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This Day in My History

2000:  The Sky is Falling!
2001:  A Flock of Journalists
2002:  Funny--I thought it was Hilly
2003:  Once More into the Breach
2004:  A Bit of Excitement
200525 Years in the Making

(yeah, I know for me
this is silly--but why not?)

"Sweet Charity"

Books Read in 2006
(Updated 10/30)

"Sound Check"

Sound Check
click here to download

click here for flash format

Mefeedia Video Archive

My Favorite Video Blogs

Desert Nut

(for others, see Links page)

Look at these videos!
Martin Scorsese's "Sesame Street"
Hyundai commercial
Baby Breakdancer
Crying Baby
Diving with Whales
(amazing video!)
The Best War Ever

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Boo at the Zoo

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Support liberty and justice for all

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11 November 2006

...a CAMERA.

There I sat, thinking of all sorts of lovely photos to add to this journal entry and I didn't even have my CELL phone with me so had absolutely no camera whatsoever. 

It's not like I would have used a camera, probably.  It was one of those situations where I would have been shy and felt uncomfortable being the only dork in the room with a camera, but it sure would have made this entry more interesting. I passed up my opportunity to get a photo of not one, not two, not three, but four Queen Victorias at one time.  When will such an opportunity ever come again?

We took an 8 hours puppy break today to go to the Lamplighter Gala in Walnut Creek, closer than San Francisco.  I fed the puppies at 4 and then Ashley graciously agreed to come over at 8 and feed them and then I figured they could go 4 hours until I got home at 12.  They were just starting to stir when we walked in the front door, so it all worked perfectly.  (thanks, Ashley!)

The Lamplighter Gala is the company's one big fund raiser, begun back in the 1960s when the company desperately needed money.   It used to be a potpourri kind of show, sometimes loosely hung together with some sort of plot, always with songs from the shows that had been performed during the previous year, almost entirely using the original lyrics, the fun being that the settings and the juxtaposition among the characters was always a surprise.

Free unlimited champagne was served after the show and it was a huge success, one which continues today (though the champagne is no longer donated, is no longer unlimited, because they realized that they were possibly sending a 500 drunks out onto the road afterwards!)

Gilbert and I changed the face of the Gala in 1982 with "Major General Hospital," when I convinced him to try (a) writing new lyrics for some of the songs, and (b) expanding the selection by including songs that had not been performed in the previous year.

Gilbert was really a brilliant musician, but he was also a bit of a snob.  He never really gave Lamplighter choruses credit for being as professional as they were, or Lamplighter principal performers for being as flexible as they were.  Later, he never gave Lamplighter audiences credit for knowing as much about Gilbert & Sullivan lyrics as they did.  He insisted a G&S sing-along would never work because "nobody knows more than the first line."  I think he was perhaps more surprised than anyone when the sing-alongs turned out to be great successes and when the audiences did actually know more than the first lines.

But once I convinced him to just try writing new lyrics and using a wider array of songs and he saw what a huge success the show was, it changed the way Galas were written.  He died in 1986, after having written his magnum opus, a parody of Wagner's Ring Cycle, for the 1985 Gala.

At the time of his death, we had just started batting around ideas for the 1986 Gala and the company was immediately thrown into a tizzy:  who would write the Gala?  Gilbert and I had mostly written "Major General Hospital" but we had started pulling in more talent from the company and had a good solid Gala-writing committee by the time he died.

A co-chairmanship was created and it was a brilliant solution. Barbara Heroux and Geoff Colton headed up the committee for several years, and over the ensuing years it has spread even further, exposing the brilliant, twisted minds who are dedicated to producing a funnier show each year.

I continued as part of the committee for a few years after Gilbert's death, but learned that if you aren't around all the time and don't know all the new people, don't know the "in-jokes," you gradually start to stick out like a sore thumb.  I would write lyrics for a song or two each year, but without the phone calls and the giggle fests among the writers, it became a chore.  I finally gave up participation in the Gala and now I'm just as surprised as the rest of the audience on opening night.

This year's show is called "Victoria's Secret," and is described in the promotional material:  "In this year's “Beach Blanket Basingstoke” farce, three Sherlock Holmeses investigate the apparent murder of Queen Victoria -- but which of the four Victoria look-alikes is it? The real queen? The American pop star? The British actress? Or the drag queen?

"And what is Victoria's Secret?"

The thing was written by the extremely talented Mike Dederian and a host of others, and directed by Barbara Heroux.  As always it is rife with puns, groaners and downright knee-slappers.  I thought the guy sitting next to me (not Walt--the one on the other side) was going to pee in his pants he was laughing so hard.

For my own part, I could tell from watching it where the committee had been getting just silly and having far too much fun to think of something like a "chorus from whales" (When you say that, you think of singers from Wales, but these were a chorus of orcas, wearing whale hats), or a guy dressed as a sikh using the line "No sheet, Sherlock" or a line of British Bobbies, headed by a guy named Brady.  (Bobby Brady...get it?)

You really hadda been there to appreciate it, but very fleetingly I thought back wistfully on the hours I'd been doubled over with laughter writing stuff like this, discarding the really bad stuff (which was really the good stuff!).  It's nice to have those memories.

And I still would have liked to have had a camera with me tonight.  A picture of my friend Will as Columbo would have made it all worthwhile.





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