Paul Anka: He’s still got it!


 

Paul Anka at the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio.

Paul Anka at the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio.

What does the name Paul Anka mean to you? If you were running around in the 50’s and early 60’s he was a teen idol. Songs he wrote and popularized include “Puppy Love,” and “Lay your head on my shoulder.”

You also might know him as a popular songwriter. He wrote for various artists including Tom Jones, ” She’s a Lady.” He wrote “My Way” for Frank Sinatra in about 5 hours. It was so successful that it brought Sinatra out of retirement.

Anka appeared at The Palace on October 13, and gave a memorable show.

He surprised the audience by making his entrance from the back of the theater. By the time he got on the stage, it was crystal clear that he still had the voice, energy, and charm. His full piece orchestra situated on the stage was first class.

He kept saying he did the gig because he had a passion for entertaining Luckily, the audience benefited from his spirited performance. He also told funny jokes throughout the show. He danced with a woman in the first row. He shook hands with the audience.

It just wasn’t a former teen idol singing his hits like “Puppy Love” and “Put your head on my shoulder.”  Anka is the real deal, an accomplished musician, and songwriter. He did let the audience reminisce with him by singing along at the beginning and end of the show.

There was a movie screen that came down and showed excerpts of Anka with a lot of famous people including members of the “Rat Pack:, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra. Dick Clark, the perennial teenager from American Bandstand, momentarily appeared in the montage.

There was acknowledgement of the great Sammy Davis Jr. In a filmed segment, Sammy was singing one of Anka’s songs and smoking a cigarette for artistic effect. (Prophetic, considering Davis died from throat cancer at 64.)

Midway through the show Anka, sat on the stage and played the guitar in tribute to Buddy Holly.

Near the end of the show, he energetically performed,” My Way.” The orchestra also did a tribute to Prince by weaving in “Purple Rain.” I’m not sure the audience got the connection.

There was a group of ladies waiting for him at the stage door. They had that look of idol worship on their faces.

If you get a chance to catch Anka on his upcoming tour, go. He’s one of the best.

Ghosts linger around my Passover table 


The Passover of 2016 was tinged with sadness because I couldn’t help thinking of my childhood.  My parents and grandparents faded from sight; one right after the other, mostly without warning.

Grandma was a small, stout lady, with a face that I can’t really ever forget because I look so much like her, especially in my 66th year. My grandfather, was short in stature, but high on everyone’s respect list. He had a head full of beautiful white hair.

I remember going along with my tall, handsome, adored daddy to pick them up at their apartment. My grandmother would have her coat on, and announce to my grandfather that “the machine is outside, and it was time to go.” Why she didn’t just refer to it as the car was a mystery to me. I do remember she wore red old-fashioned shoes, a longish skirt, and a long sleeve blouse. She always carried a  black purse that held Dentyne gum. She would offer this special treat randomly to all her grandchildren.

We’d arrive at my house where we ate the standard dinner we always ate at holidays, it didn’t really matter which one. Mom was in charge and she didn’t appreciate any help.

There was always chopped liver and matzah ball soup, my mother’s tie to her ethnic background. We’d all gathered around  the kitchen table, my grandparents sitting next to each other on one side, my mother, wearing her blue apron, always up during the meal serving us.  My father and

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My dapper grandpa, Harry Zelivyansky

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

My Grandmother, Miriam Zelivyansky when she was young.

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

Marilyn, Mom, Dad and me .

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa's house,

My sister Marilyn and I with my dad outside of Grandma and Grandpa’s house,

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

L to R: Eileen, Dad holding me, and Marilyn.

two sisters and I would take our familiar seats. It was usually turkey, sometimes a roast, salad, sweet potatoes, and a vegetable.

The Seder I remember was not too formal. I do remember my grandfather singing some prayers. He had a beautiful voice that I can almost hear when I close my eyes and concentrate.

Little did I know that one day my grandparents and parents would be long gone, but their presence would always linger; they’re always around me, like a loving purple aura.

This year I particularly missed them all, but I’m grateful for the love that is still there.

 

A humorous look at finding the Fountain of Youth: at the health club


Two years ago, I made a New Year’s Resolution  to exercise every day  and it’s stuck. Why? I like the high! It gets the blood to my head, releases endorphins. Half-way through I start feeling marvelous.

I look at exercise as an alternative to the FDA’s solution,  pills.

I had to find my own way until  I figured out a routine that suited me.

Seeking the Fountain of Youth at the high-priced Health Club

I’d been doing swimming aerobics at the health club pool for a while, but I thought, why not try for the heavy-duty exercise, the land exercise. Why not try a personal training group?

The first step was signing a contract, and handing over my credit card.

An extra $15o.00 plus monthly membership gave me entry into the newly formed group.

The second step was evaluating my fitness

The next day I headed up to the gym to get my fitness tested. I had to wear headgear that looked like a scuba mask to check my oxygen level on the treadmill. I carefully placed a little gizmo into my bra to record my heartbeat.

When I started by walking as fast as I could, the heart gizmo did not read my heartbeat. I went several times to a back room to put this heart monitor  closer to my heart and aging, sagging bosoms, but to no avail.

” I have another appointment coming, and you’ll just have to try tomorrow,” said the sheepish, red-faced  trainer who was about 19.

I  slowly limped out of the gym, thinking I was already a failure at land based exercise.

The next day, the gym manager, a shapely muscled 24-year old woman, figured out another way to detect my pulse. She read it off the machine somehow, or just made the whole thing up. I was glad to find out I wasn’t heartless or clinically dead.

Joining the personal training class

The next day I showed up bright and early to attend my first class. It was a variety of women of all persuasions. I was the oldest, but I wasn’t the heaviest! They all were running on the treadmills, so I joined them.

Then, the trainer rounded us all up to start our real exercise session.

The affable trainer, Greg, running the session was like a friendly drill sergeant. I furiously rowed on a rowing machine,  rapidly bounced a rubber ball off the wall,  held a plank position, and startled the entire gym when I awkwardly released the weights on a machine and sounded a loud clang.

The worst was the stair-stepper

I would only recommend the stair-stepper for people trying to get information out of a terrorist. They just have to make the thing automatically go really fast. I seriously feared for my life while on this contraption. As my heart began to jump out of my chest, I yelled,” How do I stop this damn thing.” After finding the emergency stop, I thankfully climbed off.

I did last about three months, and I did attempt things I thought I could never do again, like 100 sit ups, burpees, planks and push ups. My stomach was shrinking. I was proud of myself, but I wasn’t  looking forward to the personal training sessions. After a while,  I arrived later and later . Finally,  I didn’t come at all.

So after spending extra money, and torturing myself, I discontinued my contract.

What I needed to do was accept my age and have fun! 

I decided to try things like bike spinning, Zumba dancing, yoga,  running on the elliptical ( while I watch TV with my headphones), and lifting weights with Silver Sneaker (Medicare sponsored) exercise groups.

I also bike ride with my husband, take long walks in the woods, get down on the floor with my grandson and play like a two-year old.

To be truthful, I was never admired for my svelte figure. But I do believe the Fountain of Youth resides within yourself. The right exercise for you, and attitude are important parts of it.

I do have great blood pressure, and an athletic pulse. I have a lot of energy and feel great. Okay, I’m not at an ideal weight, but it’s been worse.

Taking those extra steps makes it possible not to keep 30 or 40 pills organized.

John Green: A different kind of publicity tour “Paper Towns” 


Remember the olden days? Those were the days when television, newspapers and magazines were the way to publicize events.  I found out yesterday that social media really has changed the way things are done.  To my pleasant surprise I found out kids still read actual books, admire authors, and have good manners. (At least the girls were terrific; since there were no boys I can’t really comment on the weaker sex.)

The author, John Green, “No Fault in their Stars”, was in Columbus, Ohio, to promote his new book and movie, ” Paper Towns.”   Columbus, was one of the selected cities for this worldwide tour. ( I am not really sure what this book is about since I’m a lot older than 17. It has something to do with teenage love, angst and independence.)  After the tour, I decided I’ll read the book and forget that I’m on medicare.

John Green with his former best selling book

John Green with his former best selling book

An author is treated like a rock star

I wasn’t aware of what I was getting into when I volunteered to usher for “Tour of Paper Towns.” As I approached the Palace, a uniquely restored theater, I noticed that the street was packed with young girls of all shapes and sizes,  holding signs , posters and books!

When I got into the Palace, I discovered that I was ushering for the ” Paper Towns Tour.” The girls were waiting to hear an author, see a movie clip, and meet actors. The signs and posters pertained to the movie.

Our job, as ushers, were to make sure every seat was filled in the theater when they led them in at 250 at a time. The doors opened, and I felt nervous.  What if they were rowdy, mouthe, and confrontational?  No such thing. They filed  into the theater, being led by a young  guy in charge of the event. (He intently marched the groups of girls into the theater.)

The girls politely followed directions and got into their seats. It was a piece of cake! They were all dressed nicely in their 21st century clothes; dresses are out of style with this young crowd.

As soon as many of them took their seats, out came the phones, and the thumbs furiously texting. It sure kept the audience quiet. I think they were texting each other too. (Why talk when you can text?)

Many of the girls told me the primary reason they were there was to hear the author. “He is a great writer, and I like his characters and books,” said one girl. After talking to several others, I found out they were  also there to see the actors and a clip from the movie.  Imagine that, an author is an idol of the female youth of America.

Selfies, cameras, and publicity 

A young woman, who is an internet star, came out wearing a white dress that had a cape attached to it. She told the girls to take out their cameras, take a selfie and #Paper Towns Tour.”  In a few seconds hundreds of girls publicized the book.

During the showing of the clip there were some  screams when they showed the actors during the clip, and when they came out on at stage. The biggest screams were for the author!

Nothing like my generation where they got hysterical and fainted for musical groups. This was a more restrained kind of screaming.

After the movie clip the actors came out and had a very personal, familiar question and answer session with the audience. One of the more famous actors was Cara Delevingne, an English model. The other actors I also didn’t know were: Nat Wolff, Halston Sage and Austin Abrams.

John Green has a website, http:// John Green. com, a Twitter and a Facebook account. He can do the job of a press agent all by himself. Once you get on his sites, you can hear what he’s saying to the kids. (See, I’m giving him unsolicited publicity). I found it interesting that this young author was formerly part of a ministry in Columbus, Ohio, that volunteered at Children’s Hospital , sounds like a good role model!

It seems like the social media has brought actors and their audience into a more personal and intimate relationship. They don’t seem to be as far removed as they used to be, but only if you have a smart phone, and are a member of social media.

 

 




Backwards Living: What happened to good taste?


Anything goes these days, but if you comment on it, you’re the bad guy. It seems to me that outrageous behavior has become acceptable. If you say it’s gauche or in bad taste people look at you like your crazy. It seems to me that good manners is quickly becoming a thing of the past.

I don’t even want to imagine what it’s like in the schools these days. I’m wondering if they’re giving the teachers detentions instead of the students. From my past experience, I know a shift in power was taking place about 10 years ago.

Everyone is casual and comfortable

Go to the theater any day of the week. It doesn’t matter how much people pay for tickets, they are never dressed up at all. They are dressed up for the ballet the same way as they are for a comedian.

Some people do look nicer than others, but it doesn’t seem like they took a lot of time to get ready. There still are some cute, fancy heels that go along with the jeans. Dresses for women seem to be out of style. Maybe that’s just goes with equality, but I do miss them.

I guess they are all “comfortable”, but I do miss the days when people looked really special for special events.

Maybe in a couple of decades we’ll all run around naked, and get rid of clothes altogether. It will be easier on the bank account. We will all be more comfortable, except in the winter! Maybe then we’ll wear a big easy blanket that we put over our heads.

Spoken language is on the decline
Language sure has changed too. Just watch a movie from the 20’s, 30’s or even 40’s, 50’s, or even early 60’s. If this was reflective of society, people spoke in a more courteous way. I do know language has definitely been on the decline in the last few decades. When you’re hearing it in all the media, of course, you’re not going to speak in a thoughtful way.

I’m not saying that life was good for minorities or people who were different in the good old days. I’m glad people are more accepting of differences.

I think one of the casualties of all this acceptance and tolerance is good taste. Just look at afternoon TV. Dr. Phil features the most immoral weird people, and how about the shows that center on finding “the real fathers” of children.

If you express your opinion about much of anything that is against the present norms, you’re looked at like you’re intolerant.

It seems like things have totally gotten backwards. Isn’t there a good balance somewhere?

What do you think?

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The Million Dollar Quartet: Spending some time with Elvis, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, and Jerry Lee Lewis


The million Dollar Quartet. L to R: Jerry Lee ...

The million Dollar Quartet. L to R: Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What if you could spend a couple of hours with Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash and Peggy Lee? Would you want to do that? Peggy Lee wasn’t well-known yet. She was just hanging around Elvis.

If you can recall that era of music, or listen to it, you’re going to enjoy “The Million Dollar Quartet.’

I saw a version of this play at the Palace Theater in Columbus, Ohio. It takes place on December 4, 1956. Sam Phillips ( Vince Nappo) who ran Sun Recording Studios made all these legends stars. On one historic night, he got them all together for a jam session. The play is based upon this meeting. There is a recording and a picture to prove it really happened.

The actors did unbelievable impressions of these music legends. Each of the stars played  their instruments with expertise and wild abandon.  There is a band onstage that is just as professional. And you could hear all the words!

Elvis ( Cody Slaughter) was so good that you forgot he really wasn’t Elvis. Johnny Cash’s (David Elkins) songs were also done to perfection. I can’t say how well the actor did with Carl Perkins since I don’t remember him.

My favorite impression was of Jerry Lee Lewis ( Ben Goddard)   who is portrayed as being a cocky country boy with a big talent. The musician portraying him was just fantastic on the piano. I do remember Jerry Lee Lewis, and he was something extraordinary. The actor portrayed him as an annoying star with a big ego, but still appealing.

A special surprise happened after the play was over when the actors put on sparkling jackets and performed some songs.   They also involved the audience who knew all the words.

We asked some kids when they were leaving if they liked it and they gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. So, you don’t have to be from that era, or familiar with the music, to enjoy this show.

It’s sad to know that all these music legends are gone now. What lasts is their music. And they were good! When the play comes back next, year remember that it’s well-worth the money.

If you like this music, and the play comes to your town, go to it!  It will take you back and make you happy, for a while!

The Movie “Quartet” is a Winner: Dustin Hoffman’s Directorial Debut at 75 Grade: A


If you’re a baby boomer or above, you’re facing some realities. You aren’t going to look like your 25 no matter how much you try. You start noticing other changes too. You get tired faster.  Some people notice a little forgetfulness creeping in. Imagine how it’s going to be in your  70’s, 80’s and 90’s.

Acceptance of very old age is beautifully portrayed in the movie, “Quartet.” It is Dustin Hoffman’s directorial debut (at 75) and he does a sensitive job. He was wise enough to do his first production with the best actors. Try Maggie Smith, Tom Courtenay, Billy Connolly, and  Pauline Collins,   Even though they’re elderly, they’re effective.  Just like the characters they portray in the movie.

The movie is about people living in a retirement home for musicians,  Beecham, residents are notable instrumentalists and opera singers. They don’t sit around and play Bingo; they play and sing music. Most of it classical and operatic There is plenty of music interspersed throughout the movie. There’s some authentic singing done by some of these masterful actors, singers and instrumentalists.

One of the conflicts comes into play when a former diva Jean Horton, portrayed by Maggie Smith, has to make contact with her ex husband Reginald portrayed by Tom  Courtenay. You know it was a serious breakup by their reaction to each other.

The retirement home needs to put on a show to raise money so they can stay in business. Smith’s character doesn’t want to tarnish her reputation since she can’t hit the high notes she used to. Part of the movie deals with Jeans reluctance to perform again.

Although the movie drags a little in the beginning, it picks up speed and by middle, you’ll be completely captivated.

*If you live in Columbus, Ohio, it’s playing at The Drexel Theater in Bexley.

Stay for the credits. They have some before and after pictures of the actors.

( I attended this movie with people I’ve been singing in a choir with for over 20 years. By the end of the movie, we were joking about scoping out a retirement home now.  I couldn’t think of people I’d rather live with when  I’m really old! )

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Fes...

English: Dustin Hoffman at the Cannes Film Festival. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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