Sunday, April 26, 2009

BARBRA, GAME NIGHT, AND DISAPPOINTMENT

I have a friend named Ray with whom I share a lot of common interests. He is great fun, has a wicked sense of humor, appreciates talent, and enjoys Broadway musical and Barbra Streisand.

We hung out last weekend at Phoenix Pride and somehow during our time together Barbra's upcoming CBS concert came up and he suggested we have game night to coincide with Barbra's concert. Game night is an occasion we "try" to do monthly where three couples (well - sort of couples) get together for drinks, appetizers and games. I thought it was a great idea so we spoke with Josh and Steven who agreed (and then promptly forgot - but did show up.)

At the last minute Fettit and I had an out-of-town guest join us, and since I like even numbers for parties (especially game night) I invited a new favorite of mine to join us.

His not showing last night was the disappointment, although I believe it had nothing to do with his disinterest. He literally jumped with excitement Friday night when I drove over to his prison and extended the invitation - and here I thought indentured servitude was outlawed. Oh, the weight some people carry!

Anyway - the evening was great fun. I have always said I am blessed to have so many wonderfully gifted, witty, and caring friends surrounding me, and last night was no exception.

What I didn't foresee was my reaction to seeing Barbra on the television. I mean, I have always been emotional when I unexpectedly, and some times expectedly, see her, but I guess the anticipation of the hanging with friends, along with the preparation involved, and the possibility of spending time with the potential new friend, overshadowed the thought that Barbra would be performing.

Reality slapped me across the face though the first time she appeared on the television screen and within seconds I was temporarily verklempt. Then awaking to my surroundings, although transfixed, I pulled it together - that is until she sang "Unusual Way from the Broadway show Nine."

"Unusual Way" is not a new song to me. Linda Eder performed the song on her CD titled "It's Time, and I remember 10 years ago listening to it repeatedly on my drives to Provincetown from Boxboro, MA, the summer I discovered the place.

I also purchased Barbra's "The Concert" CD the day it came out, have listened to and sang along umpteen times, knowing each word. Last night; however, was the very first time I have actually heard the words. I'm not certain how I could have sang along to it all of these years without knowing the meaning behind the words - but the truth is, I can sing along, word-for-word, to almost every song of the last 50 or so years but couldn't explain the meaning behind many of them mean. I guess I just sing the words that are stuck in my head.

It is difficult to explain or put into words, and I am slightly embarrassed to be this exposed, but watching Barbra sing "Unusual Way" completely wrecked me. I'm not sure why it hit me so hard, but watching her perform it last night was like hearing it for the first time.

It was as if I found a song that fit, or explained my connection to a woman who I have never met, but love in an unexplainable and extraordinary way. I think you will understand, or maybe not, when you read the words that follow. As she said in the concert, "It's (the song) about those kind of relationships that are not easily defined..."

Unusual Way

In a very unusual way
One time I needed you
In a very unusual way
You were my friend

Maybe it lasted a day
Maybe it lasted an hour
But somehow it will never end

In a very unusual way
I think I'm in love with you
In a very unusual way
I want to cry

Something inside me goes weak
Something inside me surrenders
And you're the reason why,
You’re the reason why

You don't know what you do to me
You don't have a clue
You can't tell
What it's like to be me
Looking at you
It scares me so
That I can hardly speak

In a very unusual way
I owe what I am to you
Thought at times it appears I won't stay
I never go

Special to me in my life
Since the first day that I met you
How could I ever forget you
Once you had touched my soul?

In a very unusual way
You made me whole


For completely sane and rational people those lyrics may not mean anything, but it is almost like the writer of the song knew me and my unconventional love for this woman we affectionately refer to as Aunt Barbra in my family.

Last night, standing amongst my friends, I watched through tear-filled eyes as Barbra sang that song to me as if she were my mirror and the response was uncontrollable. Perhaps I should be embarrassed, but I wasn't, and it seemed that just for a second she was singing from my heart and understood how I, like so many others, have this "unusual" affection for her.

I remember many years ago, Rosie O'Donnell tried to explain the connection and familial love she has for her. I too have felt that since I was 15 years old, but could never articulate it. Barbra told Rosie she could not understand it and asked her to explain. Rosie should have just handed the lyrics to her.

I was also struck by something else last night watching her sing the song. Although
she has never acknowledged it publically, Barbra has always needed me (and those unbalanced folks like me) all of these years as much as I needed her.

It was something in the way that she sang the last line. Instead of singing:

In a very unusual way
You made me whole


she sang:

In a very unusual way
You've made me whole


I know the changing of the line is minor and insignificant, but it was enough to make me take note and think that for a half a second, I've made her whole. I, or we, the audience, have given Barbra something she didn't even understand that she needed from us. Although she has never understood it, or definitely not publically articulated it, she needed for the audience to love, worship and idolize her in order to feel accepted and complete.

Because of the loss of her father at an early age, the lack of warmth and love she felt from her mother, and the ridicule she endured throughout her early life, she had to make become internationally known. She had to be heard and show the world. In a very unusual way, we made her whole.

I found the realization stunning and helpful - in a very unusual way - and to her I say publically - you are welcome - and thank you!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Thursday, April 16, 2009

ANTI-TAXERS POINT THEIR FINGER IN THE WRONG DIRECTION

Anti-tax “Tea Party” rallies were held across the country yesterday, tax day, April 15th, to demonstrate the public’s objection to the excessive and wasteful spending by Washington DC.

Armed with signs and chanting slogans, democracy was in action yesterday with messages of “Stop Spending My Money,” and the like. Others included a poster of President Barack Obama, in what I assume is a soviet military uniform, that read “Just Say Nyet,” “Cling to My God, My Money, My Guns,” “Stop Obama’s Spending Spree,” and “Abortion is Murder.”

Anti-taxers from all walks of life, and viewpoints took to the streets in protest, and I am all for asserting our constitutional right to assembly and to speak up for our individual values. Without such freedoms, I wouldn’t be allowed to be so vocal about the actions, situations and issues that please and anger me, but come on, make sure you are aiming your vitriol in the right direction.

Barack Obama has only been President of the United States for 85 days, not eight months or eight years. He isn’t the person who had oversight of this economy when it failed. He wasn’t in office on September 24th, 2008 when the first auto industry bailout took place, and he was not in charge when the bailout of the initial financial and credit markets took place, and yet from the photos and video I saw from yesterday’s demonstrations anyone who didn’t know better would have thought President Obama had been in office since the turn of the century.

Come on you gun-totin’, snake wrangling, end-times waitin’ freaks, blame it on the person that created the situation. – George W. Bush. Remember him?

He is the one that high-tailed it out of the White House a few weeks ago, hoping not to be hung (or shot) for the high crimes and misdemeanors he perpetrated against both the American public – who voted for him – and the world in general.

I honestly believed on January 20th that when Barack Obama was sworn in as President of the United States my days of bashing George Bush and his foolish-followers, were over. I was looking forward to the future that appeared bright in many ways and I assumed I would never have to type the name George Bush even again - but boy was I wrong. The ugliness, stupidity and greed of the previous eight years linger over us all like pot smoke at a Grateful Dead concert.

Although I have tried, it appears the last Bush administration is a shadow I won’t soon forget, and yet the anti-taxers have a short memory. Which president cut taxes for the wealthiest Americas as he was picking a fight with the world and marching our soldiers to their deaths in Iraq?

We have George Bush, and his greedy friends, to thank for the current State of the Union, not Barack Obama. George Bush did what Republicans always do – cut taxes for their wealthy friends (who then try to find other ways of raping the capitalist system), and then push on the costs to future generations on working Americans.

By the time George W Bush left office he added more to the national then any of the preceding president in history, followed closely by the other last two-term Republican president - Ronald Reagan.

The eighties, under Reagan, were similar to the last eight years - excess, extravagant consumerism, greed and a people and nation living beyond their means. Reagan too, believing in trickle down economic, cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, and heaped more of the burden on the little guy thereby ensuring us years of record deficits.

The Republicans love to labels Democrats as the "Taxers and Spender" but it is a flat out lie. The national debt increased more during the combined 16 years of Ronald Reagan and George W Bush then all the other presidents combined.

President Obama would not be dealing with any of the problems if the Bush administration hasn't had its head in the sand and had focused on the important issues, instead of creating situations to make their friends richer on the backs of the American taxpayer. The mismanagement and misguided priorities of the past administration and the cost of an unnecessary war brought us to the point we are at today. Surprisingly, our “anti-tax” friends were conspicuously quiet when George Bush pushed the country into the Iraq War at an estimated cost of 2 trillion dollars.

Why is it acceptable for the United States to charge up 2 trillion dollars in debt to invade a nation that was no serious threat to us? That would have been a perfect time for the “anti-taxers” to take to the streets yelling and screaming along side the anti-war protesters.

My only conclusion is that money for war is somehow acceptable to these people. It is totally permissible to spend obscene amounts of money destroying cities, towns, families and lives, but it is not okay to ensure children have healthcare and a good education or seniors have their prescription drugs and the streets are safe.

This takes me back to the piece I wrote over 1 1/2 years ago entitled “What Do Americans Value?” (Here on my blog from October 2007. It generated more activity and interest then anything I have ever written.)

American priorities have been and continue to be mis-aligned. Far too many Americas are fine with our government spending trillions destroying armies and bombing buildings but they shriek when the same amount of money is spent for their own good – and believe me - shoring up the financial and credit mess left by the George Bush administration is in our best interest.

If given a preference, President Obama would rather be cutting taxes for American families, instead of spending money on bailouts for Detroit and Wall Street and killing and destroying innocent lives in a country half a world away.

If the anti-taxers want to make a point, call for the head of the person (George W. Bush) or people (including Dick Cheney) that got us into this mess. Take to the streets and demand congress take a serious look at the unbridled actions of the greedy and unprincipled group that just left office.

I applaud your enthusiasm and goal, but make sure you are pointing the finger in the right direction. We have to all stand behind President Obama, no matter what drug-addled right-winger radio talkers say. We have a vested interest to get it done right for our children and our grandchildren.

Oh, and one more thing - Don't mix your messages. Stay on point. If the message is taxation, it is completely acceptable to carry on about fiscal irresponsibility, but what is up with the anti-abortion signs I saw? Did these people, and there were many, take a wrong turn on the way to a Pro-Life rally. Carrying an anti-abortion sign at a taxation demonstration does not make sense to me. It is like carrying a “Jews for Jesus” sign at a gay pride parade. It isn't on point and Nobody Cares!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

CLIPS FROM THE UPCOMING STREISAND IN CONCERT ON CBS APRIL 25TH

What follows are three full length song clips CBS has released from the upcoming show "Streisand in Concert" which airs April 25th on CBS (and available on DVD the following week).

The voice is still THE VOICE and she looks fantastic!

Unfortunately each clip may start with a commercial advertisement.

In the first clip she sings "Unusual Way."



The second clip is "Don't Rain on My Parade"



In the third, and final clip, she sings "Funny Girl"



I just finished watching all three clips again and after all of these years I am still mesmerized. This is singing at its best and there is no one who can interpret a song better. She is without peer!

SHE DREAMED A DREAM - SUSAN BOYLE ON BRITAIN'S GOT TALENT

I saw this on AOL tonight and then saw that my friend Matt posted it on Facebook, but I had to include it - It IS Rant-worthy.

This is a clip from "Britain's Got Talent" and the contestant, Susan Boyle, is a frumpy 47 year old woman who lives alone with her cat and has never been kissed. When Simon Cowell asked who she would like to be as successful as, she answered Elaine Paige (a famous musical theater star in Britain) and no one was biting, that is until she opened her mouth.

Isn't it a pleasant surprise when a cynical public is blown away and shamed for judging a book by it's cover? If I hadn't read the article that accompanied the clip I would have judged this woman by her appearance and discounted her right from the start - just like the audience and the three judges did.

And weren't we all wrong?

I say congratulations Susan Boyle and I hope to see more clips.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

STREISAND CONCERT ON CBS AND DVD



The wait is finally over.

After more then two years, Queen Barbra's (Streisand) 2006 concert outing (packaged with 1994's "The Concert Live at Arrowhead Pond," "Putting it Together," and many other extras) is being released on DVD April 28th following a condensed version that is airing on CBS April 25th.

Set your DVRs for April 25th (the day after Barbra's 67th birthday) and three days later rush out and get Streisand - The Concerts.

Below is the press release from www.barbrastreisand.com.

Streisand - The Concerts Coming April 28, 2009

Barbra Streisand, the most acclaimed female artist of our time is world renowned for thrilling audiences with her magical performances. In October, 2006 Streisand embarked on her first North American tour in over decade and her first tour of continental Europe ever - thrilling both audiences and critics alike and setting new box office records at the same time!

Now, you have a chance to get front row seats to the very best of Barbra Streisand captured in Streisand - The Concerts, a brand new Deluxe 3-Disc DVD Set showcasing some of her most memorable concerts…ever.

The main highlights on this stunning 3 DVD collection include:

• Disc 1 features the previously unreleased Fort Lauderdale show, with special guest and multi-platinum recording artist, Il Divo. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone magazine called it “Sensational! A Brilliant Show! A Major Musical Triumph!”.

• Disc 2 is The Concert LIVE at Arrowhead Pond from Anaheim, CA. A sensational event which documented her first concert tour in 28 years.

• Disc 3 Never before released on DVD, ‘Putting it Together'- takes you behind the scenes of the making of the Broadway album.

There are over 60 songs including all the classics: "Funny Girl," "The Way We Were," "People," "You Don’t Bring Me Flowers," "Don’t Rain On My Parade" and special exclusives including 10 songs never-before-seen on DVD, including: "Unusual Way," "A Cockeyed Optimist" and "My Shining Hour," all of which are the first time Streisand has ever performed them either in the studio or live.

PLUS bonus features include five additional songs as well as behind-the-scenes captivating moments with one of the most beloved artists of all time.

This highly anticipated Deluxe 3-Disc DVD Set is available now arriving just in time to be shared with loved ones on Mother’s Day.

“Streisand has never sounded better! She’s astounding!” - The New York Times.

Don't miss the CBS TV Special on April 25, 2009!


I noticed the above video takes awhile to load - so please be patient!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

WELCOME TO THE INTERNET


Today my mother entered the 21st Century. She turned in the keys to dial-up and upgraded to broadband.

Ten years ago we gifted my mother with her fist computer for Christmas. It was one of those cheap E-machines. Back in the time of dial-up, the no frills cheapo was perfect for her.

On her own, she learned the ins and outs of the the internet but her tutorial was stunted by her lack of high speed. That all changed today.

Today she got to come here and see what she has been missing for nearly two years - pictures and movies of my oh so exciting life - friends, family, Noelle and Christopher.

Welcome to the real internet world Wanda! Does this mean I have to watch my manners?

HELL NO!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009