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

July 5, 1999 - #91

Return Shall I: (I do so and) said General the what. Did I, that say didn't General the, sorry I'm, oops.

Well, that didn't work, did it? You see, dear readers, this is Column 91. Now, 91 backwards is 19 so I thought it might be interesting to just take Column 19 and give it to you backwards. But, do you know what I discovered? It makes no sense, giving you a column backwards. The words just sit there like so much fish, without meaning or point. So, my idea of doing Column 19 backwards will be going the way of all flesh, which in my case is downward.

Well, this column is off to a sitting start, isn't it? Last night I went to a little joint named Les Deux Cafes. Les Deux Cafes is French for The Two Cafes. This joint is made up of two cafes, hence the name. I walked through the first cafi, which was peopled by dining diners, to get to the second cafi, which, when I arrived, was peopled by just a handful of people. I was there to hear a singing actress named Lisa Zane. Lisa Zane has been on many television programs and in quite a few not so well known films. Her brother Billy Zane was in the motion picture Titanic. He played the person everyone in the audience wanted to throw a shovel at, the person who tried to shoot Leonardo di Caprio, much to the horror of all the teenage girls in attendance. I joined the people I was meeting and there we sat, practically alone in the room. The show was to begin at ten o'clock. At nine forty-five Miss. Zane came in with her piano player and joined our table. She was very nice and assured us the room would fill up. Then she left to prepare her set with her pianist. Meanwhile, there were still only five people in attendance. But somehow, by the time the show started some fifteen minutes late, the room was filled, exactly as Miss Zane had predicted. Brother Billy Zane was there, too, looking quite idiotic with a fishing hat and five days growth of beard. Miss Zane made her way to the piano in her long leather aqua gown and began to sing. In French. She sang three songs in French. Then she finally sang a song in English. Then she sang a song in Spanish. It was becoming very apparent that Miss Zane fancied herself a sophisticated chanteuse of many languages. She gave us some Kurt Weill in German, too. By the time she took a break I felt totally French, Spanish and German. As I took my leave I said, "Adieux, adios and auf wiedersein". I then went home and ate a burrito with cheese, a crepe and some sauerbraten. Later, while taking my siesta, I dreamt of the Left Bank while Eine Kleine Nachtmusik played in the background. I woke up, happy to be right here in Los Angeles, California, USA. Hopefully, that will be the end of my multi-cultural nightclubbing for this week. Next week perhaps I'll see a singer who will do songs in Dutch, Japanese and Italian. Yes, then I can wear some clog shoes and a kimono while eating a sausage and peppers hero. In fact, I believe this should be a multi-cultural column. Yes. Every now and then and also then and now I shall throw in a multi-cultural thing, like Armenian. Isn't Armenian multi-cultural? After Armenian I might toss in Ethiopian for good measure. Oh, I feel this is becoming a World Column with all nations, creeds and colors represented, especially Orange. What the hell am I talking about? Maybe writing the column backwards is the way to go. It couldn't be any more obtuse than this.

But wait. We cannot have a "World" column and do you know why? Well, if you don't know why I will tell you why because you, dear readers, have a right to know. We cannot have a "World" column because we must have an American column. A U.S. of A. column. Because, dear readers, this is the July 4th weekend. This cannot possibly be a "World" column. This column must be a Red, White and Blue column. Not only that, but this column must have fireworks. Perhaps Mr. Mark Bakalor can do something special so that we can have our very own fireworks right here in our very own column. Wouldn't that be special, 4th of July-wise? Of course Mr. Bakalor may just be too too tired from all that singing and dancing and whatnot which he's doing in Oxnard or wherever the hell he is. Yes, he may be just too pooped to pop, fireworks-wise. Let's just see.

Fireworks or fish, you tell me. Oh, I feel so patriotic. I feel like we should have some Red, White and Blue right here in this very column. Here's some Red right now.

Isn't this festive? It looks like words, which have blood on them. Oh, yes, I like this very much. This makes me want to Square Dance, this red does. Not round dance, mind you, but square dance. Yes, let's all get off our respective couches on which we sit like so much respective fishes, and grab our partners, do si do, a la man left and away we go. What is "a la man left", pray tell? Or is it "alaman" or "alamande" or "almondine"? The "do si do" move has always confused me. I simply am not a "do si do" person. In fact, I hate Square Dancing so why am I going on and on about it? In red, yet. We simply cannot have Red Square dancing because the Red Square is in Russia and this is an American column. This is a Star Spangled Banner column. Perhaps we should have some White, since we are doing a Red, White and Blue column.

Have you noticed that white on white is very hard to read? I just wrote the best paragraph I've ever written, but because it's white on white it is all for naught. And why should it be all for naught? What did naught ever do for me? Until naught does something for me, it will not all be "for naught" and that, as they say, is that. Well, we've had Red, we've had White, perhaps it's time for the Blue.

"She stood there, quivering in her nakedness, while his hands explored the mountains and valleys of her fine flesh". Oh, wait, that's the wrong kind of "blue".

There, that's much better. Now we've had Red, White and Blue, all we need now are some stars and this column will have replicated the American flag. Now, where can we find some stars? Oh, wait a minute, I'm getting some e-mail. Let's see who it's from, shall we?

Date: Sun, Jul 4 1999 15:12:23
To: The Real A (
From: Carol Channing (

My Dear A:

I heard you were in need of some stars so here I am. Yes, I am. Carol Channing to the rescue. Because who is a bigger star than I am? I played Dolly you know. I did, I really did. I got standing ovations led by my ex-husband Charles Lowe. I'm not only a star on Broadway, I've been in the movies, too. I was in Thoroughly Modern Millie with that darling Mary Tyler Moore. That was before she had all that work done the poor girl. Her face looks like Todd AO now. It's so wide. Isn't it wide? Anyway, I was in Thoroughly Modern Millie. Some critics said I was just too big for the screen. Did you ever hear anything so stupid in all your life? After all, on stage you're playing to the second balcony, but on film your playing to the whole world, so of course you have to be big. I hate critics, unless they love me in which case I love them too. I do, I really do. Well, now you have your star, and you can move on, because I already fell asleep three times reading this section of the column. I did, I really did. It's so long, don't you think it's just so long? Oh, I have to run, because I'm taking part in a fireworks display. In fact, I am the display, because they say I sparkle. I do, I really do. I better skidaddle before the parade passes by.

Love and hugs,
Carol Channing

Well, wasn't that nice of Miss Carol Channing to drop us a note like that? So, we've had Red, White and Blue and Stars. We are doing our bit, 4th of July-wise. We are pulling our weight (no mean feat). Well, perhaps we should move on to the next section of the column, because frankly this section of the column is starting to feel like Footloose: Shouldn't it have ended by now? But enough about me.

The Real A: A Life

Being that it's July 4th, Miss Meryle Secrest thought it would be splendid if I shared a memory of a July 4th past with all you dear readers. That would be fine and dandy and also dandy and fine if I had any memory of a 4th of July past. But I shall endeavor to please her because if I don't endeavor to please her she sulks and if you've ever seen Miss Meryle Secrest sulk it is not a pretty sight.

When I was growing up, our family always celebrated the 4th of July just like any other American family did. With fireworks. My father would arrive home early carrying boxes and boxes of sparklers and snakes and all manner of firecrackers and such. The brand names always seemed to be Red Devil or Li'l Devil or something with Devil in it. I always enjoyed the sparklers. I enjoyed them when other people were holding them. I did not enjoy them when I was holding them. They frightened me. I thought they would sparkle right down to my hand and then somehow my hand would sparkle too. I did not want a sparkling hand. And those snakes. Those snakes freaked me out. They looked like black licorice "nibs" and when you held a match to them they would expand like a snake. I do not like things that change and a nib is a nib and I want it to remain a nib and not change into a snake. I had nightmares about those nib-turning-into-snake things. Then there were the firecrackers. I didn't like those either, and still don't. What I loved most of all were the fireworks things, the things that went into the sky and burst into colorful whatever-the-hell-they-burst-into far away from me,. I still like to watch those, and the further away the better. Fortunately, we never had any accidents with the fireworks my father brought home. It's amazing that one could purchase such dangerous things with such ease back then.

Next door to us lived the Adam's Family. Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I lived next door to the Adam's Family. To say that these people were several cards short of a full deck would be very kind. They had a son named Lee Adams and Lee was just one of those children who attracted bad luck. Wherever he went bad luck would follow him like a little black cloud. One fine 4th of July Lee's father put a firecracker in five year old Lee's hand, lit it, and told Lee to throw it. Lee said "What?" and his father reiterated, "Throw it, Lee". Lee said, "Throw it?" and then the firecracker exploded taking a bit of Lee's hand with it. All Lee's father could think to say was, "You idiot, I told you to throw it". An ambulance came and took Lee away to the Emergency Room.

Wasn't that a good story? I hope it points up that you must be careful with your fireworks on the 4th of July. I don't want to hear of any dear readers lighting firecrackers and then holding on to them. I do hope I don't have nightmares tonight about those damn licorice nibs turning into snakes.

The Bar-B-Que

Most people, for some reason, like to celebrate the 4th of July by having a bar-b-que. Or, a barbecue depending on your spelling predilections. I have no spelling predilections so either way is fine by me. Perhaps we'll just alternate spellings, so as to remain impartial and unbiased. In any case, at homes all across America barbecues will be aflame, cooking chicken, steak, hamburgers, and best of all ribs. Oh, yes, bar-b-que ribs are just ever so tasty. There will be gallons of Kool-Aid, beer, Diet-Coke and other beverages consumed along with the fatty marinated meats served heaping high on buns of various shapes and sizes. And, of course, there will be buns of various shapes and sizes attending said barbecues. My buns will not be attending a bar-b-que because barbecues make me vaguely uncomfortable. I do not know why this is, but it has always been that way between me and bar-b-ques. Because, invariably, barbecues are also swim parties, and then there are people in bathing attire and people in bathing attire make me vaguely uncomfortable. There is always some embarrassing person parading around in Speedos, or a g-string bikini. And, I'm sorry, I just don't like seeing people in Speedos or g-string bikinis eating fatty meats. That just skeeves me, frankly. So, I will not be attending a barbecue this fine 4th of July. I also do not like eating ribs in front of people, nor do I like people eating ribs in front of me, because invariably rib bits get stuck in the teeth and then one must listen to the cacophony of sucking noises while people try to extract the stuck rib bits. Because you either suck the rib bits out or you have to have been prescient enough to have brought some floss with you. Personally, I always have floss on my person. I hate having rib bits or other fatty meats stuck in my teeth and so I always have floss at the ready. Did you need to know this? Why, yes, I believe you did. Isn't floss an amazing thing? It was invented by a Swedish gynecologist named Sven Floss. I can't really go into the details of how he came to invent this, because they are quite gross, but invent it he did, and I, for one, say thank Floss. Without Sven Floss' brilliant invention we would still have rib bits stuck in our teeth.

Oh, perhaps I shall break down (no mean feat) and buy a bar-b-que machine and perhaps I shall barbecue this weekend. But since I don't have a pool there won't be anyone wearing Speedos or g-string bikinis. Unless they want to swim in the sink or get hosed. Perhaps I'll simply bar-b-que for myself, and perhaps I'll wear Speedos and a g-string bikini while eating ribs on a bun of one shape or another. And afterwards, I can floss to my heart's content.

A July 4th Quiz

Here is a fun quiz for us to play this holiday weekend. Pay very close attention to the questions asked, and answer them exactly and precisely. It is best to attempt this quiz after flossing.

Pick a number from one to ten. Write it down.

Multiply your chosen number by 9.

Multiply that total by 2.

Add all the numbers in that total together. (example: if your total is 84, you'd add the 8 and the 4 to get 12.

Subtract that total by 5. You will now have your final total.

Assign a letter to your number that is your total from above. (example: if your total is 1, you'd assign it "a"; if your total is 5, you'd assign it "e", etc. In other words, 1=a, 2=b, and so forth).

Now, think of a country that begins with your letter.

Now, using the second letter of your country, think of a mammal.

Wasn't that a fun quiz. Did you all come up with some interesting answers. And isn't it funny, did you have any idea that elephants were indiginous to Denmark?

If you did the quiz correctly you are now scratching your heads in amazement thinking, how did The Real A know that?

If you did the quiz incorrectly, well, you are now scratching your head in amazement and thinking, what kind of quiz is that? Now, go out and amaze and stupefy your friends, dear readers.

Letters... We Get Letters

Of course we're still dealing with that darn lag time, so I'll be answering letters from two columns ago. While I'm doing that I hope I won't splatter the screen with rib bits as I floss them out of my teeth whilst answering your lovely letters. It is always best not to be standing near anyone who is flossing rib bits out of their teeth as you might just be in the line of fire, rib bits-wise and you could conceivably get hit and then you would have a rib bit on your person, which would simply skeeve anyone who happened to notice said rib bit. And that, dear readers, would be heinous (heinous, do you hear me?). In the meantime let us answer our letters. What does "meantime" mean? Does it mean "mean" in the sense that time is curt and snippy, or does it mean "mean" in the sense of "a definition"? And why is it spelled that way? "Mean". Shouldn't "mean" be pronounced "me-an"? Or spelled "meen"? Okay, word people, it's time for some answers, and the first answer we'd like is why there's a "w" in "answer". Where was I? Oh, yes, in the meantime let's answer with a "w" our letters.

Tiffany tells me that at her mom's house there is a Grundig console radio and phonograph. It used to belong to her grandparents and as a child Tiffany thought it was really neat , because Grundig's have lots of dials and words and controls and knobs, all things that are fascinating to kids. She doesn't ever remember actual music coming out of the Grundig which would lead me to believe that the Grundig didn't work. Now it resides silently in her mom's foyer (reyof spelled backwards) with knick - knacks atop it. Are you all looking at "knick - knacks" and scratching your collective heads? I know I am scratching my collective head. It's not bad enough to have "knick - knacks" noooooooo they've got to put those "k"s on them just to make it thoroughly annoying. Tiffany notes that, since having her birthday, it does not feel any different to be twenty-four instead of twenty-three. Tiffany also informs me that she saw The Matrix four times in the theater. That is four times more than I saw The Matrix in the theatre.

Alina has a brand spanking new son, Mr. Adam Logan Wickham, born Wednesday June 23rd. She is trying to decide which album would be good to play for her brand spanking new son. I would not recommend the new album by Ja Rule. Or Sweeney Todd, by my close personal friend, Mr. Stephen Sondheim. No, something nice and gentle and soothing. Which singers you play for him as a child is very important. If the first singer you play for him is Judy Garland, this could impact him in later years. We congratulate Alina on the birth of her son and wish him health and happiness and no colic.

Prouvaire asks if there are tapes available of The Goon Show. I know there were some imported CDs as I have them. You might try my beloved Footlight Records in my beloved New York, New York. Prouvaire wishes a Happy Birthday to Mr. Mark Bakalor, and I'm certain that Mr. Bakalor says "thanks". Mr. Bakalor, unlike Tiffany, is not twenty-four, hence he has no idea if it feels any different from being twenty-three, which is only fitting since Mr. Bakalor is twenty-two.

Unknown (there was no name attached) sent me several e-mails asking various questions. Unknown wanted to know if Harold Prince is still alive. Yes, he is, having recently directed the musical entitled Parade. Unknown also wants to know my favorite song from Company. That would be Sorry/Grateful. Finally, Unknown asks if I am Really George Furth. Well, let's look at our list of guesses.

male, female, gay, straight, Stephen Sondheim, Bernadette Peters, Gerard Allesandrini, George Clooney, William F. Orr, Rupert Holmes, Young Simba from The Lion King, the Tony nominated Billy from Big, a cast member from one of Sondheim's shows, Michael Tough the singing janitor, Bruce Kimmel, Richard Christianson of the Chicago Tribune, George Furth, New Line Theatre's Scott Miller, Leigh's father, Waiting for Guffman's Corky, Mr. Mark Bakalor's word processor, Charlie Sheen, dear reader Matt, Pitgirl's physics professor, Michael Larson director at the Stagedoor Manor, Yves of Finishing the Chat, and record producer Bruce Yeko.

Well, George Furth is certainly a fine guess. I don't know, however, if I attend quite enough events to be George Furth. The other question, of course is, is George Furth me?

Pitgirl informs me that she is surrounded by chorizo. An enigmatic comment but a good one. It is important to be surrounded by something and chorizo is as good as anything else and perhaps even a mite better.

mrsmig asks what is that encircled black gobbet on my "pruning the rose" photo. She tells me it is scaring her. Well, let's take a look, shall we?

Why I do believe that that "black gobbet" is the actual prune with which I prune my roses. I hope that clears up the mystery of The Scary Black Gobbet Which Was Really A Prune.

Rafael recently received the 1995 cast album from the Roundabout revival of Company. He feels that while any recording of Company is to treasure, that Debra Monk is too sweet to play Joanne and that all the recent Bobby portrayals are getting wimpier. Rafael wants to know if I saw any of the 90s productions of Company and if so what I thought of them. The only one I saw was the Roundabout production, and I didn't much care for it, although some of the cast was just fine, including Jane Krakowski and Diana Canova. I, too, did not like Debra Monk as Joanne. She had none of the dry brittle quality the role demands, and I felt her performance was very forced. I gather that Donna McKechnie who is currently playing Joanne has similar problems in the role. You simply cannot play at that kind of part or it comes off phony and pushed.

Annyrose recently saw Into The Woods graduate Chuck Wagner as both Jekyll & Hyde. She thought he was pretty good but that the show wasn't. She feels perhaps she's been spoiled by Sondheim. It's not even a question of being spoiled by Sondheim. The lyrics in Jekyll & Hyde are risible and Mr. Leslie Bricusse has done much better elsewhere, although not recently.

Elan points out that in last week's activity photo of Mr. Mark Bakalor and his ever lovin' Julie that also in said photo was Mr. Bob Stillman, the star of The Last Session. That is correct and I should have pointed it out and yet didn't. That is because I was busy flossing some rib bits out of my teeth.

Ted wrote to tell me that he has looked at the activity photo of my pruned rose and that, to his eyes, it looks nothing like a pruned rose. Let's look one more time, shall we?

That thing in the circle is a prune. Hence, that is a pruned rose. I think we have beaten this pruned rose business into the ground, don't you, dear readers? Perhaps next week we'll have an activity photo of a kiwied rose.

jc asks who the Dee Dee is that accompanied me to the Apple Pan lo those many years ago. That Dee Dee is Dee Dee, the person who accompanied me to the Apple Pan. jc also loves the Apple Pan and feels they serve the best hamburgers in the world. I agree, especially if you are accompanied by a person named Dee Dee. Maybe if I don't barbecue whilst wearing Speedos and a g-string bikini I shall go have a Hickory Burger at said Apple Pan.

Trivia and Other Useless Knowledge

Three people got the correct answer to last week's 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.

They were Alan G., anonymous, and El Super Tevye. And the answer is:

Home Is The Place
Come Over Here

both written with Jule Styne for Mr. Tony Bennett, although Come Over Here went unrecorded.

This week's trivia question: Stephen Sondheim has thus far chosen not to be on the Internet. Why?

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



Questions? Comments?

Well, dear readers, it is time to go put on a Red, White and Blue outfit (with a picture of Carol Channing on it), light up the bar-b-ques and celebrate the 4th of July. If you are going to indulge in fireworks at home, please do so safely. We don't want to have any repeats of the Lee Adams Firecracker Story. My advice is to attend one of the many spectacular fireworks shows which take place in mostly every city across the country. Meanwhile I shall happily be flossing rib bits hither and thither.

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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