Monday, October 26, 2015

Sunday Leftover: Picking the Globe's Brain

On the face of it, it's a rich man's paper.

"Brain surgery on live TV — helpful or exploitive?; Specialists see risk in Sunday’s primetime event" by David Armstrong STAT  October 21, 2015

This story was produced by Stat, a national publication from Boston Globe Media Partners that will launch online this fall with coverage of health, medicine, and life sciences. Learn more and sign up for Stat's morning newsletter at

The producer of Real Housewives of New Jersey and Pawn Stars is taking reality TV into a new and controversial realm Sunday night – broadcasting brain surgery live from a Cleveland hospital.

Inside University Hospitals Case Medical Center, more than a dozen cameras will film neurosurgeons as they implant electrodes deep in the brain of 49-year-old Greg Grindley, hoping to halt severe tremors caused by Parkinson’s disease. A 60-foot-long television production truck like those used for major sporting events will serve as the hub for a crew of 100 coordinating the show.

The primetime event on the National Geographic Channel comes as medical experts warn such programming can be risky and exploitive. Some surgical societies have banned the practice, with one even threatening to discipline surgeons who conduct live operations for television audiences.

“It’s hard to say we are getting serious about patient safety when putting on circus acts like live brain surgery,” said Duke Cameron, the cardiac surgeon-in-charge at The Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. “This kind of behavior is absurd.”

Maybe they could kill two birds with one stone and get Ben Carson to do it as a campaign event.


I think it's okay as long as they don't f*** up (we'll edit that out).


Speaking of absurd behavior:

"‘Rogue laughter’? It’s an occupational hazard for actors" by Don Aucoin Globe Staff  October 27, 2015

“Rogue laughter,” as Boston-area actress Marianna Bassham calls it, has become an occupational hazard for actors, an annoyance for audiences, and an increasingly common phenomenon on stages from Boston to Broadway.



So why do some audience members laugh during decidedly noncomedic moments?

Do I (ha-ha) care?

One possible answer: There’s a big difference between the live, intimate, in-your-face experience of theater and the safely removed digital space where so many of our work and social interactions now play out.

“There’s a little bit of a breakdown in the audience’s appreciation that the live actor deserves a different kind of attention than social apps,’’ said actor-playwright Steven Barkhimer. Particularly at student matinees, he added, “I’ve wanted to stop certain shows and say: Excuse me, I’m not your TV screen.’’

MIT’s Sherry Turkle, a regular theatergoer and author of the just-published book “Reclaiming Conversation: The Power of Talk in a Digital Age,’’ contends that misplaced guffaws are born of the discomfort and anxiety that many people — especially millennials weaned on social media — feel when they are confronted with the raw emotion and human connection of a live experience.


They will blame you kids for anything!

“They bought a ticket, they think something is going to be presented to them, that they’re passive spectators, like with ‘Game of Thrones,’ ” said Turkle. “And all of a sudden something is happening onstage where they feel vulnerable. That’s where the laughter comes from. Laughing during a performance is a way of not being vulnerable.’’

Of course, it might also represent the opposite of vulnerability: an egocentric way to literally get in on the act. The rise of the selfie has encouraged us to consider ourselves the star of every occasion. YouTube has enabled spectators to fancy themselves as performers.


I'm the star of this blog even if I hate doing it and am writing it for readers as a public service (and failing at it)! 

Just letting you pick my brain!

These days, it can also be harder to transfix viewers with somber subject matter, thanks to changes elsewhere on the entertainment landscape. “Television and other media have gone to such dark, gruesome places that the impact of a moment that is intended to have a great serious effect may not land as effectively, because it’s all around us,’’ said Paul Daigneault, the producing artistic director for SpeakEasy Stage Company.

That's very interesting because I saw an ad for some sick pos and thought what absolute filth is out there on TV these days. 

Especially on opening night, audiences often include friends, family members, or students of actors who teach in Boston’s universities, and they may simply get the giggles while watching him or her perform. Some theatergoers might have had a drink or two before the show, and some doubtless yuck it up because they paid through the nose for their tickets and want to convince themselves they’re having a good time.

Shhhhhh! Shhhhhhhh!

Finally, if some audience members are uncertain about how to react, it may be because theatrical boundaries have become blurrier, with many of today’s most acclaimed plays traveling from funny to serious and back again, including comic dramas like Annie Baker’s “The Flick,’’ Joshua Harmon’s “Bad Jews,’’ and Bruce Norris’s “Clybourne Park.’’

“There’s a really gray area, especially now,’’ said Barkhimer, whose recent play “Windowmen’’ fits into the category of comic drama. “It’s not so much confusion as porousness.’’ Daigneault points out: “The definition of a drama in contemporary theater is a lot different from drama in the world of Arthur Miller.’’

That still doesn’t explain laughter during wrenching moments in straight-up dramas. Could it actually be considered a tin-eared tribute to the power of theater to get under your skin?

Whatever the cause, misguided laughter complicates the relationship between actor and audience, which is exceedingly delicate under the best of circumstances....



Sorry I had to leave the show, ha-ha-ha-ha!