Hair of the dog

From the Boston Herald, Jul. 27, 2010

‘Hound of the Baskervilles’ a barking good time

They should call it the Running of the Actors – that increasingly popular theater form in which a small acting company takes on a great many roles, and controlled chaos ensues. Many hats are worn and by the end someone assuredly winds up in some kind of absurd petticoat/tuxedo combo outfit.

Steven Canny and John Nicholson’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles” plants itself firmly in this category, alongside other recent productions of the same ilk – Patrick Barlow’s four-man “The 39 Steps,” Reduced Shakespeare Company’s three-man “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged)” and Charles Ludlum’s two-man “The Mystery of Irma Vep.”

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When airplanes make like birds

From MIT News, Jul. 21, 2010

Rick Cory named Boeing Engineering Student of the Year

Photo by Jason Dorfman

The gap between aeronautics and computer science is narrower than you’d think, and Postdoctoral Associate Rick Cory is proof. Though his background is in computer science and robotics, that didn’t stop him from receiving a high honor in the field of aviation. At the Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire, England, yesterday, Cory was named the 2010 Boeing Engineering Student of the Year.

A member of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab’s Robot Locomotion Group, Cory received the award for his work on developing a perching airplane alongside Associate Professor Russ Tedrake. Together, they developed a glider with the ability to land on a wire like a bird.

Before beginning work on the perching-glider project in 2005, neither Tedrake nor Cory had a background in aeronautics. “We were trying to think of a project that could push the limits of robot control, and the idea came up of trying to build a robot that could fly like a bird,” Cory recalls. “For me that was a very inspiring, fantastic idea. From that point on it was literally a matter of picking up Aerodynamics 101 books and learning as much as I could.”

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Kate Nash says says “Bah!” to sprains

from Teaparty Boston, May 17, 2010

Useful Things: Kate Nash Plays Through the Pain

Photo by Michael Young

“I hate to ask, but is anyone near the fucking bar?”

That’s Kate Nash, partway through her set at Great Scott, humbly begging her adoring audience for a drink . They were all too happy to oblige, and through the rest of the set, the PBRs and vodka-Cokes fell like manna from heaven.

If anyone ever deserved a drink (and a little manna), it was Nash that evening. The night before, she had tripped in a Toronto hotel and wound up with a sprained ankle. But a twisted joint wasn’t about to come between Nash and her performance, the second on her North American tour.

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The eye of god

So have you heard? Science. I write about it. For Cambridge/Boston is not just a hotbed of art and decadence, but also of science and decadence (I may be exaggerating on the decadence bit).

This is a piece I wrote for MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, where I work by day. I interviewed Associate Professor Rob Miller and Ph.D. student Sean Chang about an ingenious programming tool they created called Sikuli. It means “the eye of god,” because it’s awesome.

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For CSAIL at MIT, May 10, 2010

Sikuli Rethinks Programming

Sikuli in action

For as long as there have been computers, there has been coding. And with coding comes repetition—lots of it. That’s always been the basic fact of a programmer’s existence, even as computers have become ever more friendly from a user’s perspective. That’s where Sikuli comes in. The latest from CSAIL’s User Interface Design Group, it’s a programming tool that has the ability to see like a human being. Not only does it put the graphical user interface (or GUI) in the hands of programmers, but it may one day put programming in the hands of everyday computer users.

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Estelle Parsons on acting

But theater is terribly important. I mean you have to exercise all of your instrument, your emotional skills and everything. It’s important for actors to be in the theater. Nowadays, there are people who just do TV, and I don’t really call them actors, you know? If you’re not able to fill up a theater and entertain people for two or three hours, who are you? You’re a puppet!

~ Estelle Parsons via phone, in an interview about her role in August: Osage County (which hits Boston this week). What a badass lady.

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“Cats,” or: Reasons why I am a dog person

From the Boston Herald, Apr. 15, 201o

‘Cats’: Good fur nothin’

please don't eat me

I get it. I see now why some people despise musical theater. Because when they hear the word “musical” they think of this: people in furry ears and painted spandex, slinking around on a cartoony set belting repetitive pop ballads and taking themselves completely seriously.

“Cats” holds the record as the second-longest-running show on Broadway, just below Andrew Lloyd Webber’s other smash “The Phantom of the Opera.” Even though it closed in 2000, “Cats” continues to be synonymous with song-and-dance in our collective consciousness. But I promise you, haters: Not all musicals are like this. Thank the weird supernatural cat god for that.

Because Boston hasn’t seen it enough, “Cats” is once again hissing and slinking its way through town. This latest touring iteration features a top-notch cast that delivers on all the things “Cats” zealots love. But for something so long, intricate and popular, it’s got about as much matter and substance as a hairball.

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Mediocore with Mornin’ Old Sport

From Teaparty Boston, Mar. 12, 2010

“Either Way It’s Going To Be A Spectacle”–Mornin’ Old Sport Introduce Us to Mediocore

Whatever happened to the words? Whatever happened to us? These are the questions that Mornin’ Old Sport asks over and over, like a lover to an old flame. The difference is they’re asking everybody in Boston, and probably the whole world.

Formerly known as Wiffle Bat, the Allston-based band is all about tearing down walls—between people, between genres, and between the singer and the sung-to. Tonight, they take the stage at the Cambridge YMCA, and they really hope you come by.

TeaParty sat down with three of Mornin’ Old Sport’s six members—Zebulon Krol, Jeff Price, and Brian Arnold—at Krol’s apartment on the Berklee campus. A fitting location, considering everyone in the band either went to or is a current student at the school. They come together to make the kind of tuneful, wordy, layered music that would give artists like Beirut and Fanfarlo a run for their collective money.

–Jenna Scherer

How did you guys first get together?

Zeb: It started out with Scott Nanos and me. I was in a band that was kind of falling apart, and one of the kids I was in that band with knew Scott. The first time I saw him, I remember thinking, “There’s something about that guy.” He brought this whole different thing out of me, like, “No, let’s do something weirder!” And so right away there was this really good chemistry. And then it grew from there.

Jeff: The full band didn’t really come together until the end of our recording process for our EP.

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