Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Marion Dougherty’s index cards

[Click any image for a larger view.]

The casting director Marion Dougherty, in the documentary Casting By (dir. Tom Donahue, 2012): “I would keep the three-by-five card. I would put down anything that hit my mind.”

The card for Dustin Hoffman (whose first screen appearance was in an episode of Naked City) notes Bob Duval’s (Robert Duvall’s) judgment that Hoffman is “v.g.” — very good. Notice the name of Blair Brown in the third screenshot. The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd is an Orange Crate Art and Musical Assumptions favorite.

Casting By feels a bit scattered. The film focuses mostly on Dougherty and Lynn Stalmaster, but each is on screen for just seconds at a time. I’d like to see more of and about them, and fewer of the overly predictable sequences of talking stars and brief clips from film after film after film. Even a ten-minute sequence of, say, Dougherty going through cards and talking about actors would have been a priceless addition. The things I took away from watching: the lack of institutional recognition that casting directors receive and the great regard that actors have for good ones.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)
All OCA Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[Bonus feature: notice the exchange name on Dustin Hoffman’s card. EN: ENdicott.]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Academic Workforce Data

The Modern Language Association’s Academic Workforce Data Center allows the curious seeker to look at “staffing patterns at individual institutions of higher education.” The site shows the percentages of tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-track faculty at a given school in 1995 and 2009. As you can guess, the percentages of tenured and tenure-track faculty at many schools drop sharply over that span.

One startling exception: Chicago’s Columbia College. In 1995, the school had 0% tenured or tenure-track faculty. In 2009, the percentage rose to 13.1%; with 86.9% of faculty non-tenure-track, almost all of whom (1,822 of 1,890) were employed part-time. (They now have a union: P-fac.)

The total cost for a Columbia undergraduate living on campus in the 2014–2015 school year: $42,122. Adjunct pay at Columbia, according to The Adjunct Project, whose numbers might be out of date: $1,400 to $6,360 per course.

Here’s a glimpse of the relationship between faculty and administration at Columbia College. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: The exploitation of adjunct labor is the shame and scandal of American higher education.

Related posts
The Adjunct Project
Here’s just one reason why someone might reconsider adjunct teaching
What parents need to know about college faculty

If U2 want to remove U2

I find the idea of Apple’s U2 ”gift album” deeply creepy. I suspect that anyone whose love of music involves a “record collection,” whatever its contents, would feel the same way. They’re my records, Apple, not yours. You don’t get to choose for me.

To get rid of the U2 album: Remove iTunes gift album Songs of Innocence from your iTunes music library and purchases (Apple, found via Daring Fireball).

[You might be surprised to find that even if you haven’t seen it, the album is indeed there.]

Clay Shirky bans devices

Clay Shirky has banned devices in his classes at NYU: no laptops, no tablets, no phones. A partial explanation:

There is no laissez-faire attitude to take when the degradation of focus is social. Allowing laptop use in class is like allowing boombox use in class  —  it lets each person choose whether to degrade the experience of those around them.

Why I Just Asked My Students to Put Their Laptops Away (Medium)
I’m not especially impressed by Clay Shirky, who is, after all, the guy who declared that “no one reads War and Peace anymore (“too long, and not so interesting”). I’ve talked with many students who could have explained second-hand distraction to him a long time ago. But Shirky’s change of mind is noteworthy, at a time when at least some college faculty seek to encourage greater student use of digital technology in classrooms. Click. Click. Click.

I’ll invoke my mantra: Technology makes it possible to do things, not necessary to do them. That we can use devices in a class meeting doesn’t mean that we ought to. And the converse: Technology makes it possible not to do things, not necessary not to do them. That we can, say, replace office hours with Skype doesn’t mean that we should.

Ten angry men

A curious thing: eight members of the jury from 12 Angry Men (dir. Sidney Lumet, 1957) appeared on Naked City: Martin Balsam, Ed Begley, Lee J. Cobb, Jack Klugman, Joseph Sweeney, George Voskovec, Jack Warden, and Robert Webber. Klugman made six appearances, more than anyone else. Five of those eight jurors — Balsam, Begley, Sweeney, Warden, and Webber — also appeared on Route 66, as did Edward Binns and E. G. Marshall. Ten angry men.

These names, or at least many of them, point to the work of the casting director Marion Dougherty, a major figure in both series. The DVD of a documentary about Dougherty, Casting By (dir. Tom Donahue, 2012), is out today.

Related reading
All OCA Naked City posts (Pinboard)
All OCA Route 66 posts (Pinboard)

[It’s always a small success to manage one’s Netflix cue so as to get something on its release date. The missing jurors: John Fiedler and Henry Fonda.]

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mary Backstayge marigold seeds

[8½" x 7". Click for a larger view.]

I’m not sure how I caught on to Bob and Ray, but I did. From 1973 to 1976, Bob Elliott and Ray Goulding did a four-hour weekday-afternoon radio show on New York’s WOR. When I became a commuting college student, listening to that show was one of the perks of being stuck in traffic in the late afternoon.

“Mary Backstayge, Noble Wife” (a running spoof of a radio serial) was my favorite Bob and Ray bit. The show had its own writer, the Bob and Ray character Chester Hasbrouck Frisbee. The Backstayges, Mary and Harry, were theater people living in Skunk Haven, Long Island. They were best known for their work in Westchester Furioso. Other cast members: the stage doorman Pop Beloved, the Backstayges’ neighbor Calvin Hoogavin (played by Webley Webster, another Bob and Ray character), and Greg Marlowe (“young playwright secretly in love with Mary,” as he was always introduced). That just two people were responsible for all these characters — and for everyone else who might turn up in a given episode — was and is a wonder. Especially wonderful: hearing Ray Goulding as both Greg and Mary, out in the kitchen, Greg muttering and Mary giggling. Greg would always offer to help when Mary made cocoa.

In the spring of 1974 Mary offered free marigold seeds to her fans. I wrote in of course. I had no idea what had happened to Mary’s (mimeoed or photocopied) reply until I found it in the recently rediscovered file folder that’s been pulling me into the past.

Here, courtesy of YouTube, is a small sample of the WOR show in two parts — one, two — of the WOR show, the first with a “Mary Backstayge” cliffhanger.

From this same file folder
Aglio e olio
The Art Ensemble of Chicago in Boston
Coppola/“Godfather” sauce
Jim Doyle on education
A Meeting with Ludwig Wittgenstein
Tile-pilfering questionnaire

Happy tenth birthday, Orange Crate Art

Orange Crate Art turns ten later today. Running and jumping and playing, showing greater self-control and poise, enjoying social activities with peers, noticing increased body odor: yes, Orange Crate Art is at an exciting age. There is also more homework than ever.

Writing here (almost every day) brings me countless kinds of happiness. Thanks to everyone who’s reading.

[This post borrows details from two pages — one, two — about non-pixelated ten-year olds.]

Sunday, September 14, 2014

New Yorker fail

I hope it’s a long time before The New Yorker gives space to another piece as tasteless and witless as this one by Django Gold (to which Sonny Rollins has replied).

Related reading
All OCA Sonny Rollins posts (Pinboard)

[I’m late to the game. When it comes to reading Django Gold’s writing, never would have been better than late.]

Saturday, September 13, 2014

From one generation to another

From a statement by Adrian Peterson’s lawyer Rusty Hardin:

Adrian is a loving father who used his judgment as a parent to discipline his son. He used the same kind of discipline with his child that he experienced as a child growing up in east Texas.
Yes, but that’s the problem, isn’t it?

Especially chilling: Peterson is reported as having told police that if he had felt “‘really wrong for what I did, or had any ill intent, there’s no way I would have let him [Peterson’s son] get on that plane.’” Which means what, exactly? What would Peterson have done? His son had a doctor’s appointment coming up.

Damn it: we had Adrian Peterson’s smiling face in our house, courtesy of Wheaties. Peterson’s Wheaties profile is missing in action. Google still has a copy cached.

As such, as such

As such seems to be a favorite phrase of ponderous writers: “Recent developments have blah blah blah . . . . As such, I am writing to inform you,” and so on. The Chicago Manual of Style ’s online Q & A and Bryan Garner’s LawProse blog both caution against the misuse of the phrase, which doesn’t mean so or therefore or thus. As such, as such is often best avoided.

[Garner’s Modern American Usage covers it too. Orange Crate Art is a Chicago- and Garner-friendly zone.]