J.D. Salinger died yesterday, having just turned 91 years old. He was one of my "writing" Gods. I became aware of him with "Catcher In The Rye", the way so very very many people became aware of him. A great beautifully rendered book, filled with so much heart and pain and insight....such a gift! But, for me, Salinger's stories about 'The Glass Family' were the ultimate in great and brilliant writing---these stories were all moving and 'perfect' in every way....I was in love with the Glass Family and waited with baited breath for the then great New Yorker Magazine to print the next special story about this amazing fictional and fascinating family....Any story by Salinger was a "gem" back in the day...but, once you made the connection that many of the stories were about The Glass Family----well, it was like finding 'gold'. I remember how excited I was when I actually discovered that "Perfect Day For Bananafish" and "Uncle Wiggly In Connecticut" and "Down At The Dingy" were all connected to this wonderfully interesting family....These stories about this family were true treasures....! And they were ALL printed in The New Yorker Magazine....As time went on....There were more "Glass Family Stories. "Raise High The Rooftops Carpenters"....and then. "Seymour, An Introduction"....All printed in The New Yorker over a period of many years----then came "Franny", and two years later, "Zooey", the two youngest Glass Children. There was something about Salinger's writing that was mesmerising---always hooking me in 'emotionally'...I tell you, I loved this family.....!Back in the day, my friend Pearl Belkin and I were "Glass Family" Junkies...we scoured The New Yorker every week hoping for a new story by Salinger---always hoping it would be another 'Glass Family' story....Maybe it was growing up in New York in a family that deeply appreciated ALL the "arts"---Music, Theatre, Films, Books, Radio---(Yes, Radio was a big big wonderful addition to our daily life in the form of the great great creative artists of the day....)...The Glass Family grew up in New York...the parents had been 'entertainers'. All the children were 'Genius' level brains...and all appeared on a Radio Show at different tines, called "It's A Wise Child".Seymour was the oldest and most of the stories revolved around him and his brother Buddy in some way---They say that 'Buddy' was Salinger...though he did not come from such a big family---There were seven children in The Glass Family. And Seymour kills himself in one of the early stories---'A Perfect Day For Bananafish'......So, when we read all the other stories about him and his 6 siblings, we already know that he killed himself in 1948. And it is his younger brother, by two years, Buddy, that narrates many of the other stories....This is superb writing. Dense and layered and utterly fascinating in every way. One feels the Glass Family actually must exist because each one of these seven siblings are written in such a thorough deep way. Many people wanted to adapt Salinger's work----including me. He turned everyone down---including me, because Hollywood had butchered "Uncle Wiggly In Connecticut". Destroyed it, really, with "My Foolish Heart". After that debacle, he vowed never to let anyone adapt any of his work for films or the stage---I wanted to adapt three of his stories for the stage, back in 1961-62. I received a very nice letter from his agent which said, basically, Thanks, but 'no thanks', and why. I was very disappointed, but I understood. Salinger was a writer of great integrity and was never interested in 'celebrity'. He was interested in writing, period.We lost a true giant on Thursday. One of the "greats". I was reminded of how exciting those days were back in the late 1950's and early 1960's, waiting for the next beautiful piece of writing by this special wonderful writer. He was unique----an "original". No one wrote like him and no one is writing like him now. I'm so grateful for all the wonderful pieces he gave us. They still resonate. They are still great great writing. And unlike so very many people who long for their 15 minutes of fame today---Salinger was a complete recluse who couldn't bear the trappings of 'fame'. What he gave us will live on and on and on for much longer than any Housewife of Orange County.Rest In Peace, J. D.....And Thank You for all the beauty you gave us.
This is one of the great great performances of not just this year---but of any year! "CRAZY HEART"....is a wonderful picture and Jeff Bridges has never been better. And not only that, he has a body of work that is incredibly outstanding....! He has been Nominated for The Academy Award four times and has not won yet. The thing is---he makes it all look so easy that one may not realize what a really fantastic actor he is.
Back in the day, Beau, Jeff's older brother, and a wonderfully talented actor in his own right as well, was an early member of Theatre West, the Acting Workshop I have belonged to since 1962. Beau was very young and very very talented. About 6 or 7 years later, his younger brother Jeff, became a member, too....I think Jeff was 19 at the time. And that's when I got to know him. His God Mother, and my dear friend Betty Garrett and her late husband Larry Parks, (Jeff's God Father)....were best friends with Bud (Lloyd) and Dottie Bridges.....The two family's have known each other since Bud and Larry were both under contract to Columbia pictures, in the 1940's.....And the late Dottie Bridges was Garrett Parks' God Mother..... (At Betty's 80th Birthday Party....with her adorable handsome Godson)
In the last 10 days, Jeff Bridges has won Los Angeles Film Critics Choice Award.....The Golden Globe Award........And The Screen Actors Guild Award, all for Best Actor for "Crazy Heart".....I don't think there is any doubt that he will receive an Oscar Nomination, and I hope he wins the Oscar this time round, but you never know what The Academy members will do. But, it really feels like this is his year, to me.I have such high respect for Jeff as an actor and as a man. He is dedicated to his 'art', and he is dedicated to the plight of those less fortunate, too. He puts his money where his mouth is and he is also a very dedicated family man. One of the 'good guys', in my view. (Jeff....getting ready to make 'Wild Bill' with his father Bud, and Betty's younger son Andy, at Betty's 75th Birthday Party.....Family and Friends mean everything to these two family's.....)
Jeff has never given a bad performance. Starting waaaay back to the first film that the public really became aware of him, "The Last Picture Show", when he got his first Oscar Nomination, up to his most recent brilliant performance as 'Bad', in "Crazy Heart"---a must see movie.....There are a number of Jeff's performances that just knocked me out. "Starman".....What an incredible film and Jeff's performance is superb. The choices he made about this 'alien' from another planet were so beautifully rendered....it is a wonderful film in every way.My most favorite of all his pictures is "The Fabulous Baker Boys", where Jeff and Beau play duo piano playing brothers....Perfect, in every way. He looked lean and mean and sexy as hell. And Jeff and Beau together, with Michelle Pfeiffer in between---well, let's just say there was nothing sexier on film than the New Years Eve scene.Don't know this film? Run out right away and rent it! It also had the music of Dave Grusin and that was the icing on the cake for me. And of course seeing The Bridges Boys acting together in a film was and is a 'fabulous' and fun experience....."The Contender", with Joan Allen and Gary Oldman, is another favorite of mine.It is a wonderful screenplay by Rod Lurie about a very important subject--"integrity". Jeff plays The President of The United States and he is just delicious. He makes him a human being with quirks and flaws and at the same time he gives him great stature, too.....It's a funny performance that also becomes very very inspiring.He was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Supporting category for this one. I really thought he would win it, too. Three other films of Jeff's that I just love, are "The Fisher King"....."The Big Lebowski".........And a lovely somewhat under-rated film, "Seabiscuit".........Jeff's performances in each of these films is detailed and specific and funny and touching and sweet, and always, always, always---he brings such humanity to every character he plays. He is, to me, the consummate 'actor'. Again, he makes it look so easy that many times his work is taken for granted or overlooked. Now, we have 'Bad Blake' in "Crazy Heart". You fall in love with this alcoholic-over-the-hill country singer just the way Maggie Gyllenhaal does....It is a performance of such great nuance, and again, Jeff makes it looks easy. He IS Bad Blake. He becomes this man that has had great success and is now reduced to playing weekend gigs in Bowling Alleys, often leaving the stage in the middle of a performance to go outside and throw-up....How could one fall in love with this guy? Well, because there is such humanity in the man---with all his problems, he is still a talented guy just trying to get along---(And by the way, the songs are all great, and Jeff does all his own singing. The wonderful T-Bone Burnett wrote all the songs).....Something happens to him after he meets Maggie Gylenhaal's (She is wonderful too....) character---and as the story progresses, we see "Bad" progress, too....It is such a simple yet profound performance....well, if you haven't seen it, you absolutely must!At both The Golden Globes and The SAG Awards, the audiences gave Jeff a standing ovation---The Globes lasting a very long long time. It was thrilling....! And it says that his 'community' holds his talent and his body of work in the highest regard, and I just loved seeing that. And I just love him, too! He was the only 'winner' at both of these events that got a standing ovation when his 'win' was announced. It was truly touching to see, as was his response. So, do yourself a great great favor...Go see "Crazy Heart" as soon as you can. You won't be sorry you did, I promise you.Now on to The Oscars........
This post was first published back on November 18th, 2005....I am re-publishing with a little bit of an update....I was new to blogging at the time---it had only been about six weeks, so I hardly knew how to do anything other than post "text"...I am grateful to say, that changed.....So...... Having just had the "Caption" Contest----winners to be announced----I thought this would at least give everyone an idea of 'context'.....Let me say this: what I am looking at in the picture is the destination of the ball that I was about to hit with the cue ball.....The camera caught me as I was attempting to line up my shot....So, in fact, I was very concentrated on 'the game'.....If any of you have ever played pool, you know this is a very important part of the game....I believe that everything else will be explained by what follows.......Again, I appreciate everyone who played the Caption Game----and for those who say they are not good at it, well....neither am I.....lol!
(DISCLAIMER: I do not smoke any more---and now, it is almost 40 years that I have not smoked----and I would advise everyone to quit as soon as you can, and if you do not smoke, don't start.) With the help of the WONDERFUL Danny Miller, who's blog is extraordinary; he was able to put this photo into my profile....and it's here to stay because I would not know how to change it, even if I wanted to....(lol)....he also taught me how to put links into the body of the post.....(I hope this new knowledge was put to good use concerning his blog, up above!) I just wanted to say a little something about this photo...it was back in the days when everybody smoked and in my case, the cigarette holder is not an affectation, but my feeble attempt to make my smoking less dangerous to my lungs...I was a v-e-r-y heavy smoker and I must tell you, that though the holder probably helped a little bit...(it was an Aqua Filter--a water based idea that helped to catch the nicotine in the damp filter so that it did not go into your lungs)...in the long run, it certainly did not make smoking that much less dangerous to my lungs, or to any one's lungs, for that matter. But, at the time, I was completely addicted and I would have done anything to continue smoking....including using this filtered holder. So, here's the genesis of this photo: There was a party at a Theatre West friend's home on the particular evening this photo of me was taken.....Phillip Abbott and his lovely wife Jane had this party to celebrate the closing night of something---a play at Theatre West---the name of which, at this moment, I don't recall. Phil was a very very talented and completely under-rated actor who was one of the founding member's of TW. (Some of you older bloggers might remember him from the television series "The FBI") I had worked with Phil at Theatre West in a number of capacities over the years. For one, as a composer for his Robert Frost evening, an evening which he Adapted and Directed..."Promises To Keep". I also acted as Producer of the evening for Theatre West. We also worked together on the democratically-elected Board of Theatre West, serving along with 5 other wonderful people for quite a few years in the 1960's. This party was one of the many 'get-togethers' so many of the members would have aside and away from our Theatre West Workshop work. This terrific theatrical group was always a double thing of a professional actors workshop and and a wonderful fertile breeding ground for life-long friendships. These two things always overlapped making for a very rich experience....so there were lots and lots of party's as well as a tremendous amount of very innovative exciting work in those very exciting early years of TW! Jane and Phil had a wonderful rambling house out in 'The Valley'. It was a great house for entertaining because it flowed from room to spacious room---the house itself being very spacious inside. Then it flowed to a very spacious outside back yard, with the biggest private pool I'd ever seen...a Fifty footer! Inside, they had this huge 'family room' that had a Pool Table as one of it's main features. And I loved to play pool, though I did not get much of a chance to play back then, or now. My father had taught all of us to play pool, when I was around 6 or 7 years old. Something about the game appealed to me...the precision of it----the colors of the beautiful balls and the ease of holding the cues...there was something very satisfying about figuring out precisely just where you had to hit a ball to 'pocket it'. I don't remember the last time I had played before this night and I did not realize nor did I remember that someone had taken photo's that night. Especially of this particular game. And only realized it when The Abbott's sent me this photo. Enclosed in the package along with the photo was a note from Phil, and it said....'Dear Naomi: There's a bit of the hustler in all of us!'
I LOVE this picture because I look like I really know what I'm doing, including the squint of the eye. I look like a bar-fly-pool-shark...which is pretty laughable considering I rarely if ever drank booze of any kind and going to bars had absolutely no interest for me, whatsoever. The only part of this photo that is shocking to me now, is to see and then remember, that my need to smoke was so great that I had to keep the 'holder' in my mouth with a lit cigarette, while shooting pool! Lord, what a terrible terrible addiction that is! And one that truly can do irreversible damage to one's health, plus it's a pretty disgusting and messy habit, too.
And I'm not just a reformed smoker talking here. Not just a recent convert who is now against it because if I don't smoke I don't want anyone else to be able to.....that's not where my zealousness comes from at all. It comes from the problems I live with now...I am not supposed to be around any smoke at all, because the noxious fumes are very very bad for my lungs at this point in my life...And that fact has made me wonder, if at the time we all began to smoke we had known the real dangers, would we have started to smoke anyway? I honestly do not know, and will never really know. What I do know is: I should have known it wasn't too great for you, without any 'warning labels' because the first time I inhaled, it hurt my throat so horribly I thought 'I will never do THAT again'!!! But did that stop me? Noooooo. Back then, if you did not smoke, you weren't 'one of the guys', you know? And that may still be the case today, it's just that today, we do know how truly lethal this habit really is.... Ohhhh I'm so glad I stopped smoking when I did....and perhaps I s-l-o-w-e-d the progress of the damage to my lungs by stopping when I did. I hope so, but I'll never know that, either.
But, given all that, when I look at this photo it does make me laugh. There is something very amusing about the picture to me. I guess because I look seriously decadent, which is truly laughable and hilariously silly, too! Well, whatever...this photo is now my Profile Picture, with much thanks to the wonderful Danny Miller.
More To Come.......
AND THE WINNERS ARE: There were some truly wonderful entry's....many terrific 'captions', a couple of fun 'poems', and some great 'story's, too.....I must say it was very difficult to make a decision, and, in fact....there is more than one winner because it was impossible to choose just one person's entry.....There were 39 or 40 comments and I narrowed it down to 9 people....I know, I know---it's too many, but, that is where it is at.....There were three 'captions' that almost "tied" for First Place, but I ended up with two Winners and one Honorable Mention....Then, there was one winner in 'story's' with three Honorable Mentions, and there were two 'poems'--both were funny and both were Honorable Mentions.....So....in fact, there were three (3) Winners all together, with six (6) Honorable Mentions.
The top three 'captions' were by Ily, Kevin Raferty and Riot Kitty....they all tickled my funny bone--Ily & Kevin Rafferty are the two Winners and Riot Kitty gets an Honorable Mention....! In 'story's, Diane J. Standiford was the Winner, and Popps, Holland, and Dianne are all Honorable Mentions. The 'poems'----both funny and both Honorable Mentions, were by Jamie Dawn and Bob-Kat.
The truth is I would love to say that all 9 people are 'winners', and they are in my view.....I thank everyone for participating in this silly but very fun 'caption contest'. And Kevin and Diane J....I need you to email me your addresses.....(myrtillo1984 AT yahoo DOT com)
Here above is my darling Great Nephew Max...Or Grand Nephew, as he says---but I think the correct word is "Great"---of course, I am wrong a lot! (lol).....He was here in Los Angeles for a couple of days and he came over and spent a few hours with me.... It was wonderful to see him! He is such a dear sweet smart and delightful young man....I know his parents must be so very proud of him, and my dear sister Robin would be so very proud, too, if she could see her first grandson now......I took some pictures of him sitting near the window looking into my living room because there was such an amazing reverse image, behind him---the Pacific Ocean and Century City, etc.,---And...I asked him to let me make a little video of him talking about......Well, you will see what he talked about, below........ We had a lovely visit and a bit of to-go-prepared-food for lunch that came from Gelson's, which he seemed to enjoy very very much. I know I did. As you heard him say, his father, Michael, is my sister Robin's first born. I can still remember the day Michael was born. I was in 11h grade---a Junior----in Great Neck High School. I went to the pay phone---yes, we had such things back then....and I called my mother every chance I could between classes. I don't remember how many calls I made, but finally, my mother said, 'yes, the baby was just born and it's a boy!' There is Robin below, holding little Michael. She was standing on the porch of their house in Hamden, Conn., near Yale University where Bobby was teaching. The house was called "Steamview", and I honestly don't remember why....Very very exciting. He was as cute as a button...my first nephew! That was October 18th, 1948---a very special day. I'm ashamed to say, I don't remember the birth dates of Robin's two other children---Danny and Debbie....but I guess it is because it was kind of like old hat by that time. See, Michael's birth was a "first" for our family. The first Grandchild for my mother, and the first nephew for Gene, Gordon, and me, so that was a really big thing......Below is a picture of Robin as a baby with our mother, 'Jen The Hen'.....I don't know where this picture was taken, and I don't know that there is anyone still around who can tell me.....There is something quite wonderful about having baby pictures of Robin, who was my parents first born, and then Robin's first born---Michael, as a baby. (I don't have any pictures of Max as a baby, I'm sorry to say....)Below, here are Robin and Bobby---Michael's parents and Max' grandparents, when they were just a young couple---married around a year and a half or so at the time of this picture......How young they look. Well, they married so very young. They were both twenty years old.....It is almost impossible to fathom how they decided had the courage to marry so young, but they did, and they were married for over 60 years....count them...60! Here they are below at my brother Gordon's 75th Birthday party---in September, 2004. His birthday is on September 20th and Robin's birthday was on the 26th of September, when she turned 81. Hard to see them looking this old....But, that is life, isn't it? Below, another picture from Gordon's Birthday Celebration...... Standing: My brother Gordon, then Michael---Robin's oldest next to him, and then my sister Gene on the end on the right side....Seated: Gordon's youngest daughter Jennifer, then Debbie---Robin's youngest child, who now has two children of her own, and Robin....dear sweet Robin, who died in February 2005. A heartbreaking loss to all of us......Above.....Max, with his mother Dianna in July of 2007. They were here in Los Angeles on a visit and I got to spend a few hours with them that day which included lunch, too. Michael wasn't able to make it here for that particular trip---but we are all hoping he will get out here one of these days, very soon.....There are four generations pictured here in this post, and I think that is remarkable! I have always felt the importance of photographs, and I hope I never forget that photographs are so very very precious. They remind us of the times of our life, and very often, the better times for many people....They are a record of something that took place---a visual reminder. They are our 'history', and something to be greatly cherished and preserved, in my view..... Max and Dianna, one more time.........
Update: Dianna emailed me and told me the birth dates for Danny: November 27th, 1950, and Debbie: June 2, 1964---in a way, Debbie had three Dad's....lol.....
More To Come.........
NOTE: I thank everyone for the wonderful 'captions' and 'story's' on my profile photo....I will announce the winners---hopefully---next time I post....I love you all for participating!
Ily, of Another Day In Paradise suggested this post. It seems that a few people are fascinated by my Profile Picture, and I realize it is provocative....No, it is not a recent picture, but it is one that I love and that I thought would be fun to use as my Profile picture when I started blogging back in October, 2005.....I was speaking to Ily and she said she would love to see this picture bigger and suggested I post it and ask people to caption it, or write a little short story about it...., like, where is this person in the picture, etc., etc. So....here it is! Have Fun! There will be a prize for the best caption or story...I don't know what that prize is yet, but hopefully whoever wins will be happy with whatever it is......
And so, here are some of the "gifts" that were part of The Game. There are two parts to this game....Both parts are played with dice. In the first part, if you get a "7" or an "11" you can open a gift and then roll again--and the dice go around the circle from one person to the next....When everything is finally opened, we start the timer and as we continue going around the circle if you get a "7" or an "11" you get to take any one gift you want from any of the other people, and then, you get to roll again....We play for a specific amount of time so that when 'times up' the game is over. And then, whatever you end up with---you take home! Here above.....a few things had been opened, and Katy got these Glasses......That book on the floor---a Cookbook about Pasta----was very popular and moved around the room quite a bit during the 'timed' part of the game....the Glasses? Not so much. Below, a closer look at those Glasses...... There was quite a mixture of good things and lousy---but funny---things. And this is always the case. If memory serves, those Glasses never left Katy's side..... Maddy rolled a "7" or maybe an "11", and got to open this box that had three or four very pretty glass birds..... Then, Karen rolled a "7" and opened a rather big box, with the help of her dear husband, Garrett......Inside was this Cookie Jar, which we all laughed at quite heartily---but then......some of us promptly fell in love with it....lol! You need to see this close-up....It really is beautifully made and kind of fun, too! The bottom of the jar is supposed to be Carrots and that is a ribbon and bow around the rim....The top was like some Cabbage leaves with the 'pull' a small purple Eggplant....Just what everyone needs! In this first part of the game, the Parks Clan seemed to be getting a lot of winning numbers....our side of the room wasn't doing as well...But of course, it only really counts after everything is opened! I asked Andy to hold up this next gift that he opened....it was making a return visit to the game...... We have a two-year rule....If you win something you really can't stand, you can bring it back in two years.....(Not the next year---that would be too boring....lol). Below a closer look at this special ceramic box..... This, no doubt, will be a "collector's" item---if it isn't already....! Finally, someone on our side of the room--Mark T. got to open something and it was a doozey....A little book on doing and saying mean things to just about anyone you can think of....! If memory serves, Mark went home with this. Nobody wanted it....lol.....not even him....! By this time, The Parks side of the room had lots and lots of gift goodies....Katy had many books in front of her and everyone was watching to see what she had chosen now.....You have to put everything out in front of you so that people can kind of scope out what they might want to take from you later....... I honestly don't remember what was in that box that Katy is packing up---but you can see a lovely small tray sitting on the floor which came with a book of recipes for God knew what....Meanwhile, Maddy rolled another "7" or "11" and chose this very heavy and fairly good size box...... It was, for some reason, not an easy package to open.....And everyone waited with baited breath and anxious anticipation---you can see her Mom behind her......And Earl, Gene and Betty...all waiting to see what was in this heavy package.........And then...... Oh.....Great!!! A Jar Of Russian Pickles! Look at Maddy's Mom now....Holding her head.....lol! Then, Maddy got to roll again and she got another winning number and this time she opened this below..... She loved this gift so much that there was no way she was not going home with it. (Oh and see the Farmer's Almanac sitting there...? That was quite popular too) There were a-gazillion little squares of Make-up in that clever tiered box, and some brushes to go with them all, too....! Here is a closer look at some of those little squares..... Then, Mark rolled another winning number and he got a treasure trove of CD's. All kinds of music, including Broadway Shows and Pop, etc.....I think there were 25 CD's in all---someone did a major cleaning.....This went around the room a little bit once we started the timer part...... Then.....if memory serves....Mark rolled another 'winner' and opened this Home Made Fudge.....I tasted it and I thought it was delicious....! But, in all honesty I didn't really want anything and I think I rolled one "7" all night, which was just fine with me....lol! Everything was open and we began the 'timed' part of the game. And because it was getting close to Midnight and by tradition we go out on my deck with some Champagne and some Martinson's Sparkling Cider---(this is not a big drinking group...), where we see the New Year in, watching Fireworks all over the city.....we finished up the game about 11:55pm..... The most popular item in the game was this, below: We are a group of Actors and other related Show Business people, and this moved around the room more than anything else! I alreadsy had this so I didn't need a second copy.....The least popular item was this lovely thing, below...... And dear Earl went home with this inventive broom! And that, my dear readers, was New Years Eve. I think everyone had a really wonderful time and the icing on the cake was Betty being there.....Amen and Happy New Year!