Ask the Operator: Whycome Your Blog Sucks Lately?

**from time to time, we here at the offices of THE OPERATOR receive some letters asking us our advice. Always one to lend a helping hand, THE OPERATOR will answer these questions in an effort to make the world a better place.**

Dear The Operator:

Hi. Longtime reader, first time caller. So, I love The Operator, but all pleasantries aside, what gives lately? You barely post anything new, and when you do, it's just crap you regurgitated from some other site. And don't even get me started on all the YouTube clips. I feel like I went to bed with my wife, and when I woke up she was still there, but it wasn't really my wife--it was a pod person. Ya know what I'm saying? I'm just reaching out cause I miss the old Operator. Don't let your readers down.


Tuff Luv.

Well, TL, thanks for your letter and your astute observations. Rest assured, we're not pod people. Not yet, anyway. Yes, it's true that we've been lax in putting up new content (though we did reach our 1,000th post). I guess now's as good a time as any to break it to you, Tuff Luv, and to all our readers: The Operator is going a a semipermanent hiatus. We're not going to delete any of the past entries, but this will probably be the last new one you'll read for awhile. In fact, we're shuttering the east coast branch of The Operator's, uh, operation. Fear not, you can always read Culturebot, where OperatorNYC occasionally contributes content. He may even infrequently dip back into the Operator pool if there's something germane to this blog's mission.

As for OperatorLA, due to a perfect storm of pills, booze and boys, he's been lost in a bloggy Bermuda Triangle of late. Fear not, phoenix-like he will rise to resuscitate this blog and take it to new heights, but we can't give you a time frame as to when that'll happen.

So, thanks for reading, commenting, or otherwise completely ignoring us. It's been a long almost-year since we opened the office of The Operator, and we need a break. If we were more eloquent, we'd sum this whole thing up with a passage so stirring, so poignant, so gut-wrenchingly visceral it would blow your mind. In lieu of that, we've posted a Boyz II Men video. It says everything we'd try to, but with better harmonies. (Sorry Tuff Luv, it's a YouTube clip.)

Curtain Call: Joan Didion

We know, we know, another post about Joan "J.Diddy" Didion. Sue us. We love the petite lady of letters, and besides, she's just published an essay in the Times describing her experience transforming her elegant tome of grief--The Year of Magical Thinking--into a Broadway play.

Not only does Didion wax incisive on her debut as a playwright, she offers a charming remembrance to her girlhood, when she had the desire to be an actress. It's a bit of biography she'd acknowledged in her essays, but here we get a deeper glimpse into Didion the stagestruck girl whose acting career begins and ends with one audition.

I had spent uncounted hours pretending to do homework while I listened to the plays the Theatre Guild did on the radio. I had torn “Death of a Salesman” out of Theatre Arts and memorized Mildred Dunnock’s graveside words to Willy. I could reliably reduce myself to blubber by doing Julie Harris's “we of me” lines from “The Member of the Wedding.” For less current repertory, I could go to the library and check out, say, Eugene O’Neill’s “Strange Interlude,” just one example that may suggest the determination with which I was improvising my own education. “Strange Interlude” in hand, I could retreat to a shed behind the house and do it, an all-day project, by and for myself.

It was now time, as I saw it, to move on. Skip high school, go straight to professional training.

In fact I wanted to go to New York, the American National Theater Academy, but since I could not visualize the scene in which my mother and father agree to send me alone to New York, I cannily substituted the less inflammatory Pasadena.

So heavily freighted was the day’s secret mission that I managed to convince myself that the recruiter would ask me to read Blanche DuBois in “A Streetcar Named Desire.” Sotto voce, I summoned up a few lines, the showier ones. I have always depended on the kindness of strangers. I don’t tell truths. I tell what ought to be truth.

The recruiter did not ask me to read Blanche DuBois.

The recruiter asked me how tall I was.

I said I was 5 foot 2, cheating by the same quarter-inch that I would eventually cheat on my driver’s license.

“Absolutely too short for the stage,” the recruiter said. “Although possibly you could aim for the cinema.”

Lacking even the presence of mind to mention the five-foot-nothing Helen Hayes, at the time widely described as “First Lady of the American Stage,” I could still see that something in this did not quite add up. I thanked the recruiter. I left the Pasadena Playhouse brochures she gave me (as if I did not have them, as if they were not hidden in a drawer with the playbill for “O Mistress Mine”!) in the lobby of the Senator. Once on the street I tried the plummy accent the recruiter had lent to “the cinema,” then stopped. I walked over to K Street in my good suit and went home, my life in the theater over.

Read the rest of the essay here.

The Year of Hoping for Stage Magic [NYT]
The Year of Magical Thinking [show site]

Person to Person: The Operator

1,000th post, bitches. Just sayin'.

Call Sheet: Absolutely Pastoral

Fans of Jennifer Saunders have cause for celebration; the comic legend that brought us "Absolutely Fabulous" is back with a new series, "Clatterford," premiering on BBC America this week.

The ensemble comedy, featuring Saunders's longtime collaborator Dawn French and stalwart Joanna Lumley, is set in rural southwest England. According to an interview in the Times:

While at first glance “Clatterford” appears to be a showcase for well-known British comic actresses in full character tilt, the overall portrait is one of pastoral inclusiveness. “The countryside is always made out to seem like it’s a little bit evil,” Ms. Saunders said. “Then I looked around and thought, ‘No, it’s actually very interesting.’ ”

With its charmingly bucolic settings, funny-sad story lines and the Kinks’ “Village Green Preservation Society” as its lilting theme song, it is easy to imagine “Clatterford” being embraced in the United States as a “Gilmore Girls” without the Gilmores and just the eccentric residents of that show’s sleepy hamlet, Stars Hollow. In November, when “Clatterford” was shown on BBC 1 under the title “Jam & Jerusalem” — a reference to the common perception that Women’s Institute branches are little more than excuses to share preserves recipes and warble hymns — it attracted roughly 6.7 million viewers, a hit by British standards. The BBC quickly commissioned a second season, even though reviews were generally negative.

“I think it was split half and half,” Ms. Saunders said, adding that The Independent and The Guardian “absolutely just loved it.” (She’s obviously not referring to The Guardian’s year-end wrap-up, which filed it under “Turkey.”)

Nevertheless Ms. Saunders has been around long enough to know that perceptions change. “It was like that when ‘Ab Fab’ came out: most people thought it was a disaster,” she said. “I think it takes people time.

We did a little digging around YouTube and found the series, under its original Brit appellation "Jam & Jersualem." Watch it here. It's not AbFab in the country, but it does have its charms. Particularly Dawn French's dotty character.

Jennifer Saunders Goes Absolutely Bucolic [NYT]

Call Sheet: The State Update

If you're a regular reader of The Operator, you know we try to keep you up to date on all State-related news. Well, we've been derelict in our duties. In our defense: a) we're on a less-than-frequent posting schedule. b) there's a 40 oz of Miller High Life (The Champagne of beers!) on our desk that ain't gonna drink itself.

Luckily for you, over at Brooklyn Vegan their regular comedy columnist has all the news you ball dippin', porcupine racetrack bettin', monkey torturing, fans of Doug need. Read all about Michael Ian Black's new movie, David Wain's The Ten, and Mikey Showalter's trip to Aspen here.

As for us, well, next time we'll try to do better.