Monday, February 3, 2014

ok campers, rise and shine

Despite saying goodbye to Woodstock last night, I did head into town one more time this morning for two very valid reasons: a) to caffeinate at Starbucks once again and b) to get two photos that I realized last night I had missed--reverse angles on the location where Phil steps in front of the moving truck, if you must know.

A drive on 14 to 31 to 90 to 190 and I'm at the airport now, a bit early for my flight.

I've got notes from the walking tours to compile but those will probably go hand in hand with photos. So, today's topic was a toss up between watching the movie on the big screen (two sheets of notes) or Richard Henzel (one sheet)... So, Richard Henzel is the voice of DJ number one in the film. I already mentioned yesterday how he and Danny Rubin recited the DJs bit from the gazebo at Woodstock Square before Wille was brought out--you can see it on Vimeo-- but I didn't mention that Henzel did the whole bit himself--both voices--when he was on stage at the Official Breakfast.

You know the bit:

Richard: Okay, campers, rise and shine. And, don’t forget your booties because it’s cold out there today.

Rob: It’s cold out there every day. What is this, Miami Beach?

Richard: Not hardly. And, you know, you can expect hazardous travel later today with that... you know, that blizzard thing.

Rob: “That blizzard thing”? Oh well, here’s the report. The National Weather Service is calling for a big blizzard thing.

Richard: Yes, they are. But, you know, there’s another reason why today is especially exciting.

Rob: Especially cold.

Richard: Especially cold, okay. But, the big question on everybody’s lips-

Rob: On their chapped lips.

Richard: On their chapped lips, right.

Rob: Their chapped lips.

Richard: Do you think Phil’s gonna come out and see his shadow?

Rob: Punxsutawney Phil. [a line which Danny Rubin intonated like it was a question out at the gazebo]

Richard: That’s right, woodchuck chuckers.

Both: It’s Groundhog Day!

Rob: Get up and check that hog out there!

Richard: Come here, groundhog!

Followed by some snorting and whatnot.

Richard also did a pretty cool rendition of The Beatles' "Come Together", playing mandolin and harmonica and singing. And, he recited this speech from "Love's Labour's Lost":

When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp'd and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl, . Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow
And coughing drowns the parson's saw
And birds sit brooding in the snow
And Marian's nose looks red and raw,
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl, . Tu-whit;
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.

But, stage performance aside, he and his wife Jennie were also seated at the same table as I was... or, more accurately, I was seated at the same table as they were--reserved for "honored guests" which I had apparently become, yay me. Richard had a few stories to tell.

First, he told me he was linked to Woodstock well before the movie. After the Opera House was refurbished in 1978, he said, he did a one-man Mark Twain show on its stage. I'd learn later from Joan at the Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple that the likes of Orson Wells and Marlon Brando had also done summer stock there. Since Ramis calls Richard and the other DJ, Rob Riley a couple of DJs from Chicago in his commentary, it hadn't occurred to me that Richard might be a serious actor. It was nice to learn otherwise.

His next story was about how he was linked to Peggy Roeder who played Mary, the piano teacher, and Margaret James, who actually taught Bill Murray his piano stuff for the film. Circa 1986, Richard starred in "Rap Master Ronny" with Peggy (she as Nancy, he as Ronny), and Margaret James was the musical director.

But, for the purposes of this blog, the best story was about doing his part for the movie. He had only two sheets of dialogue and had no idea how important the DJ bit was to the movie as a whole. In the room were Harold Ramis, Danny Rubin, a couple engineers, Rob Riley and Richard. The first take, Richard and Rob spoke over each other (what we hear in the movie) and Ramis didn't like that. He told them to remember the rules of improv, particularly, never talk over each other. And, they did another take. This time, they didn't speak over each other, and I'm guessing it wasn't as fun, because Ramis realize this version was "no good."

The whole process took "like twenty minutes" and Richard still didn't know that the DJ bit would be at all important. It wasn't until the premiere screening of the film at Piper's Alley in Chicago that he realized the DJ bit was "like Zuzu's petals."

(I will admit I didn't get the reference (though I understand something of his point. I didn't grow up with Christmas, thus I have only ever seen It's a Wonderful Life... actually, I have never seen the entire film straight through. I've heard the radio drama version twice and probably seen all of the film, just in pieces over the years. For the rest of you in my boat, Zuzu Bailey's flower loses some petals, George puts them in his pocket. Their existence again in his pocket at the end of the film is the first sign things are back to normal. Apparently.)

Richard was quite talkative and friendly, and I was glad to have met him.

Today's reason to repeat a day forever: to not only get to know everyone (like I said yesterday) but hang out and have a nice breakfast with 'em.

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