Friday, October 31, 2008


Well, Happy Halloween everyone. It's a gloomy day here and it looks like it wants to rain, but we have had so much heat here, right through October that it's finally a bit of relief. Today we remember the passing of dear old Harry Houdini who died on this day in 1926. Good old Harry was a magician, an escape artist and even a movie actor. He always promised that he would somehow "come back from the grave" every Halloween. So listen, if your hear some chains rattling in your attic this evening, it may just be Harry trying to communicate. My friend usedc to call Houdini the patron saint of all procrastinators. On this day Martin Luther nailed ninety nine protests to the door of his church and the Protestant Reformation was born.Luther's theology challenged the authority of the papacy by holding that the Bible is the only infallible source of religious authority and that all baptized Christians under Jesus are a universal priesthood. According to Luther, salvation is a free gift of God, received only by true repentance and faith in Jesus as the Messiah, a faith given by God and unmediated by the church. At the Diet of Worms assembly over freedom of conscience in 1521, Luther's confrontation with the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V and his refusal to submit to the authority of the Emperor resulted in his being excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church and being declared an outlaw of the state as a consequence.
His translation of the Bible into the vernacular of the people made the Scriptures more accessible to them, and had a tremendous political impact on the church and on German culture. It furthered the development of a standard version of the German language, added several principles to the art of translation, and influenced the translation of the English King James Bible. His hymns inspired the development of congregational singing within Christianity. His marriage to Katharina von Bora set a model for the practice of clerical marriage within Protestantism. Much scholarly debate has concentrated on Luther's writings about the Jews. His statements that Jews' homes should be destroyed, their synagogues burned, money confiscated and liberty curtailed were revived and used in propaganda by the Nazis in 1933–45.[As a result of this and his revolutionary theological views, his legacy remains controversial. Today would have been the seventy-first birthday of actor Michael Landon. Michael's daughter Leslie used to always come into the camera store where I worked. She was a really sweet person. And on the note of peace on Earth, on this date in 1968, Lyndon Johnson ordered a halt to all bombing in Vietnam as a grand and great gesture of peace. Well again, Happy Halloween everyone and don't eat too much candy yourselves.

Thursday, October 30, 2008


I love American History. I really think I would have loved to teach it. Many people have absolutely no idea just how it affected so many things we have in our country today. Today would have been the birthday of John Adams, the second president of our dear country. Adams was an absolute defender of freedom and was the one leader of our country who was most responsible for The Declaration of Independence, itself. But then there is the word "politics". Even way back in 1796 when Adams ran for the presidency. Back then, we had The Federalists -- who advocated strong controls by the Federal Government over the entire country. The big opponent here was Thomas Jefferson who was then a member of what was called The Democratic-Republican party. Federalists had two candidates to choose from -one was Adams and the other was Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury and the man who died in the duel with Aaron Burr. (Remember those "Got Milk" commercials that featured a question about them both?) Adams was considered the less of two evils. But this amazing man who did so much for our country was also a tremendously vain and pompous kind of guy as well. And in 1798 signed four very anti-constitutional laws called The Alien and Sedition Acts. Believe or not, one of these horrible laws is still in effect today in 2008. One doubled alien residence from seven to fourteen years before you could become a citizen. The Alien Enemies Act (still in effect) allows the deportation of aliens back to their home country if we happen to be at war with that country. Think back to World War Two-- not confinement, but deportation itself could have been effected. My grandfather would have been deported because he was becoming a citizen in the early 1940's when war broke out with Italy and Mussolini. During the presidential campaign of 1796 Adams was the presidential candidate of the Federalist Party and Thomas Pinckney, the Governor of South Carolina, was also running as a Federalist (at this point, the vice president was whoever came in second, so no running mates existed in the modern sense). The Federalists wanted Adams as their presidential candidate to crush Thomas Jefferson's bid. Most federalists would have preferred Hamilton to be a candidate. Although Hamilton and his followers supported Adams, they also held a grudge against him. . However, they thought Adams lacked the seriousness and popularity that had caused Washington to be successful, and also feared that Adams was too vain, opinionated, unpredictable, and stubborn to follow their directions. Adam's opponents were former Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, who was joined by Senator Aaron Burr of New York on the Democratic-Republican ticket.
As was customary, Adams stayed in his home town of Quincy rather than actively campaign for the Presidency. He wanted to stay out of what he called the silly and wicked game. His party, however, campaigned for him, while the Democratic- Republicans campaigned for Jefferson It was expected that Adams would dominate the votes in New England, while Jefferson was expected to win in the Southern states. In the end, Adams won the election by a narrow margin of 71 electoral votes to 68 for Jefferson (who became the vice president). Thomas Jefferson was elected in 1800 and in 1802 abolished these horrific laws against liberty. The grandson of Benjamin Franklin, himself , Benjamin Franklin Bache was arrested and jailed and died of Yellow Fever awaiting trial at the tender age of twenty-seven. So we must be very vigilant about the laws we pass today. Of course, the laws of Judicial Review (which would have permitted these laws to be challenged by the Supreme Court had not yet been established, but the fact that one of these terrible laws is still on the books today and NEVER challenged is horrific. Think of how easily we declare war today! Today was history also for Russia's explosion of a Hydrogen Bomb in 1961 (The Cuban Missile Crisis only a year away) and dear Rosa Parks, who stood up for her freedom on a Montgomery, Alabama transit bus was placed in casket view in the United States Capitol building on this day in 2005. I urge all of you to review American History-- we will learn many lessons from it. And let's get the left over tyranny law from the late 1790's off the books!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Yes, today is the anniversary of the Great Stock Market Crash in 1929-- seventy-nine years ago and yes indeed there is a street in Texas that's called Psycho Path-- a perfect street name for these "crazy times". How'd you'd like to live on this street, folks? But today in history was an amazing day. Entertainer Fanny Brice was born on this day in 1891, and the former Senator from Ohio, Mr. John Glenn made absolute history today ten (10) years ago when he became the first senior citizen to make another space journey at the grand old age of seventy-seven. So you see --we who get older, sometimes get better. Today also was the day that Osama Bin Laden admitted publicly that he had ordered the attacks on the World trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11th. My writing partner reminded me that while our domestic planes were still grounded in September, dear old George W. Bush had ordered the evacuation of Bin Laden's family who were visiting this country at the time. Is that an amazing coincidence or what? The Musical HAIR premiered in 1967 to great acclaim. Most people do not know that these same composers came out four years later with a dud musical called "DUDE"-- what a disaster. To quote a line from my new play "THE BROTHERS LAUGHTER" -- a whale falling on a lawyer couldn't flop that bad!" And speaking of this play, I have yesterday officially submitted it to Neil and Danny Simon's lawyer for approval and blessings. So hold good thoughts for John Nugent and myself. The Touch A Life Show went very well on Saturday night in my old parrish church Saint John No results in on how much money was made and compliments to all who participated.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Today would have been my dear mother's 95th birthday. Virginia Alberta Prinzio Ricciardi was born in 1913 in Alhambra, Ca. My sweet mother was the most incredible mother. I remain the luckiest man in the world for having shared nine months under the heart of this remarkable woman. It appears that I am the only child to so remember this date in a celebration kind of way, but maybe, just maybe, I remember her so fondly because she was not only dear mother, she was very best friend. She advised, but never tried to change me. She worried that I wasn't always making the right choices, but with God's grace, I am still here with the very faith in God that she instilled me with. She married my dad with the promise that we kids would be raised and educated as Catholics. My father always kept his promises. My dear mother who suffered from an injured spine all of her life was the bravest soul I have ever encountered. She never judged me poorly as to what I would become. She never threw up her hands because I wasn't the perfect son. She never grieved that I had not become a lawyer or a doctor. She took me and loved me "warts and all". She played her piano so lovingly. Oh how she loved those afternoons when my "Uncle Mario" would come over to sing. My sisters all had piano lessons- every last one of them. Today the three of them together couldn't play chopsticks with any certainty. So here I am the writer of over six hundred songs without one dime's worth of musical education. God has been very good to me. He has sent my dear friend Tim Doran into my life and I can not begin to tell you how much I love and respect this man. He has brought my music to life. My newest collaborator is another amazing blessing. He has more things physically wrong with him than I could possibly ever list here, but he is so intelligent and so talented and so amazingly sensitive. How many gifts have we received in fancy wrappings and they were only things we could simply not use? I received both of these amazing gifts while living in situations that were compromised at best and very stressful at worst. But I know God loves me and I know that my days are challenged ahead, but each little blessing he sends is the most amazing gift. Tonight on my mother's birthday, Tim has contributed so much to "The Touch A Life With Love" show which is benefiting the homeless. I've been homeless. I know what it's like to wake up in a homeless shelter at 6:00 am to the sound of a silver whistle and a banging on a garbage can. So I am honored to have my song be the center of all of this effort. My mother would be proud. She would have know every song I had written. My three sisters combined couldn't name more than one between them. As I read about the tragedy of Jennifer Hudson having her mother and brother murdered in the middle of her great fame, I can only urge my sisters and my friends to love one another while we can. The journey is so short. My friend Tim is a true champion--just like my mother was. When my mother was your friend, you had a real honest-to-goodness stand behind you person. I can't tell you how many times he's sent job opportunities my way. Who knows maybe my mother's spirit has settled into my dear friends of Tim and John Nugent, Tony westbrook, terry Snyder ,Bill Lewis and David Holmes: maybe that is the legacy I have received from her. Tim has taught me more about music than a college education's worth, and i will always be grateful to him for all of the many little blessings he has always given to me. So today I say "Happy Birthday" to my mother and thank you God for my friends, my companion John Long (another amazing guy) and the many blessings that He sends my way.

Friday, October 17, 2008


Country favorite Alan Jackson turns fifty today. I first noticed this wonderful singer way back in 2001 when the 9/11 tragedy struck and he was right there writing and recording a song that will be around forever. That song of course is "Where Were You When The World Stopped Spinning." A classic. A songwriter can appreciate another songwriter who writes a bodacious amazing hit song. That song will play forever! Other songs of his I love include "Drive" and "Remember When". Today would also have been Rita Hayworth's 95th birthday- such a great star who died much too young. Today also is the day in 1931 that the world lost Thomas Edison. Imagine all the inventions of this great man that we simply take advantage of. I've included another comical set of street signs. These are from New Borgangles, Texas. Lord knows I've been on all of these "streets" in my life. John and I and John Nugent had a wonderful fun and peaceful day at Disneyland yesterday. The weather was perfect, but very crowded because it was "Mormon Week" and every Mormon and his brother seemed to be there in that park. We had wanted to have lunch at the Blue Bayou in New Orleans Square, but when we got there in early morning, we discovered that it was completely sold out out through closing on SUNDAY. Wow, talk about crowds! A big thanks to our friend Bill Lewis who passed us all in. That little act of generosity saved all of us almost $300 in park admissions. It's nice to have friends in great places! Today was also the day in 1979 that Mother Theresa won the Nobel Peace Prize and Jimmy Carter in 1978 restored American citizenship to Jefferson Davis, the last act of let bygones be bygones from the Civil War. The insurance classes I'm talking go on and it's a lot of stuff to remember. We shall see if this pans out. Well, until later!

Monday, October 13, 2008


These are actual street names in Texas and they actually do follow one another in this sequence that you see here, believe it or not! Funny! Sometimes very real places and streets are so "unreal" seeming.

On this day when there is the release of the new four CD ultimate Sondheim album, John and I will be going into the recording studio today for the first time in six months to record eight songs and two overtures. The overtures will be from "The Runaway heart" and "Broadway Angels" and the songs will be mostly from our newest effort "The Broadway Angels". This we hope is going to be a really funny and wonderful show. John and I nickname this show "Nunsense with brains." Of course, it's a wild crazy fantasy-- even a bit more fantastical than "The Damn Yankees" But musical theatre was designed to be fun-- so you might as well have that grand and wonderful fun while you can. I grew with Dominican Sisters. They were a VERY BIG part of my life and most of the good sisters in this show are based and even named in honor of these amazing and sometimes a bit crazy ladies. I hope my patron saint Saint Michael, the Archangel has a great sense of humor as does his great friend Gabriel. But I am certain after dealing with mortal man after all of these centuries, they must have obtained a sense of humor rather than go completely insane. The songs include "Very Best Miracle," "I'm Gonna Pray," and my favorite "Tell 'Em A Whopper", Tell Him a Lie."

Sondheim's new album has resulted in the handsome four-CD box set, "Stephen Sondheim: The Story So Far." With Sondheim serving as co-executive producer and the accomplished team of Didier C. Deutsch and Darcy M. Proper as compilation producers, this is an intriguing collection covering the first 55 years of the composer's career. Consider the fourth disc of the set. It begins with what seems to be a radio transcription of a duo-piano version of "I Must Be Dreaming," from the 1949 college show All That Glitters, a track that I don't suppose many of us have ever heard. One song later, we go into four numbers from a 1954 backer's audition of the early musical Saturday Night (which went unproduced until 1997). We have indeed heard these songs by now, with two complete recordings of the show on our record shelf. Here, though, we get a bright young cast singing the songs back when they were written. Jack Cassidy was a young, strong-voiced singer with one major role to his credit — as the romantic waiter who got to sing the title song in Wish You Were Here — and the promise of a major career ahead if he didn't mess it up, which he did. But listen to him sing "Class." The excitement is palpable, as they say: This is a bright new show tune by a bright new songwriter with a bright new Broadway star, nothing but talent ahead. Arte Johnson, who only made it to Broadway (and briefly) some 43 years later but found fame on TV's "Laugh-In," scores laugh after laugh with "Love's a Bond." One can't tell what he was doing, but he certainly has the crowd in stitches (and not from the lyric).
Then comes the "At the Movies" sequence, and it is quite something. Alice Ghostley, who made a splash singing Sheldon Harnick's "Boston Beguine" in New Faces of 1952, hysterically delivers all Sondheim's lines about Vilma Banky's hanky panky and Conrad Nagel. (Unlike Cassidy and Johnson, Ghostley is not singled out in the song listings but that is unmistakably her.) Listening not to the song but to the audience at the backer's audition, though, you might pick up a hint as to why Saturday Night did not get produced in the era of The King and I and The Pajama Game; the laughter is vociferous but cliquish, oddly recalling the reaction to the '50s work of Franklin Shepard in Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along. ("Write more, work hard, leave your name with the girl.") Along comes the composer singing "Truly Content," his nifty "glamorous mooovie star" song for the pre-Apple Tree version of Jules Feiffer's "Passionella." (If she was a movie star, Ella would be truly content like Fay Wray or George Brent.) Incidental music for two Arthur Laurents plays is included, as well as five tracks from Alain Resnais' 1974 film "Stavisky," which contains some of Sondheim's most ravishing music in his Little Night Music-Debussy-Ravel mood. If you don't have the full soundtrack of "Stavisky," seek it out. That's only half of what comes on the fascinating fourth CD of the set. Which brings us to the other side of the coin. If "The Story So Far" exists to highlight the Sony BMG catalogue of Sondheim music, they understandably need to include said holdings in the box. But consider Chita Rivera's "America," Larry Kert and Carol Lawrence's "Tonight," Ethel Merman's "Everything's Coming Up Roses," Elaine Stritch's "The Ladies Who Lunch," Angela Lansbury and Len Cariou's "A Little Priest," Mandy Patinkin's "Finishing the Hat," and Bernadette Peters' "Children Will Listen." All are present, along with another 16 selections from Sondheim's popular original cast albums.
So think good thoughts about us today. And today is also the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. Today was the grand and glorious "Miracle of the Sun" for three poor Portuguese children. What an amazing miracle as the sun itself seemed to dance in the sky and then for brief seconds looked even to be falling. So Dear Lady in Heaven, watch over our recording session today if you will!

Friday, October 10, 2008


Today would have been the 85th birthday of the great Orson Welles. A most amazing actor. Welles first gained a very wide notoriety for his October 30, 1938, radio broadcast of H. G. Wells The War of the Worlds. Adapted to sound like a contemporary news broadcast, it caused a number of listeners to panic. Some even took their lives. In the mid-1930s, his New York theatre adaptations of Macbeth and a contemporary allegorical Julius Caesar became legendary. Welles was also an accomplished magician, starring in troop variety spectacles in the war years. During this period he became a serious political activist and commentator through journalism, radio and public appearances closely associated with Franklin D. Roosevelt. In 1941, he co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in Citizen Kane, often chosen in polls of film critics as the greatest film ever made. The rest of his career was often obstructed by lack of funds, incompetent studio interference and other unfortunate occurrences, both during exile in Europe and brief returns to Hollywood.Although Welles remained on the margins of the major studios as a director/producer, his larger-than-life personality made him a bankable actor. In his later years he struggled against a Hollywood system that refused to finance his independent film projects, making a living largely through acting, commercials, and voice-over work. Welles received a 1975 American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement award, the third person to do so after John Ford and James Cagney. Critical appreciation for Welles has increased since his death. He is now widely acknowledged as one of the most important dramatic artists of the 20th century. Today would also be the 195th birthday of Giuseppe Verdi who was born in 1813. La Scala is perhaps his most known work. Today the world lost Yul Brynner and today Jerry Herman had his first Broadway show "Milk And Honey". Amazingly too, today marked the opening in 1947 of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Allegro-- one if the strangest musicals of them all. I start my life insurance training tomorrow and I am hoping all of this works out. Until next time...

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Ten years ago this very day, a great sad event occurred. Young Matthew Shepard was beaten to a pulp, robbed and tied to a post. He died five days later. How very sad. Let us all say a prayer for his sacrifice and that prejudice against gay people will end forever. As I wrote once in my Journal "Prejudice is like tasting a fancy banquet with your nose-- all you get is a dirty face and you look more stupid than you ever have before!" How wise are the lyrics to Oscar Hammerstein's song from "South Pacific" called "Carefully Taught" Let us unite in brotherhood. The umpteenth rewrite for "The Brothers Laughter" goes on exploring an episode in Neil Simon's life and relationship with his older brother Neil. I will submit the manuscript soon to Gary DiSilva, Neil's Hollywood agent for family approval soon. The black and white picture on the blog today is that of Neil Simon back in 1966, at Jack Benny's classic age of thirty-nine! --one year after the blockbuster "The Odd Couple" premiered on Broadway. Danny was the real Felix Unger and one of the greatest persons I have ever met. Roll over, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, I think Danny Simon was the most honest person of them all. Happy Birthday to Al Paccino who turns eighty-one years young today. Today is also the anniversary of the opening of Andrew Lloyd Weber's "Cats" on Broadway in 1979.

Thursday, October 02, 2008


Today ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls is the day to say not farewell to people today but "Hello, I must be going". For today is Groucho's birthday. Groucho was born in 1890. How much laughter did the amazing Groucho provide all of us. So for all of us love dear old Captain Spaulding its the day to sing "Lydia, The Tattooed Lady"-- written by Irving Berlin, no less and have some fun. Today also is the birthday of the greatest straight men in the business: Mr. Bud Abbott, of the amazing team "Abbott & Costello". Bud was born in 1895. My favorite "Bud" roles included the Wick role in "Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein" In that film the monster was played by Glen Strange, but when Strange broke his foot during filming Lon Chaney Jr. took over. The comedians also kept Strange laughing at their antics and enormous pie fights used to take place during takes. The A&C Meet Frankenstein is the only film in which Bud Abbott is called by his own last name by error. Bud also played "Mr. Dinklepus" in "Jack & The Beanstalk" -- one of the most charming moments. Shortly after Bud Abbott passed away in 1974, Groucho Marx, himself called him "The greatest straight man who ever lived! God rest you both Groucho Marx and Bud Abbott.Who can ever forget "The Who's On First" routine they both made famous. Tomorrow John and i go exploring the world of insurance, loan making and securities training-- developing news later!

Wednesday, October 01, 2008


The Amazing Henry Ford and The Legendary "MODEL T"

Today, October 1st , 2008 is the 100th anniversary of the "The Model "T" -- the great car invented by Henry Ford in 1908. Back then, each car sold for $825.00. I wonder what that would translate to in today's dollars? Of course, the "Model T was always the car that Laurel & Hardy drove in their countless movies. I wonder how many of them they wrecked or crashed just being Laurel & Hardy. Today is also Walt Disney World's birthday in Florida, opening to the public on this day in 1971. There's an interesting story with this connected with Disney. Up until the time that Walt passed away, the Florida project was simply going to be called "Disneyworld". After Walt passed away, his dear brother Roy decreed that henceforth the project would be named "Walt Disney World". Roy's reasoning was that everyone knew that the Model T was a Ford, but very few knew that it was HENRY FORD who invented it. This was WALT''S dream-- this new park would henceforth be called "Walt Disney World" Also a grand Happy Birthday to dear old Jimmy Carter. Ex-President Carter is eighty-four years young today. Carter, of course is a perfect example of a man who was a better ex-president than he ever was as a Chief Executive: move over Herbert Hoover. Jimmy of course was only of three presidents defeted for a second term as US President. The first being Hoover, the second being Carter and the third George W's daddy. George HW. Today is also Julie Andrews 74th birthday. Happy Birthday, Mary Poppins. Work continues on " Brothers Laughter" and John and I are now editing "The Ghost Who Saved Broadway". It is simply too long. A recording session is scheduled for Sunday and I'll keep you posted on that later.