Tuesday, December 16, 2008



“It’s the oldest, established, permanent floating crap game in New York.”
(GUYS & DOLLS – ‘A Musical Fable of Broadway’ - by Frank Loesser out of Damon Runyon)

GUYS & DOLLS opened on Broadway 58 years ago last month (November 24, 1950) at the 46th Street Theater in New York. The tale is built around Nathan Detroit’s famous ‘floating crap game’. There’s a lotta guys in town looking for action, including Sky Masterson, and Nathan is having problems raising the thousand bucks he needs to underwrite the game.

“If we only had a lousy little grand, we could be a millionaire!”

Nathan tries to boondoggle Sky Masterson into a sucker bet regarding the Save-A-Soul mission doll Sarah Brown, but Sky doesn’t fall for it. However, Sky does fall for the mission doll and, when Nathan’s game finally gets going, Sky finds himself throwing the dice for the ‘souls’ of all the other unholy rollers. If he can deliver these Broadway bums into Sarah Brown’s soul-saving hands, her ministry will be saved.

Recently, the show was redesigned and the updated version, revised to be more in line with current events, is now playing in our nation’s capital.

A Musical Fable of a Beltway Bailout’ – by the United Auto Workers out of the U.S. Congress

The revival previewed on Monday September 30, 2008 at The Theater of The Absurd (located somewhere in the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.) and officially opened later that same week, Friday October 4, 2008. The show is still a work in process and continues to undergo revisions as it plays out its limited run.


NATHAN DETROIT .................................Hank Paulson
SKY MASTERSON ....................................Franklin Raines
SARAH BROWN .......................................Nancy Pelosi
ADELAIDE ................................................Maxine Waters (evenings) - Barney Frank (matinees)
HARRY THE HORSE ...............................Harry Reid
ANGIE THE OX ........................................Paul Sarbanes - Mike Oxley (alternates in role)
JOE THE PLUMBER ...............................Himself
BRANDY BOTTLE BATES ......................Ted Kennedy
BIG JULE FROM CHICAGO ..................Big Barack from Chicago
BENNY SOUTHSTREET .........................Ron Gettelfinger
SOCIETY MAX .........................................Henry Waxman
NICELY - NICELY JOHNSON ...............John McCain
RUSTY CHARLIE ....................................Chuck Schumer
JOEY BILTMORE ....................................Christopher Dodd
LT. BRANNIGAN .....................................George Bush


All the heavy rollers were in town, loaded with lettuce and looking for action. Harry the Horse, Big Jule from Chicago, Brandy Bottle Bates, Angie the Ox, Rusty Charlie to name a few, along with the heaviest roller of all, Sky Masterson. And, if you’re looking for action, Nathan Detroit’s floating crap game was where you found it. Nathan knew he could make a killing but he was having problems finding a secure location to house the game. The Union Garage on South Street would be best but Benny Southstreet, the guy who controlled it, wouldn’t negotiate his price. He wanted all his money up front, all of it in his fingers before he’d let anybody use the place. On top of that, the heat was on from his competition, the gang from across the aisle which considered such an enterprise not to be Kosher, as well as from the law in the person of Lt. Brannigan.

To raise the money and save the game, Nathan Detroit tries to boondoggle Masterson into a sucker bet……….but, we’ve gone over all of that already.

The preview critics were mixed in their reviews of this musical comedy in two acts, which by now was being referred to as the ‘Beltway Bailout’. More than half of them thought that the basic concept was faulty, the overall production shoddy and the investors would lose their shirts. Others agreed with the show’s concept but thought that it needed extensive rewriting and restaging and should spend more time out-of-town before being brought back in for the official opening.

A slightly altered version of the show was quickly cobbled together, some songs were added and the resulting conglomeration had its official opening on October 4, 2008, four days after the original preview. This time, a sufficient number of the critics held their noses, changed their minds and gave it a thumbs-up, enough to ensure its survival.


Act I

* “Fannie Mae Ain’t Falling Down”–to the tune of London Bridge(Nancy Pelosi/Company)
* "Fugue for Tinhorns" (Chuck Schumer/Chris Dodd/Harry Reid)
* "Follow the Fold, Swallow the Gold" (Nancy Pelosi/Barney Frank/Chris Dodd)
* "The Oldest Established Permanent Floating Crap Game" (Hank Paulson)
* "I'll Know When Sub Prime Comes Along" (Franklin Raines/Nancy Pelosi)
* "I Love You a Bushel and a Peck" (Barney Frank/The Hot Box Girls)
* "Adelaide's Lament" (Maxine Waters/Barney Frank)
* "Guys and Dolls and Fannie and Freddie" (le tout ensemble democratique)
* "If I Were a Bell" (Nancy Pelosi/Franklin Raines)
* “I've Never Been in Love Before" (Franklin Raines/Nancy Pelosi)

Act II

* "Take Back Your Tarp" (Maxine Waters and The Hot Box Girls)
* "More I Cannot Get You" (Ron Gettelfinger)
* "Crapshooters' Ballet" (The Democratic Congress)
* "Luck Be a Lady" (Franklin Raines)
* "Sue Me" (Hank Paulson)
* "Shut Up, You're Blockin' the Vote" (Chuck Schumer and the Chorus)
* "Barry’s the Man Today" (le tout ensemble democratique)
* "Finale" (Company)

Two numbers not in the original libretto were taken from other shows and added during tryouts:
From–OF THEE I SING – “Of Thee I Sing, Baby” as “FDIC Baby” – (Henry Waxman)
From–ANNIE GET YOUR GUN–“Anything you can do, I can do better”(Barack/John McCain). This number was dropped a month after the opening.

The show that evolved shifted the locale from The Great White Way to inside the beltway but retained the theme of ‘the floating crap game’. Despite their relatively tepid reviews, the critics agreed there were a few memorable moments. The best of these was Nathan Detroit’s all-night crap game in the basement of the Treasury Building, in which Franklin Raines, as Sky Masterson, demonstrates his willingness to roll the dice for the souls of all his fellow gamblers in ‘Luck Be a Lady Tonight”.

The critics also singled out Chuck Schumer’s going against type in his comic turn as Rusty Charlie, trying to avoid the cameras during the ensuing police raid.

While there are rumors that the show will close in Detroit, it struggles on, still undergoing revisions, still without a closing scene, but remains -

‘The oldest, established, permanent floating crap game in New York’

Note: Many people have played Nathan Detroit – Sam Levene in the original production in 1950, Frank Sinatra in the 1955 movie, Nathan Lane in the recent Broadway production and, at various productions in between, Walter Matthau, Alan King, Robert Guillaume and Jack Deeney, among others. (Personally, I think Deeney was the best.)

Monday, December 1, 2008



In a piece several months ago, during the more feverish segment of the 2008 Presidential campaign, I commented about Obama accusing McCain of trying to bring about the 3rd Bush term. I concluded then that I would prefer that to what Obama was promising, the 2nd Carter term. (I’ve even heard Christopher Buckley refer to it as the 1st McGovern term). Now, with McCain’s defeat, the former can’t come true and, with Obama’s announced selection of members of his administration, neither might the latter two.

The Obama assemblage of familiar names from recent history leads many to posit that he is slapping together the 3rd Clinton term. (The moment we hear that Monica Lewinsky has been named as Secretary of the Interior, we’ll know for sure.) However, Obama’s entering into an asexual ménage à trios with the Clintons in January 2009 will occur in a world vastly different from that of January 1993, when the Clintons sidled into the White House, courtesy of Ross Perot.

So, what has history to tell us about that difference and what might it whisper in our ear about Obama’s presidency?

1. CLINTON had won the White House with the support of only 43% of the voters, his victory aided in no small part by the 3rd party candidate, Ross Perot, garnering 19% of the popular vote.
OBAMA’s victory was less a blowout than many of his supporters expected, but he won convincingly, receiving 53% of the popular vote. Not exactly the mandate they were looking for, but a significantly more impressive win than Clinton’s.

2. CLINTON was handed a burgeoning economy, already on its way to record levels. After eight years, he handed off a declining economy, a recession to his successor, George W. Bush.
OBAMA will be greeted by a worldwide recession, at the root of which is the freezing up of the credit markets, caused principally by the Democratic Congress and their misuse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

3. CLINTON began his regime in a fairly peaceful world, the USSR no longer a threat. He was handed the ‘peace dividend’, the freeing up of large amounts of money which might otherwise have gone to Defense had Reagan not won the ‘cold war’. Despite a series of terrorist attacks on U.S. interests here (The World Trade Center in 1993) and abroad (Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996, the United States embassies in Dar es Salaam and Nairobi in 1998, the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000), Clinton engineered major reductions in our military strength and did little to carry the fight to the terrorists. (Aspirin factories don’t count!)
OBAMA steps right into the middle of a worldwide jihadist threat, with on-going U.S. military commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, along with Iran as an over-hanging menace. Fortunately for Obama, there is no longer an Arab-Israeli problem as Jimmy Carter solved that, as attested to by his Nobel Peace Prize……or, did I miss something?

4. CLINTON had a less than sparkling 1st two years, taking a long time to put his team together and making several missteps before the biggest one of all, HillaryCare. It took Newt Gingrich’s ‘Contract with America’ in 1994 to regain Republican control of Congress, leading to Welfare Reform, tax reductions and the first balanced budget in decades. Lord only knows what might have happened in the Clinton years had the Democrats continued to control both the Legislative and the Executive branches.
OBAMA, in contrast, is assembling his team early and it’s not unreasonable to hope he’ll be ready to move immediately after inauguration. However, with the three tenors in the White House (Barry, Hillary and Bill) and the back-up singers in the Congress (Nancy and Harry), hope is not an easy thing to come by. Apprehension is more like it. And, while we were all alarmed about Candidate Obama’s ‘share the wealth’ philosophy, the spate of recent and impending bailouts of just about every failing enterprise Congress and the Administration could find, has already turned Washington D.C. into Moscow on the Potomac. President Obama will be hard-pressed to do worse.

So, how will Obama govern? The psychological and monetary costs of the current financial collapse will impede (if not completely negate) his ability to throw the taxpayers’ money at every social problem. His desire to move to socialization (if such a desire really exists) may not be capable of fulfillment. As to Iraq, he will inherit a winning hand from George Bush and there’s a good chance he’ll play it out. The last thing Obama could afford to do is to acquiesce to his lunatic far-left fringe, pull out of Iraq prematurely, and let history saddle him with the disastrous consequences certain to follow. And how will he handle the Clintons? Quite possibly, we’ve been given a peek at the Hussein side of the Barack Hussein Obama gene pool. Is he acting in accordance with the old Bedouin admonition about it being better to have the camel inside the tent pissing out?

“History is just one f**king thing after another.” Alan Bennett – ‘The History Boys’

November 30, 2008