Saturday, June 27, 2009

OT: Don't Die of Embarassment

Bad things happen in threes. Even in Hollywood.

Ed McMahon's passing wasn't a big shock to the general public. He was seriously getting on in years, and was in declining health for some time.

People saw Farrah Fawcett's passing coming from a ways' back too. More in a bit.

Michael Jackson's sudden demise shocked the world and eclipsed the previous two. Honestly, heart disease in a 50-year-old is really not a novelty. We'll find out if that was the case in about 6 weeks when the toxicology is run. 4 weeks will be one helluva hat trick, even if all of LA County's coroner staff are assigned to it. Those tests don't run themselves and they all take more time than what's shown on CSI.

Yesterday a local news station sponsored a fan party at The Underground, even got Harry the Hawk to show up and perform. It was a nice break from the speculation that EVERY news agency has been engaging in, in a effort to create news that isn't there yet. (It applies to all broadcast and cable news - even the AP Wire has sunk to the depths of TMZ's bottom-feeders. Sick.) I say, let the fans create their memorials, celebrate the man's life; let Jackson's family mourn (which is going to be drawn out with at least 2 autopsies and biochemical analyses), see to his final affairs, and put his body in the ground. Scraping the bottom of the barrel for interviews with people who have no clue what is going on in the investigagtion just to get something out there is crass.
What I really sat down to write about was Farrah Fawcett. She opened up her life in her last weeks to show what her battle with anal cancer was like. Most patients find a way to communicate their feelings when approaching cancer; she had the means and the audience to reach out to a very broad group and perhaps raise some awareness in the public along the way.

A little over 10 years ago, Barbara Barrie conquered rectal cancer. (Which is in the same group as anal, colon, etc.) She became the spokeswoman for a colorectal cancer awareness movement titled after her book, Don't Die of Embarrassment.

Colorectal cancers can be highly curable if they're caught early. The problem is: who wants to be screened for this??? For most people, colorectal cancer screening is more awkward, invasive, and well - embarrassing than a woman's GYN exam or even a man's regular "turn your head and cough" prostate checkup. The doctors and other medical professionals aren't embarrassed, it's just a regular day of work - if you've seen one, you've seen them all. But change the roles around and even a colorectal specialist will blush when it's their turn for that checkup.

If the screening seems hard to some, how about talking about it? Certain bodily functions are either taboo for open discussion or are reduced to juvenille wisecracks.

Here's the bottom line and the point of Barrie's book: if you ignore colorectal screening, you risk dying. Of what? Cancer, for sure - but mainly of being embarrassed by the procedures. Overcoming that sense can make the difference between life and death; it did for her.

Comprehensive overview of colorectal symptoms, diagnosis, and screening

*Disclaimer: the above is information for those who happen across this blog and may find it useful. I have no idea what Ms Fawcett's medical history and care were like and it is not a judgment of her choices in said care.
There's a lot to catch up on! Yes, I saw about Barry's new letter and Vault song. I'll get to them as soon as I can. It seems the next "littlest Fanilow" may be coming a couple of weeks earlier than expected. (ow!)

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Condolences, Spokane

My heart goes out to all the sad clowns in the Pacific Northwest this week.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Better Late Than Never?

I get excited about posting birthday stuff. This year, I had an unexpected trip to the hospital. Things worked out OK, but I was preparing myself for a June 17 birth and a post asking for advice on dealing with a Gemini in the house. ;-) It almost happened, but it didn't; we're still on track for July 14.

My first birthday post for Barry was last year. With the obvious exception of a couple of details (I've been to Vegas since it was posted, etc) the sentiment is the same and I can't think of anything else to add.

Happy Birthday Barry

Friday, June 12, 2009

Great Fan Story

Enjoy your Friday with this gem from a lady who got to meet Barry's Mom at her show back in the day.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Many moons ago, when I was young and naive, I got the idea to get involved with the type of activities typical of a fan club for another artist.

I had a friend who was a former employee of this artist and he drilled me a little bit.

"Why do you want to do this?" he asks sternly.

"Because it looks like fun!" was my totally open and honest reply, heart firmly stitched to my sleeve.

"Good. That's the only answer I would accept from you," he says, in his stern yet paternal tone. "Because believe me when I tell you this, you are going to get hurt."

I heeded his advice, or so I thought. With my friend's guidance I would stay out of trouble. Others may have slipped up, did or said something wrong, and faced the music for it. (Pun intended.) But I was too well prepared. I was above such conflict. That could never happen to me.

Didn't last long. Take a look at the first month I posted in this blog to find out how wrong I was. So wrong - and so hurt, per my friend's prediction - I actually gave up music altogether.

That was almost 15 years ago. (15 years.....yeesh!) And yet the memory is so fresh and the lessons learned so powerful that when I fell in love with music again (via Barry) I took even more precautions. Enjoy the music, enjoy the shows, don't get involved with the fan club. (Although the shows at the last convention were almost enough to convince me to finagle another trip.) NEVER try to buddy up to TPTB. Don't get involved in the business end. Just enjoy the illusion for what it is and be satisfied with that.

Most of all, don't assume you have a personal relationship when it's only business. The younger you are when you get involved, the harder that is.

It's working. Usually. At least it has been for me. I haven't lost God-only-knows how many hundreds or thousands of dollars in airfare, hotel, other planning costs for shows being cancelled over and over. I sympathize, I really do. But it's a fight I don't want to get involved in. It took about 20 minutes for me to figure out not to criticize TPTB and how they make decisions or run their operations. Every once in a while, if you're in the right place at the right time, you hear a cautious whisper about how a fan of many years got slammed with the verbal equivalent of a Howitzer for what they thought was an innocent remark - just an opinion. But it was taken as a declaration of war. That's way too familiar for me. Been there once. Not going back if I have anything to say about it.

[Edited 8/4/2009 because I WAS COMPLETELY WRONG. It was the Hilton's call after all.]

Worst of all, the fans turn on each other at every one of these announcements. Don't believe me? Go read the blog and discussion posts at My Manilow Network and see for yourself.

No matter how much you try to focus on just the music, or detach yourself from the goings on that you KNOW are there, too many last-minute announcements wear down the morale of the most long-time and ardent fan. Then, no matter how great the music or performances, it doesn't have the impact anymore. The listener's heart is just too closed off to appreciate it. That's what you do to protect yourself.

So here's my solution: take a break.

Everybody - and I mean EVERYBODY - take advantage of Barry's time off from the Hilton (newly extended) and just do something else for a while. If fans are picking at each other like chickens in an overcrowded coop (like now) that's your cue. Before the picking turns into more vicious attacks, and more people are "invited to leave" the Ning network, just breathe. Just let it get out of your head, before it overshadows the music. It may not restore your bank account or rearrange your travel plans, but it will prevent that injury from getting worse.

These next few weeks, before my passenger disembarks, I'm sleeping alot. I'm getting my work squared away. Planning time with friends. Pacing myself and alotting my energy so I can take The Littlest Fanilow to the pool every day. But that's just me. There's other options. If you're really disturbed by the latest happenings in Barry World vent them in a safe place. Talk with a trusted friend who has an objective POV on the subject. There's no shame in talking to a professional counselor either.

Then, maybe, in the fall, everyone will be able to return to the music with a clear head. With their troubles resolved. And, hopefully, with a fresh love of the music.