I was going to share with you our activity pictures from Christmas, but Mr. Mark Bakalor and his Butt Cheek Schedule has precluded that from happening. So, next week we will have said pictures and I can assure you they will knock your socks off. They may even scare the pants off you. Then you will be shorn of pants and socks, but your underwear and other items of clothing will be perfectly safe.
So, here it is 1999. Can you imagine? Well, you don't have to imagine because here it is, 1999. This is the last year in which we will write checks with "19" as the first two numbers of the year. I guess a hundred years of that gets a little old anyway. No, next year we'll be writing "20" on all our checks. That is just amazing. That we will be in a new century. I remember it well (ah, yes) back in 1899, how exciting it was to move into the twentieth century. And, as my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim once wrote, I'm Still Here. Yes, next year at this time we will be in the twenty-first century. We just better savor the final moments of the twentieth century because once it's gone, that's it. That is the rule of centuries. Once they're gone, they're gone and there's nothing anyone can do about it. What the hell am I talking about? Oh, yes, abs and buns of steel, the soon-to-be non-existent twentieth century and microwave popcorn. Yes, we have begun 1999 on a high note, perhaps an "A".
The only problem with belonging to a gym (yes, I'm not finished) is that you have to go to it. I wish they'd just bring the gym to me. Then I could just sit on my couch like so much fish, exercise, and sit on my couch like so much fish. I think that's a splendid idea. Gym To Go. Now I'm finished.
There. No more talking about the gym. Let's talk about something else. Nothing is coming to me, dear readers. I am wracking my brain (no mean feat) and nothing is coming to me. I have a certain feeling of lethargy which is perhaps attributable to the vast amount of microwave popcorn with real butter (The Real B) that I have eaten. Perhaps if I went to the gym... Oops (spoo spelled backwards), I'm not supposed to be talking about the gym.
Have I mentioned that on New Year's Eve I went to a friend's house and had shrimp bits on a bed of rice? Now, I like shrimp bits on a bed of rice as much as the next person, but this is simply not a meal. There were just not enough shrimp bits to constitute a meal. It was an appetizer to a meal that never arrived because the shrimp bits on a bed of rice was the meal and that was all there was to it. Little itty-bitty shrimp bits on a little itty bitty bed of rice. Have you ever seen a bed of rice? Have you ever slept on a bed of rice? Most uncomfortable, especially if there are shrimp bits. Those shrimp bits will keep you up all night while you are trying to sleep on the bed of rice. Everytime you turn, there's a shrimp bit. Oh, yes, before the shrimp bits on a bed of rice, we had a salad: scallop bits on a bed of spinach leaves. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, the whole evening was spent with seafood bits on various beds. I was, however, home by ten so that I could do my annual New Year's Eve ritual before midnight. But I was so hungry, that just prior to arriving back home I stopped at Jerry's Famous Deli (as opposed to Jerry's Non-Famous Deli) and ordered a side of bacon to go (this was pre-microwave and during the bacon binge). I ate said side of bacon on my bed, thus carrying to its fruition the evening's theme of food lying on a bed.
Wasn't that a wonderful story? That story just moved me. Yes, I was sitting on the couch (like so much fish), told that story, and then suddenly I was on the chair. I love when a story moves me. It's kind of magical, being transported to various pieces of furniture just by telling a good story. Does anyone have any idea what in tarnation I am talking about because frankly I am at a loss. Perhaps now would be a good time to end this section of this here column, because frankly it's beginning to feel like the brand new revival of Annie Get Your Gun: Too damned long. But enough about me.
Here it is, 1999, and do you think Miss Meryle Secrest is on vacation? Do you think she's taking a break? No, she's badgering me for yet more autobiographical meanderings. And so, I must, as usual, oblige her, because, frankly, she gets a little snippy if I don't. I must meander or incur The Wrath of Meryle. In my refrigerator I have The Rath of Bacon, which will soon be in my brand spanking new handy dandy microwave oven which is so very easy to use because of the handy dandy show and tell buttons and LCD readout which makes things ever so simple even for idiots like me and I will be damned if for the second time in as many weeks I am confronted with one of those heinous (heinous, do you hear me?) run-on sentences in which words words and more words run amok helter-skelter this way and that in a hopeless jumble hurtling themselves toward a never ending void unless someone finally does this ".". Or this "!"! I am so glad that someone invented punctuation, aren't you, dear readers? Where would we be without punctuation? I just wish that in the case of run-on sentences that the punctuation would be more punctual. The only problem I have with punctuation is how stupid the actual word looks. "Punctuation". Look at it, just sitting there like a bowl of useless oatmeal. Why would you spell a word like that when it's pronounced the way it is. "Punkchewashun". That's how it should be spelled. Or, conversely, "punssstuatyon". These word people want it both ways, and I, for one, say make up your word minds. Spell it the way it sounds, or pronounce it the way it's spelled, that's what I say. Where am I? What am I doing here? Oh, yes, The Real A: A Life.
May I just say, dear readers, that I hate sports? May I just say that? I may, because I just did. I have always hated sports and I don't even know why. I remember when my father would take us kids and the wife to Gilmore Field to see the Hollywood Stars play baseball. I would refuse to go unless he got seats facing the screen of the Gilmore Drive-In movie theater, which was next to Gilmore Field, which, by the way, was next to the world-famous Farmer's Market right here in handy dandy Los Angeles. That way, while brother, wife and father were watching the ball game, I could watch the movie that was showing at the Gilmore Drive-In. I couldn't hear the movie, of course, so I made up my own dialogue and story for what was going on on the screen. The only other thing I liked about going to Gilmore Field was eating hot dogs and peanuts.
I hated gym class. May I just say I hated gym class? I may and did, because this is my story and I'm telling it even though Miss Meryle Secrest is writing it. I hated gym class and yet I have just joined a gym. My how things change, but that is another story for another column. I hated wearing gym outfits as the shorts were always too big and one looked like a royal geek. If you have ever worn shorts that were too big then you know how it is to look like a royal geek, or Prince or Princess Geek for those who take their royalty seriously. I hated having to play volleyball. I was like Carrie from the novel, film and musical of the same name. I could never hit the ball, never take part in any volley that I didn't automatically end, and could never seem to get the ball over the net. When you are that kind of volleyball player, the other members of your team look at you askance, oh yes, they do. I also hated having to do things like chinups. I just did not understand the very concept of chinups and told my gym teacher that. And yet, I was still made to do chinups. Climbing a rope was another thing I hated. Do they still do that nowadays? Make you climb a long hanging rope? My brother, on the other hand... Wait a darn minute. Did you see what I just wrote? "My brother, on the other hand". What does that mean? My brother was on this hand and then he suddenly moved to the other hand? Oh, saying people, whatever were you thinking? Anyway, my brother on the other hand was very into sports. He was a Jock. He was known as Jumbo, that's how into sports my brother on the other hand was. Baseball? He played it. Football? He played it. In fact, in high school my brother was a shot putter. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, My Brother Was A Teenage Shot Putter. Do you know what that entails? It entails holding a heavy steel ball and hurling it. This is a sport! Someone actually invented it. Someone actually woke up one morning and thought, "Wait, I know. I'll take a heavy steel ball and hurl it for no reason whatsoever and I will call it shotputting and it will become a very popular sport". Well, my brother just glommed on to putting those shots. He put shots with the best of them. But, by its very nature, isn't shot putting one of the stupidest sports ever invented (invented, I may add, by Dr. Henry Shotput, a renowned idiot savant). Do you know what the most important thing is when you shot put? Well, I will tell you what the most important thing is when you shot put because I happen to know on account of my brother on the other hand, who was a shot putter. The most important thing when you shot put is the grunt. Yes, the grunt is all. When you hurl this heavy steel ball, you grunt loudly and obnoxiously, and that has everything to do with how far said heavy steel ball will travel. We had to go watch my brother shot put on several occasions, and, frankly, it was about as exciting as watching a car idle. Now, I don't know about you, but I just don't find a car idling very exciting, although I'm sure there are those who do. We'd like those people to step forward right now. All you people who find car idling exciting, come on down. Well, I was right. Every single one of these people who find car idling exciting is a former shot putter.
Have I mentioned that I hate sports? And yet, there are people who crave sports, love sports, can't live without sports. Sports is their raison d'etre, their reason for being. They would rather die than miss a football game, whereas I would rather miss a football game than die. Therein lies the difference between me and other people, or, other people and me. Or I. I just do not enjoy seeing people smash into each other like a bunch of mack trucks. I don't care about punting, end runs, quarterbacks, halfbacks or dollarbacks. I just can't get interested. The other thing about these sports fanatics is that most of them have never seen a musical. They just don't want to know from musicals. Shot puts, yes, Oklahoma!, no. These people don't know who Fosca is. They think it's the name of a beer. These people don't want to know about the intricate inner rhymes of my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. They want to know about goalies and hockey pucks.
The only sport I like is bowling. Bowling is a fun sport because you get to wear rented shoes. I like any sport that has rented shoes. Well, I must really go off to the gym now, because, while I still don't like sports, I must have the abs and buns of steel, and be toned and buff. However, be assured that while I am exercising and using those weight machines, I will be singing the score to Company.
Whenever I'm out of shape,
Shall we bike?
Hello, sore muscles,
Getting a workout,
We have received verification that those lucky people who sent in their handy dandy addresses have gotten their handy dandy Christmas gift and I appreciate all the nice thank you notes. A couple of addresses arrived too late to get the gifts out prior to Christmas, but never fear, they are now on their way. The late addresses, by the way, were from people who sheepishly admitted that they have not been reading this here column faithfully and that they missed the three columns wherein I was asking for addresses. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, they sheepishly admitted they haven't been reading this column religiously. First of all, why "sheepishly"? Why not "lambly" or "goatly"? Just asking. Second of all, you must all read this column religiously, preferably Catholic or Jewish, although all religions are welcome here at One From Column A. In next week's column we will have a picture of Mr. Mark Bakalor and his One From Column A gift. Won't that be frightening? I'd also like other dear readers to send me activity photos of you and your One From Column A gift so that we can share it with all our readers, whatever religion they may be. And now, on to the letters.
sparkleneelysparkle has returned from the netherworld (not the Netherlands) to write us. First the Errant Emily, then the Tardy Tiffany, and now the Silent sparkleneelysparkle. We are indeed happy for sparkle's return, as we miss the pungent and cogent wit of said sparkle. Wasn't there a vaudeville team by the name of Pungent and Cogent - The Two Gents of Comedy? Just asking. sparkle just asks what movie I saw on Christmas Day. I did not attend the motion pictures on Christmas Day, which I know will surprise sparkle. I attended the motion pictures a week before Christmas Day and while I was attending said motion pictures I saw what could only be described as a motion picture. sparkle also asks if I've see the musical The Last Session which is playing at LA's own Tiffany Theater. I have not seen said musical yet, but will try to. For those who have seen said musical, stay tuned for next week's column and we'll have a handy dandy surprise for you. Finally, sparkle also remembers my beloved Ontra Cafeteria and ate many meals there and recalls them with great fondness.
annyrose was very upset that I didn't answer letters in last week's column. Not that we want to point any accusing fingers at anyone named Mr. Mark Bakalor, but I only had a limited time to complete said column once he informed me of his travel plans, and the letters had to wait. Send Mr. Mark Bakalor your accusing fingers. Perhaps it will have an effect. annyrose got Anyone Can Whistle, A Little Night Music and Saturday Night for Christmas. Not the actual shows, of course, but the cds from said shows. Can you imagine if someone gave you Anyone Can Whistle for Christmas and an entire production was under your tree? Just asking. She also got a renewed subscription to The Sondheim Review (better than a reold subscription) which, as you might have surmised, is a publication about my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. She also got the book Sondheim: A Life which just happens to be by my biographer, Miss Meryle Secrest. Do we think that annyrose likes the work of someone named Sondheim? Do we think Sondheim is somehow the theme of annyrose's Christmas gifts? Just asking. Her parents did not give her Assassins, however. She feels this is because they don't want their sixteen year old daughter listening to a show about assassins. Instead they gave her the cast album of Tommy, a show about sex, drugs and rock & roll, especially, as annyrose points out, sex.
Emily is "wickedly sorry" about being errant, and we, of course, forgive her. Emily had an uneventful New Year's Eve spent in Colorado at an errant high altitude. Over the Christmas vacation she saw A Bug's Life three times.
kristina thinks that Mr. Mark Bakalor should purchase a lap top computer so he can put up the column while he's away on his more and more frequent sojourns. If he does not buy said lap top, kristina will have to award him the Butt Cheek Of The Century award. kristina had tonsillitis on her birthday and couldn't swallow for a week. Then she got the flu (ulf spelled backwards). Hopefully she is all better now and has begun 1999 with a clean bill (or Tom) of health.
Tiffany received the cast album of A Little Night Music for Christmas and is in love with it. She also received A Stephen Sondheim Evening which she is not in love with, although perhaps it will grow on her. Have you ever had a cd grow on you? Did you have it removed, like a wart or a mole? Tiffany has been sneezing horribly on account of helping her brother clean his room and the dust that ensued from said cleaning.
Josh, on a literary note (Eb?), feels that I'm more of a John Barth than a Thomas Pynchon of column writing. Whoever I may be more like (and recently, for sheer volume, Tom Wolfe would have to join the pack) I certainly am long-winded, columnwise. I know this because I have just sent off eight hundred pages of said column to the bindery.
Craig's finger has finally healed from the stapling it with the pneumatic drill incident. If said healed finger happens to be an accusing finger, please send it to Mr. Mark Bakalor. Craig just had a birthday and is now twenty-one years of age. He received a scarf, money and underwear, not necessarily in that order.
Rafael sent me a lovely virtual postcard which I virtually thank him for.
S. Woody White liked Gluckman and Fitz's song Catholic/Jewish. He's heard a rumor that there is a complete musical written by Herman Fitz prior to his long collaboration with Morty (Adolph) Gluckman. I will see what I can find out about this shocking rumor.
Pitgirl tells me she's become our one and only completely different list moderator. I think this is excellent news even though I have no idea what a list moderator is. I feel this column has always needed a list moderator and that this column will be the better for having a list moderator. Perhaps Pitgirl will explain exactly what a list monitor does so that we can appreciate it/her all the more.
Pat King, following in the footsteps of Emily the Errant, Tiffany the Tardy and sparkleneelysparkle the Silent, has written for the first time in months. Well, we welcome back Pat the Procrastinator. Pat would like to know if I've heard the new PMP cd of Follies, and, if so, what I think of it. I am happy to have it, appreciate all the cut material, but must confess to not liking it very well. I don't really know why that is, but I find it lackluster and still feel that truncated as it is, the only Follies for me is the Original Broadway Cast. Pat also wants to know what I think of the musical City of Angels. I enjoyed the show but found it strange. I felt that the score, while terrific on its own, actually hindered the show rather than moved it forward. The show just seemed to come to a halt every time a song came in. That caveat aside, I had a good time.
Mackoy sent me Christmas cheer from far away Manila. He will be back in his own far away Auckland in January.
Tristram Perry wants all Side Show fans or people who never got to see Side Show or people who are potential Side Show fans or anyone who likes the words "Side" and "Show" together, to know that said "Side Show" is returning to the East Coast. It is being performed in Boston at The Boston Conservatory from February 25-28. For those who are in the vicinity, the phone number for reservations is (617) 824-8000. Tell them you heard about it from One From Column A and see if they know what the hell you're talking about.
Anna wants to know if the woman in the activity photo from a recent column was actually Jennifer Piech who plays the lead Kate in Titanic. Well, let's take a look at the photo, shall we?
RupertDiva asks if I'm familiar with Stephen Schwartz's musical Children of Eden. I heard it several years ago, but must admit I don't remember it at all. Perhaps I'll take it out and give it another listen, as I'm a fan of Mr. Schwartz. Do you realize that that is the third "SS" we've had in a row: Stephen Sondheim, Side Show and Stephen Schwartz. Add to that Steve Schalclin (composer and lyricist of the aforementioned The Last Session) and that makes the fourth "SS". If you put all those SS's together, you get "SSSSSSSS" which, coincidentally, is the name of a very bad movie about a killer snake.
Roy S. (from MOE) tells me that there is indeed a Stephen Sondheim Society and that Stephen Sondheim (my close personal friend) is a member of said society that bears his name.
Robert was in Oklahoma (the state, not the musical) where he spent Christmas vacation in the freezing cold. Robert also likes Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas (which he mistakenly called The Christmas Song, which of course is Mel Torme's Chestnuts Roasting On an Open Fire...). Robert knew Ralph Blane, co-author of Merry Little Christmas, shortly before he died, and heard a tape of Blane singing the song. Robert says that in addition to being a wonderful songwriter, Blane was possessed of a very beautiful voice.
Only one person even attempted an answer to last week's trivia question: Name the Sondheim songs that refer to Christmas. Only RupertDiva made a guess, and only guessed one song. Well, Christmas is mentioned indirectly in Everything's Coming Up Roses ("sunshine and Santa Claus") and in the cut song from Gypsy, Three Wishes For Christmas. Also, Another National Anthem ("Because there isn't any Santa Claus"). I also believe he wrote a Christmas hymn of some sort in the early fifties.
This week's trivia question: Here's a toughie for all those who like toughies - earlier in the column I discussed going to Gilmore Field to see the Hollywood Stars play baseball. This was an actual team with actual baseball players and not real Hollywood stars. On this team, one of the actual baseball players went on to become a leading man on Broadway in a very famous musical. In addition he had many television appearances to his credit. And a further clue, he was a member of an obscure fifties group called The Cheers who had a hit single called Black Leather Trousers and Motorcycle Boots. Name him, and name the Broadway musical he starred in. Good luck.
Trivia answers, questions, comments...
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...