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Monday, February 25, 2013

How "Lincoln" -- and Obama -- Lost the Oscar

-- By Tom Phillips

OK, why was Michelle Obama handing out the Oscar for Best Picture from the White House?    It’s a question that gnawed at my subconscious mind for hours after the broadcast ended Sunday night, until the answer -- or at least a likely scenario – flashed on me the next day.  

The first lady’s appearance was unusual, and a total surprise.   But this kind of cameo – involving the White House, a TV network, and a closely guarded envelope --had to be planned weeks or months in advance.  The plans were hatched back when there was no question about who would win Best Picture – when everyone thought “Lincoln” was going to sweep the Oscars.   

Saturday, February 9, 2013

The Humanoid Condition

"I, Worker"   Seinendan Theater Company
By Tom Phillips

Ever since the fictional Doctor Frankenstein created his monster, people have been worrying about what may happen to them at the hands of their own human-like creations.   Usually those worries have been about robots seizing power with their superior strength and intelligence.  But now, in the work of Japanese playwright +Oriza Hirata, we see humans simply ceding power to artificial beings that are not just stronger and more intelligent, but more emotionally sensitive and stable than their human masters.   That’s the theme of two unsettling short plays, written and directed by Oriza, performed by a cast of humans, robots and an android at Japan Society February 7-9.