Tuesday, June 22, 2010

a not so quick note

On this day in 1342 S.R. Bilbo Baggins returned to his home at Bag End, (Shire Reconning)

Among today's birthdays, a favorite of mine is Cyndi Lauper

"People used to complain to me all the time, 'I can't even hear you sing because your clothes are so loud.'" ...
Cyndi Lauper

Breaking News - as I was embedding the video above, the ABC news reported the death of Edith Shain at the age pf 92. If the name doesn't mean anything to you, then know that she was a nursecelebrating the end of WWII in Times Square ..  it seems that Peace had broken out. A sailor grabbed the first girl he saw, and kissed her. Alfred Eisenstaedt was nearby and took this picture which appeared in Life magazine a week later. It quickly became iconic.  Edith identified herself to Eisenstaedt in 1979, and he agreed it was her. A photographer at Life took a picture of the two togeather. Edith surfaced again on the photo's 50th anniversary in 1995, and achieved world wide fame and recogintion in 2005 when she was Grand Marshall of the New York City Veterens Day Parade

On June 22, 1969, the final curtain rang down for Judy Garland.She was 47 years old.
As Ray Bolger put it,"She just plain wore out."

Her funeral (and burial in a pauper's grave, if I remember correctly) occurred on June 27th 1969. In the early morning hours of June the 28th, police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. There are many stories of what happened next - the one I like most is that during the raid, one policeman went to stop the juke box
from playing. The music at that moment was a Judy Garland song. One young queen is said to have positioned herself in front of the jukebox saying "Judy stays", just as all hell broke loose.

Monday, June 21, 2010

solstice, a theatre memory, and fireflies

It's time for a little mid-summer madness. Huh? you say?
Well, summer solstice arrived (northern hemisphere) at 7:28am.

Which means summer has officially begun. Today is also known as "Mid-Summer's Day".(edit - see comments)
It's a good day and night for rowdy parties, dancing around campfires (go ahead, jump over the fire - you know you want to), collecting St. John's Wort and flowers, and Celebrating Life in general. The veils between worlds are thin just now (i.e. Shakespeare's "Midsummer Night's Dream" ).

Speaking of that play, in 1982 the New York Shakespeare Festival and the Public Theatre presented a wonderful production at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park, NYC.
The Delacorte is an open air amphitheatre with Turtle Pond and the Belvedere Castle as backdrops. Tickets are free, and the line to get them usually forms around 9am. It is, or should be, part of everyone's New York experiences.

For this production, a "living stage" was created with trees, ferns, flowers & other plant life, varied terrain, a small brook, etc. The effect was magical. It starred Christine Baranski as a most excellent Helena and a very young William Hurt as Oberon. For the entry of the faeries, the costumes were of faerie spirits from around the world. I adored it. James Lapine directed, and it was taped live by Emile Ardolino. Broadcast on the Arts & Entertainment network and possibly PBS, it was released once on VHS and has since vanished. On one of my earliest betamax tapes, I managed to record that scene - and played it many times, for myself and my friends. I've spent hours searching for video or pictures to put here. I found exactly one picture of the set - in Black and white and taken from the highest seats. Maybe I shouldn't find anything better - this way I can keep the nice memories unchallenged and not remember how much I wanted to beat both William Hurt and Marcell Rosenblatt (as Puck) around the head with a heavy pipe.

So, go out into the new summer's day or night, and celebrate.
And with any luck, you might spot a few fireflies. I haven't seen a single one yet this year - which makes me kind of sad. There used to be so many... (The Boston Museum of Science holds yearly firefly watches to document their first sightings and their yearly decline.)

When I was a kid in the 1950's early summer evenings were spent collecting fireflies. Just about every kid did it back then. We'd get a big jar, punch holes in the lid for air, capture as many as we could, and watch them blink and glow all night in our rooms. It was lovely and wonderful. But they usually died by morning. It was an early lesson in appreciating the fleeting nature of beauty.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

On this day in 1893

June 20th, 1893 - Lizzie Borden was acquitted by a jury in Fall River, Mass. (after an hour and a half's deliberation) of murdering her father and stepmother. Between the locals and the media, the event could easily be compared to the murder trial in which the accused was O.J. Simpson.

In 1952, a little revue opened at the Royale Theatre in New York City. It was called "New Faces of 1952". It jump started the careers of most of its participants including Ronny Graham, Eartha Kitt, Robert Clary, June Carroll,  Alice Ghostly, Carol Lawrence, Paul Lynde, and a writer named Mel Brooks.
Its original cast was brought together to film the show, which was released in CinemaScope, in 1954.

One of my favorite show tunes was written for the revue by Michael Brown (who later wrote children's books including the Santa Mouse series). Some know it as the "Lizzie Borden Song." Some know it as "You Can't Chop Your Poppa Up in Massachusetts." It's actual title is "Fall River Hoedown."

The house in which the murder occurred was converted into a bed & breakfast in 1996.
Today, most rooms go for $225.00 to $250.00. Or, you can rent the entire house for "just $1,500.00 per might". The highest bidder in a recent auction will get to stay in the Stepmother's bedroom on the night of August 4th. (The murders were  committed around 10:30am that day.) The winner will also get two free Lizzie Borden bobble head dolls. Which you can purchase from the gift store for $25.00 each - unless you'd prefer a pair of Lizzie's Hatchet ear rings ($5.00), or a vial of brick dust from the basement ($10.00)

Sic transit gloria mundi.