Music and Memories

A Chorus Line

So, I have realized that I will most likely be a bad blogger. I forget that I have one occasionally, until I come across something that sparks a memory, and I am left thinking that I should share it. Then of course, I think will someone care? will someone read it? Or am I just going to do it for myself.  Well hell, even if it is only for myself why not do it when my brain remembers that I have a blog available to me.

So as I struggle to even remember what got me here today, I realize it was a post that I came up in my Facebook page that pulled me into a black hole of YouTube videos surrounding musicals. It started with a post comparing Lucille Ball’s Mame (movie) to Angela Lansbury’s Mame (stage). If you ever want to check it out, search for Musical Theatre Mash, he has a few others, including a comparison of Landsbury, Lupone & Bonham-Carter for Mrs. Lovett in Sweeney Todd, but I won’t get into THAT one.

So, with this spiral down into the musical genre, and a recent trip to New York City, for Comic Con, and dining steps from away from Times Square brought a FLOOD of memories to my frontal lobe. Some of my earliest memories revolve around my grandmother’s love of musicals. There was always a different soundtrack playing, Man of La Mancha, Sweet Charity, Zorba, and of course A Chorus Line. And being the young boy I was, I would sing along with most of them. I may not have known the words I was singing meant, take for example, Man of La Mancha…

Man of La Mancha

I come for love, I come for love
I come to Aldonza for love

One pair of arms is like another
I don’t know why or who’s to blame
I’ll go with you or with your brother
It’s all the same, it’s all the same

This I have learned, that when the lights out
No man will burn with special flame
You’ll prove to me before the night’s out
You’re all the same, you’re all the same

Interesting song for a five or six year old to be singing, but nevertheless you sing what you hear. I am sure that if my Great Aunt Frances heard me sing this, she would have had a few questions for Margaret. I am unsure if the first musical Margaret brought me to was either A Chorus Line, Margaret’s favorite, and one I think I would see three or four more times, or Annie with Andrea McCardle. Either one was a start to a love affair with musicals, and New York City. In the beginning, Margaret, my Mom and myself would take weekend trips to the city, head down one day, spend the night, see a musical, have some good food, and head back home. Often these adventures were associated with the theater troupe Margaret was a part of, Albany Civic Theater, the travel group her and her friends started, BaMaNi Travel (For Barry Scott, Margaret Nolan and Nick Toscino) or later on, adventures on our own.

Over the past few years, thanks to the support of my loving father, birthday presents have included trips to NYC to see musicals. In the past three years, I have seen Neil Patrick Harris re-create the role of Hedwig, in Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and this year, I got to see Bette Midler in Hello Dolly. Everytime I go to New York City, I am reminded of these fond fond memories of my weekends in the city with Margaret. Occasionally I break out the soundtrack to one or more of the musicals I have seen, and just think of those amazing times. At times, I can hear Margaret sing along in my head.. especially at certain parts of songs that she would enunciate as they were her favorites. Thankfully, I will forever have those memories.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch

Shows I have seen with Margaret: A Chorus Line, Annie, Cats, Phantom of the Opera, Starlight Express, La Cage Aux Faux.

Hello Dolly

Shows I have seen since Margaret’s passing: Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Hello Dolly




Too much of a good thing?

So, what is too much of a good thing? Go BIG or go home right? Over the time with Weight Watchers, a lot of focus has been on people who are either “all in” or “all out”. And personally, I have always thought I am not a person that falls under either. Yes, I can have slip ups, but that never makes me quit, I am not a quitter… unfortunately, I am also not the best follower either.

Well, food could be one thing that is too much of a good thing. I have a hard time with portion control, I always have. Hmm.. 8 people are gathering for a potluck dinner… I think I need to make two trays of macaroni & cheese, and I mean LARGE trays. Recently, I figured out how I can stop this, I bought large muffin tins, and figured I will only make one pound of pasta, and portion them individually in the tins, for up to 12 portions, but at least I think that will cover the one pound of pasta, and the rest of the fun ingredients easily. Now for a short story:

Margaret Nolan, my grandmother, amazing person, witty personality, and amazing cook. She could, and would cook anything! I remember early on, when I lived with her, she asked me what one of my favorite meals were, she wanted to make it for me. So I told her, that I always loved my aunt Lois’s goulash. So low and behold, later that week I came home to an amazingly prepared goulash… truly authentic hungarian goulash. Now, of course it was amazing, it was delicious, it was EXTREMELY filling, it was not however, Aunt Lois’s goulash. My grandmother looked at me puzzled, “Is it okay?”, “yeah.. but it’s not the same.” I thanked her, told her I enjoyed it (which I did), and went along my merry way. Later I found out that my grandmother called Lois, and asked her how she made her goulash. Lois said it was nothing more than ground beef, green peppers, Campbell’s tomato soup, and elbow macaroni. They laughed, because Margaret had looked up the recipe (in a cookbook because she did not internet), and went out and got beef stew, pork, and all the ingredients, and served it over egg noodles. To this day, I have two favorite recipes for goulash, Lois’s and Margaret’s.

Shrimp ring salad

So, another Margaret story: This one has been requested by Daisy Ford Paglia, the story of the shrimp pasta salad. Now, the details are a little fuzzy, as the last time I heard it from the source was many years ago, so the details now live as whispers in my fond memories. Every year, the Nolan’s would gather up at Ed & Dolores Nolan’s camp, for a family reunion, I have many fond memories of these events. Since it was a large gathering, usually everyone brought a dish to share, and their own beverages. There were coolers of many colors lined up outside the enclosed screened in porch, and kids throughout the day would be opening and closing them getting an iced cold soda. The food was usually done in two shifts, a late lunch and then a dinner. Mostly hamburgers and hot dogs were served from the barbeque pit that was in front. Desserts were kept in the screened in porch, and there was a refrigerator in there to keep things cold as well. Margaret frequently made a shrimp salad, which was pretty simple and consisted of P&R pasta rings, diced cold shrimp, diced onion and celery, and Hellman’s mayonnaise. The trouble with P&R past rings, they are very very small when they are uncooked, which lead to more than one box being used. So the tale that has been told, is that on one such occasion, there was so much pasta ring salad made, that not only was it brought up to the family reunion, that it also filled two large vegetable crisper drawers in the refrigerator at 64 Hoffman Ave, for a week or so after the event. It was served with every meal, at every occasion. I am sure she even brought some into “Piggy Heaven”. And for those of you who want to know about “Piggy Heaven”, that will have to wait for another story…

 The Master Chef and myself1545643_10151820194588062_1634182318_n