Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Jackson Summation in One Paragraph

I am convinced more than ever that after Michael Jackson was burned during the filming of his Pepsi commerical, he became addicted to painkillers. He then continued to have plastic surgery only to receive the painkillers, which ultimately, consistently and prevantly, affected his reality. From there on in the optimum MJ - of the "Billie Jean" and "Beat It" era - was gone.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

"Carl Reiner's Big Break": By Susan King for THE LOS ANGELES TIMES


It was a tip from his older brother that helped steer the writer-director-actor toward a show business career. At 87, he has two new books out.
October 21, 2009

If it wasn't for Carl Reiner's older brother Charlie, "Your Show of Shows" would have been missing one of its funniest regulars, there would be no "2,000 Year-Old Man" routines with Mel Brooks, and no classic sitcom series "The Dick Van Dyke Show."

Seventy-one years ago, Reiner was working for $10 a week as a shipping clerk in the garment industry in New York.

"When I graduated from high school, I graduated with a 73 average," explains Reiner on a recent afternoon in his homey two-story place in Beverly Hills, settling into a favorite pastime: telling an amusing anecdote. "You needed an 80 to get into college, so I went to work."

He had graduated early from high school because he had skipped a grade when he was young. "It's the worst thing you can do for a young kid, to skip a whole year," Reiner says. "I missed the first day of algebra and never found out what 'X' was. So I was feeling dumb for the rest of high school."

After working as a shipping clerk, he took over his brother's job helping to fix machines for the millinery trade. "I went down to $8 a week, and I worked for more than a year there."

One day, Charlie read in the New York Daily News about a free dramatic workshop in New York sponsored by the Works Progress Administration and told his baby brother to give it a try.

"He always knew I was funny," says Reiner. "I had acted in the third grade and the principal sat next to my mother and she said to her, 'He's the best one.' I could always make friends laugh."

So Reiner worked during the day and at night he would travel from his home in the Bronx to acting class in Manhattan. After six months, he got a job acting at the old Gilmore Theater on 64th Street off Central Park. "We got no money," says Reiner. "Six days a week we did plays like 'The Bishop Misbehaves' and 'The Family Upstairs.'"

Twenty years later, he wrote about theater in his semi-autobiographical novel "Enter Laughing," about a young man trying to break into theater.

Reiner even had to buy a tux and tails for his role in "The Bishop." But he had to borrow the $10 for the outfit.

"My mother kept those tails," Reiner says. "When Alan Arkin did 'Enter Laughing' on Broadway, he used those tails. They didn't fit him, which made it funnier."

Ironically, Reiner didn't do comedy in his earlier days. He recalls the old English woman who taught him acting at the WPA classes.

"The only thing I remember her saying is, 'Your assignment is to learn Queen Gertrude's speech from 'Hamlet.'"

Reiner breaks into a comic British accent and recites the entire, and quite lengthy, speech. He's astonished when he is letter-perfect. "I swear to God, I have never said that whole thing in 70 years," he proclaims. "I remember the first three lines. I'm glad to know that I can do it at 87."

Besides his brother Charlie, Reiner admits that a visit to the restroom at the Gilmore Theater also changed his career. After a performance, Reiner decided to use the restroom in the main area of the theater. A man standing next to him commented on his performance.

"'You were very good in the play,'" Reiner recalled. "'Would you like to go to summer theater?' If I hadn't gone to that urinal, my career might not have started. It was the Rochester Summer Theater. I went there for two years, nothing per week but room and board. But my father used to send me a dollar for a haircut."

He finally got to do some comedy before he went into the service when he worked at the Allaben Acres resorts in the Adirondacks in 1942.

"I was the straight man for the comedian, and doing sketches too. I also handled the game nights and the jazz concerts."

That is also where he met his wife of 65 years, Estelle, who died last year at age 94.

"She was an assistant scenic designer there. We spent the whole summer together, then I went on to the Army and we married while I was in the Army in Washington, D.C.

Reiner looks at the massively large TV screen in the living room.

"I put that in, but my wife never got to see it," he says wistfully. "The last year of her life, she didn't come down. She was upstairs in bed. I bought this for movies. I wasn't going out during that year."

Now he and Brooks, whose wife, Anne Bancroft, died four years ago, watch movies on DVD on that TV every night. But he's far from retired. Reiner is still acting -- he was on the season finale of "House" in May and is looking forward to a guest shot on CBS' "Two and a Half Men."

He is also constantly writing and has two new books out, "Tell Me Another Scary Story . . . But Not Too Scary!" for kids and what he describes as a "novellelah" called "Just Desserts."

In the latter, he reprises the character of romance novelist Nat Noland, whom he introduced in his 2006 book "NNNNN: A Novel."

In this comedic tale, Nat, a Jewish atheist, decides to create an e-mail address to the Almighty and send God a list of ideas of punishments, or "just desserts," for people's indiscretions. Much to his surprise, he receives an answer from God.

Reiner has a lot in common with Nat. "I am an atheist," Reiner declares. "I have a very different take on who God is. Man invented God because he needed him. God is us."


Contact Susan King:

Copyright © 2009, The Los Angeles Times

Vic Mizzy: Music Theme Writer for "The Addams Family" and "Green Acres"

October 21, 2009

Vic Mizzy, whose infernally catchy themes for the television comedies "The Addams Family" and "Green Acres" are as entrenched in the memories of Americans who grew up in the 1960s as any pop tune or protest anthem, died on Saturday at his home in Los Angeles. He was 93.

The cause was heart failure, said his daughter Lynn Mizzy Jonas.

In a musical career that stretched over eight decades, from radio shows to "Spider-Man 2," Mr. Mizzy wrote pop hits, novelty songs and movie scores, but his most enduring compositions were the two humorous theme songs he created in the mid-1960s. Asked in 1964 by his friend David Levy, the head of programming for NBC, to provide music for a new comedy called "The Addams Family," based on Charles Addams's sinister cartoons, Mr. Mizzy came up with a da-da-da-dum beat followed by two finger snaps.

The parody of beatnik ennui fit with the show’s satirical, proto-hipster humor. The theme, sung by Mr. Mizzy, was so distinctive that it remained popular far beyond the series’s two seasons.

Just one year later, Mr. Mizzy wrote the theme song for "Green Acres," a comedy about Manhattanites returning to the land, which ran from 1965 to 1971. Once again he combined a gallumphing rhythm (similar to the "Addams Family" opening but faster) with lyrics that stayed in the mind:

Green Acres is the place to be

Farm living is the life for me

Land spreading out so far and wide

Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

As with the "Addams Family" theme, Mr. Mizzy was also involved in the direction of the title sequence.

Victor Mizzy was born on Jan. 9, 1916, in Brooklyn and grew up in Crown Heights. He attended Alexander Hamilton High School and New York University, where he wrote songs and sketches for campus shows. He later wrote for radio and Broadway with an early collaborator, Irving Taylor. Their pop songs included "Three Little Sisters" and "Take It Easy."

During and after World War II, in which he served in the Navy, Mr. Mizzy and a new partner, Manny Curtis, wrote a succession of songs , including "Pretty Kitty Blue Eyes," "My Dreams Are Getting Better All the Time" and "The Whole World Is Singing My Song," that were performed by the top singers of the time.

Mr. Mizzy married the radio singer Mary Small, who performed many of his songs publicly for the first time, and the couple had two children. The marriage ended in divorce, as did a later marriage to Shirley Leeds. Besides his daughter Lynn, he is survived by a brother, Sol Mizzy; and two grandchildren. Another daughter, Patty Mizzy Keeler, died in 1995.

Before he worked on "The Addams Family" and "Green Acres," Mr. Mizzy had written music for other television shows, including "Shirley Temple's Storybook," "The Richard Boone Show" and "Kentucky Jones." His breakthrough film score was for the William Castle horror movie "The Night Walker" in 1964; his many later scores included those for the popular Don Knotts vehicles "The Ghost and Mr. Chicken," "The Reluctant Astronaut" and "How to Frame a Figg."

Mr. Mizzy continued working well into his 80s, releasing a compilation of his work, "Songs for the Jogging Crowd," on his own label, Vicster Records, in 2003.

The director Sam Raimi asked Mr. Mizzy to write a theme for the 2004 film "Spider-Man 2," which was eventually used on the DVD release.

None of his output, however, could overshadow those snapping fingers in "The Addams Family." And that was fine with Mr. Mizzy. "That's why I'm living in Bel Air," he said last year on the CBS program "Sunday Morning." "Two finger snaps and you live in Bel Air."

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Classic Reunion Images of "Happy Days" and "Batman"

It's nice to know that some TV casts still get together - long after the original runs of their shows (which see "reunion" photos to the right of cast members from "Batman" (ABC, 1966-68) and "Happy Days" (ABC, 1973-1983).

Friday, October 16, 2009

YOU Make Your Own "Luck"

According to Richard Wiseman, those who think they're unlucky should change their outlook and discover how to generate good fortune.

See essay below, which was published by Mr. Wiseman on January 9, 2003.

Have a great day!

Herbie J


A decade ago, I set out to investigate luck. I wanted to examine the impact on people's lives of chance opportunities, lucky breaks and being in the right place at the right time. After many experiments, I believe that I now understand why some people are luckier than others and that it is possible to become luckier.

To launch my study, I placed advertisements in national newspapers and magazines, asking for people who felt consistently lucky or unlucky to contact me. Over the years, 400 extraordinary men and women volunteered for my research from all walks of life: the youngest is an 18-year-old student, the oldest an 84-year-old retired accountant.

Jessica, a 42-year-old forensic scientist, is typical of the lucky group. As she explained: "I have my dream job, two wonderful children and a great guy whom I love very much. It's amazing; when I look back at my life, I realise I have been lucky in just about every area."

In contrast, Carolyn, a 34-year-old care assistant, is typical of the unlucky group. She is accident-prone. In one week, she twisted her ankle in a pothole, injured her back in another fall and reversed her car into a tree during a driving lesson. She was also unlucky in love and felt she was always in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Over the years, I interviewed these volunteers, asked them to complete diaries, questionnaires and intelligence tests, and invited them to participate in experiments. The findings have revealed that although unlucky people have almost no insight into the real causes of their good and bad luck, their thoughts and behaviour are responsible for much of their fortune.

Take the case of chance opportunities. Lucky people consistently encounter such opportunities, whereas unlucky people do not. I carried out a simple experiment to discover whether this was due to differences in their ability to spot such opportunities.

I gave both lucky and unlucky people a newspaper, and asked them to look through it and tell me how many photographs were inside. On average, the unlucky people took about two minutes to count the photographs, whereas the lucky people took just seconds. Why? Because the second page of the newspaper contained the message:

"Stop counting. There are 43 photographs in this newspaper."

This message took up half of the page and was written in type that was more than 2 inches high. It was staring everyone straight in the face, but the unlucky people tended to miss it and the lucky people tended to spot it.

For fun, I placed a second large message halfway through the newspaper:

"Stop counting. Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win $250."

Again, the unlucky people missed the opportunity because they were still too busy looking for photographs.

Personality tests revealed that unlucky people are generally much more tense than lucky people, and research has shown that anxiety disrupts people's ability to notice the unexpected. In one experiment, people were asked to watch a moving dot in the centre of a computer screen. Without warning, large dots would occasionally be flashed at the edges of the screen. Nearly all participants noticed these large dots.

The experiment was then repeated with a second group of people, who were offered a large financial reward for accurately watching the centre dot, creating more anxiety. They became focused on the centre dot and more than a third of them missed the large dots when they appeared on the screen. The harder they looked, the less they saw.

And so it is with luck - unlucky people miss chance opportunities because they are too focused on looking for something else. They go to parties intent on finding their perfect partner and so miss opportunities to make good friends. They look through newspapers determined to find certain types of job advertisements and as a result miss other types of jobs. Lucky people are more relaxed and open, and therefore see what is there rather than just what they are looking for.

My research revealed that lucky people generate good fortune via four basic principles. They are skilled at creating and noticing chance opportunities, make lucky decisions by listening to their intuition, create self-fulfilling prophesies via positive expectations, and adopt a resilient attitude that transforms bad luck into good.

I wondered whether these four principles could be used to increase the amount of good luck that people encounter in their lives. To find out, I created a "luck school" - a simple experiment that examined whether people's luck can be enhanced by getting them to think and behave like a lucky person.

I asked a group of lucky and unlucky volunteers to spend a month carrying out exercises designed to help them think and behave like a lucky person. These exercises helped them spot chance opportunities, listen to their intuition, expect to be lucky, and be more resilient to bad luck.

One month later, the volunteers returned and described what had happened. The results were dramatic: 80 per cent of people were now happier, more satisfied with their lives and, perhaps most important of all, luckier. While lucky people became luckier, the unlucky had become lucky. Take Carolyn, whom I introduced at the start of this article. After graduating from "luck school", she has passed her driving test after three years of trying, was no longer accident-prone and became more confident.

In the wake of these studies, I think there are three easy techniques that can help to maximise good fortune:

Unlucky people often fail to follow their intuition when making a choice, whereas lucky people tend to respect hunches. Lucky people are interested in how they both think and feel about the various options, rather than simply looking at the rational side of the situation. I think this helps them because gut feelings act as an alarm bell - a reason to consider a decision carefully.

Unlucky people tend to be creatures of routine. They tend to take the same route to and from work and talk to the same types of people at parties. In contrast, many lucky people try to introduce variety into their lives. For example, one person described how he thought of a colour before arriving at a party and then introduced himself to people wearing that colour. This kind of behaviour boosts the likelihood of chance opportunities by introducing variety.

Lucky people tend to see the positive side of their ill fortune. They imagine how things could have been worse. In one interview, a lucky volunteer arrived with his leg in a plaster cast and described how he had fallen down a flight of stairs. I asked him whether he still felt lucky and he cheerfully explained that he felt luckier than before. As he pointed out, he could have broken his neck.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Soul Evolution Revelation

It's not so much that the "entities" or "beings" that sometime greet us in the "tunnel" are our "ancestors" or even who we were "before" - as with regard to reincarnation. But rather they ARE US and WE ARE THEM. "They" merely "appear" in the tunnel as a reflection of us and to reflect WITH us on OUR combined journeys to Earth. Herbie J may have been "Henry" or "Henrietta" before. But when Herbie J leaves the Earth realm and travels through the tunnel, Henry and Henrietta will be there as OTHER PARTS of who he is opposed to individual incarnations of who he was before.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Live Fully TODAY

I'm wondering what you would do if you only had one week to live? How high would you jump? To whom would you reveal your secret crush? Where would you travel? What would you do that you've always wanted to do and never thought you had the time to do? How would you live, man? How would you LIVE?!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Love Recalling

Remember: Before you were born, you, your Mom, your Dad - your entire family - along with all your friends and co-workers - and everyone you met or will meet - all decided together that you would come into the world when you perform what you've already do what you've yet to do...and most Love.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Make It Out For Whatever Amount You Want - and BELIEVE

Friday, October 09, 2009

I Honor The Life God Gave Me Through My Parents.

I make every attempt to live with as much loving-kindness as honor the legacy of love that my Mom & Dad left behind. In this sense, "Honor Thy Mother And Father" takes on a new & wonderful meaning for me - to honor the life that God gave me through my wonderful parents. And gratefully, you, dear friend, are a part of that life. Thank you Everyone - for everything.

Celebrate Your Life By Shining Your Light

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our Light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. You're playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

- This inspiring quote by Marianne Williamson is from her book, A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles, Harper Collins, 1992. From Chapter 7, Section 3 (Pg. 190-191).

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

My Last Two Facebook "Status Updates" - Come Join Me.

"Herbie J Pilato wonders why anyone would want to be with someone who doesn't want to be with them. Respect yourself, Peeps - and move on."

"Herbie J Pilato now has instant oat meal every morning...mixed with a dash of honey and Apple Cider (from Kelly's Farms in Hilton, NY)."

Make Each Day A Holiday...and Cherish The Real Ones

Please, Everyone - celebrate Halloween on Halloween, Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving and Christmas on Christmas...let each holiday have its day... ignore the Christmas decorations and sales at all the retail stores and anywhere else until the day after Thanksgiving...wait to put up your tree until at least one week after Thanksgiving. And just live and embrace your life as each day arrives....make each day a holiday and celebration of life...and please don't rush through it.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

A Tribute To Muffin Finucane

A few weeks ago, while in Rochester throughout August, my good friends Kathe and Larry Finucane, and their young son Connor, were kind enough to throw for me a "welcome home" (for the summer) party.

Naturally, I was very touched and honored by such a gathering. What made it even more meaningful is that Kathe and Larry are two of the busiest people I know, not just because they are parents of a very active young son. But also, too, because their own lives are so full. And yet they took time out of their busy lives to have this gathering.

In any case, the party was great. They have a beautiful home nestled in one of the most elegant sections of Irondequoit. Their street is lined with trees and lamp posts...every home has a porch...and every neighbor says hello. It's like the most sophisticated and yet down-to-earth "Mayberry" atmosphere ever.

But Kathe, Larry and Connor are blessed in so many ways - and I, of course, am blessed to have them as my friends. And I've always known this, and certainly something like having a party thrown for me is clear evidence of such a honorale friendship. But it wasn't until I took just a small break from the party (which was taking place outside on their beautiful back patio) to get a ginger ale from the Finucane's fridge inside the house - did I truly realize how blessed I was to know them.

As I walked from the outdoor patio, through the glass doors that lead to their kitchen, I turned to my left - and there was Muffin - their sweet tiny dog.

Muffin had been in their family for more than a decade. In recent years, his health had been failing. And when I saw him this summer day, he had now been afflicted with arthritis, and he was blind in one eye. Muffin also had many other physical ills.

Still, his little heart was full of vigar. And when I reached down to play with him, his spirit jumped, even if his tiny sweet, weak body could not.

I knew I had to spend some time with Muffin. I was compelled to spend some time withh Muffin.

So, I put down my ginger ale - and as the party bustled along outside with Kathe's extended family - who have now also become my good friends - I cuddled and talked and played and prayed with Muffin.

I laughed - and he "laughed." I chatted in that "doggie talk" that people use - and he responded.

And we continued this playful communication for a "good" fifteen minutes. I then told Muffin I had to get back to the party. He nearly nodded like he understood - and I went back through the kitchen doors and out onto the patio - and rejoined my human friends...leaving a smiling, happy Muffin inside to rest up from our visit.

These moments are fresh in mind - as Kathe has just relayed to me that Muffin has passed on. He was in so much pain, that it was recommended that he be "put to sleep." It was clearly a difficult decision for Kathe, Larry and especially young Connor, but it was the best decision. And as Kathe said to me, they made the decision "as a family."

Certainly, anyone who knows Kathe, understands that she has had her fill of loss in her life. And she deals with frequent loss with her position as a Grief Counselor for Holy Seplecure Cemetary.

And yet, loss is loss - and losing little Muffin is not any less or more a loss than losing a human loved one.

And yet, too, gain is also gain. And just as we gain so much from each other whenever we offer or share a joyful human word...or a sweet caress...or a kind or generous gesture...we also gain so much when we share such sweet moments with beloved pets. Just as I gained so much in those few short moments with Muffin...moments that I will get to relive again and again in Heaven...when I leave this world. Moments that Muffin is right now living again and again in Heaven.

Little Muffin feels no pain...walks upright and straight...and now feels forever those "cuddles" that we shared.

Back on Earth, my short happy memory of Muffin is added to my reminders and remainders of love...while Kathe, Larry and Connor have so many more happy Muffin memories, which they also get to keep here (and "there") forever.

Of course "dog" spelled backwards is "God."

And of course "Muffin" spelled any which way is "Love."

God used Muffin to bring so much love to Kathe, Larry and Conner...a giant bin of Love that will be theirs for all time.

And in the process, somehow God instructed Muffin, by way of Kathe, Larry and Connor, to share a little piece of their Heaven with me.

And I am all the more blessed because of it.

Bless you back forever, Kathe, Larry, Connor - and Muffin.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

My Mom's Message To Me Via My Friends & "Ricci's Restaurant"

I went out to dinner last night with a family I have known for years. We had originally planned on another venue, but ultimately decided upon Ricci's Restaurant - in Greece, New York.

Automatically, when I think of Ricci's, I think of family priorities, simple treasures and community - many of the reasons that Rochester will always remain a special part of my life - whether I live in L.A., Florida or a little village in Italy.

Ricci's is also special because, after my Dad passed away (in 1995), I used to take my Mom there all the time. It's simply offers a warm and "comforting" atmosphere. And the food is pretty good, too.

In any case, after arriving home late (following more visiting at a friend's home), I tossed and turned in my sleep. I'm somewhat of a light sleeper, in general, but last night it seemed it more difficult to rest.

Being at Ricci's reminded me so much of my Mom. And when I think of my Mom, I think mostly of the legacy of love that she left me - and everyone who knew her. And how I make every attempt to have that legacy of love live within me everyday.

When I think of my Mom, I also, unfortunately, think about my last moments with her. And the (false) guilt I experience in recalling my last visit to her apartment, how she wanted me to stay over - how I left - how she called me to come back - how I told her that I would see her in the morning. And how she died the next day, with me never seeing or talking with her ever again. (At least, in this world.)

No matter how many nights and years I was there for her, previously, leaving her that night - when she may have needed me most - still haunts me.

"Herbie J," she began to ask, "Are you going to stay with me tonight?"

"I can't, Mom. I have to go home."

"Fine," she complained. "Then I'll probably die tonight."

That's what she said. "Then I'll probably die tonight."

And she would say that alot - whenever I would leave her.

But admittingly, she said it a little bit different that night.

But I still left her.

And then when I got home, she called me.

"Herbie J - are you going to come back and visit me?"

"Mom," I said. "I was just there - and I was with you all weekend. Nellie (my Mom's dear sweet aid) will be there at 9:30 to put you to bed, and everything will be fine."

Nellie told me the next day that she indeed came in at 9:30 PM on the nose the night before. And that my Mom happily relayed to her the following:

"Herbie J said you were going to be here at 9:30 PM, and here you are."

That's how much my Mom trusted me - and listened to me - all of which increases the bouts of "false guilt" I've experienced in "abandoning" her that final night.

Even though I know in my heart of hearts that I did everything I could for her - for years - while she was "here," leaving her that night - when she begged me to stay, and then opting to go home instead...well, sometimes it's just too much for my heart to take.

As it was last night...when I tossed and turned in my sleep.

But then at one point, I sat up. And I reached for my Mom's green rosary beads that I still carry with me - and keep close to my bed every night. And I prayed:

"Mom - please talk to me. Please let me know that staying with you that night wouldn't have changed a thing...that you would have still gone on to Heaven...where you are now shining your Light. And that it was all meant to happen just like it did. That it was simply you're time to leave this world. Please, Mom...tell me this is how it is."

After I completed the prayer, I felt compelled to reach for my iPhone, which I also keep by my bed. I touched the main control, it illuminated, and there, above the now fully-charged "green bar" banner, was the time:

It was 4:07 AM.

I then checked my messages, on AOL, and Facebook. The last message on Facebook was titled, "Mother to Son" in the subject line, and it was from a good friend who I have known for years. I have copied that message below, though without revealing my friend's identity. Suffice it to say, I have known her since I was a child - and she knew my Mom - and my Mom's heart.

Here now is the message my friend felt compelled to write to me (at approximately 11:30 PM - right when I came home), and which I felt compelled to read only a few hours later (at 4:07 AM - after praying to my Mom for a "message"):


"I want to share something special with you. My youngest son is very close to me. He is in all sense of the word...a 'momma's boy.' Sometimes I think he feels I'm going to abandon him like his father did. So he constantly asks me if I would stand by him...through thick and thin. I told him that even if I ever became homeless, I would still have him by my side. You can sense how much this means to him by the way he melts into my arms and relaxes.

"We watched 'Oprah' together tonight. It was about people adopting children from another country. It was very touching. Then there was a portion of the show dedicated to the Osmonds. It showcased the entire family. It started with pictures of the two parents...the nine kids...the 55 kids...etc., etc. Donny and Marie talked about no matter how busy and hectic their lives are...they all remain close. And they both said it was a testament to their parents. The legacy they left behind. How beautiful that was.

"Then we watched the end of 'Forest Gump'....he saw the bond that Forest grew with Jenny and his new found sound Forest. And we both cried.

"He is sick so I gave him medicine and put him to bed.

"Herbie J - he told me the most touching thing tonight. He said, 'Thank you, Mommy for loving me and taking care of me when I'm sick. Thank you for holding me when I need you to hold me. For loving me no matter what.' Then he asked me to tell him a story.

"We do this from time to time. I think of a story and make it up as I go along. I tried to combine a little of everything we shared tonight. So I started to tell him this:

"Once upon a time there was a little boy that noone paid attention to. He lived in an orphanage. (that was one of the stories showcased on Oprah). Noone would pay attention to him therefore he never really learned to speak. One day this lady came to the orphanage and notice this little boy in the corner of the room, tied to his bed.

"She went to him and noticed he was feverish. She put her hand on his forehead and looked into his eyes and said, 'Sweetheart...are you okay?'

"He looked at her and was a bit scared as noone ever touched him like that, let alone talk to him. She asked him again and he grunted. Every question she asked he would just grunt. Then she told one of the caretakers to give him something for his fever and left.

"That night the little boy woke up in the middle of the night and said a little prayer to God, whom he had learned about by listening to the caretakers talking to the other children. He asked God to please have the lady come back and to give him the ability to utter more than a grunt.

"The next day the lady came back after working all day. She went over to the little boy and smiled like an angel. She smiled at him as she touched his little forehead and she kept caressing him. She said "Hi honey. I see that your fever is no longer high. I am very happy. I would love to take care of a little boy like you for the rest of your life. Would you like that?" The little boy looked at her and uttered with all his might "YES!". This was the first word he had ever said. Then she said "Would you like me to take you home with me?". Again he uttered, 'YES!'

"So she took him home and loved and cared for him. He learned to walk, talk, go to school, make friends.

"His mother raised him to be a kind, loving, compassionate man. He went to college and became an author. And his mom aged and became ill. And this boy who became a man began to return the favor to this kind woman who took the time to care for him. He sat with her when she was ill, took her for rides in the country and loved his mother until the day she passed.

"My son was teary-eyed when I told him this story.

"And it dawned on me that this child grew into pretty much the man you were with your Mother."


Thank you, my dear friend, for relaying this message to me. Thank you, as well, to my other dear friends for being a part of my Mom's plan - to choose Ricci's Restaurant (when we had initially planned otherwise), which opened my memories to my Mom.

And thank you, Mom - dear "St. Frances of Turri" - for finally putting to rest - for good - any false guilt for leaving you when I thought you would have needed me the most.

I now know you're fine - and that everything happens the way it's supposed to happen.

I will sleep better tonight - and forever - with your shining "night 'Light'" - visible from Heaven - in the hearts of my friends, at Ricci's - and everywhere.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Art's Role In Life

Art is life. Life was created for art. Art was created for life. All life is art. We paint pictures, film them, take them, envision them, embrace them, stare at them, analyze them, and write about them. We write about how different they are from one another, just as different as we, ourselves, are from one another.

If a picture paints a thousand words? Of course, it does. There's no" ifs," "ands" or "buts" about it, most probably one million more or so, depending on the painter, the picture-maker, photographer, director, and the model of life. Yet again, let's keep our facts straight: the model of life is art, which may also be the name of the artist, who's first name may be "Art" and last name may be "Tist" – all depending on how you look at it, which is an art in and of itself.

What tangibles remain most of a culture, decade after decade, century after century? Certainly not the people themselves. They are gone. Certainly not their souls, for they have traveled elsewhere, to another realm. Not their philosophies itself, but the writing down of them, and the interpretations, be they for the canvas, the stage, the plasma or redundant big widescreen. Be they divided into acts, or frames, or colors by numbers. However they be categorized by the interpreter, somehowthe art works out – especially and collectively for the appreciator, or curator, who takes it all down for all, and hides it away, guarding it from sand and sea so that one day it is uncovered as the representatives of peoples. The people's representatives, which can then be twisted to fit the needs of the philosopher, which we ultimately become, because of someone’s art – possibly our own.

Suffice it to create, the only remaining tangible of any culture, is its art. Art's role in life, therefore, hair-go (approximately around the age of 41), is it's ability to be passed on, literally, figuratively, physically, and to some extent, metaphysically, depending on the receiver, be they transient, medium, prolific, or small.

Cearly, with nay a painted brush, quilted pen, director's hand or helm, or thespian's rule or blur, art's role in life is large, as in living.

ABC Saves TV. Again.

Let's face it: Though I worked for NBC in the "Big '80s," and then wrote about it twenty years later in my newest book (NBC & ME: My Life As A Page In A Book), ABC has always been one of my favorite networks. Most of my books have been about ABC shows ("Bewitched," "Kung Fu," "The Six Million Dollar Man" and "The Bionic Woman" and "Life Goes On"); it was the new kid on the block when it debuted decades ago; it gave us all those wonderful "Tuesday" and "Wednesday" "Movies of the Week."

Of course, too, many of my other favorite weekly television programs have aired on ABC, everything from yesterday's "That Girl," "The Odd Couple," "The Brady Bunch," "The Partridge Family," and "Love, American Style," to today's "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition" and "Lost."

That isn't to say that I have not enjoyed programming through the years from the other major two networks, because I have...including CBS's classic all-time favorite Saturday night delivery of "All in the Family," "M*A*S*H," "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," and "The Carol Burnett Show." TV really doesn't get much better than that. Add to that list of classics iconic shows like NBC's "The Golden Girls" and the relatively new "30 Rock," and TV becomes the farthest thing from a vast wasteland.

That said, ABC still remains, well, special...especially when it keeps on presenting all-star, top-notch entertainment like it's new Wednesday night comedy block of "Hank," "The Middle," "Modern Family," and "Courgar Town."

It's TV nights like this on the "alphabet network" that allows me to forgive its way too-early cancellation of pristine programs like "Samantha Who?" and "Pushing Daisies" (not to mention "Open All Night" - from years ago - and the poor decision to let "Wonder Woman" transfer to CBS - and the contemporary format and leaving behind the brilliant "1940s" timeline. But that's a whole other post).

For now, I would simply like to applaud ABC's new med-week laugh fest:

* "Hank" brings Frasier's Kelsey Grammer back into the fold - and it's a nice surprise to see a good somewhat old-fashioned TV comedy (after his unsuccessfull, but valiant attempt back into TV with "Back to You" on Fox a few seasons ago). Some are calling this a modern take on "Green Acres," and that may be true to some extent. However, where it was Eddie Albert's ("Oliver") choice to leave the city life for simpler living on "Green," it's not so with Grammer's "Hank." He loses his massive corporate position - and is forced into a "regular" life. Either way, I like "Hank" and his show. Grammer's a pro - and he'll make this work.

* "The Middle" stars "Everybody Loves Raymond's" Patricia Keaton as kind of decade-later "Maclom in the Middle" mom. The show is witty, visual-pleasing, and funny. And the cast is extremely talented and likable. ABC should stay right with this sweet and smart show.

* "Modern Family" features another stellar cast, headed by "Married With Children's" ED O'Neill as the matriach of a large, blended family. If only they could cool it with the mid-break documentary-style storytelling, and just stick to the "scripted" aspect of the show. In any case, everybody loves and annoys each other in this show, just like in real life. So, I'll be there every week to watch.

* "Cougar Town" delivers the still-oh-so-hot Courtney "Friends" Cox back to the small screen - just in time to prove to the rest of us that turning fortysomething doesn't automatically lead to death.

Thank you, ABC - for all of this - and so much more.