Showing posts from April, 2008

Egyptian man and boy.

Egyptian man and boy.
I managed to snap this shot from the bus as we convoyed to the Valley of the Kings from Safaga, Egypt.

A New Tactic Against HIV: T-Cell Tweaks

A New Tactic Against HIV: T-Cell Tweaks (from
By Brandon Keim

Scientists searching for anti-HIV drugs have been stymied by the fast-evolving, continuously adapting nature of the virus.Some researchers are taking a different tack: rather than attacking the virus itself, they're targeting the cells that HIV infects. In a study published yesterday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team led by National Human Genome Research Institute cell biologist Pamela Schwartzberg turned off a protein that helps mobilize immune system cells against infection.
Once T-cells were stripped of the protein, HIV couldn't get traction: the signaling pathways it normally exploits to invade a cell and copy itself were short-circuited.

ITK, though targeted by some drug companies for its role in asthma and allergies, "has not been really thought about in the context of HIV," said Schwartzberg. "The work provides a model for finding novel targets that can aff…

SF Gay Men's Chorus Press Release

I love this press release from the SF Gay Men's Chorus. The concert sounds FANTASTIC. And they mention me! (The bold part is done by me).
Media Statement 04.29.08
For Immediate Release

Making Our Dreams Come True
- Spring Concert A Vibrant Mix Of Classic, Campy, And Contemporary

When the curtain goes up at Davies Symphony Hall on May 16, San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus will be singing an iconic piece of Americana, the theme song from Laverne and Shirley!

"We're following in the footsteps of Wayne's World, Friends, and Saturday Night Live, and to quote Laverne and Shirley, `we'll do it our way,' with a campy twist or two," chuckles Artistic Director and Conductor, Dr. Kathleen McGuire.

The lighthearted opening to the concert, which continues the 30th anniversary season of the chorus, sets an upbeat tone for a concert of exceptional variety. "We've got it all," continues McGuire, "everything from the poignant idealism of The Testament of Free…

Goodbye to the Great Figaro.


It is with great sadness in my heart that I must announce the passing of one of the great cat voices of our generation. Sadly, his great works will probably not see the light of day. I know he was preparing an epic musical called MASSACHUSETTS (where he was looking for "actors who can dance and dancers who can spell") and a new waffle, but when you're a cat, you sleep most of the day, and there just never seems to be enough time.

The cook book, restaurant chain, musical events, encyclopedia, media empire, religion and chain of toy stores will never come to fruition.

Figaro's daddy, my friend Michael, had never intended to own a cat. But, 20 years ago, when the Shelter had a cat adoption day, and Michael was passing through, Figaro immediately nailed him with his cat stare, declared him "pwned" and that was it.

Word has it that they slept together every single night, and I personally witnessed Figaro licking and biting Michael's nose, though I wou…

Coming to Norwich & San Francisco.

Unless something Gothic happens, I'm going to be Norwich, Connecticut in the next week for the opening of The Last Session at the Spirit of Broadway Theatre.

This is the one starring Kevin Wood directed by Brett Bernardini.

After working with Kevin earlier this year, and totally falling in love with his voice, I know he's capable of a great performance.

On May 16, I'm going to be in San Francisco attending the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus spring concert, Making Our Dreams Come True, A Night of Glamour and Gaiety. Aside from featuring a great work by Randall Thompson, they will sing one of the songs from my cantata, "Pantheon Bar & Grill." A song called "My Rising Up."

An Engineer's Guide To Cats.

Back Again.

I've come home from the land of the pyramids. It was an eye-opening, and possibly profound, for me, journey. But in a quiet way.

(I accompanied Jim on a trip involving his performing Zero Hour aboard ship.)

It's one thing to talk about world politics. It's quite another to go look at things in the flesh. The history. The art. The way the people live now.

The tour guide, a dark-eyed beautiful woman, said, at the Egyptian Museum said that Egyptian monotheism was created by a Pharoah (Akhnaton?) as a power play against the priest elite. (Why go to the gods through all these dressed up, politically powerful and usually corrupt men when you can bypass them entirely and just declare that there's only one God and that he speaks to you directly?)

(Sounds very Church of England, doesn't it?)

And right there before us was his coffin with the painted image of him on it. I think there were also statues of him, but I couldn't concentrate on everything at once. Damn them for not …

International Circus of Pozitivities

Dear Friends of the International Carnival of Pozitivities (ICP):

It is a tremendous pleasure to announce the publication of edition 2.10 of the ICP at Mshairi .

Mshairi is our first host from Africa, from Kenya exactly, who currently lives in London. We encourage you to bookmark this edition and visit it over time so that you can enjoy each of the contributions from the world of HIV/AIDS.

This 22nd consecutive edition of the ICP features personal accounts, video, poetry, humor, a first chapter of a martial-arts fiction novel and the latest in news from the HIV/AIDS community. We hope that you will spend some time reading and that you will leave comments for the contributors.

Hemo2Homo: 21 - The Movie Review

The Hemo2Homo Connection Movie Review

Homo: I know we decided to see this movie because it's the 21st anniversary of your pet virus, but I didn't spend my hours counting cards. I spent them counting the minutes I would never get back. I'm beginning to think that anything these days with Kevin Spacey is sure to suck.

Hemo: Damn, I haven't bought my ticket yet- I'm thinking about folding this hand. The prequel craze is on tilt, anyway, and I for one do not need to know what happened before Jim Carrey's 23, thank you very much. Homo: No, bleeder. This one is based on a true story -- a book I read and enjoyed. But Hollywood took out all the reality.Hemo: Isn't that what Hollywood's there for?

Homo: 21 is about a numbers genius from MIT who gets co-opted into becoming a member of a gang of card counters, one of which is the sexiest girl in school...

Hemo: I bet the Crips were shaking in their boots.
Homo: This gang flies over Compton on their way to Vegas, …

Hal Block Blows It.

Hal Block, the increasingly irritating panelist on "What's My Line?" was fired last night after the show. Well, back in 1953.

The first player was a female minister from Georgia who came on wearing a mink. Hal made several comments about her good looks.

Then, he makes his big mistake. We can't see it because the cameras never pick it up, but as the next contestant is signing in, an older woman, you hear a bunch of laughter from the audience.

No reference is made, but what happened is that Hal Block chased the lady minister around the studio like the Marx Brothers. He was always making lewd comments to all the pretty girls, which might have been acceptable had he not been so creepy looking.

Supposedly, Gil Fates, the producer, took Hal to a bar, told him that they had decided not to pick up his option. He went through a long list of reasons, though it all had to do with the fact that he just didn't fit in with the other panelists. He was crude. They were classy.


The Three H's.

The songwriting blog at NY Times today was written by Darrell Brown. He makes a wonderful point here:
And that song must have the three H’s in it: Honesty. Humanity. And hooks.

First, honesty, because I believe that people will only put up with a lie for so long and I want my songs to last forever. For me, finding out if a song is honest or not is a gut thing. An honest song will show innocence, vulnerability and strength all at the same time: “I Can’t Make You Love Me” sung by Bonnie Raitt and written by Mike Reid and Allen Shamblin or Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” or “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding and Steve Cropper or Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” or Gershwin’s “Someone to Watch Over Me.” Songs that rise above the songwriter and performer and have a life of their own.

Then, it has to be full of humanity, and by that I mean the physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual sides of humanity. The big themes — the brokenness and the triumph of it all. So people ca…

Just In Case You Missed It.

David Archuleta has had a couple of rough weeks. He was faltering as he tried to fit into the different genres of singing being thrown at him. This week, he sings a Dolly Parton song and so completely inhabits this song, it's almost heart stopping.

I'm a total sucker for country gospel soul, and this kid knows how to sing it. He also has a quality that I've been accused of. He makes people cry.

I know I must seem like a teenager posting this. But no, it's more than that. It's professional. It's the songwriter in me is that's ringing this bell. He sings like I write.

I love the way his voice sounds in the intro section because it's not drenched in the live reverb. And watch what his voice does to Dolly. You can see her losing it right there and that's not acting.

He needs to be singing my songs. He needs to sing "Going It Alone."

Wait. I can see it now. David Archuleta singing "Out Of Many Comes One" at the inauguration of Barack Ob…

Going For An English

I laughed so hard at this, I was hurting. "Going For an English" is a classic sketch from the British variety show "Goodness Gracious Me," in which an Indian family goes out "for an English" after drinking too much, patronizing the waiter and demanding the blandest thing on the menu.

h/t: Doug who hat tipsboing boing who hat tips Neil Gaiman.

Life On Capitol Hill - Critic's Corner

Someone found a great new review of the Denver production of TLS. This is from a publication called "Life On Capitol Hill." I've included the entire review because I don't know if they archive things like this or have an permanent address. I love, love, love the opening line.

By David Marlow

The Last Session will break your heart in two and then give it musical CPR.

    Beginning with a confession to an absent lover, musician/songwriter Gideon announces that his battle with AIDS has become too devastating. He will “off” himself after tonight’s “last session” in the recording studio. Having told only sound techie Jim, his friends Tryshia and Vickie will get the news tomorrow in a letter.

    Jim Brochu’s book for The Last Session packs a lot into this short musical. Issues of homophobia, religious snobbery and compassionate caring for friends are at the heart of this heart-tugger.

    Steven Schalchlin manages to create a score which is emotionally charged. A very fine cas…

PSAs For Safe Schools Coalition

I ws asked if we could make some Public Service Announcements for the Safe Schools Coalition, a non-profit group that helps teach educators about how to create a safe school environment for GLBT young people. It was a request from Ethan at TransFM, which is an outrageously fun "internet broadcasting network" featuring transgender performers.

After recording this one featuring Jim's voice, I made up a video to go along with it. What do you think?

Song Blogging: "Out Of Many Comes One"

This time around Suzanne Vega has written the NY Times songwriter blog, Measure For Measure, describing her process of putting together a new album now that she's coming off the road. For me, what was interesting was the fact that she starts with nuggets of lyrics, some of which may turn into a song and some of which may not.

She also included a few of the nuggets.

This is different from the last blog where the Andrew Bird described himself as mostly a melodicist who "hears" the music first and then allows the words to fall into the music.

So, I thought I might jump into the songwriting process fray by describing how Jim and I wrote our submission for "American Idol."

It began when he reminded me that the deadline was upon us. We had two days to write and record this song.

THIS assignment is to "express the journey" that these singers have taken. The place they are now. The big example on their website, we read, was Kelly Clarkson's "A Moment Like…