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June 28, 1999 - #90
There. I have just got up and did some Irish dancing. I danced a small Irish jig (gij spelled backwards) and now I am winded. Do you have any idea of what it looks like when a Jew does an Irish jig? Just asking.
Well, I'm still waiting for something to come to me and yet nothing has come to me. I was sitting outside, sunning myself and reading a magazine, just taking the day, nothing whatsoever coming to me, when I suddenly heard the familiar sounds of the squirrel on the roof. I thought to myself, how can one squirrel make so much noise? And do you know what? All of a sudden three squirrels scurried off the roof and onto the fence. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, all along I thought it was one squirrel making all that fershluganah noise, when in fact it's been three squirrels. I have named them Larry, Moe and Curly. Perhaps I'll be able to capture them in an activity photo so you can all see them.
I recently attended a reunion of sorts. It was very strange. I hadn't seen many of these people in quite some time. Some looked great, but some looked not-so-great. Why is that? I was told I looked fine, basically the same as I always have, so obviously I am blessed with good genes. I am also blessed with good jeans, which I buy at The Gap for those that are interested in such effluvia. But some people who are my age looked like they could have been my parents. In fact, I asked one of them if they were my parents and they looked at me as if I was a bowl of earwax. They served luncheon at this function, and it was at this junction of the function that I had to eat, with some compunction, the chicken breast covered with weird-looking white sauce. I do not know what this weird-looking white sauce was, but whatever it was I never want to eat it again. It was specious sauce, and no amount of salt or pepper could disguise said speciousness. It sat on my plate like so much fish, daring me to finish it. There were also carrots and inedible rice. I wonder if the rice came from a box labeled Inedible Rice or if the chef actually concocted the rice from some special recipe known only to himself. For dessert we were served cake. On top of the cake was whipped cream and an old cherry. I ate the whipped cream and old cherry and left the rest, as the cake itself looked none too appetizing. Still, I did see some nice people I hadn't seen in quite some time, so the event was not a total waste.
This morning I was awakened out of a sound sleep by a mewling baby next door. What is a "sound sleep" anyway? I don't like sound when I sleep and yet when I sleep I am having a sound sleep. One of Life's Little Mysteries, this sound sleep business. Anyway, I have New Neighbors, and these New Neighbors have New Children, and apparently the bedrooms of these New Children face my bedroom. There was nothing the New Neighbors seemed to be able to do to quiet the mewling baby, and so the baby continued mewling which prohibited me from falling back into my sound sleep. There is no point to this story other than to say I did not get enough sound sleep and I am now ornery and cranky. Not that the mewling baby gives a flying Wallenda. No, the mewling baby merely woke everyone in the neighborhood up and then promptly went back to sleep. Is this considerate? No, but try telling a mewling baby that. They could care less. That's the thing about babies. It's all about them. They don't give a fig or even a pitted date how anyone else feels. No, babies have the easy life. They are waited on hand and foot. They are fed. They are pampered. They can throw up on your shirt and somehow it's cute and acceptable. If I threw up on someone's shirt, I'd hear about it, let me tell you that. The recipient wouldn't merely say, "Awwww". They'd say, "Hey, you big baboon, you threw up on my shirt", that's what they'd say. But a baby? It can throw up all it likes and no one says, "boo". Oh, don't get me wrong, I like babies. But I don't see why they can get away with throwing up on people's shirts and I can't. They can throw up on people's shirts to their heart's content, but if I throw up on people's shirts, even a little, people look at me like I'm a vile leper. Yes, an adult throwing up on people's shirts will simply repel them and you will be made to feel like a vile leper. Of course, "leper" spelled backwards is repel, so there you are. What the hell am I talking about? Mewling babies? Throwing up on people's shirts? Vile lepers? If only something would come to me.
I'm still waiting for something to come to me, something of substance, of importance, and yet all that is coming to me are three squirrels named Larry, Moe and Curly. Perhaps this would be a fine time to end this section of the column because frankly it's starting to feel like the revival of Annie Get Your Gun: A little thin. But enough about me.
No, this is not a section about airborne bacon. No, this is a section about the musical revue I saw recently, which just happens to be entitled When Pigs Fly. It has just opened here in Los Angeles, California at the Coronet Theater and it is quite delightful. It's a small revue with five people and many many outrageous and outlandish costumes. The audience was roaring from the beginning and the laughter never abated until the very end of the show. Not all the bits are totally successful, but the rate is pretty darn high, success-wise. The cast is excellent and the costumes are a hoot and a half. The pianist does yeoman work (no mean feat), which is even more amazing when you know that the pianist is Mr. Brad Ellis, the recipient of a brand spanking new heart. This show should be around for quite a while and if you're in the neighborhood you should drop on by. Another interesting thing is that the producer of the show and I went to Junior High School and High School together. We had a nice reunion (reunions seem to be the order of the day this week well, then shouldn't they be the order of the week and not the day? Just asking). He reminded me that when I was in Junior High School I performed in a talent show and did a solo rendition of Gee, Officer Krupke from West Side Story (which just happens to have lyrics by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim), in which I played all the parts. I remember that the faculty got very upset at the final line, "Gee, Officer Krupke... Krup you!". They were under the impression that I said something else and I was called into the principal's office and roundly reprimanded, until I whipped out my handy dandy copy of the sheet music and showed them the error of their ways. Despite the error of their ways they still prohibited me from performing that song in any other talent shows. And to that I said a hale and hearty, "Krup you".
Well, dear readers, something has finally come to me so "they" were right after all and are to be congratulated. I would like "they" to step forward and take a well-deserved bow (wob spelled backwards). Here is what has finally come to me: We must all get out our confetti and birthday hats, and we must all wish Mr. Mark Bakalor a Happy Birthday and here is the reason - it is his birthday. Otherwise we'd all be getting out our confetti and birthday hats for naught and we would look like fools standing there with our confetti with birthday hats on our foolish heads. Mr. Bakalor has come home to celebrate his birthday. That's right, you heard it here, dear readers, Mr. Bakalor has left San Mateo or wherever the hell he is, he has stopped singing and dancing and doing whatnot, and he is celebrating his birthday. I believe Mr. Bakalor is now one year older than he was last year at this very same time. And so it is a time for partying and cheese slices. And dancing the Hora. Let us not forget dancing the Hora. Shall we all sing the Birthday Song right here and now and also right now and here? Yes, we should and we shall.
Happy Birthday to you,
Several years ago some enterprising people decided to take Stephen King's first novel and turn it into a musical. At the time I remember thinking what an odd idea, but interesting nonetheless. Of course, the result was one of the most famous and infamous flops in musical theater history. Sadly, I missed it, but I had seen a few "reviewer's reel" clips, and what I saw was truly awful. Horrible Debbie Allen choreography, bad sets, and worse direction. I'd heard a couple of the songs, which actually seemed okay to me. Recently I was given an audiotape of the London production and listening to it I was amazed by how good a lot of it was. I do believe if the show had had different creative people (director, choreographer) at its helm the story would have been a different one. This tape had the performer who originally played Carrie's mother, the legendary Miss Barbara Cook, who sounds great, but I can see that she was not ideal casting for the role for many reasons. Whether one likes or dislikes Miss Betty Buckley, she is perfect for the part of Carrie's mother, just as Piper Laurie was in the film. As Carrie, Linzie Hately seems to do a fine job. Where the show seems to fail every time is in the numbers with the teenagers, which are mesmerizingly awful, sort of Footloose meets Fame on a Really Bad Day. But the musical sequences with Carrie, and Carrie and her mother are quite good, especially Miss Cook's rendition of When There's No One, which is stunning. The authors have refused to let anyone near this show since it died its Carrie-like death, and this is a shame. I really think with a new and very strong director/choreographer, and with some changes to the score, this show could be a hit. That is if it could overcome its own history of being the most notorious flop ever. At the very least, a concert or recording would be nice, but the creators (mostly Michael Gore, the composer) have thus far refused.
I just wanted to mention that I watched Take The Money and Run which has just come out on DVD. It was the first film directed by Woody Allen and it is as funny, irreverent, and fresh today as it was when it came out. It points up everything that is wrong with comedy today, most importantly the fact that comedies used to have to get laughs every two minutes. Nowadays if a movie has three good laughs that's enough for it to be a smash. Take The Money and Run is so funny so often it puts every recent comedy to shame. I laughed out loud (every two minutes), I even roared out loud occasionally (especially the inspired scene where Mr. Allen is attempting to play cello in a marching band). And the scene where he tries to rob a bank by handing a holdup note with the word "gun" misspelled ("gub") is a genuine classic. Go rent this film, especially if you only know the later Woody Allen films. You will be amazed. And you will laugh (every two minutes).
I want to reiterate, dear readers, that there is a lag time with the letters you send me on account of the fact that Mr. Mark Bakalor, the Birthday Boy, is off doing shows in Diamond Bar or wherever the hell he is, singing and dancing and whatnot. So, all the letters you wrote this week, all twenty-five of them, just got to me. Obviously, I will not be able to answer those this week. I will, however, answer all your letters from last week, which were really from the week before. Oh, this is all too too confusing, this lag time with the letters. But we will preserver. We will mush on, as they say in Alaska.
Tiffany is, by now, a college graduate. And she has had a birthday of her very own. Thus, she has not only graduated college but has graduated to a new age as well. Tiffany has asked where to send her activity photo of her wearing her handy-dandy fish socks. Why, to Mr. Mark Bakalor at his handy-dandy home address which he will be providing Tiffany via e-mail. Tiffany has recently been on a Simon and Garfunkel kick and is now addicted to them. She's got a Simon and Garfunkel on her back and may soon have to join Simon and Garfunkel Anonymous ("Hi, I'm Tiffany and I'm a Simon and Garfunkelaholic"). I, too, love Mr. Simon and Mr. Garfunkel, both together and alone. Especially the songs Old Friend and So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright.
Bob G. also remembers Kathryn Kuhlman very well, and felt she was very scary. He feels she would have been right at home in Mr. Ed Wood's brilliant film, Plan 9 From Outer Space. I love Mr. Ed Wood's brilliant film Plan 9 From Outer Space. It features many brilliant lines of dialogue, my favorite of which is this exchange: "You fiend!" "I, a fiend?" That is just dialogue writing at its finest.
Sean, a new dear reader, tells me he is fourteen years of age and a liberal democrat-Episcopalian. That is a lot of things to be at fourteen years of age. At fourteen years of age I was merely insufferable and spent all my time watching Zorro. He, as I, doesn't care for sports and he lives in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma. He asks what is my favorite Kurt Weill musical from Mr. Weill's German period (his is The Rise and Fall of The City of Mahagonny) and what is my favorite from his American period (his is a tie between Lady In The Dark, Street Scene and Lost In The Stars). From his German period (not his German comma mind you, no, his German period) I like Die Silbersee and the aforementioned Mahagonny, and of course enjoy The Threepenny Opera). From his American period I like Lady In The Dark best. Sean also asks what I think of Kander and Ebb's musical The Rink, which is Sean's favorite of their shows. I'm afraid to say I don't know it very well, but I do like the songs I've heard.
Anita points out that I was incorrect about the late Mel Torme's age, which I reported as "in his 80s". He, in fact, was 73 years old when he passed away. Sadly, I heard his age misreported on television (just goes to show you) and merely passed on what I'd heard. That'll learn me, as people in the backwoods of Arkansas would say. Anita also remembers the Studio One Backlot nightclub and actually performed there once in 1985. Many wonderful people performed there, including the likes of Barbara Cook, Judy Kaye, Donna McKechnie and Chita Rivera.
Mordecai disagrees with me about Alan Cumming having "personality" on the Tony broadcast. Mordecai thought he was gross and that not even five minutes into the show used the word "genitals". I feel that anyone who uses the word "genitals" on national television has personality.
Anna doesn't feel that this year's Tony's were the worst, she feels that honor belongs to the 1996 broadcast. I don't remember the 1996 broadcast at all. In fact, they have been mostly unmemorable for many years now. But that is because there have been so many lackluster seasons. When one thinks back to the Tony broadcasts of the 70s, they were very exciting no matter how long they went on, because they were filled with great numbers and great stars.
Crow also remembers Kathryn Kuhlman. Perhaps we ought to start a Kathryn Kuhlman Appreciation Society the motto could be "And now, Dino at the piano".
Carlton wrote and apologized for not having written. He asks if I remember him. Yes, I do. He tells me he used to be a regular reader but has become sadly lax. Becoming sadly lax is heinous (heinous, do you hear me?) and I feel that Carlton should once again become a regular reader of this here column. Then he will be exlax. I myself have never been sadly lax, but I have been sadly lox.
Grehf tells me he saw the Pegasus Players production of Saturday Night and felt it was extremely amateurish. I have now heard this from many people, which makes the excellent reviews the show has received baffling. Could these reviewers be Sondheim sycophants? You know, the kind of critics who forgive anything just because it's something to do with Sondheim. We must have discernment. Oh, yes, we must. Discernment is all.
Eliza asks if there is an archive containing all the past columns, as she would like to read the last 87 that she has missed. Why, yes, there is an archive and all you have to do is click on the handy-dandy "past columns" icon. That will take you back to the beginning and you can spend the next few weeks drowning in all the drivel we've written over the past year and a half.
Anna (not Anna) came across this column by doing an Internet search for "Abba Zabba". She moved to Ohio eight years ago from Southern California and has been unable to find Abba Zabbas. Hence, the search, which led her to this here column. I think it is wonderful that you can search Abba Zabba and end up here. That is simply poetic in my book (Chapter 401 The Poetry of The Abba Zabba Search and How It Led To One From Column A). Think of all the other words that you could search which would lead you here. "Fish". "Coprophilia". "Genitals". I do not know why there are no Abba Zabbas in Ohio. Perhaps it is forbidden. It might even be illegal to have Abba Zabbas in Ohio. There might be an obscure law about mixing taffy and peanut butter and if you break said law by selling or even bringing in an Abba Zabba you might be looking at jail time, or even death by lethal Abba Zabba. I would be very circumspect about the Abba Zabba Connection. Thank goodness they are still legal and sold right here in Los Angeles, California, at any store that traffics in fine candy. Otherwise I would have to purchase said Abba Zabbas on the black market. Not the red market mind you, no I would have to purchase them on the black market. If Red Vines were illegal would you have to purchase them on the red market? Just asking.
El Super Tevye is a fourteen-year-old male, a big fan of musicals, and a big fan of someone named Mr. Stephen Sondheim. He found this website last summer and he reads it avidly. Before I answer his questions may I just say that we have many many young dear readers of this here column. Now, I admit to occasionally surfing some Internet newsgroups, especially the DVD newsgroup, which is inundated with young posters, mostly twelve to sixteen year olds. I am proud to say that the young people who read this column are bright, articulate and tons of fun, as opposed to these idiot teenagers on the DVD newsgroup, who cannot write a complete sentence, cannot spell, cannot think and are obnoxious to boot, and who think that Sondheim is a shoe. So, all my young readers can give themselves a big pat on the back. Have you ever had a big pat on your back? This can be very painful, depending on how much Pat weighs. Where was I? Oh, yes, answering questions posed by El Super Tevye. He asks if I like Bob Dylan (some), Harry Chapin (some), Jim Croce (some), The Beatles (brilliant), and Creedence Clearwater Revival (sad to say I don't know them that well). Tevye also asks if there will be any more Gluckman and Fitz Songbook sections. I will see if there are any more songs lurking in their trunk and if I find them you can be sure I will share them with you.
Tom (he of Oz) finally saw Rent and did not care for it. I am pretty much in agreement with him on this issue. He noticed in his Rent program that the novel and film The Witches of Eastwick is being turned into a musical and he asks if I know anything about it. I have read about it, but can't remember who is involved. I do think it's not a very good idea for a musical, but what do I know?
Joey hasn't been able to write lately because she's been so busy with graduating. Her graduation song was Our Time by someone named Stephen Sondheim. Joey has reunited with an old friend, and said old friend loves fish. Joey, unlike grehf, enjoyed Saturday Night and recommends it. This, of course, is what makes horse racing.
Jed also pointed out my faux pas regarding the age of Mel Torme. Now my faux pas has been pointed out twice even though I only made it once. I hate making faux pas. When one makes faux pas then people can point it out (twice) and then the world knows all about said faux pas. I will try not to make any further faux pas because frankly I have typed the words "faux pas" enough to choke a horse, whatever the hell that means.
Only two people had a guess to last week's 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. Only one of them, crow, got it right. The answer is: Cy Coleman (with lyricist Carolyn Leigh) and the song was Firefly, sung by Tony Bennett. Interestingly, another spec song they wrote for Gypsy ended up in Little Me, the song Be A Performer.
This week's trivia question: Name the two songs that Stephen Sondheim wrote with Jule Styne that were not written for Gypsy. And name the one of them that was recorded and the artist who introduced it.
Until next time, I am, as I ever was, and ever shall be...
Until next time, 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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