Words: doozie, n.

STEPHEN SONDHEIM'S mother was described by one relation, Myra Berzoff, as a "doozie", which the Random House Dictionary of American Slang terms a splendid creature. This was apparently inspired by the actress Eleonora Duse.

Ms Berzoff, however, elaborated: the composer's mother was "the most pretentious, self-centred, narcissistic woman I have ever known in my life". Dooziness is in the eye of the beholder.

Women who were ambitious, comic, raunchy, and sexy were considered bitchy, because they weren't sexy-cute. Self-destructive sexy (Marilyn), reserved- sexy (Gloria Swanson) or icy-sexy (Grace Kelly) was all right, unlike bawdy, comic sexy. Without this doozie, Sondheim would have lacked the anguish of his best work.