Cricket's Notebook by Larry Stark - "H E L P"

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide


Monday 20 January, 2003: "H E L P"

Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 20:12:49 -0500
From: Jeff Gardiner
Subject: Theatre Mirror Update???

Hi Larry,
I have just been browsing the Theatre Mirror and find that several pages haven't been updated since before Christmas. "Plays Up and Running" and "Coming Attractions" are two that jump out.
Are you OK??? We worry about you.
Happy New Year and hope to see you soon.
Jeff and Fran Gardiner

Thank you both --- thank you ALL, for the two of you are not alone --- for your concern.
It was Matt Breton who took over "the listings" and updated every week, and updated Coming Attractions every month.
When he needed to spend that time on his Real Life, I discovered I could no longer do that work in addition to the "everything-else" that I do. The Listings died.
[ Juree James with her "NEW ENGLAND THEATRE 411" website fills that gap, but not enough people see it as indispensible and make certain their dates and times are represented there. ]

But the crisis of time hasn't solved itself.
I do what I can, and I feel guilty and hell when I can't --- and I feel it's time to ask for help.
So please look through these next two letters, and send your reactions to

Date: Wed, 13 Nov 2002 16:47:39 -0500
Subject: Re: who is thinking of whom????
From: Geralyn Horton

On Wednesday, November 13, 2002, at 03:25 PM, Larry Stark's Theater Mirror wrote:

"What I need done is simple, drudgerous Data Entry."

Maybe that's what you need this Wednesday.
But long term, you need-- I need-- everybody who cares about theater needs.....
1) The Mirror to be "rationalized" enough so that someone could keep it going if you broke bones or came down with something and were hospitalized.
2) the Mirror to be in a state where it can be taken over, in part if as you announced you will be semi-retiring because you just want to write occasional reviews and Crickets, wholly if you get sick of running it and want to chase blondes or rainbows instead.
If you are the only one who knows how to do what needs to be done, and if what needs to be done is unique to the Mirror and not similar to what other webmasters do, then The Mirror's mission will end when you can't or won't do it all.

It is far too important to Boston Theatre for you to let that happen!!!! You have built a Great Thing: make the repairs, take out the insurance, invite in junior partners to groom for the future.

And STOP telling me to "break a leg!"
i haven't been on stage for almost 2 years, and it is TOO FUCKING PAINFULL!

Geralyn Horton
playwright, actor, critic
Newton, MA

* * * * *

From: Larry Stark's Theater Mirror []
Sent: Thursday, January 02, 2003 1:14 PM
Subject: Do you STILL want to help with The Theater Mirror???

I cannot explain why it has taken so many months even to Begin this.
The fact that I turned "three-score & ten" last year is undoubtedly involved both in my needing some help, and my impulse to stay wilfully blind to that necessity.
But here's the gist: if much of the day-to-day running of The Mirror used less of my time --- not just the Doing but the Thinking about doing --- perhaps I could do some other, useful things to change the state of theater where I live.
And if The Mirror could function Without my daily hands-on ministrations from time to time, perhaps it may continue to function if I stopped any tinkering at all.
(I may have to spend some time learning to walk again, for instance, if my metal left knee needs more surgery.)

So let me try to define what The Theater Mirror is by setting priorities and asking what YOU can do or would want to do to keep it serving its audience.

First, though, let me say that at the moment I am NOT interested in a Sweeping Re-Design of The Mirror. That should come, I have no doubt; but I would rather see changes made piecemeal after long serious discussion. And Second, you must understand that I am totally computer-illiterate, totally and rather proudly jargon-impaired.
I don't know ANY of the basics about the machinery I use every day; I don't know how much RAM I'm using, don't know what a P.O.P. is, and since I DO know exactly what an "Icon" Really Is, I still insist on thinking "I put the arrowhead on that Postage-Stamp" rather than learning a whole new vocabulary. I even hold the Mouse upside-down, which hints at the possibility I may be LisDexIc. (Insert wry emoticon of your choice here!)

Here's the Background:

The Mirror was originally invented as a space and a service for Theater GOers. Its basic parts were
1)listings of plays to be seen
2)reviews of plays ... including an encouragement to everyone who had seen a play to Write Their OWN Reviews, however short and
3)a "Greenroom" wherein letters of interest and discussion could be shared and responded to.

Eventually, the letters with Audition Calls and with Performance Announcements came in so often and regularly that they demanded sections of their own.

Eventually, when I took a survey of the readers, of the eighty or so responses, the question "Do you DO theater?" was answered "No" exactly ONCE.

The three cornerstone sections of The Mirror that people respond to are AUDITIONS, SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENTS, and REVIEWS.
Everything else --- even The GREENROOM, actually --- is gravy.
Turning e-mail into HaTeMaiL-coded squibs on the right pages is the time-consuming daily drudging that keeps me away from the CRICKET'S NOTEBOOK diatribes and the CAR-TALKS revelations and insights that I'd like to spend some time thinking about.

is a person, or a team, who could turn the e-mails
--- they come in irregularly but at the rate of about one to five a day, Every Day ---
into "camera-ready" code that can be pasted into the proper pages and proper places with no time spent in correcting my continual typo's.

The big word, thOugh, is COMMITMENT.

I'd like one or two people who could spend the time it would take, each day, every day for the next full year, to do the drudgery.
If I can find such selfless individuals, I can set up an automatic re-routing of most e-mails about the ACTION-NEEDED stuff, and relay any that fall through the cracks. Then when the squibs are in final form they can be e-mailed to me for up-loading.
LATER we might think of sharing passwords so the uploading can happen without my help, but right now I'd like to keep control.

And since there are a number of you who at least ONCE, centuries ago, expressed interest in helping me make The Mirror, I guess I'm suggesting an
I need to know who you are, what brings you to The Mirror, what Real life is like for you, and how you think we might work together.

That's the crisis most in need of action N O W.

Then there's the Look and the Handling of The Theater Mirror, which should probably change.
I am not interested in any changes Right Now, however.
I want to spend time --- maybe the whole next year --- TALKING about changes.

If you have some thoughts about changing the "architecture" or "navigation"
I ask that you first Look At The Mirror, look at its parts, its cul-de-sacs and archives as well as its main-travelled routes. And TALK TO ME about what works, what doesn't, what could be simplified, how parts might be linked, how much serious work of re-structuring or re-writing or re-arranging would be necessary.
Talk to me in ENGLISH not in Computer-ese.
Once I understand what needs to be fixed --- and why --- we can talk about the how's.

Most importantly, I think we have to get to know one another.
Not in resume terms, but in people terms.
Any work of Theater is made out of People, and The Mirror is no different.
I hope to get to know each of you well, and that we can Enjoy working together.

First tell me what The Theater Mirror is to you. And we'll go on from there.

( a k a larry stark ).

THE THEATER MIRROR, New England's LIVE Theater Guide