Sunday, February 26, 2012

In Search pre-Oscar blog!

It's Oscar Sunday, or as we like to call it in my family - Christmas. Sure I was snubbed yet again, so I will be watching this year from a friend's house, no doubt indulging in things the Oscar nominees don't get to have for themselves until well after the awards are over - dinner and lively conversation.

Because I don't have to wrap myself like a mummy to lose excess water weight before the show (a ritual they actually touted as a celebrity must beforehand), I can partake of delectables and speculation to my heart's comfortable shoes, though I might wear a few baubles just for fun.

The majority of my family will be gathering on the west coast for their annual Oscar party. I like that party because they give a prize to the one who guesses the least amount of winners correctly. But this year, since I've seen all but one of the Best Picture nominees, I think I might guess more than a few correctly at my east coast soiree.

I've been following Billy Crystal's tweets, which absolutely crack me up, so I am thrilled that he's back hosting again. Kudos for tweets also go to Steve Martin, undoubtedly best tweeter on twitter. (Try saying that five times fast!) I myself would be a happy twitterer, or tweeter, or whatever, if I could figure out how to get the porno people to stop following me, but that's a dilemma for another day.

Yesterday I watched Midnight in Paris, which left me with the disturbing feeling that I could give Woody Allen's neuroses a run for their money. It also left me craving French wine, baguettes, and with an uncanny desire to read Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fortunately, I can indulge in these things and plan to do just that during the coming week.

I am looking forward to seeing George Clooney and Brad Pitt...and of course, the dresses and the jewels (on the ladies, that is). I fancy myself an aficionado with such discerning comments as "I love that dress, but that other one - not so much." It's taken me years to cultivate this kind of astute powers of observation.

In my mind, my own Oscar dress is a rich, deep purple - my favorite color. And it covers my upper arms which, my father helpfully pointed out, do not look like Michelle Obama's. So I'm going with 3/4 sleeves. I'm also three dress sizes smaller in my mind, so Jenny Craig, here I come! I will not, however, be doing that mummy thing. Dehydration makes me pass out, and who needs that kind of attention on the red carpet!

I've been delving deeply into the psychological ramifications of an Oscar win, and decided that not only would it be the ultimate source of professional validation, but it could also, in a pinch, be used in self defense, because I hear that those suckers weigh quite a bit. I've got Mr. Oscar pictured on the mantle of the fireplace in my house. And because the house I'm currently in does not have a fireplace, I must be envisioning my Oscar-worthy house as well. (It's really a domino effect once you start visualizing these things.)

Ah, but time is fleeting, and I must go and begin the getting ready process. These are personal favorites: Best Picture - The Help, Best Director - Scorsese for Hugo, Actress - Viola Davis for The Help, Actor - George Clooney for The Descendants, Supporting Actor - Jonah Hill for Moneyball, Supporting Actress - Octavia Spencer for The Help, Original Screenplay - Bridesmaids, Best Adapted Screenplay - Moneyball.

And why the heck are there only TWO songs nominated??? Anyone???

Have fun tonight at the Oscars! I know I will!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

In Search of...celebrating the moment

The Huffington Post was nice enough to publish this!

There is a picture that CNN has shown repeatedly tonight of Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and Liza Minelli. It seems unfathomable to me that three out of four of them are now gone. Sure, there was always the underlying gnawing feeling that lives fraught with drug use could not end well. And yes, we all knew intellectually that the odds of longevity were decidedly slimmer when a crack pipe was involved. But somehow, that doesn't seem to lesson the blow or ease the pain of our collective loss.

Music, perhaps more than any other sense memory type of thing, has the ability to stir and transport us. It picks up where words leave off. It brings people together - people who wouldn't necessarily be together. And so, when one of it's emissaries leaves us, we lose a little bit of that magic that would make this world seem more humane in times when we so desperately need it to be.

And so I find myself with another reminder not only of my own mortality, but of a time in life permanently relegated to the past, a song that lives on only in the recesses of my memories now. And it sounds silly to say that part of the reason for such deep impact is that death robs us of the chance for a comeback, for that full circle moment that would transcend all the mistakes of the past and return a star triumphantly to the glory days of his or her former youth, even if it's just for an evening. We all want that second chance, not only for a celebrity, but for ourselves.

For a brief moment, we'd like to remember who we were, how we felt, whom we loved, and what dreams we held in our hearts with the earnest belief that their realization was possible. We want to remember the car we drove when we first heard that song, how much younger we were, the taste of a kiss, the outfit we wore. These are the things inextricably intertwined with the music.

As a songwriter, I remember endless hours in the recording studio trying to make one of my early demos sound like a Whitney Houston record. I remember going to see her on Saturday Night Live, being in the same room with that voice. I remember covering her song "So Emotional" in one of the first shows I did of my own in New York. (This was not the best idea I ever had, me singing Whitney, by the way.) I remember endless attempts to pitch my songs to her and Clive Davis. These were my earliest days as an aspiring songwriter, and with every cassette tape (yes, cassette), I delivered my hopes and dreams as well.

If there's a take away from tragedy such as this, I think it lies in celebrating the moment. We get one chance to walk through this life and savor the experience. Even the heartbreak is inherently beautiful if you stop and appreciate how you grow and who you become because of it. These aren't just the best days of our lives, they're the only days.

By all accounts, Whitney Houston grappled with demons that seemed in direct proportion to her immense talent. It is often this way with artists. We unknowingly reap the benefit of their insurmountable pain. It makes them great, but it takes them too soon.

I can only hope, as I'm sure much of the world is hoping tonight, that Whitney Houston is finally at peace.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

In Search of...interesting things to put on a business card

Yes, it's true. I am an ordained member of the clergy now. This bit of news is usually followed by a long pause in which the person hearing it tries to assess the veracity of the statement. Those who know me seem to think I'm kidding, but those who really know me are certain that I'm not.

While it's true that I've held a variety of jobs that include teaching Broadway tunes on Broadway, being an "information coordinator" (a nebulous title, if ever there was one), and even a stint making biker jewelry, I have managed to keep God, music, and politics at the forefront somehow.

I have to admit, though, this latest foray has taken even me by surprise. You see, I got ordained online. None of that years of seminary stuff for me, no sirree. I just filled out a form and clicked. But I warn you. Should you decide to do this for yourself, you will be transformed by the decision you make in ways you cannot anticipate. Sure, I picked the church who's sole tenet is "do what's right." That seemed good enough for me. And while I became ordained so that I could perform same sex weddings for my friends, the fervor of my belief in love, in equality, and in religious freedom has deepened tremendously, so I no longer giggle when I talk about it.

So sure, I write snarky political pieces for The Huffington Post, pop and country songs for upcoming artists, and will tirelessly persevere for any cause I deem worthy of my efforts, but in the end, it may just be that my "we are the world" belief system is what will define me and inform all my future choices, because to be a part of anyone's most vulnerable moments, whether good or bad, is to have a ringside seat for what is meaningful in life.

As for what I'm going to put on my business cards, I'm done with the biker jewelry, though I do love a good Broadway song. I think I might need as many cards as I wear hats. No matter what your motivations are, I encourage you to go for whatever you feel that inner urging towards. You never know where it may lead you. Life has a funny way of surprising us.

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