Sunday, May 31, 2009

Susan Boyle: Back to Life Size

It was a beautiful dream. The mousy little lady next door became an overnight sensation.

I wrote about the phenom of Susan Boyle, the Scottish church lady who could sing the socks off many younger, more beautiful, flashier superstar wannabe's, as soon as I saw the first video of her performance on Britain's Got Talent. That one got a lot of hits on this blog. On YouTube, where it originated, it broke all records. People I emailed it to reported being moved to tears--even those who normally are pretty cool about showbiz news in general and skyrocketing stars in particular.

This was something we had not seen in our lives. So many of those skyrockets are created by publicity flacks--they are pre-packaged, pre-digested, made over, and made up--using modern technology to create the illusion that they are singing and modern medicine to make them look a certain way. Here was a normal, ordinary-looking person with the audacity to announce that she wanted to be the next Elaine Page. The crowd, the judges of the competition, and we at home, were dubious. Then she sang for us.

The moment we first heard that voice is one we shall never forget. It simply was the promise fulfilled, the promise that perhaps each of us has something he can do better than anyone else. Here was this unpretentious, unknown, unheralded lady who had lived in obscurity, sheltering a blinding light that will never again be under any bushel.

The contest went on, with the finals held last night. Since that first moment, plain little Susan Boyle has no longer existed. She went to a local beauty parlor and had a few things done. She was besieged by photographers and news hounds. She appeared on television interviews. When asked what her success meant to her, she said, "I won't be lonely any more." This was a lady who lived in a remote town, had spent the last few years doing little more than attending church, singing in the choir, and caring for her mother until she died. She was unprepared for the spotlight, but she was sure she was ready and that it was going to be fun. She had no way of knowing how difficult it all was going to be.

The latest chapter happened yesterday, when she came in second in the final lap of the contest. One senses that this is the best thing that could happen to her. She needs some time to process the events of recent weeks in her life. She needs to check into her real life again before she decides how (or whether) to reinvent herself. The world needs a breather from the Susanmania that has overtaken us, and we sense that she needs to gather herself before she enters another phase of her life.

The joyful news is that of course we shall become accustomed to hearing that voice. Like that of Frank Sinatra, we will recognize the voice by its splendid timbre, and be grateful to have it wash over us time and again. We have welcomed a new neighbor into our hearts, and all we need is for her to sing to us some more.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Birthday Party in Cyberspace

All my life I've run into people with the same birthday as mine. Sometimes it's a near miss, for example, the first person I found with a birthday anywhere near mine was JFK, and he wasn't a close friend. I was delighted to learn that he was born the day after I was, but quite a few years before.

This made him another Gemini, and Gemini is the only zodiac sign that likes itself quite so much. I used to lunch at the end of May with two guys I met in the market when I was covering the textile market for a trade newspaper. We were all Geminis and we called it the Gemini lunch, agreeing after a mistake in the early years never to have lunch on an actual birthday. As they left their office one year they announced that they were both Geminis headed for lunch with another Gemini, an astrological buff at a nearby desk asked, "Who's gonna do the listening?"

There are plenty of stories I can tell about, shall we say, great friendships I've had with men whose birthday is very near mine (one I flew to Paris to meet for a weekend after not having seen for 20 years), so I have to believe that, at the very least, Geminis like each other.

Some signs of the zodiac do not share this affinity. Some actually don't like Geminis. But most are not very compatible with people of their own sign and Geminis just naturally do.

Imagine my surprise when in this morning's email there is a notification from the Internet that day after tomorrow, (my birthday) May 28, is Slezak's birthday. Slezak himself, noting in the blog that I said my birthday is coming up, mentioned that his is too. but this site apparently exists just to tell people when somebody's birthday is. I explored to find out exactly what the site is about and Slezak hadn't posted anything on it. Sometimes I see the name when I go to post a comment on a blog, but this appears to be sort of a Facebook with no traffic and no real info. It informed me that Slezak was born on the same day and year as I, even though he tells me he is a year older.

Now that I think about it, once when I was helping Slezak post comments, I used the name Slezak on this very site. It seems to me that through some clerical or computer error, the site could have thought that I myself was named Slezak and taken the birthday information off my account. This would mean that the email was actually sent to inform me of my own birthday! And the Hoboken Kid doesn't know about any of this.

I wonder if the notice will go around the Internet about me too. Most of my friends are well aware of my birthday since I take care to remind them in numerous ways in preceding weeks, usually giving myself a party, and at the very least mentioning the fact about 20 times a day during the month of May.

If there are any Geminis or FOG's (friends-of-Geminis, I just made that up) who share a birthday with us, have a happy one and remember that Geminis just like to have fun. Have a happy one! You too, Hoboken Kid!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day

Having been raised in the South, I was taught that by school and family that Memorial Day began in the South after the Civil War. Widows, mothers, and others who loved men who had lost their lives in the defense of the South in that tragic war went to cemeteries often and put flowers on the graves of their beloved men. It became institutionalized as Confederate Memorial Day, in a few years co-opted by the bereaved on both sides. At first the women of the North had their day for decorating graves, and they called it Decoration Day; but over time the two sides came together to honor all who died in the Civil War under the appellation of Memorial Day, and one day was set aside at the end of May to do so.

In the South, where many diehards still reside, there are pockets where Confederate Memorial Day is observed on various days in the year, but let us face it, there have been many more men lost in many other wars, and the memories of the Southern cause have been blurred by so many re-inventions that there is absolutely no point in defending anything about that particular war.

Imagine my surprise in later reading that Memorial Day got its start after the Civil War, when freed slaves and abolitionists gathered in Charleston, S.C., to honor Union soldiers who gave their lives to battle slavery. The holiday, the article stated, was so closely associated with the Union side, and with the fight for emancipation, that Southern states quickly established their own rival Confederate Memorial Day.

Since I’m not in the South any more, Memorial Day has a different meaning anyway. It honors Americans who have fought in all wars, and is a day to think of those who lost their lives in any of those battles. I was full grown when the government decision to move Memorial Day to whatever day of the month was the last Monday, and from time to time in certain years it falls on my birthday.

I was a baby during World War II and Memorial Day always symbolizes our victory in that conflict to me. I remember blackouts, the threat of German U-boats in Mobile Bay, and some vague fear of Nazis. One of my first memories was thinking I heard my grandfather say, “This war is terrible, but there has been no war as terrible as the Silver War.” This was so daunting that I and my little friends played Silver War to exorcise the threat—we thought the Civil War was a a rain of silver boulders more deadly than any cannonball or bullet.

Only when our daddies came home did we learn more about the war in which they’d fought and so many had lost their lives. They do not speak of it, but they returned changed and over time we are finding out why. Tom Brokaw, who is my age exactly, calls those men “The Greatest Generation.” I admire them too, but often have thought that his elevation of them to a state near sainthood comes from his being of an age in which there was no such war to test our young men and women.

Over the years, our country has been involved in other such conflicts and always our boys go bravely forward to fight. Recent wars may have been less easy to comprehend or to sacrifice our boys' lives for, but it is to our country’s credit that we have the spirit to support our troops and that this day has been set aside to thank the fortunate ones who are still with us and honor those who didn’t make it home.

Let us observe the day in the spirit in which it was intended, by thinking of the real meaning of each and every war, from the American Revolution through the Civil War and all the wars we have lived through. While we contemplate these greater meanings, let us hope there will soon be an end to the far away war our country is involved in now.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Pondering Jane Fonda

I’ve been on a Jane Fonda jag ever since I took in the matinee of 33 Variations (which closed last night) on Broadway a couple of weeks ago. I picked up a copy of My Life So Far, her 579-page autobiography, from the table in front of Symposia Books a few days later and read it with relish.

I know many of my regular readers (the macho men, primarily) will be turned off by any mention of Hanoi Jane, the strident antiwar activist of the 1960’s, but I must write about her. I admire her enormously, even moreso after having seen her extraordinary performance in 33 Variations and now having finished the volume about her life in her own words.

Fonda had a childhood that would have made a weaker reed buckle and break. Daughter of a beloved movie star who was also a great actor (think Grapes of Wrath) who also was, without a film role to hide behind, cold and distant to the point of being unkind, she had that toxic combination growing up of living the appearance of privilege while tolerating the actual abandonment of a neurotic mother (in and out of hospitals and ultimately taking her own life by cutting her throat) and the emotional abandonment of a rigid and unavailable father. From her earliest days she was thrown in the pool of life and commanded to swim.

To be sure, she had the natural gifts of great good looks and the soul of an actress. This acting talent came in handy as she spent her childhood trying to please everyone while yearning to be free of the confusing hand she’d been dealt. With her own talents and a famous and adored father it was pretty easy to become a movie star. It was what went on behind the scenes that created the chaos of her days. In the book she expertly takes us through her childhood forward to her multiple careers as an actress, activist, fitness guru, mother, trophy wife, and back to her current reality at age 71 as her own person, at every step examining the value of her span on this earth and introducing us to a realm we could hardly imagine.

First of all, what about those husbands? One, an egomaniacal French movie director who wanted her to be as much a sex kitten as his ex-wife, Brigitte Bardot. He was intellectual and kinky and made an odd partner, although she insists he was a wonderful father to their daughter. Then came her political phase, in which she broke from the husband who was bored with what he called her “Jane of Arc” (his phrase) activism.

Soon she found and connected with Tom Hayden, the ex-hippie ("yippie," actually) who had political ambitions. Lastly, the oddball billionaire Ted Turner, who comes to life on the page as just the nimble-minded bumbler he seems when he appears in public.

All three larger than life—all three at least temporarily fit companions for the living legend she has become.

The book is full of movie anecdotes but it is hardly just another movie star memoir. Fonda looks at every page of her life anew, explaining to us and herself the depths of what her earnest curiosity exposed her to—including the moments she’d rather forget. She gives us the reasons for her involvement with the antiwar movement during Vietnam. She is brutally honest with herself in describing her mistake of being photographed sitting apparently happily on the enemy’s antiaircraft weapon in a time of war. She reveals herself as a young woman motivated by self-loathing that she regards bulimia as a weight control tool. She so driven in her pursuit of the craft of acting that it is difficult to fathom she is actually a beautiful girl with a natural talent for self-expression. Perfectionism, it would seem, is a curse with which she must constantly grapple.

Her central theme of being a woman of a certain age at this point in history resonates like a tuning fork with me. Her ability to deal with her mistakes and start again is inspiring and what she writes about feminism and the many phases of womanhood is insightful and causes the reader to confront them. I am pleased to have the book to refer to as it poses many questions and answers others.

About 33 Variations, I have to say she gave a very moving performance. I was sitting closer to the stage than I usually do, and I could see tears in those beautiful blue eyes and the trembling hands as the character she was playing grew weaker in the final scenes of the play. She was awesome to watch—every bit as beautiful at this age as she was in her unformed, glamorous youth. It made me proud to be a member of her team. The play is the recipient of several Tony nominations. I would be pleased if it wins them all, particularly if Fonda wins Best Actress in a Leading Role (Drama).

Monday, May 18, 2009

Frank Sinatra Blues

The word is out in Hoboken that Martin Scorsese is planning a new movie about Frank Sinatra. People are wondering what this one will be like.

Will he find an unknown to play the role, or will he give it to one of his faves, for example Leonardo Di Caprio? Slezak suggests that the casting people go for Harry Connick, Jr., if the movie is about the Sinatra of the late 1950's. If the movie is about Sinatra as a kid in Hoboken, he needs to find a reedy little slick blue-eyed lad with sass and a great set of pipes.

Whatever period the movie covers, Slezak thinks I'm right for the role of Dolly, Frank's pushy, ballsy, ever-lovin' Italian mother. The part of a lifetime, that one. Are you listening, Marty?

Can you not think of Sinatra at this time of year in Hoboken? The town abounds with Sinatra images and echoes with tales of his lifetime conflicts, so many born out of his ambivalence about his hometown. There are people here who deeply resent his attitude about Hoboken after he made it and left. The view of New York City still dominates Hoboken, and when it was a settlement of poor immigrants, it must have even more. So near and yet so far. Hoboken kids had only to hop on a ferry to get to the city, but when they were there, what? They'd hop on another ferry home to their walkups in the western ("downtown") area of town after a brief outing and wonder what real New Yorkers were like. Frank found out, becoming a quintessential New York type, setting the stage of the 1950's with his songs and his freewheeling style. He had gotten a toughness from Hoboken, a soul from his Italian heritage, and a life from his own gusto and guts.

And the guy could sing a song. Whenever I read about his behavior and his exploits, some of which make my blood boil, I always come back to the way he romanced a song until he, as Steve Lawrence once said, made a three-act play out of it. He seemed to have music in his bloodstream and the talent for acting that could infuse a simple tin pan alley number with operatic force. Upbeat or bluesy, in Sinatra's hands every song became more.

There will be another movie about Sinatra. Which facet of the man will it touch? The latest news releases say there will be no "gangsters" in it. Does that mean it won't be set in Hoboken, then? I can't imagine Scorsese doing a nice movie about a band singer from the 1940's and 50's who had no mob connections...I'll wait til he sends me my script, and then I'll tell you some more about it.

In the meantime, I think I'll go get my vinyl of "In the Wee Small Hours" and put in on the Victrola. This is a good excuse to give that one a listen.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

How's That Diet Coming?

A week or so ago I had an email from Nan with the casual query, "How's your diet coming?" Much as I understand how boring the details of others' diets may be, I am going to attempt to answer her here for her and the rest of you who may be curious.

In fact, I had hoped to make another video so you could see for yourselves, but my little flipcam is on loan to the University of Alabama for an education project. I know that sounds like a joke, but it isn't. Maybe I'll give you the details someday--in the meantime, I am without a video camera for the time being.

As to the diet, I'm still on it after six weeks. Remember, it was not an effort to lose weight, but to redefine food once and for all and improve my health for the rest of my life. In my case, this means: no snacks, no bread, no dessert (unless you count fresh fruit with yogurt), and very close attention to portion size. I took my recipes for the first two weeks from a book called The Snowbird Diet, and after that I've been winging it using occasional meals from it and limiting my food intake keeping the above "no's" very much at the forefront.

I haven't felt deprived, I haven't felt enormously hungry, I just felt pleased that it wasn't any more difficult than it has been. Oh, there have been moments when I would have killed for a chunk of fresh mozzarella or a couple of handfuls of Craisins, but I haven't had either since April.

I said before that I wasn't in this for weight loss. That's good because I haven't lost any weight to speak of. I had gained eight pounds since moving to Hoboken in December 2007, and since the first of April I've lost three.

As for exercise, I go to the gym four days a week and walk probably a mile a day (since this is Hoboken and I sold my car before relocating). I live in a fourth-floor walkup and climb those stairs an average of three times a day. I get much more exercise than I did two years ago, and am eating considerably less.

Why I'm not losing weight, I don't know. Believe me I've rationalized every way from "At my age it's harder to lose weight" to "I'm eating more carbohydrates since I eat more fiber," but I'm still not sure why it is. But since I didn't start this program as a way to lose weight, I'm trying not to let the situation discourage me. There's a possibility weight will begin to come off in time--I know I'm expending more calories than I'm taking in, it's just that I'm not sure my body has figured this out yet.

So, the answer to the title question is that this isn't really a diet, and I don't seem to be losing weight, but I'm committed to the changes and I feel fine. When my videocam comes back I'll show you.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Old Hoboken Rises Again

Seems my readers are inspired of late to remind me of what they once loved: Hoboken of the 1940s and 50s. Some find the post about the Fabian Theatre, others go to old posts like Back to the Past.

Dennis of pigeons-in-the-piano fame just made this comment on one of those nostalgic posts.

"I think about the sounds and smells of Hoboken quite a bit, being that I live close to the Bay here and you do not hear those sounds anymore.

"When there was fog you used to hear the fog horns all the time from the Hudson River. Sit in the Ferry Building and you can hear the clanking of the chains as they used to tie the ferries in. I actually miss the sound of the buses as they passed my house. In the winter you could hear the chains on the tires of the buses. The buses has a kind of swish to their tires when it rained. You could hear the railroad train horns and if you lived downtown you heard the click, click, click of the railcars at night. The bus doors also had a particular sound to them when they opened or closed. The sound of a ship being docked at the Holland American line by the tugboats. In the summer the sound of the Peddler selling fruit from his truck. Once a week the fish monger.
On Saturdays the smell of the hallways and stoops being washed. You never walked in a wet hallway or walked on a wet stoop!!!!!

"Hoboken also had its smells, but that might come later due to me running out of room here."

And Slezak emailed me this flyer from one of the shows at the Fabian.Gregg K. found the Fabian post and added this comment: Wow, does the Fabian bring back tremendous memories. I used to live on Bloomfield Street, literally a block away and I used to go nearly every weekend to see the latest movies. Sure is sad to know it's gone, but just like my long gone parents, it will always be in my heart.

Those days are gone, and Hoboken is changing every day--tomorrow will be election day, after all. But there are still plenty of people all over the country who remember Hoboken's past. Click on the blue letters, browse the blog for old Hoboken posts, and enjoy yourself. Even if you just moved to Hoboken, you'll enjoy the trip!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Boy Who Cried Swine

Now that the swine flu pandemic is becoming a memory, we wonder if it really was all that it was cracked up to be. The term influenza strikes fear in humans and swine alike and it's hard to say where they will hit and where the next will come from.

Somebody, I hope it was not a little boy (as in the old tale "The Boy Who Cried Wolf") said the strain originated in an industrial pig farm in Mexico. Duncan Turnbull, writing on the Guardian.UK blog, says:

"It is thought that swine flu may have come from one of the industrialised and intensive pig farms in Mexico. However, the point is that this strain of flu is passed from human to human. Pigs no longer play any role in viral transmission and the newly mutated H1N1 virus is not found in them. Pigs do not spread the flu, nor can you catch swine flu from pork products. Given this knowledge, calling the disease 'swine flu', 'pigfluenza' or 'pig flu' seem tenuous at best.

"Yaakov Litzman, a deputy health minister of Israel, went even further, saying 'swine flu' is an offensive term as it refers to animals which are unclean in the Jewish and Islamic faiths. 'We will call it Mexico flu. We won't call it swine flu,' Litzman stated, somewhat to the dismay of Mexicans. Taiwan calls it 'new flu', the European commission uses 'novel flu virus' and the World Health Organisation 'Influenza A (H1N1)'.

"At the end of the day, referring to it as 'swine flu' is more than just tenuous; it is misleading and potentially dangerous. In Egypt the health minister, Hatem al-Gabali, bizarrely ordered the cull of 350,000 pigs. Four days later, hundred of Christian pig farmers rioted in Cairo, exchanging stones for tear gas with police. If the aim of the Egyptian government was to prevent panic then it seems it has not worked; if their aim was to prevent large groups of people coming into close contact with each other to prevent the spread of disease, then it has been a disaster. As one commentator said, only their capriciousness tops their ignorance.

"The last four days of April saw strong losses in the pork markets with lean hogs and pork bellies falling by as much as 10%. Evidence like this supports the view that such a careless naming may have dire consequences for a pig industry which has taken its fair share of pain over the past five years.

"As the chief veterinary officer at the UN says, 'It is not a swine influenza, it's a human influenza.' Swine flu is spread by people, not pigs. It would be a great shame if the rebranding of swine flu to something more neutral comes too late."

President Obama has begun referring to it as "H1N1 flu" which I think is fairer all around, to swine and humans. It is thought that it will return next flu season, worse than ever, while an effective vaccine is being sought right now. I've always been a little leary of the yearly flu vaccine, based as they are on somebody's guess what the next flu epidemic will consist of. Will I take an H1N1 shot? We shall see.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Movies You May Have Missed

I'm having so much fun with the movie thing and all the comments that I thought I'd add my thoughts about a few favorites you may have missed.

Babette's Feast: I love movies that have cooking in them. This gem tells an Isak Dinesen tale of lonely sisters in the cold Danish climate, raised as the daughters of a stern Protestant minister. Sound thrilling so far? Well, stay with me, it gets better. They and their whole village are brought to life by an impoverished Frenchwoman who comes to stay and opens their lives in an extraordinary way through the magic of, of all things, food. One of my all-time favorites.

Stage Beauty Love and gender bending during the Restoration, when the women's roles were played on the English stage by beautiful boys. A really delightful film starring Billy Crudup and Claire Danes, with Rupert Everette as a wicked King Charles.

Vicki Cristina Barcelona I don't know why this one didn't fare better at the box office and at Oscar time, but at least Penelope Cruz one the award she deserved as a Spanish artist with the temperament to match. Beautiful scenery, an interesting plot, and some of the most talented actors around, directed by the amazing Woody Allen.

The Cider House Rules I treasure Michael Caine with his portrayal of the sympathetic doctor who manages an orphanage and tucks the boys in every night saying, "Good night, you princes of kings of New England..." Toby MacGuire and Charlize Theron and the magnificent background music (recently co-opted by the Department of Tourism for the State of Michigan for television commercials) by Rachel Portman round this out for a nearly-perfect little film.

The Shipping News Extraordinary acting by Kevin Spacey, Cate Blanchett (in a real shocking stretch), and Judi Dench in a dark, cold, wonderful movie.

Henry and June This one is about racy novelist Henry Miller and his wife and their little dalliances in Paris, notably with the intriguing diarist Anais Nin. The settings were absolutely convincingly Paris in the 1920's, and the atmosphere of freedom and particularly sexual liberation came through very loud and clear. It's explicit and erotic, so if that's not for you, you won't like this one. Ahem--I loved it.

Spanglish I love Adam Sandler when he plays a grownup, and I don't even mind when he plays an eternal child. In this, he's somewhere in between, married to a demanding and obnoxious wife, played to perfection by Tea Leoni, and he's a chef (cooking again!). It's a serious little movie with a few laughs, and a touching little scenario about impossible love.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Ten Best Movies Ever Made

Around the new year, New York Times contributor Stanley Fish published a column called the Ten Best American Movies. I looked it over and realized none of them would make my ten best list, and none of my ten best were on his list. Fish’s list: The Best Years of Our Lives, Sunset Boulevard, Double Indemnity, Shane, Red River, Raging Bull, Vertigo, Groundhog Day, Meet Me in St. Louis, and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Fish states that the first two are #1 and #2 and the rest are tied for #3. That was a neat trick, I thought, and some of the movies are among my most admired. But Sunset Boulevard was a huge disappointment to me when I finally saw it—I thought Swanson looked phony and downright cuckoo and any halfway sane guy would run for his life at first sight. If Holden was even slightly attracted to her (the only way the plot would have made sense) he didn’t show it one iota. I didn’t see Raging Bull and couldn’t be persuaded to, much as I adore de Niro. And Vertigo never quite worked for me. It’s slick and entertaining, but overall just a little dull and sleep-inducing.

Today I attempt a more ambitious list, the ten best movies ever made. You're bound to disagree. My list will not contain all of Slezak’s English favorites, but it will not be only American movies either. They will not be in any particular order, but all are cherished for different reasons.

La Strada—Federico Fellini’s heartbreaking masterpiece of dependence versus romance, with towering performances by Anthony Quinn, Guillieta Masini and Richard Basehart.

The Seventh Seal—My favorite Ingmar Bergman, elegant and dark, with a troupe of traveling players and a silent stalker called Death.

Henry V—By turns educational, charming, inspiring and romantic, Laurence Olivier takes the bard’s play from a performance at the Globe, expertly recreated, seamlessly to the fields of Agincourt where a real king becomes a man.

Seven Chances—Buster Keaton, to my mind the greatest silent film comedian (I know, I know, there was another one, who may have been a full-fledged genius), at his best in acting with just a look in his eyes. A delightful climax displays his great talent for running.

Citizen Kane—A thoroughly intellectual film by the young Orson Welles, skewering William Randolph Hearst with a brave little movie that ended up wrecking Welles’ own career rather than that of the man he set out to expose.

Brief Encounter—The touchingly doomed English romance, with superb performances and a script by Noel Coward.

Of Human Bondage—Bette Davis delivers a knockout punch with her portrayal as she tries to destroy the well-intentioned but hapless Leslie Howard in this telling of the Somerset Maugham tale.

From Here to Eternity—Pearl Harbor is made real with some wonderful actors and the most powerful kiss ever filmed. Who needs a nude bedroom scene after that?

To Kill a Mockingbird—Everybody’s favorite father figure, Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch, helps some innocent Southern kids understand the meaning of the word character in this beautiful filming of the Harper Lee novel. My favorite scene, at the end, is when the blacks, ringing the balcony of the courtroom, say to the little girl, "Stand up, Miss Jean Louise. Your father is passing."

Singin’ in the Rain—Hollywood looks at itself and gives us a passel of good songs, awesomely great dances, and a movie to remember. Who can forget Donald O’Connor with that dummy on the couch and jumping through the “wall” at the big finish of the “Be a Clown” number, or that one where Gene Kelly gets all wet while dancing in the puddles?

You're probably mystified by some of my choices. You probably know whether I got the quote right from To Kill a Mockingbird. There were a couple of near-misses when I pared the list to ten, and maybe I should have included some of them. Care to make up a list of your own? Turns out it's not so easy as I thought it would be.