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

September 7, 1998 - #50

"Hello, and welcome to One From Column A, my new weekly column. When Mr. Mark Bakalor suggested I do this, I suggested he get a prefrontal lobotomy."

Thus began One From Column A, almost one year ago today. Thus I have written a column once a week, every week except one, when I wrote an itty bitty column because of the heinous (heinous, do you hear me?) mechanical foulup of the computer thingamajig. And so, here we are, our 50th column. This is cause for celebration, thus we are going to celebrate until the cows come home. Thus, let us begin. Thus Spake Zarathustra, whoever the hell he is. There's an awful lot of "thussing" going around, isn't there? I think we have just about had it with the word "thus". Thus we will simply have no more "thus". We can have "shut" which of course is an anagram of "thus" but we cannot have "thus" which of course is an anagram of "shut". Have we beaten this into the ground enough, dear readers? Shall we move on to more fertile ground? Shall we, for example, begin our celebration?

Are you all sitting on your various couches like so much fish? Do you all have your cheese slices and ham chunks and Diet Coke? Because without said accoutrements we cannot possibly celebrate. No, to celebrate we must have our accoutrements.

It has been quite a journey, this column has. It started out like a song, it started quiet and slow with no surprise. But in the morning I woke to realize: A bird was outside singing showtunes. To be honest, I had no idea what this column was going to be when I began it. I was floundering like so much fish. If you read the early columns you can see me trying to find my way, to find the style, to find the point. One fine day it finally hit me. What I did to deserve being hit I don't know, but hit me it did. I suddenly knew: There is no point. I could just write anything off the top of my head (no mean feat) and that was the point. Then it became easy. Then it became a pleasure. And it remains a pleasure to this day, except when it's a pain in the buttcheek. I love doing this column and I love each and every one of you, dear readers.

Ah, the bird is outside singing The Night They Invented Champagne in honor of our celebration. It's doing high kicks out there in honor of our celebration, and it has its accoutrements. In honor of our celebration, I have some very exciting news, dear readers. I have just purchased a brand new couch on which I will soon be sitting like so much fish. It is much more comfortable than my current couch, even though said current couch has been a loyal and true friend to my buttcheeks.

We have been through so much, dear readers. We've been through Reno, we've been through Beverly Hills, and we're here. We've been through our disgruntled few phase (and aren't we glad that the disgruntled few have gone with the wind?), we have had the coprophiliac joke book, we've had a time/ space continuum, we've had the war between my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim, and his close personal friend, Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, we've had "what if", we've had Gluckman and Fitz, we've had our multi-talented bird, we've had Carol Channing, we've had sport with the English language, in other words, we've had a plain old-fashioned handy dandy good time. You have been there as I got buff and toned with abs and buns of steel. You have been there as I threw up. You have been there as I've traveled hither and yon, yes, in short, we have shared things together. We are like two old Jews sitting around saying "what is it, fish?". Oh, enough preamble, let's get directly to the amble, and maybe even the postamble. Let's relive ("revile" anagramed) some of our glory moments. So, do you all have your accoutrements? Just remember, this column, dear readers, is like Cats: It's Now and Forever, as long as Japanese tourists keep coming. But enough about me.

The Drivel Factor

Oh, we have spewed forth a lot of drivel in the last year. Drivel in all directions. I think the first time I achieved total drivel was way back in Column 5. Let's take a fond look back at that first bit of drivel, shall we?

The Real A Does Chat

Recently, The Real A has discovered the internet phenomenon known as The Chat Room. This is a concept. The first time I visited a chat room there were forty-nine people in it. Despite the room being a theatre related Chat Room, it seemed to me that everyone was trying to pick up everyone else. In other words, like the 90s equivilent of a singles' bar. The chat was going so fast, that by the time I'd type a response to something, five topics had gone by and my response made no sense whatsoever. Very disorienting. I got nauseous watching the screen.

One fine day I visited another chat room. There were only a handful of people in the room, which made things much easier. They were, of course, trying to pick each other up. There was one person in there with the alluring moniker of Sexy4U. She and some guy were getting rather, well, shall we say "het" up. So, I asked if anyone had seen Passion. Sexy4U misunderstood and thought I wanted to get involved with her and the other guy. To cut to the chase here, Sexy invited me and the other guy into a "private room" called The Hot Tub. Now, you know I just had to go and see what that was about. I know there are young people who read this column, so I will not go into detail here, other than to say that they did not want to discuss Sondheim, did not appreciate when I printed the lyrics to The Miller's Son, and when I tried to tell them why the second act of Sunday In The Park With George was problematic they threw me out of The Hot Tub. What did I do wrong? Let's put it this way: I knew where the conversation was heading when there was a lewd reference to a female body part, and I asked if they were talking about Cats.

Ah, such memories. The amazing thing is that it was choice drivel right off the bat. And then there was the column where I first realized just how stupid the English language is. Here's how it began, back in Column 11.

Well, did you all overeat? Stuff yourselves silly? I did. I thought my stomach was going to bust open just like John Hurt in Alien. Why do we always overeat on holidays? In my case there is only one reason: I am a pig. But, Thanksgiving dinner was lovely, and I hope you all had lovely ones, too. While I was eating my second helping of yams, I suddenly thought, what idiot came up with the name yams? This is as stupid a name as I've ever heard. If I were a yam (and some have accused me of this) I would change my name immediately. Turnip is also annoying. And squash. Where did that come from? Someone was sitting around one day and they looked at this thing and said "I know, I'll call it squash!" It makes no sense. Cous-cous. Do you wanna' know the person that came up with that name? I don't. Words. In fact, I have had it with words. From now on, when writing this column, I am no longer using words.

Well, that didn't work, did it? Okay, begrudgingly I will use words. But, I don't have to like it.

We've had a lot of "what if" parodies. Here's my favorite, from Column 6: What if Rodgers and Hammerstein had written Assassins (to the tune of The Lonely Goatherd):

High in a room,
Stood a lone assassin,
Layee oh de layee oh de layeehoo...
He shot the Prez
When the Prez was passin'
Layee oh de layee oh de loo.
Oh oh, did you hear a gunshot?
Oh oh, from the grassy knoll.
Oh oh, was there only one shot,
Well, why don't we take a poll?

During a play,
Mr. Booth shot Lincoln,
Layee oh de layee oh de layeehoo...
We wonder what
Mr. Booth was thinkin'
Layee oh de layee oh de loo.
Oh, oh, shot him that's for certain,
Oh, oh, shot him in the head..
Oh, oh, didn't wait for curtain,
Did it in mid-act instead!

Samuel Byck tried to shoot Dick Nixon,
Layee oh de layee oh de layeehoo.
Crashing a plane, that's what Sam was fixin'
Layee oh de layee oh to do.
Oh, oh, Squeaky Fromme shot Ford, and
Oh, oh, never felt a pang.
Oh, oh, Jodie was adored. and
Hinckley shot his load and bang!
Oh de layee,
Oh de layee,
Oh de layee...
Layee oh de layee what a gang!

And then there was the "war" between Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber. You remember, where they were each writing songs about one another. Let's refresh our memories, shall we? I believe Lord Sir Andrew started the "war" when he wrote the following (to the tune of Music Of The Night):

Stephen Sondheim,
Can't you see I hate him.
Critics always
Tend to overrate him.
Phantom is a smash,
I make lots and lots of cash,
While Assassins plays Off-Broadway and then dies...
And Passion is so dead it's drawing flies.

The war then escalated when Mr. Sondheim wrote (to the tunes of Agony and No More):

Andrew is boring,
When he tries to write,
Andrew is terrible.
I end up snoring,
His stuff is so trite,
Really unbearable.
Have you listened to Cats???
It's really awful,
It should be unlawful
To Finish Some Hats.
That's a Lloyd Webber show!!!
It's truly dismaying
That they're always playing
Wherever you go...

No more Webber,
Please no more.
Keep the musical alive,
Keep it healthy, let it thrive,
Let that happy day arrive
When we'll all ignore...
All the Phantoms,
All the Sunsets,
All the song and the dance,
All the pussies who prance,
On those fun sets...
All the critical standards that one sets,
Well, what for?

All the Joseph's,
All the Aspects...

No more.

And then Andrew wrote (to the tune of That's All I Ask Of You):

No more talk of Sondheim,
I've had it up to here.
Your songs? Strictly from hunger,
I'm better and I'm younger.
So, say you'll stop that noise you call composing,
Say you'll spare us the cacophony.
Save the inner rhymes cause no one's
Please put Wise Guys in the loo,
Stephen, that's all I ask of you.

Oh, what a lovely war it was, wasn't it, dear readers? I should have sent each one of them a spud gun and then they could have spudded each other and ended the war lots sooner. Coincidentally, I just won a spud gun on eBay this very day. So, woe to those who enter these portals, for they will suffer wound by potato.

A Fish Story

Many of you have asked the derivation of "what is it, fish?". Well, here's the story, direct from Column 20.

So, I'm just sitting here on my couch like so much fish, listening to the rain. I am listening to the rain because it is raining, hence the sound of rain. Sondheim. Now, sitting here on my couch like so much fish has brought back memories of my grandfather. Why, you ask, as well you should? Because my grandfather loved the word "fish" and would use it whenever possible. No matter what plate of food they would set before him, whether it was steak or a hot fudge sundae, he would look at it and say, "What is it, fish?" I mean, at every meal I ever ate with my grandfather, he said this. Breakfast, lunch, dinner. Ham and eggs? "What is it, fish?" Baked potato? "What is it, fish?" And sometimes, if he was in a particularly jolly mood he would add "Is there sauce on it? I wouldn't eat it if there was sauce on it." I asked my parents many times why he would say that, and they had no answer. My grandmother had no answer. No one had an answer. Only my grandfather had an answer, and his answer was "What is it, fish?" Which, of course, is not an answer at all, it's a question. A question with no answer. No wonder I turned out the way I did. I think we can lay the blame for that squarely on the shoulders of my grandfather. He was what is usually referred to as a "character". He would sometimes excuse himself from dinner, go to the bathroom, then come back in and announce that he had made a stool and we should all go look. Now, remember, we were eating. But apparently, at his age, making a stool was no mean feat, so some members of the family dutifully trotted off and admired his handiwork. You will be happy to know, dear readers, that I did not. I drew the line right there. I simply would not, as a child, and will not, as an adult, get up from a meal and look at a stool. Why am I talking about this? Why have I dredged up these memories? Why have I used the word "dredge", surely one of the ugliest sounding words ever created? Dredge. What function can a word like that serve? Of course, one might also ask what function this entire paragraph has served.

It's fun to dredge up these old columns, isn't it? And speaking of stools, that of course brings up The Coprophiliac Jokebook. Oh, that provided weeks of mirth. We had mirth aplenty. We had mounds of mirth. Here's how all that mirth began in Column 21.

Crossing the Line

As I said earlier in this column, there are some who think I've crossed the line with the story of my grandfather's stool. Well, I simply can't stop there, now can I? That would be so unlike me, now wouldn't it? Now that we've crossed that line we have to go all the way. And so, I'm going to introduce you to the Coprophiliac's Joke Book. What does coprophilia have to do with my grandfather's stool, you might ask, and I might answer you. Everything. Because coprophilia is a love of, well, how shall I put it without being crass... Um, excrement. Yes, you heard it here. So, I have crossed the line and there is no uncrossing it.

Okay, what is a coprophiliac joke? First, a little history. The Real A did not always know what coprophilia was (despite grandpa's stool). No, I was enlightened by my close personal friend, Mr. David Shire, who was the first to tell me what a coprophiliac joke was. Of course, being me, I simply became too too enamored with the whole coprophiliac joke concept and I contributed heavily to what became a privately circulated Coprophiliac Joke Book. A typical coprophiliac joke would go something like this:

What is a coprophiliac's favorite children's book?

Now, even from where I'm sitting, I can see your minds beginning to work, can't I, dear readers? You are just starting to see the endless possibilities for coprophiliac mirth, aren't you? By the way, do you think if Glen and S.M. (Smarts Missing? Store Mannequin? Stool Maker?) are reading this right now, that they are attempting to rip the eyes out of their sockets? I mean, what can coprophilia possibly have to do with the Stephen Sondheim Stage??? In any case, it's going to get worse before it gets better, boys. Here are some of my favorite coprophiliac jokes. I, of course, expect you to join in, and make up some of your own. That's right. You must contribute. Because a love of excrement is what this column is all about!

What is a good job for a coprophiliac?

What is a coprophiliac's favorite place on a ship?
The poop deck.

What is a coprophiliac's favorite game to play in Las Vegas?

What kind of pants does a coprophiliac wear?

What is a coprophiliac's favorite number?
Number two.

What kind of truck does a coprophiliac drive?
A dump truck.

What is a coprophiliac's favorite Gershwin
song? Do, Do, Do

What is a coprophiliac's favorite mushroom?

Where does a coprophiliac sit in a bar?
On a bar stool.

What does a coprophiliac order in a Chinese Restaurant?
Poo Poo Platter.

Well. I think no more need be said about that, do you, dear readers?

The Genitalia Files

Remember our synonyms for genitalia? If you don't, here's how it all began.

Last night I saw a new musical revue entitled Naked Boys Singing. This show contained actual naked boys who were indeed singing. Now, what was the point of this show, you might ask, and, after seeing it, I certainly have no answer for you. It contains some okay original songs, nothing great, and some nice performances. The problem when you have naked boys singing is one of concentrating on the singing and the songs when there are a bunch of zubricks hanging there like so much fish. Whether one is male or female (audience- wise) it is very distracting, these zubricks are. You're all sitting there, shaking your collective heads, aren't you? You're sitting there thinking "What the hell is a zubrick?", aren't you? Well, dear readers, a zubrick is a synonym for the male appendage. Not the female appendage, mind you. I like it ever so much better than those other words for the male appendage. Zubrick just has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? A zubrick ring. Frankly, I just don't feel that nudity is so wonderful on the stage. It's a little too immediate. And this was in a sixty seat theater, which is really immediate! This is just too close for comfort, zubrick-wise. But I, for one, also thought the nudity in Passion was off-putting. I was in the second row, and let me tell you how strange it was trying to concentrate on my close personal friend Mr. Stephen Sondheim's beautiful song "Happiness" while Marin Mazzie's boobs were bobbing around. Not to mention her yoni. Yes, her yoni was in full view, at least in previews. I think they cut some of the yoni exposure by the time the show opened. You're all sitting there, shaking those collective heads again, aren't you? Well, like zubrick, yoni is a synonym - for female genitalia. These two synonyms for genitalia are my favorites. Zubrick and Yoni. Sounds like two aliens from another planet, doesn't it? The planet Genitalia. Well, we thought this fershluganah column couldn't sink any lower, but we were wrong, weren't we, dear readers? But in sinking to new depths, at least we got in the name Sondheim, didn't we? Because this fershluganah column is located on the Stephen Sondheim Stage website, isn't it? Now, how the hell did we get on the subject of synonyms for genitalia? Oh, yes, Naked Boys Singing. Well, in any case, it was mercifully short (the show! Keep your collective minds out of the gutter). There are many other synonyms for genitalia, by the way (you didn't honestly think I could stop, did you?). Sometimes it's fun to match up male and female synonyms for genitalia. Like: For the hopeless going nowhere romance - wiener in a dead end street. I could go on, but I feel we are very close to crossing the line here. The last time we crossed over the line was our coprophilia jokes. Well, we can't stop there, can we? This column is all about crossing the line! You people send me your very own favorite synonyms for genitalia. Have fun matching them up in creative ways, too. Here's another example: If you're Chinese and homosexual: Whang and Schlong seem to go together, don't they? Put on your thinking caps, dear readers. I feel this is right up your collective alleys (a synonym for genitalia, by the way).

And of course you came through, dear readers, as you always do, with fabulous synonyms for gentitalia all your own. More synonyms than you can shake a zubrick at.

Letters From Famous People

We've had many, many e-mails from famous celebrities. Here, for example is one from Mr. Frank Wildhorn, composer of Jekyll and Hyde.

Date: Fri, February 5, 1998 19:23:22
To: The Real A (
From: Frank Wildhorn (

Dear Mr. A:

My name is Frank Wildhorn. Perhaps you've heard of me. I've written two musicals currently wowing them on Broadway. Someone we both know told me to take a gander at your column. I waited until today and thought: This Is The Moment. Well, my feeling is that there's just too much stuff in this column about that Stephen Sondheim. Haven't we all had enough of Stephen Sondheim? Isn't he just a bit... passe? I mean, okay, he's written a few shows, but so have I and I have yet to see one mention of me! How can you talk and talk and talk about the musical theater without mentioning Frank Wildhorn? What do I have to do? For God's sake, I gave the world Jekyll and Hyde! What was it before I got a hold of it? A book! An old book. Not a vibrant new musical. So, let's give some credit where credit is due. And don't forget The Scarlet Pimpernel! Okay, so it's only playing to sixty percent of capacity. What has that got to do with the quality of the piece, I ask you? Can you imagine if Stephen Sondheim had written either of these shows. He'd probably be all over his rhyming dictionary trying to be clever with Jekyll rhymes. I so admire Leslie Bricusse for never stooping to that. I love the fact that all his rhymes are inferior. It makes the music stand out, doesn't it? Isn't that the sign of a great lyricist? In any case, keep up the good work, but really, let's have less Sondheim and more me.

Linda sends her love.

Frank Wildhorn

And Barbra Streisand has written us, too.

Date: Sun, April 5, 1998 10:14:20
To: The Real A (
From: Barbra Streisand (

Dear The Real A:

You know, I simply could not lurk anymore, I just had to write and tell you that my beloved Jimmy and I read your column all the time. I get a real kick out of it, and Jimmy just sits there (like so much fish) and doesn't get it at all. If it's not Marcus Welby he doesn't know from it. I have finally found happiness with Jimmy. The other seven hundred and thirty men I've been with were only diversions, I was never really happy, I only thought I was happy, but now that I'm happy I know that I wasn't really happy.

I just love Stephen and his work, even though the guy sometimes doesn't know from a lyric, and I have to ask him to fix them for me. Send In The Clowns...Who could sing that song? It made no sense till he wrote me my own special verse. I'm an actress, I have to be able to play the lyric and the lyric was missing something and I couldn't play it until he wrote me that special verse then I could play it fine. Judy Collins? Sure, she sold a million copies of it, but it didn't make any sense. But what does Judy Collins know about a lyric, she sings folk songs.

I don't want you to worry if people give a flying whatever for your nostalgic waxjobs... Jimmy and I love them. Oh, before I forget, our favorite synonyms for genitalia are muff and dong. We like them so much, that we gave those names to our two dogs. Unfortunately, they're both male, and Muff is very confused. Anyway, I called my friends The Bergmans, and had them write you a special lyric to one of my biggest hit songs, The Way We Were. I'll sing it to you now (we'll fix the high notes later).

From the corners of your couch.
While you think of genitalia,
And the way you were.

Scattered butt cheeks,
As you sit like so much fish.
And you write your endless drivel
Of the way you were.

Sondheim is the site you write your column on,
Yet you barely mention him at all.
You would rather talk about your grandpa's stool...
Yes, it's true, A,
Nu, A?

As you drink a Diet Coke.
Boy, you really reek of garlic
And the way you were...
And the way you were.

Isn't that beeyouteeful? Jimmy is in tears right now. He just loves the way I sing lyrics by the Bergmans. We watch Yentl over and over again for that very reason (I directed it, you know, and those putzes couldn't even give me an Oscar! Putz is a synonym for genitalia, by the way, and is a perfect description of every male in Hollywood, except my beloved Jimmy). Well, I have to run now. We're trying to figure out who the next big thing is in the record business, so that I can go do a duet with them.

Barbra and Jimmy

(I love that he doesn't mind that my name will always be before his - now that's a secure man!)

And the marvelous Carol Channing.

Date: Sun, March 29, 1998 12:16:24
To: The Real A (
From: Carol Channing (

Oh, You Darling Real A:

I just love your column, I do, I really do. It's so strange, just like me. But here's something I've been dying to ask you, Mr. or Ms. A: Why doesn't Stephen write me a show? Don't you think I'd be wonderful in a Sondheim show? Of course, he'd have to write me some melodies I can sing, like my wonderful Jerry Herman does. I simply would not be able to sing those songs from Passion, would I? I wouldn't know how to find the notes. I really wouldn't. I know there are notes in there, but who would want to sing them? They're peculiar. They are. I'd like to play Clara though. I'd do the nude scene, too, I would, I really would. That would fill the theater! Oh, by the way, my favorite synonyms for genitalia are johnson and happy valley. Don't you just love those? I do, I really do. I mean it. Why you would ever call the male appendage a johnson, I don't know. It's odd. Why not a jerry or a robert or a desmond? I don't get it, I really don't, but I like it, I really do, I like that it's called a johnson. I don't understand it, but I like it. Well, I could go on like this for hours, but it's time for my husband, Charles Lowe, to give me a standing ovation. He does this every night whether I'm doing Hello, Dolly! or not. You keep up the good work, you hear?

A big kiss,

Sadly, the union between Carol and her standing husband, Charles Lowe, ended shortly after that. Wait a minute, I'm getting an e-mail right now. Let's see who it's from, shall we?

Date: Sat, September 5, 1998 5:05:05
To: The Real A (
From: Stephen Sondheim (

Dear A:

Just thought I'd take a moment from writing my new musical Wise Guys to say congratulations on your 50th column. That one person could write so many words which have absolutely no merit whatsoever is simply amazing to me. But no one writes words with no merit better than you (with the possible exception of Leslie Bricusse). The fact that you do this week in and week out is both mesmerizing and hideous at the same time. So, don't change a thing. And the best of luck on the next 50 (you should live so long and so should I). I'm certain that by the time you reach your 100th column that I'll be finished writing Wise Guys. Maybe.

Best always,

Thanks, Steve. How nice of him to take time out from his busy prone schedule to write me. Speaking of my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim, here's another "what if" that I was very fond of. What if Stephen Sondheim had written The King and I (to the tune of Into The Woods)?

Into Siam
She's journeying
Miss Anna comes
To meet the King.
Into Siam
To do a thing
To teach the Royal Children.

Into Siam
With child in tow,
Miss Anna only
Wants to know,
Where is her house?
The King says "No!"
She'll live inside the Palace.

What can she do,
The King is King...
But when she's through,
Well, here's the thing...
She'll have her own house,
The house that she wants,
The King cannot refuse her
Or else he just might lose her...

Into Siam
Well, Shall We Dance?
And will they ever
Find romance?
Sadly, they never get
The chance
And all because of Tuptim.

Into Siam
The King will die,
Miss Anna can not
Say goodbye.
She has to stay,
And she knows why...
To teach the kids,
To wear big dresses,
To teach
To sing
To learn
To know
To help
To dance
To anger the Kralahome...

Into Siam,
Into Siam,
Into Siam,
Yes, into Siam
Cause that's her new home!

The Gluckman and Fitz Songbook

Even though we're taking a look back we simply must have a couple of selections from the Gluckman and Fitz Songbook. Since we're in a celebratory mood, here is a very rare song of celebration by the celebrated team of Morty (Adolph) Gluckman and Herman Fitz.

Music by Morty (Adolph) Gluckman
Words by Herman Fitz

Hats on,
Here they come those
Bar Mitzvah boys,
Each a man now at thirteen.
After, there's a party,
A beautiful bash,
Folks giving them cash!
Pinching and hugging them,
Relatives bugging them...

They make speeches,
Bar Mitzvah boys,
They'll be shaving pretty soon!
So, raise a glass and let's cheer
Let's shout "L'Chaim" and buy him a beer!
Drink the brew, you Bar Mitzvah,
All for you, you Bar Mitzvah,
And so, nu? You Bar Mitzvah

Isn't that a smashing song? Here's part of another Gluckman and Fitz masterpiece.

Buddy's Shoes

I've got those I wear size eleven and these tens are really too small shoes.
There giving me a bunyon and a really very painful feeling.
They told me that they'd fit me but it just wasn't true,
And tell me why my middle toe is turning so blue...
Those gee I like the style but I am limping when I walk now feeling,
The I wear size eleven and these tens are really too small shoes!

Well, if the shoe Fitz wear it, say I.

The Birds

You know, dear readers, I often speak of the singing and dancing bird who resides in my yard (where I sometimes sit on one of my two lawn chairs). I remember well the first time I realized I had a musical comedy bird outside. Here is what I wrote about it.

As I write this, there are birds outside chirping like mad. This is known as birdsong, but I could swear that the bird who is right outside the window is singing the tune to "Get Me To The Church On Time". Is it possible that birds do productions of famous musicals, and that this bird once played Alfred Doolittle? If this were true, would the bird playing Johanna in the all-bird production of Sweeney Todd have to be a Green Finch and Linnet Bird, or do they have color blind bird casting? I'm telling you, this bird outside my window is singing show tunes. And singing them well, I must say. Can you imagine if Andrew Lloyd Webber were sitting here instead of me? Instead of Cats we'd have Birds. This is all very intriguing, this notion that singing animals do musicals. I, for one, would like to see the Cow version of Moo Fair Lady. Or the sheep production of The Baah Friend. Oh, just shoot me and get it over with.

I believe the bird could get major symphony dates and perhaps even star in a Broadway show. It is multi-talented, this bird is. Great chest voice, great head voice, dances like a dream and this bird is no dummy, either. This bird has a brain and can do higher mathematics. I am simply unbounded in my enthusiasm for this bird. I am so proud of my bird that I just gave it a cheese slice. It is nibbling on it now, and singing Yes, We Have No Bananas while doing so.

Guesses... We Get Guesses

Since the beginning of the column we've had a virtual potpourri of guesses as to The Real A's identity. Here's a listing of the ones we've had so far:

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, and dear reader Matt.

I addressed this issue way back in Column 3 (to the tune of You Must Meet My Wife).

A male or a female?
The Real A plays fair.
The Real A could be a she-male,
But let's not go there.
The answer to the query: who might I be?
The Real A is me!

The Real A's a human,
The Real A's a snot.
The Real A looks like Paul Newman,
Well, sort of...well, NOT!
I think with all these clues you'd have to agree;
The Real A is Really Me.

Some think that I am full of ego,
Full of other things I can't say here.
Would you be sad if you saw me go,
Well, I'm here and I'm crowing, I'm going to
Stay here!

The Real A is charming,
The Real A is nuts!
The Real A can be disarming,
Or be quite a putz.
When all is said and done the one I must be...
The Real A? Quite simply: Me.

My favorite guess so far has of course been Michael Tough, the singing janitor. I feel we all should aspire to being Michael Tough (the singing janitor). Here's all I will admit to: I either am or am not one of those people listed. Thus, yes you heard it here, thus, the enigma continues and a continuing enigma is an enigma all its own.

Letters... We Get Letters

As you know, dear readers, getting your letters week after week is a special treat for me. However, when we began this here column, there were some naysayers. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, there were naysayers. And said naysayers would write to me their naysayings, to which I just had to say nay. To give you an example, here is a naysaying letter I received from someone named Glen, and my reply to said Glen.

Glen wrote: "What in the world does any of your drivel have to do with the work of Stephen Sondheim. Why are you on this site. Start your own if you need such an outlet. You don't belong on a site dealing with Sondheim when you don't deliver any newsworthy information or intelligent comentary (sic - well, the whole thing is sic) regarding him or his work. Please go away A."

All right, dear readers, I know our first reaction would be to hurl vile epithets but let's not stoop to that. Let us answer this calmly and rationally. Now, the first question that a calm and rational person would ask is: What's wrong with this picture, Glen??? If you hate this column, why are you reading this column??? There. It needed to be asked and I have asked it.

Since Glen obviously can't see what's wrong with this picture, let me make an analogy. Let's say I go to a restaurant I've gone to for years. And let's say that restaurant has added escargot to their menu. Now, I hate escargot. You could not hate escargot more that I hate escargot. Of all the things I would choose never to eat, it would be a snail. They taste like erasers in garlic sauce. They make me want to barf. So. I now have a choice. Do I stop frequenting the restaurant I've been going to for years because they've added the dreaded escargot to their menu? No, that would be silly. Do I eat the escargot even though it is like the equivalent of sticking my finger down my throat? No, of course not. No, what any reasonably sane person would do is not eat the stinking slimy little maggot snails. That would solve all the problems, no?

But let us go through the letter point by point.

One: What does my "drivel" have to do with Stephen Sondheim? First of all, are you casting aspertions on my drivel? My drivel is first class drivel and I will match it against anyone's drivel. As to what it has to do with Stephen Sondheim, I can only leave that to drivel experts to ponder.

Two: (look at all these colons!) Why am I on this site? Well, once upon a time the gentleman who runs this site, Mr. Mark Bakalor, invited me to write a column here. He asked me to write about anything I felt like and the only stipulation was that it had to have a high drivel quotient. I think I have more than attained this goal.

Three: (any more colons and Mr. Sondheim can write a new song for Follies - Too Many Colons) I don't belong on a site about Sondheim when I don't deliver any newsworthy information or intelligent comentary (sic). I am a close personal friend of Mr. Stephen Sondheim, as you well know. But that is neither here or there (or hither and thither). The fact is I do have a column on this site, and that gives you two easy choices: (I'm not mentioning it, but aren't we being inundated by colons?) Read it or don't. You ask for intelligent comentary (sic), there you have it.

Four: Please go away A. While I appreciate the "please", why should I go away? I love (yes! Love, damn it! I love you all!) my dear readers and I simply will not desert them. I'm just looking at "desert" as in "leave" when plainly it could also mean "desert" as in "where there's lots of sand and endless nothingness". Or should I have spelled it "dessert" as that seems to be the pronunciation afixed to "desert" as in "leave", even though if I were to "dessert" my readers, I would be offering them a cheese danish or something. Wait! Could this be the kind of drivel Glen is talking about? Could this be like a perfect example? And he want this to stop????

I do believe I was snippy in that reply, don't you, dear readers? Oh, well, apparently Glen took my advice and has not been with us since.

We were/are so close, dear readers. I was so hoping that we'd reach the 1,000th letter in this here celebratory column, but alas (sala spelled backwards) it wasn't meant to happen. Unless there is a flurry of letters at the last moment we will be awarding those fish socks in our 51st column which of course should be our 52nd column if it weren't for that fershluganah foulup with the computer and the Internet. I know they will be going to a worthy dear reader. In the meantime, let's answer this week's letters, shall we?

Laura (a new dear reader) has been looking forward to this here celebration, even though she's only been reading the column for a few weeks. I do hope Laura has enjoyed some of our reminiscences (look at all those letters just strung together with no point whatsoever - what kind of a numbskull would spell a word like that??? And what kind of a numbskull would put a "b" in the word "numbskull"?) and that she'll be a loyal and true dear reader for many columns to come. In any case, Laura, in anticipation of our celebration, has been sharpening her cheese slicer. Does that mean she's also been sharpening her ham chunker?

Tiffany asks the age old question: Does she go to bed or go get ice cream? And I will provide the age old answer:

Thanks to Mr. Mark Bakalor for that spiffy image of a bowl of ice cream and a hungry but invisible Tiffany eating it.

Anita is enjoying the Gluckman and Fitz songbook. This is good, because their trunk is a bottomless pit and we have only scratched the surface. I hope the surface enjoyed said scratching as there is nothing worse than a surface with an itch.

Roy S. saw Barbara Cook in concert last week. He especially liked her version of You Could Drive A Person Crazy which she does a little slower than the song normally is done. Perhaps she should retitle this song to You Could Slowly Drive A Person Crazy. Just asking.

Josh also likes The Fifth Dimension (the group, not the "beyond that which is known to man") and their rendition of Laura Nyro's Wedding Bell Blu-Hooz. Josh points out that Mr. Stephen Sondheim has said that he is a fan of Ms. Nyro's.

Emily, in a shameless attempt to win those fish socks, wrote a one-word letter (which is better, I suppose, than writing a one letter word) and that word was "Fish". You were close, Emily, but no cigar at this time.

Robert writes to say he likes Harry Connick's crooning of old standards (on the When Harry Met Sally soundtrack) and he doesn't care who knows it. Robert is moving, too. He is in the throes (not the throws) of leaving Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! and moving to Gluckman and Fitz' California! So, the next time we hear from Robert he will be writing from a brand spanking new handy dandy e-mail address.

Jon B. tells me that his Harry Carey isn't my Harry Carey. His Harry Carey is a sports announcer named Harry Caray, who is not to be confused with Harry Carey, hara kari or hara kiri. But of course we are forgetting the great wrestler Hairy Cary, who was known to swing his opponents from his ample eyebrows.

Vladimir also loves It's A Perfect Relationship and he also knows about Francois Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse. But does Francois Sagan's Bonjour Tristesse know about Vladimir? Just asking.

sparkleneelysparkle liked our last column more than sparkle liked the new movie "54" which is about the infamous NY disco Studio 54, which is not to be confused with Heinz 57 or Column 50.

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Well, you smart people just keep guessing the answers to the trivia questions no matter what we throw at you. The following people got the correct answer to where does sparkleneelysparkle's name come from:

Anita, Gary, Andrew, Vladimir and Beingreen all knew it was from the classic film of Jaqueline Susann's classic novel Valley Of The Doll's. In reference to Patty Duke's character Neely O'Hara - "Sparkle, Neely, sparkle!"

This week's trivia question:

One of my favorite show songs, when I was a younster, was "Be A Santa". Name the musical it's from and who wrote it. Then name the person who was in the chorus who would go on to become an incredibly famous force in the American musical theater.

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



Questions? Comments?

Well, what a swell party this was. I am filled to the brim with cheese slices and ham chunks and my stomach is awash with Diet Coke. Thus it is time to put this column to bed. But before this column goes to sleep, here is an amazing statistic: this column (Column 50) has been double the length of a normal column (like we've ever had a normal column). Therefore, we have more than made up for the little itty bitty column that I had to write because of the fershluganah computer/Internet foulup. I hope this trip down memory lane has been as much fun for you as it has been for me. For starters I didn't have to write hardly anything new. But that will all change next week with Column 51. An all-new column. All new drivel. All new everything. More The Real A: A Life by Miss Meryle Secrest. More Gluckman and Fitz. More My Favorite Things. All for you, dear readers, because I adore you more than you can know. Thus ends this week's column and we will thusly return before I can use the word "thus" again.

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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