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

January 18, 1999 - #69

Oh, what a banner day this is, dear readers. Why is this a banner day you might ask and I might tell you if I knew what the hell a "banner day" was. But, whatever a "banner day" is, this is certainly it, because I am writing this here column on my brand spanking-new handy-dandy computer. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I have a brand new computer. Now, let us lay the facts on the table: I am a computer illiterate. There, it needed to be said and I've said it. I know nothing from computers and yet here I sit at my new computer. The amazing thing is how simple it is to use. Why, even an ignoramus could use this computer. Excuse me for a moment.

I just went out and found an ignoramus wandering in the hallway and asked him to come in here. I now turn the next few lines over to him.

Hello. I am an ignoramus. Despite being an ignoramus I am using this computer, hence proving The Real A correct. Thank you very much and I now return you to The Real A. I must go back to the hallway and wander aimlessly.

You see? Even an ignoramus can use this computer. The most wonderful thing about this computer is that it has a thing known as a CD ROM. I don't know from ROM but I do know a CD when I hear one and this CD ROM plays actual CDs and I am listening to one right this very minute. This computer came with a free CD ROM disc, an encyclopedia on CD. I tried to play it but frankly I found it a little wordy and much too atonal for my taste. I like a nice tune in my encyclopedia-on-CD ROM, don't you? Anyway, I find it very exciting to have a new computer. I had an old computer but it was a Mac and it was very slow and quite retarded. Now I have a Compaq Presario which seems a rather stupid name for a computer, but what do I know? It's very fast, and does amazing things, especially if one is a computer illiterate like me. I'm listening to one of my favorite CDs as I write this, Michael Brecker and Claus Ogermann's Cityscape, a beautiful symphonic jazz album. It is making me so very mellow (wollem spelled backwards). This is the kind of music that makes drool start coming out of your mouth. I love that. Anyway, this new computer has lots and lots of interesting buttons on the keyboard. For example, there is a button with a moon on it. If I push said button do I get to go to the moon? Let me know, as I don't want to push it if that's the case. I don't want to take an unscheduled trip to the moon right now. Or, maybe if I push the moon button the computer moons me? That would be exciting. There is a button that instantly connects me to the Internet. Once there, I have already programmed this computer to take me directly to eBay. I know this is all probably second nature to you, dear readers, but for me, a dinosaur who still used a typewriter up until three years ago, it is spellbinding. What kind of a word is "spellbinding"? It makes no sense on any level whatsoever. Oh, I'm so mellow from writing on my new computer and listening to a drool-inducing CD. What could be better than that?

So, here I sit in my office like so much fish, drooling and typing happily away. Nothing anyone can do today will upset me. Nothing will cause me to become unglued. Have you ever become unglued? It is very messy. Suddenly there you are, unglued, with parts lying everywhere, here and there, hither, thither and yon, parts galore and none of them glued. It occurs to me that no amount of drooling mellowness can stop the flow of drivel, which is all to the good, frankly. I just realized that I can play actual Stephen Sondheim CDs in my new CD ROM thing. Yes, I can write this here column and listen to Sweeney Todd or Company or whatever takes my fancy. I need something to take my fancy because my fancy is just sitting here like so much fish, waiting for something or someone to take it. My fancy is a lonely fancy and needs attention. Won't someone or something please take my fancy? But if someone or something takes my fancy, what will I be left with? My plain? Right now I have my plain and my fancy, just like the musical of the same name. You know, I have no clue what the hell I'm talking about, but I really don't care because it is so much fun to write on this new computer, which, by the way, corrects my spelling as I type. Isn't that amazing? I actually typed "amayzing" and it corrected it. This whole new computer thing has revitalized me. I feel energized. I feel glued. Perhaps I'll write the entire column from my new handy-dandy computer. But not listening to this particular CD, because if I continue listening to this particular CD I will not only continue drooling, I will be asleep before I reach the end of this section. I must put on some bebop or cha-cha music. Different music for each section, that's the ticket. Then each section will have a different rhythm to it. Doesn't "rhythm" look tight? Like there's too many letters all scrunched together with perhaps a vowel or two missing? It looks like it ate a very sour grapefruit, "rhythm" does. Oh, well, such is life, word-wise. Well, I believe it's time to end this section of the column, because frankly it's starting to feel like the revival of On The Town: As much as we'd like it to continue, it's closing right now. But enough about me.

The Mystery Solved or The Happy Denoument

Last week, dear readers, I told you of The Case Of The Missing Column. I told you how I had to reproof and rewrite the bits that I obviously had rewritten before. I knew as I read the rough version Mr. Mark Bakalor had sent me that I was reading something heinous (heinous, do you hear me?), something mesmerizingly awful. I knew in my heart of hearts (rather than my heart of ears) that I must have rewritten a lot originally. Anyway, I did what I could and we put it back where it belonged. Well darned if one of our loyal and true dear readers didn't step forward to save the day. It turns out that dear reader Helen Whitney had saved column 46. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, this thoughtful person had saved the true column 46. We were saved the ignominy of having to print anew a column that had been printed aold. And as I perused the Real column 46 what did I find? I'll tell you what I found, dear readers, because you have a right to know. I found that I had totally rewritten the entire first three paragraphs of said column. Not one word remained from my original draft. Thank goodness someone had saved said column 46. If Helen Whitney will send her address to Mr. Mark Bakalor, the column loser, we will send her a brand spanking new, handy-dandy gift of appreciation. Isn't it lovely that the mystery has a happy ending? Or denouement as the French so love to say. As a youth, whenever I saw the word "denouement" I would pronounce it the way it should be pronounced duh-now-ment. Which, of course, I prefer. It reminds me of one of my favorite classical composers, Darius Milhaud. For years I pronounced his last name Millhowd. Finally, someone had the good taste to tell me it was, in fact, pronounced Meeyoh. Frankly, I like my pronunciation better. Millhaud. Sounds like an aspirin. I'm still writing this from my brand spanking new handy-dandy computer, only I am no longer mellow because I am listening to Leonard Bernstein's marvelous Fancy Free ballet. So, now I am edgy and jagged, filled with manic energy and a desire to do some Jerome Robbins choreography. Excuse me for a moment.

There. I just did some Jerome Robbins choreography. I was marvelous, doing high kicks and finger snaps and nifty jazz steps. Oh, yes, I am feeling edgy and jagged. I hope I don't become unglued.

The Real A: A Life

Sitting here, listening to Leonard Bernstein and feeling all jagged and edgy and having just performed some Jerome Robbins choreography has reminded me of my two and only experiences in dance class. Of course, I told Miss Meryle Secrest about this immediately and even she was bored to tears. But I feel that my two and only experiences in dance class are key to understanding the Real me. Had I had two other experiences in dance class I might have ended up on Broadway dancing my little heart out. "Dancing my heart out". Can we just take a moment to picture that, dear readers? You dance and dance, then suddenly your heart is outside of your body. On its own. Just lying there like so much heart fish. Then what do you do? You've danced your heart out. Can you dance it back in? These are the questions that keep me up at night.

When I was a younger person, I fell in love with West Side Story. Yes, the same West Side Story which just happens to have lyrics by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. I thought the way these gangs danced was the height of cool. Not the weight of cool, mind you, the height. I wanted to dance like that. And I would. I would twirl around the house, just like Riff and the Jets. I'd dance the meeting of Tony and Maria (both parts, of course) and I'd dance all of America. I tried to enlist friends to join me but they were having none of it. They just looked at me like I was a giant piece of dog snot, frankly. And so, I danced alone. One day, my mother looked at me and said it was not humanly possible to dance as badly as I was dancing. She suggested taking dance lessons. At that time, all I knew from dance lessons were the ads on television for the Arthur Murray Dance Studio. I told her I didn't want to learn how to cha-cha or tango or waltz. If I was to take dance lessons I wanted to dance the way they did in West Side Story. My Uncle Al Kingston, who was a Very Important Agent (literary, with the H.W. Swanson Agency, the biggest in Hollywood) suggested I take lessons at the Roland Dupree Studio. Mr. Dupree was well known and loved in Hollywood as a great teacher. And so it was that my mother dropped me off at the Dupree studio to take my first dance class in Jazz Dancing.

The first thing we did in Mr. Dupree's class for beginners (taught by Mr. Dupree himself) was warm-up exercises. I did very well at these warm-up exercises. Then he started to give us steps. Mr. Dupree was a very good dancer, and for ten minutes I just stood there and watched him do the steps, never doing them with him as the rest of the class was doing. He finally looked at me and told me the idea was that I should do the steps too. He was actually quite snippy when he said it, but that was Mr. Dupree's way. So, I attempted to do the steps he was doing. This was different than just doing the West Side Story dancing in my house. This was serious. I somehow managed to mangle every step he showed us. He would yell out the names of the steps, things like padebooray and hitch kick and ball change. These names confused me even further. I was aghast at how difficult this beginner's class was. Even more aghast was Mr. Dupree, who kept watching me like I was some giant oaf, some inept cretin of dance with about as much grace as an elephant. But I persevered. I stuck with it. By the end of my fourth or fifth class I had improved not one or two whits. I still couldn't execute a darned padebooray, although I had improved in the ball change department. Mr. Dupree finally suggested to my mother and I that dance was perhaps not going to be something I was good at. And that was the end of my first experience in dance class.

But, still, I could not stop doing the West Side Story dances. Still I twirled and kicked. I even used my newfound dance vocabulary and would occasionally shout "padebooray" "step, ball change" and the like. Because I still had "dance fever" my mother enrolled me in another class, this one taught by Mr. David Winters. Yes, the very same David Winters who'd appeared in West Side Story on Broadway (as Baby John) and the film as Arab. Oh, this was too too exciting. I was going to be taught jazz dance by an actual Jet. I arrived at class and there he was. A Jet in the flesh. We began the class. I did the warm-up exercises perfectly. Then he put on music, the jazzy soundtrack to Walk On The Wild Side, and we began doing steps. I tried, dear readers, oh I tried. I wanted Mr. Winters to think I was worthy. But my feet would simply not do what my mind told them to do. My feet had a life of their own, and that life did not include the ability to do anything that resembled the steps that were being shown. Mr. Winters kept glancing at me in the mirror with an exasperated look on his face. I felt it was the music. I felt I would do better with other music. Lucky for me, he changed the record and put on Billy May's Big Fat Brass album. The change of music, as you can imagine, did no good whatsoever. I just did not seem to have the ability to emulate the steps in a way that resembled dancing. I was a clunk, dear readers. That night I made my mother buy the albums to Walk On The Wild Side and Big Fat Brass, and I practiced and practiced what we'd been taught. I got it down. I knew the steps. I knew them until the next class, that is. As soon as I got up among my other classmates, I forgot everything. I could not do the steps I'd been doing all week. I could feel my career as a Broadway and film dancer slipping away from me. Mr. Winters finally said, as Mr. Dupree had before him, that he didn't feel dancing was going to be my forte. And that was the end of my second dance class experience.

I will say nothing further about this, dear readers, except to tell you that years later I was, in fact, choreographed by David Winters. He remembered me from those many years ago and we laughed about it. This story has a happy ending too. I learned his choreography quickly and did all the steps quite handily, or in dance parlance, quite footily. Perhaps they'll consider me for the road company of Fosse. I would be stunning doing the Rich Man's Frug, let me tell you that.

The Movie Memorabilia Show

The only problem with writing this column from my new handy-dandy computer is that, because I'm not using the handy-dandy form I use at home (while sitting on my couch like so much fish) I have no idea how long anything is. So, this column could be long, it could be short and I would be clueless. Am I rambling? I do believe what I just wrote could be classified as rambling. In any case, I am writing this section of the column not from my brand spanking new handy-dandy computer, but from my old "thing" that I use at home. Hence, I am using the form that Mr. Mark Bakalor has created for me. Hence, from this point on I will know how long this column is. Has anyone noticed that I am still rambling?

This weekend in conveniently located North Hollywood, there took place an event which happens four times a year (or quarterly) at the Beverly Garland Hotel. This event is called the Ray Courts Movie Memorabilia Show and has been going on for some years now. I attend this show quite regularly. In the old days I used to purchase movie posters, but now I only like to collect original art, so I just go over there to see what's what. There are several dealer rooms where dealers deal. You can get a deal from the dealing dealers if you are clever and persistent. But that is not why most people go to the Ray Courts Movie Memorabilia Show. No, most people go to said show to visit Room #1. Because in Room #1 are the celebrities. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, you can go inside Room #1 (after paying your ten dollar entrance fee, of course) and once inside Room #1 you can see your favorite celebrities of old, and you can get your picture taken with them and get their autographs, too. However, said celebrities of old charge to sign autographs and take pictures. That is why they are there. Certain celebrities of old make quite a bit of money doing the Ray Courts Movie Memorabilia Show. I perused Room #1 yesterday, and some of the celebrities of old included Alan Young (he of Mr. Ed), Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter (they of Invasion Of The Body Snatchers), Dom de Luise (yes, Dom de Luise), William Schallert (Gidget's daddy), Paul Peterson (he of The Donna Reed Show), Jill Whelan (she of The Love Boat) and many motion picture sex queens, like Brinke Stevens. Also, former Playboy bunnies and singers like Giselle McKenzie and Edie Adams. In all the years this show has been going on, would you like to know what celebrity brought out the most people and made the most money? Not Don Knotts. Not Mickey Rooney. Not Joyce DeWitt. No, it was Steve Reeves. Yes, Steve Reeves, the man who played Hercules in the 1960 peplum classic, called, ironically, Hercules. He also starred in the sequel, Hercules Unchained. The line for Steve Reeves was incredible, and never abated the entire day. He had a little cashbox on his table, and I would be surprised if he made less than fifteen thousand dollars that day.

I must confess that I did go up to Miss Giselle McKenzie and told her that I still had my 45rpm single of her song Hard To Get. She was very gracious and surprised that anyone remembered the song. I also told her that my favorite Jack Benny bit was the one where the two of them played Getting To Know You on the violin.

I think at the next Ray Courts Movie Memorabilia Show I shall take a table and make fifteen thousand dollars. Isn't that a good idea? People will actually be able to meet The Real A in person and they will give me money for my autograph and take pictures with me and say "what is it, fish?" with me. Of course, the fact that they won't know who the hell I am won't matter one whit, because I will be at a table and they will just assume that The Real A is a celebrity of old. I hope all of you dear readers will come and see me at my celebrity of old table.

The What If Dept.

Yes, it's the What If Dept. rearing its ugly little head. I reared an ugly little head once and it grew up to be quite a lovely head, thank you very much. Rearing an ugly little head reminds me of one of my all-time favorite bad movies, The Brain That Wouldn't Die, in which a woman's head is kept alive in a pan. It is my favorite woman's head kept alive in a pan movie and no other woman's head kept alive in a pan movie has even approached it. See it if you dare? Why am I talking about a woman's head in a pan? Where am I? Oh, yes, the What If Dept. This week's what if: What if Andrew Lloyd Webber and Charles Hart had written Oklahoma!? And it goes something like this (to the tune of All I Ask Of You):

No more talk of surreys,
With fringes on the top.
Poor Jud, yes he is dead now,
So you and I can wed now...

No more Kansas City,
Will Parker will stay here.
And I'll be with my feller
We'll live here with Aunt Eller...

So, be my Curly here in Oklahoma!
There's no need to throw bouquets at me.
And guess who will be my perfect bridesmaid?
Ado Annie! She just cain't say no.
Curly... Your Laurie loves you so.

Letters... We Get Letters

Just got back from a dinner and suddenly find myself up against the clock to finish this here column. It's really uncomfortable to have to finish a column while leaning up against a clock. But we shall persist. Many letters, so here we go.

Hannah wants to know if Wise Guys is definitely on for the Fall. Well, it was definitely on for the Fall two years ago, and it was definitely on for the Fall last year. There are those who think that the show will not make it to Broadway before the year 2000 and I tend to think they're right. But, we can hope that my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim is prone right this very minute, writing away in a frenzy.

tdrucker wants everyone to come to Los Angeles for the weekend of March 12th to see the Reprise concert version of Sweeney Todd, starring Kelsey Grammar and Christine Baranski. He invites everyone to call the Sweeney Todd hot line for information. That number is 213 365-3500. Stephen Sondheim will be there opening night, and will be presented with the ASCAP Founders Award.

Rafael tells me he's had a bad cold and laryngitis since December 30th. He's also been having eye problems and love problems. Hopefully he is seeing an ear, nose and throat doctor, an ophthalmologist and Dr. Ruth. Rafael does tell me that this column cheers him up and I am grateful he feels so. We wish Rafael a speedy recovery in the nose throat eye and heart areas. Rafael also wants to know if I'm familiar with Barbara Cook's Carnegie Hall album. I am, and it's terrific.

Tiffany writes to tell me she's lonely and sleepy, not necessarily in that order. No, Tiffany has not gotten her proper allotment of sleep and her sleep clock is totally messed up. Of course, a side effect of a messed up sleep clock is loneliness. This is known as The Loneliness of The Messed Up Sleep Clock Person Syndrome. While Tiffany was home for Christmas (pre messed up sleep clock) her sister came up with a new synonym for genitalia to add to our ever growing list. It is: Po-po for the female vagina. Her brother immediately invented the name bo-bo for the male and female buttocks. Those are fine synonyms, and sound like names that Gilbert and Sullivan would have come up with for The Genital Mikado. Tiffany would like to know if I go to the gym alone. I do. I would be far too embarrassed to go with anyone I knew. Some people look absolutely wonderful when they exercise. Unfortunately I am not one of those people. I look like big old bo-bo, frankly, and the fewer people that see me, the better. Tiffany also wants to know if the walls in my house are as white as they appear in my activity photos. They are. I like white walls for showing off the art that resides on them. Tiffany is also looking forward to hearing about those bits in The Real A: A Life, and she will not be disappointed, starting with next week's column.

Tom (the Wizard of Oz) read two good books by Larry Watson, Montana 1948 and Justice. I like Mr. Watson and both of those books are swell and reside in my handy-dandy book room. Tom is now enjoying Miss Meryle Secrest's biography of someone named Stephen Sondheim.

sparkleneelysparkle has the definitive differences between nipple rings and nipple clamps and shares those differences right here and right now. Nipple rings are rings one has inserted in the skin around said nipple, more or less permanently. Nipple clamps are small clothespin-like things one attaches to ones nipples for brief periods of time. Now, I don't know about you dear readers, but I am just leaving my nipples sans rings and clamps. My nipples don't need accoutrements. My nipples don't need accoutrements. My nipples are perfectly fine just sitting there like so much fish. I hope yours feel the same way. We, of course, thank sparkle for this very concise and helpful information, or nipple ephemera.

annyrose and kristina have sent in actual activity photos. First, annyrose and kristina with members of the Tommy cast.

Next, annyrose and kristina at a Halloween party.

Isn't Mr. Mark Bakalor amazing the way he can highlight portions of the picture to reveal annyrose and kristina? Check out the fellow on the extreme right. He scares me, dear readers. Thanks to a & k for sending those in, and all you other dear readers please take a leaf from their book, whatever the hell that means. annyrose has been cast in Carousel, and kristina is all better and all infections have gone away.

Ryan recently met our very own Mr. Mark Bakalor in our very own chat room. Do you know what the two of them did in the chat room? Why, they chatted, that's what they did. Ryan found out that Mark liked both my spaghetti and Mr. Steve Schalchlin's musical, The Last Session, not necessarily in that order.

Julia (the Mistress of Broadway) has been away in Merry Olde England, but is back and catching up on all the columns she missed. We would like to have an activity picture of Julia (the Mistress of Broadway) catching up on all the columns. Hopefully she will oblige.

NR Rossell, a new dear reader, is an attorney in Key West (as opposed to Key East) who likes to crank up Assassins in his law office. I know I should have a witty retort to this, but frankly it is escaping me.

Craig had a date with someone he's dated before, but now he suddenly finds he's falling in like with this person, who, apparently, is an amazing kisser. I hope Craig will keep us posted on the latest developments. I think this has the makings of a tv series for ABC: Craig and The Amazing Kisser.

Seth saw Parade and loved it. This show has gotten very divided reaction, the people who love it really love it, and the people who dislike it really dislike it. The question remains, will there be A Parade In Town once the run at Lincoln Center has ended.

Elliot reads this here column sporadically (no mean feat) and doesn't want me to stop writing as he wants to continue reading it from time to time. Now, Elliot, you must read this column all the time. That is the rule. Otherwise, Mr. Mark Bakalor will come and visit you and sit on your couch like so much fish and regale you with stories of Die! Die! Diana.

Michael has sent us an activity photo of himself in Brecht's Galileo. That's Michael on the right in the funny hat and frilly white collar.

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Well, you've done it again, dear readers. You've once again shown your incredible aptitude for knowing the arcane. The following folks guessed the answer to last week's trivia question: Bert Convy was planning to do a Pancho Villa musical, even though there'd already been a musical about Pancho Villa. A legendary flop. Name the musical, its legendary star, and the musical's authors. Then name the other musical the authors wrote and the Sondheim connection in that musical. Seth, Arnold, Sara and steve g all had the correct answer: We Take The Town, a legendary flop of monumental proportions, which starred Robert Preston as Pancho Villa (reportedly a favorite role of his). The show also featured a young Pia Zadora for those who care. The authors were Dubey and Karr, whose only other Broadway musical was Happy Hunting, which starred Ethel Merman who went on to star in Gypsy, lyrics by some guy named Sondheim. We Take The Town did feature a song called How Does The Wine Taste? which had a wonderful recording by Barbra Streisand.

This week's trivia question: I can't remember if I've used this trivia question or not, but since I'm up against the clock I am using it whether I did or not. We know Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman are writing a musical based on the life of The Mizners, called Wise Guys. Over forty years ago, another composer was writing a musical based on the life of The Mizner's. Name the composer and the title of the show.

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



Questions? Comments?

Well, dear readers, I must sign off quickly, as I still have to proof this here column. I am beginning to become unglued, frankly. Perhaps if I do some padeboorays I will remain glued.

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...”
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