In this, the winter of our discontent, remember that FDR famously said that “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Sure, the cold winds are blowing, the bad guys are causing terror, the economy is in the dumps, the globe is warming and fresh water is running out — among other calamities. Name your favorite. You might not want to get out of bed in the morning, afraid that everything is all screwed up and believing that there’s nothing we can do about it.
Or you might recall the opening lines of “A Tale of Two Cities,” by Charles Dickens, set in 1775: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” In other words, it’s just like the present, and things are never as bad as they seem.
If you’re a theater guy like me, you have to be optimistic. It’s the nature of the acting profession: Somehow it all works out. That was the message in the screenplay of “Shakespeare in Love,” by Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard: “Allow me to explain about the theater business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster.” But somehow it all works out.
Making her first appearance in these interesting times is my first grandchild — a girl called Addison, weighing in at 7 lbs. 6 oz. on Dec. 24, just a few days before the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Right now she’s still known as “the baby,” occupied with lots of sleeping and breastfeeding. When will she grow into her name and what will she do with it? According to some statistics, Addison is now the 12th most popular female name in the USA. How many have you met?
I know of Addison DeWitt, the George Sanders character in “All About Eve,” and David Addison, played by Bruce Willis (when he had hair) in the TV series “Moonlighting.” And there was Addie (short for%u2026?) Loggins in “Paper Moon,” the Academy Award-winning role for Tatum O’Neal. Currently there’s Dr. Addison Montgomery, played by Kate Walsh on ABC’s “Private Practice,” spun off from “Grey’s Anatomy.” But I had never met an Addison. Until now.
I used to think I was way too young to be a grandfather, being a Leap Year baby born on Feb. 29, and still a teenager by real birthdays. For those of you who insist on counting all those in between years, maybe it is about time that I have attained this new status.
“We are such stuff as dreams are made on,” wrote Shakespeare, so what dreams can we predict for Addison? The name certainly has potential, but fame and celebrity are fleeting and an illusion — check out one of my favorite poems, “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, if you’re not sure. What will Addison make of her life? What adventures lie ahead of her? Will she be happy, will she be successful, will she make a difference? We shall see.
Let me pass on a couple of wishes to you and Addison from that most optimistic and tuneful of musicals, “Finian’s Rainbow,” music by Burton Lane, words by Yip Harburg. The current revival, an absolute delight, is about to close after less than three months back on Broadway. Maybe one of our local groups will be brave and resourceful enough to take it on.
So how’s this for a legacy: “In that great come and get it day, won’t it be fun when worry is done and money is hay.” And this: “Look to the rainbow ... follow the fellow who follows a dream.”
Contact Ron Hellman at RBH24@Columbia.edu.
©2010 Community News Group
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