7 October, 1999












Click on the Stanyan logo to subscribe to the McKuen Mailing List

A Thought for Today

A friend is forever.



Today I'm feeling as sunny as our still summer-like skies. It's mostly the afterglow of Petula Clark's performance last night as Norma Desmond in "Sunset Blvd." As different as Glenn Close origination of the role and every bit as valid. Glenn played Norma as eccentric and enigmatic, building the eccentricity till she goes quite mad at the end.

Petula makes Miss Desmond more vulnerable. Eccentric all right, but totally practical and savvy, she oozes sex appeal to lure the much younger and out of work writer to her bed instead of commanding him. She is at once sly, sweet and manipulating. Where Close is frightening and demanding in her madness and makes broke Joe Gillis in effect "An offer he can't refuse." What man, young or old, broke or in the chips, would give up a chance to bed the demented but delightfully so Norma as played by Clark. Incidentally the chemistry between Miss Clark and Joe played with the right amount of bravado and self-loathing by Lewis Cleale is very effective.

Clark plays the role with both pathos and humor. Close was scary and relentlessly imperial to the end. Clark's final decent down the great staircase, suddenly reveals for the first time in the evening, a defeated, heartbreaking older woman, who only returns to her mad belief that she is indeed 'The Greatest Star' when she is told the cameras are rolling.

Proudly she extols the famous "I'm ready for my close, Mr. DeMille," line. She is back in her make believe world again believing it. Last night it brought a tough Los Angeles audience to its feet the moment she uttered it. No easy task since Glenn Close originated the role in this very city and became the toast of the town by doing so. And now, Petula Clark as Norma Desmond? You bet! And last night a packed Pantages Theatre was raising their glasses high again.

Two Normas, both quite different and both making the star of yesteryear with only her memories very memorable. I couldn't possibly choose which performer I prefer, because both Norma's are perfectly valid.

I'm seeing it again Sunday night. Next week I'd like to review the singing actress as opposed to the actress singer.

- RM 10/6/99 Previously unpublished

A Year Ago This Week: from 7/10/98 Flight Plan

Getting To Know Ourselves

The more we get to know ourselves the harder it is to justify our quirks and habits. Fortunately the older we grow the more at ease we become with who and what we are. That's how it should be, anyway, some kind of balance. Boy is balance tricky. I could never be a high wire walker; I'd fall to ground the first day up. But, God, how hard I try to balance what should be done and what has to be done. How do others do it? That's a book I'd pay to read.

Such books exist on miles and miles of self-help shelves, but none have ever worked for me. Do you continue to ignore a couple dozen letters that should have had an answer three months ago in favor of work deadlined tomorrow? Beats me. Making earlier deadlines on how and when a project can and should be done is not the answer. I'm already sixty odd years late on that one.

- RM first Published 10/98

Details of Rod's next appearance can be obtained by following the link below.

"Tap Your Troubles Away" - the music of Jerry Herman

notable birthdays Nancy Ames o Kenny Baker o Marc Bolan o Truman Capote o Len Cariou o Lacey Chabert o Jill Corey o Angie Dickinson o Fran Drescher o Jenna Elfman o Deborah Farentino o Z.Z. Hill o Martina Hingis o Deborah Kerr o Rula Lenska o Jonathan Lloyd o Frankie Lymon o Lester Maddox o Johnny Mathis o Marilyn McCoo o W. S. Merwin o Dominique Moceanu o Anne Nagel o Chung Hee Park o Johnny Podres o Jody Powell o Buddy Rich o Eric Stoltz o Robby Takac o Elie Wiesel
Rod's random thoughts Whatever you do, do with deliberation - but always keep an eye out for the consequences.

Don't consider life an avalanche. Take it as it comes, unless you're skiing.

When in doubt, cross it out.

september 30

the lake is quiet now
not a boat
not a swan
or the circle of a breathing fish
disturbs its waters...
the moon is crawling through the trees
on its belly
see... its legs are that clump of reeds

oh yes
i remember my town
the warm beer of sunday
the lavender smell of my mother’s bathroom
the growing older and the tears

as a child
i got a liberal education
my playmates were
a bootlegger’s son
a friendly old lesbian
a generation of trick babies... my generation
i was a bastard child
conceived by an act of passion

i tell you this because
after a lifetime of being nothing
i am in love... and loved

-from “. . . and autumn came,” 1954, 1969

© 1954, 1969, 1984, 1998, 1999, 2001 by Stanyan Music Group & Rod McKuen. All Rights Reserved
Birthday research by Wade Alexander o Poetry from the collection of Jay Hagan o Coordinated by Melinda Smith
Want to comment on today's Flight Plan?
Send e-mail to Rod McKuen or post a message at the Rod McKuen Message Center
home page   today's flight plan   flight plan archives   search this site   site map