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Monday, 24 December 2007
Homos For the Holidays
Topic: Live on Stage

Christmas time is here by golly
Disapproval would be folly
Deck the halls with hunks of holly
Fill the cup and don't say when.
Kill the turkeys ducks and chickens
Mix the punch, drag out the Dickens
Even though the prospect sickens
"Brother here we go again"

--Tom Lehrer

Seriously, I don't dislike Christmas, but after a solid month of endless Christmas carols, many with the schmatlz cranked all the way to "eleven", I'm ready for it to die a quick and painless (for me) death.

So, feeling this way, why should I subject myself to a program of holiday music sung by the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus?  Well, first, because it's live music, and second, it's not so sugary as to put me in diabetic shock.

As on last Christmas Eve, I joined Deb and Shana for dinner and then the show at the Castro Theater. This year we're joined by Jim and Becky (2), as well as my friend Skip. We have a nice, casual dinner, the stroll over to the theater for a program that is just thr right length that you feel you got your money's worth, but doesn't have you looking at your watch.

I have a good enough time, but the show isn't as good as last year's. I feel like they're trying a tad too hard to be inclusive, and touching on everything from Christmas and Chanakah to Kwanza, Wicca and Druidism. This yields a bunch of unfamiliar, and, frankly, flat music. They get in some fun bits and play around with some Christmas standards, but the show is just not as well put together or as well staged as last year.  It's good, just not very good.

A bit of an anticliax after the Kinsey Sicks...but then, what wouldn't be?

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:38 PM PDT
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Saturday, 22 December 2007
Oy Vey In A Manger
Mood:  silly
Topic: Live on Stage

Met David and we made our way the the Herbst Theater (location of the signing of the U.N. Charter in 1945) to attend the holiday show "Oy Vey In A Manger" by "America's Favorite Dragapella Beautyshop Quartet", the Kinsey Sicks' .

(To see excerpts from a previous year's show, click here!)


I've heard these four "gals" on CD, seen them on video, and seen, met and heard two of them at a fundraiser party a few years ago, and liked them each time, but finally seeing them live was a big treat. Let's face it, in this era of amplification, "sweetening"and lip sync, many acts far are less impressive in person than you'd like. Not so with the Kinseys! Amazing voices; tight, four part harmonies; lots of silly and often downright rude humor. Half the group is Jewish, so the show careened back and forth between Christmas Carols and Jewish themed songs, with some straddling both camps (for instance, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town as a minor key as a cautionary tale to Jews: "He's seen Schindler's List, He's rented it twice; He's gonna find out each Weinstein and Weiss").

 Trixie, Trampolina (v. 1.0), Winnie and Rachel: The Kinsey Sicks

A summary of the the songs I recall them performing: 

Dragapella Chorus -- to the tune of the Hallelujiah Chorus
God Bless Ye Femmy Lesbians — about how gays dress themselves
I Had A Little Facial — to the tune of I Have a Little Dreydel
Crystal Time In The City ending with "O little town of Meth...mayhem!"
Chanukah Medley
     Jews Better Watch Out
     Hock Your Wages
Where The Goys Are —
sung to a blonde haired "victim" Rachael plucked from the audience
A Lay In The Manger
Oh! Ho-ey Night —
 "Oh, the night, when I did porn!"
Worry — a Jewish inversion of Don't Worry, Be Happy (RACHAEL: "What if I'm thrown in jail?! What if I'm forced to be Barry Bonds' bitch?!" and then looks alternately horrified and turned on by the idea)
'Tis the Season to Drink Stoli — about office parties gone wrong
Christmas Medley:
     Vanna White Christmas
     I'll Be Cloned For Christmas
     O Come, Ye Unfaithful
     Feliz Navidad Parody
(so nasty I won't type the title)
Soylent Night — the song following a discussion of the Donner Party, which Trampolina found fabulous, and Winnie found scandelous because they "only served frozen food!"
Macaroona — where the whole audience had to do a Jewish version of the Macarena in order to shed their holiday pounds
Jenny Craig Feel My Sorrow — wherein Trixie brings the house down by singing the soprano part of O Mio Babbino Caro, begging Jenny Craig to allow her to "pig out and not look shi-tty"
Papirossen — a song in the international language of love... Yiddish (RACHAEL to audience: "Something funny about Yiddish? Our people have suffered!  ...Now it's your turn.")
Harried Little Christmas
We Arm The World — You can SEE IT HERE!

My only disappointment was that of the two members of the group I'd met previously, the one who played Trampolina has left the group, so I didn't get to say hi. The new Trampolina ("Trampolina v.2.0") is fine and talented, though. I did get to talk to all of them after the show, and flirted shamelessly with Trixie. What a voice! What a face! She makes a hotter looking woman than many actual women.  Scandalous!


Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 10:37 PM PDT
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Saturday, 5 November 2005
They Might Be Giants ... And what're we gonna do unless they are?
Mood:  party time!
Topic: Live on Stage
Make a hole with a gun perpendicular
To the name of this town in a desk-top globe
Exit wound in a foreign nation
Showing the home of the one this was written for
"They Might Be Giants" are four words that, when recited in that order, usually results in blank stares. I understand if most people don't get the particular reference I'm making, but you'd think occasionally someone would make the connection to the 1971 feature film of that same name.

Okay, so probably most of you reading this are equally in the dark. Do you know the song "Istanbul (Not Constantinople)? Okay, how about the theme song from the TV series "Malcolm in the Middle"? Well, "They Might Be Giants" (TMBG from here out) is the band that did those songs (amongst a zillion others), and last night I finally saw them live and in person.

Click here for the TMBG website

I can't recall how I first got turned on to the band. I recall hearing "Istanbul" and seeing the animated video done to it back around 89-90, but how I got from this to the album "Flood" eludes my memory. Anyway, I got a few of their albums in the mid 90s, and was smitten by their clever lyrics and songs that visit all numerous points on the msucial map.
There’s a picture opposite me
Of my primitive ancestry
Which stood on rocky shores
And kept the beaches shipwreck free
Though I respect that a lot
I’d be fired if that were my job
After killing Jason off
And countless screaming argonauts

...for instance, from "Birdhouse in Your Soul", which is nominally about a blue bird nightlight.

I turned my friend Sherri onto the band back when I first discovered them, and she and I played a few of their albums so many times the music is likely tattooed onto my cerebral cortex. When I found out the band would be playing some west coast gigs, and that one was in San Francisco, I immediately bought four tickets and then called Sherri and asked her if she wanted to go. She was excited (natch), but concerned that she couldn't take the time necessary to drive down from Carson City, what with work, house stuff going on, and her baby, Sam. I then suggested a plane ticket so she could fly out, have dinner, see the show, sleep, and leave again at the crack of dawn. Done deal!
Baby check this out
I've got someting to say
Man, it's so loud in here
When they stop the drum machine
And I can think again
I'll remember what it was

The above is from "Man It's So Loud in Here", a brilliant swipe at dance club music that uses its own overproduced excesses to bludgeon itself. Fortunately, the volume level at the club wasn't excessive, so my ears weren't ringing when it was over. A concert rarity!

Sherri's husband Art couldn't come on the trip, so that left two unclaimed tickets. I called a number of my friends, most of whom were busy the night in question. Finally, John Sugden's "Oh my God!" at the offer of free Giantism sealed the deal, and he planned to join us with his fiancee, Laura Lee. Well, she couldn't make it at the last minute, so I had four tickets to pick up at Will Call. What to do?

I grabbed Sherri at the aiport at 4:30. After a brief stop home, we headed across the Bay Bridge to get dinner with mutual friend Becky. We decided to eat on Columbus Street, since our destination was there, and Becky works near the other end of that street. I found parking two blocks from the concert venue, we met Becky, got dinner at a cute Italian place (the food was ok, but nothing too special). Dinner over, and after much silliness, said goodbye to Becky and moved on.

On Columbus St. just before the show!

There was still the matter of the one extra ticket (I know you're biting your nails in anticipation). As Sherri went to look for seats, I went along the Will Call and Ticket line and asked if anyone was looking to buy a ticket. 30 seconds later, I had my $25 back, which promptly and mysteriously vanished at the bar.

The show opened with an act that we didn't pay much mind to...being busy chatting and ordering drinks. Then TMBG took to the stage. They announced that they're writing a song about each and every venue they play this tour, and did a short set of these for ua. I can't wait to hear the song they come up with for the venue where we saw them, named BIMBOS!

A short break was taken before the main set, which was a great show with a lot of fun material, some of it already tattooed into my brain, others now vying to do so, such as "XTC vs. Adam Ant". One thing that's really fun about the band is that in addition to doing their usual unusual songs, they also do records for children ("Bed, Bed, Bed" for instance), and included a few of these cute gems in the set, including "Pictures of Pandas Painting", "E Eats Everything" and "Alphabet of Nations." They also do a rockin' cover of an old 1960s educational song "Why Does the Sun Shine" (which begins "The Sun is a Mass of Incandescent Gas")!

Reisisting audience cries for faves like "Istanbul" and "Particle Man", the two encores featured less obvious choices, but all good ones.

Then it was over. We waited at our table for the crowd to thin before heading out, then Sherri noticed that one of the "two Johns" who make up TMBG (the rest of the band changes all the time) was sitting on the edge of the stage talking. We strolled over and she got her newly purchased TMBG CD "Here Come the ABCs" autographed. I complimented him on their choice for the closing number ("Fingertips", which is actually 21 single verse songs (averaging about 20 seconds long) in almost every style imagineable played back to back to back.

John departed, and Sherri and I hit the club Martunis for a final drink in the piano bar. That was probably a mistake, as Sherri felt woozy afterwards, but we made it home safe and sound sometime after 1:30 a.m.

6:30 came realllllllly early, and I zipped her to the airport.

Hit and run concert going, indeed!

Posted by molyneaux at 11:08 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:21 PM PDT
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Thursday, 17 March 2005
Tonal and Complete Chaos
Mood:  lyrical
Topic: Live on Stage
What with Christopher Gray having moving away, the SNAFU improv group long since dissolved, and my job in Sna Jose keeping me away from S.F. on weeknights, I've sort of fallen out of the improv arts scene. Tonight was my first stab of 2005 to get back into going to these things. I had thought I wasn't going to be able to go, as I was originally scheduled to be coming back from the CTIA trade show in New Orleans today, but as I cancelled that trip to work in the office, I was around. And, to ensure I got to the show, I made sure I schedules a meeting with developer Ben Lee this afternoon, as that would put me in S.F. near the venue in question.

Bryan Chang, one of my Producers at Namco, joined me for the show, which was held in a theater space called "The Luggage Store", which is above a storefront on a part of Market street just in the transitional zone from tourist trap to transient town.

The main reason I was there was to see/hear a performance of the a capella improv singing group Tonal Chaos, of which above-mentioned Christopher was once a member. They were good as always, making up all kinds of music and tonalities based on suggestions fro the audience. At one point they launched into song by imitating the beep Bryan's cell phone made as he shut the ringer off. They climaxed with a nonsense-word operatic piece.

The were followed by a group called the Board on Inquiry, which consisted of one fellow using mixing board to do odd things with sounds coming from a laptop computer, a toman who sang and made vocal tonalities, and a man who made sounds with everything from a bow on a pipe to a vibrator in a towel pulsing on a drum. It was interesting, but somewhat distracting. i had to close my eyes and let the sound just wash over me. Still, in the end it seemed like Ligeti meets the electronic score for Forbidden Planet, and sounded like the soundtrack to some weird artsy short subject film.

Posted by molyneaux at 12:01 AM PST
Updated: Tuesday, 19 May 2009 11:30 PM PDT
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Tuesday, 9 March 2004
ARTS: Roaring Mice -- Saturday March 6, 2004
Topic: Live on Stage
Friend, performer, and man of bionic hips, John Sugden asked me if I would videotape the most recent play he was putting on with his students and the Woodside Priory in the hills south of Silicon Valley. Naturally, I said "$@#% no!" but he cried and begged and I finally acquiesced because of my sterling character, my generous nature, and the fact that I desperately need him for reshoots for my short film Flight Control.

Anyway, I braved sluggish traffic and got to the school just in time to tape show, which I recorded on both my digital video camera and one John had borrowed, operated by a student. After the show was over, I set the second camera up to record the next performance from one locked off position. My plan is to edit together these three recordings and make a DVD John can copy for the kids.

The play they performed was "The Mouse That Roared" (subtitle "The Wrath of Grapes"), based on the 1955 novel by Leonard Wibberley (and made into a mediocre 1959 film with Peter Sellers).

(The story concerns a microscopic country called Grand Fenwick, which is going bankrupt because a Californian winery makes a cheap knock-off of their only export. When their protests to the U.S. go unanswered, they decide to declare war, assuming the Americans will be victorious and do a "Marshall Plan" on Grand Fenwick, thus reviving their economy. But, when their intentionally futile invasion force of men with 14th century costume and longbows arrives in of New York City, they quite by accident capture a government scientist who has created the most powerful explosive in the world: a cigarette pack sized "Q Bomb" that will level 2000 square miles if detonated. Suddenly, Grand Fenwick is the super-est of superpowers, and the question becomes what to do now that they have defeated the United States!)

The play was pretty well done for kids in middle and high school. John's staging was fun, and the cast was huge (there were 44 students in various parts), as were some of his alterations to the script to make it more timely. The material is certainly dated, but as I was watching I could see how one could update it. Makes me wonder if I should look into the rights...hmmm...

Posted by molyneaux at 10:33 PM PST
Updated: Wednesday, 20 May 2009 12:07 AM PDT
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