March 12, 2000 - #104
dear readers, did you think I'd gone and left you high
and dry? Or even low and wet for that matter or any
other matter? Well, it's high time we had a new column
and by golly here it is in the nick of high time. If
it's high time we had a column does it also have to
be dry time since high and dry seem to be a team? I
know I'm being fairly incoherent and obtuse but there
is a reason for that. What is that reason you might
ask and I might tell you because frankly I don't want
to leave you high and dry, reason-for-that-wise. The
reason I am being fairly incoherent and obtuse is that
I had a very scary, strange and terrifying thing happen
to me this morning. Around 8:30 a.m. I awoke quite suddenly.
I had been dreaming of having an urgent need to go to
the bathroom which is usually a good indication that
one has an urgent need to go to the bathroom which is
why I assume I awoke having an urgent need to go to
the bathroom. I quickly got out of bed as I normally
do when I awake and have an urgent need to go to the
bathroom. I walked out of the bedroom and down the hall
towards the bathroom. And here is where the scary, strange
and terrifying thing occurred. I remember approaching
the bathroom and then the next thing I knew I felt a
horrid pain at the back of my head, which was accompanied
by a horrid loud crashing noise. And the next thing
I knew there I was, lying on the floor like so much
fish. As I pondered how I ended up on the floor, I happened
to look over at the wall next to me where I was rather
surprised to see a hole and plaster laying all about.
I began to realize that I must have passed out, fallen
and that my head must have hit the wall (and gone through
it). Now, I have been called a hard head in my time,
dear readers, but this was ridiculous. First of all,
I have never passed out in all my years of being alive
which is also the name of a song by my close personal
friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. As most of you know, I
am of a certain age, younger than springtime but older
than fish. I was very shaken but not stirred by this
scary, strange and terrifying event. I sat on the floor,
dazed and confused and also confused and dazed. It then
occurred to me that since my head had gone through the
wall that I might have injured said head. To my dread,
said head was indeed injured and was bleeding. Luckily
it wasn't a terrible gash or anything and within a few
minutes the bleeding had abated. I put some gauze on
my head and taped it into place, so that it looked like
I was wearing a white yarmulke. After a few minutes
I saw that all my motor functions were working properly
and I calmed down. Now, I don't know about you, dear
readers, but I like to be in control of my motor functions.
I don't like when my functions malfunction. It is truly
surreal to be walking down a hallway and then to suddenly
be on the floor with your head having gone through a
wall. What is especially weird to me is that lapse of
time between walking and being on the ground, the actual
loss of consciousness. And what is even weirder is the
fact that having lost consciousness I would regain it
from my head hitting a wall hard enough to knock a hole
through it. Perhaps I was half-asleep as I walked and
then nodded off on my feet. I suppose I'll never know.
Anyway, I seem to be fine, albeit a little queasy. So
I am taking it easy as that is a good thing to do when
you are feeling queasy because what is "queasy"
but "easy" with a fershluganah "qu" tacked onto it?
The point of all this is that if this here column seems
incoherent and obtuse it is because of the episode of
My Passing Out and Knocking A Hole in The Wall With
My Head. I have, by the way, called my handyman to bring
over his handyman plaster of Paris or even plaster of
Inglewood so that he can mend that specious hole in
my wall and make my wall whole once more, because, frankly,
every time I look at that there hole it skeeves me.
Do you know that every time I write the word "skeeves"
my spell checker suggests it should be the word "skivvies"?
And yet if I write the word "skivvies" the spell checker
doesn't suggest it should be the word "skeeves". Oh,
well, six of one, half a dozen of another, whatever
the hell that means. Perhaps next time I write
the word "skeeves" I'll do it while wearing "skivvies".
That is known as synchronicity.
Well, dear readers, you'll be happy to know, that since
I wrote the above my handyman has done his handiwork
and that specious hole in my wall is a thing of the
past. Can someone explain to me why it is "handyman"
and "handiwork" rather than "handiman" and "handywork"?
Last night I slept like a log (no mean feat) and I feel
much better today. In fact, right now I am staring at
a can of Rosarita No Fat Traditional Refried Beans and
thinking, "What is it, fish"? I was just pondering whether
there were, in fact, non traditional refried
beans. And if the beans are already fried why do they
need to be refried? I have been buying cans of
Rosarita No Fat Traditional Refried Beans for some weeks
now and have amassed quite a collection. Why, I have
no idea. Has anyone noticed that I am being slightly
incoherent and obtuse?
Has anyone noticed that it is already March? I barely
had time to ruminate on the fact that February had twenty-nine
days instead of the usual twenty-eight. That is because
this year is a leap year. Isn't that exciting? Why would
anyone invent a leap year? Can you imagine? One day
someone woke up and had the brilliant idea there should
be a leap year? And people went along with it? Why?
To humor the person who thought of it? If I wake up
tomorrow and say we should have a jump year will everyone
go along with it? And why, in a leap year, does February
have to bear the brunt of having an extra day. Why can't
September have an extra day? None of it makes any sense
to me and frankly I just don't get this whole leap year
thing. However, in honor of leap year I recently bought
a new cell phone. It is an amazing little thing, a flip
phone with all the latest features; digital, Internet-ready
and other high-tech doodads. I don't know about you,
dear readers, but I find all these high-tech doodads
very confusing. For example, this phone has voice dialing.
If you speak the name of the person you want to call
into the phone, the phone then dials the number, therefore
saving you wear and tear on both phone keys and fingers.
I immediately opened the phone and spoke a name. The
phone just sat there like so much fish. I spoke another
name. Nothing. I then opened the two hundred-page instruction
manual and turned to "voice dialing". And what I learned
was that you have to program in the number you wish
to dial and then speak the name into the phone. Then
and only then will it work correctly. Who knew? Anyway,
I then did as I was told and by gum if it didn't work.
I spoke a name and it dialed the number. What will they
think of next, these high-tech doodad (dadood spelled
backwards) people? I just spoke in the name "Real A"
and it dialed my very own number. And I answered
the phone, so I'm here to tell you that this high-tech
doodad voice dialing works. This column seems to be
jumping hither and thither and also occasionally yon
and I feel this is because my head recently went through
a wall. The top of my head, by the way, is quite disgusting.
I put some Neosporyn on it, which makes it even more
disgusting. You simply don't want to see the top of
my head right now, especially if you are about to eat
In our last column I spoke of having discovered
the game of Solitaire on my computer. Well, since then
I have discovered another game with which I am now totally
obsessed. This game is called Free Cell. It is quite
an interesting game and quite addicting. It took me
four or five days to understand it. At first I just
moved all the cards around willy-nilly and also nilly-willy,
to no avail whatsoever, and would lose immediately as
there were no free cells left and nowhere to move cards.
Slowly but surely I began to understand the game and
soon after I mastered it. I have now won eighty percent
of the games I've played. I recommend it to one and
all and also to all and one. But I warn you it will
become an addiction.
Well, hopefully the rest of the column won't be quite
so incoherent and obtuse, because frankly this section
of the column is starting to feel like the two current
Wild Party musicals: Surely there must be something
else to write about? But enough about me.
REAL A FOR PRESIDENT
Mr. Mark Bakalor
recently e-mailed me and told me that he thought I should
throw my hat into the ring and run for President of
these here United States of America. First of all, at
this time I cannot throw my hat in the ring as my hat
is covering up my bruised and battered head, which recently
went through a wall. Therefore I could only run for
President without throwing my hat in the ring,
although in a week or so I would be more than happy
to throw my hat in the ring. Apparently, all one has
to do to run for President of these here United States
of America is to throw one's hat in the ring. I have
no problem running for President but doesn't one need
a platform? A point of view? A plan? I have none of
those, therefore I feel I am an ideal candidate.
I believe that the next person to run for President
should not run on a platform, because, frankly, it is
dangerous to run on a platform, especially one made
of wood. You could trip and fall and get a splinter
and then where would you be? No, if one is to run for
President one must run on a proper running path in proper
running shoes. And therein lies the difference between
the other candidates and myself.
The first thing one must figure out when running for
President (as I now am) is what party one belongs to.
I happen to belong to the party where they serve cheese
slices and ham chunks, otherwise known as the Cheese
Slice and Ham Chunk Party (CSACP). It's a fine party
and there is always nice music and dancing and fun party
favors. I know some political pundits look down on party
favors but what is a party without party favors I'd
like to know? I've already come up with a great slogan
for my campaign: What is it, fish? If that doesn't get
votes I don't know what will. In fact, here is the poster
Mr. Mark Bakalor (my campaign manager when he's not
off doing shows in Arcadia or wherever the hell he is)
has come up with.
Isn't that a splendid poster? Isn't it just too too?
Of course the media is already trying to uncover any
little peccadilloes I might have in my past. Well, I
don't have any little peccadilloes in my past, so good
luck to them. I have an armadillo in my past
but that's another story. Of course, my armadillo had
a peccadillo and, in fact, wrote a book about
it entitled The Armadillo Who Had a Peccadillo. It was
a very touching book, especially when we discovered
that the armadillo's peccadillo was having once stolen
a pillow. That chapter, The Armadillo Peccadillo Pillow
Caper is one of the greatest I have ever read. What
the hell am I talking about? Aren't I supposed to be
running for President?
If I am elected President, the first thing I will do
is abolish income tax as we now know it. As we now know
it, income tax is a lot of hooey. A flat ten-percent
tax, period, the end. The next thing I will do is abolish
workshops for new musicals. The next thing I will do
is make the oval office oblong. Oh, I will make a fine
President, won't I?
As President, I would sit on my couch like so much fish
and make this country great once again. I will take
the singing bird in my yard with me to Washington and
said bird will sing all showtunes to Congress every
day. Currently the bird is trying to sing the tunes
of Michael John LaChiusa's The Wild Party but there
aren't any. The bird doesn't like through-sung musicals
anyway. It likes a nice bouncy "c" and a snappy 2/4.
Where was I? Oh, yes, running for President. I must
begin the arduous task of trying to get people to vote
for me. All of you dear readers must pitch in and get
the word out. Or should you pitch out and get
the word in? Either way, we must spread the word
like manure and watch our campaign grow by leaps and
bounds and also bounds and leaps. Sure we're the underdog,
but with your support we can soon become the overdog.
I stand for traditional refried beans, ladies and gentleman.
I sit for them, too, because why should I stand for
a stupid refried bean? Cast your votes, dear readers.
I've already cast my votes, and they're being
played by Dorothy Loudon, Bernadette Peters and her
In this time when most voters are truly apathetic isn't
it time to vote for a pathetic candidate? You bet. I'll
see you at the polls, dear readers, or, at the very
least, at the poles.
hope all of you have had a chance to read the marvelous
article about and interview with my close personal friend,
Mr. Stephen Sondheim that appeared in the New York Times.
It was written by their former theater critic Frank
Rich and it's the best interview Sondheim has ever given.
It's fresh, it's irreverent, and a good deal of fun.
He also has a list of "songs I wish I had written",
and his list includes some surprising choices. I was
happy to see his inclusion of Mr. Maury Yeston's beautiful
New Words on the list, as it is a personal favorite
of mine. In any case, if you haven't read it yet, perhaps
Mr. Mark Bakalor could do one of his handy-dandy
Isn't that amazing? You ask for a link thing, you get a link thing.
By the way, I totally agree with Mr. Sondheim about
the current state of the musical theater, and I too
miss "the good old days". Now, for those of you who
might not know Mr. Maury Yeston's New Words, I recommend
the recording Unsung Musicals and the definitive performance
of Liz Callaway. Until then, here is Mr. Yeston's lovely
Words and Music by Maury Yeston
Look up there,
High above us,
In a sky of blackest silk.
See how round,
Like a cookie,
See how white - as white as milk.
Call it the moon, my son,
Sounds like your spoon, my son,
Can you say it?
New word today…
Near the moon,
See the shining sparks of light.
Each one new,
Each one burning,
Through the darkness of the night.
We call them stars, my son,
That one is Mars, my son,
Can you say it?
New word today,
As they blink all around us,
Playing starry-eyed games.
Who would think it astounds us,
Simply naming their names.
Turn your eyes,
From the skies now,
Turn around and look at me.
There's a light,
In my eyes now,
And a word for what you see.
We call it love, my son,
So hard to say, my son,
It gets harder…
New words today,
We'll learn to say,
Who wouldn't have wished they'd written that song?
Mr. Mark Bakalor has told me some exciting news. What
is that exciting news you might ask and I believe I'll
tell you because then you can be excited about the exciting
news, which is, after all, the point. Mr. Bakalor has
decided that you will be able to buy many cool things
right here at the Stephen Sondheim Stage. For
example, you will be able to buy your "Real A For President"
T-shirts right here. And you will be able to buy books
and CDs and DVDs and BVDs and all manner of whatnots.
And doodads, let us not forget doodads. You see, Mr.
Bakalor is bent on becoming an entrepreneur. Why he
is bent on doing this is anyone's guess, as it
is much easier to become an entrepreneur whilst standing
up straight. Yes, this will be your one-stop online
shopping center, dear readers, and I, for one, think
it's a splendid idea especially if you are Mr. Mark
Bakalor. What do you know? Mr. Mark Bakalor has begun
to sell the first batch of t-shirts,
WHAT IF DEPT.
In the New York Times article on Mr. Sondheim, Mr.
Sondheim cites several Bock and Harnick songs in his
"songs I wish I'd have written" list. So, it is only
appropriate that this week's What If is a Bock and Harnick
What If. What if Bock and Harnick had written A Chorus
Line? And it goes something like this (to the tune of
A dancer on the stage? Sounds crazy, no? But in
our little theater on Broadway, all these boys and girls
want is to be dancers on the stage, each of them trying
to earn their place in the chorus. It isn't easy. You
may ask how do they get there? How do they earn their
place? That I can tell you in one word: Audition.
AUDITION, AUDITION! AUDITION!
AUDITION, AUDITION! AUDITION!
Because of our auditions, dancers are always putting
themselves on the line. They wear these leotards and
tights, which makes it easier for them to dance.
WHO EVERY DAY MUST TAKE A LOT OF CLASSES,
SWEAT THEIR LITTLE BUTTS OFF
LEARN A LOT OF STEPS.
AND WHO EVERY DAY MUST GO TO OPEN CALLS,
THAT'S IF THEY WANT TO GET THE JOB?
THE DANCERS, THE DANCERS!
THE DANCERS, THE DANCERS!
WHO MUST KNOW THE WAY TO DO BALLET
AND ALSO SING, AND ALSO DANCE?
WHO MUST KNOW THE WAY TO SHMOOZE AND PLAY THE GAME,
SO THEY WILL HIRE US TO DO THEIR SHOW?
THE DANCERS, THE DANCERS!
THE DANCERS, THE DANCERS!
AT SIX I GOT A BROADWAY SHOW,
I DANCED IN KING AND I.
I'VE BEEN AROUND FOR SO DAMN LONG
I HOPE HE TAKES ME.
THE DANCERS! THE DANCERS! CASSIE
THE DANCERS! THE DANCERS!
I ONCE HAD SEX WITH ZACH,
WE FELL IN LOVE, IT'S TRUE.
BUT THEN WE WENT AND SPLIT UP
NOW MY CAREER IS THROUGH.
PLEASE LET ME, PLEASE LET ME,
PLEASE LET ME, PLEASE LET ME,
Of course, not all dancers are
made equal. Some have more talent than others. Some
are able to pick up the steps faster. For example,
there was the time when one thought it was a step
and the other thought it was a kick…
It was a step…
It was a kick…
It was a step…
It was a kick…
It was a step - a kick - a step - a kick…
Step - kick - step - kick -
Step kick kick leap kick touch...
Auditions. Without our auditions
their lives would be as shaky as… As a dancer on the
LETTERS... WE GET LETTERS
Even though I'm still feeling a bit incoherent and obtuse
I will try to answer all your letters in a lucid and
clear fashion like a see-through midi blouse. Has anyone
voted for me yet? In order for me to be President, you
must vote. That is a truism, which is better than a
falseism in my book (Chapter 643 - A Falseism Isn't
Even A Word But If It Were It Still Wouldn't Be As Good
As A Truism). In any event (or this event, as
it so happens) let's answer some letters, shall we?
Rory wrote (say that very fast ten times in a
row) that he's been contemplating who should play Sondheim
if a biographical film should be made. He's decided
it should be Toby Maguire (Pleasantville, The Cider
House Rules). He feels Mr. Maguire could pull off the
age span quite well. I myself tried to pull off the
age span and had no luck whatsoever. The age span is
still stuck right where it was. If anyone out there
can pull it off for me I would be most grateful. Rory
thinks Stanley Tucci would make a fine James Lapine,
in other words, a fine Lapine. If anyone has any other
casting suggestions (after you finish casting your votes)
please send them along and I'll see if I can get us
a deal at Miramax.
Erin just got back from her trip to Southern
California where she did not stop by and say hello to
my very own self. She did, however, see a production
of Sweeney Todd, which she feels is the best musical
ever written. She liked some of the people in it more
than others, but had a good time anyway. I presume Erin
is speaking of the recent production that starred Miss
Amanda McBroom and Mr. George Ball (who is married to
Miss Amanda McBroom). I heard it was quite marvelous
and am sorry to have missed it, as I'm a fan of both
Balls. Erin is currently playing one of Will Rogers'
Six Single Sisters in the musical The Will Rogers Follies.
We wish her much luck in the production.
William F. Orr sent me a trivia question: Do
you believe the movie The Body Snatchers was a blatant
rip-off of Robert A. Heinlein's The Puppet Masters?
William tells me this is a trick question. The trick
is does anyone of our dear readers get the trick? I
do, but then again, I like trick questions. Here's another
trick question: How did he make the rabbit disappear?
jc tells us that she's received her brand spanking
new handy-dandy Real A What is it, fish? T-shirt. She
put it on and wore it to do some errands. Immediately
someone ran up to her and screamed, "What is it, fish?"
It turns out that the person was someone who used to
read this here column. A person named Mike. Small world,
isn't it? Mike no longer reads this column since he
started his medical residency. Apparently it is a rule
that when you are a medical resident you cannot read
this column. jc also sent me a special handy-dandy eValentine,
for which I thank her profusely.
Tiffany has still been reading this here column
even though she hasn't written in a while. She was sorry
to have missed out on the live chat we had, but she
simply didn't know about it. Which is why you must always
read Finishing The Chat to keep current with the day's
events. Tiffany recently bought a George Foreman Griller
and likes it very much. My question is, does George
Foreman come with the griller. I mean, does he do the
actual grilling? Just asking. I recently purchased the
Stephen Schwartz Broiler, but that's another story.
Arnold M. Brockman just picked up the cast album
to Mr. Andrew (Wild Party I) Lippa's john and jen and
thought it wonderful. He asks if The Dead will be recorded
by the same company, Varese Sarabande. The answer to
that question is no, as Varese Sarabande has decided
to not be in the Broadway business anymore. Arnold,
as I, thinks Joe Allen is a wonderful restaurant and
hopes we will meet there some time. Who knows what the
future will bring? Just keep checking Table 20.
Gordon likes the new look here at the Stephen
Sondheim Stage. Gordon likes to sing Sondheim to warm
up whenever he auditions but does not actually audition
with them as he feels that the accompanists have too
much trouble playing the Sondheim songs. Francois Truffaut
made a film about that very subject, called Shoot The
Jeff is looking for the sheet music to Triumph
of Love, especially the song Henchman Are Forgotten.
You must go to the Jeffrey Stock Stage to find out information
about the shows of Jeffrey Stock. However, I don't believe
any of the Triumph music is published.
Jerry is at his wit's end trying to find the
lyrics to The Boy From… from The Mad Show. Perhaps one
of our dear readers can e-mail the lyrics to Mr. Mark
Bakalor who in turn can e-mail the lyrics to Jerry.
Peter is very impressed with this site. He asks
if he can acquire Mr. Sondheim's e-mail address or phone
number so that he can contact him. As far as I know,
Mr. Sondheim still has no e-mail address. To contact
him, it is best to write care of The Flora Roberts Agency
in New York.
Steve (a new steve, not any of our regular steves)
wants to know the status of Wise Guys. According to
the NY Times interview, Mr. Sondheim was apparently
very disheartened with the recent workshop and feels
he wasted a lot of time with Wise Guys. However, he
also says that he can't wait to start revising it now
that Harold Prince is on board to direct. Certainly
it won't be happening this season.
Heather White wrote that Ruthie Henshall is the
best musical actress ever. I like Miss Henshall, who,
in addition to being a superb performer, is a very sweet
Seth saw Putting It Together. He loved the aforementioned
Miss Henshall and liked the non-aforementioned Bronson
Pinchot and disliked nearly everything else. Seth recently
heard a song by Schmidt and Jones on one of the Unsung
Musicals albums. The song is called Roadside and Seth
asks if I know what the show it's from (also called
Roadside) is about. Other than it being based on something
by Lynn Riggs, no, other than it just had a reading
at the York Theater.
Seagull has been reading a lot of the old columns
and loves this here letters section because she feels
it makes us all one big happy family. I feel that way,
too. Seagull is fifteen years of age and has just started
studying piano. That is, coincidentally, the same age
that I started studying the piano. Seagull wants to
know if there's anyone who has not gotten involved with
music until their teens who went on to become a good
composer? I'm certain there are. It doesn't really matter
when you start studying if you have a gift for melody
and the ability to learn the form in which you wish
to write. Seagull asks how she can get one of her own
Real A T-shirts. She can mail her address to Mr. Bakalor
and we can see about getting her one. After we send
out this one, I'm afraid we'll have run out. However,
Mr. Bakalor has asked if he can carry them at his online
store, so if anyone wants one in the future that is
where to look. Seagull also sent me an e-card, which
was very very sweet of her to do.
Richard enjoys parody lyrics and enjoyed the
Irving Berlin what if. He asks if we have all of our
others gathered in one convenient place. I believe that's
a question for Mr. Mark Bakalor.
[Mr. Mark Bakalor replies:
The answerr, at least at the moment, is no.]
That Mark Bakalor... a man of few words.
It might be of interest that we are toying with the
idea of putting together all the what ifs and the Gluckman
& Fitz songs into a musical revue. What do you think
of that idea?
recently played Hysterium in Forum and had a blast.
He's got several auditions coming up and we wish him
well in all of them.
PatLaceyBulb asks what musicals did David Lynch
regular composer Angelo Badalamenti write. I don't know
that he's written any, but of course I could be wrong.
I don't even have an inkling, or, for that matter, a
Alan, an up-and-coming actor asks if I have any
advice about meeting Mr. Sondheim. Other than hanging
around the East Side in the upper 40s, you might drop
him a line care of the Flora Roberts Agency in New York.
He's very good about answering his correspondence, and
he does, from time to time, meet admirers.
Karen, in answer to dear reader Anita's query
way back in Column 59, tells us that Dale Soules of
The Magic Show is alive and well and is still performing,
twice recently for Karen herself. Sadly, Doug Henning,
the star of The Magic Show, recently passed away.
Margie H. asks where she might find the lyric
to I Remember from Evening Primrose. I believe it's
been published in several Sondheim sheet music books.
Alan G. has received his very belated fish poster
(his prize for writing our 2000th e-mail) and is very
happy with it. He promises to send us an activity photo
of said poster.
Send all email to me at
email@example.com or use the form
Send The Real A Some Email:
dear readers, I must go rest. As you know I recently
put my head through a wall (not to mention landing on
my elbow and my back) so it's hard for me to sit for
too long and write. I must go lie on the floor, which
causes me some comfort. I promise to write the next
column in a more timely fashion, perhaps a one-piece
bathing suit with stripes. Hopefully, in our next column
I will be less incoherent and obtuse. Perhaps I will
be coherent and tuse. Don't forget we must get the word
out that I am running for President. By the way, I'll
need a running mate and a first lady. Or man. For now,
I'll content myself by looking at a can of Rosarita
Traditional Refried Beans.
time, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.
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