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May 30, 2020

I’m Attempting One of THOSE Projects

Old Playbills

You know what I mean. The project that you’ll get to ‘someday’ also known as your ‘Vacation to Someday Isle’.

Similarly, I remember a newsletter our rabbi sent to the congregation – it had to be over 30 years ago – promising to distribute round ‘tuits’ to each of us so that everyone would then get a round tuit (aka around to it). Those promises you make to yourself: that you’ll learn Spanish, bake bread or, in my case, scan all my Playbills for posterity’s sake–that have been waiting a lifetime for, what?…a 2-3 month quarantine.

Yes! I committed to going through my hundreds of Playbills and scan them. I want to remember when I saw Hamilton, who was in the original cast, and what they looked like then.

I didn’t know what I was getting into. First, there was the horror at my memory. Sorting through the collection, I could barely recall the essence of over half the shows I’d seen let alone attended. I did not let that deter me.

Second, when I tried out my HP Easy Scan after tearing off all the covers and ripping out the production pages, I found it was, in fact, not easy. I’m an Apple fan, and my HP scanner is not. When I upgraded to the latest operating system-Catalina-on my Mac Mini, HP balked and the two devices are no longer speaking. Ugh. We consumers are the ones caught in the middle of their technology feuding.

Still, I had this rather large pile of pages that had accumulated and my commitment to my action partner that I would spend an hour scanning Playbills. I do believe there’s always a work-around. I have Genius Scan on my cell phone. Typically, when I’ve used it, the images are slanted and have shadows because I’m in a hurry and don’t take the time to get the lighting right or set up the correct angle.

I wanted more for my Playbill history than I do for my receipts. Hence, the photo you see above left of my new set-up. I devised a way to hang the pages on my monitor, shoot them via Genius Scan, and have them download into a Playbills folder in dropbox. The image on the right shows how my memories are now being stored. I’m marveling at my own Baby Booming expertise here. It reminds me of encouragement I gave to audiences when I quoted David Pogue, the NY Times tech columnist, who once said about digital photography:

“Just connect the camera to the computer with a USB cable; copy your multimegabyte JPEG files to the hard drive; open the photos in an image-processing program; rotate and crop each one, adjusting the color; calculate the pixel density and desired output dimensions — and then click on print. What could be simpler?”– NYTimes, Circuits section (1/17/02).  Can you see how far you’ve come? I barely knew what a USB cable was back then, let alone a JPEG. It’s all learn-able.

I’m deep into the project now, but wanted to inspire you to get started on the ‘tuit’ you’ve been waiting for. I’m excited to be condensing my pile and creating a digital record of some of my favorite times in my beloved city.


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  1. Lynne Marino

    Nice! My ‘tuit’ are the millions of photos I’ve taken over the years! I did a wonderful job of purging all but these before moving to FL. Thanks for the encouragement 😘

    • Jane Pollak

      @Lynne That’s a daunting one. Huge congrats on the purge. Must feel great to have all those years organized.


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