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May 9, 2020:


Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, taking drives over the past six weeks has been fascinating.  Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, taking drives over the past six weeks has been fascinating during the stay at home business.  Six weeks ago, the streets were pretty empty – yes, there were cars driving and the freeways surprised me with the number of cars, but all the cars were social distancing and there was nary a speck of traffic.  That was the case for the next three weeks or so – the evenings were especially bare of cars.  But in the last week or so more and more cars are on the roads at all times of the day and night.  This I do not understand.  Oh, I understand some folks are going to the grocery store or Costco or Target.  But that would not account for what I’m seeing now.  When I got on the freeway to go to the mail place, it had a LOT of cars – no, it wasn’t slow going or anything, but who are these people and where exactly are they going, given that most businesses are not allowed to be open?  It’s truly baffling.  And last night I took a drive at nine and there were quite a few cars out and NOTHING is open at that time of night.  I don’t believe they’re out for a drive, either.  Something is amiss or a foot or anelbow.  And gas prices, which should be continuing to go down actually went up four cents.  While our governor is busy changing his story every other day, the one story he has never changed is helping consumers, especially with the outrageous gas prices here during a damn pandemic.  They are at least double what they are everywhere else in the country and we all know the price per barrel of oil is at its lowest ever and yet California cannot do the right thing.  As I approached In ‘N’ Out the line was, once again as it is every night I’m out, a block long.  People waiting an hour for a hamburger.  What universe is this?  There are times I’m tempted to follow drivers to see where the HELL they’re going at nine at night, but I don’t.  I do my little keep-the-engine-tuned drive hither and thither and occasionally yon. But that’s not what these other folks are doing.  And it begs the question, where are all those cars going exactly?  It is an enigmatic enigma to be sure.  But enough about cars and their phantom driving.

Yesterday was a pretty okay day in most ways.  One of the ways it was not pretty okay was at seven in the morning, when my repulsive neighbors were chattering away loudly – they keep the windows open because their truly repulsive residence has no air conditioning.  When that happened, I’d had all of two hours of sleep.  I got up, did some stuff, then went back to bed and eventually fell asleep.  I slept another four hours for a total of six.  And, of course, at noon there wasn’t a sound from their repulsive little mouths.  If this happens again, I will get up, go outside, and have a few words with them, oh, yes, I will get up, go outside, and have a few words with them.

Once up again, I did stuff on the computer, I did stuff at the piano, I picked up a package and came right back home.  By then, it was two o’clock and time for food.  I was going to get Dino’s Pizza but with Grubhub one pays for everything – tip, fees, delivery fee – so a nineteen-dollar meal ends up costing $31.00.  That plus the probability that the pizza would be cold by the time it got to me.  But on the drive home I’d passed by Hugo’s and Hugo’s uses DoorDash, so I ordered my beloved pasta papa, and it arrived a mere thirty minutes later, piping hot, and really good.  That was my food for the day and under twenty bucks.

I spent the rest of the day finishing choosing songs, working on fixes for tracks and music, getting singers their material, and casting three young folks for a trio song, and some other young folks for a group number.  I’ve got a ways to go in that regard.  But the main cast is all set and I set the second out-of-town person and that person is going to make some folks very happy.  So, it was a lot of getting things done, but I think I’ve gotten all but six songs to everyone, so that’s pretty good.  After all that, I finally sat on my couch like so much fish.

Last night, I watched the new Blu and Ray of Me, Natalie, starring Miss Patty Duke, James Farentino, Nancy Marchand, Martin Balsam, Salome Jens, Bob Balaban, and the first film performance of someone named Al Pacino.  I’d recently watched the film for the first time in a substandard import DVD in open matte and that was pretty bad.  I enjoyed the movie but found it wanting in many ways.  Seeing it in its proper ratio in a pretty decent transfer with excellent color made a difference.  I could have sworn I wrote about it in the notes when I watched the DVD but I cannot find it, so I guess I didn’t.  Patty Duke, with fake nose and big teeth, plays an ugly duckling waiting to be turned into a swan, a smart-ass New York gal continuously making with the quips.  But she’s so mean to people at times you wonder why someone doesn’t smack her down.  There is a lot of voiceover, which tries to soften the mean moments (“I guess I shouldn’t have done that”), but it doesn’t work.  Nancy Marchand is just wonderful as the mother, and Martin Balsam almost walks away with the film with very little screen time.  He’s so real, so honest, and he brings much-needed heart to it.  And Salome Jens is also wonderful as his exotic dancer bride-to-be.  Then Patty has her meet cute with James Farentino and that section of the film is fine.  But it ultimately just ends without much resolution.

It was directed by Fred Coe, a successful theater producer who was a pretty bad film director in the two films he made – one was A Thousand Clowns, which is okay but NOT well-directed, and this film, which is also not well directed.  A big plus is the haunting Henry Mancini score.  I’m not sure why I missed this film in 1969 – I was living in New York and went to the movies quite often, loved Miss Duke, but I think it came and went VERY quickly.  There are some funny one-liners, but it’s all a little too coy and cutesy to be wholly successful.  Still, what a cast, and well worth it for Miss Marchand and Mr. Balsam alone.  The transfer rather looks like a release print would have back then, and I’m always fine with that.

After that, I had a telephonic conversation, some e-mail exchanges about the show, took my drive, and then came back and watched the first thirty minutes of Kurosawa’s The Bad Sleep Well, a film I rather like very much – not as great as High and Low, of course, but each time I’ve watched it (this is the third time) I’ve enjoyed it – and best of all, I never quite remember the plot.

Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, I’ll continue to do show stuff, I’ll hopefully pick up some packages, I’ll eat, maybe do some laundry (might wait until Monday), and I’ll watch, listen, and relax.

Tomorrow will be exactly the same and so will next week.  And then, I suppose, we’ll know whether our endless mind-changing governor is going to attempt the stay at home again – I suspect if he does it’s not going to go well for him, depending on the length.  Because at this point, his mandates have permanently shut down many businesses and if he continues along these lines many more will shut down.  I do understand what position he’s in, but something’s gotta give, as the song goes.  I know some stuff opened yesterday in a minor way, but I don’t think that’s going to help much.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, be up when I’m up, do show stuff, hopefully pick up packages, eat, maybe do laundry, and watch, listen, and relax.  Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Miss Patty Duke and Mr. Martin Balsam?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, pondering the question of where are all those cars going exactly?

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