By Jeff Walsh
I have a friend and former teacher that I see whenever I go home to visit and, even without much warning, we'll end up sitting at a corner table at a casino bar, order some drinks, and settle in.
It's become pretty routine that we're going to catch up on things, have some deep conversation, and just enjoy each other's company for a few hours. And, no matter how long it's been since we last got together, the connections flood back and you realize the special bonds that people share.
When I got my review copy of Brent Hartinger's The Elephant of Surprise, I was a bit apprehensive. How long ago did I read the last book? How did it end? And, since this is the fourth book in the Geography Club series that began a decade ago, how did we get here?
I didn't need to worry. First of all, Hartinger does a quick summary at the beginning of the book. But as you start reading the names, and how the characters interact, it all starts coming back to you. Maybe not every plot point of all three books, but the bonds between the characters, the little quirky details, and the comfort of being on a journey with these friends again.
Another new social media experience I had tonight is seeing a friend tagged in a lot of photos and such on my Facebook ticker, and when I finally clicking through to see what kind of trouble he was out getting himself into, I learned that all of the tags were, sadly, eulogies...
I knew William Brandon Lacy Campos from around when I first started Oasis in 1995, and he would submit columns every month in his early activist days in the mid-to-late 90s. We never became great friends then, but I always stayed aware of what he was up to.
When we were both in the Bay Area and later NYC, we made a lot of casual plans that fell through, as you do, finally seeing The Kinsey Sicks at the Highline a few months back. But with Facebook, we thrived. Every day, we traded torrents of bitchy over-the-top remarks. I'd say something culturally insensitive. He'd threaten to slap be back to slavery. I'd ask if I could pick what kind of plantation I wanted to own, and on and on.
The subtext was always playful, though, and I enjoyed being connected with him as often as we were through our conversations. I mean, why spend time making fun of people you don't care about?! So, our physical interactions were incredibly low, but after more than two decades of being aware of someone, there remains that connection.
By Jeff Walsh
Anthony Lee Medina first caught my attention when he nearly fell on me during the Spring Awakening tour in San Francisco. I was seated onstage, and he took an impressive spill during 'Bitch of Living,' that only seemed to energize him more for the song.
I'm never quite sure what it is about seeing certain performers in a show, and you follow them after that show, but I've always kept up with Anthony (Facebook helps there).
Of course, since that time in 2008, I spent much of the time erroneously thinking Anthony was straight and not Oasis material, a notion that was quickly dispelled upon seeing his solo show, Anthony Lee Medina - About Me, after moving to NYC.
Now, Anthony is starting a new part of his career, as he raises the money to put out his first collection of songs, The Ladybug Articles, later this year. Most of the songs are inspired by his ongoing tumultuous relationship with a guy he is still in love with.
We met during the recent heatwave at Otarian, a vegetarian restaurant he turned me onto in the city, and we talked. A lot. Here's what we had to say:
Not referring to all of you, although, well... hmm... I mean, if you think about it. ;-)
But, no, the server on which we're hosted has become a bit wonky, which means it might be up and down a bit.
So, the plan is to get Oasis off of there and hosted elsewhere. Just a matter of when our techie can get the time to move us. He just needs to find 6 hours to do everything he needs to get us resituated, but he keeps himself rather busy, so that is the challenging part. Hopefully soon.
Assuming we know in advance when we're switching hosts, I'll let you know. If the server is just up and down a lot anyway, then one of those six hours might just be the upgrade.
But, the good news is that the Oasis part of the equation isn't having issues, just the server we're hosted on. The site isn't going anywhere, just prepping for a new home.
By Jeff Walsh
Transgender dinosaur musical.
I don't know where I first saw those three words together, but I was immediately hooked. The phrase prepared you in advance. You knew the show wasn't going to be serious. You knew it was a musical. And, most obviously, that there would be dinosaurs. The reality was even more fun.
This musical spoof of Jurassic Park, begins with Morgan Freeman explaining some of the backstory, by which I mean a tall white actor who introduces himself as Morgan Freeman, the character he will play for the duration of the show, who is often mistaken for Samuel L. Jackson by the cast.
But let's face it, the show is really about actors portraying dinosaurs while singing uptempo numbers, doing fun choreography, and questioning gender identity.
Hey everyone, this is my friend Matt (a former Oasis contributor back in the early early days)'s debut single, Take Off Str8 Boy from his band The Making Of The Making Of! Check it out!
President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president.
By Jeff Walsh
Telly Leung is a force of nature.
In Godspell, now playing at the Circle in the Square Theater on Broadway (see review), Leung has turned his role into an opportunity to showcase what seems to be almost too many talents. He acts, sings, dances, does impressions, and even when people are coming in after intermission, he's at the piano playing riffs from A Chorus Line, Wicked, Rent, and others, before launching into an Elton Johnesque reprise of "Learn Your Lessons Well" from Act One to get act two started.
When I recently ran into Stephen Schwartz, the composer of Godspell and Wicked, he had nothing but praise for Leung.
"His performance has become sort of famous. He's unbelievable, and the nice thing is he gets to show, in this particular production, the range of talents that he has," Schwartz said. "People who have seen him do one thing or another before, but here he gets to sing beautifully, he gets to be really funny, he gets to do amazing imitations, he gets to play the piano, you see a real range of just how much this guy can do. He's extraordinary in the show."
For how long Leung has been on my radar, it's amazing I'm just seeing him now. I originally planned to see him in Godspell years ago, but then the production was delayed. I planned to see him in an early version of Lysistrata Jones in Dallas, but I got delayed in Vegas instead. When the Rent tour came through the Bay Area, he had left the tour already.
So, for a while, I figured there was clearly some conspiracy at work here and I just wasn't meant to see Leung onstage. But once I moved to New York City, and he's in a show eight times a week, the odds greatly shifted in my favor, so we recently sat down in his dressing room before show time to chat about Godspell and his amazing path to Broadway (sorry Gleeks, I totally blanked on him being a Warbler during the interview):
By Jeff Walsh
Godspell is an odd mix of things that seemingly shouldn't work together: a series of parables from the Gospel of Matthew, amazing songs by Stephen Schwartz, and a lot of freedom in between on how to present both.
But somehow, the spare book, beautiful music, and lack of structure all combine to make something bigger than the sum of its parts. In its current Broadway incarnation, Godspell is a high-energy experience that barely lets you catch your breath.
Before I saw the show, in December, an elderly woman at the Patti Lupone/Mandy Patinkin show was giving me the rundown on all the new Broadway shows. When she came to Godspell, her demeanor changed and she clutched her chest, like even remembering the manic energy was exhausting her: "They keep running around, trying to make us have fun."
By Jeff Walsh
“Bring It On” hits all the notes you’d expect from a new musical inspired by the 2000 Kirsten Dunst cheerleading movie of the same name. There are catty cheerleaders, underdogs for the audience to cheer on, and high-flying aerial wizardry. But the members of its creative team have built their names by delivering theater that goes beyond our expectations, and that didn’t happen this time.
The story is pretty simple. A cheerleader is forced to change schools and goes from being head cheerleader of a winning squad to being anonymous in a more ethnic school that doesn’t even have or want a cheer squad. I never saw the original movie, but my friend who attended with me said it is not the same plot, so it is definitely more “inspired by” than “based on.”
Just wanted to make sure people are aware of new technology out there, so you all could take any precautions necessary to protect your identities on Oasis.
If you haven't tried it out yet, Google has a new image search capability. When you go to the Google home page and click Images, you are given a normal image search bar. But the new bit is that you can drag and drop an image onto the search bar and it will also search for that image elsewhere on the web.
So, if you grabbed a school picture that is available on your school website, your Tumblr page, your Facebook (if it is available to the public), etc., all of these can technically get linked together if the same photograph is on all of these sites.
Definitely not a good thing for people in the closet, or people who just don't want anyone to be able to link their online accounts to one another, etc. And, unlike the profile pages on here, which we can tell Google and other search engines not to scan, this is slightly different, as anyone can grab a photo and see if it appears elsewhere online.
Do with this information what you will. I just wanted to put it out there.
The safest bet seems to be using a unique photo for Oasis that appears nowhere else online, even in a different lighting/background than other pictures you've taken.
Just a heads up.
I'm not suggesting this technology has only nefarious purposes, of course:
Now that it is OK to be openly gay in the US military, there have already been gay marriages and other events our LGBT troops have been having.
This soldier came out to his father over the phone from Germany:
By Jeff Walsh
So, I requested to be sent screeners of the "youth" movies being shown at Frameline, San Francisco's LGBT film festival, which is currently happening in San Francisco. I'm not certain if this is indicative of the larger programming this year, but the films I received nearly all focused on trans and gender identity issues, which will certainly appeal to a lot of people on the site here.
Keep in mind, these movies are just playing the festival circuit now, so you may have to hunt down when they are playing a festival near you, and the wait may be a bit longer for a DVD release.
Here's a breakdown of the films I received:
By Jeff Walsh
Rory O'Malley has a hard time accepting being gay eight times a week.
As Elder McKinley in The Book of Mormon on Broadway, he ends up doing a big tapdance number to "Turn It Off," about his "cool little Mormon trick" of turning his gay thoughts off "like a light switch."
Offstage, he couldn't be gayer. In addition to his role in the hottest Broadway musical, from South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone, for which he is nominated for a Tony Award as Best Featured Actor in a Musical, O'Malley is also one of the co-founders of Broadway Impact, along with Gavin Creel, which unites the Broadway community to work toward marriage equality.
The Book of Mormon is a collaboration between Parker, Stone, and Robert Lopez, one of the people behind Avenue Q. The show is nominated for 14 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. The more I saw interviews with Rory O'Malley leading up to the Tonys, the more he seemed like someone who needed to be featured in Oasis. He always comes across as so thankful, open and heartfelt that it honestly wasn't a huge surprise he got cast as a squeaky-clean Mormon. After all, he is the guy who whitened up Eddie Murphy's "Cadillac Car" song in the Dreamgirls movie until it had all the soul and bite drained out of it.
So, O'Malley and I jumped on the phone recently, to chat about his life, career, as well as being gay and spiritual. Here's what we said:
By Jeff Walsh
When I moved to San Francisco in 1996, one of my first purchases was a trade paperback of Armistead Maupin's "Tales of the City," from the recently-closed gay bookstore in the Castro. I'd previously watched the PBS mini-series, but it seemed a necessary book to read upon moving here. The book begins with Mary Ann Singleton, in San Francisco on vacation from Cleveland, calling her mother to say she isn't coming home, she's staying in this enchanted city.
To fans of the book, Mary Ann, Michael "Mouse" Tolliver and Anna Madrigal aren't mere literary characters. Mary Ann is the eyes of the piece that clearly see the magic of San Francisco. Mouse is its heart yearning for connection. And Anna is its soul welcoming us unconditionally with joints taped to our apartment doors, whose 'anything goes' attitude is earned through her life experience.
They are an important part of our lives, and capture the magic and allure of a city where people come to redefine themselves, find love, build community, and explore... well, pretty much anything they want to.
So, going to see a new musical based on "Tales of the City," featuring music from members of the Scissor Sisters, and both the writer and director behind Avenue Q, had me of two minds. I couldn't wait to see it, but I was also nervous they might fail to capture the essence of the piece. (I'm well aware the second concern is a bit much, but what I can say? I should have been tipped off that the team knew what it was doing by the Tales of the City-branded condoms and rolling papers at the merchandise table.)