Thursday, July 28, 2011

Olympian Volcano!

Great article by Molly Gilmore in the Weekly Volcano about my return visit here to Olympia.

I arrived yesterday after a long day of travel and basically slept the whole day. The time zone difference is difficult enough, but I had to get up at 4am to get the bus to the airport.

Thankfully, the plane was on time and though I was wedged into a very full aircraft, right in front of a crying baby, I was happily immersed in a new book called "Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World." (We are given this impression that the Western world was so much  more civilized than the east, but he actually implemented freedom of religion, meritocracy and open trade while the western world was still bowing down to kings and living in filth).

Ah, but then, we always the "the other guy" is so much less civilized than we are.

Buy tickets here.

Sunday, July 24, 2011


I took a few pics of the theater where Jim is doing Sound of Music. It's a restored movie palace called the Benedum Center and the inside is stunning.

My camera couldn't really get the details on this spectacular chandelier.

We take a little shuttle from the corporate apts. where the cast is housed and though I walked all around yesterday afternoon I had forgotten my camera, so I'll get better shots today, but what a beautiful city this is. It sits on a promontory on the Allegheny river and there are many bridges, all painted yellow leading into the downtown area.

Sadly, there are also a lot of closed stores. You can tell it needs an economic lift.

I also noticed that there do seem to be a lot of shirtless young men walking around with the pants on the ground. And I mean not just showing a glimpse of brief, but actually showing their entire underwear-covered butts, and waddling like ducks. We get some of that in New York, but I don't even know why they bother wearing jeans here.

I'll take a lot more pics today.

The show is terrific. What a cast! And it's fun seeing Jim in a big show with a full orchestra. I'm so used to seeing him alone on stage with Zero, or with me doing Big Voice, I forgot he can do all that big stuff.

And he does love singing to a big orchestra!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Quick Update.

Had a great recording session with Peter Link this past Sunday. He has so much experience as a producer and as an engineer, it feels safe to be in his hands. We did lead vocals on "Every Day A New Amen."

The song has morphed a bit since its inception. After I performed it a few times, both at Christ Church Bay Ridge and at the Mark Janas Salon, I finally began making a demo using my rather crude set-up here. It occurred to me that it was too long and needed a section removed.

The patient is fragile, you know.

Songwriting is like a balancing act. An listener today gets bored within five seconds. I don't really like to talk about the process of songwriter that much. Most people find it boring. And, also, who am I to tell anyone how to the write a song? The song you loved the most while writing turns into the song you can't believe you were ever talentless enough to write.

Speaking of fragile, singing a vocal in a booth scares a lot of people.

Singing is emotion. Music is liquid emotion. If you're scared when you sing, then it will sound scared on playback.

And while I can play around making demos on my $100 mic, getting behind a mic that cost thousands of dollars is a whole 'nother game.

But we made it through without any battle wounds.

Got blood tests back. My cholesterol is down in the normal range. (Victory!) And triglycerides are getting better and better, almost in normal range, which is a miracle!

However, my vitamin D levels are very low. My doc said it was a new side effect they're discovering about Sustiva. He said, "I hate giving you yet another pill, but we need to get that back up."

Weirdly, since then, I keep seeing articles about vitamin D deficiencies.

CD4 count was down a bit -- 340 -- but the percentage was up to 28%, which is almost in the normal range. (The CD4 count goes up and down a lot, even in one day).

My blood sugar A1C count was down to 7 from 9. This means it's headed in the right direction. Still too high, but getting better.

And that's about it. Good news, for the most part!

Friday, July 01, 2011

In Praise of PFLAG.

I don't think I've mentioned, lately,  how much I love PFLAG.

During the Pioneer Days of the Internet, it was the first real life example of how families could talk to each other about what it means to have a gay kid. 

The email list PFLAG-Talk wasn't officially "of" the central office. It was just a bunch of folks from various towns, both large and small, talking together, worrying for their children and helping, especially, "new" parents who had just been delivered the news. 

Sometimes it's a mom just trying to understand, saddled with a husband who is about to blow through the roof, trying to figure out how to keep her 17 year old -- who is now dressing like a Goth -- from sneaking out at night.

As culture warriors continue to dominate the religious debate over homosexuality, parents and their kids, and their extended family, are all caught in the crossfire because war is easy. It's the first thing you learn in improv, violence is easy. 

But when that parent is told by his kid, when that parent's world suddenly turns upside down, who do you call?

Conservative Christian parents, especially. Who do you call? 

I remember confronting the protester in Kentucky. I asked him point blank, "Now that you've told me I'm going to hell, what do I do? Do I come to your church? Do you have a program for homosexuals who want to not be gay anymore?"

The look on his puzzled face. He snapped, "No!"

Who does anyone call? Or better, who can you call who doesn't have a religious or political agenda to shove down your throat?

PFLAG does advocate, naturally, for gay people. But, on this list, people of all stripes exist. The rule is No Religion, unless you're asking an informational question about a certain group's beliefs. 

By keeping to the personal, each parent can get necessary information and emotional "been there, done that, here's what might happen net" comfort and advice.

I've sung for many PFLAGs and was even honored, twice, with the Oscar Wilde Award by the PFLAG in Los Angeles.

But, Olympia is a particularly personal destination because of Gabi and Alec Clayton, who live there. If I'm not mistaken, the very first song I wrote after The Last Session was "Gabi's Song." 

In fact, the first concert I sang after 9/11 was Olympia. It was that first weekend of flights. We considered canceling. But no way. And we had a most miraculous night. More like church, really.

So, it's good to be coming back. And how great that we'll be presenting New World Waking, which was born, as an idea, there in Olympia. Only this time, we bring in all the local college kids and make a musical together! And what's the first song of New World Waking?

Of course. Gabi's Song. "Will it always be like this?"