Sunday, November 29, 2020


Has this ever happened to you? For years I didn't get the fuss over Mark Rothko's paintings. In the 1970s I said that to an artist friend, Sylvia Schuster, and she told me to go to The Phillips Gallery (I was living in DC at the time) where there then was a small room with several Rothko paintings and nothing else. She told me to sit on the bench provided and pick one painting and look at it for forty minutes. I did it, because I loved and respected my friend. And sure enough, about a half hour into the exercise I had an epiphany that felt like an elevation of my spirit to new heights, and I never dismissed Rohtko's greatness again.

Well tonight I watched AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (on TCM) for the eighth or tenth time since it first came out when I was nine or ten, and had a similar experience. I always loved aspects of the film but felt it was composed of disparate elements that didn't hold together with some better or worse than others (like I never got the French supposed heart throb singer guy). But tonight (last night by the time I post this) watching the movie alone with no distractions and focusing on what felt like facets of each shot I had overlooked before, suddenly every frame of the film worked perfectly, even the obvious "mistakes" (like when Gene Kelly's hat gets accidentally knocked off or I could see pieces of the fake flowers stuck to his arm, etc.) and I felt I understood the vision that unified it all, even the French guy's presence as what before seemed only a plot device but now was an integral character whose singing delighted me. It now is not just enjoyable for Gene Kelly's hunky athleticism, or Leslie Caron's adorableness, or the final extended dance number like no other in movie history, but instead every word, every motion, every set and prop and costume etc. fit together perfectly in ways that created a delightfully satisfying experience that elevated my spirit to new heights. 

Friday, November 27, 2020


My youngest, Flynn,  and me, socially distanced in a friend's back driveway where we shared a turkey feast. Grateful for it all.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


When Jane Campion's AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE came out in 1990 it knocked me out, and I raved about it to everyone as it instantly became one of my favorite films. I hadn't seen it since, until it aired tonight on TCM, and I'm happy to report it's still one of my favorites, as well as one of only a handful of great films about great writers.

The story of the New Zealand writer Janet Frame, it captures the poignancy of her life and the power in the most understated way, using the locations and fine acting to convey much of the emotional turmoil and trauma that shaped her life and writing. AN ANGEL AT MY TABLE is a work of art well worth watching.

Sunday, November 22, 2020



On a perfectly clear Fall day, heading back to
Fort Monmouth, I watched as other cars on
The Garden State Parkway veered onto the
shoulder and stopped, the drivers not getting
out, just sitting there. At the toll booth the man
said The president's been shot. As I drove on,
more cars pulled off the road. I could see their
drivers weeping. Back in the barracks we stayed
in the rec room watching the black and white
TV, tension in the room like static. When they
named Lee Harvey Oswald, I watched the
black guys hold their breath, hoping that meant
redneck, not spade, and every muscle in their
faces relax when he turned out to be white.

(C) 2018 Michael Lally [from Another Way To Play]

Saturday, November 21, 2020


Caught the last half of THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS last night and fell in love all over again with Madeline Stowe's and Daniel Day-Lewis's characters' romance (as well as Jodhi May's and Eric Schweig's implied romance characters). So woke up this morning thinking of some other movie character couples I fell in love with:

Teresa Wright and Dana Andrews in THE BEST YEARS OF OUR LIVES

Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in THE BLUE DAHLIA

Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte in BRIGHT ROAD

Robert Redford and Paul Newman in BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID

Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in CALL ME BY YOUR NAME 

Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae in CAROUSEL

Patricia Charbonneau and Helen Shaver (one of the loves of my life) in DESERT HEARTS

Nicole Beharie and Chadwick Boseman in 42

Andie MacDowell and Hugh Grant in FOUR WEDDINGS AND A FUNERAL

Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews in LAURA 

Martine McCutcheon and Hugh Grant in LOVE ACTUALLY

Emma Stone and Colin Firth in MAGIC IN THE MOONLIGHT

Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant in NOTTING HILL

Shirley Jones and Gordon MacRae in OKLAHOMA!

Jennifer Lopez and George Clooney in OUT OF SIGHT

Robin Wright and Cary Elwes in THE PRINCESS BRIDE

Veronica Lake and Alan Ladd in THIS GUN FOR HIRE

Cathy O'Donnell and Farley Granger in THEY LIVE BY NIGHT

Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford in THE WAY WE WERE

Thursday, November 19, 2020


I've been thinking a lot lately of my first wife, Lee. She passed over 34 years ago after 6 years in a coma from a botched operation. So it's been 40 years since I last saw her in person. We were divorced by then. We married in August 1964 after seeing each other once in the Spring of 1961 and then only corresponding til we saw each other again three days before we got married. This is one of my favorite photos of us in the early years of our marriage, 1966, when we had settled in to a comfortable familiarity. We were 24 and 23, an old married couple.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

NEW LIST (for Terence Winch)

Irish accordion

Irish American

Irish blessing

Irish breakfast

Irish coffee

Irish cousin

Irish diaspora 

Irish dimples

Irish eagle 

Irish eyes

Irish "famine" (not)

Irish fiddle

Irish genocide (aka "famine")

Irish goodbye 

Irish harp

Irish immigrant 

Irish jig

Irish kiss

Irish language

Irish lilting

Irish mafia

IRISH MUSICIANS by Terence Winch

Irish New Year (Terence's birthday as well)

Irish oatmeal

Irish pub

Irish Rep

Irish Riviera

Irish sausage

Irish setter

Irish stew

Irish tea

Irish tenor

Irish terrier

Irish twins

Irish Volunteers 

Irish wake

Irish whiskey

Irish wolfhound  

Monday, November 16, 2020



I first had contact with the poet (and novelist, publisher etc.) Lewis Warsh in the 1960s, but we became friends in the early 1970s when I was going through a (revolutionary at the time) personal and political transition to being "out" as "gay" and "queer" (though I was still attracted to and in relationships with women, it's a complicated tale) and was attracted to him.

I don't know if I ever said anything but I think he got that. He was "straight" but was always sweet to me in a way few, if any, so-called "straight" men were to me at the time. I appreciated that throughout the years that followed when I often "presented" as "straight" myself and confused others with my attempts to clarify that with my writing.

Whenever I saw him through the five decades that followed, I felt that sweetness and it made me happy. That's what I'm remembering and feeling on learning that he's passed. The last time we read together was at KGB in NYC with Dale Herd in 2015 (I think), and the last time I saw him was a few years ago and still felt that tenderness from and toward him.

He will be sorely missed by many, and my heart goes out to his children and many friends and fans.

Here's a poem of his that was in BOMB in 2013 (the lines should be closer together but I can't get them there:

Dark Side of Time

Time is the solution in which the living

and the dead confer—there’s no other place for us

or them and there’s no other place to be

(except where we are), putting our feet up

on the balcony and staring out at the empty

plain—where everything is invisible and everyone

has a name (the only way back is the way

you came), and once I played Odysseus

to her Penelope, way back when, and we stepped

from the bath in someone else’s house,

and once all the lights went out in the middle

of the night and we built a fire until the storm

abated, and later—it’s getting late in the day—

we’ll have caviar and champagne—at the edge

of the crater on the Sea of Dreams,

and look down to earth as if it was all one

and the same, and leave our footprints

for those who follow.

Sunday, November 15, 2020


TRANSHOOD  is an HBO documentary focused on four kids—ages 4, 7, 12, and 15—as they grow through five years of their lives as transgender or gender non-conforming children and adolescents. It's at times either heartwarming or heartbreaking, and sometimes both at once.

Ir's also poignant, frustrating, captivating, and challenging. My heart goes out to the children and their parents and the struggles they face in just living their truth as it unfolds in a world that (mostly, unfortunately, despite what progress has been made) fears that truth.

Friday, November 13, 2020


When asked what I wanted on the cake for my 75th birthday party in 2017, this is what I said. This is what I still say. [Not that I always do it, but it's my constant goal.]

Wednesday, November 11, 2020



Me and my buddy Murph in February 1962 during basic training at Lackland Air Force Base outside San Antonio Texas. I was 19 and had signed up for four years but they added two weeks, the extra time making up for the two weeks in July of that year when I went AWOL to San Francisco. Never got more than two stripes cause of my shenanigans. But was able to go to college on the G.I. Bill when I got out in '66.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020



Veronica Lake

Margaret O’Brien

Jane Greer

Randolph Scott

Burt Lancaster

Billie Holiday 

Sidney Portier

Dorothy Dandridge

Marylin Monroe

Bridget Bardot

Simone Signoret

France Nuyen

Diane di Prima

Peggy Lee

Harry Belafonte

Nina Simone

Shirley McClaine

Nancy Wilson

Abbey Lincoln

Barbra Streisand

Miles Davis

John Coltrane

Eric Dolphy

The Shirelles

Mary Wells

The Beatles

The Supremes

Joan Baez

Laura Nyro

Ronnie Spector

Marvin Gaye

Candy Darling


The Pointer Sisters

Joe Brainard

Eva Hesse

Jane Freilicher

Patti Smith

Sara Rudner

Sharon Stone

Lydia Lunch

The Bush Tetras

Bernadette Peters

Alfre Woodard




Lucious Jackson

George Clooney

Jennifer Lopez

Brad Pitt

Janet Mock

Lupita Nyong’o

Chadwick Boseman

Jurnee Smollett

Anya Taylor-Joy

[these are all people I saw first in movies or on TV or stage or in books or on nightclub stages and got a crush on…some I eventually met and a few I became close to…I know there’s more but this is what came to mind as I thought of the decades I’ve lived through starting in the 1940s]

(C) 2020 Michael Lally

Monday, November 9, 2020


I didn't know Alex Trebek or ever meet him, but I feel like I did. I know people who've been contestants on JEOPARDY, or whose names or work came up in the answers and questions. But if I was free and near a TV on any weeknight since Trebek has been hosting the show, I've tuned in to match my wits with the contestants and often fell in love with their unique and at times quirky personalities. It felt like some kind of nerd-love home for me in which I was welcome thanks to the usually (though not always, making him authentic) gracious hosting of Alex Trebek.

Saturday, November 7, 2020


 Impressed by, proud of, and grateful for, the way uncle Joe handled these past few days.  

Thursday, November 5, 2020


I've posted this before but it's another favorite. I was born when FDR was still president and was two when he got reelected for the third time. But the first presidential election I paid attention to was in 1948 when I was six and predicted Truman would win despite the premature headlines declaring Dewey the victor. 

This photo was taken I'd say in the late '40s or 1950, after my maternal grandmother came to live with us and began making my pants, which I never liked but didn't want to hurt her feelings. It's with my three older brothers, Robert, Tommy (who'd just become Father Campion), and Buddy. All gone and much missed.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020



Lots of shit dies
Love doesn’t

Parts of me are
Already dead

But love isn’t…
My appendix

Dead and buried
My prostate and

A disc from my back
Dead and gone too

And parts of my brain
Cut out with the

Dime size foreign body
That got in there somehow

To cause so much trouble…
The twin towers died

And all those lost with them
Like a woman who was

Kind to me when
She didn’t have to be

Gone on one of those
Two planes, but

My love for her isn’t…
Five of my siblings and

Our old man and ma
Passed on now for awhile

But not the love we shared
When we were honest…

The mother
Of my oldest kids, my

First wife, gone, but the love
She and I shared never

Died, though maybe the
Like did…my first true

Love, too, the love of my
Life, gone now for almost

A decade, but my love for
Her, and hers for me,

Never died even thru
All of our husbands and

Wives and lovers over
The years when we

Were out of touch with
Each other, none

Of that stopped the
Love we both felt

And affirmed whenever
We spoke again like

The week before she
Passed still working

To help troubled kids
Find families, those

Kids still grateful for
The love she showed them

That’s still alive even if
She’s with the ancestors now…

Or other women I’ve lived
With who have passed on

Or lovers long gone
Like Joan B or Joe B

Her face so sweet and tough
Voice still admonishing me to

Just be myself and not
Worry what others think

His voice so quiet and
Stuttering in my ear as I

Write this, his image on
My bookshelves with his books

His art on my walls, I only wish
He’d lived long enough

To see it didn’t matter
How famous he did or

Didn’t become, his work
Living on among us

Who love it, exhibited
Often since he passed

Or Tony gone so recently
A young man who went from

Ripping doors off their
Hinges when he was

Upset with his wife and
Kids to the gentlest giant

Of many I’ve known
His ex-skinhead rages

Transformed as he turned
The pages of his life from

Anger to compassion
His punk Buddhist

Practice enabling him
To live with the rare

Brain disease that
Took his physical

Presence from us
But not the love we

Who knew him shared…
I think of him every day

As I do a lot who live
Now only in our hearts

Lots of shit dies, like

Almost everything that was
New when I was a boy

Including the people…
If you live long enough

So much passes it feels
Like another world…

But it’s the same one
Where love never dies…

—© 20013 Michael Lally (from my books SWING THEORY and ANOTHER WAY TO PLAY) 



I spent the weekend binging on the seven episode Netflix series THE QUEEN'S GAMBIT, a satisfying feast of extraordinary talent. People can quibble about the mistakes in some of the chess talk and moves, or the anachronistic lapses in dialogue or style, but every element that goes into making any kind of movie or series compelling and entertaining was perfection. The direction, the acting, the cinematography, the art direction, the editing, the soundtrack, et al.—glorious perfection.

And as for the two main leads playing the protagonist at different stages of childhood and adolescence, Isla Johnston and Anya Taylor-Joy (the latter I recognized from PEAKY BLINDERS) should both win every acting award that exists.

Sunday, November 1, 2020


The best way to celebrate the Celtic New Year, and the birthday of national treasure (and longtime dearest friend) Terence Winch's birthday, is to buy his latest book, SEEING-EYE BOY. As my blurb on the cover says, it's "not just the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it was like being a smart and sensitive Irish-American adolescent in the Bronx of the 1950s—it's the lyrically precise and definitive story of what it's like being a smart and sensitive adolescent anywhere, anytime."

[PS: and if, like me, you always felt insulted by Richard Price's THE WANDERERS grotesque distortion of the Irish gang in the Bronx of the 1950s, here's the antidote, a more honest and insightful perspective on that time and place.]

[PPS: plus you get a beautiful object with Susan Campbell's perfect cover design.]