Friday, October 31, 2008
Also, it's just a damn fun play to do. This year, like last, it will be read at the weekly NYCPlaywrights meeting.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Bush Tours America To Survey Damage Caused By His Disastrous Presidency
And let us not forget The Onion's prescience January 17, 2001:
Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over'
"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."
Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.
hah fucking hah
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Monday, October 27, 2008
Economic data rarely inspire poetic thoughts. But as I was contemplating the latest set of numbers, I realized that I had William Butler Yeats running through my head: "Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer; / Things fall apart; the center cannot hold."
read more from the Mighty Krug-Man
Sunday, October 26, 2008
She wasn't comfortable doing an English accent and I didn't want to push her - I was too grateful she was just able to fill in with a 4-hour lead time. So I had to take the role of Mindy, Peter Pan's executive assistant. Initially I was just going to do a few minor roles and some stage directions, but I got promoted thanks to this. I also played the ghost of a bubby (Jewish grandmother) - luckily I was acquainted with the Fiddler on the Roof soundtrack from the week I spent in my aunt's convent when I was 12 (long story.)
So as always I'm posting clips from the show online - but here's a preview of me playing Mindy. Considering this is the first time I'm saying these lines aloud, and considering I haven't ever studied dialects, I think I do OK.
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Frustrated by what they describe as difficulty in getting their work produced, enough female playwrights to make a standing - room - only crowd are planning to attend a town hall meeting on Monday night to air their grievances with representatives of New York's leading Off Broadway and nonprofit theaters.
The gathering was organized by the playwrights Sarah Schulman and Julia Jordan, who have rallied their colleagues to the cause, contending that their male counterparts in the 2008-9 season are being produced at 14 of the largest Off Broadway institutions at four times the rate that women are. More than 150 playwrights appeared at a meeting last month to discuss the issue, and all 90 seats at New Dramatists, the playwriting center where Monday night’s meeting is scheduled, are already spoken for, and there is a long waiting list.
More at the NYTimes
As I commented on Jason Grote's blog, before he censored me, this is about the money.
But not only money. We do not live in a meritocracy, never have and never will. The Bush administration has been criticized for cronyism, but cronyism is absolutely the standard practice in most of the world. And especially in the arts, where there is no standard for what "good" is - it's extremely subjective. And in fact, I would argue that all forms of art beginning with the early 20th century, with the "modernist" rejection of displays of traditional skills - the ability to write a memorable melody, in music; the ability to write an exciting story, in drama; the ability to create an image, with your own hands that looks like something, in the visual arts - have all lead to art by cronyism. You don't need to hone your skills - you just need to display a basic understanding of the craft and then you schmooze with the right people and through the power of the in-crowd's clout, your work is declared the next new and exciting thing.
And men still have more free time to schmooze, and more money, to afford go out drinking with artistic directors etc.
And then there is the "angry young man" phenomenon which I've blogged about before, and will again, soon.
Friday, October 24, 2008
At least he’s admitting that he got something wrong. That’s actually rare these days, especially among the people Greenspan associates with.
That said, praise also to Steve Goldstein at Marketwatch for this memorable line:
For a man who was once remarkably hard to decipher, Alan Greenspan is now as clear as an empty Lehman Brothers office.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
The audio quality on this clip is really bad. Stewart hurls the f-bomb, with authority, at 0:45. Thanks for speaking for us in the unreal America, Jon.
Monday, October 20, 2008
A few years ago I wrote an essay about OLEANNA called History is Written by the Winners in which I suggest that there was a deeply conservative, even misogynist subtext to the play. Although some feminists were also saying it, for most people it was just some sort of he-said/she-said both-sides-are-wrong kind of thing.
FINALLY the NYTimes - the "paper of record" lays it on the line. In its caption of the photo on the left it says: "David Mamet's OLEANNA addresses sexual harassment through a conservative lens."
Thank you for noticing. Of course it probably helps that Mamet recently came out of the closet as a conservative.
The rest of the article frets about the lack of conservative views in the theatre. But that's wrong - the author, Patricia Heffernan, is just not thinking fourth -dimensionally, as Doc Brown says. The theatre is FULL of conservative views - anything written 50 years ago represents conservative views, or at the very least respresents a world that is pallatable to conservatives. Except most stuff by G. B. Shaw.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
Andrea Mitchell talked about a "remarkably negative" Obama ad -- negative because it shows McCain bragging about how often he sided with George Bush.
In 2000 there was a lot of yapping about the limited involvement of Bill Clinton in Al Gore's campaign. (In fact we've had some of that this year about both Clintons' limited involvement in Obama's.) Yet nobody finds it remarkable that the Republican Presidential candidate is running, actively and like hell, from the sitting President from his own party. In fact, they cluck over Obama's bad taste in bringing it up.
More info about the Autumn 2008 reading here
Friday, October 17, 2008
Oh wow! For years I have maintained that in a fair fight between a Polar bear and a Siberian tiger, the tiger would win. And yet not a single person I've asked: "Polar bear vs. Siberian tiger?" has agreed with me.
Well check it out - a little old COUGAR fights off a Grizzly bear - which is much closer in size to a Polar bear than a cougar is to a S. tiger. And look who wins bitches!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Well I am sorry to say, I wouldn't be a bit surprised. But if it is your doing Grote - You kicked me off your blog. I wrote about it on my blog. Jesus Christ - let it go.
The Hermenautic Circle seems to be a kind of gated community for the insufferably self-important - here's what they say about themselves: "The Hermenautic Circle is a select and secretive enclave of 100 thinkers, writers, editors, journalists, bloggers, artists, designers, musicians, multimedia producers, activists, grad school refugees, and other friends. Hosted by Joshua Glenn. The group is not accepting new members. Please support our efforts by visiting the Hermenautic Circle Bookstore."
This is our own private club for super-important-geniuses - now give us your money.
Bernanke also said there were now risks to the global financial system from unregulated credit default swaps. These are insurancelike products that allow big investors to hedge against potential losses. The market for swaps is thought to total $55 trillion, yet it's a "dark market," unregulated and without transparency, amounting to nothing more than contracts between two sophisticated parties.
"Credit default swaps are not traded on an exchange. They aren't traded through a central counterparty, which means if one of those firms fails, among the consequences would be that the banks and others who had purchased credit insurance would be forced to write down tens of billions of dollars of value," Bernanke said.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Don't worry Jason, I won't attempt to cross your moat again - I've caused you enough stress already.
But nothing annoys me more than contributing to the interest factor of someone's blog with some mild debate - not to mention references to interesting studies - and then being told to STFU for my efforts.
So I challenged him to debate me on the sexism in theatre issue as well as the Hillary was the victim (in part) of sexism issue.
I need to expand my horizons eh? Condescend much?
If I had known you found *mildly* dissenting opinions objectionable I would have never contributed here. I had this delusion your were hip liberal dude.
Luckily, I have my own blog and am not a prisoner of your moderation purgatory.
You're welcome to come and debate me on my own blog any time - I have no plans to censor you - I don't need to - I can out-debate you on any of these topics, any time.
I don't expect a response - a theatre establishment insider has nothing to gain by debating - and losing to - me.
Really, I guess it's my own fault for not guessing that someone who calls his blog a "fortress" might be a bit on the defensive side.
Grote's predictable response:
...I'm going to close the comments now because I think this is a meaningless argument and I've got better things to do. Luckily for you, you've got the entire rest of the internet to tell everyone what a big ol' Nazi I am. Keep on sticking it to the man!
UPDATE - Grote removed all my posts on the comments section so the link above no longer shows the text of the entire tempest in a teapot. However, I suspected that he would do just that, and so I saved an image of the original exchange. Not that anybody really cares. But it was a most enlightening experience. Maybe I'll turn it into a play.
One more thing - I just discovered that Grote is a facebook friend of Edward Einhorn. Now it all makes sense...
DEFINITE FINAL UPDATE - coincidentally I suddenly have an influx of visitors from people googling my name. Some appear to be visiting me from their workplace - the name of their company is often displayed in my web statistics. And not a one of them has bothered to click the link for "The Strange Case of Edward Einhorn v. Mergatroyd Productions." Really people, that's the most interesting thing about me, for those of you who are involved in theatre, anyway. Although I hope you also read my theatre essays. Apparently some people find my opinions on that topic incredibly objectionable.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Sunday, October 12, 2008
Let me start this off by saying, I would object to this sideshow whichever political party it involved. Having vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin drop the ceremonial first puck at the Flyers' opener Saturday night was problematic not because it was Palin — Flyers owner Ed Snider’s decision under the flimsy excuse of "honoring" hockey moms — but because it is injecting politics in a place it should not be.Ah Philly, my old home town.
The biggest problem: when Palin came out onto the Wachovia Center ice Saturday night — greeted by resounding (almost deafening) boos from the Flyers crowd.
Meanwhile, after McCain and Palin rile up their scary mob of supporters, McCain finally tells the crazies that Obama is not an Arab terrorist - and he is booed by his own.
And as Frank Rich notes:
Some voters told reporters that they didn’t want Obama to run, let alone win, should his very presence unleash the demons who have stalked America from Lincoln to King. After consultation with Congress, Michael Chertoff, the homeland security secretary, gave Obama a Secret Service detail earlier than any presidential candidate in our history — in May 2007, some eight months before the first Democratic primaries.
"I've got the best protection in the world, so stop worrying," Obama reassured his supporters. Eventually the country got conditioned to his appearing in large arenas without incident (though I confess that the first loud burst of fireworks at the end of his convention stadium speech gave me a start). In America, nothing does succeed like success. The fear receded.
Until now. At McCain-Palin rallies, the raucous and insistent cries of "Treason!" and "Terrorist!" and "Kill him!" and “Off with his head!” as well as the uninhibited slinging of racial epithets, are actually something new in a campaign that has seen almost every conceivable twist. They are alarms. Doing nothing is not an option.
... what has pumped up the Weimar-like rage at McCain-Palin rallies, is the violent escalation in rhetoric, especially (though not exclusively) by Palin. Obama "launched his political career in the living room of a domestic terrorist." He is “palling around with terrorists” (note the plural noun). Obama is "not a man who sees America the way you and I see America." Wielding a wildly out-of-context Obama quote, Palin slurs him as an enemy of American troops.
By the time McCain asks the crowd "Who is the real Barack Obama?" it's no surprise that someone cries out "Terrorist!" The rhetorical conflation of Obama with terrorism is complete. It is stoked further by the repeated invocation of Obama's middle name by surrogates introducing McCain and Palin at these rallies. This sleight of hand at once synchronizes with the poisonous Obama-is-a-Muslim e-mail blasts and shifts the brand of terrorism from Ayers's Vietnam-era variety to the radical Islamic threats of today.
That's a far cry from simply accusing Obama of being a guilty-by-association radical leftist. Obama is being branded as a potential killer and an accessory to past attempts at murder. "Barack Obama's friend tried to kill my family" was how a McCain press release last week packaged the remembrance of a Weather Underground incident from 1970 — when Obama was 8.
We all know what punishment fits the crime of murder, or even potential murder, if the security of post-9/11 America is at stake. We all know how self-appointed "patriotic" martyrs always justify taking the law into their own hands.
Friday, October 10, 2008
As I blogged here weeks ago, I was appalled when working for a large investment bank, by the sheer complexity and fluidity of financial instruments known as "exotic derivatives."
Turns out I was in pretty good company:
George Soros, the prominent financier, avoids using the financial contracts known as derivatives “because we don’t really understand how they work.” Felix G. Rohatyn, the investment banker who saved New York from financial catastrophe in the 1970s, described derivatives as potential "hydrogen bombs."
And Warren E. Buffett presciently observed five years ago that derivatives were “financial weapons of mass destruction, carrying dangers that, while now latent, are potentially lethal.”
I remember thinking at the time - "how could our government allow this to go on - there is NO WAY that any kind of oversight could be going on. What kind of idiot would allow this to happen?"
Now I know. The idiot Alan Greenspan.
One prominent financial figure, however, has long thought otherwise. And his views held the greatest sway in debates about the regulation and use of derivatives — exotic contracts that promised to protect investors from losses, thereby stimulating riskier practices that led to the financial crisis. For more than a decade, the former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan has fiercely objected whenever derivatives have come under scrutiny in Congress or on Wall Street. “What we have found over the years in the marketplace is that derivatives have been an extraordinarily useful vehicle to transfer risk from those who shouldn’t be taking it to those who are willing to and are capable of doing so,” Mr. Greenspan told the Senate Banking Committee in 2003. “We think it would be a mistake” to more deeply regulate the contracts, he added.
There were some who saw the crisis coming:
In 1997, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, a federal agency that regulates options and futures trading, began exploring derivatives regulation. The commission, then led by a lawyer named Brooksley E. Born, invited comments about how best to oversee certain derivatives.
Ms. Born was concerned that unfettered, opaque trading could "threaten our regulated markets or, indeed, our economy without any federal agency knowing about it," she said in Congressional testimony. She called for greater disclosure of trades and reserves to cushion against losses.
Ms. Born's views incited fierce opposition from Mr. Greenspan and Robert E. Rubin, the Treasury secretary then. Treasury lawyers concluded that merely discussing new rules threatened the derivatives market. Mr. Greenspan warned that too many rules would damage Wall Street, prompting traders to take their business overseas.
"Greenspan told Brooksley that she essentially didn’t know what she was doing and she’d cause a financial crisis," said Michael Greenberger, who was a senior director at the commission. "Brooksley was this woman who was not playing tennis with these guys and not having lunch with these guys. There was a little bit of the feeling that this woman was not of Wall Street."
Hmm. Some woman was getting uppity and trying to tell men how to do things. Who should the men bring in to put a woman in her place?
Of course - Lawrence Summers!
In early 1998, Mr. Rubin's deputy, Lawrence H. Summers, called Ms. Born and chastised her for taking steps he said would lead to a financial crisis, according to Mr. Greenberger. Mr. Summers said he could not recall the conversation but agreed with Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Rubin that Ms. Born's proposal was "highly problematic."
But Born was right:
Ms. Born pushed ahead. On June 5, 1998, Mr. Greenspan, Mr. Rubin and Mr. Levitt called on Congress to prevent Ms. Born from acting until more senior regulators developed their own recommendations. Mr. Levitt says he now regrets that decision. Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Rubin were “joined at the hip on this,” he said. “They were certainly very fiercely opposed to this and persuaded me that this would cause chaos.”
Ms. Born soon gained a potent example. In the fall of 1998, the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management nearly collapsed, dragged down by disastrous bets on, among other things, derivatives. More than a dozen banks pooled $3.6 billion for a private rescue to prevent the fund from slipping into bankruptcy and endangering other firms.
Despite that event, Congress froze the Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s regulatory authority for six months. The following year, Ms. Born departed.
Well why did she depart? No doubt Larry Summers would tell you (from his infamous women aren't as smart as men speech at Harvard):
So my best guess, to provoke you, of what's behind all of this [this being women's less success careers in science and engineering] is that the largest phenomenon, by far, is the general clash between people's legitimate family desires and employers' current desire for high power and high intensity, that in the special case of science and engineering, there are issues of intrinsic aptitude, and particularly of the variability of aptitude, and that those considerations are reinforced by what are in fact lesser factors involving socialization and continuing discrimination.
I'm sure Summers believed that Born just didn't have an aptitude for numbers.
And he and Greenspan got their way:
In November 1999, senior regulators — including Mr. Greenspan and Mr. Rubin — recommended that Congress permanently strip the C.F.T.C. of regulatory authority over derivatives.
Mr. Greenspan, according to lawmakers, then used his prestige to make sure Congress followed through. "Alan was held in very high regard," said Jim Leach, an Iowa Republican who led the House Banking and Financial Services Committee at the time. "You've got an area of judgment in which members of Congress have nonexistent expertise."
Because there IS NO OVERSIGHT for derivatives, you know they have been used for some major financial dirty dealings - and that is the next big financial scandal that will break.
Here's hoping Alan Greenspan will end up in jail for it.
Thursday, October 09, 2008
Attributed in many places on the Internet to William Butler Yeats but I can't find an actual source anywhere.
But it does make me feel a little better about the strange ambivalent nature of my sonnets.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
And out of the 20 or so people in attendance, one got the metaphorical nature of Todd's reference to all the Christmas presents being opened, and then a comment to his sister about reincarnation. Which I was happy about - I didn't necessarily expect anybody to get it, in part because it goes by pretty fast.
And I decided to go with Schopenhauer after all. Although I think he is the superior philosopher, so many more people have heard of Nietzsche, so I almost used him. But you really can't beat Schopenhauer for total suicidal pessimism. The quote I used is from his essay On The Sufferings of the World.
And Schopenhauer had a snappy comeback to anybody who complained about his extreme bummer demeanor:
I shall be told, I suppose, that my philosophy is comfortless - because I speak the truth; and people prefer to be assured that everything the Lord has made is good. Go to the priests, then, and leave philosophers in peace!
I always find Schopenhauer such a comfort when I'm feeling lonely - few have been as lonely as Schopenhauer himself.
It took Charlotte months to persuade Emily to publish her work.No, not really. I can understand if a dramatist exaggerates in a play in order to make a point, but she should get it right in her introduction. According to Charlotte's own "Biographical Notice of Ellis and Acton Bell":
My sister Emily was not a person of demonstrative character, nor one, on the recesses of whose mind and feelings, even those nearest and dearest to her could, with impunity, intrude unlicensed; it took hours to reconcile her to the discovery I had made, and days to persuade her that such poems merited publication.
Days. Not months. Why can't these people bother to do their homework? Is it because nobody bothers to fact check them?
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
And we really did create something beautiful. But it still brings tears to my eyes sometimes to hear the haunting opening musical sequence from last year's production - listen here - no matter how beautiful something can be, you can never ever escape the pure raw evil of some human beings - and you never know who is going to turn out to be evil.
If only we could get back all the time we waste on unworthy unfeeling degraded deceptive people. If only the human heart wasn't a complete moron. People without true feelings have such an advantage over the rest of us.
Monday, October 06, 2008
Anyways, I always loved this song, but not enough to buy an entire post- Close to the Edge Yes album. But now thanks to the internets...
Circus of Heaven
The day the Circus of Heaven came to town
Local folks lined the streets in a Midwestern town
Waiting anxiously for the parade to begin all around
On the very last day
A unicorn headed the mystical way
Surrounded by what seemed a thousand golden angels at play
Behind were Centaurs, elves, bright fairies all in colours of jade
On the very final day
For what seemed only just a moment in time
Seven solemn flying silvered regal horses rode by
Seven golden chariots in tow, a wonder to behold
The Seven Lords of the Mountains of Time
There then arose where nothing really stood there before
A giant tent rising one thousand feet high frofrom the floor
Towns people flocked inside with their eyes all amazed
To greet the Seventh Lord of the seventh age
A fanfare rang out in an incredible sound
Bringing out the strangest visions perfect harmony round
Any dreams he asked would they like to have seen
>From historical or mythical scenes
Then there above their heads just as vivid as life
Each vision transported multitudes inventing light
Grecian galleons, the sack of Troy, to the Gardens of Babylon
A play of millions roared along
The gigantic dreams of Alexander the Great
Civil wars where fbrothers fought and killed their friendship with hate
All seen by Zeus performing scenes in the magical way
The day the circus came to town
Outside great animals as tame as the trees
Angels high in starlight dancing streets
Turning their colours with indigo and gold
Dropping violet, red and emerald snow
As the circus finally changed its invisible course
A new world to be found
On the dreamy ground we walked upon
I turned to my son and said
"Was that something beautiful, amazing, wonderful, extraordinary
"Oh, it was OK. But there were no clowns, no tigers, lions or bears,
candy-floss, toffee apples, no clowns."
Sunday, October 05, 2008
The fortune with my Chinese lunch today:
"What is the speed of darkness?"
A man with a cat, on the other hand, “is secure with himself,” he said. “He’s sharing his space with a predator.”More Men are Unabashedly Embracing Their Love of Cats
Many women agree that guys with cats are extra special.
"They make the best boyfriends because they're totally cool with staying home and watching a movie," said Elizabeth Daza, 28, a video producer in Manhattan, who dated a cat-owning man for eight years. "Straight men with cats seem to be really secure and stable. They don’t need to be running around the park and proving their masculinity like the dog guys."
And don't forget - cats hate Bush.
"Of all God's creatures there is only one that cannot be made the slave of the leash. That one is the cat. If man could be crossed with the cat it would improve man, but it would deteriorate the cat."
- Mark Twain Notebook, 1894
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Great song - the video is just ok though.
Friday, October 03, 2008
We also desperately need an economic stimulus plan to push back against the slump in spending and employment. And this time it had better be a serious plan that doesn’t rely on the magic of tax cuts, but instead spends money where it’s needed. (Aid to cash-strapped state and local governments, which are slashing spending at precisely the worst moment, is also a priority.) Yet it’s hard to imagine the Bush administration, in its final months, overseeing the creation of a new Works Progress Administration.
But I guess Paul Krugman must feel like Cassandra too - he was warning about the housing bubble for over a year before it burst.
the rest of the Krugman article
I can't post it on Facebook though, since I don't think cats are allowed to have Facebook profiles and you or your friends on Facebook must be in the video in order to post.
Check out this video: Spike and the bird
Thursday, October 02, 2008
Doesn't this remind you of the Brady Bunch - if one of the "bunch" was "special"? And I think you know which one that is.
Oh yes, and good news: Poll Shows Obama, for First Time, Has Significant Lead