Category Archives: Idina Menzel

Moving Ahead to Don Gay Apparel

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My coworker, Josephina, who goes by “Joe” among her friends

outside of work and “Fee” here at the warehouse, was sharing her

hopes for her wife and children to have an abundant Christmas.

Since the past two weeks, our hours have been cut, I have been

worried about those who have waited to purchase Santa’s gifts,

but cannot offer to help out anyone, unfortunately.

Fee was telling me about a publication on Monday, saying I

“should check it out.” It is called, “Outlook” magazine, which is

on the free newstand outside our library interior doors. This

would be like the ‘foyer’ of the building, where there are a few

public notices for clubs, organizations, and other public service

announcements.

I took home “Outlook” and was amazed at the multitude of very

interesting articles and information for the holidays presented

within a ‘magazine’ for Gays, Bisexuals and Lesbians. I was so

enthralled with the subject of music, since the ‘stereotype’ of

this magnificent group of human beings, is they love their

musicals and ‘show tunes.’ The articles about famous local

people and famous national people who have recently ‘come out’

had my attention, too.  The recipes for cocktails and yummy

appetizers had me interested and copying a few down. It is a very

informative and well-rounded publication. On the cover is a lovely

photograph of Bette Midler. Her article is titled,

“Divine Intervention.”

Do you remember when Bette Midler wore corsets and was on the

wild side, as “The Divine Miss M?” She made a lot of friends in the

gay and lesbian community, singing in the Continental Bath House.

I still consider her attractive, liked her G-rated family movie with the

theme of being an unprepared grandmother, “Parental Guidance.”

Her songs, “God Is Watching Us” and “The Wind Beneath My Wings,”

are on my all time favorite Top 50 songs.

 

Why did Fee send me to pick this up? The better question is,

“What took me so long?”

I have had a long history of having many gay friends, particularly

the guy who took me to my high school prom, along with both of

my brothers’ good and oldest friends. My youngest brother met

his friend in running clubs. My ‘older,’ one who is only 18 months

younger than I, had not noticed his high school friend who was a

wrestler and also, accompanied a group of us to my brother’s

high school prom, until college when he ‘came out’ to him.

 

Speaking of ‘coming out’ there is a well researched and presented

article on this subject in “Outlook.” It is addressing the idea of

trying this over the holidays. I would say letting relatives who are

younger know about your personal choices, but wait to inform

ones who are older. This is a ‘tricky minefield,’ and why make

the  holidays uncomfortable?

 

My friend, Fee, told me a few interesting facts about her life,

along with her girlfriend’s, too. Most people think that she and

her girlfriend are just living together to save money, to share

co-parenting with another woman and also, their long lasting

friendship. Fee also shared her growing up years with me, over a

sparsely populated break time. We had chosen to go to break later

than most of the order fillers. She is a grown version of Campbell’s

Soup kids. I would describe her as a past redhead, more blonde now.

She told me about how average looking she had been, how she did

not have much confidence and how being in a steady relationship

with her first boyfriend led to her marrying him. She says she had

lack of self esteem. Fee was friends with Jessie, her current partner,

through many years as Jessie was married to a friend of her husband’s.

I was glad to hear that there was no history of abuse on the part of

either of their husbands against them. This traumatic experience

can sometimes draw people away from being heterosexual.

My coworker Karen and her Suzie experienced this, individually

although not necessarily conclusive proof of most gays or lesbians.

 

In the case of the men I have known in my life, they ‘knew’ it, all

along but fought their desires to be with men, wanting so badly to fit

into the ‘normal’ society.

 

Fee told me their children are so happy they are a family. Some of

the kids remember the turmoil while they had fathers in their house.

Jessie was the ‘brave one,’ Fee told me. She ‘came out’ and told her

she loved Fee.  Fee still has a Granny and an “Auntie” who don’t

know that the two roommates are lovers. Fee also did give our work

insurance a ‘thumb’s up,’ since they do cover same sex partners for

medical, dental and vision insurance. Fee would like to get married

to Jessie. She says their wedding announcements would say a silly

and joyful declaration (like):

“Jessie is my girl,

Joe is my guy.

Together~

Jessica and Josephina

are one happy couple,

One happy family.”

Jessie embarrassed me a bit, but mainly since we work together, I

would not want to picture any of my coworkers’ romantic lives…

But Fee told me that the two of them take turns leading the family,

doing certain chores like cooking and cleaning, depending on their

busy schedules, She went a ‘step farther’ to share with me,

“Jessie likes me to be the ‘guy’ and I don’t mind wearing the pants

in the house, but sometimes I want to be the ‘girl’ who gets their

bath drawn, back and body parts rubbed and all those delicious

moments.”

Since I was sad to hear that a male college student got beat up

recently in the news, for holding hands and kissing in public,

I wished to ask her a personal question about prejudice. She told

me a shocking thought, that she “felt luckier to be a woman who

chooses to be gay, since men have it harder, it is not as easy for

society to accept men who are gay.”  She continued to surprise me,

by saying,

“It is easier to be a ‘gay woman’ than to be of a different race. You

know you can ‘hide’ your sexuality, if you choose, but I feel bad since

the world is still a harsh place to be if you are of color.”

Fee told me to go ahead and put the musical lists that I found in my

post, as long as I focused on a song that she and Jessie love and feel

says it all:

” Waiting on the World to Change,”

John Mayer,

“Continuum”

album,

2006.

 

How could I not include the fine and exquisite list of holiday songs,

recommended by the “Outlook” media magazine?

This is an excellent and eclectic list. Hope you will enjoy this and

it is much more encompassing than my short list of favorites on

another post.

1. “Blue Christmas,” by Elvis.

2. India.Arie with Trombone Shorty, playing “I’ve Got My Love

to Keep Me Warm.”

3.  Kenny G. and Dave Koz, “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow.”

4. Idina Menzel (of “Frozen” children’s animated film fame and also,

original cast of “Rent” on Broadway) singing the songs

“Holiday Wishes”

“Do You Hear What I Hear?”

“All I Want for Christmas, is You.”

and ** Original song written by I. Menzel, with Walter Afanseif

and Charlie Midnight, “December Prayer.” (The critics say this is

wonderful.)

5. Harry Connick, Jr. singing an original song, “When My Heart

Finds Christmas.”

6. Barbara Streisand, (recommended her whole album),

“A Christmas Album.”

7. Human Nature, “The Christmas Album,” with the songs that

they highlighted as, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”

and an original song, “Mary’s Boy Child.” (I need to listen to

these original songs recommended very soon!)

8. Dave Koz, “The 25th of December” album. One song that

caught my interest was “All You Need is Love,” from the Beatles,

of course:

Sung with Stevie Wonder, Gloria Estefan, Richard Marx,  Heather

Headley and Johnny Mathis.

9. Any Christmas songs sung by Johnny Mathis, they absolutely

loved and recommended. The nicknamed J. M.: “Mr. Christmas!”

The favorite on the list of mine is, “It’s the Most Wonderful Time

of the Year.”

10. The Singing Bee brought us “Pentatonix,” which is an all

a capella group of singers. The song that is their original holiday

song is, “That’s Christmas to Me.”

11. Take 6 (band) plays “He is Christmas.” An original song to be

listened and appreciated.

 

The fun and lively Christmas Concert for my granddaughter’s (Lara)

Fifth Grade Chorus had these songs on their program:

1. “Yankee Doodle Boy/ Kid From the U.S.A” written by John Jacobson

and Alan Billingsley.

2. “Colors of Winter,” written by Amy F. Bernon.

3. “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth,” by Don Gardner and

arrangement by Sally K. Albrecht.

4. “March Pat-a-Pan,” accompanied on the flute by Ana Moder and on the

hand drum by Stacy Lemke, Chorus director. The song was arranged by

Audrey Snyder.

 

I enjoyed the four songs sung by the Sixth Grade Chorus:

1. “Jubilate Deo,” an old traditional “round” song, no author or lyricist

given.

2. “Hava Nashira,” Israelis Folk Song, arranged by John Leavitt and

accompanied by Laura Lenhart on the clarinet.

3. “Gloria Tibi Domine” written by Greg Gilpin.

4. “Peace on Earth/ It Came Upon a Midnight Clear.”

 

 

Are there any other songs you would like to include?

I am always happy to feature music and especially

recommend your looking

into the original songs

on this list.

Music connects our senses,

gets us up and moving,

it builds emotions

and brings

couples

closer.

If

we

could

only get

the world

to connect

so easily

it would

be a

better

place.

I am ‘off’ to see the “Fantasy of Lights, ” after I pick up my oldest

daughter, Carrie with her two boys, Skyler and Micah.

We plan to go see Santa Claus and eat a dessert out.

(Wouldn’t hot chocolate and cookies, pie or cake be scrumptious?)

 

Joyful, Cheery Sounds

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On my way into work this morning, while there was frost on my

windshield and rear window, I blasted my heater and I was once

again, thankful for the warmth and the sound of the air coming

out with a whoosh! The radio was playing one of the most cheery

songs, with a country twang in her voice, Brenda Lee was singing,

“Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” The radio announcer was

using a pleasant, vibrant sounding voice, “Good Morning and let’s

all say, ‘Happy 70th Birthday to . . . Brenda Lee!'”

The first recording of this rocking song was in 1958, written by

Johnny Marks, for Decca Records.

 

While driving behind the school bus, the air brakes squealing and

the door opening on London Road,  to admit busy and excited

high schoolers, (yes, I am up that early!) I felt the movement in

my feet tapping to the music on the radio and the emotions of

the students, too. I usually wish I weren’t ‘stuck’ behind a school

bus, since this means two stops on London Road, along with the

longer stop at the railroad where we ‘catch’ the train, having to

wait for it to pass by. The train whistle blew, the steam was puffing

out of the ‘chimney’ and I felt the rumbling of its approaching

and then listened to the rattling of the clickety-clack.  That is how I

would describe the repetition of the sound.

 

Once I got into my building, several people call out my name, some

who are going off to sleep, (third shifters) and those who are on my

own shift, greeting me. These are happy people since our bosses

had decided to pack our day with ‘heavy’ work and include our half

day’s worth of work we usually do on Friday and complete it today.

This means a three day weekend! Hurrah!

 

At first break, I told my two friends, Tammy and Karen, about Brenda

Lee’s birthday. We agreed the song was still a popular one, the way

it has a lot of joy and glee in its words. Then, Tammy told me she has

been enjoying listening to Harry Connick, Jr. and Lady Antebellum’s

Christmas albums. Karen stated she loves her older albums, now on

Cd’s which include those familiar voices which bring nostalgia into

her home and heart. She likes Bing Crosby, Dean Martin and Burl

Ives.

I started making a list in my head, of the songs and people they were

talking about and decided to also, include some of my own personal

favorite songs and carols, along with some memorable sounds of the

holiday season. This is a compilation of some of my favorites, along

with some coworkers’ suggestions:

SONGS:

1. Harry Connick, Jr. singing, “Sleigh Ride,” which begins with the

words,

“Just hear those sleigh bells jingling,

Ring, ting tingling too…” (Thanks to my friend, Tammy.)

 

2. Dean Martin singing, “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas,”

which was written in 1951, by Meredith Wilson.

 

3. Bing Crosby singing, “I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas.” This

makes me sad, thinking of those who are in the armed services who

may not make it home for Christmas. The thought of the Bob Hope’s

USO holiday celebrations overseas for years and years, quickly cheers

me up again. This tradition carries on still through the help of the

USO.org. There was a lovely photograph of Idina Menzel with some

military families representing the USO. I hope the troops have a lot

of fun and the jokes make them laugh out loud, like Bob Hope would

wish this to go. “Thanks for the memories, Bob!”

Here is a short schedule of locations they are expected to be

entertaining the troops:

Dec. 7-16, 2014:  Japan, Guan and Hawaii, with the Dallas Cowboys

Cheerleaders.

Dec. 13- Clare Bowen (Hostess) at Tinker Air Force Base,  Oklahoma.

Dec. 16- Anthony Hamilton (Host) at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina.

Jan. 3 – 9, 2015:  Robert Irvine (Host) at Japan and Okinawa.

(Thanks to my friend, Karen, for reminding me of both Bob Hope

and the USO, along with Bing Crosby and Dean Martin’s songs.)

 

3. Whitney Houston singing the hymnal carol, “Do You Hear What I

Hear?”

(Thank you to Melvin, my coworker, who suggested this version but

I enjoy Carrie Underwood’s ‘take’ on this lovely song also. )

Here is a bit of the history of the song:  It was written in 1962, by a

married couple who were moved by seeing children on the streets

of New York City (babies in strollers) and what the lamb might have

heard in the manger scene. This was on the cusp of the Cuban Missile

Crisis, which is why there are words imparting a message of Peace.

The lyrics were written by Noel Regney and the music was written by

his wife, Gloria Shayne Baker.

 

4. John Lennon and Yoko Ono, “Happy Xmas/War is Over,” which

begins with the words, “So This is Christmas.” It was written in 1971,

with tongue in cheek, by John and Yoko, in protest to the Viet Nam

War. It is also said they were thinking of their future children and

what children would ‘inherit’ in the world, with war still going on.

(Their son, Sean Lennon, was not born until 1975.)

When this song was produced, the voices of John, Yoko, the Plastic

Ono Band (with instrumentals) and the Harlem Community Choir

were beautifully blended together. The flip side of this single was

called, “Listen, the Snow is Falling.” The cover of this is ‘vintage’

looking in sepia brown and beige, with the children’s choir, ages 4-14,

included on it.

This song was also played a lot, after John Lennon was murdered on

December 8, 1980; 34 years ago this week.

*This is one of my own personal favorites.

 

5. Nat King Cole singing, “The Christmas Song,” also recognized as,

“Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire.” This lovely song was written

in 1944, by Bob Wells and Mel Torme.

*Another of my favorites, since my parents played this on their stereo.

 

6. Bruce Springsteen’s version of the old classic song, “Santa Claus Is

Coming to Town.” This is the 2nd oldest song on the list today. It was

written in 1934, by John F. Coats and Haven Gillespie. It was presented

for the first time on the Eddie Cantor’s Radio Show. Later, in 1935, it was

also recorded by the Tommy Dorsey Band. My parents listened to this

version on the stereo and radio.

*I love the way Bruce ‘rocks this one out!’

 

7. My friend Cheryl thought the carol, which to her sounds like it belongs

in a church with a choir, “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear,” sung by

Julie Andrews, is her favorite song of all time.  This hymn was written

by a Unitarian minister, Edmund Sears, in 1849. He lived in Wayland,

Massachusetts. There are various versions of music to go with his

moving words.

Here are a few unusual ones to share with you:

Sergio Franchi sang this in 1965. He was an Italian opera tenor, who

died in Connecticut.

Eric Burdon and the Animals used the music from “The House of

the Rising Sun,” to accompany these lyrics.

Stefan Borsch, (Sweden) performed this in his native language.

The Lettermen performed and put this on a Christmas album in

1987.

Darryl Hall and John Oates included this in a Christmas album.

Anne Murray sang this in 2001, which I feel this would be simple

and beautifully done.

Josh Groban, who is known for singing operatic style, sang this in

2007. He does a fine performance of the song, “You Lift Me Up.”

 

Cheryl is feeling much better about her grandson’s recent death,

since she enlarged a favorite photograph of Christopher when he

was only 6 years old, with her mother, his great-grandmother. She

likes to say often, “Christopher is up in Heaven with my Mom.”

Last Christmas, you may have noticed, Cheryl had me write down a

short message/poem she had written in memorial of her mother’s

fifth anniversary of her death. We are close to one another in the way

we get emotional and are sentimental. She is my one coworker who

cried and held my hand, while we watched the first Inauguration of

President Barack Obama. If you did not read the one night I wrote,

“I have to go,” over and over on a post, you may not know that her

grandson died in his sleep, due to his weakened body, his having both

a combination of the flu and a cold. The autopsy of this fine 23 year

old graduate of Delaware High School and Columbus State student

will not be completed until after the first of the New Year. Cheryl takes

comfort that he had put up his Christmas tree the day of his death and

had also called her to tell her he was putting on some special family

ornaments she had given him when he turned 21.

 

Here are special sounds that are permanently etched into my own

memories:

1. A fire in a fireplace crackling. The logs making a ‘thump’ when they

fall into one another. There is peaceful serenity in listening to a fire.

2. A little child whispering in your ear. This almost makes the hairs

on my arms stand on end. It is magical, whatever words are told.

3. The ‘clink’ of a crystal or glass against another one, while a toast

is being given. The sound of the repeated ‘clinks’ at weddings, to get

the bride and groom to kiss, makes me smile.

4. Dogs bounding towards the door, barking or yipping loudly,

announcing the arrival of guests.

5. The door slammed. I imagine those who have little children saying

to themselves, “Oh, how annoying…” and following this with a lecture

to their children, “We never slam doors in our house.” Somehow, one

day it will come to this, you will wish to hear the door slamming with

the following sound of the words, “Mommy/Daddy. . . I’m home!”

Trust me on this.

6. Baby lambs in the country kitchen of my first babysitter, Mrs. Auble,

“Baa-ing” or ‘bleating’ for their milk bottles, followed by the slurping

noises of their drinking and pulling on the bottles, furiously tugging.

7. Hearty yells.  Across sledding hills, neighbors greeting each other

across streets and yards, and the one voice, that would bring you

running home for lunch (summer) and dinner (winter).

8. Leather boots or rubber boots crunching through the snow. The

sound of the crunch makes you stop talking and ponder in wonder.

9. Birds chirping and singing despite the weather. They always seem

to not be concerned with the cold, brisk air. Their songs echoing in the

early morning air. (Particularly, for me, the cardinal’s message.)

10. The sound of a familiar voice coming across the air waves, now

on cell phone. Back then, on a heavy, black rotary dial phone, of

loved ones (grandparents) far away.

 

Those are my carefully chosen Top Ten “sounds,” will you please let us

know what sounds make you happy, particularly around the holidays?

You may mention a song or a personal memory. . .

 

 

 

 

 

The Tony’s Are Coming! The Tony’s Are Coming!

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Oh yeah, the place to be tomorrow night is in front of your television set, with

the 68th Tony Awards’ Ceremony about to begin. Or better yet, if fashion,

style and grace are part of your repertoire, before the Tony’s, watch the

outrageous, beautiful and sometimes the most stunning dresses of the year!

After all, the ones who are able to wing it on stage, in front of a Live audience

on a large stage, whether it is Broadway or Off-Broadway, are the ones

to watch!

Here are some television names to watch for:

Tyne Daly, who is known from being part of the police drama, ‘Cagney and

Lacey.’ She has been performing since February in “Mothers and Sons,”

written by Terrence McNally.

Bryan Cranston, who went from playing a bad guy, let’s face it, that we could

not tear our eyes off of in, “Breaking Bad,” to playing a famous man in “All the

Way!” (Hint: He is playing Lyndon Baines Johnson, and doing an outstanding

job!)

Neil Patrick Harris, who has been the Host for the Tony’s has played in the

performance of a lifetime in a dark play called, “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.”

Who knew that N.P. Harris could make a strange and dark character come

to life? I always have loved the ‘boy’ who was Doogie Howser and made me

laugh as Barney, in “How I Met Your Mother.”

Tony Shalhoub, has my interest in his role as part of Moss Hart’s play, “Act One.”

Since I have watched him, with my Mom mainly, as “Monk,” the quirky and

rather interesting man with OCD. Apparently, “Psychology Today,” did not

find his real enough nor true to the obsessive compulsive disorder, though.

His role as a police support staff who had to have a companion to settle him.

I liked to watch him while being amused by his techniques. There are OCD

moments caught and featured on Youtube, too. His partner would help him

stay in touch with work, changed and I liked each of his assigned female

‘babysitters’ on that show. The Hart play has been ‘panned,’ also. Too bad.

Idina Menzel has been featured in my posts, since my grandkids love her

voice, raised in song. (In the animated children’s film, “Frozen,” she belts

out “Let it Go!”) Her performances in the show and movie, “Chorus Line,”

along with “Rent” have made her quite a Broadway performer. The 2014

Tony nominated play is called, “If/Then.” I am not familiar with this one,

I have to admit, but knowing the versatility and talent of Idina Menzel,

I will hope it gets an award!

Harvey Fierstein’s gravelly voice can give me chills. He is a fine director

and writer, his 2014 nominated play is called, “Casa Valentina.” This has an

unusual ‘premise,’ men gathering in a cabin in the Catskill Mountains and

tapping into their ‘feminine side.’ Could be fascinating…

His brief presence on the CBS Today Show, this morning, Saturday, June

7, 2014 included asking him what drives him in his writing. Here is his

quote being paraphrased (I am not great at writing each word, but I am

sure that you can look up this and this is the ‘essence’ of its meaning:

If you want to capture my attention and hold it, don’t show me a meteor

going to hit our planet.  Show me people interacting, human connections

and THAT is the show I will watch!”

In other words, Harvey is saying that the human condition is what he has

drawn from,  while writing his plays and screenplays.

One of the most beloved and most performed plays, “The Glass Menagerie,”

is again up for a 2014 Tony Nomination.

I have a personal reason why I follow the different award shows. Some of you

who have followed me for quite some time, may recall that I have always been

a person who followed plays, movies and theater productions. I was very lucky

to have parents  who thought that taking the three kids to these, would be fun,

educational and meaningful. I liked, Musicarnival, The Lakewood Summer

Shakespeare Festivals, and Cleveland productions of Broadway plays. I have

only once been to a Broadway play, to see Joel Grey play as George M. Cohen,

in “Yankee Doodle Dandy.” But, my interest went beyond watching, I became

part of children’s plays, worked back stage in makeup freshman year of high

school, set design sophomore year and worked side by side with actors as

understudies. I never was on stage until I went to National Acting Camp

held at Notre Dame University. It was fun trying out and being part of

this, I came back and was senior director of the play, “Take Her, She’s

Mine.” I worked side by side with Miss Marilyn J. Frazier. She was a

beautiful and classy woman, who I believe could have become a famous

actress, had she pursued it.

I would like to give a ‘Shout Out’ to the people who went on stage, under

my direction. All wrote such lovely things on cards and notes, along with

a few special words in my 1974 (senior yearbook), Bluebook.

Hope some of you will be at our 40th reunion this September, 2014!

Billy Bush, (no, not the one on Entertainment Tonight!), Megan Peters,

(she is a Hallmark designer, artist and lovely person), Torry Cavanaugh

(doesn’t that just sound like she should be famous?), Ralph Cutcher

(you stole my heart, but just friends), Lynn Kuhlow (a ‘class act’),

Cheryl Anderson (you played a teenager who was a ‘handful’ just

right!), and good Science Club ‘geek’ and friend, David Frackelton.

When the musical “Hello Dolly” was not available to high schoolers

due to high Equity dues’ cost, we had our other play, “The Matchmaker,”

that year. Alice Cepulo, another Science Club ‘geek’ (I was secretary one

year, my brother president, so we were very active in this club…) was

the student director for this great play. She went on in film making,

after college, joining NASA’s ‘team’ in Texas. She has made a lot of

non-fiction space films. I was so sorry to hear the 1975 graduate and

one of my brother’s and my dear friends, Andy Cepulo killed himself.

in 2013.

That is a summary of my ‘real life’ experiences and I am sure they

are enough ‘credentials’ to let you know that I do know a ‘thing or

two’ about theatre!!

 

Other Tony nominated plays to ‘watch’ and ‘see’ if they get an award are:

“After Midnight,” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder,” (this one has

the most award nominations so far) “Beautiful- The Carole King Musical,”

(which includes two of my favorite songs, “One Fine Day” and “Will You

Love Me Tomorrow?” By the way, I loved her “Tapestry” album!), “Aladdin,’

and Shakespeare’s “Twelth Night.”

Oh, and all the ladies and gentlemen out there who have enjoyed Hugh

Jackman’s singing in the movie, “Les Mis,” and his extremely entertaining

performances in roles like, “Wolverine,” will wish to see his performance

tomorrow night as the Host of the 2014 Tony Awards!

Just to let you know, watching Hugh Jackman is more than enough reason

to be watching the Tony’s!!