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

June 21, 1999 - #89

I don't know about you, dear readers, but I feel as if I am in a void, column-wise. And, as you all know, I like to avoid a void whenever humanly possible (as opposed to animaly possible). You see, there was no column last week because Mr. Mark Bakalor is in Pocoima or wherever the hell he is, singing and dancing and whatnot. So, because he was doing whatnot the same column was up for two weeks instead of one. Well, these columns were just not designed to stay up for two weeks, they were designed to stay up for one week and not one second longer, hence the column that was up for two weeks overstayed its welcome by one week. It just sat there like so much fish, with no purpose whatsoever. And last week when I should have been writing a column, I wasn't writing a column and my whole world seemed helter skelter and also skelter helter. It just didn't seem right somehow, not writing a column last week. Hence, I entered a void from which I am only now emerging. Mr. Bakalor, of course, is still in San Mateo or wherever the hell he is, doing whatnot. He wasn't doing notwhat, mind you, no, he was doing whatnot, whatever the hell that means. He will, however, be coming home this weekend so we will be able to get this column up right on schedule. It must be said that the real reason he is coming home this weekend is because his lovely girlfriend Julie is coming home this weekend. He is not coming home this weekend because he feels guilty about doing whatnot last week instead of getting this here column up. No, he is coming home to see his beloved Julie, which will enable him to also get the column up. I don't want to just come out and say that we are playing second fiddle here, but we are playing second fiddle here. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, we are not playing first fiddle. First fiddle is being played by Julie and second fiddle is being played by us. Us is playing second fiddle whether us likes it or whatnot. Oh, let's not go on and on about this. These are the facts and we must live with them. We must live with the facts and that is all there is to it. I just wonder if the facts wants us to live with them? I mean, we barely know the facts and suddenly we're living with them. Aren't we perhaps moving just a wee bit too fast, fact-wise? Shouldn't we get to know the facts, go on a few dates, and see if we're compatible, before living with the facts? The whole thing could be a debacle. Yes, we would have a debacle and then where would we be? The facts would move out and we'd be alone, night after night sitting on our couches like so much fish with no fact to comfort us and rub our weary brows. A debacle, do you hear me? Isn't "debacle" one of the stupidest words you've ever seen or heard? First of all, why is it pronounced "de-bahk" when it looks like it should be pronounced "de-baykle"? It's all so confusing, these words. "Debacle". Frankly "debacle" is a debacle, word-wise. Let's have no more talk of "debacle". Let's just sweep "debacle" under the rug and forget about it until the cows come home.

For those who didn't believe that pruning the roses was making my roses bloom beautifully (now there is a segue!), here is an activity photo of a pruned rose.

Isn't that a lovely pruned rose? I bet you all thought I'd forgotten about the promised activity photos. Well, I haven't, and this column will be chock full o' them. For example, here is an activity photo of the inside of my refrigerator.

As you can see, said refrigerator is chock full o' my beloved Diet Coke. Those Diet Cokes, by the way, have since gone the way of all flesh, whatever the hell that means. They have, however, been replaced by more Diet Cokes, so the refrigerator now looks like this:

The activity, by the way, is cans of Diet Coke waiting to be drunk. Have you ever seen a drunk Diet Coke? It is a sad sight, let me tell you. They weave, can't walk a straight line, and behave badly. It has been very summery here in Los Angeles, California. Since it is summer, being summery is totally appropriate. The temperature has been in the nineties, but there's been a daily breeze so it's quite pleasant. Why am I giving a weather report? Shouldn't I be talking about musical theater or even, God forbid, my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim? I do believe I should and I do believe I can, because Mr. Stephen Sondheim's musical comedy entitled Saturday Night has opened at the Pegasus Players in Chicago. It has gotten very nice notices, and like every other show that plays anywhere, there is talk of moving it to New York. We shall see what we shall see. Saturday Night actually plays on Saturday Nights which is yet another example of Sondheim serendipity at work.

I still feel as if I'm in a void because of the lost column of last week. I feel as if I'm making up for lost time and whatnot. And yet, the lost column was not my fault so why do I feel I need to make up for lost time and whatnot? Shouldn't it be Mr. Mark Bakalor who should be making up for lost time and whatnot? But is Mr. Bakalor making up for lost time and whatnot? No. He is in Barstow or wherever the hell he is, singing and dancing and whatnot. And even though he's now home he still isn't making up for lost time, at least not with this here column. He's making up for lost time with Julie, that's who he's making up for lost time with and the devil take the hindmost. Let's just look at an activity photo of Mr. Bakalor and his ever lovin' Julie, shall we?

Somehow I'm just certain that the activity that they are currently engaged in has nothing to do with the activity in that photo. I'm certain that the activity that they are currently engaged in has nothing to do with Mr. Stephen Sondheim or the musical theater or whatnot. Why do I keep using the word "whatnot"? I keep using it over and over until you want to take a shovel and just smash it to smithereens, whatever the hell that is. What is a "smithereen"? Is a "smithereen" first cousin to a "whatnot"? Just asking. Is "whatnot" even a word? It's really two words, "what" and "not" conjoined together in close happy bliss, similar to what Mr. Bakalor and his ever lovin' Julie are currently conjoined in. Wait a minute... I believe I have just come up with a euphemism for what Mr. Bakalor and his ever lovin' Julie are doing. I believe the euphemism is that they are "pruning the roses".

Yes, I am just certain that that is the activity that they are currently engaged in. But is he pruning her roses or is she pruning his? This is getting too obtuse for even me. Oh, perhaps we should just end this section of the column, because frankly it's starting to feel like The Scarlet Pimpernel: It's finished and yet somehow it won't go away. But enough about me.

The McDonald's Beanie Bear Conspiracy

I recently went to McDonald's because I had a craving for my beloved Filet o' Fish sandwich. And so off I went to my local McDonald's. Now, normally, unless you go at prime lunch or dinner hour you never have to wait very long. But on this particular day at this particular hour there were more people in line than you could shake a stick at. I know this, because as soon as I saw how many people there were in line I shook a stick and the rest, as they say, is history. It was certainly not prime lunch or dinner hour so I simply couldn't understand The Great Lines. But, I was there, I wanted my Filet o' Fish sandwich, and so I took my place at the end of one of the long lines. Here is what I noticed whilst in line: Everyone seemed very impatient for the line to move. People were craning their necks (no mean feat) and tapping their feet impatiently. Now I like McDonald's as much as the next person, but I see no need to crane my neck or tap my foot impatiently. I leaned forward (it is difficult to lean backward without falling over, hence I leaned forward) and asked the person ahead of me what was going on. They told me that McDonald's had just put out the first of the Beanie Bears, Brittania. I'd heard of Beanie babies and bears because the daughter of a friend of mine collects them. And apparently McDonald's was having some sort of Beanie giveaway. If you bought a Happy Meal you got a free Teenie Beanie. Or, if you didn't buy a Happy Meal you could purchase a Teenie Beanie for a nominal fee. But the McDonald's Beanie Bears could only be purchased, and only if you also purchased a menu item. This, of course, explained the long lines, craning necks and tapping impatient feet. Then an interesting thing happened: A big fat lady started yelling, saying "Can't you move this line faster? They're going to sell out of the bears"! This woman was clearly agitated. Then another person took up the chant, "C'mon, move this line along, they're going to sell out of the bears". I thought there was going to be a riot. But, soon enough, the line moved along and soon enough I was at the counter to order my Filet o' Fish sandwich. Next to me was the big fat lady. She seemingly ordered everything on the menu and then purchased ten Brittania Beanie Bears. It became obvious to me that this woman intended to sell these bears, or to horde these bears and perhaps even auction off these bears on eBay. This woman intended to make a profit selling these bears to little children who couldn't get them because the big fat ladies had bought them all. Well, I took exception to this and I gave that big fat lady a nasty look. I looked at her as if she were a large fetid wart. Now, she wasn't really a large fetid wart but she was doing a mighty fine impression of one. Other people were doing the same thing, purchasing many bears by ordering many menu items. Having a collector mentality, I of course purchased a Brittania with my menu item. One. I also purchased all the Teenie Beanies for a nominal fee which was around fourteen dollars, a very expensive Filet o' Fish sandwich if you ask me. I then ended up going back on three other occasions and buying the other three bears, and it's a good thing I did. First, they sold out of the things immediately because of all the big fat ladies. Second, my friend's daughter didn't get to McDonald's in time to get all four bears and so I was able to make her a happy girl by donating my bears to her. I want it known here and now and also now and here that at no time did I order a Happy Meal. One must draw the line somewhere. As a matter of fact, I'm drawing the line right here.

Isn't that a fine line? I do hope that all you dear readers got your very own McDonald's Beanie Bears (Brittania, Erin, Glory and Maple) for your very own selves. If you didn't, there are many for sale by big fat ladies over on eBay. I am not being insensitive, by the way, when I say "big fat ladies". I have nothing against people who are big or fat or thin or small or anywhere in-between. But I did have something against these particular big fat ladies because they were gluttonous Beanie Bear speculators and they overstepped the boundaries of fair play in my book (Chapter 433 The Two Big Fat Ladies Who Overstepped The Boundaries By Buying Too Many Beanie Bears For Potential Profit Somewhere Down The Fine Line).

Too Old For the Chorus

I attended a new revue recently, entitled Too Old For The Chorus. This was, as you might have surmised from the title, a show about people who are too old for the chorus. But it was also a show about people who are gay and too old for the chorus. I thought that was one too many things to be about, frankly. I thought the "gay" things were tacked on and not really necessary to the evening. But the show was playing in a theater that only does gay-themed shows, so tack it on they did. It was a pleasant evening, nothing terrible and nothing terribly special. The performers were all fine, but the treat of the evening was seeing Mr. Sammy Williams perform again. For those who don't know, Mr. Williams won a Tony award for his performance of Paul in A Chorus Line. He was quite wonderful in that show, not only his heart-rending monologue which he delivered with subtle brilliance, but his dancing, which was joyous beyond belief. But work was not forthcoming for Mr. Williams after he left A Chorus Line and Mr. Williams ultimately retired from the theater and became an award-winning florist. He has now retired from being an award-winning florist and is back where he belongs, doing what he does best, singing and dancing up a storm. He is no longer the young fellow he was when he did A Chorus Line, but he looks and sounds well, and the few times he lets go and dances it is a joy to behold. The show also features Wayne Moore, a very good singer and writer, who did a nice job despite having extreme laryngitis.

The Totally Pointless Activity Photo

Here is an activity photo of the very airplane on which I flew to New York. Originally this activity photo was to have been in the column following that trip, but here it is three weeks later which renders said photo totally meaningless. We print it here nonetheless because we believe that totally meaningless things have their place.

The activity in this photo is the airplane waiting for its passengers to board.

A Ticklish Affair

Several dear readers have pointed out to me that I made a heinous (heinous, do you hear me?) mistake in Column 88. All throughout the column I wrote, "tinkling the ivories". Of course, the Real Expression is "tickling the ivories". I knew that, and yet I wrote, "tinkling the ivories" ad nauseum. I suppose I was thinking of that rare Merv Griffin record "A Tinkling Piano In The Next Room". That darn Merv Griffin is always causing confusion. Anyway, it's "tickling the ivories". So, the question then becomes, if you "tickle the ivories" do they laugh uncontrollably? Do they guffaw wholeheartedly, or do they just lie there like so much fish? I shall ponder that question while I finish "tickling" the rest of this here column.

The Ugliest Dog in the World

I recently met a really ugly dog. This dog whose name is Sushi, is a female dog. When I met her and was told that her name was Sushi, I, of course, immediately said, "What is it, fish?" after which the dog just looked at me quizzically. Here is a picture of Sushi looking at me quizzically.

Sushi has one of those dogfaces which always looks like their face is fretting. She is, in fact, a very happy dog, even though her brow is furrowed and whatnot. Sushi loves to eat carrots and cucumbers and makes quite a bit of noise while eating same. She knows how to sit when you say "sit" and she knows how to lie down when you say "lie down". She does not know, however, any songs by Stephen Sondheim. He, however, wrote the following song just for Sushi (to the tune of I'm Lovely for those who must know):

She's ugly,
Absolutely ugly,
Ugly is the one thing that she is.
Show tunes,
She does not sing show tunes,
Though she likes the slow tunes
From Les Miz.

Wasn't that nice of Stephen Sondheim to write Sushi that little ditty?

The Real A: A Life

Miss Meryle Secrest has been off in the Bahamas frolicking to and fro and also fro and to on the sand and in the sea. But she is now back and ready to resume her endless probing of my Real Life. She recently asked me if the radio had played any part in shaping my life. I thought this a fairly obscure question, but she's writing the book, not me, so I suppose she has her rhymes and her reasons. She often carries her rhymes and reasons with her in her purse, which makes for a very weighty handbag, let me tell you that, which I just did. She showed me some of her rhymes and reasons the other day. She had "June-moon" with her, and also "together-leather" and she also had the reason "I felt like it" with her, too. What the hell am I talking about? Is there a rhyme or reason to it? I feel it is time for a rhyme, and the season for a reason. Where was I? Oh, yes, the radio play and any part it might have played in shaping my life.

I have always loved the radio. I used to listen to it quite often as a young sprig of a twig of a thing. Yes, quite often my brother and I would sit around the radio (no mean feat) and listen to The Lone Ranger and The Cisco Kid, which were in their final death throes when I was very very young. I also liked scary radio shows, too, shows like Inner Sanctum and Lights Out. Anyway, when I got older, my mother used some S&H Green Stamps (which of you dear readers remember S&H Green Stamps?) and got me a nifty transistor radio. I just loved my nifty transistor radio and late at night I would put the accompanying earphone into my accompanying ear and surf the channels. One thing I found while surfing the channels was a broadcast of some wacky English comedy show entitled The Goon Show. Well, I was immediately taken with The Goon Show. The humor was right up my alley, although how they knew where my alley was is another story altogether. The station that broadcast The Goons did so once a week, and so it became a weekly ritual for me. The Goons were three English comedians, one of whom, Peter Sellers, had already achieved movie stardom. I'd first become aware of Mr. Sellers in the delightful comedy The Mouse That Roared and was already a big fan of his. His two cohorts were Harry Secombe (who is in the film Oliver! You remember him after Oliver says "I want some more" Mr. Secombe bellows "More?") and Spike Milligan. They were quite brilliant and quite mad and once a week, tucked safely under covers with earphone in ear, I would roar at their antics. I would try to remember all their inspired routines and then quote them for friends at school the next day, although my schoolchums were not quite as attuned to their humor as I was. I still remember my favorite Goon Show joke to this very day. They were doing a spoof of war movies, which took place on a German ship. At one point we hear a loud scream. One of the Goons says, "Ah, I hear someone screaming in agony. Fortunately, I speak it fluently". Without the Goon Show I don't believe there would have ever been a Monty Python, as that show was a direct descendent of The Goons.

But the best memory I have of radio has nothing whatsoever to do with radio programs. It has to do with an actual radio, which resided in my father's restaurant. It was a giant Grundig World Radio and I was totally mesmerized by it. It received broadcasts from all over the world, and I'd spin the dial and hear things from France and Italy and Japan. It was magical to a mere sprig of a twig of a youth such as I (sounds like a Gilbert and Sullivan song, doesn't it?). Oh, how I wanted a Grundig World Radio of my very own, but it was not to be. I had to be content with the one in my father's restaurant. I have, ever since then dreamed of owning a giant Grundig World Radio. So, naturally I went to eBay, and there they were. The Grundig World Radio. But interestingly, all the Grundigs up for auction were much much smaller than the one that had been in my father's restaurant. Eventually one came up for auction from somewhere far off in the Netherlands. I bid on it and won it and several weeks later it arrived, in mint condition and working perfectly. It's quite large, but I don't think it's as large as the one in my father's restaurant, unless that one just seemed larger because I was smaller, and now that I am larger this one seems smaller and whatnot. Anyway, it brought back many feelings of nostalgia and I really love having it. Now, if I could only take it under the covers, put an earphone in my ear and hear The Goon Show. Here is an activity photo of my new handy-dandy Grundig world radio.

Isn't that a beautiful thing? Isn't that just too too and whatnot? So, in regards to Miss Meryle Secrest's question, I don't know that I can say the radio played any part whatsoever in shaping my life, although I just said it so I guess I can.

Letters... We Get Letters

Of course I will be answering letters which were written weeks ago because Mr. Mark Bakalor and this fershluganah system of his precludes me from getting your new letters until they are old letters like yesterday's cheese slice. So, while I am certain I will have many new letters I will not receive them in time to answer until next week when they will be old letters. Thus is the letters conundrum, and all because Mr. Bakalor is off doing shows in Oxnard or wherever the hell he is, singing and dancing and whatnot like nobody's business. Even dogs are perplexed by Mr. Bakalor's behavior, to wit:

I'm just beating around the bush (no mean feat), as there aren't all that many letters to answer for the reasons (and rhymes) stated above. Have you ever beaten around a bush? It's totally futile, as the bush could care less if you are beating around it or doing any other activity for that matter. I don't know, I feel like I should be writing last week's column, which, in fact, I am, although it doesn't feel like I am. It feels like I'm writing this week's column, which, in fact, I am, although it should feel like I'm writing last week's column, which, in fact, I am. There, you can now give me the Eugene Ionesco Award for Column Surrealism. Speaking of surrealism... And now, Dino at the piano.

Pitgirl asks what "cherce" means. It's the way Spencer Tracy said the word "choice" in one of the Tracy/Hepburn classics. Pitgirl thought it strange that here I was talking about Ty's Restaurant in the last column, and then she attended a party and saw a person named Ty whom she had never expected to see again. She also tells me that she had a four-day garage sale, and that she will be selling some non-garage sale items on my beloved eBay. Perhaps I will bid on them and they will be cherce.

jon, who is twenty years of age, asks if I saw the original production of Company and do I have any memories of seeing it and other Sondheim shows of the 70s that I can share. I've actually shared all those memories in columns past, so if you search through them you will find those bits. I actually went through and talked about each show over four or five weeks. Perhaps Mr. Bakalor can point the way to those columns by using his handy-dandy search mechanism. That is if he isn't already using his handy-dandy search mechanism on his ever lovin' Julie.

Fambf (yes, Fambf) asks what my favorite dish is at Joe Allen. I presume what Fambf means is what is my favorite thing to eat at Joe Allen, unless Fambf is looking for my opinion on their china. My favorite things to eat at Joe Allen are the following: The caesar salad (simply yummy); the steak; the eggs with chorizo and beans (simply yummy); the fried catfish (when they have it, which isn't often); and my favorite dessert, the coconut cream pie with whipped cream on top.

Rebecca feels that everyone who appeared in Into The Woods has disappeared, with the exception of Bernadette Peters. This is shocking news. An entire cast (with the exception of Bernadette Peters) has disappeared. This sounds like an episode of The X' Files, doesn't it? Rebecca asks if anyone else was in anything after the show closed. Well, certainly Joanna Gleason and Chip Zien have been in many things post-Woods. Ms. Gleason was on Broadway in the short-lived musical Nick and Nora and also on a recent television series. Mr. Zien has been on Broadway and has also been on a recent television series. Danielle Ferland has done several things since, including something right now which I can't remember. Tom Aldredge was in Passion. Robert Westenberg has been in several shows after Woods, as has Chuck Wagner, who is currently on tour in Jekyll and Hyde. I'm sure others have done things as well, but those are the ones I can think of right now.

DeeDee points out that I have indeed been to The Apple Pan since I was sixteen. She points out that I was there several years thereafter, after attending a Sneak Preview of the motion picture entitled The Happening, which starred Miss Faye Dunaway. DeeDee knows this because she happened to be there with me. I bow to her obviously superior memory.

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Well, well, well, dear readers, so many people, so many answers. You all know your Sondheim trivia, I'll say that, although why I need to say "that" is another question for another day. The question was: Name the songs that mention "Sondheim" in them. The following people got at least one of the following songs sara, Felix (aka cheshirecat), Alina, Elan, Robert, Michael, Prouvaire (formerly Jon), jon (formerly jon), Drew and grehf. The songs:

  • I Won't Sing A Sondheim Song
  • Everybody Wants To Be Sondheim
  • La Vie Boheme (from Rent)
  • Paula (from The Goodbye Girl)
  • Dear Mr. Sondheim
  • Wanna Sing A Show Tune
  • Side By Side By Sondheim (the revue version finale)

and the Forbidden Broadway parodies:

  • The Ladies Who Screech
  • Circle of Mice
  • Into The Words
  • The Ballad of Teeny Todd
  • I Whistle A Sondheim Song

This week's trivia question: A major Broadway composer wrote several songs on spec for the musical Gypsy before Mr. Styne and Mr. Sondheim came on board. One of the songs they wrote was recorded and became a minor hit. Name the composer, the song, and the artist who recorded the song.

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



Questions? Comments?

The good news, dear readers, is that there will be a column next week and it will coincide with the birthday of Mr. Mark Bakalor, who will come home to celebrate said birthday, hence enabling him to get this here column up in a timely fashion. Would a timely fashion be a shirt with clocks on it? Just asking. I was supposed to go to a fancy shmancy dinner tonight at Ruth's Chris Steak House in Beverly Hills, California, but it had to be called off and I will instead be dining elsewhere, elsewhere to be determined later. I feel I am in a void, restaurant-wise, just as I have been in a void, column-wise. That is two voids for those who are counting voids. I would, in fact, like to smash these voids to smithereens if only I could just figure out once and for all what a fershluganah "smithereen" is.

Until next time, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...

Yours, yours, yours, yours, yours.

The Real A

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