Saturday, December 3, 2016

A whole lot of lovin’ is what she’ll be bringing… c’mon Doug, get happy

 

Okay, I just finished this memoir a couple hours ago & I was honestly smacking my lips like I’d just finished a tasty meal.  Shirley Jones autobiography hit the bookstores in 2013, but as much as I loved my second-favorite tv mom I couldn’t bring myself to pay $15.99 for another celebrity autobiography—even if she did play a very happy part in my childhood as Shirley Partridge on ‘The Partridge Family’.  Nope, wasn’t gonna happen.

And then the reviews came in, and fans cried foul over Shirley’s raunchy sexcapades.  Wait, what?  Now I’ve got to---no!  I’m still not forkin’ over all that dough!

Cut to the present, and the day after the Presidential election I went on barnesandnoble.com looking for something to take my mind off things and Shirley’s book popped up with a reduced price of $7.99.  And for a 55 year old “70s kid” like myself, who lived for Friday night television and the Brady Bunch & Partridge Family, Shirley Jones: A Memoir does not disappoint.

She starts out innocently enough, a small town girl from Charleroi, PA (about 30-40 miles from me) who dreamed of being a veterinarian.  But she liked to sing too, and was told by her church’s choir director she had a good voice so her beloved dad drove her to Pittsburgh weekly for singing lessons. 

Her singing teacher convinced Shirley to enter a local pageant to win a 2 year scholarship to the Pittsburgh Playhouse; she did, and won the title of ‘Miss Pittsburgh’ in 1952

The next thing ya know, while in New York one weekend visiting the former Pittsburgh Playhouse director, he invites her to sing on the empty stage of the theater he’s with, and who overhears her song?  The casting director for Rodgers & Hammerstein, who informs her that Richard Rodgers is right next door, would she sing for him?  She does, he likes what he hears & sees, and casts her in his new show “Oklahoma!“  A star is born.

 

 

Shirley in Oklahoma!  "Being a Broadway star would be nice, but I wanted to be a vet.” 

Her rise to fame in Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals isn’t anything new that you can’t read on Wikipedia for free, but I knew things were going to get interesting when she writes of meeting the sauve & debonair Jack Cassidy, and was warned by her agent Selma he was a skirt chaser—and married:

She meant so well, Selma did.  She just didnt know that I was—and always would be—the kind of girl who would always do exactly the opposite of what she was asked, a headstrong girl who flew in the face of advice and went against convention, with her eyes fixed on the next adventure!

Uh-huh.  Anyway, Shirley tells us that even though she’s always known she was very sexual, it wasn’t until her early twenties when she met Jack that she lost her virginity (and then some).  On their honeymoon, when Shirley teases him about all the women he’s been with, he nonchalantly adds that he’s been with men too—including famed composer Cole Porter.  (Hey, a struggling actor’s gotta do whatever it takes—especially if you’re a sex-addict like Jack Cassidy.)

 

Married from 1956 to 1974, Shirley says Jack was an absentee father to their three sons Shaun, Patrick & Ryan.  He cheated on her constantly, once left her for Yvonne Craig (Batgirl), got her to participate in a threesome (she details who did what to whom) & made her life a living hell.  She adds that “Jack will always be the greatest love of my life”

Shirley’s film career waned in the 1960s, but she claims it didn’t bother her at all as she loved being a stay-at-home mom to her 3 boys (and stepson David Cassidy).  She also tells us that David was very well-endowed, so much that his brothers called him “Donk” and Jack once commented “where did you get that thing?” 

(You can’t help but wonder how this became known, let alone a topic for discussion; c’mon!)  Shirley sheepishly admits that things might’ve been a little too open when her son Patrick came downstairs while she was fixing pancakes one morning and excitedly told her he just had his first orgasm.  All she could think to say was “That’s nice, dear.”

We then get into the 1970s, when Shirley lets Hollywood know she’d like a television series.  (It was virtually unheard of then, a Broadway performer & movie star wanting to do tv.)  She happily accepted the role of mom on ‘The Partridge Family’.  She adds that a year prior, she’d been offered the role of Carol Brady on ‘The Brady Bunch’, but turned it down as she didn’t want to play another bored, smiling housewife.  (How did I not know this?)  But the idea of being television’s “first single working mother” on a show about a musical family excited her.  Originally, I thought I was the one who would be singing the songs, but when David’s star took off, I didn’t mind at all.

Shirley shares a lot of Partridge lore that we’ve heard over the years.  (Susan Dey’s crush on David, his many female conquests, etc.)  She adds that when the ‘first Chris’ (bottom left) was let go after the first season for behavioral issues and replaced with Brian Forster for the remainder of the series, “we didn’t receive a single letter of inquiry or complaint”

She also writes of favorite guest stars (a very professional 11 year old Jodie Foster, Louis Gossett Jr, Rob Reiner as ‘Snake’) and guest stars she didn’t like--a drugged up Richard Pryor, Dick Clark of American Bandstand & Ray Bolger (the scarecrow from ‘Wizard of Oz’) who played her dad—and was a real diva.

What really surprised me though was her favorite episode, ‘Whale Song’—because she finally got her own solo.  (Sorry Shirley, but this has to be the least favorite song of the series!  You can watch it here.) 

Shirley writes that Dave Madden (who played their agent Reuben Kincaid) was closest to Danny Bonaduce, but teased him constantly.  Dave once asked Danny if he knew why the two of them were even on the show.  “For laughs” Danny answered.  Dave said “No, it’s because we’re so ugly.  Look at Susan Dey, David Cassidy, Shirley Jones.  They’re the beautiful people.  They need us uglies to balance things out.” 

After the end of ‘The Partridge Family’ (and Shirley’s marriage to Jack Cassidy) in 1974, she met & married Marty Ingels in 1977—much to all her son’s dismay.  Hmm, they don’t look so distraught to me…

Shirley ends her book by telling us that she & Marty are still very happily married; sadly, this book was published in 2013 and Marty Ingels died in 2015.

There’s a lot I’m leaving out of course, but here’s two things that kind of surprised me.  For one, towards the end of the book Shirley explains the importance of “self love” and not only when she does this (daily) but how she does it as well!  Just when you thought you’ve seen and read it all...  Eye rolling smile

And finally, an amusing story Shirley shares from 1979, when she was given another television series ‘Shirley’.  She wasn’t expecting success on the scale of ‘The Partridge Family’, but was excited about being on weekly television again.  Famed producer Fred Silverman owned the show, and as filming began he excitedly told her on a daily basis how great she was and how thrilled the network was with what they were seeing—so she was surprised when she drove to the studio one morning and the guard at the gate told her to go home, her show had been canceled.  No calls, no nothing—I found out I was fired from a studio guard.

Soon after, Marty & I were having dinner at the Polo Lounge in the Beverly Hills Hotel when all of a sudden I noticed Fred Silverman having dinner in one of the booths with three women.  I turned to Marty and said “That asshole!  I’m going to go over there and tell him exactly what I think!”  Marty turned chalk-white and said “Please Shirley, please don’t do that.”   But that’s exactly what I did!  And for once in all my years of marriage, I finally got to be the crazy person!

It was her only swear-word in the entire book.  Love you, Shirley!

shirley

Monday, November 14, 2016

Thinking out loud: Where do we (and where do I) go from here

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A couple days ago, I did something on here I once promised I’d never do again—I deleted my last post.  And the one before that, and the one before that.  It was a couple days after Donald Trump won the Presidential election and I was feeling stunned and angry (still am) but also naive, arrogant & despondent.  I just couldn’t stand looking at these posts anymore.

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The first is from November 1 where I was almost giddy over my choice of Obamacare plans for 2017;  the second is from November 5, with a wink-wink nod to the ‘obvious’ victor (Hillary); and finally, the night of the election when the writing was on the wall

I confess I’ve been looking at this from two different viewpoints.  I worry what Trump and the GOP have in store for this country, but I’m scared for myself too.  If it hadn’t been for accessibility to affordable health insurance, I never would’ve left my job with UPMC.  (Though at the time, it didn’t feel like a choice.)  There’s a lot of talk about ‘repeal & replace’ of Obamacare, but no one knows what that means.  I don’t care what Trump claims, I have a feeling the repeal will come a lot sooner than the replace. 

(And after the year I’ve had with kidney stones & TMJ, with 2 trips to 2 emergency rooms, I just can’t imagine going without.)

Frankly, I’m exhausted with all of it.  I’ve been trying to stay off Facebook, where a couple former classmates are overjoyed and happily rubbing Democrats noses in it; meanwhile, other Trumpeteers are giving long, tiresome speeches on how we should all be thinking and behaving.  Even the Hillary supporters are wearing me down, angrily pointing out over & over how we’re all fudged and “look what Trump is doing NOW”  as if it will make a difference.

I will say I’m trying my best to understand why things happened the way they did.  The more I hear & read of former miners, autoworkers & other blue collar workers not just wanting change but desperate for it, I get why they voted the way they did.  It helps with the anger some (mine, at least).  I just hope they’re not the ones who get punished most for choosing who they did. 

Click on the image below to sign this petition--hey ya never know, crazier things have happened!

petitionforHillary

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Where have all the sofas gone, long time passing...

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This is my current seating arrangement; my brother-in-law Jim’s daughter-in-law Jessica said “it looks cozy but I’m sure it’s uncomfortable”.  She sure got that right!  Okay, I know what you’re thinking:  Doug, what happened to the new couch you got for your new apartment?  It’s gone, and I have a sore butt as I’m typing this, and I couldn’t be happier.  (Well, I could be happier—if I had another couch.)  I suppose I should’ve said I couldn’t be more grateful.

In a nutshell, the new sofa was a shoddy piece of furniture and was torturing my legs & back.  After I decided I’d be moving closer to family and found this apartment, my sister & I was browsing the furniture department of the local Big Lots & she remarked the look of one particular sofa was something I’d probably like.  She was absolutely right; it was a modern earthy-olive tweed and in a sea of brown & black leather jumbo-couches, was almost calling to me.   I gave it a quick sit-down, felt a little discomfort but figured it just needed breaking in & handed the clerk my credit card.   (It sat in storage there for nearly 3 weeks, and then in my vacant apartment for another couple weeks, waiting for me to move in.)  And for the last 3 weeks, I perched on one end, or tried to ‘squish’ myself into it’s center, anywhere to find a spot that wasn’t torturing parts of my body after sitting on it more than 10 minutes.  

Cut to 3 days ago (and a very forgiving furniture manager and a very helpful landlord) and that… thing is out of here, and I got my money back.  So now what?  My sister Shawn & her husband Jim went furniture shopping with me yesterday, we went to not one but 4 furniture stores—and honestly, I pretty much disliked most of what I saw.  (All I want is something under 80” in length, two seat cushions instead of 3 and in an olive fabric.  Is that so much to ask?)

leekActually, I did find what I was looking for—sort of.  It’s 76” in length and available in olive.  But I’d have to order it online from West Elm, it’s non-refundable and delivery time is 8-10 weeks.  That’s a lot of hard-floor time for my backside!

I can’t help but be reminded of my last sofa buying experience.  In the spring of 2000, I’d grown tired of my blue leather sofa & sold it to my other sister Donda.  My mom and sisters drove up to the city to take me furniture shopping, and we walked into the furniture department of the local Lazarus store.  And right in front sat a dark green sofa; it was a little shorter in length than your average sofa, but had a deep, deep seat.  The salesclerk said “You can get it in a wide choice of colors and fabrics.”  No, this is good.  “You can get it in different sizes.”  Nope, this will do.  They delivered it a week later & it was my favorite spot to watch tv, eat, work from home & sleep for the next 16 years. 

I had it hauled away when I moved here—most of the springs were broken, the seat cushions were propped up with sheets of plywood & the back cushions were shedding feathers faster than I’ve been shedding my hair.  But right now, I sure would love to be sitting on it typing this!

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My niece Sophia on her Uncle Doug’s extra-wide couch, 2008

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Be it ever so humble... welcome to Bonar Avenue

Well, here it is & here I am—typing from my new (well, new to me) apartment in Waynesburg, Pa.  My sister Shawn, her husband Jim & his older son Michael arrived at my place in Pittsburgh this past Friday with a U-Haul, and thanks to their very generous help (and my brother-in-law’s skills at assembling furniture—the dining set I bought from IKEA and the bookcases I got for my livingroom & bedroom were still in flat boxes) by Sunday morning there wasn’t a moving carton, bag or tool in sight. 

There’s still plenty to do, as the walls are mostly bare and I need to find a new armchair for the living room.  But the hard part is done, and I can’t thank Jim & Shawn enough.  To say I’m in their debt would be an understatement—I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for their help.

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Steps leading upstairs to my apartment; the first door on the right & wow, artwork in the hallways—just like on tv

Here’s some pics of the place so far—it’s certainly not one of your more modern apartment buildings, but so what, it has a kitschy charm all it’s own. The owners seem kind and honest, and take great pride in the property. 

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No more digital thermostats!  When I asked Sue (my landlord) how I adjust the heat this winter, she said “you turn the knob on your radiators on or off”

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One of the two “industrial” bookcases my brother-in-law Jim assembled for me; doesn’t it look great?   (The other one is in the bedroom.)

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My new couch was waiting for me the morning I moved in, thanks to my landlord who went to the furniture store & picked it up for me!  

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My galley kitchen, sure do love all the windows in here—and a gas range, that’s a first for me

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My new table & chairs from IKEA—I’m going back this weekend to get some seat cushions

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I’m really digging the green-tile & pedestal sink, this puts my bath in Pittsburgh to shame

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The bedroom, and everybody’s favorite room in the apartment—I’m not doing it justice, it’s twice as wide as seen here, with a large closet, dresser & another window on the opposite side

What’s ironic about moving here is how the other tenants see me; at my former place in Pittsburgh, the building had been overtaken by millennials, who regarded myself & three other tenants (Bill, Jim & Theresa) as the “old timers”.  Here, I’m currently the youngest tenant--as several of my new neighbors have let me know.  “Oh, you’re the young man from the city!”  Yep, that’s me.  Smile

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Twelve days and counting until the big move… glad but a little sad to see the old place go

 

This past Friday I was on the phone with Verizon, terminating my phone & internet effective the last week of September.  Unlike my other utilities which took all of 10 minutes to cancel, Verizon wasn’t letting me go that easily.  (They told me they couldn’t do a thing without my account number, which I didn’t have as my bill has been auto-paid thru my bank for the past several years; when I finally found an old paper bill, I discovered it was my phone number!  They couldn’t have told me that upfront?!)  Douglas, are you sure you want to do this??  Yes.  You don’t want to move your services to your new address??  No.  We hate to lose your business, you’ve been at this phone number since October 1, 1994.  Wait, 1994?  I’ve been in this apartment even longer than I thought.

Before moving here, I lived farther outside the city in Sharpsburg.  Our main street had no less than 13 bars, and a Stop N’ Go directly across from my place had the distinction of being the most-robbed convenience store in Allegheny County.  I had a wooden balcony you couldn’t go out on (it was black from being on the main drag) and a little laundry room (with no washer, only a dryer & laundry sink where I washed all my clothes out by hand).  Still, it was my first apartment in the city and man, I loved it.

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The Sharpsburg apartment, 1989-1994; it sure was blue!

I had so much fun there; I did my share of dating, and my sister Shawn visited every other weekend.  And then one day I came home from work to find a Sheriff’s Notice on the front door; the other tenant & myself were being evicted.  The owner (a compulsive gambler) had not been making tax or mortgage payments on the property, and been served with a foreclosure notice.  When I shared the bad news with my office, my IT manager suggested I move to Bellevue.  Dougie it has a movie theater, grocery store, banks, shopping—you can walk to everything.  (I didn’t drive at the time so that was a big plus.)  “It’s also a dry town, not a bar for miles.”  I was sold.

I made appointments to see a couple apartments for rent (both basement setups & big let-downs) but it was after checking out the second one that I saw Monroe Apts over the hillside, and told my friend Elisa (who’d grown up in the area and was tagging along) that’s where I wanted to live.  I said “I’m going to be just like Mary Richards, who left her apartment house on Weatherly and moved into a high-rise closer to the city!”  Elisa said “Who’s Mary Richards?”

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My current place on Monroe (before I got my flat-screen tv and some other things)

 

And here I’ve been, ever since.  I’m a little excited, a little nervous but I’m ready to move on.  To be honest, I’ve been ready for awhile--the building changed ownership several years ago, from a private owner who screened tenants carefully and took great care maintaining the property, to the current slumlords who’ve let the place go downhill.

Still, for what it’s worth… it was a good run.  Smile

 

           

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