Monthly Archives: April 2009

Anne Bancroft in “Yma Dream”

This is the funniest thing I’ve seen in ages … and it dates to 1970. It’s from Anne Bancroft’s Emmy-winning “Annie: The Women in the Life of a Man.” It was written by Thomas Meehan. Apparently they cut out the final group of guests — Anno Moffo, Mata Hari and Pia Lindstrom — whom she introduces as “Anna, Mata, Pia.” Yes, that’s Lee J. Cobb playing the psychiatrist. (Now we know where David Letterman got “Oprah … Uma” from!)

Franky Fly’s Away From Home

A Short Book About a Long Life

by Waverly Huff

Chapter 6: Franky Fly Dreams as The Man With the Evil Grin Schemes

Franky Fly was dreaming. He was inside the biggest garbage can he had ever seen. Buzzing around him were his 72 brothers and sisters. They were flying in formation, spelling out first one word, then another, then another.

Massachusetts. North Carolina. New Hampshire.

Franky recognized them as some of the shapes he saw on the Map of the United States of America.

Michigan. Louisiana. Connecticut.

After they spelled out a word, a few of his brothers and sisters would fly off. Then they’d spell out another word and more would take off into the blue sky. This kept up for a while.

With fewer flies, the words got smaller.

Hawaii. Georgia. Kentucky.

Franky Fly felt like someone was staring at him. He looked around but all he saw was his ever-diminishing family … and they were too busy spelling out the words to notice him.

Idaho. Ohio. Iowa.

By now the feeling that he was being watched was really getting to Franky Fly. He tried to take off … but couldn’t. It was like his legs were stuck to whatever he was standing on inside the biggest garbage can he had ever seen.

He was puzzled and not just a little afraid. Then he felt a soft breeze. Then a stronger breeze.

Franky Fly woke up. He was still in the large man’s hair hat. He heard someone snoring. It was the large man, asleep in a chair inside the airplane.

There was that breeze again, even more forceful this time. He looked around and saw a man sitting in the seat behind him. The man was puckering his lips and blowing on him. Humans were so strange.

Then he saw the rolled up newspaper in the man’s hand. Franky Fly had a bad feeling about this.

“He wants me to fly off so he can swat me,” Franky Fly thought.

He was right. The man had what could only be described as an evil grin on his face. The man blew on him even harder.

A plan formed in Franky Fly’s mind. He smiled and took off into the air. The man with the evil grin followed him with his eyes, moving the rolled up newspaper closer. Franky Fly landed upside down on a shelf over the large man with the hair hat.

The man with the evil grin swung the newspaper up. Splat! Franky Fly flew quickly out of the way. The man’s grin went from evil to downright wicked.

Franky Fly then flew in circles right above the large man’s hair hat.

The man with the downright wicked grin could hold his wickedness no longer. He swung the newspaper down hard … missing Franky Fly but hitting the large man right on top of the head.

The large man woke up just as his hair hat flew off his head and into the lap of the older woman sitting next to him. The older woman, thinking the hair hat was some kind of animal, screamed at the top of her lungs.

“Arghhh,” shrieked the older woman.

“Arghhh,” shrieked the large man.

“Oh, oh,” the man with the downright wicked grin whispered under his breath.

If you can say one thing about Franky Fly, it’s that he knew when to leave. He proved that in the garbage can with his 72 brothers and sisters. And he proved it again in the airplane. Franky Fly flew down the aisle and landed at the top of a dark blue curtain.

The curtain moved as two pretty ladies in uniforms, hearing the shrieking, left a small room and walked quickly yet professionally down the aisle toward the commotion.

Franky Fly looked down inside the small, now empty room and saw a circular opening on the counter. It was sort of dark inside the opening but the smell of a half-eaten cheeseburger gave him courage. He floated past the circular opening into the dark place.

Once inside the dark place, he saw the bit of cheeseburger sitting on top of a wrinkled piece of paper. On the top of the page were the words “A Visitor’s Guide to New York City.” Franky Fly was very happy. He loved reading while he ate.

(To be continued)

Rest in Peace and Thanks for All the Laughs

Bea Arthur has always been a favorite of mine for many reasons. First and foremost because she was so damn funny in everything she did. Sure there was All in the Family and Maude and The Golden Girls. But there was also Amanda’s, an unfortunate 1980s attempt to do an American version of Fawlty Towers. The show was awful and only lasted 13 episodes but Bea was consistently hilarious. The last time I saw her on the tube was a few years ago when she played Larry David’s mother in a Curb Your Enthusiasm dream sequence. Who else could play Larry’s mother. (That was a rhetorical question, hence the absence of a question mark.)

My friend Marty loved Bea Arthur more than anyone I know. He lived in Miami when The Golden Girls were there. He became friends with many in the cast and crew. I remember taking a tour of his apartment after he moved to San Francisco. On his bedstand was a beautifully-framed photo of Bea. I knew he was fond of her but I had to ask him why she was on his bedstand. “It’s my trick photo,” he replied. My expression told him I didn’t understand. “It’s simple,” he explained, “if someone spends the night, wakes up in the morning, sees the photo and asks if that’s my mother … I know he’s only a trick.”

Marty could never love someone who didn’t know who Bea Arthur was. Who could.

It Was 40 Years Ago Today

pat-tom-wedding-photo-cropped

On this day, a mere 40 years ago, Patricia Joan Blizman wed Thomas Joseph Greensmith. And, yes, the final song at the reception was a Beatles song: Hey, Jude.

The union was blessed with one daughter — Jennifer Alaina Greensmith — and one son — Brian Thomas Greensmith.

Pat was a beautiful bride. She still is. (Have her tell you the green tie story!)

Franky Fly’s Away From Home

A Short Book About a Long Life

by Waverly Huff

Chapter 5: Wisdom of the Dragonflies

“Eat you,” they chuckled in unison? “That’s the most disgusting thing we ever heard.”

“We eat graham crackers, blueberries and Yogurt Burst Cheerios,” said Dorothea or Desdemona.

“And ice cream, marshmallows and pizza-flavored Pringles ,” added Desdemona or Dorothea. “We don’t eat flies. Flies are gross … no offense.”

“None taken,” Franky Fly replied. “So you want to know how to get out of here.”

“You bet we do,” said Desdemona or Dorothea. “We’re agoraphobic. We have panic attacks in settings from which there is no easy means of escape.”

“It was very windy and a strong breeze just blew us in here. We’ve been looking all over for another open door but so far, no luck.” Said Dorothea or Desdemona.

“Tell you what,” Franky said, after thinking for a moment. “I’ll tell you how to get out if you tell me exactly what this place and the giant something-or-others are.”

Desdemona or Dorothea looked at Dorothea or Desdemona before nodding anxiously. “This, my dear, is called an airport,” she proclaimed. “The giant something-or-others are airplanes. They carry humans from one place to another. They land here at the airport. Humans get out of the airplanes. Different humans get in. Then the airplanes take off again.”

“Where do they go,” asked Franky Fly?

“No idea,” she answered. “Now … how do we get out of here. We’re late for a Dragonfly family reunion. I can’t wait to see my sisters Dagmar, Dakota and Dolores and my brothers Deshawn, Dolph, Deepak and …”

Interrupting while he had the chance, Franky Fly pointed at the automatic door he had entered through. “That door opens and closes with a big whoosh,” he said. “But only humans can make it go whoosh. So you have to wait until a human approaches it, then fly out very, very quickly.”

“I see the door,” Desdemona or Dorothea said excitedly. “Let’s go, sister!”

“Goodbye and good luck,” they shouted as they took off and flew toward the automatic door that he had pointed out.

“And good luck to you, too,” Franky Fly shouted. He let out a big sigh as he looked around the airport.

Lots of humans were scurrying around this way and that, most in a big hurry. All kinds of food smells drifted up to Franky Fly … but he was too excited to be hungry.

Some movement on a very, very big board right across from him caught his eye. Bright little lights were forming words … some of which Franky Fly remembered from the Map of the United States of America he had seen earlier.

He let out a little gasp of excitement. “This big board tells the humans all the places where the airplanes go,” he thought. “Perhaps if I sneak inside an airplane, it will take me to one of those places. But how do I sneak inside?”

Just then, Franky Fly spotted the large man with the hair hat. He wasn’t dragging the boxes around anymore but still didn’t seem very happy. He had a paper envelope in his hand and was huffing and puffing and sweating his way toward a pretty lady in a uniform who was looking at other people’s paper envelopes.

“This is my chance,” thought Franky Fly as he lifted off from the beam and flew toward the large man’s hair hat. He dropped down and landed on the hair hat right as the large man gave the paper envelope to the pretty lady.

“I know he can’t feel me,” Franky Fly remembered. “So I’ll just hide in his hair hat and take a little nap. It’s been a very busy day and I’m very tired.”

Franky Fly closed his eyes and drifted off to sleep as the large man walked through a door and down a long corridor.

Over the door a very small version of the very, very big board he had seen earlier spelled out a word in very bright lights: New York City.

(To be continued)

Volume!

I am reminded, in these troubled financial times, of a prescient fake commercial SNL created a few years back. The ad promoted a new bank whose only service was making change. The bank’s CEO talked about the countless ways they could change a five dollar bill, for example. “You give us a five dollar bill and we’ll give you five ones … or two twos and a one … or 20 quarters … or ten quarters, 15 dimes and 20 nickels.” The ad continues with interviews of satisfied customers.

At the end is the punchline. “How do we make money,” the bank’s CEO said? “Volume.” The mission statement made no sense, but it hardly mattered. When you have that much chutzpah, you can get away with anything.