Saturday, June 30, 2007


It was with absolute shock and sadness that I learned this morning about the death of movie critic Joel Siegel I had been watching Joel broadcast on Good Morning America over the last twenty-five years. When I read the headlines this morning that a "famed movie critic" had died I had thought it to be Roger Ebert who is also suffering from Cancer. I never knew that Joel was sick. Sixty three years and the father of a nine year old son. Dear God! And colon cancer at that! I can only pray that his young son Dylan will remember this tender and sweet man who could roll in the aisles with his amazing humor and amazing use of the language. I am told that he absolutely had people choking with laughter with one of his last movie critic lines: "There are so many penguin movies lately, they will soon outnumber the penguins" An engaging speaker and masterful storyteller, Siegel has extensive knowledge of films (he watches an average of 200 movies a year), Hollywood and theater, offering audiences an insider’s account of what the entertainment business is really all about. At age 57, Joel became a father for the first time and learned that he had cancer. From what I understand that during this emotional time, he was very open about his illness, publicly discussing his fight against cancer and what it meant to him as a new father. In his book, Lessons for Dylan, Siegel shares all the things he wanted his son to know. He recounts the many chapters of his life, from the inspirational (his path from an immigrant neighborhood to national television; his work in the civil rights movement), to the difficult (the death of his first wife; his experiences with cancer) and the lighthearted (rubbing elbows with Hollywood stars; a glossary of Yiddish words, including 29 words for “schmuck”). Joel Siegel was fabulous!! He charmed our community with his warm personality and wonderful sense of humor.Jewish Community Association of Austin Siegel graduated cum laude from UCLA. Before his career in television, he worked as a radio newscaster, book reviewer for the Los Angeles Times, and freelance writer for Rolling Stone and Sports Illustrated. He was also an advertising copy writer/producer, during which time he invented ice cream flavors for Baskin-Robbins. He is President and co-founder (with actor Gene Wilder) of “Gilda’s Club,” a New York based-organization in honor of the late comic Gilda Radner that offers emotional and social support for cancer patients and their families. Joel received a Tony nomination (the only drama critic ever to receive one) for writing the book for The First, a Broadway musical, about legendary baseball player Jackie Robinson. Other awards include the Public Service Award from the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith for “distinguished news reporting and commitment to freedom of the press” and the New York State Associated Press Broadcasters Association Award for “general excellence in individual reporting.” I will miss him and his ever wonderful smile and unbelievable wit. It really makes us mark the days of our lives a lot more carefully!

Friday, June 29, 2007


Well, just a brief log in today. Today on this date Our Holy Father Pope Benedict the 16th became an ordained priest on this date in 1951. It just goes to show you just how little about our lives we can ever ascertain from where we sit now. By trusting God and allowing his will to take charge of our lives, we can do great things. Our modern Pope has a lot more going for him than his namesake Benedict XVth had in the era of World War One where this pope's attempt at neutrality in World War One brought him great criticisim and personal agony. So we say a prayer for the pope today on his 56th year of his ultimate service to God.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007



Congrats and "Break A Leg" to the new announced cast of the latest Mel Brooks Broadway musical efforts.I always celebrate the openings of new shows because I want that one day to be ME and Tim Doran right at my side! Of course, the show I celebrate today is "Young Frankenstein" and it is set to enchant us this fall.Casting is complete
The production stars Roger Bart (Dr. Frederick Frankenstein), Megan Mullally (Elizabeth), Sutton Foster (Inga), Shuler Hensley (The Monster), Andrea Martin (Frau Blucher), Fred Applegate (Kemp) and Christopher Fitzgerald (Igor), with an ensemble to include Heather Ayers, Jim Borstelmann, Paul Castree, Jen Lee Crowl, Jack Doyle, James Gray, Amy Heggins, Eric Jackson, Kristin Marie Johnson, Renee Feder, Matthew LaBanca, Kevin Ligon, Barrett Martin, Linda Mugleston, Christina Marie Norrup, Justin Patterson, Brian Shepard, Sarrah Strimel, Craig Waletzko and Courtney Young. The musical based on Brooks' Academy Award-nominated film comedy has book by Brooks and Thomas Meehan, music and lyrics by Brooks, direction and choreography by Susan Stroman. Glen Kelly, that musical genius who helped make Brooks' words and music in The Producers soar to Tony-winning effect is at the musical helms once gain. God love you, Mel Brooks! You deserve this to be a smash just as much as "The Producers" was. The show is opening at Broadway's Hilton Theatre Nov. 8 following previews that start Oct. 11.

Today is also the anniversary of John Kennedy's famous speech in Berlin on this date back in 1963, just three days shy of five months before his tragic assassination in Dallas. "Est Im A Berliner!" ("I AM A BERLINER) The whole world loved John Kennedy! How different might history be had he lived! Today I go in for an MRI and try to discover a few answers to a recent lack of concentration in the last few months. Knowledge is power they say. So I am about to find some answers. Happy anniversary to classic film star Eleanor Parker (the Baroness in the Sound of Music) who turns eighty-five years young today!

Monday, June 25, 2007



They say that some songs will last forever. "White Christmas", "God Bless America" and "The Impossible Dream" come to mind. In rock and roll, the tunes written by the Beatles will certainly enter into this category. Today is the 40th anniversary of the Beatles classic song "All You Need Is Love" which was performed on the Ed Sullivan Show back in 1967. How many of us way back then ever thought that these guys would ever amount to anything: especially musical legends. Not me! But then, there you are! But this day is notable for other reasons as well. Today in 1950, the Korean war began and this is also the anniversary of the massascre at Little Big Horn of George Armstrong Custer and his many soldiers: June 25th, 1876-- just days shy of the 100th anniversary of our American nation. I think perhaps the lesson we all learned that day was "The bigger you are; the harder you fall!"

Friday, June 22, 2007


Saint Michael is indeed my patron saint and watches over me all of my life I am absolutely convinced. With God's will, he probably has saved me more times from
calamity, and of course that automobile accident last October. Funny thing, even the Jewish people have an amazing devotion to the great archangel. I am grateful. But this leads to a song lyric which I was inspired to write two weeks ago. So many times, we do not understand the will of God. We shake our head. We wonder. Sometimes we even doubt him because of a tragedy that has befallen others. But as I approach my sixtieth (60th) birthday, I begin to realize that we simply must trust him. When I was really down and out about ten years after a nervous breakdown, I remember reading Job in the bible. And as Job doubts God's choices the Lord basically asks him "Did I do a good job on the rainbow?" "Were you there when I hung the stars in the skies?" So here is a lyric that Tim is about to arrange and it tells a really great story in it:
Music and lyrics by Mike Ricciardi

A man I'veknown for many years told me this tale one day.
On a bridge that looked right there upon his hometown harbor bay.
As the sun was rising , he’d pledged he could not stay
In a life where all his hopes and dreams had simply been betrayed.

No one saw this man look down prepared to end to end it all.
Not a soul would notice and he could not there recall
Any prayer that God had answered: just a failure ‘fore his fall
He closed his eyes and to his surprise an angel had the gall.

To block his way that summer’s day, the man could not believe.
That any one in heaven would care enough to grieve
To send a winged born messenger and somehow stop his plan.
The angel said to him “My friend, what makes you want to leave.?

Let Go! Let God! Don’t end a life of caring
And all that you've been sharing
Don’t walk away five minutes ‘fore the miracle is due
No one is a failure ‘cause they haven’t found success.
You've made a treasure that’s in heaven I confess.

But the man upon that bridge’s rail still felt he wasn't worth,
More time upon this sphere of blue: the planet we call Earth.
But the angel said “If every man could always have his dream.
What was the use of heaven, sir, if life was this serene.

“Just maybe, sir”, that angel said “the dreams you need to fill”.
“Are not the ones that you designed but those just waiting still”
For someone with a heart like yours to open castle doors.”
Sometimes the dreams assigned to us are another’s and not yours

Let Go! Let God! Don’t end a life of caring
And all that you've been sharing
Don’t walk away five minutes ‘fore the miracle is due
No one is a failure ‘cause they haven’t found success.
You have made a treasure that’s in heaven I confess.

And as the two of them stood there, a family came to pray
The storm last night had taken their poor father’s life away.
They asked God “Was it possible for them to find the way.
To find a man like they had known and might he come to stay.

And then and there, this blessed man knew what he had to do.
He walked down from the bridge and said these words so true
“Don’t worry ‘bout your father, children. God will see you tyhru.
Walked them home and found that angel’s words were true

Let Go! Let God! Don’t end a life of caring
And all that you've been sharing
Don’t walk away five minutes ‘fore the miracle is due
No one is a failure ‘cause they haven’t found success.
You have made a treasure that’s in heaven I confess.

Today that man is still alive and on this special day.
He plans to walk me down the aisle and together we will say.
God draws straight with crooked lines. And He will show the way
“Let Go, Let God” is never odd when we have faith today!

Let Go! Let God! Don’t end a life of caring
And all that you've been sharing
Don’t walk away five minutes ‘fore the miracle is due
No one is a failure ‘cause they haven’t found success.
You have made a treasure that’s in heaven
I confess__________________

Copyright 2007 All rights reserved.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Today we lost a veteran performer and choreographer-- the "One and Only" Thommie Walsh-- the original "Bobby" from the original production of "Chorus Line" The cause of death was complications of lymphoma. As a dance-maker, Thommie was best known for his collaborations with Tommy Tune, the lanky performer, choreographer and director who was among Broadway’s leading figures in the 1980s. Thommie received his two Tony Awards for choreography for collaborating with Mr. Tune in 1980 on “A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine” and in 1983 on “My One and Only,” in which Mr. Tune starred.
Mr. Walsh also shared a Tony nomination with Mr. Tune for directing “My One and Only” and received a Tony nomination for the choreography of “Nine,” directed by Mr. Tune. Although they first worked together as dancers on Broadway in the show “Seesaw,” their choreographic collaboration began on “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas,” directed by Peter Masterson and Mr. Tune and choreographed by Mr. Tune. Thommie was born on March 15, 1950. He was taking dancing classes by the age of 5 at the Irma Baker School of Dance in upstate New York. By 1973, he was dancing on Broadway as a member of the chorus, under the name Thomas J. Walsh, in “Seesaw,” directed and choreographed by Michael Bennett.After appearing in one of the more notorious flops of the 1970s, “Rachael Lily Rosenbloom and Don’t You Ever Forget It,” which closed before it opened on Broadway, the always smiling Thomie won the role of Bobby in “A Chorus Line,” He was involved the workshops from which the show was developed, but would later express displeasure about how the dancers were treated during the process. They were persuaded to sign away rights to profits from any merchandising for $1, and ultimately the cast received only 1 percent of the royalties.
“Basically, we were cheated out of a lot of money,” he had claimed. “People are living in the Hamptons because of ‘A Chorus Line.’ None of us are.”
“A Chorus Line” was Mr. Walsh’s last Broadway appearance as a performer. He left the company after two years and embarked upon a career as a record promoter while also beginning to choreograph. His other Broadway credits were for musical staging on the shows “The 1940s Radio Hour” (1979), “Do Black Patent Leather Shoes Really Reflect Up?” (1982) and “My Favorite Year” (1993). Thommie also directed the Off Broadway musical “Lucky Stiff” and provided staging and choreography for nightclub acts and solo spots for performers including Donna McKechnie and Priscilla Lopez (two more alumni of the original cast of “Chorus Line”), as well as for Chita Rivera, Sandy Duncan and Barbara Cook.In recent years Mr. Walsh worked as a real estate agent in Manhattan, where he lived. And on this date in 1966, we lost one of my all time favorite performers: the one and only Ed Wynn. What an amazing performer! One only has to look at not only his comedy but his dramatic roles such as Van Kessel in "Diary Of Anne Frank"

Monday, June 18, 2007


Today marks the anniversary of the second great war in United States History: "The War of 1812" fought between England and the United States of America and the 65th birthday of Paul McCartney. Does that make you feel old, dear friends??? -- it sure does for me! Does it seem possible that Sir Paul is now an official senior citizen! As far as the famous American war is concerned, at issue were trade rights, fishing issues and the British perchance of inciting the American Indian to fight American colonization efforts. England was also drafting former British citizens into service for it's Royal Navy. The war was fought from this date in 1812 to February 14, 1815 and resulted in the burning of Washington DC which destroyed the White House and Capitol buildings. You might remember the story of first lady Dolley Madison who saved the famed portrait of George Washington painted by Gilbert Stuart during that fire! The peace treaty had been effected but had not reached the ears of Andrew Jackson who went ahead as planned and engaged in the amazing "Battle of New Orleans" in 1814: America was never attacked again after this siege by the British until December 7, 1941 and the continent itself until September 11, 2001. History is an amazing study. Because had the news of that treaty reached Jackson in time, you might never have heard of him and of course, he would NEVER had been elected our seventh president. Father's Day was yesterday and I remembered my dear father with Mass and a special prayer! What a character he was! What an amazingly generous and kind man was he all throughout his life, giving us four kids everything we ever wanted. I only wish he had lived a little longer. I was just beginning to really appreciate him and relish all of his amazing qualities when he died in 1966. But I will always hold him dearly in my heart-- forever! Well, another day at work--it's been busy!

Thursday, June 14, 2007



Twenty-Five Years ago came the ending of the shortest little war in history. The British defeated Argentina in the conflict over the Falkland Islands. I remember it well and I always thought of it as a reality play out of that classic Peter Sellers movie, "The Mouse That Roared. Poor Argentina! She was sop destitute that she thought she would just grab the Falkland islands and the Brits wouldn't have the time or inclination to react. WRONG! Boy, did these guys come back like a vengeance. It was actually the very thing that got Margaret Thatcher's political career alive again. She had lost a lot of popularity in the waning years. I saw some photographs of the islands-- they are really very beautiful and very very British! The folks there have big Union Jack flags painted on their roofs and painted on the tops and sides of their cars! You don't see that in this country unless you go back to the days of 9/11. And speaking of something British, I really laughed but felt terribly sorry for the story on Andrew Lloyd Weber. It seems the great composer (who has had great good luck with the subject of Cats over the years) had a really costly mishap with a brand new six month old kitten. Lloyd Weber has a grand piano with a computer in it that records music as he composes it. Somehow this young cute kitten jumped on to the piano and onto the computer and in one felt swoop wiped out the memory bank of all the music he had been writing for the new Phantom sequel entitled "Phantom in Manhattan". I sure hope he's got a great memory, otherwise it will starting from scratch for this boy! Imagine that: a kitten that destroyed a score. Sounds like what critics do best! Well off to work-- a nice summer's day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


My newest great nephew Nathan.
Today is my sister Rosemary's 64th birthday and for the first time in my life I have sent her flowers. I'm sure she will shocked at their arrival. And it's not that I don't love her-- she has actually been there a lot for me. It's so funny that we don't see the blessings in our lives before we lose them. I wanted that to be rectified before it was two late. My newest great nephew is my sister Rosemary's first grand child and that is most probably the best birthday present of them all. And so on my sister's special day, I want to raise a glass and toast her and tell her just how much I love her! I also had a great time at Catalina on Sunday with another sister, Annette. It was simply a beautiful day and we went shopping, had a nice lunch and took a tour to see all the damage the recent fire had extolled on this most beautiful place. This crazy fire almost destroyed Avalon. It was a miracle because the wind was pushing the fire all along at a very fast pace. All of a sudden, almost at a moment's notice, the wind shifted to the opposite direction and Avalon was spared. Praise God! Another busy day at work is ahead as this is Father's day week. Had a nice dinner with Tim last night at Micelli's Italian restaraunt near Universal Studios and the doctor gave me a great bill of health at the exam I had just two hours before that! I am really starting to control my diabetes and my cholesterol is better than ever! Well that is good news! And oh yes-- Tim has retired from his accompanist job at Wilson High School!

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today is the birthday of one of the greatest songwriters of all time: Mr. Cole Porter. The portrayal recently of Cole by Kevin Kline in the motion picture musical "De Lovely" was simply brilliant. It brought to life a most amazing man with a most amazing talent. Cole Porter's life had more ups and downs that few others have ever experienced. I love those Cole Porter songs-- and most of all those incredible lyrics! No wonder he was so particular about them in performance.Porter was born in Peru, Indiana to a wealthy Protestant background. His maternal grandfather, James Omar "J.O." Cole, was a coal and timber speculator who dominated his daughter's family. Music was one way for the young Cole to escape from his grandfather's iron hand. His mother started Porter in musical training at an early age; he learned the violin at age 6, the piano at 8, and he wrote his first operetta (with help from his mother) at 10. Porter's mother, Kate Porter, recognized and supported her son's talents. She changed his legal birth year from 1891 to 1893 to make him look like an advanced child. Porter's grandfather J.O. Cole wanted the boy to become a lawyer and with that career in mind, sent him to Worcester Academy in 1905 (where he became class valedictorian)and thenYale University beginning in 1909. Cole was a member of Scroll and Key and Delta Kappa Epsilon, and sang as a member of the original line-up of the Whiffenpoofs. While at Yale, he wrote a number of student songs, including the football fight songs "Yale Bulldog" and "Bingo Eli Yale" (aka "Bingo, That's The Lingo!") that are still played at Yale to this day. Cole Porter wrote 300 songs while at Yale. The great songwrtiter spent a year at Harvard Law School in 1913, and then transferred into Arts and Sciences. An unverified story tells of a law school dean who, in frustration over Porter's lack of performance in the classroom, suggested tongue-in-cheek that he "not waste his time" studying law, but instead focus on his music. Taking this suggestion to heart, Cole Porter transferred to the School of Music.In 1915, his first song on Broadway, "Esmeralda", appeared in the revue Hands Up. However, the quick success was immediately followed by failure; his first Broadway production, in 1916, See America First was a flop, closing after two weeks. He soon started to feel the crunch of rejection, as other revues he wrote for were also flops. After the string of failures, Porter banished himself to Paris, selling songs and living off an allowance partly from his grandfather and partly from his mother. Cole Porter was writing and selling songs and holding “glittering soirees” when the U.S. entered World War I in 1917. He traveled all over Europe, living very freely and savoring the good life around him. He lived lavishly and socialised with some of the best known intellectuals and artists in Europe, becoming a charter member of the Lost Generation.
Believing he would continue to lead his charmed life, he did not register for the draft, yet loved to tell the press that he had joined the French Foreign Legion. In reality, he went to work for the Duryea Relief Fund and maintained a closet full of various tailormade military uniforms that he wore when the mood suited him. More often, his playboy lifestyle suited him better. The French Foreign Legion, however, claims Porter as an enlistee and displays his portrait in its museum in Aubagne.In 1918, he met Linda Lee Thomas, a gorgeous, rich Louisville, Kentucky-born divorcée 8 years his senior; they were married in 1919. She was beautiful, loved travel, and was extremely wealthy, as well as a brilliant hostess with an innate sense of style and class, and Porter loved learning these tastes and disciplines from her.Happy Birthday dear Cole Porter. We've got you "under our skins"

Friday, June 08, 2007


Copy of Original sheet music in long hand for the song "Put On A Happy Face" from "Bye Bye Birdie"
Copy of original sheet music for "Tomorrow" from the Broadway musical "Annie"

Happy birthday to one of the most prolific Broadway composers of all times, Mr. Charles Strouse. At the right is a copy of the original manuscript for the beloved song ":Tomorrow" from "Annie" and on top a copy of the grand old song from "Bye Bye Birdie" called "Put On A Happy Face" A bit of trivia: "Put On A Happy Face" was the main theme song for a grand old variety show of the 1960's called "The Hollywood Palace". My cvousin Jimmy Crabe appaered on that show and demonstrated for the very first "short sleeve" magic. Back to Charles Strouse. This wonderful composer was a long-standing member of the Songwriters' Hall of Fame and, in January 2002, an inductee into The Theatre Hall of Fame, is one of America's most successful musical theatre composers.His first Broadway musical, BYE BYE BIRDIE (1960), was written with his long-time collaborator Lee Adams and that dear friends won him a Tony Award and the London Critics Best Foreign Musical Award. In 1970, APPLAUSE, starring Lauren Bacall, achieved the same honors and his smash hit, ANNIE (1977), written with lyricist Martin Charnin and librettist Tom Meehan (bookwriter for "The Producers" and the upcoming "Young Frankenstein"), also won Tony's for Best Score and Best Music as well as two Grammy Awards.Among his other musicals presented on Broadway and in London's West End are ALL AMERICAN (with a book by Mel Brooks), GOLDEN BOY (starring Sammy Davis Jr.), IT'S A BIRD, IT'S A PLANE, IT'S SUPERMAN (produced and directed by Hal Prince), I AND ALBERT (directed in London by John Schlesinger), and DANCE A LITTLE CLOSER, written with the amazing Alan Jay Lerner. CHARLIE & ALGERNON won a 1981 Tony nomination for Best Score, as did RAGS in 1987 and NICK AND NORA in 1992. He wrote both the music and lyrics for off-Broadway's MAYOR, and teamed again with Martin Charnin to create ANNIE WARBUCKS, the sequel to ANNIE. Strouse's film scores include BONNIE & CLYDE, THE NIGHT THEY RAIDED MINSKY'S, and ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN. The Strouse and Adams song "Those Were The Days," the theme song for TV's ALL IN THE FAMILY, is one of the most popular television themes of all time. "Born Too Late", a 1958 pop song written with Fred Tobias, was a top-10 BILLBOARD chart hit and is still heard on many oldies stations.A quadruple platinum album title song by Jay-Z, "Hard Knock Life (Ghetto Anthem)" from ANNIE, won the 1999 Grammy for best Rap album, charted for more than a year and won the BILLBOARD 1998 R&B Album of the Year Award as well as ASCAP's Rhythm and Soul Music Award for Hard Knock Life in Best Rap Album.
Strouse's musical talents include chamber and orchestral works and opera. NIGHTINGALE, an opera based on the Hans Christian Andersen story for which he wrote music, book and lyrics, was recorded by Sarah Brightman . CONCERTO AMERICA, composed in 2002 to commemorate 9/11 and the spirit of New York City, received its world premiere from the Boston Pops Orchestra on June 30, 2002, with pianist Jeffrey Biegel as soloist. ON THIS DAY, an anthem written for the White House Commission on Remembrance, was performed on Memorial Day, May 26, 2003, in front of the Iwo Jima Memorial in Arlington, Virginia for an audience which included the President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mr Strouse is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, where he has returned to give master classes in musical theatre. Happy Birthday to you, dear Mr. Strouse!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007


Does it seem possible that thirty-nine years have passed since the night that Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated by Siusan, Sirhan.I remember that I was twenty one years old and in bed when my dear mother shouted out at me in the dark "They've shot Bobby Kennedy". I remember getting up and remaining up for a good deal of that sad morning. It just did not seem possible that another famous member of the Kennedy clan had been the victim of an assassin's bullet. John Lennon had a very prophetic thing to say one month before he, himself was shot down in cold blood. It's a haunting quote that reads "Life is what happens while you're busy making other plans!' On a happier note, Disneyland prepares for the opening of the brand new sub ride. It looks amazing. I got to see the new pirate's Lair a bit early thanks to my nephew. I've posted some pics here.