Friday, April 29, 2011



Even the whale seems to have gone down.

There's no access to Twitter now (6:20 PM April 29). Reports are that it went down about 6 AM. That's 12 hours down and counting.

Some reports suggest a Denial of Service attack. Perhaps it was compounded with excessive wedding chatter.

Hopefully it is not related to any kind of security breach, although unlike certain other sites that have been shut down, Twitter probably has little very sensitive financial information about its users (although there is a wealth of data mining info it probably has stored someplace).

NOTE (6:27): Well, it's just about five minutes later and the whale has surfaced. So now it's just (just ???) overcapacity.

NOTE: (6:33): Well, now Twitter's back running again, for me. I can see a hand-full of posts going back an hour. So it probably has been coming back slowly and spottily for a while.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011



The biggest event of the season -- literally a once-in-a-lifetime event!





Monday, May 2nd, 2011

Alice Tully Hall

At Lincoln Center

This year’s presenters include
Ben Kingsley, Bill Cosby, Chris Tucker, Dan Aykroyd,
Danny Glover, Harry Belafonte, James Earl Jones, Lulu,
Mary Louise Parker, Morgan Freeman, Norman Jewison,
Quincy Jones, Quentin Tarantino and Ruby Dee.

Tickets range from $175-325 and include a seat at the Gala Tribute and access to the exclusive after party.

A limited amount of dinner tickets are also available.

Please call Jacob Brent at 212.875.5685 to reserve your space.

For more information, visit

2010 Michael Douglas
2009 Tom Hanks
2008 Meryl Streep
2007 Diane Keaton
2006 Jessica Lange
2005 Dustin Hoffman
2004 Michael Caine
2003 Susan Sarandon
2002 Francis Ford Coppola
2001 Jane Fonda
2000 Al Pacino
1999 Mike Nichols
1998 Martin Scorsese
1997 Sean Connery
1996 Clint Eastwood
1995 Shirley MacLaine
1994 Robert Altman
1993 Jack Lemmon
1992 Gregory Peck
1991 Audrey Hepburn
1990 James Stewart & Paul Newman
1989 Bette Davis
1988 Yves Montand
1987 Alec Guinness
1986 Elizabeth Taylor
1985 Federico Fellini
1984 Claudette Colbert
1983 Laurence Olivier
1982 Billy Wilder
1981 Barbara Stanwyck
1980 John Huston
1979 Bob Hope
1978 George Cukor
1975 Joanne Woodward
1974 Alfred Hitchcock
1973 Fred Astaire
1972 Charles Chaplin

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Wednesday, April 27, 2011




May 5-19, 2011
At the AMC Loews 84th Street
2310 Broadway

Gala Opening Night Event
Special Honorees
LIEV SCHREIBER - Outstanding Achievement In Film
STANLEY DONEN - Lifetime Achievement Award
MICHA SHAGRIR - Cinematic Achievement Award

Directed by Nir Bergman

May 5 at the Paris Theater & Plaza Hotel

Outstanding Achievement In Film

Encompassing over 30 titles, including award-winning features, documentaries and television programs, the Israeli Film Festival runs from May 5 through May 19, 2011 at the AMC Loews 84th Street 6 (2310 Broadway).

This year, the IFF falls on Israel’s 63rd Independence Day, and the festival will honor this anniversary with special programming. Over a dozen filmmakers will come from Israel their their films, with festival Q&As and gala celebrations.

The Opening Night film is the New York premiere of Nir Bergman’s acclaimed film INTIMATE GRAMMAR, which recently won the Best Feature Film Award from the Jerusalem International Film Festival as well as the Sakura Grand Prix from the Tokyo International Film Festival (Mr. Bergman’s second Sakura Prize!).

The 2011 Israel Film Festival will begin its milestone anniversary year with a VIP Reception in the Edwardian Room of the Plaza Hotel, and then the participants will segue to the adjacent Paris Theater for the Awards presentation and Opening Night Film. The 25th Israel Film Festival will honor Stanley Donen with the 2011 IFF Lifetime Achievement Award; Actor Liev Schreiber with the 2011 IFF Outstanding Achievement In Film Award; and celebrated Producer/Director Micha Shagrir with the 2011 IFF Cinematic Achievement Award.

Liev Schreiber is considered one of the finest actors of his generation with a repertoire of resonant, humanistic and oftentimes gritty portrayals that have garnered him praise in film, theater and television. Included among his numerous independent and major studio films are SALT, X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE, THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE, and, on Broadway, David Mamet’s “Glengarry Glen Ross” for which he won a Tony Award, and most recently “A View from the Bridge” opposite Scarlett Johansson for which he received his third Tony Award nomination. Schreiber joined IFF at the 2008 IFF Awards when he presented the Outstanding Achievement in Film Award to his DEFIANCE director, Edward Zwick.

Micha Shagrir is credited with planting the seeds of the Israeli film & television industry in the 1960s. Throughout his career, Mr. Shagrir has remained faithful to the classical Zionist symbiosis between the individual and society, and has been guided by a desire to view the reality and myths of our lives in a sobering, critical and loving manner. He continues to be a conduit of Israel’s film Industry.

Stanley Donen, who just celebrated his 87th birthday on April 13, is the renowned choreographer and director of such films as SINGIN' IN THE RAIN, with Gene Kelly, and CHARADE with Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, as well as KISMET, DAMN YANKEES, and many other classic musicals. He began his career as a dancer, at sixteen, in PAL JOEY on Broadway.

One special highlight of the festival will be the screening of the Academy Award winning documentary short film,
STRANGERS NO MORE, directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon.

Karen Goodman
Holding the Oscar for Documentary Short Film

All Israel Film Festival films, except for Opening Night, will screen at the AMC Loews 84th Street 6 (2310 Broadway). Ticket prices for all regular films are $13, and $11.

The Opening Night Film will screen at The Paris Theater (4 West 58th Street) following a VIP Reception at the The Edwardian Room at the Plaza Hotel.

Tickets are available --
=>Online at or
=>By phone at the IsraFest Foundation toll-free at 1-877-966-5566.

The annual Panavision Audience Choice Award for Best Israeli Feature Film will be presented at the IFF’s Closing Night presentation. The award carries a state-of-the-art Panavision package worth over $60,000 for the director and producer to use toward their next film shot in Israel. One of this year’s films, Avi Nesher’s THE MATCHMAKER, was shot utilizing funds he was awarded from the Panavision Audience Choice Award he received from the IFF for his entry in the 23rd IFF in 2008, THE SECRETS.

The Festival’s mission is to showcase the finest new Israeli films in order to share with American audiences the country’s rich culture, diverse stories and modern Israeli life. The 25thFestival Chairman is Arnon Milchan; The Honorary Committee includes Avi Arad, Mark Canton, Gil Cates, Michael Douglas, Richard Dreyfuss, Meyer Gottlieb, Dustin Hoffman, Lainie Kazan, Penny Marshall, David Matalon, Mike Medavoy, Bette Midler, Rob Reiner, Jane Rosenthal, Terry Semel, Nina Tassler, and many others. Proceeds from the Gala Opening Night event will provide funds to support the IsraFest Foundation and scholarship funds at the top six film schools in Israel.

Feature Films


Opening Night Gala Presentation
INTIMATE GRAMMAR | Directed by Nir Bergman
In the early 1960s in Israel, a new generation is growing up: the militant Israeli generation that will not go through another Holocaust. But Hinda's sensitive son, Aharon, doesn't fit the mold. His soul seeks refinement and art, which he can't find at home. How could he? For his father, a Holocaust survivor, human existence is reduced to war and survival. Aharon refuses to become like his parents. During three years, he does not grow an inch, until he realizes he is partly responsible for this, and so he embarks on a dangerous inner journey: to cross the boundary dividing childhood and adolescence. (2010, 110 min.) Sakura Grand Prix Tokyo International Film Festival; Best Full-Length Feature Film Jerusalem Film Festival. NY Premiere. Nir Bergman will attend.

THE MATCHMAKER | Directed by Avi Nesher
Set in 1968, an Israeli born teenage boy gets a summer job with a holocaust survivor who brokers marriages and smuggles goods on the side. His office is located in the back of an old movie theater run by Romanian dwarfs who were saved from the gas chambers. The boy embarks on a dangerous coming of age ride during the Six Day War in Haifa, where love assumes surprising shapes and history is transformed into mythology. (2010, 113 min.) Winner of 4 Israeli Academy Awards.

BROTHERS | Directed by Igaal Niddam
Dan works the land on a kibbutz in southern Israel. Aaron, his brother, is a doctor of law and philosophy and a distinguished scholar of the Torah, who comes to Jerusalem from the U.S. to defend the rights of Torah students who do not join the Army. The conflict which arises between two brothers reflects a society torn between religious and political principles. (2008, 116 min.) Nominated for “Best Feature” at the European Film Academy 2009. NY Premiere. Igaal Niddam will attend.

INFILTRATION | Directed by Dover Kosashvili
Israeli director Dover Kosashvili adapts one of Israeli literature's most celebrated novels by author Yehoshua Kenaz, in this multi-character, multi-tonal look at a platoon of aspiring Israeli soldiers, set in 1956. Set over ten years before the Israeli army's epochal victory in the 1967 war, Infiltration offers a series of vignettes designed to show a smorgasbord of Israeli attitudes and mores and ultimately the challenges of creating a homogeneous society from so many disparate pieces. Everything from Stanley Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket to Oliver Stone's Platoon gets referenced in Kosashvili's entertaining, thought-provoking tale. (2010, 116 min.) US Premiere.

THIS IS SODOM | Directed by Adam Sanderson & Muli Segev
Zohi Sdom revives the traditions of wacky Israeli comedies with a large serving of infantile humor, ridiculous characters and pure fun as it recounts the story of the birth of the Jewish people and the advent of monotheism. Set during the last week in history of the infamous city of Sodom, a close look reveals that the biblical reality is no different than our reality in 21st century Israel. (2010, 88 min.) Winner of Israeli Academy Award for “Best Supporting Actress.” NY Premiere. Adam Sanderson is coming. (The film is the highest grossing Israeli film in Israel in the last 25 years).

ZION AND HIS BROTHER | Directed by Eran Merav
A sensitive coming-of-age drama set in a gritty working-class neighborhood of Haifa. Fourteen-year-old Zion and cocky older brother Meir live with their divorced mother in a dumpy apartment, and can count only on each other. After a tragic accident involving a neighborhood Ethiopian boy, the brothers are challenged by thorny questions of personal responsibility and morality. (2009, 84 min.) Official Selection at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

2AM | Directed by Roi Werner
In a city where everything is possible, a guy and a girl look for the impossible — a parking space! The search for the parking space makes them “victims” of the situation they find themselves in which becomes a night trip stringed with various characters and surprising events – a trip in which they must face each other (and confront themselves) as an absurd situation unfolds. (2010, 83 min.) US Premiere.

RABIES | Directed by Navot Papushado & Aharon Keshales
A brother and sister, in their twenties, run away from home after their dark secret is discovered. They find temporary refuge in a deserted nature reserve. When the sister falls into a hunting trap, set by a psychotic killer, the brother sets out on a race against time to rescue her. A forest ranger and his old dog, two apathetic cops, four tennis players and a murderer, wandering carefree amongst his traps, will all be gradually drawn into a whirlwind of misunderstandings, fears and violence. (2010, 90 min.)

| Directed by Doron Tsabari
Revolution 101 outlines the path to civil revolution. The film combines material that is both documentary and fictional and focuses upon a film director’s struggle to restore Israeli public broadcasting to its rightful owner—the public. The film accompanies Doron Tsabari and Ori Inbar, its protagonists, during seven years of tenacious struggle against corruption, deterioration, and inflexibility, until a new law is legislated that will guarantee well-managed public broadcasting. Doron and Ori, together with their supporters, embark on a journey into the world of Israeli politics and discover how decisions are made in the public administration, the government, and the Knesset. (2010, 85 min.)

SALSA TEL AVIV | Directed by Jorge Weller
A romantic comedy with music and salsa dancing! Vicki is a single mom and a Mexican salsa dancer. After months of unemployment in Mexico, she goes to Israel to work there, and on the plane she meets Yoni. Vicki and Yoni are from completely different worlds – almost everything divides them: religion, culture and social class. Despite everything, they slowly fall in love filled with passion, jealousy, misunderstandings and comical situations, until the surprise ending. (2011, 90 min.) US Premiere. Jorge Weller is attending. (Film is mostly in Spanish with a bit of Hebrew).

Documentary Films


AMOS OZ: THE NATURE OF DREAMS | Directed by Masha Zur Glozman
An engaging and intimate portrait of the acclaimed Israeli iconoclastic and internationally celebrated author Amos Oz, nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The film traces Oz’s childhood, his adolescence on a kibbutz where he met his wife (the sole editor of his works), and his family tragedies including his mother’s suicide. (2010, 86 min.)

LAND OF GENESIS| Directed by Moshe Alpert
Throughout the entire world, Israel is presented through news broadcasts on television, often a series of violent images of terror and war. The breathtaking Land of Genesis introduces a completely different Israel – an Israel of amazing landscapes and multitudes of plants and wildlife. Israel is located at the meeting point of three continents. The film follows three mammals in their respective geographic habitats, as the seasons change. Each of the animals will open a window to the world of plants and animals of the region, a world filled with amazing beauty, a world in which there is no hatred, and which is guided only by one urge: the urge for survival. (2010, 87 min.) The film was produced in association with Israel Nature and National Parks.

TEACHER IRENA | Directed by Itamar Chen
Teacher Irena tells of...teacher Irena, an extremely charismatic woman, who has only one thing in her life - an enormous amount of love for the children. A single parent, all she ever does, inside the school, and outside of school hours, is take care of the kids, coming from different backgrounds, and different social status. A moving film about an extraordinary woman… (2010, 52 min.)

MISSING FATHER | Directed by Yair Elazar
Decades after the death of Israel’s dishonored Lieutenant General David Elazar (Dado), his youngest son launches a personal investigation into the life of this legendary military genius. Now a father himself, Yair Elazar feels compelled to understand the father whose many absences from home made him an enigma. Yair meticulously compiles archival footage, interviews with friends and colleagues, and his own ambivalent memories into a biography of the real Dado. In the making of this documentary, Yair works to restore his father’s reputation and place in Israeli history, while reclaiming his own place in his father’s life. (2009, 86 min.) This film will play on Israel’s Memorial Day in honor of the soldiers of Israel’s armies.

THE HANGMAN | Directed by Netalie Braun
The administrator of the mass deportation of Jews to the Nazi death camps Adolf Eichmann, was hanged in Israel's first and only execution. Shalom Nagar, a religious Jewish ritual slaughterer and street philosopher who believes in charity, was the hangman. His life encapsulates the story from the perspective of "the other" – the marginalized Sephardi prison warden who was forced to do the dirty work of hanging the arch-enemy, and thus to carry a national burden that dramatically shaped the country, and his life. (2010, 60 min.) Best Documentary Film,Haifa International Film Festival 2010.

STRANGERS NO MORE | Directed by Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon
In the heart of Tel Aviv, there is an exceptional school where children from 48 different countries and diverse backgrounds come together to learn. Many of the students arrive at Bialik-Rogozin in the wake of poverty, political adversity and even genocide. Here, no child is a stranger. (2010, 40 min.) Winner of Best Short Documentary at the Academy Awards in 2011. Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon will be in attendance.

PRECIOUS LIFE | Directed by Shlomi Eldar
A film by Israeli TV journalist Shlomi Eldar that recently made the Academy Awards’ documentary short list, Precious Life is unusually compelling both as a real-life medical drama and as a frank and nuanced consideration of the quagmire faced by Israelis and Palestinians alike. At the heart of it is the story of Mohammad, a Palestinian baby with an immunity disorder that has already killed two of his sisters. His parents have managed to bring him from Gaza to a hospital in Tel Aviv—medical facilities being what Eldar describes as the “only bridge left” between people living on either side of the checkpoints—but their quest to save the child is imperilled by a host of factors. (2010, 86 min.) Winner “Best Documentary” at the 2010 Israeli Film Academy Awards.

JUST LIKE THE QUEEN OF ENGLAND | Directed by Micha Shagrir
A French boy, street-smart and charismatic, is left to fend for himself after the Nazi occupation of Paris leaves him motherless. The 69 years that followed were an emotional journey that is only now being truly examined. Layer by layer, the past and present of David Bergman unfold into a dramatic story of longing and strength. From the Paris of his childhood to the kibbutz of his youth, from the national stage to his private studio, Bergman travels with filmmaker Micha Shagrir in this starkly intimate film, showing an unshakable and unforgettable emotional tenderness. (2010, 88 min.)

WHEN ISRAEL WENT OUT | Directed by Meni Elias / Produced by Micha Shagrir
Between the years 1983-1985 thousands of Falasha Jews marched nearly 200 kilometers from the region of Gondar in Ethiopia to the Sudanese border, with the hope of reaching the Land of Israel. These immigrants, many of them elderly, women and children, suffered from the heat and the lack of water and food during the difficult journey. Almost 2,000 people did not reach the final destination. During the month of November 2009, a camera-crew follows a group of eight Israelis for eleven arduous walking days. Three of the groups were Ethiopian Jews, who had marched the same route 25 years earlier. The film is dedicated to those who did not survive the journey in the hope that it will strengthen the sense of pride and identity of Ethiopian Jews with their unique Heritage. (2010, 78 minutes)

Television Drama


CHAMETZ | Directed by Alon Levi
15-year-old Ayala is a free spirit and a conservative, religious, girls' boarding school is the last place where she could ever feel happy. When she returns home for the Passover Holiday, Ayala has one thing in mind - to convince her widowed mother Gila to let her come home for good. She is surprised to find that Gila has a new boyfriend named Eithan, who already acts like a surrogate father to Ayala's little sister Tutti and in general makes himself quite at home. Once again, she feels left out and rejected. While obsessively cleaning the house for the holiday, mother and daughter's relationship will reach a boiling point. (2011, 38 min.) First Award of Best Television Drama Film, Haifa International Film Festival 2010.

LENIN IN OCTOBER | Directed by Evgeny Ruman
The comedy Lenin in October takes place in Ashdod. Grisha has almost given up on his dream of opening a restaurant. The sudden death of a rich uncle in Russia changes all that. The uncle leaves all his money to his beloved nephew for the very purpose of opening a restaurant, but there's a catch. The uncle was a sworn Communist all his life and the restaurant must be dedicated to the sacred values of Communism. Grisha doesn't really mind. What is important here is the dream; ideology is a distant second. But how do you go about finding a statue of Lenin in Israel? (2010, 50 min.) Special Jury Mention, Haifa International Film Festival 2010.

Special Homage to Micha Shagrir
The 25th Anniversary Screening of Avanti Popolo
To be screened on Israel’s Independence Day


AVANTI POPOLO | Directed by Raphi Bukaee / Produced by Micha Shagrir
Two Egyptian soldiers, Haled and Gassan, are stranded in the Sinai desert at the end of the Six Day War in 1967. This compelling and comical saga follows these soldiers' attempts to find safety and water. The pair encounter Israelis on patrol, and Haled, who as a civilian's an actor, attempts a virtuoso performance of Shakespeare's Shylock in order to obtain the precious water: "I am a Jew! Hath not a Jew eyes?" to which the Israeli responds, "He's got his roles confused." But all the soldiers are equal victims of the politicians. Their journey together emphasizes human solidarity on the one hand and the irony of their situation on the other. The "enemies" stride across the sand singing "Avanti Popolo," an Italian revolutionary song whose words neither side understands. An intelligent and artistic satire on the absurdity of war. (1986, 84 min.) Israel’s 1986 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Film.

Films and Programs Subject To Change

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Friday, April 22, 2011




A reading (with music) of Shakespearean sonnets

As the dialog of an intense love triangle
And a concert of Elizabethan music and song

*Katie Fabel, Jessica Crandall, Heli Sirvio, Catherine Zubkow, Eric Roffman

William Anderson (guitar & theorbo), Helen Ellis (viola da gamba)


29 Cornelia Street

Sat, April 23 at 6:00

Advance reservations at 212 989-9319 are strongly recommended!

Help us celebrate Shakespeare’s Birthday with LOVE’S FINE WIT, a reading (with music) of Shakespeare’s most popular, most powerful, and most complex sonnets – rearranged as the dialog of an intense love triangle, with lust, betrayal, loneliness, and the triumph of true love. And a concert of Elizabethan songs and music!


*(Performers subject to their continuing availability.)

So... I arranged for a concert with some terrific singers and musicians, and I rearranged Shakespeare's sonnets for a reading. It tells the story of an intense love triangle. The sonnets, heard in this context of a dramatic story, as the dialog of the characters, reveal hidden and unexpected meanings and gain new power. Shakespeare was both a poet and a dramatist. Rather than taking the sonnets as his sort-of-maybe biographical musings, we are taking each sonnet out of its context, away from the usual ordering, and taking each sonnet for itself, then giving it a new context in its role in this dramatic story. Shakespeare in his plays was famous for giving each character his own voice. The sonnets seem to speak out in a whole range of different voices and moods. By taking the sonnets as dialog, as the voice of different characters, and not just WS's own voice, these different voices and moods have a new opportunity to be heard.

Several years ago I did a quite different arrangement of the sonnets:


In fact, one (almost defining) feature of the sonnets is that they are ambiguous. The same line can often be taken in two quite different ways, with quite different meanings, depending on how one interprets the syntax. (For example, take another look at the famous last line of sonnet 116!) This ambiguity helps make it possible for a sonnet to gain additional meaning and clarity by giving it a context in which it inherits the specific circumstances laid out by the previous speeches.

In filmmaking and film editing this is a familiar process. A shot of a man looking into the distance becomes a quite different shot, with different emotional content, depending on whether it is preceded by, say, a scene with a cute dog, a beautiful woman, a violent murder, an empty field of wild flowers, or a war.

LOVE'S FINE WIT, the particular rearrangement for this event, I think, tells a very interesting and moving story.

The Shakespearean songs, by the way are integrated into the story. They come from Ross Duffin's wonderful book, Shakespeare's Songbook (which also includes a DVD of many Shakespearean songs), and he himself was both encouraging and helpful in several e-mails.

The date, April 23, is special. Counting back from the date of his baptism, April 23 is usually considered Shakespeare's birthday. So we created this show as part of a three day celebration of Shakespeare's birthday at the Cornelia Street Cafe.

HOPE YOU'LL COME. Be sure to make reservations early!

Advance reservations at 212 989-9319 are strongly recommended!

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Thursday, April 21, 2011



HIGH, a new play by Matthew Lombardo, with Kathleen Turner (as a troubled Nun and social worker), supported by Evan Jonigkeit (as a drug Addict) and Steven Kulken (as a Priest), is one of the most anticipated new arrivals:


The play is worth seeing for Kathleen Turner's performance itself. She is a powerhouse who can command the attention of a full Broadway house alone on the stage.

"HIGH" can mean:

High on drugs
High on alcohol
Spiritually high
Physically high
Psychically high -- as in self-aware and self-satisfied
Spiritually high from being physically high
Socially or politically above others
A play, on Broadway, about all these things and more

The play tries to use all of these meanings and, perhaps, even a few more that I haven't articulated.

HIGH is the story of a troubled Addict who is brought for treatment to a troubled Nun, by a Priest who is too much involved and trying not to be.

With only three characters, the first issue confronting the production is how to fill a Broadway stage. The solution is to fill the space surrounding the stage with stars (think "high"). The "sets" are defined by large, semi-abstract walls that define the rooms the characters inhabit.

This abstract visual design works very well with Turner's character's persona. She is telling and living her story -- her past and her present -- in this space.

While Turner's character is very powerful, the priest inhabits a very modest, realistic world. He does little that is spiritual, except to use spiritual notions to prod the Nun into doing his bidding: namely to treat and continue to treat the Addict.

The Addict inhabits two worlds: the world of addiction, which Evan Jonigkeit plays brilliantly, and the world of the patient.

The play is very well written. In the beginning the jokes are dead-on, and Turner's delivery is perfect. However, any play with this structure has a fundamental challenge: why does the Addict stay in this space to be treated the way the Nun wants to treat him? The play tries to give some answers -- eg. if he doesn't stay for treatment he will go to jail -- but I don't really believe that logical reasons are strong enough dramatically to contain this troubled Addict even for a moment or two in a scene. I did not believe the treatment sessions -- the dialogue and action between the Nun and the Patient. The Addict/Patient seemed to be in the room with the Nun only so that the Nun could say her clever things. (Indeed, these sequences suggest a conception of the play as taking place in the dream-world of the Nun.)

The careful crafting of the script also renders it somewhat predictable, and leads the playwright to tie up almost all the strands of the play at the end -- not necessarily in a happy-ending way, but in a complete all-the-stories way. The play has several opportunities to stop, near the end, which would leave some of the story threads unresolved. That would create a very interesting, and very unsatisfying ending. Carrying each thread to its end is less interesting, but more satisfying -- as befits a Broadway production.

In the course of dealing with a Nun whose back-story intersects with the story of the play, with a Priest who has his own agenda, and an Addict whose agenda is very confused, the play raises many interesting issues about responsibility and choices, though it does not have profound insights into resolving those issues.

It is not an instant classic, an emotionally shattering, intellectually ground-breaking evening of theater, but it never flags for energy, it is both entertaining and stimulating, it is quite tough, and it builds to a powerful and honest conclusion.


QPORIT HOME -- LOVE'S FINE WIT -- Shakespeare's sonnets selected and rearranged to dramatize the story of an intense love triangle, with Elizabethan music. One night only: April 23 6:00 at the Cornelia Street Cafe - 29 Cornelia Street NY 212 989-9319.

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Monday, April 18, 2011



ANCHORAGE, Alaska - North Pacific fish are so unlikely to be contaminated by radioactive material from the crippled nuclear plant in Japan that there's no reason to test them, according to federal and state of Alaska health officials.

Dangerous levels of radiation have been reported off the coast from the Fukushima reactor complex. However, a spokeswoman for the federal Food and Drug Administration told the Anchorage Daily News that the ocean is so huge, and Alaska fisheries so far away, that there is no realistic threat.

Alaska's food safety program manager, Ron Klein of the Department of Environmental Conservation, said the FDA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have demonstrated that Alaskans have no cause for worry.

"Based on the work they're doing, no sampling or monitoring of our fish is necessary," he said.

This report, if accurate describes some extremely irresponsible behavior.

Here's the link to the full article-- via @AOL

There are at least three major problems that are being overlooked. First, fish swim. They can travel from a place that is contaminated to a place that is not, and contamination can travel up the marine food chain.

Second, currents flow. Although the ocean is large, contamination is not going to be dispersed and diluted over the
whole ocean. It will travel in currents or be deposited. Local concentration of contaminants can be significant.

Third, the only way to know that there is no contamination in the food chain that gets to people is to test it. To say we know there is no contamination is arrogant and irresponsible foolishness. It is
see no evil, hear no evil speak no evil thinking. It is the kind of thinking that was sent-up in Jaws when towns officials insisted the beach was safe from sharks.

It may well be that fish in Alaska remains untainted by contamination. But the only way to know, and the only way to assure people, is to TEST TEST TEST TEST TEST. This can be supplemented by theoretical studies that estimate the amount of expected contamination. But those analyses must be TESTED TESTED TESTED.

QPORIT HOME -- LOVE'S FINE WIT -- Shakespeare's sonnets selected and rearranged to dramatize the story of an intense love triangle, with Elizabethan music. One night only: April 23 2011 6:00 at the Cornelia Street Cafe - 29 Cornelia Street NY 212 989-9319.

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Saturday, April 09, 2011



Tonight's SNL features Helen Mirren as host(ess) and The Foo Fighters.

We did a running commentary on TWITTER:


Here are the notes from the show -- inverse order, last to first -- (Hey, this comes from the twitter feed: each tweet sits on top of those that came before!)


- All in all a sub-par show. Mostly bad writing. Cheap and offensive jokes using Taliban, Pearl Harbor, etc. Little energy.

- Is the ad for EZ Seed a sketch? Sounds like it. (OMG I think it's real.)

- Bongo's Clown Room - Terrible sketch. Bad MC retiring from a bad strip joint. Concept has potential. Writing, execution sucks.

- Penile Pix Enhancements -- Here's my complete analysis of this sketch: "It's about penile pix enhancements."

- TV About Movie - Unpleasant; offensive. Ouch. Funny cheap jokes. But Ouch.

- Crunk-Ass Easter Festival - This kind of thing leaves me cold, but seems to be SNL Bread & Butter. I don't get it.

- Best of Both Worlds - with Hugh Jackman - Effete & Macho -- For once a sketch with a lame setup and a great payoff. (Usually the opposite.)

- Weekend Update - Some good jokes with flat space in between.

- Weekend Update - French parties: They start with cruditay and they end with nuditay!

- Weekend Update - Southwest Stewardess: "I felt that the top of the plane was maybe not there as it had been..."

- Weekend Update - Carville - I was left in the Mississippi in a basket and raised by eels. Can I say Hello to my mama: "Aaarggh"

- Weekend Update - Kate Middleton's 6 hairdressers will be cartoon bluebirds -

- Foo Fighters -- I think maybe SNL music sets must have to be really really really loud to sound good.

- Mary Shelley - Good concept (the real source of "Frankenstein") but totally lame writing and execution.

Note: Gwyneth Paltrow & Cee Low Green April 16 (repeat from Jan 16)

- Fox & Friends - Fact checking (everything) -- but sketch is mostly lame. Not yet a good night for political jokes.

- Helen Mirren's Titties -- What SNL was made for!

- Helen Mirren in her Dressing Room -- "Her titties exist in a place beyond space & time."

- Mort Feingold Accountant for the Stars -- Lame jokes, mildly offensive (that's not a compliment), badly written, badly executed.

- AD - GAME OF THRONES - Has STARZ (Spartacus) spawned a slew of cable period pix?

- Monologue - Helen Mirren -- she's a dame -- (By the way, did you see her in the orgy scene in Caligula?)

- Opening: Obama - The compromise keeping the gov't open leaves EVERYONE deeply unhappy ... so we can be proud of America! Overall, not very insightful or funny.

- Live tonight with Helen Mirren & The Foo Fighters NBC -

Here are some archived running commentaries on
a few recent SNL's...

SNL WITH ELSTON JOHN - April 2, 2011





And, of course...
SNL Who Do I Have To Screw To Get A Drink Around Here?

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Wednesday, April 06, 2011



In a paper just released, a huge team of scientists at Fermilab has studied particle interactions and noted that the results suggest a discrepancy with the predictions of the "Standard Model."

There seems to be a "bump" or excess of data at a certain energy. This may correspond to the existence of a particle -- different from any particles that are known or expected to exist.

Invariant Mass Distribution of Jet Pairs
Produced in Association with a W boson in p p Collisions
At sqrt(s) = 1.96 TeV

The importance of this result is that over the last few decades a model of elementary particles - believed to be the foundation for all the physical processes in the universe - has been developed, and is called "the Standard Model."

The model is known to be fundamentally incomplete. It has many unexplained parameters that determine the actual values of many of its predictions. It does not take into account General Relativity (the theory of gravity). It says nothing about Dark Energy or Dark Matter (which together seem to constitute 96% of the energy around us.) And there is at least one particle (the Higgs Boson) which is expected, but has not been seen.

Despite these large-scale issues that show the incompleteness of the Standard Model, essentially all the actual results of particle experiments have been consistent with this model. When the results of an experiment can be predicted, and the experiment is carried out, the results agree.

Until now.

This is the first time that an experimental result seems to be different in an important way from the predictions of the Standard Model.

Of course, it is possible that the calculation of what to expect was wrong. Or that something was missed in describing the results of the experiment. So, then, the correct calculation from the Standard Model would agree with the correct result from the experiment.

But, if the calculation was correct, and the experimental result is correct and different from the theoretical prediction, then the Standard Model may have to be adjusted, altered, or scrapped for a better theory. (A "better theory" would give all the same predictions as the old theory whenever experiments agreed with the Standard Model, but give the correct result for this experiment.)

The experimental results are highly dependent on extremely difficult measurements, and on estimations of exactly what each measurement means. (The measurements describe the momentum, energy, mass, charge, and other properties of the incoming and outgoing particles when two particles collide and "smash up".)

In the paper, and in a talk at Fermilab, the measurements -- and the assumptions that go into combining all the measurements -- were discussed. (The theoretical calculations that go into predicting what should be expected were not the focus of the talk or the lecture and are available from the references.)

Here's the paper -- (this is raw experimental physics):

Here's the archived video of the talk. Note that the charts are shown next to a small window of video. Do not zoom the video, because that will obscure the charts. There is little visual information in the video -- you need to view the charts as the speaker is talking.

Here's the video:

The speaker seems to be in complete command of the subject matter. She is Italian and speaks with a strong accent, but after listening for a while to her rolling rrrr's, you do get acclimated to the sound, and have no trouble understanding what she is saying. (You may need to understand modern experimental physics to understand the details of what she is saying, however.)

Here's the home page for Fermilab activities:

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Sunday, April 03, 2011



It was a better show than usual.

The writing was especially good: there were no dead spots or terrible sketches; there were some sharp jokes; the skits all had endings. New writer? Tough director? or Producer? Or Elton John's inspiration? Maybe the Unicorn had something to do with it. (Note: Thurber knows: the Unicorn is a mythical beast.)

The two skits most likely to join the archives are the Unicorn in the Old West -- a sweet and well written (though not particularly funny) sketch with Elton John in a tough Western bar -- and Knights of the Realm vs a bloody dragon.

There was a lot of star power guesting tonight. Perhaps they wanted tickets to the Elton John show and had to work for their seats.

Here's some quick notes, last to first, of the sketches on SNL.

- Unicorn in the Old West - "I Killed A Man Today" -- Elton John rides in on a unicorn in the old west. -- "Sorry I was flirtin' with that guy right 'n front of ya."

Note: There were a Huge number of new-movie preview ads tonight. (Target demographic?).

- The Silver Screen - "Born Yesterday ... Is that part of the Bourne trilogy?" (Note: a fourth Bourne may yet be born.) ...Kissing Elton John however seemed to be the main point of the sketch.

- Elton John at the Royal Palace
planning the wedding. "Berlesconi asked if +1 can be two minors."

- Weekend Update - Jake Jillinhall -- I can't spell it; and he said... nothing, really.

- Weekend Update for once had no dead spots.

- Weekend Update
- "I did not bring the snake!" Nick Cage's next film: Sex with the Declaration of Independence

- Elton John did one of the best SNL song sets I've ever heard.

- Idol contestants (doing Elton John covers recently) just could not get the Elton John Magic. Hear it live here for the real thing.

- Tom Hanks on hand to introduce Elton John.

- Tom Hanks proposes Laser Cats in Space musical. Shades of Pinball Wizards... with Spiderman lurking (or flailing) in the background. See below for LASER CATS The Musical.

- Knights of the Realm vs a bloody dragon
. Inspired silliness.

- Next week: Helen Mirren (Just saw her on DVD in fun RED) & Foo Fighters, LIVE.

- ESPN Classic Ladies Shot Put
- "No foreplay today, Hey That's OK. KY Jelly" (KY Jelly product placement? or a parody? or both?) -- Bare hands = paws.

- Monologue
- "I'm Elton John." "My son rejected the breast... like 'is two fathers." Good solid monologue. Elton's a pro!

- "Finger Lakes - It was the middle one." - "Spring is here!" -- & bubbles.

- Live tonight with Elton John -- host & musical guest.
(Note: Skit Names are approximate and Quotes are approximate too... take them with a grain of salt... or two.)

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