Tuesday, May 29, 2007


May 29th, 2007 marks what would have been John F. Kennedy's 90th birthday. It makes me feel a little old. What an amazing man. Foibles? Of course, but bar none few men have ever approached the threshold and mountain top of greatness as he did. He was not afraid of defending America and everything that this great country stands for. "And so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what YOU can do for your country" I am convinced that without his leadership, the Cuban Missile Crisis would have resulted in World War III. Today is also the birthday of another American hero, patriot and natural leader. His name you should know well: Patrick Henry.Henry is perhaps best known for the speech he made in the House of Burgess on March 23, 1775 urging legislature to take military action against the encroaching British military force. The House was deeply divided, but was very much leaning toward not committing troops. As Henry stood in Saint John's Church in Richmond, Virginia, he ended his speech with his most famous words:Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! The crowd jumped up and shouted "To Arms! To Arms!". This speech is credited by some with single-handily delivering the Virginia troops to the Revolutionary War. Problematically, the text of this speech did not appear in print until 1817, in the biography Life and Character of Patrick Henry by William Wirt Although Wirt assembled his book from recollections by persons close to the events, some historians have since speculated that the speech, or at least the form with which we are familiar, was essentially written by Wirtdecades after the fact.Early in the Revolutionary War, Henry led militia against Royal Governor Lord Dunmore in defense of some disputed gunpowder, an event known as the Gunpowder Incident. During the war, he served as the first post-colonial Governor of Virginia, from 1776-79, an office he held again from 1784-86.
After the Revolution, Henry was an outspoken critic of the United States Constitution and urged against its adoption, arguing it gave the federal government too much power. As a leading Anti federalist, he was instrumental in forcing the adoption of the Bill of Rights to amend the new Constitution. He became a strong opponent of James Madison. By the late 1790s he was a prominent Federalist in support of Washington and Adams. The irony is that most of his followers became Republicans who supported Jefferson's party. President George Washington offered him the post of Secretary of State in 1795, which he declined. In 1798 President John Adams nominated him special emissary to France, which he had to decline because of failing health. So let us remember this day two great leaders. One was a hero, a president and a statesman, the other was a true defender of freedom and a brilliant statesman.

Monday, May 28, 2007


From the War Of Independence to the War of 1812 when we gave melodic tribute to our American flag, we have have honored our fighting men throughout the years and most especially on Memorial Day. War has been a large part of America's struggle through the years and our soldiers have been brave throughout. So in honor of our war dead here is a lyric from a song I wrote last year. It is called "Some Gave All"-- an appropiate tribute on this great. God Bless America!
Music and Lyrics By Mike Ricciardi
© Copyright 2005 All rights reserved.

Some gave all
All gave some
Fought the fight
Will burn the light!
Till freedom’s won!

Some gave life
All gave time
Most gave love
Still rise above
Both will and mind

Sometimes a fight is called for
You’re simply not prepared for!
Some folks will never understand

That freedom needs defending
There’s just no use pretending
Freedom is an easy prey
When you put its might away
In the drawers of yesterday

Some still give
The fight goes on
If right makes might
Then freedom’s light
Will shine each dawn

Some will yell
Some will scream
“It’s not our fight”
“It’s just not right”
“It’s not our dream!”

Sometimes a fight is called for
You’re simply not prepared for!
Some folks will never understand
That freedom needs defending
There’s just no use pretending
Freedom simply will not stay
When you put its might away
In the drawers of yesterday

The time is here
The cause is now
Don’t run away
And try to say
There’s too much cost

Some gave life
All gave time
Most gave love
And rose above
Both will and mind
Yes, some gave all

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Today is a most amazing day in history and Hollywood. First with history. On this day in 1868 our nation and President Andrew Johnson pictured here was saved by the good conscience and superior convictions of a lone single American senator from Lawrence, Kansas. His name was Edmund G. Ross. Senator Ross was celebrated in John F. Kennedy's amazing novel "Profiles In Courage" in the late 1950's So who was Edmund G. Ross. In 1868, the Senate was all poised to remove Andrew Johnson from office-- his crime? Simply following the policies of Abraham Lincoln and being an honest man. The vote in the Senate was 35-19-- just one lone vote shy of conviction. If Johnson had been removed from office, the contentious and angry Benjamin ("Hot Head") Wade (the president Pro Tem of the Senate) would have become president of the United States. Mr. Wade hated the South-- despised the black and had he been put into office, the Civil War would have been re-ignited: this time with England and France getting behind the South. The reason: cotton-- these two countries would have been bankrupt without it. They would have involved themselves at any cost to have this vital commodity restored to export to their respectyive countries. They would have gone against the North for reason of economic necessity! But today was also interesting in other ways. Marie Antoinette married future King Louis the 16th this day. Joan of Arc was canonized a saint in Rome in 1920. The musical "Annie Get Your Gun" opened on Broadway to rave reviews: Irving Berlin's first Broadway musical. And sadly? We lost two entertainment giants on this day in 1990: Sammy Davis Jr. (at age sixty-four) and the amazing Jim Henson (at age fifty-three) The first Academy Awards were given out on this day in 1929 and actor Henry Fonda was born on this day in 1905 in Grand island, Nebraska. Well, history is great fun, but to have so many amazing events all happen on one day is incredible. By the way, if you have not read John F. Kennedy's "Profiles In Courage", I strongly urge you to do so. It's simply amazing and fascinating reading. Edmund G. Ross with one lone vote literally saved this country from ruin. Had the Civil War been begun again that would have delayed the Industrial Revolution by at least thirteen years. Now imagine today's busy technology delayed by thirteen years. No I Pods. No Cell Phones. No movies on DVD. It would essentially be 1994 in 2007. Today I attend the Vendors Expo in the city of Commerce-- that could ber an interesting day!

Sunday, May 13, 2007



Today is Mother's Day. And while I remember my own dear sweet mother-- who was my very best friend in all the world, i wish to pay homage to the GREATEST mother of all time-- The Blessed Virgin-- the mother of Our Lord, Jesus Christ. She has been my personal champion since my childhood days . I can pray to my Blessed Mother and she will always ask her Divine Son to intercede in my behalf. Someday I wish to build a garden devoted to her rosary. Maybe someday. By the way, It was on this very day NINETY years ago that Mary appeared to three shepard children in Fatima. And on this day in 1981, Pope John Paul was shot and recovered miracleously from an assaination attempt. The pope himself credited Our Lady with saving him.And so this day , while I remember my own dear late sweet mother, I remember as well OUR BLESSED LADY who taught us all what motherhood means. She put everything on the line for her Divine Son. She suffered more than mother of all and continues to watch over us all down here on earth! She is and always will be my personal; champion, my Lady with the lamp leading the way to Our Blessed Lord, Jesus Christ. Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee..."

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Today indeed would have been Katherine Hepburn's 100th birthday. I wrote about Katherine as an off screen character in a play I wrote years ago called "Professor Chutzpah"-- a comedy in which the world's youngest con-man learns quite suddenly that he is the father of a nine year old son-- and this boy is not only a better conman than his father-- he's PT Barnum at four foot three. The conman convinces his ditzy, lame brain landlady Judy(when she comes to confront him about his bounced rent check) that she looks just like a young Katherine Hepburn and she should get into show business immediately. Of course dittzy Judy decides to dress up as Katherine Hepburn and somehow gets past the guard at dear old MGM studios. There she meets the REAL Katherine Hepburn and she and Kate have a really wild animated dioscussion which crazy Judy relates in the play. During one of the first performances of this play, we had an audience that just "rolled in the asile" as this character recounts her mis adventures on the lot. When Judy reveals that she has gone to a commercial audition dressed as Kate in her role as the queen (see picture) in "The Lion In Winter" and gets a Tidi-Bowl commercial, the good Professor Chutzpah character delivered the line "Well, that's Hollywood for you-- one day on the throne, the next day on the toilet"-- the audience screamed with laughter. it was a magic moment in theatre. The good Danny Simon taught me well. Today is also George Carlin's 70th birthday. Talk about a funny guy! My favorite George Carlin quote is "I want to something-- why is that the catepillar does all the work and the butterfly gets all the publicity" It is also Burt Bacharach's 79th birthday. Now here is a songwriter who could have stoped writing twenty years ago and still been a zillionaire. Well, someday-- who knows?

Friday, May 11, 2007



FIRE ON AN ISLAND! My beloved Catalina is in great danger as is her beautiful city of Avalon as a disasterous fire has caused the evacuation of over four thousand residents there. My prayers for this wonderful place! I spent more happy days on this magnificent island! My mother, my sister and my then future brother-in-law, John spent summers there enjoying the sun, taking in the attractions, eating at El Galleon restaraunt and taking the various trips into the interior. Those were amazingly happy days-- days when I first used a camera ina truly creative way--some of those pictures, I still have on my walls to this day. This is just about the biggest danger to the island that has been reported in years. The lack of moisture has been the catalyst to this tragedy as Catalina has only received two inches of rain this entire winter season. My prayers go out to the good people of Avalon. Caralina is simply one of the most beautiful places. I was going to teach there at one time. Can you imagine being a teacher and only having ten to twelve kids in a classroom-- a teacher's dream. Today is also the birthday of Irving Berlin, the greatest songwriter of all times. We lost Irving in 1989 at the age of 101. How many of his songs have we sung over the years especially "God Bless America", "White Christmas", "Always", and of course "There's No Business Like Show Business" Irving donated all of the royalties to "God Bless America" to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America-- it's allowed these organizations to continue to exist. My John prepares to go and walk his mother Dorene down the asile for her new wedding on May 19th. Her is so excited. And my "mom-in-law" os the sweetest lady of all. A true class act. Another day of work and a beautiful day-- so off we go. Dear God-- spare Catalina.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


FIRE-- the four letter word that can hurt the most broke out in the Hollywood Hills yesterday allegedly at the hands of an arsonist destroying Dante's Peak and endangering the Griffith Observatory (seen in the photo to the left) and the Los Angeles Zoo. The animals were moved as a precaution to an indoor holding area, which should have been a very interesting gathering place to watch and see. I was driving John to work yesterday and got a really good look at it up there on the top of the hills. Boy, that was one scary sight. Fire is something that everybody fears. I watched it on television later and found it all so unbelievable. Who would do such a thing? Later that same evening, I watched the Cole Porter biography movie "De Lovely" on DVD. Kevin Kline was simply brilliant as Cole Porter and Ashley Judd was simply amazing as his wife, Linda. Of course, dear Cole was really gay, but he loved Linda in so many wonderful ways. The treat is to watch classic performers like Elvis Costello, Natalie Cole, Sheryl Crow and Robbie Williams perform some of the classic Cole Porter Tunes like "Blow Gabriel Blow", "Anything Goes" and the classic "Night and Day" It was kind of a hoot to watch that song being tried out because everyone urged Cole to drop the song because it had too much of a range for singers to sing ("It goes so high, and then so low-- it's so hard to sing") I'm sure happy that Cole Porter did not give in to pressure like that. I've written songs with ranges like that and somehow they most always work-- with the right artist in the recording studio!

Monday, May 07, 2007


Five years, eight months and six days-- the length of World War II in Europe. Today is the anniversary of that grand day. V.E. Day! War was to continue with Japan until August of that same year, but at least the major conflict was over. Nazi Germany was simply no more. Hitler had killed himself. My mom and dad struggled during the war trying to make ends meet. Meat rationing and gas rationing were very common. I was born two years and four months later. Even back then times were hard-- and my mom and dad were struggling with a mortgage -- even then-- as we all seem to do today. It's a beautiful day today and I go into work at noon so I can enjoy it a little more than usual. Last week I went to go and see an endocrinologist-- something I should have done long ago. I discovered I had an under active thyroid and that my good cholesterol was not high enough. He also gave me two new drugs for my type two Diabetes. So now maybe I will start feeling much better! These doctors are wonderful--GP's simply are NOT the answer. Some of them just don't see the new drugs on the market today as REAL solutions. I had been on the same medication for over seven years-- it was time for a change!

Sunday, May 06, 2007



Population 1,885. Greensburg Kansas. The home of the world's largest hand dug well. The home of the largest asteroid. All are gone. Eight churches, three schools, an enchanting soda fountain and a beautiful downtown area-- All gone! One felt swoop! The radar of the storm itself is pretty damn scary looking. This tornado was 1.4 miles in WIDTH-- holy God! The words of the late great John Lennon come to mind "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans"-- he said that one month before his own demise. We don't know the time and we don't the hour when fate or death or disaster will strike. Today I said a prayer for the good people of Greensburg. I asked God in Jesus' name if he would please let this town's survivors be found and that these good people could re-build this historic and wonderful place. I prayed that they would keep the faith and not give up on God because of this disaster. I noted that the local high school was holding an all out invitation for the alumnus of the High school all over the world to come to Greenburg on May 29th for a giant re-union. On the invitation, the promoters even provided the cook's cell phone number so that famous graduates could call and leave him the numbers in their party-- they didn't want to run out of food. Well, they won't-- because there won't be a re-union this year-- there simply is no high school to come home to. I don't think I could ever live in Kansas. Our Ritz Camera once had its big warehouse in Clayton, Kansas but moved it five years ago to Swanee, Georgia. My prayers will continue for these good people. The 70th anniversary of another disaster is observed today as well-- the explosion of the Hindenburg. So the lesson is repeated. We simply don't know the time. We don't know the hour when our lives will be ripped apart or ripped away. And sometimes we just don't understand why all of these tragedies must befall us. But know that God loves us in all of it. He sends us these reminders to get our attention. If we love Him, we really need to trust him. With this help, this good town will rise again like the phoenix from the ashes. It will be whole again one day! Let us pray for all of these people on this Sunday. They will not again forget the date of May 6, 2007.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


On this date in 1960 at the old Sullivan Street Theatre in NYC, the longest running musical in history began it's historic run. What an incredible show! What amazing songs! Songs like "Try to Remember" "Soon, It's Gonna Rain" and "It Depends on What You Pay" Schmidt and Jones wrote two other show3s that saw Broadway productions. One of course was "I Do, I Do!" starring the amazing Mary Martin and Robert Preston and the second was "110 Degrees In The Shade" which is now enjoying a revival on Broadway! The Fantasticks premiered with Jerry Orbach as El Gallo, Rita Gardner as Luisa, and Kenneth Nelson as Matt, among the cast members. The spare set and semicircular stage made the show very intimate and immediate for theatregoers. The play is highly stylized and combines aspects of old-fashioned '40s Broadway styles with a more modernist, "fantastical" style and is accompanied by a piano and harp. A mime character represents various set pieces and silent characters, such as the wall between the two houses, and one of the characters, the bandit El Gallo, also serves as a wry narrator.The show was produced on a very low budget. They spent $900 on the set and $541 on costumes at a time when major Broadway shows would spend $1-2 million on sets, props, and costumes. The original set designer, costumer, prop master, and lighting designer was Ed Wittstein, who performed all four jobs for a total of only $480 plus $24.48 a week. The set was similar to that for "Our Town"; Wittstein designed a raised stationary platform anchored by six poles. It resembled a traveling players wagon, like a pageant wagon. As for a curtain, he hung different small false curtains across the platform at various times during the play. He also made a sun/moon out of cardboard. One side was painted bright yellow (the sun) and the other was black with a cresent of white (the moon). The sun/moon was hung from a nail in one of poles and is referred to in the libretto.
The show was broadcast by the Hallmark Hall of Fame on October 18, 1964. The cast included John Davidson, Stanley Holloway, Bert Lahr, Ricardo Montalban, and Susan Watson who had appeared in the original Barnard College production. Others who appeared in the off-Broadway production throughout its long run are F. Murray Abraham, Keith Charles, Kristen Chenoweth, Bert Convy, Eileen Fulton, Lore Noto (the long-time producer), Dick Latessa, and Martin Vidnovic.
On July 24, 1996, the show reached its 15,000th performance, and the show closed on January 13, 2002 after a record-shattering 17,162 performances. It is the world's longest-running musical, and the longest-running, uninterrupted show of any kind in the United States
.An unsuccessful 1995 feature film version, directed by Michael Ritchie, starred Joel Grey, Barnard Hughes, Joe McIntyre, and Jean Louisa Kelly. I did enjoy the movie myself because I saw it as a new interpetation. Just as Rodgers and Hamerstein's movie versions of their stage plays were new interpetations. A beautiful day here! And good news! Tim has saved his house-- Praise God!. Our dear Father in Heaven does indeed answer our prayers.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


This would have been kate Smith's 100th birthday. There simply, bar none no other singer who influenced and thrilled me asKate Smith voice did. From my earliest childhood years of age five or so, I was simply enthralled watching this dynamic singer and very kind lady. She was only one of two performers (Richard Kiley was the other) who could hit the last note of the song "The Impossible Dream" as it had been originally written by Mitch Leigh for the Broadway Musical "Man Of LaMancha" Of course one of my favorite stories is the one that my arranger tells-- he was the last accompainist to play "God Bless America" for her for a bicentenial singing date in 1976. Wow! Yes, indeed she was my child hood heroine. I would simply buy every Kate Smith record I could find. I still cry when I hear her sing-- she was so amazing. She made me love music in an most wonderful way! Kate Smith, whose vibrant voice made ''God Bless America'' an unofficial national anthem and was one of the most popular singers died when she was 79 years old. She had lived in Raleigh, North Carolina.President Reagan expressed sorrow over her death, saying: ''Kate Smith was a patriot in every sense of the word. She thrilled us all with her stirring rendition of 'God Bless America' and sang with a passion which left few eyes dry.''
Miss Smith had been in poor health since 1976, when she suffered brain damage as a result of a diabetic coma. In January, her right leg was amputated because of circulatory problems associated with her diabetes, and on May 9, she underwent a mastectomy.But it was the robust and joyful young singer who never took a formal music lesson whose voice became one of the most listened-to by a nation struggling through the Great Depression and World War, still holding fast to an optimism for the future. Everything about Kate Smith was outsized, including Miss Smith herself. She recorded almost 3,000 songs -more than any other popular performer. She introduced more songs than any other performer - over a thousand, of which 600 or so made the hit parade. She made more than 15,000 radio broadcasts and, over the years, received more than 25 million fan letters. At the height of her career, during World War II, she repeatedly was named one of the three or four most popular women in America. No single show-business figure even approached her as a seller of War Bonds during World War II. In one 18-hour stint on the CBS radio network, Miss Smith sold $107 million worth of War Bonds, which were issued by the United States Government to finance the war effort. Her total for a series of marathon broadcasts was over $600 million.
President Roosevelt once introduced her to King George VI of England, saying: ''This is Kate Smith. Miss Smith is America.''
Kate Smith had been a national singing star almost from the outset of her broadcasting career in 1931. But her amazing identification with patriotism and patriotic themes dates from the night of Nov. 11, 1938, when, on her regular daily radio program, she introduced a new song written expressly for her by Irving Berlin - ''God Bless America.'' In a short time, the song supplanted ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' as the nation's most popular patriotic song. There were attempts - all unsuccessful - to adopt it formally as the national anthem.
For a time, Kate Smith had exclusive rights to perform ''God Bless America'' in public. She relinquished that right when it became apparent the song had achieved a significance beyond that of just another new pop tune.Mr. Berlin and Miss Smith waived all royalties from performances of ''God Bless America.'' The royalties continue to be turned over to the Boy and Girl Scouts of America.''God Bless America'' became a standard in the repertory but both the song and Miss Smith experienced a curious resurgence of popularity beginning in 1969 when the Philadelphia Flyers professional hockey team began to substitute her recording of the song for ''The Star-Spangled Banner'' before games. The team began to win on nights the song was played. As the team improved, the record was reserved for crucial games and, at the end of the 1975-76 playing season the Flyers' record was 41 wins, 5 losses and 1 tie on nights Kate Smith sang ''God Bless America,'' either on record or in person. The first three of the five or so times she appeared in person, the Flyers' opponents were scoreless. God love you, Kate. I always will! Every time I hear you sing on a long ago recording, I will be thrilled, whether it's "Born Free" or "On a Clear Day" or of course "When The Moon Comes Over The Mountain" I hope the angels can hear you sing every day!