Showing posts from January, 2009

For Bev (Who Loves "24").

24: 1994 Pilot

(from CollegeHumor -- its a hilarious parody of 90s "technology")

Favorite Thing I Heard Said Over The Holiday.

"This is your life! Participate!"

Doing Maintenance.

Pardon me for taking a day or two, but I'm in the midst of re-installing operating systems and and software and generally reorganizing my computing life, which is jury-rigged to within an inch of its life. Once I get it all back in shape, I will cross my fingers, push a button and hope it all works.

Meanwhile, someone posted this on one of the discussion boards I frequent. And it just sounded really good to hear this old song. Thunderclap Newman. Their only hit.

Antarctic Diary Pt. 1

Mike Jones Speaks Out About Haggard.

How Marty Delaney Changed Medicine.

From my friend, Ken McPherson, who was one of the first AIDS activists. Ken migrated to San Francisco early in the 80s and set up an information table at "Hibernia Beach," a corner in the Castro.
I just went to your blog and learned about Marty Delaney.
He really was an extraordinary person. I spent two years on the board of directors of D.A.I.R. (Documentation of AIDS Issues and Research) with Marty in the late 80s. He wrote about my work in his autobiography.
I was there when he began smuggling ribavirin and isoprenizine over the Mexican border to begin testing the validity of combination therapy. The doctors wouldn't do the testing, "too risky". Yeah. Tell that to people who are dying... That really pissed him off.
So he rented the office next to DAIR and began Project Inform. At the time, it was almost impossible for PWA's to get in-depth information on the epidemic. People forget how paternalistic the medical community was at in those days. Patients were e…

The Fat Cat Hat.

The Story You Knew Was Comin'. (with updates)

Ted Haggard is back. He is about to promote a big new documentary on HBO -- and another young man, a volunteer at the church, has come out of hiding and says that Haggard is still lying. That he himself carried on with Haggard. He came forward at the same time that Mike Jones came forward, but the church basically paid him off to keep his mouth shut.

But he feels that he can't stand by and watch Haggard continue with his deception.

The article.

Mike Jones told me himself not too long ago that Haggard is still lying about his sexual activities. He was trying to get people to remind the media that he has the real story behind this guy. Me, I don't care what anyone does with or to themselves. My objection to Haggard is that he was engaging in same sex activities (and drugs) while leading a crusade against it.

Haggard is about to do a media blitz. Everyone -- all you news bookers -- should make sure Mike Jones is added to your telecasts.

EDIT: Mike has just written me and said this:

Sondheim and Rich at Avery Shreiber.

Stephen Sondheim.

This is an article based on notes taken during a conversation between Frank Rich and Stephen Sondheim. Rich wrote in his autobiography that he made his reputation when he wrote a review, while still at Harvard, of Sondheim's "Follies," my favorite musical. It drew the attention of Hal Prince and the rest is history. Rich became the NY Times lead theatre critic. He was brutal but honest, and his reviews were the best read in town. He retired from that position and is now writing an influential weekly political column.

When he and Sondheim sat down for a chat at Avery Fisher Hall, this writer took notes. For theater fans, this is cocaine and heroin.

We've heard most of the Merman stories. Jimmy tells most of them in his lecture series. But I loved:Sondheim noted that he didn’t think that Merman would be able to act when he wrote most of the show. As such, he designed “Everything’s Coming Up Roses” as a song in which Merman could belt to the rafters while…

Rest In Peace HIV Hero Martin Delaney

From Project Inform:

Project Inform announces the passing
of founder, Martin DelaneyFriday, January 23, 2009Dear Friends —It is with profound sadness that Project Inform announces the passing this morning of our Founder, Martin Delaney. He was 63 years old.Martin Delaney,
Founder, Project InformWhen the full history of the HIV/AIDS epidemic is written, there can be no doubt that Marty will rank as one of the greatest contributors to ending this great human tragedy. Those of us living with HIV, and all of us who care about people living with HIV, mourn the loss of this great leader, lifesaver and wonderful human being.Marty’s activism is legendary. He was a true David among many Goliaths. He has assured that government, researchers and pharmaceutical companies understand and respond to the needs of HIV-positive …

Obama, Africa & The American System.

The real miracle of this day is not just that he's African-American, but that he's really African, his father being born in Africa.

For most of its history, America has been a very Euro-centric and then Asia-centric (where every electronic item we use seems to be made).

But Africa has been this big blind spot.

Now we have a president who is a son of that continent in a very direct way. I think that's a remarkable testament to democracy, free enterprise and the personal initiative (that the system rewards it rather than punishes it as in an authoritarian system) and abilities of a little Black kid whose mom was on welfare -- an American "slumdog," if you will -- that he could rise to the top of his class
in Harvard and then become president of the United States, married to a daughter of the daughter of slaves. This is the promise of America, spelled out for real. This is the tangible proof of the effectiveness of the American constitution and way.

I am unhappy with som…

There is a New World Waking.

On this inauguration day, I will quote from the lyrics of "New World Waking." These are the words written by Rev. Peter J. Carman, pastor of the Lake Ave. Baptist Church in Rochester, NY, which was the inspirational spark that lit the fire.
There is a new world waking
Though nations fail to hear
There is a world of justice
Unstained by power or fear

And though the mighty traffic
In greed and pain, somehow,
There is a new world waking

There is a new world waking
Within my heart right now

c2008 Peter J. Carman/Steve Schalchlin See No Evil Music/Lil Shack O Tunes/ASCAP
And it's that last line, "within my heart right now" -- that was the line that resonated so strongly with me because it parallels the same theme expressed in "Sometimes When I Pray" from The Big Voice: God or Merman?, the phrase most cited by people when they talk about the score.
If God has hands
They're your hands
If God has eyes
They're your eyes
And if God is love
It's your loveIt feels ver…

Bonus Round


A Rock and Roll "Big Voice" in Indio.

Halfway to Indio, Jim asked me if I had packed the keyboard stand.


"The sound cues."


"I asked you about the sound cues last week."

"Oh. I thought we had a disc in the folder."

"What folder?"

"Don't we have a show folder?"

"No, we don't have a show folder."

He pulled over into a foreign grocery store parking lot -- not foreign language, just not in our region -- and called Rick, the stage manager.

"He has a recording studio. He'll bring a keyboard stand."

We get to the theater. It's an old movie complex turned multi-stage performing arts center. Still new in its conversion, it's much changed since the last time we were here with "Zero Hour" where Jim's dressing room said STORAGE on the door.

The script was being printed out as we arrived.

Rick said, "I just take 'em in order. If I tried to read ahead, I'd never get anything done."

Shamedly, I said …

The Last Session in Rochester, NY in February 2009

I guess Chris & Ann Marie decided that I didn't get enough cold down in the Antarctic, so they asked me if I would be interested in reviving The Last Session up in Rochester, NY -- where the Arctic freeze is currently focused -- starting in a couple of weeks.

Happily, we're going to reassemble our previous cast -- Amy Coleman from the original off-Broadway cast, Danette Sheppard as Tryshia, Jay Falzone as Buddy and Chris Burley as Jim in the booth.

Also, we're going to be doing it on a different stage, if it all works out -- over at the fabulous Geva Theater.

I'm really looking forward to doing TLS again.

Fear of Rebirth.

I had a conversation with a very intelligent young woman recently, and I said that because so many people fear religious "born again" evangelicals (I know born again evangelicals who fear other supposed born again evangelicals), it almost feels like it's morphing into a larger cultural fear of talking about rebirth, renewal and, yes, feeling or being born again.

For the record, this blog is secular. If I have personal religious beliefs, I have found here in my hoary old age that it's better to just keep them to yourself. Once, when refusing to answer direct queries by a very intensely religious Christian about my beliefs, I finally said in exasperation, "If I ask you what kind of position you and your wife have sex in, would you consider that too personal?"

He sputtered, unbelieving I would even raise the subject.

"Well, that's how I feel when someone asks me about my relationship with God. It's like they're asking me what I do in bed."


What Was Orson Welles' Last Film Appearance?

In this video blog, attorney and magician Rich Bloch, who was an advisor to Orson Welles on magic illusions, tells Jim Brochu about meeting Welles, and about Orson's last film appearance, which was not in a feature.

The Atheist and the Rabbi.

He is still in the Angry Stage.

He is bright, hilarious, compassionate, caring, joyful, and a total mensch who takes care of the people around him. He's the guy you go to when no one else will help. (He's paid a high price for this, by the way. Sometimes when you "help" people, and it doesn't fix things, they blame you. )

But he's really angry. He is not just an atheist. He is what some in the blurbosphere call the Angry Atheist, and he'll admit it. He'll say the words calmly, "I am an Angry Atheist." He will tell you a story about his synagogue. He was quoting Dawkins and made references to Hitchens. (I've read Dawkins' The God Delusion).

I love this man with all my heart. I also love his wife, who is bright, educated, intellectual, and giggly. They have become family to us.

I played him the rehearsal footage video of "Holy Dirt" and watched his reaction. (I did not tape his reaction because Real Life Happens Off-Camera. I did…

Did The Catholic League See "The Big Voice" Before Condemning It?

As I mentioned yesterday, with slight tongue in cheek, Jim and I were proud to accept the condemnation from The Catholic League for The Big Voice.

But, in making a joke, I didn't actually respond to the specific charges. In the spirit of fairness, lets review what's written on their site, an annual report:
San Francisco, CA – "The Big Voice: God or Merman?" was performed at the New Conservatory Theatre Center. The two-man play, described by the San Francisco Chronicle as a "very funny chamber musical about growing up gay and religious," stars gay men who grew up Baptist and Catholic respectively. In the play, one character achieves a "spiritual epiphany" during a religious pilgrimage when he sees a performance by Ethel Merman.We're not just funny. We're VERY funny! Thanks for including that. But that plot summary is not precisely correct, although the image of Ethel Merman in the niche is a video that needs to be made.
[For my Baptist f…

Condemned By The Catholic League!

I'm baaaack.

In short, I survived a hurricane that blew out three windows in three cabins, saw the single most astonishing natural wonder (which I never expected to see, nor was it ever described to me beforehand, which led to my beginning the writing of "The Antarctic Suite"), rode horses just outside Montevideo, and came home to a condemnation from the Catholic League -- and a review from a critic which said that "New World Waking" is "inappropriate for the holidays." You know, because it's filled with religion and politics and violence and depressing things. Maybe she's got a point, but I happen to think my songs are funny. I have stories to tell about this, too, by the way, involving a devout atheist and an even more devout rabbi.

(I'm thinking I want to go back to SF and do a solo show called "Inappropriate for the Holidays.")

I find it amazing that people are finding my work to be so scary to children and animals. And Catholi…

New World Waking! CD NOW AVAILABLE.

Now you can purchase the full "New World Waking!" along with a fantastic selection of songs sung over the 30th anniversary season of the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus. I'm especially thrilled that they're including the luminous "Safeer el-Layl (ambassador of the night)" -- probably the first song created by a gay man in Arabic, sung by a gay chorus. I wrote about this magnificent creation when I heard it performed last Spring.

This is a limited edition CD. I think they only pressed a thousand, so go now to the site and get a couple of them. One for you and one for a friend.

I promise you'll enjoy this.