Monday, November 27, 2006

Family holiday

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with all six kids and several guests. E made a bountiful, kid-friendly turkey dinner for 10 with plenty of leftovers. This was the first time since our wedding that all the kids were together. The older kids are always doing something somewhere. It made for a very special day for us to have them all here. The four oldest kids are in college and the two youngest are in grade school.
Thanksgiving 2006
Thanksgiving 2006
The rest of the holiday weekend was quite a jumble of activities. We attended a friend’s Bat Mitzvah and party, made a couple trips to the family beach house to pack and move stuff. The house has been sold and we need to be out by mid-December.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

I had a dream

Last night I dreamed I was in living in a musical. I was traveling in a car with Effie Melody White, one of the main characters from the musical Dreamgirls. We were driving back to her family’s home for Thanksgiving dinner. She had a driver and we were sitting in the back seat talking about how it is sometimes hard to go back and visit families. When we arrived at her parent’s small house it was filled with relatives. Some of them were happy to see her. But most didn’t know quite what to do or react because all knew that her parents did not approve of her having a singing career in the big city. The tension was thick. But Effie was proud of what she had accomplished. She was not going to let dismissive views of her pull her down. She was there to pay her respects to her family and enjoy the company of her extended family. In the dream, I remember thinking that this is one of themes that will resurface later when Effie sings the show stopping song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". And then I woke up. The scene is not in the musical. It is more likely from a group meal scene from “The Color Purple” or “Dessa Rose”. Both shows I have seen in the last six months.

Oh man, am I anticipating the movie Dreamgirls opening in December or what?

From the 1982 Tony Awards with Jennifer Holliday:


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Cheap Seats

We attend some sort of theatre production at least once a week. Sometimes it is as many as four times a week. That’s not counting when we are on vacation such as when we saw 11 shows in 8 days in NYC this last July or when we were in Edinburgh for the Fringe Festival a year ago and saw 25 performances in 7 days.

Want to know the secret for seeing and affording all these local shows? Discount tickets from a marvelous on-line service. We are members of Goldstar Events. It is free to register. You can buy the tickets in advance. This is not a “day of performance discount” like TKTS or other stand in line and see what is left when you get to the box office counter. Instead Goldstar Events sends us a weekly email of performances available for half price in our area. We have been using the service for several years and love it. Even the service fee is a bargain. It is only a couple of bucks unlike Ticketmaster which charges ridiculous amounts of money.

I believe the company started on the West Coast. In the San Francisco and San Jose area they have dozens and dozens of performances available at any one time. Plays, musicals, concerts, dance, sporting events, lectures and spas are all listed. I have seen listings for Los Angeles, San Diego, and Las Vegas. They also offer events in Chicago, DC Metro and have just added New York and Boston.

Another good source of discount tickets in the Silicon Valley is Artsopolis. Run by the Arts Council of Silicon Valley, it also offers half price tickets available with an e-mail registration. Their site also says that the Artsopolis network is also available in Pheonix, Houston, Denver, South Bend and Grand Forks.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Rocky Top - Trip to Tennessee

Paris, TN
Sometimes, returning home brings more pleasant surprises than anticipated. Certainly this happened to us as we went to Tennessee to visit E's mom.

Neither of us was really looking forward to this trip. Tennessee is a state that only seems to have bad news coming from it from a gay and progressive standpoint. After all, it is Bush's favorite place to go whenever he wants a morale boost. E's mom was even concerned about our coming because she was afraid that two gay men in E's hometown of Paris (pop., 10K) might not be welcomed at all (although Paris is the home of Tony award-winning actress and very out lesbian, Cherry Jones).

Anyway, we arrived on a Friday night in Nashville, where we were scheduled to spend the night before driving the 100 miles westward to Paris. We were totally delighted to find a wonderful group of gay establishments near our downtown hotel. We had drinks at TRIBE -- a huge, multi-faceted bar with several different venues (sitting rooms with couches, large bar area, tables on a balcony, large video room (with great musical videos played at a volume where you could still talk), and a non-smoking bar area. Even more surprising, Tribe includes a really great restaurant called RED where we had a wonderful meal at reasonable prices sitting among tables of gay couples and groups. TRIBE serves also a mixture of gays and lesbians and some hip heteros, a mixture we rarely see in SF.

After dinner, we went next door to the equally fun PLAY, a two-story club where the top floor has a stage and a parade of drag queens belting it out (and many were REALLY good) to an audience of gays and heteros. Down below was a great dance club, with many cute boys of all races (another great surprise in Nashville) along with some more hetero couples who seemed right at home with the guys.

We had a fantastic evening and stayed from about 6 p.m. until 3 a.m. when we capped of the evening with several ‘gutbombs’ from Krystal hamburger restaurant. Who would have thought??

We also visited the large and well stocked GLBT bookstore Outloud Books and Gifts. What a great community resource. All these establishments were along Church Street.

E and his Mom visit The Homeplace, a 19th century farm
And how did Paris go? GREAT! We rented a cabin on beautiful Kentucky Lake (about 12 miles from Paris). I got to see all the little houses E had lived in, along with his schools and other local sights (the 100+ year court house, the 3rd highest Eiffel Tower in the US, etc.). We also spent a day in Land between the Lakes, a park that extends for 40 or so miles between Kentucky & Barclay Lakes, where we saw bison, elk, and a large, re-created farm community of the 1880s. Museum of the American Quilter's Society
We also went to the Museum of the American Quilter’s Society in Paducah, Kentucky (50 miles from Paris), where we were amazed in what is a fine arts exhibit of quilts that take in many cases years to make. The museum features a rotating exhibit of over 100 art and traditional quilts by renowned contemporary quiltmakers. We were stunned by their beauty, by the huge museum itself, and by the way the quilts were almost as spectacular as Renoirs or Monets.

So, all in all, venturing into this very Red State was not quite as bad as we thought it would be. As the saying goes, 'great place to visit, but don't want to live there.'
bison at Land Between the Lakes

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Ruining it for everyone

We have been supporters of the social service organization Outlet for several years. We have attended their annual gala and donated money but have never been to any of their support groups or workshops. The mission of Outlet is to support and empower lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning youth (LGBTQQ) ages 13-20 living on the Peninsula and South Bay. Last night they had a meeting open to the community where they invited the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence. I have always been curious about the Sisters but I did not know any thing them or their work.

Five Sisters came down from San Francisco to meet with about 20 local youths at the community center. They had an entertaining, educational and engaging program. The teens were interested in their charity work and outreach. They asked questions about their history as community activists. How they became part of the Order. They also wanted to hear the Sister’s makeup secrets for applying glitter. The teens quizzed them what the best stores to shop (cRoss Dress for Less).

I learned that the Sisters began in San Francisco on Easter weekend 1979. They are a non-profit organization that has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for charity. In addition to fundraising, the work of a Sister also includes ministry, education and entertainment. They have organized, planned and staged many events. The Sisters regularly visit local hospices. Theirs is a "ministry of presence". The Sisters frequently act as educators, lecturing to classrooms of students or informing the cute boy at the bar about the risks of unsafe sex. Being a Sister requires a lot of different skills and an investment in time, energy and money.

Some interesting facts:
In 1982 the Sisters put out the first safer sex pamphlet to use plain sex-positive language, practical advice, and humor.
It takes at least a year to become a full Sister. There is an extensive support and training program.
It is open to all people…gay, straight, male, female and every other variation.
Some of the angriest criticism they receive is from others in the GLBT community. That is too bad because I think the work they do is fabulous!
On their web site they state that the Sisters consider it their mission to “ruin” all detrimental conditions including complacency, guilt and the inability to laugh at one’s self.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Marriage Freedom

Last Friday we attended the evening service at our local suburban synagogue. (By the way, it was the same synagogue that we were married in full Reform Jewish ceremony by the head rabbi and cantor.) Assemblyman Mark Leno was the guest speaker. Mr. Leno, one of the first gay men elected to the California Assembly, spoke to a predominantly straight audience on "Why Marriage Equality is Inevitable." He shared his thoughts on the future of marriage equality and how our community can work together to end marriage discrimination and achieve equal rights for same sex couples. Mr. Leno was the author of AB 849, the nation's historic marriage equality legislation that was passed by the CA legislature but then vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. The bill, called "Religious Freedom & Civil Marriage Protection Act" would define marriage as a civil contract between two persons, a definition that was in effect prior to 1977. It would also reaffirm that no religious entity is required to solemnize a marriage that is contrary to its religious tenets. He plans to re-introduce the bill again next session.

One of the points Mr. Leno makes is that for the last 150 years or so, the American democratic process has changed and reshaped marriage. Despite what the Republicans and religious bigots say, marriage has constantly gone through and survived many activists' attacks and come out just fine.

Up until the 1860's in America, women were considered property of their husbands. They could not own property or sign contracts. Their work, income, and creations belonged to their husbands. Changing this was against many religious beliefs and cherished social values. The Bible says a woman should be subject to her husband. It was all so wrong. These changes were going against God, the Bible and the sacred institution of marriage. And then women wanted the right to vote and then divorce. More hell broke out in the 60's when women had access to contraception and the right to choose. Marriage and the values of the American family was under an attack it might not survive said the conservatives and religious intolerant.

In 1948, California was the first state to effectively repeal the anti-miscegenation statutes. A poll taken at the time showed that less then 5% of the public were in favor of the decision. Nineteen years later, 1967, the activist judges of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously the state laws prohibiting interethnic marriage were unconstitutional. It took until year 2000 for the last state, Alabama, to change it's constitution. Even then 40% of the voters were against it. It has always been challenged that racial intermarriage would be a threat to the holy and scared institution of marriage. A judge in 1965 said "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix."

I suppose it should not be surprising that the same conservative and religious assholes are still around using the same arguements today. In time same-sex marriage will just be latest evolution of the institution.
Married Dads
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