From the Blogroll XVII: Enraging Engagement or Engaging Enrangement?

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At A Poor Player, Tom Loughlin assures everyone he’s “in something of a vacation mode” since closing a production of The Tempest, but good golly, if what he’s writing represents vacation mode, I’d be terrified to see him all worked up to a full lather. It’s mostly to do with David Cote’s widely distributed “wishes” for NYC theater, which illustrates, among other things, that if you give someone a platform, they’ll generally tend to wear heels. Loughlin, in reaction, discusses the “pecking order in the blogosphere…which places those people blogging in NYC about NYC theatre (indie and otherwise) as those people who are blogging about the ‘real’ action in theatre,” and in a specific reply to Cote’s clarion call for bloggers to “engage and enrage,” he writes

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…no matter how much we attempt to “engage and enrage” with the bloggers of NYC, no one there is truly going to take anyone outside the city seriously if we make any suggestions about theatre or how to reform it. I mean, when was the last time you read about a panel on theatre bloggers and theatre blogging which had as one of its participants a blogger from outside NYC?

But that’s not all. Loughlin’s attitude, and I admire it, seems to be that if Cote wants engaging and enraging,” perhaps it should come from the non-Cote among us:

It would be nice if the NYC blogosphere would look up long enough to try and get a pulse on the rest of the country theatrically and at least acknowledge its existence (it would be too much to expect them to “engage and enrage” the country as a whole).

Indeed, here’s the fireball that could set wars aflame:

So how about this for Mr. Cote and the NYC blogosphere in general as an “engaging and enraging” statement: The biggest problem with NYC theatre – one Mr. Cote fails to mention – is that it is doing nothing more than perpetuating the notion, held by the nation at large, that theatre is, by and large, a gay art form written by effete, white, upper-middle-class liberal types who are concerned largely with musicals and with plays where whining characters can’t look up from gazing at their navels long enough to get a real life. It has nothing to say to anyone outside NYC or its own practitioners. It is, furthermore, wholly unconcerned with communicating with ordinary people about national problems such as high unemployment, recession, Wall St. terrorism, unending and useless wars, government secrecy and illegality, racism, poverty, or other national ills (unless, of course, we can turn these topics into a musical). If it does do this, it does so only in a way its own practitioners can understand. It believes we should all be watching 7 hours of Les Ephemeres.

Well, speaking of heels, hm? It all seems a little, forgive me, disingenuous: Loughlin knows, or ought to know, that theater is not “by and large a gay art form written by effete, white, upper-middle-class liberal types.” As for the litany of social-interest topics that he claims remain unaddress by the theater, perhaps he should go to the theater more if he doesn’t believe they’re being addressed. And to slam musical theater? Easy target, darling. (I’m employing the word “darling” in honor of those effete, white, upper-middle-class liberal types who used to create that gay art form known as theater.) The CFR adores Loughlin, but the whole post does seem rabblerousing for the sake of rabblerousing. True, no one enjoys rousing rabble more than the CFR, but let’s stay pertinent, shall we? Hey, what about that vacation?

At Adam Szymkowicz’s blog, Adam Szymkowicz interviews Mac Rogers, who is going to be a major American playwright, mark my words — already is, in fact. There’s also an interview with Cusi Cram and Michael Puzzo; the latter also happens to be the current “5 Questions” feature on The Clyde Fitch Report.

At Arts Counselling, Mark Robinson joins the DIY circuit, discussing a new report that we statesiders might want to take a gander at: Do it yourself: cultural and creative self-employment in hard times by New Deal of the Mind for Arts Council England. And again, while this is an England thing, this comment will give some cheer to the conservatives:

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Where I think the report hits the bull’s-eye is in drawing attention to the lack of focus on self-employment in the government’s approach to recession and job creation.

At Arts Marketing, Chad M. Bowman, director of communications at Arena Stage, offers a detailed discourse on pricing as a way to generating a certain kind of buying behavior — as in buying tickets early at a low price and forcing those who don’t buy and want to see that new hit to have to pony up considerably more cash. Seems fair, though, of course, the whole question of implementation and asking the consumer to gauge what will or will not be a hit seems like a lot of effort to ask ordinary stage lovers to put in. Nevertheless, consider these graphs and let’s debate:

…we should start looking more at pricing as a strategy to encourage early purchasing behavior. The traditional approach of discounting performances early in a run is one method of attack, but I would suggest looking at what happens after a show takes off. If consumers are waiting for a great review before purchasing, then we should capitalize on that as much as possible. Several arts organizations have experimented with demand based pricing. This isn’t a new idea, but I believe that we are just now starting to perfect it.

Demand based pricing provides an incentive for early purchasers–they will be “insured” against a spike in ticket prices if a show receives a fantastic review and takes off. Late purchasers who wait until a review hits, will have to pony up significantly more than those who leap before the review. Just as patrons learn that some companies do fire sales on shows that aren’t selling well, they will soon learn that they either purchase early or pay a premium for waiting for the review. There simply is no incentive for late purchasers to buy early if they can get a relatively good seat at the same or similar price point as an early purchaser…

At Americans for the Arts’ Artsblog, Ben Burdick writes a post about a tweet (that’s a 21st century clause if I ever wrote one). The National Symphony Orchestra is trying out this marketing and promotions experiment:

The NSO will use the popular micro-blogging site during the performance to send messages about the pieces they are performing to those following the NSO’s Twitter feed, whether they’re in the audience or not. The NSO hopes that these tweets will allow followers in the audience to gain a better understanding of the music and what’s happening during the performance.

Also, Merryl Goldberg has an excellent post about the taping of a new show on ABC family — Ruby and the Rockitsand what it tells us about the value of persistence and perseverance in the arts. She illustrates this by spending a fair amount of time talking about who is involved in the program — David and Shaun Cassidy. Seriously, it’s worth the read.

Finally, Stephanie Evans offers a post that is directly related to the niche of the Clyde Fitch Report. She’s writing about graduate school and the utility of it for arts administrators and advocates. But there’s this graph:

…now that I’ve been out of school for a bit, I’ve begun to question what the next generation of leadership would look like if in addition to being taught fundraising and financial management, we were also taught how to advocate and build relationships with city/state government. What would our future look like if young leaders learned how to reach beyond the walls of their organizations, into their community, and understood the connection between the arts and community development? What if we are taught today how to be true leaders in our community tomorrow? By learning and practicing advocacy and community development skills, emerging leaders will not only be successful managers of arts organizations, we’ll have the resources necessary to communicate our organizations’ value to those who need to hear it.

Amen.

At Artsy Schmartsy, Jonathan West is going to be a Pulitzer Prize finalist for his coverage of the Skylight Opera Theatre saga, or should I say “opera.” He writes, for example, about a meeting he attended that included board members of the company — some of those that are left. The group, he says,

all were very eager to listen to a group of artists that had been invited to a small meeting at The Skylight, and though their ears were big they ultimately were unable to give us any answers that would satisfy us that the decisions that were made at The Skylight were proper ones.

There were also artists in the room, and Eric Dillner the managing director who has been cast, and with good reason, as one of the villains in this mess, a pathetic purveyor of intramural skullduggery that depicts him as scheming to oust the group’s longtime artistic director in order to further his dastardly aims. This may sound like a three-scotch night at a bar on the Lower East Side, but it’s high crimes and misdemeanors in Milwaukee, where theater people take their theater politics seriously and brook no skullduggery.

West thinks Dillner must resign; that’s been his position all along. But also, he writes

I will continue to defend something about Eric Dillner that needs to be acknowledged. The man nobly recognized a long brewing financial disaster at The Skylight months ago. He started the process that needs to be started, one that will continue to be daunting for a long time to come. Unfortunately, he tripped badly. Very, very badly. His actions after the trip have been divisive to the point of outrageous. I don’t believe these actions were planned, and that perhaps is the greatest tragedy in this tale. For right or wrong, Eric is the fall guy in this very sad state of affairs.

There are also these videos — very interesting to watch.

At the Brennan Center for Justice, Jonathan Blitzer writes about “recusal reform” — the standards by which judges determine whether they should or should not recuse themselves from a particular case. This particular piece pertains to the Michigan Supreme Court, but it raises an interesting question: If they can initiate such reform in Michigan, why not the Supreme Court? Justice Antonin Scalia, we all know, has voting on cases in which he has clearly and without a doubt been conflicted.

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Here’s more on the Michigan situation:

The Court is currently considering 3 proposals – open to public comment through August 1 – that would define what constitutes a conflict of interest. Naturally, the proposals vary, and one, so-called Proposal C, is better than the rest. In a letter filed today with the Michigan Supreme Court, the Brennan Center and Justice at Stake explained why. Unlike the other proposals, Proposal C would, among other things:

  • Amend the current court rule for disqualifications, which would be easier and clearer than creating a new rule with uncertain reach;
  • Make the list of grounds for disqualification non-exclusive, meaning that rules guiding disqualification remain flexible and responsive to instances not specifically listed in the rule itself;
  • Insert important language calling for disqualification when a judge’s “impartiality might objectively and reasonably be questioned”;
  • Require a judge to publish reasons for his or her ruling on a party’s motion for disqualification; and
  • Allow for a court-wide review of a judge’s denial of motion for his or her disqualification.

While Proposal C is, without question, the most desirable of all the options, there are additional reforms that could strengthen the proposal – like paying special attention to cases involving campaign contributors, enhancing disclosure by litigants and judges, empowering recusal advisory bodies, facilitating judicial education, and increasing and consolidating uniform data collection on disqualification motions and their dispositions. The Brennan Center discussed these at greater length in the letter.

There’s also a great piece on the DemocracyRestoration Act of 2009, which is sitting in Congress. And yet a piece on a similar subject — this time pertaining just to the state of Wisconsin — and why conservatives, who you’d imagine would be opposed to restoring voting rights to felons who have paid their debt to society, are jumping aboard.

At Christopher Heath, Christopher Heath makes my day not only by talking about bad weather, but quoting one of my favorite songs by the Smiths.

At Collisionworks, Ian W. Hill offers spectacular coverage of the nominees fete of the New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including plenty of acknowledgement for the Brick Theater, naturally. If you want information on the four shows Hill is involved with/presenting/directing in August at the Brick, click here.

At Createquity, the enterprising and quick-keyboard-fingered Ian David Moss inaugurates his much-anticipated Arts Policy Library with a look at a study, Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts that is so long I understand James Joyce came back from the dead to ask Moss how he did it. (Observing this obsequious act, James Michener also came back from the head and said, “Down sit, Joyce.”) Anyway, as Moss notes, the authors of the report examine studies in the following areas as they pertain to intersection with the arts:

Cognitive benefits (increased academic performance, test scores; improved reading/math skills, ability to learn)

Attitudinal and behavioral benefits (increased self-discipline, self-efficacy, school attendance, perserverance; better understanding of behavioral consequences, working in teams; development of pro-social behaviors among at-risk youth)

Health benefits (improved mental and physical health among elderly, premature babies, and mentally and physically handicapped, and patients with dementia, Parkinson’s, acute pain, depression; reduced stress and improved performance for caregivers; reduced anxiety for patients facing surgery or childbirth)

Community benefits (increased interactions between community members, social capital, organizational capacity and infrastructure, civic engagement)

Economic benefits (direct impacts: employment, tax revenue, spending; indirect impacts: the ability to draw high-value firms and workers to an area; public good benefits: increased quality of life)

At The Critical Condition, Mark Blankenship ponders the meaning of that wedding video that went insanely viral: Did it, or will it help to, resurrect Chris Brown’s career? (If you answer the question incorrectly, Chris Brown beats the living crap out of you.)

At Culturebot, Andy enlightens us with information about “the Art & Education Papers archive, a new global platform for sharing and distributing research and knowledge in the field of contemporary art.” (Ian David Moss must be kvelling that his own arts-writing archive idea is already sprouting cousins.) A collaboration between the magazine Artforum and the online journal e-flux,

A&E Papers aims to exponentially widen the accessibility and reach of art-historical and critical discourse by hosting a free online platform for the publication and exchange of texts on modern and contemporary art. Art historians, students, critics, and artists alike will have the opportunity to gain access to a far greater and more focused readership than conventional publishing allows, while also enjoying unlimited access to a deep archive of scholarly writing by and for Art & Education’s rapidly growing audience, which currently comprises an international network of more than 70,000 visual arts professionals and academics. At a time when the distribution of many forms of knowledge remains confined to small conferences, private seminars, or specialized academic journals, we believe that the broad distribution and exchange of ideas is key to increasing dialogue in all aspects of art production, criticism, and history.

…we are now calling for either new or already existing scholarly articles from around the world. Texts should be comprehensive, research-based articles focusing on topics in 20th century and contemporary art. Texts may be culled from conference papers, seminar papers, dissertation chapters, etc. We ask that you submit pieces anywhere from 2,000 words to approximately 10,000 words and include a 100 word abstract and full contact information (or publication information for previously published texts). All submissions will be considered for publication on the website.

Please submit articles by email to papers@artandeducation.net and consult the website for further information and updates: http://www.artandeducation.net/papers.

Andy also looks at all the theatrical and cultural attention of late being given to the Mattachine Society. We’re not just talking about Jon Marans’ excellent play The Temperamentals, although that alone could sustain a great swath of the conversation. A few days ago there was also this piece at Dixon Place. And apparently New York Theatre Workshop is commissioning a piece as well.

At Curbed: Architecture, there is coverage of the showdown between Jean Nouvel — whose proposed design for 53 West 53rd Street, beside the Museum of Modern Art, is daring, yes, but hardly audacious — and a rival’s design at a City Planning Commission rumble, er, meeting. More hyper-expensive living for the trust-fund babies of tomorrow.

At Curbed: Manhattan: Midtown West/Times Square, Joeynyc provides a peek at that monument to ennui that’s rising on the corner of 44th Street and Eighth Avenue. Shaft, indeed. Also, did you know about the Nordstrom Rack coming to Union Square. That is not a sexist joke.

At Dilettante, Mike Daisey points everybody to this surprisingly biting commentary by Craig Ferguson (courtesy, too, to Jen Ryan for bringing this video to my attention):

At Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals (darling, what on earth does one learn from Teddy and Alice), Chris Caggiano takes the New York Post’s Michael Reidel to task for his “pointlessly snarky” column about the closing of 9 to 5, but then sort of backtracks, but then sort of doesn’t backtrack. You know, Jenny made her mind up when she was three. It’s good advice.

At Extra Criticum, Rolando Teco ushers in a new column called The Way In — “in which artists describe how/why/when they first knew they wanted to devote themselves to a life in the arts.” One of the first profiles is of playwright Kathleen Warnock: awesome choice!

At Factcheck.org, the idea that the taxpayers picked up the tab on the recent European jaunt by the First Lady and her daughters is debunked. Birthers, those unpatriotic civil-war-fomenting idiots, scurry in fear.

At Flux Theatre Ensemble, August Schulenberg weights in on David Cote’s widely distributed “wishes” for NYC theater, which illustrates, among other things, that if you give someone a platform, they’ll generally tend to wear heels. This part of his take is particularly interesting:

First, let’s give rage it’s due: it can be a powerful motivating force. It can take the form of a necessary righteousness in the face of legitimate oppression.

But rage comes with a significant cost. It obscures, rather than clarifies. It sees stereotypes instead of complexities, enemies instead of allies, two dimensions instead of three. It is more interested in defending turf than affecting change. Above all, rage believes with 100% certainty that it is right. Where there is no doubt, there is little opportunity for change.

That may sound Jedi-ish, but I mean it practically. It is almost impossible to change someone’s deepest convictions though battle unless you are willing to obliterate them.

…Compassion is more difficult then rage, but ultimately, more effective. If that seems a little too much like a John Lennon song for bare-knuckle theatre-o-sphere, I would suggest you haven’t considered the true revolutionary possibilities, and practicalities, of compassion.

At Fragments: I Can Have Oodles of Charm When I Want To, Monica gives us the top ten plays in Iowa during the 2008-09 season. Don’t dismiss this post because it’s Iowa: Monica has proven herself repeatedly to have more of a handle on what’s going on in New York and nationally than lots of people in New York or elsewhere. Another example: Her coverage of Michael Reidel’s coverage of the Tony-voter disenfranchisement mess. (By the way, Monica: I doubt that Michael wrote his column just to make Matt Windman happy. Matt would need a diamond ring for that.)

At Interchanging Idioms, Chip Michael reports on bad news — with some good news, of a sort — coming out of Baltimore:

In recognition of significant shortfalls in revenues, the musicians of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and the BSO Board of Directors have approved concessions to the players’ current three-year contract, originally settled in August 2008. There will be two weeks of voluntary furlough in August 2009 and three additional weeks of furlough and a pay cut in the 2009-2010 season. The combination of a pay cut and furloughs will result in a 12.5% reduction in annual salary. Several positions in the orchestra will remain vacant and pension contributions will be reduced. The total savings amount to $1.9 million.

Also, if you want to open to Ben Folds and the Boston Pops, your dream moment is upon you. Finally, he takes on the point of writing reviews, which in the area of music is a different question, in some ways, than questions having to do with reviewing theater. Agree or disagree, Michael’s take is worth a read.

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At The Fortress of Jason Grote, Jason Grote excerpts a story in the Kenyon Review that includes a passage about his feeling for musicals. It isn’t what you think. Plus there’s a shoutout on behalf of the internship program at New Dramatists.

At Ken Davenport’s The Producer’s Perspective, Ken Davenport returned to his favorite subject — no, not himself — but why he’s producing the revival of Oleanna. Of course, the universe already knew that Mamet, despite his recent political shifting toward the shiftless right, is a great American playwright. That David Mamet is unquestionably a misogynist should not deter Davenport from making money off of him.

At Life Upon the Sacred Stage, Retta Blaney gives a promo for the TRU New Voices Musicals Reading Series, which is not, I guess, to be abbreviated as TRUNVMRS. Retta also gives us the 411 on the 2009 Broadway Blessing, which is coming up in September.

At Moxie the Maven, Moxie the Maven responds to David Cote’s widely distributed “wishes” for NYC theater, which illustrates, among other things, that if you give someone a platform, they’ll generally tend to wear heels. He/she/it writes:

The responses to Cote’s wish list make an interesting read – one fairly well-known theater actor even weighs in in the comments with, “Eek! To want to give bloggers more power seems not only a frightening prospect, but a downright dangerous one. I am an actor who has admittedly scoured the internet for bloggers’ “reviews” and “dirt” and have found them to be more often than not dangerous, cruel, irrational, and from an uneducated POV!” Eek, indeed – the old saying springs to mind, don’t ask the question if you don’t want to know the answer. Or in this case, don’t google if you don’t want to read the review, whether it’s from All That Chat, a bitchy blog, or the New York Times.

Meanwhile, a lengthier discussion of theater blogging and the Engage/Enrage concept is raging here, stemming from David Cote’s cyber-evisceration of blogger (and playwright) George Hunka. Many theater bloggers make appearances in the comments section, including Surplus‘s Jaime, who questions how realistic it is for us to be the provacateurs of the entertainment industry when we ourselves have careers within that industry to consider. I’ve had my fair share of uncomfortable professional moments due to stuff I’ve posted. Even as an anonymous blogger, I have to be pretty thoughtful about what I post and who it might engage/enrage, and while it would be cool to be the Nikki Finke of the NYC theater scene, not getting fired is nice, too.

At the Nonprofit Law Blog, Gene Takagi introduced the hitherto uninitiated to the NP Myth:

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NP-Myth: the fatal assumption that any individual who has a passion about a charitable mission can successfully create and manage a sustainable nonprofit to further that mission.

At New York State Assembly Member Micah Kellner’s blog, Micah Kellner takes Bloomberg’s garbage plan out to the curb, kicks it, drives a Sanitation truck over it and sets it on fire:

While I was disappointed to learn of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) decision granting the City’s permit application for a Marine Transfer Station (MTS) at East 91st Street in my district (see the end of this post for the decision in full), the fight does not end here. In the Assembly, I continue to push my bill (A.6829/S.3112) to prohibit the siting of a solid waste transfer station within 800 feet of a public housing complex. I was pleased that my bill made progress this year and was passed by the Environmental Conservation and Codes Committees. I also strongly support the Gracie Point Community Council‘s plans to file an Article 78 lawsuit in State Supreme Court to challenge the validity of the DEC ruling.

There is still time to put a full stop to this madness. How can the Bloomberg administration continue to argue that this makes sense even while the Department of Education prepares for the fall opening of the new PS 151 elementary school on East 91st Street between First and Second Avenues (See “Braced for Garbage,” Our Town, June 17, 2009)? The good news for us is that the Bloomberg Administration has not budgeted for the project for the upcoming fiscal year, pushing back implementation to 2011 at the earliest. Meanwhile, in addition to the Article 78 proceedings, an earlier lawsuit filed by Gracie Point Community Council arguing that the MTS is unlawful park alienation is still pending.

This project is taking longer and costing more than anyone ever imagined. If the Mayor was truly interested in fiscal discipline and efficient government, he’d abandon this boondoggle now. Elections have consequences.

The Clyde Fitch Report heartily encourages Kellner not to let the Bloomberg vivisection stop there. The loss of civil freedoms under Bloomie is a tragedy Kellner is duty bound, in my view, to point up. And while the CFR is on record as being against term limits as a concept, for Bloomberg to have thwarted the will of the people in order to gain access to a third term is the most heinous, unforgivable, fundamentally undemocratic action this website can think of (unless it is time to remember the Bush Administration). Kellner should thump that bible, too.

At On Chicago Theatre, dramaturg-cum-critic Zev N. Valancy treats readers to a review of a double-bill of Albee’s The Zoo Story and The Sandbox. Well, a review with some disclaimers that make sense when you read them. Must be interesting, though, to catch The Zoo Story without its more recently written prequel.

At On Theatre and Politics, Matt Freeman weighs in on health reform and doesn’t cough in the process, which is a good thing considering the current state of the debate. For those who believe in the public option, this paragraph is a passel of validation:

I believe in the public option and I believe we can’t achieve true reform without one. But I also think there are initiatives on the table besides the public option that, if passed, will fundamentally improve health care for everyone. It’s easy to focus on the uninsured, and forget that those Americans with insurance, even presumably decent insurance, are still trapped and abused by the system.

One of the awful facts of our current system is that it relies on employer based coverage, which ties good health care to your employment. This means that leaving a job, striking out with a new business, taking risks financially: they all become life or death decisions with possibly catastrophic risks to your finances and your health. If you have insurance (like I do), the control of a for-profit system has made indentured servants of us all. If each person’s right is life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness… isn’t this against our core principles? Of course. The public option isn’t just to help those without insurance currently get coverage: it’s to free those with insurance from the fear of losing it.

Insurers abusive behavior towards those that pay high premiums in good faith should be literally criminalized. To create confusing forms, to seek to deny claims based on technicalities, and to reward the withholding of service for payment rendered is not only hardly a free market service, but is a business practice akin to lying. To sell something, and then not provide it, is fraud. In all the legislation that I’ve read about, there are provisions that would penalize insurers for this type of behavior. That alone, with no other reform, is a huge step improvement. Simply put, the law must be changed in order to force insurance companies to alter their own behavior. Their excuse is never that what they’re doing is right…their excuse is that it is currently legal to deny coverage for any purpose they see fit.

Freeman also takes on David Cote’s widely distributed “wishes” for NYC theater, which illustrates, among other things, that if you give someone a platform, they’ll generally tend to wear heels. While the Clyde Fitch Report takes a bit of umbrage at the idea that it doesn’t foment engagement or enragement, we do think this section of the post is especially poignant:

First of all, I’ve had this blog since January of 2005. That’s four and a half years of writing in this space. It took me less time to get a BFA. I don’t feel particularly guilty about having quiet patches or using this space for self-promotion. Between actually pursuing my career as a playwright, working a full-time job as an Assistant Director in a cubicle 40 plus hours a week, and trying to have a life, the blog sometimes is not my top priority. Sue me. I am not a citizen journalist. When I have nothing in particular to say, or nothing of merit to add to a conversation, I don’t see why I should make shit up. It won’t fix New York theater, that’s for sure.

At Parabasis, Isaac Butler, when not busy pretending certain bloggers don’t exist, provides the world with analysis of a recent Forbes piece blaming nonprofits for contributing to their own fiscal messes by investing their endowments recklessly. Gee, hope that trust fund is ok.

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At Reflections in the Light, Lauren Yarger touts Retta Blaney’s upcoming direction of the 2009 Broadway Blessing, which will feature the talents of Lynn Redgrave, J. Mark McVey and Carol Hall.

At The Awl, Ana Marie Cox and Jason Linkins get the Blogpost of the Week Award, which is entitled: The Annotated White House Flickr Feed, with Ana Marie Cox and Jason Linkins: A Trip Around the World Visiting Tiny, Evil, Horny and/or Kenyan Men. The images of President Obama are amazing, but the commentary is even more savagely fabu.

At The Hub Review, Tom Garvey, whose blog has been delightfully becoming much more biting of late, outdoes himself with a post sure to win him friends and enemies: Why Henry Louis Gates, Jr. should sit down and shut up. Might there be another teachable moment on the way? (And does anyone hate “teachable” moment as much as I do?)

At Theatre Aficionado at Large, Kevin Daly reports on a bit of a wonderful dream, courtesy of an article in the Daily Mail, that could get me on a plane bound for London:

Angela Lansbury wants to come home to England to make what she believes will be her final stage appearance. The star is eager to bring a production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit to the West End. She played the phoney old medium, Madame Arcati, with much gusto opposite Rupert Everett on Broadway earlier this year.

But the actress, now in her 84th year, is insistent that the comedy goes to the Theatre Royal, Haymarket, and only the Theatre Royal, Haymarket.

The reason? Ms Lansbury’s mother Moyna Macgill was also an actress, and performed on the West End stage, including the Haymarket, in the years before World War II.

Angela has told friends and associates that she doesn’t need to come to London (she certainly doesn’t need the money), but feels it would ‘complete the circle’ if she did Blithe Spirit at the Haymarket as a way of honouring her mother, and ending her stage career on a high note.

Daly also reports on the Tony-voter disenfranchisement fiasco, though he does manage to omit at least one blogger’s, er, coverage of the matter.

At Theatre North Carolina, Shane Hudson reports on Andre De Shields receiving the “Living Legend” award at the 2009 National Black Theatre Festival, which runs Aug. 3 through Aug. 9 in Winston-Salem.