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Showing posts from September, 2008

My Mom Says, "It's Definitely The Tea."

My mom responded to my drinking green tea.

She said, "People take Coumadin to thin the blood and it warns against drinking Green tea because it tends to thicken the blood, It has Vitamin K in it that is used to stop bleeding so that may be a problem for you."

Coumadin is the same thing as Warfarin.

Why The Bail-Out Failure Happened.

I'm no expert in politics but I know why this bail-out failed.

It's because the Bush White House did not sell it to the American people. All we heard was THE SKY IS FALLING!

Well, no one in this country believes Bush when he says this stuff because, like the boy who cried "Wolf," his personal credibility is shot. He's played the fear card so often, no one believes him. Conservatives don't believe him. Liberals don't believe him. Independents don't believe him. Republicans don't believe him. Democrats don't believe him.

So, the entire country, WITHOUT PROVOCATION, showered the congress with emails and faxes -- all of them saying NO.

The reason it failed is because the people spoke. And if the people are making the wrong decision, then someone with some brains and personal credibility -- are there any left? -- will have to step up and make the sale.

It doesn't help that politically pure conservatives, liberals and libertarians all hated it.

Just w…

Thick, But No Bleeding Today.

Stupid me. 
First of all, my blood count was up from last week, so it was actually thicker, even though I've been guzzling water like crazy all week.
Dr. Richard asked me, "Have you been drinking any caffeine?"
"No."
"Cough medicine? Anything like that?"
"No."
"Well, we should do a phlebotomy, but I don't want to do it if you're still sick."
I was sitting there wearing a surgical mask.
He listened to my chest.
"A little congestion in the upper chest but nothing in the lower. You definitely don't have pneumonia."
"That's good."
"Okay. Come back next week. And drink a lot of water!"
I drove back home, so happy to not have to endure the bleeding. Got to the kitchen and started looking around. 
And then it hit me.
The green tea. I've been drinking green tea.
I looked at the label: caffeine. Not a lot, but some. And I've been drinking a lot of it.
Problem solved.
Next week, my blood is gonna be thinn…

Paul Newman Dies: AP

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Photo by Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times An Enduring Film Star and Social ActivistBy THE ASSOCIATED PRESS 6 minutes ago Paul Newman, one of the world’s most enduring and popular film stars, died on Friday of cancer, according to his spokeswoman. Above, Mr. Newman in 2006.He was a class act. I have two bottles of his salad dressing in my fridge.

The scenes of Paul Newman and a blazing hot Piper Laurie in The Hustler scorched the earth back in 1961. (Naturally, Piper's character had to die for being so brazenly, naturally and unapologetically sensual). And Jackie Gleason was magnificent. What a movie!

Look at him:



Rest in peace.

Staying Still. Sleeping A Lot.

Not a lot to report. Just staying still. Throat too sore to talk. Head stuffed up. But the stomach isn't feeling too awful.

Night before last, when it hit, I had actually been feeling okay, though I had detected a little "burn" in the back of my throat, plus mucus. But I hadn't had any fever and, when my doctor on Monday, looked in my throat, he didn't see anything.

I had even gone down to Kulk's Woodshed to hang out for the jam session, playing and singing a lot of Beatles songs.

Woke up about 1:30am. Sweating. My throat burning like hot coals. Every hour I would wake up, alternating between sweats and chills.

Spoke to friends who said they had also been through it. The best thing to do is stay still, sleep a lot and drink fluids. So, water, chicken soup, green tea. All day long.

It's interesting watching all the politics. The problem that's going on here is that the American public feels like it's just been ripped off. It doesn't matter what t…

I have the flu.

Ugh.

MILK -- A Great Movie Trailer.

The Gus Van Sant movie about Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected politician, a man assassinated for nothing more than being gay and refusing to pretend otherwise, looks incredible. I actually began to tear up in the theater just watching it.

Filmed in San Francisco and featuring what appears to be a sensational performance from Sean Penn as Harvey Milk -- well, if the movie is as good as this trailer, this could sweep the Academy Awards. And I hope it is. And I hope it does.

Link to trailer in high definition.

And here it is on youtube:

Clay Aiken Telling His Parents.

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Clay Aiken's coming out story is now up on People.com.

Clay's story, his rise to superstardom, and now his coming out, is truly something unique. I mean remember back when he first auditioned? Here was this totally geeky, completely impossible, performer and, well, mama's boy.

His eyebrows were bushy, his hair was stupid, his glasses dorky -- and I remember Simon all but laughing him off, since, for him, looks are mandatory for an "idol."

But he had this magnificent instrument. Without this show, Aiken would never have made it. The music industry is not looking for people who look or sound like Clay Aiken. It's doubtful that even if they had, they would have been able to market him. He doesn't fit into any available formats.

The other thing that's interesting about him is that he was raised in a conservative Christian home, and that this is a source of pain for both him and his family. This is from the article:
The born-again Christian singer also reveals …

The World's Worst Kept Secret.

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What I like about his decision to come out is that he did it because he didn't want his son to see him hiding and lying.

NEW YORK (AP)-- Clay Aiken is finally confirming what many people suspected: He's gay."American Idol" runner-up Clay Aiken has rarely addressed rumors about his sexuality. The cover of the latest People magazine shows Aiken holding his infant son, Parker Foster Aiken, with the headline: "Yes, I'm Gay." The cover also has the quote: "I cannot raise a child to lie or hide things."The magazine has an interview with Aiken and confirmed that he was on the cover but refused to release the article until Wednesday.The baby's mother is Aiken's friend and record producer Jaymes Foster.Aiken, who gained fame as the runner-up on "American Idol" in 2003, rarely addressed the frequent rumors about his sexuality. He said two years ago, "I don't really feel like I have anybody to answer to but myself and God and the…

Soulforce Equality Ride.

Soulforce will be conducting another of their Equality Rides and are seeking donations for the riders. From their website:
With a financial contribution to the Soulforce Equality Ride you will enable students and young activists to jumpstart a dialogue with school officials and bring hope and empowerment to closeted gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender students at the religious and military schools that currently oppress them. You will also be helping to confront strongholds of misinformation about sexual orientation at its source.$75 will provide four riders with housing for one night.$250 will buy lunch for all 35 riders for one day.$350 will fill up the gas tank on the bus.This donation form is for making a general donation to the Soulforce Equality Ride. If you would like to sponsor one or more of our 2008 riders, please click here.

"It's like when you make a cake..."

"It's like when you make a cake. You have all the ingredients except the eggs. You know they're on the way from the store, but you can't finish the cake until you finally get enough eggs..."

This was Dr. Richard, my hematologist who's been bleeding me for the past month or so. He was trying to describe to me why I should avoid iron, and to make sure I don't have too much iron in any of the vitamin supplements I'm taking.

"See, the body needs iron to make red blood cells just as a baker needs eggs. So, one of the things we're doing while thinning your blood is eliminating extra iron that the body needs to make more blood. Even if there's something in there saying, 'Make more blood,' it can't because without iron -- the eggs -- it can't."

"However," he continued, "your blood levels are almost at normal again. They're slightly elevated, but what I want to do is to get them to normal so we can establish an…

Songs 4 Earth!

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My friend, JD Sebastian, is a songwriter and performer here in Los Angeles who has created a new site on the net to help songwriters, musicians, DJs, engineers, singers and others to join together to create "a new anthem" for the earth.

It's called Songs4Earth.com and if you have a talent for writing lyrics or music, or if you're a musician, studio owner, engineer or producer, the goal of the site is to hook people up to inspire and collaborate with each other to create songs for the planet to encourage people to begin taking care of our environment and to network with each other to promote "green" causes.

I sort of became the unofficial "godfather" of the site because JD says he got his inspiration from a conversation the two of us had as I was conceiving "New World Waking!" and we were talking about the power of music. As you can see, he's splashed my face all over the front page.

I'm very proud of JD's industriousness and mor…

Help Some Small Town People on the Gulf Coast.

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This is from a friend in Texas:




Sept 19th 8 AM
Residents are cleaning up San Leon, pretty much on our own, getting their own backhoes & clearing streets.
We don't know when the county will arrive for the debris clean-up, I'm sure Galv is priority there.


FEMA is giving out mis-information so they are more harm than what little good they are.

The staging PODs are located in towns with little damage (Dickinson-which has power & water, and just lost some branches). BUT when a San Leon resident drives out, most only heard about the Seabrook POD, they are turned away, their PODs say they are for the local residents only. So San Leon residents have wasted all that line
time and gas.
They also think they will get housing help there, and it's just for food and water, which we are already taking care of.

Help can come in now, the resident just has to meet them at the entrance .
My Element forum has pulled together, and they are sending in care packages.

It doesn't look like we can …

Ray Boltz and His Quiet Journey into Truth.

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A few years ago, there was this singer in the Contemporary Christian Music field who had sold millions of records who suddenly got very quiet and dropped from the scene. He didn't seek the limelight or make a big deal out of the changes he had made. Instead, he worked quietly with his family and, today, they are reconciled and happy.

His name is Ray Boltz and he was tired of fighting off his same sex attractions. So, now in his 50s, he informed his wife and family (who are now completely supportive), and he was quietly living his life in Ft. Lauderdale until one day, while traveling, he dropped into an Metropolitan Community Church in Indianapolis after striking up a friendship with Rev. Jeff Miner. (MCCs are gay-supportive Christian churches.) Soon after, he casually sent Rev. Minder a CD.

Here is the full story at The Washington Blade.
Miner liked the Christmas CD and was so impressed he e-mailed Boltz and asked him if he'd ever thought about doing music full time.

Boltz lau…

The Faces In The Music at Kulak's Woodshed.

Here's the song I sang last week at Kulak's. It was cut from The Last Session early in the process because it didn't work in the context of the play, so a few years ago, I wrote a new verse and here it is.

Yep, I got bled.

I almost got it low enough. Last week, my red blood count was over 18. We want it down to 15. I got it to 17 or maybe a little lower. So, I got sent to the infusion center.

This is the first time I've done it in the daytime. I saw a lot of cancer patients and their spouses. At the check-in counter was a little basket of crocheted "cancer caps" for women who've lost their hair. In the bathroom over the toilet was a sign that said, "If you're receiving radioactive therapy, please flush twice."

Before going there, though, the first stop was the lab. They poked my "other" good vein but she couldn't get the blood to flow. "You have a lot of scar tissue here." Hey! That's supposed to be the vein that has the LEAST amount of scar tissue. Anyway, she painfully wiggled the needle around until she finally got a blood flow.

After labs, I saw Dr. Richard and apologized for being a "bad" patient last week. He said not to worry, tha…

To Bleed or Not to Bleed.

This morning I will be going to the hematologist/oncologist to see if I need to be bled again today. I sure hope not. I hate doing that. I hate being poked. I hate having that needle shoved up into my tired, scarred veins. I hate sitting there bored out of my mind through the endless hours of the re-infusion of saline.

I've been good. I've been exercising and drinking a ton of water this weekend. Let's see how it goes.

And if I have to be bled, well, then I be bled.

Justin's Big Gay Conference.

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I have a great friend named Justin Lee. We met at the dawn of the Internet on a discussion board trying to facilitate discussions between mostly religious gay-affirming and non-affirming religious people. He was this kid with this amazing mind and a great deal of ambition.

He, also being a devout evangelical Christian, created a site called the Gay Christian Network. Justin is proudly, defiantly and sometimes hilariously gay. He has been a source of great inspiration for glbt persons of the Christian faith.

Here is Justin announcing their next big national conference.

I said "No" to my doctor today.

As I drove to the hematologist/oncologist Dr. Richard's office today, I was thinking it would be my last time. I was through with this. I had tested negative for cancer. My blood test last week was normal.

This would be my last visit. I was so happy! I checked in and went to the lab.

The blood draw wasn't easy since my "good" veins are scarring up. Then I went to a waiting room.

While I was reading a year-old magazine, I saw, out of the corner of my eye, a big poodle's nose at the entrance to the waiting area. Then it disappeared.

Then, a moment later, a big white poodle came into the waiting area. She was on a leash.

I reached out, without approaching too closely in case it was a service dog, and the owner said, "Go ahead. You can pet her."

Then I saw that he had on a vest designating him as a volunteer. This was a hospital doggy! I reached out and scritched her behind the ear.

And saw the hospital tag around my wrist.

Right. I'm a patient.

I still love…

"Going It Alone" at Kulak's Woodshed.

I was really wanting to have a good live recording of "Going It Alone," which is the song that closes act one of The Last Session. So, finding Kulak's is a dream come true.

In the past couple of months, as I've become more comfortable in front of the camera and have gotten more used to the sound of that piano, I decided that I would just forget the camera, find the groove in the song and just play and sing it the way I do when I'm home.

I also wanted to do it with harmony. So, having Jake Wesley Stewart there to hit all the high notes felt really great. (I wrote about this night last week). I thought he totally nailed it, especially as the song climaxed.

One other thing to note. The host that night was Dave Morrison, who is a great songwriter and singer in his own right. His comments at the end of the song made me smile, so listen through to the end.

The Story Behind "New World Waking!"

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Today, in Dr. Kathleen McGuire's blog, she posted the personal background story behind the making of New World Waking!

This is from her blog:

REHEARSAL RETREAT Membersof the chorus have just returned from our fall retreat. The chorus goes away on retreat twice a year, usually at Camp Newman north of Santa Rosa. Retreats are galvanizing insofar as we spend concentrated time learning our music, and we also spend time getting to know each other. This is especially important for our "newbie" members who joined only a a few weeks ago. The Faux Talent Show on Saturday night is a wonderful way for members to showcase their 'talents' before a loving audience of peers.

Joining us at this retreat was guest clinician:Dr. Timothy Seeligfrom Dallas, TX(pictured left - photo by Erwin Barron). Dr. Seelig is an expert in vocal pedagogy and has written several best-selling books on the subject. He is the artistic director in-residence ofGALA Choruses, and was the director ofTurtle Cr…

Video: Steve Sings "Holy Dirt" at Kulak's Woodshed.

Me & Chuck & Palin & Putin.

Someone wrote me and asked me what Chuck's opinion of Sarah Palin was. Chuck was irritated by the fact that she won't face any press.

He lit up a cigarette and leaned over his cart full of cans and bags and bags of cans.

Getting excited, but not getting loud, he said, "She's afraid of this, what are they calling them, 'DC elite.' Who coined that phrase? DC Elite? First it's the Hollywood Elite, the New York Elite and now the DC Elite."

Our conversations merged, so I don't know who said what. He would say something. I would say something. He would say something. And, soon, we were both agreeing on everything. It sounded kind of like this.

"Does this mean she's afraid to talk to the opponent? What about Iran? Russia?"

"Does she think Chris Matthews is more formidable than Vladimir Putin?"

"Would she talk to Vlad if he called?"

"Joe Biden could take that call. And I think Barack Obama can stare down Putin. He's lik…

Maggie Gets Quoted in USA Today!

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My friend and mentor and buddy, Maggie Heineman (that's us, left, in 2006), was mentioned today in USA Today in an article about biking.
Maggie Heineman of Medford, N.J., came to the pursuit late in life. Sitting at the breakfast table in the Old Tavern at Grafton on Day 2, the trim, attractive 72-year-old tells of a lifetime of yo-yo dieting until, at age 67, she got on a bike.
"My goal is to be cycling when I'm 85 because it's social. And it's fun," she says. The article goes on to mention how a lot of states are creating new biking paths, and then connecting them together to create a bike version of a highway system across the country. I think this is a terrific idea. 
But I'm very proud of Maggie. And I agree with the reporter. She's a total babe.

Doc Visit, Jogging and Chuck.

With all the bleedings, scans, biopsies and blood tests that have been going on the past month or so, I've not been keeping up with my exercise regimen. Just after the biopsy, it took me at least a week before I could do very much. 
So, my blood sugar has been testing a bit high. The thing is that when I work hard at maintaining my health, I can get to feeling normal. I forget about the virus and how easily my body starts to feel like it's coming apart when I'm not being diligent. 
When I saw Dr. Tony, we talked about the higher blood sugar and he said there were new drugs out there, etc. But something inside me just said, "You know, I'd rather fight this with exercise and diet. And then, if it doesn't work, we can start looking at medications." I just felt like I could do it.
One of the things I like about Dr. Tony is that he's aggressive. If something looks a little wrong, we hit it hard. Time is not on the side of a person with a damaged immune system…

"Pantheon" is retitled "New World Waking."

This is to announce that the choral piece I've written for the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus now has a new name and description. For the longest time, I've felt that "Pantheon Bar & Grill" was an okay title, but a bit obtuse and doesn't really tell the audience what it is they're coming to see.

Then, Teddy Witherington, the Executive Director of the Chorus, and Kathleen McGuire, the conductor and artistic director, expressed the same feelings I was having, so, after a weekend of thinking about it, we decided to rename it "New World Waking," which is one of the lyric/musical themes in the piece.

Also, since the concept of a work about "peace" came to me while I was in Olympia playing John Lennon's IMAGINE piano, and since the word "cantata" sounds old and musty (besides the fact that, technically, it's not really a cantata), here is the full new title:

New World Waking
Songs on the Road to Peace
Inspired by John Lennon…

"The Secret of the Great Big Hall" at Kulak's

I was a bit nervous trying out this song for the first time in front of an audience. Also, I'm still getting used to Kulak's piano and the sound. But I think it's an okay first try.

1-800-Save-A-Pet

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Remember when I told you about the doggy benefit this past Saturday where there weren't many in the audience? (Labor Day). It's a monthly event to help out a local neighborhood group that rescues older, sick pets who've been abandoned by their owners and left at the pound to be destroyed. They give them medical attention and the adopt them out to people who will take in older pets.


If you go to this page, you'll see some of the faces who are looking for homes. 1-800-Save-A-Pet. The dog on the left is Pepper, a Jack Terrier.

You can also donate a few bucks to help them out. I'm sure it will be put to very good use.
From my friend, singer/songwriter Julie Chadwick:
The Pepper Foundation is a 501 (c) 3 non profit Animal Rescue Group. We specialize in rescueing mostly senior and special needs doggies from our City and County Animal Shelters. These are animals that have been discarded by their owners, and would normally be put to sleep because of health issues and  age. But…

Singing With Jake At Kulak's.

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Last night at Kulak's turned out to be great fun. Jake, unfortunately, couldn't find it at first, so he missed the sign-up to sing a solo, but he made it perfectly in time for us to sing together. The video won't be available for another week, but here are a couple of photos of Jake I took down there in the space. I told him I was adding him to the act because it needed some sex appeal. Luckily, he can also sing.

Jake Wesley Stewart

We sang "Going It Alone" together. He took the higher harmony.

And it was a great night of talent, too. Dave Morrison, who is a superb performer and writer, was the guest host. Dave is hilarious on top of all his other talents -- guitarist, singer, etc.

I also got some nice emails from people who checked in on the broadcast and really enjoyed hearing a night of alternative folk music. Well, I'll be back there next Monday!
EDIT: The videos that are made at the open mic become available in a week. So, you'll get to see how well we di…

I'm Singing Tonight at Kulak's Open Mic.

This evening I am going to be down at Kulak's open mic if anyone wants to watch online or just be there. Just know that it's a very small, relaxed listening room. The seats are not particularly comfortable, but there is a bed and some floor futon seating. (I usually prefer to sit on the floor). It starts at 7:30pm Pacific time and goes till 10.

I was a guest artist there this past Saturday night for a little fundraiser singer Julie Chadwick was holding for a small pet rescue group but, because of the holiday, there were only a few attendees (who weren't on the bill as performers). A guy in a wheel chair, a senior lady dressed as if going to church sitting on the couch, possibly from the senior center just up the road, and a few scattered others.

A little background: If you don't have a car, North Hollywood's Laurel Canyon Blvd. can feel dark and dangerous. There's no real place for community. It's zoned in this area for business. But none of the businesses ar…