Thursday, May 30, 2013
the best years of our life"

One of the great great films of all time.

On Monday, in Honor of Memorial Day, Turner Classic Movies  showed this spectacular film, once again, along with many other films to do with War and War Hero's.
A lot of the films they showed took place during World War 2, and were really wonderful.
"The Best Years Of Our Life' represented the first post-war film made by Hollywood.

 
The War ended in 1945, and this film was released in 1946. It was important on so very many levels but I think it's great impact had to do with the fact that it was so well written, and had a stellar cast, and top notch direction, and it was a story that many people were 'living', right then and there.It touched people because it was about three regular guys returning home and how they dealt with the aftermath of their War experiences and the adjustments of being home again.

Something a great many people were going through at the time. It is cast so beautifully----Dana Andrews, Frederick March and Harold Russell were the three returning men. 
Myrna Loy, Teresa Wright, Virginia Mayo and Cathy O'Donnell, were the women they returned to.....All the smaller parts were cast with superb actors, as well---every one of them bringing especially heartfelt performances to this stunning film.
William Wyler, was the Director, and he won the Academy Award that year, and the film won Best Picture! Robert E. Sherwood won for Best Screenplay, and the great Frederick March won for Best Actor, and well deserved, indeed.

Above, Frederick March with Teresa Wright, Myrna Loy and Michael Hall.

Harold Russell won for Best Supporting Actor. The film garnered a number of other Oscars, too-----Best Musical Score by Hugo Friedholder, and Best Editing by Daniel Mandell.

The picture was Produced by the great Samuel Goldwyn----Goldwyn being the same "Goldwyn" as in Metro Goldwyn Mayer.

Goldwyn was known for Producing First Class Blue Chip films. (The list is quite extraordinary---to name just a few: "Wuthering Heights"; "The Little Foxes"; "Pride Of The Yankees", all Film Classics, along with "Best Years"....)

Everyone connected to this film was a true Professional---all of them came with a great 'pedigree', down to the last man and woman.....
The exception to this was the really inspired casting of Harold Russell, who was the only person, not a professional actor. 
What he was, was the 'real' deal.
A man who had gone through the war and came out of it having lost his hands. Casting him in the role of "Homer" was a stroke of genius, and he brought an authenticity to the film that was deeply touching---his performance was amazing---it was memorable in every way. His winning the Oscar was incredibly meaningful because his 'acting' was astounding in
 it's simplicity and it's realness. The Academy, not knowing that he would win the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, awarded him a 'special' Oscar: "For Bringing Hope And Courage To His Fellow Veterans Through His Appearance In The Best Years Of Our Lives"



I have seen this film, many many times, and it never fails to hold my complete interest in every way, and it never fails to move me.

We never see any War scenes....we are just witness to the aftermath of these three men who lived through those war scenes that we never see. We also see a lot of indifference to these men and what they have been through by the people who stayed at home.
The film is so real, without hitting us over the head with all of this reality----it just "is".  It is never heavy handed, which is one of it's great strengths as a film.
I don't know how younger people view this film today. It had special meaning for those of us who lived through WW2---the only War in my lifetime that seemed to be one that most Americans really got behind. At least that is how I viewed it from my own young perspective---I was 14 going on 15, when "The Best Years Of Our Lives" came out. 
Watching it all these years later, this film still makes me feel all the same things I felt back in 1946.
I think that is remarkable!
If you have never seen this picture, I highly recommend it, if for nothing else than it's great story and it's stellar performances. But also, on a much greater scale, it truly represents a very specific time in our nations history and beyond that, one can certainly relate to all the Veterans of all the wars our country has lived through right up to today---and it gives one pause as to how we care for our returning Veterans, all of whom were and are wounded in one way or another.
"The Best Years Of Our Lives" makes me proud to be a part of a community that can and did produce such a wonderful piece of "Art". It has more than stood, the test of time!




More To Come.......



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Thursday, May 23, 2013
better days

Hummingbirds are so very dear.
They come unexpectedly, and are so very precious as they drink from the flower that has drawn them so close to you.....
How do they find these plants that are on my deck? Is it the smell? Is it that they can see these flowers, no matter where they are?
Whatever it is----I just love that they know where their next meal is coming from----especially when it's close to me!
Here is a stunning Cactus Flower----It is a lovely example of the Beauty that these varied plants are capable of producing.....
And above....a Flower that is only open for one day a year.....So lovely and delicate....the color is exquisite.....I know I have posted this before.  But it is worth seeing again, since it only appears once a year for one very special day!
I LOVE THIS PLANT!!!!
This is a truly special succulent. These little knobs are so fantastic! Bulbous and yet sensitive---covered in this amazing textured softness---like 'felt' cloth.....And the color.....WOW!  One might just pass this by without seeing the incredible Artistry of nature. Do click to make it larger and see all of these lovely things-of-nature, in all their beauty.
I don't have any new pictures of my Garden because I am unable to get down in there anymore.....
But, I do have lots and lots of pictures from days gone by-----pictures of some of the truly amazing plants and flowers that nature has created.
Here is a succulent just bursting with little flowers---but you might just pass it by; never seeing the complexity of beauty that is right there for the seeing......
You have to look closely.
Here below.....another great Beauty!
Everything about these plants is perfection-in-design!
A closer look below......
And below.....another angle......
Simply Sublime..........

Below, more teeny tiny flowers, and in such abundance when they open up......
These are very tiny flowers, too....This is a Euphorbia---one of about 1,500  Varieties----I only have about 30 or so Varieties in my Garden.......
Below.....another picture of another Flowering Euphorbia.....You can see how tiny the flowers are by the fact that some ones finger is right next to them......
My Garden, in better days.......



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


NOTE: It took me all these many months to figure out how to make my pictures X-Large.......DUH!!!!

NOTE 2:  May 23rd.....My dearest friend Betty G.'s Birthday.....She would have been 94!  So, in honor of her "special" day.....here is a special picture of the two of us....Opening Night on Broadway, November, 1989, of "MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS"....Betty danced on top of a table in this show, and sang her dear heart out---and was pretty astounding, among other wonderful things.....
Better Days, Indeed!


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Friday, May 17, 2013
tragedy


Anyone who has been reading my blog for a good long time, knows that my entire Garden---upstairs and downstairs- underneath-my-house, (started in 1986),  is all Cactus and Succulents.
I fell in love with these unique plants and it became an addiction/obsession and another part of my creative life.....(Better than shoving something up your nose---and so much prettier, too)
Back when I began my blog, in October, 2005, I could still go down into my garden and enjoy the fruits of these amazing beautiful "living sculptures".....I could enjoy the peacefulness and dignity of these truly special and unusual creatures.
I could marvel at the one day-a-year flowers that are created by certain plants......I could enjoy the Hummingbirds and other Birds that came-a-calling----knowing there was good stuff to sup on here.....
It felt good to me that somehow I had created an Oasis for many little creatures, including hundreds of adorable little ancient looking lizards.....
I use to 'work' along side my Gardener---every plant chosen by me----every plant "placed" by me.
A garden of my making.
Because of my Health Issues, I can no longer go down below, into my garden and visit all the plants and be in awe of the fact  that nature created these magical beings.


I can still look at it all from my Deck above.....but, well......it is not the same.
And thank God, my dear gardener is devoted to my Garden, and is devoted to keeping everything looking as wonderful as possible.
I cannot even express how much I deeply appreciate his devotion and love of these rare and unique plants.

Okay.
   
I have been rather haunted by something that happened here in my Garden, about two weeks ago.
I wasn't going to write about it, but it has stayed with me in a way that is quite overwhelming
There are still some unknowns here, so I probably won't go into great great detail,
But.....suffice it to say, it was a tragedy.
A man keeled over and died. 
My gardeners 'helper' who had been working here for around 4 months or so...(My Gardener has worked with me here in my Cactus Garden for over 20 years...) just suddenly fell over, and was gone.
My dear Gardener saw this happen and tried to help him, but he was not able to....
My Gardener called 911....and while still on the phone with them, come upstairs from underneath the house, where the tragedy happened, and rang my doorbell to tell me what had occurred.
He was distraught, beyond words. But he thought his helper was still alive.
It turned out, he wasn't.
Three or four---maybe five Firetrucks showed up,---I'm really still not sure how many there were----and definitely there were two Ambulances, as well. This was all in answer to the 911 call. 
Many many Fireman, Policeman, etc. showed up and the Fireman/Paramedics, established that this man was dead.
An awful horrible truth.
Stunningly Horrible.
My poor dear Gardener was in shock.
True Shock. 

The Fireman couldn't move the helper from the position he was in because they had to wait for the Coroner---which took a couple of hours----the OSHA people were here too, and my Gardener was questioned extensively by the police and the OSHA people, and I was questioned extensively, by the police and the OSHA people, too....
Routine for them, very very odd, (but completely understandable), for me.
They have to ask all the questions they do to make sure nothing criminal occurred---which it didn't, and or, if some rules or ordinances were broken with the working conditions, etc.  That is still under review, so I won't say anymore about that....



Who was this man that died, here in my garden?

Did he have a family? 
Where are they?
How old was he?
Was it a Heart Attack?
We needed to know the answers to the above, and to a hundred other questions
Many of these questions have been answered, but not all of them.


I have lived here in my beloved home since 1964. In all the years I have lived here.....nothing like this has ever happened before.
I have a lot of peoples ashes planted down below,  in my lovely Garden...All people I loved dearly......
But no one, in all these 49 years I have lived here, has ever died here in my garden.

It is haunting.


More To Come........


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Wednesday, May 15, 2013
angelina!

Brava, Angelina Jolie.
The disclosure of your recent double mastectomy in Tuesday's Op-Ed page of the NY Times, is a true inspiration for all women.
(Click on the above to read Angelina's words)

You didn't have to share this with any of us, but by doing so, you have given all of us a great gift. 
If we, as women, are really honest, the idea of losing a breast---let alone two breasts, is a pretty devastating one.
To choose to pro-actively have a double mastectomy takes great courage and extreme bravery, in my opinion---even in the face of the knowledge that one carry's a life threatening cancer gene, which is the case with you.
The percentages almost make it a given, don't they---but even so, this is not an easy decision to make.
(I know one person who took this step quite a few years ago under similar circumstances----She is still alive and well and cancer free I am happy to say.)



There are many things about you sharing your decision that are very meaningful--not the least of which is the fact that your children are first and foremost in your decision.....
Another thing that is so meaningful about you sharing this decision with all of us is, that you have brought home a very important and truly basic fact:
Our womanhood is not defined by our breasts---no matter how much emphasis is put on them by just about everybody.
In the face of a more than probable life threatening illness, it is clear that one's breasts suddenly become a true liability.
(One's life really is more important than one's breasts.)
Still.....it takes great bravery to do what you did, Angelina.....and even more bravery to share it with the world in the hope that it might help other women who are possibly struggling with similar concerns.
It makes one stop and think, 'Gee, if Angelina Jolie can do this.....'



I so admire the way in which you have used your celebrity to make the world a better place for so very many people.

And here, once again, you know that your words will carry a certain weight because you are who you are!

Thank you for your heartfelt  honesty, Angelina.
And, again, I say,
Brava to you....Brava!


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


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Monday, May 06, 2013
in my fathers house

\
This is a song that I wrote quite a few years ago.....I was working on adapting a particular film that I loved, into a Musical Theatre piece. 
This song was written for a specific character, named John Tower, in a very specific scene---so it was always meant for a man to sing in the show.
But clearly, I was writing about what I knew, myself. 

When I presented it in class----This was a class that both Betty G. and I were taking, that was taught by the fantastic Lehman Engel---Musical Conductor extraordinaire, and a composer, himself, and a multiple Tony Award Winner,too.

It was a class for "professionals" who wanted to write specifically for The Musical Theatre---whether for Broadway or for Musical Theatre, anywhere and everywhere. (I had already had some of my Original songs on Broadway, in "Spoon River")....It was a fantastic class, taught by a man with a very long an illustrious history on Broadway.  In fact, he was the Musical Conductor on "Call Me Mister", (1945-46) the show that brought Betty G. to Broadway Stardom, and then films.

The first year of this class was spent learning the "principles" of writing a Musical ----I remember Lehman always saying, there are no rules, but there are 'principals'. 
In our second year, we were to work on material that spoke to us in a very deep and personal way.
Anyway, when I presented this particular song in class, Lehman was very moved by it and his words about my song, moved me.
This little video was taken in my den, while listening to a tape of me singing the song.
I hope you can hear all the words.



My dear sweet late brother Gordon, cried, every time he
 heard this song.
He also said----'If Naomi never did anything else in her life but create "In My Fathers House", that would have been enough'.
Words to cherish......



More To Come.......


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