Carol Channing turns 90 today!

My dear Carol Channing celebrates her 90th birthday today.

I recently performed with her again last month (picture above) in the opening number of the Gypsy of the Year competition, which is a major charity event for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.  She brought the house down as only she can.

For those that don’t know, I spent two and a half incredible years performing with Carol in the last Broadway revival of Hello, Dolly!.  I eventually became the production supervisor where she would ask me for notes – on how to perform the role of Dolly Levi!  As if I could tell her anything she didn’t already know.

A quick Carol story: when I was supervising Dolly on tour, one day we had a particularly long and dreadful travel day – two planes, a bus, a train and a donkey or two – to get to what Carol called “a soccer arena” where we would perform the show that night.

In the sound check Carol looked down and realized that the musician’s pit was 25 feet beneath us.  This was the pit that I had to leap over every night in the middle of the Hello, Dolly! number.  For the first time in 30 years of doing the show she decided this was dangerous.

After the sound check she came looking for me to ask if someone could put a net or something between the pit and the stage in case those of us who jumped over the pit happened to fall into it.

At this point, I had 30 minutes before the performance and was taking a long shower to rid myself of the long travel day.  This being a “soccer arena” the showers where open showers in a locker room.

Covered in soap and standing under the water I suddenly heard a very low baritone voice say “Randy.”

I turned and there was Carol, in the open showers with me, smiling.

She waited for me to turn and went into her concerns about the pit, a net and all sorts of other things as I stood there completely naked.  When she finished expressing her concerns I said, “Absolutely Carol.  But right now I’m soaking wet, taking a shower.”

She looked me up and down, smiled and said “Oh! Yes, of course.  Well, you know – we’re all just show folk,” and then turned and left me to finish my shower.  Nudity was nothing to this old pro who had changed costumes in the wings for decades.

Carol recently gave an interview about her 90th birthday and her thoughts on stage fright, losing the movie role of Dolly Levi to Streisand and getting the arts back into public schools.  She is truly a national treasure.

Celebrate our fabulous Carol Channing today.  As she likes to say – the first 90 years are the hardest…

Random – plastic containers & breakfast

So I’m making some biscuits this morning for breakfast and I pull out some cheddar cheese and turkey breast for my aptly titled “turkey breast & cheddar biscuits.”

Side note: I don’t really like anything associated with breakfast – except biscuits.  Eggs, pancakes, waffles, etc…  Not my thing.  So when it comes to breakfast, yes, I’m a maverick.  I was a maverick before John McCain and the half-term Governor Palin thought about the word.  I break the rules.  I’m an adult now.  It’s my choice.

Aaaaaanyway…

I’m pulling out the turkey and cheddar and I suddenly realize that the plastic storage containers the Hillshire Farms cold cuts come in aren’t nearly as nice as the Albertsons cold cut containers.

Go figure…

That’s all.

Michele Bachmann upsets Veterans over proposed cuts

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann caught flak from the Veterans of Foreign Wars over her proposed benefit cuts in an attempt to reduce the US debt load.

In a statement released Friday, Richard Eubank, head of the VFW said “No way, no how, will we let this proposal get any traction in Congress.”

In addition to cutting veteran’s benefits, Bachmann proposed a host of other spending cuts such as abolishing the Department of Education, reducing farm subsidies and eliminating other federal grants and programs.

Bachmann has recently come under fire for a “revisionist” view of U. S. history in a speech given in Iowa in front of Iowans for Tax Relief on Jan. 21. In that speech she claimed that the founding father’s of the U.S. worked “tirelessly” to eradicate slavery. This, of course, doesn’t jive with history that shows our country didn’t outlaw slavery until the end of the Civil War and by passing the 13th Amendment.

Bristol Palin Appearance Cancelled Due To Protests

Bristol Palin’s upcoming appearance and speech on abstinence at Washington University has been cancelled due to protests from students.

At least two petitions were launched to express student’s concerns that university money was being spent to bring Bristol Palin to the University to speak during it’s Sexual Responsibility Week activities.

One Facebook Group statedIt’s not about conservative or liberal, it’s about not wasting our money on people who don’t matter… especially people who are only famous for being the teenage pregnant daughter of a politician. That is not a credential – it’s a gimmick.”

There were reports Bristol Palin was to have been paid between $15-30,000 for her speaking engagement.

In related news, I will not be speaking at a Napa Valley winery about how to replace Chardonnay with tap water in your daily diet.

Coming soon from Matt Zarley – WE BELONG

This Valentine’s Day, recording artist Matt Zarley is releasing his new cover version of the 80s iconic recording “We Belong” – all proceeds to benefit The Trevor Project.

The Trevor Project is determined to end suicide among LGBTQ youth by providing life-saving and life-affirming resources including nationwide, 24/7 crisis intervention lifeline, digital community and advocacy/educational programs that create a safe, supportive and positive environment for everyone. For more information about The Trevor Project, click here.

Take a listen to this preview, then go download it on Valentine’s Day.  The track is slated to be available everywhere you can download songs – iTunes, Amazon, etc…

Matt is the real deal, and so is The Trevor Project.

Unrest and turmoil in Egypt

From CNN: crowds took to the streets today to protest President Mubarak and the present government.  The army had to be deployed to try to settle unrest that began Tuesday. Mubarak has promised to dismantle the current government but resists calls to step down as President of the country.

Although he has been pro-United States, Mubarak is considered a dictator in many circles. President Obama has called on the government in Egypt to refrain from violence and undo the limitations on internet restrictions put in place during the unrest.

Obama said he spoke to the Egyptian president after he announced plans to dissolve his government and take steps with a new cabinet to implement reforms that will revitalize the economy and create more jobs.

“I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.”

Stay tuned to see how this affects not only Egypt but relations with that country both here in the U.S. and abroad.  U.S. stocks ended lower Friday as investors grew nervous about the political situation in Egypt.

The Randy Report – My sassy American Soapbox

Welcome to The Randy Report - my sassy American soapbox.

The Randy Report is my new avenue to get my point of view out to the world about politics, music, theater and anything that tickles me.

I’m inviting everyone to tune in, shout out and don’t be afraid to have an opinion.

Growing up in Texas, I was a pretty afraid of a lot of the world. Afraid to express myself, afraid I wouldn’t be liked, afraid I wouldn’t get where I wanted to go. I went to Syracuse University for college – blinding change of temperature, tone and scenery. Opened up my world a bit as a got through four freezing cold years, spent over $40K and walked away with a piece of paper saying that I had done something.

I moved to NYC with my best friend Carlye to pursue dreams of being on Broadway, and eventually got there after serving time in many National touring companies of those Broadway shows I dreamed of being a part of.

In those years I came to deal with the fact that I was gay, fell out of the closet, fell in love with my husband Michael, moved out west, got married and began a new chapter. You’ll be hearing much more about Carlye and Michael in future posts on The Randy Report.

Somewhere along the way I realized life had taught me a lot about fear and it’s uselessness. I once heard the phrase “I’m not afraid of anything” and I really liked how that sounded. I really try to honor that. Even if a little fear creeps into a life moment, I chalk it up to reminding me I’m alive. But most of the time, I try to keep heading forward.

I’m not so worried about what people think of me anymore, or what people will think of how I express my thoughts. I think it’s the American Way to live and let live, to honor our differences and realize that all our flavors create the best country in the world. I have no time for people who have issues with anyone who is “different.” Different is good. And if you believe that, you have to take it to the bank. Live it. So skin color, hair color, religion or lack thereof, sexual orientation, age, blah blah blah…. it all makes life interesting. At least to me.

Short story: My father loved to travel and loved adventure. Before he died at the age of 91, he had traveled everywhere in the world several times over. Sometimes by himself, meeting new friends along the way. My mother had passed away when I was five, so my father was THE grown up figure in my life. He was very confident, and throughout childhood I always knew I wanted his approval. I wanted him to be proud of me. To not only love me, but see me attempt something and hear him say “good job.”

When I was very young my father took my brother and me to Mexico for a vacation. For me as a 7 year old, Mexico was a very different world. Other than a swimming pool at a hotel, I was scared of a lot. At one point we were on a beach and my father signed my 9 year old brother Gary up to go para-sailing. They strapped Gary into the harness, and up and away he went. It didn’t seem like adventure to me so much as just plain frightening. When the time came for the ride to end, my brother was so small and light in weight and the wind was so strong, it was difficult to get him down to the ground. It took ten minutes for the “technicians” to get him down. My father turned to me and said “you’re next” and I went running away, crying. Scared to death. That was Mexico to me for a long, long time.

Fast forward to two years ago. I was on vacation with friends of mine and we all decided to go zip lining through the jungle near Puerto Vallarta. I couldn’t wait. Loved it. Taking a zip line hundreds of feet above the jungle floor was beyond exhilarating. The guides asked my name at the start of the day and I gave myself a nickname “Bruno” just to be funny and make my friends laugh. All day long the guides cheered “Bruno” on. It was a great day. No fear in sight and it didn’t even occur to me fear should even be in the equation.

The next morning, while still in Mexico, I got the call my 91 year old father had passed away in his sleep of natural causes. I flew from PV to Texas to handle the funeral and burial details. In getting ready to speak at my father’s funeral – a daunting and important “one shot moment” at expressing something that needed to be profound – I searched to find the best and most “right” thing to say about this world & life traveler who never showed fear.

And suddenly it came to me the memory of that 7 year old boy who was so afraid of everything in life, and now – having just been in Mexico for the first time since the frightening age of 7, and without thinking twice – I was the one zooming through the canopy of the jungle thrilled at the adventure of it all. I suddenly sensed an amazing closing of a circle and passing of a torch. I think one of our parent’s greatest responsibilities is to prepare us, consciously and subconsciously, to face life. To not be afraid.

Standing next to my father’s casket, I took a second, turned and said to my father and his memory – “good job.”

That story probably says something about me and my life. Tons of friends got me here along the way.

I hope people find The Randy Report, and read and react.

Feel free. No fear.