Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Speak Up!

You can read more HERE.

If you're not worried about keeping the internet democratic - keeping it open to new voices, unpopular opinions, and innovation - you should be.

The "fast lane" idea that Big Business is pushing, the idea of charging tolls to get information to you (on your machine through services you pay for) means that Little Guys will be seated at the back of the info-bus.  This blog, for instance, will be walking behind the bus and will take FOREVER to load.  So will the plucky start-up company's website, your family photos, or the whistle-blower's blog.  These modest sources seem just as important to me as getting reruns of Lost, but wealthy sites like Big Media's will load in a flash because they can afford to pay for special treatment.

Special treatment because of wealth is becoming THE problem in American democracy.

The internet is - today - one of the few places where people outside of wealth and power can have an equal voice.  Let's keep it that way!

Today is your last chance to let the FCC know what you think of Big Biz buying the internet.
Comment to the FCC HERE.

UPDATE: at 12:30pm  The FCC have gotten so many comments that their website has crashed!  Good going!  If you haven't weighed in yet, be sure to try back again later.

UPDATE #2: on 7/16/14  Because of the site crash due to lotso comments, the deadline for comments has been extended.  Now's your chance to ask for a Fair and Neutral 'Net!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Muse

I just found a funny - and quite true - video riff by Anna Akana on The Muses's role in your creativity:

"Your Inner Muse"

Oh, that Muse...  never around when you want her.  HERE's a Squidoo page I put together on creativity - it goes with the illustration below.

What else is going on?

I've read my next Circle Theatre script: Stella and Lou and am meeting the director soon to discuss the set design.  I've recently met with the folks at Fun House Theatre and Film about that next show, Stiff, which the amazing Jeff Swearingen is writing.

And I'm finishing up the first draft of my next theater book, The Green eBook of Sustainable Theater.  There will (eventually) be a paperback edition too... which I guess I'll have to title The Green Recycled-Paper-Book of Sustainable Theater?  I tell ya, the research for this is teaching me waaaaay more than I thought I knew about the topic.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Net Neutrality

Here's the best (and prettiest) explanation I've found of why keeping the internet neutral is so important, a comic created by Michael Goodwin at Economix Comix with a very clear discussion.  HERE.

And the best part?

Comic by Michael Goodwin - found at BoingBoing

Please let the FCC know that not only would you like your Netflix films to stream properly, but you also think your internet provider should not be able to slow - or censor - your on-line access to LOLcats or political speech or free religious association or, you know, all that First Amendment stuff...

The Fourth of July was only a couple days ago.  Remember?  The internet means more than music videos just like the 4th's freedom means more than annual hot dogs on the grill.

Give the FCC your opinion HERE.  (Net neutrality is proceeding 14-28, right at the top of the list.)

Only a few days left.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Eat Cake!

I've been diving into the computer rabbit hole lately.

On the serious side, I'm trying to better my tech-skills, getting more fluent in photo manipulation and 3D drawing, with an AutoCAD course starting soon.  But on the more playful side, I've been discovering the joys of Portal and enlarging my creative-mode Minecraft kingdom, Blocksterdam.

Travel poster based on Minecraft image - believed fair "adaptive" use

Minecraft in creative mode is pure designer catnip!  I don't care much about the survival-mode monsters or the finicky crafting really, but I love the sandbox freedom to build.  My biggest project - an entire far-flung kingdom with trade routes by boat, rail, road, and even balloon - was sparked by a game update (in a supposedly survival type game be this noted!)... a game update that included adding colored glass and four kinds of tulips.

My first response was to help build a cathedral with stained glass windows.  Natch.

My second was to build Blocksterdam, my Venice of the West.  Here dueling tulip princes wage trade wars between themselves at home among the quaint canals of Old Blocksterdam and, abroad, against the Cactus King, the Rose King (war of the roses?), and the nefarious Poppy Cartel.

Portal?  Oh, I'm eatin' my cake.  * Polishes fingernails on shirt, looking down all humble, humming. * "Anyway, this cake is great.  It's so delicious and moist.

Look at me still talking when there's Science designing to do!"

Gotta script to read.

Monday, June 23, 2014


I just read a very interesting blog post by writer Patricia C. Wrede titled "Six Things I Wish I'd Known."  As I've discovered before, writers writing about the act of writing have a knack of hitting on issues that apply to any other creative field.  (And they're so darn articulate about it too!)

In this case it was the element of jealousy.

Of other writers, designers, creators.  Theater is famously rife with this green-eyed problem.  Actors, poor dears, are so bad at pretending they're not envious.

Ha!  Designers feel the exact same poisonous stew of envy and competition.  There's always someone else who gets the show you wanted or the award you think you should have won or - equally unsettling -  you suspect that you don't deserve the show or award as much as they do.  It really can be a poisonous snake.

Public domain image

The only thing to do is to do your very best work and then to mutter your mantra to your snakey self.  For me it's, "I'm in this for the design."  (Not the rewards, fame, popularity, whatever.)  "I'm in this for the design."  Perhaps others are in it for the poor pay or long hours, but I find the reminder that what I want is just the work to be very soothing.

Do it for the work.

Read Ms. Wrede's thoughtful post HERE.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Quote of the Day

 “Till of late years England was as free from Criticks, as it is from Wolves.”
-  Thomas Rymer, 1674

Isn't that lovely?  An Edenic England.  So I suppose the Criticks arrived here in the States with the Mayflower?

Now (having poked the critics with that stick - was that wise?), come on out and judge for yourself: Circle Theatre's production of Hope and Gravity opened last night!

Public domain image from wpclipart.com

It's a minimal set and, I hope, an "ethereal" one... with an elevator I'm particularly proud of.  (And you wouldn't believe how long something so simple took to do.)

Thursday, June 12, 2014

HighBrow? or Lowbrow?

One of the funnest... most fun?  okay, most giddy! joys of being a theater designer is getting to play riffs on the "class" game.  For any show where you determine the look of a character's environment, you get to peg them into their little round or square hole in society's Game of Class.

(America class-less?  Hardly.)

Choosing just the right detail or set dressing to illustrate the character's situation and aspirations is fun.

So today's little internet gem (thanks BoingBoing) is a 1949 chart from Life magazine that spreadsheets and illustrates the differences in taste between High-Brow, Upper and Lower Middle-brow, and Low-Brow.  See it big n' beautiful HERE.

1942 Life magazine chart of  The Good Life, by social/intellectual status level

Hilarious.  And, as far as I can judge, pretty darn accurate.  I know that in the 1920s the U.S. Census Bureau had a similar sort of checklist that helped workers peg families into their status-holes - so many points for books in the parlor, more points for a piano, a rug, etc.  My favorite book to discuss these matters - from the 1980s - is Home Psych, by Joan Kron.  (Read an excerpt, "The Semiotics of Home Decor" HERE.)

So what would today's status/class markers be?

Things - objects - are easier come by nowadays than in the past, but I'm pretty sure owning  "real" art would still  be one marker of high-brow-ness...  So would be reading high-toned literature.  What else?

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Reset the Net

It's been a year since Edward Snowden's revelations about how government spies spy on us all... and, although there is a lively debate going on, the U.S. government has still not restrained the spooks to within Constitutional limits.  The recent USA Freedom Act voted for in the House is a much-weakened version of a not-tough-enough-to-start-with piece of legislation.  A farce, basically.  Cream pies any minute!

Unless it's very well done, I'm not that fond of farce on stage...

I'm less fond of farcical spy-romping in my medical records, my finances, or my personal and professional life.  Our whole lives are online or over cell phones these days.

But we don't have to wait for politicians to get their act together.

A photo from the farce Too Many Cooks at Circle Theatre
See the guy under the counter listening?  

We can MAKE the internet more private.  Ourselves.  And we can demand more security from providers and websites.  I find the TV remote challenging, but even I know the most basic security move we all need to take:

The first step - right now! - choose different passwords for each website and choose stronger passwords.

"123456" is no good.  Neither is "abcdef."  "Letmein" or your address or your dog's name are just lame.  Choose a long string - 12 digits is good - and make those a mix of upper and lower case letters plus numbers and, for extra toughness, some punctuation.  Make passwords random!

But you can't remember such a long random string.  So you'll either need to write this down somewhere very secure indeed, or need to post it to a secure "lockbox" kind of internet service (which makes me nervous), or make your "random" string actually a mnemonic that you CAN remember... but that no one else can guess.

Password strength is the first layer of protection against identity theft and peeping government.

Read BoingBoing's good article on net security HERE to learn much much more.

Let's keep the eavesdropping on stage, huh?  Where it has a chance of being funny.