Well, dear readers, I am sitting here like so much fish, listening to the piano stylings of George Shearing, who will always have a special place in my heart because his solo piano album The Shearing Piano was so influential on me as a young lad, again thanks to my eighth grade music appreciation teacher, Mr. Williamson. From The Moldau to The Shearing Piano, he never steered me wrong. I love all the Shearing albums – from the classic quintet recordings with the Shearing Sound, to the later stuff he did with Telarc, especially his album with Robert Farnon’s gorgeous orchestrations. And I love his trio albums for MPS and the orchestral album he did for them, too. But forever and a day, The Shearing Piano is simply magical every time I hear it. When it finally came on CD with a ton of bonus tracks (I think a follow-up album was planned but never happened), I was in heaven and I still listen to it quite often. His arrangements are spectacular and unique, frequently mixing classical and pop together in rather brilliant ways. I did have the pleasure in the mid-1990s to see him at Carnegie Hall, I think – he had his own set and the other act was Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth. What an evening that was.
And speaking of interesting evenings, I had a lovely private message on Facebook – it went into the “other” folder since it wasn’t from a Facebook friend, but they’ve done a good job of making sure you see those requests instantly, a plus of the new design. I didn’t recognize the name, but I clicked to see what the message was. And it was from a woman named Ali, who I haven’t seen since she was probably eight years old. Her mom and I had become friends in the mid-1980s via someone else I knew and we all became very close and they came for dinner once a week or we’d go out. Ali and I adored each other. I have a photo of us at the beach – I saw it recently when I was gathering stuff for the Simply book – I’ll see if I can find it. And she told me she’d recently found some cassettes, one of which had on it a song I’d written for her. I remembered that I’d written a song, and I may have even come across the lyric sheet for it when going through the book papers – I’ll search for that, too – but I couldn’t really remember a thing about the tune or anything, really. So, she sent me an mp3 and five seconds in it all came back to me instantly, the tune, the lyrics, all of it. I went right to the piano and could play it easily. She’s all grown up now – she must be in her late thirties or early forties by now – she has three kids. I haven’t seen her mother since then, either. I do remember I “borrowed” her mom’s last name for one of the two characters in my musical Pals. So, that was a nice trip down memory lane and it makes me happy when kids remember me fondly and that I maybe made their life a little special or easier (her mom was divorced). So, that was a nice capper to a ME day that had a bit of stress just because so many things are so worrisome right now. Here’s the first verse.
Every time we play, the day just gets brighter and
Every time she’s near, my problems seen lighter and
Every time she’s smiling, can’t you see the rainbows appear
Yes, it’s rainbows when Ali is here.
Yesterday was an okay ME day. I only got five hours of sleep thank to ABS (Active Brain Syndrome), got up at noon, answered e-mails, did stuff that needed doing, and tried to collect my thoughts, but my thoughts were strewn about like so much scattered fish. I’d ordered food the night before and that arrived right on time – my beloved pasta dish from Stanley’s and boy was it good. It was probably several hundred calories over my 1000, but after three-and-a-half weeks of 1000 calorie days, I thought it was okay for one meal. After that, I went to the mail place to pick up a small package, then came right back home, at which point I sat on my couch like so much fish.
Yesterday, I watched a motion picture on Blu and Ray entitled Barefoot in the Park, starring Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, Mildred Natwick, and Charles Boyer. I loved the movie when I saw it on its opening day on Hollywood Blvd. and saw it many, many times during its run back then. I’ve owned a 16mm IB Tech print, and I’ve owned every home video incarnation. I never tire of watching it. Watching it yesterday was lovely – so nice to laugh out loud during these crazy times. Simon’s dialogue is fantastic, the laugh lines coming a mile-a-minute. Redford is brilliant in this – his line readings, his timing, his physical comedy – all unique to him. Jane Fonda was perfect casting, and Charles Boyer is okay but not my favorite, just because his accent is still so heavy that he kills all his laugh lines. Herb Edelman, repeating his Broadway role, as was Redford, is hilarious as the phone man. But the film belongs to Mildred Natwick, also repeating her Broadway role, as Jane Fonda’s mother. Her timing, her takes are just hilarious and winning and she should have won an Oscar for it. She was nominated, but Estelle Parsons won for a very one-note performance – Miss Natwick deserved it. She was one of a kind and I was lucky enough to see her on Broadway in Bedroom Farce and she was brilliant in that, too, as was co-star John Lithgow. Sadly, as is proving to be the case with all these Paramount low-priced catalogue titles, the transfer is an old one and really doesn’t look all that much better than the DVD, frankly. The closeups have some nice detail but all the medium and long shots have none at all – they’re soft as can be and that is NOT what this film looks like. Color is mostly fine, but Paramount ought to show a modicum of respect for films that were big hits for them. Alas, they do not. There are so many poor transfers out there, none worse than Hatari. Shame I say, and shame I say again.
After that, guilt caused me to do a brisk 2.5-mile walk, so that was good. I know I dozed off for about twenty minutes at some point. Then I read something about St. Matthew Passion by Bach and was intrigued so went to YouTube and listened to a bit of the 3:40 minute version by Otto Klemperer from 1962 – great sound and very moving music in the first ten minutes. I gather it’s a divisive recording due to its long length and slow tempos, but its fans are legion, and I sure liked what I heard, so I guess I’ll listen to the rest over the next few days. If anyone has any thoughts on it, post ‘em. Then I had the PM exchange and then I just relaxed with Mr. Shearing, who is still noodling away beautifully.
Today, I’ll be up when I’m up, and I can’t imagine it’s going to be a pleasant day unless some little miracles make themselves known to me. I’ll have a brief drop-by visitor who’s picking something up, I’ve got a delivery coming from the new Pavilions store and we’ll see how that goes. If all goes according to Hoyle it will contain my food for the day. I’ll hopefully pick up packages, and then I’ll watch, listen, and relax.
The rest of the week is trying to plan the November Kritzerland show – no show in October, but we’ll have some kind of presence for sure.
Let’s all put on our pointy party hats and our colored tights and pantaloons, let’s all break out the cheese slices and ham chunks, let’s all dance the Hora or the tango, for today is the birthday of the one and only dear reader Laura. So, let’s give a big haineshisway.com birthday cheer to the one and only dear reader Laura. On the count of three: One, two, three – A BIG HAINESHISWAY.COM BIRTHDAY CHEER TO THE ONE AND ONLY DEAR READER LAURA!!!
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, hope for some little miracles, have a brief drop-by visitor, hopefully pick up packages, eat, and then watch, listen, and relax. Today’s topic of discussion: What are your favorite films of Robert Redford, Jane Fonda, and Miss Mildred Natwick? Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, so happy to have heard from Ali and to rediscover the song I wrote for her when she was a wee bairn.