Dead Blogging ‘A Number’ at New Repertory Theatre

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Watertown last night to catch A Number at the New Rep and say, it was . . . headspinning.


In this stark and startling drama, a son confronts his emotionally distant father, learning a horrifying truth about his past. As anger and abandonment issues emerge, a mystery is exposed, revealing a disturbing incident involving a number of “others.” A Number is an illuminating and provocative work by internationally acclaimed playwright Caryl Churchill in which she examines individuality and the theory of nature versus nurture.

It’s all about cloning . . . and conflict . . . and identity, with dialogue that spurts forth in broken sentences that start and stop and restart and restop and eventually collapse into themselves.

Dale Place is terrific as the father, and Nael Nacer (who we last saw in a heartwrenching turn in the Lyric Stage’s Intimate Apparel) is fabulous in his depiction of a double-helix trifecta of characters.

The production, directed by Clay Hopper, runs through November 1st.




A captivating night of theater. Do yourself a favor and see it.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (Umpteenth Yoko Ono Edition)

Yoko Ono pays for full-page ads in the New York Times almost as often as Lord & Taylor does.

So it was again yesterday, when the Rift Beatle ran this ad in the Times to mark John Lennon’s 75th birthday.


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Imagine John Lennon at 75.

God damn it.

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Boston Is One Crappy Baseball Town

Full disclosure: The hardworking staff has been a Made Yankee Fan in Boston for over 40 years. And for almost all of them, we’ve contended that people here are not baseball fans.

They’re Red Sox fans.

Exhibit Umpteen:

It’s 11:50 Friday night, the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets are locked in a 1-0 NLDS nail biter, and no Boston radio station is broadcasting the game.

The one that should be – WEEI, the local ESPN radio station – has some lame Patriots palaver on the air right now.

(To be sure graf goes here)

To be sure, you could listen to the game on WEEI’s website.


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But seriously, no local radio gamecast?

This is one crappy baseball town.

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Good Grey Lady Opens the Kimono: NYT Must Monetimes Itself

Yesterday’s New York Times reported that today’s New York Times Company is all about show me the monetize!

The New York Times Company Outlines a Strategy to Double Its Digital Revenue

The New York Times Company released a strategy memo to its staff on Wednesday outlining an ambitious plan to double digital revenue to $800 million in 2020 from $400 million in 2014, in part through a focus on increasing subscriptions and engagement with its most loyal readers.

The memo, which was signed by the company’s chief executive, Mark Thompson, and the executive editor of The Times, Dean Baquet, is based on the findings of an executive committee that met over the summer. Outlining a strategy that includes a shift away from platforms and departments and more toward the reader, the memo concludes, “What’s needed adds up to a transformation of the company.”

Representative “reader engagement” focus in Wednesday’s edition of the Times.


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Money (screen)shot:


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$525 for each course, eh? Sounds like something kids of New York Times employees might do.

Moving along in our madcap revue, here’s one of those potential “digital revenue doublers” from yesterday’s edition.


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Money (screen)shot:


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Be interesting to know how actual Times insiders view this gold rush.

Let us know if you know, yes?

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Norman Mailer Had Hillary Clinton Down Cold 20 Years Ago

Yesterday the dustupping staff happened upon Norman Mailer’s essay Clinton and Dole: The War of the Oxymorons, which ran in the cuppa coffee George magazine, and came across this digression about Hillary Rodham Clinton at the 1996 Democratic National Convention that nominated The Bubba to run for a second term as president.

One could see why so many Americans disliked her. She was decompressing the presidency. She was pretending to be near to the people, but the nature of her position made that impossible. We laugh at the English royals when they pay their visits to factory workers, but at least they remain royal. Hillary was pretending she was one of us, and it was hardly true.

Her speech . . .

Read the rest at Dustup 2016.

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Slowest Loading News Site?

Ad blockheads are all the rage in tech news these days in the wake of Apple’s introduction of ad blockers for its mobile devices.

And now you can add New York Times Tech Fix guy Brian X. Chen to the roll call.

Testing Mobile Ad Blockers

To block ads or not to block ads on your mobile device? That’s the philosophical dilemma facing consumers since Apple added support for ad blockers to its iPhone operating system a couple of weeks ago.

To help answer the question, we decided to put multiple ad blockers to the test. Over the course of four days, we used several ad-blocking apps on our iPhones and measured how much the programs cut down on web page data sizes and improved loading times, and also how much they increased the smartphone’s battery life.

Chen proceeds to measure “the mix of advertising and editorial on the mobile home pages of the top 50 news websites – including ours – and found that more than half of all data came from ads and other content filtered by ad blockers.”

The results:

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Why drives you nuts graf:

The benefits of ad blockers stood out the most when loading the website. With ads, that home page on average measured 19.4 megabytes; with ads removed using Crystal or Purify, it measured four megabytes, and with 1Blocker, it measured 4.5 megabytes. On a 4G network, this translated to the page taking 39 seconds to load with ads and eight seconds to load without ads.

Then again, given’s spotty history, that 31 seconds just might be the pause that  redresses.

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Dead Blogging ‘My Fair Lady’ at the Lyric Stage

Well the Missus and I trundled downtown last night to see the Lyric Stage production of My Fair Lady and say, it was . . . fabulous.

(Bet you thought I was gonna say “loverly.” Well, it was that too.)

Mostly, though, it was an electrifying evening of theater bursting with energy and ingenious staging.

Jennifer Ellis is captivating as Eliza Doolittle, and Christopher Chew delivers an animated and surprisingly sympathetic Henry Higgins (versus the wooden Rex Harrison in the film version).

Special bonus: Chew can actually sing.

Here’s a taste:



Other standouts are J.T. Turner as Alfred P. Doolittle and Remo Airaldi as Colonel Pickering. But the whole ensemble is terrific – there’s not a false note in the entire production.

Overall, it’s a thoroughly delightful revival of the classic musical. But don’t just take my word for it. Wall Street Journal theater critic Terry Teachout fairly swooned over the Lyric Stage production.

By George, They’ve Got It!

This stripped-down version of Alan Jay Lerner’s musical makes the normally large-scale production shine by highlighting its expressive essentials



‘My Fair Lady,” that most scenically resplendent of golden-age Broadway spectacles, wouldn’t seem at first blush to be all that well suited to the small-scale approach that has lately become the most significant trend in American musical-theater production. But the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, whose compact 234-seat thrust-stage house can’t come anywhere near accommodating a traditional staging of “My Fair Lady,” has dared to perform the show on a unit set with a cast of 16, an orchestra of three and no amplification, and done so to immensely satisfactory effect. I’ve seen some fine “My Fair Ladies” in the past, but I’ve never seen one, not even Amanda Dehnert’s unforgettable school-of-Brecht 2013 Oregon Shakespeare Festival version, that did a better job of conveying the sweet romanticism that Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe slipped into George Bernard Shaw’s skewering of the British class system. The results are—as Lerner might have put it—loverly.

Beyond that, Teachout adds this:

The good news starts at the top: Jennifer Ellis is as strong an Eliza Doolittle as I’ve seen anywhere, including on screen. She sings beautifully and acts without exaggeration, leaving it to the score and script to work their magic.

No argument with the latter sentence. As for the former, well, the Missus and I respectfully disagree.

Maybe 20 years ago we found ourselves at the TKTS booth in New York with nothing in particular to see, and took a flyer on the production of My Fair Lady with Richard Chamberlain.

Eliza Doolittle was played by Melissa Errico, and, man, she was brilliant. (Best video I could find is Errico at the 1993 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, but it doesn’t do her justice.)



Regardless . . .

You really want to see the Lyric Stage production. But you’d better hurry – the run (through October 11) is almost sold out.


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The Times (New York and Financial) They Are A Changin’

Stealth marketing proceeds apace in swallowing up mainstream media.

Exhibit Umpteen, via Digiday’s Jessica Davies.

The Financial Times readies paid posts for advertisers


The Financial Times is revamping its approach to branded content, with the aim of giving advertisers more options.

The publisher is uniting its existing content marketing packages and launching a sponsored content offering “paid posts,” under a newly branded unit, FT Squared, dedicated to these kinds of advertiser partnerships.

“We’re launching Squared and paid posts to show advertisers we’re serious about content marketing,” said Dominic Good, FT’s global advertising sales director. “We’re not racing to predict that it will become 30+ percent of our revenues by a certain date, but it’s an important step forward.”

Financial Times press release: “The Financial Times today announces the launch of FT² (FT Squared), bringing together a suite of content marketing products under one brand. Using a team of talented designers and writers, the FT’s commercial team is increasing its focus on content creation, data analytics and new digital tools to bring carefully selected client content to the right audience at the right time.”

Sneak Adtack Official Rule of Thumb (pat. pending): Beware of any media outlet promising “a suite of content marketing products.”

Representative sample . . .

Read the rest at Sneak Adtack.

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Presidential Ad Flashback (1952 Campaign Song Edition)

First in a series from our Dustup 2016 NostADgia® desk

The first presidential campaign television commercials ran in 1952 (the Eisenhower/Stevenson I bakeoff.)

At the time, apparently, the inaugural political admakers thought that borrowing from the entertainment world might be a good approach. Thus, the campaign song.

Via the University of Wisconsin Advertising Project:

“I Like Ike”

Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1952

An almost purely positive piece about candidate personality, this is from the campaign of Republican Dwight Eisenhower in 1952. A catchy jingle, along with lyrics not totally devoid of substance, it is essentially a device for reminding voters of their personal attachment to the most popular living American of his time. In this regard, note the closing theme that “we’ll take Ike to Washington”. Jingles were one of the early approaches to televised campaign advertising that would eventually go out of fashion.

The spot itself (cartoon visuals compliments of Walt Disney Studios) . . .

Read the rest at Dustup 2016.

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Dead Blogging ‘Broken Glass’ at New Rep Theatre

Well the Missus and I trundled out to Watertown last night to catch Broken Glass (through September 27) at the New Repertory Theatre and say, it was . . . heavy.

Then again, Arthur Miller can get that way.

The New Rep production, directed by Jim Petosa, does a fine job reviving this slightly shopworn drama.


It is November 11, 1938, the day after Kristallnacht, when Sylvia Gellburg loses the ability to walk. Her husband Phillip desperately seeks to find the cause. After consulting Dr. Harry Hyman, it’s determined that her paralysis may have been psychosomatically induced. Hyman’s obsession with curing Sylvia uncovers a complex tangle of egos, resentment, and guilt, as well as Phillip’s own paralyzing struggle with his Jewish identity.

The cast is uniformly deft, especially Benjamin Evett as Dr. Hyman, Anne Gottlieb as Sylvia, and Jeremiah Kissel as Phillip (although he does do a bit of scenery chewing in Act Two).

At intermission, the Missus and I were remembering the first time we saw Jerry Kissel perform – 1986 in And a Nightingale Sang at Lyric Stage’s tiny Charles Street theater, a sweet – yes – lyrical production that was just heartbreaking.

Broken Glass is none of those. But still worth seeing.

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