Wednesday, February 27, 2013


Got caught up on my Smash tonight, was totally surprised to see my brother-in-law on the screen... I'm not worried about the sequester. I think I should be... The weather this week has been just the worst, got to love Pittsburgh in the spring (if it were the spring)... For some reason I started to think about summer office projects today. That has to be a little early... I've been binging on Nurse Jackie episodes on the Showtime app. Gonna run out tonight. Note to self: pick shows that are over to binge... Would it be wrong to think I could build my own porch? I've built a lot of stuff... Generally I can't think of a use for a 3D Printer, but there is this one stupid little project... So the Roku is hooked up. Now I find myself wanting all the media apps on the Roku that I have on the iPad... I think we're going to pull the trigger on some home office fit out, if I remember to do it... Interviews for this year are complete. It's a good group of kids, now we just have to hope some of them actually enroll... You know I never could figure out the different species among the Sona in Star Trek Insurrection. For a movie with a fairly weak opening and a run of the mill ending there sure is a fairly inspired bit in the middle... I thought about applying for a pyrotechnic internship this summer. Then I figured maybe my intern days were all behind me... Know anything about hosting a wiki? I've been thinking a couple of my homework projects might go better as maintaining a database... Couple of trips coming up and a couple of off weeks at work. Might be a decent combo... I certainly don't appear to be the target demographic for TV Cartoons. They keep canceling the shows I am watching... I should learn something about the Pittsburgh Mayoral election... I think maybe this week I'll read a book. Send recommendations if you've got them...

Monday, February 25, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "25 Years Strong, 'Phantom Of The Opera' Kills And ...":

In my eyes Phantom of the Opera is now a deadly piece of theater. We all marvel at the artists' ability to maintain Phantom's quality and craft through the 25 years since its conception. However, does the piece in itself still hold up today as a relevant and truly necessary work of art? The fact that this musical has lasted so long does speak to the hard work and talent of the cast, crew, and creative team. However it also speaks to Broadway's inability to change with the times as well as us as audience members' lack of taste. To go with April's metaphor: when we are served an old, typical, (yet still tasty), meal at what is supposed to be the finest restaurant in the world, we must demand more. Let Phantom live on through high school productions and community theaters. Shouldn't Broadway be reserved for something more? Being the new generation of artists to come fourth, we should acknowledge our predecessors for their contribution but strive to fight to bring the stories that are hidden away to the lime light. Theater should be the place that blows the whistle on the aspects of our humanity that we are most afraid of. Yes, Phantom does have universal themes that transcend time and place. But if we really want to make theater part of today's dialogue, we need to push the envelope more than a falling chandelier. I'm not saying Phantom isn't good, I'm only proposing that we can do better. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "The Keys to Higher Productivity? More Sleep, More ...":
Let's not act like this is actually a ground breaking article folks...The idea that we spend work/spend too much time at school/trying to have a life--and not enough time sleeping and recovering is not a new thing. And I'll be the first to admit that 8 times out of 10 half of the time that I spend "working" at school is really spent surfing blogs/twitter/facebook/ or watching something on netflix/hulu and not actually working (or working at about 50% capacity I've also been on the other side of the coin where I've spent a number of weeks working in shops for 12+ hrs at a time to finish a show (and not just for summer-stock). So I know what wasting my time is like and I know what being over worked is like, and there's certainly a happy a medium, but it's gonna cost you one way or another...thanks to the demands and expectations that we work under most of the time. A quality product, produced quickly, for as cheap as as far as working in a scene shop is considered the most productive work schedule I've encountered was Monday-Thursday (10hr days). It was the perfect combination of working hours in the day, with time off to relax on the weekend, and the hour long lunch and 2 coffee breaks kept the day moving at a decent pace since there was always time for a nap.

It's obvious that working a 4hr day isn't going to allow you to get much done, however we do it every day here (and so do a lot of other universities) BUT, that doesn't count all of other prep time, homework, and class...which is why in the end we feel so overworked. Sadly, it's the cost of going to school these days and it's a widely considered the norm in our culture...

HOWEVER, that doesn't mean we're doing it right. It just means we've gotten really good at making ourselves tired, stressed overexerted... 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "The Keys to Higher Productivity? More Sleep, More ...":
I COMPLETELY agree with this article. It mostly speaks to me in the sense of the way I worked during my freshman year. The downfall of having a studio where all of your friends were was wanting to be in there all of the time. Having workspace muddled with playspace decreased productivity dramatically while simultaneously giving us the feeling that we were working 24 hours a day, which we weren't. We were simply in our workspace 24 hours a day. I think it's important to find a location to work, and to work there. Take your breaks somewhere else, have your friends somewhere else, have your life somewhere else. The combination of staying in PGH last summer and moving off campus definitely helped me with this, because I am able to separate Purnell from a different life that I have an like outside of Purnell. I have seen major improvements in both my mood and my work quality. And guess what, I feel like I'm working half as much! Some people struggle with this the whole time they are here, I wish that everyone would give working less a try, and maybe find some friends outside of the School of Drama (even outside of CMU) that make their personal lives fulfilling, fun, and unrelated to what happens in Purnell. 
 Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "A warning to college profs from a high school teac...":
First off I would like to say that I agree with Kenneth Bernstein as well as the other people who have commented on this post.

Why isn't Kenneth Bernstein saying sorry to me. My class mates and I are the people who have been wronged here. So maybe a college professor doesn't get to have amazing students for a few years because the government made some stupid polices. It's the students who didn't learn all that they could and have messed up feelings when it comes to gold stars and the first six letters in the alphabet(expect E).

As I read the article I thought to my self "I'm so sorry for all though kids who I grew up with that are negativity effected by this stuff, I'm glad that I don't focus on grads and only care about what's going to be on the test." Then I read the comments and saw that all of my CMU peers thought just the same thing. Now I'm not saying that the people who made those comments are incapable of free thought and that they personally are stupid or uneducated due to no child left behind and AP testing. But maybe I am just telling myself that I came out ok from the public school system because I don't like to think that I'm disadvantaged. And maybe all of my peers are telling themselves the same thing. I know that in high school I would ask friends why they took so many ap classes and focused so hard on getting perfect grades in classes they hated and didn't learn in. They never had good answers for me because they didn't see it that way at all. So maybe my whole generation is walking around feeling bad for the rest of the generation because they are "educated" and that they were brilliant enough that they can still think outside the box. But in reality we're all messed up.

So my question is: What should I do now? How can I undo or at least minimalism the harm that over testing did to me in public school? I go to a college to that still puts a ton of importance on grads and I still take tests to prove to teachers that I have memorized facts. I don't personally need to change the national education system, I just want to be smart and free thinking and able to apply what I learn to the real world, but just maybe I was never taught to be my own teacher. 
 Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Lighting Designer Al Gurdon: The Light Master of S...":
I strongly agree with Gurdon about "less is more". I've been to quite a few concerts and music festivals, and live theatre shows in my life up to this point. But, especially in the music world, designers tend to go a little "glitz" crazy. I think the statement, though somewhat condescending, that no one whistles for the lights, is true. Lights are good at creating moments, and when one or more of those moments in a song or set list is truly memorable, that's when a design has been successful. I've been to enough shows to have seen lights that seem to have a mind of their own, constantly moving, for no real apparent reason. One of the worst offenders I can recently remember was the Killer's concert I went to last summer. The beams of light behind the band moved constantly for every single song, and they moved rapidly. Those lights have a time and place, and during dramatic moments in a song, or an ending beat of a song would be excellent, but overuse wears the eyes thin, and distracts from the performers. I remember seeing a band called Silversun Pickups, and I remember the lighting of that show, but in a good way! They stuck to a simple(ish) color palate between blue and red, but the lighting was still interesting. Sometimes, the simpler things, are more memorable in the end.

Worth a Look

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

Equity at 100: How Actors' Equity Pushed for Racial Equality Almost from its inception in 1913, Actors' Equity Association was ahead of the nation on the issue of race. Black actors were actors, in the union's view, and black theatregoers were theatregoers. Equity came to life in the Jim Crow era, when theatre and hotels were often segregated or barred blacks altogether, and many producers — eyes on the bottom line — couldn't bring themselves to cast black actors in roles other than butlers, maids and field hands. Equity was lonely in its principles.

A warning to college profs from a high school teacher You are a college professor. I have just retired as a high school teacher. I have some bad news for you. In case you do not already see what is happening, I want to warn you of what to expect from the students who will be arriving in your classroom, even if you teach in a highly selective institution.

All the People Over on Facebook, my co-worker Sam Hurwitt reports an audition listing in San Francisco that requests “No obvious ethnicity” for a role. His friends, when asked, guessed that statement meant everything from “mixed” to “white” to my favorite: “‘whitable’ or ‘passable’ or ‘non-threatening ethnic looking person’.”

Interview with Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Box of Crayons: Brene Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston, with a bachelor’s, master’s and PhD in social work. She’s spent the past decade or so studying some juicy emotional issues — vulnerability, courage, authenticity and shame. Brene recently published a book called The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. In the book, she provides 10 guideposts to live a more authentic and wholesome life.

As 3-D Printing Becomes More Accessible, Copyright Questions Arise

All Tech Considered : NPR: Many people think 3-D printing could help spark a manufacturing renaissance in the U.S. — even President Obama highlighted this technology in his State of the Union address last week. But as 3-D printers and 3-D scanners get cheaper, this nascent industry could be roiled by battles over intellectual property. Not so long ago, a good 3-D scanner that could create accurate digital models of objects in the real world cost more than $10,000. Then, Microsoft released the Kinect — the video game controller that allows you to play games by just waving your hands.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Greenpage Crosspost: News From the Real World Podcast 2-20-2013

This week's articles:

1. Why You Love That Ikea Table, Even If It's Crooked
2. How do I Get Over My Bad Habit of Procrastinating?
3. Cause of Super Bowl blackout was installed to prevent Super Bowl blackout
4. Campaign Launched To Stop School From Claiming Copyright On Student Work
5. San Francisco's Bay Bridge Is About To Become The World's Largest Light Sculpture
6. Robert Wilson's Theatrical Universe
7. Marianne Elliott: 'Why do something that's run of the mill?'
8. Can a play with a mentally challenged cast be reviewed by critics in the standard way?
9. Wing News (February 2013)
10. Judge rules that it's illegal to sell custom Batmobiles because the Batmobile is itself a fictional character

Featuring:Dale, Lauren, Matt, & Margo

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Your Mother Doesn't Live Here

A brief photo essay in honor of the students of the School of Drama.

Greenpage Crosspost

This week's articles:

1. Top 10 skills children learn from the arts
2. Campus weighs in on stress culture
3. Boerne teen crushed by stage prop; school says it won't pay
4. High levels of stress at Carnegie Mellon decried
5. Amit Drori's Robotic Wooden Animals Are Like A Da Vinci Drawing Brought To Life
6. Female Directors More Prominent in New York
7. The Guns in My Plays
8. Theater Education Programs Are in Demand for Workforce Creativity
9. Space Invaders: Unorthodox Arts
10. Work Ethic

plus bonus Losing My Religion in a Major Key

Featuring: Dale, Cat, Lauren, Christine, and Margo

Monday, February 18, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders:

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Robert Wilson's Theatrical Universe":

I saw an installation piece put together by Mr. Wilson in New York when I was in high school, and it was one of the reasons I became involved with theatre. Hearing him talk about this disconnection he promotes in his work between narrative, sound and vision puts my memory of the installation in some perspective. I remember only bits and pieces, but overall my impression was of unease, a disjointed melange of sights and sounds, but not random or chaotic. It was a very carefully planned experience, even while nonsensical. For instance, I recall entering a room in the gallery, the walls of which had been covered floor to ceiling in a shaggy, almost hairy material. Towards one corner there was an elephants leg, larger than scale, like a roman column. As you approached the leg, drawn to it by a vague human moaning, you found in the opposite side an iron jail cell door, curved to fit the radius of the elephant's leg. Inside, standing with his back to you looking into a mirror, was a man dressed like Napoleon, hand in jacket. OK, so maybe it was nonsense. But the experience forced you to make a narrative out of what you were seeing and hearing. In a way I can almost see it now as an exercise in how our minds crave and devise patterns. Even when presented with logically disconnected elements, we find ways to make sense of them. It's the same capacity that led us out of the jungle, and I appreciate Wilson's work because it doesn't take it for granted. You have to work to get experience his stuff, and there is nothing passive about it. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "Broadway, coming to a nonprofit theater near you":
Pardon me for being the naive flagbearer for commercial theatre, but is there anything that says New York Broadway theatre isn't "artistically interesting", according to Kelly? There's a really vile association in the public opinion that well-financed, fiscally viable plays that get mass acclaim are "crap art". Good People is not a fluff piece, it's a really strong play. Same with Mountaintop, Clybourne Park, Motherf**ker, etc. - they're amazing scripts that have the added benefit of being commercial (relatively cheap and simple to produce, as a result of cast sizes and unit sets). And if your not-for-profit mission statement calls for contemporary plays of importance to your region, I feel like these plays can be justified, PLUS will be solid sellers.

What gets lost in the middle are the voices of local playwrights, who without the slots in the regional and NFP theatres have less opportunity to have their works presented. That has to be a judgment call on the theatre with regard to the number of submissions and the strength of their works. The new play initiative listed in the article is an attempt at giving some development assistance and a guaranteed outlet for these plays, outside of the regular season. Also, after development, it's possible these plays may become the company's first picks for full season slots.

I suppose I don't want to discount the concern that X% of your season is going to shows that are being pushed out of NYC instead of keeping it in the family, but don't believe for a second that the NYC shows are selected purely on a profitability measure. Put good plays in your season, regardless of where they come from. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Shakespeare's Globe to stage history plays on orig...":
I love this idea. What struck me most in this article was the quote about the British being obsessed with their own history, and I'm equal parts excited and incredibly jealous that they taking advantage of that history to stage these plays in their actual settings. It's so easy when seeing a play to separate yourself from the action onstage, and so much of it depends on suspension of belief. Yes, this stage is only 40 feet wide but the audience has to imagine that it is a vast huge open battlefield. Actually being in that vast huge open battlefield lends a whole new and exciting aspect to watching theatre, because there is less suspension of belief required and so the audience may be able to become more invested and more involved in the story and the characters. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Tonight: Duquesne grad Eric Starkey brings the mag...":
I'm not particularly interested in talking about this show, but I do want to talk about something else. Lately, I've been noticing a pattern among theatre programs in Pittsburgh. Many of the actors who graduate from them stay in Pittsburgh. Except the ones from CMU. I was thinking about why this might be. I've never attended another theatre program in this area, but I know for myself and many others at CMU it feels as though all directions say Pittsburgh is not the place you should stay to achieve your goals. Maybe other schools don't share this philosophy. And I'm actually pretty grateful, because I don't think people should just stay in the city they went to college in. Regardless of whether of not you would be able to achieve your goals here, I think it's one of the most important things a young adult can do to let go of their college life and start their career somewhere entirely new. 
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Can a play with a mentally challenged cast be revi...":
This article REALLY made me think about how we as a theatre community view and critique theatre. I have worked with several special needs children in Youth Theatre back at home and we would always end up shocked by how unbelievably great they end up. I strongly believe that it is unfair to not critique a show normally because it has a mentally challenged cast, but I feel like the critic should definitely take into consideration the amount of work that they must put in to get the outcome the did. I think that if this is in the professional world, these people choose to do this because this is what they love. You should not destroy their hopes and dreams by critiquing them too harshly, but you should also not put too much of a damper on your opinion. Although this profession is much more judgmental, it is just like any other profession. You need to take things into consideration. It depends.

Worth a Look

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

Robert Wilson's Theatrical Universe

Classical Music - Limelight Magazine: I began to make my first works for the theatre in the late 1960s, and they were all silent. This culminated in a major work that was seven hours long – and also silent. It was written with a 13-year-old African-American deaf-mute boy who had never been to school and knew no words. We were supposed to show it only twice in Paris in 1971 but it was a huge success and we ended up playing for five-and-a-half months to 2,200 people every night in a sold-out theatre. The last thing I had expected was to have a career in the theatre, as my background was in architecture and painting. The work was called Deafman Glance, and the French called it a “silent opera”. I started thinking about it and realised that’s exactly what it was: it was structured silences. That was my beginning.

Marianne Elliott: 'Why do something that's run of the mill?'

Stage | The Observer: Marianne Elliott loves a challenge. The director of such high-risk projects as the National Theatre's runaway hit War Horse and its more recent smash, The Curious Incident Of the Dog in the Night-Time, as well as the dark, pared-down Port, which recently opened at the Lyttelton, she has never knowingly opted for a theatrical safe bet.

Can a play with a mentally challenged cast be reviewed by critics in the standard way?

The Globe and Mail: On the stage of the Young Centre in Toronto these days, an actor with Down syndrome is confronting audience members with their own prejudice, demanding, “You think I’m retarded? Look at yourself!” Toronto playwright and director Judith Thompson is the hand behind this harrowing moment: She is the director and co-creator of Rare, a show in which nine Down syndrome adults talk about their lives, their pain and their hope. The show, which opened this week, almost defies criticism – Globe and Mail theatre critic J. Kelly Nestruck has declined to assign it a star rating while Toronto Star reviewer Robert Crew has given it four stars – but not contextualization.

Wing News (February 2013) Ben Cameron talks with Alan Brown (of Wolf Brown), Cynthia Hedstrom (of the Wooster Group), and Howard Shalwitz (of the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company) about regional theatre’s impact.

Judge rules that it's illegal to sell custom Batmobiles because the Batmobile is itself a fictional character California resident Mark Towle runs car customizing shop Gotham Garage, which makes replicas of cars from TVs and movies. Naturally, Batmobiles were on the menu, at least until Warner Bros. smacked Towle with a lawsuit for violating its intellectual property. Now a U.S. District Court Judge Ronald Lew judge has ruled that the Batmobile is subject to copyright because the Batmobile is itself a fictional character in the Batman franchise.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pittsburgh Techshop

Thoughts on my visit to the Pittsburgh Techshop...

1. Wow this is a lot of people. I don't know how many people they were expecting, but I bet this was more than they bargained on. I'm not good at judging crowds but I would put the group at over 500. On the way there in the car I mentioned to Mrs. TANBI that maybe we shouldn't have gone right at the beginning because we'd be the only ones there. We weren't.

1a. (I am not renumbering again) This certainly is a prominent location. The Pittsburgh Techshop is on the first floor of Bakery Square. It is prime retail space. Kind of unexpected for a place like this.

2. Damn that's expensive. It seems like membership is about $100/month normally. There were "tonight only" bundles that were almost half that (sidebar about how much I hate "tonight only" type pricing). I don't know what figure I had in my head, but this is a lot more. I guess having been around shops literally all my life I have taken them a little bit for granted.

3. Our laser is bigger. When the guide of our tour told us about the laser that they were going to have it occurred to me that the one in our shop was bigger. What I was hoping for from the thing was that their inventory would be a lot better than ours. It certainly was newer, but better turned out to not be a given.

4. Well that certainly is a big whiteboard. There's a multipurpose room, tour dude called it a conference room, when I was in it it screamed "party room." But anyway there's this multipurpose room that has dividing airwalls that are full wall dry marker boards. Pretty neat.

5. I do not like Tourdude. He seemed very taken aback with himself and the venture.

6. They aren't ready. In the back of my mind I knew this was going to happen. I had been part of an email chain with Pittsburgh folks trying to find a temporary space for Techshop classes because they weren't going to make their date. In the front of my mind I had forgotten. Many tools weren't there yet, there were bunches of things still shrink wrapped or palletized, and there were contractor tools jammed into a couple of rooms. In the end, I could have read about a bunch of things I wouldn't see online without coming out.

7. I still don't know what happens if you break something. Tourdude really didn't have this answer or didn't want to give it to me. I was curious to know what happened to a user if they cocked up one of the tools, like if you machine into the work surface of a mill or bury the head of the CNC router. Pretty much he said that's why you have to provide your own bits and that you would get scolded. But then he implied if you crashed the cutter head of the water-jet it would cost $900. They have a SawStop. I know that's $80 every time it is tripped. I am still wondering if as a user I would have to pay.

7a. People use this as their business shop. Tourdude explained that sometimes people running a business would come in and book up the laser. I get how that would happen, but it seems antithetical to the "maker" idea. Maybe if you do it to get your business going. But once you have a product I would think one would want to tool up or find a vendor. But maybe I am wrong.

8. They have a SawStop saw. They think that is really cool. Tourdude didn't say what would happen if you got your hand in the joiner. Ouch. They will have a 48x96 router table. We have a 48x96 router table.

9. Their Water-Jet is bigger than ours. Or, they have a water-jet. Very nice. They also have an Ironworker although it isn't set up.

10. They have a reasonably sized powder-coating oven - along with sandblasting and a spray booth. All very nice.

11. They have a commercially built vacu-form rig, although it is less than 30x30.

12. Those mills are really clean. I didn't see a metal lathe, I can't imagine they won't have one.

In the end, I was both impressed and not impressed. I'm not sure how that happens. It was bigger and smaller than I thought it would be and more and less than I thought. The price point is still difficult for me to grok. I am not sure what I would pay to have quasi-unlimited access to some premium tooling I don't normally have. I mean, I can already see the powder coated 1/4" steel plate dinosaur I would make. But for $1200/year I would get many more hours out of cable, right? No waterjet that way though.

Excited and disappointed. That's how it goes sometimes I guess.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Imperial Strategy

Earlier this week there was an article on Danger Room analyzing the Battle of Hoth in The Empire Strikes Back and basically showing how every single Imperial decision throughout the battle was a colossal mistake. There were many decisions that were highlighted, but the single biggest failure appeared to be taking down the Rebel shield. The idea being that had they left the shield intact that Imperial ships could have been positioned to interdict rebel ships emerging from the one exit point.

I actually think that the ion cannon would have provided sufficient cover in that scenario and therefore the correct target for the ground forces wasn't the shield generator, it was the ion cannon. But whatever. The thing that actually came to mind while reading this article was that the battle of Hoth is not nearly the level of failure the Empire suffered at Yavin and Endor. In both of those cases Imperial forces made the same kind of mistakes made at Hoth and allowed the Rebels to snatch vitory from the jaws of defeat. Mostly it seems that the failures are failures of patience.

At Yavin, midway through the battle we hear that the Death Star leadership have analyzed the attack and found that there is a risk. They must have known at that point that the risk was the thermal exhaust port. Their response to this is to try to destroy the Rebel fighters ship to ship. That's certainly proactive and aggressive, but wouldn't a better course of action have been to have taken a shuttle and park it over the exhaust port? I mean, sure, that wouldn't have solved the problem of the X-Wings buzzing around the station like gnats, but it also certainly would have bought enough time for the station to clear the planet and blast the Rebel base into smithereens.

Endor is the same failure again. All they have to do is keep the shield up. They have a technically superior force, probably numerically superior too. They also are fully aware that they are going to be attacked in spite of the fact that the Rebel commandos think they have the element of surprise. All they have to do is stack scout walkers in front of every door and put stormtroopers body to body behind each door and sit tight. In that scenario there is no way Han and Leia take the ground station and bring down the shield. But instead of doing literally nothing and winning - because with the shield up the Death Star would just pick off Rebel capitol ship after capitol ship - the Imperial forces chase the rebels into the jungle, off their home field and onto unfamiliar ground where they are embarrassed by a gang of teddy bears. Again, a lack of patience costs the Empire their win.

I guess it is possible that in the case of the Battle of Endor that Luke and Anakin would still have defeated the Emperor, so the outcome of the war might have been the same, but there is no reason they couldn't have defeated the Rebel forces.

It seems consistent that since aggression and impatience are hallmarks of the Dark Side of the Force and the Empire is led by the Sith and so they fail exactly because of those traits. But with a closer look it does seem that from a military standpoint the Empire was pretty stupid.


Mrs. TANBI got me a Valentine's present. She's pretty awesome...Trying hard to get the kids to keep up the Tumblr. It isn't easy... It is pretty sad how low the bar has gotten for legislation. Issues of great importance deserve more than just a vote... I miss my Vegas apartment laundry, when I used the washer as a hamper: when it fills up just add soap and turn it on... The weather this February is really just incomprehensible... It is beginning to look a lot like I didn't leave enough time in the ScenoFab syllabus for student presentations. I'll have to start looking for places to make it up... We've only been planning for about a year, but I think we might actually be ready to pull the trigger on setting up the home office... I need to establish some sort of way to capture blog ideas. For a while I thought that's what these posts were for... Well it is official, I am missing things at work. Guess I just don't have the bandwidth I used to... I think it would be extra special if they did pick Bono to be Pope, and it's not because I bet on him... Bering Sea Gold must have caused a bunch of people to turn up to dive the following year. This season they added a pretty scary disclaimer to the end... Seems like each state that legalizes same sex marriage the story gets a little less hype. Maybe that's how it should be... Wondering if we should become fans of the Pittsburgh Women's Football team. There are probably tickets available and when they play it isn't nearly as cold... I need to put together a concert rigging package: truss, motors, distro, the works. Let me know if you think you know how much money I need and what I ought to include... Almost missed the podcast this week. I think it's happening tomorrow. We'll see...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

So Here's the Thing

I've been thinking about last night's State of the Union. Particularly I've been mulling over the part about high school education. The President sighted a program where along with a high school diploma students would also complete an associate's degree in a technical subject. It strikes me as a step in the correct direction, but it also has me wondering.

First I am wondering about the state of that high school diploma if on top of it people have the time to complete an associate's degree. I'd assume that associate's would have to include 2-3 classes each semester for at least two years. Aren't there already high school requirements that fill that space? I find myself thinking that this is more akin to a double major where you can count requirements against both than the double degree implied by saying its a diploma and a degree.

If it is more like the double major, then isn't this just making high school better? Why do we need for them to also get an associate's? Doesn't the existence of an associate's degree you can obtain concurrent with your normal high school education kind of inherently degrade the degree?

Why not make high school harder?

I went to a great high school. In some ways my education has sort of gone downhill since my high school graduation. I had more science in high school than since high school. I had more math in high school than since high school; more history, more language, probably even more English. I have a BFA and an MFA. In receiving both of those degrees I never needed more math, science, or language than I had mastered in high school.

I get the feeling that isn't true of the majority of high school students. Why is that?

Probably all students aren't ready for a high school program that rigorous when they are in high school. Maybe the issue there is really about social promotion. Maybe social promotion should end in high school. Maybe high school should have rigorous standards but should also take as long as it takes. Could we have a system where if you get to a point where you plateau academically due to maturity that you start to go part time and work part time, but that you are still required to continue to attend until you finish.

Not everyone is ready to go to college at 18. That would imply that many people really aren't ready to graduate high school at 18. I don't think that's a huge revelation, and yet we put tremendous pressure on people to graduate in that time frame - even at the expense of a rigorous experience.

The flip side of this is that far too many careers, not just jobs but careers, far too many careers require a college degree. That too seems like it isn't such a revelation, and yet more and more jobs seem to require college. Why is that? Why can't we provide the rigor in high school to make people able to fill more civic roles without going to college?

Why can't we let people take longer to get a much better socially mandated education and then be in a position to make a good life for themselves?

I'm not sure concurrent Associate's Degrees are the answer. We need to make high school better.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Where's The Voting?

So, no vote for comment of the week this week, as if anyone actually voted here for comment of the week anyway. So what's going on?

I should lay some foundation first. Students in a couple of classes each semester are required to follow the greenpage and to make sure they are following they have to do five comments per week on the blog. Each time a student leaves a comment (well really when anyone leaves a comment) I get an email and then a filter routine in my email apps sticks the emails into a "News Comment" folder.

Through the week when I see that someone has posted something I will read the entry and if I think the work is a candidate for comment of the week I flag it. I tried once upon a time to read all the comments at once at the end of the week but it was just too much of a slog. By the end of the week I usually have flagged something like 12-15 entries. I then need to cull the field down to the top five I put out for voting.

The culling process starts while I do the weekly comment count. I sort the comment folder by sender and check each entry for appropriate depth and look for duplicates. When doing that I will see if one student has multiple flagged messages. When there is a case of multiple good entries from a single student I usually do a quick assessment of which of those multiples I will put forward for the comment of the week. At some point I decided that each of those five comments should be from different students.

Usually. This week there was an artifact.

This week while I was culling from 15 to 5 I found that one student had actually flagged 5 out of 5 comments in the week. There had been times before when people had had three. I think there may even have been a case where someone had four in a week. But never five, until this week. So this week I made a new rule:

If you flag five out of five comments in a given week you win.

So no vote this week. One student just did too well. Damn. I'll keep this rule in place until two students flag 5 out of 5 in a single week together. And then I'll think of another rule (while being quietly thrilled with the problem). I can't wait.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Worth a Look

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

Female Directors More Prominent in New York The old boys’ club of New York theater, for decades defined by the chummy relationships of producers and directors, is changing with the rise of female directors who are in demand by veteran playwrights as well as hot young writers.

The Guns in My Plays

HowlRound: After the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, I felt like I’d felt after 9/11: grief stricken, traumatized and voiceless. In all the categories I fall in: woman, mother, playwright, human being, the events of that day, remain unbearable. The blessing and the curse of the writer is her imagination. At every mention and at random moments of every day in those first few weeks, I would begin to imagine what occurred in those classrooms, what was waiting for the first responders, and for those children’s parents. Even now, I have to harden my heart to put these words onto paper. While I avoided most of the news on cable, I did venture onto Facebook where I discovered some of my “friends” were anti gun control. I do not understand this position, so I started reading (and posting) all the articles I could find on gun legislation. I read some very cogent, practical and common sense articles like New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof’s, op-ed. Then I read Porochista Khakpour’s essay, “Why Did Nancy Lanza Love Guns?” In it, she describes her personal journey of love and obsession and ultimately rejection of guns: guns made her feel safe, guns made her feel powerful, guns were sexy, guns were fun.

Theater Education Programs Are in Demand for Workforce Creativity Imagine a group comprised of accountants, tech executives, actors, corporate CEOs, playwrights and theater directors engaged in an urgent conversation. These rather divergent personalities are all discussing the state of theater education in America and its impact on our country's economy, culture and future. They all agree that our nation's future workforce can't afford a curtain call on creativity.

Space Invaders: Unorthodox Arts How important is a venue? Touring productions always have to adjust the show to the space, but designers often create in ways that make the show adaptable to anticipated venues. And scripts? They usually stay the same. Unorthodox Arts, based in Boston, is, well, unorthodox. For its first production, Dust and Shadows, rewriting the script to suit venues and respond to spectators was part of the plan. Company members created their own roles in a sketchy 20-page script for a murder mystery, staying ready to elaborate and revise. At some performances, particular props were used, at others they weren’t, and sometimes they were used in unanticipated ways.

Work Ethic

Tested: On this week's episode, the gang discusses the importance of work ethic and why the drudgery of hard work means so much when you're starting off in a new job or career. This even applies to kids and chores!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

More Argo

Among many other people, Victor Garber is in Argo.


Yesterday Mrs TANBI and I went to see Argo.  It was sort of remedial Oscar viewing.  We'd meant to go see it a while ago but somehow hadn't.  So it was time to fix that.  We went to SouthSide Works.

I thought the movie was pretty good.  I like spy movies and I like behind the scenes movies so this was sort of in my wheelhouse.  The Hollywood characters were great and I could totally see how making a fake movie would be entirely possible.  Projects start and stop so often that it does seem like if you had the money to spend you could do whatever you wanted.

Movies set in the 70's and 80's are finding a special place in my heart.  I wonder if my folks had the same kind of feelings about movies set in the 50s.  Seeing the details really gets to me, like when they pan to the side of the bed and you see the kids 2XL toy.  I didn't have a 2XL but I had friends that did.  The cars and the clothes and the rotary phones all drive home the period.

Not much to talk about in terms of the story since it is a retelling of history.  I will say that all of the news resonated with me and seeing Ted Koppel and Dan Rather when they were much much younger strongly  reinforced the story.  I remember the hostage crisis.  I remember watching morning TV and having it interrupted for a news report and seeing the gate of the embassy.  As a kid it wasn't that scary.  I wonder what people old enough to have really understood would have felt.  The film really doesn't show how the news hit the home front aside from the actual players.

One of the other parts that struck me was how if they hadn't had to keep the success a secret they could have really mitigated the black eye the military got when they failed on their rescue attempt.  I can remember how inept the government and Carter looked after hearing the news about a botched rescue.  Following that up with a story of success would have made a big difference at the time. I wonder why they kept it secret for so long.

As the film progressed I found myself thinking that the actual Argo screenplay must be REALLY bad.  I came to that conclusion because I got to thinking that ti would have been a tremendous marketing advantage if they could have actually made the Argo movie to go with the original making of Argo story.  They could even have done it as an animated short, or as a made for TV special.  That they aren't using it at all suggests to me it must be really unimpressive.

Of course that is complete speculation.

I guess I'll give Argo an H.  Good film, well worth your time, and it'd probably be fine on your home screen.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


When I first started doing this I thought one of the primary things I would be posting would be reviews of movies.  It never really happened, I'm not sure why.  I guess maybe politics has been more fun to write about.  But here I am, many, many years later and I am still thinking about posting about movies.  Really I thought it would be movies and TV and books.  But for the moment lets focus on movies.

If I am going to write about movies I will need some kind of rating system.  I could go with thumbs up or thumbs down, but my experience tells me that my opinions are not often that clear.  Pretty much everything would wind up thumbs up.  I could do stars: 4 stars, 2.5 stars etc.  I think that again could really say more about the film than it does.  Really, any ranking system be it stars or 1-10, or ABCD is just making an effort to rank one film against other films and I don't think that tells all the story it could.

More than hierarchical rankings imply I think there is a dimension of movie choice that hadn't been part of public discourse that nowadays is really significant.  We watch movies in different modes and have many more opportunities to watch; and those things should figure into a contemporary rating system.

Our top end movie experience these days, at least here at casa TANBI, is to go out to the theatre, see the film in IMAX on a full size IMAX screen.  There's only one theatre within a reasonable drive that fits that description.  It's a full size traditional IMAX screen with a steep house and stadium seating.  The bottom line for that is that to get a decent seat you really have to arrive pretty early.  So to be worth the drive and the price and the process a film needs to be something special.  Lets call that our top rating "IMAX Worthy."

"Top Rating" implies a hierarchy, and I guess that's ok, but would be the same a "4 stars" or "10/10."  The next ratings wouldn't work that way though.  After a film that is so special to merit the big theatre experience, the next choice is whether to see the movie in a theatre at all.  The difference here is that just because a movie doesn't call out for a theatre it doesn't mean it isn't a good movie.  So the next two ratings could be "Date Night" for films that are worth seeing and worth seeing in a theatre and "Home Theatre" which means the movie is worth seeing and will be good at home - and is worth appointment viewing on your best screen.  Although different those ratings aren't necessarily better or worse than each other.

The next rating would be "streamer."  That would be a movie that is ok to watch and it doesn't really matter how you watch - no big screen, no surround sound required.  Sometimes now we stream movies on the computers or the tablets.  The viewing experience isn't really the same but it's ok for what it is.  Finally, I think the last rating would be "Pawn Stars" which means you could watch it if it's on, but you could also watch Pawn Stars (or Dual Survival or Love It or List It or whatever).

So we're set for the TANBI movie rating system.  It goes like this:

I - IMAX Worthy
D - Date Night      H- Home Theatre
S - Streamer
P - Pawn Stars

Make sense?  Now I just need to see some movies.


Like I said, there will be a little bit of a drop off in posting... They got everyone here riled up over snow, then it rained. Fine by me... Yesterday I ordered something I didn't really need from Sears. It came today - ZOOM. Why can't that happen when it is something I need? Figures... I have fallen way behind on the DVR. It might be time for some bulk deleting... I lost a credit card last week, but because it is 2013 and not 1987 the whole thing was resolved in about 12 minutes... I tried to listen to today's studio performance like it was a radio play. I am pretty sure I fell asleep. We have so many good undergrad candidates for next year we're beginning to wonder if we'll get to the admit list, let alone the wait list... I need to think of some good ways to recruit grad TD students. If you have any ideas, please send them my way... Got to hang out with my sister and her family last weekend. Apparently she reads the blog occasionally. So if you read this: hello... I really didn't need to know George W. Bush was a painter. And I REALLY didn't need to know his favorite subject is nude self portraits... I think I may have come up with a photo/shop project that is more achievable than the last idea. Plus it'll mean I have to learn a new piece of gear... Always seemed like it was easier to campaign on civil liberties than it would actually be to govern that way. Looks like Obama discovered that too... When I saw my sister she gave me a late holiday gift, so now I don't have to choose between a Roku and an AppleTV, but I might need to buy a new television... I'm considering a Twitter feed for the Greenpage. I wonder if there's an app out there that could take the posts and tweet them out like one every two hours automatically... Why do they keep canceling the cartoons I watch? I must not be the target demographic. Which makes me wonder why someone doesn't do cartoons where I am the demographic - well, besides Archer...

Thursday, February 07, 2013

#NFTRW Weekly Podcast

This week's articles:

1. Will Tina Fey's "Mean Girls" Sing on Broadway?
2. Motion test for Mama's ghostly creature is freaky all by itself
3. Cirque battles declining fortunes
4. Human Dimension & Interior Space
5. Hundreds Die in Brazilian Nightclub Fire
6. TV review: A thrilling look at 'Shakespeare Uncovered'
7. Glee Thinks They Did Jonathan Coulton a Favor
8. Hollywood wants drones for filmmaking
9. Beyoncé. Horse meat. Lance Armstrong. We have to care about this contempt for the public
10. This Clever Resume That Looks Like an Amazon Page Is So Good I Would Buy It

But probably not in that order.

Featuring: Jake, Matt, Lauren, & Cat

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

How Much Would You Pay?

I get this email every day with merchandise they think I might want to buy. Pretty much always they are right, if I had all the money in the world I would certainly buy pretty much everything they suggest.
Today, one of the items was this:

They had run this particular item before and it had caught my eye. Mostly it is because Mrs. TANBI has dumped her old alarm clock and has been using her phone instead.
So when I saw the item I put the email in a holding folder and then came back to it later in the day, blew open the website and started to place the order.
... and then I remembered I work in a building with a fairly extensive carpentry shop. Less than 20 minutes later I had this:

Now I will admit it isn't perfect, in fact this is pretty much just a proof of concept. I think I got the proportions pretty close. The "snoozebar" functionality appears to work, even without the change in materials. I do think the slots are too deep, and set back too far - and this piece doesn't have a finish on it. So I guess the online product is probably still nicer than the DIY version. If I do another iteration I'll try to find some HDPE in the shop for the top and maybe buy some maple or poplar for the wood. I think I could probably even engrave something in the top with our new mill.
Not perfect, but not a dollar out of pocket either.

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders...

Student #1 left a new comment on your post "Beyoncé. Horse meat. Lance Armstrong. We have to c...":

When I found out Beyoncé was lip syncing, my first thought was "well that doesn't surprise me". I'm not saying that I wasn't a little dismayed, it's just that I've grown accustomed to being disillusioned. we're always being lied to, it just if it's to protect us we don't mind, when it's to protect someone else, well that's goes against all our kinder garden morals. A text book no no of sorts.Of course, I would like to point out that doping and lip syncing are two VERY different things. Its the difference between cheating and chickening out, and therefore really shouldn't be compared. It's the fact that they were covered up thats the issue. It's as though average people are some child that you lie to because you can't bear to see the look on their face if you told them the truth. Admit it, we've all done it at one point in time or another. A little white lie to keep them happy, a little white lie to keep them quite. Lying is easy. It was easier for Beyoncé to lip sync in front of the president then to stand up in front of the entire country and say" I didn't have time to rehearse and the cold will make my voice cracks, I'm scared I might screw up but I'll give it my best shot." Who wouldn't be scared, especially when society judges stars so harshly. But fear's part of life isn't it. So yes I'm a little disappointed that Beyoncé lip synced. And yes I would like if the media was a little more truthful (I'd prefer not to second guess if the meat I'm eating is actually meat.) but Beyoncé is still human, so let's not be so quick to judge her when we all need to work on not telling lies or judging others to harshly. 
Student #2  left a new comment on your post "Hundreds Die in Brazilian Nightclub Fire":
Whats with all these places locking their exits?! Isn't that the entire point of having exits that you can walk out whenever you please, or run out screaming if there is an emergency. Im not sure how similar the fire safety laws in Brazil are to those in the US, but this is the second story in as many weeks that mentioned more than one fire where many of the deaths would have been avoided had the venues been properly prepared and had not locked the guests onto the building. Its pretty frustrating, fire safety laws exist for a reason and even though sometimes they are bent for the reason of entertainment that should just mean you are that much more cautious and prepared for if and when a fire does breakout. Thats a big part of going somewhere is that even if you aren't consciously thinking about it, you are depending on the fact that wherever you are is taking the proper measures to make sure you are as safe as possible and when places don't talk that seriously they are setting up a bad name for the industry. 
Student #3 left a new comment on your post "'Sound of Music' actress says Maria character a co...":
Although hearing the names "Rodgers and Hammerstein" brings to mind happy couples singing in fields together, the core of their musicals bring up much more radical themes than just the trials of love. The Sound of Music marks a families choice to revolt against the government they are governed by. They risk their lives to escape, never compromising their morals and values. Maria herself goes against the ruling power, in effect fighting against her own beliefs. Maria made sacrifices of her faith in order to serve an even higher cause of helping the family. Even the nuns lie in order to save the family from the Nazi's. The bible does not say "Lie within reason". It brings to mind the moral dilemma brought up in the JPS play Doubt. The head nun in doubt, says out loud what the sound of music only hints towards "When you take a step to address wrongdoing, you are taking a step away from God, but in his service." 
Student #4 left a new comment on your post "Culture Count: Life in Annie's Orphanage":
I can definitely relate directly to this article, although from the opposite perspective. I was a "child actress" in "The Nutcracker" when I was seven, and we had to have an adult guardian for the show. They were exactly what this Jill Valentine says they were - half stage manager and half cool aunt. We even had the same problem of keeping our overwhelming energy and excitement quiet while in the wings and the dressing room. The onsite guardian was invaluable to us; she would herd us to makeup and wardrobe at the right time, made she we were in the wings but well out of the way when we needed to be, and took care of our little needs, making sure we were well taken care of throughout the show. I can only imagine that Jill Valentine is just as invaluable to the production of "Annie," and I'm glad onsite guardians are gaining recognition for their important roles. 
Student #5 left a new comment on your post "Ohio High School Fires Director for Staging Legall...":
For a show that is about self empowerment and finding your own i think the firing of this teacher was completely unfair. People are so concerned on keeping their children innocent that they are forgetting the meaning of theatre and the great messages that can be told from it. If they want a high school friendly show then they need to continue doing high school related shows with high school characters, and even then if you create a show about high school, REAL high school, it will be much more raunchy than this.
Vote in the comments or by email.

Monday, February 04, 2013

Worth A Look

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

TV review: A thrilling look at 'Shakespeare Uncovered' Loving Shakespeare with a love so immoderate it would take a Shakespeare to describe it, I was pretty well pre-sold on "Shakespeare Uncovered," a six-part analytical-historical gambol through several of his plays, beginning Friday on PBS. By the same token, I am liable to be more critical of the product; but as it turns out, it's a treat.

Cirque du Soleil, a victim of the economic crisis

Daily Press: The economic crisis has certain consequences, even in the entertainment industry. Cirque du Soleil announced on Wednesday that it would eliminate up to 400 jobs – mostly at its headquarters in Montreal – because of the Canadian dollar exchange rate, the economic crisis and rising production costs for its performances, informs The Canadian dollar has been soaring in the past years against the U.S. dollar, cutting the profits of the company.

Hollywood wants drones for filmmaking

The Hill's Hillicon Valley: Unmanned drones are best known for their ability to hunt down suspected terrorists abroad, but they might have an entirely different use: movie-making. Hollywood's lobbying group is pressing the Obama administration to allow filmmakers to use drones for aerial shots.

Beyoncé. Horse meat. Lance Armstrong. We have to care about this contempt for the public

The Guardian: In the science fiction film The Matrix, all-powerful machines transform the planet into a huge computer simulation where humans exist only in a dream world. Among the few sentient "free" people left fighting the machines is Cypher, who abandons the struggle following a revelation: he actually prefers the simulation to reality. "I know this steak doesn't exist," he says. "I know that when I put it in my mouth, the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy and delicious. After nine years, you know what I realise?" He chews the steak ostentatiously and sighs. "Ignorance is bliss."

This Clever Resume That Looks Like an Amazon Page Is So Good I Would Buy It Making your resume stand out from a pile of papers or a bunch of pixels on a screen is hard as hell. How can people who went to similar schools and worked similar jobs and have similar skills differentiate themselves? By being clever. Like Philippe Dubost. He turned his resume into an Amazon product page. It's brilliant!
If you still have some time after that...

There's Only 1 Female Film Director For Every 15.24 Male Ones, and Things Aren't Getting Any Better

Why We Need Theater Now More Than Ever

Second TEDx conference on the Great White Way asks 'What is the best Broadway can be?'

Glee Thinks They Did Jonathan Coulton a Favor

Art & Museums - The News Tribune