Friday, December 30, 2011

2011 in review

2011 was notable for some theatre-related accomplishments:

  • JULIA & BUDDY - finally complete as a full-length play and ready to go - although I didn't produce it, which was one of my 2011 goals. But that's a goal for this year now.

  • PALMYRA, NJ - I almost have a completed first draft (after three years!) of my semi-auto-biographical play. I have an upcoming reading this January for the completed play.

  • THE SLASH - I produced and directed it myself in 2011 and was pleased to discover that the play didn't suck after all - it's just that the Looking Glass production had extremely clunky direction. It's actually quite charming and funny. Yay! And producing this was one of my goals for 2011. Done!

  • MISTRESS ILSA - I learned alot through this production - much of it in the what not to do category, but that's learning for yah. And I got to use those prop bullwhips I had around for years.

  • Dramatists Guild convention - first major Drama Guild event I've been to.

  • TAM LIN IS FREE! Speaking of the Dramatists Guild, thanks to Ralph Sevush and the gang the ill-gotten Edward Einhorn "blocking and choreography" script registration has finally been cancelled! After only five years of waiting.

  • NYCPlaywrights - whether due to the Play of the Month project or other factors the traffic to the NYCP web site has doubled and its ads are starting to bring in some money. Whoohoo!

  • Manhattan Theatre Source is closed. There may have been good work done at Manhattan Theatre Source, and good people associated with the organization, but I always had very bad experiences with the organization, especially the reckless and absurd Andrew Bellware, who seems to have quite a bit of time on his hands, and culminating in the confirmation that I had apparently been defamed by a group of people associated with the organization, and the defamation occurred on the MTS premises. I really must write up the entire saga one of these days. Perhaps I will entitle it "The Girl Who Kicked the Vipers' Nest."

  • After almost four years I got an apology from one of the people associated with the nasty group I used in a theatre production some years ago. Ironically, this person behaved well - during the production at least. But I always suspected he was a cut above the other members of his gang - the others I'm sure are incapable of even acknowledging they behaved badly, much less offer an apology. Well, that's the problem with people, isn't it? The bad ones and the good ones are all mixed together and there's always that painful, heart-breaking and laborious hand-sorting process that must be performed. C'est la vie.


So what are my goals for 2012?

They are:
  • A production of the full-length JULIA & BUDDY

  • PALMYRA NJ - not only first draft but revised, finalized play

  • At least one other completed play. Some contenders:

    • Full-length MISTRESS ILSA

    • Full-length SODOM & GOMORRAH: THE ONE MAN SHOW

    • Play about Catherine the Great (sans horses)

    • My CELIA play

    • Play about Abraham Lincoln's Cooper Union speech

  • More video projects

  • Increase NYCPlaywrights web traffic.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

the return of the kinky Jesus robe



Wow that was the best $5 I ever spent at a thrift store. I bought this "kinky Jesus" robe about two years ago and I've found many uses for it:

worn by Mike Giorgio in SODOM & GOMORRAH: THE ONE MAN SHOW

worn by Doug Rossi as kinky Jesus in MISTRESS ILSA

worn by Abe Lebovic in THE SLASH - no pix available, alas...

and now Lorenzo Scott wears it while performing as Moses for the December Play of the Month.

Awesome.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

New Yorker parity report - January 2, 2012

The New Yorker's parity rate dips down 10% this week with only 4 female writers with a byline out of 20 total writers. Unusual feature - the rare great woman of the arts profile of Carrie Brownstein. The New Yorker generally reserves such profiles for men. And it is arguably about her relationship with a man, Fred Armisen, more than anything, albeit a non-romantic relationship.

The New Yorker Parity Report
A regular report on the gender parity - or lack thereof - of the current issue of The New Yorker based on table of contents by-lines
Includes fiction, non-fiction, poems. Does not include illustrations.


A score of 50% means that half of all writers in the issue are female.
A score of greater than 50% would mean more female than male writers. This never happens.


Parity change from previous week: -10%

January 2, 2012

Total writers: 20
male: 16
female: 4
gender parity score: 20%

Last week's score
Total writers: 23
male: 16
female: 7
gender parity score: 30%

Sunday, December 25, 2011

The Ghost of Christmas Present



Am I the only one who thinks the Ghost of Christmas Present is kind of hot?

Click the image above to see a larger version of the first-edition image.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Photo of the year 2011



This photo gets my vote for photo of the year 2011.

An interesting aspect of this photo is that Obama is the shortest figure in the image. If you didn't know who the people in the room were, you might expect the bald blueshirt in the center with the folded arms was in charge, or the guy in the military uniform.

But the reason it really works is because Obama is isolated - his head has the most negative space around it of anybody in the room; and his head is in line with the corner of the room, which is lighter than the rest of the two joining walls.

But if you do know who these people are, it also doesn't hurt the structure of the image that Obama is at the apex of a triangle formed with the two other most famous people in the room, Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton.

And finally, even if she was only stifling a cough, as she said she was, Clinton's covering her mouth adds alot of drama to the image especially if you know that what they are watching is the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo book

THIS POST CONTAINS SPOILERS ABOUT THE BOOK "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"


I decided to acclimate myself to the violence of the movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by reading the book first. It was a pretty fast read and not as gruesome as I feared, although there were a few bits that were pretty horrible and I quickly skimmed over descriptions of nastiness.

I expected to find the book in the bookstore's Mystery section, but it was instead in with Literature, which doesn't seem accurate, although it's true that the main mystery of the book turns out to be actually a subset of a larger story about the nasty world of high finance. I wonder how much of that will be edited out of the movie.


Some observations:

  • I don't remember where I read someone whinging about Daniel Craig being cast as Blomkvist, but they're wrong - he's perfectly cast. The character isn't an out of shape slob, as I was given the impression. There actually is very little description about him other than he has blond hair and is in his mid-40s. He smokes, but he also jogs and when he's being shot at his old military training kicks in.

  • It's also been said that Blomkvist is very different from James Bond, and of course Craig played Bond. But actually, as far as the ladies are concerned, Blomkvist is very much like James Bond. The book takes place over the course of a year and Blomkvist has an ongoing sexual relationship with three women during that time - with his long-standing friend-with-benefits publisher of his magazine Erika Berger - she's married but it's an open marriage; one of the members of the family he's been hired to write about, Cecelia Vanger - who seduces him; and Lisbeth Salander who just walks into his room and proposes they have sex - which he agrees to after first suggesting that maybe they should just be friends. This is only believable if the 40-something man in question is as attractive as Daniel Craig.

  • A favorite Swedish expression, apparently, is "the back of beyond" - a phrase that keeps popping up as a description of remote places of which there are several in the book.

  • The Swedes buy IKEA furniture at least as much as Americans do.

  • And they really like those damn lingonberries. Blomkvist makes a dish with lingonberries at one point. They're always shovelling that stuff at you if you eat at the IKEA cafeteria. They appear to like it best with meatballs.

  • Larsson is a big fan of Pippi Longstocking (as am I) and said she was an inspiration for Lizbeth Salander. Although Lizbeth has a very different personality from Pippi. One thing they do have in common is the fact that Lizbeth is actually a red-head, like Pippi - it's mentioned in passing in the book - but Lizbeth dyes her hair black.

  • Steig Larsson's description of computers and hacking is pretty impressively technical, although out of date since the books were released in the mid-2000s.

  • Awesomely, Larsson was a total feminist. The Swedish title of the Dragon Tattoo book was "Men Who Hate Women" and at the beginning of each section if the book there is a fact about violence against women in Sweden. For instance:
    PART 4
    Hostile Takeover
    July 11 to December 30
    Ninety-two percent of women in Sweden who have been subjected to sexual assault have not reported the most recent violence to the police


  • I couldn't help feeling bad when reading this section of the book, where Blomkvist is explaining that it isn't necessarily his fault his employer had a heart attack:
    Henrik had severe blockages in his arteries. He could have had a heart attack just by having a pee.
    Or climbing up seven flights of stairs.

    Larsson died at the age of fifty, when he had a heart attack after climbing seven flights of stairs when his office building's elevator was broken. If only he'd paid attention when he was writing those words and had his own arteries looked at.


Maybe he should have had more lingonberries.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

the paradox of high-heeled shoes

I have no problem with wearing something because it might help you get laid. So I have no problem with high-heeled shoes as a sexual aid. But why would you wear them to work - unless your job is a prostitute?

I assume that much like traditional Chinese foot-binding, high heeled shoes are meant to indicate a woman's lack of utility - her job is to be decorative. Obviously there are degrees - in most cases, anyway, high-heeled shoes don't permanently cripple a woman, the way foot-binding did. But clearly they are a form of hobbling to indicate that the woman wearing them is above manual labor or anything brutish.

A woman in high heels is a lady, too dainty and refined to allow all of her foot to come in contact with the ground. She must tippy-toe around with her heels elevated, propped up in some cases by a slender stick.

I think very high heels are grotesque and I've seen women in the summer wearing them and it makes their feet hideous, no matter how nicely they've been pedicured - the pressure exerted on a foot standing on tip-toe makes the veins on the top of the foot pop out. Ew.

But even more so, high heeled locomotion tends to be extremely loud, especially on the polished floors of office buildings. There was a woman in high heels walking down the hall behind me today and this dainty fairy on her tip toes sounded like a giant plow horse threatening to run me down. And there are times when the noise of a woman wearing high heels while walking on a hard surface actually hurts my ears. And these women seem utterly oblivious to the paradox of the stupendous clop-clopping of the refined lady.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Fool me once, shame on...

I was reviewing the Daily Show archives which go all the way back to 1999.

Who could forget this classic episode from September 18, 2002?

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Fool Me Once
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook


But it was the following segment with the pillows and Mo Rocca (I miss Mo Rocca) that really killed me.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Shame On You
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

Monday, December 19, 2011

Poetry facts

Tomas Tranströmer is having a good two weeks: On ­December 10, the 80-year-old Swedish poet was officially given the 2011 Nobel Prize in Literature in Oslo, and on December 19, Farrar, Straus and Giroux will publish a new edition of his verse. To get to this moment, he triumphed o’er what are perhaps the longest economic odds in the arts.

THE WASTELAND
Estimated poetry M.F.A.’s awarded, according to M.F.A.-world blogger Seth Abramson, in …
2001: 700
2006: 1,000
2011: 1,400
Approximate number of jobs available to teach M.F.A. programs: 750

more poetry info...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

"The Artist" is not actually very good

What the hell is wrong with people? I saw "The Artist" today and it was incredibly mediocre. There were some nice moments but mostly it was a complete snooze - or as one of the very very few accurate reviews said: THE ARTIST Is So Minor It Barely Exists:
Shockingly empty, mostly bland and often kind of boring, The Artist is a fine technical exercise but offers little else beyond the gimmick of a silent film in 2011. Worst of all, The Artist doesn’t even make a particularly convincing argument about why we should care for silent film.
And I mean, not even the New Yorker or the Village Voice got this right - they both heaped on the praise. But of course their reviews were by full-time professional film critics who just adore any movies about making movies because they can play "spot the homage."

What I don't understand is why anybody who doesn't get a paycheck from watching movies would think this was anything more than dull and predictable. I couldn't wait for this to get to its final predictable denouement.

Seriously, I've seen episodes of The Little Rascals that were more interesting, better plotted and more nuanced than this.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Why this monologue will be awesome

Carolyn Paine's Nutcracker Suite and Spicy was very good today, and apparently they're going to have some press.

Meanwhile, directly after the 2PM performance I got some video clips of Carolyn for her monologue, which is all about her exasperation with doing the Nutcracker every year - apparently all ballet dancers become fed up.

It is clear from this brief unedited clip alone that this will be a truly awesome monologue:

Friday, December 16, 2011

busy weekend

Wow what a busy weekend this is.

First I'm off to Hartford CT to video my friend Carolyn perform in her ballet troupe's Sweet and Spicy Nutcracker - I'm creating a video of the monologue about the Nutcracker that I nagged and nagged Carolyn to write (first described here on this blog) and which she finally wrote.

They perform at the Wadsworth Atheneum, and with any luck I'll also have time to drop in on Mark Twain's house, again - it's only a mile and a half away.

Then it's back to NYC for a movie with my friend Marjorie and then finally Bruce's performance in THE EIGHT.

sick of LYSISTRATA

LYSISTRATA is based on denial of the actual status of women in ancient Greece.

The premise of Lysistrata, written in 411 BC by Aristophanes, is that Lysistrata convinces Greek women to go on a sex strike to pressure their men to end the Peloponnesian war.

This is based on the entirely wrong notion that women in ancient Greece could refuse their husbands sex. The play briefly touches on the issue:
CALONICE

Bah, proverbs will never warm a celibate.
But what avail will your scheme be if the men
Drag us for all our kicking on to the couch?

LYSISTRATA

Cling to the doorposts.

CALONICE

But if they should force us?

LYSISTRATA

Yield then, but with a sluggish, cold indifference.
There is no joy to them in sullen mating.
Besides we have other ways to madden them;
They cannot stand up long, and they've no delight
Unless we fit their aim with merry succour.


Yeah, OK. Before or after he beats the shit out of you? Or he could just throw her out of the house. Wives in ancient Greece were financially dependent on men.

Men have been free to force themselves on wives throughout all of recorded history up until the middle of the twentieth century. There was no recognition of marital rape. And in fact there are places in the world, right now, like Afghanistan where women are expected to marry their rapists.

And of course Greek men could also have sex with slaves, prostitutes and with each other without anybody making much of a big deal about it.

If you think LYSISTRATA is comedy gold you'll love the play MR. THOMPSON'S JIM, about an American slave who convinces other slaves to go on a work strike in order to end the War of 1812.

And as far as the premise of LYSISTRATA JONES, what the Chicago Tribune said:

Without some viable equivalent of something big to play for, "Lysistrata Jones," its amusements and imagination aside, plays very thin and contrived — albeit with thick Broadway prices — especially since the show never really explains why Lissy and her short-skirted, fun-loving posse care so much about those boys winning at hoops in the first place.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

HO HA

Christmas has been promoted as a holiday of goodwill and kindness and magic and so of course there are people who think it's cutting edge to do plays about Christmas that are ugly and crass.

My friend Bruce is performing in THE EIGHT: Reindeer Monologues which I haven't gone to see yet, and really don't want to, although I guess I will have to, in order to support Bruce.

According to its author's web site THE EIGHT has been around for almost twenty years. It is extremely popular and by the description on the author's site, a particularly nasty piece of business:
A dark, dark Christmas comedy. Scandal erupts at the North Pole when one of Santa's eight tiny reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment.

As mass media descends upon the event, the other members of the sleigh team demand to share their perspectives, and a horrific tale of corruption and perversion emerges, which seems to implicate everyone from the littlest elf to the tainted Saint himself.

With each deer's confession, the truth behind the shocking allegations becomes clearer and clearer. ...and murkier and murkier.

Yeah, hardy har har.

At least this play has the distinction of being fairly original when it was first written a generation ago. But unfortunately so many people out there writing plays still harbor the illusion that making Christmas nasty, ugly and crass is all kewl and edgy.

No, you assholes, it's not.

And thanks to this ugly Christmas meme, when I did a call for "winter holidays" for the December play of the month for NYCPlaywrights, MOST of the plays that deal with Christmas are in the ugly Christmas mode. Let's see... we have the following "Christmas" plays:

  • Two brothers let mom die on the floor on Christmas eve
  • Blitzen has been downsized and is waiting tables
  • Santa's workshop is a Chinese sweatshop
  • Someone is murdered on Christmas eve
  • Some people kill Santa's reindeer, replace Mrs. Claus with a hoe
  • Santa is a "tyrannical drunken overlord"


Each one of them went right into my computer's trash bin.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Yorker parity report - December 19 & 26, 2011

The New Yorker's parity rate jumps to 30% this week. It's a double issue, which they often do at the end of the year.

The New Yorker Parity Report
A regular report on the gender parity - or lack thereof - of the current issue of The New Yorker based on table of contents by-lines
Includes fiction, non-fiction, poems. Does not include illustrations.


A score of 50% means that half of all writers in the issue are female.
A score of greater than 50% would mean more female than male writers. This never happens.


Parity change from previous week: +11%

December 19 & 26, 2011

Total writers: 23
male: 16
female: 7
gender parity score: 30%

Last week's score
Total writers: 21
male: 17
female: 4
gender parity score: 19.05%

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

by popular vote...

This is without a doubt the most well-liked thing I've ever said on Facebook.



But then Dahlia Lithwick has lots of friends.

Monday, December 12, 2011

PAINTING CHURCHES - pretty good


This post contains spoilers about Tina Howe's PAINTING CHURCHES

I didn't think I was going to like PAINTING CHURCHES any more than I liked LEMON SKY. Certainly I'm more from the social class that Wilson writes about than the one Howe writes about.

I took a master class with Howe last year (thanks to NYCPlaywrights getting free tickets) and she reminded me of my aunt the nun - tall, thin, fussy, prissy and a bit superior. Although my aunt didn't come from Howe's class either in spite of the fact that my mother's family did well financially when my grandfather was a Teamsters leader in the 1950s. And my grandfather's family was pretty well-to-do. I think my aunt the nun got a small taste of the finer things as a young woman and never forgot it, even when she became a nun.

I remember as a teenager staying with my aunt at her convent for a week, along with two girl cousins around the same age (they were trying to recruit us) and very much appreciating my aunt's top-of-the-line stereo system. I got my first taste of Broadway musicals - FIDDLER ON THE ROOF oddly enough given that I was in a convent. I guess the Church could afford to pay the nuns a decent wage back before their coffers were depleted thanks to all the sexual abuse lawsuits of the 1990s and beyond.

An appreciation for fine things is a trait my mother never shared with Aunt Carmelita (that is her actual name, her nun name is Sister Marie Martin) - my mother's idea of fine dining, for example, is getting a discount coupon to the Penn Queen Diner in Pennsauken NJ. And she always bragged that she was able to pass English lit tests in high school by reading the "Classic Comics" version of the great novels she had been assigned to read. My family are decent people but for the most part complete Philistines.

My aunt also tried to recruit my mother into the convent, but my father talked her out of it.

The family in PAINTING CHURCHES, an older couple and their adult daughter, are rolling in dough. The working plot is that the old couple are packing up to move to their vacation home on Cape Cod to live there year round, and the daughter wants to paint them before they go - although the emotional plot is that the daughter discovers that her father is losing his marbles and her mother is suicidal or at least depressed, contemplating a future of taking care of her incapacitated husband.

When this play was first written in 1983, the topic of the sorrow and the pity of Alzheimer's disease was rarely discussed in movies or on stage. Things have changed in almost 30 years. Certainly NYCPlaywrights members came up with endless variations on that theme for their play readings until I was good and sick of it.

I actually wrote a play in reaction, THE BENEFICENT POWER OF REVENGE. Instead of sorrow and regret over their mother's decline, in my play two sisters actually prefer their mother with Alzheimer's because she's a much nicer person than she was before the disease, when she was bullying, caustic and all-around hateful. One daughter discovers that her mother thwarted her ambition to be a writer by failing to give her an acceptance letter to a writers' colony. And when a doctor gives the mother a new trial drug that reverses the symptoms of Alzheimers' (this is science fiction obviously) her bad personality traits return. In the end the thwarted writer daughter doesn't kill her mother, exactly, she just stops forcing the mother to take her anti-Alzheimer pills and as a result the mother ends up drowning. It's an unusually grim subject and approach for me, but that's how fed up I was with Touching Stories of Alzheimer's Disease.

So when I realized that PAINTING CHURCHES deals with the subject I was prepared to hate it, but in the end I didn't. For a couple of reasons: one is because the old couple is so vividly and entertainingly drawn, it was fun to watch them. And two because the father's mental problems aren't fully displayed until towards the end - he seems as though he might be an absent-minded professor for most the play, so it's something of a shock when it's revealed that he's incontinent. Not just revealed but actually shown on stage - we don't see him peeing, but we see the wet spot on his pants. Not that I want to see old guys with pissy pants, but it's an effective way to portray his decline - it's showing, not only telling. Wow, what a concept.

There is some telling in PAINTING CHURCHES but a flip of YELLOW SKY - only 20% tell and 80% show, which I am sure is part of why it works better.

It's not my favorite play of all time - it's under-dramatic for much of it and the daughter is nowhere near as vivid as the parents (In his positive review Frank Rich blames the actor playing the role) but I was impressed by the depth, subtlety, nuance and gentle humor of the play.

Nice work, Tina Howe. I'm sorry you reminded me of my aunt the nun.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just about to give up on Lanford Wilson


This blog post contains spoilers about Landford Wilson's LEMON SKY

I just read LEMON SKY and very much dislike it. I don't despise it the way I despise TALLEY'S FOLLY, but I like it less than BURN THIS, which I didn't like very much, but at least you watch people do things onstage. LEMON SKY is characters talking at the audience half the time.

You know how people in theatre are always banging on about "show don't tell"? Well LEMON SKY is pretty much 80% tell and 20% show. And yet most theatre people adore and revere Lanford Wilson. And no, that's not exaggeration. Here's what Frank Rich said about Wilson in his 1985 review of LEMON SKY:
A memory play in content and form, ''Lemon Sky'' reminds us that Mr. Wilson is our primary heir to Tennessee Williams.
Just as unbelievable:
If you have any doubt about the magnitude of the loss we suffered when playwright Lanford Wilson died this past March, Keen Company's heart-stopping production of his 1970 play "Lemon Sky" makes it all too abundantly clear.


This review gets it right. Especially this part:
Wilson takes his sweet time in getting to anything like drama, preferring to let his people gab away for nearly two hours about this and that. (This is a not-unusual feature of Wilson's works; on a good day, it got him compared to Chekhov.) His character portraits are rendered with a great deal of texture, but, when the constantly delayed action finally erupts into open conflict, the result is frantic and unbelievable, a burst of melodrama that comes out of nowhere.

Wilson seems to have been exploring the parameters of the standard dysfunctional family play, self-consciously toying with its conventions to see if it could yield any new insights or feelings. At the time, it must have seemed like an interesting, modernist way of addressing a potentially stale format. Seen today, however, the barrage of direct address and dearth of drama is more than a little wearying.
I was weary just reading it. Watching this on stage must be excruciating - in other words, much like TALLEY'S FOLLY.

And one more thing - the blurb on the back of the version of the play I read says:
...In the end... Alan is driven away once more, embittered by the knowledge that he must live without the father he so desperately wants and needs.
It's an interesting premise, and gave me some hope for this play, but in order to feel Alan's loss it would help if his father wasn't relentlessly portrayed as an asshole from the very beginning of the play. I mean, it's sad his father is an asshole, but since he never knows him any other way, it's not like he has any illusions that he's missing out on knowing a great guy, but now is estranged because he's gay. No, a premise is not a play.

Maybe I'll like BALM IN GILEAD or HOT L BALTIMORE - but at this point I doubt it.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

did I make the cover of the New Yorker?





Ironically the angel's hair is frizzed out in a way that I call "the hair of evil" and always do my best to keep my hair from doing that. *sigh*

rock on you great Danes!



I adore classical music flash mobs.

So many great moments here but my favorites are clarinet dude and the two blond violinist dudes rocking out.

Also, there appears to be a store in this train station called "OK, sa far I en burger" which Google cannot find, but Google Translate says it means "OK, said the father of the burger."

WTF?

Thursday, December 08, 2011

New Yorker parity report - December 12, 2011

The New Yorker slides down to a 19.05% parity rate, with the same number of writers, 21, but with two fewer women for a total of four women writers. They made up for two poems by women last week with three poems by men this week.

The New Yorker Parity Report
A regular report on the gender parity - or lack thereof - of the current issue of The New Yorker based on table of contents by-lines
Includes fiction, non-fiction, poems. Does not include illustrations.


A score of 50% means that half of all writers in the issue are female.
A score of greater than 50% would mean more female than male writers. This never happens.


Parity change from previous week: -9.52%

December 12, 2011

Total writers: 21
male: 17
female: 4
gender parity score: 19.05%

Last week's score
Total writers: 21
male: 15
female: 6
gender parity score: 28.57%

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo



I'm so torn about seeing/reading "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo"! On the one hand it seems really cool with a left-wing spin. On the other hand there's all the violence. I was both intrigued and repelled by the novels/films thanks to the New Yorker article about Steig Larsson from early this year.

This in particular made me want to read the books:
A final drawing card of the trilogy may be its up-to-dateness, particularly of the technological variety. Other mystery writers—Patricia Cornwell, Henning Mankell—have introduced computers into their arsenal, but no one I know of uses computers as extensively as Larsson to build plot and character. Lisbeth and Mikael find each other online, solve crimes online, acquire their glamour online. (Lisbeth has an “Apple PowerBook G4/1.0 GHz . . . with a PowerPC 7451 processor with an AltiVec Velocity Engine, 960 MB RAM and a 60 GB hard drive.”) Lisbeth’s only friends are fellow-hackers. Her colleague Trinity has infiltrated the computers of the BBC and Scotland Yard: “He even managed—for a short time—to take command of a nuclear submarine on patrol in the North Sea.” One of the sweetest moments in the whole trilogy comes via an electronic device. Mikael has been separated from Lisbeth for almost the entire length of “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” Finally, he breaks into her apartment, looking for evidence that might help her (the police are after her). His entry activates the apartment’s security system. Lisbeth, driving up a country road, is alerted by her cell phone. The system is wired so that after thirty seconds a paint bomb explodes on any intruder. There are six seconds left. Mikael, guessing the machine’s code, turns the system off. Lisbeth taps into her security camera and sees who is standing in her foyer. She smiles—a rare event. She knows now that Mikael is still on her side.


But after reading some of the descriptions of violence discussed in the article I decided that I really didn't want to read/watch the trilogy. But the trailers for the new version of the movies are great. One of the trailers has a version of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" playing over it, which is awesome. And the trailer above has some great great moments especially when the Lizbeth Salander character is introduced - she's been hired to investigate the other protagonist Mikael Blomkvist and in the movie she's reporting on him:
LIZBETH

He's had a long-standing sexual relationship with his co-editor of the magazine. Sometimes he pleasures her. Not often enough in my opinion.

HER BOSS

No you're right not to include that (in her report).

Another great moment. Lizbeth is looking at Mikael's computer:
MIKAEL

What are you doing?

LIZBETH

Reading your notes.

MIKAEL

They're encrypted.

(She shoots him a look of contempt.)

LIZABETH

Please.


This week's New Yorker has a review.

Some people have complained that it was wrong to cast Daniel Craig as Blomkvist because in the book the character is an out-of-shape slob, but since he has a sexual relationship with Lizbeth, well, if you have to have a young woman hook up with an older man, at least let him be an attractive older man like Craig!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

PA0001254494 - cancelled. Authorship claimed not subject to copyright

Free at last, free at last, TAM LIN is free at last!


Click the image to see a larger, legible version.


After five and a half years, the orders of Judge Lewis Kaplan have been honored: the Copyright Office has cancelled the fraudulent, insubstantial and litigation-based "blocking and choreography" script registration that Edward Einhorn filed, based on my play TAM LIN.

You can read all about it here:

NYTimes: Exit, Pursued by a Lawyer

The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions - the article I wrote for the Dramatists Guild Newsletter

Series of blog posts I wrote in 2011 about the case

The Einhorns - Edward and his lawyer-brother David - tried to use Copyright Office procedure loopholes to avoid the cancellation of this copyright registration, but through the diligent efforts of Ralph Sevush, the Executive Director of the Dramatists Guild, justice has finally prevailed!

And credit must be given to my ex-partner Jonathan Flagg, who spent over a quarter of a million dollars of his own money to fight this lawsuit. All American dramatists owe him thanks.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Krugman is smokin'

His regular column editorial is superb: Send in the Clueless

But he takes names on his blog:

All indications are, however, that Campaign 2012 will make Campaign 2000 look like a model of truthfulness. And all indications are that the press won’t know what to do — or, worse, that they will know what to do, which is act as stenographers and refuse to tell readers and listeners when candidates lie. Because to do otherwise when the parties aren’t equally at fault — and they won’t be — would be “biased”.

This will be true even of those news organizations specifically charged with fact-checking. Yes, they’ll call out some lies — but they’ll also claim that some perfectly reasonable statements are lies, in order to keep their precious balance. This is already happening: as Igor Volsky points out, one of the finalists for Politifact’s Lie of the Year is a Democratic claim — that Republicans want to abolish Medicare — that happens to be entirely true.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

History of theatre

As I blogged a few days ago, there's lots of content on Youtube. Much of it is crap of course, but some is very good.

Straddling the line is this seven-part series on theatre:



Its production values are crap, but the content is pretty good, including clips of performances of ancient Greek plays. I find the narrator's indeterminate accent strangely compelling. Her name is Minke van den Berg so I assume she's Dutch, but she seems to know her way around Greek pronunciations.

Saturday, December 03, 2011

David Brooks - still an idiot

David Brooks is a raving ninny. There's virtually nothing that he believes that isn't decisively refuted by Paul Krugman.

Brooks:
Over the past few decades, several European nations, like Germany and the Netherlands, have played by the rules and practiced good governance. They have lived within their means, undertaken painful reforms, enhanced their competitiveness and reinforced good values. Now they are being brutally browbeaten for not wanting to bail out nations like Greece, Italy and Spain, which did not do these things, which instead borrowed huge amounts of money that they are choosing not to repay.
more of the Brooks travesty.

Krugman:
Before the crisis Spain had low and declining debt. Italy had high debt inherited from the past, but it was steadily working that debt down relative to GDP. Neither country was being profligate — that’s just not what happened. Since the crisis debt has been rising relative to GDP, but that’s what happens when you have an economic crisis.

Yes, Greece. But Greece is now a tiny part of this story. As I said in today’s column, Greece (GDP of about $300 billion) is roughly Greater Miami ($270 billion). Italy and Spain are the big stories, and they were not, repeat not, fiscally profligate
more facts from Krugman.

What a party-pooper Krugman is! Ruining David Brooks's morality play with mean old poopy facts!

Friday, December 02, 2011

Afghanistan: a Hell on Earth for women

It's time to start air-lifting women out of Afghanistan. It is an evil place. If this kind of thing happened to men, it would be called what it is - slavery.
When the Afghan government announced Thursday that it would pardon a woman who had been imprisoned for adultery after she reported that she had been raped, the decision seemed a clear victory for the many women here whose lives have been ground down by the Afghan justice system.

But when the announcement also made it clear that there was an expectation that the woman, Gulnaz, would agree to marry the man who raped her, the moment instead revealed the ways in which even efforts guided by the best intentions to redress violence against women here run up against the limits of change in a society where cultural practices are so powerful that few can resist them, not even the president.

The solution holds grave risks for Gulnaz, who uses one name, since the man could be so humiliated that he might kill his accuser, despite the risk of prosecution, or abuse her again.


As the article makes clear, every time a woman is helped by forces outside of Afghanistan, the Afghanis retaliate against women.
In 2010, there was widespread publicity of the case of Bibi Aisha, a Pashtun child bride, whose nose was cut off by her Taliban husband; it backfired. Conservative Afghan leaders started a campaign against the nonprofit women’s shelters, one of which had helped Bibi Aisha. They came close to shutting down the shelters, which would have been a huge loss for abused women who have no other refuge.
There is no way any woman can win in such a truly evil culture - any culture this evil deserves to die - time to remove women from the evil.

more at the NYTimes

Thursday, December 01, 2011

New Yorker parity report - December 5, 2011

Well the parity score is exactly the same this week as it was last week, although two of the bylines are poems, but poems count. And Elizabeth Kolbert the focus of Steven Pinker's annoyance which I blogged about yesterday, has the first article in the line-up.

The New Yorker Parity Report
A regular report on the gender parity - or lack thereof - of the current issue of The New Yorker based on table of contents by-lines
Includes fiction, non-fiction, poems. Does not include illustrations.


A score of 50% means that half of all writers in the issue are female.
A score of greater than 50% would mean more female than male writers. This never happens.


Parity change from previous week: 0%

December 5, 2011

Total writers - 21
male - 15
female - 6
gender parity score: 28.57%

Last week's score
Total writers - 21
male - 15
female - 6
gender parity score: 28.57%