I’ll Just Stand Over Here and Wait for the Cool People to Join Me

Pa Header So, are you the type of person who, at a party, makes the rounds, constantly on the move to chat, to flirt, to, well, whatever, with as many people in as short a time as possible. I’m not. I’m the type that finds a corner and hangs out there. Sometimes alone, sometimes with a few others. I prefer to claim my space and wait for people to migrate, as they inevitably will, to hang out with me. Or at least near me. I was reminded of this strategy when I came across this article on Wired:

Vinyl May Be Final Nail in CD’s Coffin By Eliot Van Buskirk 10.29.07 | 12:00 AM As counterintuitive as it may seem in this age of iPods and digital downloads, vinyl — the favorite physical format of indie music collectors and audiophiles — is poised to re-enter the mainstream, or at least become a major tributary. Talk to almost anyone in the music business’ vital indie and DJ scenes and you’ll encounter a uniformly optimistic picture of the vinyl market. “I’m hearing from labels and distributors that vinyl is way up,” said Ian Connelly, client relations manager of independent distributor alliance IODA, in an e-mail interview. “And not just the boutique, limited-edition colored vinyl that Jesu/Isis-style fans are hot for right now.” Pressing plants are ramping up production, but where is the demand coming from? Why do so many people still love vinyl, even though its bulky, analog nature is anathema to everything music is supposed to be these days? Records, the vinyl evangelists will tell you, provide more of a connection between fans and artists. And many of today’s music fans buy 180-gram vinyl LPs for home listening and MP3s for their portable devices.

That’s right, they’re coming back. And who’s sitting on over 60 studio, rare, bootlegged or imported Pink Floyd albums on vinyl. You know it bay-beeee.

Ok, I also have albums by Huey Lewis and the News and Rick Astley. So maybe the cool people will just congregate near me. My latest vinyl purchase? Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, and it included a cd version along with the double album. Wilco’s cool, right?

Link to Wired Story

Link to Amazon’s Vinyl Store

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Must See British TV

Who should watch: fans of Stephen Moffat’s work (Coupling, Doctor Who), those interested in watching some damn fine acting, and those with an interest in science fiction of the corporate conspiracy ilk.

What to expect: Six episodes of breathtaking acting on the part of James Nesbitt as he plays the duel characters of Jekyll & Hyde, a slightly silly plot that feels very X-files in it’s suggestion of a vast, corporate conspiracy, some questionable sexual politics that blur the whole sex/violence line in stereotypical ways, and some very strong writing (“I love children. Bite-sized people snacks” — Ok, so maybe that’s not the best evidence of Moffat’s abilities.)

Some thoughts: British TV is so much more a writer’s medium than television here. While certain American tv writers leave a strong impression of themselves on their series, Britain has given us Dennis Potter, Stephen Moffat, & Russell T. Davies. Watching Moffat’s work in Coupling, Doctor Who and, now, Jekyll, reveals themes and textures that resonate in all of them, despite the radically different stories that Moffat is telling. Ideas of parenthood, the anxiety of responsibility, and the strength, in the end, of love are repeatedly examined, dissected, and put together in new and sometimes startling ways.

He’s also damn funny.

Ultimately, however, the reason to watch this series is for James Nesbitt’s extraordinary performance. Hands down, his Hyde is one of the best psychopaths on screen.

Who should watch: Anyone nostalgic for the 70s, fans of action/cop shows, fans of John Simm’s performance as The Master in Doctor Who, and those who like shows that tread that “is this real or is this real” line. Oh, and fans of really creepy little girls emerging from a tv set to terrify the hero. And the three people who enjoy existential mysteries wrapped up in cop show clothes.

What to expect: Series one (8 episodes) is the stronger of the two, and showcases DCI Sam Tyler’s reality predicament as he wakes up in the 70s after being hit by a car. Playing on the differences between the technology, forensics, politics, and social attitudes of then versus now, the show paints the 70s as an alien, violent, sexist, and racist world where drinking and smoking are as ubiquitous as police corruption. But, how know, in a good way. The mysterious visions that Tyler experiences are connected to personal tragedy and the first series ends with a paradox that would make even Doctor Who fan’s down a bottle of Advil–possibly with a pint of lager.

The second series is a bit weaker, possibility because some of the jokes become somewhat stale and there is an inconsistency to the character growth of some of the characters. Personally, I also find the ending to be sophomoric. No spoiler’s here, so I won’t tell why exactly, but I think the series, for all it’s overt condemnation of the violent, torture-tactics of the cops, and of the sexist and racist viewpoints espoused by a number of the characters, actually ends on a reactionary note, forgiving people for their sins because, come on, they don’t really know any better and besides they’re the good guys fighting the tough fight.

Some thoughts: I watched the series primarily because I was so taken with John Simm’s performance in the final three episodes of this year’s Doctor Who series–why did they have to go and kill him dead in such a way as to actively preclude Simm reprising the role? He was so freakin’ good in that role, bringing an undercurrent of violence, madness and and overt humor to a role that has, in the past, been primarily one-note. Simm doesn’t disappoint and he plays DCI Tyler with a winning mix of earnestness, detached amusement, anger, fear, desperation and strength. In addition, Philip Glenister as Gene Hunt, Tyler’s boss and mentor in the ways of 70s police tactics (basically, beat people up until someone confesses), is a joy to watch, filling the screen with a bluster and hard-as-tacks swagger that is both off-putting and seductive. Unfortunately, much of the character development in the series happens within an episode and is then forgotten in the next. There is no real arc to follow for any of the characters, rather a series of loops that, while fun, don’t give the series the depth that could have been achieved.

But it is a fun show (at least until the end of the second series) and worth checking out, even if it occasionally goes for the easy solutions to an interesting set of writing and character problems.

Currently listening: Hold Me Now from the album “80’s British Gold (Disc 2)” by The Thompson Twins

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The Children of Theatre: A Manifesto

I wrote the following several years ago while in the midst of an ill-suited MFA program in Theatre Pedagogy. Looking at it now I feel slightly sad that I am no longer on an academic track because there are so many things that needed to be changed in so many theatre departments.

I still believe everything that I wrote in this manifesto–which is unabashadly extreme and idealistic, as all manifestos should be–but it is simply not my battle anymore. At the moment. For the nonce. Who knows, maybe I’ll pick up the mantle of theatre education somewhen down the road. In the meantime, I offer up this manifesto and dedicate it to all my friends who have stuck it out and who are now teaching theatre at colleges and universities across the country.

The Children of Theatre: a Manifesto

A manifesto is, by necessity, naive, willful, arrogant, overly simplified, angry, heartfelt, completely right and completely wrong. These are not the values prized by academic writers, which is why now is the time and the place for someone to come out and say that theatre departments are diseased and should either die or be treated. For many, the treatment will be worse than the death.

We are here to tell you, having seen close up and personal, that theatre departments all over the country are treating their students with the utmost contempt and neglect. Of course, this contempt is disguised by the facade of professional training.

Let us start with the premise that theatre training should not be vocational training in order for graduates to get jobs selling Chryslers or Ipods ore Bud Light nor should it be to place graduates in the latest sit-com or reality TV show. You do not get a BA or BFA in Painting in order to do the diagrams for airline safety manuals or illustrations for Time magazine. Honestly, are you training artist or employees? When the department head of a theatre program notes that a sophomore girl should lose twenty pounds and dye her hair blond … well, it’s pretty fucking obvious now isn’t it. When we pay lip service to teaching history but let students get by who can’t construct a proper sentence or spell Stanislavsky, again, it’s obvious.

“It’s hard,” you bleat.

“We need to give the student’s a sense of the business,” you simper.

“If our kids get film work then our program will be more attractive and will generate more money,” you whine.

Blah blah blah and cod-fucking-swaddle. Maybe we shouldn’t have theatre departments if all we are doing is sacrificing our student’s capabilities as artists and as people for the greater glory of Soap Operas, Commercials, Broadway and “Holy”-wood. Just give up the pretense that we give a shit about their creative powers, about their intellectual capacities, about their potential to find their own voices in a society bent on silencing passion and integrity … give up the pretense and set up some vocational training centers. And yes, we can still call them conservatory programs.

But a Bachelor of Arts? A Bachelor of Fine Arts? Are you really providing those? No. You are sacrificing these passionate, selfish, earnest, deluded, dedicated children. The Children of Theatre who are being crucified upon the insecure egos of academic directors out to prove that they are just as good as “professional directors; skewered by department politics and power plays; thrown upon the flames of sexist attitudes about beauty and appearance. Continue reading

Mitt Romney Flashback: 1994

In a letter to the Log Cabin Republicans:

“For some voters it might be enough for me to simply match my opponent’s record [on gay rights]. But I believe we can and must do better. If we are to achieve the goals we share, we must make equality for gays and lesbians a mainstream concern. My opponent cannot do this. I can and will.”

Hey Mitt, were you lying then or are you lying now? What does your God say about lying?

Link

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Bush Plans on Suspending Democracy

From a press briefing (as quoted by Wired):

Reporter: Mr. President, following up on Vladimir Putin for a moment, he said recently that next year, when he has to step down according to the constitution, as the president, he may become prime minister; in effect keeping power and dashing any hopes for a genuine democratic transition there … Bush: I’ve been planning that myself.
Why am I not laughing?

New Band Discovered

Great video, catchy tune:

For a flava of Bat For Lashes live, check this one out:

And another live video:

I’m definitely planning on getting their debut album in the next week or two. Yes, I could download it from Amazon.com or iTunes. But I’m feeling archaic these days and will probably hit up an actual music store for the actual cd. I know, I’m crazy like that.

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Staging the Impossible

I’ve just posted a new play over on the Stage Plays Page. I’m going to be writing a series of 10 minute plays, primarily because there are way too many 10 minute play festivals and contests and most short plays suck. Specifically, there is a tendency on the part of those producing short plays to emphasize that the material needs to be simple, bare-bones, focusing primarily on the relationships of the characters. All well and good in theory, but by setting the bar so low when it comes to the theatricality of theatre, most of these plays end up being visually and aurally boring.

So I’m interested in writing plays that have a rich sense of space, light and sound. Of course, those elements will be more or less literal depending on the context of the production. Quite possibly I will write “impossible” plays from a literal stagecraft perspective. The point is to make the director and the actors reach for a rich, if metaphorical, manner of staging the impossible.

Anyway, enough diatribe. The play is called “Dancing Green” and I would love to get feedback on it. I’ll be sending it off to a few contests in the next week or so, but if anyone wants to produce it, “Dancing Green” is currently under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License. You can share it, adapt it, or mix it as long as you make sure I get credit and you don’t make money or change the license.

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Becoming Wary of Apple Updates

 Images Blue12

I don’t know about you, my fellow Mac users, but I am becoming increasingly wary of installing certain Apple updates. Primarily because of two updates. The first problem lies in the fairly major update of 10.4.9 to 10.4.10. This has caused any number of external audio devices to stop working, in particular my Behringer FCA202 unit will not be recognized by Core Audio and is unusable on my Intel Macbook Pro. There are possible fixes, the most annoying and guaranteed to work being a roll back of my system to 10.4.9. I have already attempted, as some have discussed, using Pacifist to reinstall the audio package portion of 10.4.9 and that didn’t work. So, for now, I’m using a cheaper device between my mixer and my computer and am resigned to waiting–and hoping–that Leopard will fix this particular driver situation.

My second issue is that, ever since Apple released a battery update (1.3), my battery life has dropped significantly. Where I was getting over three hours, now I’m getting barely two. While I will attempt to “calibrate” my battery according to Apple’s instructions tonight, and while that may or may not help, I’m rather disturbed by how an update that claims to improve battery life has cut mine by a full third.

Because of the trouble I’ve had with these updates, I am going to be a whole lot more conservative about updating anything on my Mac. Not that I won’t, but I think I’m going to get in the habit of waiting at least four or five dates after update releases and to some research on their effects before running them myself.

Which also brings me to Leopard . . .

If you had asked me two weeks ago if I would rush out and buy Leopard the day it was released, I would have said “absolutely.” Now . . . not so much. I will probably wait until at least Christmas time, if not into January to see how things shake out with others before updating myself. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret switching to the Mac for a second and I am generally very pleased with my computer and my operating system and my software. However, I am discovering that it is easy to forget that Apple is not, despite the Job’s distortion field, perfect. Also, no matter the operating system, computers are complex and easy to disturb. Macs are no exception.

As a relatively new user (only about a year old as a Mac user – ok, ok, fanboy), these two updates represent my first real sense of caution when it comes to accepting Apple’s instructions and I’m wondering, for those of you who have been Mac users for a longer period of time, have you come across similar instances? Has Apple broken software or hardware that you depended on and how did you deal with it? Do you plan on upgrading to Leopard, and, if so, will you wait and see or open the cage right away and let it, roaring, onto your system?

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