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November 17, 2008:

THIRTY DAYS HATH NOVEMBER

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, who exactly decided which months should have thirty days and thirty-one days (we’ll forget about February for the time being). I would like the name of this calendar person and I would like the reasoning behind this completely arbitrary assigning of thirty or thirty-one days. And I would also like to know where these names came from – I mean, some calendar person was sitting around and said, I know, I’ll call next month September? Is that how it happened? He/she just pulled September out of his/her behind? How does someone come up with names like September or February or July? Why not Fragpipe or Smedgly or Jurg? I mean, why does thirty days hath November? Why not thirty-one? Frankly, I could use an extra day in November, a month I personally would have named Nambelfog. What the HELL am I talking about? Why am I going on about the calendar and months and days? Don’t I have notes to write? I do and I shall, not necessarily in that order. Speaking of order, yesterday was a nice, relaxing day. I got up early, did the long jog earlyish, and then decided I would be doing nothingish for the entire day and evening. Of course, that wasn’t completely possible, but I did keep work to the bare minimum. And why is the minimum always bare? The minimum just loves to prance around in the altogether, which I find altogether unacceptable – especially given that the minimum is not all that much to look at. You know, if I keep going off on these tangents November may HAVE thirty-one days. I made some nice eggs along with some nice rye toast and ate them all up. I then sat on my couch like so much fish.

Yesterday, I watched quite a few things on DVD. The first of the few things I watched on DVD were more episodes of Route 66. The first of them was a touching episode about a kid whose father is killed by a couple of punk robbers. The father was played by Ed Asner. The kid, whose name I forget, was very good, and his ten-year-old girlfriend was played by none other than former dear reader and den mother, Miss Susan Gordon, who was cute as a button and gave quite a good performance. I then went directly to the final DVD because it said that all the shows on that disc were shot in LA, which proved to be true in only a general sense. But the first of those episodes was, for me, the mother lode. Shot on location at Pacific Ocean Park, the Disneyland of Santa Monica, a location that featured prominently in all the Kritzer books. For those who read those books, you’ll remember that Grandma and Grandpa Gelfinbaum lived in the Hotel St. Regis, located directly across from the Neptune’s Kingdom entrance to POP. Now, I have seen almost every show shot at the park and they never, not one of them, ever do a reverse so you can actually see the St. Regis. Well, in the first shot of this episode, a car is speeding down a little street, which I recognized instantly (I think it was called Speedway back then). And they turned, heading toward POP, and the street they turned on was the street the St. Regis was located on, and there it was – the first time I’ve ever seen it on film, looking exactly as I remember it and describe it in the books. You only really see the side of it and the sign, but how great to have this episode. They do one reverse shot so you do get one quick glance at the front of the building. At the time of this filming (either late 1961 or early 1962) the park was already in trouble, and, in fact, you can see signs that say the park is closed but to watch for the reopening date. I believe they added a few things and cleaned up a few things and that it was probably back open in time for summer. There were some marvelously marvelous shots of the rides and of the interior of Neptune’s Kingdom, and guest-star Susan Oliver gave a bravura performance as a very sick woman. George Maharis was not in the episode at all – they explained his being away with a phone call saying that he had a mysterious virus. He was, in fact, not to return for the subsequent three episodes that ended season two. The next episode guest-starred Peter Graves and was shot at Jungleland, which I gather was in Thousand Oaks. I glanced at one other episode, which was shot in Pacoima. I then watched a motion picture on DVD entitled The Boys In The Band, which I hadn’t seen since the day it came out (to coin a phrase, or, conversely, to phrase a coin). I remember really liking the film back then and how shocking it was that it had actually come to the screen intact and with every single member of its original cast. Well, it’s still a pretty terrific film, and I really had a new appreciation for what a terrific job William Friedkin did in translating it to the screen. Except for the opening sequence, he didn’t open it out at all – it all takes place in one apartment. The dialogue is still full of very funny one-liners that have been ripped off many times by lesser talents than Mr. Mart Crowley, the characters are all very interesting, and the actors could not be bettered. Kenneth Nelson as Michael gives a wonderful and complex performance – his self-loathing is palpable and horrifying to watch at times. Leonard Frey practically walks away with the movie – he’s just brilliant – both in his line readings and the way in which he carries himself. And Friedkin gives him one of the great screen entrances of all-time. Laurence Luckinbill is fantastic, so real and down to earth and human, and Cliff Gorman is still hilarious as the outrageous swish machine, Emory. I knew so many people like that when I lived in New York in 1969 – I know some people today are not thrilled with quite how swishy Mr. Gorman plays it, but that’s all looking at it with today’s eyes rather than how it was back then (even Friedkin says he would tone it down today, but it wouldn’t be as much fun toned down). There are three featurettes, which are unfortunately “directed” by the bore-meister himself, Laurent Bouzereau, who continues with his truly irritating habit of illustrating everything everyone says in their current interviews with lines he feels plays off what they’re saying – it’s totally irritating and several times I wanted to hurl vile epithets at the screen. It’s quite sad that so many in the cast have died – in fact, most of the cast is gone. The only two cast members interviewed are Luckinbill and Peter White, and I think they’re the only surviving members of the cast. Mr. Crowley is interviewed as well as the film’s producer, Dominick Dunne. The transfer is interesting – Mr. Friedkin talks about it at length in the commentary. The color is pretty accurate (Friedkin feels it’s better than it ever was on a release print, and since this never was printed by Technicolor, he’s probably correct), but the contrast in some shots is completely weird and artifacty. I then had a snack of tomatoes and cucumbers in vinegar, and a small portion of cucumber roll. And then I watched two count them two episodes of Cagney and Lacey, a TV series from 1982 that I’d never seen one single episode of. I enjoyed the two episodes very much – the chemistry between Sharon Gless and Tyne Daly is the kind producers and networks live for, and it’s why the show works. But it’s interesting watching it after watching so many 1950s and 1960s hour-long shows – by 1982 it’s amazing how boring the guest-shot pool had become – watching these Route 66 episodes where everyone in the show usually was either a star or an star-to-be is a whole different thing than watching Cagney and Lacey, where they don’t really write the kind of guest-shot roles they were writing in the Golden Age. There’s usually a meaningless obligatory chase scene, the kind I hate because the people being chased don’t have characters – they’re just convenient villains who are around just to be chased. You have no investment in whether they’re caught or not. The writing is fine – I had no idea mystery novelist Robert Crais (the Elvis Cole mysteries) was the story editor on the show. And they have some good directors on board, too. So, while I don’t think it’s one of the great TV shows, I am certainly enjoying it.

Well, why don’t we all click on the Unseemly Button below because we must all remember that thirty days hath November and I hath better get to the next section before it’s December already.

Today, I shall be doing the long jog then going directly to storage to locate a chart, which will hopefully be in a convenient and easy to get to box and not at the bottom of a pile that’s going to mean lugging and lifting. I’ll then take said charts and have them Xeroxed and get them to our musical director in New York. After that, I shall come home and just do whatever needs to be done here, whilst I eat something amusing and take it easy before the onslaught of the rest of the week happens.

Tomorrow I’m lunching with the president of the LACC Foundation, and I have shipping to do and other errands to run, and dry cleaning to get done. The rest of the week is equally busy, and Saturday will be a very nervous day for me, as I’m a nervous traveler and I’ll be packing and getting ready for a ten-day trip. I’m hoping I know where I’m staying by Wednesday so I can ship ahead clothing and running shoes.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do the long jog, go to storage, Xerox, and then do things that need doing. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your all-time favorite gay-themed plays, movies, TV shows, and books? What was the first gay-themed show or film you saw? And what are your least favorites? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, and don’t forget that thirty days hath November and we’re over halfway there.

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