Saturday, May 21, 2011

Some videos from the road trip

I may add to this when I upload from my Vado camera later.

And unrelated, here are my dogs (2 of the 3), totally over the Glee marathon.

The road trip, or "if you're going to San Francisco"

I don't think we could have asked for better weather. Seriously, check out the sky:
Beck's has free parking AND is close to MUNI
Yes, some clouds, and pretty chilly during my t-shirt and shorts clad walk back from SOMA (where my phone screen got repaired), but still, fantastic weather.
Twin peaks, above Beck's
More San Francisco
While having breakfast, we saw a Google Street View car.
Taking a picture of the car taking pictures
Oh, and fantastic breakfast. Mascarpone on French Toast: it doesn't suck.
Too many ethical sweetener choices before coffee
The purpose for the trip, and some shots from the interior of the theatre.

Oh, and 2 last random shots. We stopped in San Rafael trying to get my phone's screen replaced. No luck there, but we had lunch. Clark's Mongolian Beef was some of the best Chinese food he'd ever had [photo not found], while my Apple Chicken was just weird.
And I liked seeing these 2 products next to each other on the Walgreen's clearance end cap.

The salty pimp sounds tasty, but I'd take Bea Arthur any day

(h/t Erin)

The Bea Arthur: Vanilla Ice Cream, Dulce de Leche, Crushed Nilla Wafers
The Big Gay Ice Cream truck delivers gourmet ice cream treats around New York City. Any resemblance to this and a possible future endeavor of mine is totally coincidental. Cause not 2 hours ago I was thinking "hey, a large, homosexual, frozen treat-oriented food cart would really work here in Portland and would not at all be derivative of any other idea from anywhere"... I totally was.

So patent pending.

Notes on Tales of the City, the Musical (part 2)

I want to write about some of the performers from last Wednesday's preview performance of Tales of the City, the Musical (which may not be its official name; it's possibly Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City, A New Musical... either way, I'll probably call it TotC moving forward).

First, spoiler alert!!! If you don't know that ____ is _____, or that _____ and _____ are actually _______, stop reading. Of course, by proclaiming spoiler alert, now I've tipped the show's hand that there are spoilers. Sorry. I watched The Sixth Sense with my dad like 2 years ago and it was awesome that he had never heard anything about the end; he didn't know Bruce Willis is actually bald (I mean in real life... that was totally a toupee). So I don't want to ruin that for you, if you think you'll see it.

Also, spoiler alert: Bruce Willis is bald.

I'm sure an English Lit student could do a paper about how the characters of Mary Ann, Mouse and Mona are some form of the super ego, ego and id (not necessarily in that order, but maybe), but I'm not that person. I will say that those 3 are the core of the story and they cast all 3 really well.

I only knew 3 actors from the cast at large, and the one I knew best is Mary Birdsong who plays Mona. I know her from Reno 911! and had seen her recently in Adventureland. I had no idea she could sing, and she tears it up. The role doesn't have big bomb vocal requirements, but they give her some feisty material and she totally rocks it.

I confused the actor playing Mouse with a different actor that I'd seen on Broadway years ago. I was amazed at how good he looks, how young. How hot. Well, turns out it's an entirely different actor, who IS young and hot and good looking. And great. He's Wesley Taylor and plays Mouse with all the exuberance of a young gay man whose sexuality is the new center of the universe. That's, cough, not at all a thing that totally always happens. And totally appropriate.

The person I totally forgot when I was first processing the play afterward was Betsy Wolfe as Mary Ann. Mary Ann is the fish out of water, embracing the charms of San Francisco, but the voice of middle America. So she's kinda dull, as far as the characters of the book (and thus the musical). But Wolfe is not forgettable, once you remember her. Wolfe has a big traditional Broadway voice and great delivery of the material. Here's hoping she can stick with the show if/when it moves to NYC. She's got established credentials on Broadway and deserves a chance to originate this role there.

The big name in the production is Judy Kaye. When the show was originally announced, Betty Buckley was planned for the role. Or perhaps that was an earlier workshop and Buckley wasn't planned for this particular run. Either way, I've talked to 3 random people in Portland and San Francisco who all thought it was Buckley, and been responsible for explaining who Kaye is. And the only reason I know Kaye is because I read a detailed article/interview during a stopover in Dallas when she was doing either the tour of Sweeney Todd OR some evening of Sondheim there. So it was easy to sound super knowledgeable about this Tony winning actress, but the reality is I'd never seen or heard her. But Broadway peeps know her, and she's a solid talent. She's really good, but I'm stopping short of calling her great, and it's because of the music. I can't tell if the songs were written in the low end of her range to emphasize the masculine aspect of the character (I told you there were spoilers, sheesh) or not. If so, I think they're doing her an injustice. The music continues to be the part of the production I'm struggling with, and a song about the blessings of Atlantis (by the way, it totally sucks that I don't have a list of the songs from the program--it would be so much easier for me to give the producers complete notes) falls short as the intro to Anna Madrigal and could be cut easily (they need to cut at least 15 minutes).

There are nice facial similarities between Kaye and Birdsong, so nice casting there. Along with Diane Findlay they have a trio that looks credible as a family (spoiler alert, I think I said).

And kudos to the casting of John Breckenridge, a black actor, in a not-explicitly-black role. The guy sitting next to Clark was excited that the Old Spice guy was in the show (he's not), while I was happy they added that modicum of diversity. The book is basically all white, but that's not really necessary for current day adaptations. The ensemble could benefit from some diversity, it's San Francisco for fuck's sake, not Portland OR (lowest diversity in major metros, holler!). And Breckenridge is great.

The other person worth singling out is Kathleen Elizabeth Monteleone as DeDe Halcyon-Day. She gets a couple of really juicy numbers, and even on her back, head upside down, and legs up in stir-ups, the girl delivers.

Other actors are all fine, with one exception (whose singing seemed uncomfortable, and I'll leave it at that).

Two more quick notes on songs: The A-list gays number about how they will spend their retirement would be an easy cut (it doesn't drive the story), but it's so much fun that they shouldn't.

And Mouse's coming out letter lacks the emotional resonance it deserves. Maybe there's no way to compete with the "Michael's Letter to Mama" from the choral arrangement of TotC, but as it stands I think the book's biggest fans will feel disappointed. [How do I know about this if I never actually finished the book? I, um, "met" a dude who performed this a few years ago... it's funny the things one talks about when one is trying to find his socks. Oh yeah, and spoiler alert!]

Music while you're waiting for the rapture, part 6

Since it'll be a while, here are the Mountain Goats.

So no rapture then?

What did we learn?

Not everyone who speaks for God knows what he/she is talking about.
Please quote me on that. Early. Often.

Scott at Bill in Exile (here) has a game for tomorrow's inevitable excuses.
Of course it's possible that the dude misheard. (Also via BIE)

The road trip, working backwards

My plan to keep up via blog were thwarted by the shitty motel on Monday (I even splurged over the cheaper options because of the "private beach") so I'll be explicating here (I know you're eager to see all the details) and working backwards because at least yesterday I remember some of.

I-5 rest area in the middle of north/central California

"Downtown" Cottonwood, CA

We stopped in Cottonwood looking for lunch. We couldn't find the BBQ place but did end up having a pretty good lunch off the beaten path. I would have never found this one, so credit to Clark and his "Around Me" app.
Caprese chicken sandwich with sweet potato fries
And, AND, gas was $3.98 a gallon. That was the best price the entire trip except for a couple of truck stops south of Salem, OR.

We stopped at Lake Shasta for a few minutes. It's on a ley line and has special energies, or so I was told on the drive down to the shore.
Special energy = white folks on party boat listening to rap music.

Gorgeous day, gorgeous lake. Sadly I didn't get a good picture of Mt. Shasta or of the funky rocks near Shasta. Oh well. [UPDATE: The Castle Crags, not my photo, but shown below.]
Castle Crags photo from

Music while you're waiting for The Rapture, part 5

Speak about destruction indeed. Afrika & Johnny.

Music while you're waiting for The Rapture, part 4

R.E.M. Right? Right!

Music while you're waiting for The Rapture, part 3

The Doors (said like "da bears" from SNL).

Song of the Day: "Belong"

Another track from the new Pains of Being Pure at Heart. All my Brit Pop peeps ought to dig this.

Song: "Belong"
Artist: Pains of Being Pure at Heart

Music while you're waiting for The Rapture, part 2

Here's Blondie.

Music while you're waiting for The Rapture, part 1

Here's Anita Baker.

Song of the Day: "Set the Tigers Free"

This is Friday's SotD, delayed by my decision to put my drive home ahead of all other interests (sigh). The dogs were thrilled in any case.

This is the b-side to Thursday's SotD, but I can't find an embed-able version from the album, so here's a live version from Villagers, performing at Manchester Deaf Institute. No, really.

Song: "Set the Tigers Free"
Artist: Villagers

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Happy Birthday Dad

Dad had eye surgery today--I keep confusing glaucoma with cataract. He had whichever one doesn't get you medical marijuana. So I made him this someecard. That, plus this blog post, is the least I could do.

"It's these cans, he hates these cans!" has a long history of use in my family. It probably helps that the time my parents smoked pot coincided with the time I was like 12 years old (plus or minus, cough, a few years). We could laugh at the same things.

Since I'm out and about vacationing, and he's sleeping off eye surgery, I will call him this weekend. But in the off chance that the Rapture comes and one of us is raptured, and the other of us is left behind (not saying who is whom) happy birthday and I love you and sorry I just told my 8 blog readers that you used to smoke pot. But they actually already knew.

Happy birthday dude! Get some rest (today). Then rock on! Then, you know, Rapture Saturday (I'm making the "raise the roof" hand gesture now).

Song of the Day: "Dig a Little Deeper"

More PB&J, from Gimme Some.

Song: "Dig a Little Deeper"
Artist: Peter Bjorn and John

Notes on Tales of the City, the Musical (part 1)

We made it to the first preview of the new musical adaptation of Armistead Maupin's Tales of the City in San Francisco. According to the woman giving the preshow speeh, we would be seeing the first time the cast performed everything, with costumes and set pieces, at one time. I was eager for something along the lines of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (surely someone would get slammed into a wall when their stunt cable got tangled, it's theatre!). Alas, no.

It was fun to watch the locals experiencing it. The book is iconic, even if I found it too boring to finish, and I can certainly relate to the book's representation of San Francisco's quirky charms. Or at least what I saw of it in the PBS miniseries that I think I saw most of (Laura Linney, Olympia Dukakis, Greg from Dharma & Greg!). Also the city had that effect on me 20 years ago.

The musical is at its best in the first half (everything before intermission): it's firing on all cylinders and the production just beams with exuberance. I don't know at what point the staging and blocking become choreography, but it's fantastic. Inspired even. I'll give credit to director Jason Moore and choreographer Larry Keigwin both.

I don't know how much original dialog Kel's brother Jeff (Whitty) wrote, if any--it may all come directly from the book. But he lovingly crafted a nice through line of story and frequently riotous scenes. The challenges of the second half are a result of staying true to the book, or so I'm guessing based on however many hours of the PBS miniseries I actually watched.

I'm still trying to work out my feelings on the music itself.  Composed and written by Jake Shears and John Garden of Scissor Sisters, it's not traditional musical theater fare but then neither is Avenue Q or Billy Elliot. I think it's the area the show will struggle the most, but I'm open to the notion that it will grow on me.

I'll write more about the cast tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Song of the Day: "Memoir"

Charlotte Gainsbourg asked Villagers dude to write her a song. This is that song. It's another of the Record Store Day release. I don't know Gainsbourg at all, I was brought to her by the Villagers dude. So there you go.

Song: "Memoir"
Artist: Charlotte Gainsbourg

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Song of the Day: "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win"

New Beastie Boys, with a little help from Santigold. Finally got some Wifi, so can post more.

Song: "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win"
Artist: Beastie Boys/Santigold

Monday, May 16, 2011

Song of the Day: "Effigy"

For anyone asking him-/herself "whatever happened to Urge Overkill," here is your answer.

Song: "Effigy"
Artist: Urge Overkill

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Day 1, crappy weather, long drive

Only stopped a few times, not many pictures. Hopefully Monday will be more relaxed. Over 400 miles today, only 240 tomorrow.

What he said

Song of the Day: "Keep on Knocking"

Raise you hand if you remember roller skating to The Cars (or Foreigner) back in the early 80s. Me neither.

Decades later, The Cars are back, sans the dead guy.

I think dude is still married to the model. Wow.

Song: "Keep on Knocking"
Artist: The Cars