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The Paywall Street Journal - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
captainsblog
captainsblog
The Paywall Street Journal
These here Interwebs are great- until the trolls come out from under the bridges and demand payment. All of them are annoying; almost all of them are avoidable.  There are basically three models out there:

* Paying customer only:  The site's entire content is behind a paywall, and you get nothing except, perhaps, a teaser paragraph or two until you provide your proof of payment- which may be a direct online subscription, or an offshoot of having a paper one.  My original hometown newspaper, Newsday, infamously went to this model a few years ago when the local cable company bought them up, and they got majorly mocked when, three months in, only 35 subscribers had forked over actual money for the thing. (They've since backed away from the Great Firewall model and allow at least some access.)

* Quota time!  This seems to be the most popular with old-media news sites, including the one we actually pay for here in Buffalo. If you're not a paper or online subscriber, you get a certain number of articles a month before the cookie counter kicks you out.  (When switching computers or over to a tablet, I often run into this nonsense and get a TIME'S RUNNING OUT! nag screen after the first of the ten "free looks" permitted by their software.)  Some of these can be bypassed by deleting the site's cookies (Gannett sites seem susceptible to this); others (including the New York Times) are a bit smarter but are still fooled if you click the links to their pieces using your browser's private /incognito/ anonymous mode), and still others can be spoofed through free-login combos provided by sites like bugmenot.

* Some bricks in the wall, some not:  In this model, the editors (or, just as likely, the business-side suits) choose a walled/no-walled selection of articles from each issue, and often, you can't tell which is which until you click a link to one. Probably my least favorite, even as a suscriber, because even the stories you can access with a subscription are generally coded to prevent them from being copied into blogs and such.

I bring this up now because the most famous (at least to me) of the third-model sites, The New Yorker, has decided to ditch it, in favor of an as-yet-unspecified quota of monthly reads that non-subscribers can read.  What's important for right now is that, until they finalize the process and build the new paywall, their entire current issues, and their entire almost 90 years of back content, are available online, in full, for free.  So that ridiculously long, four-week Jonathan Schell depress-o-fest from 1982 on The Fate of the Earth?  The bitingest of Pauline Kael's movie reviews? The entire cartoon collections of Chast and Booth? Get 'em now while you can:)

Or- screw that, and just read this piece from the current issue, which I'm reproducing here because I can, and because it's funny:



Ira Glass may have overstated his case when, after attending a performance of Shakespeare in the Park this summer, he tweeted that he found King Lear “not relatable.” But Glass is surely not alone in finding the Bard hard: all those byzantine complexities of plot, all that highly wrought language. Might it not be a relief for Shakespeare to be presented in a way that emphasizes the lower entertainment values of the plays? Such was the thinking of David Hudson, who is one of the co-founders of the Three Day Hangover theatre company. Since 2013, Hudson and his colleagues have performed textually divergent interpretations of “Hamlet” and “Romeo and Juliet,” not behind a prissy proscenium but in the differently challenging arena of a crowded bar.

“We discovered that there is this little niche market of people who were excited about going to a bar and letting go, but also seeing some great Shakespeare,” Hudson explained the other evening at Quinn’s Bar & Grill, on West Forty-fourth Street. The experience was, he said, “fully immersive.” For “R+J: Star-Cross’d Death Match,” which ran for several weeks in a midtown bar last summer, audience members were handed either red or blue flip cups upon arrival, to indicate their allegiance to the Capulets or the Montagues.

Hudson’s latest production, “Macbeth,” has been running at Quinn’s since March, to capacity audiences, under the auspices of the Drunk Shakespeare Society. This is a Three Day Hangover spinoff to which a piquant theatrical innovation has been added. “A producer, Scott Griffin, said, ‘I want to throw an actor who’s drunk into the mix,’ ” Hudson said. One member of the cast downs four shots at the outset of the play, with two more shots—integrated into the course of action—imbibed thereafter. “A drunk actor has a level of humor and comedy that you wouldn’t get with a sober actor,” Hudson explained. “They let go of their inhibitions.” The role of drunken actor rotates among a company of ten players, he added. “We’re very concerned about responsible drinking,” he said with a straight face.

Hudson estimates that Drunk Shakespeare audiences are about equally divided between Shakespeare aficionados and drinking aficionados. “Maybe sixty-forty on the drinking side,” he said, after a moment’s reflection. At a recent performance, audience members were carded, then handed a shot of tequila, as they entered. Volumes of Shakespeare’s works were set on the tables alongside bar slips for ordering more drinks, though anyone wishing to follow along in the text would have been confounded by the high proportion of spontaneously improvised interpolation. While it can be assumed that players at the Globe sometimes went off text, it seems unlikely that the Porter—played, in this case, by Whit Leyenberger—has often before compared a female audience member to “a jungle cat in heat.”

Lucas Calhoun performed the title role, and was also the evening’s designated sot, though a latecomer might have been forgiven for failing to distinguish who among the players was sober, so high was the level of emoting, flailing for comic effect, and shouting. (By evening’s end, it was not only the raven who was hoarse.) Calhoun, whose affect was more frat boy than Scots warrior, occasionally stepped out of character to deliver commentary. “I’m from the South. If you tell me I’m going to be King, I’m going to kick back, have a SoCo and a Coke, and wait to become King,” he said, after receiving the witches’ prophecy. “This guy, he kills everyone. Children get killed. This person is really deranged.”

Lady Macbeth was played with verve by Lindsay Hope Pearlman; her delivery of “unsex me here,” spread-eagled on her back, might reasonably have been interpreted to mean the opposite. The role of King Duncan was assigned to an audience member who identified herself as Denise. She entered vigorously into the spirit of the event. “My liege!” she exclaimed to Calhoun, toasting him with her glass. “I think you got it reversed, but that’s very cool,” he replied.

Silence fell when Calhoun asked one man to show him his absent girlfriend’s picture on his cell phone; Calhoun then called her, put her on speakerphone, and recited Sonnet 44—“If the dull substance of my flesh were thought”—to her. (She remained mute.) But a more representative moment was when the final showdown between Macbeth and Macduff (Christina Liu) was conducted as a dance-off.

For the Banquo’s-ghost scene, his many descendants were represented by a crowd of audience members holding up Whit Leyenberger’s headshot—which he, along with thirteen hundred other aspiring actors, had submitted to the company several months earlier. Lady Macbeth’s improvised line thereafter was “What the fuck is going on here?”—a query that might well have been applied to the entire endeavor, and that likely proved useful in evaluating Three Day Hangover’s most recent effort, which ran at the Gin Mill on Amsterdam Avenue last month: “Drunkle Vanya.”





Thanks, they art here all week. Exeunt, pursued by the veal.
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