RIP, Bettie!

December 11, 2008

picbettiepagefaceforblogThe gorgeous Bettie Page died earlier today in Los Angeles, a week after suffering a heart attack from which she never regained consciousness.  She was 85.

”She captured the imagination of a generation of men and women with her free spirit and unabashed sensuality,” her agent Mark Roesler said. ”She is the embodiment of beauty.”

Bettie Page suffered badly in her later years from mental and physical illnesses.  Hopefully she finds peace now.

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Imperial Commander #1

December 11, 2008

Imperial Commander was a series I ran a few years ago.  In the run up to the end of Bush’s Presidency, I thought that a little nostalgia was in order.

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Word On The Street #4

December 11, 2008

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The Art of TV Rep

December 11, 2008

A long, long time ago, I was a member of a repertory theatre company in London.  We alternated with one of two plays each evening, and one or the other for a matinee on Saturdays.  Every four weeks or so we changed the plays.   That meant in any particular week, each actor/crew member was performing two full plays and was rehearsing two others.  It was a tough slog and I didn’t last long as an actor.  I just couldn’t retain that many lines and still keep them straight.  Hold that thought.

Meanwhile, my Bride is addicted to the soap opera “General Hospital“.  It is a love affair that long predates her infatuation with yours truly.  I generally don’t get to see it because I’m at work when it is on.  But when I am at home, like this week, “General Hospital” is not something I can easily avoid.  Like many, I have had a very low opinion of soap operas.  But why exactly?  Is it a class thing? I don’t really know.

general_hospitalWhat I do know, is that I have come to respect the repertory actors who inhabit these shows.  Soap operas don’t have the budgets for special effects or location shooting.  They are dialog-driven, with more than forty minutes of speech delivered every day, five days a week, 50 or so weeks every year.  These things tend to have large ensemble casts (contrast them with primetime comdedies or dramas), but still the burden on each actor is impressive.  It so far exceeds the number of lines I had to learn on the stage each week, that I cannot but be impressed.

And a surprising number of the actors make a great effort in their characterizations.  They are hamstrung by the contrived nature of much of the dialog, by the budget/production limitations that keep each scene in a single place, and by the limited number of locations that be created.  But they keep at it.  These, just like the actors who fill out the #2 and #3 touring companies across the continent, are true artisans of the acting craft, excellent workaday actors.

Did this post have a point?  Does it need to?


Being Middle Class Bites

December 11, 2008

domelargeJust a few days ago we were discussing the period between the World Wars when the middle class lost their live-in servants.  Now, the economic crunch is forcing the middle class to let go their daily staff, too.

In September, Cathy DeVore, a real estate agent in Larchmont, N.Y., whose business has been at a standstill lately, began taking gradual steps to lay off her longtime nanny and housekeeper … “I was worried about having to cut her back more,” Mrs. DeVore said. “In October I started a no-overtime policy; in November I told her that as of Jan. 1, I am cutting her back to 20 hours a week, and that as of June 30, I probably won’t need her at all.”

Domestic Workers United estimates there are more than 200,000 nannies, housekeepers, personal chefs and other domestic workers employed in the New York metropolitan area alone.

Ai-jen Poo, an organizer at Domestic Workers United, [said] “domestic workers’ wages are often the first thing that gets compromised … Essentially, 10,000 jobs lost at Lehman Brothers means 10,000 domestic workers’ jobs that are in jeopardy.”

If they can find another job, the wages may well have been cut.

Jaime Hochhauser, who runs the Right Staff, an agency that places nannies and housekeepers with families throughout the tri-state area, said the compensation being offered right now is about 20 percent less than it was six months ago, a decrease that’s consistent “even among the wealthiest clients” … Employers are also combining positions, asking for nannies who will watch their children and do the cleaning, for example, or switching from three days a week of help to just one, according to Ms. Hochhauser and several other agency owners.

The New York Times piece stresses just how hard this is for the middle class employer; the angst they suffer, etc.   I think their main anguish is about losing their last tiny grip on the coat-tails of the super-rich — those who, today, really are the only ones who can afford service of any kind.