Observations Along the Road

Theatre Writeups, Musings on the News, Rants and Roadkill Along the Information Superhighway

Shticks of One and Half a Dozen of the Other: Saturday Chum Stew

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 24, 2015 @ 11:06 am PST

userpic=schmuckThis has been the second very busy week in a row. I’ve accumulated a number of articles, but there are no coherent things, but lots of things I want to comment upon. So let’s get started with this news chum collection:

🏥  Sexism in the Emergency Room. The Atlantic had a fascinating article that I certainly believe: Doctors Tend To Take Women’s Pain Less Seriously. It is sad to think that this type of sexism still exists in the medical profession, but it does. There are fewer research projects to see the effect of medicine on women, and often a woman’s complaint is dismissed as hysteria (and by the way, if you don’t know the origin of that word, you should — it’s relevant). In this article, a woman almost dies because the doctors don’t believe her complaint about serious pain.

💏 Contributions of the Yiddish Theatre. As my daughter is busily studying Yiddish at UC Berkeley, news about Yiddish tends to catch my eye. Here’s an article about how the first lesbian kiss on stage was in a Yiddish theatre production. Specifically, the 1923 English-language production of Sholem Asch’s God of Vengeance, at the Apollo Theater on 223 West 42nd Street, presented the first same-sex kiss in the history of Broadway, leading to the entire cast’s being arrested on obscenity charges. Paula Vogel and Rebecca Taichman’s Indecent, having its world premiere at the Yale Rep in New Haven this month, is a delightful, unexpected, and surprising play about Asch’s play.

🎭 To Review Community Theatre? An article in the On Stage Blog has prompted some interesting discussion. Its question: Should theatre reviewers review community theatre, and if they do, should they give an honest assessment? A fascinating question: after all, these are not professional actors, so should we hold them to the same quality standards? They are often true amateurs, and the directors are equally amateurs. Personally, I tend to agree with the VC On Stage Blog: I review honestly, but try more to couch my review as constructive criticism (how to improve, instead of “Bob stunck”).

🏊 A Hole in the Ground, Filled with Water. With the current drought, there’s more an more interest in demolishing pools. It’s an interesting question, and one that I’ve thought seriously about. Pools can add to the value of a house, and in general a pool actually uses less water than a lawn. But they can leak easily — I’m pretty sure our pool has a leak somewhere in the piping deep underground that feeds the pump (I have to add water weekly). But the cost of removing the pool can be quite high — multiple thousands of dollars to remove the decking, break up the shell, etc. If it costs only an extra $50 to add water per month, it is cheaper to add water. Never an easy question.

💳 American Express in Trouble. Here’s a fascinating article about the woes of American Express: Specifically, the loss of their US contract with Costco is a big deal, no matter what they say. Amex no longer has the prestige it once had, and its higher fees often make people less likely to accept it. They can hang on, but they may be going the way of Diners Club over time.

💊 The Cost of Generics. By now, our insurance companies have drummed it into our heads: Buy generics, it is cheaper. But as we’ve read in the news, the cost of generics is actually rising, often thanks to greedy manufacturers. Who is that hurting? Small pharmacies, who are finding that their insurance reimbursements do not cover the cost of the generics. This means, due to insurance contracts, they often lose money on generics. Welcome to screwed up health care in America.

🔯 Holocaust Revisionism. This week, we had an interesting example of Holocaust Revisionism… from an Israeli leader, who proclaimed that Hitler didn’t want to kill the Jews — it was an Arab idea. Dr. Deborah Lipstadt — who was my professor for a number of Jewish Studies courses at UCLA including ones on Zionism and Antisemitism — wrote a very good rebuttal and analysis of Netanyahu’s statement. (if that link doesn’t work, go here, and then click on the article). As Dr. Lipstadt noted: “Netanyahu, however, did not paint [the Grand Mufti] as a supporter of this genocide. He credited him with coming up with the idea. There is a vast difference between the two. Historians continue to debate who originated the idea of the Final Solution. No serious historian, however, has ever laid the decision at the feet of the mufti. These are scary days in Israel. Arabs, some of whom have been incited to act by religious and political leaders, have stabbed, hacked, and stoned Jews. Others have mowed them down with cars. This inexcusable barbarism does not, however, legitimate rewriting of the past.”

🍕 Feeding the Addiction. I really try to avoid becoming an addict. I don’t drink. I don’t smoke. I am addicted to Afrin, but that’s a different story. This week I learned I really am an addict. So, here’s goes. My name is Daniel, and I’m addicted to Cheese.  Yup, a new study has shown that Cheese Addiction is real. Cheese happens to be especially addictive because of an ingredient called casein, a protein found in all milk products. During digestion, casein releases opiates called casomorphins that play with the dopamine receptors and trigger that addictive element. The LA Times drilled down even deeper into the study, and concluded: So the decision to call cheese crack is entirely yours. And if the University of Michigan study makes you feel better about eating a quesadilla for lunch and half a cheese board before dinner, so be it.

🍷 Liquid Refreshment Andrew Ducker over on LJ alerted me to this article, which is related to a different type of food addiction. Yes, there are people who feel better after drinking blood, but no they are not vampires. The article is an interesting study of sanguinarians  — real life “vampires” and their communities.

💥 I Feel The Earth Move. Everyone started to run scared in LA after an article from NASA saying the chance of a major earthquake in the San Gabriel Valley is 99.9% in the next two years. But then again, Dr. Lucy Jones disputes the findings.  Specifically, a yet unpublished study from seismologists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab predicted with 99.9 percent certainty that we’d get a 5.0 quake sometime within the next couple years. They were 35 percent certain that it would be even bigger, registering at 6.0 or worse. However, Dr. Lucy “Earthquake Lady” Jones, a seismologist who works with L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti on earthquake preparedness, noted that the claim that it’s such a high probability is made in a paper by one individual group of researchers, and the paper doesn’t document how they came up with that number so it’s impossible for us to even evaluate whether or not the statement has any validity, because they didn’t say why. She also noted this is not an official NASA claim, and pointed out that a lot of us might not even be able to feel a 5.0 quake. What’s more likely? Dr. Jones says a more likely figure is a 2 percent chance of SoCal getting a big quake—7.5 or greater—each year. But there is a certainty that eventually be a big one, so it also helps to be prepared.

💺 The First Jumbo Jets. Airline Reporter had an interesting exploration of Delta Air Lines and their first jumbo jets: the 747-100s. Delta ended up settling on the DC-10s and L-1011s, and of course, now uses different jumbos. The article provides a great insight on why airlines order what, and what happens to an aircraft after it is no longer needed.

🍏 They’re back. Yay. Pippins are back in markets. Get them while you can.


Skin in the Game

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Oct 18, 2015 @ 1:56 pm PST

Damn Yankees (Cabrillo)Cabrillo UserpicYou gotta have skin.
All you really need is skin.
Skin’s the thing that if you got it outside,
It helps keep your insides in.
It covers your nose,
And it’s wrapped around your toes.
And inside it you put lemon meringue,
And outside ya hang your clothes.

Whoops. Right song. Wrong lyrics.

Those of you who are old enough will remember that parody song on Allan Sherman‘s album “Allan in Wonderland”. The underlying tune was from the song “Heart”, written for the musical Damn Yankees back in 1955 by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. I bring this all up because last night we saw the Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) production of “Damn Yankees“, and about my only complaint with the production had to do with skin. More on that later.

If you recall, we had decided to drop our Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) subscription when the 2014-2015 season was announced: Memphis, Company, Oklahoma, and Mary Poppins. None of which I had a strong desire to see again. So I was pleasantly surprised when the 2015-2016 season was announced: Damn Yankees, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Children of Eden, and The Little Mermaid. These were all shows that I had seen only in amateur productions (high school, middle school, church), or only in the movie version. So we rejoined as subscribers, and it felt good to be back. The Cabrillo organization is a great one — doing a helluva lot in the community and for the community — and it is one we are glad to be able to support. They also help a lot of theatre people get started in the industry — I still remember when we saw Katherine McPhee in Annie Get Your Gun.

As I noted, our only exposure to Damn Yankees was a high school production. Luckily it was a good one — the Van Nuys HS production back in 2010. In many ways, no one can top Quest as Applegate. But I did want to see a professional production, and the Cabrillo one was a very good one.

For those unfamilar with this 1955 show (which starred such folks as Gwen Verdon as Lola and Ray Walston as Applegate)… or its late 1990s revival (with Bebe Neuwirth as Lola and either Victor Garber or Jerry Lewis as Applegate), “Damn Yankees” is a sports-oriented retelling of the Faustian legend. It is set during the 1950s in Washington, D.C., during a time when the New York Yankees dominated Major League Baseball. The story is set in motion when a long-time baseball fan, real estate agent Joe Boyd, offers to sell his soul to see his team, the Washington Senators, win the pennant away from those damn Yankees. Be careful what you say, for the Devil (in the form of Mr. Applegate) shows up and offers Joe the chance to leave his long-suffering baseball widow Meg and become the long-ball hitter the Senators need. Joe agrees, but insists on an escape clause: he can decide the evening before the last game to get out and return to his wife. Applegate waves his hands, and Joe Boyd disappears and young Joe Hardy replaces him. Joe shows up at the Senators locker room, and convinces the manager to add him to the team. Everyone is won over by this man, except for a young reporter who is suspicious. While she investigates his background, Joe begins longing for his wife. Joe’s visits back to his old home get under the skin of Applegate, who plots what he can do to get Joe away from his wife. He sends a skilled homewrecker, Lola, after him, but she fails to seduce him. Applegate decides to switch tactics to ensure Joe’s failure. He releases false information about Joe Hardy’s true identity being “Shifty McCoy”, an escaped criminal and con artist. When Gloria discovers this information, she presses charges, and Joe is forced into court. As the Senators prepare for the final game against the Yankees for the pennant, Joe goes on trial. Joe tells the Applegate he wants out, and Applegate says he has to confirm this at 5 minutes before midnight. But the trial has various delays, and at the magic mark, just as Joe is proven innocent, the delays prevent him from exercising the clause. Joe heads into the final game, but Lola has drugged Applegate, and he doesn’t show until the very end. In order to have the Senators lose (the plan all along, for then there will be loads of suicides and anguish from the fans), Applegate does the only thing he can do: turns Joe back as he is catching the final run. Joe Hardy disappears, and Joe Boyd returns to his wife. Applegate tries to convince Joe Boyd to go back to being Joe Hardy, but the older Joe prefers the love of his wife. I’ll note there’s a longer synopsis (alas, of the 1994 version) on Wikipedia; the primary difference appears to be the setting of the novelty number, “Whos Got The Pain” and the setting for “Two Lost Souls”. Cabrillo appears to have done the 1955 version, with the “Pain” number as part of the Talent Show, and the “Souls” number done in a nightclub. That must be what they are licensing.

The story, by George Abbott and Douglass Wallop based on Wallop’s novel “The Year the Yankees Lost the Pennant“, is a little bit creaky in this age of instant sports stats and online research. However, if you transport yourself to the 1950s, you’re fine. The music, by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross, also mostly stills shines. The major problem is the number “Who’s Got the Pain?”, which to this day has nothing to do with the plot and makes absolutely no sense — a dance number inserted to accomodate the conventions of the day and not move the plot one iota. I enjoy the dance of “Whatever Lola Wants”, although I find the number itself a bit odd. Hands down, however, I love the number “Those Were The Good Old Days”.  But the plot is what the plot is: this is a 1955 classic that made the careers of a number of actors, and it still has wonderful roles that actors yearn to do.

The Cabrillo production was directed by Kirsten Chandler (FB). Chandler did a good job of bringing out good performances given the wide mix of skills in the cast. The choreography by John Todd (FB) was extremely energetic — I particularly recall the dance sequence in “Shoeless Joe from Hannibal, MO” and, of course, “Whatever Lola Wants”.  In general all the dance was quite fun to watch.

Leading off on the side of good were John Atkins (FB) as Joe Boyd, Sarah Tattersall (FB) as Meg Boyd, and Travis Leland (FB) as Joe Hardy. Atkins, as the senior Joe, projected the requisite old and creaky, and had a lovely singing voice (used to good effect in “Goodbye Old Girl”. Tattersall brought a youth, vitality, and lovelyness to Meg that I hadn’t seen before, which together with a wonderful singing voice was quite magical. The only problem was that, from the mezzanine, she seemed quite younger than Atkin’s Joe — making the statement that he married her when she was in her 20s a bit odd. She needs to somehow come across as a bit more 50ish, lovely as she is. But, overall, in the scheme of things, that is really a minor problem. Leland (who we saw before in Adding Machine) was a wonderful young Joe — nice voice, nice stage presence, and giving off the aura of the good guy that Joe is. He seemed to fit better with Tattersall’s Meg than did old Joe; this was demonstrated in their lovely ballad “A Man Doesn’t Know”.

Leading off on the side of evil were John Sloman (FB) as Applegate and Renèe Marino (FB) as Lola. Although he could have projected just a touch more malevolence, I enjoyed Sloman’s Applegate. He had slight-of-hand magic down pat, and did a wonderful job on “Good Old Days”, which requires a spectacular song and dance man. Marino’s Lola was a knockout. Spunky, sexy, and playful. She did a wonderful job with her two big numbers in the first act, “A Little Brains, A Little Talent” and “Whatever Lola Wants”, and she was very touching with Leland in the second act’s “Two Lost Souls”. Just fun to watch.

In the second tier of roles, I’d like to highlight Katheryne Penny (FB)’s Gloria Tharpe. Her performance in “Shoeless Joe” was breath-taking — literally, as she must have been out of breath when she was done. Her performance there dancing, singing, and acting made me think of the prior Katherine on the stage (and I hope she has as much success).

Providing mostly comic support as Sister and Doris, respectively, were Farley Cadena (FB) [a Cabrillo regular] and Tara McGrath (FB). Both provided that well, and were fun to watch in their reprise of “Heart”.

The Washington Senators consisted of Ray Mastrovito (FB) (Mr. Welch – Owner); Tom G. McMahon (FB) (Van Buren – Manager); J. Bailey Burcham (FB) (Smokey – Catcher); Timothy Joshua Hearl (FB) (Vernon); Michael Mittman (FB) (Rocky); Tyler Matthew Burk (FB) (Lynch, Sohovik), Ramiro Garcia Jr. (FB) (Micky); Jotapè Lockwood (FB) (Del); Dylan MacDonald (FB) (Ozzie); Rile Reavis (FB) (Henry, Postmaster); Joshua Rivera (FB) (Buster); Brance William Souza (Bouley); Julian Xavier (Bubba). They worked together as a team, and were particularly hilarious to watch during the opening practice prior to “Heart” (and they did a good job on “Heart” as well). The lead members of the team (Van Buren, Rocky, Smokey, Vernon) were particularly good in “Heart” in terms of performance, movement, and voice. Alas, it was during “Heart” that the skin issue mentioned in the beginning occurred. Suffice it to say that I saw some things that might have been better unseen — and the problem was not a performance one, but a directoral or choreographical choice. It didn’t detract from the show, but it stuck in my head.

Rounding out the adult ensemble were Nichole Beeks (FB), Bernadette Bentley (FB), Jenny Hoffman (FB), Janelle Loren, and Alysa Perry (FB). They were very good rounding out the dance in “Six Months Out of Every Year” and in the background of “Two Lost Souls”.  The Children’s Ensemble consisted of Addie Chandler, Calista Loter, Micah Meyers, Drew Rosen, and Marcello Silva. They were cute in their performance of the reprise of Heart, and even cuter leading the audience in “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch.

The music was under the direction of Cassie Nickols (FB), who also served as conductor. In addition to Nickols, the orchestra consisted of Gary Rautenberg (FB) [Flute, Piccolo, Clarinet, Alto Sax]; Darryl Tanikawa (FB) [Clarinet, Alto Sax]; Ian Dahlberg (FB) [Oboe, English-Horn, Tenor Sax, Clarinet]; Matt Germaine/FB [Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax, Clarinet]; Darrin Smith [Bassoon, Baritone Sax, Clarinet]; Bill Barrett [Trumpet I]; Chris Maurer [Trumpet II]; June Satton (FB) [Trombone I]; Robert Coomber [Trombone II]; Sharon Cooper [Violin I, Concertmaster]; Sally Berman [Violin II]; Marisa McLeod (FB) [Viola]; Stephen Green [Cello]; Ben Gisberg/FB [Keyboard Synthesizer]; Shane Harry/FB [Double String Bass]; and Tyler Smith/FB [Set Drums, Percussion]. Darryl Tanikawa (FB) was the Orchestra Contractor, and Darryl Archibald (FB) was the Music Supervisor.

Turning to the technical side: There was no credit for set design; the program notes that scenery was provided by FCLO Music Theatre (FB). The set was pretty straightforward, with sets that rolled in for the Boyd home and the dugout, and a basic multilevel structure that served as the stadium and other purposes. Prop Design was by Alex Choate (FB). Costume design was by Christine Gibson (FB), with costumes provided by FCLO Music Theatre (FB), The Theatre Company (FB) in Upland, and Costume World Theatrical (FB). The costumes worked pretty well; I particuarly appreciated the choice of uniform number 42 for the one black dancer. About my only costume quibble was that it kept looking like Katheryne Penny’s sweater would burst during the “Shoeless Joe” number.  Hair and makeup design was by Cassie Russek (FB); it worked pretty well, although I might have worked a tad more grey into Meg’s hair. Sound design was by CMT regular Jonathan Burke (FB); my only comment here was that the balanced needed to be reworked to either increase the amplification of the actors, or decrease the amplification of the orchestra. Lighting was by Rand Ryan, and exhibited the usual Cabrillo over-dependence on follow-spots (which in this case were occasionally late or off position slightly). Other than the spots, it worked well. A few of the buried credits that deserve highlighting. Ray Mastrovito (FB), who played Mr. Welch, is also credited for Applegate’s Magic Effects — this was one thing I particularly liked about this Applegate, so kudos to him. The preshow and intermission video design was by David Engel, and I particularly enjoyed the inclusion of “Who’s On First“.  Rounding out the credits: Gary Mintz was the Technical Director. David Elzer/Demand PR (Public Relations). John W. Calder III (FB) and Chris Warren Murry (FB) were the Production Stage Managers. Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) is under the artistic direction of Lewis Wilkenfeld (FB).

Damn Yankees has one more weekend at Cabrillo. Tickets are available through the Cabrillo web site; discount tickets are available through Goldstar. It’s an enjoyable production.

Ob. Disclaimer: I am not a trained theatre critic; I am, however, a regular theatre audience member. I’ve been attending live theatre in Los Angeles since 1972; I’ve been writing up my thoughts on theatre (and the shows I see) since 2004. I do not have theatre training (I’m a computer security specialist), but have learned a lot about theatre over my many years of attending theatre and talking to talented professionals. I pay for all my tickets unless otherwise noted. I am not compensated by anyone for doing these writeups in any way, shape, or form. I subscribe at three theatres:  REP East (FB), The Colony Theatre (FB), and Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB). Through my theatre attendance I have made friends with cast, crew, and producers, but I do strive to not let those relationships color my writing (with one exception: when writing up children’s production, I focus on the positive — one gains nothing except bad karma by raking a child over the coals).  I believe in telling you about the shows I see to help you form your opinion; it is up to you to determine the weight you give my writeups.

Upcoming Shows: October was being held for the NoHo Fringe Festival (FB); they’ve finally announced some shows but nothing yet is of interest. Given their delays, I started booking weekends with non-fringe shows. The fourth weekend of October brings “Uncle Vanya” at Antaeus Theatre Company (FB) in North Hollywood. Halloween weekend sees me at CSUN for Urinetown, and then both of us out in Simi Valley for “The Addams Family” at the Simi Cultural Arts Center (Simi Actors Rep Theatre (FB)). The following weekend sees us back in Simi for the Nottingham Festival (FB) on November 7. We then go out to Perris for “A Day Out with Thomas” at Orange Empire Railway Museum (FB) on November 11 (I can’t skip seeing my buddy Thomas and his friend Percy). The bookings for November conclude with Deathtrap at REP East (FB) on November 14; the rest of the month is currently open. December brings “El Grande Circus de Coca-Cola” at The Colony Theatre (FB) the first weekend, followed by a mid-week stint as a producer, when we present The Nigerian Spam Scam Scam as the dinner entertainment at the Annual Computer Security Applications Conference (ACSAC). December also has dates held for “The Bridges of Madison County” at the Ahmanson Theatre (FB) and “If/Then” at the Pantages (FB). There are also a few other interesting productions I’m keeping my eyes open for. The first is the Fall show at The Blank Theatre (FB), “Something Truly Monstrous”, sounds wonderful — however, it runs through November 8, so squeezing it in would mean a double weekend. The show at the Kirk Douglas Theatre (FB) also sounds like an interesting exploration of clutter —  but “The Object Lesson” only runs through October 4, and I’m not sure we can squeeze it in. As always, I’m keeping my eyes open for interesting productions mentioned on sites such as Bitter-Lemons, and Musicals in LA, as well as productions I see on Goldstar, LA Stage Tix, Plays411.

A Shot Across The Bow

Written By: cahwyguy - Sun Oct 18, 2015 @ 9:38 am PST

userpic=99loveLast night, when I got home from seeing Damn Yankees at Cabrillo Music Theatre (FB) [writeup this afternoon], I discovered a theatrical shot across the bow in my email. If you recall, back in April and May, there was a lot of press about how the intimate theatre community in Los Angeles was up in arms about the antics of the Actors Equity union, which was attempting to impose a particular wage structure in Los Angeles’s intimate theatre, even after the members in Los Angeles voted that structure down 2 to 1.

Since then, it seemed that AEA had won. They imposed the interim structure, and a number of theatres seemed to be operating within it (at least within the membership company rule). A number of others simply announced they had stopped using AEA actors, limiting themselves to SAG/AFTRA and other non-union actors. It seemed that AEA had divided and conquered. Many were upset at the quiet.

You should be very scared of things that are quiet.

Yesterday, the sleeping giant that is the review committee awoke. From the press release (which you can read in its entirety on the Footlights site, which also has a link to the text of the litigation):

LOS ANGELES (Oct. 17, 2015) — Actors and other members of the Los Angeles theatrical community filed a lawsuit today against Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers. The lawsuit challenges the Union’s decision to eliminate its 25-year-old waiver of jurisdiction over small 99-seat theaters, a program popularly known as Equity Waiver. Plaintiffs claim that the Union’s decision to end Equity Waiver will unfairly destroy small theater in Los Angeles and deprive thousands of actors of opportunities to collaborate on creative theatrical projects.

The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles federal court. The plaintiffs are Los Angeles-based members of Equity, together with other theatrical artists and theater operators who had entered into a litigation Settlement Agreement with the Union in 1989 that established a system for regulating future changes to the Equity Waiver program.

The lawsuit alleges that the stage actors’ union violated this Settlement Agreement by improperly interfering with the democratic and due process procedures established in the Agreement to prevent any unilateral Union decision to eliminate the world of intimate theater. The lawsuit complains that Equity’s new rules, including a prohibition on volunteer acting at small theaters and a new wage compensation obligation on these theaters, will force theaters to close, reduce their production runs, or to hire non-union volunteer actors in place of Union actors.

The plaintiffs announced that they would not serve the Complaint on the Union immediately, in the hope that the Union would respond to their request to meet and confer about a mutually acceptable resolution of the small theater controversy.

“Although we have now filed the complaint, we have not yet served it on the Union,” stated Steven Kaplan, lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “We have asked the Union to take this opportunity to avoid the time, expense and acrimony of litigation, and sit down with its members to discuss a mutually advantageous resolution.”

Gary Grossman, a member of Equity and one of the plaintiffs in the 1989 litigation, stated that “This lawsuit became necessary because Equity refused to comply with the preliminary procedural protections built into our 1989 Settlement Agreement. These procedural protections were designed to ensure that, before substantial changes were made to the 99-Seat Theater Plan, meaningful discussions would take place within the small theater community.”

Actor Michael A. Shepperd, also a plaintiff, said, “Our members voted to reject the Union’s actions by a 2-1 margin in one of the largest election turnouts in the organization’s history. We are terribly disappointed that our Union rejected the principle of democracy on which it was founded, and foisted on Union members new rules that will harm all actors in the long run.”

Now, I’m just an audience member. I’m not an actor. I’m not a director. I’m not a creative. I’m not a producer (but then again, I am mounting a one-night production of a fringe show for the ACSAC conference, so perhaps I am). I have no skin in this game other than being someone who buys tickets. Why do I care?

It’s simple:

  • I believe that Los Angeles is a unique theatrical ecosystem. Unlike other cities, actors do not have to depend on the stage to make their living as an actor. Lucrative wages can come from TV and Film. Given this, many (but not all) actors in Los Angeles act because they feel the need to work their craft and exercise their acting muscles on the stage. Remuneration is secondary, and many actors do not feel that it is the paycheck that makes them a professional, it is how they behave.
  • I believe that compensation for the creatives should be worked out in a mutually agreeable arrangement between the theatre company, producers, creatives, and actors involved. If an actor does not like the arrangement, they always have the ability to say no. Unlike other cities, there are plenty of other actors vying for the role. And, in the LA unique creative-driven marketplace, there are plenty of roles available.
  • I believe that, in such an environment, Equity’s primary role should be to ensure safe and non-exploitive work conditions, protecting the physical and mental health of the actors. Equity has abdicated that role in its current proposal with respect to membership companies.
  • I believe that a situation should not exist where some actors are independent contractors or volunteers, and others are employees. That is against the law. That is also what Equity is insisting on in its current “minimum wage” agreement for non-membership companies.

As an audience member, I believe it is in my best interest for the parties to sit down and come to an agreement before more theatres close, and more ancillary support businesses (such as costume and prop shops) go out of business. That hurts the economy of Los Angeles, and means there is less theatre for me to see. Lawsuits are expensive, and it is much better for all parties involved for the money that would have gone into a lawsuit to go towards paying actors and other creatives and keeping theatres afloat, as opposed to lawyers.

At Last, The Stew: Tasty Links in a Simmering Sauce

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 3:30 pm PST

Observation StewAnd finally, some tasty news chum stew, which has been simmering in the bookmarks for a couple of weeks:


Shopping News: Haggen, Fresh & Easy, Handmade, and Jet.Com

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 2:04 pm PST

userpic=outofbusinessContinuing with part 3 of clearing out the links (there’s one more pure news chum stew post): Here are a series of posts related to shopping and stores:

  • Going Down Down Down. Although this is old news by now, Haggen is going under, and a number of their stores will be becoming Gelsons and Smart&Finals. In some ways, this is sad: Haggen bit off more than they could chew, and were doomed from the start (and likely set up by Albersons). It will be nice to have more Gelsons and Smart and Finals, though. Still no word on what will happen to the store at Sepulveda and Palms: I’ve seen that go through so many iterations by now it is silly. In similar news, it looks like Fresh and Easy is filing for bankruptcy again.  I still miss the F&E in Northridge; it was a good store with good selection. But this isn’t a surprise, as I don’t see the stores anymore. Supermarkets, in general, are getting beat by Target and Walmart adding groceries; the landscape will continue to grow as Aldi comes in. As for, we’ll keep shopping at the ethnics, Sprouts, and Trader Joes.
  • War of the Handmade. Amazon is taking on Etsy with their new subcompany: Handmade by Amazon. Will it be a success? I don’t know. Etsy is well known, but Amazon is a 400 lb gorilla. Handmade by Amazon has much tighter rules than Etsy, but people have been complaining that Etsy’s new rules have reduced the handmade aspect of what is sold. Should be interesting to watch — partially because my wife hope to restart the doll business on line. We still have lots of stock from the days working with Karen (Pratt) Holmes.
  • A Costco on the Internet. Recently, Planet Money had a fascinating episode on the Anti-Store: a store that makes it intentionally hard for you to buy things, find things, and pay for things. By doing that, they make oodles of money. The store: Costco. They make you pay for membership. They intentionally don’t sign the aisles so you have to explore the store. They take limited forms of payments and provide no bags. But it works, and people buy buy buy. At the end of the episode, they mentioned an internet variation: a company that was going to charge you to become a member, and would give you extra discounts if you ordered multiple different items from the same warehouse (allowing combined shipping) or decided to waive your ability to return items. The site? Jet.Com. Recent news has brought word that Jet.Com has decided not to charge its membership fee, because the profits from other areas — even with their discounts — make it unnecessary.   Might be worth exploring, for the bargain hunters.


Technological Miscellany: Facebook, Mergers, AOL, Word, and Google

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 12:26 pm PST

userpic=cyborgI’m taking some time this morning to clear out the accumulated links. This post brings together a number of items of technological nature, some older, some newer, but all with hopefully some interest:

It’s All About The Exposure

Written By: cahwyguy - Sat Oct 17, 2015 @ 10:14 am PST

userpic=tortuga-heuvosIt’s Saturday — and time to start clearing the accumulated links. First up, a trio of links all connected to sex and exposure:

  • The Sexy Tampon. It has become a parody of itself, the “Sexy …” costume. So here are some more entries for your Halloween Costuming needs: the Sexy Cockroach, the Sexy Fetus, the Sexy Tampon… well, you get the idea.
  • It’s a Business. Here’s a fascinating article about the porn business: it explores why the business you think you know is nothing like the business you think you know. For example, is that oft-repeated claim that porn drives tech adoption true? Right now, the porn industry is going through hard times, with new media, “free” streaming attempting to compete with paid, condom laws, and often being barred from app stores.
  • Alone in a Hotel? You’re alone on a business trip, and in your hotel. What do you do? Increasingly, the answer is not to watch porn. Both Hyatt Hotels and Marriott Hotels have announced they are dropping pay-per-view adult movies.  Why? A number of reasons. With the increasing number of intrusions into hotels, patrons don’t want their porn preferences exposed to the world when their bills are exposed. Probably more importantly, people can watch for free over the Internet. As a result, revenue has plummeted, and hotels are looking for profit in different areas.
  • Nudes and Economics. Here’s an interesting detailed analysis of Playboy’s announcement to drop nudes from its magazine. Playboy has been faced with a significant circulation drop, and they discovered when they made their website SFW, views increased. To become a mainstream media brand — and one that attracts the lifestyle advertisers they want and need — they need to be more mainstream. How do they do that? Drop the nudity. It’s not like people can’t find it elsewhere these days — something that wasn’t true in the 1950s-1970s — they top days of Playboy.


Death, Dying, and Resurrection

Written By: cahwyguy - Tue Oct 13, 2015 @ 6:53 pm PST

userpic=tombstonesRecently, the newsfeeds have brought stories of death, dying, and resurrection. None of this is particularly in the religious sense, but it is all interesting in a secular way:

The Dead

  • The Army Green Service Uniform. Those who have worked with the DOD know how to read uniforms: blue for the Air Force, green for the Army. Those days are numbered: The Army Green Service uniform is going away. Specifically, as of Oct. 1, the “Green Class As” are no longer permitted for wear. From 1902 through World War II soldiers wore an olive and/or khaki/tan combination of some sort. But then the Army wanted a sharp, classic and dignified look to distinguish soldiers in a postwar era. Enter the Army Green Uniform in 1954. The dark green color (“shade 44”) was a throwback to the distinctive color for rifle units back in Revolutionary times, and was recommended to the Army by scientists and fashion experts. What is replacing it? Would you believe “Army Blue”? The new ASU’s blue color represents a nod to the first century-plus of the Army, from the Revolution to the Civil War and Spanish American War. The blues became standard issue in 2010 and from there quickly became the most popular service uniform.
  • The Card Catalog. The last manufacturer of cards for the card catalog drawers has decided to stop making the cards. The library cooperative, which created the world’s first shared, online catalog system back in 1971, allowed libraries to order custom-printed cards that could then be put in their own analog cataloging systems. Now, according to the cooperative, it’s time to lay a “largely symbolic” system that’s well past its prime to rest. Cross off another learned skill from your youth you no longer need.
  • Tap Cards. Specifically, expired TAP cards. TAP (Transit Access Pass) is the system used in Southern California for paying for transit. Stored value is loaded on a card, and used on a bus or train. So far, so good. The problem is: those cards expire, and that expiration date is not printed on the card. You can only discover it when you register the card in the system. Further, there are no easy ways (other than calling customer service) to transfer the stored value off of an expired card. The potential windfall accrues to Metro.  According to LA Weekly, It’s estimated that expired TAP money adds up to a whopping $2.7 million. Metro says that about half of those expired Tap balances will be transferred by customers to new cards, leaving the transit agency with $1.3 million dollars in unclaimed money.
  • Your Pilot. Recently, the news was filled with reports about a flight that had its pilot die mid-flight. Although it sounds scary, it really isn’t a problem. After all, there are multiple qualified pilots on every flight.  But that’s not why the extra pilot is there. Commercial flying has always been a team effort, and the main reason for having two pilots is because the business of flying a plane is difficult and often complicated. Contrary to what everybody seems to think, planes do not “fly themselves,” and even a two-pilot cockpit often becomes a surprisingly busy place.
  • US Airways. On Friday, the last US Airways flight will touch down in Philadelphia. This will mark the end of an airlines that included carriers with such well-known reputations as Alleghany, Piedmont, USAir, America West, and of course, PSA.  In fact, it reunites PSA with the remains of AirCal (which American swallowed) and Reno Air.

The Dying

The Resurrection

  • Reel to Reel Tape. We’ve all heard about the rebirth of vinyl. Next up: Reel to reel tapes. I had a small reel-to-reel when I was young, and made tapes of music before I got into cassettes. But we’re not talking the 3″ reels. We’re taking professional quality tape. Further… the verdict is in: tape sounds better than vinyl. Period. Not the cassette tapes of Walkman era, of course. Not those 8-track bricks from the land of shag carpet supervans either. That crude tech is an insult to tape, the same way Velveeta is an insult to cheddar. The real vinyl killer turns out to be reel-to-reel tape. Played on unwieldy machines that conjure visions of ABSCAM sting operations and Boogie Nights bachelor pads, R2R tape is the latest retro-trend for hi-fi geeks and design fetishists who curate their living rooms like a MoMA exhibit.  (yes, that is pasted from the linked article)
  • Georgia’s Stone Mountain. If you recall, during the recent confederate flag kerfuffle, there were calls to destroy the images of confederate generals carved into Stone Mountain. That didn’t fly, but there is the next best thing: Adding Martin Luther King Jr. to Stone Mountain. Georgia officials decided Sunday to erect a monument to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on the site of a Confederate memorial on Stone Mountain, Ga. There was mixed reaction. The Stone Mountain Memorial Association, with Republican Gov. Nathan Deal’s approval, plans to build a tower with a replica of the Liberty Bell just beyond the carvings of Confederate heroes Gen. Robert E. Lee, President Jefferson Davis, and Gen. Stonewall Jackson to celebrate Mr. King’s reference to the site in his famous “I Have A Dream” speech: “Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia.”
  • Perl. Many of you know that I’m Perl’s Paternal Godparent and the first user of Perl (Larry, Mark, and I all carpooled together to SDC when it was written).  After many years, Larry has just unveiled Perl 6. I guess that means I may need to learn it. I still pretty much just use Perl 4 or Perl 5.