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September 18, 2008:

THE MAN WHO INVENTED TAFFY

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I was just playing a CD of early Randy Newman songs and trying to write these here notes. But it simply is not possible to play a CD of early Randy Newman songs and write these here notes because I just start typing the lyrics as they waft their way to my ears. For example, right after I wrote Well, dear readers, I typed mama told me not to come. What kind of first sentence is that? I tried to go on but then I was typing the story of Simon Smith and the Amazing Dancing Bear. Finally, I had to shut the CD off so I could write these here notes without having my mind pulled in two directions like a piece of salt water taffy. Ah, now we get to the crux. I always like to get to the crux, don’t you? And now I see the crux and the crux is taffy. Not only taffy but salt water taffy. First of all, I’ve eaten taffy and I have never once had it taste of salt water. Then there’s the little matter of the word itself – taffy. What kind of word is taffy? It’s a daffy word, taffy is. In fact, taffy is not only daffy it makes me laughy. I mean, someone invented this chewy candy and said, “Ah, I know – I’ll call this TAFFY.” And if that wasn’t enough, the same person said, “And just to confound them all, I’ll add salt water to the name. Won’t that just have them scratching their heads?” I’d like to meet the man who invented taffy, wouldn’t you? The Man Who Invented Taffy – that’s the title of my next novel. I’m sure in one of our posts today someone will have the story of the Man Who Invented Taffy. I wonder if it was someone named Jaffe? Okay, I have done the research. And do you know what? No one knows who invented taffy. There is an apocryphal story about the name salt water taffy, but it is just that, and some people don’t buy it (the story, not the taffy). And they say we never have anything but ARCH writing on this here site. What other site can you read an entire endless paragraph about fershluganah taffy on September 18th? Nowhere, that’s where. What the HELL am I talking about? Enough with the taffy already. Speaking of taffy (the crux), yesterday was a day that flew by, like a gazelle eating a pound of salt water taffy. I got up early, did the long jog (sans shirt – I MUST be losing weight), did some errands, did some work on the computer, had some telephonic calls, then did some more work on the computer. Then I decided to satisfy my craving for eggs and toddled over to the Studio City CafĂ© and had their excellent eggs benedict, with some fruit on the side, and a little side salad for my greens. It was all quite yummilicious. I then did some more errands, then came home and did much work on the computer. After that, I sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched a motion picture on DVD entitled The Night They Raided Minsky’s. I saw this film when it came out and didn’t care for it. It was a box-office failure, too, but somehow, in the intervening years, it’s become thought of as some sort of classic, I think – there’s even a long-aborning musical version of it coming to the Ahmanson – by long I mean it’s been in the works for over sixteen years. I hadn’t seen the film since then, so I was interested to see it again. Well, I still don’t care for it. It’s a muddled, unfunny, frenetic mess, with some fun music by Charles Strouse and some good performances by Jason Robards, Jr., Forrest Tucker, Britt Eklund, Bert Lahr (who died during filming), Elliot Gould, and a very good turn by the usually overwrought Joseph Wiseman. When I think comedy, the first name that comes to mind is never William Friedkin, and yet he is the director of the film. Apparently, the screening of his cut was a complete disaster. He left the film, and the editor took over, the editor being Ralph Rosenblum, who fancies himself the savior of many motion pictures. While he has indeed helped several motion pictures find their shape and tone, Minsky’s was not one of them. I’m sure he made it better than it was, but I thought the editing was awful – full of silly things and trying to be Richard Lester-like. He continually blows up two-shots to make them into close-ups and the framing is awful, plus they’re really grainy because they’re opticals, and they make no sense at all. He uses a lot of stock footage for period flavor – it really gets tiresome after a while. The story isn’t that strong, and the tone wavers constantly. And then there’s Norman Wisdom. I’ve just never “got” Mr. Wisdom. I know he was very popular in the UK, but I have always found him singularly unfunny, and he’s truly unfunny in Minsky’s. There are a couple of amusing lines here and there, but it just works way to hard to too little effect. The transfer is excellent, though, with perfect color, probably because it’s from MGM/UA via Fox, and not from the baboons at Warner Home Video who turn 70% of their transfers into a brown mess.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because I have to begin my new novel – The Man Who Invented Taffy, a tale of intrigue and greed in the confectionary world.

Today, I shall be getting up early, doing the long jog, and then lunching at Stanley’s with Mr. Barry Pearl. We’ll be splitting an order of their yummilicious wings, and I’ll either have a Caesar salad as my meal, or their Chinese chicken salad, or their roast chicken. Or maybe all of the above. Not.

Other than that, I have a lot more work to do on the LACCTAA newsletter, and then I’m diving in to Nudie Musical to start entering some of the minor changes that David and I have discussed and agreed on. I’ve also got to record a proper demo of the new songs, hopefully next week at Mr. Geissman’s. I also have errands and whatnot to do, and plenty of them.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, lunch at Stanley’s, do errands and whatnot, and maybe, just maybe, buy a couple of pieces of salt water taffy, which I do believe are fat free candies. Today’s topic of discussion: It’s candy day – what were your favorite candies growing up? All kinds – chewy, candy bars, suckers, whatever. And what are your favorite candies now? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst we all recount the ribald story of The Randy Vicar and the Salt Water Taffy.

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