Thursday, May 9, 2013

Yay! I Finished Another Book - "My Mother Was Nuts" by Penny Marshall

Here I go again.  Reading another Hollywood memoir that will last me one plane ride from Los Angeles to New York.

Now I was supposed to read it on my previous plane ride from New York to Los Angeles, but I didn't.  And here's why.

I am always intrigued by the Family Marshall.  I'm a big fan of big brother Garry's work and I had just finished his latest book detailing his work as a television producer/director on such classic shows as "Happy Days," "The Odd Couple," and "Laverne and Shirley."  It was his memories from the latter program that I was particularly intrigued by.  Supposedly, that set with his sister and Cindy Williams was a war zone.   Garry had pulled no punches in his tome, calling his own sister and her behavior out.  

When Penny came out with her own set of memoirs, I was naturally intrigued to see if her side of the story matched with Garry's.  So I purchased the book and threw it in my book bag for the next plane ride.  Sadly, I do most of my reading at 38,000 feet.  

The next scheduled air trip was from JFK to LAX.  And, whoo hoo, I got upgraded to Business Class.  As I settled into my seat, I noticed that, for yet one more time in my life, I was in close proximity to Rob Reiner.  Many of you know how often I run into him...and his father, for that matter.  At the TV Academy.  At Dodger Stadium.  And, now on the 145PM flight from New York to Los Angeles.  

Rob was directly in front of me in First Class.  If he reclined the seat, I could easily have kicked the back of his head.  But, there is that mesh curtain that separates the classes on American Airlines.  I am always mindful of that.  So, I decided to go about my business for the six hour flight.

I pulled Penny's book from my bag.  And then gasped.

Oh, my God.  She was once married to Rob.  I have no idea how prickly their post-divorce relationship is.  I suddenly had this vision of Rob turning around to see me chuckling through a portion of his life.  He'd roll up that month's copy of American Way and whack me repeatedly on the head.  

I put the book back into my bag.  I retrieved my back-up book.  I always carry a second one just in case something like this happens.

It was Ann Coulter's "Mugged."

I gasped again.

I suddenly had this vision of ultra-liberal Rob turning around to see me chuckling through Coulter's ultra-conservative work.  He'd roll up that month's copy of American Way and whack me repeatedly on the head.

I put that book back into my bag.  And decided to watch a movie.

As a result, I didn't pick up Penny's book again for another six months.  

That said, I am glad I ultimately did.  Like her brother Garry, Penny writes the same way she talks.  This is essentially a book on tape, but without the tape.  As she details her life, it has the predictable format of most Hollywood memoirs.  

"After I graduated from high school, I...."

"And then I met Jack Klugman and then...."

"Rob and I then....."

The good news is that Penny and Rob apparently are still good friends so I really had no worries on that Business Class flight.  But, even though she falls into the usual Hollywood autobiography trappings, Penny does so in a very funny and sarcastic way.  She takes pot shots at some folks, but mostly herself.  And, as a result, Penny is an engaging person to spend 300 plus pages with.

Of course, the final portion of the book relates her most recent health problems.   She's had some form of lung disease and brain cancer.  It seems that's the way most Hollywood memoirs are wrapping up these days.  But, the good news is that they are still managing to tell their tales in their own unique voices.

I used to see Penny Marshall all the time at the Hollywood Bowl during intermission.  She'd always be in the same spot.  Standing next to the trash can and having a cigarette.  I thought about that over and over as I surfed through the pages that detailed her health woes.

Meanwhile, "My Mother Was Nuts" is a fun read.  You'll hear her voice.  And probably also note her coughing when she laughs right along with you. 

Dinner last night:  Taylor Ham and cheese panini.

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