Monthly Archives: December 2008


You may already know this, but before Hugh Laurie rocketed to superstardom in House on American television, he was half of a comedy duo over in England. Silly stuff.

He also plays a decent piano and guitar. Good singer, too.

Here’s a great video from A Bit of Fry & Laurie (lovingly referred to by the British public as ABOFAL), on the subject of the importance of the English language. I know some people don’t appreciate British humor, but I think it’s hilarious:

(Digression #1) This is hysterical. Michael (RtB poster and drummer friend in Florida) found a picture from what I think was our freshman year, judging from my memory of the dress. This would have been, what…1974-75? Check out my pointless shawl (but I did love it so) and Michael’s towhead blond hair (which, through the miracle of the peroxide weave, I now have myself). Thanks for sending that, Michael! Oh yeah, almost forgot — here it is.

(Digression #2) Last night, the Thriller and I had dinner while watching the news. In an interview, the “plus size” model who won on the reality show America’s Next Top Model said that she’s happy being larger. Larger. She wears a size 10.

Size 10 is now “plus size.” I’m going to shoot myself now.

Wait, check that. I’m actually going to meet my pal Bando for breakfast at Panera. Yay – I haven’t seen her in a long time.

Happy Tuesday. And oh yeah, happy anniversary to the Fink and the Thriller. :-)

As the prophets foretold…

…Phil and Romeo are gone.

Crennel and Savage get the bum's rushIf you root for a consistently losing team, you know the feeling. The only term I can think of for it is “hopeful unease.” Now that Bill Cowher is apparently out of the running to replace Romeo as the head coach of the Browns, I fear that owner Randy Lerner and the Berea Boys will do what they’ve always done: just find whoever is available and offer him a contract.


Of course, every Browns fan with a shred of loyalty will still hope against hope that whoever they do hire will change things around and start winning.

But if history is any indicator, we’re screwed there, too.

I mean, the Browns had Bill Belichick when he sucked as a head coach. They fired Marty Schottenheimer because we didn’t make the Super Bowl (was it bad coaching that caused “The Fumble” and “The Drive?” I think not). The Browns were sold off — lock, stock and barrel — by Art Modell. At least we got to keep the name, colors, mascot and archives. But lately, it seems that’s all we have left.

Still, hope springs eternal in the hearts of those accustomed to saying, “Wait till next year.” In my 30-year tenure as a Browns fan, and 20-some years rooting for the Indians, I can tell you that although it does get old (the constant disappointment), it never really gets old enough to make me throw the teams out the window. I still love them. Say what you want about how college ball is “more exciting” or “done for reasons other than money” (although I could argue that point and win) — I still love pro sports, and I am an unequivocal, shameful contributor to the outrageous salaries its players pull down. Meh. It is what it is.

Hey, I get to see Jakey in exactly one hour. I better get a move on into the showers. Yay!

Go Browns. Go get someone decent this time. Sheesh, Randy.

Image credit: Cleveland Plain Dealer

Various & Sundry IX

Yikes, I overslept this morning. Had a great time with fiends last night, watching The Godfather II. Awesome.

So, Vince Gill’s still got it after all these years. I’m not a huge country music fan (not that country is bad, mind…I just don’t listen to it so I don’t know lots about it), but this voice has impressed me since “Let Me Love You Tonight” from 1980, when he was with Pure Prairie League.

Anyway. He’s been married to Amy Grant (yawn) since 2000, and they’re both still recording, which is cool. I read this morning that Gill was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. Also impressive.

But this is how I remember Vince Gill:

Ten years ago, he released what I think is one of the most beautiful ballads I’ve ever heard. The style reminds me of the music my mother loved — lazy, heartfelt country songs with lots of strings and tinkly piano. Classic stuff.

I carved out a clip of the song if you want to hear it:

If You Ever Have Forever in Mind

(Boom-Boom — is this tune in your rep? If not, it should be! You’d sound great on it.)

I leeched this vid off Gill’s website — looks like Amy is attempting to cross genres again. But Vince’s weightless tenor is still there. Very nice. (Sorry about the commercial…I’m too lazy to edit this morning.)

OK, enough stalling. Time to study. Have a fab Monday.

Fink out.

Photo credit:

Nightmare on Piedmont St.

Years ago, I saw a special on TV — probably on PBS — about the horrifying fire that destroyed the Cocoanut Grove Nightclub in Boston on 28 November, 1942. I can’t remember the name of the TV program, but the memory of how it scared the living bejayzus out of me is still fresh, even 30-some years hence.

The tiny club, with a capacity of 600 between the restaurant and adjoining lounge, was packed that night with close to 1,000 people. Half of them met their end that very evening, in unthinkable ways.

Imagine seeing flames spreading across the ceilings, and smoke filling the small, windowless room. Panicked patrons racing all over the place, flying towards the emergency exits…only to find them all chained shut.

Imagine finally reaching the only emergency exit not chained, and finding (along with a crushing press of hundreds of other hysterical, screaming people trying to push their way out) that the doors only open inward. Towards you.

And this was how they died. According to the Boston Herald reports, when firemen finally broke through the chained emergency exits, they were greeted by a stack of crushed bodies, piled chest-high.

Believed to have been started by a busboy who lit a match in the basement so he could see to change a lightbulb, the fire totally engulfed the cellar in five minutes,

and many people died stacked up at the one stairwell. The exit door at the top of the stairs was bolted shut. The fire spread to the ceiling on the first floor, and totally engulfed it within another five minutes. Many people died trying to exit through the revolving door–pushing from both sides and preventing escape. Some diners in the restaurant never even had a chance to leave their seats, having been asphyxiated by smoke and toxic gases. (Celebrate – The Cocoanut Grove Fire)

I hate, hate, hate revolving doors. Always have, for that very reason. What if I got stuck? What if I were trapped in that little space? I experience a Godfather moment whenever I see one. Shudder. When I was a little girl, I’d walk on tippytoe through them really really fast, for fear that the part of the door behind me was going to creep up and run me over.

I also hate, hate, hate staying on upper floors in a hotel. I always ask for the ground floor, or at least nothing higher than the highest floor a fire department rescue ladder can reach. [I know. I’m weird.]

Anyway, if any good can come out of a tragedy like Cocoanut Grove, it was that fire regulations were tightened up bigtime. No more blocking off or chaining of doors, and no more emergency exits that opened inward. You’d think that something that horrible would teach everyone a lesson. But, alas…not so.

More on that another day.

I can’t believe this week is over. For the past 5 days, we’ve had my nephew staying with us. It’s been great. Jean-Claude and I have lots of common interests, as he’s the full time music director here . (What a gig, lucky dog.) Anyway, he leaves today, and we will miss him.

However, I am excited about having friends over tomorrow night to watch The Godfather, parts II and III, on the new television beast. Fun.

Fink out.

Sad and Sadder

Sad: 1940s and 50s movie star Van Johnson died this month at 92 years old.

Some sundry information:

— He and I share the same birthday.

— The first movie of his I saw was Brigadoon, with Gene Kelly. I was in elementary school, and I saw it on TV one weekend. I was entranced. (Of course, now I’m not so entranced. “Once in the highlands, the highlands of Scotland…” Arf.) He always had that good-natured, boy-next-door, a guy’s-best-friend look. I loved it.

— There’s a great photo feature on him at

— His biggest career mistake: turning down the role of Elliott Ness in the new 1959 TV series, The Untouchables. The role went to Robert Stack instead, and was an instant hit, while Johnson’s career waned in the 60s, and never really recovered.

Sadder: The story of his wife, Evie Wynn Johnson. Wow.

I read her 2004 obit in the London Independent. So little of it was happy, I had trouble getting through it. Here are the main bits:

She married Johnson in Juarez, Mexico, on the very day her divorce from actor (and best friend of Johnson) Keenan Wynn was final.

According to the Independent, Evie was an old woman when she finally broke her silence:

In 1999, when Evie was bitter and near poverty, she finally stated that MGM had persuaded her to marry Johnson, one of their top stars of the Forties. “They needed their ‘big star’ to be married to quell rumours about his sexual preferences,” she said, “and unfortunately, I was ‘It’ – the only woman he would marry.”

The story continues:

Although rumours quickly circulated that the MGM chief Louis B. Mayer had ordered the union [in an effort] to cover up potential scandal, the truth is cloudy. The writer Arthur Laurents states in his memoirs, ‘A sunny male star caught performing in public urinals once too often was ordered by his studio to get married. His best friends, a young comedian and his wife, divorced so that he could marry the wife.’

According to Evie, ‘For my money, Mayer was the worst of the lot, a dictator with the ethics and morals of a cockroach. Mayer decided that unless I married Van Johnson, he wouldn’t renew Keenan’s contract. I was young and stupid enough to let Mayer manipulate me. I divorced Keenan, married Johnson, and thus became another of L.B.’s little victims.’

Man. If all that’s true…talk about sacrificing for your friends. Wynn’s and Evie’s son, actor and producer/director Ned Wynn, wrote a book about the whole torrid situation. I bought it off, and will happily loan it out when I’m done. Say da woid.

Are you having a nice morning? I’m still on vacation. Well, except for the studying/choreographing part. There’s that.


Fink out.