Category Archives: Acting

The Show Must Go On, Usually

Of course I said yes, even though I had never before had any interest in going on stage.  It wasn’t every day that I was asked to participate.  Usually it was the popular kids who got to perform.  I certainly didn’t qualify.

But Liza was in charge, and Liza was my friend.  Liza was also the tallest kid in 6th grade.  I was the third smallest (Betsy and Annette were smaller, if you’re wondering).  So I was perfect for the part of George Washington’s granddaughter.  Liza, the playwright and tall person, would play General George Washington at the end of the Revolutionary War.

We were set to perform Liza’s play in front of the 4th, 5th and 6th graders on the big stage in the auditorium.  We were even allowed to open and close the stage curtains!

auditorium

Google Image

My part was small, but important — General George Washington’s granddaughter, Nelly.  This is how my big scene was supposed to go.

Following a couple of battle scenes, General George/Liza appears in the living room of his granddaughter, Nelly, who is delighted to see him.  Nelly/Elyse runs up to Grandpa/Liza, and jumps up to give Grandpa a big hug, and say:

“Grandpa!”  Then I was to slowly get down, looking at how Grandpa George/Liza is dressed — in civilian clothes, and continue: “Where are your pretty soldier clothes?”

“I have put them away for good, Nelly,” Grandpa George/Liza responds.  “The War is over.”

It didn’t quite go that way during our performance, though.  Because you see, I was a little bit over excited.  So when it was time for my big scene, well …

The curtain opened…

“GRANDPA!” I screamed, and I ran at Grandpa George/Liza like a ball of fury, and I jumped!

I jumped so hard, in fact, that Grandpa George/Liza dropped me on my butt before falling on his.

You know the adage “the show must go on?  Well I’m assuming I’d never heard it.  I was quite young you see.

I couldn’t stop laughing long enough to deliver the rest of my lines.  Liza managed to choke hers out, somehow.  We were greeted with riotous applause when we did our curtain call.  I’m pretty sure that the kids in the audience liked the improvised version better than the original.

It was years before I would get up the courage to get on stage again.  And while I never again literally fell flat, I did have additional humiliating experiences, so obviously my fear was justified.

***

I tell this story because someone who followed me in school, and performed in my high school acting group just hit the big time.  And not with her butt.

Alison Porter, who won The Voice last night, also grew up in my hometown, Westport, Connecticut.  She is wildly talented.  And upright.

 

Of course I have never met her, or seen her perform in real life.  Still, it’s good to see a hometown girl make good, standing on her own two feet.

 

 

 

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Hey Doc? Your Education is Lacking

It used to be I was afraid of the future because of the GOP and the Pandora’s Box of hornets/hate they’ve unleashed.  But then I realized that there are, perhaps, other signs that the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.  Read on, and try to tell me I’m wrong.

***

Seven intelligent faces looked at me, blankly, their heads all tilted at a quizzical angle as if on strings.

Eagle3

Just because I’m saying “Who?” doesn’t make me an owl, ya know (Google image, natch)

 

They ranged in age from mid-40s to early and mid-20s.

At least I hoped they were intelligent faces.  Because they belonged to a team of seven doctors treating me during my recent (thankfully brief) hospital stay for Crohn’s.

I always draw a crowd.

But it wasn’t long before I questioned the intelligence of this group of gastroenterologists and medical students holding their noses and getting  through this rotation.  Because they seemed to have missed a major part of their education.

“Michael*” — the leader of the pack, put his stethoscope to my belly and listened.

“Not much noise there, Elyse.”  He let the others have a listen.

“You guys haven’t let me eat in days,” I said.  And then, as a person with a gut so noisy that it has a name (Ralph), I continued.  “I always feel like Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen!  You know, the scene where his stomach is gurgling?”

 

“Humphrey who?” one of them said.  The others nodded their heads in agreement.

“Bogart,” I said, with my eyes getting bigger as I realized that all seven of the people around me were tilting their heads at me in confusion.  None of them had a clue who Bogie was.

“I think I’ve heard of him,” one of the medical students ventured.  She didn’t look terribly certain, though.  “Wasn’t he in all of those musicals?”

Something is very wrong in the world.

 

*And when did doctors start going by their first names??  Did I miss something?

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Sometimes, it’s just too easy

Really, I know that it’s a long way till November.

And I know that we are all realizing that we laughed at Donald Dfrumpf to our peril.

And I also know that with this video, I am acknowledging that he is a terrible threat to the GOP, the United States, and the world.

But I’m not laughing at Donald Dfrumpf.  I’m laughing at Chris Christie.

http://crooksandliars.com/cltv/2016/03/curb-your-enthusiam-chris-christie

//embed.crooksandliars.com/embed/9oNpcXVv

OK.  So it wasn’t really that easy since I can’t actually embed the video (even though the link says “EMBED”.

It’s the first clear sign of how difficult life will be with a Drumpf presidency.

 

 

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Oscar and Me. And Oscar.

As a young woman, I dreamed of being an actress.  So today/tonight, it is only fitting that I tell you this story.

You know how they say that life is what happens when you’re making other plans.  It’s true.  I’m living proof.

I had everything it takes to be a fine, award winning actress.  I was talented, pretty, had good comedic timing, and a voice that could be heard in the cheap seats.

What I didn’t have was guts.  Good guts.  My GI tract erupted in high school leaving my future in the hands of jobs that offered health insurance instead of fame and glory.  Damn.

Oh, and I lacked the guts to go for it anyway.  Once I made a wrong exit and  my acting career died in a broom closet, that is.

But even after leaving my dream in tatters with the mops and brooms, I continued to pipe-dream.  That’s different than the real thing, and you don’t have to remember lines, or stage directions or what to do with props.  It’s actually much easier.  You get to keep your privacy, too, which is nice.

Most of my friends are aware of this fantasy of mine, and of my need to, from time to time, stand on a table (instead of a stage) and tell a story.  It often involves alcoholic beverages.  The table standing, not necessarily the story.

Right now I’m going to tell you about the night I received my Oscars.  [Feel free to stop here if you’ve heard this one.]

It was an incredibly special night for me.  An honor really.  Well, actually, two honors.  Two Oscars.  Two Awards.  But I only got to make one speech.

It was 1983, and some really fun people worked in my office that summer, one of whom, Jon, was from the area.  Carol, Mike, Jon and I all went to Jon’s house one night.  You see, 1983 was still in the Bronze Age, and Jon’s parents were on the cutting age of technology, because they had a VCR.  And Risky Business had just come out on video.

In the middle of the movie, we took a beer/bathroom break.  And guess what I spotted, casually stuck on the bookshelf in the TV room of Rob’s house.

Oscar 

And Oscar

It turned out that Jon’s father was a filmmaker.  Documentary films.  My pals presented me with two Oscars for Documentary Filmmaking.  Sadly, not one of us had a camera.  Probably just as well, because not many stars accept wearing blue jeans.

Receiving Oscar, and his twin, Oscar, was a special honor to me, since I had neither made, nor been in any documentary films, nor even fetched donuts and coffee for the real filmmakers.  Regardless,  I got to hold Oscar and Oscar, and I got to make a speech accepting my Academy Awards.  So I am in an unusual club of people who have never actually acted or contributed in any way, shape or form to a movie, who has been presented an Academy Award.

Yes, I’m that good.

[Yeah, it’s a repeat.  But one can never have too many Academy Award stories.  Amirite?]

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Trump v. Fox — A Solution

You’ve all heard the news.

The Donald’s feelings are hurt and therefore, he stamped his feet, put his fingers in his ears and said “la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-.”  “Not going to debate.”

Of course, that leaves Fox and the debate moderators with a problem:  Too few folks on stage.

After reading this blog post from my home town, though, I’ve come up with a solution.

Empty suit

Image: Turbosquid.com, which I did not make up.

You didn’t click on the link, did you.  You never click on the links.

So I guess I’ll have to give you a hint.

The story in that blog is about a resident of my hometown who works as a photojournalist who met The Donald on a job.  The billionaire tried to sell JP Vellotti a suit.

The story, to me, is a metaphor for The Donald’s offering:

He’s a cheap huckster selling things that just don’t fit.

So in my mind, an empty suit, standing in Donald Trump’s 7th spot on the Fox dias tonight, would represent exactly what Trump has to offer the United States.

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Times of Trouble

They always come off the shelf at this time of year.  The Harry Potter books.  I’ve read and re-read all of them until the pages are worn and grimy.  They give me comfort when I am fighting off “The Missing.”

“When I find myself in times of trouble …”

“The Missing” — Sounds like a “who-dunnit,” doesn’t it.  But that’s not what I mean.

Go ahead and laugh.  But I honestly mean that the Harry Potter books — kids books — help me fight off the sadness of missing people.

You see, in Harry Potter, the folks Harry loves and has lost get to come back sometimes.  Once in every few books. OK, in the first, the fourth, and the seventh.  What — you need page numbers?

And each time I read how they, those dead people, give Harry courage, I find my own again.

And you know what especially makes a difference?  Throughout the entire series, folks talk normally about people who have passed.  Just as if they were, and still are, an important part of a person’s life.  The characters do, and are expected to, think about people who are no longer around.  Grief, missing them is part of life; an acknowledged part.

Real life, however, outside of books, is not at all like that.  The bereaved are allowed 1 week to 1 year to grieve, depending on the relationship and the circumstances.  Within that time, and especially way beyond it, talking about a lost loved one is awkward. It makes other people uncomfortable.  They don’t know what to say.  What to do.  Where to look.  It’s taboo.

Death in our society pretty much wipes a person off the slate — we say good-bye, are moved to shed tears, and then expected to get beyond it.  We are essentially expected to metaphorically “unfriend” them.

Of course, we all fear our own death, so we don’t want to talk about someone else’s death.  We just can’t deal with someone else who has gone to that wizarding school in the sky.

Reading Harry Potter helps me feel like my missing are close by.  Let’s me feel that there are folks, even if they are fictional, who let me remember and who also remember their own loved ones.  Very much like my bloggin’ buddies, who let me lean on them from time to time.  For which I will be eternally grateful.

It’s coming on the anniversary of my sister Judy’s passing, a time that is always difficult for me.

Judy too was a Potterhead, although she only lived long enough to read the first three books. I’m quite sure that that is one of the things that most annoyed her about dying, actually.  Nobody likes to miss the ending.

So I’m really hoping she’ll hook up with Alan Rickman pretty soon.  Because she’ll show him the ropes, and he’ll fill her in on the rest of the story.  A match made in, well, heaven.

Alan Rickman.

Fanpop.com Image

R.I.P. to so very many people gone way too soon.

Thanks to Deb of The Monster In Your Closet for making me come out of my closet as a Potterhead!

 

 

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So Long, Fred

This is a week for repeats here on FiftyFourAndAHalf.com.  Sorry.

But when I learned a little while ago that actor Omar Sharif died of a heart attack today, well, I thought I’d re-run this story, which isn’t mine, and which I love.

It’s a story that was told to me by Omar Sharif.  Sadly, it was in an interview on TV that I saw many years ago, and not in person.

“I was sitting there on the set of Lawrence,” said Omar of his first meeting with co-star and newbie actor, Peter O’Toole.  And this tall blond man I’d never seen before walked up to me and introduced himself.”

“‘I’m Peter, Peter O’Toole,’ he told me.

“I’m Omar Sharif,” I responded reaching out to shake his hand.

And then Peter responded, with an impish, Irish grin on his face:

“‘Nobody is named ‘Omar.’  I shall call you ‘Fred.'”

And with a toss of his head and a resounding laugh, Fred Sharif concluded:  “and he did!”

You’re going to call me WHAT??? Photo Credit, Irish Times

As the daughter, granddaughter and sister of Freds, I love this story.

RIP, Fred.  I hope you are off riding camels again with Peter.

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