Shakespeare's Lights

I saw this in my Theatre textbook today: “Interestingly, the division into acts was added after Shakespeareโ€™s dayโ€”his plays were performed outdoors during the daytime, so he included no intermissions.” He may well have included no intermissions but I don’t think it was because of illumination.

A few years ago, I wrote some software during a hackathon that proved illumination from candles would have been required in Shakespeare’s day even at outdoor venues such as the Globe. Also, many of the plays were first performed indoors at The Blackfriar’s. This supposition about illumination and Shakespeare is simply wrong.

If I get a chance farther along in my theatre studies, I’d like to take a really long look at this question. I’ll need to delve much deeper into theatre history and into astronomical observation. I think there’s a falsehood that’s been handed down through the years that feels just right enough but which history and science might help us confirm or deny.

Between the Christmas episode and the Beard episode of Ted Lasso, plus the Writer episodes of Mythic Quest, someone at Apple is greenlighting truly special TV writing and production.

Just saved a guy from ODing. Thanks to the sheriff’s deputy who showed up with his Narcan. I wish I’d had some in the car with me.

Death Songs

I’ve been curating a singular playlist for as long as it’s been possible to have digital playlists. I’ve migrated this list from service to service and device to device. On occasion, I change out a song or maybe two. But, the core of the list seldom changes. This is the list of songs to play at my funeral, in no particular order.

Bring It on Home to Me - Sam Cooke
While the song is his pleading to his lover to come back, there’s still a swagger in the delivery that meets with that tasty saxophone part to make this so damn sexy.

Christ Jesus - Deer Tick
There’s an ominous version of this song on their album War Elephant but I prefer the version from the Black Dirt Sessions. It uses a ringing piano instead of a bass and the lyrics feel a bit more present. I’ve been a seeker my whole life. This song understands that frazzled energy.

Live Oak - Jason Isbell
This song touches on a feeling I’ve had many times. Any of us that have gone through things that expose our darker dualities get it.

Tired of Being Alone - Al Green
This is where Hall and Oates stole it from. Another pleading man who might not be fully honest with himself or his lady friend.

Holding Back the Years - Simply Red
For my Dad.

Song for Zula - Phosphorescent
I’m happy that I haven’t had my heart broken like this poor bastard. The fury in this song is scary but it’s delivered with such despair that it becomes beautiful.

Change of Time - Josh Ritter
Wrestles with infinities with disarming simplicity.

Somewhere Over the Rainbow - Israel Kamakawiwo’ole
Schmaltzy perhaps and beautiful in equal measure.

Atlantic City - The Band
Yes. A cover of the Springsteen tune. I like this version better.

Farewell Transmission - Songs: Ohia
Jason Molina is my favorite songwriter. He was able to see something in between the lines the rest of us fixate on. He was a conduit for a timeless yearning.

Many Rivers to Cross - Jimmy Cliff
There’s always one more river, Jimmy.

Jesus, Etc. - Wilco
I’ve often said this is one of the saddest songs but, jesus, don’t cry about it.

I’ve Just Seen a Face - The Beatles
That rush of love at first sight. It happened to me. It could happen to you.

Astral Plane - Valerie June
Her voice echoes an ancient Appalachia and then stretches to some future space zen godhead. It’s odd and tender and fragile and springs from the Earth.

A Little Bit of Everything - Dawes
The metaphors are strained but the feelings are real. I get the deep dissatisfaction this song finds a solution to.

No Hard Feelings - The Avett Brothers
I hope this is how it goes at the end.

The Maze - Manchester Orchestra
What a wonderful evocation of the complexities of loving someone to the point that it confounds you.

Gardening at Night - R.E.M.
My favorite band of all time and the first song of theirs that I ever heard. It will forever be at the center of my heart.

You can listen on this playlist.

I have to memorize a very long monologue in the next week or less. Looking on the Internet for tips about how to memorize things is a fool’s errand. It’s a morass of “quick, easy tips” that clearly take years to learn if they work at all.

Ezell’s Law: “When working in technology, there is an inverse relationship between speed and momentum. The short-sighted often embrace the former at the expense of the latter.”

It’s been fun to watch our son start to take responsibility and pride in the work he does for school.

Effusive Joy

If you’ve never seen someone step into something that scares the shit out of them and then do the work to get better at it with clear-eyed effort, you’re missing out on a core joy of being human.

When I was a teacher, this happened not often but regularly enough that it was the main payoff of doing that work. As I moved into my software engineer career, it was quite rare but the occasional person just starting their career would bring this kind of energy to the team. As I grow long in the tooth in my career, it’s more and more rare to experience this kind of challenge or to see others do it.

This is one reason, among so many, that I’m absolutely thrilled to be back in school taking acting classes. Every single session, one or more of the students throws themselves into a monologue or a scene. They leave behind any self-censoring or worry about what they might look like. It’s the best energy to be around. It reminds me of how we can move through the world without guile and without fear.

Sure, I want to build some skills and tools around my acting. I’d love to do it on a more regular basis. But, if none that comes to pass, my gift is witnessing these young people take hold of that moment in a way that I did not at their age. I spent far too much of my young adulthood afraid of what others might say or think. Or, I was lost in a land of privileged indulgence.

The days I spend with these classmates bring me joy I haven’t had in a decade or more.

I would love to see someone like James Gunn take on a reboot of the Remo Williams movies series that never was a series. I think a director like that could make something special from the pulpiness of the source material.

Today was my third day in acting class at the local college. I haven’t yet found a way to describe how incredibly powerful it is to sit in a room of folks all working to get better at their art. The questions, discussions, and effort are pure joy.

“If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; but if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.” - Don Marquis

Something to consider when writing and trying to be honest.

I’m watching this Beckett movie on Netflix. This man is in a Greek police precinct and behind the policeman’s head on the wall is ACAB written prominently above the light switch.

This book’s sense of place, and light, and heat, and shadow has me jealous beyond measure.

Currently reading: In the Valley of the Sun: A Novel by Andy Davidson ๐Ÿ“š

A Rapacious Infrastructure

I’ve worked in the tech industry since 1998. Mostly, I’ve been building websites or more precisely, web applications. I’ve primarily worked in that middle space between the average business website and the larger infrastructure of the Internet. I build applications that are themselves the product or which enable some other product that the company may offer.

That means that for the last 23 years I’ve been a consumer, in one form or another, of the larger infrastructure companies that dominate tech today. Be that Microsoft, Google, or Amazon. These companies provide the bulk of the physical and material backbone behind almost all of the Internet. We’ve known for a long time that the data centers they run (and that large services like Facebook run) are environmentally disastrous. They are huge power and water users. They are eyesore blights wherever they are built. They are designed to run with minimal staffing so they don’t even provide many jobs.

It won’t surprise you then that they are also horrible employers and local citizens which often take advantage of sweetheart tax deals to extract the maximum from any community they are in without giving anything back. This shouldn’t surprise anyone paying half attention to anything else these companies do.

What can we as builders who use these services do? What can we as users of sites that use these services do? Can we democratize and decentralize? How does that work in a world with laws and regulations about data protection and privacy such as the healthcare world I currently work in? Are there viable alternatives?

These questions are just surface layer avoidance type questions. At a deeper level, we should examine the processes by which our local governments accept these deals. Where is the money going? Why are these kinds of deals repeatedly agreed to when there’s overwhelming evidence that they never pay out? Maybe there’s greater power in working locally to make it harder for these companies to act this way.

It makes sense to me that we should be careful about the language we use in the forest. While most folks would scoff at this Pandanus language as superstitious nonsense, we all know that the forest has ears.

I’m in the wrong business. This cereal is $10 per 7oz box. I buy some ridiculous, bougie, “health” foods and this is too ridiculous for me. magicspoon.com/products/…

We are traveling to pick up our son from camp. There have been a few letters home and a few photos on the camp website. Five weeks is the longest I’ve ever been away from him.

A week in and Rich Eisen is still terrible. Bad jokes about names he finds hard to pronounce. Juvenile chuckles and an entire segment smiling about the word shuttlecock. I’m not against a joke but try to make it somewhat intelligent. ๐Ÿ…

This NY Times article about running has some great stats and measurements about how the body runs. Most interesting to me is how regardless of speed or style or physical size, some factors are universal.

Streaming the Olympics

As Catie Keck points out in this article on the Verge, streaming the Olympics is a mess. One thing Catie didn’t point out that has been particularly vexing to me is how they’ve not included full DVR/VOD of any sports on Peacock. Especially for users that pay for the premium tier of Peacock, being able to watch full coverage of any sport seems like a no brainer.

Instead, I have to go to NBCOlympics.com and sign in with a non-streaming TV provider. It feels like it’s intentionally designed to punish so-called cord cutters even though those users are the ones most likely to be paying for the premium Peacock tier.

I just don’t believe that any of this is a technical limitation. If they can provide the VOD on NBCOlympics.com, then the content is surely able to be added to Peacock. I assume this has something to do with contractual obligations and rights management or something.

But think about this, the Games were delayed a full year. Peacock was launched on July 15, 2020 which would have been right around the time the Olympics were originally scheduled to start. Someone over there had to have been thinking then how Peacock figured into the plans. Then, they were given an entire year to improve on those, likely rushed, plans.

Yet, they’ve delivered a byzantine and punitive system with poor discovery and unclear capabilities. If anything could have boosted paid subscribers to Peacock, unfettered access to full VODs of all coverage could have been it. In our house, we’d have paid extra to be able to watch every minute of the equestrian events whether they be live or recorded.

๐Ÿ…๐Ÿ“บ

My coworker is unhappy with their desk location.

Happy to have just pre-ordered a Playdate handheld gaming machine. This scratches the itch of quirky, easy to pick up and jump in, while also helping stretch the boundaries of games in a novel way.

It’s new comic book day. One of the things I really like about reading comics is that new issues come out (nearly) every Wednesday. There’s a rhythm to that which tickles my need for routine. It’s also a bit like getting really good mail every week.

It’s easy to ignore how what we eat affects not just our physical health but our mental health. I struggle with it. Yet, when I string together a week or two of clean, reasonable eating, the results are crystal clear. Humans are terrible at this kind of decision-making.

In what year did pitchers become “very serious players” instead of the characters and bon vivants of the game? I get there’s a lot of money blowing around but have a little fun. โšพ