Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Snowbirding to an anti-gay state

Join Travelpride and Be Part of the Most Exclusive All-Gay New Year's Celebration Ever...Finally, the answer for what to do for New Year's! Leave the chaos, crowds and cold weather behind and spend it in the company of 150 newfound friends in the warm Caribbean. Our holiday cruise will take you to some of the exclusive yachtsman's ports rarely experienced by the large mega-cruise ships.For the holidays we are going to be “snowbirds”. We are leaving the cool and wet Northwest and traveling to where it is warm and sunny (fingers crossed).
Christmas morning we fly to Fort Lauderdale, Florida and stay for several days at the gay resort Pineapple Point Guesthouse. We then fly to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands and board the 150 guest “Wind Spirit” ship for a gay New Years cruise of the Caribbean.

This is my first visit to Florida and the Caribbean. When we planned the vacation almost a year ago, we talked about that both locations do not have gay friendly laws or supportive politics. The conditions in the Caribbean have been well documented in the travel press. Out Traveler describes the region as: “Generally speaking, the gay-friendliness of each Caribbean island is tied to cultural heritage, meaning French or Dutch equals friendly; Spanish less so; and British even less, though of course this is completely different in the United Kingdom itself.”

In the tradition of Old World Florida comes Pineapple Point Guesthouse. Situated in the heart of gay Fort Lauderdale, the Victoria Park neighborhood is within walking distance of vibrant Las Olas Boulevard, and central to the city’s wealth of gay bars, restaurants, and shopping.More troubling to me is Florida's anti-gay stance on adoption ban, marriage equality, safe schools, workplace anti-discrimination laws, and hate violence. Several times we have discussed the possibility of canceling our Florida trip. But we decided to go ahead with it. There are so many good and supportive people and places in Florida we felt it important to experience it first hand. However, until Florida changes its oppressive and hateful laws, we will not bring our kids to Florida. (No Disney World, Universal Orlando, Busch Gardens, etc.) We have heard and read of too many horror stories of GLBT families being treated as second class citizens by state and its institutions. Unfortunately, the laws and politics of Florida are anti-family, repressive, and cruel.

We will be back in early January 2008!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Festival of Lights

Mom with Baked AlaskaThis season of Latkepalooza ends tonight with last night of Chanukah.

Last Friday, my parents came over for Shabbat dinner and to light Chanukah candles with us. We surprised my Mom with a special treat for dessert. Her birthday was at the beginning of December. E spent three days putting together her birthday extravagance. He made Baked Alaska for the first time. It is a dessert made of ice cream, cake and topped with meringue. Wednesday he made a white cake from scratch. He let it cool and then froze it. On Thursday, he softened chocolate ice cream and then spread it as a layer on top of the cake and put it back into the freezer. Friday he made the meringue and then covered the cake and ice cream with it. The entire dessert is then placed in a hot oven just long enough to firm the meringue. It is quite an indulgence.
Two Chanukiyahs

Friday, December 07, 2007

Happy Chanukah

For six of the eight nights we are hosting dinners with family and friends. E has the most delicious collection of latke recipes. He prepares two different kinds for each meal. This season we will be serving the following latkes with homemade applesauce:
  • Potato Latkes
  • Carrot Latkes with Tomato Sauce
  • Wild Rice and Vegetable Latkes
  • Root Vegetable Latkes
  • Cheese-Rice Latkes
  • Tuna Latkes
  • Apple Latkes
  • Sweet Potato, Carrot & Apple Latkes
  • Crispy Cod and Potato Latkes
  • Spinach Latkes
  • Ricotta Silver-Dollar Latkes

A directory of latke recipes can be found here.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Weather alert

Originally uploaded by guydads
Hawk grounded by low, dense fog. Waits for clearance at the front of the university.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

November theatre reviews

November was another busy month of theatre. Between E and I, we saw 14 productions. Two of them were operas, two we saw on a trip to Sacramento, and E saw one Broadway show in New York City.

While in NYC on business, E had time to take in only one Broadway show. Luckily it was one of the shows that did not go on strike.
Kevin Chamberlin and Matthew Montelongo in The Ritz by Terrence McNally at the Roundabout in NYC5*, The Ritz - Terrence McNally, Roundabout Theatre Company
[Gay bathhouse farce. When straight garbage man hides from the mob in a bathhouse hilarity and chaos ensue.]
While E was in NYC, I attended a local university production.
5*, The Mineola Twins - Paula Vogel, Stanford Drama Department
[The story of identical twins, opposite in moral and political temperaments, battling their way through a relationship that spans several decades.]

Earlier in the month we did a weekend trip to Sacramento to check out the theatre and gay scene there. Write up here.
5*, A Skull in Connemara - Martin McDonagh, B Street Theatre
[Did the gravedigger's wife die when he was drunk at the wheel or as a result of a deadly blow ?]
5*, Whistle Down the Wind - Andrew Lloyd Webber, Jim Steinman, California Musical Theatre
[A study of childhood innocence and simple faith follows as three children discover a fugitive in their barn and believe that he is Jesus.]

During one week we saw the best and worst operas of the San Francisco fall season.
2*, Macbeth - Giuseppe Verdi, Carlo Rusconi, San Francisco Opera
[Based on Shakespeare's play. Production marred by bad direction and a lame pop-art, post-apocalyptic set.]
Misha Didyk (Ruggero) and Angela Gheorghiu (Magda de Civry) in Puccini's La Rondine, SF Opera5*, La Rondine (The Swallow) - Giacomo Puccini, Giuseppe Adami, Alfred Maria Willner, Heinz Reichert, San Francisco Opera (great singing by soprano Angela Gheorghiu)
[An operetta that tells the story of a worldly woman who falls in love with a naïve younger man. Beautiful Art Nouveau set.]

One Sunday morning we woke up and realized that we had absolutely nothing planned for the day, so we got on line and booked tickets for an afternoon and evening show in Berkeley. Both theatres are next door to each other.
Tony Award-winner Mary Zimmerman returns to Berkeley Rep to present the West Coast premiere of Argonautika, an exhilarating new adventure based on The Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts.5*, Argonautika - Mary Zimmerman adapted from the "Voyage of Jason and the Argonauts", Berkeley Repertory Theatre
[Puppet, circus and improv techniques meet Greek drama in epic journey of Jason's quest for the Golden Fleece.]
4*, Sex - Mae West, Aurora Theatre Company
[1926 bawdy comic melodrama of a woman of the night trying to become respectable. Made Mae West a star.]

Other shows we say in November:
4*, The Importance of Being Earnest - Oscar Wilde, ACT's Master of Fine Arts Program
[Jack and Algernon one-up each other with insane antics to win the hearts of their beloved ladies.]
3*, One Touch of Venus - Kurt Weill, Ogden Nash, S.J. Perelman, 42nd Street Moon
[Confusion runs rampant when a long-lost statue of Venus is accidentally brought to life, and falls in love with a mild-mannered barber.]
Deputy File (Anthony Fusco, center) ardently woos a newly empowered Lizzie Curry (René Augesen) as her younger brother Jim (Alex Morf, left) watches hopefully in A.C.T.’s production of N. Richard Nash’s The Rainmaker. 5*, The Rainmaker - N. Richard Nash, ACT
[The arrival of a rainmaker named Starbuck sets off a series of events which enables Lizzie to see herself in a new light.]
5*, The Bluest Eye - Toni Morrison, Lydia R. Diamond, Lorraine Hansberry Theatre
[Based on Morrison's novel. Amazing bare stage production. In her eleven years, no one had ever noticed Pecola. But with blue eyes, she thought, everything would be different.]
Jim Brochu is Zero Mostel in the Zero Hour, at NCTC5*, Zero Hour - Jim Brochu, New Conservatory Theatre Company
[One man show about the humor, outrage, politics and juicy backstage lore of Zero Mostel.]
Oliver! - Lionel Bart, Charles Dickens, Peninsula Youth Theatre (E didn't see)
[Musical is based upon Dickens' Oliver Twist. Youth production.]

Ratings Legend:
5* - Loved It – would see it a second time.
4* - Really Liked It – strong production but not worth seeing a second time.
3* - Liked It –good production but something is lacking or not clicking.
2* - Just OK – had at least one interesting element.
1* - Did Not Like It – waste of time.
No rating – A work in progress (reading or workshop), or children’s production.

Rating*, Show Title - Author, Presenting Theatre (comments)
[Synopsis or review]
TIP: Half-price tickets for many select performances, sporting events and family activities are often available on Goldstar Events. Areas include San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

World AIDS Day: AIDS Memorial Quilt

December 1st is World AIDS Day. I am again remembering the loss of friends, artists and co-workers. One of the goals of the AIDS Memorial Quilt is to provide creative means for remembrance and healing, to effectively illustrate the enormity of the AIDS pandemic. Cleve Jones came up with the idea for the Quilt during the candlelight memorial for Harvey Milk in 1985. San Francisco Supervisor Milk and Mayor Moscone had been assassinated by a former conservative supervisor, Dan White, on November 27, 1978.

Last year for World AIDS Day, I wrote about my friends and co-workers I knew that died of AIDS. While researching for more information about their lives, I discovered the NAMES Project Foundation’s website. They have a database where one can look up names or see a block of the quilt. Below are several panels at honor and remember those friends and co-workers.

The above quilt remembers two men I knew. The first was my best friend, David DeLong. His panel is in the upper left corner. David and I worked together at San Jose Repertory Theatre (note theatre masks on panel). He also worked with the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles (note the museum logo). I wrote some personal memories of David two years ago. David died October 15, 1987 at the age of 36.

The dark quilt panel in the middle of the bottom row honors Peter David Heth. Peter, one of the early casualties of AIDS, died at the age of 48 in 1984. He was a director, designer and actor. He did a lot of work for a theatre now know as American Musical Theatre of San Jose. One of his last production designs was for "Tokens: A Play on the Plague" (note play title on panel) produced by Blake Street Hawkeyes, in association with Theater Artaud. It was a story about the 1665 Great Plague in London.
I believe I only met Peter once but I heard stories about his artistic legacy for years.

The second quilt has panel on the top row in the middle that remembers as very talented designer, Ken Holamon. Ken succumbed from AIDS complications on January 9, 1993, at the age of 45. His panel features his sunburst design for a production of "A Chorus Line". His signature runs down the right side. Many of his designs and research are housed at AMTSJ’s Holamon Research Library of Theatrical Design. American Musical Theatre San Jose provided the resource space for the study on theatre history and design for theatre teachers, designers and artists in the community.

The final panel I am going to share is totally devoted to David Lemos. David died in August 1995 at age 38. David was a co-founder and the first producing artistic director of San Jose Repertory Theatre. He went on to write and direct “Remember My Name”, a theatre piece about the AIDS quilt for the NAMES Project. He worked for the NAMES Project as chapter development coordinator, chapter managing director and executive director.

More details about these men’s lives and artistic accomplishments can be found in last year’s World AIDS Day entry.

Another interesting website is The Estate Project for Artists with AIDS. Their mission:
* to provide practical estate planning advice to all artists, especially those living with HIV/AIDS
* to document and offset the immense loss wrought by AIDS in all artistic disciplines
* to preserve the cultural legacy of the AIDS crisis so that future generations can enjoy, study and engage artworks as aesthetic achievements and historical documents

Monday, November 26, 2007

Greetings from Paris!

Welcome to Paris, TennesseeWe had a fun and adventuresome trip to Tennessee that involved a tornado, Pat Robertson, a dry Thanksgiving sandwiched between bouts of drinking, an amazing Vols University of Tennessee football win and a family visit to a nice gay bar.

This visit was going to accomplish a number of family obligations. I was finally going to meet E’s father and brother. It was not easy for them to accept E’s divorce and coming out. Now, five years later they were ready to meet his partner. The trip was also an opportunity for two of E’s three sons to spend time with Tennessee side of the family. (The youngest son did not go because he had work obligations.)

The four of us had no delays or problems traveling from San Francisco to Nashville. We arrived Wednesday night before Thanksgiving. We took E’s mother out to dinner to a sports bar/restaurant that was located in small shopping mall across from the evil Walmart. Just as we were finishing our meal, the waitress comes over in an agitated manner and informs us that a tornado has been spotted in the area and we need to move to the back of the restaurant near the bathrooms. We all huddled there for about a half an hour drinking beer and watching the rain and lighting flash through the front windows of the place. We chatted with another group of patrons visiting from Southern California whose house had just escaped the wild fires. The all clear came when Walmart reopened across the parking lot.

Grandpa and the boysLater that night I met E’s conservative father and his second wife. We sat around talking and drinking with them for a couple of hours. The large flatscreen TV was on but muted. When I noticed religious extremist, Pat Robertson, on the screen, I loudly blurted out “that man hates me”. One son started kicking my leg to hush me up while the second wife quickly reached from the remote to change the channel. Controversy was swiftly quelled.

Thanksgiving dinner at the brother’s house went well considering nobody was sure until mid-morning who was invited or was going to attend. But it all worked out and there were no family issues.

Because our flight back was first thing Sunday morning, we headed back to Nashville on Saturday afternoon. We had a couple of rooms at the Holiday Inn Express downtown. We finished our holiday by taking our two (straight) sons to our favorite gay music video bar, Tribe, and restaurant, Red. We had a nice time.

We didn't attend any theatre but we did see two good movies: Enchanted and American Gangster.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Gay Paree

A 60 ft. tall replica of the Eiffel Tower stands in a park in Paris, TN.Yup, we’re goin’ to Paris for Thanksgiving! Taking the two oldest sons with us. We fly from California to Nashville, Tennessee and then rent a minivan and drive across the state to NW corner to the home of the "World's Biggest Fish Fry", Paris, Tennessee!

On a more cultural/theatrical note, it is where the Tony Award-winning actress, Cherry Jones, grew up. As a young girl she was served ice cream by E at the soda counter of the local drugstore.GuyDads with Cherry Jones We last made a trip here to visit relatives over a year ago.

Trivia: There is a “Paris” in 13 states: Arkansas, Idaho, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, and two in Wisconsin. There is also a variation of the Paris name in six states: “New Paris”, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania; “Paris Township”, Michigan; “South Paris” and “West Paris”, Maine; “St. Paris”, Ohio.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Frog and Toad are gay

My favorite children’s book of all time is the “Frog and Toad” series. There were four easy to read chapter books written in the 1970’s: “Frog and Toad are Friends”, “Frog and Toad Together” “Frog and Toad All Year” and “Days With Frog and Toad”. I loved reading these books to my kids. At the time I had not come out. I envied the special relationship Frog and Toad had with each other.

My oldest daughter called a couple weeks ago all excited. She recently started a job as a children’s librarian and had checked in a copy of the children’s book, “And Tango Makes Three”. It is a children’s picture book based on a true story of two male penguins that hatch and raise an orphan egg. “Have you heard of the book? You have to get it. It is so cute.” Although I don’t have a copy, I am very familiar with it. In fact, according to the American Library Association it is the most challenged book requested to be removed from public libraries and school shelves because it promotes homosexuality, and is anti-family, and unsuited to age group. “Harry Potter’s” author, J.K. Rowling, is frequently challenged for claims that she promotes occult themes. Now that she says Dumbledore is gay, she will now be challenged for promoting homosexuality too even though there is nothing in the series that implies that.

What surprises me is that none of these wacko fundamentalist have discovered or figured out that the “I Can Read” children’s four-book series, “Frog and Toad”, is a primer for same-sex relationships. Whether you and your buddy are “best friends forever” or a married couple, this series will model the skills needed to have a long-term same sex relationship. The series takes you through the everyday circumstances of Frog and Toad with simplicity and humor, without moralizing, on what characterizes an enduring gay relationship: compassion, affection, gratitude, generosity, creativity, thoughtfulness, laughter, and sharing life together.

In our relationship, my husband, E, is the tall, lean Frog and I am the shorter, stockier Toad. Frog (E) is clearly the calmer of the two and the one more eager to get outdoors and to organize and plan things. Toad (me) is more temperamental and impatient, and a consummate worrier. He is frequently repentant and constantly devoted to his more rational counterpart. Toad (me) regularly grumbles and whines, while Frog (E) quietly and thoughtfully goes about helping his friend get over his upsets. Like Frog, I have a hard time not eating cookies and I also look funny in a bathing suit.

I had assumed that author and illustrator Arnold Lobel was gay because I had come across his name on the AIDS Quilt website. When I looked up biographical information on him I found he was married with two kids. The cause of death listed in the obituary was cardiac arrest on December 4, 1987. It could be he wasn’t gay but had contacted AIDS from an infected blood transfusion or blood products. (Or maybe like me, he lived a closeted life as a gay married man.)

TRIVIA: The Broadway musical “A Year with Frog and Toad” was produced by Lobel’s daughter, set designer Adrianne Lobel, and stared the designer's husband, Mark Linn-Baker, as the lovably cantankerous Toad.

Friday, November 09, 2007

Gay Sacramento

A chance to see an obscure musical in a full staged production was the motivation to make a weekend trip to Sacramento. It had been over ten years since either one of us had been to California’s state capital. We decided to see if we could make a gay and theatre weekend out of it. Surprisingly, the city has a lively gay scene and a vibrant theatre community. We were impressed and would make another trip to the area.

Our bed had a mirror over it. Sprit room at Inn at ParksideOut in Sacramento: We stayed at a gay owned bed and breakfast, the Inn at Parkside. It is one of the most beautiful B and B’s we have stayed in. The place offers many extra amenities and also operates as a high end day spa. Although the inn is gay owned, most of the clients/guests are straight.
Both Friday and Saturday evenings after attending theatre, we headed to the Midtown area of Sacramento for dinner and dancing.
Badlands in Sacramento was much nicer than the Badlands in San Francisco.Midtown is the happening place in town. It has a wonderful selection of restaurants, shops and art galleries. It also has the gayest corner in town: 20th and L Streets. There are several gay clubs and bars located there: Badlands, Faces and The Depot. We spent both nights dancing at the club Badlands. The club is spread out over three floors. It has four bars, a patio area and a balcony that overlooks the dance floor and the outside street. The crowd was diverse and friendly. The music and videos were good.
There were another group of clubs, bars and gay establishments we didn’t have time to check out:The Bolt, Bojangles, Headhunters Video Lounge & Grille,
Other resources:
Newspaper – OutWord; On-line – Out Sacramento, Valley Rainbow Pages

Whistle Down the Wind by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim SteinmanTheatre Beat: Sacramento has several excellent theatre companies. The reason for our trip was to see “Whistle Down the Wind” by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Jim Steinman (known for his work with Meat Loaf, Bonnie Tyler and others). It was being performed at Broadway Sacramento. The musical has been a hit in London but has never played on Broadway. Many of Lloyd Webber’s favorite themes and elements from “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, “Jesus Christ Superstar”, “Evita”, “Phantom of the Opera” are part of the show. There is a large children’s choir, soaring anthems, strong male tenor solos, a tormented potential savior/liberator, a climactic manhunt and impassioned emotions. The story is a study of childhood innocence and the simple faith of three motherless children that discover a fugitive in their barn that they believe is Jesus. It is set in a small town in Louisiana in 1959. The show was fun.
The other show we saw was the play “A Skull in Connemara” by Martin McDonagh at the B Street Theatre. McDonagh, a young Irish playwright, writes very dark, bleak, violent, black comedies. He wrote seven plays, all produced in London and NYC, and says he will not write any more. He wants to do movies now. I believe his main claim to fame will be that he was able to bring to the live stage the film esthetic of glorifying gratuitous violence to a high art form as seen in the movies from Sam Peckinpah to Quentin Tarantino. “Skull” revolves around the question: Did the gravedigger's wife die when he was drunk at the wheel or as a result of a deadly blow?
There are a couple other theatre companies we will have to go back and try:
Sacramento Theatre Company, and a LGBT theatre Lambda Players Theatre.

Trivia: Wikipedia claims that the song "No Matter What" from “Whistle Down the Wind”, was released as a single by Boyzone (an Irish boy band from the 90’s) and had unprecedented success: it went platinum, was voted the UK's Record of the Year for 1998, and hit #1 in 18 countries, becoming the most successful single produced from a musical in history. I never heard of it or any Boyzone song.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Anything Goes

GuyDads in costume from musical Pacific Ovetures for 'Anything Goes' Gala A couple weeks ago, our favorite local theatre company, TheatreWorks, had their annual gala to raise money. The premise for the event is that all the guests rent show costumes from the theatre’s costume shop. Then a fun and festive evening of food, drink and dancing ensues in the theatre’s scene shop that is decorated with show props and flats. We bought and hosted a table and invited a bunch of our gay, theatre loving friends. Gay table at Anything Goes GalaOur fabulous table was the only gay table at the event. The other two dozen tables were all/mostly “heteros”. The evening of frolic and fantasy raised over $300,000 and was attended by 270 guests. A great time was had by all. Everyone shared the dance floor, gays and straights, to the swinging sounds of a nine-piece band playing the hits from the Motown era through the 1980's.
Our costumes were from the Stephen Sondheim musical “Pacific Overtures”.
One of our guests took this video of a talented young actor that was in a show earlier this season. He sings “Seasons of Love” from the musical “Rent”.


Thursday, November 01, 2007

October theatre reviewed

Surprisingly, October turned out to be a busy month to see theatre. We attended 10 shows. Here is a recap.
4*, Six Degrees of Separation - John Guare, San Francisco Playhouse
[A young man gains access to upper-class New Yorkers by pretending to be the son of Sidney Poitier, in a witty, biting, social commentary on money, fame, community standing, and a desire for human connection. Earlier blog entry here.]

5*, Heartbreak House - George Bernard Shaw, Berkeley Repertory Theatre
[“A masterfully moving comedy about smart and sophisticated people hopelessly adrift in a nation at war.” Earlier blog entry here.]

5*, Appomattox - Philip Glass, Christopher Hampton, San Francisco Opera
[World premiere opera. Haunting and socially prescient of the Civil War and its aftermath. Lee surrenders to Grant.]

Ron Campbell and Danny Scheie in The Triumph of Love4*, The Triumph of Love - Pierre Marivaux, adapted & translated by Lillian Groag, Frederick Kluck, San Jose Repertory Theatre
[Quick-witted Princess disguises herself as a man to win the heart of the rightful prince. Over done deception, gender confusions and complexities of l’amour. There were some strange choices in direction. Ron Campbell and Danny Scheie as the two clowns where hysterical. Was a joint production with California Shakespeare Theatre.]

5*, The Color Purple - Alice Walker, Marsha Normaan, Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, Stephen Bray, Best of Broadway
[Family saga about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment. Even better a 2nd time. More detail review here. Jeannette Bayardelle is dong the lead role in the touring production with Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child, Latoya London from American Idol, and Tony Award nominee Felicia P. Fields.]

3*, Golda's Balcony - William Gibson, TheatreWorks (Camille Saviola)
[One woman show of Golda Meir, former Prime Minister and one of the founders of the State of Israel. Weaker performance than Tovah Feldshuh's at ACT' we saw in 2005.]

Ben Randle and Bradly Mena in Holding the Man5*, Holding the Man - adaptation Tommy Murphy, book Timothy Conigrave, New Conservatory Theatre Center
[Australian love story of a 15-year relationship that weathered disapproval, separation and temptation. The book was a winner of the United Nations Human Rights Award for Non-Fiction.]

4*, Candida - George Bernard Shaw, ACT's Master of Fine Arts Program
[Questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really wants her husband to provide. She must choose between a young poet and her husband the clergyman.]

Christopher Maltman in The Magic Flute5*, The Magic Flute - Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Emanuel Schikaneder, San Franciso Opera
[The bird catcher, Papageno, searches for love and struggles to attain wisdom and virtue. Features Gerald Scarfe's eye-catching sets and costumes. He was the illustrator for Pink Floyd’s The Wall and is a British editorial cartoonist.]

Schoolhouse Rock Live! - David McCall, Scott Ferguson, George Keating, Kyle Hall, Lynn Ahrens, Bob Dorough, Dave Frishberg, Kathy Mandry, Palo Alto Children's Theatre (no rating, children's theatre company)
[Based on ABC's short cartoon films featuring songs about grammar, science, economics, history, mathematics, and politics.]

Ratings Legend:
5* - Loved It – would see it a second time.
4* - Really Liked It – strong production but not worth seeing a second time.
3* - Liked It –good production but something is lacking or not clicking.
2* - Just OK – had at least one interesting element.
1* - Did Not Like It – waste of time.
No rating – A work in progress (reading or workshop), or children’s production.

Rating*, Show Title - Author, Presenting Theatre (comments)
[Synopsis or review]
TIP: Half-price tickets for many select performances, sporting events and family activities are often available on Goldstar Events. Areas include San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Family Dinner

Shabbat dinner
Our favorite meal of the week.
Two kids ready for Shabbat dinner last Friday. The candles are kindled. The blessings have been said over the challah or braided bread and the kiddush has been recited over wine. Time to eat!

Indian summer

Catching the last rays of light

In the last couple weeks we have had some wonderful fall weather here in Northern California. The trees around campus turned bright red, yellow and orange. We had a brief rain shower that knocked all the leaves down. I caught a student last week trying to catch the last rays of Indian summer as the long shadows of fall sneak around him.

Monday, October 22, 2007

I'm Here and out: The Color Purple

Last week we attended the touring production of the musical “The Color Purple”. This is the second time we have seen the show. The first was a year and a half ago in New York City during one of our theatre marathons. Based on reviews, we were not expecting much from the production. Neither one of us has read the book. Only E has seen the 1985 movie many years ago. We were blown away by the production. We ended up talking and discussing the production, script and ideas presented in the play for days afterwards.

On the surface it is a very simple, almost cliché story. It is a family saga about an abused and uneducated black woman's struggle for empowerment. But if you look a little deeper, there are several very interesting stories and points of view.

The musical subtitles itself as “the musical about love.” But it is much more than that; it is also about wisdom, hope and forgiveness. It has a very interesting and progressive take on religious doctrine and theology. First, it is a very spiritual musical. It is filled gospel anthems and hymns as well as blues and soulful songs. But instead of the traditional Christian theology that redemption and salvation is only possible through Christ, every character in the story finds healing through the internal search for God. Forgiveness begins with yourself and taking responsibility for your actions.

Another interesting aspect about this story is that although it is a classic “chick flick” type of story of strong, independent women, the men, even the most reprehensible ones, are also three dimensional characters that are capable of redeeming themselves.

Finally, it is wonderful tale of a person learning and accepting their sexuality late in life. The main character, Celie, has several songs about her coming out experience. The most touching is after she comes out and experiences her first long term same sex relationship that ends in a betrayal. She sings the song “I’m Here”.

In the YouTube video, Fantasia performs "I'm Here" at the 61st Annual Tony Awards. Jeannette Bayardelle is dong the touring production with Michelle Williams from Destiny's Child, Latoya London from American Idol, and Tony nominee Felicia P. Fields.

My favorite lyrics to the second half of “I’m Here”.

I'm gonna take a deep breath.
Gonna hold my head up.
Gonna put my shoulders back,
And look you straight in the eye.
I'm gonna flirt with somebody
When they walk by.
I'm gonna sing out . . .
Sing out.
I believe I have inside of me
Everything that I need to live a bountiful life.
With all the love alive in me
I’ll stand as tall as the tallest tree.
And I’m thankful for everyday that I’m given,
Both the easy and hard ones I’m livin'.
But most of all
I’m thankful for
Loving who I really am.
I'm beautiful.
Yes, I’m beautiful,
And I’m here.

If you have a chance, see the show while it is on tour or in NYC.
(Final note: Yes, I love the show but I do have one criticism of the production. The dream ballet that opens the second act needs to be reconceived. The choreography comes across as if it was cut from “The Lion King”. )

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Closet Minesweeper

Mindsweeper: I'm here because I'm bored.My oldest daughter sent me the link to this fake movie trailer, “Minesweeper The Movie”. She remembers me playing it a lot. I spent/wasted hours on it. And I was GOOD at it. Interestingly, I have not played it since I’ve came out over five years ago. I suppose I could come up with some connection or explanation that ties the two observations together. Nevertheless, there are a number of different behaviors and pursuits that have changed in the last five years. One example: although I still run 4 times a week, I no longer run long distances (more than 6 miles) or do marathon training. In many ways, the computer games and distance running were ways to avoid dealing with the drama I was creating at home just prior to the separation.


Thursday, October 11, 2007

12 Things: Coming Out Late

National Coming Out Day: 12 Things: Coming Out LateThere are a lot of stories about the trials and tribulations of young people coming out in their teens, 20’s and even 30’s. What is less talked about is coming out later in life, when one is in their 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and older. We all have a unique timetable to deal with sexuality, self-acceptance and coming out issues. It is not uncommon to come out later in life but there are also many distinct and complex variables facing someone who does. For those of you thinking about coming out late in life or have recently done so, here are 12 suggestions:

First, take care of your legal business (divorce, support, dividing assets) with an experienced lawyer. Seriously, get an attorney. Don't put it off. Talk to a lawyer and know what your rights and responsibilities are, especially if you are married, have kids and/or significant assets. Don’t promise or sign anything without running it by your attorney. Don’t let guilt or shame cloud your actions. Money is going to be flying out the door for a multitude of reasons as well as possible spousal and child support. You have to be responsible.

, give yourself plenty of time. Divorce/breaking up is a long and painful process. It demands time both emotionally and logistically. Plan on the process taking at least a year and a half. Give yourself time to grieve and take in the changes in your life. Don't forget to honor the life that was yours. In addition, give yourself time to acclimate to being gay. You will probably go through several stages. Some common ones are the slut stage, desperate for a relationship stage, moving in together after the first date stage, re-calming your inner teenager angst, working through internalized homophobia stage and many others.

Third, some family members (parents, children, siblings, etc.) are going to feel that your coming out is forcing them to come out as well. By that, I mean, you are going to hear how painful, hurtful, inconvenient, embarrassing, and shameful your coming out affects them and their life. They are going to have to process and reeducate what they thought a gay person is. It may be a struggle for them to want to do this. It is going to take time for them to come around. You will find that disclosure is a process that happens over time. Usually you can’t tell ahead of time who is going to have an issue with it. There will be surprises all around and some happy endings.

Fourth, get out and meet as many type of gay people as you can: young/old, fit/fat, bear/twink, HIV positive/negative, coupled/single, straight-acting/fem, drag queens, all type of lesbians, transgender, etc. Don’t limit your pool of friends. You will quickly discover that you are not the only one that came out late. Thousands of men and women come out late in life or after being married to the opposite sex. Some did it decades ago when it wasn’t as accepting as it is now. Some will do it in upcoming months and ask you for advice.

Fifth, make a commitment to learn about gay history, culture, arts, politics, and personalities. Read books by gay authors; subscribe to magazines like Advocate, Instinct, and Out; visit internet sites that cover GLBT topics (see my Commentary and News links on the right side) and not just porn sites. Watch DVDs about these subjects. (Netflix has hundreds of gay themed, non-porn DVDs.) Take a class or listen to speakers.

Sixth, get involved. Find and join various gay organizations that interest you. There are an amazing number and variety out there. There are groups that appeal to the intellect, the athletic, the social and the adventuresome. For example there are gay book groups, gay hiking and running clubs, gay dance (line dancing, square dancing, etc.) classes, gay choruses, and gay swimming, skiing clubs, gay bridge groups, adventure travel/camping/cruising clubs, etc.

Seventh, give back to the community. While you were closeted and trying to be straight-acting, you lived a privileged and safe life. You are now obligated to help those that did not have that opportunity. You have a chance to make the world a better place. Volunteer at a LGBT community center, AIDS organization, Marriage Equality group or other non-profit LGBT or gay-friendly organizations. Be an active member of the clubs and groups you join. Help organize or serve on event or board committees. Become a donor. Be a mentor.

Eighth, if religion is important to you, check out the many gay and gay-friendly churches, synagogues, prayer and social groups. There are a lot of positive and supportive literature and resources on how to live a gay spiritual life. There is no reason to stay closeted for God.

Ninth, go to a pride parade/festival in a small town and in a big city. They are two very different experiences. Support and patronize gay businesses. Visit a small town gay bar and a big city gay dance club. Visit a gayborhood like the Castro in San Francisco, Chelsea in New York City, or Boystown in Chicago. Vacation at a gay resort like Fort Lauderdale, Palm Springs, Provincetown, etc. Go on a gay cruise. When we travel, we make it a point to stay at gay owned bed and breakfast inns and guesthouses.

Tenth, act your age. That doesn’t mean you can’t go out to bars, clubs or cruise guys or do other fun stuff. Instead, it means you should act with confidence and assurance and a belief in the wisdom you’ve learned over the years. No one wants to see a guy in his late forties trying to mimic the worst traits of an immature twenty year old. However, there is something hot about a confident older man that draws the attention and admiration of younger guys.

Eleventh, share your story. Straight friends and family are going to have questions. This is a great opportunity to educate and have a positive influence. Develop and work on your story on what you went through to get to the “new” you. One recommendation, keep the story “G” or “PG” rated. Save the graphic details for your gay friends.

Twelfth, don’t whine about all you missed by not coming out earlier. Nobody wants to hear it. Save it for your blog if you feel compelled to share it. You have finished one closeted chapter in your life and now you are starting a new one. You are now living an out and authentic life. Enjoy it.

Bonus suggestion: This may not apply to everyone because some guys (straight, gay, bi, and all things in between) take very good care of themselves. But for those of you that have let things slide over the years consider this an opportunity to reevaluate your health and appearance: Lose that extra 10 or 20 pounds. Start an exercise program. Learn to cook and prepare healthy foods. Try a new haircut. Update your wardrobe. Doing something to improve the new changes in your life will not only make you feel better about yourself but will also make you more desirable.

UPDATE: If you are a young, gay person looking to come out, ChadzWorld  has some excellent advice and support.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Six degrees of separation

It was a weekend of connections, both old and new, for us. We had another one of our getaway weekends in San Francisco. Friday night we checked into a hotel at Van Ness and Geary. We had dinner at an Arabic fusion, small plate restaurant called Saha on Sutter Street. We have eaten there a half dozen times and love it. We had another excellent meal before heading down Sutter Street to see a play.
Six Degrees of Separation performed by San Francisco PlayhouseOne of our favorite small theatre companies in the City is San Francisco Playhouse. It is only four years old and plays in a 100 seat space. Although it has small budgets and casts both professional and community actors, the productions are compelling and strong. Their current production is John Guare’s 1990 play, “Six Degrees of Separation”. The play is based on a real event that happened in the 1980s. A young African-American man gained access to the homes of upper-class New Yorkers by posing as the son of actor Sidney Poitier. The show is a witty, biting commentary on what drives people: the desire for money, fame, social standing, and, for a few, a desire for meaningful human connection.
I was just about to sit down in my seat in the theatre, when the person in the row behind me tapped me on the shoulder. It was my old college roommate and his wife. I have not seen them for probably 15 years. It was good to reconnect.
Saturday afternoon we took BART to Berkeley for lunch and a show. Our favorite place to eat before a matinee is Triple Rock Brewery & Alehouse. Love the grilled chicken sandwich with a beer. We then saw a fantastic production of another ensemble piece at Berkeley Rep, George Bernard Shaw’sHeartbreak House”. It is a masterfully comic condemnation about smart, sophisticated but apathetic generation that is hopelessly adrift in a nation at war. Hmmm. Even though the play was written in 1919, it is timelier today. I always forget how wonderful a playwright Shaw was. He is not produced enough by local theatre companies.

A toast to the Horizons Foundation's Annual GalaSaturday evening we were back in San Francisco for the annual Horizons Foundation’s Gala. We dressed up in our tuxes, danced to the swinging sounds of Montclair Women's Big Band, listened (and chatted) to jazz vocalist Paula West, and bid and won a piece of art work at the silent auction. Horizons Foundation serves the LGBT community by making grants, strengthening organizations and leadership, and increasing philanthropic giving in the San Francisco Bay Area.

80,000 thousands friends at the Castro Street FairSunday we spent walking around the Castro Street Fair with 80,000 other fiends. This was the first time we’ve been to it. We bought a print from a local artist, Fernando Reyes. We watched and heard the Blue Angles fly overhead. But the biggest thrill of the day was when we were stopped on the street by a guy that said “you’re GuyDads!” This was the first time we have been recognized from our blog. A shout out to [Huntington]. I have read and enjoyed his blog for years. It is simple [no fancy graphics or layout] but sincere and honest peek at living in the City.

TIP: Half-price tickets for many select performances are often available on Goldstar Events. Areas include San Francisco Bay Area, San Jose, San Diego, Orange County, Los Angeles, New York, Las Vegas, Washington DC, Boston, and Chicago.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Baseball, Opera and Apple Pie

The classical radio station emailed this quiz out because this Friday night the San Francisco Opera – not the Giants - play at AT&T Park. It’s a free simulcast of ‘Samsom and Delilah,’ live from the Opera House at 8pm. SF Opera has started doing simulcasts of some of their productions in order to make opera more accessible to everyone. Today’s SF Chronicle says about 20,000 of the free tickets have been pre-registered.

I thought the quiz was cute. Both E and I are opera and baseball fans. We have season tickets to both the Giants and the SF Opera.

Baseball, Opera and Apple Pie: The KDFC Quiz

3 DiMaggio Brothers1) Which of these gents was not a baseball-playing DiMaggio brother?
A) Joe
B) Dom
C) Vince
D) Placido

2) What came first, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly on stage or Babe Ruth in the major leagues?

3) What’s older, La Boheme or Cracker Jacks?

4) One of these men was not referring to the other’s nickname when he wrote The Flying Dutchman. Name the two Wagners.
2 Wagners
5) The Giants, then in New York, last won the World Series in 1954, the year of Bobby Thompson’s pennant-winning home run against the Dodgers. Meanwhile, the San Francisco Opera was belting out what hit that Sunday afternoon?
The shot heard 'round the world
6) Who was not in the cast of Tosca for the SFO’s very first performance, in 1923? Dino Borgioli, Rocco Domenico Colavito, or Al Gandolfi?

A) Enrico Caruso threw out the first pitch at the San Francisco Seals baseball game, April 17, 1906.
B) Beverly Sills attended Vassar on a softball scholarship.
C) Fiero Francis Rizzuto played shortstop for the Yankees.
D) Maria Callas was married briefly to screen actor Lee Marvin.

Quiz Answers
2-Butterfly 1904, Babe 1914;
3-Cracker Jacks 1893, La Boheme 1896;
4-Honus (baseball) and Richard (opera);
5-Manon Lescaut;
6-with apologies to Alfredo Gandolfi, the answer is Rocky Colavito, a 6-time All Star for the Cleveland Indians;
7-A, B, and D are False, C is True.
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