Monday, July 29, 2019


"We want to create a world in which love is more possible." —Carl Ogelsby (wrote this down in the 1960s but don't remember where I read it)

Friday, July 26, 2019

I'm not so good anymore, if I ever was, at quick witted answers in situations with other folks, men in particular, but I still do pretty good on the keyboard of a typewriter or computer. So this quote puts the media reaction to the Mueller report in perspective in a way I understand...

Thursday, July 25, 2019


My two oldest children—Caitlin and Miles—in the 1980s after we moved from Manhattan to Sant Monica.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019


That Rutger half smile and those twinkling but at the same time piercing eyes, that's the way I remember Rutger. I have a million Rutger Hauer stories. We met through a friend in the 1980s and became instant cohorts. He introduced me to my dear friend the late great poet and playwright Lynn Manning, who also happened to be the blind heavyweight judo champion of the world when Rutger was playing a blind martial arts master and needed coaching.

He traveled around Europe in one of those huge "American" trailer trucks that he customized the inside of into a 1980s bachelor pad (lots of black light and leopard skin upholstery and barbells etc.). He got studios and production companies to hire me to co-write with him movie ideas he had, which was challenging since every time we got together he'd have seen or read something that inspired him to go in a totally different direction (including once where the ending reveals the whole movie was a fantasy in the mind of a prisoner in solitary).

We first met in New York, but after I moved to LA in 1982 we'd run into each other there or he'd come up with some project that would give us a reason to hang out. Once talking a studio into flying me to Paris where he was making a film and told them he needed me there to work on a screenplay with him for a future movie (that never got made as far as I know).

I was surprised to learn from the news of his demise that he was two years younger than me. He was such a commanding presence that he not only seemed much larger than me but older and wiser too, if at times uniquely eccentric. First time he visited me at a house I was renting in Santa Monica he showed up in nothing but farmer overalls. He claimed the monologue his dying character in BLADERUNNER speaks was totally improvised and spontaneous.

We had a little fallout when I barged in on a reading of a screenplay I'd adapted from a stage play he bought the rights to and put his name on as co-writer with me but didn't ask me to take part in the reading for execs at some studio and my ego got hurt and I did what I sometimes did to defend it that usually came across as angry and/or arrogant. But next time I saw him he was his usual sweet self.

He was a great actor and a total original. There was and will never be anyone like him. I wish I'd kept in touch better. Condolences to all who loved him, which includes me.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019


I finally got to see the recent Irish film BLACK 47 in its entirety, and was so happy I did. The title refers to 1847, what some say was the worst year of the so-called Irish "famine"—which was just the world's way of avoiding calling it the genocide it was, since there was plenty of grains and food available but a choice was made to let the Irish Catholic peasants emigrate or starve to death, which a third of the country did.

The movie calls it a famine, which bugged me, and doesn't make clear the English penal codes that kept the Irish Catholics—like my ancestors were, including two of my grandparents who emigrated late in the 19th century—from speaking their own language or practicing their own customs etc. But it realistically portrays the suffering and the oppression of my ancestors and those like them, and posits a fantastic revenge story that, though action-movie fantasy, feels very satisfying to this descendent of clans that went through this period.

Directed and co-written by Lace Daly, one of the signal accomplishments of this film is the use of the Irish language, or as my grandfather called it: Gaelic. The hero is played by an Australian actor, James Frecheville, who learned the language and is totally convincing as the brooding enforcer. He is surrounded by a terrific cast, including the Irish actors Stephen Rea and the underused but always great Sarah Greene.

It should have won a best foreign film Oscar, in my opinion, and I only wish I had seen it on the big screen. But even on a smaller one, it is an essential history lesson wrapped up in a really good action flick.

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Frank de la Rosa is mostly known as a great jazz bassist, but I knew him as the coolest uncle of a dear friend in the 1990s in LA and the cool brother of triplet sisters who were equally cool in their varying ways. I only spent time with him at a few events, but I loved talking with him. He had a generosity of spirit, in my encounters with him, that unfortunately isn't as common as it should be. My condolences to all his family and friends and fans.

Hard to find videos (for my old brain anyway) of his bass work, but here's a gig he played on where you get to hear some of his exquisite musicianship, if you listen closely:

Friday, July 19, 2019


I saw CAPTAIN MARVEL because it starred Brie Larson, and she certainly made it worth watching for me, along with some other members of the cast. And the big plot twist added an element of surprise that, well, surprised me. But for the first third, maybe even half, of the film my main reaction was: whaaaat? Guess you had to read the (comic) book.

Thursday, July 18, 2019


Not sure who took this shot of me at 32 in 1974 in my studio apartment on Florida Avenue not far from DuPont Circle in DC. I'm grateful to my Irish ancestors who endowed me with genes that allowed me to eat whatever, whenever, and as much as I wanted, and not jog or workout or take any measures to stay so slim, except a lot of boogieing of all kinds.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


While I was in The Berkshires this past weekend I saw the closing night of John Patrick Shanley's OUTSIDE MULLINGAR at The Unicorn Stage in Stockbridge. It had been done on Broadway in 2014 and ran less than two months (though it was nominated for some awards).

But seeing this production directed by Karen Allen (full disclosure: a longtime dear friend) I could imagine it running for years. The audience included people who were seeing it for the second and third time, and it was given a standing ovation and a couple of curtain calls. There was laughter and tears and that childlike quality that Shanley brings to so much of his work (MOONSTRUCK for instance).

Set in the Irish countryside on two adjacent farms, it involves four characters, a widow and her daughter on one farm and a widower and his son on the other. The soul of the story is familiar in Irish theater and history: who gets the farm. But the heart of the story is all about the reticence and reluctance and shyness and insecurity when it comes to romance, so common in Irish culture and stories.

They say casting is ninety percent of a director's job, though having done some stage directing myself I'd raise the percentage of work a director does after the cast is chosen. In this case, Allen elevated Shanley's story by her direction, beyond picking a solid cast. Like Jeffrey DeMunn as the father and James McMenamin as his son, who together make the tensions and vulnerabilities of their relationship(s) poignant.

But it's the women of the play—Deborah Headwell as the widow and Shannon Marie Sullivan as her daughter—who opened my heart wide to Shanley's whimsy and humor that makes their longings bearable. Sullivan especially is a revelation. She should be a Broadway star. From the moment she came on stage, the power of her presence and performance almost drew gasps, and certainly my awe. I hope there were some talent scouts among those who came to see it, because Shannon Marie Sullivan showed colossal talent in this production of OUTSIDE MULLINGAR.  

Monday, July 15, 2019


So I'm up in the country on a little hiatus and I walk into the eating area of the home I'm staying in just as my hostess (one of my dearest and oldest friends) spies a bear standing up and holding onto a large bird feeder only inches away from us on the other side of the window flicking its tongue rapidly to get the seed out of the feeder (she says they can empty this almost two foot long feeder of all the seed in only minutes).

As she bangs on the window, the bear turns to stare at us, mouth open, powerful jaw and many teeth impressing me, but then goes right back to flicking out the bird seed with its tongue. So she opens the window next to it and yells and claps her hands very loudly, and the bear drops and rumbles off a few feet, then turns around and looks at us and starts walking back to the feeder just as she opens the window to get the feeder off it's hook and into the house and the window closed.

She starts clapping again and I join in, and that, or the yelling or the feeder being gone, gets the bear to waddle off among some nearby trees, climb up one to about fifteen feet off the ground and then, not finding what it wants, climb back down and eventually wander off. I didn't have the instinct nor do I have the habit of recording all this on my phone, so you'll have to take my word for it. I found it a little scary, and fascinating, she seemed to find it fascinating too, though she's used to it, and the bear kind of adorable.

Friday, July 12, 2019


I thought the worldwide web was supposed to make everything available, but a lot of things from my life I can't find including the time I was on TO TELL THE TRUTH, somewhere in the late 1970s or 1980 (?), and Jim Bouton was on the panel for that episode.

I remember standing around talking to him and how humorous and unpretentious he was for a guy who was famous at the time. It made me go out and get and read his book, BALL FOUR. Many years later (1990s?) I ran into him in an ice cream store in The Berkshires (Western Mass) and reminded him of the episode and was able to tell him how much I loved that book. And once again he was funny and unpretentious.

Those two experiences left me believing that he was a happy human, well adjusted to his life and the realities of it, good or not so good. I smile whenever I think of him. May he rest in all the smiles he generated, including mine, and his own.

Thursday, July 11, 2019


my friend, the drummer and writer John Straus,
holding a copy of my last book,
and me, at a local bakery, a few months ago

Wednesday, July 10, 2019


I watched the celebration for the US Women's World Cup soccer team this morning live on local (NYC) TV and was knocked out by how feckin cool they all are. When I was a kid Babe Ruth was still alive, and Babe Didrikson. Jack Dempsey was still an Irish-American hero, especially for my family since my mother's father's family were Dempseys, and Joe Louis, "The Brown Bomber" was heavyweight champ and Jackie Robinson integrated major league baseball and was my personal hero, and Broadway Joe Namath was the coolest professional football hero ever and on and on I could go but no athlete or group of athletes in my lifetime have ever been as cool as the 2019 women's world cup soccer team, period. And Megan Rapinoe is the coolest person alive right now in my book.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019


A shot taken by my grandson Donovan of his father (my oldest son, Miles Lally) on bass (in hat), songwriter and singer Greg Farley on guitar, and Michael Lesko on drums, playing in Manhattan on Sunday at a gig I couldn't make but wish I had been able to. The family that plays together...

Friday, July 5, 2019


Still don't have the compulsion to constantly make lists that I had pre-brain-op, but, every now and then I feel the urge to make one again, as I did the night I saw YESTERDAY. I had mentioned a favorite film, ABOUT TIME, in my post/review and while falling sleep suddenly found myself doing an alphabet list of one movie per letter, of films I like that have that same fantasy quality, not LORD OF THE RINGS or HARRY POTTER fantasy, but the what-if kind of fantasy. I cane up with more than usual before falling asleep, and the next day added a few that might stretch the definition (UMBRELLAS OF CHEROURG for instance isn't a fantasy per se but the fact it's all sung makes it feel like one) :


Wednesday, July 3, 2019


You know that image of the lone Chinese man standing in front of a column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989 during the demonstrations for democracy? He wears a white shit and what look like black pants and he's carrying a shopping bag in one hand.

If I were young and still living in DC I'd get all my activist friends to dress exactly like him, and grab a paper shopping bag and go stand in front of the tanks that dump has planned for the July 4th festivities on the National Mall.

The tanks are supposed to be stationary so it would only be symbolic, but if hundreds or even thousands of people did that, it would have the kind of impact that protests in the 1960s that radical art and theater groups came up with. Time to revive those tactics.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019


YESTERDAY is a delightful fantasy/fable flick that is an antidote, no matter how temporary, to all that's bringing us down in the world right now. Just as the music of The Beatles did in another time of trouble, YESTERDAY reminds us of what's most important (even if in an obvious way).

I don't know how they got the rights to the music, but that alone makes this worth seeing. Then add the imagination of Jack Barth (ATTACK THE BLOCK among other favorites of mine) and the writing of Richard Curtis (ABOUT TIME, another movie fable favorite of mine) and the direction of Danny Boyle (SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE among other faves), and add the updated pertinence of Himesh Patel and Lily James playing the leads, with a great supporting cast (including Ed Sheehan and Kate McKinnon) and you have lots of reasons to take the time out to go catch this wonderful little gem.