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.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

The High Holy Days...Shofar!

Opening A Garage Door "The Jewish Way".


Monday, September 17, 2007

Queer Post Office II

Over a year ago I wrote about finding the queerest selection of stamps at the post office. Well, I went back at the post office again last week. There was nobody in line behind me so I took the opportunity to ask the clerk to show me what commemorative stamps were available.

Amazing. I didn’t know there was a “homosexual promotion” going on at the US Post Office. Is there a queer agenda in the design of stamps? It does, however, break down along social/political lines, sort of a postal culture war. I noticed two distinct types of stamps. There were the Beautiful Gay Stamps and the Ugly Republican Stamps.

First, I will do a quick introduction of the Beautiful Gay Stamps:
Like the Colors of a Rainbow. Celebrate Jury Duty.The first off the roll are two stamps called “Jury Duty” and “Celebrate!” They both look like they came off a Gay Pride Parade float. You can’t get more rainbow than these two examples. There's a party goin' on right here/A celebration to last throughout the years/So bring your good times, and your laughter too/We gonna celebrate your party with youThe post office website says “Celebrate!” “will help postal patrons acknowledge a host of happy occasions, from birthdays to engagements to anniversaries and more. When good times call for good wishes, this stamp design will add a touch of cheer.” “Jury Duty” celebrates a “diverse group of twelve representative jurors.”

Next are two gorgeous series of nature stamps called “Beautiful Blooms” and “Pollination.” They are stunning, intricate, and “suggest that biodiversity is necessary to ensure viability.” In other words, it’s gay! The blooms are: coneflower, dahlia, chrysanthemum, gerbera daisy, tulip, iris, poppy, water lily and magnolia bloom.
Beautiful Blooms Pollination, another word for spreading seed
Marvel Super HeroesThe next series of stamps are “Art of Disney: Magic” and “Marvel Super Heroes.” The heroes are: Captain America, Elektra, Iron Man, Silver Surfer, Spider-Man, Spider-Woman, Sub-Mariner, The Incredible Hulk, The Thing and Wolverine. The post office says: “Their adventures have provided an escape from every day life and demonstrate that individuals can make a difference…Super Heroes have responded to social and political issues from their beginnings.” Hmm, sounds like the “gay lifestyle” to me. Art of Disney. Anyone wearing red?The Disney stamps feature Dumbo and Timothy Mouse, Peter Pan and Tinker Bell, Mickey Mouse as "The Sorcerer's Apprentice," and Aladdin and Genie. I think the NY Post would refer to them all as closeted “toe-tappers”.

Now the Republican stamps:
Actually, they are not as hideous as it sounds. The first two are “old school” moderate Republicans that are no longer embraced by today’s fundamentalist Republican guard (GOP). They are the 38th President and ERA supporter, Gerald Ford, and movie legend and staunch supporter of the Republican Party, James Stewart (who was not gay).
38th President and ERA supporter, Gerald Ford movie legend James Stewart
Three other stamps, “Forever Liberty Bell”, “American Flag 2007” and “Purple Heart” are ugly and boring. They are perfect to go on an appeal envelope from the Republican National Committee.
Forever Liberty Bell, American Flag, Purple Heart stamps

That’s it for this installment of gay philatelic reporting.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Coming out anniversary

The first two weeks of September marks the five year anniversary that E and I both came out to family and friends and moved in together. Here is a rendition of Gershwin’s “The Man I Love” song by the openly gay Israeli musician and songwriter, Ivri Lider. This song can be found on the new Eytan Fox film “The Bubble”.

Update: Previous video variation deleted on DailyMotion. "Official" youtube version now displayed.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Holiday video

Who says Judaism doesn't have great holiday music?


Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Happy New Year 5768!

Unlike the Christian ones, Jewish holidays have a way of sneaking up on you. Wednesday at sunset starts the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah. (Yom Kippur begins a week from Friday, 9/21.)

Rosh Hashanah has a festive side but it is not one big party like Dec. 31st tends to be. It is also a time for personal introspection, counting our blessings and rededicating ourselves to helping others. Rosh Hashanah is part of a process of spiritual growth. The Hebrew month preceding it, Elul, is a time for charity or “tzedakah”. As is customary for Jewish holidays, traditional Jewish foods accompany Rosh Hashanah. Typically, a blessing will be said over two loaves of bread, known as “challah”. Apples dipped in honey are another tradition. It symbolizes the hope for a "sweet year" ahead. The common greeting at this time is L'shanah tovah ("for a good year").

Xmas started on Labor Day

Santa photo op at SF ZooDuring the Labor Day holiday we took our two grade school kids to the San Francisco Zoo. Our goal was to visit the new bear habitat called Grizzly Gulch. It is a fantastic new exhibit for a pair of grizzly cubs. But what caught my eye was Santa Claus was there that weekend for photo ops. I don’t know why. It seemed a bit early for that craziness to start. Later that day, we were walking down the street back home and we passed the local Restoration Hardware store. It was all decked out in Christmas decorations! A small sign said they had set up the store for a holiday photo shoot. Finally, I noticed in the newspaper that it is not too soon to buy your Nutcracker tickets either. This is nuts, I tell you. Nuts!
Youngest daughter in front of Xmas display on Labor Day

Monday, September 10, 2007

American authors in Germany

Our hiking group. Author Steven Schnur circled.We met two very different but interesting authors on our travels in Germany.
The first one was on our hike with us. He was traveling with his college son. Steven Schnur is an award-winning writer of children’s picture books and Jewish chapter books for middle readers. Some his titles include Days of Awe, Sanctuary, Father’s Day, The Koufax Dilemma, The Shadow Children (winner of the Sidney Taylor Award for outstanding juvenile fiction), and The Tie Man’s Miracle: A Chanukah Tale (which aired as a PBS animated special in 2005).

He also wrote alphabet acrostic poems for a series of children books called Winter, Spring, Summer, and Autumn. For example, for the letter C, the verse reads, "Crystals / Of ice as delicate as / Lace ring the / Duck pond," forming the word COLD in uppercase letters.
Both Steven and his son were avid hikers and had done plenty of adventure traveling. They made the hike very enjoyable.

The other author is a major writer with a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award. At the time we were clueless who he was. We were sitting in the breakfast room of our hotel the morning before our visit to Berlin was to end. A distinguished man comes in and hearing us speaking English, asks if he could join us at our table. We exchanged pleasantries…talking of the weather, what we’ve seen in Berlin and where we traveled from and going to next. We realized that we both had visited a gay establishment on different nights. Our mystery author asked what we thought of the “rent boys” sitting at the bar. “Rent boys? OMG,” I said. “That explains why they were staring at us and smiling. We thought they were amused seeing two middle age Americans there. We had no clue they were anything other than twittering twinks goofing on us.”
Our conversation then turned to talking about our careers. He said he was a writer and he was working on some magazine pieces. Somehow we got on a discussion of Philip Glass. He mentioned that he had worked with him on a project. I was very intrigued. Philip Glass has been a favorite composer of mine since I first listened to him in the late 1970’s (i.e. Einstein on the Beach). I use to own several of his record albums and box sets. Our writer started being coy about his other writings. He did say he had one claim to literary fame but he was not going to brag about it. Then it was time for him to leave for a taxi to the airport. I asked what his full name was….Michael Cunningham. Neither one of us recognized it. I googled it after he left and found out he is the author of “The Hours”, “A Home at the End of the World”, “Flesh and Blood” and “Specimen Days”. (Philip Glass did the sound track to “The Hours” that starred Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman, and Meryl Streep.) Afterwards, we both felt silly for not recognizing his name. Nevertheless, we enjoyed our meal with him. He is a good looking, friendly, outgoing, affable man.

I had time to read two books on this trip. First was Will Fellows “Farm Boys.” It is the true coming-of-age stories of 75 gay men from farm backgrounds. They ranged in age from 24 to 84. It was full of very compelling stories. The second book was “Gossip” by Christopher Bram. It was a fun, light read but not as good as his “Father of Frankenstein” (which is the basis of the film “Gods and Monsters”) and “Lives of the Circus Animals.”
E read the very appropriate “The Berlin Stories” by Christopher Isherwood. These stories would inspire the musical “Cabaret.”
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