- The Last Outpost: This episode is one of the more comic episodes. One of the themes that re-surfaces here, which was actually present in Code of Honor is about the role of women in society. In Code of Honor, the alien race is constantly shocked that Lieutenant Yar is given a position of authority and power. The Last Outpost one-ups that sentiment by providing the Ferengi, who are constantly professing a deep moral abhorrence to the idea that women are permitted to wear clothes.Another theme comes up: the relationship between the extremely powerful (almost godlike) and the definition of human. A dead planet (the Last Outpost) is being protected by an outdated computer defense program that wipes out barbarian races on sight. But mankind passes on the chance to destroy the Ferengi, instead teaming up with them to find their way out of trouble, and that attracts the attention of the god-like caretaker, who realizes they have potential. Oh, and the god-like caretake apparently really likes Sun-Tsu.
This care-taking omniscience testing man-kind is the underlying thesis of the show -- which, by the way, is not that far with the core plot of Babylon 5. What is mankind, and what will it do when its science reaches the point that they are like gods? That's why the show opens with Q -- the central organizer of this theme. Unlike Babylon 5, though, it's a theme, not a plot.
So, ticking off two boxes: mankind as the developing messiah, and a repeated attention to the future as having really good equality between men and women.
- Where No Man Has Gone Before: A liar and a braggart who is commonly believed to be the greatest living warp physicist tries a calibration test of the engines, and they wind up basically way, way, way too far away from anywhere they recognize. (Voyager fans are pretty familiar with this -- this is the premise of their series).The braggart is actually being fed data by a mysterious creature named The Traveller, who is basically a tourist who's looking around at our reality. In other words, another nearly-omnipotent being a little bit blind to their impact on lesser creatures. The rights of the powerful over the less powerful is another aspect of this general premise.It comes up frequently in the form of the "Prime Directive," a rule that (somewhat ambiguously) forbids Star Fleet from messing with "less advanced" (more "primitive") species. But they're always being messed around with by more advanced creatures.
The Traveller, unlike Q, realizes his mistake, and expends his energy to get them home. In the process, though, he isolates Wesley Crusher (a trope namer) as being a messiah figure -- the first one among the crew who will eventually transcend this reality with his genius.
What makes not-our-reality different from this one? It's a place where thought becomes reality -- the end point of science and of power. It's the power that Q offers Riker. The power is pure thought.
- Lonely Among Us: The flip-side of the "powerful advanced life-form" is the "powerless, desperate energy/crystalline being." In this one, it's an energy being that gets caught in the USS Enterprise when it passes through a nebula. It really just wants to go home, so it takes over various people on the crew to try and get them to drive the ship home.The point at which "something" becomes "something alive" is pretty crucial to understanding what makes us ourselves. For Star Trek, that line appears to be defined around "intentionality." It comes up over and over again: the moment where they realize that the energy is trying to get home. It is clearly alive.
One of the things that I appreciate about The Next Generation is the capacity of this crew's ability to forgive. In The Original Series, there was a habit of it being an "us-versus-them" battle. A group of creatures in one TOS episode try to take over the crew because their race has nearly died out and they need host bodies to survive in. TNG would probably tackle this by trying to find a way -- maybe in the holodeck -- that they could survive without needing the crew's bodies. In TOS Captain Kirk swings out an old "well we're not going to suffer for their mistakes" and at the end, everyone stands there with frowny faces unhappy about the end of a race.
In this episode, once they realize the helplessness of the energy creature, it's clear that they will have to go back to the nebula and reunite it. This choice is easy this time, but when the same choice comes up later, they react differently.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Sunday, December 12, 2010
Once upon a time there was a boy and his mother who lived in a beautiful old house in the woods. The mother so loved her son and the light he brought into her home, but knew she could not keep him close forever. And so, at the behest of his mother, the boy carved her objects out of wood so that she could keep reminders of his warmth and beauty forever. The more the boy carved, the more his mother craved for her collection, until one night the boy's most beautiful creation came to life...Welcome citizens! to the Organs of State Network of Concerned Parents’ first ChildWorks assembly. This season is a celebration of the State’s oldest folklore, beginning with THE STORY OF THE CHISEL BOY presented in association with Organs of State and the Organs of State Center for the Development of Children.15 December - 19 December @ 8 PM+ 19 December @ 3 PM+ join us 17 December @ 9:30 PM for the Organs of State sponsored "Birthday Party" in the venue. OPEN BAR! with Organs of State's famous brew: the McCallister!General AdmissionShow.............................................$15Show + Friday Party................$20Citizen AdmissionShow............................................$10Show + Friday Party................$15Tickets are at the door or online at
Friday, December 10, 2010
Thursday, December 9, 2010
- Encounter at Farpoint: Man, it's tough watching a show get off the ground. There's so much about this episode that's clunky and awkward that comes off so much better later. Q is over-theatric and isn't in his smooth, omnipotent zone that makes him one of my favorite parts of the later show; Data talks less like Data and more like that robot from KOTOR; the moralism at the end is heavy-handed even by Star Trek standards.The thrust of the episode is that, in a new area of space, Q (an apparently omnipotent, all-powerful being) is going to put Mankind on trial, in the form of putting Captain Picard and the crew online. He is basically asking, "Given the incredible pain and destruction that 'savage' humans cause, wouldn't it be better if they didn't exist?" In order to prove mankind's worthiness, Picard has to unravel the mystery of Farpoint station, and ignore the urge to leap to violence in favor of understanding and caring.Q, and the basic moral question he poses, is effective even in this early, still-shaky episode. The plot device of how mankind proves its innocence is kind of hokey, but Q's role in it becomes ambiguous -- is he really out to destroy mankind, or is he giving them the opportunity to prove themselves? It's a great way to set out a mystery that Q continues to pose as he returns later in the series.
- The Naked Now: Yeah, it's basically fan-service, which is pretty incredible considering as it's the second bloody episode. Plot: everyone gets drunk (I'm not kidding). Data has sex with Lieutenant Yar (my least favorite, and thusly edited out, character), Dr. Crusher tries to seduce Picard -- in fact, the image of sexuality in this episode is really, really disturbing. Lieutenant Yar's chat-up line is basically, "I used to be raped a lot as a child, please treat me gently!" whereas Dr. Crusher tries desperately to think clearly but can't because she's drunk and her lady-parts are lonely.Also, the fanbase alienating Wesley Crusher is, as always, on screen too much.
- Code of Honor: I made it past the slight sexism and general sex-weirdness of the last episode, but the racism in this episode is really, really difficult to get past. Plot: a less-advanced-than-Starfleet race who happen to all be black (Picard comments on how they're "reminiscent of an ancient Earth situation), who are very violent but governed by an obtuse and apparently arbitrary set of honor-based rituals, claim Yar as their property, because in their society women own the land but men own the women. At one point, the chief of the aliens basically says, "We protect ourselves in a cloak of honor," when talking about manipulating the seemingly stupid women.At the end, women get the better of men, but still, the portrayal of an aggressive, honor-based tribal feudal system populated by black people who are directly compared to ancient earth cultures...
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Monday, December 6, 2010
Sunday, December 5, 2010
If we, the Web’s users, allow these and other trends to proceed unchecked, the Web could be broken into fragmented islands. We could lose the freedom to connect with whichever Web sites we want. The ill effects could extend to smartphones and pads, which are also portals to the extensive information that the Web provides.Why should you care? Because the Web is yours. It is a public resource on which you, your business, your community and your government depend. The Web is also vital to democracy, a communications channel that makes possible a continuous worldwide conversation. The Web is now more critical to free speech than any other medium. It brings principles established in the U.S. Constitution, the British Magna Carta and other important documents into the network age: freedom from being snooped on, filtered, censored and disconnected.
Diversity of participation matters because participation in the arts is a form of expression and, here in the west's liberal democracies, we take it as read that the state should limit expression as little as possible and encourage it as much as possible. It seems silly to have to say this, but it's worth noting here because when we talk about copyright, we're not just talking about who pays how much to get access to which art, we're talking about a regulation that has the power to midwife, or strangle, enormous amounts of expressive speech.Here's something else copyright can't and won't do and doesn't do: deliver a market where creators (or investors) set a price for creative works, and audiences buy those works or don't, letting the best float to the top in a pure and free marketplace. Copyright has never really worked like this, and it certainly doesn't work like this today.
Lots of people felt alienated from The Walking Dead Roundtable because they weren't watching the show. I dig it. But-- while those posts were often reviews of specific episodes-- they still contained all sorts of interesting ideas about storytelling. There were posts about gender politics in mass entertainment, about how post-apocalyptic narratives work, about why we tell zombie stories, about "genre" entertainment vs. "serious" entertainment and the signals that each sends off and more. The issues raised by the show aren't confined to the show, in other words, even if the way the frame that contained those issues was constructed made people less interested in them.... I hope you won't skip [the upcoming Buffy Binge]. If you do, you'll be missing out on a really smart writer tackling a piece of popular entertainment through a short list of concerns that she's an expert on, and using that show as a springboard for a discussion of how narrative and storytelling works in different formats. In other words, you could learn something, and it'll be fun. Not bad for a blog.
What on earth ever happened to encouraging audiences to pay attention to things that may be different from the things they were expecting?
By late afternoon Eastern time, more than 200 had answered the call, setting up "mirror" sites, many of them with the name "wikileaks" appended to their Web addresses. They organized themselves organically using the Twitter hashtag #imwikileaks, in a virtual show of solidarity reminiscent of the movie V is for Vendetta. In that 2005 film, a Guy-Fawkes masked vigilantee inspires thousands of Londoners to march on the Parliament similarly disguised -- while it blows up in front of their eyes. Presumably, many of these people believe they are facing the same sort of tyranny that V, the film's protagonist, fought against.
Saturday, December 4, 2010
Thursday, December 2, 2010
Martin sat down at the Y (which is famous for its lecture series and other cultural events) the other night for an hour-long chat with interviewer Deborah Solomon. The discussion apparently displeased some of the people in the audience by focusing too much on art, which forms the backdrop for his new novel, An Object Of Beauty.Midway through the interview, a Y representative brought a note to Solomon — on stage! — telling her to talk more about his career. Presumably, she was supposed to ask more stuff about what it was like making Three Amigos and The Jerk. In other words, stop talking about the things people aren't used to hearing Steve Martin talk about, and get back to having him answer questions people could easily find the answers to if they cared to use Google. (Martin has said this redirection was the result of real-time e-mails coming from people watching on closed-circuit TV; the Y apparently hasn't confirmed that.)
But the way the Y responded was stunning. Not only did it chastise and undermine an interviewer and a guest in the middle of a live event, but the next day, it offered everyone who was there a full refund in the form of a credit toward a future event. Not because the lights went out, and not because there was an outburst of profanity that was winding up on YouTube or anything of that nature. No, closest the Y came to explaining what substantively motivated the refund (other than the very fact of people complaining) was, "We planned for a more comprehensive discussion."When you go to hear someone speak, and you have no guarantee of the agenda, you do not get your money back because you didn't like the subject areas. Listening to a human being speak and being put out that you didn't get what you ordered as if you've gone to KFC and gotten Original instead of Extra Crispy is ridiculous, risk-averse, and (coincidentally) deeply chicken-hearted behavior.It is exactly — exactly — like demanding your money back because Elton John didn't play "Rocket Man." Too bad, so sad. Nobody promised you the cookie-cutter experience that every other audience seeing every other similar event has ever seen. When you see an artist perform — and even more so when you hear an artist interviewed — there is no guarantee of the content; that's the exact point of going. Why would you go to hear someone speak if you already knew what he was going to say? If you want to read about how Steve Martin feels about acting and comedy, couldn't you find several looseleaf binders full of that stuff? The guy is not a recluse.What on earth ever happened to encouraging audiences to pay attention to things that may be different from the things they were expecting?
What on earth ever happened to encouraging audiences to pay attention to things that may be different from the things they were expecting?
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
You know what they have in common? They both rely on their review snippets to sell themselves.
Am I the only one who hates it when something tells me how good it is? I think both ads would be far more effective if you just showed your show in all its flying colors. If you can't make it look good without telling people it's good, try harder. Or quit.
(Although that being said, the Under the Radar trailer does actually look cool).
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Instead, we have a Right Wing party that exploded the deficit and wrecked our economy teaming up with the "centrists" who have made it more and more unfair and deregulated over the last twenty years to call on the most vulnerable members of our society to "Sacrifice." And indeed, the fetishization of "sacrifice," as some kind of inherently Good and Noble thing is in the air (et tu, Culturefuture? A GS-1 federal government employee makes under $20,000 a year unless they live in one of a handful of cities.)
I was not hugely happy to hear about the federal pay freeze this week, because I'm not convinced that it would have much of an impact, nor do I think that it's particularly just. After all, the people who made the poor decisions are voters, and the people who are losing out are federal employees.
If we can't get those who should make sacrifices to make them, let's start by having those who are willing. Hopefully shame is contagious.
Monday, November 29, 2010
I don't work for government for the money. I do it to make a difference. Will freezing my pay hurt my family a bit? It sure will...but that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make for my country. It's a sacrifice I've always made.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Rather than talk about male fantasy wish fulfillment blah blah blah, I'm going to lay out a scenario that would have me leave the theatre feeling like I saw something truly worthwhile. James would see where this is going.For about the first half, the movie will be this trope. But just at the moment when the female lead would fall for the male lead's roguish charm, things will take a different turn and start going wrong. Horribly, horribly wrong.
1. Ideas don't come from watching television.
20. Ideas don't need a passport, and often cross borders (of all kinds) with impunity.
Blerg. I am not sure I can put into words how fed up I am by the whole "the guy's an asshole, but the woman sees something in him and through fucking him a lot, redeems him" thing. And furthermore, I'm a bit fed up by male critics not realizing that this is blatant wish-fulfillment for male audiences . At least reviewers seem to have figured out that Anne Hathaway's character (a terminally-ill redeemer who likes to fuck a lot but might not want to be in love who changes Jake Gyllenhaal for the better) is a cardboard construct.Back when the second Twilight film came out, there was a lot of talk about the fantasy that those movies sell young women. Bella is, essentially, a character without qualities, entirely passive, uninteresting and devoid of personality who men throw themselves at because it turns out she has some kind of secret power that fascinates them. This is the man-child equivalent of that fantasy, and I'm sick of watching it. It's perfectly possible to construct a romantic comedy (or weepy, for that matter) without it. Furthermore, while I think this is meant to be an exaggeration of something many of us feel-- that we are improved, and to some extent redeemed, by our successful relationships-- this trope lacks even the vaguest whiff of actual truthful perceptiveness about relationships, or life, or men and women.
- One page = one minute (which is a good rule of thumb)
- One play = one hundred and twenty minutes with an act break (wrong.)
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
I've had it with Sondheim -- or rather with Sondheimania. There's been so many events celebrating his 80th birthday this year that the cumulative effect is now the opposite of the desired one. Next in the 80th-bash line: The New York Pops' concert tomorrow evening at Carnegie Hall. This may be the last for the year, but I'm not holding my breath....Personally I'll be happy if I don't hear or read the name "Sondheim" for the next year at least.
Meanwhile, perhaps it's also time to say that he may be a better lyricist than a composer and that he's benefited from working with brilliant arrangers. I would even go as far as saying that he (unwittingly) contributed to the decline of the musical by making his emulators think all songs must be "integrated" in the book. No more catchy stand-alone numbers for us rubes! Unfortunately, 99% of said emulators aren't as gifted as their hero -- not to mention that Sondheim has written quite a few stand-alone standards himself.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Thursday, November 18, 2010
This chart is great, simply because it is quite a fantastic array of personal failings.
- Man people over 65 hate "Darwinists."
- Who are these people who disagree with this sentence: "If your party nominated a generally well-qualified person would you consider voting for this person if you learned that they are competent"?
- People would prefer someone be violent than improperly claim government hand-outs. Okay.
- Atheist = Muslim = Scientologist. Great.
I’m not sure that it’s a good idea to blithely accept Punchdrunk’s formal or informal relationship with Stella Artois as an example of new funding sources. Stella Artois is a corporation, and a too-easy acceptance of an artistic endeavor’s partnership with a corporation is a dangerous thing, though of course many theatres in both the UK and the US already maintain these partnerships (Travelex’s relationship with the NT and Roundabout’s relationship with American Airlines are just two examples).One needs to be careful whom one beds down with. The ethics of corporations specifically seem to be at loggerheads with the ethics of those who create theatre, and though it’s nice to have the money one must look at the source.
We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous.
Exxon Mobile, which has spilled at least 17 million gallons of oil from its refinery in and around Newtown Creek over the years, agreed to pay $25 million to settle a long-standing environmental suit; the settlement follows the creek's recent addition to the list of Superfund sites, a process that could last up to ten years and cost as much as $500 million. $19.5 million of the settlement will pay for projects to benefit the Greenpoint community, selected through community input.
- If the damage is $500 million, why do we only get $25 million?
- If the damage is $500 million, why is only $5.5 million going to the spill itself?
The Supreme Court under the leadership of Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. is often criticized for issuing sweeping and politically polarized decisions. But there is an emerging parallel critique as well, this one concerned with the quality of the court’s judicial craftsmanship.
In decisions on questions great and small, the court often provides only limited or ambiguous guidance to lower courts.
And it increasingly does so at enormous length.
I think if you look at the universally most disliked rulings of the last decade (Citizens United and Gonzales v. Raich) you'll notice that both of them had huge down-wind effects that the Court did not seem interested in. Of course, you could argue that if a Supreme Court ruling is controversial, it's almost always because it had huge down-wind effects that the Court either didn't expect or didn't care to delve into.
But in those cases, little thought seems to have been put into the world post-decision. Particularly Gonzales v. Raich, where the Court ruled that marijuana could be illegal federally but legal on a state or local level, was inconsistent to the point of incoherence.
The point of all this is that moderate is not the same as consensus, and both are not the same as good jurisprudence. The ability of the Court to communicate the impact of its decisions, and create guidelines for the world after the ruling is crucial.
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Mr. Calello also helped devise a novel plan of paying bankers’ bonuses with the firm’s toxic assets that were clogging the bank’s balance sheet. The plan, which was controversial when it was announced, has been largely successful as assets, like mortgage-backed securities and corporate loans, have increased in value.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
As for its sensuality,–& it may turn out to be less sensual than it appeared–I do not so much wish that those parts were not written, as that men & women were so pure that they could read them without harm, that is, without understanding them. ...Of course Walt Whitman can communicate to us no experience, and if we are shocked, whose experience is it that we are reminded of?
Friday, November 12, 2010
The sad part is that my first response was jealousy: the British have always had more public funding than we've had -- now they're doing better than us at corporate support?
But really, this is just a symbol of the relationship the arts have today with alcohol. I've joked about it before, but the young theater companies I know are basically in the debt of the alcohol industry. We get people to come to our fundraisers through the lure of alcohol, among other things.
Right now, one of my company's projects is to try and build a relationship with an alcohol distributor, to see if we can get discounts on alcohol for fundraising purposes. And this is not an uncommon thing. One of my favorite art groups, Fresh Ground Pepper, has kept its commitment to not charging tickets largely through its sale of alcohol -- and here I am jealous that they've got the hook-up!
So in a way, it's refreshing to see Punchdrunk dive full in to alcohol patronage. If Stella Artois or Sixpoint Brewery want to patronize the arts, let them! It's nice to hear a company think that art could benefit them. Most companies wouldn't want to be associated with theater if it was dead. Stella Artois might be getting some brand association with Punchdrunk, but Punchdrunk is getting some brand association from Stella Artois as well.
And what has a better brand, theater or alcohol?