Monday, September 29, 2008

Aiken Fans Celebrate New Clack

AIKEN GREETS FANS -- Clay Aiken signs autographs and visits with fans following Spamalot performances. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photos by Butterflyshine.

Stage Door Photos Shared

Parker Stars in New Montage

The "queen of procrastination," I am knee deep in income tax preparation while keeping up with the American political scene, college and NFL football, as well as the latest Clay Aiken news.

So maybe there's no royal title, but I am definitely an authority on putting any and everything off until the last minute. Of all the items on my crowded TODO list, the most frustrating is my habit of waiting until the final deadline to compile tax info.

For CA fans who may have wondered what happened to my normal three-day -- literally "set-your-clock-by" -- blogging routine, that's it in a nutshell.

Procrastination on hold, Good Morning America screen caps and Shubert Alley photos following weekend "Spamalot" performances have been added to bulging coffers of clack; mine is no different. As usual, must-have montages are not far behind.

This entry celebrates excellent versions of the latest CA visuals, no doubt headed for external drives throughout the fandom.

ATD Accompanies Parker's Intro

SueRue's latest montage, A Thousand Days, features images from the Thursday-Friday GMA interviews during which Clay and Jaymes Foster introduced their son Parker. In addition to the video on YouTube, here is a Sendspace download for the montage: ATD.

A Thousand Days by SueReu

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Included in this two-part clickable interlude are GMA caps of Clay, Jaymes, and Parker by Gerwhisp, 1, 2, 3; with stage door photos by Dianagreeneyes, 4, 6; and Dancerdad, 5. During the GMA appearance, Clay sang Baby of Mine to his son. The mp3 excerpt provided by Gerwhisp can be downloaded here.

Younger Set Opens New Board

New "kid" on the Clay Cyberspace block is The Young Claynation, a message board for older teens and 20-somethings.

Administered by Aiken4ClayinSeattleWA, the board invites younger CA fans to join the fun at their Cyber corner. If you fit the parameters, check out the board. I cruised through the site as a visitor, and it is very well-organized with forums/threads for pictures, videos, YouTube, news, Spamalot, TV appearances, music.

The welcome thread is open for those who qualify. The older crowd can stop by to visit anytime.

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Back to crunching numbers ...

Happy Rosh Hashanah! Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Aiken Lets Guard Down on GMA

Entertainment Tonight promotes Clay Aiken's Thursday-Friday interview on Good Morning America. Screen cap by Gerwhisp.

Responsibilities of a Father

Aiken Tells His Story on GMA

I can't raise a kid and teach him how to lie, teach him to hide things. I can't raise a kid and teach him to keep secrets. And at the same time, I also don't ever want to raise him in an environment where it's not OK for him to be exactly who he is, no matter what.

Following through on a promise he made to himself as a new father, Clay Aiken will let his guard down and publicly acknowledge he is gay in an interview airing on Good Morning America Thursday and Friday.

The singer's interview with Diane Sawyer will be telecast in a two-day segment on GMA. See ABC News for the complete story by Jonann Brady. Interview videos from both days can be viewed at ABC News/GMA.

Here are Sendspace downloads for the GMA interviews: Thursday and Friday. An excellent discussion about Clay's future career was aired this week on CNN's Showbiz Tonight.

Clay and best friend-music producer Jaymes Foster are the parents of Parker Foster Aiken, born Aug. 8 in North Carolina.

Jaymes, Clay, and son Parker
Photos by Michael Lavine

PEOPLE Previews Photos of Parker

The first photos of Parker will accompany Clay's very candid, personal interview with People magazine, officially on newstands Friday. Also interviewed during the photo shoot, Jaymes told People that Clay's a Natural Dad:

He's an incredible caregiver. As far as changing the diapers and seeing what's wrong with [Parker] and getting him to go sleep, Clay's a natural and he's really, really good with that.

On a larger scale, he's the perfect person. He's been a school teacher, we have the same morals, family is very important to him, and Parker means everything to us.

The singer, who returned to Broadway last weekend as Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, discusses fatherhood, coming out, his family, and his fans.

Except for Spamalot excursions to New York City, the majority of CA fans are not going anywhere. Since the story broke on Tuesday, expressions of unending love and support have monopolized band width throughout message boards and blogs in Clay Cyberspace.

Following Tuesday night's performance, Clay signed into his fan club site and posted his gratitude:

We'll talk more, but suffice it to say, for the first time in recent memory, I am speechless. I'm so proud to know and love all of you.

My family is so much larger than Parker, Jaymes, Mom, Brett, etc. It extends to each of you, and I couldn't be more blessed.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Graphics by Fountaindawg of PEOPLE photos (1 and 3) and Gerwhisp's screen cap from the GMA promo are featured in this clickable interlude.

What does this mean for me and my fandom? Nothing. He’s still the best voice I’ve ever heard, he’s still the best concert I’ve ever attended, he’s still one of the funniest entertainers that I’ve ever enjoyed and his good works with UNICEF and his own Bubel/Aiken Foundation have opened my eyes, my wallet and my heart to issues that I should have been paying attention to long ago. -- The ConCLAYve

Further reflections can be read at these Clay Blogs:

The ConCLAYve:
The Best Voice I've Ever Heard

There Was a Man:
Reveal Me Completely

WebWeaver's World:
Thoughts on Clay



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Monday, September 22, 2008

Aiken, Fans Conquer 'Spamalot'

SHUBERT ALLEY -- Clay Aiken greets fans in Shubert Alley following weekend 'Spamalot' performances. Graphic by Amazing_CA, photos by Dancerdad.

Weekend Invasion of Broadway

Aiken, Fans Conquer 'Spamalot'

This weekend's Broadway invasion by Clay Aiken and his fans, the Clay Nation, made headlines throughout the New York City theater community, some of which are highlighted here.

In her
Broadway Magazine blog, Edith Haight contrasts the celebratory style of Clay's loyal fans with the violent rivalries in 19th century theatre history.

There was an invasion on Broadway this weekend, as American Idol star Clay Aiken returned to Spamalot to reprise his role as Sir Robin. Aiken first played the role last Spring, and then left for the summer.

His return to the show was greeted with an outpouring of enthusiasm and accolades from fans. The most passionate Aiken fans are known as Claymates, and they rival the theatre gangs of long ago.

The loyal fans of American actor Edwin Forrest and British actor William Macready fought to the literal death spurred on by their loyalty to their respective actor. The Astor Place riots were a real theatrical tragedy caused by passionate fans.

Well, Clay Aiken can rest soundly at night knowing that he has his own passionate gang of theatre and Broadway fans known as Claymates, and they are ready to do battle for Clay if need be. No worries about violence, the Claymates seem more about celebration than intimidation.

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Included in this clickable interlude are stage door photos from this past weekend, Clay's first back in the Spamalot cast. Photographers include Dancerdad, 1; Toni7babe, 2; and Shamrock, 3.

Triumphant Return to Broadway

Broadway World is celebrating Clay's triumphant return to Spamalot with a story and a handsome collection of photos by Pablo Pimienta:
Clay Aiken Returns to Monty Python's Spamalot .

Clay Aiken returned to the scene of his triumphant Broadway debut Friday September 19th as he reprised the role of 'Sir Robin' in the Tony Award-winning Best Musical, Monty Python's Spamalot. Clay's debut on Broadway earlier this year was met with wild enthusiasm from both his legion of fans and the New York press.

He'll be performing the role of 'Sir Robin ' at the Shubert Theatre from September 19 2008 - January 4 2009. made sure our camera was there as he made his return to the New York stage!

Sir Robins Clay Aiken and James Beaman

A Meeting of Two Robins

James Beaman, Sir Robin in the US tour cast of Spamalot, caught Broadway's Sunday matinee en route to Toronto and blogged about seeing the show from out front in his 9/20/08 blog:
Claymation, or "Oh, My Aiken's Back"!!

And then there was Clay Aiken. I think he is very amusing as Robin and I enjoyed many of his choices and personal touches. He plays it rather foppish and fussy, a bit eccentric.

Clay may be inexperienced as a stage actor, but he has great instincts and a goofy comic sensibility which works for "Spamalot." And then of course, there's that effortless, amazing voice--and the creators of the show have inserted a few bits into the show for Clay to show off his vocal talents.

You can read the entire entry at the above link.

Clay Leads Lycos Searches

#1 AT LYCOS: On the week of his return to Spamalot, Clay Aiken was the "most searched" topic at Lycos 50. This marks his 458th consecutive week on the Lycos list.

HAIL, SIR ROBIN -- salutes Clay's return to Spamalot:

If you were taking a cab across 44th Street on Sept. 19, chances are it wasn't cheap. With Daniel Radcliffe appearing down the block in previews for Equus, the sidewalks got even more crowded with fans and onlookers, thanks to Clay Aiken's splashy return to Spamalot.

After leaving the show in April (and becoming a father last month), the pop phenom reassumed the role of Sir Robin and brought down the house with his seemingly effortless performance and an ace rendition of "You Won't Succeed on Broadway."

Aiken's signed on through January 4, so if you missed him the first time, here's your chance to be impressed. And trust us, the guy's pretty darn amazing.

Also featured is a slide show by Jenny Anderson.

TOP AUCTION PRIZE: The 22nd Annual Broadway Flea Market & Grand Auction Sunday, Sept. 21, raised a grand total of $496,380 for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS (BC/EFA).

The top-selling lot was a pair of house seats to Spamalot and a backstage tour hosted by Clay Aiken (which fetched $10,000), followed by a walk-on role in the hit musical Wicked ($8,500) and a walk-on role in the international hit musical Mamma Mia! ($6,250).

SPAMALOT SALES BUMP: According to Variety, Spamalot ($494,410) bumped up close to $80,000 to log the biggest jump of the week, with increased sales attributable in part to the return of Clay Aiken Sept. 19.

LAST MINUTE TICKETS: Want to see Spamalot but don't have a seat? At this link, you can check for the availability of last-minute tickets. The site is updated at 10 a.m. EST on weekdays.

CLAY ON GMA: Clay will appear on Good Morning America in a two-part interview titled "Clay Aiken, My Story," Thursday and Friday. Reckon Parker is an early riser?

PAULA'S PARTY: There's lots of blues at Paula Dean's shindig at 7 p.m. ET/PT Saturday -- "blue-inspired recipes and the coolest guests in town," that is.

Pop Star Clay Aiken makes blue corn crusted bass, Ace of Cakes' Duff Goldman shows off a recipe for blue velvet cake, and Paula makes a blueberry crème Brule tart for Grammy winner Dionne Warwick.

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Happy Fall, Clay Nation!


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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Clay Aiken Back on Broadway

KING CLAY -- Singer Clay Aiken takes an opening night bow Friday following his return to 'Spamalot' in the role of Sir Robin. Photo by J. Pellegrini (Broadway TV).

Fun Begins Anew

Spamalot Crowd Crowns King Clay

While he may be playing a "Sir" on Broadway in Spamalot, it is safe to say that he was King Clay Aiken at last night's opening.

American Idol star Clay Aiken is a natural on Broadway. This the excitement that happens on those rare occasions on Broadway.

At the moment, forget Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe in Equus, and Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise and their entourage of Scientology protesters at All My Sons, or even forget Entourage’s Jeremy Piven in Speed-The-Plow, or Ace Young in Grease.

The big story on Broadway today is Clay! He is back on Broadway, and the fun has begun.

That's how Broadway TV summed up Clay Aiken's triumphant return to Broadway as Sir Robin in Monty Python's "Spamalot" Friday night.

The Shubert Theatre marquee once again reads "Spamalot Now Starring Clay Aiken"; and, from all reports, opening night was a rollicking "10" start to finish.

Broadway Celebrates 'Clay Day'

Meeting Internet friends in person -- putting a face with a screen name -- is a cherished bonus at Clay gatherings. Opening night at Spamalot was no different. Toni7babe reported it was like "old home week" in the line waiting to enter the theater.

In touch with the home crowd via cell phones, attendees were read Clay's late afternoon blog, which they promptly relayed up and down the Spamalot line. Pre-curtain reports always include fan assessments of ticket sales. Word from the box office was that only a few single seats were available.

Around 8 p.m. message boards throughout Clay Cyberspace proclaimed:


Opening night Spamcert recaps are everywhere, as pre-show, intermission, and post show cell phone reports traveled from board to board all night long. After the performance, the party moved from Shubert Alley to several New York restaurants.

Below are excerpts from Claniac24's recap:

Clay was fantastic tonight! He was full of energy, dynamic in all respects. When he first appeared, at the guard window, the whoop and holler that went up was unbelievable. It went on for many minutes.

In fact, every time Clay appeared in a new scene, the screams and applause were resounding. I think the theatre must have been filled with Claymates. And we yelled and screamed for all the other stars as they appeared also.

At the very start of the curtain call, the entire audience stood up and remained standing until the final curtain closed. We gave very warm applause for everyone, but Clay got a thundering ovation. At the very end, he was standing on stage grinning from ear to ear. I think he's gloriously happy to be back where he's so loved and appreciated.

He came out to the stage door after about 15 minutes to another round of raukus screams and hollers. He looked stunningly handsome and happy. He didn't stay too long, maybe only five minutes.

Just before he went inside, Clay got down on his knees to sign a playbill for a young lady in a wheelchair. The moment was captured with a picture taken by her father.

Later, aiken4aikenstouch posted a first person report at the OFC:

This was all my dad's doing. He left SPAM early and saved me a spot right at the front. Clay came out and signed my Playbill. Dad asked if we could get a picture, and he said we'd do something. Jerome told me to stay put (like I was going anywhere!).

When Clay was done, he pulled me through the barrier, hugged me, and asked my name. Then he said, "Let's turn around"; and he knelt beside me for the picture. He gives the best hugs ever. Thank you, Clay, for making my dream come true!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured in this clickable interlude are Spamalot cast and curtain call photos by JPellegrini, 1, 2, and 3, courtesy of Broadway TV. Pictures of Clay signing autographs in Shubert Alley are by Toni7babe, 4 and 5 (with aiken4aikenstouch), and Isdollylovesclay, 6.

Paparazzi Cover Sir Robin's Return

The paparazzi covered Clay's return to Spamalot en masse. At
Getty Images, open the first photo and click through 21 images by Brad Barket from Friday's opening night. WireImage features 27 photos by J. Pellegrini.

There's already a new montage about Clay's 9/19 reprise of the Sir Robin role. See Stay by LovesClaysVoice at YouTube.

Recounting opening night for Clayversity, xxx4clay wrote, "Clay's performance was as if he had never left the show. The crowd was very, very loud. It was amazing to be there."

With four shows on Saturday and Sunday, opening weekend has just begun for those in the theatre, as well as fans around the globe celebrating via recaps and cellcerts.

Broadway Cares Bid at $8,200

Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids, online bidding for VIP Spamalot tickets followed by a Clay-conducted backstage tour hit $8,200 at noon Saturday.

Further bidding for this package will take place during a live auction. All items in the Broadway Cares auction can be viewed

SueReu Wins LALATE2 Contest

Congratulations to SueRue, whose montage Everything I Needed To Know I Learned from Clay Aiken was named the winning video in an
LALATE2 video contest.

SueReu's video has been added to LALATE2's premium celebrity page for Clay Aiken. You can view the winning montage at YouTube with this link:
Everything I Needed To Know I Learned from Clay Aiken.

Below is a clickable of JPellegrini
's lead photo from Broadway TV:

Have a wonderful weekend, Clay Nation!


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Friday, September 19, 2008

Break a Leg, Clay!

This Is the Knight!

Clay Aiken Returns to SPAMALOT

Amid extraordinary media hoopla and a venue filled with faithful, ecstatic fans, this is the night Clay Aiken returns to the scene of his triumphant January Broadway debut in Monty Python's SPAMALOT.

Below are excerpts from Broadway World's 9/19 story:
Clay Aiken Returns as Sir Robin.

Clay's debut on Broadway earlier this year was met with wild enthusiasm from both his legion of fans and the New York press. He will reprise the role of 'Sir Robin ' at the Shubert Theatre from September 19 2008 - January 4 2009.

When he made his Broadway debut in SPAMALOT at the beginning of this year, Newsday said "Aiken is a charmer" and the Associated Press said that "Clay Aiken deftly handles supremely silly."

Clay Aiken became a music superstar following his success on the "American Idol" television series, and has sold more than six million albums; co-authored a best-selling book; and, played six sold-out concert tours, said "Since leaving SPAMALOT in May, jokes have just not been funny. Food has lost its taste. The grass is no longer green -- the sky no longer blue. And, babies WON'T stop crying!! I'm so excited about coming back to the funniest show in the world!"

This spring, Aiken released his fourth album, On My Way Here, his first album of original songs since his 2003 chart topping, double platinum debut Measure of a Man. On My Way Here's debut in Billboard Magazine's Top 5 continued his streak of all four of his albums having debuted in the Top 5.

Directed by Mike Nichols, who won his eighth Tony Award for his direction of the new musical, Monty Python's SPAMALOT has a book by Eric Idle, "lovingly ripped-off" from the screenplay of the Pythons' best- loved film, Monty Python and the Holy Grail by Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones and Michael Palin. The music is by Eric Idle and John Du Prez.

Tickets are available online now at or by calling (212) 239-6200/(800) 432-7250.

Playbill Heralds Return of Robin

Playbill's 9/19 story is 'Idol' Finalist Aiken Returns to Broadway's Spamalot:

"American Idol" finalist and new dad Clay Aiken returns to the Broadway company of Monty Python's Spamalot at the Shubert Theatre Sept. 19.
Aiken, who played a Jan. 18-May 4 stint in the Tony-winning musical, reprises his role as Sir Robin through Jan. 4, 2009.

Aiken joins a cast that currently features Michael Siberry, David Hibbard, Tom Deckman, Rick Holmes, Bradley Dean, Wally Dunn and Merle Dandridge as Lady of the Lake.

On Broadway Spamalot plays Tuesday-Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2 and 8 PM and Sunday at 2 and 7 PM.

Both stories can be read in their entirety at the respective links. For more information visit Monty Python's Spamalot.

Have a blast tonight, Clay Nation! Break a leg, Sir Robin!


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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Aiken Set To Take Manhattan

HE'S BACK -- Clay Aiken returns to "Spamalot" Friday, reprising his role as Sir Robin in the Broadway hit musical. Graphic by Cindilu2.

Clay Nation, Too!

Aiken To Take Manhattan Again

Steadily ticking off final days, hours, and minutes until Clay Aiken's triumphant return as Sir Robin in Monty Python's "Spamalot" Friday, message board widgets nonchalantly keep the beat as fans euphorically make plans for opening night at the Shubert Theatre.

Not everyone is packing a weekend bag for New York City, however. Fans who will enjoy Clay's four-month Sir Robin reprise via recaps and clack also have the opening curtain circled on their calendars.

Helping to "raise silliness to an art form," the Spamalot website keeps Python afficionados abreast of the show's latest news, cast, story, media, and souvenirs.

For those who can't wait, there are multiple page listings of montages from Clay's first Spamalot run at You Tube. A popular example is SueReu's Clay, Find Your Grail, a photo montage celebrating the Broadway show and other moments from the past five years.

Clay, Find Your Grail

Echoing the excitement level are reader comments from two September "Spamalot" entries in the Carolina journal. The second remark implies the blog might even have inspired a ticket sale. *g*

Spamalot is going to be revved up for Clay Aiken's return!

OK, you sold me. I'm going to NYC on business anyway. Might as well see the funniest show on Broadway.

Thank you for posting the fantastic photo blends in honor of Clay Aiken as he returns to Spamalot.

Countdown to Clay Aiken - The Star Returns to Broadway!

Three more days to go! Clay Aiken will soon be back on Broadway. Shubert Alley hasn't been the same since he left, nor has Broadway!

I am so ready for Spam 2. Even though I can't go back to NYC this time, I love all the reports and pictures. Clay Aiken fans know how to feed the rest of us who can't get to the man in person.

Counting down the seconds till Clay Aiken appears in Spamalot again!

Three more days before the sun shines brighter, the stars twinkle faster, and the earth spins a bit faster! Clay Aiken is returning to Spamalot!!!

I am going for Opening Weekend, and I am thrilled beyond - thrilled. You just took me over the top with those teasers. EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

New York Times ad this week.

Watch out, Manhattan! International superstar Clay Aiken's return to "the funniest show in the world" is just ticks away!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: Featured are graphics from Clay's original Spamalot run. Visual artists include Amazing_CA, photos by Joan Marcus, 1; Amazing_CA, photos by Toni7babe, 2; Claystruck, 3; Amazing_CA, photo by Scrpkym, 4; and MNmeesh, photo by Joan Marcus, 5.

Voting for Claymmy Awards Begins

Sponsored by It's All About Love, the Sixth Annual Claymmy Awards are off and running. People's Choice voting opened Sept. 11 and will close on Oct. 9. Winners will be announced on Oct. 14.

There are 10 categories in the
2008 Claymmy Awards: Avatar, Banners, Blends, Concert Pics, Fan Art, Miscellaneous, Montage, Poetry, Wallpapers, and Websites.

Monday I learned that Carolina On My Mind is among five entries in the
websites division.

Besides supporting the specialties of other CA fans, following the Claymmy link is a great way to explore the many talents of the Clay Aiken Internet community.

A special thank you to the person who nominated the Carolina blog. Readers from 86 countries have stopped by this corner of Cyberspace during the past year. Your faithful visits and comments are most appreciated and the real reward.

Still, it is quite an honor to be among the 2008 Claymmy nominees!

Happy Birthday, Grandson!

Kai Celebrates First Candle

One year ago today, Sept. 17, the dearest, most precocious little fellow came into our family's life. Although we live several states apart, our Carolina clan first met Kai through the photos and videos his mother sent.

Thanks to talented CA fans, many of the photos also received graphic design status. The Picture Trail cube above includes selections from throughout Kai's first year.

In May, I finally met my grandson when he and his mother flew to NC for a one-month visit. Immediate pals, we quickly made up for lost time; but, of course, our month together flew by. I still remember the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse slogan and occasionally have to switch channels for a "monkey mail" fix.

While here, Kai learned to crawl and enjoyed playing my grand piano. He routinely "inspected" the piano books on the bottom shelf of a music rack along his route to watch morning TV shows with his grandmother.

Kai now stands alone and is on the verge of walking and talking. He is intrigued with buttons and keys on remote controls, cell phones, and computers. In fact, he even wrote a blog entry while visiting his grandmother.

As some of the pictures indicate, Kai is a very curious little guy, exploring everything in sight -- just like his mother did.

Happy Birthday, Kai! Have an awesome week, Clay Nation!


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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Aiken Fans Countdown to 'Spamalot'

SPAMALOT REPRISE -- Clay Aiken will reprise his Sir Robin role in "Spamalot" on Broadway Friday, Sept. 19. Graphic by Amazing_CA.

Ike Triggers F-5 Tornado Trials

Aiken Heads Back to Broadway

Clay Aiken's highly anticipated reprise as Sir Robin in "Spamalot" Sept. 19 - Jan. 4 is less than a week away, and celebrations among fans, Broadway backers, and the man himself have escalated to epic dimensions.

The music superstar and best-selling author recently said, "Since leaving SPAMALOT in May, jokes have just not been funny. Food has lost its taste. The grass is no longer green – the sky no longer blue. And, babies WON'T stop crying!! I'm so excited about coming back to the funniest show in the world!"

Directed by Tony Award winner Mike Nichols, with a book by Eric Idle and music and lyrics by Mr. Idle and John Du Prez, SPAMALOT tells the tale of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table as they embark on their hilarious quest for the Holy Grail.

Flying cows, killer rabbits, and taunting Frenchmen are just a few reasons why audiences everywhere are eating up SPAMALOT, the funniest show in the world.

New York Times Ad

During his four-month run as Sir Robin last fall, Clay proved a natural in the "Spamalot" production, wrote Broadway World.
When he made his Broadway debut in SPAMALOT at the beginning of this year, Newsday said "Aiken is a charmer" and the Associated Press said that "Clay Aiken deftly handles supremely silly."

According to Variety, Clay's May departure from "Spamalot," had a noticeable effect on the box office.
Weekly sales for the tuner surged the week Aiken joined the cast and took a steep tumble the frame after he departed.

Ticket discounts for performances through Nov. 14, excluding Saturday evenings, are available at Broadway Offers. Use the code SIRROBIN to order online. For additional information, see Thursday's blog at Clay's My Space: Fan Discount Offer for Spamalot.

Photo links to 'Spamalot' Site

Clay Fans Pen Playbill Bio

With his return to Broadway, Clay launched a new Fan Club contest in which fans have the opportunity to write his official Playbill biography. According to Broadway World, this is the first time a Broadway actor has held a contest allowing fans to write their official Playbill biography.

The contest is open to members of the singer's
Official Fan Club. The winning entry will appear in Playbill, and the writer will win two tickets to Spamalot and a backstage tour hosted by Clay. Entries must be received by Sept. 19.

Friday Clay blogged that he is really impressed by the entries so far. "Some of my favorites so far have been irreverent and silly, much like Spamalot itself!" He also sent kudos to the person who wrote one entirely in French.

Sept. 19 is most definitely a red letter day on calendars throughout Spamalot Land!

PHOTO INTERLUDE: This clickable graphic interlude heralds this week's Sir Robin reprise, recalling Clay's debut run with scenes from the stage, as well as Shubert Alley. Visual artists include Amazing_CA, photos by Joan Marcus and Toni7babe, 1; Amazing_CA, photo by Catsmommy, 2; cindilu2, photos by Scrpkym and Toni7babe, 3; BettyJean, 4; and Ambassador of Love, photo by Joan Marcus, 5.

Storms Stir F-5 Tornado Memories

For me, this season's disastrous hurricane rampages of the Gulf and East Coasts have triggered recollections of my close call with a deadly F-5 tornado years ago. Growing up in Wilmington, NC, I survived many hurricanes, the worst being Hazel in my youth; so I was not unaccustomed to the devastating ways of Mother Nature.

In the spring of 1970, my fifth year as a Texan, I was working as a reporter-feature writer for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Midway to his Music Ed degree at Texas Tech University, my husband worked part-time as a maitre d' at the Lubbock Club, located on the 13th floor of the Pioneer Natural Gas building, then the tallest in town.

May 11, 1970, for the first time in Lubbock's history, the city was hit full force by a tornado, later determined to be in the most dangerous F-5 category. Roaring through a narrow but devastating swath in the center of the city before darting northward, the full wrath of the storm encountered the natural gas building where my husband worked, the newspaper offices, and our mobile home.

Lubbock sits at the southern edge of what's commonly referred to as Tornado Alley, the world's biggest breeding ground for twisters. According to a report from Texas Tech's Atmospheric Science Group, the only area on Earth that rivals Tornado Alley is the South Asian nation of Bangladesh.

Photo courtesy of Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Tornado Leads to F-Scale Rating

Afterwards, the damage swath was investigated by the world's most renowned tornado researcher, Dr. Ted Fujita of the University of Chicago. This led in part to his formulation of the Fujita scale, which today is widely used to rate tornado intensities.

The storm system, which Dr. Fujita suspected included two tornadoes, was in the F-5 category of twisting winds that can range from 261 to 318 mph. In addition, the storm was accompanied by baseball-size hail.

The Lubbock Tornado killed 26 people and injured more than 1,500. It destroyed 1,040 family units and damaged 8,876 more. Property damage was estimated at more than $125 million.

Photo courtesy of Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

At 6:55 p.m., Lubbock radar detected a moderate thunderstorm 15 miles south of the airport, and a warning was issued at 8:15. By 9:49 p.m., the Lubbock Weather Bureau had lost all communication. At 9:55 p.m., LWB personnel abandoned the area to take cover for the approaching tornado.

Storm Cellar Warnings Unheeded

Atop the glass natural gas building, Mr. Caro, a West Texan by birth, could see the swirling storm as it gathered strength. He called home several times urging me to go to our trailer park's storm cellar. By then, a veteran of many hurricanes and several tornados, I stubbornly thought I could ride this one out.

Finally convinced this storm was for real, I realized the winds were too strong for me to make my way to the
cellar; so I spent the most harrowing 20 minutes of my life clutching a pillow on a bed that was hurled from one side of the room to the other as the storm rocked our trailer back and forth.

Throughout, I was besieged with the tornado's horrific "freight train" noise and the baseball-size hail pounding trailers in our park. Never again will I ride out an F-5 tornado in a mobile home!

Aftermath Yields Alarming Discovery

There is nothing like the eerie calm that follows a storm like this. I remember counting my blessings as I tentatively opened the door to assess the immediate surroundings. Each trailer was allotted one small tree, and ours was leaning towards my car. I grabbed the keys to back my vehicle away from this minor threat and access damage in our immediate area.

Not the trailer next to us, but the next one down was totally flattened. Fortunately, the occupants weren't home that night. Our trailer park was located adjacent to a trailer sales lot, and none of those homes were as permanently secured as the occupied residences.

In an F-5 tornado, automobile-sized missiles can fly through the air in excess of 109 yards. There is no telling how much flying debris traveled over my head during the tornado.

Because our home and work places were located in the ravaged area, we were given passes to freely come and go in this warlike zone. At the newspaper, our staff first worked with a few typewriters downstairs only. Copy for initial editions was sent to Amarillo, printed by the paper there, and returned to Lubbock for distribution.

Clickable First Edition

In the days that followed, we A-J reporters walked through the tornado rubble talking with residents as they sifted through the remains of their homes, locating a family Bible here, a treasured memory there.

The tornado's path was so slim that we often confronted the bizarre scene of families in the impact zone searching for traces of their life on one side of the street while a few yards away, other children tossed balls, delighted they had a school vacation day.

Fake Book Miraculously Survives

Betty, keyboardist in a duo performing at the Lubbock Club, was using a wonderful old fake book that my husband had discovered in a long-forgotten pile backstage at a symphony rehearsal hall. Patrons and employees alike had evacuated the Lubbock Club in haste the night of the tornado.

A month later when the musicians returned for the club's reopening, Betty apologized for just leaving that wonderful old book of tunes on the organ. She was flabbergasted when Mr. Caro explained that the tornado had apparently closed the book and placed it safely beside the organ pedals.

Obviously, several generations of computer forecast programs and architectural schemes have succeeded the ones in place in 1970. The Lubbock Memorial Civic Center was built in honor of those whose lives were lost that night.

For me, time has not erased May 11, 1970. The vicious warpath of Katrina three years ago and Ike this weekend have only brought memories of the Lubbock Tornado to the forefront. These paragraphs appeared in an A-J editorial on May 11, 2005:

A city can remove the rubble after a disaster and, in so doing, resurrect itself in bricks and mortar. But it takes neighborhoods full of special people to come together, join hands and work side by side to lift the community's spirits in the aftermath of such a deadly and destructive storm.

Those who were here that day in 1970 never will feel that carefree again. We always will be on guard as we scan the darkening skies during times of turbulent weather. And we will always remember. Life is precious, never to be taken for granted.

Below is a clickable of Amazing_CA's opening graphic:

Have a great weekend, Clay Nation!


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