Thursday, December 17, 2020

My Interview Stories - The Palms


After watching many interviews on late-night shows and day-time shows during the past year, I’ve become keenly aware of the old go-to stories that celebrities tell. Often, I don’t enjoy hearing the same one or two stories from people as they do the rounds on talk shows to sell their latest project. They usually have no variation. They have practiced the story dozens of times, pausing for laughs in the same places, even if no one laughs. (The one story I do enjoy each time I hear it is James Acaster’s Pin Drop band story. Look for that one if you get the chance.) But this got me thinking about what some of my talk-show stories might be. Here’s the first one.


After I had lived in LA for a few years, I started taking voice lessons. To what end? Who can say? We got the trades at work and I did see an ad in the one for variety acts for a local cabaret night, so I answered the ad.


I discussed the songs I knew with my voice teacher and we decided I should sing “Another Hundred People,” by Stephen Sondheim. The promoter who was trying to get the cabaret night together had hired a piano player, so I just needed to bring the sheet music to the audition.


I went to the audition, at the club, The Palms, in West Hollywood. I told a gay friend of mine that I was singing there and he asked me if I was sure, because it was a lesbian bar. Sure. No problem.


The audition was acapella and the promoter was sufficiently pleased that I got the job. It paid 2 free drinks at the bar the night of. I wasn’t doing this for the money, so that was fine with me. I left a photocopy of my music for the pianist.


I don’t remember much about before the show. I knew where the club was from the audition. I parked at a pay garage instead of driving around and around looking for a meter, so already I was losing money on this gig. There wasn’t so much a stage as one of end of the room with a keyboard and microphone. I sang and the piano player played…something. He certainly wasn’t playing the song I was doing. I probably starting singing faster and faster, just wanting to finish this weird duet of voice and noodling. It was excruciating for me. I don’t think the audience noticed, if they were even paying attention.


I finished the song and took the one step from stage to crowd. I made my way to the bar. I traded in one drink ticket for a coke. “You could have something stronger,” the bartender suggested. No, just a coke.


A woman, older than me by maybe 40 years, who can best be described as Popeye, sat beside me and started to chat me up. I was polite, but I don’t think I even finished my drink before leaving the club. Did I thank the promoter? I don’t know. Did I stay and watch the rest of the show? No. How rude of me. I left and was thankful that I didn’t have to walk far to the parking garage.


I don’t think I answered any other ads looking for singers after that. Not that it was a horrible experience, just that it wasn’t for me. I guess that’s why I’m not famous.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

I Wrote a Book!

 I have been writing a book for years. And I finally decided it is done. 

If you have some money laying around, it would be the best Christmas present ever for me if you would buy a copy of my book.

Buy My Book - Exilir

Here's the cover, which is part painting by me (with soft pastel) and part electronic. I tried a version where I did the text by hand, but it was a mess and difficult to read. Having a title which people can't read didn't seem like a winning marketing strategy.

Here's the terrible version, which is 100% soft pastel:

I think you'll agree I made the right call on that one.

Anyway, thank you for supporting me!

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Hazy Shade of Winter

 Katherine posted an autumnal picture to Facebook with lyrics from this song, so I decided we had to do it next.

Sunday, October 25, 2020


 Katherine and I did a new video. Her bell sounds appropriately nautical for this one. A favorite song of mine. I had a 45 of it that I would listen to every time I went “home” to Texas, where my record player resided.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Rhinestone Cowboy

 I've sent this to my sister to duet, but I liked it enough I did a solo take. The duet take had fewer mistakes. Oh, well.

Disembodied Voices

 I learned something new today. I can't directly upload videos from my phone to my blog! I knew I couldn't do it without copying the videos to my computer but it turns out the files are too large to directly upload! Anyway, I have to put them on YouTube first and then share them here, which is annoying.

This is a song by the Finn Brothers called Disembodied Voices. I think it is a really beautiful song about having a sibling. I tried to get my sister to sing it with me, but so far she doesn't want to learn it. Oh, well.

Friday, September 25, 2020

Take Me Home, Country Roads, take 1

 This is take 1 because my sister might also sing this with me. Here I am joined by my talented friends Katherine (on camera) and Alex (off camera).

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Big Yellow Taxi

My friend Katherine and I are at it again. Big Yellow Taxi.

 I tuned the guitar to D and out the capo on the second fret, for anyone interested.


Monday, August 17, 2020

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Trying Acapella App

My friend and I tried Acapella and this is the result.

Yes, I sing the words out of order. I learned this song when I was about 12 and time jumbled it in my brain.

On a Wonderful Day Like Today!

Friday, January 3, 2020

We Need to Talk About Cats

I feel like I need to start by giving an accounting of my history with theater.

My parents thought it was important to expose me and my sister to theater from a very young age. I remember watching movies like Calamity Jane and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers more than I remember ever seeing a Disney film. I was too young the first time I saw Singin’ in the Rain to understand what was so funny about Lina Lamont’s voice, but I still loved the movie and have seen it dozens of times. By the time I was fifteen, I had probably seen Chicago, in the theater, five or six times.

At four I was enrolled in dance classes. The one-hour class at that age was divided into 20-20-20 of ballet, tap and jazz/tumbling. It didn’t take me very long to realize I was only interested in one of those: tap. I loved it and still love it.

My parents also thought that travel was very important. By the time I was in my teens, I had been not only all over the U.S., outside of Texas where I was born and raised, but I had been to New Zealand, Australia, Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, France, Germany and Turkey. Now I realize how unusual and privileged that was, but at the time it was just life.

I was in my first musical when I was six. I didn’t have any idea what was going on when my mom took me and my sister to the Fiesta Dinner Playhouse in San Antonio for an audition. I had learned “Hush Little Baby” at school that day, so when I was put on the stage and asked to sing a song, that’s the only song I could think of. Somehow, I was cast as Gretl in The Sound of Music.

My sister and I started doing musical theater at the San Antonio Little Theater (SALT). There was a producer there named Phil George who would put together musical revues. We were in Broadway Babies Encore and All Aboard, as well as the traditional musical The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd. By about that time, I was done with performing, though, and in high school I switched to working theater tech. I was a “ghost” in Blithe Spirit and built sets and worked lights for The Diviners, Bye Bye Birdie and Oklahoma! I even got hired to be the sound technician for a play downtown.

Not only where there dance lessons in my life, but there were also music lessons. Piano didn’t last very long, although I wish I had been forced to continue. By high school, I really wanted to take guitar lessons. My parents made me a strange bargain. In exchange for guitar lessons, I also had to take viola lessons and join the high school orchestra. They wanted viola for my college transcripts and I was happy to get the guitar lessons.

When I moved to Los Angeles, I stopped playing guitar and viola, but I started taking voice lessons. I had a few one-night-only shows in LA and had a great time. I’ve recently gotten back into some piano and singing, writing my own songs now and recording them. For a few years I’ve gone with friends to an assisted-living center once a week to sing for the residents.
Music, theater, musicals, movies, dance… They are all integral to who I am.


Let me get back to that first trip to London. I must have been in my late aughts or a tween. We went to see Cats. The Rum Tum Tugger left the stage and sat on the lap of someone in the audience. It terrified me a little that a boundary like that was crossed, but it made an impression. People were dancing and singing and dressed like cats. It was magical.

At that age, Cats was the best thing I had ever seen, right up there with The Wiz movie. I got soundtrack albums for both and played them repeatedly. I got a sweatshirt with the Cats logo, with dancers in the eyes in place of the pupils, and wore it all the time. I sang the songs to my own pet cats. I wrote down lyrics and memorized them. I got a copy of Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats with drawings by Edward Gorey. I wrote a report on that book in school. My love of Edward Gorey began, without me even realizing it.

(My actual copy of the book.)

Our family went to New York for a vacation and we saw Cats live again.


When I heard they were making a movie version of Cats, I was excited but apprehensive.

Over the summer, in 2019, I got hired to do some work on the first Cats trailer. I had already seen it on-line and, like all of the internet, I was concerned the movie was going to be terrible. I won’t bore you with the details of the kind of work I do, but it is for International Versioning and getting hired to work on the trailer meant watching it, very slowly, for about four hours while I did my work. By the time I finished the project, my apprehension was replaced with curiosity and interest. I really wanted to see the movie.

Cut to December when the movie was finally released. The reviews were terrible. My enthusiasm to see the movie on the opening weekend dwindled and I thought about maybe just waiting for streaming. But a friend called and asked if I wanted to go see it that first Sunday it was playing. I didn’t have other plans, so I went.

It was magical.

When the overture began, I was taken back in time. The music sounded just like the soundtrack album I was used to listening to. “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats” gave me chills and made me cry at how beautiful it was. I cried when Victoria was abandoned. I cried during “Memory.” I cried during the new Taylor Swift song, “Beautiful Ghosts.” I cried when Grizabella ascended over London and disappeared into the clouds. The actor playing Skimbleshanks, Steven McRae, is an amazing tap dancer. His technique is impeccable. I want to learn his dance.

Maybe I was overwhelmed seeing it in the theater. I got the soundtrack album from a friend for Christmas and have listened to it. I cried during “Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats,” “Memory” and “Beautiful Ghosts,” just like I did in the movie theater. I forgave Rebel Wilson and James Corden for their less-than-great vocals, because they capture the characters and tell their stories appropriately.
Is Cats perfect? No, but it is pretty darn good. I really wish they would CGI out Jennifer Hudson’s snot. I wish the CGI when the cats were dancing was a little less disjointed, but that could only be accomplished by cat costumes instead of cat CGI. The dancing, still, was outstanding.  Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer uses the original London version, not the U.S. version, so I have to get used to that. Two songs I didn’t like were cut (“The Awefull Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles” and “Growltiger’s Last Stand”), and I’m happy about that.

I will see it again. I will listen to the soundtrack album forever. I will cry. I will sing. I will dance.