Tag Archives: Realities

Day 166 (It’s A Wonder That A Body Survives)

The subject of wellness is one that’s near and dear to my heart, and even nearer and dearer to my wife D’Arcy, who actually has completed the training to be a certified wellness coach! That means you won’t find a microwave in our kitchen, but you will find a Vitamix that gets a daily workout. Quinoa? Fish oil? Magnesium supplements? Yes, yes, yes. Meanwhile, the sugar bowl is usually empty, and we only buy soda when we’re hosting a party where guests expect it to be there.

All of this makes this 1994 song seem terribly prescient. In the story of Realities, Hochman and I decided that our wheelchair-bound protagonist, Alex, should have a doctor with a droll sense of humor, someone not pious and holier-than-thou but down to earth and capable of indulging himself. Charles McCloskey did a great job of portraying this wise-cracking medico in our reading.

Doctor: The body is a wonder,
A marvelous machine,
And they say it’s built to last us all our lives,
But with all the ways we use it,
And we frequently abuse it,
It’s a wonder that a body survives.

Picking fights with yuppie goons
In their overpriced saloons
Is an action that i’ve often longed to take.
But heed the words of your physician:
You may be in peak condition,
But you have to give your body a break!

When your appetite is keen,
Do you reach for something green?
No, all you hackers love to snack on something sweet.
While that junk food seems to fill you,
In the end, it’s gonna kill you!
It’s amazing what a person will eat!

Why not give yourself a break,
And enjoy a juicy steak
With a baked potato, sour cream and chives?

Alex: Sounds great!

Doc: As you shovel in your meal,
you’ll feel your arteries congeal.
It’s a wonder that a body survives!

The day I finished med school
I closed my books and fled school
But I’ve remained a student even so
And as I’ve watched my patients come and go
It’s been an education
And a source of aggravation.

I’ve seen my share of bodies,
Some beauties and some oddies
You get all shapes and sizes, that’s for sure
But after all these years, it still surprises me to see
All the things a body is expected to endure.

There are those who see no harm
In a needle in the arm
Till their habit starts to dominate their lives
They deny their drug addiction
But in fact, that’s just a fiction
It’s a wonder that a body survives

You can smoke a pack a day
And deny your lungs are gray
Til the moment that your heart attack arrives.
Why not stay forever young
In a cozy iron lung?
It’s a wonder that a body survives!

Here’s a man who’s grown obsessed
With the need to be the best.
he’s a victim of his own incessant drives
You will pay for your success
With more physical distresses.
Stress can cut a person’s body worse than knives.
It’s a wonder any body survives!

Morning Afterthoughts, from Realities (Day 165)

The curtain comes down on Act I of Realities at the end of an eventful night. Alex is reunited with his college roommate Miles; once upon a time, they were besties, but now Alex seems to regard his former pal as his nemesis. Sure enough, Miles manages to seduce Anna, the attractive physical therapist who’s been caring for Alex, not caring that Alex is clearly carrying a torch for the girl. The morning after is a time for plans for the future, plus a little remorse about the past.

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Aflame, from Realities (Day 164)

Having posted the last of the music for Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, I can’t help noticing that there’s only 30 more days remaining in Project 194. My sixtieth birthday is a month away, and somehow I’ve managed to post a song every day for the past 163 days!

I want to return to my 1994 musical Realities, which I began posting songs from months ago. If you want to refresh yourself on the story line, you can visit this page for a synopsis of the story. I left off posting back at the point where Anna had persuaded Alex to travel into the city to see a performance by Miles Rushmore at The Cutting Edge. Miles’s performance of his song “Smash N Grab” creates a sensation at The Edge, and afterward Miles seeks out Alex, his former college roommate, who he hasn’t seen since the accident that left him wheelchair bound. In What Happened To The Song, Miles expresses his fondness for his old friend and his dismay to see the bitter man he’s become. The first act ends with a quartet: Anna has put Alex to bed, and Miles begins to come on to her aggressively. Meanwhile, Alex seeks the companionship of Alice, the digital sprite he’s created in his computer.

Forrest McClendon plays Miles, Matthew Cloran is Alex, Deirdre Finnegan is Anna and Claudia Carlsson is Alice. All four of these remarkable performers are still going strong, making remarkable theater and having remarkable lives twenty years later!

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This World, from Realities (Day 43)

A love song that’s free of irony? That doesn’t succumb to snark? It doesn’t happen often in the Chazzy G songbook, but I’ve got one for you today, a lovely ballad from the end of Realities, the 1996 musical I wrote with playwright Steve Hochman, called This World. If you’ve followed any of the earlier posts from Realities, you’ll recall that its main character, Alex Inman, designs virtual realities and retreats into those “silicon mirages” to escape the pain and humiliation of his crippled body. The tender ministrations of his therapist, Anna, awaken not only his limbs but his heart as well, and while that means he is susceptible to pain, he is also able to feel love, an emotion that’s been missing from his life for some time. Matt Cloran sings his heart out on this one.

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The Cutting Edge and Smash N Grab, from Realities (Day 22)

Two songs today! If you’ve been following along, you can feel the action rising, and today we get to some big stuff!

Anna and Alex arrive at The Cutting Edge, a downtown venue that hosts the edgiest of alt-artists (think The Painted Bride, or The Bushwick Starr). They’ve come to see Miles Rushmore, who’s gotten quite a build-up in the previous scenes. We know that Cybil is a rabid fan of Rushmore’s, that the “suits” courting Alex are keenly interested in Miles, that he was Alex’s college roommate, and that there’s something in their shared past that gives Alex the heebie-jeebies. Now we meet the man himself, played by Forrest McClendon. Need I say more? He is charismatic, electrifying, inventive, manipulative, brazen – his presence casts a spell on everyone at The Edge. His “number” or “act” is one part stand-up, one part rap, one part spoken word, one part electronic gimmickry. The dude is out there, and he thrills the crowd. If you have a minute to read the full text of his act (not complete on the recording), you’ll get an idea of the crazy shit that Steve and I dreamed up for Forrest to do; he did it all full out, with expression.

Fun fact: my grandson is named Miles. His father, my son, is named Alex. Discuss.

Cutting Edge postcardIt’s Day 4 of the Your Turn Challenge, and the prompt is, “Teach us something you do well.” I think both of today’s songs are well-done; I can point with pride to the craft in both. I created the 7/4 vamp for Smash N Grab on my Macintosh using Performer and a Korg 05-W sound module. (How’s that for quaint?) The Cutting Edge song was in the show starting with the first (1993) version, and I remain fond of its snarky attitude. The opening riff sounds especially nasty when played on a DX-7, and that’s why I included a BONUS track (yes! Omigod, 3 tracks today!) of D’Arcy, Gary and me singing the song as the opening number of a cabaret show we did. (See the attached postcard.) That version is longer, and the section beginning “Look sharp!” has a real Steely Dan aroma to it, but eventually I replaced it with the section starting, “That punk who ate the razors…” I have a good rewrite for the lyric about the “anti-war cantata” that refers to Rent – “That knockoff of Puccini with the synthesized score.” These tracks teach, I hope, the importance of details, which is something I do well.

In his collection “Finishing The Hat,” Steve Sondheim declares this as one of three principles “to be written in stone:”

GOD IS IN THE DETAILS.

That quote deserves a post of its own; luckily, I wrote it already.

BONUS: The cabaret version.

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