Monday, November 27, 2006
I wonder .... Does anyone remember Harvey Milk?-- the first openly gay man who ran for public office in 1977? Along with Mayor George Moscone Harvey was murdered in cold blood by the former San Francisco Supervisor Dan White who admitted in a later confession that he had actually planned to kill Carole Silver and Assembly leader, Willie Brown-- Speaker of the Assembly then and in 1995 he became the first African American mayor of San Francisco. He even planned to kill himself. For the cold blooded murder of two incredible men, Mr. White received a sentence of seven years and served only five before being pardoned. At the time of his conviction, the homophobic backlash and sentiment of people in government at this time were simply unbelievable. White had a friend drive him to City Hall that fateful morning and he had snuck into City Hall through a basement window. He confronted first Harvey Milk, killing him in cold blood and then White rushed into the mayor's office. The mayor asked him to move the argument to a smaller private room. Dan White wasted no time in murdering Mr. Mosconethe moment he arrived in the room and shut the door, proceeding after shooting him in the chest with two bullets to the poor man's head. White fled and was then confronted by an unsuspecting Dianne Fienstein who was then the head of the Board of Supervisors in San Francisco. White escaped and then the two bodies were found. White's trial coined the phrase "twinkie" defense and it was a dark time for the gay movement. Dianne Fienstein became the mayor of San Francisco and her career was subsequently begun. Harvey Milk was a brave, no holds barred openly gay politician. He was perhaps the first leader to openly oppose prejudice, hatred and discrimination of gay men and women. One thing I was surprised to learn. Not only are two schools named for this brave man (along with George Moscone) but Harvey (before politics) was the owner of a very large and popular San Francisco camera store. Our movement has had its trails and tribulations. Thank God for valiant men like Harvey Milk and George Moscone! Rest in peace!
Sunday, November 26, 2006
At the left of this writing is Edwin Booth, the famous actor and brother of the man at the right John Wilkes Booth, the presidential assassin of Abraham Lincoln. On this date in 1864, Edwin Booth portrayed Hamlet at the old Winter Garden Theatre in New York City in what is known today as the finest performance of the piece in dramatic history. How sad that in one family, there can be three brothers and a father who are incredible actors and one who will fail and die because of his hatred of Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. I learn that John Wilkes actually performed a play at Ford's Theatre for Abraham Lincoln in 1863 even directing a line at Lincoln, himself. Lincoln was so impressed by John Wilkes Booth that he had asked to meet him-- and Booth refused. Another little tidbit about Edwin Booth. He actually saved the life of Robert Todd Lincoln, Abe's only surviving son from serious injury and death by saving him from falling between two cars of a passenger train in 1864-- just one year before the other Booth killed Lincoln and had plotted to kill William Seward, and Vice President Andrew Johnson. American history can be absolutely fascinating. Another tidbit, Booth actually had the opportunity to kill Lincoln at his second inaugural address-- he was that close-- but failed to do so. Edwin actually begged Andrew Johnson for the remains of his brother John Wilkes. It was years before his request was honored! American History continues to fascinate me! But more of this story later!
Saturday, November 25, 2006
Today in 1959, Carol Burnett made her debut in show business by appearing in the lead of a show written by Mary Rodgers (daughter of Richard Rodgers) and Marshall Baher (who also wrote "The Mighty Mouse Theme". It went went on to do 540 performances which in the late 50's wasn't too bad. Jack Gilford played the minstrel and Edward Everett Horton played the mute old king. It literally launched Carol Burnett's career. It was directed by the legendary George Abbott. My favorite songs in the show are "Shy" and "I'm In Love With A Girl Named Fred". It's a fun show and based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale "The Princess and The Pea" To date it represents the only Broadway musical to be based on a Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale. My writing partner, Tim Doran and I have a great show called "The Traveling Companion" based on one of the great storyteller's earliest works. We have great hopes for it and will enter the piece in the ASCAP showcase contest later this month. Well, "Black Friday came and went and the store did a little over $7,000. That was about three grand less than last year, but the rest of the month should not be so hard to beat. Today is Saturday and the store's big sale continues. We are giving away $80 fleece jackets with certain cameras. Let's just hope we have in stock what the people want today. John and I got an early Christmas present yesterday. My cousin Sue sent us a beautiful electric blanket for our bed-- wow-- is it comfortable! It was so funny though. It arrived and John opened it up and laid it out on a big chair and almost immediately our Maine Coon cat, Simon jumped up and curled up almost all day in it. Who says cats aren't smart. He was so damn cute-- that look on his face was like "Ah, I'm in paradise now!" Well on to work. This time I work 11am to 7:30 pm and we shall see what the day brings!
Friday, November 24, 2006
Well this is the day-- "Black Friday", the busiest shopping day in the world and I'm working at one of the busiest camera stores in the state. Ritz Camera in Studio City. The last two years I spent the Christmas season at Hooper Cameras in North Hollywood and didn't exactly have a mind boggling sales day there for either 2004 or 2005. So we shall see what the day brings. I pray to God I can make some great sales! We are not in a mall--thank goodness, so I guess it won't be as bad as it could be. But i do need to leave early today to find any kind of parking! Our little parking lot off of Valley Heart in Studio City has to be (bar none) the busiest little parking lot in a five mile radius. I work noon to 8:30 so we shall see what the day brings. All of you who have the day off-- be happy that you do. Only when I was a talent agent for about seven or eight years was I able to enjoy the day off! Well on to retail madness. I would also like to comment on the passing of Betty Comden , a Broadway and Hollywood superstar lyricist and librettist. Amazing lady! Amazing talent! Her partner, Adolph Green passed away five years ago in 2001. I do hope they dim the lights for her tonight on Broadway
Thursday, November 23, 2006
Thanksgiving Day. John and I spent the holiday with our neighbors this year. It was so nice not having to drive anywhere this year. I am grateful for many things even though this year is going to be so difficult paying for the expenses of the Halloween night accident. But i am very grateful to God for my new job-- which makes paying for this even remotely possible. I am so grateful to my sister Rosemary who came through with a loan and I am most grateful for my John whop stands beside me every day with love and support. I am grateful for my dear friend Tim Doran and the good people at work who are so helpful and friendly. Now if I can just turn my arrogant manager around-- that would indeed be a miracle! I am grateful to my cousin Susan in Texas and all of my family members who have helped in this little crisis. I'll get through it-- somehow with God's help. It has been said that when God closes the door, he somehow opens a nearby window! I simply need to sell a lot this Christmas season and earn as much money as I can. Today also would have been Boris Karlof's one hundredth and twentieth birthday. I read where dear old Boris was a wonderful cook. His real name was William Pratt and his aunt Anna Leonowens was the Anna in the "The King and I" stories. Some time after emigrating to Canada, he chose the name Boris Karloff after a character in the novel "The Drums of Jeopardy!" He was considered "the black sheep of the family" for becoming an actor! After coming to Hollywood, he made lots of silent films but had to resort to digging ditches or driving a cement truck to earn steady money in between movie gigs. Although mot famous for his three Frankenstein movies, 1845's "The Body Snatcher" was considered to be his best role. He co-starred with Jean Arthur in "Peter Pan" portraying good old Captain Hook. He passed from this planet earth in February of 1969.
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Tomorrow of course is Thanksgiving Day and i would like to wish all of my family and friends a most happy and blessed day. I can remember as a kid always eating way too much turkey and dressing, but this year will definitely not do so. I am very grateful this year because I was spared from injury in my Halloween night accident. God was certainly "taking the wheel" that fateful night. I will spending the day with my neighbors this year-- something far different than I have ever done before. But John and I will be together. He has been so supportive of me during this very difficult period. Thank God, I have him at my side! I am grateful also to my dear friend Tim who makes my songwriting possible and my dear sister Rosemary who came to my aid with a loan for the car. I am really going to try and become much closer to her for the rest of my life. I am grateful to for my cousin Susan in Texas and my sister Annette who's been supportive too! This has simply been a crazy nightmarish experience, but with God's help, I will get through it. I simply have to tighten the belt and not do any impulse buying. Christmas gifts this year are going to be very simple. John has tried to decorate the house and has made it as festive as he possibly can. Thank goodness! So to everyone a most happy Thanksgiving. Keep me in your prayers!
Monday, November 20, 2006
On this day forty years ago, the first musical by John Kander and Fred Ebb opened at the Broadhurst Theatre in New York City starring the incredible Joel Grey as "The Emcee" The initial production was produced AND directed by Hal Prince and ran for three years (1966-1969) Bert Convy (remember him?) played Clifford Bradshaw and Jill Hayworth played Sally Bowes. It was the show that launched Kander and Ebb's career. Veteran star Jack Gilford was also in the production. There was a 1987 revival that also starred Joel Grey as The Emcee. The story takes place in Berlin in the years 1929-1930 when Hitler had just taken power in Germany. the 1998 revival starred the amazing Allan Cumming as "The Emcee" For me, however (as much as i love an original Broadway show) it was the 1971 movie version that made it for me. That movie of course won the Oscar for Best Picture of 1971. The movie version of course made the Sally Bowes character a very talented performer whereas in the stage version, she is only marginally so. The subplot involving the landlady is gone and the movie really focuses dead on to the issues being portrayed. Recently, another revival has starred Neil Patrick Harris as "Emcee". He really looks strange in that getup-- but hey, a great Broadway musical has lots of room for very different interpretations. One can only point to new recent adaptations of "Sweeney Todd" or "Company" to illustrate that point. Today is also the birthday of legendary comedian Kaye Ballard. Kaye is eighty years old today. She has those amzingingly beautiful blue eyes and an incredible smile! I remember her from the classic television show "The Mothers-In-Law" from the 1960's. Her classic routines are some of the funniest ever! And today, had he lived, Robert Kennedy would have been eighty-one years old. To me, Robert Kennedy's legacy still lives. I remember that fateful night when he was shot at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. I had just gone to bed and my mother who was a night owl was listening to the radio in her bedroom. All of a sudden, I hear her cry out "My God, they've shot Robert Kennedy!" I got up and watched with her on television in horror that awful June morning. How different would this world have been if this sweet gentle man had become president of the United States. Who knows? But i do think that the Vietnam war would have come to a screeching halt. Well the Christmas retail season starts with a bang this week and I'm hoping I will sell very well this week. I have a big expense that needs to be paid for, but with God's help, I will get through this!
Sunday, November 19, 2006
It was comprised of ten sentences in two hundred and seventy-two words, but Abraham Lincoln's 1863 Gettysburg Address is certainly the most brilliant and best known of any speech given by any American president. Lincoln's involvement in the day's program had simply been an after thought. Edward Everett, the world famous orator spoke for two hours before Lincoln did. Contrary to legend, Lincoln DID NOT compose this speech on the back of an envelope, nor did he compose it on the train on his way from the city of Washington D.C. to Pennsylvania. The battle raged over three days from July 1st to July 3rd, 1863. The speech itself was composed four and a half months after the infamous battle in which seven thousand, five hundred American soldiers lost their lives. The stench of rotting corpses had made hundreds of people ill in this Pennsylvania community. The dedication was supposed to occur on September 23rd of the same year, but Edward Everett told the dedicating committee that there simply was no way that he could prepare a worthy speech for the occasion in just thirty days. Everett had served as Secretary of State, US. Senator, A congressman and as Governor of the state of Massachusetts. Fifteen thousand people and the governors of six states attended. Lincoln used the word "nation" five times and never the word "union". Lincoln's purpose was clear even in great sorrow. It was also on this day in American history, that we signed the famous "Jay Treaty" of the Revolutionary War and the Senate rejected the Treaty of Versailles of World War One. It was also the day that Ronald Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev met for the first time in 1985-- the start of a peaceful Russia. Happy 87th birthday to Alan Young who of course was the co-star in TVs "Mister Ed" and happy 73rd birthday to Larry King. I went to church this morning and went away feeling that somehow this accident mess will somehow work out. I may have to go to Small Claims Court but it has taught me a most valuable lesson-- and as the priest told me "Sometimes it's not that God is not answering your prayer-- He just needs you to learn well your life lesson before he offers the solution. Pray, dear friends that it may yet be okay-- eventually!
Saturday, November 18, 2006
This is the most difficult blog entry to write because quite frankly, it is without question, the very hardest thing to bear! . My Ford Focus ZX3# was involved in a traffic accident on Halloween night, on my 7th anniversary of being with my John. The foolish woman was on her cell phone and made an illegal left hand turn in front of me turning on to a busy street which had no signal. The street was filled with kids who were going trick or treat. She was rushing to pick up her two year old child from a private home caregiver. As it turns out, she lied to the policeman who was on the scene maintaining that she was currently insured (and he believed her-- even with an expired certificate of insurance.) False to both! On top of that the agent who sold me my policy went out of business taking my renewal check (which had an order for all the upgrades I had ordered), cashing it and not turning it into the insurance company--all he managed to turn in was basic liability (and pocketing the difference) so as to not alert the DMV or Ford Motor Company who is doing the financing. He did this to thirty-seven other victims because he was bailing in his failed insurance business. There is now a warrant out for his arrest! So now, I face $5,000 to repair the car like new with a six months parts and labor warranty. The only good thing is that the loss will give me back a 100% refund on my taxes. The lesson? NEVER trust an independent insurance agent again. If that agent insists on one making the check to the agency itself-- RUN!-- get the hell out of there. Because the man sold all kind of insurance under the business name of SOHO CAPITAL -- not just policies for Auto, the Auto Insurance company claims it could have been for any kind of OTHER insurance. Of course, I will go to Small Claims Court and I have filed a DMV report-- but even if I get a judgement against her, if she pays everything by cash without a checking account, I may be out of luck! This person needs only to move away to escape a judgement. If she's only living with the father of the baby and not working or working "under the table" there is absolutely nothing to attach. We will pursue to the fullest part of the law-- so say a prayer. The auto body shop is working on financing with me. I even went to the state insurance commissioner and he says the same-- I could have bought anything from this man-- including office equipment he was selling. He moved out of the building twenty-two days after "renewing" my policy. Another lesson-- if it even LOOKS like a business is in trouble (not open regular hours etc) RUN AWAY! since I paid two months ahead, the first deduction from my checking account was not scheduled to happen until November 6th-- the accident happened on Halloween night! TRUST but VERIFY everything is the big bitter lesson I have learned here. I even went to a lawyer and he wanted $3700 up front. The chances of making all of my money back with that liability added is pretty damn bleak! Especially if she's uninsured and unemployed! But I am going to to even report this to child endangerment services-- driving a baby around in an unprotected car is a big jeopardy to a child's life! Make certain also that all levels of insurance are enough to protect you. The last time I was ever in an accident that was my fault was in 1972 when I was eighteen years old! I'm fifty-nine now. The only ticket I have ever gotten was back in December of 1979! That's twenty-five years ago! So live and learn and trust only AFTER you have verified whom you're dealing with. God certainly protected my life that night. There should not have been any way that I walked away from that accident! I was looking over the car today and noticed that the air bags had failed to inflate-- which is what I remembered at the accident scene. I need every body's prayers that I make it through this challenge!
Thursday, November 16, 2006
HAPPY BIRTHDAY SOUND OF MUSIC
On this day in 1959, the Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt Fontaine Theatre and played there for 1,443 performances. It was the last collaboration of Rodgers and Hammerstein as Oscar Hammerstein died of cancer, nine short months after it's premiere. The production featured Mary Martin as Maria and Theodore Bikell as Captain Von Trapp. Within the first year, a very young Jon Voight replaced Brian Davies as Rolfe and subsequently married Lauri Peters who was playing Liesel at the time. Patricia Newley played the Mother Abbess. The production shared the Best Musical Tony Award with "Fiorello!!" It also won a Tony award for Mary Martin. The choreographer was Broadway legend Joe Layton. The show enjoyed revivals in 1961, 1981, 1987, 1998 and now the current production in London being produced by Andrew Llloyd Webber. Many people believe that "Edelweiss" to be a traditional Austrian song or even their national anthem. Not so! "Edelweiss" was actually the very last song that Rodgers and Hammerstein wrote together and was actually added to the score in tryouts prior to coming to New York. One of the big misconceptions derived from both the play (and most especially from the 1965 hit movie was that pre-war Austria was a peaceful, idyllic place to live. Not so! Poor Austria in the 1930's had suffered through a great civil war and a major depression, only to fall under the spell of Hitler, a right wing oligarchy. Fact #2: Expressions of Austrian nationalism were by no means forbidden-- they were actually mandatory. Fact # 3: All titles of nobility in Austria had been cancelled. The word "Von" was a title of nobility-- so in actuality, the family would have been known simply as "The Trapp Family" Believe or not, the real Maria sold the rights to her story for a mere $10,000-- so the Von Trapp family did not benefit greatly from the musical's enormous success throughout the years. Imagine that! Another writer cheated! The stage version differs greatly from the movie version, (with two of the stage version's songs cut) however the current London production incorporates the two songs that Richard Rodgers wrote solo for the motion picture version in 1965. One is "I Have Confidence In Me! and the other is the hauntingly beautiful "Something Good" which Maria sings to the Captain once he tells her that he loves her. I have always loved "The Sound of Music". It is simply a perfect musical and so well structured that it perhaps all other R&H shows will remain in performance forever! Mary Poppins makes her official opening tonight at the New Amsterdam theatre. "Break a leg!" to everyone involved. It's a different show than the movie, but still wonderful. The Sherman Brothers songs still shine and always will! Keep up on those prayers for me that I can get this accident thing behind me! Well until another day!
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
GILBERT & SULLIVAN'S 1st SHOW
Today is the anniversary of the first show in the long and stormy career of Gilbert & Sullivan. That show was "Thespis" in 1871. Gilbert wrote the fanciful words for these operettas in which an absurdity is taken to its logical conclusion. In their shows, we rub elbows with flirting English Lords, and gondoliers ascend to the monarchy: not to mention pirates who turn out to be nobleman who have gone wrong! Gilbert's lyrics employ double and sometimes triple rhymes and great punning! They served as a model for later composers such as Cole Porter and Ira Gershwin. Gilbert and Sullivan had a strained working relationship at best partly caused by the fact that each man saw himself allowing his work to be subjugated to the other's criticism and review. Well so much for collaboration! Gilbert was often confrontational and notoriously thin skinned (though proned to many acts of extraordinary kindness) Sullivan loved conflict! Sullivan loved realism and emotional content and Gilbert infused his libretto with "Topsy Turvey" situations in which the social order was turned upside down. Gilbert political satire poked fun at those in the circles of privilege-- many of these were Sullivan's friends-- and whom he assumed were being offended by these swipes and put downs. "Thespis" was their first collaboration that was performed for the first time on this day in 1871. In this show the "gods" of the classical world who have become elderly and ineffective are temporarily replaced by a troupe of actors and actresses. . The piece mocked "Orpheus In the Underworld". No one thought they would continue together as a team because the show lasted only sixty-four performances on the English stage. In fact, the pair did not work together again for another four years for what was to become a major hit. It was called "Trial By Jury" . But it was only one act. Only the later (1877) "The Sorcerer" was the first full length Gilbert and Sullivan in what became known as the Savory Operas. This was the first comic opera. It was about a cockney businessman who just so happens to be a great unappreciated sorcerer who offers both blessings (not much called for) and curses (very popular) for those with the right state of mind and funds to buy it with. It ran 131 performances and established the team! I have always wanted to write a spoof on Gilbert and Sullivan. I imagine it to be called "The Revenge of Gilbert and Sullivan" In my original notes, Gilbert and Sullivan are up in heaven and are constantly arguing and fighting driving poor Saint Peter crazy. He can't take their fighting and bickering any longer and he sends them back to Earth to do one last production using all the knowledge they have now and have gained in eternity. Well that sounds fun, but I think now it might be really fun to take that original production of Thespis and combine it with "The Sorcerer" The plot would be the same-- but instead of using Saint Peter and saints and religious folk, why not put the pair on Mount Olympus where now Zeus and the other Greek gods are old and ineffectual. Of course, we assume these guys aren't myth at all! On Mount Olympus where G&S reside in eternity they are are still fighting and Zeus himself can't stand the fighting and constant arguments anymore. So Zeus proposes to the pair that they go back to Earth and find actors who are tired of "the weary Earth and would love to portray the aged gods for reasons of image, literature, even "publicity"-- after all-- what fun is it to be a "god" if nobody believes in you anymore --even English majors! And all because you're too old to make your presence known anymore? If they succeed and the "gods" are impressed, the actors can stay and go G&S operettas in eternity forever-- living as "gods' usually do. But if they fail-- its off to the Underworld where the aged "gods" may not have usable replacements, but they won't have to listen to G&S fight anymore! This prevents anyone not into religion to enjoy the show as pure satire. So G&S go back to Earth and find the decedent of that same Sorcerer who has all of his great grandfather's old potions stored away. The poor magician is almost destitute and doesn't even think these potions work. But they do! And G&S (who did all the casting of their shows and made performers outstanding by continually working with and coaching them) decide to do the same, but this time use the magic potions to give these actors great wit, personality, power, magic-- all the things a Greek god replacement would need. Would any actor give up their uncertain life and uncertain success on earth for a chance of eternity "playing" a Greek god? No more worries! No more bills! No more taxes! Well, you get the point. Well at first everything is wonderful at first and the "Greek gods" are very impressed and happy. But "magic" isn't forever and the actors and actresses are starting to lose the powers that the potions from the Sorcerer gave them. Not wishing to lose "eternity on Mount Olympus" they resort to their own talents without magic and their own built in ego from earth-- that spells big trouble. It may be "Underworld time at any moment. Hey life was hell-- but not the kind they face! And so G&S take matters into their own hands-- they simply tell the actors troupe that they must ditch the magic (which wears out more and more each day) and G&S coach the actors trouper just like they did in the 1800's. The old adage "Be yourself" is more magic than any potion and the actors troupe save their life in paradise by showing the gods -- that they can be their old persona's again too by simply believing in themselves as they used to and letting the actors remain in eternity to entertain them doing simply what they do best-- brilliant theatre! Brilliant Gilbert & Sullivan! Sounds fun-- And the Sorcerer? Well, he knows when his goose is cooked and leaves Olympus pronto for his old life on Earth! Paradise isn't always what you think! Will it work? Will I ever get to write this thing-- well we shall see what we shall see!
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Today we honor two famous souls. The first is Nellie Bly, a journalist for the New York World newspaper who had more guts than you could imagine. In 1894, she took the challenge to be the first woman to travel unaccompanied around the world-- inspired by the Jules Verne story "Around the World in Eighty Days". Nellie made it in seventy-two days. She also was the reason mental hospitals were reformed in the 1800's after feigning to be insane and getting committed to a mental hospital. Her expose was called "Ten Days In A Madhouse" and it w2as the single handed reason that mental hospitals stopped doing some of the worst atrocities to human beings seen in decades. She also spent time in Mexico reporting on the plight and poverty of the Mexican citizen. A rush of missionaries and US aid came as a result. Great courage from a brave lady. And today also is the birthday of Arron Copland, the father of American composition with such amazing musical pieces as "The Ballad of Billy The Kid" "Lincoln Portrait' and "Fanfare For The Common Man" Today I attend The Camera Vendor's Expo to see the latest in camera photographic products. And by the way keep saying those prayers!
Sunday, November 12, 2006
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, PRINCESS GRACE
Princess Grace would have been seventy-seven years old today. A stately, gracious and beautiful lady who passed from this weary earth on September 14th, 1982 at fifty-three years old after suffering a stroke on the back road from Paris to Monaco. I've actually traveled on that same road and I want to tell you that this no ordinary road. It has more twists and curves than a Disneyland thrill ride. The tourist bus my friend Joan and I were on was really rocking that night because the bus driver was in a hurry! Thank goodness the return trip that night was a lot more relaxing! Princess Grace was an incredible leader for her people and had made some really wonderful movies. I am reading this morning that she actually had an affair with Clark Gable in the filming of "Mogambo" and was romanced seriously by Bing Crosby during the filming of "The Country Girl". Bing had just lost his first wife, Dixie when the picture was being made. Prince Rainer was very anxious to have an heir for the throne because there was widespread legal opinion that if Monaco had no heir, it's kingdom would cease to be and it would once gain become part of France. All of this was settled back in 2002 when a formal treaty with France was signed with Monaco that will guarantee the tiny country's principality and independence forever regardless of direct heir. Prince Albert (now on the throne) is still a bachelor so that's good news for the country as they say! Princess Grace, I understand did one last thing for show business just months before she died narrating the story of "The Nativity" in 1982. If anyone sees this item in DVD-- please let me know. Today is also the 55th anniversary of the opening on Broadway of Lerner & Lowe's "Paint Your Wagon". The least successful of all of their shows, it does contain however some wonderful songs. The 1969 film version directed by Joshua Logan and adapted By Paddy Chayefsky was very very different from the Broadway play and a colossal flop at the box office. Only one movie musical did worse than this turkey: It was "Shangrala" written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David. Does anyone remember any of those songs. Well, I remember the one called "The World Is A Circle" But here is the odd thing about the movie version of "Paint Your Wagon"-- besides Lee
mega hit " Let it Be"-- can that be possible? Well it was! A funny bit of moviie trivia. Imagine that ! Grace Kelly being romanced by Bing Crosby (no spring chicken even back then) and crusty old Lee Marvin's singing upsetting the Beatles! Who says that fact ain't stranger than fiction!? Not me! Keep the prayers up that the insurance issue will come through for me, everyone. I need all the prayers I can get!
Saturday, November 11, 2006
GOD BLESS AMERICA SUNG BY CONGRESS ON SEPT 11th
Kate Smith was my all time favorite singer of all time-=bar none. I became enchanted with her singing voice in 1952 as a child living in San Gabriel, California and I bought every record that she ever made. The picture at the left of her is taken from her still photos of her NBC afternoon television program that ran daily from 1950 to 1954. If you were a performer, there were two programs you wanted to perform on. The first was the "Ed Sullivan" show and the second was "The Kate Smith Hour". If you landed either or both of these shows -- YOU had "arrived". She was then as she was throughout her life an incredible performer. She was a composer's best friend because she could deliver any song precisely as the song writer had intended. On this Veterans Day, we celebrate the great end of World War I and the bravery of every American soldier who has fought and perhaps died for the cause of freedom. But it also the anniversary of Kate Smith introducing "God Bless America" to the world on network radio in 1938. The song itself goes back to 1918 when it was written for a patriotic revue being written and produced by composer Irving Berlin. Berlin decided against using it and it sat in Berlin's "song trunk for twenty years. Until one evening when Berlin heard Kate Smith sing on the radio. Well that was it! He dug this golden classic and started to revise it and Kate was shown the song. She loved it and so did the American Public. At one time, it was favored to become the National Anthem and gained fame all over again on the afternoon of September 11th, 2001 when the members of Congress reacting to the great attack upon our country that morning were gathered around the base of the capitol building . The speech was made and then out of pure spontaneity they all began to sing "God Bless America". Of course, not everyone in the country loved the song. The great folk singer Woodie Guthrie actually wrote "This Land Is Your Land" in protest to the schmaltziness of the song itself. Irving Berlin donated the song's royalties to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, and even today, it represents a great deal of their annual budget money. My arranger, Tim Doran actually accompanied Kate Smith for her last rendition of the song for a bicentennial celebration in 1976 in Dana Point She was very impressed by his rendition and told him so in a beautiful note. The Philadelphia Flyer's hockey team has erected a statue of Kate outside their stadium. Every time that they played a recording of Kate's rendition of the song, they seemed to win: a record breaking 169 times at home in five years. There are only two performers that could hit the last note of "The Impossible Dream" as it was composed by Mitch Leigh for the Broadway show "Man of La Mancha". The first was the show's original star, Richard Kiley. The second was Kate Smith. She was simply amazing. She will always and forever be a part of my heart's affection! She was a legend!
Friday, November 10, 2006
Lesson learned: "Don't buy something on trust alone" and "Trust but verify" Brick wall-- bang head time because the woman who made an illegal left hand turn against my Ford Focus me on Halloween night presented an expired insurance card that she insisted was in force. The cop at the scene believed this bullshit story saying that people often put the wrong insurance card in their glove compartment. When I insisted otherwise he said "I'm the guy in charge here-- not you". In other words, shut up or you'll be the one in trouble. Well her not having insurance on top of a unethical insurance agent who did not cover my car except for California minimum plus 30 days of rental car now forces me to come up with the repair costs myself. I am getting a great deal on the repair, but this is going to sideline anything creative for at least 4-6 months. There was one tiny glimmer of hope presented this morning. She did not own the car she was driving: a 1991 Lincoln Town Car that has also been totaled because of it's age. The car is owned by her boyfriend-- who is the father of the child that this woman was picking up that fateful evening. That means HE may be insured. If that is the case-- I'm SAVED. Everybody pray! Imagine that: driving 12 miles over the speed limit, making an illegal left hand turn in front of three lanes of oncoming traffic (no signal at this intersection) onto a street with lots of children doing "trick or treat" picking up your infant child at a baby sitter! In back of me was a BUS! Had he hit her instead of me that baby would be without his mother, today. So everybody think great thoughts for me and say a prayer that this guy is insured. I will now refer October 2006 as "Black October" What happened to me and what happened to my dear friend Tim. With God's help we will somehow both get through this great challenge.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
Today is an inportant day in American History. For on this day in 1968, Richard M. Nixon defeated Hubert H. Humphrey for the presidency of the United States. The election was the closest of any American election in the 20th century. The popular vote was won with one-four hundreths of one percent (4/100ths) amoung three candidates: Nixon, Humphrey and George C. Wallace. Nixon had pledged to end the Vietnam War by Innaguration Day as a "gift" to President Lyndon Johnson. Well as the saying goes "the best laid plans of mice and men". What might hjave happened if Humphrey had been elected? Well one thing for sure, there would have been no Watergate or a resignation of a president. That war of all wars would have been cut off at the pass! Also on this day was another close election in 1912. Woodrow Wilson defeated William Howard Taft and Theodore Roosevelt in a three way race in 1912. Back then, there was limit on how many terms a man could serve as president. And speaking of that distinction, on this date in 1940, Franklin D. Roosevelt (Teddy's 2nd cousin) was elected for an unprecedented third term as president. What might have happened if Teddy Roosevelt had been elected instead of Wilson. Well, the "Bully" president would have certainly not sat back and let World War I amble by while our subs were being attacked. Today slao is important because Bill Clinton deafeated Bob Dole in the election of 1996. And Susan B. Anthony, (the Suffragist) was fined $100 on this date in 1872 for attempting to vote in a presidential election-- amazing. I am still driving my rental and hjoping my own car will be fixed soon. These ental guys seem to be a lot friendlier and helpful than dear old Enterprise Rent A Car. A note about the new version of Blogger in Beta-- yuou can't use the excalmation point anymore. If that isn't the silliest thing you've heard of I don't know what is! What's next to go? The question mark? Oh well. At any point Happy 75th birthday to Ike Turner and Happy 65th birthday to Art Garfunkel-- sure makes me feel older.
Saturday, November 04, 2006
Will Rogers was first an indian, then a cowboy and then a national figure. He is now a legend. Today would have been one hundred and twenty seven years old. He died in that infamous plane crash in 1935. Will was taught roping by a freed slave and as he grew older, his roping skills developed so amazingly that he was listed in the Guinness Book of records for throwing three lassos at once! One rope caught the running horse's neck, the other would hoop around the rider and the third swooped up under the horse to loop all four legs. Quite a feat! But it was this man's amazing wit that endeared him to the American public. Some of his saying are as funny today as they were in the 1920's and 30's. My personal favorites are "Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock" and "Be thankful we're not getting all the government we're paying for!" "Even if you're on the right track, you're gonna get run over if you just sit there and do nothing!" "Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your talk like hell parrot to the town gossip" Quickly, his wise cracks and folksy observations become more prized by audiences than his expert roping. He became recognized as a being a very informed and smart philosopher--telling the truth in very simple words so that everyone everywhere could easily understand him. When he said "Take the diplomacy out of war and the thing would fall flat in a week" or "The income tax has made more liars out of the American people than golf has"-- you'd laugh and you'd remember! During his lifetime he traveled around the globe three times-- meeting people, talking about peace and learning everything possible! He wrote six book and published more than two million words. He was kind and generous man who spent thousands of dollars helping others and his charitable foundations exist to this very day. I will end this with a quote that is pretty much on the mark just as it stands: "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned." By the way today is the 90th birthday of another American legend-- Walter Cronkite. Happy Birthday, Walter!
Friday, November 03, 2006
I will make this blog entry brief, because it is mostly painful, but with God's help, I will survive. The very night of my 7th anniversary with John, I went out and bought some batteries. On the way home, a young careless woman, talking on her cell phone and rushing to pick up her child, made an illegal left hand turn in front of me and our cars collided. I praise God for protecting me, because quite frankly, I do not see how I walked away from that collision with no injuries-- not even broken glasses. So now I face having my car repaired-- of course, she is totally at fault. You simply do NOT turn left in front of any oncoming car on a busy street-- most especially if that street has no traffic signal. She claimed others in the other two lanes stopped for her. If that was the case, she was lucky twice there because behind me was a bus-- and I don't think she would have survived if that bus had hit her instead of me! It was because she was in a rush to pick up her baby son. Can you imagine if she had been in a hurry with that baby son in the child seat behind her? I think the message here is "Slow down" and take things carefully! Nothing is that important!