Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's the big deal about bathroom breaks??

Geez, New Yorkers get their panties in a bunch when someone has to pee! Must be a new thing after I moved out because no one gave me a hard time about this, ever!

If you're visible from the stage at a Barry concert, don't even THINK about getting up to pee, you WILL be called out in front of God and everyone by the man himself. If you play the drinking game at a show, be prepared. Even a Foley catheter is better than facing that humiliation.

Now imagine you're this guy: Fan Ejected From Yankee Stadium For Bathroom Break

"A Queens man is considering legal action against the New York Yankees after he was ejected from Tuesday night's contest against the Boston Red Sox for trying to use the restroom during the playing of "God Bless America."
During the patriotic 7th inning stretch at Yankee Stadium, nature called on Bradford Campeau-Laurion. When he tried to leave his seat during the traditional singing of God Bless America, however, he says he was stopped by a NYPD officer who said he'd have to wait until the song was done. "

I'm a hardcore American patriot but I also know that bladders don't respect the flag or "God Bless America". Or even "Weekend in New England".

Happy Labor Day!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

TLF Update

The almost-3-year-old fan has added "One Voice" to her adorable-as-hell-but-oh-so-frakin' off-key repetoire. She's singing along (read: trying to) with Manilow Live! while we wait out the rain.

It's almost as funny as when she sings to "Here's to Las Vegas", complete with trying to do the kick line.

She's old enough to enjoy the music, but young enough to not be jealous/pissed when her Daddy tells her that Mommy went to see Barry in October.

When life gets complicated and there's too much crappola on the news, it's moments like this that bring you back to reality and what the good things in life really are.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Why Don't We Live Together

Why don't we live together
takin' life's rocky ride
Side by side
Sailin' thru stormy weather
Searchin' for sunny skies
with open eyes
Sharin' the tears and the laughter is the only way

I hate election years. There are so many ads for one candidate or another every other second it makes you sick of the whole barking lot of them. I actually look forward to something mundane like a tampon commercial or an old rerun of The Cosby Show. And I don't want to deal with red white and blue until July 4.

I wouldn't think of blogging on that thought except that Barry had joined a number of other Hollywood personalities in a music-video-styled ad. ( This is a nice video because it conveys a message of togetherness rather than demonizing those who think differently than they do.

This is only the second time that I've seen Barry openly express a specific political preference. (The first was in his concert during the 60s set.) You hear clips here and there of about supporting a political candidate or cause from another source but never from Barry or his publicist or Stiletto directly.

I can only imagine that this would be a huge conflict for someone who takes every step to keep his private life private. You want to be an ordinary citizen and do what you can to support your favorite candidate or party, but in order to do that, you have to give up some of that privacy you usually protect. The public face and the private man intersect very clearly and there's no hiding it once you decide to participate in that way. Barry doesn't seem to wear his politics on his sleeve, unlike some of his contemporaries.

In North Georgia, many local communities have to deal with politics very carefully. Within the past couple of years, some communities have voted to incorporate into cities, separate from their county because they believe the county government is unwilling or unable to meet needs they feel are important. So they establish themselves as townships or cities to bring those decisions into their own hands.

So with a new city, you need a new government. That means people are going to run for office. Friends and neighbors will be competing for however many seats there are. You can't have a successful city with the slash-and-burn, nuclear-anihilation technique of the national campaigns. We live in the same subdivisions. Our children play together and go to the same schools. We attend local houses of worship. Even if we're not all in the same church or synagogue or whatever, the clergy all know each other too! We're all a variety of races, sexual orientations, ethnicities, religions, marital and family status, political parties, and creeds. Yet we get coffee in the same Starbucks, breakfast at J. Christopher's and our groceries at the same Publix. We have to live together.

Fortunately most of the citizens in these new cities have figured out that for the venture to be successful, they have to be very civil, no matter how passionate you feel about your position or qualifications. Make no mistake, this political, competitive scenario brings out everyone's true colors. Someone is going to take a campaign tack that rubs someone the wrong way. If someone behaves immaturely, everyone will know about it in a day or two. We're all learning new things about each other that we may not have otherwise. Most have decided to not overreact if everything they learn is not to their liking. Those who do overreact or carry on a negative campaign or play the "holier than thou" card are going to end up alienating themselves from their neighbors.

So you see, it is possible. The key is to see each other as human beings and not Satan Incarnate even when at opposite political poles. That's much easier when it's a small group in close proximity. When you can't see the people who are different from you, it's easy to dismiss or demonize them. Tolerance is a big buzzword in some political circles; but it's easy to fancy yourself as "tolerant" when you don't know anyone who is different than you in some significant way.

The Manilow Network flared up recently over what boiled down to a personality conflict. With Barry's appearance in a political video and the usual passions naturally stirred in a presidential election year, it won't be the last time. I guess the "Half of Talking" post wasn't taken to heart. Oh well.

The Network is a cyberspace "town" if you will. Barry and TPTB at Stiletto are a key part of it, even if they are not involved in the day-to-day fan interactions. You have people gathering together with their own perspectives and likes and often people find something in common with at least someone. Political opinions are going to come out, like it or lump it. Some people are going to get their facts wrong on one subject or another. The way to not handle it is to knee-jerk and spew via good ole Keyboard Courage. We're all equal. No one is so high and mighty that they will eternally receive approval for all of their words or actions, and even the most hated person in the world still has friends.

Here are some more ideas on navigating this imminent minefield:

  1. Opinions and ideas are not "dangerous". They may offend your sensitibilities, but that offense is merely an opinion too. Only actions can determine whether a person is truly a danger, not sociopolitical rhetoric.
  2. A solid opinion or point of view can stand on its own even in the harsh light of a different one. If you are so sure of your moral high ground, there is no need to avoid people who think and speak differently than you. Find some other common ground. If you're both human beings, there has to be something in common somewhere.
  3. Pick your battles. Not every mention of a political opinion or religious preference is a declaration of war. Nor do they always warrant a counter-point. Don't create a conflict if you don't need to. There are plenty of other things to talk about, especially on the Manilow Network.
  4. Being respectful of someone else's opinion may be the first step in bringing them around to your way of thinking. Respectful means not name-calling or questioning someone's intelligence because of their political party or voting history. You don't have to drill someone a new asshole to defend your POV. Minds open when they feel they're not under attack.
  5. Act like an adult. Refusing to share space with someone or being afraid to accidentally touch them because of their political POV is akin to a 6-year-old who believes in cooties. If you're acting like a child your opinion can't be that intelligent. Grow up.
  6. If someone approaches you with a different POV with respect and intelligence, have the courage to hear them out. They may have a good point you hadn't considered. It will help you strengthen your own perspective and your own convictions in ways you never imagined.
  7. Be patient, even with yourself. No one is perfect and no one behaves perfectly all the time. If you act like a brat when expressing an opinion, admit it and keep it moving. If you try to excuse bad behaviour away, or sweep it under the rug, or try to spin it you'll alienate even your friends. Don't think that people forget that, either. They may not talk about the incident all the time, but they WILL remember it. Just admit that you had a lapse and didn't live up to the tolerance you normally proclaim. Then the mistake will truly disappear and you will earn respect 10 times over, even from those who disagree with your opinion.
Does that sound like a lot? It isn't. It's only the Golden Rule ("Do unto others...") that appears in some form in every last one of the world's major religions. Unfortunately, I recently began avoiding political discussions not because of another person's opinion, but because I'm afraid of what they will do to me because of mine. That's not a small concern when the emotional investment in someone is high.

You'll notice I didn't reveal my own political party or opinion. On this post, it's irrelevant. All parties and their members are guilty of being assholes at one time or another and that is the point.

The fan dynamics I talked about in "Every Rainbow" have begun on the Network with the revelation of the political video. You know, how once people realize what the "star's" perspective is on something (politics in this case) people who hold the same POV are openly chatting, and others are strangely quiet. I pray it doesn't get out of hand and kill off the new community.

Come on, people - remember "Be Nice"? Now is the time.

Why don't we live together
whether loves lives or dies
At least we know we tried

Thursday, August 14, 2008

It's A Miracle!

You wouldn't believe where I've been...

What a difference six months makes! Before writing this post I went back and looked at my entire blog from the beginning. I forgot how cathartic and uplifting writing is. Lots of changes, all for the better in such a short time. And to think that I was utterly terrified of putting my thoughts down for the world to see, even without my name.

I have the best husband in the world. Case in point. This October yours truly is celebrating the big 4-0. I don't kvetch about getting older or lie about my age. In fact, I usually round up; if I tell people I'm 39 I'm afraid that some yutz will dig out the old standard, "Yeah, how many times over?" Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk, how original, Curly. So I just tell people I'm 40 this year and I'm done with it.

It has been no secret around this house that I expected some really HUGE blowout for my birthday. Invite the entire damn town, everyone I know, even people I don't know, I don't care but it has to be HUGE!

Well, Pete's not quite the party planner and he knows me better than I know myself sometimes. He didn't bother with party planning. He just said, very quietly, back around June-ish:

"I think you should go to Las Vegas and see Barry for your birthday."

Yeah, right, like we'd have the money, time, etc. Then comparing a few days in Vegas to the cost of throwing North Atlanta's biggest party, it seemed like a great idea.

So guess where I'm going to be Oct 23 - 26?

I'm up in the wee hours making plans.
  • Plane fare, ATL - LAS, check
  • Hotel room, Las Vegas Hilton, check
  • Tickets for 3 shows (5th row, stage left, pretty good, upgrade when possible), check. Special thanks to my PiC for some ticket help and ideas for passing time between shows. ;-D
  • Beg the I Am Your Child/Manilow Canada club to let me tag along with their bash itinerary, check.
  • Obsess over my Quicken files to make sure we really really really can afford this.

Pretty normal, right? Here's the miracle part:

Take a look back to when I was still getting my past story told. Esp the "Welcome Home" post from February. I actually said some of this stuff!!

After those ten years my approach is going to be different. ....So fan gatherings and the like are out of the question. I'm not quite that naive these days. When Barry finally gets to Atlanta I'm going to enjoy watching the reactions of the fan club from afar.

Uh. Yeah. Says "YBA" from the Manilow Network who contributes to IAYC and is giddy about revealing my name to other fans for the first time.

...this is the first and probably the only time I'll see this man perform live.

I really believed that. I thought I would just live vicariously after March through chat board posts - you know, that thing I was afraid to be a part of?

Music does a lot for me and I'm a better, happier person with it than without it. I didn't realize how much rejuvinating my soul needed or how much joy and healing it would bring about. If it were anyone else I would cock an eyebrow at the idea of just some recordings and shows having that much power. But I'm a true believer now.

Barry: the ATL was a dress rehearsal - 10/25 is the big day so don't let me down! =D


Saturday, August 9, 2008

Half of Talking is Knowing When to Shut Up

What a couple of weeks it's been! Not even just in Manilow Land but real freakin' life!

It wasn't a full moon, so what was the fucking problem with people???

First was my neighborhood listserv (created and managed by yours truly). Everyone on this mail list is a legal, home-owning adult, no teens, no kids. Totally unmonitored, people can say whatever they need to say to the whole subdivision. Somebody forwards a political email; it's an election year, local and national, so big deal. Three of my "favorite adults" decided to pick at each other like the Katzenjammer Kids. These guys are educated, self-employed, successful and 20 years my senior and I had to tell them to calm themselves down and talk to each other like men or I would settle it for them.

Would it have been SO hard to just delete the message? Or talk to each other in person?

Second, a tempest in a toilet bowl about some pre-rush sorority meeting. (No, wise guy, that's NOT normal for sorority women!) "Hey, that's our job! You should have talked to HER (or ME) about it first." "Hey, I don't appreciate this email, that's rude!"

The phone calls should have come BEFORE that exchange, ladies. We've all been on this earth long enough to know better.

Third was my hobby/job. There's always THAT ONE GUY who thinks someone died and put him in charge, and he's all up everyone's ass sideways and to the left about how to do their job but he really hasn't got a clue what he's talking about. We're all going to pitch in and buy him an IQ point for Christmas.

I was in a really bitchy mood that night. Joe Bob didn't know how close he came to the morning crew finding him stuffed in a urinal. But I am going to take some pride in the fact that I let it slide, counted to 100, cooled off, vented at home and had a private word with the foreman about how pressure to meet goals was trickling down from higher-up management. Joe Bob was a lot easier to deal with at last night's shift, and we all got our jobs done the way they were supposed to be. Mostly, we were all a lot happier.

Not to toot my own horn too much, but which of those three scenarios had the best result? The ones where people kept running their mouths, or the one where people held their tongues a moment and dealt with an issue quietly?

One of my favorite writers is St. Francis of Assisi, a 12th century monk who founded the Order of the Friars Minor aka, the Franciscans. What most people don't know is that before he became a monk, he was a poet in the style of the French, like Chretien de Troyes and other lyric poets of the time. He was an elaborate poet who for a time lived a rich and elaborate life. After a long conversion process, during which he became a monk and founded his Order, his life became much simpler and his poetry turned to song lyrics about the wonders of nature as God's creation. (Aside: I giggle when I hear the environmentalist du jour and assorted hippies talk about ecological preservation as a religious duty like it's a new idea. "You're about 800 years late, buddy, but thanks for the thought.")

Now here's the irony about St. Francis: he was a major poet and lyricist of the Church in his time but one of his most profound quotes says this:
Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use

In case the point isn't obvious enough, actions speak louder than words. Further, words are only effective when the person saying them actually lives them out.

But in this age, when more communication is by Web, almost all you have are words. Words and actions are essentially the same thing. So how you use words is more of a reflection of who and what you are and will have a greater impact on whoever reads them.

I love words.

One of these days I'm going to put together a post about my favorite books and song lyrics based on the idea that the best are the ones that communicate the most profound thoughts in the fewest and simplest words without anything lost in the translation or requiring explanation. I haven't come close to this ideal, don't know if I ever will. But I try.

The Web has created an open market for more words and more talking, but is there really more communicating? Instead of the utopian ideal of cultures understanding each other, visualized in the 80s, you now have cyber-bullying, keyboard courage and spam. Instead of allowing ideas to inspire others in a potentially infinite chain-reaction, there's always someone who spews their bad day, or misunderstanding, or other ills on unsuspecting victims and the inspiration gets choked off.

So I propose a radical idea in this world of only words: once in a while - don't use them.

Sooner or later, even in Manilow Land where we all have the same object of affection, somebody is going to say something you don't like. One of the most powerful aspects of Barry's music is the way it inspires other people to discover or develop other avenues of expression. But just because we all love Barry doesn't mean we're going to love everything that comes out of everyone's head. They'll give an opinion you don't agree with. They'll create something, inspired by Barry or his lyrics or whatever that doesn't turn your crank. (You may be thinking that of this blog right now - that's OK too!) Instead of dumping angst on them like cold water on a camp fire, how about just letting it go? The world will not stop turning if you refrain from negative karma, even just once, I promise.

Most of all, please (re)read A Segue. When someone dumps on another person's creation or whatever results from the inspiration they find, it's not just words you're dealing with: it's hearts and souls. The damage caused can be irreversible. No one can handle that kind of karma.

So in that spirit, I'm going to give my own words a rest for now and let someone else's inspiration come through, whether it's my "thing" or not.