Tag Archives: family

The Cat’s Meow

Dear Friends,

After reading an article in the New York Post, today we wanted to set aside the theatre and discuss something even more important in our lives.


No, not the musical. But actual cats. We have four of these lovable and amazing creatures, who bring so much joy to our lives. We have often looked at them and wondered how better to communicate with them and now researcher Susanne Schötz is helping us. She is a professor at Lund University in Sweden and her new book, The Secret Language of Cats, will be released on November 6th.

In The Secret Language of Cats, Schötz offers a crash course in the phonetic study of cat sounds. She introduces us to the full range of feline vocalizations and explains what they can mean in different situations, and she gives practical tips to help us understand our cats better.


It is translated into English by Peter Kuras and is available for pre-order on Amazon right now by clicking here.

And to leave you with a bit of cuteness during all the political ugliness right now, we thought we’d share some pictures of our four cats. Their names are Dorothy Parker (we got her at the Algonquin Hotel), Ondine, Juliet, and McClain Stevenson.

home office

Best wishes,
Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Summer Vacation!

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of the year—the last weeks of summer when we pack up and head down to the Jersey Shore with our daughter and two granddaughters for 10 days of beachside views and a happy vacation!

As we do every year, we thought we would repost a couple of our favorite newsletters that we have shared with you in the past, so that our newest members can read them as well.  But first we thought we’d leave you with a picture of one of our cats, Undine, who is obviously ready for vacation!

Best regards!
Philip & Marilyn


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The Beach is Calling!

Dear Friends,

It’s that fabulous time of year when summer winds down and we have only a short bit of time before the school year and theatre season starts.  So we do what we always do:  pack our bags and our granddaughters and head down to the beach!

It’s a little spot not too far away, however, it feels like it is a world away from the hustle and bustle of New York City.  We use the time to do a lot of reading, listening to waves, and spending time with the family.

Of course not to leave you without, we will be reposting some of our earlier stuff in case you missed it the first time around.

Until we return—we hope you enjoy these last few weeks of summer!

PL and MC

Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn

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Dear Friends,

We just wanted to take a quick moment to wish all of our dear Theatre Guild members who are mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day!


Happy Mother’s Day!

We thank you for being with us!

We also wanted to share with you a darling picture of our beloved Dorothy Parker, who really embodies the spirit of what we like to call “Home Office”!


Best regards,

Philip & Marilyn Langner

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Giving Thanks…And Trivia!

Dear Friends,

It’s that time of year when we pause to give thanks for all the wonderful things in our lives—our beautiful family, our wonderful friends, our health, a warm house to live in, great theatre to watch, and so much more!

As we often do, we love to research the origins of things and Thanksgiving is no exception.

First of all, National Geographic has a great mini series showing right now (with rebroadcasting on Thursday), called Saints & Strangers:

“Saints & Strangers is a story that goes beyond the familiar historical account of Thanksgiving and the founding of Plymouth Plantation, revealing the trials and tribulations of the settlers at Plymouth: 102 men, women and children who sailed on a chartered ship for a place they had never seen. Of this group, half are those we think of as “pilgrims,” religious separatists who abandoned their prior lives for a single cause: religious freedom. The other half, the “merchant adventurers,” had less spiritual and more material, real-world objectives. This clash of values created complex inner struggles for the group as they sought to establish a new colony, compounded by a complicated relationship with the local Native American tribes. The conflicting allegiances among these groups culminated in trials of assimilation, faith, and compromise, that continued to define our nation to this day.”

Secondly, in our search we found some great Thanksgiving trivia and we thought we’d share some of them with you—a bit of food for thought, if you will!   You can find the whole list of trivia items here.


  • The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving.
  • They celebrated the first Thanksgiving Day at Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • The Wampanoag Indians were the people who taught the Pilgrims how to cultivate the land.
  • The Pilgrim leader, Governor William Bradford, had organized the first Thanksgiving feast in 1621. He invited the neighboring Wampanoag Indians to the feast.
  • The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days.
  • Mashed potatoes, pumpkin pies, popcorn, milk, corn on the cob, and cranberries were not foods present on the first Thanksgiving’s feast table.
  • Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.
  • The pilgrims didn’t use forks; they ate with spoons, knives, and their fingers.
  • Benjamin Franklin wanted the turkey to be the national bird of the United States.
  • Abraham Lincoln issued a ‘Thanksgiving Proclamation’ on third October 1863 and officially set aside the last Thursday of November as the national day for Thanksgiving.
  • The annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade tradition began in the 1920’s.
  • In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season.
  • Congress to passed a law on December 26, 1941, ensuring that all Americans would celebrate a unified Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday of November every year.
  • In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrations.
  • Californians are the largest consumers of turkey in the United States.
  • Although, Thanksgiving is widely considered an American holiday, it is also celebrated on the second Monday in October in Canada.
  • The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.
  • The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.
  • Turkey has more protein than chicken or beef.
  • Turkeys will have 3,500 feathers at maturity.
  • Male turkeys gobble. Hens do not. They make a clucking noise.
  • Commercially raised turkeys cannot fly.
  • Turkeys have poor night vision.

Whether you are traveling across the country, down the street, or simply walking into your dining room; whether you are watching the parade, football, or your favorite holiday movies; whether you celebrate with family, friends, or simply by yourself, we wish you the very best for a happy Thanksgiving.

Philip & Marilyn

Happy Thanksgiving!


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A Musical Goodbye

This past Sunday, we attended a memorial service for the world renowned jazz pianist, Ray Kennedy, who died May 28th after a long battle with Multiple Sclerosis. For us, Ray was more than just a phenomenal jazz pianist—he was our son-in-law.

No one really likes memorial services, however, I must admit this tribute to Ray was quite simply amazing.

I think that it truly embodied who Ray was in life—uplifting and positive—and focused on the two things that Ray loved most in this world: music and family. Everyone who spoke reminded us of the gentle, funny, and caring man who loved our daughter and granddaughters so deeply. The speakers’ narratives were filled with funny stories, sweet memories, and bittersweet tears. We were especially moved by John Pizzarelli’s talk about Ray. Ray had been John’s pianist in the Pizzarelli Trio for 13 years. John read letters he had gathered from people who wrote to John about how much they loved Ray and his music, such as comedian Billy Crystal, author Mitch Albom, Bob Ryan of The Boston Globe, radio host/columnist Doug McIntyre and more.

In additional to the speeches, there was music as well. The John Pizzarelli Trio and The Russ Kassoff Group played and sang songs that were special to Ray. Our granddaughters each got up to play tributes to their father: Lauren on the flute and Brielle on the piano. They played beautifully and I know that Ray would have been exceptionally proud and beaming at their performances.

The most amazing part of the day was the transformation that we felt as the service progressed. We arrived feeling such a profound sense of loss at the tragedy of Ray’s life cut so short by MS, but we left feeling at peace, knowing Ray would have loved the tribute—nearly as much as we all love him.

Good bye, dear Ray. While you may be gone, you will never be forgotten. Your spirit lives not only in the beautiful music you created, but in our lovely granddaughters who have inherited your love of music.

ray cut-out

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Ray Kennedy (1957-2015)

We are writing you today about our beloved son-in-law and great jazz musician, Ray Kennedy, who died on Thursday May 28, 2015.

ray kennedy

Ray was a not just a world renowned jazz pianist—he was a husband, father, and friend to many. The New York Times described Ray as “…an extraordinary pianist… [whose style] suggests a toned down fusion of Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner, with a dash of George Shearing,” while the London Jazz review Boz described Ray as “a pianist with a rare and electrifying talent.” His work as pianist/arranger with The John Pizzarelli Trio for over a decade led to Ray being internationally recognized as a leading exponent of the “swing jazz” piano style established by such jazz legends as Teddy Wilson and Nat Cole. Ray was introduced to music at an early age by his father, who took him to hear acclaimed jazz musicians on a regular basis. One such outing led to the then 14-year-old pianist meeting and ‘sitting in’ with the great Dizzy Gillespie.

Ray performed and/or recorded with many of the top names in jazz, including Nat Adderley, Ruby Braff, Buddy DeFranco, Freddie Hubbard, James Moody, David Sanborn, Woody Shaw, and Sonny Stitt. He recorded more than one hundred albums, not only in the field of jazz but in various other musical genres. Ray lived in New York City where he was active as a pianist, composer, and arranger, working with performers as diverse as Christina Aguilera and Maureen McGovern, for whom he also served as musical director.

His compositions have been featured on numerous recordings including the soundtracks of two motion pictures. He composed and performed the music for the off Broadway show Bill W. and Dr. Bob, which opened at the New World Stages in March of 2007. Ray was a featured guest artist on Marian McPartland’s NPR program Piano Jazz and contributed commentary on the music of Harry Warren on NPR’s Fresh Air program. He appeared with many major orchestras throughout the country, including The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, and made numerous television appearances on The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien, and Late Nite with David Letterman.

Ray has recorded 12 CDs with his trio, with several dedicated to the composers of the great popular standards including The Ray Kennedy Trio Plays The Music Of Cole Porter and The Ray Kennedy Trio Plays The Music Of Arthur Schwartz. Another CD entitled Mozart in Jazz was recorded for and released in Japan and went to #1 on the jazz chart. It also received a Gold Disc award for artistic excellence from the country’s leading jazz magazine, Swing Journal. Ray has performed in concerts and jazz festivals in twenty-one different countries throughout the world. His career tragically cut short by a rare and extremely debilitating form of Multiple Sclerosis.

Ray was a wonderful man and an amazing musician—he brought joy to so many lives and the world feels a lot emptier without him here.

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Happy Holidays!

As we sit here counting all the blessings we have (our health, our wonderful family—two beautiful and talented granddaughters!—our friends all over the globe), we wanted to take a moment to wish you and your family the happiest of holiday seasons.

Wherever you are and how ever you celebrate, we hope this you find peace, happiness, and many happy blessings for a prosperous New Year!

Much love and best wishes,
Marilyn & Philip Langner

PL and MC

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