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October 13, 2019:

THE EASY LISTENING EVENING

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish, beginning these here notes whilst have an easy listening festival.  It began after my classical listening, when I listened to the soundtrack to the motion picture How Sweet it Is, starring James Garner and Debbie Reynolds.  It’s not a good motion picture, but I’ve always loved the soundtrack, which I had on something called an LP and now have on a CD.  The music is by one of my favorites, Patrick Williams, here billed as Pat Williams.  It’s a delightful mélange of Mancini-like music, some up, some pretty, and two Jimmy Webb songs.  It’s short and sweet, the sound is excellent on this Vocalion CD (album was on RCA).  And then it was on to a real authentic easy listening album – well, a pair of albums on one CD – two of Jackie Gleason’s late albums on Capitol – these were close to his last for the label. Ironically, given what I’d just listened to, it, too, is entitled How Sweet it Is, as that was a Mr. Gleason trademark line.  The second album is Come Saturday Morning.  I love these easy listening albums – loved them as a kid, as a teen, and love them now.  The Gleason albums are amongst my favorites – lush, beautiful, incredible sound, great orchestrations, and the songs on these two albums are great.  You get lush strings, a lonely trumpet, guitar, a tinkling piano – all very tasty.  It makes you want to stand in the rain and kiss someone special – that’s what these albums always made me dream about when I was an early teen.  From there, it was Peter Nero, who I’ve always liked ever since buying a 45 of him playing Elmer Bernstein’s theme for Summer and Smoke – I love his version and I played that 45 to death on my official 45rpm record player – it only played 45s.  I would just let it repeat ad nauseum until my mother would threaten to hit me in the head with a frying pan.  This is a two-fer like the Gleason – Love is Blue is one album, and the other is Impressions, wherein Nero plays while Bacharach burns – it’s all Burt Bacharach songs and it’s great.  It’s also on Vocalion, who do a lot of this sort of thing.

Yesterday was a bit of a day.  I was up at eight after only about four hours of sleep, showered, and then she of the Evil Eye arrived and I went and had my usual Evil Eye breakfast of bacon and eggs and toast and fruit.  I managed to kill ninety minutes there, and then on a whim I went to the mail place and lucked out, as the mail had just arrived, so I got some packages.  Whether there was actual mail I know not, since they hadn’t sorted that yet.  Then at around ten minutes before noon, I got on the freeway for a rather long drive to see a musical entitled Quilters at the Orange County School of the Arts.  There were the expected pockets of ridiculously slow traffic, but I was having a long telephonic conversation (on speaker), so the time passed pretty quickly.  The entire drive took about an hour and ten minutes.  I actually missed the off-ramp because it came without any warning at all and I was watching for it carefully.  Normally, you see a sign with street names and how close you are but that didn’t happen here.  So, when I finally saw it was coming up, I couldn’t get over to the right in time.  I got off at the next off-ramp and called Peyton’s mom.  It worked out fine, since I still had a direct path to the school and she talked me through that part of the drive and I was there five minutes later, about fifty minutes before curtain.  We sat and chatted until her other family guests arrived.  They didn’t open the doors to the theater until about two minutes before start time, something that I find baffling.

When I began going to the theater, the lobby was open an hour before, and the doors to the theater were always opened thirty minutes before.  That way, one found their seat and could read the program from cover to cover and get in the proper mood to see the show.  Now, even on Broadway, they make you stand on line outside and don’t open the lobby doors that early, causing huge jam-ups.  That’s a relatively new thing – it was never that way before about six or seven years ago, maybe a decade – it’s ridiculous.  You’re lucky if you get to your seat two minutes before the show begins.  I think they like the front of theater lines – makes the show look more successful than it probably is, but, for me, it’s specious.  When I do shows anywhere, I insist up front that the lobby is open an hour before and that the doors to the theater open at half-hour.  End of rant about THAT.

The theater where they were doing Quilters was a small black box with about forty seats or something like that.  Just right for an intimate show.  I remember vaguely when Quilters played the Mark Taper Forum and how people thought it was the second coming, so much so that after a couple more engagements they took it to Broadway where, expectedly, it was a huge flop, playing exactly twenty-four performances.  It’s simply not a Broadway show.  And actually, it’s not really a musical either – it has songs – more like a play with songs, which are all folk-flavored things played by a guitar, fiddle, percussion, and bass.  I can see why people like shows like this – small cast, some fun stuff, some dramatic stuff, and some singing, and about an interesting historical thing, quilting.  For me, the stories are interesting for a certain amount of time, but then start to sound the same with not enough variety.  It simply feels too long and drawn out.  But the student actors all did a great job, and our very own Peyton Kirkner was a standout – and a total and complete pro and trouper, when she lost her footing during one busy bit and fell, bruising her knee and leg.  She was up instantly, and you would never have known it happened unless you happened to be watching her at that moment.  I know it was painful, but she soldiered on did everything with smiles and energy.  There was one gal in the show who had really good comic timing and a good voice – we’ll ask her if she’d like to do the January Kritzerland young people show.  The director is someone I’ve known for awhile – she was in the show in a well-liked production in the 1980s in Laguna. In fact, three or four of the actresses from that production were in attendance.  So, that was fun for the cast.

After the show, Peyton came out to say hi but it was clear her leg was sore.  And she was going directly to Homecoming – her mom later told me she didn’t even want to go, but in the end she did and I hope she had a grand time.

Then I headed home, which only took about fifty minutes – just a couple of slowdowns.  I stopped at McDonald’s and got a filet o’ fish and a Big Mac, came home, and ate them all up – they were good.  I answered e-mails, and then began listening to music and here we are.

Today, I can sleep until eleven, then I have a work session at noon, after which I’ll go right to Doug Haverty’s home environment to pick up some stuff and give him some stuff.  Then I’ll eat something fun – maybe out, maybe here, then I’ll come home – I have to write two sets of liner notes, which I’d forgotten about, so that will take up the afternoon, then I can relax.

This week is very busy with meetings and meals, gearing up for the What If revue benefit, doing and going and going and doing, not necessarily in that order, and not much time for relaxing.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, sleep until eleven, have a work session, visit Doug Haverty, eat, write liner notes, and then relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s free-for-all day, the day in which you dear readers get to make with the topics and we all get to post about them.  So, let’s have loads of lovely topics and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, always happy to have an Easy Listening evening.

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