First Line Friday #5
The answer to last week's First Line:
More than a Feeling by Boston, written by Tom Scholz and John Boylon. The peaked at Number 5 on the U.S. song charts. Inspired by the heart-tugging mood of the Left Banke's "Walk Away Renee," Polaroid engineer Scholz tinkered with this anthem for five years in his basement studio.
As for this week's lyric, I had no inspiration whatsoever this week. Reports, book reviews, networking events, and minor jet leg kept my mind fairly pre-occupied. Which even explains that lack of posts this week. Things should turn around a bit, thanks to the upcoming holiday. Therefore, in honor of the celebration of American Independence, this war-time classic -- written by one of America's greatest composers -- will do nicely.
The other day I chanced to meet a soldier friend of mine,
He'd been in camp for sev’ral weeks and he was looking fine;
His muscles had developed and his cheeks were rosy red,
I asked him how he liked the life, and this is what he said:
The line immediately after this is the title of the song so I mustn't give that away. But, for some information about the song, the composer served with the U.S. 77th Division beginning in April of 1917 and turned some of his own experiences into what became very popular music at the time. In fact, this particular song, released in 1918, went on to sell 1.5 million copies of sheet music. Artists such as Eddie Kantor and Arthur Fields helped continue the popularity of the song, but my favorite version is that of the composer himself performing it for a radio broadcast.
No, get away from the computer an enjoy the long, hot weekend!
Friday, June 30, 2006
First Line Friday #5
Wednesday, June 28, 2006
The Eyes Have It
I picked up my new glasses on Monday during lunch: reflective hematite frames surrounding thick (but not Coke-bottle-thick) lenses. Free from the scratches and the missing clearcoat protection of my former pair. That earlier set lasted almost 10 years, from when I started dating this cretin. But with the new man in my life, I deemed it necessary to start looking sexy for him, and new glasses fit into the scheme of things. No more looking through tainted lenses!
And with the new lenses comes my first set of sunglasses. Magnets hold the shades in place so I no longer squint as I drive along the freeway while trying to re-adjust the car's sun visor. I felt like Joe Cool as I walked into Hamburger Mary's to show the boyfriend my new eyes.
Now, if I could only get the extra weight to disappear as easily....
Saturday, June 24, 2006
Friday Saturday, #4
The answer to last Friday's lyric: I Dreamed a Dream from the musical Les Misérables sung by Fantine after she is released from the French workhouse and before becoming a prostitute. The song relates how she met a handsome young man with whom she spent an entire summer, believing it would last forever. He gets what he wants and leaves her, not knowing -- and probably not caring -- that she's with child. To pay for the child she finds work at a workhouse but because she won't sleep with the foreman and because of the jealousy of another woman, she is labelled a whore and released from the workhouse. The song transforms itself into snippets of melody for other characters throughout the show so it tends to linger as you watch.
I planned to post this yesterday upon my return from Boston. My flight was scheduled to leave at 4 PM EDT and touch down around 7:15 PM PDT. But then the rain began. Lightly at first, allowing all passengers to board the plane, stow our carry-ons, test out the DirecTV (gotta love JetBlue), and settle in for the long flight. the plane taxis partway to the runway and stops. And waits. And waits.
And waits. Twenty minutes later, the pilot's voice breaks into the musak to tell us that all flights have been delayed due to the sever weather conditions -- heavy rains coming from the northeast with intermittent thunderstorms. The delay could last for a few minutes or for more than an hour, but the plane will leave when the okay comes from the tower. Two hours later, we finally take off and spend the next 5+ hours flying across the U.S.
The plane landed after 9 PM PDT, but the drive home lasted only 30 minutes. I'd already been warned to park away from the house as our neighbor brought in a crew to demolish his back house, the wall connecting our yards, and the roof covering my carport (as it was attached to his back house). No problem. I parked on the street, gathered my bags, lugged them to my door only to find a note taped to it stating that the crew shattered my kitchen window (and bent my screen door -- though that wasn't actually in the note). So I'm tired from the long flight and the thought of cleaning the shards in my kitchen compounds my already frazzled mood. I opened the screen, and was a bout to insert my key into the lock when I noticed the lizard head poking from beneath the door. It scuttled back inside as the door opened and there, staring up at me from the carpet, rested an 8-inch-long pinkish lizard. I dropped my bags, ran into the kitchen -- bypassing the shattered glass covering my dining room table -- grabbed the broom and swept that creature into the night.
By the time I finished clearing the glass and unpacking, it was 11 PM. The thought of turning on my computer soured my mood even further so I changed into my pj's and fell asleep.
Which brings me to today's First Line!
I looked out this morning and the sun was gone
Turned on some music to start my day
I lost myself in a familiar song
I closed my eyes and I slipped away
In honor of my business trip. That's a big clue right there, but here's some more information: The song, released in August of 1976, comes from the best-selling debut album of all time, with a record 17 million copies sold in the U.S. While this song in particular is the most popular of all the band's hits, many fans hate it for the amount of airplay still generated after all these years. I think fans hate it because *NSYNC covered the song on their 1998 debut album.
But that's just my opinion.
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
Bookwhore Chronicles: Now, Discover Your Strengths
I fly to Boston tomorrow morning for a training session. While I look forward to meeting my counterparts from most of our North American offices, the fact that we will be discussing this book -- as it was assigned homework -- intrigues me. I'm not one who enjoys reading books reminiscent of a Tony Robbins motivational love-in. They strike me as more ways in which society feels the need to classify, to categorize, to subgroup every person into something easily recognizable and identifiable. "We want you to stand out in the crowd, to be all that you can be just as long as it conforms to the parameters established during your psychological review."
So I reluctantly read the book. And I reluctantly admit to agreeing with at least one observation from it: that society tends to shy away from rewarding and encouraging a person's strengths, instead focusing on how to overcome the weaknesses. I could relate to that. All during junior high, high school, and college, I loved to play the clarinet. My high school named me Best Musician 4 years in a row; I made the honor orchestra; I sat first chair in my high school band and orchestra and in the Santa Ana Winds. When I started college, I seriously considered a music major. My advisor, however, was never really there for me. A few times, he skipped my one-on-ones to focus more on his own compositions and his own musical groups. Two months of this and I eventually dropped him and laid my clarinet to rest. Occasionally, I'm asked if I still play and understand the disappointed looks I receive because I feel the same. If I'd stuck with the clarinet, where would I be now?
The book included an on-line strengths finder, which they assured during the book wasn't anything like the Meyers-Briggs personality test. These represented what I need to currently focus on in order to excel in life. Oddly enough, I found the results very close to what I know of myself....
How does that fit in with my current job? Well, I should find out on Thursday.
Monday, June 19, 2006
In an effort to continue drowning ourselves with culture, my boyfriend and I scored a few seats to last Friday's production of Les Misérables at the Pantages. (By the way, that's a big clue for last Friday's First Line....) After 18 years since my first -- and only -- time seeing the show, it didn't seem as if anything had changed, other than the actors. The same gigantic turntable set, the same streets of Paris morphing into the barricade before our eyes, the same silverware dropping from beneath Mme. Thénardier's dress with a clatter. Everything fell into place, just as I remembered it, only I recall crying more during that first show (Eponine's death gets me every time) and not cringing as much when Cosette hit her high notes with ear-shattering clarity.
Three hours and a standing ovation later, we were on the road again, heading to the Shore House in Long Beach for a midnight dinner of chicken nachos.
Saturday, the intellectual stimulation refused to stop as we spent the afternoon at Equal Writes to enjoy a reading from new author Alex MacLennan's first novel The Zookeeper. Even though only six people showed, once Alex finished and asked if we had any questions, we kept him talking for another 45 minutes about the writing process, how his background at the San Francisco Zoo influenced the story, his family's response and input to the novel, how he came up with the name (and learning that The Zookeeper wasn't its original title), etc.
To finish the day, my boyfriend and I caught the 6:15 PM showing of Nacho Libre. Okay...perhaps not so intellecutal, but we laughed until we cried. Jack Black and Héctor Jiménez worked perfectly together as the tag team of Nacho Libre and Esqueleto, throwing one liners and non-stop visual gags. A perfect just-for-fun Summer movie.
Sunday, he spent Fathers Day with his family while I drove home to finish laundry and to simmer while I read and watched TV. I didn't forget Fathers Day; my Dad happens to be in Cottonwood, AZ with my Mom, enjoying the 100˚-plus weather from inside their air-conditioned RV. (I'm taking him to see Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat next month as my gift.)
Friday, June 16, 2006
First Line Friday #3
Before divulging the answer to last Friday's classic tune, I feel the need to give a quick update on what's been happening with me this week, seeing as this blog is part diary.
With that finally out of the way, I now give you the answer to last week's musical mystery....
Rhinestone Cowboy by none other than Glen Campbell. It reached the #1 spot on the U.S. chart, besting Get Down Tonight by K.C. and the Sunshine Band, At Seventeen by Janis Ian, and How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You) from James Taylor.
For this week's First Line, I chose something in honor of what my boyfriend and I will be seeing tonight at 8 PM in Los Angeles. I first heard these lyrics almost twenty years ago, during my freshman year at Humboldt State. A few of us managed to hire a van and travel all the way south to San Francisco for a Saturday matinee performance at the Curran Theater.
There was a time when men were kind,
And their voices were soft,
And their words inviting.
Come on, all you theater folk! You know what it is!!!
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
Watering the Grass
I drove along Hamilton/Victoria/22nd Street on the way to work this morning, listening to some jazz and thinking about my next blog post: my friend CS and I saw Robert Altman's A Prairie Home Companion Monday night. Ways to start the post floated around my head until to my right, walking along the grass-cum-sidewalk, I spied an older gentleman dressed solely in flipflops and a dark blue bathing suit. As he walked, a small jet of liquid would squirt to the right whenever he set his left foot down. Like a driver whose eyes are drawn to an accident on the freeway, I glanced in my rearview mirror after I passed, and sure enough, the man's hand was lifting up the right inner thigh section of the bathing suit, allowing his bladder to clandestinely empty itself as he walked.
Fortunately, I managed to keep control of my car until the wave of nausea passed.
Monday, June 12, 2006
A Rude Little Theater
Driving down Broadway in Santa Ana, anyone would probably miss the small space tucked in amongst the furniture stores, restaurants and art galleries. The storefront next to it -- on the corner of Broadway and 2nd -- stands blindingly white and empty, waiting for a new tenant to move in or to begin renovations; to the immediate right, a closed shop peddles cell phones and equipment to a Spanish-speaking market. The Rude Guerrilla Theater Company makes itself known only with an odd window display -- a large picture of a child's hand thrown in the air amid a rain of Fruit Loops, smaller pictures of a child in front of a Christmas tree or standing impatiently for his school picture to be taken; in the window on the opposite side of the door stands a black and white cardboard sign, painted with the logo for the theater group and another with the name of the play.
A few early arrivals mill about -- myself, my boyfriend and our friend CS among them -- chatting on cell phones or smoking, waiting for the door to allow them into the tiny lobby. This little theater is unusual in a county known for its rampant conservatism. The fare staged doesn't follow the norms: no Neil Simon, no Sound of Music, no shiny-happy-ending musicals. As they state on their Website: "The original founders were political activists of a leftist bent and were heavily influenced by a form of street theater called 'Guerrilla Theater,' because of its satirical, in-yer-face focus on social and political issues. Because that form of theater is confrontational and unapologetic, some people think that's rude. We kept it because you don't forget it once you've heard it and it sounds pretty damn cool." This is where a young boy undergoes therapy after blinding a number of horses in Peter Shaffer's Equus. This is where the audience examined a hypothetical gay life of Jesus Christ in Terrence McNally's Corpus Christi. Plays that tend to be sidestepped due to content or extreme themes, that keep the audience talking once the play is long over: Rude Guerrilla thrives on that kind of material. And that particular Saturday evening, we waited outside for their staging of Prince Gomolvilas' play Mysterious Skin, based on the novel by Scott Heim.
Once the doors opened, we stepped into the small lobby: walls painted black, thrift store furniture (end tables that didn't match, a pale green couch with a print of faded yellow featuring either red roses or calico, folding chairs), a small table/snack bar with a few unopened cans of soda, a black-curtained doorway leading to the theater seats. I picked up the tickets at the window and then headed outside with my boyfriend and CS to allow others inside for their tickets. We only waited a short time and quickly followed other attendees back inside to find seats in one of the three rows.
The first row abutted the stage, so close, in fact, as to be part of the set itself. The walls had been painted black then decorated with multi-colored chalk writings of the same phrases over and over: "Open your eyes, it'll feel good." White rope spiderwebbed over the stage, with pictures of a young boy scattered here and there like trapped flies. And beneath this, at the center of the stage rested a single twin bed with a few books stacked on the floor beside it. As we waited, a woman from the theater staff brought in a number of the folding chairs from the lobby as more people than expected crammed into the theater. Finally, about 10 minutes after 8 PM, the lights dimmed.
Mysterious Skin opens with a man selling his book about UFO abduction then transitions to Brian Lackey sitting on the bed of alien abductee Avalyn Friesen. The quiet, uncertain Brian is trying to be glad that he's met someone else who has experienced the same things: mysterious nosebleeds, flashbacks and dreams about UFOs, blocks of time missing from his past. As his story progresses, his connection to Neil McCormick -- a young hustler about the same age as Brian -- reveals itself through flashbacks. A very intense story about pedophilia directed deftly by Dave Barton and with excellent performances from Keith Bennett as Neil, Tim Zimmer as Brian, Michelle Trachtenburg as Neil's fag hag Wendy, and Kerry Perdue as Avalyn. Some scenes were definitely not meant for a very uptight crowd, as with the end of the first act during which Brian gets a hand job from Avalyn while on the opposite side of the stage Neil is being violently raped and beaten by a john he picked up in a bar. The play never condescends, never backs down from the tragic circumstances of its characters. "Guerrilla Theater" at its finest.
After the show, the actors and director held a Q&A session, discussing the choice of play and the preparation behind it. Surprisingly, this particular production was only the second time the play had ever been staged anywhere in the world since its premier in 2003 in San Francisco. Who knew that a small, non-profit theater in the heart of conservatism could pull off such a fantastic show?
Friday, June 09, 2006
First Line Fridays
Thanks to everyone for the comments and the participation last Friday, and I must give props to Christian, John, and Daniel for figuring this one out. Before revealing the answer, here's a quick lyrical refresher:
It's a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling "No"
And her daddy has told her to go
And the answer is:
Life on Mars? by David Bowie. The song first appeared on his 1971 album Hunky Dory and featured piano work by Rick Wakeman (who later joined the group Yes). RCA released the song as a single in 1973, and it reached #3 on the UK music charts. I remember listening to my brother's recording, loudly singing the chorus: "Sailors fighting in the dancehall. Oh man! Look at those gay men go...." Every single time. No one corrected me. Not my brother, who more than likely laughed his head off when I left his room. Not my parents, who had no idea who or what a Bowie was. Not my friends, who listened only to the Top 40 radio. Imagine my surprise last week to discover that Bowie actually sang about cavemen, not gay men. The shame....
But, I learn from my mistakes and move on. Which brings me to the First Line for this week:
I've been walkin' these streets so long
Singin' the same old song
I know every crack in these dirty sidewalks of Broadway
Originally recorded by Brooklyn songwriter Larry Weiss in the early 1970's, this song became a #1 US pop hit in 1975 after another country singer covered it. It became this particular country singer's theme song and was eventually turned into a bland '80s movie. For me, this was the ultimate roadtrip song. Dad popped the 8-track into the player while my brother and I crouched between the front seats in front of our Winnebago. We gave a fair effort at the main lyrics, but when the chorus began, our cracking voices grew louder and louder, to the point of shouting. I think that finally soured my Dad to the song.
I wonder if the 8-track is still somewhere in the house?
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
Good Morning, Baltimore!
(Or, The Continuing Tales of the Too-Hot Weekend)
The drive home from the AIDS Walk lasted about 20 minutes: windows rolled down to allow the wind to rush in, Harriet Wheeler singing about how sick those hideous towns make her, me mouthing along with her while my palm slammed in time against the steering wheel. I pulled into the carport and made two trips between the car and the front door, dropping my goodies into a pile, then raced around the house opening windows and flicking the switch for the ceiling fan, hoping to trick a breeze into soughing through the place while I collapsed onto the bed and napped.
I awoke an hour later, quickly showered then sped North on Pacific Coast Highway for a theater date with my sweetie of a boyfriend. A month earlier, he found discount tickets on GoldStar Events for the musical Hairspray at The Pantages and told me that he was treating his Mom to the show for Mothers Day. (See how sweet he is?) Little did I know at the time that he also purchased tickets for the two of us to see the show.
We didn't linger too long at his apartment, what with the show starting at 6:30 PM and both of us starving, so we hopped into his car and sped up the 710 Freeway and on toward Los Angeles. My energy level was still high from the Walk so I told bad jokes and sang off key with the radio as we exited the freeway, heading for West Hollywood. For dinner, we ate at the French Quarter -- probably moments after Robert from Mr. Happysad and his friend left. That seems to be one of our regular destinations whenever we head into Los Angeles. Good food, a very gay atmosphere (the restaurant resembles an outdoor café surrounded by overpriced boutiques), and a gay gift shop called Dorothy's Surrender. It's a nice place to be ourselves and not worry about what the other customers will say should we kiss or hold hands.
After dinner and shopping for Fathers Day cards, we drove around the streets of WeHo trying to kill some time as the curtain call wasn't for another hour. The red lights at two major intersections blinked rather than change to green and yellow; the traffic backed up quite a few blocks in all directions and along the side streets so we had no problem wasting time. Eventually, he did wind his way to the theater, and by 6 PM, we squeezed into our mezzanine seats and leafed through the Playbill and my souvenir program.
At 6:30, the curtain lifted to a semi-dark stage, with faint silhouettes of 1960s teens scattered across the background. A bed rolled onto center stage, but at a view as if looking down at the bed from the ceiling. Tracy Turnblad began singing about waking up in Baltimore in a bouncy, '60s style and from there, the show steamrolled into non-stop singing, dancing, colorful cotsumes, great acting and a fantastic story. Keala Settle gave a fine performance as Tracy, the hefty hair hopper who only wants everyone to be able to dance together, regardless of the color of their skin. J.P. Dougherty and Jim J. Bullock played Edna and Wilbur Turnblad (respectively), and at one point had the audience hooting, hollering and clapping -- J.P. tried so hard during their duet (You're) Timeless to Me to make Jim laugh, and he finally did with a big rump shake. Still red from laughing hard, Jim mentioned something in Hebrew (twirl twirl) to which J.P. responded "I didn't know you were Jewish" (twirl twirl) Jim said "You never can tell" (twirl twirl and end with J.P.'s buttocks pressed into Jim's front) J.P looked down, then up at the audience and in his deep voice replied, "Oh, believe me, there are ways" which created an uproar with the audience -- resulting in a standing ovation during the show. Charlotte Crossley belted and rocked her way through as Motormouth Maybelle. Susan Henley as Velma Von Tussle simply oozed villainy with a comedic flair and big hair. But Caissie Levy and Alan Mingo, Jr. stole the show as Penny Pingleton and Seaweed. It's hard to describe but the sexual tension between their two characters was so funny that I was in tears during most of the second act.
All I can say is this: if the show ever plays in your town, GO SEE IT!!!
We left the theater in high spirits, with gigantic grins and wiping tears of laughter from our eyes. The talk during the entire drive centered on the show -- what we liked, favorite song, favorite scene, favorite actor, plans for attending more theater -- that by the time we arrived at his place, we were both exhausted.
Monday, June 05, 2006
Tales from the Too-Hot Weekend
Walking out of the apartment Saturday afternoon knocked us backward a few paces. Granted, the apartment gently warmed the air into a tolerable stuffiness, but the world outside morphed into an oven. Heat rippled from the sidewalk, baking through our soles, slowly cooking our bodies from the feet up. Sweat dripped down my face during the short walk to The Park Pantry, but once inside the air-conditioned restaurant, the multiple glasses of iced tea and coke provided much relief. With it being too hot to doing anything involving movement or going outdoors for long periods of time, we settled for getting his car washed, renting two DVDs and stopping by the Rite-Aid for iced cream. After lunch and errands, we sat in a darkened room with a ceiling fan set to full speed and laughed our way through Hoodwinked and enjoyed the action and special effects of The Brothers Grimm even though Matt Damon was miscast and some of the story wandered a bit.
The next morning, I awoke early to get ready for the AIDS Walk. The morning was thankfully overcast and cool at 6:30, but the sun quickly burned that away. One of my teammates arrived close to 7:30, and truth be told, I tried to persuade her not to come. In 2004, she fell, breaking her hip, and suffered through surgery and fairly painful rehab. She e-mailed a few times if there would be places to sit down during the walk because she couldn't walk for long distances; I replied with a gentle "no" each time. The event organizers did supply a shuttle along the route in case anyone needed to end early. She still decided to try the walk, just to prove to herself that she could make it with the new hip. And sure enough, she came prepared with her cane, sunscreen, hat and bottles of water.
My friend CS stopped by to say hello before heading to the Gay and Lesbian Center's booth and to let me know that a few more people gave him donations for our team so he helped to push us over the $1K mark. Sweat poured down his face and by the time the walk began at 9, the temperature must have reached about 80˚F with not a cloud to be seen. The other walker never showed so the two of us followed along with the crowd and slowly began the walk, or perhaps more of a leisurely stroll. We talked most of the time about he surgery, trips to England, the changes in and around Orange County, and about an hour and a half later, we passed the 4-Mile marker. She slowed for a minute, looked at the sign, turned to me and said, "Have we really walked 4 miles?" I told her that we had and could tell from her tone of voice both how surprised and how pleased she was. During her last physical therapy appointment, the doctor had said that she wouldn't be able to walk or stand for long periods of time, and now, she proved him wrong! Slow and steady, we finished the walk together -- sort of. We passed the parking structure en route to the finish line, and she decided that she should probably head for the car instead of the uphill battle to the finish line. I walked her to her car, thanked and congratulated her, then made my way up the hill and crossed beneath the AIDS Walk arch -- the last walker to cross.
I wandered among the booths for another 30 minutes, played a few of the carnival games, devoured some incredible corn bread muffins from the House of Blues, and carried an armload of free goodies (including a pair of Oakley sunglasses, a one-day passport to Disneyland and a whole cherry pie) to my car. I would have stayed longer, but a more pressing engagement awaited.
...to be continued...
Friday, June 02, 2006
First Line Fridays
Sometimes, I feel that my blog has become stagnant, that I'm out of new ideas and must rely on tales of weekend movie trips or walks down to the beach to keep both my writing skills up-to-date and to pique readers' interests (crossing fingers on both hands). I sit in front of the computer for long stretches of empty minutes, trying to find something interesting to say and usually just filling the screen with "what we did this weekend." With that in mind, I have decided to start a weekly feature: First Line Fridays. I will post the first line or two of a song, then give a little background of the song, why I like it or when I first heard it, etc. All you need to do is to guess the song. The answer will be given the following Friday along with the next song.
And the first "First Line" is:
It's a god-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling "No"
And her daddy has told her to go
This song was first released on an album in 1971 but not as a single until 1973 -- all thanks to the large amount of radio airplay it received. It appeared on a few of the artist's subsequent albums, and I probably heard it while running around the house growing up, thanks to my brother with the extensive vinyl record collection. He introduced me not only to this artist, but to Genesis, The Who, Foreigner and Led Zepplin. However, the song really caught my interest after seeing the film The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, which featured this song as well as an incredible Portuguese version sung by Seu Jorge.
I think that should be enough information. Until next time!
P.S. This Sunday is the AIDS Walk Orange County. There's still time to donate! Just click on the link in my left sidebar. Thank you to everyone who has donated thus far!
Thursday, June 01, 2006
Joey Destino posted this meme that he found over at Rambling Along in Life, and now I pass it on to you, fellow readers and bloggers. Post this beautiful image of the Pride Flag by Kelly Stern at Rambling Along and then add a comment at his blog. Kind of a cool idea, what with the kick off of Pride events across the country. I wonder how many blogs will post the picture?