Saturday, September 29, 2012

Han Solo & Princess Leia building at Stanford

Pranksters christened Stanford University's new engineering building as the "Han Solo & Princess Leia Center for Nanoscale Science & Engineering" in late July. University workers removed the faux donors' names promptly. Apparently officials were not amused by the prank. Supposedly the real naming donor (yet to be announced) was scheduled to stop by for a visit later that morning.

The Center for Nanoscale Science and Engineering, popularly known as "Nano", houses the Stanford Nano Center shared facilities (SNC), the Edward L. Ginzton independent laboratory, and the offices of the Department of Applied Physics.

I was surprised by the building dedication that implied that Han Solo and Princess Leia were a couple. I remember from the movies that there were lots of sexual tension between their characters but I didn’t remember a wedding scene.
HAN SOLO: You like me because I'm a scoundrel. There aren't enough scoundrels in your life.
PRINCESS LEIA: I happen to like nice men.
HAN SOLO: I'm a nice man.
--Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

When I googled it I found out that their continued courtship, marriage and parenting several children happens in a series of books that continue after the movie series ends.

UPDATE, NOV 2012: The building now has an official name as the "James & Anna Marie Spilker - Engineering & Applied Sciences Building"

Friday, September 28, 2012

GALA Chorus Festival 2012

GALA Choruses Festival 2012
in Denver, CO
My back to school report on my summer vacation…It is time to get focused once again on writing. I have ignored my blog while traveling this summer and I am over due on reporting on our activities. Yes, there has been on recap of our annual weeklong trip to NYC and our marathon schedule of Broadway shows. (See here).  But that trip was just the start.

After a week of Broadway theatre, we flew to Denver to be a part of the GALA Choruses Festival (  My husband is a member of the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus, one of the founding choruses in the LGBT movement. I was fortunate to be attending as his spouse. The festival was for 4.5 days, and featured 45 ensembles, 130 choirs, 200 performances, and over 6,000 delegates in beautiful downtown Denver, Colorado!

GuyDads at the Red Hot Party
I heard an amazing array of music. There were classical, sacred, show tunes, pop songs, humorous campy tunes and many especially commissioned pieces. The commissioned works often focused on a variety of LGBT issues such as coming out, AIDS, first love and long-term relationships, marriage equality, creating communities and families, bullying and gay bashing, aging, and gay pride.

I attended over 47 performance blocks out of the 200 that were presented. During most of the festival there were 3 concurrent concerts happening at the same time that one had to choose from. The choruses and ensembles ranged in size from a half-dozen to 300. The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus was the largest chorus there with 300.  There was no way to see it all and some of the best know groups were scheduled against each other. Many of the smaller groups were a delightful surprise. My two favorite smaller groups were One Voice Chorus ( from Charlotte, NC and The Esoterics ( from Seattle, WA. Interestingly the most bawdy and sexual explicit songs were done by the lesbian ensembles.

Here are just a few of the bigger performances I saw:
 - A concert of 11 ensemble groups from around the country,
 - A concert celebrating GALA’s 30-year history told through commissioned music (hosted by Dan Savage),
 - A scared concert exploring the musical connections between spirituality and sexuality,
 - A collaborative concert from 5 LGBT youth choruses,
 - A “musical documentary” from Heartland Men’s Chorus of Kanas City, MO, ( of coming out stories narrated by Dan Savage called “When I Knew”,
 - A parody tribute to the “Sound of Music” called “Von Trapped!” from Men Alive-Orange County Gay Men’s Chorus (,
 - A whimsical look inside a gay men’s chorus’s that thoughtfully views aging in the gay community called “Out Of My Range (and Other Age-Related Performance Issues)” by Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus in Minneapolis, MN, (,
 - And “Enchantingly Wicked” from San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus ( featuring Stephen Schwartz performing his music with the chorus.

SFGMC GALA chorus convention, Denver 7-11-12

Capitol Hill Mansion in Denver
At GALA, we attended the Festival's Pinnacle Fundraiser to support gay youth choruses with Dan Savage as the guest speaker. Dan is a sex columnist, author, and co-founder of the "It Gets Better" project. A video of his remarks can be found here: We also enjoyed ourselves at a couple of late night parties.

We chose, however, not to say at any of the nearby convention hotels. Instead, we found a charming gay-owned Bed and Breakfast called Capitol Hill Mansion ( It is located one block from the historic, “unsinkable” Molly Brown house ( in Denver. We also spent a day exploring the Denver Art Museum ( and the new Clyfford Still Museum (

Clyfford Still Museum
After the GALA Festival, the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus joined the Denver Gay Men’s Chorus on a mini tour called “Love Will Build a Bridge.” They did two benefit concerts for the Matthew Shepard Foundation ( at University of Wyoming Fine Arts Theatre in Laramie, WY and at St. John’s Episcopal Cathedral in Denver, CO.

Tribute to Matthew Shepard, from SF Gay Men's Chorus

An upcoming entry will summarize our 4.5 week trip around Canada.

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