Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Failure analysis.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

I have to note this NYT feature:

Anatomy of a Broadway Flop: What Sank These 4 Shows?

Or, why did “American Psycho”, “Bright Star”, “Disaster!”, and “Tuck Everlasting” all fail? Interestingly, it doesn’t seem like the answer is “they were bad”, or that the “Hamilton” juggernaut crushed everything in its path.

“Bright Star” actually sounds like it could be interesting: Steve Martin and Edie Brickell wrote the score, and I kind of like the “quiet” and “small” description applied to it. I’d go see a touring production.

“Disaster!” on the other hand sounds like…well…you know. But it does give me an idea: “Airplane!: The Musical” The opening number would, of course, be “The White Zone (Is For Loading and Unloading Only)”. Then you’d have the big duet between Ted Striker and Elaine Dickinson, “I’ll Never Get Over Macho Grande”…well, you get the idea. Broadway producers, call me. Either we have a sure-fire hit, or we can sell 10,000% of the show and retire to a life of leisure in some country that doesn’t have an extradition treaty with the United States.

Random notes, philosophical asides, bookmarks, endorsements, and other things.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

Some things I think are interesting, some I want to bookmark, some I want to plug, something for everyone, a comedy tonight! I am going to try to put these in some kind of rough topic order…

“Introduction to GPU Password Cracking: Owning the LinkedIn Password Dump”.

I Sea, “a mobile app that claimed to help users locate refugees adrift at sea”, appears to be a complete fraud.

The developers swapped information, including screen shots of a static image and a weather tool that one person claimed was used to mislead users into thinking they were looking at live images of the sea. Others noted that the app had been coded to tell users that their login credentials were invalid.

Bonus: the NYT mentions my third favorite security blogger, @SwiftOnSecurity. (Sorry, SecuriTay, but I’ve had my photo taken with the Krebster, and I know Borepatch. Third is still good enough for a medal, if this was the Olympics.)

And it isn’t just that the coding is screwy: PopSci makes a pretty strong argument that what I Sea claims to do is physically and logistically impossible.

To provide images of 1 percent of the total area of the Mediterranean would run over $1 million. And that’s just for one set of still photos. If the app were to provide up-to-date imaging, as it claims, the images would need to be refreshed regularly, at $1 million each time. And that cost is for unprocessed data, Romeijn says. Processing will cost more, as will the licensing fees required to make those images available to the public.

And those satellites make one pass a day, so you’re not getting “real-time” imaging, no way, no how.

The Oakland PD mess, summarized. Yes, I’m linking to an anonymous person on Facebook, but much of the information in this summary has already been reported in the media: this is more of a handy round-up if you haven’t been following this mess from the start. (Hattip: Popehat on the Twitter.)

And speaking of Popehat: the guys get shirts! Women, too. I just ordered mine: not only is $23 very reasonable for a shirt these days, and not only do I like Popehat, but I think Cotton Bureau does good stuff. (You may remember them from the BatLabels “Henchman” shirts, which are back in print! Hoorah!)

Flaming hyena #32: Democratic congressman Chaka Fattah.

In addition to racketeering conspiracy, Fattah was found guilty of bribery, bank fraud, mail fraud, money laundering, making false statements to a financial institution, and falsification of records.

A bunch of other folks took the fall with him, including Herbert Vederman:

Through cash payments to the congressman’s children, college tuition payments for his au pair and $18,000 given to help purchase a vacation home in the Poconos, prosecutors said, Vederman bought Fattah’s support in seeking appointment by the Obama White House to an ambassadorship.

(Hattip on this one to Mike the Musicologist.)

Prominent (well, in Chicago, anyway) Chicago journalist Neil Steinberg decides to pull the old “look how easy it is to buy an assault rifle” trick. So he goes to a gun store…

…and they deny his purchase because he’s a drunken wife-beater. (I have seen other versions of this story that state BATF first issued a “delay”, then a “deny” (BATF doesn’t have to give a reason for “deny”), Steinberg threatened to write that they were “denying” his purchase because he was a journalist, and the gun shop then decided to point out that he was a drunken wife-beater. However, this version seems to me to be to be the best sourced, and it doesn’t mention any BATF verdict.)

But at least he had the good taste to go with a Smith and Wesson M&P 15.

Obit watch: June 6, 2016.

Monday, June 6th, 2016

Peter Shaffer, noted playwright (“Equus”, “Amadeus”).

The production [“Equus” – DB] also attracted a remarkable parade of replacements for Mr. Hopkins, including Anthony Perkins, Alec McCowen, Leonard Nimoy and Richard Burton. Burton subsequently starred in the 1977 film version, directed by Sidney Lumet. (A 2008 Broadway revival starred Richard Griffiths as Dysart and Daniel Radcliffe as Strang.)

I’ve never seen “Equus”, either the play or the film; I wouldn’t mind seeing Burton, but I’m also oddly fascinated by the idea of the Nimoy version.

Obit watch: May 25, 2016.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Beth Howland passed away December 31st of last year, but her death was not announced until yesterday, in keeping with the wishes of her family.

She played Amy in the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Company”, and had a slew of other roles. Ms. Howland was perhaps most famous as Vera on “Alice”.

Unlike many actors, Ms. Howland had never worked as a waitress. “But I just kept sitting around coffee shops and watching how it’s done, and now I can carry four dinners,” she told Knight Newspapers.

I kind of wonder if she was typecast after “Alice”: the obit says she worked “sporadically”.

She had small guest roles on “Eight Is Enough,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “The Tick.”

Also:

She and the actress Jennifer Warren were the executive producers of the documentary “You Don’t Have to Die,” about a 6-year-old boy’s successful battle against cancer. It won an Academy Award in 1989 for best short-subject documentary.

(Wouldn’t “After Alice” be a great idea for a new TV series? Linda Lavin is still alive: she could have taken over the diner from Mel. Polly Holliday is still alive, too: she could be working the counter, and then you cast someone to play Vera’s daughter, who works as a waitress…Hollywood types, you know where to reach me.)

The AV Club is reporting the passing of Burt Kwouk, who sounds like a very cool and interesting guy. He was in three Bond films, but is perhaps best known as Cato in the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

“They were always a lot of fun because after a while I got to know Cato quite well and I liked Cato because he never argued with me and he never borrowed money from me. I liked playing Cato quite a lot,” he said of the role in a 2011 interview with the BBC.

Not exactly obits, but worth noting in my opnion: both Bubba Smith and Dave Mirra have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Obit watch: April 14, 2016.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Two! Two! Two themes in one!

Theme 1: people who had interesting lives and careers.

Anne Jackson, noted actress.

Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).

She was also married to Eli Wallach from 1948 until he died in 2014. And they were good together:

They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.

Arthur Anderson. He was perhaps most famous as the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. But he did a lot of other stuff, including working with Orson Welles:

After acting in “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” Mr. Anderson was cast in 1937 as Lucius, the herald to the 22-year-old Welles’s Brutus, in a Broadway production of “Julius Caesar” set in Fascist Italy. Arthur sang, accompanying himself on a ukulele camouflaged as a lute.
His most memorable moment during the show occurred offstage. After heeding an order to stop hurling light bulbs at a brick wall, he decided to light matches to test the melting point of the sprinkler heads. Besides setting off a fire alarm, he triggered a deluge just as Brutus ascended the pulpit above the body of Caesar on the stage below.

Remember, folks, the sprinkler is not a toy, nor is it a load-bearing device.

Theme 2: the death penalty.

Jack H. Smith passed away a few days ago.

Mr. Smith had convictions for robbery-assault and theft in 1955 and another robbery-assault conviction in 1959 that earned him a life prison term. He also had a prison escape attempt in 1963.
He was paroled from his life sentence on Jan. 8, 1977, after serving 17 years. One day short of a year later, on Jan. 7, 1978, Mr. Smith and an accomplice were arrested in the killing of Roy A. Deputter, who was shot to death while trying to stop a holdup at a Houston convenience store known as Corky’s Corner.

Mr. Smith’s accomplice testified against him and was sentenced to life. Mr. Smith was sentenced to death:

Mr. Smith, a former welder who completed only six years of school, arrived on death row on Oct. 9, 1978, and remained there until his death.

Joe Freeman Britt also passed away a few days ago. He was a prosecutor in North Carolina:

As the district attorney for Robeson and Scotland Counties from 1974 to 1988, Mr. Britt oversaw cases that led to more than 40 death sentences. Only two of the defendants were executed — appeals court rulings led to many altered sentences, and some suspects were later exonerated [Emphasis added: -DB] — but his courtroom record ranked him at one point among the country’s most prolific advocates for capital punishment.

After his time as a prosecutor, he became a judge:

Mr. Britt’s candidacy for the court seat was not without controversy. His opponent, a Native American, died in what the authorities concluded was a domestic dispute. The death essentially guaranteed a victory for Mr. Britt, and it prompted a period of unease and suspicion. Investigators, however, never accused Mr. Britt or his supporters of wrongdoing.

Random notes: April 11, 2016.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Statesman writer subscribes to LootCrate so he can get a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Statesman writer discovers that he really doesn’t like getting a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Stateman writer decides, not just to quietly cancel his LootCrate subscription and move on with his life, but to publish a “breakup letter” in his newspaper.

Editors. Where are the editors?

Obit watch: Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, chief medical examiner of New York City from 1989 to 2013.

In 2001, when two jetliners commandeered by terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Dr. Hirsch and six aides rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue.
When the North Tower collapsed, two aides were severely injured. Dr. Hirsch, thrown to the ground, broke all of his ribs. His cuts sutured by a medical team, he returned to the examiner’s squat brick headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street, coated in a ghostlike gray soot.

Begun, the “Hamilton” backlash has.

Quote of the day:

“I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point.”

What is the name of this play?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

No, seriously. What is the name of this play?

Attend the tale.

Tuesday, July 28th, 2015

This one goes out to Mike the Musicologist:

“Sweeney Todd”, the “prog-metal” version.

(Can someone explain to me what “prog-metal” is, anyway?)

It could be worse. It could be disco.

A poor substitute for content…

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

…some random crap. I don’t really have anything to say about the riots, except: “It’s Baltimore, gentlemen. The gods will not save you.”

The Carnegie Deli is temporarily closed. Rent dispute? Insect infestation? Nope.

At the Carnegie Deli, however, Con Edison said about half of the gas that the utility was delivering to the building was being diverted before the meter and, therefore, not showing up on the deli’s bills.

Obit watch: Jayne Meadows, noted actress, sister of Audrey “Alice Kramden” Meadows, and Steve Allen’s wife.

Edited to add: Crap! And I completely forgot the original reason for this post. My friend Erin Palette goes to the Taurus booth at the NRA Convention, and gets treated like something scraped off the bottom of a shoe. Hilarity ensues.

TMQ Watch: February 2, 2015.

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

The ultimate TMQ! (At least, for this season.) Plus, we almost, but not quite, apologize to Gregg Easterbrook. After the jump, this week’s TMQ

(more…)

The Shipping News.

Wednesday, January 7th, 2015

Monday night’s announcement that the new musical “The Last Ship” will close on Jan. 24 after a meager four-month run, despite unusual efforts by Sting, its composer, to increase ticket sales, raises that question more than most other foundering musicals in recent years.

Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Hmmmm. Why, indeed, did “The Last Ship” fail (and cost the show’s producers their entire $15 million investment), even though Sting himself joined the cast?

Mr. Seller said that he had no theories for why more female theatergoers (who make up about 70 percent of Broadway audiences) and Sting fans did not embrace “The Last Ship,” about the troubled lives of shipbuilders and young people in a struggling British town.

Could this be…a clue?

Obit watch: December 24, 2014.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Lawrence forwarded this really nice appreciation of Margot Adler, who passed away in July. Awful lot of dust in the room today.

(No, really. I’ve been sneezing my ass off the past couple of days.)

A/V Club obit for Joseph Sargent, who I mentioned yesterday. Also: NYT.

I missed this over the weekend: former Houston mayor Bob Lanier.

Finally, one I missed until late yesterday: Billie Whitelaw. You may know her as the nanny in the original “The Omen”, but she was very famous in England. She may have been best known as Samuel Beckett’s muse and collaborator:

She accepted his artistic vision without always understanding its explicitly rendered ambiguities. They read his plays together, discussing not their meaning but the most minuscule elements of the text — the pauses and sighs and guttural sounds as well as the words, the inflections demanded by the language, and his need, as she said in interviews, to remove the acting from the performance. “Flat, no emotion, no color,” he would often caution her, she said.