Who Makes Your Heart Throb? (Free Stuff Alert!)

June 1, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

This weekend I’m performing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington DC in “Heart Throbs” — our presentation of all things boy-bandy, crush-worthy and swoon-inducing. Whether you spent your youth (or adulthood) pining after David Cassidy, Sinatra, NSYNC or the JoBros, we’ve got you covered. Plus songs by Elvis, The Beatles, BSB, JT, MJ, NKOTB, Boyz II Men, New Edition, Ricky Martin, Maroon 5, The Monkees… like I said, covered.

AND… I’m giving away 2 FREE TICKETS to Sunday’s matinee performance.

Just post in the comments here (or Facebook or Twitter) who made/makes your heart throb by 5pm Saturday (June 2) and I’ll draw a winner from the entries!

Show info:
Heart Throbs
Sunday, June 3 at 3pm
Lisner Auditorium (GWU Campus)
730 21st Street NW
Washington DC

(PS: There’s also a Saturday night show, in case you don’t win these! Read more about the show on GMCW’s web site.)

(PS2: The spiffy show logo was created by yours truly.)

Congrachoolations National Train Day winners!

May 17, 2012 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

A big, rootin’-tootin’ thank you to everyone who entered the National Train Day / B. toys giveaway! Here are the winners:

Morgan M. – Stackadoos
Brandi H. – Elemenosqueeze
Bill S. – Train Day swag

Winners have been notified by email, and have 30 days to claim their prize before another name is drawn. So check your spam filters, folks! 🙂

For some extra fun (and to get people to enter… hello, free toys aren’t enough?!?) on Facebook I had folks post their favorite train song. It was such a great collection of tunes (several of which I’d never heard, or not heard in 30+ years) that I wanted to share them, along with a few (okay, twenty) of my own favorites, in what I’m titling:

The Great Train Collection!

Volume 1 (Reader faves)
C’mon N’ Ride It (The Train) – Quad City DJ’s (C’mon n’ admit it… you love this song, too)
Long Train Runnin’ – The Doobie Brothers
A Peanut Sat On a Railroad Track (One of the oldies-but-goodies from childhood. This version has additional hilarious verses about other foods getting pulverized.)
Peace Train – Cat Stevens
Midnight Train to Georgia – Gladys Knight & the Pips
Marrakesh Express – Crosby Stills & Nash
Chattanooga Choo Choo – The Andrews Sisters
Casey Jones – Furry Lewis (Thanks to Bill Steber of The Jake Leg Stompers, who performs lots of train songs!)
Love Train – The O’Jays
Train – Goldfrapp
The Trolley Song – Judy Garland
All Aboard – The Nat “King” Cole Trio
Down By The Station
Trains – Jill Sobule
My Baby Thinks He’s A Train – Rosanne Cash
Morning Train (Nine To Five) – Sheena Easton
City Of New Orleans –  Willie Nelson
Choo Choo Ch’ Boogie – The Manhattan Transfer
I’ve Been Working On The Railroad – Pete Seeger or, if you must The Chipmunks

Volume 2 (DD’s faves)
Conjunction Junction – Schoolhouse Rock (An all-time favorite, and so educational!)
Cross the Tracks (We Better Go Back) – Maceo & The Macks
Jumping Someone Else’s Train – The Cure (coolest train song, ever)
Big Rock Candy Mountain – Harry McClintock
Crazy Train – Ozzy Osbourne
Ticket to Ride – The Beatles (It’s debatable whether this is really about trains, but it’s my blog so I agree with Paul.)
Golden Train – Penguin Prison
On A Train – Yuksek
Freight Train to Nowhere – Mark Heard
Last Train To Clarksville – The Monkees
Orange Blossom Special –  Johnny Cash
The Loco-MotionLittle Eva or, if you must Dora the Explorer (sorry, I draw the line at Kylie)
Locomotion – Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark
Trans-Europe Express – Kraftwerk
Trains And Boats And Planes – Dwight Yoakam
This City Never Sleeps – Eurythmics
Zoo Station – U2
Train Song – Mindy Smith
People Get ReadyEva Cassidy (original version by The Impressions, written by then member Curtis Mayfield)

You can hear the whole playlist on Spotify.

(PS: For an unbelievably EXHAUSTIVE list of train-related songs, go here.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Oh yeah, and here are a couple of pics from our ‘lil Train Day adventure to Gaithersburg, MD. There wasn’t a whole lot to it (Hopefully Union Station is repaired by next year) but JJ loved it nonetheless. Plus he got a cool hat out of it.

No, I can’t read yet. So?

The Little Engineer That Could

Did anyone else make it to a Train Day celebration? Send me some pics and I’ll post them here. You can also post them on the Designer Daddy Facebook page or share them on National Train Day’s gallery page.

The Kids Are All Right

February 2, 2012 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF, LESSONS LEARNED

If you’re in the DC area Saturday, February 18th, grab the whole family and go see “The Kids Are All Right” performed by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington! As a member of this chorus, I can tell you it’s not often the phrase “family-friendly” is used to describe one of our shows… but “Kids” will be a great evening of music with a message: Be who you were born to be!

The concert features songs and stories about growing up “different” — and not just surviving, but overcoming adversity to enjoy and embrace our individuality.

Two big highlights of the show will include a mini-musical based on the children’s book “Oliver Button Is A Sissy,” narrated by Candace Gingrich-Jones (half-sister of a certain soon-to-be former presidential candidate); as well as a performance by Dreams of Hope, a Pittsburgh performing arts group of LGBT youth and their allies. They will present a segment from their original show “Being In, Being Out” about the journey we all take to belong.

As part of the chorus’ GenOUT program, free tickets are available for high school students, their teachers and parents. Learn more about GMCW’s youth outreach program and request tickets at

And check out this fun little animation. Not my creation (although the logos are), but darned if that first photo that appears isn’t familiar…

Saturday, February 18, 2012
Lisner Auditorium

730 21st Street NW • Washington DC

JJ’s Top 10 of 2011

December 30, 2011 | By Brent Almond | MAKING MEMORIES, THINGS MY KID DIGS

I can’t believe another year has zoomed past, and with that a toddler that’s learned to zoom quite a bit on his own! To recap, here are a few of JJ’s favorite things from 2011…


Advent In An Hour: Dec 17

December 19, 2011 | By Brent Almond | DESIGN STUFF

Since I was busy all weekend singing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Washington I am posting those days retroactively… and basing the Advent doodles on some of the songs we performed…

In memory of Peter Fox, who passed away on January 2, 2012, 16 days after this post was written…

Recently a member of our chorus fell gravely ill. As part of our efforts to wish him well, we sent a video of ourselves singing “Merry Christmas, Darling.”

Merry Christmas darling
We’re apart that’s true
But I can dream and in my dreams
I’m Christmas-ing with you

One of the many comments made about this person over the weekend struck me in particular: “No matter who else was around, whenever you were speaking with him, you felt as if you were the only person in the room.”

I don’t know him well, but from the few conversations I’ve had with him, I can echo the sentiment wholeheartedly. The comment has added impact because this man seemingly has it all: great talent, good looks, a Donny Osmond smile, etc. Someone with the potential to be quite intimidating if he wanted to be, yet he chooses to wield his charm for good purposes.

So over the course of this very tiring weekend of rehearsals, concerts, celebrating, and holding out hope for our chorus brother, I was reminded of two things:

1. What a great community of friends and family I have in GMCW

2. When you take the time to talk to someone — no matter how intimidating or good-looking or popular or grumpy or aloof they may seem on the surface — people are generally pretty decent. I know I can’t be best friends with all 250+ members of my chorus, but every time I’ve made the effort to say hello or get to know one of them on even the most basic of levels, I’ve left pleasantly surprised and feeling a little more connected.

So whether you’re with family, friends or going it alone for Christmas, find a way to stay connected. If not in person, then over the phone, through email, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, or even by commenting on a blog. 🙂

Logs on the fire
Fill me with desire
To see you and to say
That I wish you Merry Christmas
Happy New Year, too
I’ve just one wish
On this Christmas Eve
I wish I were with you

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