Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Very important article in this week's New Yorker by John Cassidy



About finance reform...

"Our system failed in basic fundamental ways," Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner acknowledged earlier this year. "To address this will require comprehensive reform. Not modest repairs at the margin, but new rules of the game."

Despite this radical statement of intent, serious doubts remain over whether the Obama Administration’s proposed regulatory overhaul goes far enough in dealing with the problem of rational irrationality. Much of what the Administration has proposed is welcome. It would force issuers of mortgage securities to keep some of the bonds on their own books, and it would impose new capital requirements on any financial firm "whose combination of size, leverage, and interconnectedness could pose a threat to financial stability if it failed." None of these terms have been defined explicitly, however, and it isn’t clear what the new rules will mean for big hedge funds, private-equity firms, and the finance arms of industrial companies. If there is any wiggle room, excessive risk-taking and other damaging behavior will simply migrate to the unregulated sector.

A proposed central clearinghouse for derivatives transactions is another good idea that perhaps doesn’t go far enough. The clearinghouse plan applies only to "standardized" derivatives. Firms like JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley would still be allowed to trade “customized” derivatives with limited public disclosure and no central clearing mechanism. Given the creativity of the Wall Street financial engineers, it wouldn’t take them long to exploit this loophole.

The Administration has also proposed setting up a Consumer Financial Protection Agency, to guard individuals against predatory behavior on the part of banks and other financial firms, but its remit won't extend to vetting complex securities—like those notorious collateralized debt obligations—that Wall Street firms trade among themselves. Limiting the development of those securities would stifle innovation, the financial industry contends. But that's precisely the point. "The goal is not to have the most advanced financial system, but a financial system that is reasonably advanced but robust," Viral V. Acharya and Matthew Richardson, two economists at N.Y.U.'s Stern School of Business, wrote in a recent paper. “That’s no different from what we seek in other areas of human activity. We don’t use the most advanced aircraft to move millions of people around the world. We use reasonably advanced aircrafts whose designs have proved to be reliable."

more...

Monday, September 28, 2009

The most perfect songs written (incomplete list)

Bob Marley: Buffalo Solidier



Martha and the Vandellas (Holland Dozier Holland): Heatwave



Dave Brubeck: Take Five



Beatles: And Your Bird Can Sing



John Lennon: Oh Yoko



Pretenders: Mystery Achievement



Bruce Springsteen: Kitty's Back



Dar Williams: As Cool as I Am



Steely Dan: My Old School



Stevie Wonder: If You Really Love Me



The Kinks: Waterloo Sunset



Bow Wow Wow: I Want Candy



Patti Smith: Free Money



Fleetwood Mac: Tusk




Video embeds unavailable for Joni Mitchell: Conversation, Aimee Mann: That's Just What You Are, Joan Osborne: Lumina

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Poetry clubhouse

I never thought of Bill Murray as a poetry kind of guy, so I was amazed to see this:
“Poets need a refuge — they need a hideout, a clubhouse,” said the actor Bill Murray, who gave the lead gift to create a catalog for Poetry House and participates in its annual Poetry Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge. (Whitman’s “Crossing Brooklyn Ferry” is among the poems read aloud.)

Some people may never recognize the literary treasure trove in their midst, Mr. Murray added, just as most people walk by St. Patrick’s Cathedral “or use it as a place to light a cigarette or make a phone call.”

But those who find themselves in the vicinity of Poets House will “be right next to this sort of human church,” he added. “There’s a possibility. That’s all you can do is create a possibility.”
And conveniently this new poetry center is on my commute route.

And speaking of poetry - I'm off to Emilypalooza!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Emily Dickinson Marathon baby - tomorrow

info in the Amherst Bulletin
It took Amherst poet Emily Dickinson a lifetime to write her 1,789 published poems. It will take Dickinson enthusiasts just a few hours to read them Saturday - one by one - during the 5th Annual Emily Dickinson Poetry Marathon at the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst.

The reading that will begin at 7 a.m. and continue into the night, with a few breaks, is a fun and social way to bask in the essence of Dickinson's poems, says Jane Wald, executive director of the Emily Dickinson Museum in Amherst, where the readings will take place.

Hello? The reading is 7am to 10pm - that's more than "a few" hours!

Apparently there's a copy-cat marathon outside of Amherst

Time for my sonnet about Emily Dickinson and web statistics again. Although Dickinson didn't write sonnets, I did a kind of echo her style a bit with this piece.
Are you thinking of me on this spring morn,
In Emily's neck of the woods? By trees
And meadows that she loved, where she was born,
Where she spent much time thinking about bees,
Apparently, and eccentricity
While decked out in white. But why are you there
Again? I ponder the felicity
Of technology, I marvel you care
What I have to say, almost every day,
When you won't hear it from my living lips,
When you know that I long to hear you say
Anything. So reflect when on your trips:
Communication takes more than just me,
Such work needs two, in close proximity.




Speaking of poetry - is anybody but me annoyed by the New Yorker style of poetry? It's probably not JUST the New Yorker, but that's where I really noticed - apparently the thing to do now is to write a poem that is virtually indistinguishable from a short essay - or a long twitter-tweet - as long as your lines are cut off, seemingly at random. Here's the beginning of a piece, "Fathers and Sons" by David Mason that demonstrates perfectly:

Some things, they say,
one should not write about. I tried
to help my father comprehend
the toilet, how one needs
to undo one’s belt, to slide
one’s trousers down and sit,
but he stubbornly stood
and would not bend his knees.
I tried again
to bend him toward the seat,

OK, first things first though - dude, WHO says "some things... one should not write about"? Certainly not the New York Times, which has a blog The New Old Age devoted to stories of people dealing with their senile parents. Do you really think this poem is subversive somehow?

But enough of the content - onto the style. Let's reformat it:

Some things, they say, one should not write about. I tried to help my father comprehend the toilet, how one needs to undo one’s belt, to slide one’s trousers down and sit, but he stubbornly stood and would not bend his knees. I tried again to bend him toward the seat
Except for the opening self-declaration of what a big iconoclast the poet is, this would not be out of place at all in any blog posting in "The New Old Age"

Katha Pollitt, whose politics and essays I love, does the same thing in her What I Understood - here is the first seven lines :
When I was a child I understood everything
about, for example, futility. Standing for hours
on the hot asphalt outfield, trudging for balls
I'd ask myself, how many times will I have to perform
this pointless task, and all the others? I knew
about snobbery, too, and cruelty—for children
are snobbish and cruel—and loneliness: in restaurants


I just don't see the point in saying it's poetry when it could just as easily be an essay. You might as well have someone get up and recite a poem and call it a short play.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

NYCP shout-out

Former NYCPlaywrights member Mark Rose gives us a shout-out.

Freemasonry & Dan Brown

Well the Masons don't seem nearly as annoyed at Dan Brown's book about their group as the Catholic Church was about "The DaVinci Code" - nevertheless, the National Geographic felt the need to debunk Masonic myths in its latest issue.

The most fun thing about Masonry, from what I know, is the role it played in "Die Zauberflote." I was first introduced to that opera through "Amadeus" one of my favorite movies. Speaking of which - it's a good excuse to show a bit from that movie - and this exerpt includes my Facebook friend Christine Ebersole.

Although I always found it odd that they disparage Mozart's appearance in this movie: "looks and talent don't always go together" - I think Tom Hulce is extremely cute here - especially in those cute little jackets they wore back then.



And everybody loves the Papageno/Papagena duet! Birds of a feather...




And speaking of roughly that time period...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

hurray for Krugman

He came out in favor of a federal jobs program at the Spitzer lecture last night.

Then he gave a shout-out to Elliot Spitzer, who was in the audience.

This isn't as good as being there but here's some Krugman fun:

Harshing on Alan Greenspan:



on debt



debunking the "Chinese curse"! Among other things - this clip is one hour long!



How did I miss this for the past few days? Atlantic Mag Names Paul Krugman Most Influential Commentator - he's sure influential with ME!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Autumn equinox

Today is the first day of autumn, the most soulful and yet the most sensual season. And it's Krugman day. And on top of that, this Saturday is the Emily Dickinson reading marathon in Amherst and I'm on the reading team. Wow, too much excitement.

Plus the playwriting and fiction writing.

Monday, September 21, 2009

It's the Heavens to Mergatroyd sing-along!



That lion is such a ham!

tomorrow is Krugman Day

whoohoo

It’s not just that taking a populist stance on bankers’ pay is good politics — although it is: the administration has suffered more than it seems to realize from the perception that it’s giving taxpayers’ hard-earned money away to Wall Street, and it should welcome the chance to portray the G.O.P. as the party of obscene bonuses.

Equally important, in this case populism is good economics. Indeed, you can make the case that reforming bankers’ compensation is the single best thing we can do to prevent another financial crisis a few years down the road.

It’s time for the president to realize that sometimes populism, especially populism that makes bankers angry, is exactly what the economy needs.

More at the NYTimes

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Watch out for Nurse Badass Nick!

Nick Fondulis is not a doctor - but he plays one on TV. It seems like just yesterday he was Huck Finn and STRESSed IN THE CITY - now he's dodging Nurse Badass and her deadly Nose Pincer Move. Watch below - Nick says "I feel terrible, what do you want?"

Friday, September 18, 2009

bright star, big city



Ooh, the NYTimes really likes "Bright Star".

I have no qualms whatsoever about watching a movie solely for the fun of seeing guys in Regency period costumes (see "Becoming Jane"), but this is a bonus: "That Fanny and Keats must sublimate their longings in letters, poems and conversations seems cruel, but they make the best of it. As does Ms. Campion: a sequence in which, fully clothed, the couple trades stanzas of “La Belle Dame Sans Merci” in a half-darkened bedroom must surely count as one of the hottest sex scenes in recent cinema."

And boy if anybody knows about sublimation, it's me. Speaking of which...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Only 5 more days until Krugman Day!

I'm going to see Krugman at the 92nd St. Y on September 22 - Krugman Day is almost here!

Krugman is my birthday twin! (Month-date, not year!)

This guy loves the Mighty Krug-Man even more than me! Although it looks like his web site needs a little updating. But not as much as Krugman's old web site which he apparently hasn't updated since 2000.

Ooh! Krugman & Rachel Maddow - two great tastes that taste great together!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

NYCPlaywrights starts up again

My new NYCPlaywrights resolutions:

1. I will make sure all playwrights understand what the deal is with feedback when they join

2. No matter how much I hate a play, I will remain calm and unemotional

3. This doesn't mean I will give dishonest feedback

4. I will work harder to get good actors showing up on a regular basis - especially attractive younger male actors

5. Find out what the deal is with all the Jesus plays

6. Find out what the deal is with all the plays about prostitutes

Monday, September 14, 2009

Love & lucid dreaming

A lucid dream is a dream in which the sleeper is aware that he or she is dreaming. I find this a very interesting phenomenon. I've never been able to pull one off for more that an instant before waking up, but there are supposedly techniques you can use to prolong your dream while you are aware you are dreaming. But what if you are in a lucid dream and you feel like you will never wake up - what if you are trapped in a lucid dream?

A lucid dream is the best metaphor I can think of for what I've experienced over the past couple of years. I fell in love with someone with whom I intuited would probably not return my feelings, in spite of getting along well and having many things in common and having a happy facility for creating beauty together. This last part especially caused me to develop a feeling - a beautiful dream - of what it would be like to have a romantic relationship with the man. And the dream is so beautiful that even when I was ex-communicated by the one I loved - I can't seem to fully wake up from the dream. I know it's a dream - and yet I keep dreaming. I do occasionally get glimmers of hope for the attainment of full consciousness - sometimes I hear the alarm clock in the distance, sometimes I feel my cat hitting me in the face, sometimes I can smell the coffee, but I just can't quite attain full consciousness.

And while the struggle continues I pour the dream into art - poetry, fiction, plays, even music. Because I find it diverting and therapuetic, but also because it would be good if something besides anguish could come from this freakish grey netherworld. And perhaps I may even one day realize with my full emotions as well as my brain, that in fact it did turn out for the best - the art I derived from the experience was far more worthwhile, much more real, than any sure-to-be-fleeting happiness I might have had from an actual relationship with such a person. And so the process continues.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Great time with Woodstein and Redford Saturday night

First we watched "All the President's Men"

Then we hung out with Robert Redford, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward to discuss the movie, the future of journalism, Jason Robard's drinking problem, etc.

It all happened at BAM

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Then she placed a hand on each side of my face

very gently and brought her lips to mine, but not quite touching.

Happy Dirt Farm


My old friend Matt Suhr, from the hippie commune days of the late 70s has a farm - e-i-e-i-o.

I'm writing a play about those hippie days. We had a garden back then, in Palmyra NJ, but my ex-husband decided to grow marijuana in between the rows of corn, so when we were busted it all got torn down.

But now Matt has Happy Dirt

Friday, September 11, 2009

Amelia Earhardt



Earhardt was quite an interesting character, judging by this recent New Yorker article

Video of Joni Mitchell doing her song "Amelia" interspersed with newsreel clips of Earhardt

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Go me

Well I already have the beginnings of a web site for my production of THE GOOD WOMEN OF MORNINGSIDE. It feels so satisfying to get a work of art out of the ugliness of nasty mediocrities.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Good women live on stage

Well who said evil people are useless? Without the nasty women who inspired me with their petty mean-spiritedness, I would never have written The Good Women of Morningside - now it's going to be performed at the Chatterton playlab September 26 & 27 - I wonder if they'll come and see it? But now I know who they are and what they look like, probably not. And of course they are also inspirations for a couple of characters in my ongoing saga, although not in this latest installment.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

NYCPlaywrights redesign

Well it was a ton of work, and I'm still not done (I have to finish learning PHP scripting) but at least I have something to show people now.

Monday, September 07, 2009

12 years later...

Today marks the twelfth anniversary of the death of my dear Earl Rich.

His family must have decided to maintain his web site as a tribute to him. And he's even listed online. You can find his house on Google maps, although Google maps weren't around when he was alive.

*sigh*

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The return of Mother Lode



MOTHER LODE will get on its feet for the first time at John Chatterton's Short Play Lab September 26 & 27.

And speaking of Mother Lode's feet, I happen to have a pair of boots that I think will be perfect for the character:



Read the script here.

ahead of the curve...

New York Times editorial yesterday:
The question, then, is how bad does it have to get before the Obama administration and Congress make job creation a priority.

Thank you New York Times editorial - I believe I made a case for a jobs program in July 2008:
The US government will have to do two things to fix the coming world-wide economic crisis - create a jobs program, as it did during the Great Depression, and put a cap on the interest rates charged by credit card companies.
You can really see the Krugman influence in that post.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

cry me a river

Internet celebrity deathmatches

The Internet - especially Facebook, brings you into text-level contact with celebrities. Some of the arguments I've had with celebrities
(I realize that most of these are not celebrities by many people's standards - only Ann Magnuson has been in a TV series or a Hollywood movie):

Me vs. Steven Pinker over whether or not Stephen Jay Gould's scientific opinions are discountable because Gould was a Marxist (I've heard from other sources that Gould, while a leftist, was not a Marxist.) I was pro-Gould, Pinker was anti-Gould

Me vs. Ann Magnuson (she's my Facebook friend) over whether or not Keith Olberman is just as bad as Bill O'Reilly - I said certainly not in a million years.

Me vs. Richard Dawkins over whether Helena Cronin, author of "The Ant and the Peacock" is obnoxious and whether or not Christopher Hitchens is a gigantic douchebag. Really, it's me and most of the civilized world vs. Dawkins on the Hitchens issue.

Me vs. Katha Pollitt on whether or not I was too harsh against a right-winger woman posing as a feminist. I agree with Pollitt on almost everything, so that was surprising.

And if my FB friend Christine Ebersole says one more word about how much she loves Ron Paul - it's ON!

Stay tuned for more celebrity arguments.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Angels live



Yay! ANGELS IN AMERICA returns to the New York stage.

I've only seen the HBO version, which is great, but I am looking forward to seeing this show live - it's one of the best contemporary play(s) - maybe THE best.