Monday, March 26, 2018

Feelin' Good

Sometimes you just have a good audition.  I mean, you feel good about it.  It's not a matter of "Yeah, I nailed it!" but a matter of feeling incredibly satisfied with whatever you did in that room for those five or ten or fifteen or twenty minutes.

I had one of those yesterday.

And the experience reminded me of a callback for a Shakespeare show I had a few years back.  Despite having a Master's degree in English, Shakespeare is not my forte; in fact, I've only done four Shakespeare shows in my 30-plus years of acting -- and that's including a high school production of Macbeth.

During that callback (for a queen!), the director asked me to use my lower register and diaphragm and really let my voice resonate in the space during the queenly monologue.

And I did.

And it. Felt. Fantastic.

Very powerful -- hearing those words ringing in my ears and bouncing off of the rafters in the room.

I didn't get cast in that show; I'm not sure I could have even done the show if I wanted to due to scheduling conflicts.  But that callback is one of the first in recent memory that I felt good about what I did, and I knew I'd continue to feel good about it, no matter the casting outcome.

I didn't necessarily think, "Oh, I'm totally getting that part!" or "I nailed it!"  But I felt immensely satisfied with what had transpired in those few minutes.

And that happened again yesterday.  It was ugly and real and raw, and I feel good about it.

That is all.  Carry on.

Obligatory cat meme

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Difference a Preposition Makes

In case you hadn't noticed, I've been on a bit of a k.d. lang kick lately.
"Kick," "small obsession," tomato, to-mah-to.

I've even taken to listening to some songs while I fall asleep.  There's nothing quite like hearing her say, "Sleep, silent angel / Go to sleep" in my ear as I do just that.

Those lyrics are from "The Air That I Breathe," and when singing along (in the car, not in bed) as I am wont to do, I realized I was singing a line wrong.  I was singing, "Making love to you / Has left me peaceful, warm, and tired."  But that's incorrect.

The actual lyric is: "Making love with you / Has left me peaceful, warm, and tired."

Just one small preposition mix-up, but it makes a world of difference in the song and when using the phrase in life.  And I was briefly stunned when I realized the difference.  To make love "to" someone makes the other person a rather passive participant in the love-making.  But making love with someone -- that's entirely different.  That's two people engaged in a (fun, wonderful) activity together.

So thank you, k.d. lang, for writing the difference.

Breaking News Update:  While finishing this post, I discovered that lang did not write this song/these lyrics.  The Hollies did in 1972.  All of the songs from her Drag CD are covers, actually.  So I guess I should be thanking The Hollies...but I think I'll stick with k.d. because see above:  "obsession."

Monday, March 19, 2018

Concert List

I mentioned earlier that I can count on one hand the concerts I've been to.  Here's the list, FYI:

  • Bangles & Mr. Mister (Nebraska State Fair, 1986)
  • GWAR (Mississippi Nights, 1996)
  • Sheryl Crow (Fabulous Fox, 1997)
  • Fast Ball, Goo Goo Dolls, Sugar Ray (Riverport Amphitheatre, 1999)
  • Train, Matchbox 20 (Riverport Amphitheatre, 2001 -- their first concert, post 9/11).
  • Diana Krall & Chris Botti (Fabulous Fox, 2007)
  • k.d. lang (Peabody, 2018)
I've made it on to two hands now -- woohoo!

Why has Leonard gone to so few concerts?  See any of the many posts regarding anxiety, panic attacks, depression, mental health, mental illness, and/or not liking people or crowds or crowds of people.  Leonard was fairly wee at that very first concert (8 years old) and nearly got trampled, so maybe that influenced everything else down the road?

As it stands, it would have to be someone I really like to get me to a giant stadium concert.  I adore P!nk, and she was just in town, but I did not go.  It never strikes me as something that I "can" do; like, I never even entertain the possibility.

3 different times in my life I've been offered Melissa Etheridge tickets (and I would have made an exception for her!), and all three times, I had rehearsal.

Saturday, March 17, 2018


Trying to write this while the memory is still fresh.  Should preface with the fact that I can probably count on one hand the number of concerts I've been to, so I don't have a lot of experience with them.

Opening Act:  The Gregoryan Brothers from Australia.  Two adorably nerdy Australian brothers playing classical guitar, which I enjoyed immensely.  Some of it I found very soothing (which is a good thing), other pieces involved drumming on the guitar which was very cool, and one piece I said to my friend, "This suddenly has a Ren Faire vibe."  After that piece, they mentioned it was a fantasy on a theme by an Elizabethan composer.
Me & Friend: "Aha!"
Me:  "Ren Faire!"
 I bought their CD in between acts, and they were in the lobby signing them, so I got that, too.  Sidenote:  this venue only had one dude working the merchandise table, all by himself!  Don't know if that was venue or Ms. lang's tour's doing, but either way, a poor decision.

The Main Gig:  Aaaahhhhhh!  Not sure I can do much more than squeal with joy.  In getting these tickets, I realized that k.d. lang was one of my first gay crushes, long before I think I even realized my own queerness.  I just remember being attracted to and fascinated by her and her androgyny.  In listening to her perform live, I wish I had been more familiar with the Ingenue album when I was coming out as there were a couple of songs that nearly had me in tears.

The Set:  Maybe this is typical for concerts, especially those in smaller, more intimate venues (not giant stadiums), but I freakin' loved this set!  My friend snapped a pic of it below.  The blue velvet curtains (which later changed color, so maybe they weren't actually blue, but lit to be blue at first), the candle-looking lights which of course changed.  Not only did I love it, but I was impressed and fascinated by the changes.  Lighting design is something I've never worked on, so my mind was whirling with questions like "Who decides when and what?  Does k.d. lang have input?  Does she make someone stand in her place on stage so she can view it from the house?"

She is performing barefoot!  *swoon*

Good lighting (and sound design) should always enhance a show, but not necessarily be noticeable.  The way this lighting design worked was subtle, but I see you, design director!  Well done, sir/madam!  We were eased into it with more basic light changes (usually those ones that look like candles inside drums), mostly to the beat of the music.  The changes and and colors and goboes increased as the show went on, then faded back out to more basic designs towards the end of the show.  lang's show isn't necessarily about set & lighting, but as a theatre nerd, I watch these things.

Back to the Main Gig:  Hot damn, girl has some amazing breath control!  She can still belt out and also croon out those long, sustained notes -- be still, my heart!  And she's funny!  Not that I doubted it, but I love a good personality, and she clearly isn't taking anything too seriously.  To quote my friend, "There's definitely a bit of 'cheesy lounge singer' in her show."
Me:  "Yes, and I LOVE IT!"

And I do.

Her band is awesome as well, and she gives them their due with solos and introductions; they've clearly worked out a comfortable arrangement, working together as one organism.

I don't really know what else to say as I don't usually go to concerts, let alone review them, except that I had a blast!  And hearing her sing "Hallelujah" (one of my all-time favorite songs) was, well, like a religious experience.  And now I need to buy ALL THE SONGS (and perhaps work some into my cabaret project).  Maybe this is a turning point for me; I may go to more concerts (in smaller venues) in the future...

Lookit that grin!  She's gonna charm the pants off ya.
k.d.lang's website

Friday, February 2, 2018

Beauty & the Beast: A Review

Well, maybe not so much a review as a collection of bullet points of things I said aloud whilst watching this movie the other night.

  • Oh hey, a multiracial cast!  Nice.
    • (Although only 2 of the main named characters were POC)
  • Ooh, I like the dancing.
    • In fact, I appreciated the attempt to give a wee bit more (pseudo)historical background in the film, except
    • The fabulous opening sequence sets us up for an over-the-top experience, nearly cartoonish without being a cartoon -- and that's not a bad thing.  The attempt to give some historical context is at odds with that; you can do one or the other filmmakers, but you can't really do both (at least not well).
  • Nice addition to the Prologue about everyone in town "forgetting" about castle and its servants; it fixes one of the major plot holes of the animated film, namely:  how the fuck do you not notice a giant creepy castle right next door?!?
  • Holy fucking Autotuning, Batman!
    • I nearly turned the movie off, but a friend said the Autotuning wasn't as bad as the film progressed.  BUT GOOD GODDAMN.
  • Oh, Bard.  I'm disappointed in you.
  • So now the bookseller is...a priest?  That's an odd choice.
    • Upon further reflection, if she's the only one in town who likes to read, then a bookseller wouldn't be able to make a living; having a person who just happens to have a wee library from which she can borrow makes a bit of sense.  But it felt weird to have a sudden injection of religion, never to be addressed.
    • And the priest gave her Romeo & Juliet to read??  Odd choice.
  • Oh Josh Gad.  You make me laugh.
  • Kevin Kline is a national treasure.
  • *Belle picks up a stick as a weapon*  Oh, girl, that's not a wand.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about Ewan McGregor with a French dialect.
  • Oh dear God!  What kind of dialect is that for Mrs. Potts??  It's sounds awful and fake!  Who the fuck did they cast?  *looks it up*  Ohhh, Emma Thompson.  What have you done?  I'm not angry, just very disappointed.
  • Wait, so the feather duster is a peacock?  Err, a peacock-shaped feather duster??  Je suis confus.
  • So if we're gonna add new songs, why not include "Home" from the Broadway version?  It's very pretty.
    • Reflection:  well, if Hermione can't handle the easy notes of the opening number, there's no way she could handle "Home."
  • They're all peacock feather dusters/showgirls?  What happened to the dancing napkins?
    • *angry sniff as I played a dancing napkin in the stage version*
  • They cut our favorite line!!!  *throws movie across the room*
    • "You've got a library?"
    • "With books!"
  • So the prince/Beast was a spoiled brat because his father abused him?
    • I found this extra background on the Beast largely unnecessary.  Why can't he just have been a spoiled douche like the 1991 film said?  Why do we have to blame parents we never meet?  It just opens up more questions and doesn't really resolve anything.
    • It does attempt to explain why the servants were cursed along with him (because they "did nothing"), but clumsily and unsatisfactorily.
  • I don't understand the reason behind changing/adding lyrics to the existing songs, especially in "Gaston."
  • Speaking of unnecessary changes/additions:  Bard and Olaf take Kevin Kline out into the woods and tie him to a tree?  And then a "hag" (but not really) saves him and he confronts them about leaving him to die and THEN they try to sentence him to an insane asylum??  Super unnecessary and it robbed Olaf of another bit of song.
    • Truly, he was underutilized in this movie.
  • I'm not sure how I feel about the Beast just happening to show Belle the library as opposed to presenting it as a gift he (well, the servants, really) know(s) she'll like.
    • I guess that's what happens when you CUT MY FAVORITE LINE!
  • The "trip to Paris"/childhood home scene also felt unnecessary.
  • YAS QUEEN!  You wear that Marie Antoinette drag!
  • A friend of mine said they enjoyed Bard's performance as Gaston, that when he needed to be dark, he got dark.
    • Disagree.  I mean, he did fine, but the animated Gaston, when he starts mocking the Beast and looks rather crazed, is far scarier, in my opinion.  Bard's Gaston is a little one-note.
  • Belle and the Beast's reuniting felt...anticlimactic?  Maybe Hermione and Cousin Matthew just didn't have any real acting chemistry together?
  • One change from the animated film that I did appreciate:  when all of the castle's staff slowly began changing to objects permanently.  That was heart-breaking and very well done.
  • Olaf and the drag guy from before (I think?) dancing together at the end.  Brief, but I appreciate it.
All in all, I like the original animated version much better.  This had some nice touches, but I feel like this movie wasn't sure what it wanted to be; it ended up trying to be two or three different things, but doing none of them well.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

School for Sidekicks: A Review

School for SidekicksSchool for Sidekicks by Kelly McCullough
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book is fun and a fairly easy read. It definitely could be classified as "Young Adult" lit. I liked it just fine, although there's nothing particularly outstanding to write home about. #SPOILER -- STOP READING HERE

McCullough does [eave plenty of room for a sequel or three as there is no real resolution, not to the major issue at hand. That said, there's barely a resolution to many of the smaller issues. That's not necessarily a bad thing; not everything has to be wrapped up neatly in a bow.

If you have a day to spare and like superheroes, give it a try.
A quote I highlighted (and good to know):  "for the record, fresh scabweb tastes like condensed essence of armpit."

View all my reviews

Friday, January 26, 2018

On the Fence about Train

In the epic debate of Train versus Maroon 5, I am firmly on the side of Train.  I have already documented Maroon 5's history of disturbing, misogynistic lyrics.  And I've liked Train since their early "Meet Virginia" days.  It's a fun, quirky song.  And then they had "Drops of Jupiter" -- still quirky, but possibly with more meaning to it.  And we can't forget "Soul Sister."  It literally has a refrain of Leonard's uncle's band -- what's not to like?  And "Save Me, San Francisco"?  Fantastic.  Hell, Train has even put out wines with names that complement their songs, and even my mother-in-law enjoys them.

But sometimes,....sometimes Pat Monaghan and the gang really test my loyalty.  I have to wonder if the Train boys sometimes think, "Hey, I wonder what would happen if we took X and added Z, but then did Y?"  Like, they purposely set out to riff off of another song, but not quite.  Music isn't algebra, friends.  And just because you can do something doesn't mean you should.  Case in point:  Train's "50 Ways to Say Goodbye."

The title clearly indicates that this is their "version" of Paul Simon's "50 Ways to Leave Your Lover" (or "love your lever," as the Muppets prefer it); however, while Simon's song is about leaving/breaking up, Train's song takes a darker turn (despite an attempt at levity) by documenting all the different way to say said ex-lover died:
She went down in an airplane
Fried getting suntan
Fell in a cement mixer full of quicksand
Help me, help me, I'm no good at goodbyes!
She met a shark under water
Fell and no one caught her
So, not exactly a family-friendly interpretation of Paul Simon's classic, I guess.  But it gets worse because now we have to talk about the actual music.

Using our algebra problem from before, it goes something like this:  "Let's take 'Phantom of the Opera,' add a mariachi band, and then 'pay homage' to Paul Simon's song!"  If you don't believe me, here is the actual sheet music for comparison:

Up first, Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Phantom of the Opera" from my "Easy Piano" book from high school (stop judging me!):

I know it's a little hard to read, but I did highlight the notes for you.  In the key of D minor (one flat), we have:

  • A
  • D
  • A
  • C
  • B flat
  • B flat
And now the Train music (most of which is previews because I wasn't willing to buy an entire song just for the exercise of this blog post):
We definitely nailed the mariachi part as it's even noted here (marked inred). Again, I highlighted the notes for you, in the key of Eb Minor:
  • B
  • E
  • B
  • B
  • C
  • C
  • A
  • D
  • A
  • A
  • B
  • B
The music theory scholars among you (which I am absolutely note) will probably already notice the similarities.  But we can transpose the music (thanks again,!) and get, well, the exact same listing at the ALW song:

And it really gets going when ALW gets to the lyrics "And do I dream again? For now I find" and Pat sings "You said it's meant to be / That it's not you, it's me / You're leaving now for my own good."  

Okay, fine, it's not the exact same notes as there are some minor differences1 (pun intended), but if you don't listen to the Train song and not want to singing "The Phaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaantom OfTheOperaIsHeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere," I don't know what to do with you.

But that's not all.  Then Train came out with another pop-y song that had a distinct 1960s bubble-gum sound to it.  And I couldn't quite place it...

Oh fuck me, it's "Heart & Soul"!!!  We all learned to play it fairly soon in our (however short-lived) piano-playing careers, especially after this scene came out in 1988:

C'mon, Train!  That just seems like you were out of fucks to give and again decided to play musical algebra.  And I might be willing to forgive if the lyrics were interesting or clever.  But:
Play that song
The one that makes me go all night long
The one that makes me think of you
That's all you gotta do
Hey, mister DJ when you gonna spin it
My baby's favorite record she been waiting for a minute
She invited all her friends and I'm buying all the rounds
And they're all dolled up
DJ please don't let me down
When you gonna play that song, now
When you gonna earn that pay
When you gonna play that song and make my day
I'm gonna go ahead and ignore the sexual connotations of "makes me go all night long" for now and move on to the horrible position he's putting the DJ in.  It's cool to request songs, but when you start badgering the DJ to play the song(s) you want, they will put you at the bottom of the list real quick (if not ignore you altogether).

It's not his/her fault you apparently are trying to impress your girlfriend and her friends with...what?  Your relationship with the DJ?  If you really want to impress her, you could try playing (actual) music yourself, rather than relying on a DJ to do your dirty work.  Y'know, especially since "they're all dolled up" (read:  "What the fuck does their appearance have to do with anything in the context of this song?!?")

And since you took "Heart & Soul" to write this song, does this mean your "baby's favorite record" is..."Heart & Soul"?  If so, you may want to reevaluate some things, including this particular romantic relationship.

And it's shit like this, Train, that makes me look foolish for continuing to pick you over Maroon 5.  Next up:  Why Matchbox 20 is better than both of you2.

I could go further into the music analysis, but frankly, even I'm bored already.
2 Not really.  I mean I love their music, too, but I don't have a compelling argument to make.  I just wanted an excuse to include the Saturday Night Live sketch "Maroon 5 versus Train," but I can't find it online :-(