ALCStudies Journal

Advanced Labor & Cultural Studies Web Site & Blog

Category Archives: Art

Being & Parenting

On being a father and a philosopher at Aeon.  Personally, I subscribe to the Calvin and Hobbes school of thought. — CDL

Me Talk to Me

We tell ourselves stories in order to succeed:  The virtues of self-talk in sports, work and life. (Op-Ed piece by Charles Fernyhough, Los Angeles Times)

Big Data and Poets

… the idolatry of data… has itself been enabled by the almost unimaginable data-generating capabilities of the new technology.

‘A poet’s work, to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, to start arguments, shape the world and stop it from going to sleep.’

—  Salman Rushdie, Satanic Verses

Creative Class Is In Session

Strawberry Way Mural by Deanna Mance

Surprises of an artistic kind help get me out of bed in the morning and get me through another day. Traveling to and from the cube farm through the alley across from USX, I encountered Deanna and her friend Sandy Kessler Kaminksy hard at work on Deanna’s mural commissioned by the Pittsburgh Downtown Partnership (PDP). They persisted In the midst of heat, rain, the celebratory distractions of the Penguins’ parade and my annoying questions. To counter the rotten news coming from Orlando and the tedium of another work week ahead, they conjured creative serendipity on the cracked, worn pavement to feed the ‘Burgh’s parched pedestrian soul. Enjoy. I did. — CDL

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Appropriate Technology

Since becoming involved with the Pittsburgh chapter of Engineers Without Borders, I’ve become intrigued by the notion of appropriate technology. EWB is kind of like Doctors Without Borders (Médecins Sans Frontières), except members carry a slide rule (well, handheld calculator) instead of a stethoscope.

I’m not an engineer (nor do I play on on TV). I am interested in novice-expert learning, problem-solving, storytelling and how we share what we know. I have written before on the right tool for the job, and techniques and technology that fit particular needs within constraints of time, money and resources. This includes older technologies that can be re-purposed for modern needs. For example, Crankies , aka moving panoramas, offer a form of visual storytelling dating to before the 19th Century that does not require PowerPoint or electricity. (Carbide lamp, anybody?)

Image courtesy of The Crankie Factory. Pittsburgh’s first Crankie Fest is slated for 7 p.m. Feb. 28 at the Wilkins School Community Center in Swissvale.

Although it is 365 miles (587 kilometers) from the ocean, Pittsburgh is not entirely landlocked. Whatever is tossed into our region’s three rivers flows to the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, included the plastic bags and other trash that end up in the oceans. Now an idea originally developed by a 16-year old Dutch kid named Boyan Slat may help provide a low-tech answer to removing it.

We’ve certainly been sold the notion that technology can meet our every need, from medications to self-driving cars. But there’s usually a tradeoff, as Sherry Turkle and others have recently written.

In assessing the appropriateness of any technology, we would do best to keep in mind the question Neil Postman asked: What problem does this technology solve? What problem(s) does it create?1 — CDL

1Please see a 1998 posting and appreciation of Neil Postman and his questions at Yale Engineering.

 

 

 

 

Chekhov’s Diagnosis, 1892

Life is a vexatious trap; when a thinking man reaches maturity and attains to full consciousness he cannot help feeling that he is in a trap from which there is no escape. Indeed, he is summoned without his choice by fortuitous circumstances from non-existence into life . . . what for? He tries to find out the meaning and object of his existence; he is told nothing, or he is told absurdities…  — Anton Chekhov, Ward Number Six (Cited in the British Medical Journal, January 2008)

‘Thin Man Comes to Pittsburgh’ Live Radio 2014 Playbill

Please see the digitized playbill for our upcoming November 22nd and 23rd The Thin Man Comes to Pittsburgh weekend performance at the Omni. Show tickets are still available both days. Read more of this post

Interview in the PDCDC Newsletter

August interview with Taia Pandolfi in the PDCDC (Pittsburgh Downtown Community Development Corporation) Downtowner on collaborating with creatives and following my bliss in the ‘Burgh.  And see a related essay on live vs. virtual performance by Stefany Anne Golberg in the Smart Set. — CDL

‘Virtually Yours’ 8-16 Premiere

We had about twenty-five people for our Virtually Yours live read Saturday 8-16 at the Cabaret at Theater Square. Not bad for a post-10pm premiere of a new play in ‘Burgh. Thanks to everyone who attended, including those who stuck around for the performance following Ring of Fire or joined us after hearing Yanni at the Benedum.

Randy Kirk, Bob Bollman and Kevin Buck at the Cabaret made us feel at home. Randy, the Cabaret manager, made time around a tight schedule for us to rehearse in the space. Bob set up three hanging mics for us the night of the show while Kevin covered the house and cued us to go on.

Caitlin, Mark, Chris and Jeannine did a wonderful job turning the script that I was revising until Thursday night into entertainment for our audience to enjoy. Thanks also to Taia P. and Georgia at the PDCDC for promoting the show in their newsletter. — Chuck

 'Virtually Yours' at the Cabaret : Chris Leon, Caitlin Northup, Mark Tierno, Ms. Swanheart

‘Virtually Yours’ at the Cabaret: Chris Leone, Caitlin Northup, Mark Tierno, Jeannine Lanigan

 

‘Virtually Yours’ Pre-Production Week Two

We started Virtually Yours rehearsal May 31st with a partial read-through. I had only completed typing the first 103 pages of the script. I have worked with the cast before. Chris, Mark, Caitlin and Ms. Swanheart did  great job beginning to turn words on the page into characters and dialogue.

The following Monday I ran over to Penn Avenue at lunchtime to meet Randy Kirk at the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, who booked us for a live read at the Cabaret at Theater Square August 2nd. No selfies, but I snapped a couple of photos of the stage as it is set up for CLO’s  Ring of Fire, and as it will be when we perform.

 

Using the photos, I made quick sketches of the stage with characters in certain scenes. In addition, I started creating rough drafts of images for posters and announcements.

 

These are not fine art by any stretch. But they help me imagine how the show will look and feel.  As a director (and producer, and writer) embarked on a second creative career  I sometimes feel like I’m making things up as I go along. But the sketches seemed a useful exercise while I’m still revising the script and when we’ll have limited time to rehearse in the Cabaret space. And it’s a fun and different way to use my brain. You’ll see a selfie of me in one of the slideshow drawings. I’m the guy with the beard and mustache. ; – ) — CDL

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