Monday, June 30, 2014

Lovely weekend recap

Sat was a work day for me, but I did something a bit unusual:  I hosted a public open house.  My team doesn't do a lot of open houses because in this area they are not effective in selling homes.  They are often attended only by nosey neighbors rather than home buyers.  Serious buyers almost always work with an agent.  But I agreed to do this open house for my client.  He bought this house which was in very bad condition, completely remodeled it, and is now selling it.  Unfortunately the open house was very poorly attended.
My client's house for sale
That evening I met up with Vic & Mike and our mutual friend Kevin and his new boyfriend Scott for dinner at Saketumi.  I hadn't seen Kevin since sometime before we moved from VA in Jan 2007 so it was great to reconnect.  Everyone enjoyed their dinners and the conversation.
Vic's lobster dinner
Although I was not on the schedule to perform in that night's Legends show, I received a call on Fri asking if I could fill in for someone who had a family emergency.  Of course I said yes.  So after dinner with the guys, I went to the Blue Moon to become Neil Sedaka.
My version of Neil Sedaka
Sun I met Steven for breakfast at the Crystal.  Thad went to yoga, Joe P had brunch plans with a visiting friend, and Spouse stayed home to make potato salad.  After breakfast Spouse & I went to a small car show where we ran into Rick & Nick.  
A rare AMC Ambassador
Later we went to Steven & Thad's for a BBQ celebrating the birthdays of 1 of the Bobs, Joe P, and Jack, and the retirement of Robin.  As usual, we brought Spouse's legendary potato salad.  The weather was absolutely stunning, about 80 degrees, low humidity, and a nice breeze.  
Making a wish!
 It was the perfect way to end the weekend!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Anatomy of a winner

So last night was the finale of the Rehoboth Idol contest at the Blue Moon.  Like the TV show, it is not just a singing competition, its also a performance competition.  I won this contest in 2011.  You can read about it and see photos/videos of week 1, week 2, week 3, and the finale.

As a former winner of this contest and as an experienced performer, here are my tips for winning a singing/performance competition:

  1. Song choice - you can be the best technical singer out there, but your song choice can make or break you.  Pick a song you like a lot but is largely unknown by the judges/audience, and you'll have a tough time getting them to connect with you.  Pick a song everyone likes and is familiar with and the audience will feed you energy.
  2. Preparation - know all the lyrics, and know all the verses in the correct order.  Singing live is very different than singing along with the radio.  Nothing takes the place of adequate rehearsal.
  3. Make the song your own - don't try to impersonate the original artist because you won't sound genuine.  Switch up the melody just a little, and draw on your emotions to infuse your singing with authenticity.
  4. Use the stage - don't sing behind a microphone stand!  Take the mic in your hand and use the entire width of the stage to make eye contact with the audience.  Incorporate tasteful gestures and dance moves where appropriate.
  5. Project confidence - almost every performer, regardless of fame/experience, gets nervous.  Don't let your nerves get the best of you.  Tell yourself "I've got this!" and take a deep breath before going on stage in order to project confidence.
I used this criteria to informally coach 1 of the contestants.  While all the contestants did some or several of these things, Brian was the only 1 to do all 5 of them.

He won!!
Brian & the judges, some contestants, and the club owners

Brian  & his boyfriend Oscar

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


As I was loading groceries into my car, I became aware of an older couple nearby whose conversation had quickly become increasingly loud.

HIM:  This thing isn't working.  (He was pointing his key fob directly at the car and repeatedly pushing it.)
HER:  Huh??
HIM:  (Even louder) This thing isn't working!
HER:  Are you pushing the right button?
HIM:  I've pushed it 50 times!
HER:  But are you pushing the right button??
HIM:  Yes I'm pushing the right button!
HER:  Wait... this isn't our car.  Where did our car go???
HIM:  What?  Its not our car?
HER:  No, this one has black seats.  What happened to our car???
HIM:  Where'd our car go?

At this point I considered going over to see if I could help them.  But just as I finished loading and was about to return my cart, I determined they were okay.

HER:  Look - I think that's our car!  (She pointed to an identical color/model car in the same parking space of the next isle over.)  Push the clicker that way!
HIM:  You think that's our car??
HER:  Yes, push the clicker over there!

The lights flashed and the trunk opened on their car.

God bless old people!  But in their defense, I think I've done the same thing once or twice, and I'm not old yet.

Monday, June 23, 2014

House beautiful

I'm not a 'magazine person', but occasionally Spouse brings home magazine's from his personal trainer.  Recently he brought home an issue of "House Beautiful", which brought back old memories.

I remember my parents getting me a subscription to "Boys Life" magazine when I was an early teenager.  I think it was sponsored by the Boy Scouts because the magazine's contents had a lot to do with camping and being an honorable citizen.  I had little interest in camping or the magazine.

A few years later I asked my parents for a subscription to "House Beautiful" magazine.  

What teenage boy asks for a subscription to a home decorating magazine??  A gay one.  But my parents' highly-religious minds would never allow them to consider that possibility.  No, I imagine they thought their teenage son was interested in architecture, or possibly building, and that's why he asked for a subscription to "House Beautiful".  They probably hoped for that.  

But in reality it just another of many early signs my parents chose to ignore that their son was gay.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Poodle time

From my previous posts, you all know I love Miss Richfield 1981.  I see her every summer when she comes to town.

Last night Joe P, Steven, 1 of the Bobs, Tim and I went to see her new show "Play with my Poodle" at the Blue Moon.  In typical Miss Richfield style, she had us screaming with laughter!  I love the way she interacts with the audience and is so quick with hilarious observations of the audience.

After the show Miss Richfield 1981 posed with us for photos:
Miss Richfield 1981 and me

Miss Richfield and Joe P
If you're ever feeling down or suicidal, all you need to do to feel better is to go see Miss Richfield 1981.  Seriously, if you have the opportunity (here's her performance schedule), go see Miss Richfield 1981.  You'll be very glad you did.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Weekend redux

This past weekend I had a rare weekend off work, and managed to resist having to meet clients on my days off.

Spouse & I decided to do some much needed power washing.  Against my wishes we bought a power washer a few weeks ago.  (I prefer to pay someone to do it rather than have to figure out how to use and maintain the machine to do it myself.) But Spouse really wanted to buy and use it, and well, since I bought Big Ella years ago I have no room to complain about his decision on how to spend our money.

He read skimmed the directions and put the 117 pieces together.  We removed the 4 love seats, 2 chairs, 2 end tables, 2 dining tables and 8 dining chairs from the rear screened porch and started experimenting with the 3 tips which give different widths of spray and power.  After a few minutes we got the hang of it and cleaned the mildew, cobwebs, and dirt from the screened porch.

Next we cleaned all the furniture we'd taken off the porch, and then we headed around to the side entrance of the house.  Because of the sun's direction, that part often does not dry thoroughly after rain and had some algae along with the dirty, cobwebs and mildew.  (Note to self:  consider repainting white trim a color that doesn't show so much.)  We were pretty impressed with the work we did, and to my genuine surprise, we really didn't argue like we usually do when trying to complete home projects.  (Spouse prefers 'fast' while I prefer 'thorough'.)

By the time we finished the side entry, the screened porch and furniture were dry, so I loaded all the furniture back into the porch while Spouse was inside making a cake.

That evening we went to cook-out at Mike & Nathan's place.  Spouse made a Luau cake (my name for it) which was delicious and simple.  Just make an orange flavor box cake mix according to the directions, but substitute crushed pineapple with its juice for the water.  Once its cool, ice with butter cream frosting and sprinkle with coconut flakes.  It was a big hit.

On Sun we had a leisurely morning at home, drinking coffee on the freshly cleaned screened porch, dead-headed the roses, and eventually got ourselves ready to go to the beach.  We picked up wraps from the deli on our way so we could eat lunch at the beach with our friends Joe P, Rick, and Tim.  It was an absolutely gorgeous day and really enjoyed our time at the beach.  Later that evening we met up with Steven & Thad and Joe P for dinner.

It was a fun and productive weekend!

Friday, June 13, 2014

This little light of mine

Since I am a big fan of recycling, alternative fuels, and zero-emission electric cars, you would think 
that I'd also be a fan of CFL (compact fluorescent lamp) bulbs, but I'm not.

I found the earlier version of the CFL bulbs to be annoying because they took 30-60 seconds to fully illuminate.  When you open a closet door and flip on the light switch to find something, you really don't want to have to stand around waiting for the light in order to find something.  The more recent version is better, with a 10-15 second warm-up period, but are still not ideal for places where you need light quickly, like a dark closet.

Another irritating thing about these bulbs is that they don't last as long as incandescent light bulbs.  We moved into our house 7 1/2 years ago and began gradually changing the incandescent bulbs over to CFLs.  I have already had to replace several of the CFLs because they only lasted a couple years.  Meanwhile, the incandescent bulbs that never got switched out are still burning strong after more than 7 years.

Oh, and did I mention CFLs are like 3 or 4 times more expensive than incandescent bulbs???

And when the CFLs burn out, you're not supposed to throw them in your regular household trash because they contain mercury!  You're supposed to drop them off at Home Depot or Lowes to recycle them.  What a pain...

But despite these irritants Spouse & I continue to replace bulbs with CFLs because they allegedly use less electricity.  How do you feel about CFLs?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Lovely lyrics

Here's another installment of my blog feature Lovely lyrics.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I do!

Stairway to the Stars
performed by Ella Fitzgerald

Let's build a stairway to the stars
And climb that stairway to the stars
With Love beside us
To fill the night with a song
We'll hear the sound of violins
Out yonder where the blue begins
The moon will guide us
As we go drifting along.

Can't we sail away on a lazy daisy petal
Over the rim of the hills?
Can't we sail away on a little dream
Settle high on the crest of a thrill?

Let's build a stairway to the stars
A lovely lovely stairway to the stars
It would be heaven
To climb to heaven with you

Let's build a stairway to the stars
And climb that stairway to the stars
Yes we're climbing
Climbing to that stairway to the stars
Stars, stars, stars
The sound of violins
Way out yonder where the blue begins
The moon will guide us
As we go drift drift drifting along

Can't we sail away on a lazy daisy petal
Over the rim of the hills?
Can't we sail away on a little dream
Settle high on the crest of a thrill?

Keep building the stairway to the stars
A lovely stairway to the stars
It would be heaven
Heaven to climb with you. 

Friday, June 06, 2014

Bargain hunting

I am definitely NOT a clothes snob.  I don't need designer labels or embroidered logos.  $78 for a long sleeve shirt is too much for me.  I usually buy and wear clothes from Old Navy and The Gap outlet stores.

But once in a while I treat myself to some really well-made clothing when I can get a good deal on it. Yesterday I visited the Polo Ralph Lauren outlet store with a Friends & Family 30% off coupon and looked at the sale items and clearance racks to maximize the value.  (The 30% off coupon is good on ALL merchandise, regardless of whether or not its on sale or clearance.)

I ended up with 2 long sleeve shirts (I'll put away until fall) and 3 short sleeve shirts and a belt (not pictured).
The OUTLET price (not the retail price) for all 6 items was $334.  Since the items were all on sale and then they applied the 30% off coupon, my total was $139.  That's right - I saved almost $200 by spending $139! 

As if that wasn't enough, I stopped in at a used furniture and furnishings store afterward (it was my day off), where I saw these 2 Ty Wilson framed posters (circa early 1990s) for $130 for the pair.

I liked the size and the simplicity of the pair, and thought they'd look terrific in the guest room we are going to redecorate in the Hollywood Regency style.  I snapped these photo and texted them to Spouse.  He agreed that $130 was too much.  I offered to see if the vendor would negotiate on them, especially if they've been there awhile.  The result was $80 for the pair, so I bought them!

It was a banner day for bargain hunting!

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Bras for a Cause

Last evening my friend Joe P went with me to the Bras for a Cause, a charity event for the DE Breast Cancer Coalition.

Bra sponsors come up with a concept or theme for their bra, decorate the bra and associated costume, and then get a male to model the bra at the event, where models get tips from attendees and then the bras are auctioned off.  Click here to read about my real estate team's participation in 2012.

Our team participated again this year, and our theme was A Midsummer Night's Dreamboat.  Here is my colleague and our model Garrett.  This photo doesn't do his bra/costume justice.  Our colleague Erin used artificial ivy vines, peacock feathers, and rhinestones to cover the bra.  She ordered a tutu in peacock colors, and created a wreath for his head.  She even used liquid eyeliner to draw scrolls near his eyes and pasted rhinestones onto the scrolls.  She really did a great job.

Garrett did a great job working the crowd for tips, which wasn't easy for him since he is naturally introverted.  Maybe wearing the bra/costume made it easier because he could pretend to be someone else.

Other bra models were also working the crowd for tips, including this 'devil' of a man.  Check out that bicep!

He was very friendly and chatted with me and Joe P for awhile.  He offered to pose with us for a photo.  How could we say no?
It was a really fun event which raises money in a fun way for a worthy cause.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Return of "Legends"

The 2014 season of the "Legends" show started on Memorial Day weekend but I was not in that show.  This past Sat was the 2nd show of the season and I reprised my interpretation of Elton John.
 I really wasn't nervous since this is my 3rd year doing this Legend and I'm very familiar with the material.  But I made sure to inject my performance with lots of energy so my routine didn't appear 'routine'.  The audience really enjoyed it and so did I.  

Spouse joined Joe P and Steven for my 1st show of the season, which was a nice surprise.  Next Sat I'm on again, but will be bringing back my version of Neil Sedaka.