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


    • 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.


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%

Monday, December 26, 2011

Why DO all the girls have to buy princesses?

This is a smart kid.

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


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
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
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.

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.


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:

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?


Cling to the doorposts.


But if they should force us?


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


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


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."


Friday, December 09, 2011

A whole hour of Krugman!

Watch live streaming video from nytimesopinion at

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:

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.


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

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

What are you doing?


Reading your notes.


They're encrypted.

(She shoots him a look of contempt.)



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.

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.

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%

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

miffed at the New Yorker, Steven Pinker calls for backup from racist Razib Khan

Welcome right-wing racists of UNZ.

There was a failed attempt at Pinker:

Yes apparently it's SUCH a failure that you feel the need mention it but you can't address the points made. 
But UNZ readers aren't big fans of evidence, just like their hero Steven Pinker.

And be sure to check out everything else I've said about Pinker over the last 10 years.

Not to mention everything I've said about Razib Khan over the last 10 years.

Since the earliest days of this blog I've had my eye on Razib Khan, the bigwig at Gene Expression the web site devoted to the "science" of evolutionary psychology. The very first time I mentioned Khan was to point out that he is a blatant racist and a big admirer of Steven Pinker - and it was obvious to me even then that Pinker returned the admiration. Here's Khan talking about aptitude:
I believe different groups probably have different aptitudes (not moral inferiority or superiority)-and the axiom of equality-that all groups have the exact same tendencies as our common evolutionary heritage, could cause serious problems when applied to public policy.
Now what Khan means by "aptitude" is intelligence and what he has in mind is that infamous work of racialist science "The Bell Curve." Predictably, Khan is a huge fan of the Bell Curve and featured this interview with author Charles Murray.

Another time Khan clarified further on the "aptitude" issue:
right now, we assume that ALL GROUPS HAVE EQUAL APTITUDES. the result is that liberals devise new social programs to “uplift” groups to express their potentional. conservatives excoriate underclass social structures and cultures and encourage their own rival social engineering programs (vouchers, enterprise zones, privating public housing). if some aptitudes were genetic on average between groups, then we have an even harder task: identify the points in the genome that effect “g”-general intelligence, and figure out ways to manipulate these segments of the genome (gene therapy).

There is no question, Razib Khan believes that non-whites, especially Africans, have evolved to be less intelligent than whites. He is a full-on racist.

Here Khan lays out his theories of intelligence of various national/ethnic groups and the desirability of blondes.

The proudly racist American Renaissance likes to republish the work of Razib Khan.

But Khan is careful not to make his racism too blatant these days. Instead he lets you draw your own conclusions about Black Americans as in this Discover Magazine column he writes:
Here’s a case of inversion: in the early 20th century ideologues turned the roots of all civilizations into examples of Aryan/Nordic superiority. Today from what I can tell the mainstream sentiment is to not comment or inquire too deeply into the Afrocentrist fiction that St. Augustine, Hannibal or Cleopatra were black. A fiction which from what I can tell has spread widely within the African American community. How the pendulum has swung!
So how does he know that the fiction "has spread widely within the African American community"? He says it right there: "from what I can tell."

In other words, the Aryan/Nordic superiority myth, which was widely disseminated and believed and acted upon in the Holocaust, is equivalent to the myth-making of the African American community - from what Razib Khan can tell.

According to his online bio he is an "Unz Foundation Junior Fellow." The Unz Foundation was created by Ron Unz, publisher of The American Conservative.

Now it's not surprising that Pinker has a hissyfit over the New Yorker review of his most recent book "The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined." - Pinker is not accustomed to analysis by someone who is not baffled by his bullshit - and legions in the media are. Pinker is accustomed to being lionized and revered.

So who does Steven Pinker turn to for a reply to The New Yorker? Razib Khan:
But aren’t you just being defensive? Authors always think that negative reviews of their book are wrong. Has anyone else replied to Kolbert?

Razib Khan has a response in the Gene Expression blog on the Discover magazine Web site:

The funny thing is, both in the link above and here, Khan admits he hasn't even read the entire book, estimating he's read about 20% as late as November 28.

A racist who doesn't do his homework. That's who Steven Pinker cites in defense of his work against the New Yorker.

Steve Sailer, a buddy of Khan's and an even more blatant racist, is a huge fan of Pinker's book and gives the book a rave review in - where else - The American Conservative.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

content is king

There is so much content on Youtube now, it's a wonder anybody watches TV at all, except for topical stuff like The Daily Show.

Just the Beatles stuff alone! Above is a documentary "The making of Sgt. Peppers" and here is "Making of the White Album."

The funny thing about this White album documentary is that it's almost all still photos... except for some footage from the Beatles big trip to India that I have never seen.

Apparently there's one of these from Apple for each Beatles album. Here's the making of Abbey Road.

Revolver! Unfortunately they don't discuss the cover which is the Greatest Album Cover of All Time.

And speaking of Revolver - this fun take of one of my favorite Beatle songs "And Your Bird Can Sing"

Monday, November 28, 2011

getting high with Native Americans

The NYCPlaywrights November Play of the Month theme was "native Americans" and we got a tiny percentage of submissions that we got for October (the supernatural) or December (winter holidays) - this is due to the specificity of the subject and the fact that the vast majority of plays submitted for the Play of the Month are 10-minute plays that the playwright happened to have lying around. There are far fewer plays about native Americans lying around in playwrights' hard drives.

And then there are the plays that were clearly not about the theme but were retro-fitted, like with an off-hand reference to native Americans, for the purpose of the theme.

The entire point of having a theme is to prevent playwrights from submitting the same plays month after month. And it would be nice if a playwright was inspired by the theme once in awhile to write a new play. That was the case of the winning play of the month for November, Nancy Brewka-Clark's HIGH ON EMMA SAFFORD.

I got a big kick out of the video recording - Abe Lebovic and Carolyn Paine are adorable in their roles - they've played a couple before, in my THE SLASH last February.

I didn't have tobacco or weed so I made them smoke the only thing I had handy that could be smoked - catnip. I've heard you can get high from catnip and while we didn't do all that many takes, I certainly felt something - although it might have been a panic attack. But my cat went nuts. Usually he's pretty shy around visitors but he was all over the actors while we were trying to video-record. Eventually I had to lock him in my bedroom so we could finish up. Oh Mr. Fuzz!

I don't know if the Play of the Month project is partly responsible or not, but the NYCPlaywrights hit rate has really gone up in the past year - we are about to get 5,000 unique visitors for the month of November. Just a few months ago I thought 3K visitors was impressive. Now if only everybody would start clicking the damn links I'd have a serious income source.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A song for our time

Saturday, November 26, 2011

evolutionary psychology - the go-to theory for sexists

How many times have I said that evolutionary psychology is the go-to theory of human behavior for sexists?

(Anthropologist Marvin Harris would call it a "research strategy" rather than a "theory.")

Ed Rybicki demonstrates how it works:
Being a scientist, however, I have been trained to demand evidence, to either support or disprove a hypothesis.

And it appears that it exists… now, while the credibility of the journal has been doubted in a blog to which I really don’t feel like linking, it remains a fact that the Journal of Social, Evolutionary, and Cultural Psychology exists, that it appears to be a peer-reviewed academic journal, that it garners citations from other journals – and that it published an article entitled “Evolved foraging psychology underlies sex differences in shopping experiences and behaviors“, by Daniel Kruger of the School of Public Health, University of Michigan, and Dreyson Byker, of Literature, Science, and the Arts, University of Michigan. In Volume 3, Issue 4, of December 2009 – a special issue reporting “Proceedings of the Third Annual Meeting of the NorthEastern Evolutionary Psychology Society”.

He provides links to the articles he cites at his blog.

Now one of the beauty parts of evolutionary psychology is that you don't have to actually prove that any given modern behavior is evolved - all you have to do is identify the behavior and just assume that the very act of quantifying the behavior is proof that the behavior is evolved.

You can see that one reason why evolutionary psychology is so wildly popular with researchers is because it is so incredibly inexpensive and time-saving to do evolutionary psychology "studies."

The next step is to write a book about how men are from Mars, women are from Venus - although you will have to come up with an original title to hide the fact that you are serving warmed up pop-psychology from twenty years ago.

Rybicki's blog post "Sexually dimorphic behaviour in human shopping" is a defense against all the criticism he's received for his truly pathetic attempt at humor in Nature entitled Womanspace:
At this point I must digress, and mention, for those who are not aware, the profound differences in strategy between Men Going Shopping and Women Going Shopping. In any general shopping situation, men hunt: that is, they go into a complex environment with a few clear objectives, achieve those, and leave. Women, on the other hand, gather: such that any mission to buy just bread and milk could turn into an extended foraging expedition that also snares a to-die-for pair of discounted shoes; a useful new mop; three sorts of new cook-in sauces; and possibly a selection of frozen fish.

Now many people responded to those who said this is sexist with the standard oh-lighten-up-he's-just-kidding response. Because you know, this is a ridiculous stereotype and nobody would believe it.

But as I believe I've demonstrated on this blog many times, there is no stereotype so ridiculous that some promoter of evolutionary psychology won't claim it's actually an innate, evolved behavior.

Rybicki comments right after the Womanspace article:
I wrote this tongue-in-cheek, but I swear I've witnessed my daughter entering Womanspace recently: she's 16, and has started doing all the same things in supermarkets I've become used to my wife doing.

Like vanishing completely, and reappearing up to half an hour later in a random aisle, and getting all impatient when I plaintively ask where's she's been.

Ah, me....

This pretty much gave the game away as far as I was concerned - it was clear he actually believes in all that just-so evolutionary psychology bullshit.

It didn't take me long to find his blog and get the evidence. Which I shared with a whole bunch of bloggers who had initially criticized Rybicki's piece. I thought they might find it interesting that contrary to what many - including Rybicki - have said in defense of the Womanspace article, what Rybicki really believes about the antiquated gender caricature he presented is that it's funny cause it's true.

mostly trees and bridges

Had a nice walk through Astoria Park the other day and got some fabulous images of trees and bridges.

This is the Tri-borough up front and the Hell Gate bridge in the background.

Under the Hell Gate bridge

Also under the Hell Gate bridge

This one is more about the interplay of trees and bridges and that blue blue sky

One of the pillars of the Hell Gate Bridge

Just the Tri-borough

Every now and then a dog would come walking by. Their people were around, but pretty far ahead or behind the dog, so at first it looked like the dog was having a constitutional on his own.

Here is a close-up.

Here comes another one...


Friday, November 25, 2011

Keen Company blog

Carl Forsman, the artistic director of the Keen Company has a blog here. It's quite interesting especially for anybody involved in writing, producing etc. He puts it all out there. One of my favorite things he's written recently was a complaint about actors' audition material choices:
FIVE PEOPLE auditioned for my Tina Howe comedy with monologues from Neil LaBute plays – he is my least favorite writer and is basically the artistic opposite of Keen Company’s work.
I posted a comment requesting that he discuss this in greater detail.

I can't say I'm surprised he wrote that though. I became interested in his group when I read an article about the Keen Company in the NYTimes, and got to this part:
...Mr. Forsman even described his worldview as humanistic, saying he believes “compassion and generosity are a normal, natural part of existence.”

Mr. Forsman’s attitude is what makes Keen Company, the Off Broadway theater he founded in 2000, one of the most defiant troupes in the city. Though cynicism, dysfunction and sarcasm are often de rigueur in Manhattan culture, he aggressively promotes an alternative. “Keen Company produces sincere plays,” reads the theater’s Web site, “We believe that theater is at its most powerful when texts and productions are generous in spirit and provoke identification.” The company, the site says, is “unafraid of emotional candor, vulnerability and optimism.”
Wow, that was music to my ears. I was right in the middle of my JANE EYRE production when I read this, and JANE is as sincere as it gets. And then I came to this part, which made me a true believer:
And for him beauty is more than just pleasantry. “I’ve thought for a while now that maybe true theatrical rebellion isn’t saying, ‘And then a guy raped a 4-year-old and shot his mom,’” he said. “That’s not radical anymore because we’re so desensitized. Now I think true rebellion is saying anything optimistic or positive about humanity. Hope is radical.”
And then the cherry on top:
He continued: “There’s no question that the cynical viewpoint is viewed as more sophisticated. There’s a real fear, especially among the intelligentsia, of generosity and compassion because they look like the acts of someone who’s naïve.”
That's it - he completely nailed it.

Keen Company doesn't seem to do world premieres so I don't hold out much hope of them doing JULIA & BUDDY - unless it does well for itself for a couple of years - but I think that play - and really most of my work - is very much in the Keen Company spirit.

I sure hope he takes up my suggestion and gets into the whole LaBute v. Keen issue in detail.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

traditional Thanksgiving

It's Thanksgiving and that means dinner at Capsouto Freres in TriBeCa.

Fine dining without pretension at Capsouto Freres:
As the name indicates, the restaurant was founded by three brothers named Capsouto. They came to New York from Alexandria, Egypt, by way of Paris, and brought their French culinary traditions and Old World grace with them. Two remain, Jacques and Samuel. Albert passed away in January at the age of 53. They hunkered down on the corner of Watts and Washington years before Montrachet and other pioneering restaurateurs ventured below Canal. They've remained there by doing pretty much what they've done since 1980. "Nothing's changed much since then," said the Maitre D', "which both works for us and against us."

In the grand, high-ceilinged dining room, hung with many chandeliers and ceiling fans, the scene is the very picture of customer loyalty. Most of the diners have been here many times before. It's a place for long-standing married couples, who dine comfortably over wine and soft conversation; or pairs of marrieds, who use it to renew old bonds and catch up. If a teen comes here, it's because a parent brings them, thinking they're doing the kid a favor. (They are.) The elegant, two-tiered room and tall windows make a very nice backdrop for dinner with the folks. One imagines graduations and engagements are commemorated here. It has that right air of occasion.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

New Yorker parity report - November 28, 2011

Just as I predicted, the parity score is down this week, from the unusual closing-in-on-parity score of 37.39% - this week it's back to 28.57%.

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: -9.35%

November 28, 2011

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

Last week's score
Total writers - 29
male - 18
female - 11
gender parity score: 37.39%

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Poet-bashing police

Excellent but distressing NYTimes article by Robert Haas:
Another of the contingencies that came to my mind was a moment 30 years ago when Ronald Reagan’s administration made it a priority to see to it that people like themselves, the talented, hardworking people who ran the country, got to keep the money they earned. Roosevelt’s New Deal had to be undealt once and for all. A few years earlier, California voters had passed an amendment freezing the property taxes that finance public education and installing a rule that required a two-thirds majority in both houses of the Legislature to raise tax revenues. My father-in-law said to me at the time, “It’s going to take them 50 years to really see the damage they’ve done.” But it took far fewer than 50 years.

My wife bounced nimbly to her feet. I tripped and almost fell over her trying to help her up, and at that moment the deputies in the cordon surged forward and, using their clubs as battering rams, began to hammer at the bodies of the line of students. It was stunning to see. They swung hard into their chests and bellies. Particularly shocking to me — it must be a generational reaction — was that they assaulted both the young men and the young women with the same indiscriminate force. If the students turned away, they pounded their ribs. If they turned further away to escape, they hit them on their spines.
More on Robert Haas

And here is the pepper-spray cop in action:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

mobs in pre-Internet days

They didn't have the convenience of Google bombing back then.

I took down a bunch of posts that were on this blog relating to my own run-in with a Google-bombing smear campaign because I am incorporating them into an article I'm working on for a media outlet. Stay tuned.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Internet mob misrule

Interesting article: Has the Internet Just Become One Giant Lynch Mob?

The author of that 2009 post remarks:
At least back in the day, members of lynch mobs had to get off their fat asses and actually meet the person face to face (or sometimes face to mask) in order to terrorize them. Now all they need is some limited computer abilities and a social network to conduct their dirty work.
It is truly sick. And Tumblr must be held accountable - what these Tumblr people are doing is writing anonymously about what people on Facebook have said - and Facebook makes users provide their real names. The named vs. anonymous balance of power is obvious, and there is an obvious potential for abuse, although no doubt nothing will be done until somebody is killed thanks to lies promoted through an anonymous Tumblr mob.

People have already been threatened and attacked thanks to Internet mobs: From flash mob to lynch mob
The most concerning aspect of mobbing, though, is the way large groups of people can be mobilized to attack a perceived transgressor without their accusers providing any real evidence of their guilt. On the Internet, the mob can be judge and jury.

Although some people are making money through advice on dealing with online smear campaigns.

Internet Defamation Law Blog

Is 80% of Internet porn misogynistic?

I got into a huge Facebook comments fight with Amanda Marcotte Wednesday night over her assertions in her Slate review of "Dirty! Dirty! Dirty!: Of Playboys, Pigs, and Penthouse Paupers—An American Tale of Sex and Wonder":
When these four men founded their magazines, pornography wasn’t a multibillion-dollar enterprise with corporate funding. It was a social stigmatized, semi-criminal industry, and it’s probably no accident that the men who entered it were broken people with serious sexual and emotional baggage.

It’s unfortunate that these men’s attitudes intertwined with their work until sexism became a standard feature of porn, one that outlived the feminist revolution. Just as file folder icons on computers will be around long after real life file folders disappear from offices, the demeaning portrayal of women these men brought to porn will outlive all of them. It’s not necessary to the experience, but without it, the user would now feel that something is off...

It’s interesting to consider what a porn industry started by an entirely different set of men, a set of men who loved women, might have looked like. Would different abbreviations now populate porn sites instead of such current favorites as DP (double penetration) and ATM (ass-to-mouth)? Would what we consider “alternative” porn now simply be the mainstream?

She provides no evidence that Flint, Guccione, Hefner and Goldstein made today's Internet porn anti-woman. Her argument is that those men were misogynists and they made porn, and since "mainstream" porn is also misogynist, it's due to the pornographers of yesteryear.

But there's an even bigger problem here - I have seen no evidence that most Internet porn is misogynistic.

This isn't the first time I've run into claims by some feminists that Internet porn is mostly sexist. Their argument seems to be that if some misogynist porn exists online, we can extrapolate from this that most online porn is misogynist.

There is lots of Internet porn - so much so that I bet that the amount of Internet porn online in a single day is more than all the porn produced in the history of the pre-Internet world - including the vase paintings of the ancient Greeks. Until you've seen a red-figure three-way, you just haven't seen porn.

So to actually do a thorough study of Internet porn would be extremely time-consuming.

But a less time consuming method is simply to do a search/spot check. I did a Google search on "porn." The top 2 hits were the sites pornhub and youporn. So I went to pornhub.

There sure was lots of free porn there - but does anybody on Earth pay for porn anymore? There is so much available for free. You don't even have to click on a video at pornhub - the video ad on the right-hand side of the screen shows explicit sex acts.

Anyway, a quick review of the six videos in the "being watched" category, which also include the user-voted positive ratings percentage.

Video #1 "Wake Up Sex Homemade Video" is just that - a man holding a camera - we see very little of him - enters a bedroom, the woman wakes up and smiles at him, masturbates and then they have vigorous vaginal, anal and oral sex (fellatio only.) It got a 93% positive rating.

Video #2 "Mature MILF steals daughter's boyfriend" is a preview of a full video on naughty america dot com. This one has dialog and an actual storyline and incredibly bad acting - which is the standard for porn. One of the most fun aspects of the movie Boogie Nights was watching good actors suddenly turning into bad actors for the porn film sequences. But back to the video - there is oral sex (fellatio and cunniligus) and vaginal sex. There might be other activities in the full video. In any case the preview got a 90% positive rating. The guy in this is pretty cute but once the sex begins you can't see his face at all, the entire focus is on the "MILF".

Video #3 "Sexy Massage" is girl-on-girl that starts with massage and a rudimentary storyline and then gets into masturbation, crotch grinding and cunnilingus. It got a 95% rating.

Video #4 "Black Compilaction" I assume this is a typo and should be "compilation" - the video shows different black people having vaginal sex and fellatio. Also quite a bit of female exhibitionism. This got a 93% rating. Some dialog but not much story.

Video #5 "Aleska Diamond & Lexington Steel" is named after the two porn stars who appear. This has a story - the woman - played by Aleska, has a Scandinavian-sounding accent. She appears to be living with a sort of hickish white guy. They have a brief conversation and then she goes over to their neighbor's house - played by the Lexington Steel and they have vaginal, anal and oral sex. According to Lexington's Wiki page: "an American award-winning pornographic actor, director and owner of Mercenary Motion Pictures and Black Viking Pictures Inc. He is the first actor to have won the AVN Male Performer of the Year Award three times" and I am not surprised - he is cute - and I usually don't like bald - and a much better actor by far than most. Which, admittedly is a low bar. I don't know why it only got a 91% positive rating. I was disappointed that the white guy didn't show up at the end and confront them, for some dramatic interest, but then interpersonal situational drama isn't what porn is all about.

Video #6 "3 on 1" shows three women taking turns fellating a penis and testicles. We never get to see anything more of the genitalia's owner than a hairy belly. The women are polite about taking turns, so no drama, and the dialog and storyline are minimal. This one was unusual for the close-up POV - since the camera didn't bother showing anything but the penis, the focus was on the three women's faces. So this was the most interesting, cinematically. This got a 93% rating.

And that's the survey of what was being watched when I visited pornhub. None of this strikes me as misogynistic - male-oriented yes, but that in itself isn't evidence of misogyny. Mostly though it was unimaginative and made sex kind of boring since the personal/emotional connection was slighted in favor of the standard mechanics of sex. And this might just be me, but except for ole Lexington Steel the people in these videos seem pretty stupid. I guess stupidity, even more than baldness is a huge turn-off for me.

But the fact that most porn is crap should surprise noone - why should porn alone be exempt from Sturgeon's Law? ("90% of everything is crap")

Friday, November 18, 2011

soap opera hair

I do so enjoy making hair care professionals happy. I walked into the salon with the hair of evil Thursday evening and after the good gentleman hairdresser finished beating the devil out of it he surveyed his work and with great self-satisfaction declared it "soap opera hair."

But it will be back to evil tomorrow...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Free Will again

Yet another NYTimes article about Free Will.

There are 15 pages of comments for this article and I'm just too damn lazy to go through them all and see if anybody else saw a huge problem with this assertion by Eddy Namias:
Our brains are the most complexly organized things in the known universe, just the sort of thing that could eventually make sense of why each of us is unique, why we are conscious creatures and why humans have abilities to comprehend, converse, and create that go well beyond the precursors of these abilities in other animals. Neuroscientific discoveries over the next century will uncover how consciousness and thinking work the way they do because our complex brains work the way they do.
Our brains are the most complexly organized things in the known universe? According to whom - our brains? I mean he didn't even say "organic" or "living" - just "things." Since a thing can be defined as anything - a black hole, the Internet, human culture (which could include brains as a sub-set); the ecosystem - which could also include brains as a sub-set), it seems very easy to dispute

Apparently this claim is a very popular one, enough to be disputed on Snopes. I'd never heard this claim before, nor had I ever heard of The Singularity before. That is:
Many of the most recognized writers on the singularity, such as Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil, define the concept in terms of the technological creation of superintelligence, and argue that it is difficult or impossible for present-day humans to predict what a post-singularity world would be like, due to the difficulty of imagining the intentions and capabilities of superintelligent entities.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

New Yorker Parity Report - November 21, 2011

Well the New Yorker is getting into the almost-parity range this week! Of course it is the Food Issue - of the 12 food-related pieces, 7, are by women. This is going to skew the parity average somewhat - but I have every confidence that the rate will be down next 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: +8.82%

November 21, 2011

Total writers - 29
male - 18
female - 11
gender parity score: 37.39%

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

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Empire Strikes Back

Police Clear Zuccotti Park of Protesters
Hundreds of New York City police officers cleared Zuccotti Park of the Occupy Wall Street protesters early Tuesday, arresting dozens of people there after warning them that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” before the morning and that any demonstrator who did not leave would be arrested.

The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!” as officers began moving in and tearing down tents. The protesters rallied around an area known as the kitchen, near the middle of the park and began building barricades with tables and pieces of scrap wood.

more famous friends

Carolyn Paine, who was in my MISTRESS ILSA, can be seen as a soccer mom online here:

And promises she'll be showing up on TV in February.

And another MI cast member, Renee Cole, is all over the place doing her full-time gig as a Lady Gaga impersonator and will be seen on Bravo next season. Read all about her in this article A day in the life with Brooklyn's Lady Gaga.

Monday, November 14, 2011

go Randy Rainbow

Well Randy Rainbow sure has come up in the world since he performed in the May 2005 NYCPlaywrights Fundraiser. I have a video clip of that somewhere. He performed in the play of uber cutie Brett Holland. And now he's drunk-dialing Rick Perry! (Does anybody dial anymore?)

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Six Questions for Arthur Schopenhauer

I find this article Six Questions for Arthur Schopenhauer quite entertaining, although I think the impersonation of Schopenhauer by author Scott Horton doesn't quite have the angst of my Schopenhauer...
3. During your life you said a lot of very unkind things about the Jews. Some say that you were one of the enablers who made rank anti-semitism respectable, paving the way for the holocaust. Considering what happened, do you regret having made some of those harsh statements?

Of course. My negative comments on Judaism were directed towards a religious-philosophical system which—from my perspective—was excessively materialistic. But I made some very unfortunate statements, which reflect the fact that I am by nature something of a misanthrope. Still, perhaps you have lost sight of the fact that there is one nation of which I am, and always was, far more critical: the Germans. They fill themselves with self-importance, with notions of exceptionalism. They sputter polysyllables that they rarely in fact understand; indeed they need all those syllables just to give themselves time to think, because their brains work so slowly. Their nationalism is the worst of all European nationalisms. My father said, back when the Prussians marched into Danzig, that this German nationalism will be the ruin of all of us. He was right, of course. In the meantime, though, the Germans have been tamed. They’re good Europeans.

It finally occurred to me in the most recent revision of JULIA & BUDDY to address what some perceive as Schopenhauer's anti-Semitism. I have Julia respond to that perception by making the same point as this article makes.

But in response to charges of misogyny against Schopenhauer Julia says: "If you ruled out every great man in history on the basis of misogyny, you wouldn’t have any left." I think this is a funny tossed-off line, although it has yet failed to get a laugh in any reading. And actually it's a bit unfair to good old John Stuart Mill, a contemporary of Schopenhauer. Unlike Schopenhauer, Mill was by all accounts a genial and egalitarian soul, who did some important work in the development of the scientific method and who wrote The Subjection of Women. It is an important early feminist essay and about a hundred years before its time, or as the Wiki article states: "At the time it was published in 1869, this essay was an affront to European conventional norms of views on the status of men and women." The essay The Subjection of Women can be read here.

And he also practiced what he preached - after 21 years of friendship with Harriet Taylor they married when she became a widow and continued their intellectual collaboration until Taylor's death. If there's any "great man" in history who should be revered, it's John Stuart Mill.

I actually did put in a plug for Mill in several versions of the script, but eventually realized I had to leave it out, it was breaking up the flow of the dialog. Oh well... maybe I'll do a play about Mill one of these days.

But back to prickly old Arthur S - as with the anti-Semitic remarks, Schopenhauer's misogynistic remarks were tempered by more positive things he said later about women.

I think Schopenhauer is one of the greatest philosophers, due to his insights about the Will, and the importance of art, but it's hard to warm up to him because of his prickly, cranky nature. But it's just those attributes that make him so much fun to portray on stage.

Very few people have any idea who Schopenhauer is, but those who do know might well believe he was a rampaging anti-Semite. The discussion above clarifies things a bit - really Schopenhauer's biggest beef was with the "materialistic" monotheistic religions of which Judaism was just one. Although certainly Schopenhauer showed signs of low-level standard anti-Semitism that was I'm sure pretty typical of his time.

But this article doesn't even mention Hegel. He does make some unflattering remarks about his contemporaries: ...and then we have that scoundrel Fichte who made a very bad pass at the same thing, together with Schleiermacher, who got off to a decent start but went sour. But making Schopenhauer rant against Hegel was the best fun in that section of my play.

And my absolute most favorite part of this article is in the intro:
The transcription was complicated a couple of times due to the vexatious barking of his poodle, “Butz.”
In the Schopenhauer section of my play, I have it end when we hear the barking of Schopenhauer's poodle "Atma" and he has to take him out for his walk. I put that into the play long before I read this article so it's funny that both Horton and I had the same thought about mentioning the poodle. I knew Schopenhauer also had a poodle named "Butz" - but although Butz is a funnier-sounding name than Atma, it's a bit too much, especially in English, to use in the context of the play. And Butz, I suspect, doesn't have a Brahminic meaning as Atma does.

I find it so poignant that isolated lonely old Schopenhauer refers to his pet as "World Soul." Here is a portrait of Schopenhauer from the book Life of Arthur Schopenhauer:
About four o'clock Schopenhauer, still in dress-coat (of an unchanging fashion) and white neckcloth, started for a " constitutional." By the help of description we can picture the stout, broad-shouldered, and rather undersized old gentleman, with beardless chin (in later life, he had come to think beards indecent), over-full mouth, ample and furrowed brow, bright blue eyes, deep-set and widely parted by a broad nose tending to aquiline, and with the suspicious look of the partially deaf. In these strolls his regular companion was a poodle, one of a succession (varying in their colour) which had shared his room and board since student-days at Gottingen. About the year 1840 and later it was a white one, and went, as special favourite, by the name Atma (the world-soul of the Brahmins); from 1850 to his death, a brown poodle, called Butz. Of this dog he was very fond, noting its looks and movements with philosophic eye, and so attentive to its wants, that if, for example, a regimental band passed the house, he would get up in the midst of an earnest conversation, in order to put the seat by the window in a convenient position for his little friend to gaze out. The children of the neighbourhood soon came to know the poodle, and when they came home from their play on the Main-Quai they would, among their other experiences, recount to their parents how they had seen "young Schopenhauer" sitting at his window.

I learned something valuable from this article - I had Julia address Schopenhauer as "Herr" but clearly the proper way to address him is "Professor Doktor Schopenhauer."