Past Columns

One From Column A...

July 26, 2000 - #108

Well, dear readers, I am making up for lost time with another brand spanking new handy-dandy column. Have you ever made up for lost time? I, for example, am making up for lost time, using a nice blue eye shadow and some subtle lip-gloss, with just a hint of rouge. Why I feel I should make up for lost time when lost time just shows up without any makeup whatsoever, not even eyeliner, is beyond me. And yet, here I am, making up for lost time. I look quite lovely, though, so there you are. I have returned from yet another trip to New York, New York and I have seen yet more plays and musicals which I will discuss ad nauseum later in the column. But for now, let us light our fireworks and sing patriotic songs like Yes, We Have No Bananas because it is the fourth of July weekend. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, it is the weekend of July 4th, even though July 4th appears nowhere in this weekend. This July 4th weekend is just a bit of poetic license, isn't it? My driver's license is also poetic - and to prove it here's a copy of it:

The Real A
Will drive today
Don't get in the way
Or there'll be hell to pay.

Wasn't that a poetic license? What the hell am I talking about? Oh, yes, the 4th of July weekend which has no July 4th. Being the 4th of July weekend, I hope all of you will be celebrating. I hope we will light our sparklers, shoot off our fireworks, roast our weenies, and frolic. Above all, frolic (cilorf, spelled backwards). One can never frolic enough. However, if one grows tired of frolicking one can always cavort, for a change of pace. I have been feeling very stressed lately (so much to do, so little time, especially for frolicking or cavorting). What I like to do if I'm feeling stressed is eat many and varied desserts. Yes, desserts, dear readers, they are the antidote to being stressed. After all, what is "stressed" but "desserts" spelled backwards? Speaking of desserts and the 4th of July weekend, there's one more celebration that I haven't mentioned yet. What is that celebration you might ask and I might tell you because frankly I don't want you being stressed so that you have to eat many and varied desserts and then put on weight which will just make you more stressed and whoa Nellie if this hasn't turned into one of those ungainly run-on sentences where the words just tumble one after another willy-nilly and also nilly-willy with no end in sight and if I can't find a way to stop this whole column could turn into one long run-on sentence and then where would we be that's what I'd like to know and actually I do know because I am an expert on run-on sentences and there is only one way to stop them and that's by putting on the run-on sentence brakes which I fully intend to do right about now. Whew. Do you know what, dear readers? My brilliant handy-dandy computer just told me I wrote a run-on sentence. What the hell was I talking about? Oh, yes, the 4th of July weekend and the other event that was cause for celebration. And that event, dear readers, was the actual birthday of the actual Mr. Mark Bakalor. Yes, Mr. Mark Bakalor is no longer the sprig of a twig of a youth that he was. He is now an adult. Being an adult, he is also now living in his very own home, sans parents. He can now do impulsive things like throwing strawberries at the wall without fear of parental reprisal. Or is it reprisal parental? No matter, fling those strawberries against the wall he can and there is no one to say "boo" to him about it, unless someone just happens to show up at his door saying "boo" which would be a hell of a coincidence, flinging strawberry-wise. You know, there is a word we haven't used in quite awhile, but I feel we should use it now because it so encapsulates and captures the entire paragraph that I've just written. And that word is drivel, dear readers. Drivel, pure and simple. Every word, every sentence, drivel personified. In any case, perhaps the next paragraph will be better - perhaps the next paragraph will provide us with some intellectual stimuli or stimulus or whatever the hell stim it is.

Perhaps if we lit a sparkler this column would have more sparkle. Perhaps if we set off some fireworks this column would have more pizzazz (zzazzip, spelled backwards). Has anyone noticed that intellectual stimuli or stimulus has not shown up in this here paragraph? Drivel, however, we have in spades, of that there can be no doubt. "Doubt". What is that "b" doing in that word? That "b" is just sitting there like so much fish with no purpose whatsoever. Either "doubt" should be "dout" or "out" should be "oubt" - you simply can't have it both ways, you word people. And why is it "drivel" in "spades"? Why not drivel in "hearts" or "clubs" or even "diamonds"? Who decided on "spades"? Perhaps the same person who wrote Yes, We Have No Bananas.

Well, you won't believe it, dear readers, but, despite all good intentions, it is now two weeks since I wrote the above. Here I was, making up for lost time, and then fershluganah time got lost again. So, I have not made up for lost time, despite the fact that I started out to make up for lost time. I am sans makeup for lost time and that's all there is to it. However, what we lost in time we will now make up in excitement. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, excitement is running rampant around these parts. I, for one or two, would like to know how rampant feels being run around these parts by excitement. As far as I know, rampant doesn't even like excitement, so why rampant is allowing excitement to run it around these or any other parts is an enigma wrapped up inside a conundrum or vice versa and also versa vice. What the hell am I talking about? Oh, yes, the excitement that's running rampant around these parts. The excitement is that I have a brand spanking new handy-dandy laptop computer, and I am, in fact, writing this part of the column on it right this very minute. But that is not all the excitement, oh no, not by a long shot, or even a short shot. No, there is more excitement and that is that I am writing this here part of the column on my brand spanking new laptop whilst sitting on an airplane en route to the city known as New York. Can you believe it? This is a first, dear readers, an on location column being written from an actual airplane high above the ground. That said, it is not easy writing a column on a handy-dandy laptop computer on an airplane if the cretin who is sitting in front of you has his seat all the way back and thereby keeps bumping the screen of this here fancy shmancy laptop computer. Not only that, the cretin's head, at least from the top view, is quite nauseating as was the "new" breakfast we were served. Yes, we were served a "new" breakfast after having the same food on this flight for the last ten years. Today, instead of the usual omelet with ranchero sauce, we had scrambled eggs with ranchero sauce, said scrambled eggs with ranchero sauce sitting in a cup made of potato. These eggs in a cup came with hash brown potatoes in the shape of toast. The hash brown potatoes in the shape of toast were inedible, but I did eat the potato cup in which the scrambled eggs with ranchero sauce sat like so much fish. Here's one thing you can't do whilst writing an on location column from an airplane: You can't write anything pithy or witty or caustic about the person sitting next to you because the person sitting next to you could inadvertently glance over and read what you are writing, just like the person who is sitting next to me just did and now she is laughing because she just read what I wrote. It's a good thing I didn't write that she was a sexually omnivorous Lesbian vegetarian because then where would I be? She is trying not to laugh because then I'll know she's reading this, but she is having a hard time because she keeps reading it and stifling her giggles (she is doing this right now) but I'll just pretend I don't notice that she's reading this here column which can be found on an erratic schedule at Isn't this fun? This damn ugly head sitting in front of me keeps trying to put his chair back further even though it can't go back further. Excuse me for a minute.

There. I just asked the ugly head if he'd like to come sit in my lap since that was where his seat practically was. He merely looked at me like I was an open wound. Perhaps a bit later I'll use the Das Knaben Wunderhorn treatment on him. In the meantime, I'll just continue writing this here on location column. And soon I'll be sitting at Table 20 at Joe Allen. Perhaps I'll even write a bit of this here column from Table 20. The mouse on this laptop computer is very strange. It's a tiny little bulbous knob, which sits in the middle of some letters on the keyboard. You place your finger on this bulbous knob and gently flex the finger thereby causing the cursor to move around the screen. It's a peculiar sensation, working this bulbous knob with your finger, but let's just leave it at that, shall we? Well, I'm already four pages into this column and I'm still in the first section. Perhaps we should end this section right here and now and also right now and here, because frankly it's starting to feel like the musical Footloose: Ending not a moment too soon. But enough about me.


Well, dear readers, continuing our new on location column, I am now in New York City, New York or Manhattan as we bi-coastal people like to call it. I am sitting in my handy-dandy hotel room overlooking handy-dandy Broadway. In this section of the column I'm going to write about the shows I saw last time I was in New York, so I will be having a sense of déjà vu as I write in the now about the then. By the way, it is mid-July as I write this and it was pouring rain upon my arrival. I had to buy a four-dollar umbrella on the street so as not to muss myself with unseemly raindrops. Why if one didn't have a four-dollar umbrella one could sing that wonderful song by Mr. Burt Bacharach and Mr. Hal David entitled Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head, but I had the four-dollar umbrella so I kept my mouth shut and sang the songs from The Umbrellas of Cherbourg just to be jejune and obscure. Although I think I merely achieved being obscure with no jejuneness whatsoever.

In any case, when last I was in New York I saw several plays and one musical. First, let's talk about the plays, in order of their appearance.

I arrived on a Friday evening and saw Mr. Arthur Miller's play The Ride Down Mt. Morgan. I'd heard mixed things about it, but the fact is I rather liked it. Mr. Miller writes good words and it is always a pleasure to hear good words in the theater. The production was splendid, with Mr. Patrick Stewart (with hair) giving a very nice performance. But the evening's acting honors went to the extraordinary Francis Conroy, whose work, I'm ashamed to admit, I was not familiar with. But I'm familiar with it now, and oh boy is she a terrific actress. The other players were just fine in a variety of roles. I didn't care for the lady who played Ms. Conroy's daughter, and I would have much preferred to see her understudy, the superb Jennifer Piech, who played Kate in Broadway's Titanic. First of all, she looks just like Francis Conroy. Second of all, she's a better actress. Third of all, I'm obviously biased, but I'm also correct. Anyway, it was a nice evening.

The next afternoon I saw an Irish play called Our Lady of Sligo. It was one of those dreary heavy dramas with much angst but it was well done and featured a fantastic performance by Sinead Cusack (not related to John or Joan, she's the daughter of Irish actor Cyril Cusack and the wife of someone named Jeremy Irons). Do you know that if Ms. Cusack were ever to throw her husband in the fireplace she'd have all her Irons in the fire? Just asking. Later that evening I saw a play entitled Copenhagen, by the wonderful English author Michael Frayn (he wrote Noises Off). It was a talking play with three actors and three chairs. It was brilliantly directed by Mr. Michael Blakemore and each of the actors did excellent work. Their names are Philip Bosco, Blair Brown and Michael Cumpsty. It was a lot of talking, a play of ideas, but Mr. Frayn is always interesting and the ideas are potent if a little obscure and jejune. At intermission, one beleaguered-looking young woman was tersely talking to her date in an agitated way, saying, "I'm tired. I don't want to see anymore of this - I have to think, I can't believe you brought me to something where I have to think." The rest of the audience, however, was riveted and seemed to enjoy it tremendously. Interestingly, in twelve short weeks it's managed to pay back its entire investment, thereby becoming that increasingly rare animal, a successful straight play.

The next afternoon I journeyed to the Papermill Playhouse to see the revamped version of Pippin. Getting there was an ordeal, however. I was to go with a friend of mine and I told her that I would not take a train or a bus or a plane or any mode of transportation that Mr. Stephen Sondheim mentioned in his song Another Hundred People. My friend was supposed to arrange a rental car and then come pick me up and drive to the Papermill Playhouse. But things got fouled up when her flight arrived late and she didn't have time to arrange the car. So, she asked me to arrange the car. I don't know from arranging cars, but I dutifully called a place called Hertz. They told me that I'd have to come uptown to pick the car up and it would take fifteen minutes to fill out the paperwork if there were no people before me. I asked how many people were there currently and he answered, "10". I realized I could be there for an hour or more waiting and I told him that was unacceptable. I said I wanted him to bring the car to my hotel and that I'd fill out the paperwork there. He laughed. He thought that was funny. Then he realized I was serious and he told me that that is not the way Hertz works. I told him I didn't care how Hertz works, this is how I work. This made no difference to him and he hung up on me after I called him a low-life piece of dog snot. I then called a limo company and that is how we went to the Papermill Playhouse. Unfortunately, the limo driver was French and spoke almost no English and had no sense of direction. Luckily my friend had done a show at the Papermill Playhouse and so she directed him and we got there in plenty of time. I wish I could tell you that I loved this revamped production of Pippin, but I can't. The original Bob Fosse production of Pippin was one of the most extraordinarily directed shows I've ever seen. I saw it fourteen times on Broadway and the road. I thought Mr. Fosse took a problematic show and made it brilliant. Mr. Robert Johanson, who directed and reimagined the show at the Papermill, simply isn't good enough to go around directing and reimagining shows. I'm not saying there isn't another way to do Pippin besides Mr. Fosse's, but this clearly wasn't it. I knew I was in trouble when the opening started and we saw a stretch limo engulfed in smoke with writhing bodies inside doing all manner of decadent things, and then the Leading Player, looking like a refugee from Rent, got out and sang Magic To Do, a song about the magic of making theater. Not in this version. No magic whatsoever, so why were these writhing people singing a song entitled Magic To Do? They should have changed it to Writhing To Do or Limo To Do, but no, there they writhed like so much fish, singing Magic To Do for no reason whatsoever. There were many walkouts during the show. The songs have had new arrangements and orchestrations thrust upon them, but I actually liked some of them very much. I certainly did not like Miss Charlotte Rae who played Bertha, or Mr. Jack Noseworthy who played Pippin. Mr. Noseworthy is my least favorite kind of actor, the poseur kind, the narcissistic kind, the kind who looks like they'd like to have sex with themselves and probably do. I did like Natasha Diaz as Catherine. The choreography was not too good, very Studio 54, but not far enough. I mean, if that's your take on this show then go all the way, really do it. Nothing about this revamped version worked, and while some thought the new ending was good, I didn't.

And there you have it - an on location report of my last visit to New York. Of course, I'll be writing about this visit while I'm actually here. Isn't that exciting? Isn't that just too too?


Well, dear readers, here I am, on location, at Joe Allen, my favorite restaurant in New York. I am sitting at my usual beloved Table 20 and I have just eaten my caeser salad and am awaiting my grilled chicken sandwich with grilled onions and Cajun mayonnaise (a delicious new menu item). I am sitting with a very nice group of people who are trying not to notice that I have taken out my laptop computer and am sitting at the table writing this here column. It would be rude and unseemly to continue doing this for too long, but I felt it was important to actually write this from actual Joe Allen. Why look, there's Nathan Lane coming in with a bevy of friends, fresh from a preview of The Man Who Came To Dinner. Joe Allen is the favorite meeting place for actors after their shows, so you're always sure to see someone interesting. Last night I saw someone interesting in Joe Allen. It was a three hundred pound man sitting at a nearby table with a nice-looking lady. He spent the first twenty minutes after his arrival talking on a cell phone while the nice-looking lady twiddled her thumbs (no mean feat). He then left the table for ten minutes. As he left, I noticed that his three hundred pound girth was situated on a 5'4" body. He then returned to the table, only to talk on his cell phone for another five minutes. Then his steak and fries and several side dishes arrived. Only the arrival of the food made him put away his cell phone. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but if I were that nice-looking lady I would not have been sitting there watching this ruder than rude golf ball talk on a cell phone, leave me alone for ten minutes, and then shovel his steak and fries and several side dishes down his gaping maw. Oh, no, I would have leapt across the table and throttled that ruder than rude golf ball to within an inch of his life, that's what I would have done. Where was I? Oh, yes, sitting in Joe Allen writing this very paragraph. Why look, sitting at a nearby table is Jerome Robbins. No, that can't be right. Jerome Robbins is dead. Well, sitting at a nearby table is someone who looks just like Jerome Robbins used to look when he was alive (I have no idea what Jerome Robbins looks like now that he's dead, but I'm certain it would skeeve me). Ah, well the food is about to arrive, which means that I'd better sign off for now. Time flies when you're having fun. Excuse me for a moment.

All right, call me crazy, but I'm having fun so I went out with a stopwatch and timed some flies. First of all, have you ever timed flies? Very difficult and really what is the point. But someone once said "time flies when you're having fun" and I'm certain that this had some meaning for them, but to my mind I just don't get much of a thrill or a lift or for that matter a lift or a thrill from timing flies. Perhaps I'll eat my grilled chicken sandwich with Cajun mayonnaise and ponder the timing of flies whilst having fun.

Well, here I am, once again on an airplane and heading back home to the city known as Los Angeles. I don't care for the person who is sitting next to me. He is dressed in large baggy shorts, smells, and keeps twisting and turning in his seat trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in. What I find interesting about this is that this person is, as I am, in first class. Now, as most people who fly these days know, it is fairly easy to upgrade to first class. That is obviously what this baggy-pants smell-o- thon did. But why? He isn't eating, he's just sitting there like so much smelly fish and it's obvious he's going to sleep the whole time. So, why upgrade? I don't profess to understand, although sometimes I understand to profess. Prior to leaving New York I bought a DVD of a movie called Isn't She Great? and I watched it on my handy-dandy laptop computer because said handy-dandy computer has a handy-dandy DVD player. I'd heard that this film was terrible, but I wouldn't believe that a film based on the life of Jacqueline Susann could possibly be terrible. Well, it was terrible. Truly, truly terrible. How can you take a life like the one Jackie Susann had and make a boring unfunny and pointless film from it? The first problem was the script by the usually talented Paul Rudnick. How can the usually talented Paul Rudnick have written this tripe - totally unfunny, and totally uninteresting? Then there's Bette Midler. What has this woman done to her face? Her lips are the size of a canoe and she doesn't even look like herself anymore. Why do people do this to themselves? Can we really be this obsessed with youth that people will totally ruin their faces to look "younger"? I can't even watch Mary Tyler Moore anymore. Or Goldie Hawn. Or Cher. Or Carol Burnett. Or Faye Dunaway. They just don't look natural or normal and I think all that work robs them of some intrinsic part of their personalities. Anyway, Bette Midler is a) badly cast, and b) badly cast. You can add four more "badly casts" for Nathan Lane as Jackie's husband, Irving Mansfield. I love Nathan Lane as much as the next A, but he's just not right for the role and he can't overcome that. But I lay everything wrong with this film at the feet of one person - director Andrew Bergman, truly the most untalented filmmaker working today. And why is he working today? He makes bomb after bomb and yet they keep letting him make more bombs. Maybe after this bomb they'll think twice, although knowing Hollywood as I do, I doubt it. This film isn't even worth a rental - you'd be much better off watching Valley of The Dolls or The Love Machine. What am I all of a sudden, Roger Ebert?

Wow, I nodded off for an hour. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I, The Real A, nodded off for an hour. Here I was, on the airplane, typing away on my handy-dandy laptop computer. The next thing I know I open my eyes and I'm staring at my screen saver (my screen saver says "What is it, fish?"). Somehow, after writing "Roger Ebert" I nodded off. How can one just suddenly nod off like that, out of the blue? And can one nod off out of the red or green? Just asking.


Well, dear readers, this plane ride will soon be over, and the battery is just about gone, but we haven't had a letters column in quite some time, so here's a few now...

Jeff writes to ask what is happening with Mr. Stephen Sondheim's new musical entitled Wise Guys. In a nutshell, Sam Mendes is out as director and Harold Prince is in. So, they are going back to square one and redeveloping the show with Mr. Prince. How long this will all take is anyone's guess, and how much of the previous material will remain is a mystery. I, for one, think it's great that Sondheim and Prince are together again. Also, Mr. Sondheim has said the show will get a change of title. Wow, that was a lot of information to be housed in a nutshell, but there you are.

Gabrielle, who is the daughter of Henry Lascoe wrote and said she was totally disgusted with this here site because of some less than flattering posts about Mr. Lascoe over at Finishing The Chat. As you know, One From Column A has nothing to do with Finishing The Chat so I can't really say anything at all, having never seen the thread in question. But there is a lesson to be learned here: You never know who's reading and sometimes it's good to remember that.

seanm is currently playing the role of Lt. Cable in the musical entitled South Pacific. When South Pacific was written there was no cable, so James Michener, Joshua Logan and Rodgers and Hammerstein were very forward thinking if you ask me. More importantly, during a rehearsal for said South Pacific the director stopped and had everyone sing Happy Birthday to seanm. That is because it was seanm's birthday, don't you know, and seanm is now sixteen years of age. I'm sure all you dear readers will halt your very own rehearsals of South Pacific and join me in wishing both seanm and Mr. Mark Bakalor a Happy Birthday.

William F. Orr hates me because I got him hooked on Free Cell. He feels he will soon have to join Free Cell Anonymous. The game is addictive of that there is no doubt. I myself am currently up to 1,723 games, out of which I have won an astonishing 86%.

Ed wonders when I will bring back the My Favorite Songs section of this here column. Well, Ed, ask and ye shall receive, as some wag or other said. In the very next column we shall resurrect My Favorite Songs. Ed also asks what I think of his favorite musical, Fiddler On The Roof and his favorite Sondheim musical Pacific Overtures. Well, it's hard not to love and admire Fiddler, as it's a virtually perfect show, with a great score and script. As to Pacific Overtures, it's a show I liked very much when I saw it in its original run. I think it has some of my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim's most luscious music writing, and Mr. Jonathan Tunick's orchestrations may be the best theater orchestrations I've ever heard. That said, I must tell you how disappointed I am in Mr. Tunick's work on the recent Saturday Night cast album. Just my opinion, of course, but I really find them dreadfully dullsville.

Pat King (he of Wheaton North) is frustrated, because his school was told not to do West Side Story because of its story of gangs and violence. The fact that that story has a lesson about said gangs and violence seems to have eluded those in power at Wheaton North. So, they have decided to do one of the most violent and radical of all musicals in its place: Bye Bye Birdie. This tale of a rock and roll singer bringing havoc to the small town of Sweet Apple is filled with provocative and dangerous numbers such as The Telephone Hour and An English Teacher. I just don't know about those Wheaton North people. Of course the irony is that Wheaton South is doing Oh, Calcutta.

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Questions? Comments?

Well, I'm back in my handy-dandy home working on my big-boy computer, although I like my laptop computer better. It is faster because it has Intel inside and Pentium with three exclamation points and this is apparently a good thing to have. My big-boy computer only has Celery in it or Celeron or whatever the hell it is, and that is simply not as fast as Intel and Pentium with three exclamation points. Well, I've been having so much fun that I do believe I shall go time some flies just to see if it's more fun the second time around, timing flies-wise.

Until next time, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...

Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.

The Real A

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