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I know I was just at your house to say "hello" but since no one could hear me say it I just ran home so I could write "hello". What is the matter with that Mark Bakalor? Shouldn't he have sound files or wav files or RealAudio? I don't know what they are but I think he should have them, I do, I really do. I mean, there I was, saying "hello" and nothing was coming out. I had my mouth open and everything and my mouth is not small, you know. Anyway, I didn't want your readers to think I just walked around with my mouth open with no sound coming out. When I open this mouth sound comes out and that is all there is to it. Everyone knows that sound comes out of my mouth, they do. The only time I have ever opened my mouth without sound coming out was here in your column. Can you imagine if I did Hello, Dolly! and I opened my mouth and no sound came out? Audiences wouldn't like that at all, especially not at today's ticket prices. Anyway, I just wanted to write and say "hello" since you don't have any sound files or wav files or RealAudio. Don't you think that The Real A should have The RealAudio? Well, anyway, congratulations on your 100th column. Goodbye and tell that Mark Bakalor to get with the program.
Whoa, Nellie! That's the wrong program. We need sound files and wav files, and RealAudio and all we get is Mark Bakalor making goo goo eyes at the girlfriend. Oh, wait a minute, there's someone here. Well, you won't believe it, dear readers, Miss Carol Channing is back and look who she's brought with her.
Well, we've got much more celebrating to do and we'll do it in due time. We've got more cheese slices to eat, more Diet Coke to consume. Why we haven't even danced The Frug yet, or The Swim, or The Rumba. So let's just get down to brass tacks and end this section of the column because frankly it's starting to feel like the new musical Saturday Night Fever: Should we really be celebrating? But enough about me.
As many of you loyal dear readers know, I have written an inordinate amount of drivel in the last fifty columns. So let's sit back and relax on our respective couches like so much respective fish while I replay some of my favorite drivel moments. Perhaps one day these will be in the Drivel Hall of Fame.
Have you heard that Chicago is in Las Vegas? How can this be? An entire city is now in another city. Not only that, but Chicago is also in New York. That is nigh unto impossible. You'll notice that New York is not in Chicago, nor is Las Vegas in Chicago, and yet Chicago is in both of those cities. And would someone please tell me what that "gh" is doing on the end of "nigh". Or why the word "nigh" exists at all. Anyway, Chicago is in Las Vegas. Do you know who's in Chicago in Las Vegas? Why, that incredibly talented Chita Rivera, that's who. And that Miss Ute Lemper. Ute Lemper sounds like a Latin college motto to me. Did you know that Chita Rivera is now playing Roxie instead of the role she created in the original Chicago? She originally created the role of Velma and yet she is now playing Roxie. I wonder and ponder if while she's playing the role of Roxie, she's thinking about the role of Velma, which, by the way, she created originally. I have heard from the horse's mouth that Ute can be a bit of a pill. Yes, the horse's mouth told me this, and I, for one, am grateful to the horse's mouth. Yes, according to the horse's mouth, that darn Ute can be a pill. She has been known to walk right off the stage in the middle of a performance and not come back. Perhaps that kind of behavior is acceptable in her native Germany, but when you do that sort of thing in Las Vegas people named Carmine show up. I hope that Ute understands this because when people named Carmine show up they usually bring along the horse's mouth with them. I would like to see Chicago in Las Vegas, as I've only seen Chicago in Los Angeles (no mean feat). I have not seen Chicago in Chicago although I have been in Chicago and therefore must have seen Chicago even though I don't recall seeing Chicago while I was in Chicago, but perhaps that is because I was in Chicago before Chicago was written, but if that's the case how could I have been in Chicago if Chicago didn't exist? These are the questions that make us ponder and wonder. Is senility even a question here? You tell me. But before I leave this paragraph, did you know that Oklahoma, which was recently in London, will soon be in New York. Then we'll have both Chicago and Oklahoma in New York. Why hasn't some enterprising author written a musical entitled New York? Then we could have New York in New York
I am beginning to think this column would be better if it were set to music. Or set on fire. Certainly it needs to be set on something. I feel this particular column is just a jumble of words all thrown together in a giant column olio. I feel this particular column is just a hodge-podge of words. It's as if someone had put all these words in a bag, shook them and then just dumped them willy-nilly all over the page, and here these words sit, like so much fish, incoherent as the day is long. Perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor can rearrange these words and make them less incoherent.
Miss Meryle Secrest has recovered from her operation and is already pelting me with more questions. Pelt, pelt, pelt, that's all she does. I've got welts from her pelts. And then she tried to get me to eat some smelts. After I said, "What is it, fish?" I told her I'd rather eat a pelt than a smelt. What the hell is a smelt, anyway? Why would anyone name a fish "smelt"? In fact, all fish names are highly suspect and yes, fishy. I mean, if you put a herring and a tuna next to each other you'd be hard pressed to tell me why one is named "herring" and the other "tuna". Only a nut (not a pistachio) would name a fish "tuna". Of course, what is "tuna" but "a nut" spelled backwards? And then there's scrod. Do we even want to contemplate the mind that came up with scrod? I think not. And how about Red Snapper? First of all, have you noticed that the damn Red Snapper isn't red? Or was "Red" its nickname, like "Red" Buttons or "Red" Skelton? Yes, perhaps Red Snapper's real name was Arthur Snapper. We'll never know I suppose. You certainly can't ask the Red Snapper because all you'll get is a fish story. And what about sole? Oh, yes, let us not forget about sole. First of all, how can you have a fish sole, a shoe sole, and be the sole person asking the question? That is three too many soles in my book (Chapter 422 - Filet Of Three Soles or Dance: 10 Sole: 3).
Occasionally in this here column a topic comes up and I've been able to shed some light on it. Occasionally I've been able to light some shed, too, which is a good thing because a dark shed can be a dangerous thing. In any case, here are some examples of said shedding of light.
Isn't April Fool's Day a wonderful holiday? It was created by an actual fool named Robert Twip, who one fine April 1st just stood up and said "I think this will be my day". And the rest is history. Not only did Robert Twip create April Fool's Day, but he happened to be on a hill when he did so. Naturally The Beatles wrote a song about him and the rest is history.
The Story of Easter
Once upon a time there was someone named Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ was very fond of hard-boiled eggs. Not of eating them, mind you, but of painting them and hiding them. He just loved hiding those painted Easter eggs. He would then gather all the rabbits in His neighborhood and have them try to find the hard-boiled painted eggs. This just tickled the heck out of Jesus Christ, although the rabbits merely seemed confused by the whole egg thing. Well, one fine day Jesus Christ decided that His painted hard boiled egg day should be a Holiday and that people the world over should celebrate that day in April, April being the perfect month to celebrate the hiding of painted hard boiled eggs because it was a month in which Daylight Savings Time, April Fool's Day and the paying of income taxes occurred. He also didn't want Robert Twip, the inventor of April Fool's Day, to get all the glory. Anyway, He decided to call this Holiday "Easter" for reasons which apparently were obscure even to Him. From that time forward Easter became an April event, just like April Showers. Bunnies everywhere would search for painted hard-boiled eggs, while children were given chocolate covered marshmallow candies in gaily-colored baskets. What this had to do with bunnies, painted hard-boiled eggs or Jesus Christ is unknown. The End.
Pig Latin Explained
I don't know, should I just ixnay the olumncay? Ooh, that was my first use of pig Latin in this here column. How could I have gone 86 columns without the use of pig Latin? What pig invented pig Latin anyway? Well, in case you don't know the answer to that question I shall enlighten you. Pig Latin was invented by Mr. Jerome Nussbaum, a quantum physics professor and pig fancier. One fine day Mr. Nussbaum was speaking to his plethora of pigs. He always spoke to them in Latin for reasons that were only clear to Mr. Nussbaum. While speaking to the pigs in Latin the pigs would look him squarely in the eye (no mean pig's feat) as if to say "What in the name of pork are you talking about?". And no amount of "amo amas amat" would get through to them. These pigs apparently didn't give a fig for Latin. They didn't "get" Latin and as far as they were concerned Latin was from Hunger, a far-off land they had no interest in whatsoever. No, these pigs were not in the Latin mode although they did like the music of Prez Prado. Where was I? Oh, yes, the story of Jerome Nussbaum and how he invented pig Latin. Well, there he was, speaking Latin to the pigs who were showing their usual disinterest, when one of the pigs casually approached Mr. Nussbaum and shat on his shoe. This took Mr. Nussbaum aback. This flustered Mr. Nussbaum and all Mr. Nussbaum could think of to say was, "Hey, what's with the itshay on the oeshay?". Suddenly the pigs sat up (not easy for a pig), rapt with attention. This was a language they understood. And Mr. Nussbaum saw this and said, "Igpays, you ikelay the igpay atinlay?" to which the pigs responded with an affirmative grunt, which Mr. Nussbaum took as a resounding esyay. And thus Pig Latin was born. Mr. Nussbaum went on to win the Nobel Pig Prize for having come up with a language that pigs could finally relate to. And to Mr. Nussbaum we can only say: Anksthay to ooyay.
I haven't done many "what ifs" in the last fifty columns, so I'll just print my two favorites.
High in a room,
When the King's a guy,
Discovering the songwriting team of the sublime Morty (Adolph) Gluckman and Herman Fitz was one of the major treats of writing this column. Here are two of my favorite Gluckman and Fitz songs, two that will stand the test of due time.
INTO THE SHUL
BURY ME A LITTLE
Last week I told Miss Meryle Secrest of my first acting job in the Motion Picture and Television Industry. Now she wants to know everything. Well, who remembers? I can say this however: My acting career in the Motion Picture and Television Industry was basically confined to playing nerds. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I, The Real A, played nerds. I never got to play the romantic roles. Once I got to play a romantic roll, though, and I gave a brilliant performance as a Bialy. Oh, I read for romantic roles but I never got them. That said, I did give a well-known television performer their first screen kiss, even though I was playing a nerd at the time. Another interesting thing that happened early on in my acting career is that I did a play in which Mr. John McMartin also appeared. Yes, the very same John McMartin who starred in Mr. Stephen Sondheim's Follies. The play we acted in was a "memory play" in which Mr. McMartin's character looks back on his life. There were many scenes where Mr. McMartin would just have to watch and occasionally comment on the action. One Sunday matinee I was playing a scene with the actor who played Mr.McMartin's younger self, said actor being a then-famous movie star. In this particular scene the then famous movie star has a line, something like "I'm into Debussy now", to which Mr. McMartin, looking on, says, "Poor prig". So, there we are doing the scene just as we'd been doing it eight times a week for the past two months. The then famous movie star says, "I'm into Debussy now". Silence. Nothing. At exactly the same time our eyes looked over at Mr. McMartin who was sitting on the lip of the stage. Sleeping. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, Mr. McMartin had fallen asleep. Well, the then famous movie star looked at me with panic in his eyes. He didn't know what to do. I have never been a very good improviser, so I did what all not very good improvisers should always do: Nothing whatsoever. I sat there like so much fish, dear readers, and looked at the then famous movie star as if to say, "You better say something because I'm not going to". Well, after what seemed like an eternity the then famous movie star finally came up with this brilliant line: "That Debussy, he was quite a guy". By this time, I could barely keep a straight face. Then, suddenly Mr. McMartin woke up, realized what was going on and chimed in with "Poor prig". Well, the then famous movie star and I totally lost it and started giggling uncontrollably. Thank goodness the scene was over a moment later because we barely made it off stage where we collapsed in helpless hysterics.
Surprises and revelations, that's all Miss Meryle Secrest is interested in. As you know, many of you have taken guesses as to who I Really am. Let's take a look at that list o' guesses again, shall we?
male, female, gay, straight, Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Gerard Allesandrini, George Clooney, William F. Orr, Rupert Holmes, Young Simba from The Lion King, the Tony nominated Billy from Big, a cast member from one of Sondheim's shows, Michael Tough the singing janitor, Bruce Kimmel, Richard Christianson of the Chicago Tribune, George Furth, New Line Theatre's Scott Miller, Leigh's father, Waiting for Guffman's Corky, Mr. Mark Bakalor's word processor, Charlie Sheen, dear reader Matt, Pitgirl's physics professor, Michael Larson director at the Stagedoor Manor, Yves of Finishing the Chat, and record producer Bruce Yeko.
Well, dear readers, as you all know, we are closing in on our 2,000th letter. I wish we'd gotten our 2,000th letter in our 100th column, or, conversely, I wish we'd gotten our 100th letter in our 2,000th column. In the meantime, we did get quite a nice batch of mail this week, so let's get down to brass tacks and answer said mail. But before we do, since we are traveling down memory lane let's revisit one of my favorite e-mails.
I have one question: Why am I out of focus in that photo? Also, I
don't remember you having a fish face but I might be wrong. I just
wanted to send my congratulations on your 100th column. Such
discipline. Perhaps you should write Wise Guys. As to who you
really are, well, I believe I know the answer because I am standing
next to you in that photo (albeit out of focus). I remember you quite
well. I remember thinking at the time that photo was taken, "What is
it, fish?" and seeing the photo again I'm still saying it. And just
what is that ugly T-shirt you're wearing? As a matter of fact,
what am I wearing? In any event, I wish you the best of luck
and I think you should quit while you're ahead.
Joey asks if Every Day A Little Death and The Road You Didn't take, which I mentioned last week, are my favorite Sondheim songs. They certainly are at the top of the list. Joey has also had the song Vanilla Ice Cream from She Loves Me in her head for days. Have you ever had Vanilla Ice Cream in your head for days? It can wreak havoc especially if starts dripping out of your eyesockets or nose when you are not expecting it.
Prouvaire (aka Jon) is back in his dorm room and has started classes (presumably not in his dorm room). He chose not to audition for the two theater department productions this semester. But he is going to audition for his community theater production of A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum by you-know-who. Prouvaire doesn't care whether he knows who I am or not because I'm The Real A and that's enough for him. Being The Real A is enough for me although I occasionally like to be Michael Tough, the singing janitor.
William F. Orr does not want me to reveal my identity because he feels that guessing is half the fun. Not whole the fun, mind you, just half the fun. To that end, William F. Orr guesses that my initials are JR and I have been professionally associated with Amelia Earhart. Well, I'm not going to rule out that my initials might be JR or that I might, in fact, be Amelia Earhart. William also adds that my friend Chris Connelly was in a delightful but short-lived television series based on Paper Moon, in which he co-starred with Jodie Foster. William once gave another acquaintance of mine, Harlan Ellison, a ride to the airport. I once gave Lorne Greene a ride home from the airport, but that's another story, one in which Donny and Marie also figure. BULLETIN: William F. Orr has changed his mind and now does not think my initials are JR or that I have been professionally associated with Amelia Earhart. A shame, as I was taking a fancy to the initials JR not to mention Amelia Earhart.
Anita also loves the song Poor Little Fool and also loves the song Teenager In Love which was sung by Dion of Dion and the Belmonts (not to be confused with Dino at the Piano).
SteveG tells me that my reminiscences of my young interest in the musical theater mirror his own. Steve's favorite show, like mine, is Gypsy, which he was lucky enough to see during its initial run. Steve ranks Fiddler On The Roof right below Gypsy, so what we have here is a Gypsy Fiddler. Steve wishes us a happy 100th. He's been reading this here column right from the beginning.
Tom (he of Oz) has been holidaying in New Zealand, which is a lot better than holidaying in Old Zealand. Whilst in New Zealand Tom ate lots of lamb (it was lambing seaon). Eating all that lamb caused him to sing Little Lamb a lot, but never while actually eating the lamb. You see, Tom was able to disassociate the lamb on the plate from the cute little lambies in the field and in Mr. Sondheim's lyric. My favorite lyric in which the word "lamb" appears is this immortal one from the title song of It's A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World:
In France the girls wear scanties,
Stuart tells me that as a longtime reader he gets a kick out of this here column. I don't know if this is bad or good. I suppose it depends if he gets kicked in the kneecaps or the butt cheeks.
Tim informs me that in last week's column I wrote, "daring do" when, in fact, it should be "derring do". Interestingly, as I was writing "daring do" I was thinking it ought to be "derring do" and yet I still wrote "daring do". I clearly didn't have the derring do to write "derring do" instead of the incorrect "daring do". Do you suppose herring have derring do? Just asking.
Well, dear readers, there were many correct answers to last week's trivia question, in which movie is there a character named Sondheim, who played him, and who directed the film. The following people all got the correct answer, although several had help from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB): Alan G., Jon B., Brepat, Elan, Steve G., S. Woody White, Prouvaire and Stuart. And the answer is: Ronny Graham plays Sondheim in Mel Brooks' remake of To Be Or Not To Be. Interestingly, Mr. Brooks was not the director of record, his longtime choreographer was, Mr. Alan Johnson. That said, Mr. Brooks probably called the shots. Several dear readers also discovered two other films with characters named Sondheim, Stan Dragoti's Love At First Bite in which Susan St. James plays Cindy Sondheim, and an obscure film from 1937 entitled Espionage. Did you know that Mr. Dragoti once directed The Real A? He did.
No trivia question this week. Instead let's all eat our shrimp bits on toast on the count of three: One, two, three!
Trivia answers, questions, comments...
Until next time, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...