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September 28, 1998 - #53
Have any of you found love on the internet yet? I haven't. Do you know what I've found out? People looking for love on the internet all like to hike. Yes, they like to hike. You know, in the wilderness, in the bushes, on mountains, on trails, in the open, commingling with nature. They say right in their profile "loves to hike". So, you cannot find love on the internet unless you love to hike. My problems with hiking are many and varied, or varied and many. For example, I must have the knowledge that there are bathrooms nearby. Now, when you're on the trail, commingling with nature, there are usually no bathrooms. This is unacceptable. What if one has to "wee wee", as my father used to so charmingly put it. Then what? There are no bathrooms. You must ask your hiking partner to turn the other cheek (face and butt) while you "wee wee" on a bush or a twig or whatever, and one can't imagine that the bush or twig or whatever would appreciate that. I'm not even going to mention the other thing you might need to do, because that would be crossing the line. Also, there are flying things. I do not like flying things. Gnats, and flies and bees and boys and days. I remember days. Wow, I just had a Sondheim moment, didn't I? I also do not like crawling things. And let's just face it, when you are commingling with nature there are bound to be crawling things, like ants and lizards and creatures I don't even know the name of. If only there were a trail where you could commingle with nature, and which also had a 7-11 (for Diet Cokes and red licorice), beautiful clean bathrooms, and a movie theater in case you get bored. But noooooo. True hikers cherish the dirt and crawling and flying things and doing their business on the ground. They think that's fun. Frankly, I like sitting on my couch like so much fish. That is much better than hiking. I like to commingle with my den. So, I guess I won't be finding love on the internet.
Have I mentioned that I now own my home? Have I mentioned that the words "now" and "own" are anagrams of each other? And if you "won" what you "now" "own" that would be three anagrams for the price of one (which sounds suspiciously like "won" in different guise - which sounds like "guys" in different guise). I attempted to watch an actual motion picture this week. This motion picture was entitled Primary Colors and starred Mr. John Travolta as Bill Clinton. It was written by the wonderful Elaine May and Directed by the wonderful Mike Nichols. All that powerhouse talent gathered together to produce a truly terrible film. Unfunny, not clever, and worst of all, totally boring. I had to shut it off because I was aging as I watched it. I ate a cheese slice instead.
It is now Saturday night (Sondheim moment, part 2) and I am still writing part one of this here column. Shouldn't I be having a life on a Saturday night? Shouldn't I be out swing dancing and eating a taco? Shouldn't I be out looking for love in all the wrong places (like Tower video)? Shouldn't I be supping in a ritzy restaurant, all candlelight and heavy beef? Shouldn't I just be doing those things? I think I shall go get in my automobile and tool around and see where the action is. Once I find said action I shall immediately come home (which I now own) and report to you where said action is, dear readers, because you have a right to know. Some of you may even have a left to know. Who decided it was a "right" to know? Who made that all-important decision? We have a right to know and yet we don't. Isn't that a fine state of affairs? It occurs to me that I have never known where the action is. In my whole life I have missed the action. Can anyone direct me directly to the action. I feel I should see the action at least once. Can you sense, dear readers, that I am still unwinding (no mean feat) from my tension filled week? I mean, what is this column about? Perhaps while I'm out looking for action, I can also ask some passersby what the meaning of this particular column is. Perhaps I will get some lively answers. Until then, this column will continue to be like the cast album of High Society: pointless. But enough about me.
Miss Meryle Secrest keeps plunging me into the deep end of the swimming pool of my mind. She keeps immersing me, making me remember more and more. Here are a few more things she has recently helped me bring to the surface.
My father apparently played the violin in a dance band. I say apparently because I did not find this out until after he died. Can you imagine not mentioning that you played the violin in a dance band? I knew he'd played the violin because his violin was in a violin case in the house. In fact, I still have said violin. I don't believe this violin has been out of its case since he played it in that dance band. Isn't it weird that he never mentioned it? Or that his name wasn't really Edwin. No, it was Manny. Or that he had been married to someone else before my mother? But no, everything, including playing the violin in a dance band, went unspoken.
My mother loved to sing. She was not very good, and, as I recall, she only sang one song, My Yiddishe Mama. She sang this song over and over, at any provocation. As she would sing this song everyone would "ooh" and "aah" and so she was convinced that she should have had a career on the stage, singing, one presumes, My Yiddishe Mama, which would have made for a very short act. Till the day she died my mother blamed my father for her not having a career on the stage. She was quite bitter about this, this not having a career on the stage, singing My Yiddishe Mama. To appease my mother my father bought a machine. I don't know the actual name of the machine, but what this machine did was record records right in your very own home. I'm not talking about tape here, but actual vinyl. You put this disc on the turntable, and, my memory may be faulty on this point, but I believe you put the needle at what would normally be the end of the disc and then it recorded whatever you sang or said into a microphone. Oh, I was mesmerized by that machine. My mother loved that machine. She loved it because a) we were the only ones who had such a machine and so she was the envy of all, and b) because she could make endless recordings of herself, singing My Yiddishe Mama. Now, once you've heard My Yiddishe Mama you don't ever need to hear it again. It is not exactly suffused with Sondheimian brilliance or subtext. I heard it in English, I heard it in Yiddish, I heard it and heard it until I wanted to be sucked up into our Hoover vacuum cleaner so I wouldn't have to hear it again. I often wonder where those records are today. Those Multitudes of Mamas. They must be sitting in some thrift shop somewhere, so if you see a copy of My Yiddishe Mama on some Record-O-Disc type of record, grab it for me.
So, the point is, there was always music in our house (we had a piano, too, which my father would sit at for hours, playing music only he knew. He played everything in fifths, which is actually quite popular today). Have any of you been noticing how much I've been using the words "actual" and "actually"? I have actually been using them quite a lot. I know not why, but I thought it was my actual duty to point it out. I loved music. All kinds. And so my parents gave me guitar lessons, although I showed no aptitude for the guitar whatsoever. Then they tried to get me to take accordion lessons, but even as a child I knew that I did not want to learn to play anything which I would have to wear around my neck and which weighed more than I did. But my real love of music happened when I began Junior High School. I don't believe they have Junior High School anymore. I think it's called middle school or something. I don't know from middle school because I went to Junior High School (grades seven through nine). And my first semester there, I had music appreciation. I had a wonderful teacher whose name I can no longer remember, and this gentleman opened up worlds to me. There was more to music than My Yiddishe Mama and what a world! I vividly remember when said teacher brought in an LP of Smetana's Die Moldau. He told us to all close our eyes and just let the music transport us, to visualize what the music was evoking. He put on the album and as the first bars began playing I could actually (there's that word again) see a flowing river (presumably the Moldau), it was right there in my mind's eye. I had never heard anything like that. That music could actually (yes, actually) capture the essence of this majestic flowing river was a real eyeopener (even though my eyes were closed). I made my parents buy that album that very night. I still have it on a Columbia LP, conducted by the brilliant Eugene Ormandy. I've heard many versions since, but none are as magical as the Ormandy. Throughout the semester, that teacher continued to illuminate the power and wonder of what music could and can do. And not just classical music. He'd play us jazz and rock & roll, and musical theater. I owe my life-long love affair with music to that man. I get down on my knees in supplication to that man, because music has been and continues to be a constant source of inspiration. I could not possibly imagine a life devoid of music. Music is healing, music can make the worst of times seem better, it can call up the deepest emotions of your very being, it is, in a word, magic.
I had occasion to see my brother yesterday (visiting from Hawaii where he lives). He was very concerned, because he has become convinced that I hold grudges against him from things he did in our childhood. I assuaged his fears, saying that to hold grudges is a pointless waste of time and energy. No, I did/do not hold a grudge when he attempted to put my eye out (he was practicing pitching and my eye got in the way of his hand) and the fact that I had to wear a patch over said eye for a week. No, I did/do not hold a grudge against him for the constant belittling of me in front of his friends. No, we were kids, and that is what siblings do. Torment each other. And I trust he doesn't hold a grudge against me, for the times when I would call him "jumbo" or especially the time he made me so mad that I got a butcher knife from the kitchen and chased him around the house with intent to puncture. No, time heals all wounds, or, as the great Dorothy Parker once said, time wounds all heels. My Aunt Lily was at this gathering and she is now ninety-one years old and still uses expressions like "you're full of it". Perhaps she has one of those records of My Yiddishe Mama. There were no cheese slices at said gathering, so I ate a tomato slice instead.
Last week I promised to tell you of the first time I made out, during a showing of Where The Boys Are at the Four Star Theater. I was in the back row, sitting with someone I was very enamored of, who we all called Bucky Bremer, "Bucky" being a nickname on account of the large buck teeth this person had. Bucky and I were sitting there, watching said movie, when suddenly Bucky just leaned over and planted a big one right on my very own lips. Because we were fairly young, it was a crushing closed mouth kiss. What did we know from tongues? It would be at least another semester till we knew from tongues. And what I remember about this crushing closed mouth kiss is that it cut my lower lip on account of the large buck teeth of Bucky Bremer. Wasn't that a touching and heartfelt story? And just where is Bucky Bremer today? Perhaps Bucky might have a copy of my mother singing My Yiddishe Mama.
Speaking of music, it's time for another gem from the pens of Morty (Adolph) Gluckman and Herman Fitz. I hope their brilliant words and music (music you can only imagine in your mind's eye) are doing for you what The Moldau did for me. Their songs are filled with subtext and meaning, and none more so than the following.
IRV MILLER'S SON
Here are three more songs that I cherish and adore. The first is one of the shortest lyrics ever written. This song was written for the film Days of Wine and Roses. I may have told this story already (I'm senile, you know) but I first heard this song while I was reading To Kill A Mockingbird. I fell in love with it instantly, bought the 45 and just put it on "repeat" while I read the book. The inside of our house had just been painted, and the furniture was all piled in the middle of the room, with sheets over it. I sat on a sheet-covered chair, read, and listened to Days of Wine and Roses over and over (I'm sure my mother would have preferred My Yiddishe Mama). So, whenever I think of To Kill A Mockingbird I immediately have a sense memory of fresh paint and Days Of Wine and Roses.
DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES
ONCE UPON A TIME
Makes me misty-eyed just reading it. The third song is a timeless wonder. It was a big hit during World War II, but the ensuing decades have done nothing to dim its poignant loveliness.
I'LL BE SEEING YOU
I have been thinking about having our own personals section in this here column. Then I could match you up with your ideal partners. That way we could have our very own love on the internet moment. That will help me get to know you all better, too. Isn't this a swell idea? So, you must send me your profiles. Not your actual profiles, because then you would have to stand facing front all the time. No, profiles which tell us all about you. Here is the form, you fill in the information.
Emily has cut and dyed her hair. It is now short and reddish. I'm sure Emily looks perfectly swell in her new 'do and we will, of course, expect a picture so we can all see how cute she looks. Emily also relates the following story and asks my advice on how to deal with it. Emily lives on the fifth floor of her dorm. Now, it so happens that recently someone on the sixth floor of her dorm was having very loud sex. Extremely loud sex. Boisterous noisy sex. Sex which could be heard on distant planets. Emily asks what she should do if it happens again. I had a similar problem once about six years ago. At the time I was living in a high rise in Santa Monica. On the other side of my bedroom wall (where the headboard of my bed was) was the next apartment's bedroom. A drab mousy lady lived there. This lady dated a variety of men, most her age. And since the walls of the apartment were extremely thin, I heard everything. Every annoying bounce of the mattress, every moan, shudder and sigh. This was not a quiet woman. This was a woman who shrieked. One fine day, she began dating a much younger man, a studly type. Every night I was treated to a symphony of screaming orgasmic pleasure the likes of which I have never heard. I would be awakened in the middle of the night by sounds that were more akin to murder than sex. Three or four times a night. I am slightly distrustful of anyone who makes too much noise about anything, but her cries of satisfaction were not to be questioned. I called security a couple of times only to be told there was nothing they could do. It came to a head (don't go there) one early morning at five a.m. This time, for a change, it was the stud who was shrieking and moaning. He moaned, he shrieked, and finally after endless minutes his moaning and shrieking hit their emotional peak (I had already hit my emotional pique) and then all was silent. A moment later, the woman laughed and said "good shot". Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, "good shot". Perhaps I had been mistaken all along. Perhaps they were in there shooting some hoops. Frankly, I didn't even want to think about what her comment meant. I promptly wrote her a letter and suggested that either they quiet down so I could get some sleep, or invite me over since I was practically with them anyway. I didn't get a response, but things did get quieter. So, Emily, if it keeps up and you are losing sleep you must tactfully say something, or you must have loud screaming sex of your very own. Even if you are alone, you can still make the noises yourself. On another note (B flat), while the sixth floor sex maniac was having her craving satisfied, Emily and her friends were having their own craving for ice cream and pancakes (some craved ice cream, some craved pancakes) and she and her friends went to a local establishment in their pajamas. What this local establishment was doing in their pajamas I'll never know (thank you, Groucho). Once there, they satisfied their cravings, and hopefully satisfied them quieter than the sixth floor sex fiends. I hope we haven't offended any of our younger readers, but you know, dear readers, I will always cross the line whenever possible because it is my nature and no matter how hard we may try we cannot change our natures.
Elizabeth wants to know if I like the motion picture Charade, which she feels is one of Hitchcock's best. Especially the scene in the theater at the end. Well, Elizabeth has gotten a bit discombobulated (no mean feat). Charade is not a Hitchcock film at all, it is a film written by Peter Stone (he of Titanic and 1776) and directed by Stanley Donen (he of Singin' In The Rain). It is certainly Hitchcockian in its attempt to be a comic thriller. However, if memory serves there is no scene in a theater at the end. So, perhaps Elizabeth is thinking of an actual Hitchcock picture which has a scene in a theater at the end. Actually there are several she could be thinking of, including Stage Fright, The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, and Torn Curtain. Elizabeth also wants to know if I like Scott Joplin. I sure do.
Ross (a new dear reader) read this here column and enjoyed it, especially the run on sentence. Welcome Ross and I'm really glad you liked the run on sentence as I am prone like Sondheim to writing them whenever I can which is not as often as I'd like frankly because it is hard to write a run on sentence in fact harder than you might imagine. Whew.
Kate tells me that auditions for her school's musical are on Monday, and that her director hasn't even decided what show they're doing. This is heinous (heinous, do you hear me?). What if Kate auditions with Pinball Wizard (making the natural assumption that they'll be doing Tommy like every other school) and the show is Crazy For You? That would be a fine kettle of you know what. I'm sure Kate will tell us the outcome of said audition.
Elliot has a guess as to who I might Really be. First let's recap:
male, female, gay, straight, Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Gerard Allesandrini, George Clooney, William F. Orr, Rupert Holmes, Young Simba from The Lion King, the Tony nominated Billy from Big, a cast member from one of Sondheim's shows, Michael Tough the singing janitor, Bruce Kimmel, Richard Christianson of the Chicago Tribune, George Furth, New Line Theatre's Scott Miller, Leigh's father, Waiting for Guffman's Corky, Mr. Mark Bakalor's word processor, Charlie Sheen, dear reader Matt, and Pitgirl's physics professor.
My that's a long list of potential "me"s. Elliot's guess is that I am Yves. Not Eve. Not eave. But Yves. Yves who posts over at Finishing The Chat. Elliot feels that since I do not post there that Yves and I could be one and the same. While I can neither confirm nor deny my Yvesness, I will say that once upon a time I did post at Finishing The Chat. I stopped posting when Mr. Mark Bakalor (who's always off doing shows in Downey or wherever the hell he is) asked me to do this here column. We have added Yves to the list, though, because that is what we do.
Rafael has suggested a game: Making up casting choices for imaginary Hollywood film versions of Sondheim shows. What game? They've been doing that for years. Sweeney, Into The Woods, Assassins... All announced, none made. Same with Phantom Of The Opera, Chicago, Dreamgirls, etc. Lots of press agentry, but unlike the sixth floor of Emily's dorm, no action.
cabwannabe (I just print 'em, I don't make 'em up) was wondering if, by any chance, I am Michael Larson, the director from Stagedoor Manor. Let's recap:
male, female, gay, straight, Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Gerard Allesandrini, George Clooney, William F. Orr, Rupert Holmes, Young Simba from The Lion King, the Tony nominated Billy from Big, a cast member from one of Sondheim's shows, Michael Tough the singing janitor, Bruce Kimmel, Richard Christianson of the Chicago Tribune, George Furth, New Line Theatre's Scott Miller, Leigh's father, Waiting for Guffman's Corky, Mr. Mark Bakalor's word processor, Charlie Sheen, dear reader Matt, Pitgirl's physics professor, Yves, and Michael Larson (the director from Stagedoor Manor).
I haven't even had a second to be Yves, now I'm Michael Larson, the director from Stagedoor Manor. I could be Michael Larson, the director from Stagedoor Manor, with one minor caveat: I have no idea what Stagedoor Manor is. Still, that hasn't stopped me from being other people before.
Otto also feels that the current Tommy trend is alarming. Just the other day, Otto was giving blood when suddenly they started to play Tommy over the speaker. Otto promptly passed out. Coincidence or blood loss, you tell me?
annyrose has landed a spot in Tommy, which, big surprise, is her school's musical production. annyrose will be in the ensemble as well as being a lead dancer, a nurse, a reporter and a policewoman. She promises a Tommy activity photo soon.
Joe has been a loyal reader since Column Six or Ten, he can't remember. He has finally mustered (not ketchupped) the courage to write. Better late than never, say I, and so a big welcome to Joe. Joe also wants to recommend another net columnist named Breakup Girl (she's at www.breakupgirl.com). Hopefully, since this column is now providing love on the internet, none of our dear readers will need Breakup Girl, although by all means give her a read.
Craig wanted us to know that he's in the picture that Evan sent last week, the photo of Evan's production of, you guessed it, Tommy. Craig is somewhere in the back.
Lindsay just got herself a cute little hermit crab. She is thinking of naming said crab Martin. I was going to suggest Tommy, but Lindsay's school, in a surprising show of boldness, is doing On The Twentieth Century. Lindsay wants to know what I think of said show. Lots of fun, say I, with a tuneful score by the always tuneful Cy Coleman (lyrics by Comden and Green).
Anna would like to know why I don't ask any Sondheim trivia. Well, Anna, I used to ask nothing but Sondheim trivia, because as you may or may not know, Mr. Stephen Sondheim is my close personal friend. I only started asking other trivia questions recently, and that was because everyone here knows everything about Stephen Sondheim. There is no fooling anyone, no matter how obscure I've gotten, and I've gotten pretty obscure. But, I will ask some more Sondheim trivia in future columns, I promise.
Ted also loves the songs Little Girl Blue and Time After Time, and agrees that Doris Day's LGB is really wonderful. Ted also asks if I have in my music collection any album that is so bad, so terrible, that it's good. Yes, Ted, I do. It's called Do The Pachanga, with Rene and His Pachanga Orchestra. They don't get any more terrible than that, and yet it is strangely wonderful at the same time. I mean, swing has come back, can the Pachanga be far behind?
cheshirecat could find no pronunciation listed for Matzoh Brie (br-eye) and that is because my usually careful handy dandy human spellchecker did not catch the fact that I'd stupidly (yes, you heard it here) misspelled Brie, which should, of course, be Brei. Brie as any idiot knows, is pronounced "bree". Since cheshirecat is not Jewish, Matzoh Brei is matzoh and eggs all mushed together.
Well, dear readers, only one person got last week's question right. And surprise of surprises it wasn't our very own sparkleneelysparkle. sparkle only knew two of the three answers to the question, what three singers did vocals for I'll Plant My Own Tree, and which one ended up in the film. Only dear reader Eric got the correct three:
Susan Hayward (who ended up playing the role of Helen Lawson - and even though she recorded her own vocal, it was deemed not good enough)
Margaret Whiting (whose vocal was used in the film, and to which Ms. Hayward lip-synched).
The interesting thing about this is that Miss Hayward was a more than acceptable singer, who ended up doing several productions of Mame.
This week's trivia question:
Since I printed the lyrics to Once Upon A Time from All American, our question will concern that less than successful musical: Who wrote the book of the show? It was the author's one and only book for a musical, and the author went on to become a writer/director in movies. No fair looking at your cast album or searching on the internet. If you don't know, make something up.
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
Until next week, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
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
Which is not to say that it is perfect...
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