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February 8, 1999 - #72
That whole paragraph just reeked of tension, didn't it? It was awash with tension. If one feels less tension do you call it fivesion? Just asking. Anyway, I had a lovely time in New York, where it was very very cold. Upon my arrival I immediately went to Joe Allen where I ate an omelet just because I could. In addition to said omelet I saw several shows which I will tell you about because, frankly, you have a right to know. I will do this if only I can remember how to write a column. I hope this doesn't turn out to be one of those faux columns because that would be heinous (heinous, do you hear me?). No, we simply cannot have a faux column, especially after last week's abbreviated column. Before I tell you about the shows I saw in New York, may I tell you about the show I saw in Los Angeles? It was a musical entitled Rent. It was my first time seeing Rent, although I have heard Rent and occasionally paid Rent. Now, the first thing I have to say about the musical entitled Rent is that it was loud. I know this because it gave me a headache, the loudness did. Other than that I thought the show was perfectly okay, even though I didn't really know or care enough about the characters. I know Mimi met Roger and one minute they hated each other and the next minute they loved each other, all very loudly. I know Roger liked wearing the same pair of plaid pants all the time and playing the same chords on the guitar all the time, chords that sounded suspiciuosly like they were from Puccini's La Boheme, which, of course, unbeknownst to Roger and his loud plaid pants, they were. Then there was the fellow who was filming everything. He seemed like a nice fellow. Mimi was a user of the drugs. And at the end of the play she died but didn't die. There was a cross-dresser who died but did die. He obviously didn't have as good an agent as Mimi did. And there were a lot of people who sang. Loudly. All in all, I didn't see what all the fuss was about, but I enjoyed myself, so what the hey. Why my close, personal friend Mr. Stephen Sondheim was a mentor to the late author, I really don't understand, as most of the lyrics were like nails on a blackboard to me, and I can't imagine Sondheim thought they were well crafted, or that the music would have appealed to him. But, what do I know? I know that I have forgotten how to write a column, that's what I know.
The first show I saw in New York was in New Jersey. At the Papermill Playhouse. The very same Papermill Playhouse where the revival of Follies took place. It was the first time I'd ever been to the Papermill Playhouse and the first thing I noticed was that there wasn't a papermill in sight. No damn papermill at the Papermill. That put me in a foul mood right off the bat (I luckily had brought my bat along). The show I saw was called Up, Up and Away: The Songs of Jimmy Webb. It was a revue of, guess what, Jimmy Webb songs. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but I happen to be a big fan of Mr. Webb's songs. I think Mr. Webb's songs are pretty terrific and I have thought so ever since I discovered his songs on the Richard Harris album, A Tramp Shining. Unfortunately, the director, conceiver, star, Mr. Robert Johansson, decided to give the revue a "plot", which was a big mistake. The "plot" about a songwriter and some people in his life who conveniently sing Jimmy Webb songs, was, silly and unnecessary. They should have just found interesting ways to do the songs, or done thematic sections, instead of having to adhere to this pretence of a non-existent plot. But it was grand fun to hear such Webb classics as Witchita Lineman, By The Time I Get To Phoenix, Didn't We?, MacArthur Park and the titular Up, Up, and Away. The performers were all adequate but none brought anything extra special to the evening.
The next show I saw in New York was Little Me. This was the revival of the Neil Simon/Cy Coleman/Carolyn Fields musical starring Martin Short and Faith Prince. I must say, for all the middling reviews this revival has gotten, I had a splendid time. And I'll tell you why I had a splendid time because I feel this is no time to withhold things from you. I had a good time because Little Me is an old- fashioned musical comedy, with a hilarious book by Neil Simon and a hummable score by the wonderful Coleman and Leigh. And also because Martin Short was downright hilarious. Not upleft hilarious, mind you, no, downright hilarious. I don't even know if you can be upleft and hilarious. Isn't that just one of life's little peculiarities, just like forgetting how to write a column? Mr. Short plays about eight characters in the show and that, coupled with great Neil Simon jokes, is enough reason to see the show. Not only do you leave the theater humming the tunes, you also leave humming the jokes. No one seems to have the ability to write this type of show anymore, one that exists for no other reason than to give pleasure and be a star vehicle. Faith Prince was fine, although she's been better elsewhere.
The third and final show I saw in New York was called Little By Little and which wasn't a sequel to Little Me. It was more of a cabaret show than a theater piece, and yet it was playing in a theater, not a cabaret, which is one of life's little peculiarities. It is sort of a revue with songs by Brad Ross, but it tells a sort of story about three friends and their various couplings. Like a song cycle. Have you noticed all these transportation allusions? Song cycle, star vehicle? Just asking. The songs were perfectly fine, and the cast was quite good. Christiane Noll, Liz Larsen and Darren Green, all terrific singers, which is a good thing to be when there is no talking. I wanted to see Annie Get Your Gun but it started previews the day I left town. Of course on the plane ride home I had my usual annoying person next to me, in this case yet another snorer. And like the musical entitled Rent, a loud snorer. I spent the entire flight with my finger in my ear.
Well, I'm getting back into the swing of things, column-wise. If you get back into the swing of things right off the bat, you might get a triple or you might ground out. What the hell am I talking about? Please write me immediately if you have a clue (eulc spelled backwards). First transportation allusions, now baseball allusions. Not that I have any allusions about these allusions. Well, this has been an especially long opening section, so I think I better bring it to a screeching halt. And just who decided that all halts had to be screeching I'd like to know? Someone said "If I'm going to come to a halt I shall simply screech and that's all there is to it"? What if they'd said "I'm going to come to a lilting halt"? What then? Then where would we be, screeching halt-wise? Can you tell that I am tense? I am going to take a hot shower. But if I take a hot shower will the police come and arrest me? Will I be thrown in jail, a hot shower thief? Oh, these are life's little peculiarities, are they not? Oh, I'd better just end this section of the column because frankly it's beginning to feel like the run of Miss Saigon: Endless. But enough about me.
Has anyone noticed that the writing in this here column is just a bit tense? It's almost as if I've forgotten how to write a column, by gum. What the hell does that mean? "By gum". "Buy gum" I'd understand. Yes, if it were "buy gum" we could all just go out and get some Chiclets and be done with it. But it's not "buy gum" it's "by gum" and thus it is totally confounding, at least to me, by gum. First of all, what idiot invented the word "gum"? Someone created a stick of something you could chew and chew and yet not swallow, and they looked at this chewy wad of whatever, dripping with saliva, and they thought "Ah, I'll call this 'gum'!". I wish I'd been there, frankly, so I could have at least told this brainy mug that gum is mug spelled backwards. That would have given him pause, wouldn't it? He would have thought twice about calling that chewy wad "gum" then, wouldn't he have? Where was I? By gum, I believe I have forgotten how to write a column and it doesn't help that my keyboard is being ornery and leaving out every other letter so that I have to constantly retype and retype which is so annoying and by gum has anyone noticed that this sentence has turned into one of those confounded run-on dealybobs which is doubly frustrating as I have to retype every word or else the words would lok lik ths wit lts of missng lettrs and that would be most unseemly ouldn't it and I'm ending this sentence rigt now because I'm tired of retyping the missing letters. Whew. I have to rest now.
There. I have taken a small break and am ready to deal with Miss Meryle Secrest who is impatiently pinching the butt cheeks of my memory nodules. She wants to know more and then more, and then when you give her more and more, she just wants to know more and also more. Mr. Stephen Sondheim wrote a whole song about this Secrest phenomenon, entitled More.
Here is something Miss Secrest caused me to remember. Wax drinks. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, wax drinks. I used to love to go to our little corner store when I was a kid and buy those little wax bottles filled with fruity liquids. Did you ever have those? Those wax bottles filled with fruity liquids? Where you'd bite off the top of the wax bottle, guzzle down the fruity liquid therein and then, if you were feeling especially adventurous, wax-wise, you would chew the empty wax bottle? Oh, I loved those little wax bottles with the fruity liquids. Do they still make them? I must go out and find them if they do, because frankly I have not been having enough fruity liquids lately, as I only like my fruity liquids when they come from a wax bottle that I can then chew. Not only is my keyboard being ornery, but my arm and hand (or vice versa) has fallen asleep because of the awkward position I am sitting/lying in and every time I type a word I have this obnoxious tingling sensation in my fingers and basically can't feel the keys of the keyboard, only the tingling sensation, which, I must tell you, is one of life's little peculiarities. Excuse me for a moment.
There. I just hit myself really hard in the arm and woke said arm up. Much better. Well, we've heard lots about my childhood, some about my early teen years, some "those bits", and assorted effluvia from various periods in my so called Real Life. But I haven't spoken about my adventures in apartment living, have I, dear readers? When I graduated high school and started college I moved out of my parent's house. I moved out because my father had taken it on the lam (a story for another column) and my mother had to find a place to live on her own. So, there I was, barely eighteen and living on my own. My first experience living away from home was sharing a house with a good friend of mine and someone we went to college with. My friend and I had cots in the living room of said house and the person we went to college with had the bedroom. Oh, what a horrifying house it was. I, who give new meaning to the word "anal", stuck in a house a rat would have been embarrassed by. I don't think there had been a vacuum in this house since the 20s. And the kitchen had dishes in the sink from World War II. There seemed to be things in the refrigerator that were living organisms. And green mayonnaise. And black fruit. The smell that emanated from that kitchen was beyond repair. I lived in that house for all of three weeks and then I did what any intelligent person would do to better their surroundings. I invited my mother over. She took one look and one whiff and wrote me a check so that I could move immediately. I then moved into a rather nice two bedroom apartment with another school chum. That arrangement was very nice, and said school chum was as anal as I, so we got along famously. Unfortunately, said school chum got a job and had to move. Which meant I had to move. I then began living in a succession of apartments, one after another, with various and sundry people. These apartments ranged from perfectly fine to perfectly fetid. The worst of them was a residential hotel where I lived by myself for a month. This lovely room had a murphy bed (one that pulled down from the wall), purple rugs and a bathroom I refused to go into. If I needed to go to the bathroom, I'd go downstairs to the restaurant next door. I showered daily at school. That residential hotel is still there, by the way. I always seemed to have roommates who moved out without warning, leaving me to fend for myself. One time when I was fending (no mean feat) I couldn't afford to pay rent, so I stayed until the landlord threatened me, then I stealthily removed myself from the premises one fine night, and moved into another apartment (with help from my mother). My plan was to go back the next day and get my things. But the landlord had changed the locks on the door. I never did get my things out of there to my eternal shame. Because I had all my childhood and teen memorabilia there. Things I would love to have now. Things like my picture of me and The Three Stooges, and my radio show tapes, and my 16mm homemade films. All lost to the ages. I do believe I lived in over twelve apartments in a year and a half. I do believe this is some kind of record. One apartment I lived in had an actual sauna bath in the building. To a single teenage college student, that was quite the thing, that sauna bath was. I went in that sauna bath with many a person and there we would cavort and frolic, frequently removing our towels. Oh, yes, we loved that sauna bath. We had a hot time in that sauna bath, which is not hard to do given that the sauna bath is hot. I am happy to report that since then, I have been able to stay put in one place for long periods of time. I hate moving, don't you, dear readers? It upsets the apple cart, and we who like things "just so" don't like to have our apple carts upset. I don't happen to give a flying Wallenda if the blueberry cart is upset, but I simply cannot have an upset apple cart because that is heinous (heinous, do you hear me?).
I haven't thought of that first house I lived in away from home in a very long time. And writing about that kitchen reminded me that I added to the grotesqueness of it by boiling some eggs in there. Unfortunately, I did not know anything about boiling eggs at the time (making hard boiled eggs), and the eggs ended up exploding and leaving their glop on the walls of the kitchen. I just didn't want you to think that I didn't contribute to my living environment.
You will never guess what I found on the Internet, dear readers. Since you will never guess I suppose I'd better tell you, because, frankly you have a right to know. I found a home page for the one, the only C. C. Brown's of Hollywood. My loyal and regular dear readers know that my beloved C. C. Brown's made the best hot fudge sundaes ever. They were a Hollywood fixture since the 20s, but finally closed in 1996. I have been on C. C. Brown's withdrawal ever since. Well, happy days are here again, because you can now purchase C. C. Brown's hot fudge right over the Internet. Also their yummy caramel topping. All you have to do is go to their handy-dandy website, located at www.ccbrowns.com, fill out the handy dandy order form, and you will soon have the most delicious hot fudge right in your very own actual house. You can then make your very own actual handy dandy hot fudge sundaes, and let me tell you, dear readers, you will be in hot fudge heaven. I've already ordered several jars, and I suggest you do the same. And tell them The Real A sent you. They won't know what the hell you're talking about, but that is neither here nor there nor there nor here nor hither and thither nor yon, especially yon.
I know I promised to share many activity pictures with you, but I couldn't get them to Mr. Mark Bakalor in time, because as you all know, Mr. Mark Bakalor lives up North, and I have to mail him said photos so he can scan them and put them in this here column. So, by the time I got home, got the photos developed, put them in a handy dandy envelope with stamp, sent them off, well, they simply did not arrive in time. But there is good news afoot. Why "afoot?" What does a foot have to do with anything? Why isn't it good news ahand or good news anose? Just asking. Anyway, there is good news aneck because I have purchased a handy dandy scanner of my very own, which I have given to a person who has the brains to use such a machine (I do not). Therefore, we will now be able to scan our activity photos right here and then send them to Mr. Mark Bakalor (who lives way up North) via e-mail file or attachment or whatever the hell you call it. He will then be able to put them up in this here column without much ado. No photos will actually exchange hands. Why anyone would want to exchange a hand for a photo is another story altogether. If you exchanged a hand for a photo then you'd be walking around with a photo at the end of your arm. That would look decidedly weird, don't you think? And the person who got the hand would then have three hands which would make him a mutant in my book (Chapter 312 - A Mutant Named Monte or Three Handed Monte). Do you know I am getting the distinct feeling that I have forgotten how to write a column. That I am sitting here on my couch like so much fish and I am fumfering. Fumfering and not fumfering too well, I might add or subtract. Fumfering is fine if you are a fine fumferer but I am not even fumfering adequately, I just seem to be fumfering aimlessly, biding my time, fumfer-wise, until the ability to write a column comes back to me. Only then will I fumfer with finesse. I don't even know what section I'm in anymore. I have entered a black hole, section-wise. If only I could remember how to write a column none of this would be happening. I would not be in a black hole, I would not be fumfering with no point, I would be lucid and brilliant and possibly even brilliant and lucid. Until then, I'm afraid I am only a fumfering fool.
And we've got two weeks' worth, so I shan't dilly dally nor shall I dally dilly. Now, I'm just looking at the word "shan't". I know that "can't" is short for cannot so is "shan't" short for shannot? If it's short, as I suspect, for shall not then shouldn't the shortened version be "shalln't"? And what are we saving in all these shortened versions? An "o"? Big deal. But someone had to figure out some use for the apostrophe and there you have it. Where was I? Oh, yes, two weeks worth of letters which I'd better start answering right this very minute, shouldn't I? Saved another "o", by the way. That's two saved "o"s. One more and I have tic tac toe.
Craig writes to tell me that I neglected to answer the most important part of his last e-mail. Isn't that always the way? And now it is too too late to answer that particular part. Craig has been cast in his very first Stephen Sondheim show, Into The Woods, as the Narrator/Mysterious Man. That is good news indeed. Craig was not at home when his handy dandy Christmas gift arrived and the mail people returned it. Unfortunately, wherever they returned it to wasn't to Mr. Mark Bakalor, who has not received said returned package. Right now there is probably a mail person delivering mail in a t-shirt with "what is it, fish?" of the back. If you see said mail person, tackle him posthaste and rend the shirt from his body. In the meantime, we will send Craig another handy dandy Christmas present which, hopefully, he will be home to receive. Craig also was recently trimming a toenail and missed the toe, resulting in blood emanating from said toe onto his carpet, which now has a brand spanking new handy dandy "red" look to it.
Mackoy writes to say that I did not keep my promise to list all the songs parodied in my ALW vs. SS war. There were no songs parodied in the war, they were all original to the war and not prexisting. So, make up your own tunes if you like. Mackoy is gaining weight in the tropics even though he has a Cindy Crawford workout tape. The problem is that he spends all his time drooling over Ms. Crawford instead of exercising. I have mastered the fine art of drooling and exercising at the same time. It takes great concentration and a lot of practice, but is worth the effort. Mackoy also asks if I've ever eaten deep fried pig intestines or iguana. No, I have not. Excuse me for a moment.
I just went to the corner take out restaurant and ordered some deep fried pig intestines and an iguana sandwich only to be looked at askance. Askance, do you hear? I will continue to endeavor to find those taste treats and I will let you know how I like them.
Robert soon begins rehearsals for two, count them two shows. And he may be directing a show at the end of the semester. And he is taking dance lessons. He is so busy he doesn't have any time for himself. But that is the life of an aspiring actor and one must resign oneself to it. Robert informs me that in dance class he has two left feet. I suggest he trade one in on a right foot, because to dance with two left feet is redundant and one tends to only dance in one direction.
Rafael's throat condition is gone and he can sing once again, so he wants me to continue printing My Favorite Songs in the My Favorite Things section, which I shall resurrect soon. Rafael wrote me a long and involved gym story, which unfortunately I can't repeat here as it is too too long and involved, but I did enjoy it even though it took two days to read it. Speaking of the gym, I have not been since I returned from New York, consequently I have no new gym stories, either long and involved or short and uninvolved to share with you at this time.
Tiffany was coming down with a sore throat, but she took Vitamin C and she didn't get sick. She warns me that my beloved Actifed and NyQuil do not get rid of colds. So, she suggests ye olde vitamins next time I'm feeling sickly. I know that Actifed and NyQuil merely alleviate symptoms, but I have convinced myself that they make me better and so they do. Isn't it interesting what the mind can convince the body of? I wish that the mind could convince the body to have abs and buns of steel, then I wouldn't have to go to the gym. But, the body simply doesn't want to believe what the mind says, abs and buns of steel-wise. I guess that's just one of life's little peculiarities. Tiffany saw a production of Into The Woods and enjoyed it, although her date didn't seem to like it that much. Now, Tiffany, you just can't throw away a little tidbit like "my date" without giving all our dear readers the details of said date. Just who is this date we're all asking? We need "those bits" frankly, Tiffany, because something needs to perk this here column up, as I've apparently forgotten how to write it.
Mariecrisis (aka Mitch) invited me to see him perform in New York, but unfortunately I did not get his e-mail before I left, and his performance took place the night of the day I left to come home. Otherwise I would have been more than happy to have seen him perform. Perhaps next time I'm in New York I will not leave the day of the night he is performing and hence will see his performance the night of the day I haven't left.
steveg (he of the Streisand connection) won't be able to read this here column for three weeks, and by then he will be one year older than when he last read this here column. Happy Birthday to steveg. In his absence we must all eat a piece of birthday cake, followed by a meal of fried pig intestines and iguana.
Anna (a new dear reader) wrote to tell me that she was miffed at the sport we had with Melissa Errico in a past column (Miss Errico wrote us an e-mail). Anna feels that there is just too much Melissa Errico-bashing going on and was quite angry with this here column. But I explained to Anna that we wuz just funnin', that we occasionally like to poke irreverant fun at some of our show business celebrities, and we do it with no malice or nastiness whatsoever. In fact, we like Miss Errico and think she is talented, although she does sometimes put her own foot in her own mouth (no mean feat). Anna has met Miss Errico several times and really likes her, and Miss Errico has been very sweet to young Anna, who is an aspiring performer. Anna now understands the spirit in which we operate and is going to become a loyal and true dear reader. Oops, wait a minute I'm just getting some e-mail. Let's see who it's from, shall we?
I just wanted to tell my friend Anna that I take no offense at your inane column which you apparently have forgotten how to write. I know you are merely poking irreverant fun at us show business types, which is fine. By the way, someone just informed me that High Society has closed. Why didn't anyone tell me? I thought we were taking a break, and here I return to the theater and there is a strange set on the stage, and my limo is nowhere in sight. I called Sam Cohn, my powerful agent, to complain, and he informed me that the show had closed quite a while ago. I am intrigued with how you knew about my only fetish, you know, the one where I put my own foot in my own mouth. Not many can do that, and it's quite titillating, although it is not easy to have your foot in your mouth and type at the same time. Please thank Anna for coming to my defense, and as for you and your irreverant fun, try looking at your abs and buns of steel if you want a laugh.
Anna (not the above Anna, but AnnaOD) is currently in a production of The Mystery Of Edwin Drood (aka Drood), which she is not enjoying at all. She doesn't like the music too much, and her choreographer is, in her words, "an idiotic aged hippie". In one number, said idiotic aged hippie has the entire cast prance across the stage like horses and then do the polka. That is a very popular dance routine with idiotic aged hippies, and they seem to work it into whatever show they are choreographing. I once saw a production of Cats which was choreographed by an idiotic aged hippie, and sure enough there were all those Cats prancing across the stage like horses doing the polka. How incongruous can you get? Hopefully, AnnaOD will grow to like the music, as I find the score very nice, and am a fan and personal close friend to Mr. Rupert Holmes.
The Player King has informed me that there is indeed a Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale and that, in his words, "it sucks". Who knew? Certainly this is surprising information. I must go to the market and seek it out. Like The Scarlet Pimpernel, I shall seek it here and seek it there, until I find it.
Max feels I should have answered the trivia question last week prior to leaving for New York, rather than leaving everyone hanging in mid-air (no mean feat). I do apologize for leaving you all hanging in mid-air, and as penance I shall go hang in mid-air as soon as I finish this here column.
annyrose has to sing in acting class and is scared. She's singing At The Ballet so she gets to dance, too, and feels she will redeem herself in case her singing goes awry. These days, one simply has to be able to sing in acting class, act in singing class, and sing and act in dancing class, and dance in English Lit. annyrose wants to know if I sing. I, in my time, have warbled a ditty or two.
Cinderella also informs me of the existence of Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale. Where was I when they brought this drink out? I have always looked for it and I have never once seen it. Perhaps one of you dear readers can send me a handy dandy picture of said Diet Canada Dry Ginger Ale so that I can post it for all to see right here in this column.
Amy Lisa Diehl asks if I saw Virginia Sandifur in my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim's Follies at the Wintergarden Theater. No, I saw Follies right here in Los Angeles at the Shubert Theater (it was the first show to play there, and it's where I saw Rent recently). Miss Sandifur may have been in the show here (most of the Broadway company was) but it was a long time ago and I just don't remember.
Emily writes to tell me she's working on six different shows this semester. Perhaps she and busy Robert can get together and never see each other. Emily just turned twenty-one years of age and her friend Mary just turned twenty-two years of age. Emily was served a mystery drink for her birthday which made her sleep very well. It was something akin to a Long Island Ice Tea (whatever the hell that is) only with Pineapple Juice. I have a mystery drink which makes me sleep very well. It's called NyQuil. It's like a Mamaroneck Gin Tonic only without the gin and tonic and with no trace of Mamaroneck.
Tom Guest (The Wizard of Oz) watched one of his favorite movies, The Ritz, which features Miss Rita Moreno (singing Everything's Coming Up Roses). Tom hadn't noticed before that the song sung over the credits is sung by CT Wilkinson, who went on to bigger and better things using his full first name of Colm.
Three astute dear readers knew many of the answers to our last trivia question (the rest of you have been hanging in mid-air waiting for the answer): There are several Sondheim connections to the work of Mr. Larry Grossman, composer of Paper Moon. Name as many as you can. sara, steveg, and Crow had either some or all of the following answers:
And I'm sure there are many others, but those are the biggies.
This week's trivia question:
What is the Sondheim connection to Little Me's Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh?
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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