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.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Worth a Look

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

Do U.S. Arts Suffer From A Lack of Working Class Voices?

Butts In the Seats: There is an ongoing conversation that all children be exposed to the arts and be taught creative expression in school. While affluent communities are no guarantee of arts education in schools, there is a better chance of experiencing the arts in an affluent school district.


Nuggets mascot ‘Rocky’ collapses after being lowered from rafters while motionless

The Point Forward - SI.com: “Rocky” the Nuggets mascot reportedly collapsed on the Pepsi Center court after remaining motionless as he was lowered from the rafters before Denver’s home opener against Portland on Friday night. Video of Rocky’s entry — via the Altitude broadcast — can be seen above. The mascot’s arms and legs did not move as he descended with the help of a harness, and his head was slumped forward. Upon dismount, he simply fell to the side.


Why Everyone Should Study Stage Combat

HowlRound: “Professional Fight Director and Stage Combat Instructor” is apparently one of the best jobs one can possibly have when attending a cocktail party (though for the record, I would like to state that I always say “playwright” first). Outside of the worlds of theater and film, a surprising number of intelligent and educated people are unaware that the job actually exists. And once they do know, there is a lot of curiosity about how our work is done.


Indie Director Ava DuVernay on Dressing for Success

Women and Hollywood: Clothes make the director. That's the lesson filmmaker Ava DuVernay imparted in her keynote speech at the LA Film Independent Forum last week. In her 45-minute speech, the 2012 winner of the Sundance Film Festival's Best Director prize described her "director's uniform," a kind of work armor that's more about self-protection than self-expression.


Keeping Creativity In Broadway's Mix

WSJ.com: When Hal Prince produced hits like "West Side Story" and "The Pajama Game," the business of Broadway wasn't quite the high-stakes gamble it is today. Stagehands and wardrobe supervisors gave $500 donations to help him get musicals off the ground, and a $5,000 check was like hitting the jackpot.

Those increments are pocket change in an age when blockbusters like "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" cost $75 million, and they wouldn't even be able to move the needle much for relatively modest productions, such as "Peter and the Starcatcher," which cost $4.5 million.



Thursday, November 14, 2013

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So Here's My Question

Every news broadcast and many, many articles in my feeds bemoan the disaster that is Obamacare.  Listening to the cacophony is fairly depressing, and over the last few days it has really got me thinking.  My impression was that most of the law hadn't even kicked in yet and that for many of the parts of the law that had begun things were just swell.  So if that's true, who is complaining and what are they complaining about?

Think about it.  Just what is going wrong?

No denial for previous conditions: working.
Insurance company spending directed toward health care spending: working.
Preventive care included with all insurance: working.
Mental health care included with all insurance: working.
No dropping coverage because you get sick: working.
Adult children can stay on their parents' policies longer: working.
No annual or lifetime spending caps: working.
Oh, and millions of people previously ineligible for insurance now eligible:  working.

Those are just the ones I know off the top of my head and I'm not a policy wonk.  But I know it isn't all good...

Healthcare.gov: mostly not working.
"If you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage.": mostly not working.

So there are some things that aren't going well, but looking even a little bit closer is it really that big a deal?  Off the top, we're only talking about people that had no insurance before or were in the individual market.  For people who are the former things are unfortunate, but no worse off than they were before.  For people who are the latter things are also unfortunate, but weren't we told that only 5% on insurance moves through the individual market?  Right, so whatever is going wrong it doesn't impact somewhere in the world of 95% of the public.

However terrible things have rolled out, at most they are terrible for less than 5% of folks that already had insurance.

With that in mind let's recap the things that aren't working.  The website isn't fully functional.  Leaving aside that for some people healthcare.org is working, and leaving aside that there's a telephone alternate (which admittedly is also only partially up to speed), and leaving aside that you can still - just like before - go direct to the insurance company, the federal website is only in play for people that live in states that didn't set up their own exchanges.

In California, Kentucky, Oregon and the other states that didn't leave things to the federal government things are working peachy.  Of the whole of the group vulnerable to this particular issue let's assume that maybe half of them live in states dependent on healthcare.gov.  Put a pin in that.

Then there's the promise: "If you like your coverage, you can keep your coverage."  Part of me wants to fall back on what I said about this during the campaign:  there simply isn't anyone that likes their coverage.  I just always assumed that anyone that liked their coverage either hadn't had to use it or was ignorant of the mechanics in some way.  I thought that promise was hollow to begin with.

But let's assume there actually were people that were happy with their coverage and let's assume that the list of global improvements above is somehow not enough to make the change worth it for them.  From what I've heard maybe 1/3 of these people are actually untouched by the program at this time - they're just either "sure" or terrified something bad is going to happen, but as of yet the fear or the certainty is unsupported.  Another 1/3 of these folks, once they find what their new coverage will be find that they are getting more for less.  And then yes, the remaining 1/3 are a little bit getting screwed for the rest of the country.

Who does that leave with a legitimate beef?  From 1/3 to 1/2 of 5%  Between 1.5 to 2.5% of the population and THAT is only with the caveat that they are totally unmoved by the improvement for the whole.

Why is there so much noise over 2%?

There are going to be things that need to be changed.  There are going to be things that are not going to have the exact consequence when they come into play.  We will need to have frank conversation about those things when they happen.

But can everyone please turn down the volume until there's really something substantive to yammer about?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Coulda Been Worse

Considering we were supposed to lose by more than 30 this wasn't too bad.


But, close doesn't count.  A loss is a loss.  In case someone is counting, this is the second week I've left enough points on the bench to have won.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Comment of the Week

Here are this week's contenders - vote by Friday morning!

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Is the Great Recession Over for the Arts?":

This is a really great article for relating to topic talked about in Tech Management and Olivier's Nose. At the end of the article it asked some questions we as a class asked. The first question was "Can a origination be perpetuity?" I think this question is an extremely good question because when writing mission statements most arts organizations create a statement that would would allow the organization to last forever, which does not necessarily done. There can be great arts organizations that do not last forever. I think we shouldn't focus on sad cases such as New York City Opera but, focus on the great companies that can now start from New York City Opera. The rest of the questions the article gave really seemed to be tips for organizations, many of which seemed like things which an organization should be doing to anyways like, being honest with employees, and remain true to the organizations mission. The two tips that I really thought were useful was advising the creation of a smaller board to help make decisions quick and, don't lower your budget on marketing. The smaller board particularly stood out in my mind because it seemed as if that was something to be done in emergencies and that it could be dangerous do to the fact it could leave out important chains of command. A dangerous thing to do when a business is in trouble. I think that this article was great, and I am really glad I read it to get exposed to the economical side of the arts. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "All the News That Fits the Print: The Failure of A...":
This article sheds light on the side of the arts that we often don't get to read about: the positive one. As this article says, the vast majority of articles in the press about the arts are about the failure of companies or how the arts are in decline. Sure, some companies have financial problems or aren't doing great because of their subscriber base or some other reason, but it's important to note that there are also companies that are doing well. Symphonies, ballets, and operas are usually the sectors of the arts that get slammed for being "too elitist/expensive/out-of-touch" for the general public and the realities of a not-too-distant recession, and the press harps on this constantly. However, something this article doesn't really talk about, but is another part of this, is how some orchestras have adapted to the changing times. The Pittsburgh Orchestra recently did a compilation of Pixar hits and another of the Lord of the Rings soundtrack, and, as Sophie mentioned, they are performing The Planets with projections of space. Classical music companies are still able to attract a large audience and donors, as his examples of the symphonies in St. Louis, Houston, and Detroit show, and it would be great if the press was able to balance their reporting with this positive stories as well. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Why Creativity Thrives In The Dark":
Artists have used the concept of chiaroscuro for centuries, and it demonstrates how the human eye sees more details when confronted with shadows and highlights. So it would not surprise me if creativity thrives in the dark; however, I had several issues with this article. In their experiments, what kind of lights did they use? There is a difference between cool and warm lights, and I know personally that warm lights make me comfortable enough to explore ideas. I also had questions about the Toni Morrison statement (Don't get me wrong, I love her work!). "It's not being in the light, it's being there before it arrives." When I'm working in a dimly lit environment, the sun is usually going down. This gives me exposure to a dim light and shadows. But I'm not waiting for the next day's sunrise. I'm waiting for the midnight's darkness. I think the night's darkness itself encourages creativity because our minds must fill in what we cannot see. We have to create our worlds, whereas the light would give us all of the answers, and that's just boring. I wasn't really impressed with this study, actually. I found it lacking certain facts. The article said that when "the lights switch off, something in the brain switches on." Well what part of the brain? What switches on and off? I think what they've done is a good start, but I hope they would finish this experiment with scientific studies on the brain. I'm also interested to know if there is any connection between this experiment's research and depression. It is known that lack of light exposure can lead to depression for some, and it is widely known that many creative people are prone to mood disorders and depression. The Ohio State University did an experiment on mice with sleep apnea and discovered that mice who were exposed to dim light at night increased depression and anxiety. So although darkness increases creativity, is it at the cost of our sanity? Is it something we want to gamble away? This all depends on how much that individual wants to explore the unknown. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "Can Art Teach Patience?":
I disagree with the statement, "Our increasingly online, instantaneous existence accounts for those numbers, obviously." Yes, the modern emphasis on speed, contributed to by the internet, no doubt plays a large role in why people look at paintings so quickly. However, we can't state that this is the definitive sole cause for this behavior. There are other factors that certainly play into it. For example, just as mentioned in the article, when I went to see the Mona Lisa, I only looked at it for about 15 seconds. This wasn't because I wasn't interested- it was because I was in a huge room in a claustrophobic crowd of people all looking at a painting more than 50 feet away, behind a glass wall and ropes so that the closest you could possibly get, if you managed to fight your way through the crowd, was maybe 20 feet. I liked the painting, but there were paintings just as interesting in the next room over, and it wasn't as uncomfortable an experience viewing them. I know that personally I love spending long amounts of time in museums- the only reason I would hurry through them is if I was eager to see all of the pieces in a limited amount of time. I'm sure I could spend more time looking at art- it's a problem that all of us have, and it should be addressed in the context of short attention spans caused by the internet. however, we should also examine how we could better set up museums and other spaces so as to encourage prolonged observation, as opposed to rushing through to make sure we see everything. Bemoaning the attention spans of the young isn't going to fix the problem, and not everyone has access to an art class that forces them to spend 3 hours in a museum. We have to find practical solutions to ensure that people actually look at the art, instead of rushing past and only seeing it. Perhaps ways to solve this would be by having smaller rooms with fewer paintings, instead of the overwhelming galleries that are often the display space (I always find myself distracted by the art next to the piece I am looking at). Maybe we could organize the art in a way that would encourage connections between the pieces, so people would see one and then go back to a previous one. We have to think of actual solutions. 
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "Black Swans and Trojan Horses: Why That Internship...":
After reading the multiple articles posted on the Green Page regarding this issue, I feel very conflicted. I have always had the attitude that unpaid internships can both be good and bad. It really depends on the specific internship and person who is seeking the internship. I completely agree that it should not be legal for companies to have unpaid interns replace or work in a position where a paid employee would have otherwise occupied. Companies that are having unpaid interns work in real positions are playing the system. However, at the same time, I think that unpaid internships are an important part of education, and students and other young people would struggle to break into their aspired industries without them. For example, many theatre companies offer unpaid internships. In most cases, theatre companies are not able to offer wages to their interns because the money is already being spent elsewhere. If unpaid internships were altogether banned, many aspiring theatre students would have a harder time breaking into the industry. Also, one of the articles described how getting fired from an unpaid internship is not a huge deal since you are not being paid in the first place. However, I would completely disagree with this, as developing relationships and contacts in the industry is something that is invaluable when entering the work force.

Greenpage Crosspost

Sunday, November 10, 2013

And another thing...

Sometimes it is difficult cutting down to five "Worth a Look" articles...

30 Fantastic Movie Costumes by the Legendary Edith Head

The Cut: Costume Designer Edith Head once said "If it's a Paramount film I probably designed it." She doesn't even have to pretend to be humble. Her influence continues — immortalized both as a character in Pixar's The Incredibles, and today, as a Google Doodle tribute in honor of her 116th birthday.


How Foam Latex Spawned a Horror Makeup Revolution

Tested: When Netflix debuted its original horror show Hemlock Grove this year, one of the things that got viewers and critics talking was the gruesome werewolf transformation in the first episode. It was a uniquely designed metamorphosis--and yes, it was gory--but if you ask me, it was held back by the production's reliance on computer generated graphics. The transformation looked too fake, shiny, and even rubbery. Which is ironic because the horror monsters of yesteryear looked better when they were actually made of rubber. Specifically foam latex.


Design FX: How Ender's Game Filmed Zero-G Battles That Obey the Laws of Physics

Underwire | Wired.com: A signature piece in Gavin Hood’s latest film Ender’s Game is its massive zero-gravity Battle Room — a place where the titular character played by Asa Butterfield trains for alien war. Seeing the film’s young stars float through weightless battle is a wonderful thing to behold — and something that took astronomical amounts of time and digital trickery.


A Whole New Ballgame in Arts Hiring

theatrebayarea.org: In 2003, the National Football League was facing a problem in hiring not dissimilar to the one theatres are confronting today: its leadership didn’t look like the rest of its employees. That year, 70% of players were black, but only 6% of head coaches were. In fact, in the course of the NFL’s history up to that point, only seven head coaches of color had ever been hired. Those numbers meant that the problem wasn’t a pipeline issue, i.e., that there weren’t enough qualified candidates of color to interview for those positions. The problem, rather, was a glass ceiling issue, meaning bias was preventing qualified candidates from advancing.


Dan O'Bannon and The Origins of Alien

Tested: About a decade or so back, I did a lengthy interview with screenwriter Dan O’Bannon about the film he would always be best known for: Alien. Alien first came together from several scripts O’Bannon came up with. One was called Omnivore, a sci-fi horror story about creatures that emerge from a million year life-cycle during an ecological dig. Then he wrote Star Beast, which later morphed into Alien.



Worth a Look

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

Can Art Teach Patience?

Picture This | Big Think: Have you ever noticed how long people look at a painting in a museum or gallery? Surveys have clocked view times anywhere between 10 and 17 seconds. The Louvre estimated that visitors studied the Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world, for an astoundingly low average of 15 seconds. Our increasingly online, instantaneous existence accounts for those numbers, obviously. Can we ever again find the patience to look at art as it was meant to be seen?

All the News That Fits the Print: The Failure of Arts Journalism at a Time of Cultural Need

by ICSOM Chairman Bruce Ridge: October 1 was a difficult day for the musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra, a day that marked the one-year point of the managerial imposed lockout that has silenced an orchestra once called “the best in the world.” That morning, their beloved Music Director, Osmo Vanska, delivered his resignation, precisely as he said he would if the lockout did not end. The relationship between Vanska and these musicians had begun to reach the status of legend; a unique pairing of leader and orchestra that had the potential to approach Szell and Cleveland, Ormandy and Philadelphia. So, on this dark morning the Locked Out Musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra did the only thing they knew how, and the only thing their years of dedicated study and training would allow them to do—they went out and served their community.




Is This the Opera of the Future?

Wired Science: At 10:34 PM on a recent evening, passengers at Los Angeles’ Union Station scurried down well-worn linoleum hallways toward departing trains, running to catch the evocatively-named Coast Starlight (Seattle), Pacific Surfliner (San Luis Obispo), or Sunset Limited (New Orleans). Among the crowds was a man carrying a backpack, sauntering between the rows of chairs and singing to himself. The scene was far from unusual given the station’s diverse and colorful clientele, but there was something different about this singer – people were actually paying attention. An entourage of spectators, all wearing matching black headphones, traced the man’s path, hanging on every word.


Show Me The Money

American Theatre – November 2013: It's all there in the photo.

The family’s in black, and the funeral dinner has gone bonkers: Two women are covering their faces, two are being held gingerly for paltry comfort by men. Another woman stands upstage, solitary and indignant, appalled at whatever has just been said.


Monoculture, and Pleasures of The Jungle Book

HowlRound: The sun never sets on the Disney empire. We are told in a program note for Disney Theatrical Productions (DTP),
With 15 productions currently produced or licensed, a Disney musical is being performed professionally somewhere on the planet virtually every hour of the day. Worldwide, its eight Broadway titles have been seen by over 124 million theatergoers and have, cumulatively, run a staggering 195 years.
It is both puzzling and laughable that Disney claims a history of nearly two centuries when its first experiment, Beauty and the Beast (the first experiment) opened on Broadway only in 1994.




Thursday, November 07, 2013

Vote for Comment of the Week

This week's contenders...

Student #1 has left a new comment on your post "Stuff To Ponder: Bring Back The Claques":

This is a really interesting article. I didn't know that fact about Claques, and I can see how people in the 19th century would see a need for these people. I find the point about audiences not knowing when to applaud during a symphony very accurate. A lot of people don't know enough about that culture to know that it is poor etiquette to applaud between movements, and that applause should be held until the end of a piece. Just like anything else in the world, the only way for people to know and understand this is for them to be taught. I was taught the appropriate moments to applaud during a piece of music when I was very young participating in school bands.

I think a good compromise could be reached regarding implementing claques into our society. Students are often offered discounted tickets to things like symphonies, operas, and theatrical pieces. If there were to be a walk-through of the show before half hour, or some kind of document distributed when students bought these tickets, they could act as a claque for the audience. Perhaps offered a high discount to be a claque, or offering free tickets to students in return for being claques would make a big difference. This would also teach the rising generations about when it is appropriate to applaud during specific pieces, in essence training your future audiences. An interesting concept to say the least. 
Student #2 has left a new comment on your post "When a gaming actress’ nude images leak, who shoul...":
I think that one of the most interesting topics that these events bring up is how a game studio/publisher should deal with leaked content of any sort. Sony has a pretty bad reputation for acting badly when they feel that they are in any way getting the short end of the stick. Sony also has a bad reputation for less then legitimate advertising stunts. With that in mind perhaps Sony has been taking the wrong sorts of actions in this case. We can already see that their choice to try to get these images removed has backfired and cause more people to talk about and look for the images. This article and all our comments for a start. So if Sony didn't want to mess with their game or Page's reputation then maybe their best move would have been to stay quite and let the whole thing blow over.

Probably ten years ago Valve (a game developer and publisher) had some very serious issues with their content getting leaked. A hacker had managed to hack in to one of their office computers and steal all their code for one of their biggest up coming games. The hacker released all the code online and many people were able to play the partly finished game. Instead of trying to fight the hacker directly, Valve took this as an opportunity to build their community up and make it stronger. They asked their fans not to play the hacked version and to help them find out how the hacker was stealing code. With the community help Valve was able to stop the hackers and to keep people interested in the game for the right reasons.

What I'm getting at here is that Sony should look at how they could approach this event from a different angle and maybe make something instead of destroying something. 
Student #3 has left a new comment on your post "Drama schools are a waste of money, says National ...":
I suppose I understand why people bash drama schools and call them "useless" along with a variety of other adorable names. It makes sense that people think that all drama school involves is playing around all day and it doesn't actually take any work and the reasons why people are there are completely subjective and all that crap that people told me when I applied. I personally think that the reason this is what most people think drama school is, is because they just don't get it. Yes, it's possible to be successful in the industry without formal training, but it's also possible to be successful at ANYTHING without formal training. Saying that learning to sell yourself in the industry is the only important thing to know is like saying that the only skill anyone actually needs is conversation and charm. While those are important skills, there's also a lot that we learn at drama school that doesn't necessarily involve acting or design. A large portion of our classes focus, yes on presentation, but also on opening our minds to new forms of thinking and creative processes. We learn how to tell stories and make things interesting regardless of what it is. Drama school isn't necessarily just for someone who wants to be in theater. There's a reason why large corporations look for people with drama backgrounds. It's because we learn about deadlines, and presentation, and how to function on little sleep, we learn how to take care of ourselves and the healthy way to do things. We learn empathy. Aside from the basic skills we learn (like drawing, organization, how to create paperwork, and the actors learning to dance, learning to sing, learning to speak in different accents, and learning a plethora of other things that I can't even fathom) we learn how to be people. It's sad that there are people out there who think that we are wasting our time by trying to pursue drama in school, but I just tell them that I'm sorry they don't understand and at least when I graduate my degree will allow me to do something that I can never be bored with. Sitting in an office behind a computer and waiting for my boss to come by and tell me that I've gotten that big promotion I've been waiting for is something that my school has taught me that I don't have to settle for. Theater is more than just selling yourself and it's about way more than charm. Sorry you don't understand. 
Student #4 has left a new comment on your post "PBS Revisits the Panic Broadcast":
I listened to the original broadcast for the first time this week, or at least the first time when I actually paid attention. It surprised me that there was actually a preamble to the broadcast that frames the whole thing in a fictional light, so obviously it was only the folks who tuned in a few minutes late that were fooled. I also listened this week to the RadioLab broadcast Sophie mentioned. The most interesting thing there for me was a story I'd never heard about a similar broadcast that took place in Quito, Ecuador in the 80's that actually resulted in actual panic, military mobilization and eventually the immolation of the radio station by an angry mob. By comparison, the reaction to the Mercury Theatre broadcast that resulted in a few thousand phone calls to police stations in New Jersey was pretty meek. Later, Orson Wells claimed that part of the Company's intent was to draw attention to what they saw as the blind acceptance as truth of whatever came out of their radios. I think I remember he even used the words "fed" and "tube," imagery which has stuck with us and sentiments whose poignancy have only increased. It actually draws a strange comparison to reality t.v. for me, a kind of Bizarro version of the War of the Worlds phenomenon, where we know for a fact it's all scripted and fake, but the facade that it's real somehow heightens the drama for us. I think we have become more skeptical and more foolish at the same time. I don't know exactly how that's possible, but someone oughtta write a play about it. 
Student #5 has left a new comment on your post "How the Silver Screen Turned Into a Technicolor Dr...":
The amount of effort that went into hand-shading each individual cell is bewildering, as is the evolution of film coloring in general. I further researched what the first technicolor film was, and found out that 'The Gulf Between' came out in 1917. That's not even a century ago. I also discovered that the majority of people seem to think that The Wizard of Oz was the first colored movie ever. That's a bit disheartening, that some believe that colored films just 'came about' in 1939. That is how the general public thinks though... even today. Things aren't a process, they're a product.

I know that color has benefited the film industry greatly, but the beautiful simplicity of the black and white classics should not be forgotten. You couldn't convince an audience that a brutal murder was occurring using digital affects in those days. Then, they would focus on the murderer's eyes. They would leave the gruesomeness to the audiences' imagination, which can be even worse than digital effects. There's this one scene in 'Miracle on 34th Street', where the little girl has offered Kris a piece of gum and he is trying to blow a bubble. The camera stays on her eyes as they get bigger and bigger until we hear a pop and cut to him picking gum out of his beard. It is so simple, so clear, and so well done.

The point is this: just because we advance technologically does not mean we should exploit it. We should use the new technology when it is necessary... not to prove that we can. That's what comes to mind when I think of the steamrolling entity that is Hollywood. We began with people hand coloring cells and look where we are now. Those techniques should not be tossed aside; the methods should not be forgotten. 

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Ellipses...

Well, we've lit the pilot light on the fireplace...  I really hope people that aren't on TV remember that the ACA is more than just a website...  I think I might have homes for 2 of the 3 cats we're trying to place...  If you do a portal with all kinds of 3D detail it'd be nice to get a little side light on the thing, just sayin...  The Steelers, I really just don't know what to say.  Might have to follow the Penguins a little closer this year...  We had an election today in Pittsburgh.  You wouldn't have noticed if you weren't looking carefully...  Today's PTM Pro Practice was a presentation on being a Party Planner.  First time for that...  I've fallen behind on the Greenpage this week - back to day by day for the first time in months...  Mrs TANBI got me a Fitbit for my birthday.  Have to figure out how to get that into my routine...  It turns out that big, think plexiglass is really expensive.  I think I actually already knew that...  Do you use NEWSY? I never knew about it online, but it is one of the Roku channels I use the most...  Do you think we can wait even a whole day before talking about Christy for President after he wins the New Jersey Governor race?  Me either...  Its Doc G's birthday.  Happy Birthday Doc G...  We're doing a grab bag for holiday gifts again this year.  I picked the theme and I might have gone too complicated.  I thought "beginnings" had a lot of possibilities...  I'm playing this Simpsons game on my tablet.  It really wants me to spend money.  I'm really not going to...  Looks like we've got another session of on site FTSI training this spring.  Sometimes we're a really good program...