Friday, January 30, 2009

A Quiz: What is the Religious Right Agenda for the past 125 years?

This is nothing less than a radical and revolutionary change in our whole social system. It was an assault upon the Family as the social unit based on radically false theory of civil and political rights. It would hurt children. It is truly a “reform against nature.”
The religious right and social conservatives in America have not come up with an original argument in over 125 years. Read this excerpt from a larger essay written in 1884 and guess the subject. Was the writer talking about slavery, or intermarriage between persons of color and Caucasians, or availability of contraceptive devices, or social programs for new immigrants, equal pay for women doing the same work as men, or education opportunities for minorities and women, or affirmative action? Or is the writer sounding the alarm for something more ominous? Hint: It is not Gay Marriage.

“AMONG the social questions now under discussion, none is more important or more freighted with principles and issues that outreach present consequences and take hold of the very life of society, than that of _________. The frequency and urgency with which this measure is pressed upon our legislative bodies by a certain class of reformers, encouraged by partial success in some of the newer states and territories, and the recent advocacy of it in full or limited form by some who have very largely the ear of the public, and the apparently increasing drift of public sentiment in this direction manifest in many quarters,—call for a sober and reflective revision not only of the reasons and supposed advantages of the so-called reform, but of the very serious issues and consequences involved in it. These issues are not immediate and do not lie on the surface. The question is one which cannot be solved on abstract principles, such as that so often urged, of the ‘right’ of _______; since nothing is more fallacious than the application of abstract theories to practical and political problems.

1) This reform signifies nothing less than a radical and revolutionary change in our whole social system.
2) The demand for _______ is based upon a radically false theory of civil and political rights.
3) The claim for ________ rests upon a radically false conception of the relations and duties of the sexes.
4) The reform in question is a violation of _______’s truest and deepest instincts, and so is truly a “reform against nature.”
5) A last argument against ________ is its practical consequences, or the evil results that will naturally follow such a social revolution. Who will care and nurture the children? The secularization of the home by the intrusion of political questions and disputes, is another impending evil consequence.

- by Rev. Prof. H. M. Goodwin. Excerpts from an article in the ‘New Englander and Yale review’, Volume 43, Issue 179 (March 1884), pp. 193-213.

Slipper slope of allowing women the voteDid you guess right? The answer is “Female Suffrage”, the right for women to vote. Many churches and religious organizations were against woman’s suffrage. To many it signified nothing less than a radical and revolutionary change in our whole social system. It was an assault upon the Family as the social unit based on radically false theory of civil and political rights. It would hurt children. It was truly a “reform against nature.” Read the whole article. It is a hoot.
I love the fear-mongering, hysterical projection and "slippery slope" logic that the writer is sure will happen if women are allowed to vote. Women's voices will deepen and their bodies might take on more masculine features. They could start growing facial hair and beards. Does society really want to take that risk? It is the same BS logic that the conservatives use today to scare people about gay marriage. 

Thursday, January 29, 2009

2008 Curtain Call

Time to do our 2008 theatre recap before January 2009 finishes.

We saw 98 plays, musicals and operas last year.
This includes 13 shows in 8 days in New York City during 4th of July week.
Our hike across Ireland in August included three shows in Dublin and one in Dingle.
We also spent a weekends in Sacramento (3 shows) and Palm Springs (2 shows), CA and Las Vegas (1 show), NV sampling some of the local community and professional productions.
However, most of the shows were seen in the San Francisco Bay Area.
During the pervious year, we had season subscriptions to TheatreWorks, ACT, SF Playhouse, Best of Broadway and the San Francisco Opera. We were also contributors to TheatreWorks and SF Playhouse, 42nd Street Moon and New Conservatory Theatre Center. Majority of the non-subscription tickets were bought in advance at half price on Goldstar.
Our full list of shows can be found here.

Favorite shows for 2008:
* Third - Wendy Wasserstein, TheatreWorks
A feminist college professor finds herself at a crossroads, her life as mother and daughter in disarray and her liberal convictions challenged by an intriguing new male student.
* The Palm Springs Follies, Palm Springs
A three-hour, song and dance extravaganza that recaptures the glorious days of vaudeville, the Ziegfeld Follies and showgirls with talented cast members from 56 to 84 years "young!"
* Blade to the Heat - Oliver Mayer, Thick Description
Deals with latent homosexuality in the boxing world of 1959. Three boxers vie for the middleweight championship. Fantastic staged boxing scenes.
* The Laramie Project - Moisés Kaufman, members of the Tectonic Theater Project, Palo Alto High School
Do not miss a chance to see this play performed by students at a local high school or college. It is a sad reminder that this year is the 10th anniversary of Matthew Shepard’s murder and there is still no hate crime legislation.
* Caroline, or Change - Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori, TheatreWorks
A musical story of forgotten pocket change becomes a story of massive sociological change. Saw it on Broadway and national tour. First regional production and it gets better each time.
* Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead - Bert V. Royal, Las Vegas Little Theatre
Parody of the Peanuts gang now in high school that covers topics such as drug use, suicide, eating disorders, teen violence, rebellion and sexual identity.
* The Weir - Conor McPherson, The Gate Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
Set in present day small, rural bar in Ireland. Newcomer Valerie is spellbound by an evening of ghostly stories from the local bachelors. Their tales are a mesmerizing mixture of rumor and local legend. However she has her own story to tell. The first and best of 3 McPherson plays we saw this year.
* Rock 'N' Roll - Tom Stoppard, A.C.T.
A decades-spanning tale that follows the passions and politics of a Marxist professor in Cambridge and his Stones/Pink Floyd obsessed protégé fighting for freedom in Soviet-dominated Prague.
* Radio Golf - August Wilson, TheatreWorks
A charismatic African American politician is running for mayor, caught between the fresh-faced spirit of the future and the soulful voices of the past.
Our favorite Broadway shows for the year were: August:Osage County, Sunday in the Park with George, The 39 Steps, South Pacific, A Catered Affair and Gypsy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New Year’s Gay Cruise with TravelPride

TravelPride New Year's gay cruise on the WindSpiritI am slow in writing up our New Year’s cruise but I do want to document it so I can refer to it later.

This was our second New Year’s cruise and third overall cruise with TravelPride on the Windstar Cruise line. Each time was just as wonderful if not better than the last. (Cruise 1, cruise 2). Most of the ports of call were different than last year:
* The cruise stated at St. Thomas, U.S.V.I.
* Cruz Bay at St. John, USVI. More than half the island is a national park. Visited and snorkeled at Trunk Bay on north side of island.
Marigot, St. Martin, FWI* Marigot, St. Martin, FWI. Anchored on the quieter, French side of St. Martin. The Dutch side is where the large cruise ships dock.
* Mosquito Bay at Vieques, Puerto Rico. This small, quaint island is the home of phosphorescent Mosquito Bay. This rare and amazing phenomenon is caused by millions of luminescent dinoflagellates lighting up when disturbed by movement. We did a nighttime kayaking excursion. First time Windstar has visited the island.
* Old town, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Windstar has not visited San Juan in over a dozen years. Walked around the walled city and San Cristobal Fort. Sailed out New Year’s Eve.
* Virgin Gorda, BVI. Last year we visited “The Baths” (a collection of giant boulders which form spectacular pools and grottos) and Bitter End Yacht Club. This year we just hung out at Prickly Pear Island.
* Jost Van Dyke, BVI. Anchored off White Bay Beach. Enjoyed the infamous drink “Painkiller” from the Soggy Dollar Bar on the beach.
* Cruise disembarks back at St. Thomas, USVI.

On-board Tea Dances on the WindSpirtTravelPride staff threw five theme parties. On the first night was a meet and greet “Tag Tea Dance”. Second night was a “Sailor & Seaman Tea Dance”. It was a nautical theme party with the ship’s captain. New Year’s was a Masquerade Ball. Everyone came with some type of mask: leather, feather, drag, or grand design. A “Castaway” party was held on the beach in Virgin Gorda. The last tea dance was a retro-fabulous flashback 1970’s dance. TravelPride also brought along their own entertainment. The highlight again was the storyteller/monologist Miss Coco Peru. We LOVE Coco!

GuyDads on dutyOne of our friends on the cruise that also did it last year said returning for another year was similar to going to summer camp as a kid. You get to see all your friends again from the previous year and catch up on what is new and happening in their lives. You also meet and make great new friends. It will be a hard decision if we decide not to do the New Year’s cruise again next year. It has been great fun to have the kid feeling again of anticipating camp/cruise and enjoying the friendships and the sadness of departure.

Next New Year’s cruise will be the west coast of Costa Rica & Panama (Dec 26-Jan 2, 2010). Sounds like it will be similar to the cruise we did with TravelPride back in February 2006. They also have announced a Black Sea Luxury Cruise on the brand new L'Austral on Ponant Cruises. The dates are August 25 through September 1, 2010.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Theatre in trouble

Saturday Night Live recently did the clever and funny sketch on how to save Broadway. Close to two dozen Broadway shows are or have closed since November. A few new musicals, mostly revivals, are schedule to open: “West Side Story”, “Hair” and “Guys and Dolls”, plus Dolly Parton's new musical version of “9 to 5”. Otherwise, look for a lot of small cast plays and celebrity one person shows.


Theatres have been hit hard here in the SF Bay Area. The biggest loss was the closing of American Musical Theatre of San Jose (formerly know as San Jose Civic Light Opera) at the end of November. They quit after presenting only 2 of their 6 shows for the season. We happen to catch the last two shows, “The Full Monty” and “Flower Drum Song”. They were both strong productions. The company ceased operations when they took a major loss on the cancellation of their next newly re-conceived co-production of the musical “Tarzan”. This was on top of their large operating deficit and bailout loans from the city of San Jose.
Their website reports: "We received a telephone call a few days ago from our co-producer for Tarzan, which was the Theater of the Stars in Atlanta, Georgia basically telling us that they used the funds that we had paid them towards the production for other things," said Michael Miller, CEO and Executive Producer of AMTSJ. "In essence, they cancelled the show without giving us any warning, and we discovered that the funds we had paid for Tarzan were spent on another production of theirs, which lost a significant amount of money," Miller continued.
My guess is that TOTS spent the money on the previous show, a new stage production of Disney’s “High School Musical 2.” AMTSJ/SJCLO had been around for 74 years. I worked there for six years in the early 90's doing office and facilities administration. I am sorry to see them gone.

Two other respected theatre companies just successfully staged “donate or die” campaigns. Shakespeare Santa Cruz raised $300,000 in ten days. Magic Theatre in San Francisco needed to raise $350,000 within two weeks or cancel its 43rd season. The Magic ended up raising $450K. Writers whose works have premiered at the Magic include Sam Shepard (playwright in residence 1975-83), David Mamet, Michael McClure, Nilo Cruz, Rebecca Gilman, Charles Mee, Anne Bogart, Neena Beber, John Robin Baitz, Edna O’Brien, Joseph Chaikin, Claire Chafee, John O’Keefe, Maria Irene Fornes, Michelle Carter, and Jose Rivera.

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.
Goldstar Events is our favorite source of cheap tickets in the SF Bay Area. But it is not the only option. You can also find half-price tickets at: Artsopolis – good for San Jose & the South Bay. And Theatre Bay Area - discount tickets from member theatres available online and/or at TIX Union Square, SF.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pineapple Point Guesthouse and Resort in Ft. Lauderdale

Pineapple Point Guesthouse and Resort in Ft. LauderdaleLast year we spent three days at Pineapple Point resort. This year we were booked for a whole week over the Christmas/Chanukah holidays. I was a little concerned because we had such a great time last year. Could it live up to our expectations on a return visit?

The pool at Pineapple Point ResortOur plan for this year was simple. Besides sunning ourselves around the pool, we anticipated exploring the Ft. Lauderdale/Miami area and visit some of the tourist sites and check out the bars and clubs. We also planned on visiting two straight couples, long time friends, we knew in the area. In addition, we were invited at the end of the week to a pre-cruise cocktail party of friends going on the TravelPride cruise the next morning.

Fate served us a different plan. We arrived at the resort at 4:30 pm on Saturday. We had a direct flight from cool San Francisco to balmy Miami. The first thing we did was take off our flannel shirts and leave on our sleeveless black t-shirts. We started to unpack our stuff in our beautiful bungalow room but decided to attend the 5 o’clock wine and cheese social hour around the pool. We chatted with the other guests about theatre in New York City and Washington, DC. At 6pm, the group got up to leave. Holiday party next doorThey were going to a holiday party hosted by neighbors next door to the resort. They invited us along. Although we were not properly dressed for any type of gathering other than around the pool (jeans, black “wife-beater” t-shirt and sandals) we accompanied the group to the soirée. We intended to stay for just a few minutes and then go back to our bungalow and shower, change clothes and find a restaurant for dinner. Four hours later we left the party with a half-dozen new friends and invitations to dinners and parties through the week.

Our social calendar for the rest of the week was booked. We never got out exploring the nightlife in Ft. Lauderdale/Wilton Manors area. Never made it to a gay bar or club. Our bungalow at Pineapple Point ResortInstead we were invited to several holiday parties. A couple of the highlights were a dinner party on the first night of Chanukah hosted by south Florida’s most produced playwright and his artistic director partner. A fourth night of Chanukah party (Christmas Eve) with a charming straight couple with connections to the California Bay Area. Their son and his wife are Jewish musicians in area synagogues.

We had such a wonderful, marvelous time in Ft. Lauderdale with our new and old friends, we have tentatively rebooked our room at Pineapple Point for two weeks next December instead of one.

E’s review of Pineapple Point: The best part of Pineapple Point is the staff. I have never been anywhere in the entire world with a friendlier, more personable, more accommodating staff -- to a person. Combined with the beauty of the place and the very interesting clientele we meet there, we hardly find a reason to leave the property.

This year, we met some really important, new friends while there. We look forward to seeing them again next year.

The 'feast' on Christmas Day was fantastic. And, we always enjoy the wine hours every evening. It is a great chance to meet 'newbies' and to have time to talk to folks we only nod at across the pool during the sun hours.

So, we are very satisfied. We come over 3000 miles to spend time with you. That is a not-too-far distance for what must be America's #1 gay resort.
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