Big Brother is watching you – via webcam…

•March 2, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Continuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH-(COLLISION?)-COURSE to get your geek juices flowing for our upcoming performance BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL

Technology is a double-edged sword. There’s easily one ill for every cure technology can provide.

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Some thoughts and responses to the privacy debate that has come up regarding a high school student in the Lower Merion School District from our GUEST BLOGGER MATTHEW “DJ REZ” RESNICK

Rez says:

Been reading about the goings on in Lower Merion, PA on the net. LM is best known as the high school home of Kobe Bryant. The relevance of the previous statement to my current piece is completely nil, just chalk it up to Rez looking for some degree of connectedness.

This piece has very little if anything to do with roundball. What it has to do with is privacy, computers, and the ability to pierce the former with the latter.

Short form: A student at a high school in Lower Merion (Harriton HS to be exact) got suspended for “improper behavior at home”. The behavior has been rumored to be many things; let’s just say it was something the student could have been suspended for at school, but he did it at home.

How, do you ask, did the school find out that he did whatever he did?

He wasn’t tattled on by a classmate. A teacher didn’t tell on him. His parents didn’t narc him out.

No. The student was nailed by a picture taken by the webcam on his computer.

The scary implication is as follows. The school can, and has, activate the webcam on the computer in order to see what/who is going on in front of it. Now, as a “technology professional”, I can tell you that this is a cool piece of tech…when the laptop is stolen, and you have a court order/warrant to turn the damn thing on so you can see who’s using it.

Someone out there needs to tell me how the school district can do this without parental consent. Someone, additionally, needs to tell me what kind of behavior would merit this kind of response. Someone invariably invokes “in loco parentis”. Got news for you, folks…that sort of stuff evaporates the moment you walk out of school. In bloody fucking valid. If your mom and dad want to do that to you…well, fuckshits, your mom and dad might have you dead to rights. But I see nothing in the constitution OR any legal opinion that makes it okay.

You do know what this reminds me of, though. Right kids?

Yep. About twenty six years late, but it’s 1984. Big brother is watching you. I’d understand somewhat if this was about nuclear bombs or industrial secrets or people looking at lolcats too much at work…but these are teenagers, guys. What the hell could this kid have been doing at home to merit being watched, AND THEN SUSPENDED FROM SCHOOL? For doing something AT HOME. Really, Harriton High School?

Really.

Again, I don’t have all the data. I don’t pretend to know exactly what happened here, but what I do know is this: Blake Robbins was at home, in his room, doing something. His school activated the webcam on his computer without his knowledge and snapped a photo of him. They used this photo to suspend him from school. Whatever he did, it was not at school, it was at home.

Invasion of privacy is what it sounds like to me, kids. And either (a) someone’s gonna lose their job over this, or (b) kids in the Lower Merion School District need to invest in some electrical tape.

Matthew Resnick is a contributing blogger for SATURDAYS IN THE DARK. His radio program can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9pm at THOR RADIO.COM.

building a NUTSHELL

•February 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

We staged a very informal first reading of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL last night at friend and guest blogger Matthew Resnick’s place in Brooklyn.

We hand-picked a small audience to come out and give thoughts and impressions. Great discussion. And great insight into what needs to be worked on for our performance in March.

Thanks to all who came out and helped last night.

Photos by Kirsten Wolf below.

Nick Luckenbaugh performs WHEAT WILL WIN THE WAR by Joshua Cox.

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Nick Luckenbaugh and Molly Roberson perform Part One of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL by Jason C Stuart.

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Angela Gant performs Part Two of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL

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Joshua Cox performs Part Three of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL.

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less is Moore

•February 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dr Cyclops with wrench for blogContinuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH(COLLISION?)- COURSE to get your geek on for March’s performance BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL

Look long and lovingly at your iMac – it may be a thing of the past by decade’s end if Omar El Akkad from THE GLOBE AND MAIL is right.

IBM is doing some crazy shit right now with “peta-scale computers.”

What’s a peta-scale computer?

According to the article

“To get a sense of how fast a peta-scale computer is, think of every human being on Earth doing a million calculations each. A peta-scale computer can do that every second. This is the kind of computer you use if you want to measure what every atom in a person’s digestive system is doing, or if you are trying to predict what the Earth’s climate will look like in 100 years.”

And I was just thinking that my old tube television was a pretty nifty little piece of machinery.

The article also has a great discussion on MOORE’S LAW – which basically says that technology is going to quickly reach a point where the computer becomes so small – it can’t operate anymore unless it starts to address quantum reality.

Because the computer is starting to dwell in a region where the laws of physics drastically change.

Crazy, crazy shit.

where’s my Art-Deco jet-pack?

•February 22, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Teleportation by 2025…maybe.

But where’s the fun in that if there’s no Art-Deco, Rocketeer-styled jet-pack…?
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Continuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH/COLLISION COURSE – to get your tech juices flowing for our upcoming performance of quantum curio BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL on March 27th – here’s a great little post by Marc Saltzman detailing some predictions by Dave Evans – chief futurist at CISCO – who does predict COMMERCIAL QUANTUM COMPUTERS BY 2020!

Click here for for technological predictions from CISCO – including the assertion that, by the year 2020, a $1000 computer will have the same raw capacity to process info as the human brain does.

Shit. I already feel my computer is smarter than me.

Teleportation at the particulate level is predicted to be happening by 2025.

And yet, still – NO ART-DECO JET-PACK PREDICTED!

What fun is the future if there’s no Art-Deco jet-pack???

building a house of light…i’m in LOVE with this!!!

•February 18, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Continuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH/COLLISION COURSE

Fantastic article dealing with Canadian physicists who have:
“manipulated a mysterious quantum property of light known as entanglement to mount up to two photons on top of each other, thereby allowing the construction a two-story quantum toy house of any style or architecture.”

A house built of light…how cool is that…

Stay tuned for more crazy CRASH/COLLISION COURSE stuff to come…

And please enjoy the Italian Futurist Paintings that I thought of as I read the article.

TOP TO BOTTOM: “Music” (1911) and “House + Light + Sky Movement” (1913) by Luigi Russolo (wonderfully bizarre painter and composer – and author of classic THE ART OF NOISES)

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Turing, Touring, Tomato, Tomahto, let’s call the whole thing off…

•February 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Continuing our QUANTUM COMPUTER CRASH COURSE (and/or COLLISION COURSE)

Some thoughts and responses to our January 30th SNEAK PEEK of BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL from our GUEST BLOGGER MATTHEW “DJ REZ” RESNICK

For those of you that didn’t catch our sneak peek – BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL tells the curious tale of Charles and his new quantum computer that seems to have mysteriously conjured up a literal door in the center of the lab – a door that just might lead to another dimension – where Charles’s dead brother may be alive and well. And desperately trying to get out of this alternate reality.

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Rez says:

Can computers become sentient?

There’s been a lot of discussion about the concept in popular culture (DO YOU WANT TO PLAY GLOBAL THERMONUCLEAR WAR? I’m sorry Dave, but I can’t do that…), but there are real tests and arguments that have happened and continue to occur in computing.

There’s a test called a Turing test, named for one of the pioneers in computer science. The idea is, can I distinguish whether or not this is a person or a computer. Text only, you understand, so no being fooled by a really good voice synth. There have been some grand attempts, but they’ve been failures. Failures, not of imagination, but born of limitations. My brain has no such limitations, except the ones I put on it.

I can start talking about lime flavored, Shoggoth-shaped jelly babies, and you can probably follow most of that. And I can write it.

Can a computer?

That’s the million, nay, trillion dollar question. And that’s one of the underlying questions we’re dealing with here. Is this computer thinking? Is it playing? What does it want? Does it want anything? Where does that door lead? Is it a real place? Or are our protagonists passed out due to acute absinthe intake? It’s all text, you understand.

This could be one big turing test. Someone could be testing from somewhere else to see if there’s sentient life here.

Big questions, all.

Matthew Resnick is a contributing blogger for SATURDAYS IN THE DARK. His radio program can be heard Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7-9pm at THOR RADIO.COM.

shave and a haircut…qubit

•February 17, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Einstein put it best. Quantum Mechanics is “spooky action at a distance.”

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The whole notion that things become weirder and weirder the closer to the heart of the atom you get may be familiar to some. But to those who aren’t familiar with the whole concept – I’ve started compiling a crash course for the initiated to get a taste of the world that’s explored in our upcoming performance BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL.

Not that you need to be an expert – or really know anything – about ANY OF THIS CRAZY SHIT to enjoy the upcoming show. Myself? I’m much more scientific romantic than scientific pragmatist – so I’m taking a dollop of a scientific theory and some scientific fact and loosely weaving it into something a little zany that explores how human relationships – like quantum physics – get weirder and weirder the closer and closer you get to the heart of them.

But quantum computing is a real science that may be something we’re all using in some form or another in the next 50 years.

The whole idea is this: your personal computer is basically a machine built out of switches. Each switch can either be “on” OR “off.” That’s just basic physics. It’s like a light bulb. It can either be ON or it can be OFF. IT CAN’T BE BOTH AT THE SAME TIME.

Well…

The deeper into an atom you go – the rules of physics change. You could – theoretically – have a light bulb that was ON AND OFF SIMULTANEOUSLY.

Mind f###?? You bet!

Quantum computing rests on the theory that if you could build one of those afore mentioned computer switches on a quantum particle (a qubit) – and make that switch work according to that quantum particle’s rules – you could have a switch that was “ON” AND “OFF” SIMULTANEOUSLY. Therefore – with all those switches being “on” and “off” simultaneously – your computer could do infinitely more work at a faster pace than your regular personal computer could.

Think of it this way – the computer you’re reading this on can operate 100 million instructions per second. That’s impressive.

A 300 qubit quantum computer can store more numbers than there are atoms in the observable universe.

Put that in your pipe of mind-boggle and smoke it.

Care to read more?

A crib-sheet on Quantum Computing

Great article from Enviromental Periodical GREENBANG

Nice ‘What-The-Hell-IS-A-Quantum-Computer article from Ars Technica

Some recent developments from MSNBC

More to come. Stay tuned.

the mutants have come

•February 1, 2010 • 2 Comments

We got MUTANT PEEPSHOW up and running. Another SATURDAY IN THE DARK – and it was fantastic.

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And SO MUCH TALENT came out to perform with us!

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and drink with us…

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For those unfamiliar – MUTANT PEEPSHOW was conceived as a contemporary anthology of short, speculative pieces for the stage. Think of it like THE OUTER LIMITS or NIGHT GALLERY for the theater. We threw up works in progress in front of an audience and the buzz was good. And – I had a chance to see the first part of a new full-length I’m working on in front of a real audience. BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL will have a full reading this MARCH. I know…I know…I HATE READINGS…but I want to see the whole thing up in front of an audience and I want to get some feedback…doing it in this sort of context allows it to be more fun for the audience and less indulgent for the writer and actors.

The only hiccup in the entire affair was I got DRENCHED on Monday making the booze run. We had torrential rain in the morning and New York City was awash with a deluge. Fortunately – I managed to keep the booze dry – so no harm.

The place was PACKED! I’m not sure if the photos do it justice. Great audience – and now we’re at capacity for the present place – we’re moving it into the city in MARCH. If you haven’t had a chance to come out and see us – keep checking back with us and we’ll have details very soon.

Thank you Thank you so much Ian Tabatchnick for getting these photos to us. They look sensational.


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(Pictured Above) JASON C STUART kicks off the evening with a couple of numbers from MATTHEW SWEET’s “ALTERED BEAST” album to invoke the spirit of the evening.

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(Pictured Above) JOSHUA COX performs THE DEVIL’S BACKWASH by JASON C STUART.

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(Pictured Above) THOMAS DEMARCUS and KELLY STRANDEMO perform BOUNDED IN A NUTSHELL by JASON C STUART.


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(Pictured Above) THOMAS DEMARCUS, MOLLY ROBERSON’s right hand, and JASON C STUART in RUG SUCKERS by JOSHUA COX.

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(Pictured Above) JASON C STUART performs A HISTORY OF CAT VIOLENCE by MALLORY WESTFALL.

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(Pictured Above) Our FANTASTIC audience!

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(Pictured Above) The Party and Champagne Toast – featuring Jason at a total loss for words at to what to say…other than everyone who came out to join him was WONDERFUL!

Thanks so much for coming.

the unabashed ‘glee’ of POPULAR

•January 28, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I have a confession to make – right here in front of the world. I have a bizarre crush on Mary Cherry from the WB’s 1999-2001 television show POPULAR. And I have no excuse for myself…

wb-popular-ep2x07-1…save to say that Leslie Grossman’s insanely ostentatious performance needs to be locked in a time capsule and placed on the next Voyager mission into space so extraterrestrials can be made aware of humanity’s capacity for comedic ingenuity. Hours after watching this teen melodrama when it was first airing (mostly over my ex-girlfriend’s shoulder on Thursday nights), I’d still find myself laughing uncontrollably at Grossman’s perceptive – and still cunningly silly – send-up of cheerleader stereotypes.

An open note to recent Golden Globe Award winning television show GLEE and its Executive Producer Ryan Murphy – the man responsible for the short-lived but winning POPULAR:

the newest effort’s “jazz hands” and musical earnestness (if I have to hear “DON’T STOP BELIEVING” in the key of glee club one more time…) could use a little of the razor-sharp lunacy that made the previous endeavor so watchable without losing the panache of its musical trappings.

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POPULAR’s first season finale – a very sharp, satirical spoof of televised melodrama’s ongoing love-affair with season finale stunts – actually clutters itself with such stunts. Weddings. And revelations. And musical numbers. The high school students break into a fantasia of musical set pieces (VERY thinly veiled spoofs of EVITA – specifically “A NEW ARGENTINA” – complete with military garb and huge banners waving) that are so patently absurd AND thrillingly vibrant AND knowingly intelligent that…

…well…come to think of it…it’s no wonder it only survived two seasons.

It was a thinking teen’s television show. It used the teen drama genre as a format to explore wider themes of social alienation, struggles with maturation, and the sometimes desperate need for acceptance. On a recent re-watch – I was struck at how complex it allowed its human relationships to be. And I was struck how little has changed in the last ten years since this show was running on the air. If anything – the search for notoriety has become even more intense. AMERICAN IDOL and YouTube et al.

POPULAR was the broader, somewhat flashier cousin of FREAKS AND GEEKS – another engaging study of teen angst that met an untimely demise.

Perhaps these shows were too smart for their own good. Perhaps teen audiences don’t want to think while watching their escapist entertainment.

I was in my mid-twenties at the time and I dug the hell out of POPULAR. Sara Rue – in particular – gave a real pathos and generosity to an archetypal role that could have ended up being little more than “the token heavy girl.” She’s not always the virtuous victim and not always just the girl dealing with her alleged heft. Leslie Bibb and Carly Pope also have some great turns as the leaders of their respective cliques.

And any show that hires Delta Burke and casts her as a sassy Texan matriarch named Cherry Cherry – Mary Cherry’s domineering mother – is a goldmine as far as I’m concerned. And the episode where a Sadie Hawkins dance sends all of our characters into body dysmorphic fits could have easily ended up being schlocky and unrealistic – however this show attacks the issues for both men and women with an honesty and directness that proves genuinely touching.

popularBut the show’s true secret weapon – Mary Cherry. With her gold mane of hair, heavy make-up, and wide Texas twang – she became a reason to hurry home from work so I could catch the show with the ex. Inspired!

GLEE’s mid-season finale – an episode involving our rag-tag gang of singers scrambling to win the coveted Sectionals in order to go on competing closer to the top in Regionals – had some of that satirical spunk that had made POPULAR such a treat. Let’s hope this trend continues. Right now – Jane Lynch’s performance is enough to keep me watching.

But I want to be thrilled and inspired. Perhaps it’s the awkward way that GLEE seems to shoe-horn its musical numbers into real life contexts that keeps it from feeling truly great. If there was ever a genre that never needed to explain its characters refusal to be fourth-walled in – it was the MUSICAL.

Sometimes – GLEE gives us balls-to-the-wall musical numbers. It’s unforgiving in the way it ignores reality. But sometimes – it tries to justify its absurdity in a real world context.

POPULAR went for broke! It owned its insanity and it owned its melodrama. It existed in another universe entirely. And yet – it was a universe so recognizable. Perhaps none of us had a Dirt Eater in our class – but I’m sure we had somebody equally weird – and equally misunderstood.

I say this, GLEE. Less talking about musical numbers…more musical numbers. Embrace the absurdity. Ryan Murphy; You’ve done it before. And it was a blast!

4 quotes make a gallon…

•January 27, 2010 • Leave a Comment

quotes on writer’s block…

“We can’t be as good as we’d want to, so the question then becomes, how do we cope with our own badness?”
(Nick Hornby – author of HIGH FIDELITY)

“People have writer’s block not because they can’t write, but because they despair of writing eloquently.”
(Anna Quindlen – author of ONE TRUE THING)

“Don’t get it right, just get it written.”
(James Thurber – fantastic humorist for THE NEW YORKER magazine)

“I only write when I am inspired. Fortunately I am inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.”
(William Faulkner – author of THE SOUND AND THE FURY)