- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 31, 2005

Bogey and Bacall

“It’s strange to watch so much television and film now, and to realize that over 60 years after [Lauren] Bacall taught [Humphrey] Bogart how to whistle in her first starring role in ‘To Have and Have Not,’ male and female stereotypes still persist on the big and small screens. In ads for the movie, Bacall was billed as the ‘only girl who could stand up to Bogart,’ or something to that effect. …

“Bacall was also only 19 at the time. Bogart was in his mid-40s, and the two began an affair while the movie was being made. And Bogart was married. So at the same time Howard Hawks’s masterpiece was projecting yet another romantic myth about men and women … the film’s two stars were shattering the conventional mores that such myths keep afloat. … The reality of Hollywood, more than the reality of any other place, is antithetical to the creations of Hollywood.”

— Lee Siegel, writing on “Screen Persona,” Wednesday in the New Republic Online at www.tnr.com

Workers … divide

“If a moribund political movement fell on its face, would it make a sound? Apparently so, if the hubbub over [last] week’s breakup of the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) … is any indication. …

“To say the fate of American labor is at stake when less than 8 percent of the private-sector work force is unionized is like saying a major rift among third-party supporters threatens the workings of the American political system. …

“The death of organized labor has been going on now for more than 40 years. It has proceeded under liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans, in boom times and bust, through every change in work environments, job types, and worker demographics. …

“Fewer Americans work in jobs that easily lend themselves to union organization, and those who do have found unions are not meeting their needs.”

— Tim Cavanaugh, writing on “Stegosaurus Claims Brontosauruses Failing To Change With the Times,” Tuesday in Reason Online at www.reason.com

Dining alone

“The recent death of Gerry Thomas, whom many credit with inventing the TV dinner … draws to a close the kinder, gentler era when happy families gathered around a television set, aluminum trays in hand, enjoying their chopped sirloin beef and sweet green peas in seasoned butter sauce while laughing at the wacky antics of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz.

“Today, televisions are a lot bigger (and flatter), the frozen-food industry has grown into a $30 billion business and the chances of getting everyone to sit down for dinner at the same time are a lot slimmer. Instead, we are a nation of take-outers and drive-throughers, eating our meals on the go, dining by ourselves and laughing alone. The family dinner has become an endangered species, the victim of our own ingenuity and productivity.

“These days, fewer than one-third of all children sit down to eat dinner with both parents on any given night. … The decline in the family dinner has been blamed for the rise in obesity, drug abuse, behavioral problems, promiscuity, poor school performance, illegal file sharing and a host of other ills.”

— Cameron Stracher, writing on “Much Depends on Dinner,” Friday in the Wall Street Journal

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