Monday, April 30, 2007


There really was a Casey Jones who was immortalized in legend and song. Even Walt Disney gave him a great tribute in animation in the motion picture "Melody Time" in 1947 with the late great Jerry Colonna singing and narrating the story. But the real story was one of ultimate bravery and courage.John Luther "Casey" Jones (March 14, 1863 – April 30, 1900) was a locomotive engineer who worked for the Illinois Central Railroad. In the year 1900 on this date he alone was killed when his locomotive collided with a stopped freight train at Vaughan, Mississippi, on a foggy and rainy night. His dramatic death trying to stop his train and save lives made him that folksong hero beginning with a song sung by his friend Wallace Saunders, who was a black engine wiper for the IC ."Casey" Jones was born March 14, 1863 in southeast Missouri. While he was still a small child, his family moved to C aycee Kentucky, which is how he got his nickname. As a boy, he developed a growing obsession with trains. In 1878, at the age of 15, he went to work for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad as an apprentice telegrapher. By 1890, "Casey" had reached the pinnacle of the railroad profession as a crack locomotive engineer on the Illinois Central Railroad. The railroad sent him to Jackson, Tennessee, where he met and married Janie Brady, bought a house, and set about raising a family. Railroading was a natural talent, and Casey Jones was recognized by his peers as one of the best in the business.In 1899, Jones was given a regular passenger run on the Cannonball route which ran between Chicago and New Orleans. On April 29, 1900 Jones was in Memphis, Tennessee, from the northbound Cannonball when he agreed to take the southbound Cannonball because the scheduled engineer called in sick. He left Memphis at 12:50 am, 95 minutes behind schedule, but made up almost an hour between Memphis and Grenada, Mississippi, nearly 100 miles away. By Durant, 55 miles farther down, they were almost on time.At Durant, Jones received orders to "saw by" two freights that had taken the siding in Vaughan. The two freights were too large to fit into the siding, leaving one end on the main line. If the "sawing" maneuver had been done correctly, the freights would have allowed the approaching train to pass the first switch, and then the trains on the siding would move past the other switch. However, an air hose on one of the freight trains burst, applying the brakes on the freight cars behind the break, and left them immobile on the main line. Meanwhile, Jones was travelling excessively fast, possibly up to 70 miles per hour, and did not have enough time to brake. When collision seemed imminent, Casey told his fireman, Sim Webb, to jump for it, but Jones rode the engine into the cars and was killed. It is believed that because Jones stayed to slow the train, he saved the passengers from injury and possible death (Casey himself was the only fatality of the collision). Popular legend holds that when Jones' body was pulled from the wreckage of his train his hands were still firmly latched onto the whistle cord and the brake.The fireman, Simeon T. Webb, died in Memphis in 1957 at the age of 83. Jones' wife, Janie Brady Jones, died in 1958 at the age of 92. The Joneses had two sons and a daughter. Mrs. Jones hated the last line of one version of the ballad, which said "..go to bed children and hush your cryin', cause you got another papa on the Salt Lake Line." She said she never had any thought of remarrying. Today is also the 81st birthday of ClorisLeachman- a very funny lady. I remember her misadventures on the Mary Tyler Moore Show, but also on her own show where she battled with her mother-in-law! Played so wonderfully by veteran character actress JudithLowryOh how I laughed at those encounters like "Mother Dexter, would you like to go shopping with me?" The answer came quickly and landed like a spear "I'd rather have a root canal!" Cloris won an Oscar for the "Last Picture Show" and has won moreEmmys than any other performer. Tim gets his final news on his house re-finance today-- so all fingers and toes crossed and a big prayer to the Lord who watches over us all. I had an important lesson taught to me this week. And now, more than ever, I know that God loves me in a very special way. Sometimes he tests us-- and rather unexpectedly-- He wants to know what we will do. Sometimes that test is very hard and scares us silly! But know that Jesus is Our Good Shepherd and that he will always be there to help us in crisis!

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Yes, indeed, today is the 74th birthday of one of my very favorite comedienes Carol Burnett. What an amazing lady and what an incredible career that has spanned four decades. Burnett was born in San Antonio, Texasto Jodie and Louise Burnett. Both of her parents, particularly her father, suffered from alcoholism, and at a young age she was left with her grandmother. Burnett moved to Hollywood, California with her grandmother where she was raised in a boarding house.
When Burnett was in the fourth grade she created for a short time, an imaginary twin sister named Karen, with Shirley Temple-like dimples. Motivated to further the pretense Burnett recalled fondly that she "fooled the other boarders in the rooming house where we lived by frantically switching clothes and dashing in and out of the house by the fire escape and the front door. Then I became exhausted and Karen mysteriously vanished." Carol graduated from Hollywood High School and then attended University of California, Los Angeles, eventually working her way up through bit parts on TV. Burnett's mother disapproved of Carol's acting desires: "She wanted me to be a writer. She said you can always write, no matter what you look like. When I was growing up she told me to be a little lady, and a couple of times I got a whack for crossing my eyes or making funny faces. Of course, she never and I never dreamed I would ever perform." Mrs. Burnett died while Carol was still looking to gain a foothold in a Broadway role.After several minor appearances in theater and television, Burnett was first noticed in the mid-1950s with a comic novelty love song "I Made a Fool of Myself Over John Foster Dulles" (Dulles was Secretary of State at the time).Burnett also appeared during this time in an NBC sitcom, Stanley, with Buddy Hackett, which lasted one season. She also appeared as a regular on one of television's earliest game shows, Pantomime Quiz.Burnett's first true taste of success came with her appearance on Broadway in the 1959 musical Once Upon a Mattress. In the same year, she became a regular player on The Garry Moore Show, which she would continue until 1962.
She won an Emmy in 1962 for her "Outstanding Performance in a Variety or Musical Program or Series" on the show. Burnett portrayed a number of characters, most memorably a put-upon cleaning woman. With her success on the Moore show, she finally rose to headliner status and appeared in the 1962 special Julie and Carol at Carnegie Hall, co-starring her friend Julie Andrews Comedy legend Lucille Ball ( and we lost this great lady on this date in 1989) became a friend and mentor to Burnett, and after having the younger performer guest star on The Lucy Show a number of times, Ball reportedly offered Burnett her own sitcom, to be produced by Desilu. Burnett declined the offer, however, deciding instead to put together a variety show. The two remained close friends until Ball's death in 1989. Ball sent flowers every year on her birthday. When Burnett awoke on the day of her 56th birthday in 1989, she discovered via the morning news that Ball had died. Later that afternoon, the flowers Lucy had arranged arrived at Burnett's house, with the note "Happy Birthday, Kid. Love, Lucy" .The hour-long Carol Burnett Show debuted in 1967, and was a huge success, garnering 22 Emmy Awards. Its ensemble cast included Tim Conway (who was a guest player until the 9th season, Harvey Korman, Lyle Waggoner, and the teenaged Vicki Lawrence (who was cast partly because she looked like a young Burnett). The network did not want her to do a variety show because they believed only men could be successful at variety but Burnett's contract required that they give her one season of whatever kind of show she wanted to make. Carol became famous for her Tarzan yell during many shows, and for ending each show by tugging her ear, which was a message to the grandmother who had raised her to let her know that she was doing well and that she loved her.The show also became known for its closing theme song, with the following lyrics: I'm so glad we had this time together / Just to have a laugh and sing a song / Seems we just got started and before you know it / Comes the time we have to say, 'So long.' During the show's run, Burnett's grandmother died. On the Lifetime Channel's "Intimate Portrait" biography on Burnett, she tearfully recalled her grandmother's last moments: "She said to my husband Joe from her hospital bed 'Joe, you see that spider up there?' There was no spider but Joe said he did anyhow. She said 'Every few minutes a big spider jumps on that little spider and they go at it like RABBITS!!' And then she died. There's laughter in everything!"The Carol Burnett Show ceased production in 1978, and is generally regarded as the last successful major network variety show, to date. It continues to have success in syndicated reruns. During this time, she was open to her fans, never refusing to give an autograph and had limited patience for "Those who've made it, then complain about loss of privacy." So we say happy Birthday to carol Burnett and we remember Lucy. It doesn't seem possible that she's been out of lives for so long-- but oh she lives and STILL makes us laugh in those re-runs!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007


With great apologies to Barbra Streisand! I actually made the great lady ten years older yesterday-- whoops-- I'm usually pretty careful about my facts. Oh well, she's certainly lived as if she were seventy-five! Today also marks the 22Nd anniversary of the Broadway musical that featured the amazing music and lyrics of Roger Miller. The score is delightful especially the songs "River In The Rain" and "World's Apart. And there is news that Rosie is leaving "The View" in June-- thank goodness. I simply feel that this show ignited far too many feuds. There is also news that scientists may have found another life supporting planet like earth just outside our solar system in the constellation Libra (my sign-ha!) supported by what they call a "red sun". There's only one problem-- on this planet a one hundred and fifty pound man would feel like a guy 240 and you would have a birthday every thirteen days! Dear God! Don't we age fast enough as it is? There is also rumors of a new Disney theme park in the Branson, Missouri area and Universal studios may be dumping the Mummy ride (already) and putting in a Simpson's themed roller coaster in its place! No imagination left for these guys I guess! Well, my apologies again to Barbra-- who became a senior citizen yesterday! Only 65!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007



Believe it or not the great Barbra Streisand turns 75 years old today. What an amazing life and what an amazing career! Streisand was born Barbara Joan Streisand inWilliamsburg
Brooklyn, New York to Jewish parents. Her father, Emanuel Streisand, was a grammar teacher and he died when she was only 15 months old! Barbra had a turbulent relationship with her stepfather, Louis Kind. She has a sister Roslyn Kind who was also a performer. Her mother, Diana Ida Rosen, a school secretary, did not encourage her daughter to pursue a show business career, opining that Barbara was not attractive enough. She was educated at Erasmus Hall High School, where she graduated fourth in her class in 1959, and she sang in the school choir with Neil Diamond. She was also friendly there with future World Chess Champion Bobby Fischer. She never attended college. Streisand has said, "I hated school when I was young, but once I grew up, I realized that I draw strength from those memories and my roots." She had of course an early singing, theater, and television career but it was following a music competition that she became a nightclub singer while in her teens. She originally wanted to be an actress and appeared in a number of Off-Off-Broadway productions, including one with then-aspiring actress Joan Rivers, but when her boyfriend Barry Dennen helped her create a club act — first performed in a gay bar in Manhattan's Greenwich Village in 1960 — she achieved success as a singer. It was at this time that she shortened her first name to Barbra to make it more distinctive. In 1962 Streisand first appeared on Broadway, in a small but star-making role in the musical I Can Get It for You Wholesale (1962). She also signed her first recording contract that year with Columbia Records. Her first album, The Barbra Streisand Album, won two Grammy Awards in 1963. Her recording success continued, and at one time, Streisand's first three albums appeared simultaneously on Billboard's pop albums Top Ten - an unusual feat considering it was at a time when rock and roll and The Beatles dominating the charts.But her biggest break came with Jule Styne' s and Bob Merrill's Funny Girl (1964) which was of course based upon the life of Fanny Brice and was fashioned for Streisand after Styne saw Barbra's I Can Get It For You Wholesale performance. Styne saw Streisand's work in the show at the invitation of producer Ray Stark's wife, who was Fanny Brice's daughter. Ironically, she was strongly opposed to the casting of Streisand, preferring Carol Burnett.After several notable television appearances, including a legendary guest appearance on The Judy Garland Show in 1963), Streisand appeared on a number of her own television specials for CBS. The first special, My Name Is Barbra (1965), was praised by critics and fans, as were most of the subsequent specials.Streisand is classified as one of the most "Amazing Female Vocalists" in the 2006 edition of Women in Song.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Today the Good Ship Lollipop and we celebrate the 79th birthday of one very amazing performer. Shirley Temple Black celebrates this milestone birthday today! I always have loved Shirley Temple pictures. They have always made me feel good watching them. My personal favorites are "Little Miss Broadway" "Rebbecca of Sunny Brook Farm" and "Heidi". I also loved watching the older Shirley in her 1950's television series "The Shirley Temple Storybook Theatre". Does anybody but me remember the theme song. {"Dreams are made for children and a dream is a fairy tale"} What an amazing life this incredible lady has led. I was reading that Shirley Temple earned as much as fifteen thousand dollars a week in the 1930's while she made pictures like "Poor Little Rich Girl"-- an appropriate title considering the sum that fifteen thousand dollars a week would equal today! Move over you super stars! Today is also the birthday of the Great Bard, himself: William Shakespeare who was born in 1564. He also died in 1609 on his birthday. Of course Shakespeare has been a favorite of mine and I used his character extensively in my musical "Skylark" which was my early crowning glory. Those were grand years and I look back on that show with immense fondness and pride. With Randy Ames as my collaborator, I think we composed some of the best songs ever. "Will I Ever Know 'Bout Love" came from that show and bar none its an absolute gem. I remember the first time it was sung by Greg Lastrapes at the first rehearsal of the play-- WOW-- the cast that was assembled including dear Carl Packard, Tony Pandolfo , Peter Hilton, Peter Corello and Kim Holman (among others) were simply blown away when he finished. What an amazing talent! Today we have a training meeting in Beverly Hills (for our Image rewards Card) and so I will go as required--even though I know how to sell these like crazy. My sister's 55th birthday approaches and I need to find her a nice present. Not too much else except I have a new outdoor patio set that is very nice to see all set up!

Sunday, April 22, 2007



We hear about the longest war ever fought, but never the shortest. Well, here is an image of the shortest war in United States history. It was the Spanish American War and it lasted only ten weeks. This is a picture of Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders advancing at the the Battle of San Juan Hill! Yes, today the first shot of that war was fired by Americans boarding a Spanish ship off of Key West. The war was caused by a great insurrection in Cuba that the Spanish were unable to stop or control. America was convinced that this insurrection was a danger to our freedom here (sound familiar?) Of course, the sinking of the battleship Maine was the catalyst for this war. But believe it or not, we went in and solved Cuba's insurrection (occupying it for four years) and then giving it its independence just four years later. We got Puerto Rico, Guam and St. Thomas in the bargain. Amazing warfare that got results. Too bad we didn't learn a few lessons from that war! Today is also a unique day in another way. For on this date in 1894 we first put the words on a US coin. It was the penny! I was amused at the fact there actually was a two penny coin minted with a plan for a three cent coin-- ( and you think you have enough coins in your pocket now! )Teddy Roosevelt was adamantly opposed in using that phrase and was calling it irreverent! Oh well, Teddy wasn't right about everything! Also Henry the VII became King of England today in 1509 and the story of how another religion was born is simply delicious reading. If you though politics were a power today, you would be shocked at how they worked five hundred years ago. Henry only became king at all, because his older brother, the then Prince of Wales died unexpectedly. He was married to Catherine of Aragon first. Henry's father (Henry the 7Th) wanted an alliance between Spain and England in the worst way. Henry the VIII was obliged to marry his brother's widow-- that was Catherine. But his brother had been frail and the marriage had never been consummated. OK-- that means the Pope didn't have to give a dispensation. Yes, believe it or not, back then in 1509, one could not marry a brother's widow without official dispensation by the Vatican. The nasty word called "protocol" comes to mind. My friends the Sherman Brothers wrote a song about it called "Protoccoligoricaly Correct" -- {"Protocol-- above all-- makes a kingdom rise or fall!"} Henry then meets Anne Boleyn and the rest is history. Cold day here on this Sunday in Los Angeles but I do have the day off! Oh yes: one more thing: Happy 70th birthday to Jack Nicholson.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


In 1910, on this April day, the same year that Hayley's Comet had returned, the world lost the amazing and incredible author Samuel Clemens: better known as Mark Twain. What an incredible author was this genius of a man and whose humor and wit, in my humble opinion have never been matched to this very day. Hal Hollbrook plays him on stage with such perfection that it simply makes you feel that Mr. Twain is indeed very much alive again. Samuel Clemens was born in Florida, Missouri, on November 30, 1835 (the same year as Hayley's Comet's first visit) to Tennessee country merchant, John Marshall Clemens (August 11, 1798–March 24, 1847 and Jane Lampton Clemens (June 18, 1803–October 27, 1890.
He was the sixth of seven children. Only two of his siblings survived childhood, his brother Orion (July 17, 1825– December 11, 1897 and sister Pamela (September 19, 1827August 31, 1904). His sister Margaret (May 31 1830

August 17, 1839 died when he was four years old, and his brother Benjamin (June 8, 1832–May 12, 1842) died three years later. Another brother, Pleasant (1828–1829), only lived three months before Samuel was born. In addition to his older siblings, Samuel had one younger brother, Henry (July 13, 1838–June 21, 1858). When Samuel was four, his family moved to Hannibal a port town on the Mississippi River that would serve as the inspiration for the fictional town of St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. At that time, Missouri was a slave state in the union, and young Samuel became familiar with the institution of slavery, a theme he later explored in his writing.
Samuel Clemens was color blind, a condition that fueled his witty banter in the social circles of the day. In March 1847, when Samuel was 11, his father died of pneumonia. The following year, he became a printer's apprentice. In 1851, he began working as a typesetter and contributor of articles and humorous sketches for the Hannibal Journal, a newspaper owned by his brother, Orion. When he was 18, he left Hannibal and worked as a printer in New York, Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Cincinnati. At 22, Clemens returned to Missouri. On a voyage to New Orleans down the Mississippi, the steamboat pilot, "Bixby", inspired Clemens to pursue a career as a steamboat pilot, the third highest paying profession in America at the time, earning $250 per month ($155,000 today!
Because the steamboats at the time were constructed of very dry flammable wood, no lamps were allowed, making night travel a precarious endeavor. A steamboat pilot needed a vast knowledge of the ever-changing river to be able to stop at any of the hundreds of ports and wood-lots along the river banks. Clemens meticulously studied 2,000 miles (3,200 km) of the Mississippi for more than two years before he received his steamboat pilot license in 1859. While training for his pilot's license, Samuel convinced his younger brother Henry to work with him on the Mississippi. Henry was killed on June 21, 1858 when the steamboat he was working on exploded. Samuel was guilt-stricken over his brother's death and held himself responsible for the rest of his life. However, he continued to work on the river and served as a river pilot until the Civil War broke out in 1861 and traffic along the Mississippi was curtailed.When the war began, Clemens and his friends formed a Confederate militia (depicted in an 1885 short story, "The Private History of a Campaign That Failed") and joined a battle where a man was killed. Clemens found he could not bear to kill a man and deserted. His friends joined the Confederate

Army; Clemens joined his brother, Orion, who had been appointed secretary to the territorial governor of Nevada, and headed west.Clemens and his brother traveled for more than two weeks on a stagecoach across the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains. They visited the Mormon community in Salt Lake City These experiences became the basis of the book Roughing It and provided material for The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County. Clemens' journey ended in the silver-mining town of Virginia City, Nevada where he became a miner. After failing as a miner,Clemens then traveled to San Francisco,California where he continued as a journalist and began lecturing. An assignment in Hawaii became the basis for his first lectures. In 1867, a local newspaper funded a steamboat trip to the Mediterranean region. During his tour of Europe and the Middle East,he wrote a popular collection of travel letters which were compiled as The Innocents Abroad in 1869. He also met Charles Langdon and saw a picture of Langdon's sister Olivia. Clemens claimed to have fallen in love at first sight. They met in 1868, were engaged a year later, and married in February 1870 in Elmira, New York. Olivia gave birth to a son, Langdon, who died of diphtheria after 19 months.In 1871, Clemens moved his family to Hartford, Connecticut. There Olivia gave birth to three daughters: Susy, Clara, and Jean. Clemens also became good friends with fellow author William Dean Howells. It is also the 30th anniversary of the Broadway musical "Annie" written by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin. Sequels were tried on this amazing story, but they all failed. The songs are perhaps some of the best known in American theatre. It is also Queen Elizaberth's 81st birethday! Well another day of work!

Thursday, April 19, 2007


The American Revolution began today in 1775!

The American Revolution-- the beginning of the United States of America-- two hundred and thirty one years. The actual war between the the two countries actually did not officially end until 1783 ! Only 40-45% of the country supported the war in 1775. England was superior at sea and the American colonies were superior by land. France, Spain and the Netherlands all joined forces against the British in 1777. England and America were at war again just nine years after the peace treaty here in The War of 1812-- that was the war the British burned down the White House. But today is another anniversary-- a tragic one in light of the great tragedy at Virginia Tech-- for on this date in 1995, the Alfred P. Morrow building in Oklahoma City was blown away by Timothy McVeigh. Imagine that? An American terrorist. I remember a client telling me the story that he had worked in that building and was working that very tragic day. He had made a promise to the Optimists Club in town to make a motivational breakfast speech and had a very bad cold. He was not going to make that speech and cancel because he felt so badly. Once he got to work, he discovered that he was in trouble that same morning for a serious mistake he had made in paperwork.His boss was on the phone yelling-- he wanted to see this man pronto in his office. My client begged him some time to make the speech and promised that the moment he returned from the breakfast, he would go up to his office and account himself for the mistake. The boss relented only at the last moment. My client left the building and started walking to the Optimist Breakfast which was three blocks down the street. He got to the front door of the building where the breakfast was being held and BAM!! -- the Alfred P. Morrow building was a memory. He never did have to face his boss for the horrendous mistake that might have him cost him his job! He had kept his word! And that saved his life!-- in more ways than one. Being fired from a federal job closes more doors than one could ever imagine! Also on this date last year the newest Pope was elected Benedict IVI. Of course, we should also not forget that the Waco massacre also happened on this date in 1993. Well on to work!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


""Remember my children and you will hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Hardly a man is ever alive who remembers that ride in '75" William Wordsworth

Well all fingers and toes crossed here. Last night at 10:59 pm, I finally was able to download a song for "The American Idol" song contest. It was "Overnight Sensation" and it's lyrics really epitomize the struggle that every dreamer goes through to obtain his or her dream. Tim and I wanted to submit "One Last Miracle" but after a week of trying to submit it, we finally got a feedback from the contest that the song had simply too much MB to qualify. The contest had put a limit of 4MB and "Miracle" was coming in at over 5 with the orchestrated version and 4.8 with the non orchestrated version. I had tried to book some studio time yesterday, to create some qualifying MP# versions of the song by trying to shorten it, but that didn't work out either. It was pretty discouraging and maddening and I went out to see a movie to try and cool off. I do recommend "The Hoax" staring Richard Gere -- he's simply brilliant in this film! Well I came home and there was John trying to get this submitted for me. I know now why and how I love this man so much-- he simply would not let me quit! I didn't have too many songs that were in MP3 format that had both music and singing so I took a chance with "Overnight Sensation" . It really involves all of us especially Tony Westbrook (who co-wrote the lyrics with me and sings it so brilliantly and Tim Doran who is simply musical magic. Today is also the anniversary of the great San Francisco quake in 1906.Did you know that Enrico Caruso sang in San Francisco the night before? Here's the crazy thing: Caruso thought the quake was God's anger at him for what he chose to sing and thus he vowed that he would never again sing in San Francisco! And he NEVER did. Boy, talk about guilt! And speaking of rocking another way, I read today where the Hard Rock Cafe is building a Rock and Roll Theme Park in Myrtle Beach South Carolina. The breaking ground is scheduled for later today! It will include a "Rock and Roll Heaven and lots of thematic rides and roller coasters! Wild! Today also marks the anniversary of the start of Paul Revere's famous ride in 1775-- you remember "One if by land, two if by sea!" and of course the Wordsworth poem "Listen my children and you will hear of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. Hardly a man is scarcely alive who remembers that ride in '75. Well back to work after three glorious days off. Happy Birthday also to Hayley Mills who is 61 years old today! I finally got my registration paid for the Ford ZX3 and I can drive that at last. It sure has been a rough six months! But onward! And hope in God!

Monday, April 16, 2007



It's been awhile since I've had a blog entry, but this is the first day I've had access to the internet since the last entry on April 12th. For at 11:14 am on April 12th half of Van Nuys was hit by huge winds and a massive blackout! We were without power from 11:14 on April 12th until 6:00 am the following morning.Our nearby super market did not get their power back until 10am the same day and much food was lost! Thank goodness John had disconnected the appliances, the computer, the printer and the extra drives we have, but we did forget one thing-- the cable modem. So when the power came back on at 6am with a surge-- it fried the cable modem. We had to wait until 1pm this afternoon to obtain a new cable modem from Time Warner (yes, the AOL people) because when we called they said that they did not respond out of ordinary rotation for "acts of God" Well, looks like God takes the rap again! Oh well! So this is the first opportunity that i have had to write here. Today is the Pope's 80th birthday by the way.And it is also the birthday of Charlie Chaplin and Henry Mancini. Charlie died thirty years ago this upcoming Christmas day. Charlie wrote two amazing songs while he lived one was "Limelight" called "Smile" -- a Tony Bennett standard and also "Here is my Song" from "The Countess of Hong Kong" starring Sophia Loren. I have met Henry's daughter Fellice in the store and sold her a camera-- a very sweet lady. Have a couple of much needed days off and so will relax before going back to work on Wednesday. And may God bless the victims of the Virginia Tech shooting! Memories of Columbine continue to this day!

Thursday, April 12, 2007


On this day in History we lost one of the greatest presidents of them all Franklin Delano Roosevelt: the only man to have been elected president of the United States four times.
He was burdened by the effects of polio all of his life and was saddled by a wheelchair in all of his presidential years. Sometimes the pain he experienced was excruciably horrid and yet this man who told us "We have nothing to fear, but fear, itself" guided this country through one of its greatest challenges. World War II without Franklin Delano Roosevelt might have been a failure for this great country. I shudder to think of the consequences if Nazi Germany had been victorious. He lived but a brief sixty-three years and died of a stroke just eighty-three days into his fourth term as our president. Sixty-three years is not a terribly long time and yet he used it to its full benefit. It was also today in history that the Civil War began with the firing upon Fort Sumter in 1861 and the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. Disneyland Paris also opened its doors fifteen years ago this day.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Today is my John's birthday. He is my companion, my best friend and my sweet love. He is thirty-three years old today! God has surely blessed me with this relationship which is officially EIGHT YEARS OLD this very day-- for it was on his birthday that he flew to California for the very first time to visit and meet me. Eight years is a long time for a relationship of any kind. John is one amzing guy. First of all, he has one of the greatest hearts in all the world. He cares for people around him and is so generous that he amazes me completely. He is an expert on animals of every kind, flowers and plants and has an amazing love of mythology, the supernatural and the great mysteries of the world. But most of all, he loves ME-- and that isn't easy-- especially because I am the emotional Italian whose feelings are foremost. And it isn't easy loving someone with a great big sometimes far away dream. It takes real courage for that one!I really never wrote in the quantity and the quality that I have before he walked into my life--probably three hundred songs and three full musicals. I am confident that I am a much better person because of him. We laugh and love together and everything seems as wonderful today as it was back then. Conflicts? Of course! My dear saintly mother and father had plenty of those! Life and relationships do not co-exist without conflict. You can't have a stage play without conflict! Last night we went out to dinner to "The Elephant Bar"in Burbank and such a wonderful time. He finally found a fish dish (Catfish) that was filleted correctly and I had my all time favorite Tri Tip Roast. I gave him his birthday presents and he seemed to love them. I wish everyone in a relationship the happiness and the wisdom and the friendship that my John has brought to me. I am stronger, kinder and more tenacious than ever because he believes in me. So I make a wish that we have many more years together and I wish that everyone who enters a new relationship will have the same amazing attributes as ours. EIGHT YEARS and counting-- the best eight years of my entire life has been with this gentle, kind and loving man. He is without doubt the answer to all of many prayers!

Monday, April 09, 2007


Well, it was a very pleasant Easter for me as I was able to visit my sister Annette and see my great nephews Tyler and Justin and my great niece Kaitlin. My sister fixed a delicious prime rib dinner with mashed potatoes and a great salad. I gave her an early birthday present: a BBQ Crock Pot Pit-- I just love mine! It was very nice also to see family friends Vonnie and Ray and Michele Lyfortd I was able to attend church at my old parish Saint John Vianney in Hacienda Heights and met the new pastor Monsignor Tim. The mass was simply wonderful and made me very happy. Monsignor made a special point of inviting me back and said that I was welcome at any time. That was really nice to hear. It looks like my old Parrish is in very good hands. And that is very comforting indeed. This Parrish was very good to me in the difficult days of my life. Praise God for this wonderful day! Well back to work and another work week!

Saturday, April 07, 2007


On this date in 1949, one of the greatest musicals of all time premiered on Broadway and played there for 1,595 performances or five years. It starred the Amazing Mary Martin and Ezio Pinza and the ultra amazing Juanita Hall as Bloody Mary! At the time it closed, it was the fifth-longest running show in Broadway history.
It is generally considered to be one of the greatest musicals of all time and a number of its songs, such as "Bali Ha'i," "Younger than Springtime," and "Some Enchanted Evening," have become worldwide standards. It was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1950. The play is based on two short stories by James A. Michener from his book Tales of the South Pacific, which itself was the winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1948. Also in the cast were Myron McCormick, Betta St. John, and William Tabbert . (remember the dad on the Patty Duke Show?) Although De Becque and Forbush were already fully developed characters in Michener's stories, at some point during the creation of South Pacific, Rodgers and Hammerstein came to have both Pinza and Martin specifically in mind as playing these two roles. Pinza was a well-known opera basso and Martin was, with Ethel Merman, perhaps the leading Broadway musical comedienne of the era. The subsequent music, and its presentation within the show, was therefore tailored for the voices of Pinza and Martin.To celebrate the centenary of Richard Rodgers' birth in 2002, the Royal National Theatre reproduced the musical with celebrated director Trevor Nunn directing. Two songs were cut from the original. One was reinstated for the movie version. These were "My Girl Back Home" and "The Lovliness of Evening" which was used later for R&H's televesion musical Cinderella on CBS. Today is also Billie Holliday's birthday-- what an amazing performer she was and good old James Garner is eighty years old this day. A toot for me: I have learned through official congrats and notice that I had more personal camera and photographic sales in March of this year than any other salesman in the fifteen stores of the Ritz district that I am in. Well that makes me proud! Well, I'm off to pay my rent and off to another busy day at work!

Friday, April 06, 2007


Today is Good Friday and a most holy day. I offer my prayers and my hopes for my friends and my family, especially my sister Annette who faces a mysterious health challenge. "Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins. Save us from the fires of hell. Lead all souls to heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy. Oh my Jesus, have mercy on my soul. And also a special nod to Saint Dimas, the Good Thief of the Cross. I wrote about him in a beautiful song called "Lord, Remember Me" and he is a very favorite Saint. Tradition says he was the very man who encountered Mary and Joseph on the road to Egypt when Jesus was just a baby and protected the Holy Family from a band of thieves, almost thirty -three years before the passion of Jesus, itself. So my prayers are aimed at heaven today for my amazing friend, Tim, my sister Annette and for all the amazing talent like Tony Westbrook and David Holmes who have shared their talent and wisdom with me all these many years. My prayers for their intentions are now heaven bond!

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A very sad day to remember. April 4th, 1968. Martin Luther King was alledgedly assasinated by James Earl Ray. And who knows if that is the truth. It was a sad year for all of us. It was the year we lost Robert Kennedy as well. What might the world have been like if this great man had lived? It's very hard to say? Are we any closer to accepting that prejudice is simply not the answer. I wrote in my journal once "Prejudice is like trying to taste a banquet with your nose-- all you get is a dirty face" The world will accept the great man's dream someday. We simply have to have faith in the heart of man-- because the heart of man is made by God-- and that can't be far from good-- even though it may be diverted along the road of life. So let us pray today that Martin Luther King's dream can be realized-- with a little more time, a little more care and a lot more share of the heart that God has granted to us all.

Monday, April 02, 2007


Today is indeed the 202nd birthday of the amazing writer Hans Christian Andersen. I have always loved his stories from my earliest childhood and always wanted to write some kind of grand story that would take stories like "The Traveling Companion" and "The Snow Queen" and "The Wild Swans" to bigger and better places. Now Tim Doran and I are trying to do that for a musical version of "The Traveling Companion". It's hard and that's because this simple story can be very complex. It involves so many wonderful elements to be sure. So now Tim and I have to rein it in and not be so linear with its content. The original story of course doesn't even define the Warlock (in the story he is called "The Evil Magician") and it doesn't make us want to pull for the princess, either because we really don't learn that much about her in the original story. One thing for sure is that the man who wrote all these wonderful stories was a very complex man. He was NOT the character that Frank Loeser wrote about in the Samuel Goldwyn musical movie "Hans Christian Andersen" If you listen to Danny Kaye sing the lyrics to that Frank Loeser song one must forget the real man. He was NOT the man you hear in this lyric and song Click here: I’m Hans Christian Andersen ? Oh No-- Andersen was born in Odense, Denmark on Tuesday, April 2, 1805.Andersen's father (who was a very good looking cobbler) apparently believed that Hans might be related to nobility. However, investigation proves these stories unfounded. Nevertheless, the theory that Andersen was the illegitimate son of royalty persists in Denmark, bolstered by the fact that the Danish King took a personal interest in Andersen as a youth and paid for his education. The writer Rolf Dorset insists that not all options have been explored in determining Andersen's heritage.Andersen displayed great intelligence and imagination as a young boy, a trait fostered by the indulgence of his parents and by the superstition of his mother. He made himself a small toy-theatre and sat at home making clothes for his puppets, and reading all the plays that he could lay his hands upon; among them were those of Ludvig Holberg and William Shakespeare. Throughout his childhood, he had a passionate love for literature. He was known to memorize entire plays by Shakespeare and to recite them using his wooden dolls as actors. He was also a great lover of the art of banter, and assisted in initiating a society of like minded banterers amongst his friends.In 1816, 9at age eleven) his father died and the young boy had to start earning a living. He worked as an apprentice for both a weaver and a tailor, and later worked in a cigarette factory where his fellow workers humiliated him by betting on whether he was in fact a girl, pulling down his trousers to check. At the age of fourteen, Andersen moved to Copenhagen seeking employment as an actor in the theatre . He had a pleasant soprano voice and succeeded in being admitted to the Royal Danish Theatre. This career stopped short when his voice broke. A colleague at the theatre had referred to him as a poet, and Andersen took this very seriously and began to focus on writing. Following an accidental meeting, Jonas Collin started taking an interest in the odd boy and sent Andersen to the grammar school paying all his expenses. Before even being admitted to grammar-school, Andersen had already succeeded in publishing his first story, The Ghost at Palnatoke's Grave in (1822). Though a backward (perhaps learning-disabled and unwilling pupil, Andersen studied both in Slagelse and at a school in Elsinore until 1827. He later stated that these years had been the darkest and most bitter parts of his life. He had experienced living in his schoolmaster's own home, being abused in order to "build his character", and he had been the odd man out among his fellow students, being much older than most of them, homely and unattractive. Furthermore, he was dyslexic , a very likely reason for his learning difficulties and he later said that the school faculty forbade or discouraged him to write. The feeling of "being different", usually resulting in pain, is a recurrent motif in his work. This is both attributed to his early life in poverty, his homeliness and in particular to his lack of romantic and sexual life. In the spring of 1872, Andersen fell out of bed and severely hurt himself. He never quite recovered, but he lived until August 4 , 1875, dying very peacefully in a house called Rolighed near Copenhagen, which was given to him by his friend Moritz Melchior, a banker Shortly before his death, he had consulted a composer about the music for his funeral, saying: 'Most of the people who will walk after me will be children, so make the beat keep time with little steps. Now Tim and I must take our own measured steps to make this musical happen. I think Mr. Andersen would like it.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Today is the 75th birthday of a true show business legend: the one and only "Unsinkable Molly Brown" herself Miss Debbie Reynolds. Her real name is Mary Frances Reynolds. I got to meet her just once many years ago in the 1980's when I was walking down Hollywood Blvd with a friend. I didn't know what her real name was, but my friend who was a Hollywood fanatic knew. She was eating lunch at an outdoor bistro of some kind with another woman and my friend who was always obnoxious in his star sightings and meetings walked up to her table and exclaimed "Sister Mary Frances, it's Debbie Reynolds!" And she laughed and my friend got her autograph. My John absolutely loves Debbie-- one of his favorite stars! Oh yes indeed Debbie Reynolds was born Mary Frances Reynolds on April 1, 1932, in El Paso Texas, and there's a lot of Texas left in her. After her family moved to California, she entered the Miss Burbank beauty contest in 1948, reportedly just to get the free blouse, silk scarf, and lunch given to contestants. Her Betty Hutton impersonation won the day, and she also won a contract with Warner Brothers. The studio missed its chance, however, giving her only two small roles in the next couple of years, and failing to renew her contract. MGM then grabbed her up, gave her dancing and singing lessons, and cast her in Three Little Words and then Two Weeks with Love (both 1950). Her success in those parts led to her biggest break, a starring role opposite Gene Kelly and Donald O'Connor in what has come to be thought of as the greatest of the MGM musicals-- maybe the best musical of all time: "Singin' in the Rain" (1952). Debbie was only 19 at the time and she says it was one of the two hardest things she's ever done (childbirth being the other). But it was worth it. For the next decade she was one of the most popular and highest-paid stars at MGM. Notable films during this period included The Tender Trap (1955), The Catered Affair (1956), Tammy and the Bachelor (1957) (which also resulted in a Top 10 hit title song, Tammy) This Happy Feeling (1958), The Mating Game (1959), The Gazebo (1959), The Rat Race (1960), The Second Time Around (1961), How the West Was Won (1962), and My Six Loves (1963). The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964) gave her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress. Debbie had married Eddie Fisher in 1955. Their two children, Carrie and Todd, went on to achieve success in Hollywood themselves, but the marriage ended in 1959, in a well-publicized break-up involving Elizabeth Taylor. The publicity didn't hurt her career, but the death of the Hollywood musical did. She shifted gears in the late 60s, turning to stage musicals, television, and later night clubs, voice over work, and even an exercise video (1984). But she never really retired from films, and in 1996 starred in Albert Brooks' comedy Mother, giving one of her greatest performances to date. More recently she teamed up (believe it or not) with her old nemesis Elizabeth Taylor plus Shirley Maclaine and Joan Collins on a TV movie written by her daughter Carrie Fisher, entitled These Old Broads. Perhaps her greatest enthusiasm in recent years has been her collection of Hollywood memorabilia, consisting of more than 3000 costumes and 46,000 square feet of props and equipment, now housed in her Las Vegas Hollywood Motion Picture Collection. I was surprised to learn that she had to declare bankruptcy back in 1996. It just shows you that even being a great Hollywood star can mean an earth crashing or two. Debbie has seen a lot of those including the break up of two high profiole marriages! So Happy Birthday dear Debbie Reynolds. Today also is a birthday of another Hollywood legend: Jane Powell-- (remember her/) She turns 79 today. Today is also Palm Sunday and I will go to church later today!