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Monday, December 22, 2008

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Time to tie up the random loose ends before 2009 comes in.

American talk show hosts should be required to take notes on The Graham Norton Show. He's a small-time show with a niche audience (although I'll bet his show with Barry broke all kinds of ratings records) and he's more entertaining the Leno, Letterman, and the rest who think they're hot shit in a champagne glass because they can listen to themselves yap for 30 minutes of a 60 minute program. Graham actually took the time to talk about his career and have some fun with the audience at the same time. From now on it will be impossible to watch US talk shows knowing Barry is going to be shoved into the last 5 minutes and credits like a side show.

Add my voice to the throng who wants to see the UK footage from December released on DVD or maybe an iTunes download. Those of us who aren't ready when British Airways is are dying to see the alternate set lists and have some more loosened up fun than even Vegas seems to allow. Come on, you weren't going to release the footage that ended up in First & Farewell either, right? Same thing!

I'm still in afterglow from October. I know Barry doesn't "tour" anymore, he just sets up concerts in various cities and travels around to play them. ;-) But I can think of quite a few people in the deep South who wouldn't mind a bit if he dragged his happy ass back down here some time in 2009. Lots of openings in Philips Arena starting in the spring. No snow (not usually, anyway) and if you hit the right time of year the humidity isn't bad at all. More later....
More than those shows were the friends I didn't know I wanted or needed. You know who you are and you refreshed my spirit in a depth that I thought was long gone.

Last two weeks I was living under a rock while my other half pulled 80-hour weeks to finish a work deadline. So when I return to the land of the cyberliving, this is in my mailbox:


It doesn't take much to make someone's (read: my) day and this did it. Thanks Stiletto. :-)

My daughter is going to make out like a bandit Christmas morning. To tell you the truth there's not going to be much under the tree for me this year - but that's more than OK. Most of my "Christmas" was in October in Vegas and that did more for my morale than any amount of jewlery or furs in a fancy wrapped box. Besides I just got another present confirmed today. This time last year a lot of thoughts were running around my head that became the foundation of this blog, although they weren't entered until February. Take a look back to that month's posts (or you'll remember if you've been reading for any length of time) and you'll see why I don't care what's under the tree:


From what the doctor can tell, she was conceived the day before I left for my vacation-with-Barry-and-friends-in-Las Vegas trip. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

So Barry - WHEN you find your way back to the ATL for another arena show during one of your Hilton breaks, timing is going to be everything. Summer is bad for me - July is going to be busy and 7/14 is going to be especially exciting. Besides, the humidity combined with the heat are sheer hell. So how about spring or fall? Philips Arena has open weekends in early May. September 12 and 19 are good. October 17 and 24 are open. So there are plenty of options here before next year's holidays set in.

Unless something major comes up it's going to be family time for YBA until 2009. So Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, and Happy New Year to everyone who stops by.

MUAH!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Cranberry Christmas: The Expert's Review

Update for 2009: Cranberry Christmas is back on ABC Family. December 1, 7:30 PM EST and December 7, 11:30 AM EST. Check your local listings for channel numbers.

The real authority on animated features in my house is my 3-year-old, the TLF. Her vocabulary is pretty limited so there's a few cues you have to watch for to see how much she enjoys something.

After dinner, she is planted in front of the TV screen for the usual cartoons airing this time of year. I already had the DVR set for Cranberry Christmas while I picked up the kitchen. All of a sudden I hear this shriek from the TV room: "BARWY!!!" We didn't realize that Barry was narrating as well as performing the two songs featured in the cartoon. TLF recognized him within a couple of words.

This cartoon got two-thumbs up from TLF. She didn't move the entire show (not even to ask to see the Christmas tree) and got pissed off when her father or I blocked her view. There is no greater compliment from an innocent child than undivided attention for 30 minutes. So in our house Cranberry Christmas hit its mark.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Barry & Graham & Daily Motion

Update May 23, 2009
Damn. Daily Motion took down the videos. Sorry, gang. It was cool while it lasted.

For those of us outside the UK, keep checking your satellite or cable searches on BBC America. This episode gets rerun quite frequently.
Our friends in the UK have this video on the BBC's website, but it's only viewable in that country.

Keep looking!

I was right!
For those of us in the US who can't wait til 12/13. Enjoy!!
Plus, a top-20 debut and a grammy nomination. Someone already has a full stocking this Christmas. Congrats, Barry.
(Updated 12/10/2008 - extra footage just found its way onto Daily Motion and is included below. Since Graham Norton is an hour-long show on BBC America, we may get the whole thing undedited. YAY!!)



Barry Manilow - Graham Norton Part 1 (4/12/08)
Uploaded by Saklas





Barry Manilow Graham Norton Part 2 (4/12/08)
Uploaded by Saklas

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Barry on Graham


In advance of the posting of The Graham Norton Show episode that Barry taped yesterday (or today, depending on your time zone!) I checked out the BBC Two website. The site posts individual episodes soon after they air.

If you are outside the UK, forget it. Due to some contract negotiations, the server checks the IP location and blocks access to the content if you're from elsewhere.

Fear not, Yanks. BBC America is airing the fun on 12/13 so hang in there! Or maybe we'll get lucky and find it on DailyMotion.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word

Ever notice that in spite of all of the "Joy" and "Peace" and assorted warm fuzzy shit all over creation in December that people are less kind this time of year?? Rabid shoppers in a Wal-Mart trampled an employee to death on Black Friday and then continued shopping for Christmas presents.

No matter how much you try to remove yourself from the frenzy, you are affected by it. So many obligations, including travel, relatives that work your last nerve, children who don't know how to adapt to the changing environment and the patience of a gnat, plus the budget-busting presents is enough to wear anyone raw.

No one is perfect. Everyone has a black-cloud-over-the-head-but-I-have-to-put-on-a-nice-face-anyway kind of day. Everyone has THAT ONE BUTTON that always gets pushed. Everyone has that last straw that breaks the camel's back. Everybody snaps and let's someone have it once in a while. I'm having quite a few of those days myself for reasons I may go into in the next few weeks. Even Benedict XVI and the Dalai Lama lose it once in a while.

But here's the thing: a simple apology makes any bad situation better than before. The longer you put off that apology for losing your cool, the worse the bad karma will fester. The quicker and more sincere it is, the better the outcome. A lot of people are afraid to apologize for an error in judgement because they think the reaction will be worse than without it. Not so. That's a lesson I learned the hard way in my own life. The fear of being pummelled after an apology is always overblown.

So if you want peace on earth, like the hymn says, "let it begin with me". You don't have to be perfect. You just have to do the right thing when you're NOT perfect.

In short: if you fuck up, then fess up. It's good for the soul. Especially yours.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Cranberry Christmas Update

Update for 2009: Cranberry Christmas is back on ABC Family. December 1, 7:30 PM EST and December 7, 11:30 AM EST. Check your local listings for channel numbers.

I received an email in the YBA mailbox from the PR firm handling the Ocean Spray/Cranberry Christmas account while I was travelling this week. Check it out:
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Barry fans can now get their ears on his new single, “Christmas is Just Around the Corner,” which was released just today. The song is one of two original songs performed by the legendary Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter, Barry Manilow, which will be featured as part of Ocean Spray’s first animated television special “Cranberry Christmas.”

“Cranberry Christmas” will air as part of ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” programming event on Monday, December 8 at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT) and again on Saturday, December 13, at 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT). Be sure to check it out.

And it if you can’t wait that long to hear the new song, it’s available on iTunes now. Click here to hear a sample and to purchase the song if you like.
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The song really is adorable. Barry can nail Christmas songs on a lot of different levels (ironic as hell, isn't it?? LOL!) Cranberry Christmas is already set up on my DVR "to do" list. I'll leave the review to my daughter as she is the true expert in this house on animated features.

Hope everyone survived Thanksgiving and Black Friday. We ended up leaving the inlaws early because my daughter got a little sick. But at least we have a jump start on December.

Have a great week, everybody!
MUAH!!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Greatest Songs of the 80s - the YBA POV

I snagged the CD the instant it was on the shelf.

Wild horses couldn't stop me from listening and writing about it.

However:

A 10-hour drive to see the inlaws, with a toddler puking all over the car half way through then an emergency cleanup (we were the talk of the car wash that day) then finally arriving in the middle of &^%$%& nowhere, to stay in a 130-year-old house with ONE bathroom, whose plumbing is almost as old as the house; bunking in with 5 other relatives and their families, and the above-mentioned toddler insisting on sleeping with Mommy and Daddy instead of in her own little bed, then waking up to miles and miles of harvested corn and soybean fields and nothing else...... THAT stopped me from writing about it.

This is the kind of Thanksgiving family gathering you talk about for years and years. We'll see how this blog goes because I'm right on the edge of the broadband network and connectivity has been touch-and-go. I really mean it when I say we're in the middle of nowhwere. (Oh look, a couple of deer. Wonder if they know there's a hunter in that blind.....oops, guess not!)

Back to music and down to business.

Islands in the Stream - is there anything else about this track that I could gush about that I haven't already? Of course there is! I finally realized why I like this so much, besides the catchy melody, etc. The original version had too much contrast in the vocals between Rogers and Parton. It was fun, but it was what it was: country kitsch, just this side of "Hee Haw". The vocals on this one are smoother and Reba, while obviously country, has a quality that matches Barry's better. More pop with a little country undertone. My favorite is still the Vegas stage show. Probably because that was the first time I heard it.

Open Arms - I heard a number of versions of Barry's take on this song before ripping it to my iPod and settling in with it. First was the bootleg on YouTube. (Note to TPTB - I SAW the bootleg, I didn't make it, OK?) Then the Tonight Show performance, then QVC some other videos.... I just wasn't sure about it. Then I checked out a chat board dedicated to Journey. Journey has more than its fair share of douchebags in their fan base. They came out of the woodwork when the band started going through lead singers like paper napkins at a barbeque. That didn't help matters, although a few brave souls confessed to being Barry fans and enjoying the remake. I would have saved myself a lot of angst if I just blew off the previews and listed to the track directly. Barry turned the orchestration up to 11. The depth of it is almost decadent, like taking a bath in warm chocolate pudding. The only way he can match that in concert is to have a full symphony backing him up. The thing was the previews didn't sound like he "owned" the song; you still thought of Journey. Barry's orchestration is beyond anything Cain and Perry could dream of.

Never Gonna Give You Up - not much more I can add to this one either. It just sounds fun. And it's a great get-up-and-dance-and-clap-along-even-if-you're-a-civilian song. This type of uptempo number is as easy for Barry as rubbing sleep out of his eyes in the morning.

Have I Told You Lately - another one I couldn't imagine. What else is he going to do with it? Ah, OK, accoustic guitar and brushes on the drums, that'll do it!! With a little more jazz sax instead of guitar, slow it down further, this might have fit on Paradise Cafe. The kind of thing you slow-dance to at the end of the night when the club is closed and the staff are busing tables and hoping you'll finish up and get out so they can go home. ;-)

I Just Called to Say I Love You - I hated this song. I mean really hated it. The video was cheezy, even by 80s standards and the tune and arrangement gave bubble gum a bad name. Barry's really doing a lot of guitar these days and it's showing up a lot in this album. The 50s/60s (not sure on the decade - sorry, before my time....) bossa nova made this song sound made for mature adults rather than teenagers. Love the vocal - like he's whispering into the microphone. I can just imagine a video for this one: lots of late-50s pastels, soft focus and bright spotlights, early evening at the dinner club type of setting. MMmmmmmm.......

Against All Odds (Take a Look At Me Now) - I didn't hear anything special in the original. Again: What can he do with this? What makes it most special is that he layers piano, over guitar, over full orchestration and you can hear all the parts - it doesn't get muddy. It doesn't hurt that I prefer Barry's singing voice to Phil Collins' any day.

Careless Whisper - another that I wasn't suprised at. Smart not to change or remove or do anything else with the sax. It makes the song and whatever else you do, you have to keep it. Again with the guitar added in. Makes the song more of a Latin jazz style than pop. George Michael doesn't have the chops for this version.

Right Here Waiting - Made for Barry as-is, but he's not going to leave it alone. :-) Here it goes in the opposite direction: the original had more accoustic elements and now he brings in more 80s synth. This song would make a good concert ballad with light show emphasizing all of the different kinds of synth.

Arthur's Theme - my favorite going in, based on the track list alone. What little girl doesn't love a Cinderella story and this one was shot on location at all of the places I knew growing up. Barry didn't have to do much with the orchestration - all he had to do was sing clearly! This is why he does Christopher Cross so well. Christopher Cross is to music what Boomhauer is on King of the Hill. You may not get all of the words but you just kinda get the gist of it. I've listened to this song for years, since seeing the movie in the theatre and this is the first time I understood all of the words. Again, don't touch the sax, you need the sax as is.

Hard to Say I'm Sorry - I'm noticing a theme here: whatever the original artist did, do the opposite. Peter Cetera put in tons of layers on the original and here they are all stripped down to a few essentials. Nice echo on the vocals in the beginning, then bell-type synth, is that an electronic drum in the background? And some of the background vocals are synthed as well. If you just do a little of that, it doesn't sound cheezy, it emphasizes the emotion and lyrics in the right places. He saved a little bit of Chicago tribute with the horn at the end. ;-)

Time After Time - you know Barry can do this one well but it's been done to death through the 80s, it's been a jingle several times over, it's almost a stereotype or parody of itself by now. Oh wait, open it up with cello then open up the full orchestration. Like "I Just Called..." pull out the pop elements and replace them with real orchestration and it's an entirely new song.

I've Had the Time of My Life - I thought Barry was joking when he talked about making this a ballad on QVC. Someone's on a guitar kick and I love it! There is more passion and more intensity in this version than the original could dream of. It curled my toes up. Perfect closer.
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I think everyone who's a serious fan should do their own review of however they hear the record. When Barry gets the recordings done and the engineers finalize the mix and ship it off to the production company, their job is over. But when each of us hears it is going to hear different elements at different times and bring something else - so it becomes something new that the musicians couldn't have thought of. I don't presume to know what Barry was thinking when he compiled this record and if I tried, I don't doubt that I'd be wrong. Besides I know I'm an amateur and there's probably lots that I've missed. But be that as it may, this is my new favorite of the "decades" series. (The 50s is a close second.)

For anyone out there who thinks they're bored or frustrated with the decades albums and wants Barry to do something "new", this IS new. The way these songs were taken apart and reassembled, they are basically entirely new creations. I won't complain if Barry decides to do his own original music at some point, but I wouldn't say this record isn't "new". It is new, and suprisingly so.

So it's back to the inlaws now. Turkey is going on the table soon. The holidays are a lot of different things to a lot of people so I'll just say that whatever you have planned today and in the coming weeks, I hope it's what makes you happy. As for me, I have a great family, great inlaws, and a place to be loved on Thanksgiving. Can't ask for more than that.

MUAH!!!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Serious Question

It sounds like the shows are fantastic this week and so are the audiences. Dana on the Network always has the most amazing reviews. She finds words I can never find. Whenever I hear one of these I want to say, "See? See??!! This is what I was telling you about!!"

Recently I thought of a question that I would love an answer to from people in a position to give it. For me this is academic - it's unlikely I'll get back to Vegas so it won't be an issue.

Suppose a fan is sitting in the stage seats. During the course of the show, Barry comes over to shake hands with the front row like we've all seen him do. Somebody gets too excited and grabs him and doesn't let go, no matter how much he struggles to get loose. Or they try to get to second base with him or otherwise touch him inappropriately.

What is a fan supposed to do when the're sitting right next to this and they can see it's a problem?

Sit there and pretend it didn't happen?
Try to get the person to let go?
Make eye contact with security and flag them down?

What?

It is SO awkward when you see this situation occur right before your eyes and I don't know anyone who knows the right response

So, is there an answer out there?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Killing Time on QVC

I love it when a client calls my cell at 10:00 PM to powwow on some upgrades to his website.

NOT.

So my thoughts are going to be the nightowl version.

It's fun to get advance notice of new records and appearances, but then you have to sit on your hands and wait for them. I normally don't enjoy QVC or other TV shopping shows but this was one to watch.

First, the hostess, Chickieboo, the one with oral diarrhea, should be first in line for an intervention with Tim Gunn.

Second, correction on the Manilow CD availability: it was released in Japan mostly and had a very limited release in the USA because the CD format was just hitting the mainstream. Hence why you can find it on eBay. I'm one of those people who made getting a copy of this CD a bloodsport.

Making this a bonus was a slick move. It's one of Barry's records that has a lot of underrated music on it and one where the stereotypical 80s style comes through. I've lost track of how many artists I've heard of who were wooed to a new label by a current exec, then had their project set adrift when said exec is suddenly ousted and replaced with another who doesn't give a damn. Personal favorite: "It's All Behind Us Now". I've been playing around with an idea for an amateur video for it. "Sweet Heaven" will never be the same after the Close Up DVD. I can't hear it without blushing and putting my face in my hand.

Third: Barry, did you really have to try to do Michael Jackson before realizing it was a bad idea? Just ask me, I could have saved you a ton of studio time!

Those of you who prefer Barry's hair dark, hope you enjoy it now. I'm the world's biggest sucker for blondes, though I'll take him however he is.

I've been debating all evening whether to go through song-by-song thoughts but I think I'm waiting to get the record before the serious details. Briefly:
  • "Open Arms" sounded more emotional and more involved than it did on The Tonight Show the other night. It helps to have serious fans in the audience.
  • "Arthur's Theme" was just as I imagined it would sound and I'm sure that's going to end up being a favorite.
  • "Islands in the Stream" IS the big hit on this record. I'm keeping this DVR recording because the version here with Kye and the girls is what I remembered bringing the house down in Vegas. Even with the QVC banners across the bottom, it's a keeper.

So my full run-though will have to wait until I snag the record on Monday.

Some other random thoughts that have been rattling around my head lately:

I'd love to hear what Barry would do with some of his own 80s songs, in the way he recreated some of his 70s hits with the last collection. My choices:
"Getting Over Losing You" from Here Comes the Night. The most underrated song on that album. Somehow I imagine it being more emotional if a woman sang it, though. Go figure.
"No Other Love" from If I Should Love Again. When Barry remade "I Write the Songs", it sounded a little different, like there was an emotional difference in how he sees the song now - an acceptance, maybe that wasn't there before. I'd like to see if the same type of difference would occur in this song as well.
"Somewhere Down the Road" - the way he performs it in Vegas today.
"Anyone Can Do the Heartbreak" from Barry Manilow. Because I like it and I said so! ;-)
"Keep Each Other Warm" This would make a great accoustic "unplugged" cut.
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I won't complain if a DVD companion is released in the same vein as the 70s collection. I always love commentary tracks or interview segments. You hear the music and once I get comfortable with it I start thinking, "OK, I get it, now how does it work?" Hence Barry's thoughts on them are very valuable. In the 70s DVD, he goes into technical details that I could listen to for days at a time. I may not be able to create music but I can relate with trying to force a box of chips to do what I want it to do. At the end Barry throws out, "Nobody cares, right?" What is he thinking?? First time I heard this I had to stop myself from waving furiously: "HELLO? ME! OVER HERE!!"
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This afternoon I received a beautiful thank-you note from someone associated with Keely's family for the United Warrior Survivors Foundation. I used my company's PayPal account to keep the donation discreet and my name off of the blog or anything public. These folks don't know me from Eve and have never heard of my company. So it was a very nice suprise to hear from them. I hope whoever reads this keeps my relatives, still in Iraq and Afghanistan for the holidays, in their thoughts or prayers.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Never Gonna Give You Up

From YouTube, courtesy of J Records
Did you have ANY doubts whatsoever that Barry would nail this one???

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Help Wanted

Major hotel/casino in Las Vegas, Nevada seeks receptionist.

Requirements:
MA/MS in Psychology with minimum 5 years clinical experience. PhD and/or MD a plus.
Mastery of PBX phone system.
Able to handle multiple calls from clients with various degrees of emotional stability.

Description:
The successful candidate will receive random calls regarding headliner performances and assess psychological needs of each caller. Procedure will involve accepting initial contact, engaging client/patient for further information and to confirm emotional status, categorizing useful and legitimate information from emotional expression, then concluding call to caller's perceived satisfaction. Candidate may expect between a dozen to several hundred calls in a shift depending upon current events.

Excellent typing skills are a must. Candidate will type their own notes without benefit of dictation services and cross-reference notes on each caller with hotel reservation system.

Hours:
Standard 8 AM to 5 PM shift with 1-hour lunch break to be taken according to call volume. Candidate must wear a pager for on-call duty during high-volume periods.

Salary:
Commensurate with experience. Triple overtime pay for all hours over 40 per week. On call pay of $5 per hour.

Benefits:
Meals, after-hours alcohol, and all required pharmaceuticals included.

Submit full CV with clinical references to:
Colony Capital Partners, LLC
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV

(With gratitude to Redcat and Peachy for inspiring this composition.)

The Right Love at the Wrong Time

To whoever cares:

I left the Manilow Network tonight. I posted quite a few things and they're gone now so if you've noticed some holes, that's why.

I was going to post a goodbye message to everyone on my friends list but it would have been deleted before you read it. So I'm posting it here.

First, thank you for reminding me that it's ok to take a chance and make friends online. I think that's one of the life lessons I was supposed to learn over the past few months and I am much better for it.

Second, try to practice what you preach, especially if the homily is about fun and peace and unity and whatever other virtue you promote in Barry's name. Some of you need some work on that.
If you're serious about unity and peace, "cyber hug" graphics aren't going to do it. Try to find that one person who feels the most disenfranchised of all; the one who thinks no one is listening to them. The one you're tired of and can't agree with on anything. Reach out to that person, and then you'll be serious about peace. If you only "cyber hug" the people you agree with, then you're a high-school clique, nothing more.

If you criticize someone's opinion or the way they express it, make sure you're not the root of the problem. When you point your finger at someone, there are thee pointing back at you. You may be the source of that sense of alienation.

Finally, try to pay attention to the quieter members of the network, even if they're not on your friends list. You may find some of the most outstanding human beings you ever met but you won't be blessed by them if you don't seek them out. They're not the most frequent posters, they're always the quiet ones.

To the Powers That Be at Stiletto:
The Ning Network and the way its managed is the best online fan organization I've seen in almost 15 years. The reason this stood out for me is because most "official" fan groups demand that all members/participants agree with everything that the artist thinks and love everything the artist produces. Which creates Stepford Fans and I don't think that's what you're looking for. It's a tough job and no one ever says "Thank You" enough. I hope my thanks make a difference.

I was (very, VERY pleasantly) suprised at the light hand that you moderate it with. I wasn't expecting such tolerance of the types of posts, especially the political ones. I was seriously expecting all non-Democrats to be censured or banned, based on my past experiences. I've never been so happy to be wrong. You're on the right track - let the fans handle their conflicts themselves and stay out of it. Barry's name may be invoked at times but it's not about him - it's about the audience and "official" interference will divide fans even more than they already do themselves.

The shows I saw in October in Vegas were the best I've ever seen, bar none, and I grew up going to various kinds of performances. Thank you for making that possible. That trip restored my spirit in ways and places that I thought were hopeless. I know it's just another day at the office for all of you but please don't underestimate the impact of those performances and the music.

(Keep an eye on Travy Drake aka Qwerty Jones - it's your first alter-ego that responds to his own posts. Both names resolve to IP address 68.57.76.13 in Mechanicsville, VA. This may be a more serious problem than some of the other conflicts out there and may be an exception to the aforementioned "non-interference" rule. Just an FYI in good faith.)

Everybody - I'm not going anywhere and neither is this blog. I'm a fan for good and if the opportunity arises to see Barry again, I am SO there. I got more than I imagined a year ago when I rediscovered his music at a major life low-point. Anything is possible. (Like, maybe, coming back to Atlanta during one of those many breaks in his Hilton schedule in 2009?) And you won't be able to shut me up when the new albums come out.

My friends know how to reach me - right here.

See you all Somewhere Down the Road.

MUAH!

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Tale of Two Cities

For background on this post, please visit Manilow Musings: Have the fans gotten out of control?
I agree with the hypothesis in the article and the observations below are the reasons why.

Dateline: October 24, 2008 11:00 PM PT
Objective: Relax in Tempo after Barry's concert

My Experience:
  • Leave the showroom
  • Enter nightclub
  • Find seat with group
  • Notice heavy cigarette smoke
  • Decide to sit at bar instead
  • Find empty barstool
  • Sit
  • Flag down Rafael to open a tab
  • Drink
Barry and the band's process:
(As observed from aforementioned barstool)

The side entrance to Tempo is roped off and guarded. The entrance to the back room from the main lounge is also guarded.
About 15 security guards fan out through the casino outside the showroom and Tempo.
Two guards are flanking a man with Barry's hairstyle and color job - was he a decoy?
Assorted band members trickle into the side entrance as an occasional fan calls out their names. They smile, wave, and keep it moving.
Keely and Kye slowly creep out of the showroom entrance. Visualize canaries in a coal mine: if the canaries don't pass out from mine gasses, it's safe for the miners to enter. If no one acosts the backup singers, it's probably safe for Barry to emerge.
The parade starts: Garry and a number of unfamiliar men line up against the wall between Tempo's side entrance and the showroom hallway. Barry follows with Monica at his side. His eyes are down and every fiber of his body language says, "Please do not approach me." Following him is Marc and other assorted staff.
Between this parade and the rest of the room, are six security guards, also walking in a tight line. If someone in the public can't take the hint by the way these people are standing together that they wish to be left alone, the guards will clear it up for them.
The entourage disappears into the back room. You can't tell what they are saying or doing because they all remain in a corner that is the least visible to the bar and the rest of the club.

Now why were these two experiences so different?
Because TPTB decided that Barry needed to be protected.

Protected from what?
People who don't know how to express themselves appropriately and don't know when to leave well enough alone.

Which means that these people without self-control must exist in some significant numbers.

That little procedure was expensive in terms of both payroll and time taken to analyze the need, plan the personnel and timing, and rehearse the movements. This wasn't spontaneous; it HAD to be choreographed. Which is why I compared the security guards to the Blue Angels in another post - precision like that takes time and effort and doesn't come cheap. No one is going to subject their accounts payable department to that kind of expense without a legitimate need. From the outside looking in, it's funny like a bad sitcom or a junior-high school play. I imagine that if I had to live with it every day, it would be anything but funny.

As long as there are audience members who do not know how to contain themselves while indulging in their fun and fantasies, there is going to be more distance between Barry and his admirers. That means clinging to him while shaking his hand, rushing the stage and similar behaviour that would make a security guard pop out of his seat to protect his boss from a possible threat.

What bothered me the most was the fact that to express my appreciation for Barry as a human being after the show, the best I could do was stay in my seat and say nothing. That is sad on so many levels I don't know where to start.

More interesting reading: Just Life: Celebrity Worship Syndrome

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Christmas Is Just Around the Corner

Update for 2009: Cranberry Christmas is back on ABC Family. December 1, 7:30 PM EST and December 7, 11:30 AM EST. Check your local listings for channel numbers.

OCEAN SPRAY PROUDLY ANNOUNCES ITS FIRST TELEVISION SPECIAL “CRANBERRY CHRISTMAS” ON ABC FAMILY

Animated Holiday Special Features Original Songs by the Legendary Barry Manilow and Longtime Collaborator Bruce Sussman
LAKEVILLE-MIDDLEBORO, Mass (November 10, 2008) –Already a star of the holiday table, Ocean Spray launches its first animated television special – “Cranberry Christmas” – airing at 7:30 p.m. (ET/PT) on Monday, December 8, on ABC Family as part of the network’s annual 25 Days of Christmas programming event. The special will re–air on ABC Family on Saturday, December 13, at 12:30 p.m. (ET/PT).

Link to full corporate press release

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I decided recently not to get bent out of shape when Christmas advertising started earlier and earlier in the year. Remember how you didn't see or hear anything to do with Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving? Now decorations go up at the same time as Halloween in some places.

Christmas in our house is first and foremost a religious holiday. Sure we see Santa Claus, and the Coca-Cola polar bears, and the Pink Pig at Macy's, and all that stuff, but it's always secondary to and within the context of the religious aspects.

The great thing though is because of our nation's history, the goodwill of Christmas has expanded beyond just the Christian boundaries. Ulysees S Grant made Christmas a federal holiday in 1870 as a means of encouraging peace and unity after the devastation of the US Civil War. With conflict over every last thing in the media these days - including over whether the name "Christmas" is included in Christmas celebrations! - more time to think about that peace can only be good.

I get seriously reflective this time of year. Probably just a knee-jerk reaction to the advertising blitz. It was a long year this time. Pete reminded me that for months we were fighting more than we ever had. The Vegas trip was his way of forcing me to hit my personal "reset" button. But there was more to it than that.

A lot of people came in and out of my life this year that I never intended to. Or even wanted. It just sneaked up on me. And it's the people that make a difference when you're in some kind of need, even if you don't know it. Or admit it.

If you look through all of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, God's will and aid is usually brought about by people, or some element of the physical created world. There are a few instances of God acting directly without an intermediary, or of angels delivering messages, but most times it's people doing whatever it is they do, day to day, that makes the difference in someone's life.

Just like all of us here.

All of the new friends I never imagined - ones I met, ones I corresponded with, or noticed from a distance, or ones that I just see online from time to time - all have had a positive impact on my life and I didn't realize until now how much I needed it. You can't notice these sorts of things at the time. 20/20 hindsight comes when you stop and think - and feel.

So now I wonder what kind of impact has this blog and all of my ramblings had on others? I know you're out there! Sometimes the stats report will tell me the name of a server that a visitor is using to find this place, sometimes it's just a city or a region. And I wonder who found this and why? And did you find something in it to restore you that you needed and didn't think you would ever find?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
When life held troubled times
And had me down on my knees
There's always been someone
To come along and comfort me
A kind word from a stranger
To lend a helping hand
A phone call from a friend
Just to say, 'I understand'
And ain't it kind of funny
At the dark end of the road
Someone lights the way
With just a single ray of hope

Alabama
"Angels Among Us"
from the album Cheap Seats

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Feb 14 Benefit

This is another organization raising money for breast cancer research, like Stand Up For a Cure. They focus on laughter too and are a bit more, ahem, out there about it.

Barry, I dare you to wear a shirt like this at the benefit you're playing in February.



http://www.savethetatas.com/graphicpages/savemenbT.html

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Friday, November 7, 2008

On With The Blitz!!



Clips from three of the songs - "Islands in the Stream", "Never Gonna Give You Up", and "Open Arms" play on this ad.

First TV appearance is 11/17 on The Tonight Show.

Rev the DVRs, the ride is starting again!

Thought for the Day 11/7/2008

The only time people complain about public discussions of politics, is when they disagree with the POV.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

As Sure As I'm Standing Here

(Note: I was asked why I posted this story as a lead-in to the announcement of Barry's fundraiser show on Feb 14 with Stand Up For a Cure. In the days leading up to this post, there was a lot of complaining in various circles about the price of the tickets closest to the stage. It concerned me that those who were dismayed did not realize - or care - that this was a BENEFIT/FUNDRAISER show and bringing in money for this cause is (a) not in Barry's hands and (b) essential to saving lives. So - I spelled it out in a way that can't be misunderstood.)

As sure as I'm standing here
You'll never have to be afraid
As sure as I'm standing here
I'll try and help you find your way

In the early 1950s, my grandmother was diagnosed with breast cancer. Oh, wait, it wasn't cancer. It was "the C-word". The word you never said out loud, especially in front of my high-school-age mother. She was quietly whisked off to the hospital for surgery - with a 2 week postop inpatient stay. Afterwards she had an odd little item strapped to her chest for a few days. It was a chunk of radium. Radiation therapy was in its infancy; a medical machine designed to direct the radioactivity of Cobalt-60 was in development in Houston by the US Atomic Energy Comission, but nothing that avant garde was available in her area. No dosimetry, no tomography, just stick a piece of radioactive material up next to the surgical bed and hope for the best.

The best happened. My grandmother was cured. The "C-word" never returned and she died peacefully of old age in her sleep. She was one of the lucky ones. Most patients of her time recurred and that was worse than the original disease.

Chemotherapy? A pipe dream, at the time. The earliest attempts involved mustard compounds. Leftover chemical warfare agents from World War I. The idea of using these compounds in medicine was so outrageously radical that most of the medical community didn't warm up to the idea for 15 years. So after the radium treatment there was nothing else to do. My mother remembers the doctor saying, "You don't need to worry about that anymore." I don't think the phrase "pretty little head" was involved, but I'll bet it was implied.

Genetic analysis and risk assessment? You're kidding, right? Watson and Crick had just published their paper on the structure of DNA after studying the X-ray crystalographs taken by Linus Pauling and his son, Peter. It would be 30 years before genetics even made the drawing board. My grandmother was one of seven sisters, and the only one in her family to get "the C-word". Based on those odds alone, my family and their respective doctors decided it was not a familial cancer.

Fast-forward 30-odd years. Now it's my aunt (Dad's sister-in-law) with the diagnosis. Lots has happened in that amount of time. Surgery is first thing, again. But now, not only is there chemotherapy, there are various kinds and they can be safely combined. (Safely = your patient won't die from the treatment if you follow the packaging directions.) But it was no picnic. Adriamycin is a known severe cardiotoxin. Sure it can cure the cancer but you'd better be real sure that your dose doesn't go over the lifetime maximum tolerated dose that leads to heart failure. Cisplatin is another winner. Very effective at eliminating leftover cancer after surgery. Unfortunately antiemetics were so primitive they were effectively nonexistent. Count on puking like a frat boy. Except instead of the familiar flavor of butyric acid and last night's dinner, the patient experiences the unmistakeable taste of liquid metal.

On the bright side, at least you had options now. Radiation therapy was more evolved, more effective, less dangerous. Survival rates were going way up compared to the 1950s. What's some puking and hair loss and other changes compared to dying from cancer? Sign me up!

My aunt didn't think so. Whether it was fear, or vanity, or some other motivation, we'll never know. But she flat out refused any treatment besides surgery and couldn't be persuaded otherwise. Within a few months of surgery, my uncle called my dad to tell him the cancer was back. "Where?" he asked. "Everywhere."

Now she thinks chemo may not be so bad. But it was too little, too late. Toward the end, some relatives I never met were scoring drugs on the street to keep her out of pain. Symptom control measures had a long way to go - OxyContin hadn't even been dreamed of yet. I was a junior in college and my cousin - her only daughter - was finishing high school when we buried her.

Fast forward 10 years. I was working in medical research now and a friend asked me to be a buddy to a long-time friend of his who was experiencing her second breast cancer. She'd had her first case about 7 years earlier that was cured with surgery alone, soon after her son was born. After seven years, it's not a relapse - it's a "second primary": a completely different disease than the first.

Even a moderately-sized general hospital with an oncology department looked like mission control. She'd had a state-of-the-art lumpectomy then went in for postop cleanup treatment. The tomography landmarks were tattooed on her chest and a linear accelerator delivered precision doses of radiation in a suite straight out of Star Trek. Her chemo combo was delivered in a time-released cassette; no more bolus dosing with instant barf. I don't think she threw up even once. Worst thing was losing her hair - to this day no one can do anything about that. But she had enough energy to yell at me when I arrived for a visit later than planned due to a delayed flight. "WHERE WERE YOU!! I WAS WORRIED SICK!! NOW GET IN HERE AND HAVE DINNER!! Oh wait, give me a hug first!"

Yes, ma'am!

She did have side effects, including some heart failure due to good ole Adriamycin. But today she's a special ed high school teacher and coaches the girls' tennis team.

That's a long way for oncology to come in less than 50 years. That progress didn't float out of the sky on a magic carpet. You had the doctors who wanted to take better care of their patients and had a vision to make it happen. You had the patients who were willing to take a chance on an unproven treatment that probably wouldn't save them, but would benefit thousands or millions in the future. You had the drug companies who would try to develop agents that the doctors were looking for and most times they lose more capital than they ever make testing one failure after another until they find THAT ONE that keeps patients in remission or cured for years at a time. You had the government agencies who had to balance the scales between taking necessary risks for the benefit of future patients, and not allowing the atrocities of Tuskeegee or Germany to happen again, and doling out funding as it was available. That's a lot of people working together over a very long time. And when you put this effort into one form of cancer, there's a great chance it will benefit patients with other forms of cancer too.

But to make all of this happen, no matter how lofty the goals or committed the personnel, you can't do it without the common denominator. Money. Cash. Dinero. Wampum. Moola.

Whenever I'm about to get tired of people asking me for donations, or to attend a fundraising gala with an inflated ticket price, I think of the three women above and all of the other friends and relatives I've known with some other kind of cancer. Each of them, in their time, had options made available to them because of the progress made by others. I could be the next one to need the resources created by that research, or my family.

How much would all of that be worth to you?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
(From manilow.com)
Spend Valentine’s Day with Barry…and raise money for cancer research! Barry is bringing “ULTIMATE MANILOW: The Hits…and then some” to the Nassau Coliseum on Long Island, NY on February 14, 2009 as part of the STAND UP FOR A CURE concert series.

Not only can you spend Valentine’s Day with Barry, but you will be supporting a great cause at the same time! The proceeds from the concert will be donated by Stand Up for a Cure to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (http://www.bcrf.org/), founded by Evelyn Lauder in 1993. The foundation is credited for creating the infamous “pink ribbon.”

BMIFC tickets to this special benefit concert are available at 10 AM (Pacific) on Wednesday, November 5. Fan Club members can order online at www.starz.bz/bmifc or by calling 310.957.5788.

Tickets will be available to the public on Monday, November 10, via all Ticketmaster outlets.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Islands in the Stream

CHECK THIS OUT


(The player says video, but there is no video available. Just enjoy the music!)

First, I was over the moon when I realized Barry was inserting a couple of songs from the new 80s record into his Vegas set a couple of weeks ago. I thought he was saving it for November, closer to the actual release.
Second, you go through the CD song list and we're all mentally clicking off the songs that we know he can do well. Richard Marx, check. Rick Astley, check. Christopher Cross, check.
Then you get to "Islands in the Stream". Kenny Rogers?? And the duet is w/ Reba McEntire?

I couldn't imagine this one. Until 10/23 in Vegas when he unveiled it.

The arrangment with the 3 girls as backup brought the house down. (Yes, I know Kye joined in toward the end of the number. Kye, love ya babe, but but they could handle this one.) Anyone who wasn't up and dancing and clapping along was either confined to a wheelchair, dead, or close to it.

This upcoming record had me a little nervous because it was "my" decade. (Those a few years my *ahem* senior felt the same way about the other decade albums.) I remember the originals and have all kinds of memories associated with each one. I didn't know if I would appreciate these the same way. I shouldn't have worried. In Vegas, Barry owned this song. Just bitchslap that wuss Rogers back into oblivion because this version is the new original.

There's always something to look forward to these days! I'm waiting on the QVC segment to order the record because I'm a sucker for bonus features/video/interviews etc. (More on that later.)

Barry, this was great and thanks for NOT waiting to put it in the show!

(PS - welcome Reba fans! Are your people as excited about this single as the Manilow fans are?)

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"ULTIMATE" Retrospective

WARNING: the pictures in this post suck. So why post them, you ask. Because some parts of a trip you just can't put into words. Something about seeing fans' candid shots shows you how the concert feels - and no words can match that. Even if the pics suck.

I always feel torn in half when I'm getting settled in for a show. To shoot or not to shoot. Thursday, I was in the center section, under the right side of the catwalk. Great vantage point. But I figured, nah, just enjoy the show and shoot later. Next two nights I'm on the right side, still really close and I saved my picture-taking for then. I'm glad I got them but now I wish I had my camera out for Thursday as well. But then you can't really just let loose and enjoy the show if you're focusing your point-and-pray camera. No pleasing some people. :-)
OK, so here's what I saw and felt a couple of weeks ago:
The obligatory opening screen. Just to show you the vantage point. I've seen a bunch of these and no matter how many you see, you don't get a feel for how close you REALLY are until you get there. Or how low the stage is compared to the arena shows.






Shadow Man.

The greatest challenge for every fan photographer is to get Barry's entrance.

I was suprised that I actually got a decent one of these when Barry came to Atlanta.

That one is my computer screen wallpaper.

This one was my best attempt.


OK, this shot isn't so bad. Can't remember what song this was from.

What I noticed about this show that was different from Atlanta and some others I've seen on video, the props et al are stripped down and every aspect of the staging and production is made to underscore the emotional impact of the music. I don't think any of the other music acts in town cram this much material into their shows and I'm sure that the headliner isn't on stage as much as Barry is.



What I like about this is you catch a bit of the lighting behind him.

The light show was choreographed like nothing I have ever seen, short of IntelliBeam laser animation, like at Stone Mountain in the summer.

Best light show moment: the "starlight" effect during "Memory" that stretched past the proscenium. Second best: TIE -the end of "Ships" where he moves back to dead-center stage with the five white spots on him and the synchronized glowsticks in "I Write the Songs"

"Weekend in New England"

The scrim behind him was lit with clouds and raindrops. I lived up there for a while so I can tell you how perfect that is.

It doesn't take a whole lot, production-wise, to bring more emotion out of each song.
"Most romantic" song, Barry? It's in the running to be sure. But it also has "Not What You See" and "If I Should Love Again" as competition. It's a close call. I have "Please Don't Be Scared" in that category as well.

Now the following picture is not mine. It was one of those moments where I came thisclose to clawing my way through my purse for my camera, but there was NO way I was going to sacrifice even a second of this scene for a "maybe" shot.

This was EXACTLY the view that I had Thursday night. Oh, it was gonna be a goooooooooooood weekend!!!

Once I got past the tongue-lolling over the sexual gestures I remembered one of the bonus interview features from the M&P DVD, where Barry is describing how he mentally preps himself for going on stage. I think the words he used were "blowing himself up" (sic) or something close to this. The thing is - the audience does exactly the same thing. You don't think that the women in the audience (esp in stage seats or under the catwalk) dress like that every day, do you?? And we really don't act like that every day either. Before the show we're picking out our outfits, primping hair and makeup, meeting each other, drinking, having dinner, and egging each other on. It's the same thing that Barry and the band do before the scrim goes up.

So you have all of these people playing their parts in one big living fantasy and the benefit looks mutual. Barry looked like he was getting his rocks off watching the reactions he got at each of those shows with that scene. You don't need me to tell you how the female side of the audience felt.

There's one shot that is related to these that was taken after I got home. Like everyone else I wandered down to the M Store. I needed a polo shirt. (I don't do Tshirts anymore and collared polo shirts are never available at the arena shows.) I thought of my daughter, TLF, just as I laid eyes on a display of feather boas. It would be a crime not to bring her something, not just because she missed me while I was away, but because Barry's music is what got her interest in music started. (I went into detail on that in Barry's birthday note.)

Here's how it looked a second after I gave it to her:
When things get complicated, I spend some time with her and try to see the world through her eyes. Then I can enjoy the things that I like (including music) as honestly as she does without any strings attached.
Have a great weekend, everybody.
(Barry - there's always going to be some chatter if you have to pull a show. The only words you should be listening to are your doctor's. Everyone and everything else can wait.)

Friday, October 31, 2008

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!

A couple of weeks ago, there was one of those time-killing, mind-wandering threads on the Network speculating what fans would dress Barry up as for Halloween.
I live in a neighborhood where Halloween is a world-class event. Outrageous sets, house decorations that show up on TV and in the newspapers, haunted house attractions, and thousands - literally THOUSANDS - of trick-or-treaters.
Barry could put on any of the outfits he wears on stage and walk down the middle of the street as himself. Best of all, no one would bother him because everyone would either be gawking at the house displays, or, if visitors did notice him, they would just assume he was some local neighbor dressed up as Barry Manilow for Halloween.
It will never happen, but it's fun to imagine it.
Happy Halloween, gang!
MUAH!
(Update: Barry's shows were completely cancelled this week due to his illness. Again, condolences to those in Vegas and hopes that Barry will recover soon.)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

But the World Goes 'Round

It looks like some fans are going to Plan B their evening tonight. Truly, I'm sorry things didn't work out.

There has to be something going around the hotel. The day after I left I had a head/throat cold (still have it ::hack::) and the 3-year-old has been coughing up a storm. Then Barry comes down with bronchitis. Then I hear of other friends and fans getting sick this weekend too.

To everyone visiting, I hope you enjoy whatever else you find in Vegas tonight.

Barry - for God's sake take care of yourself. No one wants a show so badly that they want to see you or anyone else sick or injured.

Muah.

(I'm working on another post that will include some of the less crappy pictures I managed to get and some other thoughts that have come out since returning home. I swear, it feels like only minutes ago that I saw my first of three shows last week. If you'd like GOOD pictures don't wait around here, check out Manilow Musings.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

OT: "I'm YBA and I Approved This Message"

Late last night I was planning a post along the lines of "Why Discussing Politics on the Internet is a Bad Idea". I watched a fight break out on a listserv I belong to composed of people with stronger bonds than those based on what music they listened to. I was reminded of my city's first election where friends attacked each other via blogs, and how the anonymous blogs have multiplied. Strange how more talk has led to less communication, even locally.

Presidential elections are the worst. I was tired of the bullshitting and posturing back in June. I don't think it will ever change because American elections have been like this since Thomas Jefferson ran against John Adams. Talk about close elections and nasty campaigning - IMHO that was the worst of all, even by today's standards.

I wear my heart on my sleeve in a lot of things and I've been hurt my share of times, so when I know some debate is going to get heated, I've learned to back out of it. I don't look at my laptop screen and see light and chips, I see the people behind it. But I don't always expect the people I see on the other end to reciprocate. So I get internally defensive when I see an online political conflict on the horizon. (Which was the inspiration behind "Why Don't We Live Together.")

It's no secret that Barry has supported Democratic candidates for as long as anyone can remember. But unlike most (all?) of his contemporaries and colleagues in entertainment, he doesn't mix his musical performances or appearances with his political support. Further, you never hear about said support through Stiletto, his website, or whatever. It's always from a blog or another source.

So I was initially disheartened when some fans broke from that example and mixed music and politics by starting a Democratic group on the Network. From years and years of past experience I initially believed the scenario would turn out like other online groups I've known: where anyone who agrees w/ the POV of the "artist in residence" will gleefully use their voice and those who disagree would be warily silent, or bullied if they voiced their opinion.

As of today, I'm glad and relieved to say that I was wrong about that. I seriously was concerned about sticking my neck out and saying that my opinion was the opposite of the more vocal ones. So others were braver than I and started engaging in that "tolerant discourse" that is much encouraged but never happens. (CC, you're my hero. Keep an eye on your email.) And son of a gun - it actually stayed tolerant. Even as other *ahem* "alternative" opinions crept out of the woodwork and passions were raised - the bullying I imagined hasn't happened. And TPTB let the discussion thread stay - something else I kept my eye on.

So again, I've found hope for humanity. We're not out of the woods yet - the main election is a week away, and then there will be fallout. Let's see if the "tolerance" holds out - I'm more hopeful that it will, whatever happens.

Keep in mind kids: the only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner, whatever party they belong to. So keep remembering you're dealing with real people here on 11/5.

MUAH!

Updates 10/31/2008:
Points of order:
  • Disagreement is not "venom", no matter how passionate it is
  • Copying/pasting an article from someone else's blog is not the same as making an argument for yourself
  • Belittling people who disagree with you does not change their minds
  • Demonizing those who disagree with you will NOT lead to "healing" and "unification" after the election, no matter who wins
  • If you accuse someone of bad behaviour, read your own posts and make sure you're not guilty of it yourself. It won't kill you to try and see yourself through someone else's eyes
  • No one likes a sore winner any more than a sore loser. See the point above about that outcome.
The only reason the Network hasn't gone to hell yet is because TPTB are staying out of the fan discussions. Praise be for small favors.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here's to Las Vegas

Home. Not nearly as kept up as Pete said it would be but what the hell - TLF was happy to have Mommy home.

First thing this morning was a parent/teacher conference. Yep, I'm back in reality. Of course, after the main conference was over, the teacher wanted to hear all about Vegas! So a lot of random thoughts come out that my head was just too crowded for the past few days.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I'm glad I didn't bring my husband. I love him more than life but there are certain *ahem* ASSpects of this show that you can't demonstrate your full appreciation for if the spousal unit is present.

Nice moment: during one of the shows (Friday, I think but not completely sure) someone tried to hand Barry a rose from the stage seats. He doesn't accept gifts from the stage anymore. It seemed that he understood that her intentions were very good. He accepted the spirit and sentiment behind the gesture by blowing the girl a kiss. I thought that was really sweet.

Just like in Risky Business, "sometimes you have to say 'what the fuck' ". Downing 6 Cosmos and wiggling my ass like an idiot and hugging Chickieboo from Tempo's house band cleared more cobwebs out of my head than all of the coffee klatches and therapy in the world.

Nothing makes a little girl happier than a feather boa and a stuffed animal.

However you describe it: Karma, the Golden Rule, etc, it's true. You reap what you sow. It's not a threat or a restrictive dogma, it's an opportunity to have good things and great people in your world. I went on this trip wanting nothing more than a good time for myself and anyone else of good will. In return I came home with friends I couldn't have conceived of a year ago. Even in the bar, a couple of complete strangers bought me a drink for no other reason than that it was my birthday and I was happy about it. My faith in humanity is restored.

The 80s record is going to be great, if the 2 songs I heard are any indication. I know a lot of people roll their eyes or are otherwise weary of the "Greatest Songs Of..." series but as always, this is Barry we're talking about here. He knows what he's doing. Just give it a listen before you decide whether to like it or not.

I still won't complain if he finds some way to release all-original material, too.

I don't care what anyone thinks of me for saying this - Barry is more attractive today than he ever has been, period. And I was close enough to make that call. ;-)

I think I'm starting to "get" song medleys now, whether it's Barry or whoever else is putting them together. (I'm probably wrong about the following but this is how it looked to me in my seat.) I thought by putting the medleys into a series, he was taking parts of songs that created the same "build" as a single song, then introduced the 80s singles as a climax. NOW I can see that they work. Before, I thought each line of each song was just a teaser and you didn't really "get" the feel of the song. But it doesn't seem to be about that one song, it's the presentation as a whole and it FINALLY makes sense.

Barry's entourage and security team have their positioning down to an art form. Even the Blue Angels don't fly in as tight a formation as these people move when Barry is out in public. Probably common knowledge for anyone who's been to these shows in Vegas before but it was a first for me.

Pete was very happy to get his wife back last night. I had three days of provacative shows and REALLY close views of crotch grabs and ass wiggles, and all that sexual energy had to go somewhere. He asked for Stiletto's mailing address. I think he wants to send them a thank-you note.

Unlike some of our online friends, there's no "post Manilow depression". Who could be depressed after a weekend like that? Just because you're back home? Don't you realize that if you're there for the music, you don't leave anything behind when you return home - if anything, you've already got a piece of Barry with you from being a part of that performance. Play your cards right and approach it the right way, and you won't need anything else.

When Barry brought his show to Atlanta, I thought it would be my one-and-only. I had no idea I would have this trip to enjoy too. So I'm not going to assume that it's over and there will be no other shows, etc. We'll just see what happens. That's worked out pretty well so far.

To Barry and the huge crowd of people who make these shows possible: I know this is just a regular job and a day at the office for all of you. Please don't underestimate the positive impact that your work has. My spirit was refreshed in a way that I needed for a long time, and I'll bet most people visiting have a similar story.

Thank you.

MUAH!!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Day 3: This Is the Show I Came For!!!

I got my wish! Big fan audience last night. I was wrong, there is a difference in the performance when Barry and the gang don't have to pull teeth and reassure them it's OK to get up and have fun. Not something you can put words to - the performance is just more...intense, more energetic, more....I dunno what the words are.

And Barry seemed to be having a lot more fun throwing back to the crowd what he was receiving from them. I was afraid to draw that conclusion before last night because you don't want to ASSume what someone is thinking when they're performing. But now I'm convinced - if you hear that the show wasn't as energetic, involved, etc, there's a 99% chance that's coming from the audience.

People had the time of their lives and behaved at the same time. No desperate clinging from the stage seats, no yelling at anyone to siddown. I can handle pretty much anything if everyone's just getting into the show - yell, scream, talk, dance, spill drinks, have an orgasm, take your clothes off, it doesn't matter. Besides we're all going home tomorrow so this has to be good.

The only moments that came close to silence were (again ) "Somewhere Down the Road". It wasn't totally quiet this time like the last 2 shows. There was a lot of sniffling and Kleenex-rattling. For me it was a challenge - I'M NOT GOING TO CRY AND YOU CAN'T MAKE ME!!! My eyes were pretty full though, just like in "Forever and a Day" back in March.

The only thing I would have asked TPTB if the opportunity arose was "How's Keely holding up?" After a loss like that you don't know how well or how soo someone's going to recover. Obviously I couldn't ask anyone so I could only watch from the audience. Keely, you looked great and our prayers are still with you.

And after the show is just as fun. Some people feel tense or some other kind of pressure if they think/know the band is coming to the bar afterwards. But last night we knew they were packed up and headed for home so we could let our hair down too. Yeah, yeah, that was me in the riduculous birthday hat and flipping off my friend's camera. I would NEVER have done that sober. Hope you enjoyed that little interlude, because you'll never see that again!

Hope everyone has a safe flight home where we will get back to reality. More when I get unpacked and spend some time with my husband and little girl.

MUAH!!!!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Day 2: Someday We're Going to Look Back on This and Laugh

Got my first taste of a truly civillian audience last night.

Oy vey....

No matter how great the show is, those creatures will just suck the life out of you. To the rear last night was a row of fat, ugly, drunk, stupid, know-it-all salesmen from a nearby convention, straight out of an SNL skit. To my right were some ancient types with one foot in the grave who didn't find it fun to get up and dance. I tried to be nice, really. Like help the grandmas activate their glowsticks, etc etc. Waste of time. Everyone to my left and in front of me was looking forward to a good time. However, whenever they did, I was treated to the curmudgeonly rantings of Methusela's mom telling 100 people to sit down.

Forget nice. Bite me, lady, this is a party and I'm here to enjoy it!

More show elements that money can't buy came from the opposite end of the spectrum: stage left seats (the audience's right) became Barry's personal La Brea tar pits. He shook hands with the front row per his usual and an already-trapped beast pulled him in with both front paws. Barry was struggling hard to get free; literally a tug-of- war with his right arm as the rope. The beasts paid for it though - he didn't get anywhere near those seats the rest of the night. How did that work out for ya? Not so great, huh?

The opposite stage seat folks behaved themselves and were rewarded with more interaction. Some of my friends got some attention throughout the show. (Hey Kim - he wasn't looking at your eyes, dear.)

But in spite of this start and the usual kvetching by the uninitiated, the show was just as great as last night. If the Barry and the band were affected by the crowd, I didn't see it. So for everyone on stage - if it took more effort to reach the civilian types, it wasn't you - it was a rough crowd. "Somewhere Down the Road/Ships" brought the entire crowd to stunned, awe-inspired silence. Except for the ones who broke down in tears. (I can still keep from crying, though I'm losing that grip.)

I actually tore my eyes away from Barry long enough to watch other parts of the performance. The light show was outstanding. You can tell someone put a lot of thought into conceptualizing and testing out the patterns and timing. I still can't get a decent shot of Barry on stage because he won't hold still long enough and I refuse to risk blinding him with a flash. What the the hell - I'm not going to forget anything I saw on stage this weekend.

Eventually the crowd relaxed enough where the fans could as well. By the time we got to the climax on the catwalk (pun intended) we all forgot what civillians were. I think the old crones were shocked into catatonia by the womens' favorite moves. The worst of them left right at the encore. Hallefuckinlujah.

If that wasn't enough, the adrenaline got higher in Tempo later on. When the boys in the black suits and the wires growing out of their ears block off the side entrance and do obvious walk-through look-sees through the casino, you know Barry et al are going to come bend their elbows. And they did. So naturally the scene was exactly as I described in "One Ass Grab Too Many". That kind of show is just priceless. Just no other words. I watched from a distance as I sipped my Cosmo and watched purses while those who didn't spend all of their energy in the concert danced some more. If Human Theatre had awards, this would have gotten a Tony.

A few minutes later, Barry came running out of the side entrance like his ass was on fire, trailing his security detail. Garry had to jog to catch up with them. There is already a consensus on what - or more likely, who - they were running from.

So the scene finally calmed down some and the serious fans could meet and chat. I had the priviledge of showing some of my new friends a special memento I ran across a few weeks ago: a complete, collector-quality copy of the December 1965 issue of Playboy. Yes, the one with THAT letter and response. I've been looking forward to sharing that for a while and I'm glad so many got to enjoy it as much as I do.

As you can tell from the time stamp, I'm still running on Eastern time. One more show tonight and since it's Saturday I'm expecting a seriously fun crowd who is more interested in reflecting the energy back to the stage than leaving their butt prints on the seats. Watching Barry on stage is like being at home. But in my real home, TLF is asking her father "Where's Mommy?" so I need to high-tail it back on Sunday before my heart breaks.

It wasn't a bad night last night. I'm giggling just writing about it and getting some strange stares from the other business center users.

Fans only, tonight, OK???

MUAH!!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Birthday in Vegas, Day 1: Anybody Got a Cigarette?

It was worth not sleeping for a week to get ready for this.
I'm keeping this short, the room internet sux and I'm in the Hilton business office because I just could NOT wait to post this.
You've heard the set list and other design changes to the new show on the Barrynet, the Network, wherever, so I'm not going to bug you with that here.
My own observations from last night:
1) Damn, that room is small! It looks huge on the DVD and I remember it seeming bigger when I saw another act here 10 years ago. But it bears repeating, there's no such thing as a bad seat in that house.
2) Unless your seat is in front of a bunch of killjoy civilians that won't let you stand when you need to during the show! (I would have been on my feet for the whole damn thing had it not been for the old farts behind me.)
3) Which means Barry was putting more into getting a reaction out of this crowd. VERY different from the arena show I saw in March. Similar set list, similar atmosphere screen, but different show. He's said this in interviews, serious fans go to see him in the arenas, but he gets everybody in this room so getting a reaction out of them takes more work. (Cement mixer convention??? Yikes....)
4) Good seats. REAL good. Like in less than 15 feet from the top of the catwalk. (I almost ducked when that thing came down on our heads.) Which means I had the "best seat in the house" for the usual shenanigans up there. Nice grab, guy. >;-) That moment was better than sex. (Sorry, Pete)
5) THANK YOU for the songs from the new album!!! I knew he would cover Rick Astley well but I just couldn't wrap my head around the "Islands in the Stream" cover. It was incredible. Very hot, very sexy menage a quatre with the girls. Kenny and Dolly can hang it up - just burn the original, this version is a quantum leap over it.

I need breakfast and I've got a nail appointment to keep. Two more nights of this and I'll need to be carried on the plane on Sunday. Crossing my fingers for a couple of more tidbitst his weekend.

Thanks for the best birthday weekend ever, B!
MUAH!!!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Riders to the Stars

Some folks have money, and others survive
God knows, it's not easy just bein' alive
The dreamer dreams on, and dreams never die
Long as we try


I had enough to do this time around that I didn't have a moment to obsess over a countdown to takeoff. ;-)

Most of the work deadlines are out of the way. My clients know I'm going to be out of town, they know WHY, and they REALLY know that trying to reach me on my cel phone during this trip will be hazardous to their health.

So now I have a few moments to think. "Riders to the Stars" has been stuck in my head for a few days. The music in that one gets to me more than the lyrics, it's just the sense of excitement that I've been trying to ignore while being a responsible adult.

I am the luckiest woman alive. Everything I have ever wanted in life, I have right now. My home, my husband, my family, my friends and neighbors, my gorgeous daughter, a career to support all of the above that has a proud past and a future that just recently turned brighter.

That doesn't mean life isn't busy or is all rosy and perfect. We all know it isn't. But knowing what's important and worth dwelling on and what isn't is the key to recognizing all the wonderful things we have.

When I finally had time to peruse the Manilow world, and look at the comments of other people going to this week's shows, I noticed there are a lot of us who are going because we have something to celebrate. There is a parade of us celebrating birthdays, especially milestone ones, lots of us received our trip from relatives as a gift. Others are celebrating surviving a major illness and just being alive.

This Thursday, I start celebrating the Big 4-0, and take time to lay down life's usual burden for a while. I don't want to hear about politics of any kind, I don't care who likes who, or who is pissed at who, or whatever petty schoolyard stuff that should have been left behind in junior high. We're going to be in the middle of the world's biggest playground for adults. We have so much to be happy about and Barry's shows to take our minds off things. My personal space is a Negativity-Free Zone. Strictly enforced.

To the new friends that I haven't met yet - I can't wait to join you. Let's play a game of "Who Can Recognize Who First". Start with my M&M picture on the Network. I'll have copies of the Manilow Wine Drinking Game and the spoof lyrics. Plus, I recently ran across a very rare, very special item (Barry-related) that I would love to show you. And I can't think of anyone else I want to share this birthday with, that I have been looking forward to since I turned 30!

And I lift my head right up to the sun
Never look down again

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Finally, my decade!


Track list:
"Islands in the Stream” duet with Reba McEntire
“Open Arms”
“Never Gonna Give You Up”
“Have I Told You Lately”
“I Just Called to Say I Love You”
“Against All Odds (Take A Look At Me Now)”
“Careless Whisper”
“Right Here Waiting”
“Arthur's Theme (The Best That You Can Do)”
“Hard to Say I'm Sorry”
“Time After Time”
“I've Had the Time of My Life”
Here I am, working like crazy to get some deadlines out of the way before the big birthday trip, not getting (too...) distracted with the Network or anything else, then BLAM! Hotline message w/ the above press release. No one is going to complain about a new release, esp one that's been talked about and rumored for months.
I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw "Arthur's Theme". Barry covers Christopher Cross stuff perfectly. Plus, Arthur is one of my favorite movies. Every girl loves a Cinderella story, but this one makes me utterly homesick.
So, if anyone in LA or LV is reading this - any chance that any of these songs might suddenly sneak into the show a little early? Like, next week? Please? Pretty please??
Food for thought: couldn't help but notice Barry didn't include any of his own 80s singles here. Wonder why?
And of course, if the '80s compilation is a lead in to another release (the guitar-based album that has also been rumored and chatted about for months) there won't be any complaints from here either.
Now I have to find a way to get back to work and get my commitments done before 10/23!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

"One Ass Grab Too Many"

The inspiration for the latest brainstorm came from here, and here.
A shout out to all of the fans who have to settle for less interaction because a few take their enthusiasm too far.

With apologies to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber.

To the tune of "One Rock n Roll Too Many" from Starlight Express.
(See post below for a video of the song if it isn't ringing a bell.)

One ass grab too many
Some are just too rude
A few don't know when to stop
So the rest suffer too

Some get too excited
Stalkers uptight
Security's on alert
And there's no dance tonight
One ass grab too many
Takes its toll on us too

One ass grab too many
Tempo's looking small
Some couldn't mind their own biz
So they put up a new wall

The stalkers all swarm, all sneaking a peek
The normal fans just want to sip drinks in peace
One ass grab too many
Takes its toll on us too

One ass grab too many
Don't wanna hear no more
What is it now?

Bring back the leather pants
Stop it already!
He's in the casino
Quick get a picture
Give him a break!
It's my 4th Platinum
"What, you again???"

One ass grab too many
Takes its toll on us too

OT - Syesha Mercado on American Idol

"One Rock n Roll Too Many"
I've had this song on the brain recently. Not because of the musical but because of Mercado's interpretation on American Idol. I like Andrew Lloyd Webber as much as the next person, but Starlight Express did nothing for me.

Syesha. Was. Robbed. for coming in 3rd on that season. She blew the entire world off that stage with this performance. Far better than the original. Everybody else should have just packed it in that night.

Most contestants (including the 2 Davids that were the finalists) just stand there and flap their hands around and pretend to feel and enjoy and express their song. Syesha just belted this one out. Look closely, even the conductor is gettin' down with it. You couldn't help but have a great time. (Kind of what I'm looking forward to in 3 weeks!) I don't want to hear the crap about "too theatrical" for pop music. If you don't have that performane element the song is going to fall flat. The minute she releases a record, I'm buying it.

Enjoy!

Monday, September 29, 2008

More on Manilow Music Project

Photos from The Desert Sun
Article with Video Link from KESQ-TV, Palm Springs

For some really interesting hints, pay attention to the last couple of lines (emphasis added).

Barry Manilow delivers on promise of instruments

By Bruce Fessier • The Desert Sun • September 29, 2008

Buzz up! Barry Manilow made good on his own bailout program today when the Palm Springs-based singer delivered $500,000 worth of musical instruments to 20 public schools.

With security fit for a high-ranking public official, Manilow stepped up to a makeshift stage and addressed a crowd outside of Palm Springs High School made up of students, band boosters and local school officials like a politician at a campaign stop.

“With a bunch of volunteers, we have been able to put together our own version of ‘Extreme Makeover: Band Edition,” said Manilow, wearing sunglasses and a leather coat at the warm mid-morning event.

“So, now is the time to get those instruments to our kids. Drivers: Move those trucks!”

And with that, a caravan of trucks drove past the high school on Ramon Road, symbolizing the beginning of the delivery of the instruments.

Manilow said this campaign, called the Manilow Music Project, began with a telephone call — “one voice, I like to say” — about the plight of the Palm Desert Middle School band program.

He and a few friends began looking at other local band programs and realized all were suffering from lack of funds.

His grassroots committee asked each school for a “wish list” for their music program. Manilow then went to one of his publishers, Hal Leonard Music, and the Yamaha company, which gives him discounts on instruments.

Manilow donated more than $10,000 per school, or roughly $250,000, and with sponsorships from Hal Leonard, Yamaha and the Toys ‘R Us Children’s Fund, that translated into $500,000 worth of instruments, music stands, sheet music and more.

Brian Foley of Indio Middle School got a tuba, marimbas, three flutes, three clarinets, a bass drum and a bass trombone for his program. He said he was grateful Manilow tried to help every school.

“It takes a community to have the arts happen,” he said, “so, to have Barry Manilow do that for us — the entire valley instead of just select schools — is absolutely wonderful.”

Students also seemed appreciative.

“He’s a real inspiration,” said Palm Springs High School junior Annalisa Cardenas. “He proved you can get where you want to go if you work hard enough.”

Manilow said the hoopla over the announcement was just to inspire more people to support local music programs.Manilow’s publicist, Carol Marshall, said “Entertainment Tonight,” “Access Hollywood” and “Extra” were expected to mention the giveaway tonight.

“I did this on a very grand scale,” Manilow told the crowd, “but anybody can help out on a much smaller scale. Just call your school.”

After the ceremony, with the Palm Springs High School Jazz Band playing while Manilow did interviews, Manilow said he may do more music projects in other regions.

“It all depends if I tour,” he said. “If I actually went to a city that meant a lot to me, and I might be doing that next year, I might coordinate it for when I arrive at that city. I might actually make a donation to a local high school.”

Farewell tour, he said. Too many hotel rooms, he said. Had enough, he said. I guess it's not really "touring", it's setting up concerts in different cities and travelling around to play them, right? >;-P

I can think of a couple of schools in North Georgia that could use a shot in the arm like this...