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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!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      Bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

     

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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

That Tommy DiCenzio Was REAL Scum!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                  "Frank's Best" was certainly not one of "Cold Case's" best, but its perpetrator, Tommy DiCenzio, was as low as they come.

                                    Frank was a widower, a deli owner, trying to hold his life, and his troubled teenage son together.  The kid was very close to his mother, and he took it hard.  Nothing the matter there; mine passed when I was not much older than Tommy, and while I may have done some things I now regret, they did not include murder.

                                      Not only did Tommy murder his father, he--now get this; this is LOW--he almost beat to death their pet dog, King, for whom the father had affection.

                                      Tommy could not stand not being the focus of love and affection.  His mother, evidently kept him in check with plenty, so his violent tendencies, always lurking, were not fully released, till after her death.

                                        Frank only wanted the best for his son.  He just was not emotionally expressive.  Tommy wanted more from his father, and killed him for it.  And when the father discovered what he had done to King, he offered to get Tommy help.  But psycho sicko did not want to be bothered.

                                          I felt sorry for Frank.  He did not deserve this; he was a good guy.  The minute I discovered what had been done to King, I would have called the cops, and had the kid sent to a reformatory!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           Next to Rita Baxter, King was the saddest and sweetest of "Cold Case" victims.  The good news is King survives.

                                            But both Tommy DiCenzio and Ariel Shuman were real scum, and they got theirs!

                                            In the end, they always do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Not Quite A Night Of "Tradition," Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                 This may be hard to imagine, but just days after the 100th Anniversary of the visions at Fatima, the Actors Temple, on West 47th Street, celebrated theirs.  And the celebration was most unconventional....but delightful.

                                 My beloved and I attended, last Friday evening, joined by those two wild and crazy kids, Dan and Norma, who are, really, the Marge and Gower Champion of the place!  I must get them to do "Rain On The Roof," from "Follies," at some point.

                                   Imagine an evening consisting of a conventional shul, combined with the music of Cole Porter, Bock and Harnick, and Jacques Brel.

                                   That's right. In between all the religion, came "Night And Day," by Cole Porter, "Sabbath Prayer," from "Fiddler On The Roof," and "If We Only Have Love," by Jacques Brel.

                                     The last was sung by that Legend Of The Musical Stage, Neva Small, one of the guests gathered for the occasion.  She still has the throbbing emotional yearning in her voice, which won her fans ever since singing "I Wonder How It Is," back in 1967.  Her present day rendition of Brel was as beautiful and moving as Elly Stone herself might have done.  I, personally, cannot wait to see Neva, next month at 54 Below for the "Henry, Sweet Henry" tribute!

                                      I'll be frank.  I love the Actors Temple, but Neva was the drawing card that night.  Too bad she did not sing more songs.  Especially the "Sabbath Prayer," having been in the 1971 film version of "Fiddler On The Roof!"

                                           Mazel-tov, Actors Temple!  May you go on for another 100 years!!!!!!!!!!!!

Riveting And Mesmerizing Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                          The Tillman children have plenty of reason to bear ill will.  The question is whom do they direct it towards??????????????

                                            Dan Chaon's novel is actually two stories in one.  In 1983, the Tillman children were at the center of a vicious murder committed upon their parents, and aunt and uncle.  Everything pointed to Rusty, the teen aged son the Tillman adopted, and he was convicted and imprisoned.

                                               Thirty years later, Dustin Tillman is a successful psychologist and family man.  His sisters, Kate and Wave (for Waverna) are estranged from one another.  Meanwhile, Rusty is about to be released, and a series of serial type murders is being perpetrated on straight college boys in Dustin's area.

                                                Was Rusty actually guilty?  If not, then who?  What about the present day serial killer?  Why go after straight college boys, when the typical move would be toward girls?????   What the hell is going on, here?

                                                  These are some of the questions this novel tackles and answers.  The denouement stumped and shocked me, but, in the end, made sense.  Yes, the novel is grizzly in a thriller way, but it is also character driven, so at times the readers forgets this is a thriller, and feels more in Jane Smiley territory.  But maybe that is a lulling of false security.  It works.

                                                    "Ill Will" proves I need to read more Dan Chaon.  I have a recall of reading his collection "Among The Missing," years before, but not enough of one, so I should read it again.  As well as his other work.

                                                      As for the title, it is both applicable to the story, and cautionary to the reader.  Be careful whom you direct ill will to.

                                                       You just might be wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Celia Has A New Show!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                   So many of you have been asking, "What is Celia Keenan-Bolger up to?"  Well, now I can tell you.  No, I did not get the info from Celia personally--we really do need to have lunch, drink coffee, discuss theater, and hair--where does she get hers done, and maybe she can help me with my Kathryn Morris/Lily Rush redo--but for now I can tell you Celia is set for something, and I cannot wait to see the brilliance she brings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                     Beginning July 11, Celia will be starring, along with Anita Gillette and others in a Bruce Norris play called "A Parallelogram."  It almost seems to be a non-Musical "Follies," with Celia playing Bee, a woman who can see into various moments of her life at any time.  Past and present converge non-musically, and the idea of it--would you do it, darlings?  Not me!--is fascinating, at least in a theatrical context.

                                      Celia will bring so much depth to the role, I can promise you that.  She will also have that killer hair!  Who could ask for more?

                                         It will be performed at the Tony Kiser Theatre on West 43rd Street.  Previews will begin July 11th, opening is August 2nd!

                                         I know Celia will slay them!  And I want all my girls to be there, and support her!

                                          Nothing stops our Celia!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Monday, May 22, 2017

That Deidre Miller!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                          Deidre Miller is a "Cold Case" culprit from one of Season 3's better episodes, "The Promise."  What is done to Deidre is horrendous, but how she handles it is worse.  As I watched this episode unfold, my regard for Deidre went from sympathy to hate.

                           In "The Promise," Lindsay Hollister, (who played Agnes Linsky in the 'SVU' classic, "Mean")  gives a brilliant performance as Laurie Dunne, a freshman Foreign Film Major at her local college.  With her is her childhood friend, Dirk, and her girl friends Deidre and Shirley.  Like Laurie, they are plus sized,  yet hopeful about their futures.  Despite my feelings toward Deidre, there is no mistaking Kristina Sexton's brilliant performance, in this role!

                          My feelings were also ambivalent toward Dirk.  Why would an obviously unpopular, non-jock type, who had hung out with a crowd like Laurie and Deidre, want to venture into the dog-eat-dog word of fraternity life?  This is one reason why this episode is short of being one of the great ones.  Some things just don't make sense!

                           So, Dirk pledges, and, thinking he is being friendly, invites Laurie and her girls to the year's first party.  Laurie is happy her social life is on the rise, and her outfit is stunning.  One thing this episode DOES do is teach plus-size girls that they can look attractive, too!  And all of them are!

                            But their size, and Dirk's naivete, is about to be the downfall of all.  Dirk and the girls have no idea what the night holds.  As the party goes on, the girls are blindfolded, and lead to a secret room, where a surprise is in store.  When the blindfolds come off, the girls are on some sort of exaggerated scale, their weight numbers around their neck, underneath a banner that reads "HOG CONTEST."  The girls are mortified, the frat boys laugh, and Dirk's passivity annoyed the hell out of me,  In a blistering monologue delivered by Laurie, she derides Dirk for wanting to be part of a crowd that never gave them the time of day in high school--and she is right!  Laurie and Dirk eventually come around, when she realizes he knew nothing about this plan.

                           The girls are outraged; Deidre especially, because, at some point during the melee, she is raped.  An angry Laurie insists they burn the house down, and Deidre lights the match.

                            Laurie goes in to get Dirk.  During the melee, she becomes trapped in a room to die, locked by frat leader, Manny, who blames the whole thing on Laurie.  In an excruciating scene shot through a window, a dying Laurie makes Dirk promise to watch over her father, and hands over to him her mother's scarf, which she wore to the party, that evening.

                              Manny and Deidre are arrested.  Some may quibble with Deidre's arrest.  No, she did not deserve to be raped, and justice should be done, and will, with Manny's arrest, but Deidre vengefully set the fire that killed the more forgiving Laurie.  When her ghost appears to Dirk, it is as moving an ending as one could ask for.

                                But that Deidre.  What a piece of work!  She needed and deserved justice, but not by way of being a vigilante bitch!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                  Spank those frat boys' butts beet red, girls, that is what you do!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It Is About Time I Read It!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                    "True Grit," by Charles Portis, was first published, back in 1968.  Next year marks its 50th Anniversary--imagine that!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Back in 1968, though, I was straddling both seventh and eighth grades.  I first came upon the novel in eighth grade English, upon discovering that my late classmate, Marta Michelli, who sat alongside me, was reading it.  Eighth grade was a really fucked up year.  I had Mrs. Debra Clifford, who had been so for less than a year--before that, she was Miss Debra Solomon.  But she had no wisdom; she was some big bosomed bitch with attitude.  I did not even belong in that class, as I was too smart.  I should have been in Mrs. Farley's class.  But the years 1967-73 in school really did a number on me!  And I will never hesitate to mouth off.

                                      Marta's reading of it put it on my mental reading list, where it stayed for decades.  Of course, a year later, my late, deceased friend, Doug (more on he will be forthcoming) and I saw the 1969 movie version with an Oscar winning performance by John Wayne, a good one by singer Glenn Campbell, and impressive work by a then up-and-comer named Kim Darby.  And I loved the title song.

                                     Coming to "True Grit," the novel, ages later, was a revelation.  How come Mattie Ross is not as revered a child as Scout Finch?  She should be!  How has the novel managed to go out of print, or lose favor?  Because it is a classic adventure book, almost a female "Treasure Island," endorsed, no less, in an Afterword, by esteemed author, Donna Tartt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                        Old fashioned suspense and adventure are on every page.  The last 30 pages or so are cliff hangers, and who knew the book was laced with such humor?  Mattie Ross out-butches every male literary child out there!   I just LOVED her!  As I did Portiss' style, which is like Cormac McCarthy, but with heart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           If you are as old as I am, and have not read this, then what are you waiting for???????????????

                                          It makes me long for the days of "Boots N' Saddle!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                          Wink, wink!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Lucy Barton And Friends Are Back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                        Elizabeth Strout is a wonderful writer, but her results are mixed, with me.  Her big novel, "The Burgess Boys," was a tremendous disappointment, lacking the tight, structural brilliance of her shorter works.  Anyone who liked "Olive Kitterdige" will love "Anything Is Possible."  Here, Strout returns with a series of vignettes about people's lives in Amgash, Illinois, and it is engrossing in a literary way, and deeply moving in a spiritual manner.

                                         Is it a collection of short stories?  Or a collection of short stories, strung together as a novel?  Who cares; because these kind of vignettes are what Strout excels at, and while the book is short, it is richly textured.

                                         Along with Lucy and her siblings, the reader learns of the painful life of Charles MacCauley, as well as Tommy Gutprill, a janitor who manages to touch the lives of everyone in the community.  I can't even tell you which vignette is my favorite, they are all so precious, (a word here not used lightly, or pretentiously) but by the time one reaches the end, a satisfying read has been had, and a hunger for more from Strout takes hold.

                                          Lives within lives...stories within stories...Elizabeth Strout could take this world, and make it go on for as long as she chooses!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                           And I, for one, hopes she decides to do so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Is What Pre-Pubescent Spinsterhood Looks Like!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                            Now, for some fun, darlings!  The other day I unearthed this minor gem from my childhood, "Our Gang Follies Of 1935."  This was one of Darla Hood's earliest film appearances, and is the one where the little monkey puts out all the stage lights, on Porky, and later chases Buckwheat all about!  You just gotta love that monkey.  The same one who threw ice cream on a woman's back at a female luncheon, in an earlier short.

                             This number, where the Spinster Sisters sing "How Ya Gonna Keep Him Down On The Farm," is priceless!  It is brilliantly staged and sung, and, as I have said, with some girls, spinsterhood shows early--as it does here!  These are actually the Brian Sisters--Betty, Doris, and Gwen!  I do not know if they are alive today, but I am telling you, if this were a yearbook activity photo, it would be called FSLA--Future Spinster Librarians Of America!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                              These girls, by their looks, are not cut out for anything else!  No hanging out in round heels, on street corners, for these dolls!  They would not even pass muster within a convent!

                                I wonder how they actually did turn out?

                               But they CAN sing.  The sequence is brilliant, and just look at this trio of spinsters!

                               BLT's, with coffee or tea, and a secretarial pool, in the future, for these ladies!!!!!!!!!!!

                                 Hilarious, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I Should Be So Lucky, At That Price!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                             I hate going to the dentist, because there are two sources of discomfort.  First, whatever painful, invasive procedure is done--and then the bill.  In some cases, the second is worse, and this post is by way of explaining why I have been on here so sporadically.  Things happen!

                             Last Wednesday, while eating dinner, I felt something snap on the side of my mouth.  No pain, no blood, just something that did not feel right.  I had never experienced this before, and, when I tongue probed, I discovered a hole in the bottom part of my right end tooth--one that had been root canaled years before.

                               So, I called my dentist--whom I am comfortable with--and made the necessary appointment.  The night before, I felt nothing there at all.  Gone!

                                What happened--so watch out, girls!-- is that my right crown had, at first, cracked, and then vanished.  I must have swallowed the whole thing, which, as I told the dentist, was washed up somewhere in the city sewage system.  Sorry for such grossness, girls!  Time for tea, later!

                                  So, I had no pieces to show.  Which meant a new impression of crown had to  be made, and I have to return for a fitting.

                                    Thank God it was nothing so serious.  And no real dental surgery involved.
But you know how much I am paying for all this?  Twenty two hundred dollars!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      You heard me?  Is that not outrageous?

                                       The good news is I can afford it--this time.  The bad news is if a problem crops up again, I don't know what I will do.

                                         Some, including David, say I should find another dentist.  I hesitate to equivocate, because I have to take anti-biotics for dental work, having had open heart surgery, at 11, in 1966.  Not all dentists believe in this, and before anyone touches me I MUST premedicate.

                                          Any names or suggestions, darlings???????????????

                                         Even Fantine was not charged this much!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Cellino And Barnes To Break Up???????????? What Is The World Coming To?????????????


                              Can't any couple stay together, these days?  And anyone who thinks Cellino and Barnes were just law partners have not been on this blog long enough!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                Ross Cellino and Steven Barnes are SO couple-y, it is easy to spot whom is the top, and the other, the bottom.  Ross is the top, and Steven the bottom.

                                  Clearly, Ross the hotter of the two--always--is looking for greener, more youthful pastures.  Steven has "bottomed out," when it comes to being bottom; he has aged out of his role, and now hottie Cellino  wants a younger, more desirable, bottom.  Or, at least, one who does not look like they came from "Nudge City."  Which Mr. Barnes always did.

                                   How things will turn out remain to be seen!!!!!!!!  Will Mr. Barnes find another top?
What about the theme song?  And the photo logo?????????????

                                    More than homoerotic discord is at stake, here!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    It is times like this, when I am glad I never took the LSAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

New Girl In Town.....Or, At Least Bay Ridge!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                               Those on here with me long enough may recall my mentioning the occasional sighting on my subway platform, Manhattan bound, of a woman who resembles Sandra Ashley in monster make-up from the movie "Frankenstein's Daughter," and whom I have dubbed such.  She prowls Bay Ridge, usually with a child in tow, clutching it fervently, as it has been taken from some desperate Bay Ridge family, whose matriarch goes to the lair, wherever it may be, and plaintively calls out, "Monster, give me my child!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                 I have not actually seen "Frankenstein's Daughter" in awhile, but now there is a new girl, on the block.  I swear!   One morning, while boarding the R at 77th Street, I saw this woman with stringy auburn hair, but who otherwise--face, eyebrows, lips and haunting look--seemed to resemble Malila Nurmi, better known as Vampira.

                                  Yes, darlings, Vampira seems now to be roaming Bay Ridge,  Be especially aware in the hours of darkness, up until 4AM, when all denizens of the night begin to return to their lairs.  I think "Vampira" has ventured onto "Frankenstein's Daughter's" turf, and I cannot wait to see if this neighborhood is big enough for these two horror divas!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Or their facsimiles.  In any case, it should be a lively Summer, out here in Bay Ridge, with horror hysteria hitting its height!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      And, yes, this "Vampira" seems to have the same waist line, as the original!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                      How my imagination runs off, girls!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We Finally Got Our Couch, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                   For those of you who cannot visit, here is our new couch, which just arrived last week, having supposed to arrive on February 24.  Better late than never, I guess.   Get a load of Baby Gojira--see his Spring outfit?????--and I, the first ones to sit on it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                    Now, for those having been here, it may seem, at first glance, that the new couch is the same as the old.  Not far  wrong; but not far right.  When looked at, the seating is fluffier, because of its newness, and the back ledge, where Ramsey and Ramsey, Jr. are seated, is not as wide as the older couch--though it accommodates the two animals superbly.

                                     Isn't it gorgeous, girls???????????  Just what every home should have.

                                      As the days grow warmer, I intend to curl up on it, with peaches and champagne, like Ingrid Bergman, in "Saratoga Trunk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

" 'Carlsbad Is Where You're Cured, After You Have Toured...................!!!!!!!!!!!!!."


                                      "Follies begins with an accelerating drum roll, and a crash of brass.  It ends on almost that same crash, over two hours later.  What follows is a world having been described, since its 1971 premiere, as Proustian and Felliniesque.  Yes, "Follies" is both things, but I prefer using one of Sondheim's own words to describe it.  "Follies" is the "diadem" of Musical Theater.

                                         I had many expectations, not all high, about this production at the Warner Theater in Torrance, Connecticut, where David and I caught the Sunday closing matinee.  What disappointed me most was the lack of True Theater Queens, such as us, who would flock to anyplace doing "Follies."  Much of the audience was of an age group "Follies" was aimed at, but I cannot be sure how much they got out of it.  "Follies" is not an easy show to tackle, or to watch.

                                          Simultaneous stories, the converging of past and present, the idea of when meeting people from our past and seeing two people--who we are, and who we were--is covered over the course of the evening, both dramatically and musically.  Anyone having been to a class reunion, or a similarly related event, should get it.  But Sondheim wants the audience to think conceptually and stylistically--the "realistic numbers" vs. the "pastiche numbers," say--and that is where "Follies" makes demands not all audiences, and theater companies, can meet.

                                           The minute the drum roll sounded, and the spotlight fell on a ghost, I knew this company grasped the magic of "Follies."  And, given the limitations  of cast and budget, it was a magical production, aided and abetted by the superb twenty-three piece orchestra, giving the score the lushness it needs.  And the company, both young and old, rendered it superbly.  And "Who's That Woman?," as it should, blew the roof off the theater!

                                             Not that there weren't quibbles.  Juliette Koch was so right, in manner and look, for Sally that I felt concern when she seemed to miss the mark on "In Buddy's Eyes."  If she can't do that, I thought, how is she going to manage "Losing My Mind," the song most people long to hear.  Now, don't go calling me a jaded Theater Queen, unwilling to allow anyone else besides Dorothy Collins or Barbara Cook or Donna McKechnie, to perform the role.  No Sally will make me swoon like the last three, but whether Miss Koch was tired, ill, or just pacing herself, she ultimately came through, because her "Losing My Mind" was as wrenching as it should be, and the duet "Too Many Mornings" pure heaven, especially the quiet ending with the orchestra.  I swooned over these moments, and Miss Koch was there every step of the way.

                                             I was  glad to see Suzanne Powers, as Phyllis, dressed in red, for "The Story Of Lucy And Jessie," probably the show's most exuberant--yet still dark in tone--number, which Powers and company sing and dance to as if doing it for years, yet coming off as fresh as if the first time.  Too bad something was not done about Powers' unbecoming dress and blonde wig--were they trying to make her into Blythe Danner????????  Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!--but then if her performance had been off in any way, it would not have mattered what she wore.  Performance is key to "Follies," and Powers' performance clearly outshone her attire.  She was wonderful.

                                               So were the men.  I don't know who this William Molnar is, but his Ben Stone was good enough for New York!  What a gorgeous voice.  When he got to "dreams you didn't dare...are dead," in "The Road You Didn't Take," I knew this was a Ben to reckon with.  And his "Too Many Mornings........." exquisite.  Chris Gilbert, as Buddy, is wonderfully ordinary...which is what he should be, what the role demands.  Vocally, he matches Molnar's Ben as a perfect musical counterpoint, nailing his two second act numbers with the quality merited.

                                                  All the supporting women were dazzling, especially the two Heidi Schillers, whose "One Last Kiss" made me shiver.  Elyse Jaensky, as Hattie, performed "Broadway Baby" with all its verve, stopping the show on its opening vamp, something I have not seen since Elaine Stritch, back at the NY Philharmonic, in 1985.

                                                    Susan Kulp was the thinnest Stella Deems I have seen, but her earthy rendition of "Who's That Woman?' was perfectly in sync with the ensemble.  It bears repeating--as it should, this number blew the roof off the theater!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  And it was Eve Van Syckle's look of hard bitten cynicism that made her vocals in "I'm Still Here" the true song of survival it is.  It was as though the actress was channeling her own survival into the interpretation.  How much French is in Priscilla Squires' background may be moot, but her "Ah, Paris!" was pure gold.  And Katherine Walker and David Cadwell were aptly cute as the dance couple who sing "Rain On The Roof."

                                                     I have always found Young Sally the most touching and heartbreaking of the youthful quartet; someone who knows, even as it is happening, she is missing out in life, and it always breaks my heart.  Shannon Sullivan's portrayal here had that effect, making me wonder about those whose reality that is.

                                                       Director Michael Berkeley and choreographer Donna Bonasera have done their homework, for the production's dramatic seamlessness echoes that  of Harold Prince, while the choreography showed Michael Bennett's unmistakable influence.  Those in the know could see, in this "Follies," the foreshadowing of what was to come with Bennett--"A Chorus Line."

                                                       Which I think could be pulled off here, and if so, I will return to Torrance.  I wish this "Follies" had more of an ongoing run, so more people could drive to see it.
The audience I saw it with, sadly, did not, I feel, fully appreciate it.  A case of casting pearls before swine.

                                                          However, this Theater Queen, Raving Queen, call me what you will, thanks Warner Theater and Company for the dazzling pearls it threw at me.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Time To Welcome A New Reader, Darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                   So much has been going on--including the death I am not yet ready to write about--that I have been on a reading and writing jag.  I have been aware, for several days now, of my follower indicator reaching the number 55, indicating I have a new reader.

                                    New Reader, I bid you an overdue welcome.  When I eventually write the post I need to write, which should be sometime next week, you may grasp my seeming distraction of late.

                                    The good thing is it has given you some time to ponder what is on here, how this goes great with coffee, and as my slogan suggests, the tiny kernels of human truth often picked up on, amid the campiness.

                                      My other readers and I welcome you graciously.  But, not without ushering you in, via this blog's unofficial theme song!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                       Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Is The Day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                One hundred years ago today, darlings, the Virgin Mary--Queen of ALL--appeared to three children-- Lucita Marto, and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco-- in a grazing ground, outside the Portuguese village of Fatima.  Two years later, the siblings were taken to Heaven as emissaries, while Lucita continued to represent Mary on Earth, lasting until her 98th year.

                                Hang on to your hats, darlings!

                                Pope Francis has officially declared Jacinta and Francisco as saints!  It is about time!  Lucita has been beatified, which is the first step to canonization.  Because she died in 2005, some more time has to elapse' don't ask me why, I don't know Church law.

                                  But Jacinta, the holiest of the Fatima children, is now a saint!  Pray to her in times of needed inspiration and suffering.  Reflect on what she suffered for us.

                                  And, I am telling you, you had better watch out, today.  Far above me to be granted a holy vision, but I believe today, at some point, somewhere in the sky, Mary And The Fatima Children will appear to those chosen, with a message for all on the hundredth anniversary.  Only they, and God know, and they are not talking.

                           Blessings to all of you, on this special day, to Mary, and to newly canonized saints,
Blessed Jacinta and Francisco Marto, of Fatima.

                           Listen to what Jacinta says, darlings!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Short, But Smart!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                     "Ways To Disappear," by Idra Novey, is also a first novel.  It is also proof that brief does not mean lightweight, for within its 258 pages a litany of topics is covered--financial plight, the price of genius, a mystery search for a missing person, and the way words, and how they are perceived form how we think, conceptually.

                                        All this starts when Brazil's foremost authoress, Beatriz Yagoda, vanishes, by climbing into a tree, clutching a suitcase--and vanishing?  Where to?  It becomes the job of her children, Raquel and Marcus, and Emma, her literary translator, to find out.  The journey they embark on reveals facets of an author they thought they knew, as a writer, friend, or mother.

                                        I have been on some kind of reading jag, darlings, and have been lucky enough to make some good discoveries.  Novey's debut is impressively original.  I wonder where she will go from here.

                                        Beatriz Yagoda is a great character.  I, for one, would love more stories about her!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



                               

Tangy, But Not Tartt!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                                      Ever since Donna Tartt published her masterwork, "The Secret History," there have been numerous attempts to rework it.  I guess writers were desperate for Donna's success.

                                      "If We Were Villains," by M. L. Rio (also a first novel!!!!!!!!) is a redo that works.  Instead of a posh college, a dramatic conservatory, not unlike Oberlin or Julliard, but centering exclusively on Shakespeare, is the setting.  The inner group is a septet of senior students--Richard, Alexander, Oliver, James, Meredith, Fillipia, and Wren.   During the year, this group. who spout Shakespeare as easily as I do movie quotes, are torn apart, when one of them is murdered.

                                       Like Tartt, it is done as a flashback.  Shakespeare references stand in for classical ones.  This novel is the print equivalent of the 1973 Vincent Price film. "Theater Of Blood."  It may not be campy, but reading this novel is a wonderful way to get students interested in Shakespeare.

                                     All similarities to Tartt end here.  The novel is divided into acts, like a play, and each section has a beginning, middle and end.  The outcome, which I was certain I saw coming, completely stumped me.  I will not spoil anything here, but the psychodynamics that  motivate how things turn out are such a sad and surprising twist, I was left gasping.  I will say this--my generosity does not extend as far as what is recorded here.

                                      The novel does not really get going, until beyond the halfway point.  This is frustrating while reading, but when done, the pace is understandable, as so much of gleaning the outcome depends on the exposition that sets it up.

                                        To read, or not to read--that is the question.  There is no question that M.L. Rio's "If We Were Villains" should be read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                                         It may discourage aspiring actors from taking up the craft!

                                         Then, again, it may do just the opposite!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This Rat HAD To Be Imported, From New York!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


                          Plenty has been written on this blog already about "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?," I am really not sure what I can add, but I will try.

                            On May 10, Film Forum ran a special, one day screening, to commemorate the 40th Anniversary of Joan Crawford's death.  Which also happens to be the anniversary when, back in 1966, I had open heart surgery, at New York Hospital, Cornell Medical Center.

                            When it came time for the rat scene, I had to wonder.  While shooting this, they needed a decent sized rat.  I know Jane tells Blanche they have rats in the cellar, but those are puny, Los Angeles rats.  In order for the scene to be truly impressive, Aldrich knew the one place to get enormous rats could only be New York City--where some are even two legged!

                              I have no doubt this rat came from Manhattan!  I would have hated to work props on this film!!!!!!!!!!!

                              The other thing I wondered about was--what kind of an audience flocks to a showing of "What Ever Happened To Baby Jane?" in the middle of the afternoon?????  I had my suspicions, and it turned out I was right.

                               There were two sane people in the audience--my friend, Chris, and myself.  There was also a young Asian couple, in their early twenties.  The girl had obviously seen "Feud--Bette And Joan," but had never seen this film, and you can be sure the boy friend had not.  Wonder what they thought?

                                 Otherwise, my prediction was right--a bunch of Victor Buono or serial killer wannabes, who live with their mother.  There was also one homeless guy; it amazes me, with what Film Forum now charges he was able to scrape up the cash to get in.

                                   The audience was almost as scary as the film.   But not quite.

                                   My new favorite line--"Maybe so.  But Julie's parents have lived here a long time, I GUESS she should know!"

                                  Too bad B.D. knew nothing about acting!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Girls, You Have GOT To See "A Dollar, A Dream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"



                             I thought I had seen all the truly great "Cold Case" episodes.  But, to my astonishment, some are still hidden to me.  One I recently discovered was "A Dollar, A Dream," which was shot ten years ago, in 2007, and featured a young Jennifer Lawrence in the role of Abby Bradford (not to be confused with the Bradfords, of "Eight Is Enough").  I confess I initially watched this just to see if Lawrence could act.  I never believed she could.  But, in this, she proves me wrong; given good material, she can act.  Too bad she does not get to do it often.

                             The episode, turned out to be so unrelentingly heartbreaking I had to watch it twice, not only to process it, but to discover that Vincent Hopper, played, in a brilliant performance, by Holmes Osbourne, whom I was ready to nail up as one of this show's most despicable perps is, himself, a victim, too.

                                "Cold Case" has referenced many renowned works of literature and film into the fabric of its stories.  I don't know if the writers of "A Dollar, A Dream," consciously or not, had "Les Miserables" in mind, but I quickly saw, in Paula Malcomson's performance as Marlene Bradford, whose goodness, vulnerability, and love for her daughters, drove her to things she did not want to acknowledge, a modern day version of Fantine.  In fact, this title should have been called "A Dollar A Dream" aka "Marlene, The Modern Fantine."

                                  The actual title comes from an old commercial about winning the lottery.  "All you need is a dollar and a dream."  Which was enough to drive millions to play.   But what if it is not a game?  What if it is all you have?  What if you are desperate?

                                   Marlene Bradford was facing all that, back in September of 1999.  Her husband died of cancer, at a relatively young age; Marlene, at the time, was 35.  She had no family of her own, just two girls, Abby, 9, but soon to be 10, and Natalie, who was 14.

                                    The father's illness finished them.  They lost a loved one, and, as Marlene had only a year of college and no job skills, they lost everything they had.  They were reduced to living out of their car, the only possession, save a few clothes and household items, they managed to keep.  Marlene worked shifts at a 24 hour market, getting the girls bathed when they had the opportunity.

                                       One evening, Vincent Hopper, a homeless man who, apparently had been on the streets longer, tells Marlene of a park she can use as a habitat for their situation.  She thanks him, and he, in turn, offers to split a lottery ticket with her.  Both hold out for sunnier times, but it becomes clear to Natalie this is not to be, and that Vincent is nursing fantasies of his own.  Where Marlene is trying to protect and preserve some dignity for she and her daughters in this deplorable situation, Vincent is just grasping on to a reality long lost to him, as he has been homeless longer than he realizes, his wife does not want him, and his son has grown up, and moved on.

                                         I wish this show had examined Vincent's back story, to see how he came to be where he was, and why his wife and son abandoned him.  Marlene had no one, but Vincent did.

                                          The day of the murder is Abby's 10th birthday.  The day before, Marlene and Natalie discover they have a winning ticket--but only for $25.  Enough to buy Abby a birthday cake, and pay Vincent his half of the "finder's fee."  But when Marlene goes to do this, it is apparent homelessness has done a number on Vincent, mentally, because he cannot understand that the winning is only $25--that is $12.50 each--and not a million.  When Marlene tries to make him understand reality, he becomes belligerent and violent.  Seizing Marlene's gun from the car, after destroying Abby's birthday cake, feeling she is withholding close to a million dollars from him, he shoots Marlene, killing her, then tosses she and the car into a nearby lake.

                                            Abby and Natalie are then separated for eight years, by the foster care system.  Abby is adopted right away; Natalie struggles.

                                            In a subplot, Natalie runs off.  Her mother finds her on the porch swing of the house which they once owned--with a "Foreclosure" sign on it.  During this scene, when the mother and daughter comfort each other, saying their famous mantra--"We are the Bradford girls.  We stay together. We move on, with what we've got," I broke down.

                                             This episode dramatizes my worst fear.  In reference to my "Dinner" post, it gives the face of humanity to the homeless, which is why it should be seen by all.  When the girls are reunited, and see the ghost of Marlene, we know "Fantine" has come through.

                                               Marlene was a courageous woman.  Even Vincent, in a more lucid moment, says she did not deserve what happened to her.

                                                But, then, neither does anyone.