Valley of the Bras

After reading Stephen Rebello’s Dolls! Dolls! Dolls! I was keen to see the movie, again, & had planned watch it on my own on a rainy day but after seeing the excellent ‘Hitch’ which was based on Rebello’s ‘Alfred Hitchcock & the Making of Psycho’ my partner read ‘Dolls! Dolls! Dolls!’ also wanted to see it again. So we dug out the 2 disc ‘Special Edition’ – loaded with great extras. I had reread the novel earlier this year so I was eager to rewatch the film.

Where to start? The movie pales in comparison to the novel & I understand why fans were disappointed in the adaptation that removed 3/4 of the book. The characters are reduced to stick figures – gone is the fact they women live together for a time – in the film there isn’t one scene of the three of them together. Gone is Anne’s friendship with Helen Lawson – in fact Helen is almost excised from the script – Hayward’s performance jump starts the movie whenever she appears.

Don’t get me started the those songs – we get a glimpse of the Lawson’s Broadway show number ‘I’ll Plant My Own Tree’ & it is clear that no one involved in the film every saw, or was involved with a Broadway show. The song is clunky & staged with all the Broadway stage reality of a Busby Berkeley number but absolutely no sparkle. Hayward lip syncs it well enough. No Broadway set designer would ever ever use a mobile that covered the star’s face constantly.

Patty was not pleased to be dubbed & as result released the lp Patty Duke ‘Sings Songs from the Valley of the Dolls.. Yes, I have it thanks to iTunes & it fits perfectly with the music misfire of the movie. It did nothing to enhance her reputation as a singer 🙂 Nor did the film do much to enhance her reputation as an actress. In fact none of the cast’s career potential was increased by the film. Such is the harsh reality of life in the valley of the dolls.

I felt for Barbra Parkins when I saw those beige ‘office’ costumes when they matched the beige every wall she stood in front of. I laughed at the fab cosmetics commercial montage – a product supposed for any woman while she looks like an alien. But as she climbs the ladder to success her costumes do improve even as they remain impractical. 

Patty Duke bravely & brazenly barrels though Neely without taking a breath. Her few scenes with Hayward are rich – Duke noisily claws the scenery, Hayward demolishes it by simply putting on a scarf. Yes, this movie needed more Lawson. Sharon Tate is nearly invisible as her story line is gutted by the screenplay. 

How these actresses where treated by the industry is worse than how the characters they play are treated by the industry. I really think the guys who made Feud should consider this Making of Valleys as their next project. Oh yes my title ‘Valleys of the Bras.’ There is nothing lurid in the film but Parkins, Duke & Tate, at different points in the film, spend an inordinate amount of time emoting in bra & half-slip. 

Ready

it turns into a trade

this is what I want

this is what it’ll cost

is that the price I’m willing to pay

is the sacrifice worth the result

<>

why can’t I have it my way

is that too much to ask

I’m willing to compromise some

but when is enough enough

can I say no 

to losing more of myself 

to gain something I expect to get

by saying yes to

what I want to say no to

<>

can I say yes and no 

at the same time

how will you do

when I say yes I want what you offer

but not with the conditions you offer it with

do I want to give up

the comfort of abstractions

for the sake of superficiality of the concrete

if I’m ready for my close up

do I want to stand in front of the camera

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Liszt

I fell in love with Liszt, before even knowing who he was, thanks to a cartoon – Woody Woodpecker (I think) in which they were moving a piano down a mountain while Woody played it – the truck went out of control while he was playing & with each turn the keyboard would get more splayed out & the music wold get more frantic. The piece was the Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=23&v=R1laz-7C2KM

Over the years I have built up a fair collection: Rhapsodies for Orchestra; Orchestral Works: 7 cds; Hungarian Rhapsodies complete; Spanish/Rumanian Rhapsodies; Opera Transcriptions; Thiollier: Sonata/Mephisto; Beethoven Transcriptions; an Mp3 collection: Peter Katin/ Yudina/Johannsen/ Vazaonyi/ with Beethoven’s Music for Two Piano.

At first I has assumed Liszt only wrote piano music & only those Rhapsodies & of course the Mephisto Waltz. So finding his orchestral works was most welcome though it doesn’t have the over-the-top energy of his piano music. Then I came across his transcriptions of operas & of Beethoven’s symphonies. What better combination is there than Beethoven & Liszt: both over-the-top romantics & in Liszt case, pyrotechnic show-offs.

I had some of these as lps to cds transfers: Peter Katin & Balint Vazsonyl – were favourites of mine that I decided to see if I could replace my originals & found them both on iTunes. The Vazonyl take on the Hungarian Rhapsodies was the first I’d heard & remains my favourite for its attack. In searching these out I came across a set of his work for organ! Sweet, sonorous & more meditative than I had expected Liszt to be.

I never heard his name pronounced when I first discovered him so I would say it as Lizzt – a friend of mine who studied music didn’t know who I was talking about then pointed out that the z is silent. Same with Chop-in 🙂

Fortunate

‘I’m looking for a CD by Los Grasios.’

The clerk typed the name into the computer. ‘Is that l-o-s ?’

‘I think so.’ I had seen their video on TV a few nights before. Grazing from channel to channel, hoping to find something to hold my interest. It was the Latino network. The group was four dark swarthy adult males – a rarity in pop anywhere it seemed to me – and the song full of energy in a language I didn’t understand. I’d scribbled the name down when it flashed on the screen at the end of the video.

‘Nope. Not here. Let’s try l-a-s. Nope. Anything else to go on?’

‘The song was called Fortunata or Fortunatosa. Something like that.’

The clerk tapped that in. ‘Hmmm. Looks like we have lots to choose from now. Was it Fortunate Adam?’

“No.”

  “Fortunate Encountre?”

“No.”

  “Fortunate For Me?”

“No.”

“Fortunate Son? Fortunate Sunrise? Fortunate In Love? Fortunate Sea? Fortunate Moon? I See a Fortune in Your Eyes?’

‘No to all of those.’

‘There are nearly 200 numbers with Fortune something in the title. Should I go through them all?’

‘Would you?’

‘No. I was just joking. Now, you are sure of the name?’

I took out the paper I had dashed the name on and passed to the clerk.

‘Hmm. Let’s try Los Girios. You a fan of Latino music?’

‘Just starting.’

‘Well! Looks like we have a hit. Hijo Afortunado’

I followed her to the far end of store to the South American aisle.

‘Here it is.’ she pulled out a couple of CD’s by the band and looked at them. ‘Looks interesting. Not the usual stuff people want here. If you like these guys you may enjoy Mercedes Sosa.’ She handed me the cds.

‘Yes, this is them. How do you know Sosa is similar?’

‘Just a stab. She sings on one of the cuts with them, and she is huge. Out sells Eglasias.’

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November 15: Hot Damn! It’s a Queer Slam – 8p.m. – Buddies In Bad Time Theatre, Toronto
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every Tuesday

October 5/6/7 – Gratitude Round-Up

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October scary poetry every Wednesday & Thursday

June  – Capturing Fire 2019 – Washington D.C.  capfireslam.org 

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