My favorite numbers from musicals

“there will be no morning star.”

musicalsBack in April, Mark Evanier linked to someone’s Top 100 Broadway Songs of All Time from 2020. Some took great umbrage with the list, especially with EIGHT songs from Hamilton, and SEVEN from The Book of Mormon. Plus there was a dearth of songs from Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern, George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, and Kurt Weill.

Conversely, Dave’s Music Database from 2016 has NO songs from Hamilton. Whereas WhatsOnStage created a pretty balanced list in 2017.

In honor of what would have been the month for the Tonys, I’m going to, instead, pick my favorite numbers from musicals. Moreover, and this will be difficult, I’m going to limit it to one song per show.

I’m not going to worry if it was a song added to the movie version of the Broadway productions. You’re the One That I Want from Grease can be considered. Heck, someone put Over the Rainbow on a list. But nothing from Jersey Boys, or Tina, or Mamma Mia, or Summer, songs that were pop tunes long before the musical.

I recognize that I too would, without discipline, would lean heavily towards the songs in my lifetime. Most of the earlier ones I associate as part of the Great American Songbook. Whereas the later tunes I recognize, mostly from the movie versions of musicals and I have a specific PERFORMANCE in my mind’s ear.

FWIW. Heading towards my favorites. I could have picked at least 20 more songs, including A Musical from Something Rotten!

Mel Brooks

Springtime for Hitler (The Producers, 2001) – the stunned silence of the audience from the 1968 movie at 2:25 is delicious.
Send in the Clowns (A Little Night Music, 1973) – I know this largely from the version by Judy Collins
Some Enchanted Evening (South Pacific, 1949) I used to intentionally come up with the mondegreen Sam and Janet Evening
I Dreamed a Dream (Les Miserables, 1985) – it’s terribly schmaltzy, in a good way
Bewitched, Bothered, and Bewildered – (Pal Joey) – I opted for Ella

Close Every Door (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, 1972) – I always thought Joseph was a thin album, but this was the strongest piece by far. Yes, Donny Osmond.
It’s a Hard-Knock Life (Annie, 1977). This became a pop song in the 1990s, as I have it on one of those compilation discs.
Oklahoma (Oklahoma!, 1943). If I didn’t know how to spell the 46th state, I do now. Oh, What a Beautiful Morning and More were considered.
All that Jazz (Chicago, 1975) I also like Cell Block Tango.
Summertime (Porgy and Bess, 1935)- SO many versions, several on the same album.

More Rodgers and Hart

Falling in Love with Love (The Boys from Syracuse, 1938). A song from the Supremes Sing Rodgers and Hart. I could have picked This Can’t Be Love, or Sing for Your Supper, covered by the Mamas and the Papas, from this show.
Circle of Life (The Lion King, 1997) – I’ve seen this at least four times, not counting the animated version. Twice a Broadway-level performance at Proctors in Schenectady, once at a high school, and once in a church production featuring my daughter
Don’t Rain on My Parade (Funny Girl, 1964). Barbra’s like butta.
Mack the Knife (The Threepenny Opera, 1928). Of course, it’s the Bobby Darin version, but I like the original too.
Sit Down, You’re Rockin’ the Boat (Guys and Dolls, 1950). About 1960, my father worked on a production of this show for Binghamton Civic Theater.

Money makes the world go round – Cabaret. I saw the movie with Liza Minnelli and Joel Grey when it first came out. The title track is probably a better SONG, but this resonated more.
Superstar (Jesus Christ Superstar, 1971) A pivotal album for me as I went to college. Perhaps I Don’t Know How To Love Him or Heaven on Their Minds could have been chosen.
Edelweiss (The Sound of Music, 1959). This was such a convincing song that people actually thought it was a real folk tune And it’s the reprise that gets to me.
The Flesh Failures/Let the Sunshine In (Hair, 1968) – the reprise of Manchester, England, not the jaunty first version but an anguished one gets to me.
The Time Warp (The Rocky Horror Picture Show, 1973) The bass vocal line is right in my vocal range.

Who’s gonna pay…

Seasons of Love (Rent, 1996) – higher math.
And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going) from Dreamgirls. This is your basic showstopper.
Alexander Hamilton (Hamilton, 2015). Leslie Odom Jr. said he decided he wanted to do this show after hearing 21 seconds of this song. I could have picked My Shot, Wait for It, or a number of others, but this sets the table.
Tradition (Fiddler on the Roof, 1964). The fact that this story translates into so many languages and cultures is a sign of its enduring strength. I could have picked If I Were A Rich Man or Sunrise, Sunset, but this too sets the table. My second favorite musical.
Tonight/ Quintet (West Side Story, 1957) – when I heard this in the 1961 movie, I practically cried. You can do multiple melodies like that. This is why this was my favorite musical. Oh, and the other songs too, such as Somewhere and America.

What’s on your list?

What to do with your stuff when you’re dead

’

I may have mentioned this first part before. My wife periodically asks me, “What do you want to happen to your stuff when you’re dead?” She wasn’t quite that coarse. But to mind’s ear, it SOUNDED that way.

Recently, my daughter has been also uttered the refrain. I don’t know, but I’m still using them, thank you.

In my wife’s case, it’s a function of my mother-in-law dealing with my late father-in-law’s stuff, so I get it. But the question still makes me irritable.

There may be some of my music and books – surely the largest physical representation of my “stuff” – that they may actually want to keep! Surely, my daughter should want the book Soulsville, USA, even if she doesn’t KNOW she wants it. Likewise my Motown, Stax, Beatles-adjacent, and other albums.

We’re giving ’em away!

That said, there are some books I could part with. Top Pop Albums for 1996, 2001, and 2009 I’m giving up if anyone wants them. But I’m holding on to the 2005 and 2016 versions, the former renamed The Billboard Albums. Why keep the 2005 version but not 2009? Because 2009 dropped the tracks on the albums, re-instated in the 2016 version. And I keep 2005 because it weighs less than the 2016 version and meets most of my needs.

I just got Top Pop Country Singles 1944-2017. So the version ending with 2012 I’d gladly give up.

I’ve somehow got two copies of Marvel Masterworks, Daredevil Volume 5, covering DD issues 42-53. They’re mostly by Stan Lee and Gene Colan, but also Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith.

And I have a case of “And don’t call me a racist!” The book was compiled by Ella Mazel.

Musical CD duplicates:
25 – Adele
Secret Identity – the Andrew Allen Trio
Sky Signal – Audible
The Long Black Veil – The Chieftains
Open Ground – Kyle Fischer
Cowgirl’s Prayer – Emmylou Harris
Metal Cares – Picastro
Long Knives Down – Rainer Maria

Optimally, anyone who wanted these locally could pick up one or more of these, and multiples of the Mazel book. Or I could drop them off. Beyond that, I’ll ship the rest, in the US only because international postage and regulations are pains. Email me at rogerogreen (at) gmail (dot) com.

More important to me than stuff

I’m more interested in what becomes of my blog when I go. My blog is paid for through March 2027. Still, I’d like to find someone to dump the spam emails, accept the real comments, and update the plugins.

Fortunately, I know most of the blog will live on via the Wayback Machine. At this writing, it was last captured just after my last birthday, on March 8, 2021.

What I discovered, though, is that I used to insert these Continue Reading breaks, the content below which I can’t retrieve. So I have been systematically been getting rid of the MORE tabs.

Also, the first five years of this blog were on Blogger. When I moved it, some of the punctuation was wonky. I’d now get a sentence such as That’s why there’s no such thing as an “aspiring writer.” I know what it means, but it’s ugly. I’m going through those posts as well.

As for Facebook and Twitter, I suppose I should figure something about those too. But they’re just not that important to me.

Ranked-Choice Voting for NYC

over a dozen candidates for mayor

RCV_sample_ballot
CORRECT!

I’m rather excited that New York City is using Ranked-Choice Voting for its Primary Election this year. “In a 2019 ballot measure, 73.5% of New York City Voters voted yes for RCV.”

Election Day is Tuesday, June 22, 2021. Polls are open from 6 am to 9 pm. The Early Voting Period is June 12, 2021 – June 20, 2021.

The offices up include MAYOR, PUBLIC ADVOCATE, COMPTROLLER, BOROUGH PRESIDENT, and CITY COUNCIL ELECTIONS. BTW, You are required to wear a mask/face covering and maintain 6 feet of distance when entering any Board of Elections facility.

For mayor, the Democratic candidates are, in order of their strength in a recent  poll:

Eric L. Adams, Brooklyn 11221 – 22%
Andrew Yang, Manhattan 10036 – 16% – the guy who ran for President last year
Kathryn A. Garcia, Brooklyn 11215 – 15% – she was commissioner for the New York City Sanitation Department and is running as a largely apolitical type who gets stuff done
Scott M. Stringer, Manhattan 10004 – 10%
Maya D. Wiley, Brooklyn 11226 – 9% – trying to be the first Black woman Mayor of New York City. Supported by AOC and some other progressives.
Dianne Morales, Brooklyn 11216 – 5%
Raymond J. McGuire, Manhattan 10023 – 4%
Shaun Donovan, Brooklyn 11217 – 3%

also:
Aaron S. Foldenauer, Manhattan 10006
Paperboy Love Prince, Brooklyn, NY 11221
Art Chang, Brooklyn 11238
Isaac Wright Jr., Ridgewood (Queens) 11385
Joycelyn Taylor, Brooklyn 11216

The Republicans pit Fernando Mateo against Curtis Sliwa of the Guardian Angels.

How this works

A voter can “rank up to 5 candidates in order of preference: your 1st choice candidate, your 2nd choice candidate, and so on up to your 5th choice candidate… You cannot rank the same candidate more than once.” Yes, you can write in candidates.

“If a candidate receives more than 50% of 1st-choice votes, they are the winner. If no candidate earns more than 50% of 1st-choice votes, then counting will continue in rounds. At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest votes will be eliminated.

“If your first choice is eliminated, your next choice will be counted, and so on. The process of elimination continues until there is a winner.

I’ve been advocating for some form of the instant runoff election in the US for over a decade.

The strategy is that the candidates want to make the top 5 of as many ballots as possible. So it’ll be to their advantage not to alienate someone who you could be a second or third pick. The level of trash-talking in such a large field seems relatively minor.

I have no strong rooting interest here. I might have voted for PLP because, as noted on Twitter: “Thanks for ranking me #1 make sure to rank me before ‘top’ candidates so your vote for me counts! Let’s show them how strong the movement of love really is!”

Seriously, Garcia would definitely be on my list. Beyond that, I’m not at all sure. And since I can’t vote anyway, I won’t sweat it.

overvoting
WRONG! You can’t have two first picks

The rest of the Oscar-nominated shorts

Back in April, I wrote about the Oscar-nominated shorts I had seen to date. I’ve since seen all of the rest of them. I’ll tell you how at the end.

Short Film (Live Action)

The Present (Palestine, 24 minutes), IMDB: “On his wedding anniversary, Yusef (Saleh Bakri) and his young daughter set out in the West Bank to buy his wife a gift. Between soldiers, segregated roads, and checkpoints, how easy would it be to go shopping?”

Not easily at all, as it turns out. One can’t but help think the guys at the checkpoint weren’t so much protecting as being schmucks. But it does have a nice ending.

Feeling Through (USA, 18 minutes). IMDB: “A late-night encounter on a New York City street leads to a profound connection between a teen-in-need (Steven Prescod) and a DeafBlind man (Robert Tarango).” Touching and effective. The only one of these I saw before.

Two Distant Strangers (USA, 32 minutes). IMDB: “A man trying to get home to his dog gets stuck in a time loop that forces him to relive a deadly run-in with a cop.” OK, it’s a young black man and a white cop. A warped Groundhog Day. Unsubtle but with a thought-provoking impact. The Oscar winner, and rightly so.

Ayn Levana (White Eye) (Israel, 20 minutes). IMDB: “A man finds his stolen bicycle, which now belongs to a stranger. While attempting to retrieve it, he struggles to remain human.” Having had bicycles stolen from me, I could definitely relate. Does the new owner need it more than the original owner? Issues of immigration are also involved. A good film.

The Letter Room (USA, 33 minutes) IMDB: “When a corrections officer (Oscar Issac) is transferred to the letter room, he soon finds himself enmeshed in a prisoner’s deeply private life.” What would you do in the same circumstances? Especially since his life is pretty much his job? Isaac, who plays Poe Dameron in the last Star Wars trilogy, is very effective here.

Animated Films

Burrow (USA, 6 minutes). IMDB: “A young rabbit tries to build the burrow of her dreams, becoming embarrassed each time she accidentally digs into a neighbor’s home.” Pleasant, light fare.

Genius Loci (France, 16 minutes). IMDB: “One night, Reine, a young loner, sees the urban chaos as a mystical oneness that seems alive, like some sort of guide.” A surrealistic…something. I’ll admit I don’t really get it. Something with her sister and a baby and a muse.

Opera (South Korea/USA, 9 minutes) IMDB: “Our society and history, which is filled with beauty and absurdity.” That doesn’t tell you diddly. From Indiewire: A Provocative Animated Short Confronts Never-Ending Polarization. “It consists of a giant pyramid with cyclical activities.” It’s almost hypnotic.

If Anything Happens I Love You (USA, 13 minutes). IMDB: “In the aftermath of tragedy, two grieving parents journey through an emotional void as they mourn the loss of a child.” And without dialogue, but great use of shadows, you can feel the sense of disconnectedness this couple is experiencing, long before you know why. It’s quite extraordinary and deserving of the Oscar.

Yes-People/Já-Fólkið (Iceland, 8 minutes).  IMDB: “One morning an eclectic mix of people face the everyday battle – such as work, school, and dish-washing. As the day progresses, their relationships are tested and ultimately their capacity to cope.” It’s a story about the mundane, which can be rather interesting, but this wasn’t, at least for me.

If Anything Happens I Love You

Highly commended

The animation nominations run less than an hour, so the packagers usually throw in a few more to create a 90-minute program.

Kapaemahu (USA, 9 minutes) IMDB: “Kapaemahu reveals the healing power of four mysterious stones on Waikiki Beach – and the legendary dual male and female spirits within them.” It was very affecting, telling a story I did not know. You can see it here.

The Snail and the Whale (UK, 27 minutes) IMDB: “A tiny snail goes on an amazing journey by hitching a ride on the tail of a huge humpback whale. Based on the picture book written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.”  It’s a sweet story, with some star power, with the late Diana Rigg as the narrator and Sally Hawkins as the snail.

To: Gerard (USA). IMDB: “A sprightly elderly man brightens the day of a little girl through magic.” A guy from Dreamwork produced this, and it’s very good.

I suppose I would have replaced Burrow, Yes-People, and possibly Genius Loci with these three.

Documentary

I reviewed all of these – Do Not Split (USA/Norway), Hunger Ward (USA), the winning Colette (USA), A Concerto Is A Conversation (USA), except one.

A Love Song For Latasha (USA, 19 minutes.)  IMDB: “The injustice surrounding the shooting death of 15-year-old Latasha Harlins at a South Central Los Angeles store became a flashpoint for the city’s 1992 civil uprising.

As one critic noted, “The decision to embrace poetic abstract over reenactment is an easy one to make. And that’s exactly what Sophia Nahli Allison does.” It may be a bit confusing for some but it’s worthwhile.

I’d say either Latasha or Collette was the best film.

My local Landmark Theatre, Spectrum 8 offered packages to see one, two, or all three packages. Obviously, I picked the latter, for a total of $30, not much more than the price of three in-person tickets. I ordered them in mid-April and had until mid-May to start watching them. Once I started, in the first week in May, I had until the first week in June to see them all.

In lieu of a trophy

libraries rule

To the best of my recollection, I’ve only won one trophy in my entire life. This was in the Class B racquetball tournament at the Albany YMCA in 1989. And I won, in part, because I showed up to all of my matches. I think I was 12-4, and someone else was 8-1. The wins mattered.

I still have that trophy somewhere in this house, even though the racquet on the little statue broke off.

We all like to be recognized. It might have happened a few times to me, but I’m not recalling them. (Someone who knows me can correct me if I’m wrong.)

Libraries in the time of COVID

Anyway, the Albany Public Library nominated Jon Skinner and me for the Library Volunteer of the Year Award from the Upper Hudson Library System. For literally decades, the Friends of the Albany Public Library had been holding a nearly weekly in-person book talk at the Washington Avenue branch.

Jon, with Gene Damm and others, has been securing the speakers, even as the Friends and the APL Foundation merged. Then, of course, COVID-19. The library closed for a time, so the Tuesday speaker thing also stopped.

But as it became clear that this pandemic thing was going to hang around for a while, we recalibrated. Jon and Gene got speakers to agree to do the gig on ZOOM. Then we needed someone to MC this thing on the platform, mostly make sure it started and stopped on time, and that everyone who wanted to got to ask questions. Since I had been using ZOOM four or more times a week, I guess I volunteered.

Apparently, the UHLS appreciated our efforts. The annual awards will be presented as part of the UHLS (virtual) Annual Celebration on Wednesday, June 9 at 6:30 pm. We’re supposed to accept an award and make some brief remarks. I surely can do “brief.”