May 21st. Book It. Done.

Or so it would seem…oh boy.

Haubert says the Bible contains coded “proofs” that reveal the timing. For example, he says, from the time of Noah’s flood to May 21, 2011, is exactly 7,000 years. Revelations like this have changed his life.

“I no longer think about 401(k)s and retirement,” he says. “I’m not stressed about losing my job, which a lot of other people are in this economy. I’m just a lot less stressed, and in a way I’m more carefree.”

He’s tried to warn his friends and family. They think he’s crazy. And that saddens him.

“Oh, it’s very hard,” he says. “I worry about friends and family and loved ones. But I guess more recently, I’m just really looking forward to it.”

I’ve always wondered what happens the day after something like this, when there’s a “deadline” for everything changing. What do you talk about over breakfast? Do you even try to leave the house? Do you just figure you sinned too much?

At the very least, there’s probably quite a bit of canned food to get through.

A Robotic Pricing Arms Race

Over fruit flies, of all things:

Amazingly, when I reloaded the page the next day, both priced had gone UP! Each was now nearly $2.8 million. And whereas previously the prices were $400,000 apart, they were now within $5,000 of each other. Now I was intrigued, and I started to follow the page incessantly. By the end of the day the higher priced copy had gone up again. This time to $3,536,675.57. And now a pattern was emerging.

As far as “computers run amok” stories go, this one is pretty purely enjoyable. I can’t see any weird ethical quandries about pricing bots on Amazon, since they essentially just let the natural bartering of the used-books marketplace happen on a larger scale, and in the end we get a cheaper book.

But the completely unchecked lack of proportion is a bit worrying in the long-term; one hopes that we’ll find a more reliable “Don’t be crazy” algorithm before we start applying these kinds of methods to other determinations, like health care or, oh, missile launches. It’s reassuring to know that we humans aren’t quite obsolete yet, even though we might be lazy enough to trust our machines more than we should.

True Techno-Theatre

Technology makes a lot possible in theatre. As a staff and ensemble member of a theatre company based in a city I do not currently reside in, I can certainly attest to that. Without e-mail, Skype and cheap calling plans, I could literally not be doing the job that I’m doing right now: telegrams and pony express do not a dramaturgical foundation make. Theatrical administrative practices have been changing massively and– for the most part– positively in response to technology, just as administrative practices in all business everywhere have.

Where it seems like theatre occasionally has a harder time relating with technology is in the actual, y’know, theatre that we produce. A lot of times, adding Twitter or other mediums to performances can feel a bit more like a gimmick than anything else; we’re still negotiating how it all fits together, and sometimes don’t really go for it.. Which is why this article by Jo Caird is exciting to me: it’s talking about a genuine attempt to use social networking and internet response to create a new event:

You Wouldn’t Know Him, He Lives in Texas / You Wouldn’t Know Her, She Lives in London, which is performed simultaneously at theatres in the two eponymous locations via Skype, is a collaboration between London-based Look Left Look Right and The Hidden Room, a company based in Austin. The premise is that transatlantic couple Liz and Ryan have brought their friends and family together so that everyone can get to know each other and make the pair feel less like their relationship exists only in virtual reality. The audience, both those physically in attendance and anyone who’s following the performance on Twitter (by using the #texaslondon hashtag) and Facebook, are encouraged to take part by asking questions and posting comments during the show.

There have been a lot of shows that use/incorporate Twitter or, as Caird points out, are performed entirely on Twitter as a platform. But what makes You Wouldn’t Know Him… stand out for me is the fact that it is literally weaving the experience of twitter, Skype and the like into the premise and experience of the show, instead of just grafting them on. Caird acknowledges that there are some issues with the outcome, but from this article the use of technology in the show strikes me as something other than a gimmick.

Everybody always talks about how one of the biggest strengths of theatre is its immediacy. “You’re right there in the room as it happens!” they enthuse. Or, at least, I do. It’s one of my favorite things about the stage. But in this crazy modern world, the baseline definition of what “in the room” means is changing. We can take part in conversations we’re not physically there for, so why not theatre?

Often, attempts to film plays and post them online (or display them in movie theatres) can feel alienating, but what seems so brilliant about this attempt is that Skype/Twitter/etc. isn’t the sole experiential medium of it. Instead, it’s the connective tissue of the experience: it’s being used to link two performances together, along with their own two live audiences. It’s almost more similar to The Norman Conquests or other plays that can occur simultaneously, except each audience gets a technological window into the half of the show they’re not there for. It’s pretty ingenious, and even if it isn’t perfect, it feels like something very much on the right path to figuring out how theatre can blend with all the communication methods available to us these days.

Looking to the Future

There’s already been a huge amount said about Michael Kaiser’s “Millennials Project” article (shortened version: Old Man Yells at Cloud), much of it spot on. It was really baffling to me to see someone as generally savvy as Kaiser come across as such an ageist, elitist cliche, but now that he’s been thoroughly dismantled elsewhere, us Millennials need to remember that the only truly satisfying rebuttal will be to prove him completely wrong by continuing to make theatre that excites and engages our peers. To that end, Max Sparber has a great post detailing just what an opportunity we’re going to have to do so in the next few years:

Many of the artistic directors of these theaters are now nearing retirement age. Other theaters swap out their artistic directors every decade or so, just as a matter of course. And you could take one of those jobs. Yes, you. Because the people who are most likely to get plugged into those positions are the people who can figure out how to rebuild the audience for American theater. If you can sell seats to a younger audience, you’re going to control the future.

It’s easy to forget that “establishment” theatre in this country has really only existed for one, maybe one-and-a-half generations. The whole non-profit, regional system seems so monolithic and all-encompassing that we treat it like it’s always been there, and take its continuing value for granted. Michael Kaiser falls prey to it, and so do I a lot of days, but the time is coming for the guard to change over, and those of us who protest being written off by guys like Kaiser to really step into the forefront. There’s lots of fantastic theatre being done by our generation, for our generation, and as Sparber says, pretty soon everybody making that brand theatre is going to get a chance to really run the show. With any luck we’ll be able to make the transition from spitballing to steering the ship, and when we’re all old and crotchety in fifty years we won’t be sitting alone in our offices, embarrassing ourselves by writing articles about how nobody loves what we love any more.

Thieves of Words

A fascinating look at what’s really at the core of journalism, and the debate between the New York Times/Huffington Post spat:

You can call it what you like; you can say “Possibly I am old-fashioned,” and talk about how “actual journalists are laboring at actual history, covering the fever of democracy in Arab capitals and the fever of austerity in American capitals” (Keller) or you can brag about the “148 full-time editors, writers, and reporters engaged in the serious, old-fashioned work of traditional journalism” (Huffington), but all this “old fashioned” stuff is just a way of covering over something really basic about what “actual” journalists “traditionally” do, all the time: write down what other people say.

And, of course, I am now stealing a quote that I stole from a link that I stole from Andrew Sullivan’s blog in the first place. They cycle of life continues!