Sunday, October 11, 2009

In Memoriam: All who may die from Alzheimer's disease

This past week, Clay lost someone very close to him from Alzheimer's disease. I lost my father to the disease. Many, many families in this country have also lost a loved one to the disease, or they are living with a family member who either has the disease or who will get the disease.

Alzheimer's is not a pleasant disease. It robs the person of the essence of who they are. Here are some facts on Alzheimers from

Alzheimer's facts:
• As many as 5.3 million people in the United States are living with Alzheimer’s.

• Alzheimer's and dementia triple healthcare costs for Americans age 65 and older.

• Every 70 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s.

• Alzheimer's is the seventh-leading cause of death.

• The direct and indirect costs of Alzheimer's and other dementias to Medicare, Medicaid and businesses amount to more than $148 billion each year.

10 Signs of Alzheimer's:

*Memory loss that disrupts daily life
*Challenges in planning or solving problems
*Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at leisure
*Confusion with time or place
*Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
*New problems with words in speaking or writing
*Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
*Decreased or poor judgment
*Withdrawal from work or social activities
*Changes in mood and personality

Alzheimer's myths

Myth 1: Memory loss is a natural part of aging.

Reality: In the past people believed memory loss was a normal part of aging, often regarding even Alzheimer’s as natural age-related decline. Experts now recognize severe memory loss as a symptom of serious illness.

Myth 2: Alzheimer’s disease is not fatal.

Reality: Alzheimer's disease has no survivors. It destroys brain cells and causes memory changes, erratic behaviors and loss of body functions. It slowly and painfully takes away a person's identity, ability to connect with others, think, eat, talk, walk and find his or her way home

Myth 3: Only older people can get Alzheimer's

Reality: Alzheimer's can strike people in their 30s, 40s and even 50s. This is called younger-onset Alzheimer's. In 2009, it is estimated that there are as many as 5.3 million people living with Alzheimer’s disease in the United States. This includes 5.1 million people age 65 and over and 200,000 people under age 65 with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

Myth 4: Drinking out of aluminum cans or cooking in aluminum pots and pans can lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Reality: During the 1960s and 1970s, aluminum emerged as a possible suspect in Alzheimer’s. This suspicion led to concern about exposure to aluminum through everyday sources such as pots and pans, beverage cans, antacids and antiperspirants. Since then, studies have failed to confirm any role for aluminum in causing Alzheimer’s. Experts today focus on other areas of research, and few believe that everyday sources of aluminum pose any threat.

Myth 5: Aspartame causes memory loss.

Reality: This artificial sweetener, marketed under such brand names as Nutrasweet and Equal, was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use in all foods and beverages in 1996. Since approval, concerns about aspartame's health effects have been raised.

Myth 6: Flu shots increase risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Reality: A theory linking flu shots to a greatly increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease has been proposed by a U.S. doctor whose license was suspended by the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. Several mainstream studies link flu shots and other vaccinations to a reduced risk of Alzheimer's disease and overall better health

Myth 7: Silver dental fillings increase risk of Alzheimer's disease

Reality: According to the best available scientific evidence, there is no relationship between silver dental fillings and Alzheimer's. The concern that there could be a link arose because "silver" fillings are made of an amalgam (mixture) that typically contains about 50 percent mercury, 35 percent silver and 15 percent tin. Mercury is a heavy metal that, in certain forms, is know to be toxic to the brain and other organs.

Myth 8: There are treatments available to stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease

Reality: At this time, there is no treatment to cure, delay or stop the progression of Alzheimer's disease. FDA-approved drugs temporarily slow worsening of symptoms for about 6 to 12 months, on average, for about half of the individuals who take them.

Stages of Alzheimer's

Stage 1:
No impairment (normal function)

Unimpaired individuals experience no memory problems and none are evident to a health care professional during a medical interview.

Stage 2:
Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer's disease)

Individuals may feel as if they have memory loss and lapses, especially in forgetting familiar words or names or the location of keys, eyeglasses or other everyday objects. But these problems are not evident during a medical examination or apparent to friends, family or co-workers.

Stage 3:
Mild cognitive declineEarly-stage Alzheimer's can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms

Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice deficiencies. Problems with memory or concentration may be measurable in clinical testing or discernible during a detailed medical interview. Common difficulties include:

*Word- or name-finding problems noticeable to family or close associates
*Decreased ability to remember names when introduced to new people
*Performance issues in social or work settings noticeable to family, friends or deficiencies.

*Reading a passage and retaining little material
*Losing or misplacing a valuable object
*Decline in ability to plan or organize

Stage 4:
Moderate cognitive decline(Mild or early-stage Alzheimer's disease)

At this stage, a careful medical interview detects clear-cut deficiencies in the following areas:
*Decreased knowledge of recent occasions or current events
*Impaired ability to perform challenging mental arithmetic-for example, to count backward from 75 by 7s
*Decreased capacity to perform complex tasks, such as planning dinner for guests, paying bills and managing finances
*Reduced memory of personal history
*The affected individual may seem subdued and withdrawn, especially in socially or mentally challenging situations

Stage 5:
Moderately severe cognitive decline(Moderate or mid-stage Alzheimer's disease)

Major gaps in memory and deficits in cognitive function emerge. Some assistance with day-to-day activities becomes essential. At this stage, individuals may:
*Be unable during a medical interview to recall such important details as their current address, their telephone number or the name of the college or high school from which they graduated
*Become confused about where they are or about the date, day of the week or season
*Have trouble with less challenging mental arithmetic; for example, counting backward from 40 by 4s or from 20 by 2s
*Need help choosing proper clothing for the season or the occasion
*Usually retain substantial knowledge about themselves and know their own name and the names of their spouse or children
*Usually require no assistance with eating or using the toilet

Stage 6:
Severe cognitive decline(Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer's disease)

Memory difficulties continue to worsen, significant personality changes may emerge and affected individuals need extensive help with customary daily activities. At this stage, individuals may:
*Lose most awareness of recent experiences and events as well as of their surroundings
*Recollect their personal history imperfectly, although they generally recall their own name
*Occasionally forget the name of their spouse or primary caregiver but generally can distinguish familiar from unfamiliar faces
*Need help getting dressed properly; without supervision, may make such errors as putting pajamas over daytime clothes or shoes on wrong feet
*Experience disruption of their normal sleep/waking cycle
*Need help with handling details of toileting (flushing toilet, wiping and disposing of tissue properly)
*Have increasing episodes of urinary or fecal incontinence
*Experience significant personality changes and behavioral symptoms, including suspiciousness and delusions (for example, believing that their caregiver is an impostor); hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that are not really there); or compulsive, repetitive behaviors such as hand-wringing or tissue shredding
*Tend to wander and become lost

Stage 7:
Very severe cognitive decline(Severe or late-stage Alzheimer's disease)

This is the final stage of the disease when individuals lose the ability to respond to their environment, the ability to speak and, ultimately, the ability to control movement.
*Frequently individuals lose their capacity for recognizable speech, although words or phrases may occasionally be uttered
*Individuals need help with eating and toileting and there is general incontinence of urine
*Individuals lose the ability to walk without assistance, then the ability to sit without support, the ability to smile, and the ability to hold their head up. *Reflexes become abnormal and muscles grow rigid. Swallowing is impaired.

Consult a doctor when you have concerns about memory loss, thinking skills and behavior changes in yourself or a loved one. For people with dementia and their families, an early diagnosis has many advantages:
*time to make choices that maximize quality of life
*lessened anxieties about unknown problems
*a better chance of benefiting from treatment
*more time to plan for the future

It is also important for a physician to determine the cause of memory loss or other symptoms. Some dementia-like symptoms can be reversed if they are caused by treatable conditions, such as depression, drug interaction, thyroid problems, excess use of alcohol or certain vitamin deficiencies.

In Memoriam to all who suffer from, or have a loved one suffering from, Alzheimer's disease.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Clay Aiken: Happy first Father's Day to you!

I don't have anything profound to say, Clay, just that I hope you have a fabulous first Father's Day. I hope having a child is everything you thought it would be and more. There will be ups and downs, happiness and disappointment, laughter and sorrow, but mostly the days will be mundane, the fabric of everyday life.

The years will pass so fast that you'll wonder where they went. One day your child is an infant, the next, he'll be graduating from high school, then college. You'll look in the mirror and you'll wonder, 'where did the time go'? The time went into influencing your baby's personality, into being a role model with your actions and your words. Things you do and say will one day be echoed by Parker. Some of those will make you laugh, some will make you wince, yet others will make you wonder, 'where did that come from'? You'll see yourself in your child, and you'll see your mother, your brother, your biological father, your grandparents, aunts, uncles. All of your family has a genetic stake in Parker, as does Jaymes' family.

And one day, your grown child will bring home their chosen partner for life, a woman or a man, hopefully, in 25 or so years, it won't matter like it does today. And you'll realize that life repeats itself as Parker creates his own nuclear family, has a child, and sees in his

Happy Father's Day, Clay.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Michelle Obama

I just saw this picture of Michelle Obama. It's her first official White House portrait. It blew me away.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Spamalot: A Tribute and a Farewell

I said my farewell to Spamalot last Sunday during Clay Aiken's last show. I've seen the show about 14 times. I probably wouldn't have seen it at all if not for the fact that Clay was appearing in it. I went to see Clay and I came away with an appreciation of, and love for, so many things Spamalot.

The show itself is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. The script is fabulous, the music fits so well within the parameters of the comedy, and I fell in love with the actors, all of them, from the leads to the chorus to the dancers. I want this blog to be a tribute to the marvelous show that is Spamalot.

Created by Eric Idle and John du Prez, Monty Python's Spamalot was 'lovingly' ripped from the motion picture, 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail'. Directed by the award-winning Mike Nichols, the show won the Tony award for best musical in 2005 and has been going strong ever since. The actors come and go, but the play remains as funny as ever.

I didn't get to see the original show with the original actors, including David Hyde Pierce and Tim Curry, but I was privileged to see the last installment with the current actors. This is a tribute to them:

King Arthur: Played by Jonathan Hadary and Michael Siberry. Both had a different take on the King with Jonathan playing him more seriously, more of the anchor to the show, and Michael giving Arthur a more comedic personality. I confess I fell in love with Jonathan's portrayal, but grew to appreciate Michael's take on the character.

Patsy: Luckily I didn't have to choose between actors because the brilliant David Hibbard played Patsy for the entire run that I attended. David brought a heartfelt poignancy to the role that was the soul of the show. One can't help falling in love with Patsy. And David's brilliant rendition of 'Always Look on the Bright Side of Life' puts a smile on my face every time I think of it, but my favorite thing that David did? The head cheerleader for the Lady of the Lake and her Laker girls. It was about a 30 second bit that quickly became something I looked forward to every show.

The Lady of the Lake: Again, played by two actresses Hannah Waddingham and Merle Dandridge. Both ladies are wonderful. Hannah brought a more 'over the top' rendition to the role, while Merle was a bit more understated. I liked them both equally well and I got to meet Merle during a fund-raiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids (BC/EFA) when I got my picture taken with her and Clay. There was way too much pretty up on the stage and I don't mean me.

Sir Dennis Galahad: Played by both Christopher Sibert and Bradley Dean, Christopher went on to another show early in Clay's run. I loved Christopher's and Clay's characters interaction but grew to appreciate and respect Bradley as he grew into the role. In the end Bradley made more of an impression because he was in the role longer than Chris, but I loved them both.

Sir Lancelot: What can I say about Rick Holmes? Brilliant. Magnificent. Funny as hell. Perfect for the role. I loved him. His French Taunter was one the funniest things I've ever seen and his big 'Carmen Miranda' dance was hilarious. What a talented man Rick is. I hope to be able to see him do other roles. Soon.

Sir Robin: Originally played by David Hyde Pierce, I only saw Clay in the role. I've been a fan of Clay's since American Idol and I know how freaking talented he is but Broadway? Acting? Dancing? Well, I go to see Clay as much as I can so I went to his opening night. I knew he'd be good but what I didn't know is that he'd nail it so well. Not only acting, but dancing, too! And funny! If you've ever been to the 'Clay Aiken Traveling Singing and Stand-Up Comedy Show' you'd know he was funny, but he was freaking funny in the show. Shitting his pants, dancin' an' fightin', Brother Maynard, the Castle Guard, he brought an innocence to each role that was refreshing.

Prince Herbert: Tom Deckman. What can I say about the multi-talented Tom Deckman? Thank heaven I discovered him in Spamalot because I will be following his career forever. He reminds me of the great comedic talents like a Dick VanDyke. Tom has a face that can, with just one look, convey an entire character's feelings. And he has a voice as pure as snow. I lurves him muchly.

Sir Bedevere: Wally Dunn plays Sir Bedevere and Sir Galahad's mother. The part isn't very big, but Wally puts is own spin on each character and you can't help but fall in love with him.

I'd like to pay my respects to the show's ensemble:

Piper Lindsay Arpan, Thomas Cannizzaro, Callie Carter, Kevin Crewell, Matthew Crowle, Nikki Della Penta, Mika Duncan, Andrew Fitch, Stephanie Gibson, Jenny Hill, Emily Hsu, Kristy Kerwin, Gavin Lodge, Brian Marcum, Michael O'Donnell, Pamela Remler, Vanessa Sonon, Rick Spanns, and Billy Sprague, Jr. I hope I got everyone. I took the info from the Playbill.

This tribute would not be complete without mentioning the illustrious Musical Director, Todd Ellison. Todd and his orchestra set the mood from the opening number to the final note. He had to coordinate his orchestra with the action on the stage, not an easy thing to do. Thank you, Todd, we loved you, too.

Finally, to the backstage crew, who worked so tirelessly behind the scenes to bring this show to life, to the Shubert organization, who treated the inflow of Clay's fans with grace and courtesy, to the Shubert security who 'secured' with patience and, sometimes, smiles, to the ushers and usherettes, who were gracious, my hat's off to you all. You can look back on this special time on Broadway with pride for you all did a really, really good job.

Thank you.

Oh. And I fart in your general direction.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Clay Aiken: 2008, the Year in Review

Hey Clay, how’s it going? Yes, it’s us, your internet fans once again discussing your life as we always do. You know, not everyone likes to be lumped into ‘internet fans’. They say, ‘you don’t speak for me’. Well they’re right, we don’t speak for everyone, but we read all the message boards and take the general gist of what the fans are feeling about the events in your life, year by year, so no, we can’t speak for all, but hopefully our little year end essays cover the most prevalent mood of all the boards. We also give the opposing view whenever we can. Now we’re switching to the singular for this essay. Actually, we’ll probably switch back and forth but who cares? We ain’t the grammar police. Heh.


What’s new with you for 2008? HA!HA! I crack myself up! You actually had a really good 2008, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ll begin at the beginning of the year.

January: We left you last year in Mexico on a UNICEF trip where, once again, we oooh’ed and ahhh’ed over Humanitarian!Clay! and we pitched in our pennies and raised over $100,000 for UNICEF’s ‘Help Clay raise $100,000 by December 31st’ fund-raising campaign. I think that goal was hit around 4:00 pm (I could be wrong) New Year’s Eve. You done good, we done good, UNICEF and children the world over benefit. It’s a win-win situation.

On January 7th, you held your first ‘Golfing for Inclusion’ at the Mirasol Country Club in Florida. Along with Wayne Player, you were on the course, interacting with the golfers, having a grand old time. Clay, some of your fans loved the blond hair, some didn’t, but you looked mah-valous that day, simply mah-velous! The signed Masters flags were a nice touch for the winning groups (no, not signed by you, signed by Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, and Gary Player, three of the most beloved golfers in history), you and Diane gave a speech about inclusion, and you bestowed a grant to Vicki Pugh and Janice Labat for the Boca Raton YMCA to expand their inclusion program. Good job, Clay, good job. You had some really terrific prizes to auction off and you raised over $60,000 for the ‘Let’s ALL Play’ programs. And kudos for expanding your corporate sponsor list because that’s so important in the life of a Foundation. BTW, Clay, there are people out there that are dedicated to philanthropy AND vote for American Idol AND attend your concerts. Just sayin’…

Soon after the Golfing event, the numbers were released for the 2007 BAF Wrapping for Inclusion. The goal was $100,000, the actual amount raised was over $102,000! Good job to each and every person who participated and made Wrapping for Inclusion an annual fund-raising vehicle. What a nice way to spread the word about inclusion and the BAF.

We didn’t have to wonder when we’d next see you again, like we usually do at the end of a concert tour, because those of us who could had already scarfed up tickets for your Broadway debut. Let me say that again. Clay Aiken’s Broadway debut. God, that sounds good. Now, as you may very well know, while most of us loved the fact that you would be on Broadway, some of us didn’t like the idea. Some wanted Rock!Star!Clay! or at least Touring!Clay! but instead, we got something different! We got your Broadway debut in a vehicle that was far removed from what we thought you’d do, Clay Aiken starring in ‘Spamalot’. Monty Python! Irreverent humor, bawdy scenes, dancing numbers. STOP THE PRESSES! Did we say ‘dancing’? About the guy who has always said he doesn’t know how to dance? Shut up! Yeah, yeah, we know you said choreography is not the same as dancing, but it really is, especially after you’ve internalized the moves so that it comes naturally for you.

Anywho….., January 18th, 2008. The theater was filled with your fans and as we patiently waited for the curtain to rise, the atmosphere was almost as festive as one of your concerts. Old friends calling across the theater to each other, new friends meeting for the first time, that sense of anticipation that hangs heavy in the air at every Clay event, especially opening night. There was an air of underlying excitement, as there always is, when your fans know that they will see you again. We saw your mom, Faye, your grandmother and your brother, Brett standing at the theater door before the show started. That was cool. Little by little, we made our way to our seats and waited breathlessly for the show to begin.

Schlip, Schlap! Schlip-a-schlap a-vay

The show began and as good as the opening number was, we were waiting to see you.

‘Oo goes there?’

The roar of the crowd, the smell of the greasepaint. *ahem* Sorry, I couldn’t resist. The roar of the crowd, your fans, welcoming you to Broadway! You stuck your head out of that tower, with shit all over you *g* and you freaking NAILED your part. The accent, your demeanor, your facial expressions. Pure perfection and it was only opening night!

‘Are you saying coconuts migrate?’

OMG, it was so funny! You were so funny! You played perfectly off King Arthur. We’re not going to recap each and every scene, well, maybe we will, so let’s resume!

“Bring out yer dead”

Clay, I don’t think we can encapsulate the feeling in the theater that night. The wonder, the joy, the giddiness, all leading up to the Bottle Dance, where we collectively held our breaths and waited for the conga line. You saw the piano, sat, played chopsticks, did the turn, the shoulder roll, stood up, large and in charge with the stomping, then came the line. Down on your knees, leg out, pull, other leg out, pull, leg out, pull. OMG, it was fabulous, just fabulous! You were fabulous, the cast was fabulous, the show was fabulous, and the night was magical.

There are so many scenes in Spamalot that deserve recognition. ‘Not Dead Fred’ was funny as anything, the entire ‘All for One’ leading into the Camelot scene and ‘Knights of the Round Table’ was brilliant in it’s combination of the comedic and the ridiculous. The absolutely sublime Rick Holmes as the French Taunter was sheer comic genius.

The way Brave Sir Robin get to experience all sorts of ‘death’ via everything Idle and Cleese could throw in, the Lady of the Lake and her Laker girls, The Knights who say Ni and various and assorted other things. The foolhardy bravery of the Black Knight, the show-stopping ‘You Won’t Succeed on Broadway’, Sir Lancelot and Prince Herbert, and, of course, Herbert’s father and the guard scene. King Arthur realizing that Patsy is family, the Killer Rabbit, or Ra-beet, as the French Taunters would say, Brother Maynard and the Holy Hand Grenade, finding the Grail, anointing the peasant, and the fabulous finale. What can we say about such an excellent production, from the script to the characters, to the actors who brought it to life, to the backstage support team, to the amazing audiences each performance? It was an experience that we will never forget, and it was a privilege to see you in your first Broadway production. It was a privilege to get to ‘know’ the cast members and see their talent hard at work. Clay, we not only loved you, but we loved the cast, too. Oh! And the Shubert Organization, from the ushers to the security, to the ticket people, they were all extremely gracious to your ‘Nation.

After the show, Shubert Alley was filled with fans and NJU from stem to stern, top to bottom, side to side. Most of us didn’t see you, the crowd was so thick but the camaraderie was hanging heavy in the air, old and new friends met up, we swarmed the local eateries, Juniors, John’s Pizza, Carmines, Sardi’s, we had little and not-so-little after-parties, we celebrated your Broadway debut and it was grand. Some of us saw all five shows that weekend, some saw only one, and others had to hear the intermission reports over a cellcert, but we were all there with you that night, celebrating. We hope we didn’t embarrass you too much. The cast was so generous of their praise for us, saying that when the audience is ‘on’, so are they. Good thing *wink*

Of course, during January there were also newscasts of your trip to Mexico on many and various stations and a few short interviews of your Broadway turn.

February: American Idol Rewind, which started in October of 2007, continued with the Top Ten episodes. How fun it was to relive the memories, to see you as a pup because you looked so young back then. How fun it was to watch the evolution of your look and to see your confidence grow each and every week, to see Brett looking so young, Faye looking so proud, Nick and Kristy grinning from ear to ear. Good times.

March: Thank heavens for the nightly stage door reports and the stage door clack because without that, we’d have died from lack of Clack. Heh. There were small Spamalot mentions on TV, short interviews, and ran some nice articles about you.

April was a pretty busy month for you and for us. You participated in leaving your handprints in cement at Planet Hollywood, AOL First Listen debuted the first single…we were all over that like white on rice, and itunes had the CD up for pre-order. Thank you, God, for the QVC mini-concert on the 28th.. Thirty minutes, talking and singing five songs was a gift this year because you didn’t tour. Too bad only about 110 people got in the studio but those 110 people were the luckiest people in the world. Sorry, Spamalot keeps creeping into this conversation. Amazon released your digital single and April 29th saw the 22nd Annual Easter Bonnet Competition where you and Hannah sang The Prayer.

May was one of those bittersweet months. While we had the release of ‘On My Way Here’ on May 6th, we also saw the last night of your Spamalot run. Your fans filled the theater en masse and the show was probably one of the best of your run. The cast was on fire, you were on fire, the audience was on fire and when you did the drunken guard scene and started braiding the ribbons and Tom Deckman sat down, then David Hibbard sat down, then Brad Dean sat down and let you run with it, well, I don’t think we laughed so hard at anything before or since.

Shubert Alley that night was, once again, magical. The Alley was overflowing with people, all waiting for you to make your appearance and wow, did you ever! On the third floor ledge (or was it the second floor?), waving, blowing kisses, holding up six fingers. You looked fabulous, Clay, simple fabulous, and your ‘Nation was there, paying homage to your magnificent Broadway debut.

We can’t leave Spamalot v.1 without mentioning the cast, that marvelous cast that was the heart and soul of the show.

Jonathan Hadary, King Arthur, the heart of the show; David Hibbard, Patsy, the soul of the show; Hannah Waddingham, The Lady of the Lake, the multi-talented ‘love interest’; Tom Deckman, the comic relief (and that’s saying something in this ensemble); and your Knights of the Round Table: Rick Holmes, Sir Lancelot, man of many talents and a fabulous French taunter; Christopher Seibert, Sir Galahad and friend to Robin, who played off you to perfection; Bradley Dean, who took over when Chris Seibert left, and grew into the role magnificiently; Brad Oscar, Sir Bedevere, the gas-challenged and mother to Galahad.

The supporting cast and ensemble: Kevin Covert, Matthew Crowley, Thomas Cannizzaro, Greg Reuter, Emily Hsu, Brian Marcum, Andrew Fitch, Jenny Hill, Abbey O’Brien, Ariel Reid, Vanessa Sonon, Brandi Wooten, Callie Carter, Beth Johnson, Pamela Remler (dance captain), Rick Spaans *waves* (OK, I confess, this author thinks Rick is mighty hot) Lee Wilkins, and Todd Ellison and his fabulous orchestra. I know we’ve left out so many who contributed to Spamalot. Just know that we appreciate each and every one of the people behind the scenes for their contribution to a wonderful musical.


What else happened in May, 2008? Oh, yeah, the release of your first CD since ‘Measure of a Man’ to feature all original songs, ‘On My Way Here’, or OMWH, as we abbreviate it. Clay, we could do a run-down on the state of the music industry today, the state of RCA promotion, digital downloads vs physical CD’s, pushing a single to radio, but no matter what the number sold, for the most part, your fans love the CD. To be honest, some don’t, they think there are too many strings, or the production is too much the same, some wanted more rock songs, but mostly we love it. We love the songs and we love your voice. It’s a win-win situation, for us. We just want you to tour behind it. Remember that word? Tour? Ok, we’re spoiled, we expect you to tour each year, we want you to tour each ear, we need to see you on that stage, singing, every year. But you do what you have to do, Clay, we’ll be right here waiting.

We held the CD release parties on Monday night, May 5th, the CD was released on Tuesday, May 6th, you signed CD’s in Virgin Megastore, appeared on GMA on Wednesday, May 7th. We were there, both inside and outside the studio, supporting you as we always do. You did The View, The Today Show with Kathie Lee and Hoda,; you did the Mo Rocca interview that we loved. What was that with the pea? You were on ABC’s Nightline with your playlist songs, you did a fabulous AOL Sessions. In fact, you were on the AOL top ten videos for a few months, Clay. Good job! You sprinkled some UNICEF interviews around here and there, Jimmy Kimmel and Rachael Ray on May 16th. You were a busy guy in May. Just the fact that you did eight shows a week with Spamalot AND recorded an album, all at the same time, spoke volumes of your dedication and work ethic, and, unbeknownst to us, you, or rather Jaymes, were cooking something in the oven. Hmmmm…..

June: You participated in the Ford’s Theater Gala at the National Theater in Washington DC. Tribute to the musical, The Civil War and you sang ‘Sarah’. We consider that lost Clack. See what you can do about that, OK?

Also in June, you made a trip to Somalia and Kenya on behalf of UNICEF. While a lot of your fans already know what’s going on in these countries, we’re still being educated by your trips and your blogs about conditions in the third world countries. About the education, or lack thereof, about the health conditions and lack of medical personnel in the field, about how the children of these countries are hungry for an education. Again, good job, Clay. The teacher in you in never far from the surface, is it?

We first heard rumors of baby news on May 29th from that bastion of journalistic integrity, TMZ *cough*. I think our eyes fell out of our head. Baby? Clay? And with Jaymes? Yowza. That news hit us right between the eyes. Was it true? Was it journalistic crap? We turned it into one of our acronyms, IIT, for ‘if it’s true’ every time we wrote about it. Of course, not a word was heard from TeamClay. But the tabloids? Unnamed sources? Eric Roberts. Sisters-in-law, publicists, first it was there, then it was retracted, WTF was going on? Then appeared a photo of Jaymes with a little belly. Now that woman never had a belly in her life, tiny thing that she is. We had no clue if it was true, but as the weeks went on, I think most of us came to accept it as a fact but we also remember what you said: Don’t believe it unless it’s on the ofc. Heh. OK.

July: On the 6th of July, CNN presented a special, ‘The Survival Project: One Child at a Time’ on which you appeared as a UNICEF spokesman. Ya know, you didn’t do much over the summer except wait for Parker to emerge. Doesn’t leave us much to write about, but never fear, we’ll persevere. Lead on, MacBeth!

August: 08/08/08 at 8:08 am. The birth of your first child, Parker Foster Aiken, first name, middle name, last name, no hyphen. Happy birthday, Parker. We saw the pictures of you and Jaymes leaving the hospital, you didn’t look too thrilled with the paparazzi that day, Clay. We don’t blame you but we were glad to see the pictures. We hope that you had an uneventful first month with Parker; then we found out about his gastric problem. That must have scared a few years off you and Jaymes, but it’s good to know that everything turned out all right.

September: Well. What can we say about September? Specifically September 24th, the day that People hit the newsstands. Wow. This is going to be hard to write about because the fans’ emotions were all over the place and we don’t want to slight anyone’s feelings. First, off, the majority of your fans really didn’t care that you were gay. There was a saying on some of the message boards: ‘When he starts singing with his dick, then I’ll care’. Yeah, that line will probably not be in the version on the ofc, but it will be in my blog. Some fans suspected you were gay, some had no clue, most were in the middle, taking you at your word and letting you self-identify. After all, you’re right, it’s nobody’s business except the person you’re sleeping with and you were never going to sleep with us. OK, me, but I digress.

Emotions were flying high for a few weeks. You lost some fans. For that, I’m sad. I’m sad that they let something that should have been personal to you get in the way of all that you are and all the fun that you brought to this fandom. Some left for religious reasons, some left because they thought you weren’t the man you professed to be over the past five years. Most of us didn’t feel that way. Most of your fans realized that being straight or gay is just a small part of a person, a very small part; that your heart remains as big as your voice, that the funny is still there, the intelligence is still there, the caring is still there, and demmit, the performer is still the same as before September 24th, 2008.

Some fans thought you lied to them. Not about being gay, but that you lied about lying about being gay. Was that sentence grammatically correct? Again, the majority of your fans understand why you misdirected, starting with the Rolling Stone interview and through a few other interviews. Yes, you were vague in your answers, but again, those were answers to questions that no one should have to answer.

It was nice that you let the ofc have an open forum for two weeks for people to come to grips with whatever issues they had, whether with you, with your sexuality, or with their perceptions of who you were. It was sometimes a nasty thread as posters picked on each other, but you also had posters who learned from others, who shared their feelings and realized that they may have been wrong about how they felt, or others whose opinions remained the same. Some posters didn’t have the patience to help others through their feelings, yet other posters remained on-line for as long as someone needed to vent. We think that you leaving that thread up for as long as you did was a very brave thing to do. It had to have hurt to read some of the things being said, but we hope you took comfort in most of the reactions from the fandom. We just hope you’re OK with some gentle ribbing about your sexuality once in a while, ‘cos some of us just can’t keep our mouths shut.

Well, I said it would be hard to write about the fandom reactions. We probably didn’t get every single emotion down on paper and for that, I apologize to any who felt left out, however, the blog you wrote on October 10th brought a lot of us to our knees, figuratively speaking. What a heartfelt blog that was, Clay. Some read it with a cynical eye, some read it and cried for what you’ve been through the past 10 years, some read and asked, ‘OK, when’s he touring’, yet others read it and it wasn’t enough for them. You have to do what feels right for you, Clay. Some fans understand that, others don’t, but you can only live your life to be true to who you are, as we all must do. Hold your head high and know that you are loved. The fact that you laid yourself bare for the world to see took a courage that a lot of people don’t have and we admire you for that. Stay strong, Clay.

OK, enough about that. What else happened in September, 2008? On the 19th, you returned to the scene of the crime, Spamalot v. 2. For the next four months, we’d know where you were for most nights. That felt good. We also looked forward to the stage door experience. You seemed more friendly (or should that be friendlier?), or maybe it was just a relief for you, that you could be yourself and not have to parse everything you said. You signed for the fans, you took pictures with them. You made the stage door a truly unique experience for those so lucky to experience them.

Anyway….Spam v2 was a different experience because the audience consisted of not just the fans, but a lot of NJU. You do know what that means, don’t you? After all, per you, ‘yeah, I know your words’. NJU = Not Just Us, meaning not just your core fans, the die-hards, but just regular people who loved Monty Python, or just people who wanted to see a funny show, or people who saw you on American Idol but haven’t been following you ever since, like some we could mention. It was fun watching their reactions and listening to them after the show. One guy said, just recently, ‘Clay Aiken was the best thing in the show’. Don’t get a swelled head, m’k? Other NJU’s said things like ‘he really held his own’, or ‘I didn’t know he could act’. It warmed our hearts that more people are seeing what we’ve seen all along, the mad-talented Mr. Aiken. And of course, that fabulous cast. There were some cast changes, some of us preferred the old and others liked the new members, but all in all, Spamalot was a wonderful experience for the fandom, Clay.

Let’s see, People hit the newsstands on Sept. 24th and on the 25th and 26th, you gave our old friend, Diane Sawyer, another interview. How to say this? Coming on the heels of People, hearing you talk about being a homosexual so nonchalantly was a bit jarring, but we have to remember while we had only days to process it, you had ten years. ‘Paula’s Party’ aired on the 27th and you cooked with her. How freaking cute was that?

October saw that heartfelt blog from you and the open board that we discussed ^^ up there. October 18th brought us the BAF Champions for Change Gala in Raleigh which was even more successful than the first one in 2007. From the morning’s round table discussion of inclusion to the special screening of ‘Including Samuel’, those attending left with a greater appreciation of the work the BAF was doing and how their volunteer efforts affected the community at large. That evening’s celebration, beginning with the VIP reception and ending with a mini-concert defies explanation but that hasn’t stopped us yet, has it? Linda Loveland, Diane Bubel and you all spoke about the opportunities the Let’s ALL Play camps provided for children with special needs. After the dinner, you and Diane bestowed honors on the 2008 champions of Change:

Dan Habib and his wife Betsy McNamara
Rick Donovan
CVS Caremark Representative Randy Martinez

The auction at the end of the evening was once again a freaking hoot. Clay, you are funny! The auction items were really good, very creative and gave some fans a chance to interact with you outside a concert venue, well, except for the Celine package, which is inside a concert venue, just not yours. The clothes raised a lot of money and in the end, not only did you raise over $500,000 for the BAF, the closing song, ‘Right Here Waiting’ brought tears to the eyes of not just the attendees, but from most who watched the clack of the song. Oh, and Clay? About Emma Bubel babysitting? Some fans hoped that you’d wait for her to grow up, but guess that’s not going to happen now. See what we mean about gentle ribbing? She’s cute as a button.

October also brought you to the Friars Club to participate in that raunchy roasting. We only wish you got up to do some zingers because you’re probably funnier than most of those who spoke, although Meredith was pretty funny.

November was busy for you with the Rosie’s Gala, ‘Building Dreams for Kids’, and participating in ‘Rosie Live’, while continuing to do Spamalot. You talked to the anchors of Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and on 11/29 you held a fund-raiser for BE/EFA at the Shubert called ‘Conversation with Clay’. Thank heavens we have some fans with good memories because the recaps were wonderful. You continue to be an enigma at times, don’t you? And on November 30th, you FINALLY reached 30, a milestone birthday. Happy birthday, Clay.

December saw you featured in an hour-long ’E! True Hollywood Story!’ which, for E!, wasn’t bad at all with the exception of a few interviewee’s that could have been left on the cutting room floor. On the 23rd of December, you had bestowed upon you one of Broadway’s highest honors, your caricature on the wall of Sardi’s. Although opinions about the caricature were all over the place, the opinions that you looked especially good were pretty unanimous. Except some didn’t like the shirt, and some didn’t like the sweater, and some didn’t like the hair. HA!HA! We crack ourselves up. But what would this fandom be without dissenting opinions? On the 27th, you were featured on a special with Geraldo Rivera. That was a really good appearance Clay. You came across as educated on the subject and as a caring man. That’s a good way to end the year.

And as we end this long-as…, uh, long-winded recap, we want to mention two things. First was a statement you made to in an interview on 12/21/2008:
"At the end of the day, Parker is the most important thing of the year, and of my life, without question," Aiken, 30, tells PEOPLE. "Having a son and that type of responsibility is obviously going to be something that I remember forever."

At the end of OUR day, your fans, in how we feel about you, Clay, while you’re not the most important thing in our lives, as fans, I think each and every one of us wish you nothing but the best. Knowing that you now have the child that you’ve been saying you wanted since 2003, well, it makes our hearts swell with love.

As we look forward to 2009, with the historic swearing-in of the first black President of the United States, our thoughts, once again, turn to wondering when we’re going to see you next. Take your couple of months off to spend time with your son (note the use of the word ‘your’. Because your sense of time and our sense of time are vastly different), visit some countries that need awareness brought to them with UNICEF, do some work for the BAF, but please, keep us informed periodically. You do have use of this new-fangled thing called a blog, you know. Your blogs don’t all have to be prophetic, they can be about the mundane, too. We’re not picky. But whatever you do, don’t forget us, Clay, because we’ll be right here waiting. Always and forever.

With thanks to Ms Marmalade at the Clack House and website for keeping such detailed records of everything Clay, and to Berkeley for documenting the BAF activities.

Any and all mistakes in content and/or timeline are solely the fault of the author.