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March 1, 1999 - #75
I will, of course, be printing out the last twenty-five columns and sending them off to the handy-dandy bindery to have them bound, because we love having our handy-dandy columns bound and what better place to have them bound than the bindery? So, what shall we do in this here column to celebrate (other than have our cheese slices, bacon and half liter of Diet Coke)? Something special is called for. Something unique. Perhaps a whole new look. Perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor can help us out here. After all, all he normally does is sit on his butt cheeks like so much fish up there in Arcadia or wherever the hell he is, so he may as well contribute, don't you think? For example, have you noticed after seventy-five columns how drab and dreary the type for this column is? Perhaps we can push the envelope and just freshen the look of said type. Nope. I just pushed an envelope and nothing happened. Same old drab and dreary type. All right, Mr. Mark Bakalor, let's try the next sentence in fancy shmancy red type.
Here is the next sentence in fancy shmancy red type.
Here is a sentence in a bilious green type.
No, that was just a little too bilious and green for my taste. What about alternating type styles and colors for every word?
it there is a picture of an American Flag.
Yesterday I bought a brand spanking-new DVD release of episodes from The Abbott and Costello Show. This show starred two people named Abbott and Costello, hence the name of the show. They were a great comedy team, best known for their classic routine "Who's On First?". In their show there was a wonderful actor named Joe Besser, a rotund comedian character actor who, on the show, played a rotund little boy named Stinky. As Stinky, Joe dressed in little boy clothing (short pants and little hat, etc.) and played a spoiled little boy brat. You must understand that what made this amusing is that Joe was sixty and bald. My favorite thing he did was when he would raise his hand as if to strike Lou and he'd say "Ooooooh, I'm gonna harm you". That just cracks me up. I'm laughing right now as I tell you about it. "Oooooh, I'm gonna harm you". Hahahahahahahahahahaha. I don't know what this has to do with the price of tomatoes but there you are. As an added point of interest, Joe Besser was also part of The Three Stooges, right after Shemp died, and before they found "Curly" Joe De Rita.
I am having a cheese slice right now, and my goodness it's quite tasty. Later I will be making bacon in my handy-dandy microwave oven, and then I shall sit on my couch like so much fish and eat it while I am watching Joe Besser (as Stinky) say "Ooooooh, I'm gonna harm you". Well, I think we've celebrated in this section of the column quite enough, because frankly it's beginning to feel like the musical Parade: It was fun while it lasted. But enough about me.
In celebration of writing this here seventy-fifth column, the same group of folks who partook of My Dinner At Musso's last week, accompanied me to another of my favorite restaurants, Dan Tana's. We arrived at 7:20 p.m. as we had 7:30 reservations. However, the one thing one must always know about supping at Dan Tana's is that if you have 7:30 reservations you will not be seated until 7:45. Thus, it was at 7:45 on the dot (rather than the square) that we were seated. As we walked to our table the first thing I noticed was two people at an adjacent table who were grinning at me like goons. After a brief moment, I realized that these grinning goons were, my cousins, Dodo and Marvin. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, the very same Dodo and Marvin you've read about in this here column. My cousin Dodo and her lawyer husband Marvin, whose home I have been ostracized from because I could not attend their daughter's wedding. Said home is where I used to partake of the Jewish holidays, but, after having been ostracized, said Jewish holidays are no longer partaken of since I have nowhere else to partake of them. Now, what are the chances, dear readers, that one is going to run into cousin Dodo and Marvin from Encino (from whose house I have been ostracized), at one of my favorite restaurants, located in Beverly Hills adjacent? And yet, there they were, grinning like goons. I went up to them and we all shook hands and made kissy-kissy and they told me to call them because there was a chance that they'd be willing to unostracize me. I told them I would call, because frankly I do not like the word "ostracized", which sounds vaguely like something you'd do with a blender. I then sat down next to my dinner companion, my friend, my friend's wife and their adorable young daughter at our very own table. I, of course, ordered my beloved Caesar Salad (the best anywhere) and my equally beloved Spaghetti Carbonara (spaghetti with carbonaras). My dinner companion ordered Eggplant Parmigian. May I just say here and now and also now and here that I find eggplant heinous (heinous, do you hear me?). First of all, where the hell is the egg? I have looked at many an eggplant and I will be damed if I have ever seen the egg anywhere on or about the plant. So right there I'm on the defensive, eggplant-wise. My friend ordered Chicken Marsala, the adorable daughter ordered Spaghetti and Meatballs, and the wife was, once again, a copycat and ordered what I ordered. Well, the meal was sumptuous, simply sumptuous. It was one of the most simply sumptuous meals that I have had in some time. I, who am known to clean any plate, couldn't even finish the Carbonara, so big was the portion. For dessert, I ordered the Lemon Sorbet as did the copycat wife of my friend. My friend ordered the Tiramisu. My dinner companion knew that there would be no getting away with any usurping of my dessert (Lemon Sorbet), thus my dinner companion ordered the Tiramisu, as well. I would never order Tiramisu in an Italian restaurant because it sounds like it should be ordered in a Japanese restaurant. Our desserts were as wonderful as the rest of the meal. Dan Tana's is a bit of a celebrity hangout and last night was no exception. Nearby to us was an entire table of rappers. Not wrappers, mind you, but rappers. You know, the people who rap (par spelled backwards). I do believe these particular rappers were up for particular Grammies, but I cannot tell you more than that. I can tell you that they were loud and that they took lots of pictures. I was going to ask for one of the pictures so that I could share it with you, but they did not seem like the kind of people who would share pictures with a total stranger. I was hoping that they would order their dinner in rap jargon, but they did not. Otherwise we could have had:
Yo, I'll have some pasta,
Yo, the food left over
Has anyone noticed that this is our seventy-fifth column? In case anyone is joining us late we are celebrating, so feel free to partake of a cheese slice. Perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor has a picture of an actual cheese slice. Let's see, shall we?
In honor of our seventy-fifth column, Miss Meryle Secrest has asked me to tell her yet another "those bits" story. And so I shall, because, after all, this is our seventy-fifth column and who am I to deny Miss Meryle Secrest what she desires? Who am I to pull the wool over Miss Secrest's eyes? Do you know that my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim, once wrote a song about wool? It was called Little Lamb. And they say there is nothing Sondheim-wise to be gleaned from this column. Hah, I say, both forwards and backwards. Hah! Okay now, everyone on the count of three: One, two, three: Hah!
Where was I? Oh, yes. More of "those bits". But we can't have "those bits" in our seventy-fifth column. It would be unseemly. Besides, I think Miss Meryle Secrest is getting a little too much enjoyment out of "those bits". I don't believe we've heard anything about Miss Meryle Secrest's bits, have we? Why am I the only one divulging "bits"? And why don't I ever talk about "these bits" instead of "those bits"? "These bits" are every bit as interesting as "those bits" and yet all Miss Meryle Secrest wants to hear about are "those bits". Well, I am here to tell you we are going to damn well talk about "these bits" rather than "those bits". And just what are "these bits"? I don't have a clue.
Do you know the first place I ever traveled to outside of Los Angeles? Of course you don't but do not fear because I'm going to tell you and that is because you have the right to know. St. Louis. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, the first place I ever traveled to was St. Louis. I went with a waitress in my father's restaurant and her son. She had family in St. Louis and was going to visit said family. I have no idea how I ended up going on this trip, but go I did. I don't even remember how we got there, but we definitely got there somehow, because one day I was in Los Angeles and the next day I was in St. Louis. I presume we went on an airplane, and since it would have been my first plane trip you'd think I'd remember, but I don't. Here's what I remember about my first trip outside of Los Angeles. I saw my first musical in St. Louis at the Muny. It was called Rosalie, and while I can't remember who was in it or what it was about, I can to this day hum you the title song which I haven't heard since. It goes like this:
"Rosalie my darling..."
Wasn't that good? I ate a meal at a restaurant owned by Stan "the man" Musial. In the home we were staying in there were silverfish in the shower. I don't believe I cared for having silverfish in the shower and I do believe when I first saw them I shrieked "What is it, fish?" to which the answer was unfortunately "yes". Oh, those silverfish gave me the willies. I read a book while on this trip and the book was entitled "Psycho" by Robert Bloch. I have read this book only once and yet I can quote you exactly how one of the chapters ended: "It was the same knife that a moment later cut off her scream. And her head." Isn't it funny what we remember? And how vividly we remember it, no matter how long ago it was?
Oh, Miss Meryle Secrest is having a hissy fit because she wants one of "those bits". She's just a bit spoiled isn't she? Okay, fine. I was once in the backseat of my father's car, with a person we'll call A.L. (no relation to E.L., L.L. or M.L.). Oh, we were being naughty A.L. and I were. We were kissing passionately, A.L. and I were. The only problem is A.L. had just had a nose job (or shiksabob) and we really shouldn't have been kissing, because as you may or may not be aware, noses are just above the lips and so sometimes become involved in the action just because they are in the line of fire. All I can remember about this incident is that A.L.'s nose bled and the next thing we both knew is that we had blood on our lips. Now, I don't know about you, dear readers, but I just do not like to have blood on my lips while I'm kissing. I don't like the look of it. Luckily, A.L.'s nose did not get too discombobulated, because I would not have wanted it on my head that A.L.'s shiksabob had become discombobulated and caused A.L. to have an askance nose. There is nothing worse than an askance nose. I haven't seen A.L. since then. In fact, I haven't thought of A.L. in a 'coon's age, until this very moment. Thanks to Miss Meryle Secrest and her unyielding interest in "those bits". Perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor can provide us with a picture of lips with blood on them, in honor of A.L.
I feel we need a burst of celebratory energy right about now. I feel we have been coasting celebration-wise and I think we need a big something to keep the celebration going. So, Mr. Mark Bakalor has just got to come up with a "big something" to help us out here. He can't just sit on his butt cheeks resting on his laurels. He must continue helping to make this column (our seventy-fifth, by the way) the most splendiferously splendiferous of them all. Now let's have that "big something" to keep our party atmosphere on "high".
Rafael tells me that he's had a splendiferously splendiferous holiday in Bangkok. Now, I'm just looking at "Bangkok" and thinking... Well, perhaps it's best to leave certain things alone. Perhaps it's best to not try to figure out the derivation of certain names and words and I do believe that "Bangkok" would be one of them, because really the mind can only go in one direction, at least this mind can only go in one direction and that direction should not be in the direction of "Bangkok". That was certainly a long and grammatically inept sentence, wasn't it? In any case, Rafael and some office mates had said vacation in Bangkok courtesy of his company, a gift because of said company's excellent performance last year. Rafael tells me that in Bangkok you can get such exotic treats from street vendors as roasted grasshoppers, locusts and scorpions. Not only that, but you can see actual sex shows in which actual sex is performed. Rafael saw an actual sex show and described said sex show in detail. I don't know what was grosser sounding, the roasted grasshoppers or the description of the actual sex show. Those darn exotic folk sure know how to Thai one on. One woman (you knew I just had to mention one thing, didn't you?) apparently shot darts from her female genitalia. I feel this woman should come to Broadway where she could be a big star, as she would have no competition whatsoever in the "shooting darts from female genitalia" field. Especially if she can sing Getting To Know You while doing it. Perhaps Rafael can send us an activity photo. Perhaps not. I'm just wondering if shooting darts from female genitalia is a born talent or something you can learn from a specialty school such as The University of Expending Objects From One's Female Genitalia. Just asking.
Tiffany is sad to report that Nellie did not win the Prettiest Eyes contest at the cat show not known as Cats. Next time, perhaps Nellie can enter the Shooting Darts contest? Tiffany's sister's cat, Allie (that would be an Allie Cat) won first prize for Cutest Face. Tiffany has forgotten to take before and after pictures of her hair. This is heinous (heinous, do you hear me?). Now she only has the "after" hair and so we cannot do a handy-dandy comparison of "before" and "after". No, we can merely compare the "after" to the "after" and that is both pointless and fruitless. And one simply must have points and fruits when doing a "before" and "after" comparison. Excuse me, but what the hell am I talking about? Tiffany saw Company (by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim) for the first time. She had heard that some of Robert's friends in the show were gay. But, there was just one scene where one of the men asked Robert if he ever thought they could have a gay relationship. Tiffany wants to know if they modified the show, or if she was mistaken. In the original Broadway production, there were no gay references at all. I believe it was the Donmar Warehouse production, where they inserted the "gay" reference, which now seems to be part of the script.
Stephen (not Sondheim) has received his handy-dandy Real A present and has already worn it. He also informs me that he, in fact, is named after our very own Stephen Sondheim.
Craig is sick. He has had a fever and also a cough. Just look at that word "cough". Let's have a pronounce a-along, shall we? Let's all pronounce "cough" just the way it's spelled: All right, one, two, three co-yoo-guh. Wouldn't it have been easier to just spell it "coff" and be done with it? Just asking. Craig does not trust the health service doctors at his school. Two years ago they put him on antibiotics. When he got home, his hometown doctor said that if he'd kept on with those antibiotics they would have destroyed his colon. Personally I have destroyed many a colon, and also several commas and apostrophes, too.
Phil and Carla Garcia have been reading some of the past columns and they shared my memories of the Helms Bakery Truck when they were growing up in the Boyle Heights section of Los Angeles. They also point out that one can see an actual Helms Truck at the Peterson Automotive Museum on Wilshire Blvd. and Fairfax. I happen to know this is true, because I myself have seen said truck. But it is a frustrating experience, because there are no donuts on said truck. And we don't get to hear the Helms Whistle, either. Still, you do get to see the truck and for anyone who remembers the Helms Man, it will bring back the smells and tastes of yesteryear.
B. Deutsch lived in Springfield, New Jersey. Which is right next to Millburn, New Jersey. She tells me that she made out with a lot of boys there while attending the motion pictures. Hopefully she made out with them at different times, because it is very difficult to make out with a lot of boys all at the same time, although not quite as difficult as shooting darts out of one's female genitalia. Isn't the Papermill Playhouse in Millburn? Or was that Paramus. Have you ever had heartburn in Millburn? Have you ever taken a Miltown in Millburn? I have nothing more to say about Millburn at this time.
Elan asks if I've ever been fond of attending piano bars and if so which ones in New York do I enjoy. Well, I love a good piano player whether in a bar or elsewhere, but the truth is I don't frequent bars and so I haven't heard that many piano players who play in said bars. That said, I have been to 88s and Danny's Skylight Room, both of which have piano bars and both of which were enjoyable. Did you know that the pianists in piano bars also play bars of music in piano bars? Isn't that interesting?
Steveg had a most excellent time on his cruise and his visit with relatives in Florida. I hope the entertainment on the cruise was as invigorating as the artist who shot darts from her female genitalia in Bangkok.
S. Woody White (beloved of der Brucer) sent me a cute naughty verse which he feels is a little too political for this here column. This here column stays away from anything too political, although we are happy to write about anyone who can shoot darts from their female genitalia.
Elliot feels that when Miss Meryle Secrest is finished with my biography, The Real A: A Life that it will most likely be converted into a Broadway musical. What a splendid idea. It can be called The Real A: The Musical. Elliot would like a role in said musical. There would be several roles open to audition for. Perhaps the role of Morty (Adolph) Gluckman or Herman Fitz would be good. How about Michael Tough, the singing janitor? Or, if we're going against type, perhaps the role of the person who shoots darts from female genitalia. Elliot would like to know my choice to play The Real A. I shall have to give it some thought. There would be so many different ways to go. Bernadette Peters or Len Cariou? Melissa Errico or Anthony Rapp? What a conundrum. Any of you dear readers have an idea?
RupertDiva thinks that while I was in New York I really should have seen the musical known as Parade. Well, as readers of this column know, I did see Parade while I was in New York and wrote about it in this here column. RupertDiva loved the show, especially Miss Carolee Carmello. I admired elements of the show (especially Mr. Prince's direction and the actors) but did not ultimately think it worked. This show has divided people pretty equally.
Emily informs me that this weekend is the Mount Holyoke Junior Show, in which a bunch of Juniors do skits that make fun of the Senior class, faculty, first year students and sophomores. Emily is operating the spotlight for said show, and if scene changes are taking too long, it is also Emily's job to scream "Class of 2000 rocks!". First of all, I'd like to hear a bit more about the class of 2000 rocks. That is a lot of rocks for one class. What do they teach the rocks? Do the rocks graduate? Do the rocks take roll? And what is the role of the rocks? So many questions, so little time. Emily also went to a party and had fun. She got to speak to two random drunk boys from the random state of New Hampshire. Later, Emily took a shower because her hair smelled funny, which is what happens when you speak to two random drunk boys from New Hampshire.
Sarah wrote and told me a lovely story about meeting my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim, at the Brookly Academy of Music following a performance of Blue Heart. She bumped into him and said "Oh, Mr. Sondheim!" He replied, "Did you want to talk to me?". Sarah explained how she'd grown up in Africa and how much she loved his music, to which Mr. Sondheim replied, "Oh, you mean my tribal music". Then Sarah began to cry because she was so overwhelmed at meeting someone whose work had so touched her life. We thank Sarah for sharing this story with us.
Several people got the Sondheim/John Kander connection. I was looking for the most obvious one, even though there are many sub-connections. The following folks got the Sondheim/Kander connection I was seeking: jon, Andrew, and Joe. And the answer is that John Kander, as a young gadabout, was the dance music arranger on Gypsy.
The Ragtime question got many good answers, a few of which were even correct. Names bandied about included William Finn, Jason Robert Brown, David Zippel, Adam Guettel, Larry Grossman and Ellen Fitzhugh, Craig Carnelia, Ricky Gordon and Tina Landau, Skip Kennon and David Spencer, John Bucchino and Frank Wildhorn. All good guesses. I am, however, trying to confirm exactly who submitted songs, as I want to be absolutely sure. Someone recently questioned two of the people I believed had done so, and rather than print incorrect information I must be certain because you expect no less of me. The one guess that I can tell you is unequivocally incorrect is Bock and Harnick. Mr. Bock and Mr. Harnick have not written together since the musical The Rothschilds, as they had a falling out during the production of that show.
This week's trivia question: If I were to ask what the Dorothy Loudon/Stephen Sondheim connection was, I know you dear readers would all send me the answer that she played Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd and that she was in the Carnegie Hall tribute. So, let's put aside those two answers. Ah, but there's one more Dorothy Loudon/Sondheim connection, albeit an obscure one. Tell me the connection.
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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