Friday, July 31, 2009


No class.

Too many times, when you see people on TV, or even on the street, fewer and fewer people have any class. It's not just the economy, although that is playing a pretty large part.

I was trying to get cerebral with this post but it just isn't happening. It's not that kind of week.
Prepare for lots of random thoughts.

How in the fuck do even Vegas audiences sink so low? (You know what I'm talking about, no need to ask....) Even as a child I knew better than to treat a live performer as an object and not a human.

I think the answer is obvious: money doesn't buy class. Vegas is financially tanking worse than any other city in the nation, so everyone working there suffers. (Read: Barry, it wasn't your fault.) And the people who can afford a trip to Vegas are the types who were raised by wolves and think that people are objects or worse, property. It's not just at the Hilton, either - every act is getting hit, up and down the strip.

Speaking for myself, it killed me that I couldn't hear "Sandra" or any of the Mayflower set live. If I didn't think my doctor would have put me in lockdown, I would have been out there to see it myself. (To TPTB: any chance that set list will end up on Manilow TV? Please???) I'm just not happy unless I can totally immerse in a performance, pick it apart, compare and contrast, and analyze the hell out of it. That's why it's taking me forever to compile all of my thoughts on Live at the Greek - I keep finding something else to focus on and the pile is growing. Hell, I'm still dissecting parts of the Ultimate Manilow shows I saw back in October and re-analyzing them with Pete while watching M&P on DVD. What I wouldn't give for the next musical evolutionary step to sink my teeth into....

My worst fear in this vein is that we won't see/hear any more new material from Barry because of the barbarians. I know, call me paranoid, but I am really paranoid and wound tight these days. I still want to hear the music you can practically **see** he still has in him to create and I don't want us civilized folks not be able to appreciate it or the man who created it because some folks just weren't raised right.

I seem to remember that all of the "classic" songs were brand new at one time. They became classics because they were played and promoted. There's not a damn reason why that can't happen again. Any new material, when promoted the right way can be just as successful as the "classics" - it's only a matter of finding the right promoters, venues, etc and be backed by people who believe in it as much as the creator does. There was a time when people accepted that lightning doesn't strike twice in the same place. Today, that's bullshit. Lightning strikes wherever your little heart desires, so long as you manipulate the conditions correctly.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Can't Smile....

Our household is having a rough day today. It's not going to be the last one, either, there's more on the horizon. You know how it is, when it rains, it pours. Bad stuff happens in groups, not just threes. That was today. I was a chicken without a head and I have to pull it together and keep life on a leash for the changes coming up.

Just when I was at the point where it crossed my mind to ask if it could get worse today, but knew better to focus on that because the minute you think of it, it DOES get worse, TLF asks for a video. She doesn't go to Nickelodeon or PBS, she brings me the DVD of Manilow Live. Sure, why not. Some good music always makes life go down easier.

As I'm feeding her little sister, the video gets to "Can't Smile Without You". How do I know TLF loves this song?

She pretends to hold up her own little sign.

It's tiny things like that that put the universe in perspective, even when things are going wrong.

Back to the grind, with a much lighter mood....

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Let Freedom Ring

Ahhhhh, the joys of DVR. I can flip through the grid at my leisure. On July 4, we were camped out at the local parade, then watching fireworks in the evening. So it took a while to get back to "A Capitol Fourth" for the official YBA take on it. ;-)

Barry's opening was simple - the kind of simple that comes from arranging songs and medleys for decades. He transplanted the opening medley from the old Music and Passion show (plus Copa, minus most of the catwalk antics) into the opener for the DC July 4th show. Barry's really familiar with this, so it's routine for him to get pumped up, and get the audience going in turn. It worked just as well on the Mall as it did in Vegas. Even Kye and the girls had it relatively easy - just throw their current costumes in a suitcase with a toothbrush and they were good to go. The audience was the most fun to watch. No one (except for the stiffs on the blanket right down front) worried about whether they looked "cool" and didn't care if anyone saw them rocking out to "It's a Miracle" on national TV.

Think about this: whether anyone realized it or not, each one of the songs was something everyone knew the words to, or at least some of them. They were all fun. They were all something you'd let the kids listen to and have fun with. Even something as openly erotic as "Somewhere in the Night" is considered a family-friendly part of the routine. These hits have become as much a part of Americana as July 4th itself. Off the top of my head, I can think of a dozen musicians that would give their right testicle for ONE song to reach that kind of status, let alone enough to fill a 90-minute set.

Back to the audience. Is there a Federal ordinance somewhere that requires the first couple of rows at any major concert to be a bunch of stiffs that may not be serious fans and are not reflecting the energy back to the stage? I saw a few of those in the front row in Atlanta last year, and the blanket in the wide aisleway of the Capitol Fourth concert was full of them. I can understand some older folks being a bit more understated but as I've heard Barry's concerts described in the past, "It's not a fucking funeral!" Just get up and move some, I promise it won't kill ya!

I love it when Barry either gets off the stage, or brings someone up to dance. It's a thrill for them and the rest of the audience lives vicariously through it. At least a couple of women weren't shy (or weren't afraid of getting their toes stepped on, whichever) about getting up to dance. Then he turns his attention to the Blanket Stiffs and they stare at him like a giraffe at the National Zoo. If Barry ever asked me to dance, he wouldn't have to repeat himself. Best of all was when he went the extra mile to dance with the little girl (about 10-ish?) who was watching with her folks. Kids are more unpredictable than the obsessed and menopausal set so I'll give him extra points for that move. It's too bad he's had to drop that part of the act from Vegas.

Food for thought: The symphony and chorus were backing up Barry's performance. Did he get to boss around Erich Kunzel in front of his own orchestra? If so, how much did he enjoy it?

The feel of "Let Freedom Ring" in the closer was warm and heartfelt and Barry seemed to be truly moved by the opportunity to perform this song here. There was more for the audience too - the piano was moved back behind the VIPs to the Peanut Gallery (where the real fans were roped off from the expensive seats) and they got to see him up close. This sequence reminded me of the older shows: where Barry could stroll through the audience without being grabbed, mauled, tripped, or whatever by people who can't behave. Everyone just enjoyed the interaction and let it go at that.

Even though Barry's appearances were short (and followed by the Muppets......) this is the kind of show I never get tired of and could see over and over. Nice, relaxed, exciting at the right times, and we could appreciate a human being on the stage, rather than an object or icon. It's a beautiful thing. 8^D

Monday, July 20, 2009

Here We Go Again

It feels so good to get back to the computer. To have energy for anything, for that matter. The last few weeks my head was in a major fog. Not only could I not drag myself to the desk to write, I just didn't want to. Anything I would write about would turn YBA into a pregnancy/childbirth blog. No one likes to read that shit. I like writing it even less.

Finally, got to kick back with a cup of coffee in a quiet moment and enjoy Barry's recent vault letter and new vault song. "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwww!" Almost reminds me of watching my own kid in the end-of-year preschool show. From watching my own in school, I think I have a clue as to how Grampa Joe felt.

The letter was what the doctor ordered: new stuff to speculate on. Let's hear it for not just a new record with a new style of music, but a concept record besides! I know it will take a while but I'm going to start counting weeks until it's released. I know a letter like that may not seem like much, but a little info, delivered as such is a gesture that goes a very long way.

The past few months were crazy for me. Worst of all, my folks and other family members are really clueless. I had to focus on me and TNLF. But for some reason, no matter what I did, someone always came along at exactly the wrong time and asked for a favor. Please send this item to me in the mail, they'd say. Or give someone else a call for them. Or something small and stupid. If it's such a minor request, handle it yourself! Why are you bugging me? Can't you see I have enough to prepare for as it is???

The thing was, that was just a "heat of the moment" response. I finally stopped knee-jerk reacting to the simple requests. I took a deep breath - at least one, usually more. With that I could look at the request objectively and realize it wasn't so bad. Not only that, taking five minutes worth of effort out of my day wasn't going to kill me and it would make the person requesting it a lot happier. And with fewer people crawling up my butt for simple requests, I had less pressure and stress. Sometimes it's worth it to just take a few minutes and answer the questions.


Friday, July 10, 2009

The NEW Littlest Fanilow!

She came early!

"MM" was born at 6:58 pm, July 9, 2009. 20.5 inches long, 7 lbs 10 ozs. Mom & baby are both resting after a long day of work. So far she has daddy's blue eyes and is a cuddler like her big sister.

This is what has kept me from posting recently. Hopefully I'll get to write my recent thoughts when they spring me on Saturday.