# 01 Aug 2008, 06:50PM: Noooo:
Today we watched I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry again, because people tried and disliked Perfume and the original Night of the Living Dead. My Connie Willis novel, Lincoln's Dreams, disappointed mightily; it would have been fine as fifteen pages instead of two hundred. I desperately skimmed issues of O: The Oprah Magazine, Family Circle, National Geographic Adventure, the AARP magazine, the magazine for US radiologic technicians, and Antiques. Thank God for the Mad I bought on the way in.
# 03 Aug 2008, 10:33PM: Log:
L. Sprague de Camp's entertaining Lest Darkness Fall moves really fast. This is probably true even if you haven't just read a 900-page Neal Stephenson novel. I nearly mentioned Lest Darkness Fall in my brain candy recommendations to danah boyd, but fear it's not trashy enough.
William Ball's A Sense of Direction is fantastic and as soon as I return it to the library you should check it out. As I suspected, it has a mix of great inside baseball on directing plays (e.g., three pages on how to structure and practice curtain calls so that actors don't get their egos in a twist) and transferable advice on managing creative folk.
We learn in threes. The first step of learning is discovering; the second step of learning is testing; and the third step of learning is pattern-setting.
The actor will learn to relinquish his fear when he sees that the director never causes another actor to be frightened.
...a question from an actor is not a question. A question from an actor is an innocent bid to draw the director's attention to something unresolved. When the actor asks a question, a wise director doesn't answer the question. The answer to the question is not in the director; the answer to the question is in the actor. Answer the question by asking another question. Allow the actor to resolve the difficulty. He already has the best answer in mind before he asks the question.
Always begin rehearsal on time. There are some directors who like to gossip and joke and waste the first ten or twelve minutes. This awakens a sense of sloppiness in the actor and gives him the feeling that the work is not important.
For future reference, I'm also a fan of advice on pp 58-59, 66, 102-104, and 108 of the 1984 edition.
This weekend (among other activities) I went to a fun party, watched a lot of Babylon 5, saw a friend's wife and new baby, read the de Camp, ate Leonard's excellent sour cherry cobbler, walked around a lot, filed a bug or two on Miro, and rented movies to foist on my fellow jurors this last week of grand jury duty. All this and I still spent hours dinking around on the Web. So there, anxieties!
# (2) 10 Aug 2008, 10:44PM: A Salt And Buttery:
It's odd, trying to decompress from a month spent in involuntary government service. In its most asinine moments it was like the stereotypical nerd-stuck-in-high-school social boredom/drama. You're trapped, with people you didn't choose, and others dictate when and whether you have anything interesting to do as a group. But we got to help free innocent people and punish wrongdoers, and the hours were far shorter than at my real job. I wonder how disorientation will present tomorrow at work. It will be nice to be in a room full of people who can make interesting conversation.
I discovered a few years ago that I can be friends with with someone who doesn't share my beliefs as long as they demonstrate integrity and a work ethic. I've further discovered this month that respect for details is somehow tied into those criteria, and that the jurors who used the phrase "Who cares?" lost my respect pretty permanently.
Another very full weekend followed. I cleaned a bit, watched several more episodes of Babylon 5 (we're now well into Season 4), hung out extensively with at least two friends, read gobs of sci-fi (including a wonderful new story by Leonard), got back into my self-paced programming course, saw a play, tried out the new sushi place on Broadway, etc.
The news from Eastern Europe is just bewildering. Not to mention other shocking or saddening events of recent days (the church shooting in Tennessee and Bangalore bombings, for example). But Tblisi is in my thoughts.
# (1) 13 Aug 2008, 03:38PM: Pi Con:
3Pi-Con, a week and a half from now in western Massachusetts, seems very cool. Do I know anyone who's going?
# (1) 14 Aug 2008, 09:07AM: Screenpay to Screenplay:
Last night's dream included a Make/Shawshank Redemption crossover, a visit to Rivka's gigantic historic landmark house (it had Wings), and tomatoes growing near my bed -- providing, as Leonard pointed out later, nightshade.
Also invented in my dream: a Japanese restaurant where the low tatami couch covers could be removed to reveal -- a bathtub! You could lounge in the tub while eating your sushi off a little shelf. Once New Yorkers get tired of egg creams again we should try this. First customer: George Bluth.
In other news, Condi Rice finally gets to exercise her base skillset by going to the former USSR to oppose Russian hegemony. Next: bin Laden challenges Bush to a drinking contest.
# 15 Aug 2008, 08:58AM: *Toot*:
Happy birthday, India and Pakistan!
# (2) 17 Aug 2008, 09:33PM: Make The Eagle Bigger:
You may have heard about information architect Sean Tevis running for state office in Kansas. He worked on the campaign logo himself. If you're looking for silly stories about the campaign trail, there you are.
After our oldest, first female, or first nonwhite president, maybe we'll be ready to elect a president with a deep understanding of human interface design. This "Archident" would make sure the Presidential Daily Briefings clearly highlighted imminent threats and critical information, and would give US residents single-payer healthcare just as an act of user interface mercy. Any post hoc changes to federal websites or the Congressional Record would be recorded in a Subversion-like record management system for ease in search and retrieval, and to discourage Orwellian history erasures. The State of the Union would include Steve Jobs-esque Keynote accompaniment, a far cry from Ross Perot's posterboard charts or the school-project volcano dioramas that grace the floor of the House today.
Also s/he would have a blog. And constantly be redesigning it. With a White House IT team on call 24/7. And I'd probably be the poor PM dealing with the constant random enhancement requests. So maybe we should wait on a PresIAdent.
# (2) 17 Aug 2008, 10:34PM: Commemorating The Memorable:
I wish a happy birthday weekend to my sister, who has been having multiple melas to celebrate. Nandini's birthday and that of India itself nearly coincide. Coincidence? Semantically, sorta!
Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, but probably not Nandini because she will be out with friends, Nandini will awake to life and freedom. A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. It is fitting that at this solemn moment we take the pledge of dedication to the friendship of Nandini and her people and to the still larger cause of Nandinanity.
I saw an Indian Independence Day parade today on Madison Avenue. It was so Indian that the NYPD opening of the parade (guys on horses, South Asian contingent of NYPD walking & waving) preceded the community-run floats and processions by a full ten minutes. It was so Indian that the Federation of Indian Associations of NJ and NY marchers were sort of milling around at an average speed of one foot per second, "Guest of Honor" sashes barely visible, families and Important Community Leaders blocking the visibility of the banner or keeping lagging marchers stationary in the intersection for one more photo. The one-off PVC cordon, held by leaders on either side of the FIA procession, was supposed to keep the rear at the same pace as the head. It broke.
I love my countries.
A New York City parade has marchers and floats who are in some way relevant to the day being celebrated, as well as hangers-on who get in on that parade action. Marching bands? Break dancers? Sure, why not. We cheered for politicians, Western Union, banks, temples, airlines, calling card sellers, aid organizations, satellite TV networks, and the feminist, casteless, antipoverty legacy of B.R. Ambedkar, India's Madison. The banner read "ARCHITECT OF THE CONSTITUTION OF INDIA" and listed his many degrees between two portraits of him, in a move sure to please his mother. A fellow Columbia grad!
I got a little Indian flag and waved the heck out of it. Yay for the best of India! Democracy, Gandhi, hiphop mashups, rice with buttermilk and pickled lemon, yoga, Ganesha, Buddha, Birbal, Amar Chitra Katha, the Mahabharata, Chamundi Hill in Mysore, an energetic press, infinite diversity in infinite combinations. And my family, of course.
Maybe the Pakistan Independence Day parade was in Brooklyn.
# (2) 17 Aug 2008, 10:57PM: Diary of Happy Summer Weekends:
Finished Thomas Lynch's moving, dense The Undertaking: Life Stories from the Dismal Trade and was going to recommend it to Rachel Chalmers until I saw she already loved it. Leonard summed up some of our thoughts on Anathem and I'll share more when it comes out in a few weeks. Best moment may have been on page 3 when I cried with happiness that an author I so completely trusted was about to ravish me anew. I'm currently reading the short and insightful In The Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing by Walter Murch, which among other things addresses a Leonard-Brendan conversation from five years ago.
I got a bit more How to Design Programs work in and watched a wrenching Bab5 with Leonard. Egg creams are not all that. Yay for getting to see Adi, Caroline, Evan, Stuart, and Mollie; Mirabai, get well soon!
Sometime soon I need to visit the beach, or the summer will have passed with zero real wave-entrancing. Evan took Leonard & me west of the Westside Highway and we just gaped at seeing a single powerful wave cross from New Jersey towards us. Leonard, are you thinking of writing up some of our boat-related conversation with Evan?
Adi and Caroline have me completely beat on "Indian parents aren't so hot on the kid's white significant other" stories. Falling-down laughing at these tales was even better because we got to hear them in the Shakespeare terraces of Central Park, where my wedding proceeded many seasons ago, blessed by all relevant parental units. By crazy random happenstance, the very first evening I met Adi I also met the story's antagonist.
Mollie, who works in an emergency room, informed me that around two percent of the kids she sees with really bad injuries had parents who Did Everything Right -- no neglect, no abuse, just unavoidable. As I consider possible childbearing, that's just enough to let me keep worrying. Also I just read The Undertaking.
# 20 Aug 2008, 08:22AM: Constructive Criticism or Dickishness? Yes!:
Just because someone's a jerk doesn't mean they're wrong. But just because someone's right doesn't make them not a jerk! Both/and thinking to the rescue!
# 20 Aug 2008, 09:56AM: Time To Reread Aronson:
I dreamt this sociology principle and wonder whether I'd read it somewhere before:
The urge to conform to the behavior of others in your group and the merging of your sense of self with the mission of the group are orthogonal. Those whose identities include group membership or mission, yet who don't fear the penalties for superficial nonconformity, turn into gadflies.
# (2) 21 Aug 2008, 05:39PM: He's My Friend, And Some Crackers And Cups:
You may be able to sing along:
Denver! The last dinosaur;
He's my friend, and a whole lot more!
Leonard always wonders what "more" entails. Participant in zany schemes? Does that fall under the friendship umbrella? Denver may also be a vehicle, or a teacher of paleontology. That's "more." What are your suspicions or conjectures? And do any of them overlap with the "More" in "Beverages & More"?
# (2) 25 Aug 2008, 11:11PM: Sarah Haskins:
Possibly the best link from The Morning News in the last year was Ms. Gallagher's recommendation of Sarah Haskins's "Target: Women" humor videos. I especially recommend the analytical Chick Flicks, the spot-on absurdist Yogurt, and the seriously deadpan Birth Control.
How can a great Chicago comedian not have a website? What am I missing? Sarah Haskins, in case you egosurf, I hope you play in NYC soon so I can babble praise at you in person.
# 27 Aug 2008, 08:57AM: Slice-N-Dice:
If only Saved By The Bell had produced a Lifetime movie. Maybe once Project Runway moves to Lifetime they'll get rid of Klum and Gunn and replace them with Rosie O'Donnell and Screech.
# 30 Aug 2008, 07:09AM: Noooo:
Terrible dream: I got robbed at gunpoint at an ATM, and the thief somehow took both cash and the PVR Leonard built.
# (1) 30 Aug 2008, 08:49AM: Republican Women:
I posted at Making Light about Republican women, in light of McCain's recent choice of Sarah Palin as his vice president.
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