Monthly Archives: April 2011

A Mammoth News Roundup

Hello Mammoth Blog readers! Here’s the exciting news to report this week:

Our Three Martini Lunch Benefit was a hit! Over 300 people attended the bash at the Omni Shoreham Hotel this past Saturday night, featuring a martini bar with three different varieties of specialty martinis. We got decked out in our 1960s Mad Men-esque gear. You can check out some photos of our board members in this BisNow article, or some more photos on the Woolly Facebook page.

On Monday we learned the great news that Bruce Norris won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Clybourne Park! The Pulitzer committee described the play as “powerful work whose memorable characters speak in witty and perceptive ways to America’s sometimes toxic struggle with race and class consciousness.” Clybourne Park is also nominated for eight Helen Hayes Awards, the most for a new play in DC. We’ll keep you updated on that once the award winners are announced this Monday evening. If you missed the show last year, have no fear! We’re super excited to bring a remount of the show back to Woolly this summer, where you’ll get to see the entire original cast, and will again be directed by Artistic Director Howard Shalwitz. Clybourne Park runs July 21 – August 14, click here for tickets and more information.

Chicago’s long-running late night sensation the Neo-Futurists have returned to Woolly with Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind, their hilarious attempt to perform 30 plays in 60 minutes. I saw the show last night and must say you will not be disappointed. Some of the plays are funny, some are political (we are in DC after all), some serious and poignant. Just beware, you may be asked to come up on stage and perform with them! If you want to see it do not wait, they’re only here until May 1st!

Next up at Woolly is Bootycandy, Robert O’Hara’s sassy and sexy new play premiering at the end of May. Stay tuned for some more blog posts about the artistic process of the show as well as exploring the use of language, sexuality, and self-perception.

Have a great weekend and happy holidays to all!

~ Brooke Miller, Press and Digital Content Manager

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How Many Martinis?

For those of you who are unaware (shame on you!) Woolly’s annual Spring Benefit is tomorrow, April 16th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel. The theme is “Three Martini Lunch,” and for those of you who don’t watch Mad Men, I will help give the ins and outs of what a three martini lunch is, as well as some of the fashions of the era in case you haven’t bought your dress/suit yet (slacker!)

The TV show Mad Men takes place in the 1960s and focuses on the life of main character Don Draper, the creative director of fictional Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper, who later goes on to become a founding partner of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. The show centers around the lives of the men and women who work at the firm, and displays themes current with the time period such as frequent cigarette smoking, sexism, and the ad men’s infidelity on their wives. One of the other major themes is frequent drinking, often at the workplace, which includes three martini lunches.

Up until the 1980s, businessmen could deduct business lunch expenses from their taxes, including drinks. So often times, these men would go out for a long, leisurely lunch with clients, where it was not uncommon to drink upwards of three drinks, hence “three martini lunch.” Since then, drinking during the workday has become less commonplace, as well as long-leisurely lunches; however some such as Bloomberg Business Week are reporting the return of the boozy lunch. Ed McCarrick, executive vice-president of a media group quoted in the Business Week article says, “I made my best sales going out to lunch after a presentation where you have an in-depth conversation about what their true needs are. Sometimes having a glass of wine or a martini allowed that to happen more easily than sitting in a boardroom where everybody is more guarded.”

Of course on the other side are people who say their employees cannot possibly be productive after drinking three martinis, and do not endorse such lunches. The Kitchn however points out that the size of drinks we get these days are substantially larger than they were back in the 60s, so what we think of three martinis today actually would contain a lot more alcohol than three martinis back then.

The martini glass on the left is from the 1940s, while the one on the right is from today

Now let’s talk about the fashion. For women hemlines were getting shorter, so dresses and skirts were starting to hit right around the knees.

Betty Draper is always dressed to perfection, often in fitted dresses with full skirts and petticoats, cinched at the waist with a belt:

Peggy tends to dress on the conservative side, with sweaters and longer fuller skirts. She often wears a women’s necktie, as seen below.

Joan knows how to show off her assets in form-fitting dresses and pencil skirts

Or if you’re going for more of an evening look, think accessories and play with adding gloves, pearls, and fancy pins and hats

Now for the men, think slimmer fitting trousers and skinny ties

We also still have our “Best of the Best” tickets for our auction items available! Click here for more information

Hope to see everyone there!

~Brooke Miller, Press and Digital Content Manager

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Foxconn, Factories, and Labor Laws to Brighten Up Your Rainy Tuesday

Throughout the run of The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, we’ve been having lots of fun here at Woolly playing with the idea of Apple obsessions through our blog and social media outlets. However, the show also has a serious side in that it tells Mike Daisey’s story of traveling to the Foxconn Factory in Shenzhen, China and his shock in seeing the working conditions there and talking to children as young as 12 years old who work at the factory. I recently stayed for a post-show discussion in which one of the audience members brought up the point that many consumers in this country are aware of child labor and unsafe working conditions in other industries, such as the garment and coffee industries, but that we must now apply these principles to all products we consume, such as electronics. I thought this was an interesting thought, and started to do some research on sweatshops and organizations that try to fight for labor reform.

Last year, when it was reported that there were at least 10 suicides at Foxconn (around the time that Mike was there, and he witnessed the suicide nets that they put up), Steve Jobs’ response was, “We’re all over this. Foxconn is not a sweatshop.” Yet, when you look at how sweatshops are described, that response is questionable. According to the US Department of Labor, a sweatshop is “any factory that violates more than one of the fundamental US labor laws, which include paying a minimum wage and keeping a time card, paying overtime, and paying on time.” Additional groups include: “any factory that does not respect workers’ right to organize an independent union is a sweatshop, as well as any factory that does not pay its workers a living wage—that is, a wage that can support the basic needs of a small family.”

Labor rights activists blame globalization for the proliferation of sweatshops, heightened by trade agreements such as NAFTA (North American Free-Trade Agreement) which within ten years of its implementation in 1994 eliminated all US-Mexico tariffs except for a few exceptions. Most US-Canada trade is tariff-free as well. Critics say that NAFTA gave investors new abilities to move their production factories overseas to developing nations where wages were cheaper, which in turn would produce a less-expensive product and increase their profit-margins. This creates a vicious cycle, as any country that raises its wages or enforces its workers’ rights is, “pricing itself out of the market.”

According to the National Labor Committee, a worker in El Salvador earns about 24 cents for each NBA jersey she makes, which then sells for $140 in the US. A Global Exchange investigation revealed that workers in Mexico producing jeans for the Gap earn as little as 28 cents an hour. In poorer countries such as Haiti and Nicaragua, the wages are even lower. Often these workers are paid not hourly, but by the number of garments they make, which can end up translating to making more than one piece of clothing every minute. Some workers tell that they can’t even go to the bathroom or drink water for the whole day. Workers in these factories in various countries say they would need to earn wages two to three times higher to support their families.

I perused many of these human rights advocacy groups’ websites, and found lots of similar stories about child labor and poor working conditions in the shoes, clothing, coffee, chocolate, and toy industries. However, not one of these websites mentioned anything about the electronics factories in China. I found this pretty surprising- Foxconn has been in the news recently (WIRED, Bloomberg Business Week, etc.) why wouldn’t these groups be advocating for reform in the electronics factories as well? Is it because the watchdogs of the clothing industry aren’t also watching the electronics industry? Is it because the electronics industry is newer relative to the garment industry?

It’s not as if no one has taken notice. I looked up the Congressional Executive Commission on China, which was created “to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China.” The commission submits an annual report to the President and to Congress, so I decided to read through the 2010 report to see what they found. The report is over 300 pages long, and no I did not read the whole thing but I’ll give you the Cliffnotes version of their major findings related to working conditions:

“Workers in China still are not guaranteed, either by law or in practice, full worker rights in accordance with international standards, including the right to organize into independent unions. The ACFTU, the official union under the direction of the [Communist] Party, is the only legal trade union organization in China. All lower level unions must be affiliated with the ACFTU and must align with its overarching political concerns of maintaining ‘social stability’ and economic growth.”

“In the past, Chinese officials often argued that it was necessary to carve out exceptions and waivers to the application of international norms to China. They sought to make the case that, in practice, China deserved to be treated as an exception, due, for instance, to its status as a developing country. Now, however, official statements increasingly tend to declare the Chinese government’s compliance with international norms, even in the face of documented noncompliance.”

“Growing concern on the part of local governments to maintain economic growth and employment continued to prompt some localities to respond to labor laws that took effect in 2008 with local opinions and regulations of their own that weakened some employee-friendly aspects of these laws. Interpretation of these laws across localities has not been consistent, leading to their ‘regionalization’ and ‘loopholization.’”

“Enforcement of China’s Labor Contract Law continued to be uneven or selective. There have been reports of employers concluding multiple contracts per worker in order to avoid payment of overtime; replacing older workers with younger workers to avoid longer-term contracts; using contract expiration as a method for laying off formal employees during economic slowdowns; and refusing to hire employees who insist on exercising their right to conclude a labor contract. Studies by Chinese researchers suggest that substantial numbers of Chinese workers report that their actual work hours are different from the hours specified in their labor contracts.”

“The Chinese government’s complicated and time-consuming work-related injury compensation procedure continued to be a major problem for China’s injured workers. Workers more generally also continued to face persistent occupational safety issues.”

The commission made various recommendations for the US, such as supporting programs that promote legal reform and make sure China’s labor laws follow internationally recognized standards, facilitating site-visits with US labor groups, etc.

But why is it that little has been done so far? Is it because we have too many problems of our own right now to worry about a country thousands of miles away, even if our own economic interests are involved? Or is it that we don’t want to give up our high tech toys, or think about the possibility of paying a higher price for them? What do you think? Has this show inspired you to take action?

See:

http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/sweatshops/sweatshopsfaq.html

http://www.laborrights.org

http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_house_committee_prints&docid=f:61507.pdf

~ Brooke Miller, Press and Digital Content Manager

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Android vs. iPhone

First there were the Jets vs. the Sharks, and then there was Team Edward vs. Team Jacob. Lately there’s been a harsh divide of those on Team iPhone vs. Team Android to win the smartphone battle on which has the cooler, faster, better-looking, and highest-rated features.

I decided to go to the interwebs and find out for sure which phone (I don’t even know if we can call them phones anymore. Mini computers?) reigns superior. Reading the comments section of the articles I read proved hilarious and filled with corny jokes from techie nerds. A few examples:

“I meant to comment earlier, but my iPhone alarm didn’t go off.”

“I tried to text you to warn you that might happen, but my Android routed the SMS to your mother instead.”

“I just use my Blackberry as an alarm clock. Every night before going to bed I simply remove & replace the battery – I wake up to the sound of the finished reboot, alert and refreshed after about eight hours of sleep.”

(From: http://apple.slashdot.org/story/11/01/03/1456212/Android-vs-iPhone—Who-Wins-In-2011?from=rss)

Ok, but back on topic: Sorry to my Blackberry friends, but I don’t think you are in the running anymore. I myself was a Crackberry owner and to the shock and horror of my BBM friends, I decided to get the Droid Incredible last summer. Blackberries are fine for e-mailing, but trying to look up anything on the internet is pretty much impossible, and more and more people seem to be switching over to Team iPhone and Android.

After perusing multiple articles and websites on the topic, it seems each platform has its strengths and weaknesses. The iPhone was the original—and those in the “Cult of Mac” embraced their new smartphone as an iPod replacement and cool new gadget that had an “app” for anything you could possibly want. Metro arrivals, happy hour finders, GPS and navigation- YES please!  However, many people were unhappy with AT&T’s service for the iPhone, and many Android followers will point out that with the iPhone you can only have “what Steve Jobs wanted you to have.” This has even led to a new type of industry: those who can jailbreak people’s iPhones (and I would assume other Apple products) to install other types of themes, fonts, etc. A strength of Android is that its operating system is sold by multiple hardware makers (HTC, Motorola, etc.) and there are different features that come with the different models. So you don’t like the touch screen? Ok, there are some models that have separate keyboards. They come in all different shapes and sizes and are carried across different service providers- Verizon, Sprint, etc.

Now that the iPhone is available on the Verizon network, some people speculate that iPhone sales will go up heavily, as many were frustrated by poor service with AT&T. However, others like Dan Lyons argue that due to the incredible growth and sophistication of the Android market, Android will become dominant and win the market-share battle against the iPhone.

A recent study came out that said web pages load 52% faster on a particular Android-operated phone than on the iPhone 4. However, this study actually completely contradicts a previous study that said the iPhone on average loads pages 17 seconds faster than phones running on Android’s operating system. As this LA Times reporter points out, “In any case, if you’re complaining that your super-futuristic smart phone renders pages a second or two slower than the competition, you may want to step back, take a walk and rethink your priorities.”

I tend to agree. Technology advances so quickly these days that you could buy the newest smartphone on the market, and probably within weeks there will be a newer model available. Both Android and iPhone have their own strengths and weaknesses, and everyone will have their own personal preference based on what they are used to and what their particular needs are. What do you think? In The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, we find out that Mike Daisey is an “Apple fanboy,” are you, or are you Team Android? What are your favorite apps and features? What do you think about Verizon getting the iPhone? Let us know in the comments!

~ Brooke Miller, Press and Digital Content Manager

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How ’bout Them Apples?

Apples, apples everywhere at Woolly Mammoth, though definitely of the Steve Jobs-generated variety. Supposedly, the origin of the company’s name is the convergence of two sources: Steve Jobs’ summer gigs at an apple farm and Apple Records, The Beatles’ label. The logo started with a slightly more, shall we say “regal,” look and quickly transitioned into the recognizable apple-with-a-bite-missing shape.

Forbidden Fruit

A metaphorical name for the fruit which grew on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (also known as the Tree of Knowledge, or the Tree of Consciousness) in the Garden of Eden, according to The Book of Genesis. God forbade Adam from eating the fruit; Eve, under the suggestive influence of a serpent, convinces Adam they should bite into the fruit knowing full well it was a no-no. The act results in awakening the two to their nakedness and becoming put-out of the garden to face the harshness of reality. As a result, “forbidden fruit” is name for anything that is wanted or desired that can’t be had or despite knowing better.  Of course in western art, the forbidden fruit is often depicted as… an apple! (Bonus info: a man’s “Adam’s apple” is believed to be there because a piece of the fruit stuck in Adam’s throat.)

Adam and Eve by Albrecht Dürer (1471–1528)

American Icon

Apple pie was not invented by Americans but we certainly identify closely with it.  “It’s as American as apple pie” is a common saying meant to link whatever “it” is to wholesome all-Americanism. During World War II that was typified in the American home, hence the response from soldiers who said they were fighting “for Mom and apple pie.” Save a spice or two, today’s apple pies follow fairly closely a recipe found in Chaucer in 1361 “For To Make Tartys in Applis.” It seems fitting that apple pies are considered a dish typifying America, as apples are not indigenous to this area; early European explorers brought apple seeds with them. Audre Lorde turned the phrase back on the citizenry when she wrote that for African American women “oppression is American as apple pie.”

Teachers and Apples

The history behind giving an apple to your teacher links to teachers’ salaries in this country. In pioneer days, teachers were compensated extremely poorly and apples were frequently gifted to them because apples were a common and plentiful crop for many farmers. The nickname “apple polisher” grew out of this practice in the late 1920s, as it was believed giving an apple to the teacher would position a student as vying to be teacher’s pet. This is a traditional gift not only the United States but also in Sweden and Demark. Apples have also been used for centuries by teachers to instruct students in the alphabet: A is for Apple.

365 Apples

Does an apple a day keeps the doctor away? Apples certainly have vitamin C, fiber, flavonoids (antioxidant), phenols (reduce bad cholesterol, increase good); they clean teeth and reduce tooth decay. Americans consume around 20 pounds of apples a year, about an apple a week. This phrase has English and Welsh roots. The February 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine noted “A Pembrokeshire proverb. Eat an apple on going to bed, And you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.” The version we know now, came into popular use in 1913’s Rustic Speech and Folk-lore: “Ait a happle avore gwain to bed, An’ you’ll make the doctor beg his bread; or as the more popular version runs: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” With apples available in so many different edible forms, we really don’t have an excuse for not trying this one out.

~ Rachel Grossman, Connectivity Director

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More on our Mammoth Forums

One of the guest speakers at the final Mammoth Forum for Oedipus el Rey was Wilbert Avila, a former program participant with the Free Minds Bookclub & Writing Workshop. Mr. Avila reflected openly at the start of the Forum about his experience in prison and how the production, and the character of Oedipus, connected with him. Then at the end of his remarks, Mr. Avila referenced a poem he wrote that  incorporated eye-imagery, which Oedipus reminded him of.  He was kind enough to share the poem with us, and we wanted to share it with you as a coda to the production.

My Eyes

By Wilbert Avila

Mis ojos have suffered!
Each have seen the death of a brother
They saw anguish in his last breath
Mis ojos shed a tear, they didn’t pass the test.

Mis ojos have seen rejection!
Family turning there shoulders no exception
Society considered me a lost cause
My reaction to rejection, find a new family, new love, was that my fault.

Mis ojos have seen hate.
A young soul lost in hells gates
Hate is looking in the mirror
No mercy for me, no mercy for them, my hearts love and affection cut
to peices by Gods scissors

Mis ojos have seen a new therapeutic god
But he deceived me, his name was alcohol
He eased my mind but only for a instant
Under his influence I couldnt make the right decision

Mis ojos tells you a story
Deep down inside I want to say I’m sorry
But not to show fear, not even to blink
My emotions I bear hug and let them sink

Mis ojos have smears of yellow
Insomnia and suicide all because of sorrow
In chains one behind the other
Walking with silence death we follow

Mis ojos want to go blind
They don’t want to see me waisting time
I don’t want to see pity
I don’t want to see the false preacher preach

Mis ojos I shut
I see my dreams dissolve like dust
I see my future if I didnt get a second chance

~ Rachel Grossman, Connectivity Director

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