Bottled Water = The Suck

Fiji Water 1

The more I find out about bottled water and the environmental and human costs that producing bottled water incur, the more I am convinced that we – and by “we” I mean “I” – need to make some changes. Tonight I attended a meeting of my food coop and one of the items up for discussion was the proposal to stop selling bottled water at the coop. They presented some compelling evidence of just how bad the whole bottled water industry is and I was reminded of the article I’d read by Charles Fishman. After reading the article I definitely stopped buying Fiji water, in part because:

And in Fiji, a state-of-the-art factory spins out more than a million bottles a day of the hippest bottled water on the U.S. market today, while more than half the people in Fiji do not have safe, reliable drinking water. Which means it is easier for the typical American in Beverly Hills or Baltimore to get a drink of safe, pure, refreshing Fiji water than it is for most people in Fiji.

It’s hard to drink that water without tasting blood and pain. So I stopped, thinking that Poland Springs, because it traveled less miles and because I recycle was a decent compromise.

And yet . . .

Read Fishman’s article, “Message in a Bottle” and I guarantee you won’t be able to buy bottled water without at least a twinge of guild, knowing that you are contributing, even in a small way, to an industry that has profound and negative implications for us all.

I can’t say I’ll never ever ever buy bottled water again, but from tonight on, I’m going to make a concerted effort to stop supporting this industry.

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Yay to Me!!


A toast to me for finishing my 8530 word short story “Subway Voices.” Well, the first draft at least, it’ll need to go through several more drafts before getting close to publishable, but still . . . yay me for finishing my first short story in a bunchload of years.

It’s a horror piece, and if you are at all interested in reading it and giving me some feedback, please email me and I’ll gladly send you a copy.

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Trading Democracy for an iPod

This is fucking depressing:

In a survey of NYU students, Two-thirds say they’ll do it for a year’s tuition. And for a few, even an iPod touch will do.

That’s what NYU students said they’d take in exchange for their right to vote in the next presidential election, a recent survey by an NYU journalism class found.

Only 20 percent said they’d exchange their vote for an iPod touch.

But 66 percent said they’d forfeit their vote for a free ride to NYU. And half said they’d give up the right to vote forever for $1 million. (Link via CNET’s BOL)


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Political Outrage

From an essay by Mark Morford:

True outrage, like Olbermann’s, like (occasionally, hopefully) this column’s, like what you should ideally be experiencing on a daily basis while Bush is in office, is honed and sharp and poignant. It contains a powerful sense of deeply informed decency, and therefore has a true feel for when that sense has been violated. Outrage has meat and substance and intellectual nourishment. It is actually healthy.

Smart, informed outrage engages you and fires your heart, your mind. It is fuel. It is the reason you claim you enjoy being an American, to question malevolent government actions and take a stand and demand accountability where there has, for the past seven years, been none. Bottom line: We simply cannot let them convince us, by way of an all-out assault on science, sex, love, et al, that the good fight just ain’t worth fighting. (Link to essay)

Thanks to Webster69 for the link.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely have my days when the sheer mass of shit that is coming out of our politicians/”leaders” makes me want to bury my head and heart in the sand. I think the key to fighting outrage fatigue, the key to keep fighting, is to express outrage in a productive/creative manner rather than keep it bottled up inside you only to spill out through snide comments to the tv or the radio or anger-filled comments to someone else’s blog post. Writing letters to the editor? Writing your congresspeople? Creating a dance/theatre/video piece that expresses your outrage? Singing protest songs? I figure there’s as many options as there are people and the trick is to find what way works best for you to both express your outrage and to add, even in a small way, to the movement toward peace and justice.

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In Support of the Stagehand’s Strike

Playgoer has been giving some good coverage/linkage on the strike.From the front lines, however, there is The Humble Nailbanger, whose entry “The subtle demonization of working people” is a must read on the issues and includes this incredibly “nail on the head” account:

During some of the recent talks, a head stagehand at one of the theatres asked an owner/executive/whatever a question.“So. Let me ask you a question. What do you do on a Sunday morning? Do you sleep in a little bit?”“Yeah, I might get an hour or so extra.”“Sleep in, have a little breakfast with the kids?”“Sure, eat with my children, hang out with them, you know. Spend time.”“And then what? Mow the lawn, have a couple drinks?”“Maybe. Get in a few rounds of golf. You know, relax.”“You spend your Sunday just hanging out, relaxing, playing a little bit? Seeing your family?”“Yeah, why?”“Well, you know what I do with my Sundays? I get up at 5am, kiss my sleeping kids goodbye, and I come in here and run your fucking theatre. And you want to pay me less now?”

Also, One NYC Stagehand has a powerful entry about commerce and art called “Tiger’s heart wrapped in a Player’s hide” that you should check out. Excerpt: 

The labor dispute on Broadway reveals again just how far we as a society have gone from in putting the needs of the moneyed ahead of all else. The wealthy piously speak of a need to get a good return on their investment at the expense of the society around them and demand that this outlook should form our own. We are told that our core as humans is about commerce rather than community.. . .I would be a lot more willing to make the sacrifices that I’m being told to make if the stories that were being told had meaning beyond a return on an investment. If audiences came out of the theatre with a different outlook on life instead of with a smile and some merchandise, then I could feel that I’m involved with something resembling art.

For further coverage of the story, you can check out Campbell Robertson’s story “Broadway’s Showdown: The Lowdown”, which does an ok job at exposing at least some of the actual issues involved (despite the cheesy headline).J and I were talking the other night about doing something -walking with the strikers, possibly baking cookies, just something – to show our support for the men and women who are the engine that runs Broadway and who are standing against the unadulterated greed of the producers and their corporate puppet-masters. I’m not sure what we’ll end up doing, but for know, I can at least declare to anyone who stumbles across this blog, I am in total support of Local 1 of the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees.Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

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Movie Reviews: Primer & Wilde

Last week sucked. I’ll write more about it in the future, but it was tiresome, annoying and for most of the week I wasn’t getting home before 1 am, and Wednesday I wasn’t home until 3 am. So yesterday, I did nothing but read and watch movies with J. It was probably the first day that I’ve done that in a long long time and it felt good. I didn’t even feel terribly guilty for not doing something constructive, like writing the short story or working on more 10 minute plays or trying to clean out the file cabinet of old junk that I really really don’t need but have been schlepping around with me for years. Today, I went into Manhatten to meet a couple of friends from UMD who were in town for a conference. We had breakfast and then walked around Times Square and then had tea in a diner and I just got home a little while ago. Should be doing laundry, but don’t feel like going back out so I figured I’d write a bit about yesterdays movies . . .

“Primer” (Shane Carruth)

Primer is a pretty amazing film, and not simply because it was made for $7000–although that fact in itself kind of blows you away when you see it. The first time film project of Shane Carruth, Primer tells the story of two men, a machine, and time travel. The premise is simple:

PRIMER is set in the industrial park/suburban tract-home fringes of an unnamed contemporary city where two young engineers, Abe and Aaron, are members of a small group of men who work by day for a large corporation while conducting extracurricular experiments on their own time in a garage. While tweaking their current project, a device that reduces the apparent mass of any object placed inside it by blocking gravitational pull, they accidentally discover that it has some highly unexpected capabilities–ones that could enable them to do and to have seemingly anything they want. Taking advantage of this unique opportunity is the first challenge they face. Dealing with the consequences is the next. (Link)

What makes this time-travel film unique, is that time travel cannot happen without living the time first. There is no free lunch, in Primer. You may have your cake, and eat it too, but only if, after eating it, you go back and back another cake. The narrative can be confounding at times, and at several moments we watched a scene twice to try to wrap our minds around the time travel profundities and paradoxes that were presented. This is not a movie if you are in the mood for light fare, for something that you can simply watch and enjoy. This movie will make you think, and think hard and even then you still may not grasp everything on the first viewing.

While obviously a low budget movie, it never feels cheap. While limited by funds and experience, Shane Carruth creates a thoroughly consistent world. Sure, the cinematography won’t win any awards, but there are a number of shots that are incredibly well composed and framed in highly unusual and visually compelling ways. In many ways, this is one of the best science fiction films I’ve ever seen, and is focused on the ideas and repercussions of science in ways that most mainstream science fiction films ignore. If you are looking for a film that will stretch your mind both intellectually and philosophically, I would highly recommend Primer. Although I would also suggest to watch it with a group of people because I think part of the fun of this film is the conversations you can have after the film is over about the nature of time, existence and the ethical use of power. All said and done, this is a movie that is worth buying and not just renting.

Grade: A

“Wilde (Special Edition)” (Brian Gilbert)

As a huge fan of Stephen Fry’s, I was looking forward to his performance as Oscar Wilde. It was fine. But as a whole, the movie felt slow, slight and rather boring. There was no real nuance to any of the characters. This is not to say that they were necessarily two-dimensional, but . . . well, actually yeah, they were kind of two dimensional. Despite a talented cast that includes Fry, Zoe Wannamaker, Tom Wilkinson and a small but interesting turn by Vanessa Redgrave, the film feels ponderous and the characters flat. Jude Law brings no real subtlety to the part of “Bosie” Douglas (the young gentleman who could be seen as the tipping point from rumored homosexual behavior to Wilde’s sentence of two years hard labor for indecent acts). If you are a Stephen Fry fan, I would recommend it for his performance, but even then I would warn you not to expect greatness. One of those movies that is neither good nor bad, but simply ok.

Grade: C- (with the “minus” being assigned because there is no good reason why such good actors couldn’t have been used more effectively!)

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In Honor of the Writer’s Strike

Love him or hate him, Harlan Ellison says what he means and means what he says:

If I had to pick out a hero, Ellison would be on my short list. As a writer, he inspires me, but as a human being he humbles me. His willingness to spit in the face of authority, oppression and stupidity is breathtaking to me, as I tend toward quietness and diplomacy. His passion is electric, infectious and while it may swing drastically between outrage and joy, disdain and excitement, you don’t doubt for a second that he is vibrantly alive and the controlling force of his own destiny. His bluntness may be off-putting, his scorn sharp enough to draw blood, and his blanket dismissal of certain technologies downright curmudgeonly. Yet, he is often just plain right.

(via SF Signal)

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Listening with Sound Design Ears

J and I watched Orlando this past weekend – I had seen it years ago and she had never seen it and lately we’ve been on a bit of a Tilda Swinton kick. There was one moment, when Orlando is standing in front of the gates to a huge mansion and the rain starts pouring down when all of a sudden, I realized that the sound of the rain was all wrong, being too echo-y, like the sound of rain in a small alley or far more closed in space that had sound reflective walls.

Maybe it’s because my last show took place in a submerged ship and I got do know the “echo chamber” effect and settings in Adobe Audition pretty well, but the wrongness of the rain really struck me.

And speaking of Tilda Swinton – wouldn’t she make an awesome Doctor Who when we finally go with a female? Oh come on, you know we will eventually, despite the cognitive dissonance that will cause for the boy fans of the series. My votes are for either Tilda Swinton or Miranda Richardson.

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