Friday, April 25, 2008

OT: Friday Vent

I am sick of saying the following two sentences. The next time you hear an earth-shaking primal scream, it was because some moron gave me reason to again.

1) "No" means "NO!" the first time!

2) Yes, I am younger than you are! That does NOT make me a child!

Thank you for your indulgence. Have a great weekend, everybody!


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"Talk to Me"

Texas_Fan posed some questions on her blog a few days ago, starting with "If you were to get that "phone call" what would you chat with him about?". Check them out here.

Why are these loaded questions? Why does it take so much thought? It’s as simple as talking to anyone else you meet in real life. Right?

In reality, yes. But when it comes to fans and the objects of their affection, we’re not in reality.

When fans are getting ready to meet their idols, or if they are suddenly presented with the opportunity out of the blue, talking to them is not just about an average conversation. When fans are really drop-dead honest with themselves, they want – they NEED - something very specific out of this encounter.

They want their idol to like them back.

In words on a screen, that looks pretty simple. In practice it is anything but. Each fan has a specific idea of how that meeting is going to go. And for those who make an effort to get that meeting to happen (fan club meeting, book signing, whatever) there is more dreaming, planning, fantasizing, even role-playing in some cases, in an effort to prepare for any scenario. But you can't guarantee that real life will go the way of your visions.

To make it more complicated there’s always a fear that everyone knows about, but no one wants to voice, or even admit to themselves or anyone else:

They’re afraid their idol won’t like them.

Everyone wants to be the girl that Barry enjoys dancing/singing with. (I’m referring again to the commentary track on Manilow Live!) Everyone wants to be the one that can get him to laugh at something, or appreciate a gift. NO ONE wants to be “that girl” that he tries to ignore because she’s trying too hard, or that he “mails it in” for during a dance, or worst of all, the one that Stiletto staff laugh and gossip about later. (Disclaimer: I do not know whether that last one happens or not. Some individuals in various forums claim that it has.)

Now let’s add some irony: when given the opportunity to talk to their idol, the more you plan, the harder it is. Case in point: the BMIFC filmed Barry’s Q&A session at a Florida convention in 1989. No one has done more to prepare to talk to Barry than the people attending this type of gathering. The link below is from He makes his entrance and invites the group to start the conversation. He literally says, “Talk to me!” "Ask me something!" The responses are all over the place. He realizes that it will take forever to get them going the straightforward route - he's carrying the conversation - so he switches to fielding questions that were sent in from other parts of the world. Then after a while people started to loosen up enough so that there is actual chatting back and forth.

I’m not in a position to give advice because if you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I analyze things to death and over-think them. I can empathize with the fear of rejection; my one experience in that regard has made me profoundly gunshy about meeting anyone in any branch of entertainment, in spite of the long list of good encounters I’ve had.

The best meetings I can remember were the simplest. Especially the ones in “Not What You See”. Sure, there was some preparation to get the conversation rolling and I had to clarify what I thought my role was and keep myself in a mentally comfortable place. But that is what made it simple – I made myself comfortable in my own skin and made myself stop freaking out about being in an unusual place.

So if I had that phone call or random encounter what would I say?

I’ll have to get back to you on that one. ;-) If I felt comfortable spilling any amount of my guts to Barry, everything in this blog would have been put in a letter and mailed to Los Angeles a long time ago. But it feels safer putting it here; the Internet is a big place and there is no way that organization is going to plow through all of this. The odds against a random meeting are astronomical so I can afford to not stress out thinking about it. How’s that for the coward’s way out? 8^D

Friday, April 18, 2008

Random Morning Sh.... Stuff

Finally got my hands on the full version of Manilow Live! Anyone who trudged through my 3-part epic analysis of Barry's Atlanta show can imagine I am in sheer paradise for having a commentary track to enjoy the full show with! And here I am thinking I am the only one who seeks out odd nuances and subtleties within the overall passion and performance.

More stuff....
OK, I feel stupid not knowing about the "Flight of the Bumblebee" piece when I commented on the William Tell Overture. Again, people don't get how technically advanced you have to be to "just have fun" with a complicated work.
Snacks for thought:
Where did he get the idea from?
How long did it take him to practice FOTB until he could play the kazoo in front of people?
Are his lips sore afterwards?
I'm quitting before this goes straight down the gutter.....

So what next big classical challenge should Barry have in his shows? Enough of this baby talk, it's time to get serious. My vote is for Franz Liszt's Transcendental Etude #4 in D Minor ("Mazeppa"). By himself. No help from the other 3 guys who do "New York City Rhythm" with him.

One of the things that really stayed with me from the days as a small child when my father is trying to impose classical music on me is that the comedians and satirists are the ones who are not only the most technically proficient, but also have the deepest love for the work that words alone (serious words, anyway) cannot convey. They love it as completely and honestly like a child loves holding a favorite doll and it comes through in parody. Classical music has Peter Schickele, opera has Anna Russell (what she did with Wagner's Ring Cycle is either genius or criminal depending upon your approach) and classical ballet has Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. Barry has that same kind of love and it always comes across - even on a kazoo.

Speaking of gutters, "Somewhere In the Night" in our house as always been a signal that one or both of us needs some fast action in the bedroom NOW. Then we listened to the commentary track. Domesticated doves are nothing more than high-falutin' pigeons. No different than the skyrats in any major city. So thanks to that commentary, SITN now brings visions of pigeon shit. I really need to get past that. Thanks, guy..... LOL!!
Please don't get me wrong on this - Pete and I were just dying when we heard the anecdote on this. Most times, Barry's talking about technical details, how he felt at different points in the show, elsewhere he talks about how much he enjoyed the girl he picked for CSWY, and then he gets to SITN and we're thinking, "Oh, wow, what does he have to say on this one?" as he's really getting into selling the song. And lo and behold he talks about.....bird shit! So now we're laughing through the whole thing, and at bed time, well - we just thought more than twice about putting on that song!!

On a more high-brow note, this video was my first intro to songs from Harmony. More often than not a rock or pop star writing a musical is usually some cheap publicity plonk. Not this time. Fans who have been involved more than I have know as well as I now do that this is going to be one amazing piece of work on stage. Only one other comes close. Email for the detail. ;-) "Stars in the Night" is on that short list of songs that can get me to tears.

The real point of this post is to hold you over until I can get some work done on a post on Manilow Musings. Check this one out from texas_fan, it's really worth some thought and discussion:

Happy Friday!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

More on Barry and Music and Schools

Check this out on Scooter's Unofficial Manilow Newz:

The original article is here: Band Directors Laud Manilow's gift of instruments (Published in The Desert Sun of Palm Springs, CA, 4/15/2008)

I blogged on Barry's original donation here with some of my own first-hand experiences with how music programs benefit all aspects of a student's life: Better Minds Through Music

The current article had me jumping up and yelling because on this subject, Barry and I are --->here<--- Even back when I was a kid, my folks knew you can't expect a tax-funded entity to provide every opportunity your child needs to be the best person they can be.
"I think everybody should do it. At your kids' school you can buy a clarinet and they would be very grateful for that clarinet.
"I thought the school system takes care of things like this. Well, they don't. Or they won't. Anybody that wants these kids playing music, they can do it."

To take that little epiphany one step further, you don't really want those kinds of opportunities left entirely in the states' hands either. (I'm going libertarian here - please bear with me.) American politics has its own Golden Rule: "Whoever has the gold, makes the rules." The minute the government has the final say over parents and families on education - especially subjects considered subjective like the arts - you're at their mercy. Tax money will always be tight. It wasn't long ago California's finances were as bad as Georgia's after the Civil War. Teachers were even being paid with IOU's. Whadaya think happened to core academic subjects, let alone the arts and sports, in those conditions? Besides, a tax-funded entity being in charge of artistic subjects means everyone is going to try to enforce their opinion on what is "appropriate". You want artistic freedom? "Just say NO" to tax money, and a lot of red tape and headaches will disappear. (But that's a rant for another day.)

When I've talked to people about Barry's involvement in his local schools and adapting that example locally, I always hear the lamest excuse in the book: "Well it's easy for him, he's a celebrity and has more money than God. Of course Barry can make donations like that happen."
Let's look at the basics: for all strictly practical purposes, Barry is a local businessman who has an interest in music as well as in supporting the local schools and youth, and the business connections that fill this need. Now what community doesn't have that in some form?

I can give you an even better example of what private citizens can do for their children and youth when they pool their resources.

The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) started founding private schools to serve impoverished Appalacian communities more than 100 years ago. Women did not have the right to vote, and holding public office was out of the question, so they couldn't rely on the government. Some state governments (Georgia, N/S Carolina, Kentucky) had already decided against establishing schools in these rural areas. Not even a church or religious community would found a school in these regions. Individual DAR society members saw children who needed education and a way out of the extreme poverty they were existing in. So they started to teach the children nearby. Often times it was a matter of having children enter their own homes and teaching them to read, usually from the Bible. Then they gathered their friends, passed the hat, and built a school building - usually with dormitories because the students' families were so broken they didn't have a legitimate home. Then after spreading the word of the progress they were making, and needs still to be met, the National DAR got behind the effort to encourage all members world-wide to lend their support as needed.

Six of these schools were established in (5 in Appalachia, one in Massachusetts) to meet needs more desperate than any of us "Barry Bloggers" ever imagined for music programs. In addition, two more schools were founded out west for Native American tribes eeking out a living on the reservations they were forced into. Today, children from poverty usually seen in third-world countries, or with major learning disabilities or other major risk factors are getting an education and a future that otherwise wouldn't be possible. Links to all of these schools with their histories are here.

To this day, the DAR is paying to ensure that these children have hope and a future. With only one exception (Kate Duncan Smith school in Alabama) they are independent of any government. Society members serve as Board of Trustee members and contributors of money and other material goods as needed. Students need clothing? Here ya go! Campbells soup labels or pop tops for a corporate school support program? Here, share some of ours from our kids' schools. Items to sell in the thrift shop for fundraising? We'll hire some trucks. Where should we send them?

And all of this was possible because rural non-celebrities with no voice in government used what they had and put it in action because that's what was needed, and their successors today continue the tradition.

These are entire schools that were built and still serving their communities needs today.

Now doesn't funding a music program by private citizens for your average school district look easy?

No more excuses!

There was info included in the article for others to add their own support.
For Barry's Manilow Music Project in the Palm Springs area:
For schools in your own area - pick up the phone and give them a call. No one is going to turn down an interested citizen.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

The Littlest Fanilow

This little girl walks into either of the two rooms with TV screens and asks "How 'bout Barwy?" Then dances during the uptempo numbers. Here, she's waiting for Barry to get the "Can't Smile" girl to settle into the routine so he'll start singing again. At least my daughter and I have something in common. I'll enjoy that while it lasts! ;-)
PS - Another handful of confetti fell out of my purse today. I think that's the last of it.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Q & A

My email has seen a bunch of questions about myself and my blog so rather go through them one-by-one, I'm posting them here (without names) for your enjoyment.

Do you post on the BarryNet?
Aren't you really ___________ on the BarryNet?
Aren't you really ___________ on another Barry blog?

Are you in the BMIFC?

A: Nope x 4. Regarding Barry, this is the only place I post or participate.


Q: Are you banned from the BarryNet?

A: No, again. Can't be banned from a place that I never signed up for!


Q: What was the event that you described in Not What You See?
Where was the place you worked before?

A: These are off the record, folks. Sorry to be so cryptic, but I have my reasons for being extra-careful about online privacy.


Q: Why are you so hyper about revealing your name? Why not join in the other fan forums?

A: Many moons ago, I was involved in another fan group for a different artist. The politics bit me in the ass - unfairly, I might add - and it not only affected my career, but I was also physically stalked. (Details in Every Rainbow Has to Have An End) Some forms of paranoia die hard. I don't want any of those people to find me again, but I still want to vent my spleen and share my thoughts like anyone else. Hence, the precautions.


Q: Who was the musician who almost destroyed your love of music in "Every Rainbow"???

A: As much as I would like to reveal this, it would open the kettle of worms it took 10 years to recover from. Best to let sleeping dogs lie. Suffice it to say he plays in a different genre of music than Barry.

Q: Did he know you had a crush on him and how much you enjoyed his music?

A: Yes, to both. Not only that, when he produced a new CD and I posted on a bulletin board about how great it was, he went into a chat room full of my friends and lambasted my post saying it was "inaccurate" and "mean". Figure that one out. I stopped enjoying and writing about music in that moment.


Q: What does Barry or Stiletto think of your blog?

A: I can't imagine anyone in that organization has time to read any of this.


Q: This was only one show you were looking forward to - why is it such a big deal?

A: The bulk of that story is in "Every Rainbow" (linked above) and Lonely Together.


Q: Are you going to see any more of Barry's shows? If not, what will happen to this blog?

A: That would be fun. We'll see what comes in the future. Right now, Vegas isn't in the plans because I have a husband and small child (what's the difference???) and a home and community who need me here. For everyone who does schedule trips to the Hilton, I'm glad you get to the enjoy them, but I have to plan my life differently. But anything can happen and my mind is open.
As for the blog - same thing. Anything can happen. It won't go away any time I can think of, and maybe some stuff will be added from time to time. You never know when something you or ANYONE writes will hit someone just the right way. That's happened to me, and anyone can "pay it forward", as it were.


That's it for now. Thanks everyone for reading and writing in! I wasn't expecting any major responses but they were fun to read. Final notes: I am not into politics, especially the fan variety. I know there's conflicts and subgroups out there and that's the way it is. I'm not going to choose sides, or who I talk to because of that. If you're nice to me, I'll be nice to you, regardless of what "group" you associate with.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, April 4, 2008

Forever and a Day

Finally I can get everything else down! It's hard to sit at the computer and focus on organizing words when my 2 1/2-year-old, recently dubbed "The Littlest Fanilow" (because she's obsessed w/ Barry's videos) needs attention and playtime.
So where did I leave off...? Oh, right, the 60s segment!
The three backup girls were in the Supremes outfits, Barry and Kye were on their own for a bit. I think this was typical according to other accounts where this segment was included. The end of the segment was interesting and I'm going to have to make a few guesses here - so if I'm wrong, I'm wrong.

Toward the end of the segment (with "What the World Needs Now") the "atmosphere screen" (where the opening video was played at the start of the show, displayed the smiley face during "Can't Smile..." etc) started displaying more contemporary images with social and political messages - namely the AIDS quilt, "peace" images, etc. There are a couple of ways to express sociopolitical ideas in entertainment and media. The least effective, and yet the most common one, is the direct and loud confrontation or insulting lecture. When the media portrays a political statement by a public person, it's always in the realm of absolutes - "I'm right, anyone who disagrees with me is not only wrong but evil". My sociopolitical views run toward the conservative, so I tend to notice this mostly in the entertainment/media industry. Of course, one whose perspective is left-of-center would notice this same fault more in other fields. It's simple human nature to point out slights in groups or people that you tend to disagree with.

Barry's brief expression in his show was neither confrontational, nor bullying, nor condescending. It was a simple expression of what he felt was important. Based on what little is available in the media regarding Barry's POV on any given issue (and assuming even that is accurate) I suspect that if our solutions to current events were lined up side-by-side, we'd end up "agreeing to disagree" on quite a lot. But I got the sense that that was OK this time around - the gentle approach simply invites the viewer to contemplate world issues individually. That way, the common ground comes about more easily.

There were a couple of moments when I felt "too close" to the stage. (Yes, that's really possible.) One was "New York City Rhythm". The "round robin" with the other three guys (I don't mean that to sound insulting, I honestly don't have everyone's name memorized) has to be seen from above to be appreciated and the camera crews captured it for the big screens. The other time was the end of "Copacabana". Feathery pretzels. Feathery pretzels eating the 3 girls. Scary. Very scary. Obviously meant to be seen from a distance. Otherwise - let's just say I'm glad that joint from the 60s segment didn't get passed around. ;-)
"Mandy" was a big highlight. On video, it just looks "cute" that he's harmonizing with his 30-year-younger self. But live it took on a grander dimension. Referring again to Sweet Life, there was a good reason he looked scared to death on The Midnight Special - he was! So performing side-by-side with that video was like showing that he survived all of the problems and conflicts of his earlier career days and is still around to talk about it.

Gotta talk about the other fans. Pete and I were expecting all kinds of crazy things. We were relieved to see a whole lot of harmless fun. Like the lady one row behind us with her two daughters in matching homemade shirts and a 6-foot neon-pink sign. And four ladies with feather boas. Didn't know what the deal was there, but visitors to Philips Arena in the future should know that the bars do NOT water the booze! The strawberry daquiris from the Tiki Bar are especially strong.

The only place we ran into weirdness was on the way to the parking lot. Pete, ever the Southern Gentleman, let me use our one umbrella while he braved the drizzle. Some little dude I had never seen before in my life jumped underneath and walked next to me for half a block, chattering away as if he was my long lost preschool pal. I figured he would eventually go away but Pete is ready to persuade him physically to move along. Then some chickieboo that I also had never seen before asked me "Are you a Fanilow?" My jaw dropped open. She may as well have been speaking Martian, my reaction was that blank. You have to realize that Pete is One Big Guy and very protective of his wife. Inviting yourself into our personal space is done at your own risk. So if you're reading this, Creepy Bald Guy With Beady Eyes and Weird Girl With Stringy Black Hair, keep your distance from people you don't know or someone will enforce that distance with less generosity to your person than my husband. That is all.

Final Random Observations:

Air cannons with streamers and confetti. Perfect fun ending to a perfect fun show! I wonder if this is for Barry's entertainment as much as ours! I laughed and my mouth filled with confetti. I got in the car and confetti was on the floor. Getting undressed for bed there was a pile of confetti in the closet that fell out of my blouse. So to the stage hands - I think you have enough confetti. The leftovers with streamers, my ticket stubs, and glowsticks are sitting in a vase on my nightstand.

Barry's "game face" in his performance is perfect. Most musicians I have met or even just seen fall into one of two categories. The first is the one who has a lot going on in his/her head and every last word of it comes out his mouth. Then he gets pissy and defensive when everyone knows what he thinks and does in his private life, or it otherwise comes back to bite him in the ass. The other one is just the opposite - nothing in their head at all. All foam, no beer. Wheel is spinning but the hamster's dead. Nothing between the ears but a strong breeze. Barry bridges those two extremes. You could see in his face, in a way, that there is much, MUCH more to Barry than what is on stage. And there is a very strict line between what he shares on stage (or otherwise to the public) and what he doesn't. The world is probably a much happier place when those of us in the audience just steer clear of that line and let what's private stay that way.

When you're enjoying his concert, you only remember the songs he DOES sing. It was only a couple of days after I got home that I realized "Hey, he didn't do that song." It didn't matter a bit. You enjoy it so much that it doesn't matter one bit what he had to leave out - it's all great and all fun.

I think I understand why some people feel Barry is singing "only to them" in a show, even a major arena. He projects straight to the back of the venue and spends very little time looking right at the rows in front of him. You'd be amazed at how many performers look straight down at their shoes, or across to their bandmates most of their show. I don't think he's "giving" out emotion to the audience members; I think he draws out what's already there. So each person can imprint on the show what they're already feeling.

The finale "Forever and a Day" was sung from the lift where he introduced the 60s segment. It was just as emotional as everyone says it is. I tried to sing along but nothing would come out, so I'm mouthing the words. Eventually I had to give up singing along because the only thought was "don'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcrydon'tcry". The tears receded before they overflowed. Hearing this song with Barry singing it 10 feet away was like getting a hug. This was how we all felt:

My first time getting to see Barry live, after a lifetime of waiting for the chance and it was everything I wanted, needed, and hoped for. Good thing, because unless plans change and he makes a return trip, this will be the only time. I'd like to be wrong about that. It also would be nice if I could return the favor to Barry for the music he's given and the effect it's had. Can't waste too much energy on that idea. But if the situation presents itself, I'll be there with bells on.

Thank you for everything, Barry. It's amazing what you can do when you're in the right place at the right time.

(PS - the photo that I said needed to be framed found its way into an 8x10 this week. The afterglow is still there. Pete's fraternity pledge brother, who we hadn't seen in years visited our home today. His exact quote was, "Geez, you really look happy!" Well, I have a lot to be happy about these days!)