Wednesday, October 29, 2014

As Long As I Have You - Rebecca Robbins

Saturday Song Selection: Special Edition

“It's so hard to fight a battle 
When you cannot see your foe
And hard to start a marathon 
When you have so far to go
And I wonder if I'm strong enough 
Or if I have the heart
Cause some days I want to walk away 
And quit before I start" - Jill Santoriello

Who is Rebecca Robbins, you ask? You will learn that shortly, but rest assured, like the meetings of Davy Jones and Marcia Brady, James Carville and Mary Matalin, or that accidental stumble that leads to the Hershey bar being mushed into your Jif, her acquaintance, through story and song, is one you will be exceedingly pleased to make.

Why a Saturday Song Selection on a Wednesday? So anxious am I to share this beautiful new ballad and expose the eloquent and significant voices of both the composer and performer for the enjoyment and appreciation of the resplendent readers who browse this blog that, like an anticipatory toddler on Christmas morn, I have not the patience for the next Saturday to make its appointed arrival.

One hundred and fifty years ago, in the era when computers were either hand cranked or powered by kerosene and the internet was a literal net physically connecting log cabin to log cabin, we launched “… and several butcher’s aprons” as a politically progressive publication whose initial installment expressed dissatisfaction with the Congressional passage of the Coinage Act of 1864 mandating the inscription "In God We Trust" on all U.S. coins. In the many subsequent successful decades, descriptives from A to Z have been penned in opinion of the off-times controversial dissertations presented – arrogant, bilious, Communistic, derisive, egotistical, fractious (I shall assume that you have grasped the alphabetical gist) but rarely has this page received such superlatives as gallant, heartening, inspirational, joyous, kind, loving, moving (again, one must assume you have gotten the general intention. See “Sesame Street” for the sequential conclusion) but that’s all about to change.

“… I hear a gentle voice
I feel a hand in mine
And then that mountain in my way 
Is not too high to climb”

In November, in Philadelphia P.A., home of our Liberty Bell, the marvelous marching Mummers and creepy movie kids who see dead people, the lovely Rebecca Robbins, singer, actress, musical theatre veteran and friend, will be playing the role of Mrs. Winifred Banks in the Walnut Street Theatre’s production of “Mary Poppins.” Today, her voice and video graces “… and several butcher’s aprons” telling the poignant and personal musical tale of her battle with and ultimate triumph over a frightening malady.  A few months after the wonderful experience of making her Broadway debut, Rebecca was diagnosed with stage II Hodgkin's Lymphoma, which was followed by many months of challenging treatments. At this point, allow me to momentarily stifle my self-indulgent exercise in verbosity and lexicon abuse to let Rebecca properly and artfully continue her story.

“It is with overwhelming joy and a tremendous sense of relief that I can finally announce that as of today, October 16, 2014, my cancer is officially CURED. This is the first day of my new life and I can finally put all this behind me and move forward. I will forever be changed by this experience and am grateful for the valuable lessons it has taught me. As frightening, painful and inconvenient as it was to live through, I wouldn't change a thing. I am a better person for having gone through it… I hope my story can inspire others who are in treatment, recovering or still waiting for a cure. Never, ever lose hope. Miracles do happen and one day that word ‘cancer’ will forever be erased from every language in the world. – A five year journey from cancer to cured. My story. My voice.”

“You've shown me there's a light that shines
From deep inside the pain
You've taught me I can laugh at clouds
And revel in the rain”

Art, like life, is often most fulfilling when realized as a cooperative concern.  “As Long As I Have You” was created in collaboration with composer, the also lovely, Jill Santoriello and orchestrator, arguably the loveliest of all, Edward B. Kessel.  This terrifically talented trio first joined forces working on the magnificent and memorable 2008 Broadway premiere of “A Tale of Two Cities: the Musical,” book, music and lyrics by Ms. Santoriello.  

“I think of all we had before
And all that's left to do
I'll never quit or walk away
And no price is too high to pay
I'll count my blessings every day
As long as I have you”

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Pain Per View - The Sarah Palin Channel

So, That’s Why It’s Called the Idiot Box

The great people of these 57 United States (see, Conservatives, we’ll tweak Obama once in a while) and the educated, intelligent, intellectual and inquisitive population of our terrific terra firma at large, are all atwitter, aflutter, a-jitter, anxious, antsy and agog about the recent exciting and earth shattering news of the launch of the Sarah Palin Channel - the channel for those times when Fox News is getting just a little too erudite and challenging. Well, friends, lovers or nothing (see John Mayer) lie awake no longer staring wide-eyed at your crumbling popcorn ceilings in curiosity and wonder,  for the awesome and ample offerings of this nascent network are about to be revealed to you in all of their spectacle and glory.

And the fee for this formidable phenomenon is but a trifling $9.95 a month.  Sure, one may rejoinder, for only $7.99 a month a subscription can be gotten to multiple award winning premium networks HBO or Showtime who, through the years, have presented such clever, sophisticated and prestigious programming as The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex in the City, Dexter, Nurse Jackie and Homeland. But, be wary, for those are shows for Communist, Atheist, Muslim, Liberal, Homosexual, Anti-Americans who think and decide for themselves. Sarah sycophants are real Americans and thus have no interest in thought, choice or self-determination, but as true and loyal patriots do only what their Alaskan idol tells them to.

So, cast aside your TV Guide, which long ago has ceased its now mistitled duty as a guide to television viewing, gather your 9 millimeter, your Stars and Stripes and your King James Version and settle in for T.V.  as filtered through the mind of Palin – shallow, supercilious, sanctimonious, and sensationally self-serving – television for the illiterate, ill-mannered and ill-informed. 

The Name Game – Learn child rearing the Palin way. Regular segments include Babies First Glock, Fisticuffs by Five, Sex Before Sixteen and, of course, the eponymous feature in which Sarah suggests baby names for the expectant viewer. For those hesitant to recycle the kinfolk’s classics – Track, Willow, Bristol, Piper, Trig and Trip, Palin will share the unused roll awaiting the next family illegitimate pregnancy (or rather, virgin birth as the Palins to a man, woman and child preach and practice abstinence) – Field, Breathe Right, Window, Wallow, Panty, Pepperidge, Trapper, Trick, Treason, (Isosceles) Triangle, Transformer, Trespass, Trigger or Tranny.

Don’t Retreat, Reload – This weekly viewer participation show lets you target Senators and Congressmen for shootings and attempted assassinations just as your hero Sarah does.  Simply call in or log on to the Sarah Palin Channel website, disclose the name of the disagreeable legislator with whom you have a dispute, a gun site will be added to a map of that representative’s location, and one of Palin’s more disturbed devotees, a sizeable and frenzied congregation, will do the rest. (Legal Disclaimer: The Sarah Palin Channel will not be held responsible for any violence, homicides or other such criminal behaviors perpetrated at Palin’s behest, she merely gives the orders but does not perform them. Sarah aims the pistol but lets you pull the trigger.  Any mention or knowledge of Gabby Giffords will be disavowed.)

 The Palin Family Feud - Ultimate Fighting Edition: The Thrilla in Wasilla – Live, from Alaska, the “where anyone can be Governor State,” comes a reworking of the timeless game show based on the infamous, full-family, Palin drunken brawl of a few weeks past.  And all the action you heard about and loved is here. See shirtless Track flagrantly flip the bird while pummeling Willow’s ex. See Todd strangle a rival Dad until he’s as blue in the face as the beautiful Alaskan sky.  See Bristol display all the vicious and violent pugilistic skills she learned while still a toddler on Momma’s knee beating baby animals until deceased because, well, they make good eatin’, as she repeatedly thrashes a man twice her size, like the delicate flower of womanhood that she is. And watch the Momma Grizzly stand safely on the side, shrieking ad infinitum “don’t you know who I am?!” Imagine the Capulets versus the Montagues if Shakespeare was an ignorant redneck.
In each episode the Palin clan challenges another celebrity family to the Feud… and to the death, first up, the Von Trapps.  One family escaped the Nazis, the other the public education system. Liesl meet Willow, now get ready for a can of whoop-ass.

Sarah’s Sermonette - No reputable network would be complete without some unreasonably early Sunday morning hours devoted to the sacred, the sanctified and the sacrosanct.  On each Sabbath, at 6am, Sarah Palin leads her viewing audience in prayer, sacrifice and worship to her Holy Trinity – fame, money and ceaseless attention. Offerings are encouraged.

To Tell The Truth – A revival of another enduring game show in which Sarah Palin is required to tell the truth. 1 episode.

Teen Mom – All Palin edition.

Survivor: Wasilla – No challenges, no bug eating, no tribal councils. Survive 10 minutes in the company of Sarah Palin and win 1 million dollars. John McCain couldn’t do it and he lasted 5 years in a P.O.W. camp.

Wasilla Palace – Like “Hollywood Palace” before it, it’s an old-fashioned variety show exhibiting the prodigious talent in Wasilla and surrounding counties. In the initial installment, Todd recites the alphabet practically to completion, Track flexes his pectorals and challenges pre-teen female audience members to arm wrestle, Sarah displays the flautist skills that cost her victory in the Miss Alaska Pageant and Bristol performs the fine and ancient art of the ecdysiast.

 Leave it to Beaver – As this is Alaska, now starring actual beavers.

Abstinence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder – Bristol makes her sitcom debut. 1 episode.

The American Unsportsman – This retooling of the ABC celebrity hunting and fishing show, “The American Sportsman” features that inimitable Palin flair. She’s in a helicopter with an assault rifle. The maimed creatures are penned in with no possible means of escape. It’s the kind of brutally unfair, inhumane slaughter that makes her Muk Luks tingle and assures that Todd will be enjoying a very special evening.

American History with Sarah Palin – Never mind the fancy book learnin’, Sarah teaches you the honest truths of our country’s past, including - the dramatic midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn the British of the rebellious colonists, the colorful story of our President’s home, the White House at 1400 Pennsylvania Avenue, and the enthralling details of our long-standing, never-ending revered alliance with the virtuous government of North Korea.

Ken Burns' Sarah Palin – Renowned documentarian Ken Burns follows up his acclaimed 7 episode, 14 hour epic, “The Roosevelts: An Intimate History” with an examination  of the former Governor and Vice Presidential nominee, delving deep into the thoughts, the mind, the history, the accomplishments, the wit, the wisdom, the vast knowledge and depth that is Sarah Palin. 5 minutes.

Why does this pointless harlequin and mockery of a serious-minded politician/public figure still remain a daily news item and conservative icon in the country’s consciousness long beyond her usefulness as an entertaining novelty in a freak show? It’s easy to extend your 15 minutes when you don’t know how to tell time.

Regular readers will recall that it’s a tradition here to conclude with a song thematically related to the subject matter. This go round that obvious tune to topic connection has proved elusive, so instead, for no particular reason, relax and relish this memorable piece of 60’s pop perfection, a personal karaoke favorite - the Buckinghams and “Kind of a Drag.”

Any comments, questions, criticisms, candid confessions, cash contributions? Contact me at butchersaprons@mail.com.