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One From Column A...
by "The Real A"

July 6, 1998 - #41

Well, the Stephen Sondheim Stage is up and working and so am I. I have a column to write, don't you know? Now, this will not be the same column I would have written last week, oh no. That column has gone kaput. Kaput, do you hear? Whatever brilliant things I was going to write are gone with the wind. Kaput. Of course, the column I was going to write would have been the best column ever. But, there's no use crying over spilt milk, that column is vaporware. Kaput. Excuse me for one moment, would you, dear readers?

I just went in the kitchen and spilt some milk and I cried and it was good to cry because frankly the sight of spilt milk all over the fershluganah floor was nauseating. I cried, I tell you, and whatever idiot said "there's no use crying over spilt milk" was wrong. You simply must cry over spilt milk, it's positively the thing to do. May I just take a moment, as long as we're on the road to nowhere fast, to tell you of my revulsion of milk. I hate milk. I've always hated milk. Even as a child I had to have chocolate milk. I would never drink that disgusting white liquid. I just don't understand milk at all. It tastes funny and frankly I don't need comedy from my beverages. When I see people drinking milk it just makes me want to vomit. I don't vomit, mind you, but it makes me want to. How in hell did I start talking about milk, that vilest of vile things? Aren't I supposed to be writing a column here? I don't know, last week's column would have been so much better, but what can I do? It's fizzled out. Kaput. However, I can assure you, dear readers, that even though this week's column was supposed to be last week's column (which is kaput, by the way) I'm going to make up for the fact that there was no column last week by writing the longest column ever written by anyone in the history of columns. There will be pounds of column this week. If you had to lift this week's column you'd get a hernia. That's how much column I'm going to write. I will write down anything that comes into my mind (as dangerous as that is). It will take you seven days to read this here column, that's how long this column is going to be.

Has this ever happened to you, dear readers? I woke up this morning at seven thirty. I looked at the clock groggily and thought to myself "Myself, I'm just going to lie here for another five minutes, then I'll get up and begin my column". I closed my eyes and five minutes later I opened them and looked at the clock. And do you know what the clock said? Nine thirty! In just five minutes, two hours had disappeared. This, coupled with the fact that my clock was speaking to me, freaked me out. I was dazed. I got out of bed and immediately had a Diet Coke and felt much better. But I'd still like to know where those two hours went. Gone. Not in existence. Kaput, if you ask me and I know you do so I'm telling you.

Here is another thing that happened to me (has it ever happened to you?): I had a friend over, and said friend had no idea I wrote a weekly column and she wanted to see it right away. But wouldn't you know, last week there was no column! Because this website was kaput. Luckily, however, I had my handy-dandy specially bound copy of the first twenty five columns, so I showed my friend that. As we looked through the columns I was mortified. Why, you ask, and I will tell you because as you know I withhold nothing from you, dear readers. I was mortified because I have recently been repeating things I've written in earlier columns. Keep in mind that I never look back at the old columns. Thus, when I wrote recently of bowling, I hadn't a clue that I'd already written about bowling. Now, the world simply does not need two pieces about bowling that say exactly the same thing. I found a couple of other examples, too. Do you think senility is just around the corner? I hereby promise to be much more careful about this, so that we can stave off senility. Can you imagine if I was senile on top of the way I already am? I would sit on my couch like so much fish, with drool coming out of my mouth, and I would never move. Inertia would set in and then where would I be? Inert, that's where. And if you're inert can you be outert, too? This is already the longest column ever written and I haven't even left the first part yet! Do you know that Jewish people and rappers have something in common? Oh, yes. Jewish people say "oy" and rappers say "oy" backwards... "Yo". Just another useful tidbit for you, dear readers. And they say I never write about anything pertinent.

Perhaps I'd better move on to the next section of the column. I think this section has gone on long enough, don't you, dear readers? If this had been last week's column, it would have been succinct, to the point and pithy. This column has no pith whatthoever, I mean whatsoever. This column is pith free. No pith. Kaput with the pith. Well, enough. This column is starting to feel like the Madison Square Garden production of The Wizard Of Oz: Pointless. But enough about me.

Saturday Night

I finally caught up with Saturday Night (the album, not the actual night), which, as you know, was supposed to be Stephen Sondheim's very first produced musical. For various reasons it wasn't, but now, after all these years, we finally have the full score to listen to. And I wish I were happier about the experience. I think the score is absolutely wonderful (with a couple of exceptions), very tuneful, very witty, and with some touching ballads, too. But this cast album from the Bridewell Theater production of last year just doesn't do the score justice. The sound is tinny, the band is tinny, and the performers seem ill equiped to handle the score. The singing is painful at times, and the cast's attempts at American accents is acutely embarrassing. I wish that there could have been a fully orchestrated American studio recording with an ideal cast, but I suppose that is not meant to be. Still, it's nice to have this. I sound like a critic all of a sudden, don't I? How awful. I am not a critic. A critic doesn't sit on their couch like so much fish, do they? Anyway, all Sondheim buffs will have to have this recording, despite its flaws.

Some of the songs in this score are really terrific, including the wonderful title song (better served with The Plaids on Unsung Sondheim), the beautiful So Many People, the hilarious (although not on this recording) In The Movies, and the catchy Love's A Bond. This is Sondheim at his most "tuneful", and his lyrics are truly clever. Oh, go buy it.

Chicago and All That X-Files

Why did it take me so long to pay a visit to Chicago (the musical, not the city), the hit revival that has been playing for over a year on Broadway and on the road? I have no answer. Since I have no answer why in hell did I ask the question? That is just really stupid in my book (Chapter 48 - It Is Too Too Stupid To Ask A Question When You Have No Answer). But, see it I did, at the Ahmanson Theater in Los Angeles, California, home of The Real A, Farmer's Market and Musso and Frank's.

I saw the original production on Broadway and really liked it. It was wonderfully directed by Bob Fosse, with great sets by Tony Walton, great orchestrations by Ralph Burns, and, greatest of all, a score by Kander and Ebb. The night I saw it, Gwen Verdon was out and her role was played by Liza Minnelli, who was lots of fun. Chita Rivera and Jerry Orbach were superb, as was everyone else in the show, although Barney Martin as Roxie's cuckolded hubbie is/was not my favorite actor. What kind of a mind would come up with the word "cuckolded", do you suppose? There is just so much that is annoying about that word I'm not even going to bother with it.

The good news is that I really liked this minimalist version of Chicago. The pared down book is concise and actually better than the original, which was just too labored. The score is still wonderful, a real Kander & Ebb classic. The cast at the Ahmanson was pretty terrific, too. Jasmine Guy surprised me truly. She sang well, she danced well, and she acted well. That is three "well's" and to my mind that results in a wonderful performance. I will admit here and now that I am a fan of Charlotte D'Amboise and she did not disappoint. And Brent Barrett was excellent, too. But the most amazing thing about the whole evening was seeing the spectacular Sandahl Bergman. In the ensemble yet! This woman is near fifty years old and let me tell you there are few teenagers with bodies as firm and taught as Ms. Bergman's. It's as though time and gravity has not caught up with her, and she looks the same as she did close to twenty years ago when I saw her in Fosse's Dancin'. If you've never seen Sandahl Bergman, you're in luck, as you can check her out in Fosse's film All That Jazz (and if you're a Chicago fan, the film is a must as it is all about the heart attack Fosse suffered during rehearsals for Chicago). Miss Bergman is featured throughout, but most memorably in the erotic "airline" number. She also starred alongside that magnificent actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan The Barbarian. Am I sounding like a critic again? What is this, Ken Mandelbaum's column?

Well, while I'm in my critic mode I'll tell you that I saw The X Files (the movie not the tv show). I don't really have much to say except it was enjoyable in a way and the time passed quickly, but it seemed to have little of what makes the tv show special. I like Duchovny and Anderson, and it was all well done (as opposed to rare), but I totally forgot everything about it as soon as it was over.

Before we leave this section of the column, let me tell you an annoying thing that happened (has it ever happened to you?). I got bitten on the arm by a bug. Yes, you heard it here, said bug just up and bit me. I did not see the bug do this, the bug was clever. And now I have a big old red thing on my arm and it itches like crazy. Who invented bugs, anyway? What good are they? They just bug you, these bugs do. I hate bugs, frankly. I would put an end to all bugs if I had the power. I would exile them all to Bug Island where they could happily annoy each other to their heart's content. Even the names of bugs bug me. They're so basic and yet so stupid at the same time. Gnat, ant, fly (an especially brilliant name), wasp, bee (if you saw that ugly piece of work flying around trying to sting you you'd automatically think "bee", right? Why bee??? Why not cee or dee??? I want answers!), ladybug, and way too many others to bore you with. I am just very down on bugs right now having been bitten and having that big red thing on my arm. Oh, well, there's no use crying over spilt milk. Perhaps I'll go put some Noxzema on it. I probably have already talked about Noxzema in an earlier column (I'm senile, you know), but I just love that stuff. That is good stuff, that Noxzema is. It's white, and smells weird, kind of like that spilt milk only not runny and you don't have to drink it. What the hell am I talking about? I do believe I've turned senile.

Saturday Afternoon

No, this is not the prequel to my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim's first musical. No, what this is is the real Saturday afternoon. And just which Saturday afternoon is it? Why, July 4th, that's which! Yes, it's time for parties and fireworks and bar-b-ques and wearing Speedos and swimming and just generally romping. However, I am doing none of those things at this particular moment. No, at this particular moment I am sitting on my couch like so much fish writing the words you are reading although you are not actually reading them as I'm actually writing them. In tv this is known as tape delay. At the Stephen Sondheim Stage it's known as column delay, which is the lag time between when I actually write the column and when you actually read the column. Did you notice how many sentences I just used which said absolutely nothing whatsoever? An amazing feat, if you ask me and I know you do so I'm telling you.

Today (the 4th of July) I bought two lawn chairs. This was very exciting. The purchasing of lawn chairs can be very exhilarating and this was no exception. Especially as they were part of a "parking lot sale" which took place in a parking lot, hence the name. I then brought said lawn chairs home and did a daring thing with them. I placed them on the actual lawn in my actual yard. I then sat on one of the lawn chairs and took some sun (do I have to give it back at some point?). I did this because I am not going to any 4th of July parties or fireworks or bar-b-ques because I don't feel like it. Not that I haven't been invited to said events, I have. People are dying to see me in male and female Speedos. They want to ogle my abs and buns of steel, but I simply will have no ogling. Perhaps later I will bar-b-que a cheese slice or something, just to feel in the swing of things 4th-wise. Anyway, I'm sitting on my brand new lawn chair being a sun thief when all of a sudden I hear the bird (yes, the bird) singing A Boy Like That from West Side Story. I open my eyes and there is the actual bird, right in front of me. This is the first time I've seen as well as heard the bird. After it finished its very moving rendition of the song, you won't believe what happened. This very talented bird started dancing! Yes, you heard it here, dear readers. It did several moves, which to my eye, looked suspiciously like steps from the opening of A Chorus Line. This bird is multitalented, I tell you. Apparently, there is no end to the versatility of this bird. And then the bird flew away as birds will do. I guess the matinee was over.

I hope you all have a safe and sound 4th of July. Do not put fireworks in your mouth. This is my strong advice.

The Real A: A Life

I must tell you, dear readers, that Miss Meryle Secrest is tireless in her search to find out all about me. She has brought forth such memories, which will be revelations to anyone who knows me, which is about three people. This is going to be a big book, longer than the Sondheim bio. Oh, the stories she's wrenched out of me (no mean feat). Why, did you know that when I was very young that I had a wart on my right hand? Yes, an actual wart. I don't think people have warts anymore, but when I was young I had one. It was quite gross and my mother took me to a doctor who knew how to deal with warts and he took care of it but good. First he stuck a needle in the wart (a local anesthetic - which I guess is better than an anesthetic from a different neighborhood), and then he just cut the damn wart right off the damn hand. Just like that. No more wart. Kaput. My mother bought me a coloring book to make me feel better. When we got home she insisted I eat an apple, which I did. When I finished, she took the core and together we went into the back yard and put the apple core inside a handkerchief and buried it underneath some earth. My mother had heard an old wive's tale that if you buried an apple core in a handkerchief that you would never have a wart again. And by golly it worked! No recurring warts. Ever. Do you think that apple core within the handkerchief is still buried there? Perhaps we'll all have us an expedition one day, and go to the house I grew up in and do some digging in the yard. But if we find it, if we unearth it, does that mean that I could potentially get a wart? On second thought, let's not have an expedition. Let's continue to thwart the wart.

Another thing Miss Meryle Secrest has discovered in her probing of my life (have you ever had your life probed? It's not exactly like having body parts probed but it does get uncomfortable sometimes, it does feel like a rectal probe sometimes, not that I have any idea what a rectal probe feels like let's just get that straight right now - and do we even remember what I was talking about before this endless parens?) is that as a young teenager I had to wear a retainer. Never had to wear braces, just the retainer. I wore the retainer for four years, only at night. After a while this retainer started to smell really heinous (heinous, do you hear me?) because someone neglected to tell me I was supposed to wash it every night. Oh, I put it in a glass of water, but that only did so much. As time passed you could smell this retainer as you entered the house. But, after four years my teeth were perfect, and the little gap that I had between my two front teeth had closed up beautifully. Within two weeks of being done wearing the retainer that little gap was right back where it started. Isn't that a riveting story? Do you know that the name of my current dentist is Dr. Chew? True. Could there be a better name for a dentist than Dr. Chew? Anyway, I retained that retainer for years. Then, one fine day, I went to a lawyer for some legal advice (a good thing to go to a lawyer for). Before he began work, he asked for a retainer. It was good fortune that I'd kept mine all those years. I mailed the retainer to him, and that was the last I ever heard from him. He wouldn't take my calls. He wouldn't answer my many messages, so I finally had to sue him to get my retainer back. Damn lawyer. Stay tuned for more episodes from my life as told by Miss Meryle Secrest. It just gets better and better.


Has this ever happened to you, dear readers? You dream that you're having a really bad headache, only to awaken and find you have a really bad headache? This happened to me this morning (Saturday Morning, not the prequel sequel to Saturday Afternoon or Saturday Night). I awoke with a blistering headache. Now, I don't know about you, but when I have a blistering headache my head really hurts. And then I get nauseous from the pain. I took aspirin, and that made me more nauseous. Now, those dear readers who read this here column regularly know that I hate nausea worse than I hate warts. I have now been nauseous for six hours straight. I have been on the verge of throwing up, but you know I will not allow this to happen. I have taken Alka Seltzer (surely one of the most disgusting inventions ever, but it does help) and I have eaten Tums (smut, spelled backwards) and still I am nauseous. So, at this point it looks like I won't be having any bar-b-qued cheese slices or ham chunks. Oh, I just got some e-mail. Let's see who it's from, shall we?

Date: Sat, July 4, 1998 18:19:21
To: The Real A (
From: (

Hello gorgeous A:

I just had to write and tell you, because I know you hate to watch television, that my beloved Jimmy and I were married! I am ecstatically happy and Jimmy is too. We had a beautiful wedding. We wanted to keep it very private, but once we let word out that it was happening, and where it was happening, and when it was happening, well, those reporters went nuts. Why do they do that? Just because we encouraged them, does that mean they have to do that? There were so many helicopters hovering that we could barely hear our vows. For those of your readers who are interested, I will now give you an exclusive! Our vows:

Barbra's vow - Until you came into my life, James Brolin, I had slept with so many losers it wasn't even funny. I mean actors, hairdressers, potentates, record producers, you name it, I slept with it. But that's all over now, Jim. Because in you I have found my soulmate. I admit when I first saw you on Marcus Welby, MD that I thought you were a stick. But by the time you were in Hotel you had grown into a twig. And now you are an oak. My oak. My wood. I will cherish you forever. You will be my music. You will be my song. I will sing for you every night before bed (who needs Viagra when you've got me?) and if you criticize my singing you will not be getting any, let me just say that right off the bat. I love you, Jim, and nothing will ever come between us unless I meet someone who I just have to have, but how likely is that when I've got you? With this ring, this funny girl thee weds.

Jim's vow - Barbra, until I met you I didn't know who I was. I thought I was someone else. I thought I was Jean Claude VanDamme. Imagine my surprise to find out I was really James Brolin, star of Marcus Welby, MD. Now that I know who I am I feel much better. I love everything about you, Barbra. You can do no wrong in my eyes, darling. You have shown me the joys of love and chopped liver. You have opened up worlds to me. I now know Bill Clinton. I eat borscht. Knowing you has brought music into my life. I especially like the song The Candy Man. I will be devoted to you, my darling. Yet, I will not cling. I will give you the space you need, and you will give me the space I need (this is known as The Space Program), but when we are together we are together. Or, as Hayley Mills and Hayley Mills so beautifully put it: Let's get together, yeah, yeah, yeah... Why don't you and I combi-ine? Barbra (I even accept the spelling of your name), with this ring I thee wed.

Weren't those the most beeyooteeful vows you ever heard? Aren't they just poetic? I wrote them. Both. I'm setting them to music right now and they will be the basis for my next album: Barbra Vows To Sing. Anyway, I just wanted to tell you. We'll be on our honeymoon, having a great time. Don't put any fireworks in your mouth, okay?

Love, Barbra (and felicitations from Jimmy)

Well, let's all wish Barbra and Jim all the luck in the world. These two crazy kids deserve their shot at happiness and I for one hope this marriage lasts forever.

Sunday Morning

Here it is, a lovely Sunday morning (neither the sequel, prequel or postquel to Saturday Night) and my nausea has almost but not quite subsided. This really isn't a section of the column, but I just wanted you to know that Mr. Mark Bakalor has just sent me his brand spanking new design for the Stephen Sondheim Stage. Apparently I'm one of the first to see said brand spanking new design and let me tell you, dear readers, it is spiffy! That is "iffy" with an "sp" on it, and that means it is more than swell, which is "well" with an "s" on it. In other words (because the words I've been using are just so stupid) it is a lovely new design and Mr. Mark Bakalor should be justly proud of it. You will be seeing this new design very soon, in fact as soon as Mr. Mark Bakalor gets off his butt cheeks and puts it up. But you know Mr. Mark Bakalor as well as I do. He's always off doing shows in Altuna or wherever the hell he is. Anyway, keep your eyes peeled for the new design. Have you ever peeled your eyes? I just tried it and it is very painful. Of course I was using a vegetable peeler and perhaps that wasn't such a good idea. This peeling of the eyes is not something I can recommend.

Letters... We Get Letters

In fact, we've got two weeks worth, so let's get right to work answering them, shall we?

Abigail spent the 4th of July cleaning her room and dreaming of putting a sparkler up her brother's nose. She also made some homemade ice cream. Abigail also wants to know how my trip to New York was. Obviously, Abigail has not only missed last week's non-existent column, but the week before that's existent one in which I talk all about said trip.

Joel can't believe I haven't seen Chicago (the musical, not the city). Well, by now you all know that Joel can believe. He can be a believer, not a nonbeliever. Because I have seen Chicago (the musical, not the city although I have seen the city not the musical, too) and I am here to tell the tale which I've already told.

Erika would like to know what "like so much fish" means. If I knew what it meant I would tell you. But I am sitting here on my couch like so much fish trying to figure out what it means and I have no clue. To understand where I get my "fish" from, please see Column 20, in fact, if we say pretty please with some fish on top, perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor will provide a handy-dandy link right here.

Dr. Bob and Katie-Rose have both had dreams in which manholes appear (just like the one I had). They feel the only thing to do once one has had a dream about a manhole is to reveal one's hidden identity. I agree with this totally, but since this dream is now totally forgotten I can no longer remember what my hidden identity is! Damn. Next time I have a dream about a manhole I will write down my hidden identity and then I will be able to reveal myself, although I believe this is against the law in several states.

Elizabeth doesn't understand the expression "beating around the bush" and wants to know if I can explain it. There are many explanations one could give for that expression but none of them are printable. The best thing I can suggest is to find an actual bush and try beating around it. Maybe this will shed some light on the subject, although to shed light should really mean to get rid of light not add light, don't you think?

Erin wants me to write double the drivel in this particular column, because of the missed column. I think I have way exceeded double, don't you, dear readers? I think the drivel in this particular column has reached new heights and belongs in the drivel pantheon.

Sparkleneelysparkle is worried about Tiffany and wants to know if she's forgotten about Nate yet, and whether she's discovered jazz. Tiffany sheds some light (why is everyone shedding light?) on this further down in this section. Sparkle also wants to know why the forum being down precluded me from writing last week's column, why I couldn't have written it and sent it via e-mail. That is, in fact, the way I used to write this here column, but Mr. Mark Bakalor and I had too much trouble doing it that way and he created a handy-dandy form for me to use to write said column and that form is located at the forum and as you all know by now a funny thing happened on the way to the form...there was no forum, hence no column. Is that an explanation or is that drivel? You decide. Sparkle was also a fan of the sneak preview and poses a trivia question. Sparkle attended a sneak preview at the late lamented Encino Theater, which was, wait for it, located in Encino. At this preview, two of the stars were in attendance: Tuesday Weld (dressed in muu-muu, with dirty long hair and barefoot to boot) and Rip Torn. Can I guess the film? Not sure, but if I had to posit a guess it would be the divine Lord Love A Duck, which was written and directed by George Axelrod. And let me just say here and now I adore and have always adored Tuesday Weld.

Sara wants to know how she can get in touch with my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim, to invite him to opening night of the Savoyard Musical Theater production of his very own show A Little Night Music in Atlanta. You can write to Stephen Sondheim care of his agent Flora Roberts, whose address you can get from NY information.

Valmont wants to know how Meryle Secrest can know so much about Stephen Sondheim and yet have so little to say about him. As I am learning first hand, this is Miss Secrest's great talent. As you all know, I found the book interesting but dryly written. I like wet writing, frankly, and you can all make of that what you will.

Tiffany likes the score to The X-Files (so do I) and wants to know what else composer Mark Snow has done. He is a fairly successful television composer, although the only other show I'm aware of that he wrote for was Crazy Like A Fox some years ago. Tiffany's professor (he of the Charles Mingus jazz cd) finally gave Sweeney Todd a listen and thought it just okay. However, he only listened once and perhaps after repeated listenings it will grow on him, like a fungus. Tiffany also wants to know if I ever post over at Finishing The Chat using my Real Name or other pseudononymous names. Those who have been following this column from the beginning know that I used to post there (under The Real A) but that when I started the column I said I would no longer be posting over there, and that is the case. I do however, go over there and nose around occasionally. And finally, Tiffany assures both Sparkle and myself that she has given up on Nate. But now she is horny. Horniness, for those who don't know, is a love of brass. For example, trumpets, or French horns. Isn't it funny that a French horn is brass, but an English horn is a reed? I don't mean laugh out loud funny, I mean funny as in irony. And if we have a French horn, and an English horn, why can't we have a Russian oboe, or an Italian flute? I no longer have any idea what I'm talking about, do you, dear readers? Oh, yes, Tiffany's horns. I understand all about being horny, believe me. I have been horny since the late 50s. The best cure for horniness is to eat a radish.

G. Patton Hughes wrote me a very surreal letter, which had something to do with his being a guerilla (as opposed to a gorilla) who happened on this site accidentally. I am glad a guerilla has read this column, it makes me feel we have achieved a certain something. G. Patton Hughes also is part of yet another auction site known as auctionuniverse, which is an alternative to eBay. I simply can't even check it out as I'm already an eBay addict and one eBay on my back is enough.

Mordecai wants to know what I think of Sweeney Todd in Jazz by The Trotter Trio. I have made no secret of my fondness for all the Trotter/Sondheim jazz cds, and like Sparkle, I recommend it without reservation. Does one ever need a reservation to make a recommendation? Sweeney in Jazz is a lovely album, and Trotter is a wonderful interpreter of Sondheim's music.

Petrina would like to know if she can find Sondheim lyrics on the web. Not that I know of, as there are copyrights to deal with if lyrics are to be reproduced. I'm not sure about this however, so if any readers know differently, let Petrina and me know.

Emily wanted me to know she has purchased socks with monkeys on them. I hope and trust they are cotton, like the panties. I, for one, like the idea of animals on underwear, don't you, dear readers? Do you think that G. Patton Hughes, the guerilla, has gorillas on his underwear?

Matt is plagued by worries. To wit: I drink Diet Coke aplenty - he drinks Diet Coke aplenty; I live in LA - he lives in LA. He is beginning to think, in fact, that he is The Real A! Well, this is entirely within the realm of possibility, so we will add Matt to our list, which so far includes: 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, and Charlie Sheen. Looking at this list is amazing, because I could, in fact, be all those people. I could be the Sybil of column writers.

T. Carpenter wrote me the following letter, which I just received and which I now print in its entirety.

Date: Sun, 5 Jul 1998 18:29:22 EDT
Subject: Re: Definitive Follies

Dear Real A,
You may not think there is a definitive recording of 'FOLLIES"...but Stephen Sondheim does...he states that the 1985 concert recording is the definitive recording with the perfect cast. I just visited your column for the first time and couldn't believe you waste two looonnnggg paragraphs twaddling on about your scratchy throat and phlegm (here's hoping it develops into something terminal). Maybe you think you're funny - you're not, merely irritating. Maybe you think people care - I don't. In future please stick to Sondheim information since you are not skilled enough as a writer to pull off anything else........and by the way.....I think I love you.


What are we to make of this letter, dear readers? It has been so long since we've had a disgruntled reader and now one has crawled out of the woodwork. First off, I don't know where T. Carpenter is getting their information, but I know for a fact that Sondheim is not that fond of the concert album. At the time he may have been, but he certainly isn't now. As to whether I should waste my time talking about phlegm and scratchy throats and only confine myself to things Sondheim, well, that is not why people read and enjoy this column, palsie. No, they read and enjoy this here column because of the irrelevant nature of it. Since you obviously don't like the irrelevant nature of this column, I can only suggest that you not waste your time by reading any further columns, because this here column is not changing (I hate change). I'm sure my loyal and loving dear readers will have something to say about this, too. All that said, we, of course, love you, too.

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Despite the fact that I inadvertently (rather than advertently) left out a trivia question in the last column (not last week's non-existant column), that did not stop two people from answering the question I forgot to ask. Erika's answer was "thermos" and Pat King's answer was "spoon". They are both correct, as the question I would have asked was: If you wanted to take hot tea with you what would you put it in, and once you poured it, what would you stir it with. Is there nothing that you people don't know?

I am enjoying finding out how you people think about things Sondheim, so this week's question continues in that vein:

What one Sondheim song best describes who you are or how you feel.

To start the ball rolling (no mean feat) I'll say that my answer would be: With So Little To Be Sure Of. I reprint part of the lyric here (If someone comes after me for printing it I'll send them my retainer) Because, it's how I feel about you, dear readers.

With so little to be sure of,
If there's anything at all;
If there's anything at all
I'm sure of here and now and us together...

All I'll ever be I owe you,
If there's anything to be;
Being sure enough of you makes me sure enough of me...

Send all answers to me at or use the form below...



Questions? Comments?

Well, have we achieved our goal of the longest column yet, Mr. Mark Bakalor? (Yes! - Mr. Mark Bakalor) It certainly feels like the longest column ever written. I just felt it and that is certainly what it feels like. In fact, I am written out, no more words are coming, I have nothing else to say, I am done. Kaput. I'm going to spill some more milk and cry over it, just because I can't think of anything else to do. After that I will be sitting on my new lawn chair (located on the lawn) because the bird is out there doing Louise's Ballet from Carousel.

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

Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.

The Real A

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Assassins is about how society interprets the American Dream, marginalizes outsiders and rewrites and sanitizes its collective history. "Something Just Broke" is a major distraction and plays like an afterthought, shoe horned simply to appease. The song breaks the dramatic fluidity and obstructs the overall pacing and climactic arc which derails the very intent and momentum that makes this work so compelling...”
- Mark Bakalor

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“I found [the Sondheim Celebration's Company] to be completely delightful. Almost all of the numbers excited and energized me, and most of the scenes were about as pitch-perfect as you can get. I just sat there with a big smile on my face the whole show.

Which is not to say that it is perfect...”
- popcornonmyknees

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Music, Books & More
Elaine Stritch
With three hand-held cameras, one major theatrical milestone and nearly nineteen hours of footage, this rare and intimate look with Original Cast Album - Company is a must for any Sondheim fan.

DVD: $26.96
VHS: $24.95

One of Sondheim's most beloved works is sure to be Sunday in the Park with George, available on DVD, video tape, and CD.

CD: $13.99
DVD: $25.49
VHS: $19.98

Nathan Lane
All Sondheim completists are sure to now own the first complete recording of The Frogs coupled with Evening Primrose. Do you?

CD: $18.97

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