo and late-night, cross-country A.M. radio chit-chat: the personal life of Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen.

Finding Common Ground

NEA: If you believe the popular conception of artists and scientists as polar opposites, you might expect that putting them into a room together would lead to brawls, brouhahas, and well, big bangs. But, in fact, as theoretical physicist and novelist Alan Lightman and playwright Alan Brody have found out, the only explosions in the room are creative ones. In the early 2000s, the two men—both on faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—decided to start a monthly salon for scientists and theater artists on MIT’s campus. The members of the resulting Science on Stage salons discovered not only common ground but also how, in many ways, artists and scientists are kindred spirits.

These New 3D Models Put the Smithsonian's Most Renowned Items in Your Hands

Around The Mall: The Wright Flyer, the legendary aircraft built by the Wright Brothers and sent skyward over Kitty Hawk in 1903, was acquired by the Smithsonian in 1948. Since then, it’s been on public display nearly continuously.
Of course, visitors aren’t allowed to touch the plane, and educators teaching lessons on the Flyer have had to use models to give students the chance to handle it and see it from different positions. Engineers and historians have faced similar limitations, unable to climb inside to examine its inner machinery or take out a tape measure to assess its specs.

Happy Birthday Doctor Who

It's the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who.  I'm at home not watching the special; we have tickets to see it in the movie theater on Monday.  I may have to go into a social media blackout until then.  I have to say, I'm not nearly as excited about the anniversary as, well, the rest of the internet.  By my judgement I'm not as excited now on the 50th anniversary as I was on the 20th anniversary. For "The Five Doctors" I was at the Hyatt Regency O'Hare for the first Spirit of Light convention.  I guess I am sort of a Doctor Who hipster.  I liked it before it was cool.

The first episode of Doctor Who I ever saw was "The Invisible Enemy," but I only tuned in while flipping, just saw part of it, and really had no idea what I was watching.

A little while later I picked it up again tuning into the second set of three episodes of "The Armageddon Factor."  Not the easiest place to pick up a TV show, the second half of the sixth of a six episode arc.  Doctor Who at this time was running on WTTW in Chicago on Sunday night at 11PM.  I was probably 13 years old and used to watch on my TV in my room, in the dark using an earpiece so my parents wouldn't know I was still up.

I watched through all the e-space episodes and then through to "Logopolis."  After that WTTW rebooted back to "Giant Robot," the start of the Tom Baker episodes.  I think we saw the full Fourth Doctor arc three times before seeing something new - or rather old.  After a couple times through Tom Baker we went back to Jon Pertwee's episodes.

Watching on channel eleven was usually pretty great.  They showed the episodes cut together so a BBC four episode story would run on one night: 11PM to 12:20.  The six parters would be split over two weeks.  The worst was obviously during pledge drives when 11 would become 11:30 would become 12AM and finally the show would start.

At some point I became aware that Doctor Who ran on Milwaukee Public Television on (I don't remember) Friday or Saturday night.  On some occasions if the weather was right I could manually tune my tv and add hangars to my antenna and watch an extra episode.

Eventually we got to see the first Peter Davidson season.  Somewhere around there I also started reading the novelizations, some of shows I'd seen some of show's I hadn't with first and second doctor stories.  I remember really liking "The Keys of Marinus" and really, really liking "Enlightenment."  I also remember getting "The Doctor Who Programme Guide" and finally grasping the full depth of the show.

I was definitely a fan.  My grandmother knitted me a Tom Baker scarf.  I had stacks of VHS tapes with Doctor Who episodes.  At some point I culled the tape collection to be only "firsts and lasts"  the first or last time a companion or villain showed up.  In hind-site that turned out to be a strategically bad decision.  When the BBC got around to issuing the show on video they were like $50 for a single episode.

The high point of my fandom was probably the TARDIS 21 convention (at least I think it was the second con, I guess it could have been the first).  At that show I got to see "Wargames" and "The Three Doctors" from older seasons and then "Resurrection of the Daleks" and "Twin Dilemma."  But the coolest was absolutely "Caves of Androzani" in the middle of the night, on a big screen, with a room full of people as into the show as I was.  That episode probably remains one of my favorites to this day (it's on streaming Netflix - check it out).

It went kinda downhill from there.  Doctor Who did run on WQEX in Pittsburgh when I was in school there. But it ran in episodic format, and after being used to watching omnibus, episodic just isn't the same.  I didn't have the patience for it.  It also ran at like 6PM and at that time I was usually playing Ultimate.  I don't remember having access to the show while I was in New Haven and then we were through Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy and the show was gone.

I'd guess there was nobody more excited than I was when the new series popped up on SciFi, but I guess my 40 year old fanaticism just can't compare to a teenager's.  I liked the episodes through Rose and Jack.  I really loved seeing Sarah Jane Smith again.  A little bit I felt those episodes were aimed at people of my vintage.  The Martha Jones episodes were fun.  "Blink" probably ranks with the best episodes ever.  I was less enamored of the Donna Noble stories, although "Silence of the Library" was special and the River Song thing was pretty cool.  I guess I've been even less excited through the Amy/Rory arc - but I'm hanging in.

Here's hoping "The Day of the Doctor" is as cool as "Caves of Androzani" was all those years ago.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Vote For Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Here's A Wild Idea For Shakespeare: Do It His Way":

This is great, for several reasons.
First of all, I think that history is neat, and historically accurate things are awesome. Going to this show would seem like a half-way point between conventional theater and a medieval recreation at a museum or something, and I would absolutely love to experience it, purely for its historical value.
The second reason, of course, is that I'm tired of Shakespeare being re-invented in modern times and places(as most of us are). The argument often seems to be that audiences can't relate to events set in the middle ages. Uh, wrong. Sure, I can't quite understand what it's like to be a knight, but that's not what Shakespeare's plays are about. They're about people living life, and that's something that I can definitely relate to on a pretty basic level. If a play is good, it doesn't need its setting to be completely changed for the sake of relevance. The only thing that I think can be confusing to certain audiences in those plays is the language, and throwing a leather jacket on the actor delivering the lines really won't enhance comprehension of a way of speaking that most of us are unfamiliar with. And on a more personal note, I don't relate to Romeo and Juliette when it's set in the inner city between two rival gangs in modern times any more than I do when it's set in Verona, several hundred years ago.

So, the point is, yay Globe Theater. I have nothing against re-inventing old classics, but it's now way overdone and it's nice to see some change. You can always count on the British to bring some good old tradition back into our world of moon Othello's and other heresies. 

Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Do U.S. Arts Suffer From A Lack of Working Class V...":
I was just talking to a friend about how expensive art school is and it just doesn't make sense. It cuts out regular folk or it puts you into a lot of debt. Also, artists usually don't make that much money, so overall it just really doesn't make sense. Also, why do art when you know it is never going to be profitable? Sad, but usually pretty true. You don't go into the arts to make money -- you do it because you love it. But also frustratingly this makes it impossible for many of people to do.Then I found this article. The author poses some good questions at the end -- does programming not connect to audiences because of the privileged backgrounds that many artists come from or do those with money have the influence over what is being shown/performed/made, etc.? I think there are artists from all walks of life, despite expenses, lack of funding, etc. I think maybe the second question is more worth exploring -- do those who fund the arts control the arts? I'm not sure -- to an extent, certainly. But there are still performances, art spaces, shows, etc. out there doing their thing despite financial instability. Interesting questions. I'm sure there are some very interesting answers out there with more research. I'd be interested to hear what is found. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "'Princess Bride' Stage Show in the Works":
This is a terrible idea., mind you, usually when talk rolls around about making classic films into stage shows I hands down agains it. I realize theater is about being open minded but something so classic should not be altered. Look at Big fish for example, the film was excellent, witty, charming, and magical. The Broadway show on the other hand was a flub. The problem is that there is a difference in the way a film goes about telling a story and the way a stage show does it. I'm not saying I'm entirely against adaptation. It works wonders when books are turned into films and plays. Animated films also tend to make great musicals ( Julie Taymor's the Lion King being a prime example.) The thing about the story told in the princess bride is that part of the humor in the story relies on film aspects. The fire swamp horrors and the rodents of unusual would not be the same on stage because they can't embrace the campy film quality the the movie has and if the stage version tries to encompass that, it is a very different play. The other part of the film that I don't see an easy way to change into a stage version is the scenes where is cuts between the grandfather telling the story to is sick grandson and the actual tale of buttercup. Those scenes are as funny as they are because of their abrupt nature. There's a sudden cut and the audience is left yelling "wait go back, I want to know what happens" you can't create that effect as well with a black out or a frozen pose because you can still see the performers on stage. You know they are there and that they'll have to move eventually. When you cut to a different screen in film you loose the image and are give no promise that it will return. And those are just some of the problems with creating a stage version of it, don't even get me started on a musical version. I think one of the biggest issue is that it is a cult classic. If a company wants to try and turn a film into a stage play I can't hate them for trying (as uncreative as it may be). But to take a cult classic loved by so many and possibly ruin it beyond recognition with cheesy gimmicks and unnecessary musical numbers is just wrong, not to mention a slap in the face to the original film. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "See the Freaky, Animatronic Baby That Almost Invad...":
I completely agree with Akiva. They say they did not want to use a "fake thing," and yet they ended up using a fake baby through CGI. The baby was not creepy because it was an animatronic puppet. Sometimes, things are creepy because they look so realistic, but that is not the case in this situation. Chuckesmee doesn't even have the correct human anatomy. Her eyes are too big and spread apart, the face sculpt and makeup do not look human, and a one-day-old baby will never have long eyelashes and that much hair. The puppet itself moved very well, and overall the technology worked. I think the art department made a huge mistake in how the baby looked. If the head sculpt was better and if the artist actually knew how big and where human eyes are on a baby's face, the result would have been better. I have a feeling that they did not recreate a puppet because of the cost. I hope his baby animatronic is done again in the future with a better design aspect because I think this is a really good idea overall. I looked at the Curious Case of Benjamin Button again, and yes you can definitely tell the aged-baby was CGI, but that was a movement issue. It at least looked like a baby. When Benjamin dies, however, I believe they used a real baby. Because the scene was so somber, the baby actually looked wise beyond its years. The only question I have for the director is, "Why didn't you use a real baby?" 
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Nuggets mascot ‘Rocky’ collapses after being lower...":
Anyone who has left a comment on this article that stated they didn't know how this happened should click on that link that David posted. This is something that will come up any time you work on a production in which you fly a person. This was an issue we had to face a little bit on Sweeney, and a great deal on Angels. Before we got anywhere near the tech process of either of those shows Carnegie Scenic, Production Management, and Stage Management sat down and figured out how long someone could be suspended in the air in the cage or on the swing for Sweeney or how long the Angel could be suspended in her harness before the performers needed to come down. This time wasn't just how long they were suspended above the stage, but began as soon as the performer's feet left the deck backstage. We made it clear that no matter what was happening on stage if we hit the 10 minute mark of having Imari in the air, we had 2 minutes to begin the process of getting her back into the deck. That didn't only mean she needed to be on the deck, it meant that she needed to come off of the flying rig and walk around for 10 minutes before she could go back up. While this slowed the tech process considerably while training that portion of the show, it was what needed to happen because of the safety constraints.

It sounds like the people who arranged for this mascot to fly in from above the arena didn't know the proper safety protocol for using a harness system. It looks like they had no way for the mascot to communicate that he wasn't feeling well, and no one was monitoring him in order to know that something was wrong. It also looks like the mascot was suspended above the arena while waiting to come in to the floor, and had no way to take the pressure of the harness off of his body. If he needed to be suspended for longer than a few minutes in order to make this effect work, then it never should have even been considered. This was a gross oversight by all involved, and probably could have easily been avoided.