Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Gay Training

The San Francisco Chronicle had a story on Monday titled, “Training helps gay families win hearts”. A national organization, Family Pride, was in town offering workshops to train same-sex parents how to be spokespeople and to effectively address critics of family equality. I have not heard of the organization before and we did not attend the workshop. Family Pride’s website says it is committed to securing family equality for all families. One of their goals is to create a speaker’s bureau of people available to appear in the media and before legislators. To show and display a personal face, that same-sex families are regular people…like everyone else. Also they coach how to communicate in a language and terminology that resonates and appeals to straight Americans. What a great idea.

A couple interesting quotes from the article:
“They heard about using words and phrases that signal what they have in common with people around them – “being a fair person,” “in it together” and “building strong families” – rather than focusing on gay rights and sexual orientation.”

“Instead of appealing for “marriage equality,” parents should talk about what it means to be barred from marriage. The term “discrimination” should be shelved and replaced with the more concrete idea of “hurting,” trainer Trina Olson told the parents in San Francisco. And while there are more than 1,000 rights and legal benefits conferred with marriage, conversations about the emotional and social benefits are more persuasive, she said.”

“The images and voices of families are more appealing than legal and political debates to people who are on the fence about issues like marriage for same-sex couples.”

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Omigod You Guys

After a month’s break of not going to theatre we are back with a vengeance. We saw two more shows this week making it five shows in five days. During this cultural break we caught up on movies watching (see entry below on movie orgy). Last year we attended 81 plays, musicals and operas.

Tuesday night we went to the first performance of the pre-Broadway musical, “Legally Blonde” in San Francisco. We were surprised and delighted by the show. The musical sticks very close to the 2001 movie. It was funny, campy and had hummable tunes. Laurence O’Keefe and Nell Benjamin did the music and lyrics. O’Keefe is best known for “Bat Boy: The Musical”. Music clips of two “Legally Blonde” songs, “Omigod You Guys” and “Take It Like a Man” can be heard at the theatre website. Another funny, big production song, “Gay or European?”, was in the second act where Elle Woods figures out that the pool boy is perjuring himself on the stand. The show hangs together very well and doesn’t have an unfinished feel of earlier pre-Broadway shows (Lestat, Mambo Kings, and Lennon).

Wednesday evening we went Anthony Clarvoe’s “Ambition Facing West” at TheatreWorks in Mountain View. Clarvoe is well known in the local theatre community for his Silicon Valley plays (Ctrl+Alt+Delete and Pick Up Ax). This subdued, family epic tells overlapping stories of three generations as one part of the family moves west. The earliest story line starts in Croatia 1910s, then Wyoming in 1940s and Japan in 1980s. The acting was good and many of the issues raised in the script were interesting but overall it wasn’t very engaging.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Gay Bed & Breakfast and 3 plays

We spent a romantic weekend in San Francisco. We stayed at a charming Bed and Breakfast in the Castro called Inn on Castro. It was our first time staying there. This makes our third gay Bed and Breakfast we have vacationed with in San Francisco. Our favorite has been The Parker Guest House. We also have stayed at The Willows Bed and Breakfast Inn. We recommend any of the three. They all do a great job.

The primary reason for the getaway weekend was we had tickets for three shows. Instead of driving back and forth all weekend, we would just stay in the city.

The first show was at Berkeley Repertory Theatre. They were presenting “The Pillowman” by Martin McDonagh. The writer, Martin McDonagh, in many theatre circles is considered to be a genius. He wrote 7 plays by the time he was 27, had four of them playing at the same time in London’s West End, and received many nominations and awards. His inspiration is American crime movies. One can see the influence of David Lynch, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarentino in his plays. E has seen several of his plays and together we saw “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” in New York last summer. It was one of our favorites. It is a wickedly black comedy about Irish paramilitaries, extreme violence, guns and a misunderstanding about a cat.

The Pillowman” however, just sucked. It was a waste of three hours. I only recommend it if you enjoy wallowing in nihilistic story telling. The play is without objective meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or value. It could have been a cautionary tale about the horrors of child abuse or a warning that the world is filled with evil people, but it is not. It might have made in interesting who-done-it where you are constantly tripped up by the twists and turns until the very end, but it is not. It could have been an outrageous political thriller in a totalitarian state like “The Manchurian Candidate” or psychological study of a madman, but it is not. Instead you have a play that reads like it was written by a gang of frat boys trying to gross each other out. Martin McDonagh has written better work than this.

The direction was slow and lethargic. There were moments of humor between large gaps tediousness. The lead actors (Tony Amendola, Erik, Lochtefeld, Matthew Maher and Andy Murry) did a great job with what they had. The secondary characters were undeveloped and a waste of stage time. The talented actors Nancy Carlin and Howard Swain are wasted on roles that would be better played by dress shop mannequins. If this had been a movie, it would have been released straight to video.

That evening we attended the opening night performance of New Conservatory Theatre Center’sFarm Boys” by Amy Fox and Dean Gray. The play is based on the oral history book: “Farm Boys: Lives of Gay Men from the Rural Midwest” by Will Fellows. The play takes several stories and combines them into one. It covers many issues such as a “Brokeback” marriage, coming out late in life, coming out as a teenager, internalized homophobia, threats and bashings from your neighbors and rural community. The story revolves around a man that unexpectedly inherits a small farm in his hometown from his first love. He returns from NYC to central Wisconsin with his current artist boyfriend. He slowly reacquaints himself with the farming lifestyle and his past. Both E and I love the production.

Sunday afternoon we attend Lamplighters Musical Theatre. First time we have seen one of their shows. Usually they perform the works of Gilbert and Sullivan. Currently they are doing Franz Lehar’s “The Merry Widow”, one of the worlds best know and popular operettas. It is a fun and silly story of a young, rich widow’s search for a new husband. We both want to go back to Lamplighters next season and see one of the Gilbert and Sullivan shows.

Tickets to “Farm Boys” and “The Merry Widow” are still available for half price on Goldstar Events. Full price tickets are also available through the theatre’s websites.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Vacation Resolutions for the New Year

It is two-thirds the way through January and time to admit to one of our most exciting New Year resolutions…Plan next year’s vacation!

This is E’s most favorite thing to do. So far we have some great vacations lined up.

First major vacation will be New York City for July 4th week. We have done this several times in the last couple years and we always have a great time. The goal is to see as much theatre as possible, such as a dozen shows in eight days. Second goal is to dance until dawn at the gay clubs.

August has always been adventure travel month. Last year it was hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru. The year before was a 200 mile hike across northern England. We have also done a bike ride across the Czech Republic and a hike to Zermatt at the base of the Matterhorn in the Alps. This year it is back to the Alps and hiking in Germany, Austria and Italy. The hike is 10 days through three countries and six valleys. It begins in Germany's picturesque Bavaria on the E5 trail through the glaciated mountains of Austrian Tyrol and ending in the medieval city of Meran (Merano) in northern Italy.

Travelpride Caribbean Cruise
We are planning on celebrating the end of 2007 and the start of 2008 with a New Year’s cruise. We have booked a gay Caribbean cruise from Dec 29, 2007 to Jan. 5, 2008. We did a cruise with Travelpride a year ago. Their Costa Rica/Panama cruise on the Windstar last February was a highlight. This cruise will be on the Windstar’s sister ship, the Wind Spirit. It holds 150 guests and is like sailing on your own yacht. The cruise starts and ends in St. Thomas.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Birthday card and poem

Yesterday was my birthday. It was the last celebration of my forties. I received some cool gifts and a wonderful dinner out. E gave me this card with a poem he wrote:

A houseboy like him we say we need,
To iron, vacuum, clean up with speed.
His face is a mystery; his height, unknown.
But with what we know, who needs him full-blown?
A birthday gift of this boy I cannot make;
His number’s missing, a Hallmark mistake!
But on your birthday night, who needs this fawn?
I have you & you have me to ravish ‘til dawn!

Happy 49,
Your Hubby xoxo

Monday, January 08, 2007

Movie Orgy

For the last several years, we have set aside the month of December and the first few weeks of January for our annual orgy of film viewing. The goal is to see as many as possible of the potentially Oscar nominated films. The rest of the year we only see a handful of movies. I can’t even begin to estimate how many pounds of popcorn I have eaten.

We have seen a dozen movies seen so far:
Babel – Disappointing story about a gun. Even Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett can’t generate any smoke.
Blood Diamond - Exciting, dramatic adventure about diamonds. Leonardo DiCaprio, Djimon Hounsou and Jennifer Connelly are outstanding.
Casino Royale – Sexy new Bond adventure. Daniel Craig gets two thumbs up.
Dreamgirls – Loved it. Can’t wait to buy the DVD. Loved it.
Eragon – A budget “Lord of the Rings”. Took the kids. Ten year old son went out and bought the book afterwards.
Little Children - A favorite. A dark, sexy side of the suburbs, similar to “American Beauty”. Excellent ensemble work by Kate Winslet, Jennifer Connelly, Patrick Wilson, and Jackie Earle Haley.

Night at the Museum – Another kids’ favorite.
Notes on a Scandal – Disappointed. Was expecting something better than a cheesy TV melodramatic script. Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett are fun to watch nevertheless.
The Departed – Fun crime picture, good acting from Leonardo DiCaprio and Matt Damon and a crazy Jack Nicholson.
The Good Shepherd – Solid, suspenseful spy drama. Matt Damon is one creepy spy.
The Queen – A favorite. Who knew a story of the modern British royalty could be so scandalously fun. Helen Mirran is the best.
Volver – Penelope Cruz stars in this Spanish film. Great fun and wacky story from director Pedro Almodovar.

On our list to see soon:
Children of Men
Freedom Writers
The Pursuit of Happyness

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Out at Xmas

I am so glad that Christmas is over. From November through December, I face the “coming out” dilemma at least once a day. Sometimes I am faced with it four to six times a day. Every time it comes up, it is a split second, pressured decision for me. How much do reveal? Do I just pretend that I am not different and fake it? Do I give a thought-out, sincerely reply or a flippant comment? Everyone, straight or gay, just assumes I am Christian and I celebrate Christmas. Even after I tell people, they don’t remember. Ugh!

As a new Jew, this Xmas outing is a recent phenomenon for me. I suppose over time I will get use to it and not be so sensitive about it. I use to be Christian (Presbyterian) but I converted to Reform Judaism after I met E and came out. It is important to both of us to practice the same faith. Reform Judaism is very welcoming. As a denomination, they have been inclusive and supportive of gays and gay rights for about ten years. Meanwhile, I could no longer tolerate the hypocrisy of the Christian faith.

There have been several news stories about the religious right’s “war on Christmas”. Apparently it has been very profitable selling crap like pins, ornaments and bumper stickers. It also has worked to mobilize their dimwitted base into coughing up more cash for their “battle” against Christmas censors. They spend more time and money trying to preserve and promote the commercialization of Christmas rather than the spiritual and family/friend involvement. I suspect the money just goes into the pockets of their leaders.
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