Showing posts from July, 2008

Action Alert from PFLAG

Sean William Kennedy was an 18 year old in South Carolina who was leaving a bar one night when Stephen Andrew Moller jumped out of a car, screamed an "anti-gay epithet" at him and killed him by punching him. When Sean's head hit the ground, his injuries were fatal. According to the Wikipedia entry,
"In October of 2007, The Greenville County Solicitors Office announced that Moller's murder charge was going to be reduced to involuntary manslaughter, since there was no malicious intent by the accused. "In November of 2007, Stephen Andrew Moller was released to home detention upon paying a $25,000 bond. He is required to stay with his mother until his trial. The charge of murder was reduced to manslaughter not only because there was no conscious premeditated desire to kill Kennedy, but also because there is no middle step in South Carolina law between murder and manslaughter. Unable to secure a conviction for murder, the trial lawyers opted for manslaughter in …

A Little Shakin'.

I had my headphones on and was working on a piece of music up in the loft overlooking the living room. A big truck came roaring past us outside, the kind that shakes the walls.

So, the walls shuddered. And then kept on shuddering and kept on shuddering, at first not rising in intensity. Then, after a moment, it started to rise markedly.

That's when it's most scary. Because you are on a bucking volcano and you have no control. It will intensify exactly as much as it wants to.

I immediately looked around me and saw that there was nothing that could fall on me. So I grabbed the sides of the table and just held on. In retrospect, I suppose I should have gotten under the table, but in an emergency I tend to freeze in place.

I was listening to everything downstairs. At first, as I said, it seemed more like a big truck rolling past. But then, as it picked up, I heard things start tinkling downstairs, then dishes shaking, and finally, a crash. Like something falling off the wall.

Then, jus…

Pantheon has been delivered.

Well, it's done.

Last night, I finished up all the work that I had to do on "Pantheon" and I delivered the files to Kathleen at the SFGMC and now it's in her hands to arrange and orchestrate. It feels so good, after months, of transcribing and rearranging, to have it done and delivered.

Someone asked me what my next project is. I've actually been approached by someone to try something I haven't done before. I'll talk more about it if it works out.

But making plans? I never know what I'm going to write until it's about 2/3 done. I just let the songs come to me and then somehow they turn into something worthwhile. (Or they don't and I just stick them in the trunk for later use).

Kathleen is in Australia at the moment. I think it's amazing that we can exchange all this work while she's on the other side of the world.

We Love The Kroffts.

The greatest TV producers ever, Sid & Marty Krofft, are back in the news today in a special column in the LA Times. Jim worked with them on two series and says they're both batshit crazy. But then, that's why we loved their shows! Sid and Marty Krofft are still pulling the strings Email Picture Krofft Picture Archive THEIR HEYDAY: Sid, left, and Marty Krofft with Jack Wild, the young star of “H.R. Pufnstuf,” which premiered in 1969. The show’s premise — a child stumbles upon a hidden fantasy world — turned into a winning formula for the Kroffts, who also created “Lidsville” and “Land of the Lost.” There’s a new appetite for their low-budget shows. Nearly 40 years after the psychedelic splash of 'H.R. Pufnstuf,' the bickering puppeteers believe their time has finally come. By Geoff Boucher, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 26, 2008 Hollywood is often described as a dream factory, but really it's just…

Was Google Calendar hacked?

UPDATE: YES, THIS IS A HACK. If you get this email, ignore it.

Is anyone here using Google Calendar? I just got a note saying they were going to delete my account unless I provide them with some verifying information. But it wasn't just an email. It was actually placed there on my calendar. If this is a hack, it means they hacked into either just my account or all of Google Calendar.The update note on the calendar:Dear Account User This Email is from Gmail Customer Care and we are sending it to every Gmail Email User Accounts Owner for safety. we are having congestions due to the anonymous registration of Gmail accounts so we are shutting down some Hotmail accounts and your account was among those to be deleted. We are sending you this email to so that you can verify and let us know if you still want to use this account. If you are still interested please confirm your account by filling the space below.Your User name,password,date of birth and your country information would be nee…

A Hard Death To Take.

I hadn't seen him in 35 years but the moment his wife, Annie, finally found me and delivered the news that Dwight Franklin of Buna, Texas had died, hot tears slammed out of my eyes and burned my face, turning me into a total wreck. Hell, I don't even have a picture of him.

But when our family moved down into the deepest part of the east Texas woods, one of the few persons who kept me sane was a grumpy, long-haired, intolerably sexy guitarist singer named Dwight Franklin who was only a few years older than me.

I wrote about him once in the diary, back when I found out he had throat cancer. I can't say it better than this:

Dwight Franklin is the coolest person I ever met. He never actually tried to be cool. He simply is/was the embodiment of cool itself. And not cool in a dumb, street kid way. No, Dwight was smart. Dwight was a musician. Dwight was one of the first persons I ever met who made me realize how much I didn't know. He made me curious.

Dwight lived out in the wood…

HIV Travel Ban Lifted?

All it will take is Bush's signature, but the Hyde-Lantos Bill has now passed the House and the Senate by overwhelming margins and not only does it provide AIDS funding in Africa and elsewhere, but it also lifts the hated Immigration and Travel ban. The US, thanks to sadly bigoted, ignorant homophobes like Jesse Helms (who Liddy Dole had the GALL to want to rename this bill after) had long been the only Western country that prevented people with HIV from entering this country.

This meant that all the International AIDS meetings got held in other countries, and that people who had friends or who had relationships with PWAs were not allowed to bring them here.

It's about time.

Randy Pauch Dies. His "Last Lecture" Became An Internet Sensation.

Much like the great Jonathan King at Stanford who delivered a series of videos and lectures after being diagnosed with cancer, professor Randy Pauch delivered a famous "Last Lecture" at Carnegie Mellon University for his children and, thankfully, for the rest of us.

The Last Great Jo Stafford's Secret Identity.

Jo Stafford was one of the great big band singers who just recently passed away. Her big song was "See the pyramids along the Nile..." and "I'll Never Smile Again."

She was well known for doing parody songs in her career. If you listen at this link, you'll hear the abominably bad and hilarious recording of "Staying Alive," with her husband (who played all the wrote notes while she sang a half-tone sharp).

They called themselves Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, a club act from New Jersey and, believe me, it takes a lot of talent to make music this bad.


Gypsy Rose Lee Interviews Ethel Merman.

A rare find sent to my by my friend, Doug. From the Gypsy Rose Lee talk show that originated out of San Francisco. It's interesting when Gypsy talks about her mother in this because we later learned, in an article in Vanity Fair, that her mother's last words to her, on her dying bed, was, "If only I could grab you and pull you into hell with me." Not a nice woman, Gypsy's mom.

The Guy Who Cared About Amancio.

In Yuma, Arizona, a change of plea has been made in the case of a gay boy, Amancio Corrales Gallardo Jr., who was murdered by an attacker, Ruben Soloria-Valenzuela, and dumped at a water run-off. (He had an onstage persona as "Delila" and was a popular local entertainer. When they found him, he was dressed Delila.)

Amancio's mother is not happy with the 8 year prison sentence with time off for good behavior, and $50,000 to the family of the handsome, friendly female impersonator.

But it wouldn't have even come to this if not for the heroic caring of a perfect stranger, a man named Michael H. Bauman who felt that homophobia was too rampant in this out of the way desert city.

When he read about the killing, he felt that no one was drawing attention to the murder, much less trying to find his killer. So, he personally took responsibility for publicizing the case, learning now to create a website, The Amancio Project, and becoming a liaison between the family and the police…

Sondheim: The "Uhhh" Song.

Cats, Rabbits, Lemurs, Oh My!

A little more animal love today.

Dramatic lemur!

Zero Hour Breaking Box Office Records...In The Off-Season!

The great feat of Jim Brochu's "Zero Hour" is not the fact that he's breaking box office records here in South Florida. The show has done that almost everywhere it's played. It's that he's doing it in the off-season when most of the people are elsewhere.

They tell me that when you go into the restaurants around here during the winter, there is a line at the door and the places are packed. And because most of the "snow birds," as they call them, have a disposable income, the theaters do well, especially with popular shows.

But in the off-season? We have been startled to walk into restaurants -- popular restaurants -- and they are maybe four or five (or less) other tables occupied. They're empty!

So, the theaters do their best to provide programming, usually featuring well-known stars like Gabe Kaplan or others, in order to try to coax in what year-rounders are left. It usually doesn't work that well, but they give it a good effort and try to…

The Incredible Everglades.

I just didn't have an image in my mind of the everglades. Like many people who live west of Florida, I was imagining it as a big, twisted swamp. I mean I just didn't know. So, when our friend Ralph invited us to take an airboat out with a friend of his, Jim and I, already eaten alive by mosquito bites, were almost hoping it would rain so we could just stay in and eat pizza or something.

Boy, was I wrong.

And boy, was I glad we went out. It was one of the most thrilling and beautiful evenings I've ever experienced. And I mean that seriously.

First of all, it was perfect weather. A little warm, yes. But there was a breeze blowing and it wasn't that humid (for Florida), and the sun was shining. (We'd had a big rain the day before).

I took a ton of video, which I'll edit later, but here are photos Jim took. It's truly one of the most beautiful places on earth. The everglades, as described by our boat captain, is a slow flowing river where the grass reaches up above…

Simon's Cat in "TV Dinner."

This guy who does these videos really knows cats. I've posted his others. Now this one. It's like being home.

Wonderful Interview With Alexandra Billings.

Great reading. An interview with the fabulous and fabulously funny and talented (and beautiful) Alexandra Billings.

What advice would you give to other transgender individuals, especially younger folks, who may be struggling with their identity, or just coming out?
Be honest. Don’t make up a past. Don’t try and fit in to a world that you’re making up in your own head. If you’re a male to female transsexual, or a female to male transsexual, don’t pretend you’re something you’re not. Don’t lie to people. Don’t say to them, I’m male, I was born male—this is what I am. You’re not. You’re a transgender male, or you’re a transgender female. And that’s great. It doesn’t mean you’re not female, it doesn’t mean you’re not male. It just means you’re a different kind of male, a different kind of female. And that is a gift, so accept that. Accept what you are, and think of it as a gift, think of it as a present somebody gave you, instead of this awful, terrible thing that you have to hide. It’ll ma…

GALA and the Fabulous USS Metaphor

Steve, Ken McPherson (Captain Closeted) and Jim.

If you could turn laughs into money, we'd have had a mountain of gold at the big GALA event down in Miami on Monday. The San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus performed their incredibly witty, expertly written and well-performed "take" on HMS Pinafore called USS Metaphor. And one of the featured singer/performers was my friend, Ken McPherson adapted the concept and wrote the lyrics.

All I can say is the house was rockin'! It's an sharply satirical look at the military's insidiously ridiculous "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy and it's available on DVD. I really recommend it for anyone who enjoys a great show, enjoys Gilbert & Sullivan and who understands how stupid the whole policy is.

I went around handing out business cards and looking for more people to sing my songs, of course.

One thing, though. Do NOT eat at the Miami Hilton breakfast buffet. It's absolutely one of the worst, most horr…

I Love Dr. Horrible.

The newest sensation to the Net is a silly and hilarious new series featuring my total fave, Neil Patrick Harris. It's called "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog" and he plays a feckless evil scientist trying to get into the Evil League of Evil.

And it's a musical! And it's written by Joss Whedon who apparently started it during the writer's strike. It's a do not miss. And it proves that sometimes, if you give something away for free, it can get so popular, you can end up making money off of it.

But even more, if you do something just because you want to, bypassing the corporate suits that would muck it up, you end up with something wonderful.

Full story at the LA Times.

Why I love Cats and, er, Lions.

This video was sent to me by a friend, Marsha. I've seen several stories like this but they always get to me. It's confirmed at snopes, where you can go for the full story. In short, these two guys bought a baby lion and raised it in their home until, after less than a year, it got too big. So, they released it into the wild in Nairobi. They visited every now and again, but finally "Christian the lion" had his own pride which he was defending in the wild.

After a long while, they visited one last time, wondering if Christian would remember them. Here's the video of their reunion. These things just make me cry like a baby.

Mommy, What's A Bridge?

The NY Times ongoing blog about songwriting, Measure For Measure, discusses the concept of "bridges" today. I love writing a good bridge into my songs, although sometimes, as the articles says, a song works without them. In one of the songs from "Pantheon," called "War By Default" (which is a rewrite of "Cool By Default") I leave out both bridges and choruses and just go with what one could call a musical version of a "run-on sentence."

There is no one way to write a song. But knowing all the different parts that songs can contain can help a new songwriter inject variety into a song that isn't working.

My favorite bridge that I ever wrote is in the song "Going It Alone" from The Last Session. It's the section that goes, "But is it such a lonely battle / Have I been so wrapped up in myself? / What about what you've been through as well..."

In writing the music for that, I went to a first inversion of the roo…

Father Tony Reviews "Zero Hour."

One of the most interesting persons I've met through the Internet is a guy named Father Tony (who blogs as "Farmboyz"), who is good friends with blogger Joe.My.God. He lives up north, but spends winters down here in Ft. Lauderdale. So, when I told Joe we were coming here, he encouraged us to invite Tony in case he might still be here. And, indeed, he is still here overseeing some construction on his place.

Tony wrote a wonderful review of The Big Voice while we were in the Big Apple, so I thought he might enjoy "Zero Hour." Well, that's kind of an understatement. The show has literally been selling out. Last night and this afternoon were completely full to the last seat. Tony blogged his articulate review here. Below are a few of Tony's observations. He began with a conversation the two of us had about how our respective partners do all the driving since both Tony and I have a terrible sense of direction.
...the house lights were extinguished, and from th…

MIT Bunny Letter Opener.

Questions About "Pantheon Bar & Grill".

As a writer I am always living in more than one world at once, and I've discussed this before. But there's the world, the physical world that I and everyone else must live in, but then there's the World of the Song. Or, lately, the World of the Cantata. The World of Pantheon Bar & Grill.

Because the songs are finished, and the score 99% written out (I have one short piece, a epilogue to finish), I've been writing up author's notes. There's a practical reason for this, the main one being to help the promotion people of the chorus have some material to work with in terms of publicizing the event.

Pantheon Bar & Grill has never been performed -- and it will only be performed once (so far). Yes, Kathleen (McGuire, who's doing the arranging) and I definitely plan to make the piece available for other choruses, but, for now, I'm thinking only of December 1st.

So, the people connected with the SF Gay Men's Chorus don't have any other productions t…

Another terrific "Zero" review.

Rush to get 'Zero' tickets


July 10, 2008

In the spirit of Jim Brochu's portrayal of entertainer/legend Zero Mostel, imagine the following proclamation as a shout: "Zero Hour" is a masterpiece!

Immediately you are transfixed by the eccentrically boisterous spirit of Brochu as Mostel. A teapot-shaped man with bright, intelligent eyes explains that he had a dream in which he was a baked potato. Such is the quirky, funny, poignant and engrossing world swirling about in "Zero Hour," a smashing one-character biographical drama.

Brochu, who also wrote, "Zero Hour," comes directly from the off-Broadway stage.

In "Zero Hour," Brochu's Zen approach to scripting delves deep into the spiritual core of Mostel. It is purely through the emotional being that we learn of the man's accomplishments. Brochu's storytelling is so expert that, in the end, you are a child listening to a fairy tale.

Brochu's accolades includ…

Birds in the Backyard.

There were a couple of long beaked birds in the backyard here in Ft. Lauderdale. It's an American White Ibis.

New York Songlines

My friend, Gabi, pointed me to a fascinating and well laid-out website called "New York Songlines." (The title is based upon the method aboriginals found their way around the outback, by memorizing songs based upon land features.)

The website doesn't feature songs, but what it does do is look at each block of Manhattan, building by building, detailing the history of each corner -- and it's laid out so you can go from block to block, north, south, east or west. You can read how each section was named, and what buildings were there, how the current buildings were built, named and who occupied them.

Here, for instance, is the Brill Building:

Brill Building1619 (corner): Built in 1931 by developer Abraham Lefcourt, it was soon taken over and renamed by the Brill Brothers clothing store. In 1932, Southern Music Publishing Company moved here, starting the building's role as a center of music publishing that would last until 1974. (Buddy Holly met his soon-to-be …

An Online Soap Dealing with HIV Education

LA Times today features an article about a new online soap opera about young gay men which features HIV education.

From its opening scene, the online soap opera "In the Moment" pulls no punches -- because, its creators say, it cannot. The show, which has drawn tens of thousands of viewers in the last few months, is a racy, unvarnished portrait of gay L.A.

It is also, at its core, about HIV and AIDS.

Recent years have brought a wave of new programs designed to reinvigorate outreach in the gay community, as well as a dialogue about men's sexuality.

There are colorful trucks that take rapid-response HIV testing to the streets. Government-funded "POLs" -- popular opinion leaders -- scour the town for other socially influential gay men and women, give them risk-reduction training and send them back into the community to spread the word. There's even a proposal to design jeans with built-in "condom pockets" to promote the idea that condom use should be a ro…

Hemo2Homo Reviews The Happening

The Hemo2Homo Connection Movie Review
Hemo: He has done it again: my generation's Alfred Hitchcock, Mr. M. Night Shaymalan, has delivered another masterpiece with The Happening. Homo: WHAT??? Are you losing your mind, Hemo? Hitchcock would have never produced a turkey like this thing, which I only went because you said we should review it. What's worse is that I had heard it sucked, but my friend Ernie and I decided to go see it anyway because we were in the mood for a good/bad movie. Hemo: Don't be a hater- you're just mad because you didn't see the end coming.

Homo: You mean I couldn't wait for the end to come. And not just of the movie. Everyone in the theatre, we were making a suicide pact. This might be the worst movie I've seen in a decade. And not "good" bad.

Hemo: When did you lose your sense of humor?

Homo: Stop it. It's tediously, boringly, amateurishly, laughingly, stultifyingly bad. One of those that's more fun to tal…

A New "Last Session" Cast Album!

I didn't even know they had recorded one! But apparently, Brett Bernardini at the Spirit of Broadway Theatre in Norwich, Connecticut pulled some resources together and created a brand new cast album of "The Last Session" from their superb production earlier this year starring Kevin Wood.

Happy am I!

As soon as I have ordering info, I'll post it here and on the TLS website.

You Might Be A Redneck Artist If...

Play with your food!

Top Chef Carlos!

Me and Ralph.

Jim and I went to dinner with our friend, Ralph, at a really nice restaurant called Hi-Life Cafe which is run by "Top Chef" contestant Carlos and his partner, Chuck. So, I thought I'd post a few pics. I liked this restaurant because it had a nice, clean menu of food I actually recognized, and because the prices weren't outrageous.

Chuck (Carlos' partner), Ralph, Carlos, Jim, Steve.

Carlos and me.

And our adorably flirty waiter, John, was a highlight of the evening.

Made it to Ft. Lauderdale.

Took the red-eye to Florida. Slept most of the flight, but it wasn't a good sleep. By the time I got here this morning, I was dragging badly. So, I laid down and slept until 2pm. Ah, blessed sleep.

It's really good to see Jim again. I'll update with photos and stories as soon as, well, we do something!

The GALA event is this weekend, too, so I'm going to try to get down to Miami for that. If anyone reading this wants to hook up for lunch or something, let me know.

More Bleeding.

Went back to the doc this week to find out my blood test results. He said:

"I have good news and bad news. The good news is that the blood tests revealed no irregularities (except for the thick blood). The bad news is that that means we'll have to start doing more tests."

And the reason, I have figured out, that this is bad news is that the farther up the test ladder we go, the more painful and drawn-out the tests will become. Hello, bone marrow test.

He immediately sent me to the infusion center for more "phlebotomy," meaning more draining of the blood. Then, again on Thursday, where my main vein gave out and they had to repoke me twice. And then again on Sunday.

By the time I get to Jim on Tuesday -- yes, I'm finally flying out there! -- I'm going to look like vampire.

Mark and Me.

I've been preoccupied this week because my friend, Mark Janas, has been staying here with me. He's musical directing a new show here for the L.A. Theatre Festival about Lucy and Desi, and it's been fun being his host -- especially because he's been helping me a bit with the cantata, playing through some of the music I've been writing out.

Yesterday, I decided to take him on the L.A. Subway into Hollywood, where we dined at Hollywood & Highland, watched all the tourists around the Chinese Theatre (and the cute guys playing Batman and Robin), and then trained over to Hollywood & Vine to catch a matinee of "Hancock," which is a very strange movie.

The best part, though, was that he sat playing through all of Chopin's Preludes and several Etudes while I cleaned the kitchen to a spotless perfection. (There was a note on the door that they were going to do a general cleanliness inspection on the 10th -- can they do that? Just barge in and look around?…

Congrats to Amy Shapiro.

As I mentioned in this earlier blog post, something I have enjoyed throughout my career, beginning with my time at National Academy of Songwriters, is helping young songwriters learn, and discover within themselves, the passion and art of songwriting.

Only a little over a year ago, I began teaching my friend and poet, Amy Shapiro, about the art and craft of creating lyrics. Generally, poets struggle with songwriting because even though poems and lyrics look similar on the page, poems usually make terrible lyrics and lyrics are usually terrible poems. This is because a poem is designed to stand on its own. But a lyric is designed to be half a message, the other half delivered by the music it's married to.

I worked with Amy daily as she wrote lyric after lyric, sometimes one a day. And she never wanted to hear how good something was. She only wanted to hear how she could make it better. It's a difficult relationship because genuine trust has to be built up, and the new writer has …

Zero Hour, The New Set.

Jim was having some connection problems in Florida and wasn't able to send a picture of his set until just now. The theatre's designers, Dave Torre and Ardean Landhuis, there did a terrific job with this. And it looks like Jim has a hit. After the review hit, the box office plus word of mouth has really set the phones ringing. They've extended his run until August 10. Congrats, Jim!