Wednesday, October 31, 2007

TAM LIN 2007

For the fifth year in a row, TAM LIN will be presented in Manhattan. This time it will be in the form of a reading at NYCPlaywrights.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What's Al Franken been up to?

Running for Senate.

Al has a blog

Al, back in the day:

More pix

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Bob Herbert's strawpimps

Those who wish for prostitution to remain illegal don't have logic on their side, and so must constantly imply that those who think it should be legal are somehow in denial about the exploitation of women and the international slave trade. Bob Herbert:
Those who think that most of the women in prostitution want to be there are deluded. Surveys consistently show that a majority wants very much to leave. Apologists love to spread the fantasy of the happy hooker. But the world of the prostitute is typically filled with pimps, sadists, psychopaths, drug addicts, violent criminals and disease.

Jody Williams is a former prostitute who runs a support group called Sex Workers Anonymous. Few women want to become prostitutes, she told me, and nearly all would like to get out.

“They want to quit for the obvious reasons,” she said. “The danger. The physical and emotional distress. The toll that it takes. The shame.”
More at the NYTimes
Just who are these people "who think that most of the women in prostitution want to be there"? Bob Herbert doesn't say - probably because very few people would make such a claim.

The real problem for those who want prostitution to remain illegal is, as Jody Williams says "the shame."

Workers are exploited all over the world. Herbert & co. don't use that as the reason for suggesting that work itself should be made illegal. When it comes to non-sexual work, they are able to think clearly. They are against the workers being exploited, not the work itself.

And that's what it comes down to. The anti-legalization people have a problem with prostitution because it is about non-marital sex, far more than they have a problem with the exploitation of women and children. It's about "the shame" because the workers being exploited are doing sex work. There is no shame in being expoited as a fruit-picker, although conditions might be every bit as horrendous.

Women and children aren't only exploited through prostitution - young girls are sold or coerced into marriage in places all over the world. And traditional marriage is based entirely on the idea of women selling men sexual services in exchange for food and shelter. It still happens all over the world. I think that's a horrible exploitive situation - and so I think the exploitation should end. I am not calling for the criminalization of marriage.

Bob Herbert demonstrates that when you throw non-marital sex into the picture, some people's brains just go haywire.

And why doesn't Bob Herbert write a column about all the men who create the demand for prostitution - and don't care whether the prostitute they're screwing is a sex slave or not? Surely a few of them read the NYTimes. I'll wager some of them write for the NYTimes.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Racists say the darndest things

As soon as I saw the article about the racist remarks of James Watson (of Crick & Watson DNA fame) I rushed over to Gene Expression, the premiere web site for science-minded racists and sure enough it was topic number one.

Top racists Steve Sailer and Razib (aka Newamul Khan) are entirely predictable in their reactions in this comment thread which can be summed up by the headline of a Wired article: Angry IQ Tester: Watson's Critics Are Socialists!

That was exactly Steven Pinker's reason for dismissing the scientific opinions of Stephen Jay Gould when he criticized evolutionary psychology. As I've blogged before, Pinker has no qualms about being interviewed by Gene Expression. Well why not, they are huge fans of his.

But what did the Sage of DNA say that has so confused those poor misguided media commies?
First he said:
"All our social policies are based on the fact that their (African's) intelligence is the same as ours (European's) - whereas all the testing says not really,"

THEN he said
In a statement given to The Associated Press yesterday, Dr. Watson said, "I cannot understand how I could have said what I am quoted as having said. There is no scientific basis for such a belief."

So, scream the GNXPers he was misquoted!
But his publicist, Kate Farquhar-Thomson, would not say whether Dr. Watson believed he had been misquoted. "You have the statement," she said. "That's it, I am afraid."
More at the NYTimes.
The GNXPers are so in love with Watson's racism that they completely overlook that fact that he's a batty old coot!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Yes, we've been expecting it for years

October 19, 2007, 11:48 am
Say What?
By The Editorial Board
More from President Bush's Wednesday press conference. File this under "Jokes that really aren't that funny."

Q: 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.

Check it out - and note the howls from the right-winger commentors: But if Bill Clinton had made the same joke eight years ago, you would have remarked on his delightful sense of humor despite all the abuse he had taken the rightwing conspiracy.

Might it be because the Bush people have demonstrated that there is nothing so mean, lowdown and illegal that they won't try to get away with it?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Iraq war contractor corruption scandal...

..will no doubt go down in history as the worst corruption scandal in the history of this country. Frank Rich:
The cost cannot be measured only in lost opportunities, lives and money. There will be a long hangover of shame. Its essence was summed up by Col. Ted Westhusing, an Army scholar of military ethics who was an innocent witness to corruption, not a participant, when he died at age 44 of a gunshot wound to the head while working for Gen. David Petraeus training Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in 2005. He was at the time the highest-ranking officer to die in Iraq.

Colonel Westhusing's death was ruled a suicide, though some believe he was murdered by contractors fearing a whistle-blower, according to T. Christian Miller, the Los Angeles Times reporter who documents the case in his book "Blood Money." Either way, the angry four-page letter the officer left behind for General Petraeus and his other commander, Gen. Joseph Fil, is as much an epitaph for America’s engagement in Iraq as a suicide note.

"I cannot support a msn that leads to corruption, human rights abuse and liars," Colonel Westhusing wrote, abbreviating the word mission. "I am sullied."

More at the NYTimes

Thursday, October 18, 2007

We've all been hip to this for years, but it's good to have a social scientist confirm it

In an idealized view of the fashion and art world, the gatekeepers of taste coolly evaluate the work they see according to Platonic criteria. Currid's conclusion, based on dozens of interviews, is less sublime. "There is very little that gets done in New York that is merit-based," a musician told her. "It boils down to the same maxim: 'It's all who you know.' " And in order to know the right people artists and designers inevitably gravitate to New York, because it's where previous generations of artists and designers, now powerful, gravitated to. The result is a classic case of what economists call network effects: success in the past creates success in the future.

From an aesthetic standpoint, "It's all who you know" may be a grim conclusion, but from the perspective of New York's economy it seems an entirely happy one.

More at the New Yorker

This explains why there's so much bad theatre done by people who get paid well for it - all the decision-makers are their pals, and you can't give your pals the red light.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Maybe I should change the name of this blog to Krugman to Mergatroyd...

But when you're great, you're great
What is it about Mr. Gore that drives right-wingers insane?

Partly it's a reaction to what happened in 2000, when the American people chose Mr. Gore but his opponent somehow ended up in the White House. Both the personality cult the right tried to build around President Bush and the often hysterical denigration of Mr. Gore were, I believe, largely motivated by the desire to expunge the stain of illegitimacy from the Bush administration.

And now that Mr. Bush has proved himself utterly the wrong man for the job - to be, in fact, the best president Al Qaeda's recruiters could have hoped for - the symptoms of Gore derangement syndrome have grown even more extreme.

The worst thing about Mr. Gore, from the conservative point of view, is that he keeps being right. In 1992, George H. W. Bush mocked him as the "ozone man," but three years later the scientists who discovered the threat to the ozone layer won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. In 2002 he warned that if we invaded Iraq, 'the resulting chaos could easily pose a far greater danger to the United States than we presently face from Saddam." And so it has proved.

But Gore hatred is more than personal. When National Review decided to name its anti-environmental blog Planet Gore, it was trying to discredit the message as well as the messenger. For the truth Mr. Gore has been telling about how human activities are changing the climate isn't just inconvenient. For conservatives, it's deeply threatening.

more at the NYTimes

Monday, October 15, 2007

The Good Deputy

Now that the JANE EYRE production is underway, it's time to start writing a new play. While JANE is all girly-girly - although I personally think that the concerns of women are universal concerns, NY theatre critics don't see it that way - this new play is manly. It's THE GOOD DEPUTY and it's set in the Old West with a primarily male cast. Any connection between the plot and Bush Co's adventures in Iraq are purely intentional, although hopefully not too obvious or preachy - I want it to be an entertaining story too.

The inspiration is based on my wondering what would have happened if Colin Powell did not do the bidding of the Bushies. We have some idea what might have happened, based on the experience of Joseph Wilson and the outing of his wife, spy Valerie Plame by douchebag of liberty Robert Novak at the behest of the Bush administration.

David Hare already covered the territory of the actual Iraq war buildup in his play Stuff Happens. He was very literal, though, with people playing Bush, Cheney, Rice, etc.

My play was also inspired by my friend Greg Oliver Bodine, the brilliant actor/playwright, who played a cowboy recently, as you can see in this picture. I plan to have him portray the Deputy. We'll be doing a reading at NYCPlaywrights next week.

Plus, I always like having an excuse to post a cute guy picture on my blog.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Frank Rich challenges the Krugman for best editorialist

Frank Rich:

I have always maintained that the American public was the least culpable of the players during the run-up to Iraq. The war was sold by a brilliant and fear-fueled White House propaganda campaign designed to stampede a nation still shellshocked by 9/11. Both Congress and the press - the powerful institutions that should have provided the checks, balances and due diligence of the administration's case - failed to do their job. Had they done so, more Americans might have raised more objections. This perfect storm of democratic failure began at the top.

As the war has dragged on, it is hard to give Americans en masse a pass. We are too slow to notice, let alone protest, the calamities that have followed the original sin.

Not meaning to brag, but I don't count myself among "the American public" who were fooled into the war in Iraq. I was one of the anti-war protestors. I still have video from the huge anti-war rally that I will eventually put online.

Meanwhile, Steven Colbert appears in Maureen Dowd's column, improving it 150%
I'd like to thank Maureen Dowd for permitting/begging me to write her column today. As I type this, she's watching from an overstuffed divan, petting her prize Abyssinian and sipping a Dirty Cosmotinijito. Which reminds me: Before I get started, I have to take care of one other bit of business:

Bad things are happening in countries you shouldn't have to think about. It's all George Bush's fault, the vice president is Satan, and God is gay.

There. Now I've written Frank Rich's column too.

So why I am writing Miss Dowd's column today? Simple. Because I believe the 2008 election, unlike all previous elections, is important. And a lot of Americans feel confused about the current crop of presidential candidates.

For instance, Hillary Clinton. I can't remember if I'm supposed to be scared of her so Democrats will think they should nominate her when she's actually easy to beat, or if I'm supposed to be scared of her because she's legitimately scary.

Or Rudy Giuliani. I can't remember if I'm supposed to support him because he's the one who can beat Hillary if she gets nominated, or if I'm supposed to support him because he's legitimately scary.

And Fred Thompson. In my opinion "Law & Order" never sufficiently explained why the Manhattan D.A. had an accent like an Appalachian catfish wrestler.

Well, suddenly an option is looming on the horizon. And I don't mean Al Gore (though he's a world-class loomer). First of all, I don't think Nobel Prizes should go to people I was seated next to at the Emmys. Second, winning the Nobel Prize does not automatically qualify you to be commander in chief. I think George Bush has proved definitively that to be president, you don't need to care about science, literature or peace.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The right-wing bully machine

All in all, the Graeme Frost case is a perfect illustration of the modern right-wing political machine at work, and in particular its routine reliance on character assassination in place of honest debate. If service members oppose a Republican war, they're "phony soldiers"; if Michael J. Fox opposes Bush policy on stem cells, he's faking his Parkinson's symptoms; if an injured 12-year-old child makes the case for a government health insurance program, he's a fraud.

Krugman in the NYTimes

Friday, October 12, 2007

Nobel Al Gore

Hooray for Al Gore!

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore and a United Nations panel on the environment won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for raising awareness about the threat of climate change.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Jane Eyre

My production of JANE EYRE is coming up in February 2008.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Law's Delay

In his be/not be soliloquy, Hamlet lists the following as possible reasons for suicide:
the whips and scorns of time,
Th' oppressor's wrong,
the proud man's contumely
The pangs of despised love,
the law's delay,
The insolence of office,
and the spurns That patient merit of th' unworthy takes

Waiting for the US Copyright Office to cancel Edward Einhorn's unauthorized copyright registration on his derivative, and laughable "blocking and choreography" script on my play TAM LIN makes me understand why.

The fact that the Copyright Office granted Einhorn the registration is a clear sign there is something wrong with the U.S. Copyright Office itself. Because Einhorn NEVER had my authorization, and was not required by the Copyright Office to provide any proof of authorization whatsoever. Just the say-so of himself and his brother, the lawyer.

It makes the requirement of "authorization" meaningless. And it means that anybody with money can victimize anybody without money through this method - because once the registration is granted, it is up to the author of the original work to prove that it was not authorized.

My ex-partner Jonathan and I were involved in a lawsuit with Einhorn over this, with the expectation that Einhorn's ill-obtained registration would be cancelled during the course of events. It seemed reasonable to believe so. Apparently the US Copyright Office is far far more Kafka-esque than could possibly be believed.

And so The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions continues.

Edward Einhorn would like to believe that the case is over, clearly evident in this public exchange at Playgoer

Anonymous said...
Edward Einhorn? Watch out! He's gonna sue!

Saturday, August 04, 2007 11:55:00 AM
Edward Einhorn said...
I find that an oddly hostile (anonymous?) comment to appear after my posting regarding the Public. It's true that I was involved in a lawsuit a while ago regarding a play I was never paid for that also included some copyright issues. That suit was resolved and I was paid. But that lawsuit was a relatively small incident in my larger writing/directing career and certainly has no relevance to this issue.

I did not post the anonymous comment - apparently Einhorn's reputation precedes him.

With a wave of his hand like a latter-day Marie Antoinette offering dietary advice to peasants, Einhorn proclaims the suit "was resolved." Guess again Einhorn. It will never be resolved until YOU GIVE UP YOUR UNAUTHORIZED DERIVATIVE COPYRIGHT REGISTRATION ON MY PLAY TAM LIN!!!!!

Maybe you think that you have managed to sneak a "directors copyright" in the back door by the persistence of this ill-gotten registration. You think wrong. We will do whatever it takes, through whatever branch of government it takes - to get it cancelled. Because if you get away with this, what's to stop any creep with an agenda from trying the same thing?

Now why don't you go online somewhere and claim that I am defaming you, Einhorn? Oh, that's right, you've already done so, believing you can cow people into silence through their ignorance of the First Amendment.

I have never defamed you, Einhorn, because what I've said is either my opinion of you - which is protected speech - or THE TRUTH - and usually backed with court transcripts - which is also protected.


But perhaps I am simply being impatient. It's possible that we won't have to take further legal action, and that the Copyright Office, like any bureaucracy, is simply taking its sweet time. It's the law's delay - and I just have to ride it out.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

I don't care what they say about me in the papers as long as they spell my name right...

The play, adapted by N.G. McClearnan, follows the familiar story of Huck and Jim on a raft, even as it peers into Huck's internal struggle between right and wrong. Playwright McClearnan said she eliminated all but a few references to Tom Sawyer in the book because he "certainly was not a good boy."

"In fact," she said, "he was a big jerk."

While not evil, Sawyer causes problems for the freed slave, Jim, and jeopardizes more than a few people in his field of influence. So, for McClearnan, Tom's out and Huck's in.

The article is referring to my essay What about Lil Lizabeth?

Apparently the "as long as they spell my name right" quote is of unknown provenance...

Friday, October 05, 2007

Good News Delivered by Thunder

"Good News Delivered by Thunder" is the name of this song It's such a cool evocative name - I have to write a play with this title some day.

More on the album "Splendid Jubilant New Year - the Collection of Chinese Festival Music" - other great song titles: "Frantic Dances of Golden Serpent" and "Splendor Night Vision"

It's the Righteous Scorn Channel

Oh Paul Krugman, I just can't resist you!

Before the last election, the actor Michael J. Fox, who suffers from Parkinson's and has become an advocate for stem cell research that might lead to a cure, made an ad in support of Claire McCaskill, the Democratic candidate for Senator in Missouri. It was an effective ad, in part because Mr. Fox's affliction was obvious.

And Rush Limbaugh - displaying the same style he exhibited in his recent claim that members of the military who oppose the Iraq war are "phony soldiers" and his later comparison of a wounded vet who criticized him for that remark to a suicide bomber - immediately accused Mr. Fox of faking it. "In this commercial, he is exaggerating the effects of the disease. He is moving all around and shaking. And it's purely an act." Heh-heh-heh.

Of course, minimizing and mocking the suffering of others is a natural strategy for political figures who advocate lower taxes on the rich and less help for the poor and unlucky. But I believe that the lack of empathy shown by Mr. Limbaugh, Mr. Kristol, and, yes, Mr. Bush is genuine, not feigned.

Mark Crispin Miller, the author of "The Bush Dyslexicon," once made a striking observation: all of the famous Bush malapropisms - "I know how hard it is for you to put food on your family," and so on - have involved occasions when Mr. Bush was trying to sound caring and compassionate.

By contrast, Mr. Bush is articulate and even grammatical when he talks about punishing people; that's when he's speaking from the heart. The only animation Mr. Bush showed during the flooding of New Orleans was when he declared "zero tolerance of people breaking the law," even those breaking into abandoned stores in search of the food and water they weren't getting from his administration.

What's happening, presumably, is that modern movement conservatism attracts a certain personality type. If you identify with the downtrodden, even a little, you don’t belong. If you think ridicule is an appropriate response to other peoples' woes, you fit right in.

And Republican disillusionment with Mr. Bush does not appear to signal any change in that regard. On the contrary, the leading candidates for the Republican nomination have gone out of their way to condemn "socialism," which is G.O.P.-speak for any attempt to help the less fortunate.

So once again, if you’re poor or you're sick or you don't have health insurance, remember this: these people think your problems are funny.

More of the column Conservatives Are Such Jokers at the NYTimes

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Anita Hill defends herself against Clarence Thomas's smears

ON Oct. 11, 1991, I testified about my experience as an employee of Clarence Thomas’s at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

I stand by my testimony.

Justice Thomas has every right to present himself as he wishes in his new memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son.” He may even be entitled to feel abused by the confirmation process that led to his appointment to the Supreme Court.

But I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me.

In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights.” A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. What’s more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomas’s behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. It’s no longer my word against his.

More at the New York TimesI mentioned the book on the Hill-Thomas incident, Strange Justice, back in July 2006, and about David Brock's reaction to the book, back when he was a right-wing hitman:
The biggest problem raised by the Strange Justice authors for the Thomas camp was the testimony of yet another woman, Kaye Savage, who had not been heard from during the first round of hearings. Savage made the claim... that she had seen Playboy pinups papered along the walls of Thomas's apartment in the early 1980s, when she and Thomas had been friends and Anita Hill was working for Thomas...

...Mark (Paoletta) phoned me back. He said he had posed my question about how to discredit Savage to (Clarence) Thomas, who knew I was at work on a review of the Mayer and Abramson book. Mark told me that Thomas had, in fact, some derogatory information on his former friend Savage; he passed it along to Mark so that Mark could give it to me. Quoting Thomas directly, Mark told me of unverified, embarrassing personal information about Savage that Thomas claimed had been raised against her in a sealed court record of a divorce and child custody battle more than a decade ago. Thomas also told Mark where Savage worked after Mark related that I was eager to hunt her down as soon as possible. Surely skirting the bounds of judicial propriety to intimidate and smear yet another witness against him, Thomas was playing dirty, and so was I.

Clarence Thomas - the perfect Supreme Court Justice to represent extreme conservativism.

Monday, October 01, 2007

the latest cover of the New Yorker

is awesome

The image is a little small but it manages to reference the Senator Larry Craig bathroom scandal, and Iranian president Ahmadinejad's claim that there are no homosexuals in Iran. The newspaper Ahmadinejad is reading is in Farsi - he's supposed to be in Iran.