Thursday, April 26, 2007

Kids and Plays

Go Giants!Last weekend was our weekend with our two young grade school kids. (We share custody with their mom, my ex-wife.) We spent the weekend in San Francisco. We went Saturday afternoon to a great Giants baseball game. Barry Bonds hit a home run and the Giants won. Currently they are on a winning streak after a bad start on the season.
That night we all went to a dinner party hosted by a wonderful gay couple. There were about a dozen gay men, our two well behaved kids and three, almost as well behaved, dogs. It was a fun evening to catch up with some old friends we had not seen in a while and meet some new ones.
After the party we took a cab to our hotel, The Pickwick. We all slept in the next morning and then headed over to the Westfield San Francisco shopping mall. It is a brand new, beautiful mall; part of it is inside the façade and dome of the old Emporium store. The kids had a fun time riding the spiral escalators and playing with the mirrored tables below the glass dome. Oldest son took a break from his studies at Hastings Law to join us for lunch at the food court.

We are still busy going to plays and musicals. Our count for April is 14 shows so far. (Complete list here.) The four best shows for the month were:
After the War” by Philip Kan Gotanda at A.C.T. It is a wonderful ensemble piece in a SF boarding house on Fillmore in 1946. Japanese Americans, African Americans, rural whites from the Midwest, and other societal outcasts fill the rooms.
Terre Haute” by Edmund White at New Conservatory Theatre Center. It is a haunting imagination of Gore Vidal's relationship with Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh.
Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin as Martha and GeorgeMerrily We Roll Along” by Stephen Soundheim. It is revived by TheatreWorks in Palo Alto. It tells the rocky rise to fame of three writer and composer friends. Told in reverse, rolling backwards from the self-serving cynicism of the '80s to the starry-eyed idealism of the '50s.
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf” by Edward Albee. This is the touring production starring Kathleen Turner and Bill Irwin as Martha and George. An exquisite and excruciating evening of games: Humiliate the Host, Get the Guests, Hump the Hostess and Bringing up Baby.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Wild about Andrew Lippa

I am convinced that Palo Alto is wild about New York City composer/writer Andrew Lippa. I can’t think of another new artist that is so widely produced in the area as he. Lippa has been a favorite of audiences and artistic staff at TheatreWorks, the local Equity theatre, for years. He has participated in TheatreWorks’ Writers’ Retreat and New Work Festival many times. His musical “A Little Princess” was part of the festival and premiered on the theatre’s main season in 2004. Besides “Princess” Lippa has come to town to work on “Jerry Christmas”, “Betty Boop” and “Asphalt Beach”.

It is one thing to be a favorite of a theatre company. It is another to have your works done by a variety of theatres in the area. Andrew Lippa is being done just about every type of theatre in the area.
* The local children’s company, Palo Alto Children’s Theatre just did “A Little Princess” in March.
* Stanford University’s Ram’s Head Theatrical Society is currently doing an enthusiastic production of "The Wild Party". We saw it this last Friday, opening night. It was a wild and sexy production done by students, most who are not theatre majors.
* Last June Bus Barn Stage, a community theatre in the neighboring town of Los Altos did a wonderful job of "john & jen".

I hope he makes his way back out soon for another visit and to work on some more for his fun shows. Maybe he will even come to one of our dinner parties!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Sweet treat

Charles Chocolates: Chocolate covered matzahPassover has come and gone. It has been done with for almost a week. However, there is one matzah treat we are still nibbling on. It was a gift from good friends of ours. They sent us a beautiful box of bittersweet chocolate covered matzah from Charles Chocolates. This chocolate covered matzah is amazing. It is made by another one of those San Francisco fine chocolate confectioners. A quick search of chocolate companies in the SF area include Charles Chocolates, Ghiradelli, Scharffen Berger, Joseph Schmidt, XOX Truffles, See’s, San Francisco Chocolate Company. I never realized there was so much chocolate creation going on around here. What a great place to live.

... The taste of chocolate is a sensual pleasure in itself, existing in the same world as sex... For myself, I can enjoy the wicked pleasure of chocolate... entirely by myself. Furtiveness makes it better.
- Dr. Ruth Westheimer
Photo of Guy Dads, on the right, dancing at a recent benefit. As they dance, boogie and twirl about the floor, looking into each other's eyes, they anticipate nibbling on chocolate later in the evening. :-)

Friday, April 06, 2007

Passover menu

Baba Ganoosh (Baba ghannouj or eggplant dip)
Hungarian Yogurt Spread

Canyon Ranch Charoset (Dried Cherries, Dates, Raisins with Oranges, Walnuts, Brandy & Wine)
NY Times Nathan's Charoset (Raisin, Currant, Pecan Balls)

Cold Salmon Filets with Spinach/Watercress/Herb Sauce
Roasted Vegetable Soup with Almond-Stuffed Matzah Balls
Chicken in Pomegranate and Walnut Sauce
Sautéed Mushrooms on Saged Matzah Meal Polenta
Tsimmes Terrine (a terrine of layered onions, new potatoes, sweet potatoes, asparagus, and prunes)
Baked, Baby Artichokes in Parsley Sauce

Strawberry and Apple Almond Crumble
Fudgy-Nutty Macaroons
Ice Cream
Our Passover table

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Weekend parties and events

Birthday girl
Our youngest daughter turned 8 last Thursday. She wanted new clothes and jewelry as presents. And that is what the young lady received.

My parentsFriday my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. My brother, sister and I threw a party for them Saturday night in their church social hall. We had about 135 of their family and friends attend. Everyone had a great time. E did all 15 table decorations. Each table focused on different aspect of their life such as family, hobbies, volunteer and community commitments, travels, church, etc. They were a hit at the party. I am sure some eyebrows were raised when E and I slow and fast danced on the dance floor. But nobody made any comments.

Passover tableSunday and Monday, E spent all day cooking and preparing for our mostly gay Passover Seder. It was stupendous. One of our friends said, “What can I say about such a perfect evening. I'm so glad to have been part of such a moving and spirited Passover meal, not too mention a most delicious one.”
Tuesday we went to opening day at the ballpark to see the San Francisco Giants. The pre-game events were spectacular. But the game sucked. The Giants had their worst opening day loss ever. Since we won’t be eating any bread or other leaven food for the week, we brought our own matzah to the game. Crab Louie salad certainly is not Kosher for Passover, but it tastes great on matzah!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Gay and Happy Passover

We are hosting a first night Seder. E has an amazing meal planned (menu to follow). Fourteen men, mostly Jewish, mostly gay will be attending. We have added a couple supplementary Seder readings to our Haggadah, "A Night of Questions: A Passover Haggadah". The purpose for the readings are to remember the oppressed--and others in need--at the Seder. They come from the “Haggadah Z’man Heruteynu, The Season of Freedom Telling” by Gregory Gadow.

In the early 1980s Susannah Heschel, a Jewish feminist scholar, added an orange to the seder plate as a symbol of inclusion of gays and lesbians and others who are marginalized within the Jewish community. She offered the orange as a symbol of the fruitfulness for all Jews when lesbians and gay men are contributing and active members of Jewish life.

We also light a Memorial Candle with the following blessing:
Leader: While rejoicing in this time of freedom, let us remember that many people are not free.
All: We remember our ancestors and ancestors-in-spirit who died that we might have freedom.
L: We remember tonight especially our brothers and sisters who were and are still being oppressed for being Gay, Lesbian, Transgender, or Bisexual.
A: We remember tonight our friends, companions, and those we have never met who have died or are slowly dying from AIDS and who are often even more quickly being destroyed by prejudice and a refusal to understand or care.
A: We light this candle that their memory shall shine forth and not be forgotten.

(Light candle)
Blessed are You, Holy One, Source of the Universe, Who brings forth the light of fire.
L: Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.
A: Blessed is the flame that burns in the heart’s secret place.
L: Blessed is the heart with strength to throb its last beat in dignity.
A: Blessed is the match consumed in kindling flame.

In retelling the story of the ten plagues, we add:
Leader: Our cup is diminished further, because we as Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgenders also suffer under ten plagues.
Blood: The blood shed in the Nazi death camps and in Queer-bashings.
Laughter: The laughter caused by our stereotyped representation in jokes and the media.
Guilt: The guilt we are told is inherent in our simple existence.
Shame: The shame we are made to feel when we share our lives and our bodies with someone of the same gender as ourselves.
Despair: The despair we feel when we are told that we are evil and monstrous, that AIDS is God's judgment upon us.
Fear: The fear caused by a hostile society that would cast us out if it knew what we are.
Pain: The physical pain of being attacked by homophobes, and the mental pain of being rejected by family and community.
Loneliness: The loneliness of thinking that we are the only one of our kind.
Darkness: The darkness of our closets, and of where many of us are forced to spend our lives: the unsafe neighborhoods, cities, and countries encircling our globe.
Silence: The hollow silence of when we do not speak out in our own defense, the silence from one generation to another.
All: We may not have individually felt each plague, but since they afflict our sisters and brothers, they afflict us as well. Let us not become complacent.
Leader: And let us not become so involved with our own problems that we forget of others who also suffer. The road out of Egypt is open to all who flee slavery and seek the Promised Land.

We add a little levity with the songs. After the Jews are freed from bondage in Egypt and Moses has gone to Mount Sinai, we sing to the tune of “Hello Dolly”:
Hello, Moses.
Well hello, Moses
It’s so nice to have you back where you belong.
Bring on those plagues, Moses.
Blood, boils, and frogs, Moses.
We are anxious,
Will God exit us?
It’s been -- way too long.

So, what’s your plan, Moses?
Pass it over us, Moses.
We are worried,
Can’t we scurry,
Here comes that -- Egypt throng.

GOL-ly Gee, Moses,
What’s THE big secret, Moses?
When are we gonna get away,
Are we really gonna get away,
You’ve got to help us get us away from here.
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