All That Jazz

I watched the chef Michael Cimarusti on CBS This Morning. Some of his signature recipes include warm lobster roll, Manhattan clam chowder, smoked bluefish or Spanish mackerel dip, Josephine’s clam fritters, stuffies, whoopie pies, and a Born in East L.A. cocktail. After I did my laundry, I sat down in front of my computer and looked up the American Top 40 playlist for this weekend. The Top 10 songs on March 31, 1973 were “The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia,” “Sing,” “Danny’s Song,” “Last Song,” “Break Up to Make Up,” “Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I’ve Got),” “Love Train,” “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye),” “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” and “Killing Me Softly with His Song.” I listened to Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me. I took the bus so that I could buy a pair of shoes, and at Old Navy I bought a white shirt that was on sale. After I returned home, I watched “All That Jazz” on Blu-ray. I did think that high definition made the movie more enjoyable over the CD version. I was very impressed with what Roy Scheider did. The first seven minutes of the film were fascinating and said more to me than all of “A Chorus Line” did. It’s hard to convey just how rich in content this movie is. It touches on all the important elements of life and death. It offers some moments of warmth and humor in the middle of the bleak downward spiral of a person’s life. One of the scenes I liked best had Joe working with his daughter with dance exercises. She complains that those fun moments go by too quickly. It’s like all of life. Of course, another great scene is the dance to “Everything Old is New Again.” Ann Reinking is really remarkable in this movie. I felt that a lot went into every second of this movie. Jessica Lange had one of her most memorable roles in this picture. I noticed that every one of the key figures in Joe Gideon’s life was a female. There was no brother and no son, and even Death was a woman. Show business creates false relationships and shattered hopes. Why is it worth it? Joe works to edit a film that may or may not be any good but has a comedian talking about the stages of dying. Some people might find the last half hour of the movie mesmerizing, while others might find it ridiculous. It definitely brought to mind Fellini. You’ve got Broadway glitz, emotions spilling out in song and dance with Ben Vereen no less, and that incessant, overwhelming, childish need for attention. What was Joe doing smoking cigarettes in the hospital? It was important to see those two people outside show business at the end, the patient who was in pain and the hospital worker who found Joe. I could never get over the mix of the Everly Brothers and fatalism in that last number. It occurred to me that Roy Scheider sounded to me like Leonard Cohen. This movie felt like it went places that movies had never been before. John Lithgow had a part as a director who was set to take over Gideon’s production because of this health problems. Wallace Shawn was a legal assistant who could use a calculator without looking at it. The last two shots are hard to forget. You get a feeling of floating. I thought of Orson Welles. I don’t care which real-life people the characters were based upon, except for Bob Fosse. I thought the dance rehearsal scenes were great. It was hard to forget Gideon telling Victoria that she couldn’t be a great dancer, but he might make her a better dancer. I felt there was a similarity between the dancers and the students I try to teach each semester. Only a few stand out in any way. When I look at this movie and compare it to today’s movies, it seems brave. It reaches for real meaning in ways that nobody these days attempts. It feels like an even greater movie now. The Criterion Collection edition had a lot of special features that I couldn’t get to in one night. I’d like to see “Sweet Charity” again one of these days. The Star Trek episode of the night was the classic “The City on the Edge of Forever.” Joan Collins played the key character. I found it hard to believe that Spock could set up his tricorder with tubes to see the events of the future. I wondered where Kirk and Spock hid their uniforms, because they were wearing them when they returned from the past. I wondered why the landing party’s communicators and other equipment didn’t all disappear when McCoy changed the past. Who knows if Uhura would have still existed? You can’t assume that Spock would have still existed, since he is only half-Vulcan. The Federation could have used the time machine in useful ways. If I could go back in time, I might go back to December 8, 1980 and try to prevent Mark David Chapman from killing John Lennon. I should also try to prevent that man from stabbing George Harrison, since the incident led to his early death. I could spend the rest of my life going back in time trying to save people. The movie on KQED was “Julie and Julia” at 2:00. I was getting too sleepy after 11 o’clock to watch any more television. Brian Hackney did the weather report, predicting high temperatures everywhere. I avoided the Svengoolie movie “The Evil of Frankenstein.” Some of the people who died on March 29 include Joyce Cary (1957), Carl Orff (1982), Paul Henreid (1992), Bill Travers (1994), Alistair Cooke (2004), Maurice Jarre (2009), and Luke Askew (2012). Today is a birthday for Amy Sedaris (54), Christopher Lambert (58), Brendan Gleeson (60), and Eric Idle (72). According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for March 29, Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show appeared on cover of Rolling Stone magazine, although in caricature. In 1976, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” won the Oscar for Best Picture, while Jack Nicholson was Best Actor, and Louise Fletcher was Best Actress.

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