BRIEF BLOG INTRO:
Hello. You caught me at a rather exciting time in the bonus round. For my 60th birthday year, I made an album. I'm doing some concerts around New York City and I even composed a concert Mass which will debut on June 7. I update a few times a month these days, and I don't spam. So it's easier to keep up with me by following by Email. When this blog began, it was to track my death. I'm told it was the first AIDS blog. You can start at the gruesome beginning if you want. Or just jump in and maybe we can learn some life lessons together. Welcome to the Bonus Round. I'm Steve, The Songwriter.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

I've Almost Stopped Crying.

Finally, having arrived back HOME in New York. (I felt completely different, walking around the City yesterday; the first time I didn't feel like a visitor. Something happens to you when you realize you have no apartment waiting for you, elsewhere).

The first thing I did was meet J.R. Stuart, an actor, director and playwright from Louisville, KY, with whom I've been cyberfriends with for a long time. We had breakfast at the Brooklyn Diner in Times Square. (They don't serve "breakfast potatoes." Instead, they make polenta thingies that look like orange fried cubes.)

I feel like an idiot for not bringing my camera.

The truth is that I can tell I'm still not completely "present." I found myself crying, randomly, during the day "just like a woman." The tears weren't connected to anything specific. They just would appear in my suddenly-burning eyes.

And I forgot things. My pill tray, for one. Left it at Chris and Ernie's. I think. I mean, that's the point. I don't know. Ernie made the observation, as we were sorting through the apartment, that I am "scattered." Meaning, I'll start on one thing, see another -- "shiny object!" -- and just change course, forgetting the first task.

It's true. Well, now multiply that by, I don't know, a gajillion, and that's what I'm feeling now. I have a lot of things to do, both healthwise, getting all my medical coverage converted and up to date, new doctors, new systems, new drug store. New everything. It's dizzying, at best.

But, putting down roots in New York means new friends. New people to meet! New opportunities for getting our shows out there.

J.R. mentioned there are theaters in his area that are always looking for new material. I pitched him both TLS and Big Voice, telling him how effective both pieces are in terms of appealing to all kinds of people, from liberal to conservative, since we don't push a political agenda, but, instead, just tell our stories, letting people decide for themselves what to think.

Back in L.A., I also had lunch with Jim Durkin, who now, among other things, manages movie composers. He and I laugh because, back when I first got to L.A., when I was the front desk volunteer at National Academy of Songwriters, he was performing a similar entry level position at ASCAP.

We would meet at Micelli's and I would say to him, "We're gonna take over this town, Durkin!" (I always call him "Durkin." He would later re-enter my life after I got sick. During one of my attempts to come back to life, pre-AIDS cocktail, he got me a volunteer position, as physical therapy, with a music agent he was working for, a guy named Vos. But, I eventually became too sick to handle it.)

"We haven't quite conquered Hollywood," he noted, as I started on my Denny's tilapia.

Undaunted, I responded, "No. No. I got it figured out. First, I have to conquer New York. THEN, we can take on Hollywood."

He said, "Do you remember Jamie and me visiting you in the hospital?"

"I don't remember hardly anything that happened in that hospital. I was a lot sicker than I knew. I mean, I knew, but I didn't really know. No one did."

I told him about my plans  for New World Waking, that I feel it can be expanded by a half hour and work as a Broadway show, using contemporary musical arrangements. He gave me the name of a very hot music producer whose been also working in theater. So, it was nice to do some business. Who knows.

Today, all the boxes are due to arrive from El Lay, and we start the whole process over again, looking at every single sheet of paper. Finding places for everything. I've lived in New York before, and the first lesson you learn is that space is valuable -- and if you don't find a place for everything, you will suddenly be covered in junk.

Sunday night, we swung by the Mark Janas Salon. It was cruise night, so I sang "The Faces In The Music." (Here is a video of me doing it at Kulak's Woodshed in NoHo. Must have been a very early appearance. I was still introducing myself to the group, having arrived there as a volunteer camera operator -- once again, physical therapy):



As I sang the song at Salon, I got to the final verse:
I've now been decorated in a fancy big hotel
Seen the place where Joan of Arc was burned
And sent right straight to hell
I've sailed around Cape Horn and lived to tell
As I got to that last line, my voice broke, tears burned, and I rasped my way through to the end. We left the Salon early, which meant missing Mark Janas' "classical corner," which I love, but, by then, my body had given out, and we left at the break.

I miss my friends already. And I've almost stopped crying, but not quite. Don't get me wrong. It's a good cry. I know Jim and I are where we belong. Our lives are in theater. Yes, you can do theater anywhere. I bet J.R. totally kicks ass in Louisville. But, theater is New York. It just is. I don't even mind that I'm still crying. It even almost kinda feels good. Almost.

At home -- home -- that night, and on Monday, I got caught up on True Blood, Mad Men, Entourage, Project Runway, I Love Lucy -- the Connecticut episodes, not my favorites -- and finally was allowed to touch cat Steinbeck, who objected to this 10-day separation by ignoring me completely the first night, but jumping into the bed for scootches last night.

And I could hear Jim purring.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Jim to appear at Philip Loeb Event, Sept. 1.

An Evening in Honor of Actor Philip Loeb
Featuring, among others, Jim Brochu

With Aviva Kempner, director, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg; Anna Berger, actress on The Goldbergs; Peter Friedman, actor who is writing a play about Loeb; Dr. Steve Loeb, Loeb’s grandnephew; Dr. Glenn Smith, Loeb biographer; Jim Brochu, actor and playwright Zero Hero; and other special guests
 
Philip Loeb, accomplished actor and teacher, was one of the organizers and founders of the Actors’ Equity Association.

At the height of his career in 1949 Loeb was blacklisted for his union activities as he was playing Jake Goldberg on the very popular Goldbergs show. Producer and co-star Gertrude Berg (Molly Goldberg) fought in vain to keep him on the show by attempting to get new sponsors.

The demise of his career is featured in the film Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg, a captivating, eye-opening documentary, excerpts of which will be shown along with other clips related to Loeb’s career.
 
Loeb committed suicide on September 1, 1955; this program commemorates the 55th anniversary of his death. 
 
Newly released DVDs of Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg for sale.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010 @ 6:30pm
Museum of Jewish Heritage
36 Battery Place

New York, New York 10280-1502

Jim & Steve Interviewed by BroadwayBlogspot.com

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Last Night at Kulak's.


Michael Sugar took this photo of my last night with Kulak's (for now). That's my buddy and co-writer of the song, "Rescue," Val (Valerie Kuhns). I'm holding the rescue puppy which she recently adopted. That's Julie Chadwick on piano. We're singing one of Julie's songs, which she wrote when a beloved dog of hers died. It's called "They Say" and it's ACHINGLY beautiful.

When I began my set, I sang the original "Lazarus" from the Bonus Round Sessions CD. It's a song that I wrote shortly after I discovered I was going to live. I haven't sung that song in ages, but, alone in the apartment, I found myself singing over and over. In fact, it took me two days to remember the words. 

I, then, said how much Kulak's has meant to me, especially in giving me two incredible gifts, the songs "He's Coming Back" and "Rescue," both emanating from the songwriter workshop I helped facilitate with Marc Platt. (I visited them a couple of nights, back, by the way. I think I'll get one of them to tell the story-- three  people I hadn't met.)

"He's Coming Back" came when Avril stood and told the story of her sending her son back to Iraq. And "Rescue" we wrote as a group, three women and I, for a previous Animal Night.

Sadly, Paul Kulak couldn't be there, so there was no video broadcast or recording. In a way, I'm kind of glad. Somehow, the fact that it was just us, the little family of regulars, and a number of listeners, made it feel more real. 

I told them how much I believe in their music and how much we, as singers and musicians, must use our "powers" for good, to create peace and justice in the world. 

"Connected" was how I ended the evening. I was crying the whole time. Partly because I felt sad to be leaving this amazing community of songwriters, but also because of all the memories I had been sifting through in packing up our things in the apartment right down the road.

So, now I'm home. Back in New York with Jim and Steinbeck. It's good to be home.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Loyola researchers discover proteins that inhibit HIV.

Loyola researchers discover proteins that inhibit HIV.


    MAYWOOD, Ill. -- Using a $225,000 microscope, researchers have identified the key components of a protein called TRIM5a that destroys HIV in rhesus monkeys.


The finding could lead to new TRIM5a-based treatments that would knock out HIV in humans, said senior researcher Edward M. Campbell, PhD, of Loyola University Health System.


Campbell and colleagues report their findings in an article featured on the cover of the Sept. 15, 2010 issue of the journal Virology, now available online.


In 2004, other researchers reported that TRIM5a protects rhesus monkeys from HIV. The TRIM5a protein first latches on to a HIV virus, then other TRIM5a proteins gang up and destroy the virus.

Humans also have TRIM5a, but while the human version of TRIM5a protects against some viruses, it does not protect against HIV.


Researchers hope to turn TRIM5a into an effective therapeutic agent. But first they need to identify the components in TRIM5a that enable the protein to destroy viruses. “Scientists have been trying to develop antiviral therapies for only about 75 years," Campbell said. "Evolution has been playing this game for millions of years, and it has identified a point of intervention that we still know very little about."

The Lion of Songwriters Sleeps Tonight.

George David Weiss, who wrote a number of standards, including "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," (adapted from a Zulu song) has died. I knew him from having met him a few times through National Academy of Songwriters. George was the President of the Songwriters Guild until 2000. So, usually we were discussing copyright issues or other industry stuff. Since he was based in NY while I was in LA, we didn't meet that often.

But, once, we were tapped to do a songwriter presentation at some meeting. He did his thing -- "Lion," plus "What A Wonderful World" and Elvis' "Can't Help Falling In Love," -- and when it was my turn, since I didn't have any hits, I sat down and sang my first song (included in "The Big Voice"), "I Want To Make Music."



He came up to me and said, "I have to tell you. That's the first time I've heard death into a pop song and make it work."

He was a tireless advocate for songwriters. So long, George. Sleep tonight.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jake and the Boxes.

Jake Wesley Stewart, posing by the stack of boxes that represents everything we own in the world.


Jake came by to help. And yes, girls, he's straight and single -- and coming to New York in October. I'll get him singing with me at the Salon.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Moving Day 3.

Every muscle and joint in my body aches. My feet hurt. And I'm so tired of carrying bags of junk down to the bin. But I'm getting it all into boxes, and when Michael Sugar came to visit me last night, he was actually amazed at how much has been done. I'm pretty proud of it.

We've cleaned out the living room except for pieces of furniture. The bedroom, filled with DVDs and video cassettes -- our entire lives -- is about half done. That's been a huge job. Ernie did a lot of it.

The kitchen is cleaned out. Our apt. manager, Vicki, is having a garage sale, so I gave him most of our dishes, pots and pans to sell, along with other assorted doo-dads.

Today, friends are coming over to help. I have to tackle the studio and the bathroom. But I feel like I'm slightly ahead of the game. I just never realized how much there was to do. Every time I think I'm on top of it, I find a new bookcase or a new corner filled with just stuff. But, we've been there over 20 years.

It all just accumulates.

But, geez, I am SORE.

Friday, August 20, 2010

First Angel Moment.

Yesterday, Ernie and I began the process of wrapping all the little bitty things Jim and I want to hang onto, including knick-knacks, photos on the walls, paintings, souvenirs from around the world, and awards. (Where and how did we manage to accumulate so much STUFF??).

Everything was going into bubble wrap and stuffed into boxes. Ernie was cleaning the dust off of them and I was wrapping and stuffing. He had told me, earlier, that moving is a very emotional activity, but I wasn't feeling emotional. I was just feeling overwhelmed by how much we had to do.

At one point, he pointed over to a crystal angel and asked, "Is that an award?"

And out of NOWHERE, I just BURST into tears.

That little angel -- and I don't have a picture to show you right now because I didn't bring the camera with me and I don't have a smart phone, not because I don't love technology, but phone plans are so expensive right now, we're just trying to keep our expenses to the very minimum -- that little angel represents a world of history.

It was given to me by Don Kirkpatrick on the day Kurt Knutsson, "The Cyber Guy," flew him out from *El Paso to L.A. for a little reunion. I tried to find a way to tell the story, but I was sobbing too much.

So, I'll try to do it here, though longtime readers probably know the story better than I do.

1996. I had just started the online diary. Don was one of the first readers to stumble across it, a senior who was finding his second life as a gay man thanks to the Internet. He began reading about our show, about our lives, and he offered us, out of the clear blue sky, the funding to go to New York and do a little showcase.

From that act of generosity, all of this -- and I mean all of it -- began. Our off-Broadway production, a circle of friends, many of whom I'm still in contact with, TV shows, award shows, my entire musical career -- how do I, in a few moments, tell this story, all embodied in that one little piece of glass.

As I recall the moment with Ernie yesterday, I sit here with tears welling up in my eyes.

It was a story that couldn't have happened in the pre-Internet days. Hell, it's a story that couldn't have happened six months previous.

As I sat there on the couch, wrapping up every little item, I started to see, in my mind's eye, a thousand different stories, a thousand different people, all of whom contributed to the Story that is Living in the Bonus Round.

How can I possibly repay all that's been given to me? I know of only one way: To keep living, to keep writing, to keep striving, to continue my "work," whatever that is.

There was a point, back in August of 1996, when I knew I was not going to die, when everything -- Life -- began to overwhelm me. I had, up to that point, come to a real peace about the fact that I had only short time left to live. It felt so -- easy.

Easy. The disease was taking away all my choices. All I had to do was live it out, die, and then let God or Fate or Who or What Ever just take it from there.

The Last Session was my passion. It was my Final Statement. It was finished. I was finished. And First Angel, Don, had come along, out of nowhere, to make it a miracle that would live long after I had gone.

And, now, here it was. August 2010.

I'm still dealing with a lot of health issues. I'm still fighting every day for breath and for life. And I have no idea what the future is, or how to create it -- maybe there is no such thing as "the future." Maybe we're all just living in an extended Now. A long moment that stretches back and extends forth.

I had a real existential crisis in August of 1996 because I had to ask myself, "Now what?" And I've been asking myself that same question ever since. The answers have rolled out slowly. That's when I coined the title "Living in the Bonus Round." And each new chapter is another answer to that question: The Big Voice. New World Waking. Musical Insurrection.

And all of it, yesterday, just came rushing at me with that simple query from Ernie about the little crystal angel:

Is this an award?

Yeah. Maybe the best one of all.

*I had originally written, in haste, "San Antonio." Don corrected in the comments section.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Packing It All Up.

Today, after a long flight back to the Left Coast, I've had a good sleep and now I tackle the fun part: Completely taking apart our apartment, getting rid of everything we own, and shipping whatever is left back to NYC.

Normally, Jim and I would have been doing this together, but he's doing Zero and I'm not. :)

So, I've given myself about a week to get all this done.

A week.

Oy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Jim Brochu, Mary Poppins, Zero Hour and Cate Blanchett? What?

Jim Brochu is nominated in two award categories of the DC Theatre Scene website, Favorite Touring Non-Resident Show, where he's, once again, up against such first class, big budget powerhouses as the Cate Blanchett company of "Streetcar," "Jersey Boys," "Mary Poppins," etc. and Best Performer in a Touring Show where he goes directly up against Cate!

Congrats, Jim!!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy Birthday, Jim Brochu.

I cannot imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn't met Jim Brochu. I wouldn't have two off-Broadway musicals to my credit. I wouldn't have a shelf full of awards to brag about and show off. By the time we met, I was already too old to be a rock star.

I managed to fool him, somehow, into wanting me.

And every morning, when I wake up and make him coffee, I know it's going to be a fantastic day, just because he's in it.


Happy birthday, my friend and comrade and advocate and partner and husband.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Interview at Broadwayblogspot.com

Just posted: a video interview with Steve Schalchlin for "Broadway Backstage ."

Grisetti & Brochu Do "Roar of the Greasepaint..." for Musicals in Mufti.

We've been holding back the news because we didn't want to get in the way of the York Theater's PR schedule, but Jim is gonna play the role of "Sir" in the Anthony Newley/Leslie Bricusse "Roar of the Greasepaint" with Josh Grisetti, a young singer, dancer and actor who is not only one of the hottest upcoming stars on the Broadway scene, but also, they'll be directed by the equally hot Marsha Milgrom Dodge, who directed and choreographed that incredible Tony nominated production of "Ragtime" last year, and the guy who played Coalhouse Walker in that production, Quinton Earl Darrington. (Even we didn't even know him until the announcement!).

This whole series, "Musicals in Mufti" -- "mufti" being an old fashioned word for street clothes -- is one of the most eagerly anticipated of the entire season. Many terrific musicals are rediscovered through programs like this and the York's is one of the favorite.

"Roar of the Greasepaint" produced several hit songs. Nina Simone's version of "Feeling Good" is a classic:



What I love is this sunny lyric juxtaposed with a sad, bluesy harmonic. Really nice.

This is gonna be fun.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The New Broadway Spider-Man

Yes, they've gone and done it. Spider-Man is now a musical. Playbill article by Andrew Gans.

And here he is. Reeve Carney. Music by Bono and The Edge from U2.

The long-awaited Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark will begin previews at Broadway's newly renamed Foxwoods Theatre Nov. 14 at 3 PM with an official opening scheduled for Dec. 21.
Directed by Julie Taymor, the cast will be headed by the previously announced Reeve Carney as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. He will be joined by Next to Normal Tony nominee Jennifer Damiano as Mary Jane Watson and Broadway veteran Patrick Page as Norman Osborn/The Green Goblin. Additional casting will be announced at a later date.
Flying and choreography rehearsals for select cast members began July 19, and the full company will begin rehearsals Aug. 16.

The Last Session Audition Call in Indianapolis.

This morning, having followed Ken Davenport's call to put your shows in your Google Alerts, I discovered an audition call for a new production of The Last Session.

(And I have to say, it was really exciting to see The Last Session score so prominently displayed in the Theatre Circle music rack. (Two below La Cage Aux Folle. I swear I had nothing to do with it, but I think the TLS score is out of print, so I bought one, and if you want one, you should jump now. Here's their website.)

But. Indianapolis. Ruth Hawkins is directing. In fact, Ruth directed TLS when it was there in 2004. I played Gideon, and we had this great bunch of young people to play the other parts. It didn't seem to matter that I was a hundred years older than the rest of the cast.

It's being produced by a church group called "A Theater Within A Church Within" (this is the link to the audition. So, it's a theater company which is part of a non-denominational church. I went to their website and thought it looked interesting, like a waystation for people wounded by the religious cultural war. Strays who feel left on the side of the road.

From their site, it looks like anyone can join in. I bet Anne Rice would fit right in.

Anne Rice's Media Headlines are Sectarian.

"Anne Rice leaves Christianity but keeps Jesus."

To someone raised Baptist, this sentence makes zero sense. It's a sectarian headline, as if directly from the Papal PR office.

The non-sectarian headline would read:

Anne Rice Leaves Catholicism, Retains Christianity.

Or, more accurately, "Anne Rice Leaves Tea Party Christianity and the Catholics who Empower Them."

Monday, August 09, 2010

A Well-Written Review of Zero Hour.

Stu on Broadway, who writes a blog and hosts the radio show, "On Broadway," writes a very smart review of "Zero Hour," which is still running. We came here for a 12-week run and it's still going.

It's also changed. The intermission is gone, as he notes. (Jim didn't change a word; he just cut Zero's first act exit, turning the piece into a 90 minute tour de force.)
Bringing such an iconoclastic, bigger-than-life personality as Zero Mostel to life is no easy feat, but Jim Brochu, in his one man show, Zero Hour, thoroughly captures the essence of Mostel the comedian, actor, and painter.

Now that we've moved to the Actor's Temple, which is like coming home, since it's where we did The Big Voice, Zero really fits the environment. It's Old School Theater. One of the last landmark hold-outs to another generation and history of New York Stage. (Stained glass windows to Sophie Tucker and Joe E. Lewis!).

Brochu, a large man himself, just like Mostel, is constantly in motion on the small stage at the Actor’s Temple Theater, an actual synagogue that rents out its sanctuary space part of the week as an Off-Broadway theater.

The back-story of Forum as well as his recollections of Fiddler on the Roof are just a small part of Zero Hour. There is no singing or dancing. The production is really about the Zero Mostel the public never knew—the suffering and tortured artist who, in reality, just wanted to be a painter.

Jim knew from the beginning that he was not going to do a show that tried to reproduce Zero's greatest bits. He's not an impersonator and all you would get, all due respect to Jimmy's talents as a comedian, Second Best Zero. You can't outdo Zero. If you could outdo Zero, there'd be no reason to write a play about him. But what audiences have all said -- and this includes some of Zero's most devoted and closest friends -- is what Stu says at the end of his review:
Jim Brochu, who also wrote the show, eerily conjures up Mostel in both speech and girth. Friends in real life, Brochu serves himself well by not trying to recreate memorable moments from Mostel’s past that could easily turn into parody or self-serving aggrandizement. Instead, he keeps the audience enraptured with personal stories that captivate, enthrall, and charm.
Being a small show, even though we've been running since November, there are still reviewers who are just now discovering Zero Hour. It's also nice to hear them analyze it a bit and realize just what a little miracle Jim has pulled off. You really do feel like you're in the room with Zero. It's magic.

Upon the Passing of Patricia Neal, A Story.

Patricia Neal and Gary Cooper together in The Fountainhead.
(The great actress Patricia Neal passed away.)

I might have met her more than once, but one incident stands out in my mind.

Sardi's. A few years ago.

Early afternoon, so the place was between shifts, empty except for us and one other party, Patrician Neal.

Her back was to us, so the first part of our conversation -- I think there were four of us -- was whispering, "is that patricia neal? i think it's her! yes, it's really her. wow. patricia neal? really? And if you don't know who Patricia Neal is, it's okay. Just trust me on this. For theater queens and movie buffs, Patricia Neal is royalty -- and I mean that in the best non-bullshit possible way. The woman was an icon and an artist.

Anyway, her companion left, walking up the stairs to the bathroom, leaving the five of us alone in that big room, with only a few strollers waiters, setting up for the pre-dinner theater shift.

It's at those moments, that rooms can suddenly become VERY QUIET.

Do we say something? We HAVE to! We're sitting at Sardi's with PATRICIA NEAL. She's RIGHT THERE. I mean, what's she gonna do? Oh, but what if she's had another stroke? No, I've been watching her. She seems fine. How would I know? Doesn't matter.

Finally, Jim leaned back a little bit and announced,  "NOW WE CAN TELL ALL OUR FRIENDS THAT WE HAD DINNER WITH PATRICIA NEAL."

And, without missing a beat, or turning her head, she thrust her hand back toward us and said, in a completely sincere, yet playfully theatrical, infected low, southern drawl, responded, "TOUCH me and it will be SO."

And we all burst out laughing. What a dame. And from then on, it was like we were old friends. And, of course, she and Jim had a number of stage actor friends in common from the old days. So, they started swapping stories, and we all had a great time.

She lived a life touched with a great deal of tragedy, including strokes which she bravely fought back from. But it was this quote that made me smile, and reminded me of my own health struggles:
"I had to have an operation that lasted seven hours, and I know very well my doctor thought I would conk out in the middle of it; but as I told him later, we Tennessee hillbillies don't conk that easy, so I stayed alive."
Touch me and it will be so.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Two Crying Babies.

I love this video and how the crying baby is fascinated by the crying dog, so that he forgets to cry, until the dog stops. It's so wonderfully human.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Christopher Hitchens Writes About His Cancer.

I keep hearing the lyrics to "Friendly Fire" in my head. His poignant Vanity Fair article.

Photos of NY


The "Polish Tea Room" 
The gang of show biz old-timers who hang out at the Edison Cafe.
Zero Hour poster on the wall of the Edison Cafe.

This is the church window where they took my picture for People Magazine.
A stained glass window at the Holy Cross Church.
 
A huge new skyscraper we've been watching get built.
Times Square at night.

Military recruiting station at Times Square.

Look what I found at the Theater Circle Book Store on 42nd street! 
Muppets Behind Bars!

LXD, HULU and Baptists Dancing.

I'm going to blog this even though I haven't watched the series, but I intend to. Mashable just wrote about the League of Extraordinary Dancers, which is a very high quality web series/dance phenomenon that started with a viral video on YouTube. And, now they've created something fresh and new: a comic book, mystery series that uses dance as its vocabulary.

Only recently have I ever watched any dance. It wasn't a part of our upbringing. Baptists. Do. Not. Dance.

And, forgive me mom and dad, but this is a tragedy. I know there's some obscure verse in the Old Testament about dancing, but geesh. Dancing and movement, romance and physicality, these things are a part of life, I'm discovering. (I also remember taking mom to her first Broadway show, filled with tap dancing. 42nd Street! She cried all the way through it.)

I remember, growing up, that I would see Catholics dancing! (gasp) They even TAUGHT the kids to dance. (horrors)

When I was hired for my first theatre job, in Dallas, coming straight out of east Texas with no experience in anything except gospel and rock bands, the rest of the cast laughed when they tried to teach me choreography. They kept me out of every number possible that had any movement.

Is this still southern Baptist philosophy?

Do Baptists still not dance?

My Computer Woes (For My Geek Friends).

You may not understand all of this if you aren't a computer geek, but here is what happened to me this week.

My Dell laptop came with the hard drive partitioned into a C drive (for the OS and all my programs) and a D drive (for my docs, which I wasn't really using, preferring to store my stuff on a external hard drive). However, they didn't allow enough room on the C drive, so I kept getting all these warning signals about space running out, even though I had tons of space on the disk itself.

So, I repartitioned the disk, adding space to C and shrinking D. But I didn't really use the D drive except to copy over all my music, plus some photos and videos.

So, several days ago, I went to the computer, which had been on overnight, and, upon opening it, discovered that the D drive was not being recognized. I opened up the disk management software and found that it had been renamed "unallocated space."

I plugged in my external drive and it wouldn't read that, either. In essence, all my documents were gone.

After squashing the rising panic, I looked at the ext. drive and saw that the USB port was broken, so no info could get to the laptop. It's possible that my data was not lost, just not retrievable.

So, yesterday I consulted the Staples where I got the laptop and he said the D drive must have mysteriously reformatted itself, and that I should bring it in since it's still under warranty.

Then, I went to Best Buy and got a new ext. hard drive enclosure and had them replace the Seagate enclosure. Came home.

Everything was there.

It still doesn't explain why my D partition was reformatted, but at least I didn't lose any data.

I am now breathing again. Or would, it it wasn't so hot and our AC broken.

University Glee Club.

In 1886, John T. Walker, the leader of the Alumni Glee Club of Columbia College, came up with the idea of a male glee club composed of college graduates living in the New York area. It remained no more than an idea till 1892, when Walker’s group began discussions with other founding members from Yale, Princeton, New York University, Rochester, Cornell, and Union College.
The result was an informal group called the University Glee Club, which began to recruit worthy singers from other colleges. The club gave its first concert on May 8, 1894, at Mendelssohn Hall for the benefit of the University Settlement Association, an act of generosity that wound up costing the charity $75. (The gallant singers, 44 in number, promptly anted up and refunded the $75.)
So goes the history page of the University Glee Club of New York, for whom I'll be doing a special presentation/concert on December 2nd. I'm honored to have been asked, and excited about crafting a special show just for them. Who wants to sing with me?

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Prop 8 Overturned.

I'm currently having a major computer malfunction, so I am going to have some problems uploading photos and telling you about this past week, which was great, but here's to the overturning of Prop 8. May it stand forever.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Post Exposure Prophylaxis.

This week I met a great guy, Dr. Anthony Urbina, here in New York, who has been promoting a new weapon against AIDS. It's called PEP, or Post Exposure Prophylaxis. What it does it duplicate the procedures healthcare professionals use if they accidentally expose themselves to HIV. It involves taking anti-viral pills for four weeks, and is 80% effective.

He's created a side called PEP411. It says that if you think you might have been exposed to the virus, through a broken condom, or sharing needles, or just through neglecting to protect yourself, you should get to an ER within two hours, and then take the four week course of drugs.

They warn that it's not a "morning after pill," in the sense that one should feel it's okay to just go out and have unprotected sex. PEP is not 100% effective, and it involves a rigorous regimen of drugs that usually have side effects. (Trust me on that one.)

But it's at least hope for people who make a mistake.

New York, Home & Spider-Man.

The first time I saw her was on the bus from Newark airport. I saw that skyline and something inside me said, "Home."

In Buna, Texas, where they didn't even have a stoplight (but did have a blinking yellow light where the highway cut through), the day of the week I loved most was the day the comic books arrived at the drug store. Back then, I think it was a Wednesday.

I know this sounds very 30s depression-era, but the truth is that Buna really was that cut off from the rest of the world -- especially in a pre-computer era. Many of the older folks there refused to follow daylight savings time. Many didn't believe we got to the moon.

As that bus got closer and closer, and the towers of lights of the City began to loom over me, I naively felt protected. That this was my city. And, yes, I'm a terrible romantic.


All through high school, I felt lost in piney woods since I didn't grow up there. (As a preacher's kid -- a PK, we moved several times during my childhood. I was a sophomore when we got to Buna. I was actually raised in southern California. I wore a "hippie hat" and moccasins to prove how cool I was).

But, aside from being a newcomer/outsider, I was also discovering/suppressing my sexual orientation, watching the straight boys and girls have romances and sexual encounters, trying not to look at hot guys, and feeling constantly under scrutiny. No one ever threatened me, but I thought if anyone found out, I'd be dead. ("You got a purty smile.")

(Ironically, I could hide behind the very Bible that supposedly condemned me. I took it to school and fended off danger as if protecting myself from vampires. I never had a drop of alcohol or touched an illegal substance. Never danced or went to clubs.)

So, though I might have been walking backwood country roads, in my mind, I was flying down concrete canyons with Spider-Man. I wondered if the Baxter Building, which housed the Fantastic Four, really was a place.
When I finally arrived, I was so excited, I couldn't sleep. The city does vibrate with energy. You can hear it and you can feel it.

I slept on a couch. Waited tables at a seafood restaurant on 76th and Columbus, got a job at a piano bar even though I didn't know a single standard or Broadway tune.

A couple of hustler bars. Some Italian restaurant where the owner tried to get me to do lines of coke and go look for girls. But there wasn't really a future for me in cabaret. I'm not entertaining in that glitzy kind of way.

I burned myself out, eventually, and was saved when I got the ship gig with the Galileo. Which is where I met Jim.

It feels different coming back now, but this time I think I'm not quite as naive. Or maybe I am. I still have this simple-minded belief that I can "take" this town.

As big as New York is, it's still, really, a small town. And I can do small towns. I've had a lot of practice.

A Genius Marketing Video for Stallone.

I was totally not expecting this, but the geek in me has to give props to Stallone's movie, The Expendables, for this viral ad. I do not know how they did it.