Need some extra Christmas Cheer?

Hey you! Yeah you, the guy or gal that is reading this blog. You know who you are. I might know who you are as well, but regardless, let’s talk for a second.

Are you in the Christmas Spirit yet? No? Well WHY NOT??!!!

OK, I’m not that insistent on your being in the Christmas Spirit, but I do want to offer a couple of ways to help bolster your holiday spirit levels, while pledging some support to two organizations that I care very much about.

Everyone loves Christmas music, right? OK, maybe not everyone, but there’s got to be something about it that you like– whether it’s the traditional carols or the cutesy tunes that you grew up with as a kid. Well today, dear Launching Pad reader, I am offering you a chance to get your VERY OWN COPY of two CDs that feature lil’ ol’ ME, along with approximately 200 of my closest friends!

The first CD is “Cool Yule,” recorded by the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus in the summer of 2000. That’s right folks– we sang Christmas songs in the middle of summer. On the stage we usually perform our shows. This is a heck of a fun CD. There’s lots of great tunes featuring some incredible, jazzy, brassy arrangements by our director, Patrick Sinozich. The style of the CD? Think Glenn Miller meets Showtune Night. You get the idea.

The CD features songs such as “Boogie Woogie Santa Claus,” “(Everybody’s Waitin’ For) The Man With The Bag,” “Love Turns Winter To Spring,” and of course the title tune, “Cool Yule.” But best of all, there’s a tune called “Little Jack Frost (Get Lost)” which features a chap named Rick Aiello on lead vocals. 🙂

Click on the CD image to order your copy! CDs are only $13.79 plus $2 shipping and handling and are available directly through CGMC’s online ordering system. Trust me, you’ll LOVE this CD!!!

And if that isn’t enough… Windy City Performing Arts is releasing its newest CD in just a few short days!

This CD features the Windy City Gay Chorus and the Windy City Slickers as well as Unison: The Windy City Lesbian and Gay Singers. I sing with the Slickers and the Men’s Chorus, and sang with both groups on this CD. I also designed the CD cover and packaging (as well as WCPA’s website!)

Our concert this weekend will feature songs from the CD, including “It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” “Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree,” “Hanukkah Blessings,” and “Hodie!” among others. CDs are $15.00 each (including shipping and handling) and are available for sale on WCPA’s online ordering system by clicking on the CD image above.

Whether you buy one or both, you’ll be helping support both of these groups that I care very deeply about, as well as hearing some wonderful music to help boost your holiday spirit! If you do buy them, contact me and let me know what you think!! 🙂

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The holiday season (already!?!)

I’m sitting here at 1:30 in the morning listening to Christmas music already. The turkey isn’t even fully eaten yet and it’s already Christmastime. Good lord, where has the time gone?

It seems like only a few days ago I was sitting here complaining about the heat and humidity and contemplating whether to go to the beach or not. Now we’ve already had a snowstorm (which has already melted) and it’s time to put up Christmas trees and other various decorations.

Time passes by so quickly that I barely have a chance to stop and figure out where the time has gone. Is this what getting older is all about? If so, I’ll be 50 by the time I finish this post. And at the rate I’m actually typing all this out, that isn’t too far from the truth!

So Thanksgiving has come and gone, and compared to last year’s holiday fiasco, this year’s celebration was much more peaceful, relaxed and enjoyable for all family members involved. Thank goodness. We had a relatively small celebration, which was nice. I actually prefer that anyway.

The entire 4-day weekend was full of things to do. On Wednesday night after work my friends and I saw “Rent,” which I enjoyed a lot. It’s definitely a challenge staging a show such as this on the movie screen, but I think the people involved did a great job. They stayed suprisingly faithful to the original script, only cutting a few numbers and taking advantage of the film medium to beef up a few things that were hard to tell or describe on the stage. The emotional parts brought us, as expected, to tears; and the high-energy numbers brought us to our feet. It was a great way to kick off the weekend.

After the movie we ended up at Sidetrack and stayed til almost closing time. That made getting up the next day juuuust a bit harder. 🙂

But get up I did, and drove myself to Kenosha to be with the family. Dinner was fantastic as always. There is just nothing better than Thanksgiving turkey dinner. I don’t know what it is.. but it is just the best comfort food in the whole world. I stayed there that night and put up my parents’ Christmas decorations the next day– something they hadn’t done in two years. By the end of my visit, with the tree up and the lights glowing, I was heavily into the Christmas spirit.

I would have continued the spirit in my apartment when I got home, but the place is such a wretched mess right now. I took this coming Friday off specificially to take care of this task, so hopefully I will be able to accomplish it within the allotted 24 hour period.

Other highlights of the weekend:

  • A return visit to Sidetrack Friday night, which included flirting with a very cute (and very young) guy. I got his phone number but I doubt anything will come of it.
  • A tree trimming/wine tasting party on Saturday evening, thrown by my friends Dave and Jeff which only further helped to bolster my Christmas Spirit.
  • A lovely and intimate dinner party (after the tree trimming party) thrown by my friends Scott and Richard (Why are so many of my friends couples?) at their home, which led to singing around the piano. They also rehearsed some gorgeous Bach and Rachmaninoff pieces for a concert they were giving the next morning. Scott plays the flute and Richard is a pianist. If I ever DO get married, they are playing at my wedding. They’re incredible.
  • Brunch this morning with Jeremy, Rafael, Ricardo and George, then some shopping afterward, where I picked out my Christmas cards for this year. LOVE them!!!
  • And of course, it all culminated in Chorus rehearsal tonight.

So it was a busy weekend, but a restful and relaxing one as well. Tomorrow starts “Hell Week” for Windy City Performing Arts, which is followed directly with “Hell Week” for Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus. This is my crunch time, folks. I may not be posting very much. So if I don’t slip in a word edgewise, I hope everyone enjoys the season as it progresses and is safe and content.

And if you’re in Chicago, come out and see WCPA’s show on Saturday, December 3, and CGMC’s show on Friday and Saturday, December 9 and 10.

No Day But Today

Unless you’ve been living under a rock lately, you probably have heard about the big movie that’s coming out this Wednesday.

No, it’s not some big action thriller or a remake of a popular 70s TV series. It is a remake of sorts, but not in that vein.

I’m talking, of course, about Rent.

My tickets have already been purchased. At 8:45 on Wednesday evening, my friends and I will relive this story on the big screen. I expect that we will love the movie, but you never know– these big-screen adaptations of hit Broadway musicals can be chancy at best. Chicago rocked, so maybe this will too.

I won’t go over the story of Rent, the backstory of the production, or anything like that. There are countless webites and write-ups about that in the world.

But Rent means something to me. And going over those thoughts and memories for the past few days has made me become quite nostalgic.

Rent brings me back to a time when things were simpler. Life was more exciting. And I was a lot younger!

In fact, the first I saw Rent on stage was just over 8 years ago. I had just moved to Chicago, and moved into my very first apartment away from my parents. I had just a smattering of friends, and no social life to speak of.. except for a very special lady that I had just met a few weeks earlier.

I’ve spoken about Elle in my blog before. She’s the friend I visited in New York City last November, and who befriended me early on in my Chicago life. I chronicled many of our adventures in the online journal I kept at the time– which I have just re-added to this blog (see the header “Rcktman.com” at left).

I was taking a nap one Saturday when out of the blue I got a call from Elle telling me to come downtown and see Rent. I jumped at the chance.

The show had an impact on me immediately. The music, the story, and the energy defined my excitement and my hope in starting a new life in the ‘big city’. I often look back fondly on those days, and Rent has always been a part of those memories.

So Wednesday after work; at the end of the workweek before the Thanksgiving holiday; I will join the people who I call friends today– people very close and very dear to my heart– and relive those memories from so long ago…

I was a much younger man then– mentally, spiritually, and of course, physically. But I still have the same heart, and I still feel many of the same things.

It’s nice to relive some of those memories. And I’m glad that I’m still able to do that today, here, with you.

So if you get a chance, get out and see Rent. I can’t recommend it (yet), but if you have any good times and good memories to think back upon, you may just find yourself humming along…

…and remembering the good times.

Buried!

Hello–o–o–o–o!

I’m here! No really, I am! You can’t see me, and you can barely hear me, but I’m here. I’m just buried by all the SHIT THAT I HAVE GOING ON IN MY LIFE LATELY!

Seriously folks, the last week was utter, complete insanity. And it wasn’t even official “Hell week” where choruses are concerned. Between my regular 9-5 (or in my case 9-6 and some days 11:30-8) job, I was fitting in rehearsals for Windy City Slickers, Windy City Gay Chorus and of course, Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus (including a special rehearsal for my big solo/duet!), my drag performance debut in “Lipstick & Lyrics” (click the link for photos taken by my friend and fellow Chorus member, Bernie), including rehearsals, buying clothes, borrowing clothes, and the actual show itself; and then in my SPARE time designing the CD artwork for Windy City Performing Arts’s newest CD, “A Windy City Holiday” AS WELL AS the program for the upcoming show of the same name!

Some of those things are done, thank GOD (the drag show especially– that’s me in the Santa hat, folks!), but others persist. So I apologize for my lack of posting lately… I promise I’ll make it worth your while. 🙂

At least it’s a short work-week this week! (YAHOO!) Any big plans for the holiday? I am actually excited about getting home to Mom and Dad’s this year. It’s actually been a few months since I’ve seen them, and after last year’s Thanksgiving fiasco, I’m expecting that this year will be wonderful.

Happy Monday (groan) to all. Peace, love and all that jazz.

I Feel Pretty

This Saturday, CGMC is putting on a benefit performance entitled “Lipstick & Lyrics” at Hydrate, one of the many watering holes along Halsted Street. The show features CGMC members in drag, of course, but with a twist– instead of lip-synching their songs, as drag queens are oft to do, the performers will actually be singing.

The event premiered last year and was a pretty decent success… as well as a lot of fun. So they decided to put the show on again this year.

This year there were to be 8 performers. However, at the last minute, one of them backed out. My friend Jeremy, who is producing the show (and starring in it as well), had already pre-taped a bunch of voice-overs and musical cues around this person, so instead of doing the show with one less performer, he needed someone to fill in– and fast.

Guess who he called?

Hey, you only live once, right? 😉