Monday, January 20, 2020

RIP Peter Larkin, creator of the Mothership

From the New York Times:

When Parliament-Funkadelic, George Clinton’s sartorially adventurous music collective, played arena shows in the 1970s, the boisterous crowds would reach a fever pitch midway through the concert when a fire-spitting flying saucer descended from the rafters, landing onstage amid smoke and blaring horns.

Most of those fans probably didn’t know that the prop — the Mothership, it was called, one of the most outlandish stage effects in a decade full of rock spectacles — was the work of a noted Broadway lighting designer, Jules Fisher, and a four-time Tony Award-winning set designer, Peter Larkin.

“When it landed,” Mr. Fisher recalled in a telephone interview, “a door opened and George Clinton came out.” At the show’s end, it blasted off and disappeared skyward.

The Mothership’s co-designer, Mr. Larkin, died on Dec. 16 at his home in Bridgehampton, N.Y., Marla Strick, his daughter-in-law, said. He was 93 and had designed sets for 45 Broadway productions and worked as production designer on more than two dozen movies, including “Tootsie” (1982), “House of Cards” (1993) and “Miss Congeniality” (2000).

“By God’s grace,” he wrote, “we are living in a golden era at Baylor.”

From today's New York Times, a look back at the Baylor University rape scandal and the way it was handled by the President's new attorney, Kenneth Starr:

In November 2016, after his firing, Mr. Starr sat for an interview with the television station KWTX. Its reporter asked Mr. Starr about an email that a woman who said she was raped had sent to him. It bore the subject line: “I was raped at Baylor.”

The woman had told ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” that he had never responded to her email.

Did you see this email? a reporter asked Mr. Starr.

Mr. Starr looked at the camera and said: “I honestly may have. I’m not denying that I saw it.”

At this point, a voice can be heard interrupting off-camera. Merrie Spaeth, whom Mr. Starr had introduced as a family friend, asked the news director not to use that part of the interview. Then she directed Mr. Starr to follow her out of the room. He returned and took a seat and changed his answer:

“I’m honestly going to say I have no recollection of that.”

With that, he turned to Ms. Spaeth — who works with a crisis communications public relations firm and served in the Reagan White House — and asked, “Is that O.K.?”

“Don’t’ look at me,” she instructed.

Mr. Starr turned back to the reporter and amended his answer a third time: “I honestly have no recollection of seeing such an email, and I believe that I would remember seeing such an email.”

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Congratulations, Dignity Health!

Dignity Health in California is only number 3 on this year's Shrekli Award Top Ten List, but I think they deserve a special shout-out anyway. Here it is:

Three days after Lauren Bard gave birth to her daughter prematurely (26 weeks), she called her health plan administrator and was assured the child was covered. But after her daughter spent a month in the NICU near death, Dignity Health, Bard’s employer, told her that the medical care would not be covered because she did not use the company website to enroll. Dignity Health, a religious organization with the motto, “Hello humankindness,” refused to take into account the traumatic circumstances around Bard’s childbirth, leaving her with a $898,984 bill.