Sunday, March 24, 2013
phone home/home phone

I have nothing to say except to complain!
For almost three weeks I have had Telephone problems.
I find trying to talk to a "live" person at the phone company is so daunting that I avoid calling the phone company for as long as possible. 
But then....I have to bite the bullet and settle in for a l-o-n-g winter's night of being on hold, over and over and over.....
Then, when I finally do get a "live" person, they are in The Dominican Republic or India, or some other place that makes their English difficult for me to decipher. (There is something very very bizarre about someone 9000+ miles away, telling you the Technician will be there between 1pm and 4pm....and of course, no surprise when said Technician actually does not show up...!)
I find that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing there at the phone company. And one never gets "written" confirmation on agreed upon changes....OR, if you do, it is completely wrong.
About 24 hours of my life, these last few weeks, have been given over to conversations with people at the phone company, and/or waiting to finally have a conversation with someone at the bloody phone company. 
The stress of all this, and these conversations themselves, has taken years off of my already precarious life, and added many many gray hairs to what is left of the hair on my head, not pulled out in utter and desolate frustration.
AAAARRRRRGGGGHHHHH!!!!
The worst part of all this is....the Phone Company holds ALL the cards.....I cannot go to another phone company, and even if I could....it would all be the same!
Without going into the truly boring details---the subjects covered were, in no particular order:
My Bill.
My Internet Costs.
My Phone Line Being Dead.
My Second Phone Line Being Dead, Three Days Later.
My Internet Connection Turned Off.
My Appointment Not Being Kept By The Effing Phone Company.
Bottom Line? 

I HATE THE PHONE COMPANY.

Rant Over!
(well, not quite.....)
The struggle with the phone company is not over....
On Saturday----lucky me----three letters arrived from AT&T.
All three confirm things that are totally wrong.
HELP!!!
So Monday....it all begins again.....
Like I said......
I Hate The Phone Company!

More To Come.....
(if I live through the further stress
with AT&T)


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Sunday, March 17, 2013
malachi throne

An old friend and colleague died last week. Dear Malachi Throne. He was a wonderful actor and a very dear dear man, too. Mal was 84 years old.
I first met Mal at Theatre West back around 1967-68, when he became a member. Though Mal earned his living in Films and TV, his heart was always in the Theatre. And Theatre West was a perfect place to flex those stage muscles....

In the Summer of 1970 Malachi and I were cast as husband and wife in a play called "L.A. Under Siege", which was produced at the Award winning Mark Taper Forum, part of The Center Theatre Group here in Los Angeles, under the Direction of the marvelous Ed Parone. The play was written by the very talented Mayo Simon and included in the cast, Allyn Ann McLerie, Frank Aletter, DouglasWatson, Helen Page Camp and Malachi and myself.
This production was notable for a number of reasons, but one in particular---Helen Page Camp and I had to appear topless---a First, for The Mark Taper Forum. 
The first day of rehearsal we sat around the table and read through the play a number of times. The second day, we were on our feet and I had decided that I had to take my brassiere off starting that day so that I would be completely comfortable by the time we went into previews 5 weeks later. Malachi was very supportive and encouraging, and acted as if this was absolutely the right thing to do, and wouldn't be all that difficult.
And so, I did it. At the end of the scene on that very first day---book in hand, off came my brassiere. When I came off stage and sat down next to him---he was stunned that I had actually taken off my brassiere on that very first day....And he said, 'You are a very brave person'....That meant a lot to me! And I think that cemented our friendship and our mutual respect as fellow artists, forever.
Malachi was known for any number of different iconic roles that he played on TV....."Star Trek" was one of the more memorable involvements.
"To Catch A Thief", with Robert Wagner, was another.  
And then there was "Batman", where he played a very strange character called 'False Face'
Mal never gave up his love of "live" theatre and was always involved, participating at Theatre West and at The Fountain Theatre, among others.
Mal had one of those great great voices of all time....a deep resonant Shakespearean voice, if you will, and aside from his TV and Film work, he had a wonderful career in "voice over" advertising---a very lucrative part of the acting business.......
He was an enthusiastic and devoted actor. He loved and cared deeply about what he did and worked very hard at it, and took great pride in all that he did. He was a true professional, through and through......!



He adored his darling wife Marjorie and leaves a dear family and a host of friends and fans who will miss him very very much.
R.I.P. dear Mal.....
Such a very sweet sweet man, and such a very very talented man, too.....
Your body of work speaks for itself, my dear old friend.


More To Come.......


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Sunday, March 10, 2013
two films

This year, 2012, that is, there were two films with the word Quartet in the title. (I wonder what the odds are on that??)
There is "A Late Quartet" and just "Quartet". Both of these films are very worthy pictures. 

Let's start with 'A Late Quartet'. It is about a String Quartet  (two of the four---the 2nd Violin and the Viola), are married to each other--Philip Seymour Hoffman and Catherine Keener) and two others, Christopher Walken, the cellist in the quartet, who's performance was impeccable---he should have had an Oscar nomination....and the 1st Violinist, Mark Ivanir.

They have been a very successful Quartet for many many years....but, when Christopher Walken's character begins to falter physically, everything changes. One would have to say this is a 'grown up' picture. It is about people and their triumphs and their flaws as human beings.....
It is a small Independent film that has much to recommend it---wonderful performances by some truly wonderful actors and a story we can all relate to on very human terms.
It is available for rent and 'on demand'. Definitely worth seeing, especially for this monumental performance by Mr, Waken....We never see this wonderful actor in a part such as this---so we forget what a truly gifted actor he is.
"Quartet" is a really delightful film with, again, some wonderful wonderful actors---Maggie Smith, Tom Courtney, Pauline Collins and Billy Connolly, plus the always perfect Michael Gambon.....It is the story of some retired and fallen-on-hard-times classical musicians and opera singers---many once quite famous----who live in a very special country estate, specifically earmarked for them, so they can continue to live with dignity even though they cannot afford this way of life anymore.

This story is based on a real place in Italy funded, underwritten and left by Giuseppe Verdi for just such wonderful musicians who gave so much to their profession, but, as I said, fell on hard times.
Another thing that makes this a special film is that this is actor Dustin Hoffman's directorial debut...And what a wonderful debut it is....!
Of course, there are personal relationships that are revisited in this lovely 'mature' film.....
Maggie Smith and Tom Courtney were once married to one another, but haven't seen each other for many many years---theirs was a contentious relationship.....Other interesting and complex relationships are explored here, as well....
The 'Quartet' alluded to in the film's title is referred to because each year there is a fund raiser for the place they live in, and this year they decide to present the famous foursome of long ago---singing together, once again, the quartet from "Rigoletto"; a rare opportunity since all of the principles are now living right there in this lovely and special retirement home.....
One might feel this is a slight story, but I personally didn't. I found it very sweet and  funny and endearing and ultimately very touching and completely satisfying as a movie experience..  And, do watch the credits at the end. Mr. Hoffman cast so very many "real" retired musicians and opera singers in this very dear dear film---For me, this enriched the experience of watching this picture, ten-fold.
So....if you are looking for some films about people and their lives----where no one is shot or killed---or where no blood is shed, only human relationships are dealt with, look for "A Late Quartet" and 'Quartet"....I highly recommend both of these pictures.  And, the bonus in all of this is seeing Christopher Walken, as we have never seen him before---His is more than a 'stellar' performance. It is an Award winning performance!


More To Come.........


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Sunday, March 03, 2013
flight


"FLIGHT" is a very interesting complex film about a very interesting complex man.  There is a fantastic turn-the-plane-over-upside-down-action-filled crash landing, and because of the great skills of the seasoned pilot, played by the always exceptional Denzel Washington, only 6 people perish out of 150+ aboard when the possible horror should have been that everyone would have died given the many malfunctions of the airplane.
In truth, this film is really not about airplanes, crashes and flying so much as it is about one man's 'flight' from the truth of himself.  The crash and it's aftermath are the catalyst for our main character having to come face to face with himself. 
Washington plays an alcoholic/drug addicted man who cannot face the truth of this fact. His ability to fly the plane and take the chances he did in this horrific emergency in spite of the fact that he was pretty much drunk at the time is a testament to his talents as a first class pilot. A brilliantly talented 'functioning' alcoholic, one might say. But, of course, not really.
This film is the story of his coming face to face with his addictions, and what happens when he does.
I LOVED Denzel Washington's performance----it is a Bravura Performance with not a false moment. Sometimes we forget what a truly gifted actor he is because of some of the films he has made---particularly in these last ten years or so. Don't misunderstand me---Denzel Washington is never bad. The thing is, he doesn't always get to show such vulnerability and such depth of personal feeling as he does in this film. "FLIGHT" gives him that opportunity and he delivers 150%!!!
For me, his, was The Best Performance by an Actor in 2012. No way he was going to win this year, but, if I were handing out Golden Globes, and the SAG Award, and the Oscars...Mr. Washington would have gone home with one of each. 
There are some other wonderful performances in 'Flight'---Don Cheadle, John Goodman, Bruce Greenwood and Kelly Reilly---all of whom are stellar! But it is Denzel Washington's film----all the way.
If you haven't already seen this film, (It is rent able on DVD and also available 'on demand') it is very very much worth seeing, in my opinion----especially if any of you have had an Alcoholic/Addict in your life. You will recognize the journey from denial of oneself to truthful acceptance of oneself----not an easy journey, ever, and each person's journey is unique to them, except for the fact that it is a journey that must be taken if one is to survive.
This film deals with this journey with such honesty and such raw emotion that it leaves you spent, but it also leaves you with hope for his future.
I think this is a very important film because it says, it is possible to face your demons and come out on the other side. And Denzel Washington's skill, heart and innate humanity as an actor is what drives this film to it's truthful conclusion and it's ultimate hope.

More To Come.......


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