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Showing posts from April, 2009

Gabi's Song on John Lennon's IMAGINE Piano

From that same trip in 2007, here is the full "Gabi's Song" performed on John Lennon's IMAGINE Piano.

The Torture Debate

From Scott Horton at Harper's:
[The United States'] conduct is sending a clear message around the world: the prohibition on torture is a trivial matter which can be defeated by a tyrant in any corner of the world. All he needs to do is hire a lawyer and have him issue an opinion that when he tortures, it’s completely lawful.In two weeks, I'm going to be singing a concert. Much of the music I've written this past year is about peace and war and violence.

The people I'm singing for in Olympia in a couple of weeks are people who have joined together to support each other. Many of their own children have been subjected to hate speech and violence in their schools.

Here I am singing "Imagine" back there in Olympia in 1997.

Food Engineered to Make You Want More Junk.

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From Boingboing:
Neuroscience of junk-food cravings, researched in a Chili's dumpster

Posted by Cory Doctorow, April 27, 2009 10:44 AM



David A Kessler, author of The End of Overeating: Taking Control of the Insatiable American Appetite, is a doctor and lawyer, med school dean and former FDA commissioner. He's also someone whose weight has yo-yoed back and forth all his life, someone who is plagued with insatiable junk-food cravings. His new book -- grounded in research that included dumpster-diving chain restaurants to read the ingredient labels on the foods whose makeup they wouldn't discuss, tries to answer the neurological question of why we crave shitty junk food: The labels showed the foods were bathed in salt, fat and sugars, beyond what a diner might expect by reading the menu, Kessler said. The ingredient list for Southwestern Eggrolls mentioned salt eight different times; sugars showed up five times. The "egg rolls," which are deep-fried in fat, c…

New Vatican Documents! A Lisbon Papacy! Hitler!

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If you've seen Jim talk and sing, in The Big Voice: God or Merman? about his Catholic background and seminary time, you know he loves all things Catholic. He pointed me to this site which keeps up with the latest Catholic news and gossip. It's called Whispers in the Loggia. Today, there was an interesting entry about Pope Pius XII (also featured in The Big Voice) and Hitler based on secret Vatican documents, newly released.

Some people think it's just a trick to rescue him from accusations of anti-semitism. His biggest fans are wanting to canonize him.

According to freshly-revealed documents, Pope Pius XII and his inner circle made contingency plans to move the Holy See to Portugal, where the college of cardinals would elect his successor if the Nazis kidnapped the still-controversial wartime pontiff:

That Hitler considered kidnapping the Pope has been documented before, but this is the first time that details have emerged of the Vatican's strategy should the Nazis carry …

RIP: Bea Arthur, 86

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Years ago, when I first emerged from the hospital. This would be 1993 or 94. I was too thin and emaciated to walk. I slept most of every single day. It would be the beginning of a long road to recovery.

But that first day, I was lying on the couch, half asleep. And when I opened my eyes to look over at Jimmy's chair, Bea Arthur was sitting there.

I didn't know Bea Arthur and she didn't know me, but we had a mutual friend in the late Charles Pierce, female impersonator extraordinaire. (If you've ever seen anyone imitate Bette Davis, twirling the cigarette and speaking in her famed staccato breath, they're all imitating Charles Pierce imitating Bette Davis).

Bea had heard about me from Charles and insisted on coming over and giving me a few words of encouragement.

She was always available for groups like the LA Gay Men's Chorus or AIDS benefits. She loved her fans and she loved doing things for others, despite her reputation for being a little gruff. It was all a plo…

It's All About the Food We Eat: Food Inc.

Food Inc Official HD Trailer

http://www.foodincmovie.com In Food, Inc., filmmaker Robert Kenner lifts the veil on our nation's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the American consumer with the consent of our government's regulatory agencies, USDA and FDA. Our nation's food supply is now controlled by a handful of corporations that often put profit ahead of consumer health, the livelihood of the American farmer, the safety of workers and our own environment. We have bigger-breasted chickens, the perfect pork chop, insecticide-resistant soybean seeds, even tomatoes that won't go bad, but we also have new strains of e coli--the harmful bacteria that causes illness for an estimated 73,000 Americans annually. We are riddled with widespread obesity, particularly among children, and an epidemic level of diabetes among adults

Featuring interviews with such experts as Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), Michael Pollan (The Omnivore…

Heroes

Before there was Harvey Milk, there was Frank Kameny.

In his remarks, Berry recognized the presence at the event of veteran D.C. gay rights leader Frank Kameny, who is credited with leading a 20-year campaign that resulted in the reversal of the government's discriminatory employment policies toward gays.

Kameny, who holds a doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard University, became one of the nation's pioneer gay rights advocates after he was fired from his civilian job as a U.S. Army astronomer.

"For those of you who do not know, Dr. Kameny was fired from his federal job in 1957 solely because of his sexual orientation," Berry told the crowd. "At that time, it was not only lawful to fire employees on this basis, it was official government policy."

"In 1975, largely due to Frank's efforts, this injustice was overturned by the U.S. Civil Service Commission," Berry said. "It is the president's and my opinion that employees should only b…

When Internet Becomes Flesh and Dies.

Two net-friends of mine died this past week. One was a rather new friend named "Dougri." He lived, I believe, in Providence. I knew him mainly through YouTube where he had a channel. His video blogs were friendly, funny and intimate. He also loved helping promote others, including your Friendly Neighborhood Songwriter here.

The other was a cyberpal who became flesh. Her name was Adele Liotta. I don't think she was even 60 yet. But in the late 90s, just as the net became accessible for normal folks, she started becoming a kind of cybermom to gay kids whose families had either rejected them or "lost" them in some way. The group became known as CommonBond.

Several times over the years, they'd all meet together in a big hotel and invite me to come and sing for them. Adele's son, CJ, has become a close friend. It was because of CJ, actually, that I came in contact with my nephew, William, who had not yet come out to his family at the time. (William and CJ were…

Results of doctor visit.

Said Doctor Ruchi, "Okay, the good news is your A1c is down from 8.7 to 8. So, it's headed in the right direction. But I want it down around 6."

Or maybe she said down around 2. Or negative 20. I forget.

I was disappointed. I wanted to celebrate a really low number by going out and having a big bag of the greasiest KFC possible. With biscuits. Or a huge box of pizza. With hot wings.

"You know," she said. "When you get motivated, your body is really responsive. I've never seen anything like it. So, keep on working it. Get exercise and watch your diet."

Never mind. Break out the bag of spinach.

Hosting Wendy Waldman / Refugees tonight.

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Tonight, I'm hosting a two hour live broadcast from Kulak's Woodshed featuring one of the best live bands I've ever heard (especially in such a small space): The Refugees, a group of three women who have been knocking out audiences all over the country. Wendy Waldman, one of the three, is an old friend of mine from my NAS days. She had a huge hit with "Save The Best For Last," but that song only touches on the depth and melodicism of her music.

I saw them a couple of months ago here and, when I saw they were coming back tonight, I quickly volunteered for host/camera duty. One of my friends, after finding out Wendy was coming, was thrilled. He had seen her back in the 70s at a big concert venue, probably when she was with the band, Bryndl -- and remembers to this day the after-concert conversation he got to have with her.

This is the bio on Kulak's newsletter:
Wendy Waldman, Cindy Bullens, and Deborah Holland are the Ref…

How Many More Deaths from School Bullying?

One of the worst things done by the ever-more vicious anti-gay radicals infecting religion and politics is to block and/or fight (to the death) legislation to create safe schools for GLBT kids AND THOSE PERCEIVED or ACCUSED (as if it's a crime) to be lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

It's one thing for them to hold up the recent, vacuous, inarticulate almost-Miss USA as some kind of martyr for their cause ("She didn't get to be a beauty queen because she's against gay marriage!"), but it's quite another to insidiously fight against programs to help kids stay safe in their own schools.

This is from Bilirico:
When one of my NCLR staffers forwarded me a news article today, I thought it must have been a mistake. It detailed the suicide of an eleven-year-old boy who hung himself after relentless bullying at school. I had just read an identical article last week--the heartbreaking story about Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover, who, after suffering constant bullying a…

American Idol. My First Post on It This Year.

It's going to be Kris and Adam in the final.

They're both adorable and they both genuinely have talent. Also, both of them make the girls scream. Myself, I love Danny Gokey's singing. He kills me every week.

Adam Lambert, America's Great Gay (wink, wink) Hope, is going to be a huge Broadway star. Every week, I tune in just to find out what he's going to do, and I know I'm not alone. But the problem with being a Jack of All Trades is that it becomes harder to sell that. Few people want an album that goes back and forth because exotic Indian music and hardcore Thrash. (He seems like a really sweet guy and I think he has one of the most remarkable voices I've heard in year, but when he sang "Another One Bites The Dust," he looked like Liza Minelli. Forgive me, Adam.)

Kris might have a career ahead of him, but, the sad fact is that, in the industry, the perception is that boy pop singers don't last long. Ya gots ta be a diva to kick radio's ass. …

TLS Live?

I've been talking to Paul Kulak about doing "The Last Session" as a live Internet broadcast from the Woodshed. There would be some technical issues to overcome, not to mention finding a cast, but the whole idea continues to intrigue me.

The thing about the Woodshed is that it looks like what I would imagine "Jim's" studio to look like. A bomb shelter turned hippie hang-out turned recording studio. The walls are covered with posters. There are CDs hanging from clotheslines. Books. Shoes. Paintings. Random guitars hanging on the wall. Stars on the ceiling. 10 years of accumulated cool stuff.

I've not talked about this much, because I don't want to make promises I can't fulfill. I can't imagine, at this point, what the technical difficulties would be. So, maybe it's just one of those "wouldn't it be fun if..." kinds of daydreams. The thing is, it's entirely doable. All the equipment, including six cameras, is there.

I know pe…

SFGMC with Joan Baez on May 21.

Tune In, Turn Up, Sing Out
- Joan Baez joins Chorus for sixties showstopper at Symphony Hall

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus will have a totally new look at Davies Symphony Hall on May 21 under the direction of guest conductor, Dr. Timothy Seelig, who says: “We promise you an absolute explosion of groovy sixties fashion as the men of the Chorus leave their tuxes behind for the first half and burst onto the stage in outrageous vintage costumes as exciting as their singing.”

The Chorus invites you to make the most of now, slow down and enjoy an evening filled with some of the grooviest songs from the decade of dreams. “Revel in an evening of nostalgia, from the sublime to the ridiculous – and get ready to dance,” says the effervescent Seelig, renowned for his work with choral groups around the world.

Joining the Chorus on stage in the second act is the legendary Joan Baez who says: “This is very cool and I’m looking forward to it.“

At a time when it was neither safe nor fashionable Joan p…

Amazing Frozen Moment: Cop Fighting Clowns.

A viral vid that blows my mind.

Steinbeck Purring.

I love the sound of Steinbeck purring.

Earth Day Birth Day Ice.

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I attended a rehearsal of the Songs4Earth concert which is going to happen Saturday night. Trying to corral people together to learn each other's songs in time to keep from embarrassing yourself totally on stage is not easy. It was really hot last night and everyone was tired. One singer just laid down on the stage, fully participating, but too exhausted and hot to stand.

The two songs Jake and I brought are singing "My Thanksgiving Prayer," and "Antarctic Suite: Landscape". He is in rehearsal now for the musical of BIG, so he had to leave early.

I'm only just now getting acquainted with the other people in the group of musicians, singers and songwriters: Darren, Peter, JD, Suzy and Diana. JD I've known for a few years. In fact, he and I were both at the first Soulforce March on Lynchburg. I didn't know him, but I always thought he was a superb musician.

JD gave me another solo -- a song he has written as part of an "Earth Cantata." It's …

Facebook Etiquette for Everyone!

Don't be like Alice!

Mother Nature

If you look closely at this video, you might see a couple of familiar faces. This is a rehearsal tape JD made last week. It's the second time for me go through it. Mother Nature by the wonderful Diana Vanderbilt.

We'll be singing it for real this next Saturday night at the Earth Concert at MCCLA. I will be performing, with everyone, Antarctic Suite: Landscape (cross fingers -- it's harder than I thought it would be) and, with Jake Stewart, My Thanksgiving Prayer (from New World Waking). That's JD Sebastian as band leader and piano soloist.

I Felt Strong Last Night on Camera 3.

As part of my physical therapy to get my body strong again (not that I'm feeling particularly weak, but staying strong is a continuing effort, much to my rebellious chagrin and I've felt recently lazy. Ernie said to me that I treat my doctor visits like a junkie trying to pass a drug test. I eat and exercise for the two weeks prior to the visit, get a big thumb's up and then go out for pizza. I might as well be hunched over a crack pipe.)

So, in the spirit of letting you know that I'm totally fooling myself, this time around, I've been trying to see how long I can stand, working the cameras at Kulak's, before I have to sit.

When I began doing this last year, I would be totally exhausted after less than an hour. And the last half of that hour was a strain. Many is the time, even if the music was good, I'd find myself watching that clock and noticing how painfully slowly time can pass.

Last week, I was feeling weak and nauseous the whole night, finally leaving a…

The Two Jennifers Sing "And I'm Telling You"

Frank Rich on the Non-Event of Same Sex Marriage.

If you haven't seen the anti-gay marriage ad that appeared on the Internet, Frank Rich links to it in the op-ed below. So, go look, and then look at Stephen Colbert's version, which is so hysterical, it's not to be believed. All linked in the article. My hesitation in posting this was, at first, because I hate seeing people get ridiculed, even if it's funny and I think they "deserve" it.

OTOH, I'm a total hypocrite because I really laughed at the Colbert satire of this. So, there you are. Below this article is a real treat.
April 19, 2009 Op-Ed Columnist

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/opinion/19Rich.html?ref=opinion
The Bigots' Last Hurrah By FRANK RICH WHAT would happen if you crossed that creepy 1960s horror classic "The Village of the Damned" with the Broadway staple "A Chorus Line"? You don't need to use your imagination. It's there waiting for you on YouTube under the title "Gathering Storm":…

Brooklyn Tales of an Italian-American Mom.

In my extended family is a woman named Linda Romanelli Leahy. She is a published author of cookbooks based on Brookyn Italian cuisine handed down from her mother.

She's now started a new blog called Brooklyn Tales of an Italian-American Baby Boomer.

She promises stories and recipes! From her blog:
My cookbooks are: The All-Natural Sugar-Free Cookbook; The Oat Bran Cookbook; The World's Greatest Peanut Butter Cookbook with Jack Maguire; 366 Healthful Ways to Cook Leafy Greens. Through the years I've written for a bunch of food Magazines. Cooking Light still has my Beef Carbonnade (chosen for Back to the Best) on their website.

Getting An Audience.

Part of getting an audience, like I want to do for Olympia, given the fact that it's a benefit for PFLAG-Olympia, part of this is writing a press release that makes you sound like someone you'd want to go hear sing.

So, Gabi and I have put this profile onto the PFLAG-Olympia site.

http://www.pflag-olympia.org/SteveSchalchlin-Biography-04-17-09.pdf

Would you buy a used car from this man?

National Day of Silence

Rev. Dr. Mel White to appear on Anderson Cooper 360 Tonight!In honor of National Day of Silence, the Rev. Dr. Mel White, Founder of Soulforce, will appear for the second time this week on Anderson Cooper 360. The show is live on CNN this evening at 10pm EST. Mel White will be on the show together with Carl Joseph Walker-Hoover's mother. Carl was an 11-year-old boy who committed suicide on April 6th after enduring almost daily bullying, including anti-gay slurs. Carl didn't even identify as gay. The National Day of Silence brings attention to anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools.

Hosting for Arnold

Last night, I became a more "official" kind of host for Kulak's Woodshed. The truth is I still feel very new there, and not just among the other volunteers (which we need more of, by the way.) But I also feel new to the L.A. roots songwriter scene despite the fact that I used to be a integral part of it 20 years ago.

After last weekend's debacle where I started off by talking to the camera while being totally off-mic -- as if the room had magic sound-soaking properties -- I needed something to help me focus.

Miraculously, one of the other hosts, Randall Kirby (who's very good on the air) wrote a little "how to host" form. I printed it out and read it over several times. I don't think Randall even knew about my previous debacle. Because the Woodshed is not a formal organization, but rather staffed by whoever happens to be there that night, or has committed to volunteer work in advance, it's entirely free form. We're all making it up as we go al…

Rick Warren's Employee Involved in Wikipedia War to Rewrite History.

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In following the same sex marriage debates here in California, I have read in interest Pastor Rick Warren's stated position on CNN that while he supported Prop 8, the constitutional amendment recently passed to take away from gay people the right to marry in California -- a right we had until this past election, he says he's not a crusader against gay people and that this whole issue was not that important to him.

So I find it interesting that one of his highest level executives started a little Wikipedia war in order to rewrite history just a wee bit -- so much so that it got him banned from the site for three months. Here is it is in fuller detail from a new political blog (The Ignorant Heterosexual) by my friend, Ken McPherson, who's been following the controversy for weeks.

A couple of months ago I looked up “Rick Warren” on Wikipedia to see what the entry said about Warren and Prop 8. I clicked on the discussion page tab and discovered a Wikipedia War that has become my…

Alive in Olympia!

Here is a very cool blog entry from Alec Clayton about my upcoming concert in Olympia.

Quick Personal Catch-Up.

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First of all, my health. I'm on a deadline. A week from Friday I will be meeting with Dr. Ruchi for testing of my blood sugars. Specifically, the A1c, which this last time was way up over 8.

Part of my frustration was finding a good exercise I could do which would be easy on my poor little nerve-damaged feet. Then, the other day, I was was idly standing by the spiral staircase (which lends glamor to our small apartment) watching the tube when I did a little deep knee bend, holding onto the iron railing.

And it felt really good. So I carefully, because I'm out of shape, began doing more squats. And by the end of about 20 minutes, I was really breathing heavily. So not only is this good for my legs, but if I'm very steady and careful, it also acts as an aerobic exercise.

The next day, of course, I could barely walk.

MUSIC:
You might recall a video I made down at Kulak's not long ago with Jake Wesley Stewart singing back-up. We finally got back together again on Monday just to…

The Great Easter/Passover Breakfast with Michael

I'm Now A TV Host.

Down at Kulak's this past weekend, as I made my debut as host for the evening's broadcast, I made the dumbest, most amateurish mistake. As soon as the lights came up I started talking to the camera. And I was nowhere near a microphone.

When I realized what I was doing, I ran for the nearest microphone and started over.

MaybePaul'll let me do it again.

Wow! A Republican Vet Destroys Limbaugh, Hannity, etc. on Torture

This is from Andrew Sullivan's blog, who got the recording from Media Matters and I reproduce it in its entirety. One of the greatest evils that the Bush/Cheney administration did in its so-called "war on terror" was to torture people in custody. Books have been written on how ineffectual and downright dangerous the bad information was that came from these torture sessions (which Cheney is still defending).

But listen to this Republican veteran get through and totally lay waste to the Rush/Hannity/Hugh Hewitt upholding of torture -- and then listen to Rush, who avoided the military, tell this veteran off in the most sick, disturbing and disrespect way imaginable. No wonder these lunatics lost the election.

Truth To Power(Andrew Sullivan's comments: Finally, a Limbaugh caller who breaks through to him on his support for torture. By the way, Rush, even the Pentagon concedes over a dozen deaths during "interrogation" and human rights groups tally close to a hund…

Video of Jim Accepting the Carbonell Award.

You knew I had to bring my camera. This is Jim's acceptance speech. He even manages to bring in Charles Nelson Reilly who also won a Carbonell.

Photos of Jim Accepting The Carbonell Award.

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Photographer Tony Schreiber posted some beautiful shots of Jim on his website, along with photos from the entire night. Click oh photo to embiggen.






Jim Wins Best Actor Carbonell.

When Jim got to Coral Springs six weeks ago, he had no idea he was even nominated.

The 33rd Carbonell Awards are a formal affair and encompass live theatre in the south Florida area.

"Zero Hour" played here at the Broward Stage Door Theatre last year, but it wasn't a local production so he didn't really give it any thought when he wasn't mentioned in the nominations for the past year.

Then, a call this past Friday. He's been nominated for Best Actor in a Play in the category of Roadshow, meaning not a local production. The big traveling companies from Broadway are in this category. Their practice is not to announce the nominees in this category.

There were no guarantees that he'd win. And since I'm flying home early tomorrow, we hadn't planned on going out. (He's staying for a couple more weeks to direct "The Odd Couple," a last minute offer from the Stage Door).

So, we went.

And he won. So did Judy Kaye in the same category, doing "S…

Amazing Race's Mel White & Mike to be on Fresh Air

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I met Mel White a number of years ago when I participated in the first march on Lynchburg. I couldn't understand why I couldn't get through to him when we performed New World Waking in San Francisco. Then a few weeks ago, we put on Amazing Race, Jim's favorite show, and there he was with his son, Mike, who's a hilarious actor and writer. Of course we couldn't get through. They were taping the show!

Sadly, they got thrown off. However, they're going to be on Fresh Air on NPR.

Mel and Mike White to be guests on NPR's Fresh Air with host Terry GrossTuesday, April 7, 2009Mel and Mike will talk about their recent experience on the CBS program, THE AMAZING RACE.CLICK HEREfor broadcast times in your area!

Read This Book: What Is The What.

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I read a lot of books, but rarely have I done book reports. But I'm in the middle of reading a new book that I cannot put down. So, it becomes the first entry in a new series I'll call, unimaginatively but clearly, "Read This Book."

It's called "What Is The What" and it's the engrossing, soulful and deeply human account of the true life of a boy from Christian southern Sudan who ended up, at age 5?, 6? was forced to flee his home village as it was raped and destroyed by Muslim warriors on horseback. He walked for weeks and weeks through the desert to Ethiopia, only to find himself then rerouted to Kenya, making a life for himself in refugee camps, eating anything he could while enduring the kinds of things no human being should have to endure -- finally landing in Atlanta, which brought new kinds of problems.

Now, if that sounds like a dreary book, you'd be wrong. Written by Dave Eggers as a novel, I have found myself on the edge of my seat, tryin…

Jim's Groupies.

Tracey: Before the Bonus Round

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Long before this blog was called "Living in the Bonus Round," it was a tiny little site on GeoCities called "Steve Schalchlin's Survival Site" and it had a graphic with a mug of beer. Over the mug of beer was a thought balloon. It was one of the first Internet diaries, so the whole concept of people becoming friends with strangers was foreign. And one of the first persons I met was a 24 year old mother of one named Tracey.

She tells the story of how we met and how it all changed her. What she did for me was to give me my first big University AIDS education concert gig.

Tracey's a great storyteller, so I'll just let her do the talking. Meanwhile, my side of the story (from the original diary entry describing my trip to Virginia) is here:




Steve Schalchlin, October 1996
Old Dominion University

A Note for Christian Readers.

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One of my closest and longest lasting friends on the Net is a young man named Justin Lee, who identifies as a gay Christian. When I met Justin, he had an idea to help other GLBT people who feel conflicted about their faith. It has since grown into a nationwide network called the Gay Christian Network. While on the PFLAG-Talk list, I encouraged him to join and introduce himself because so many of the parents whose kids come out to them come from Christian homes.

I felt like there might be readers of this blog dealing with these issues and I wanted to let them know about GCN.

He gave permission to reproduce his letter:

My name is Justin Lee, I'm 31, and I'm gay.
I'm also the executive director of The Gay Christian Network, also known as GCN. We're a nonprofit organization that supports LGBT people and their families within a Christian faith context.
I grew up Southern Baptist and had a terrible time reconciling my faith and sexuality. Given the amount of homophobia in many …

Special Appearance April 25th in L.A.

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I've been asked (and have accepted) the chance to perform at a special Songs4Earth Earth Concert at the MCC-LA on April 25th here in Los Angeles. The church here has so many good musicians, I'm thinking we might even try to do a group-sing of "Antarctic Suite: Landscape." It all starts at 7pm.

Personal Appearances.

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This whole new wave of personal appearances, culminating in the creation and design of a new live solo concert, began with a simple request. Gabi Clayton -- do I have to remind you who she is? -- approached me about going back up to Olympia, the place where I played the "Imagine" piano, to sing a new concert as a benefit for PFLAG-Olympia. Given the fact that I'll do anything, anywhere, for any PFLAG, my answer was yes.

For me, PFLAG is a most vital organization because it is the most "roots." It consists of parents helping parents. They are a support group, both locally and online. I subscribe to the PFLAG-Talk email list (which, I believe is not an "official" PFLAG list, but, rather, a group of PFLAG moms and dads). I've been with them from the beginning because Youth Guardian Services was instrumental in helping them get online back in the dinosaur days of the Internet, and I've been involved with them from the beginning before the beginning…

Jackie Gleason's Widow, Marilyn.

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One of Jim's happiest moments on stage doing The Big Voice this Wednesday was the fact of having Jackie Gleason's widow, Marilyn, in the audience. But it really hit him when he remembered, during our runthrough, that he'd be imitating The Great One himself during the "Merman Moment" in Act One.

Standing stage center I say something about him turning into Ralph Cramden. And Jim says, "Hamina-hamina-hamina-hamina..."

Marilyn is the sister of the late June Taylor (the June Taylor dancers) and we saw her just the other night on the tube talking about Jackie.

Michelle Obama. A Class Act.

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An Obama critic said to me that he felt Obama failed since he didn't get all the spending he wanted at the world trade summit in London, or all the things he asked for.

I think that's very short-sighted. This meeting, for Obama, was not about how much he could force upon the world. There was a much larger and possibly more important thing going on -- and that's the job of achieving respect, both personal and national, on the world stage. He went humbly and he showed himself to be a person who knows how to bring the temperature down a notch. Meaning, to get everyone to just relax and find common ground, based on personal national interests -- with the message that when everyone prospers, it creates opportunities at home and abroad.

The "my way or the highway" politics of Bush and Cheney are now dead. They didn't work. They antagonized the world and created more violence, and strengthened the Islamic radicalism around the world.

Another terrific outcome was the re…