Friday, May 26, 2017

When Does Childhood Actually End???????????????

Douglas A. Bartha
December 14, 1954-April 30, 2017

It is commonly assumed childhood ends at puberty.  A sudden sprout of hair where once none existed, a drop in vocal register, or, for girls, that first flow of menstrual blood, signals for us the end of innocence, and onward to the next stage of Life, adolescence.

Some, like myself, due to a combination of emotional immaturity, or a reluctance to leave the familiar, cling to childhood, moving on, but cherishing it in the memory bank, when so many of us don't.

Though I am now old enough to be called a Senior Citizen, I retain a kind of childlike quality, taking delight in things that pleasured me back then, and meeting new experiences with the same kind of head-on enthusiasm I had when young.  Of course, technically, I am not a child, but I am free to kid myself.

The kidding stopped on April 30 of this year.  This date, which also happened to be my father's (he is still alive!) 102nd birthday, was the day I lost my childhood friend of 57 years, Douglas A. Bartha.
We met in kindergarten, where we had that teacher we mutually hated, Mrs. Compton.  I recall how, in the early years, Doug was extremely confident.  Until third grade, he surpassed me scholastically.
We shared mutual interests, starting with monster movies, and then onto books and films.  And, of course, as kids, we competed--who got the better grade; who was the first to get the new "Famous Monsters Of Filmland?"  Or to see "The Singing Nun," with Debbie Reynolds? I recall a time, in third grade, with Mrs. Bergen, when we were submitting so many book reports, in some kind of unspoken contest, she asked us to stop writing them.

Until sixth grade, we were in the same class, every year, at Irving School. When sixth grade rolled around, it was a shock!  It was also the last year I can say both of us were carefree and innocent.  Because, from seventh grade on, we began to diverge.

Doug, in seventh grade, was placed on a lower track, than I, which did something to his esteem.  I became more competitive, and did the most I could to prove myself; I just HAD to be noticed.

Doug embraced the hippie culture, which was ending just as we entered this phase of our lives.  I believe he wanted to be a part of that community in some way.  I always thought he should have become a disc jockey, because he had one of the best vinyl pop music collections of the day.  And he kept up with the latest trends, where I stayed stationary, or branched off into musical theater.  When we were going off to college, that Fall of 1973, and he told me he was going to major in Sociology, I was thrown.  True, I could see him being a social worker--he had activist leanings, then--but I also knew that his major required a course in Statistics.  For all that I was not a math student, Doug was worse, so why choose a major demanding something so insurmountable?

It was the first of many questions I was not able to answer.  Like how his family splitting up around then really did a number on him.  For all the talking we did, there were areas we just did not explore.  It was unspoken, but I knew doing so would be too painful for him.  Doug found a way to cope with that pain.  Unfortunately, it led to his demise.  I think you know what I am talking about. Doug lost a lifelong battle with the bottle.

And I have lost the last symbol of my childhood.  It saddens me.  It also angers me.  The choices Doug did make, over what he could have made.    The crazy things we did as kids, the different paths we took, as adults.

To think my father's birthday will, from now on, be a combination of both joy and sadness.  It was not like Doug's passing was a surprise; I can trace its trajectory over the last six years.

I would not be altogether honest if I did not say the following, so I will say it as tactfully as I can.  By the time of our junior year in high school,  I sensed there was trouble in his house.  I did not know what, nor did Doug tell me, but I sensed it.  And it became clearer to me, during this time, when, on several visits, his mother, with whom mine was good friends with, would ambivalently lash out at me, blaming me for something I had no idea what I was responsible for. Or whether I was responsible.  If there is one answer I would like about Doug's passing it was this--What did I ever do to you, Mrs. B?  Why take out your frustrations on me?  

She made it clear she could not wait till we were separated by college.  Perhaps she ate her words.  Looking back, not to take credit for myself, but it seems as if I got Doug through the K-12 part of his life; we got each other through.  Until he met his companion, Harold, in 1974, who got him through the next 43 years, I have no idea about that window of eighteen months, when he was on his own; the only time, actually.  I came to accept, as the years went on, Doug could not function alone.  I thanked God he had Harold, and that nothing would happen to him.

Until his decline, in 2011, I believe Doug, to a degree, lived the life he wanted, and had some degree of happiness.  Satisfaction is another thing.  I don't think he was ever satisfied, which was part of his disease.

I shall look at our childhood craziness as our best time together.  We were able to make each other laugh.  I shall forever wonder if there was something I should have done or said that could have made a difference.  I am not so sure; we were both equally head strong.

In the wake of his passing, I keep wondering how his path could have been turned another way, or what got him onto the turn he took.  I have some ideas, but those I will keep to myself.

As the title song of the film "The Goodbye Girl" says, "Goodbye doesn't mean forever."  I have my memories--my God, the "Crazy Foam" fight!!!!!!!!!!--and will keep the good ones intact.

Doug experienced much in his 62 years.  He did not live as long as my mother, and was deserving of so much more.  Wherever he may be, I hope he realizes that, and how much he was worth to so many of us he left behind.

So ends Childhood.  On to Old Age!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A Documentary On Joan Didion??????????? I Cannot Wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          For all that I sometimes dish Joan on here, let me say it is done with a combination of admiration and love.  The woman is a survivor, and continues, so I have to hand it to her.  She is a brilliant wordsmith; pick up anything by her; even after a few sentences it becomes clear that the lady can write.

                          The reason Joan makes me, and I am sure many, uncomfortable, is that she is able to so keenly write about topics so many of us do not want to face.  I had to put down "The Year Of Magical Thinking" several times, because Joan was digging away at truths I did not, and still don't, want to face.

                          She is fearless, and while I lack her courage, I nevertheless admire her for it.

                           So, I am thrilled to discover that her still hottie nephew, Griffin Dunne, who happens to be Joan's nephew, is making, with his cousin, Annabelle Dunne, a documentary about Joan!!!!!!!!!!

                           When I first heard this, I wondered how even they would get Joan's approval, as she strikes me as being private to the point of reclusive.

                             I recently looked at a trailer, and actually saw Joan speaking to the camera!  So, she must have given the "GO" signal!

                             Her voice is surprisingly soft and mellifluous; not the harsh, raspy sound of someone who has smoked and boozed her way through life.  The woman, like her writing, seems to be as tough as nails, and if the booze and cigs work for her, who am I to judge????????????????

                             I am sure this film will not be out for another year!  I cannot wait!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                             This may start a Joan Didion Renaissance!  I may read her oeuvre!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Hey, Girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It's Fleet Week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                             You know our lovable reptile friend, Gojira, ushered in the fleet to New York harbor.  Here's a sailor who looks like he needs some help!  Any takers, darlings???????????

                                               Forget "On The Town!"  Sailors are distinctly on the prowl this week, and we must all do our patriotic duty by bringing one home, for a home cooked meal!  What or whom is served for dessert is entirely up to the host(ess)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                 Or maybe the sailor will be the after dinner cordial!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                                  In any case, remember to be especially cordial to our boys, this week!

                                                  Anchors aweigh, everyone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Time To Welcome A New Reader!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                          I see my follower indicator is now up to 56, meaning someone has hopped board this mirth and madness!  Welcome to Debra Richardson, and I hope you enjoy what you see on here.

                           As I keep telling all, this blog goes great with coffee.  It's always by my side when writing.  If coffee were booze, I'd be Joan Didion by now!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                           But things are happening.  Summer is fast approaching, discoveries to be made, and a new reader along for the ride!  Hope you have a blast, and let's all say "Welcome!," girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                            And, by way of an official welcome, here is this blog's unofficial theme song--

                            Call me on here anytime, dolls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Feast For Fags, And Hags!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Girls, I am telling you, "War Paint" is the show you HAVE to see!  Not since the campy "Coco," aided and abetted by the brilliance of Cecil Beaton's designs and Michael Bennett's staging, has there been such a visually dazzling Broadway musical about fashion.

                                 In this case, it is about two doyennes--Helena Rubinstein (Lu Pone) and Elizabeth Arden (Ebersole).  I have seldom seen a show with two ladies so aptly cast, nor have I seen one where the ladies seem so openly gracious about sharing the stage.

                                  Between the ladies, the extraordinary sumptuousness of the production, and those two hotties, John Dossett and Douglas Sills, there is something for everyone to feast on.

                                 This also includes Michael Greif's flowing direction, Christopher Gattelli's poised choreography, as though each performer is on an eternal fashion runway, and of course, the designers--Catherine Zuber (costumes), David Korins (sets) and Kenneth Posner (lights).  My favorite design was the pink, neon-lit Revlon sign, which evoked a certain nostalgia for me.  Growing up in Highland Park, New Jersey, several miles away from me, way out on Route 27, there existed (and maybe still does) a Revlon factory.  At one point, before my dreams got bigger, and my vision of the world expanded, I thought I might end up there.  Thankfully, girls, I am here with you.

                                 Pink is a primary color, especially with Arden, so I guess, being the blog is pink and all, I am more of an Arden girl than Rubinstein.  Even more interesting, I found myself partial to Ebersole, more than Lu Pone, not for lack of artistry, but because, in the course of her character, Lu Pone has adopted an East European accent of sorts that undercuts the comprehensibility of some of the song lyrics she sings.  She is loud, and grandiose, as one might expect Rubinstein to be, and her diction is superb, but the accent gets in the way of the words.  I loved the coral green suit Ebersole wore in one scene, while Lu Pone's costumes are so grand, for those of us old enough to have seen her, it almost seems as though she is channeling "Evita."

                                  While the score is lacking the brilliance of "Grey Gardens," it is serviceable, with the audience being awarded by a second act, fictionalized duet, that gives the two divas a chance to shine together.  And they make the most of it.

                                    The show is not in the least campy.  It is straightforward, gorgeous, and riveting while watching it.

                                     How much of the show the audience carries away is at viewer discretion.  For me, the sight of two pros at their best, all that pink, and especially the Revlon logo, is enough.

                                      Girls, of all genders--you must flock to this show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Bitch Should Be Locked Up Behind Bars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  On June 1, 1988, in the town of Hampden, New Hampshire, a retired math teacher, Robert Cushing, was gunned down by a policeman neighbor of his, also named Robert.  This Robert's last name was McLaughlin, and his reasoning for doing this was nursing a grudge that he could not have Cushing's so-called perfect life.  What is more, he blamed Cushing, for no discernible reason, on his failure to get any kind of promotions, at his job.  How about mediocrity, Bob?  Did you ever think of that??????????????

                                  Robert McLaughlin was scum.  He is behind bars, where he belongs!  But, remember, dears, this is the Bitch Of The Week column, and while Robert McLaughlin's act was despicable, the winner of this week's Raving Queen Bitch Of The Week Award is McLaughlin's wife, Susan.  A real Lady Macbeth; this one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                   Cool as ice, Susan worked on her husband's psyche, building up an obsessive hate that may have simmered out, if she had kept her bitch mouth shut.  But, no, she goaded and goaded, encouraging him to do the murder, and acting as an accomplice and look out, during the commission of it.

                                    And you know what?  She was not even convicted.  This bitch remarried some guy named Cook, who should fear for his life, and is out on the street.

                                    Listen, Susan, you bitch, you are just as guilty.  While holding your stuck-up head high while walking down your main street, I hope someone comes along, and smacks you across the face!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      I saw this program on "Dateline," but it could just as easily have been featured on "Fear Thy Neighbor!"

                                       Anyone right now, who is a neighbor of Susan's had better fear her!!!!!!!!!!!



Let's Talk About The 'SVU' Season Finale!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                               Poor Baby Gojira; he was so disappointed.  The two hour, much ballyhooed 'SVU' season finale turned out to be one big fizzle.

                               What a compendium of clich├ęs--Muslim hate, homophobia, and Jersey white trash, all in one two hour segment.  The whole thing could have been done in an hour.

                                 Let me tell you, when the actor playing Yoseff, the material witness, vanished into the protest crowd, only to be seized by the cops, the terror on his face was so genuine it went beyond mere acting.  It amounted to "Why did I take this role?"

                                  The mother and daughter who survived the horrid restaurant massacre did more to promote Muslim hate than dispel it, when the mother perjured herself on the stand by lying about having seen the faces of the White supremacist conspirators.  They should have kept quiet, and let the justice system work.  What are the priorities here?  Do the writers even know, anymore?

                                   What is Hector Rodriguez, the slain star witness, doing hanging out with people who regard him as no less than "a stupid beaner?"  And one of these scumbags live in get this--New Brunswick, New Jersey.  Let me tell you, I knew folks like this, when I lived near there, growing up.
Some were even relations!

                                    Those two had no future but the Joyce Kilmer Service Area, where, I am sure,
the Brunswick guy's white trash wife was hanging out.  At least she came to her senses, and turned the tables on he and his friend.  Of course, there was a courtroom attack by him.  Of course, it ended with the question of whether the violence will ever stop.  A question worth asking, but in the hands of this show, it was so humdrum, it lacked the impact they were going for. At least Olivia did not get the final shot!

                                      Even Noah was disgusted!  When Peter Gallagher came to visit Olivia, he did not even bat an eye!

                                        That was the wrap up!  And now, with the series having been renewed, a new season will emerge, in the Fall!  Why do people keep watching.  Probably for the same reason I do--hope that things will change for the better.

                                         But will they?  I doubt it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!