Saturday, October 28, 2006

After Seeing Mother Courage on Thursday Night

A letter to my stage manager friend who is working on the current production of Bertolt Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children by Frank Theater in Minneapolis. If you’re in town, you should check it out!

As I said last night, I enjoyed the show. The set and blocking were very good, though the giant industrial space that Frank performs in and the enormous fan-driven space heaters produce audibility challenges for many of your actors. Even those that have strong projection end up sounding a bit strained, especially when they have to sing. The lighting was great, and several effects were just lovely - the "moon", the light through the "upper window", the sweeping curtains employed as tents, walls, title cards, and particularly beautifully, a white-out blizzard. I liked the costumes for the most part, and the make up, again for the most part (a quibble here and there).

I enjoyed several performer's efforts - particularly Annie Enneking, and, once she got going, Heather Bunch. The other performances were not as strong, but several were also quite good. What made Annie stand out was the sincerity she brought to the role - she did not play the character as a cartoon, she gave her a very full internal logic that is absolutely essential if Brecht is going to work for me. Heather Bunch got there eventually, but as I note below, I'd have worked for something different with her character. None of the men really stood out, mainly because they seemed to be played as cartoonish - without the internal logic and sincerity of character to make them seem rational (or even rationally irrational) and human. Biggest problems were with Tom Sherohman’s far too hammy General and John Riedlinger’s wooden and one-note Eilif. Grant Richey and Emil Herrara weren't bad, but not particularly involving either. Admittedly, Richey's role is probably the most difficult to make work, but whether played as a man of twisted faith or a man once faithful who has lost his faith, I didn't feel it from Richey.

In general, I think it was too "nice" a production. Brecht is dark, and while I don't know Mother Courage at all well (first time I've seen it, and I don't even think I've read more than a synopsis of it previously), I think I'd have dug a little deeper in the conceptualization. It is easy to push the generals and clergy into a buffoonish characterization, but I don't think it's what Brecht would have done - sincerity combined with idiocy, or at least ignorance was a much more terrifying theme to him - the sincerity of the banal battling bourgeoisie in Three Penny Opera comes to mind. Opportunists (such as Mother Courage) are a problem, but true believers are a terror, and I think that's how Brecht viewed them. Sincerity, religious fanaticism, rage, and lust for power start wars, the complicity of the opportunists (and Brecht means to indict us all to some degree) keep them going.

I'd have gone a bit darker with Mother Courage, and particularly her children. This woman is a terrible mother, which is part of the horrific irony of her name. She has raised her children near military camps their entire lives - all were conceived there as well. Her eldest son admires the soldiers for their brutality and power - how would he have seen this? What nasty games has he been a party to since he was a child? Her middle son admires the loyalty and rules - as Mother describes her men, you can tell which have had an impact on him; as you learn of Mother's fickleness, lies, and capriciousness you can see that he hungers for everything she fails to provide. I honestly think he despises her, but the loyalty he so admires (and the thick headedness that is his birthright) won't permit him to leave. The daughter should be a holy terror - abused and raped by a soldier as a child ("a soldier put something in her mouth"), she loses the power of speech and hungers with a precocious lust for men, pretty things, and a child of her own to restore the innocence she has lost. The irony of her final heroism coming out of this twisted mass of perverted motives is very Brechtian - what we perceive as heroism is driven by anything but altruism - it's the desperation of a mad woman whose hungers have never been nourished. And she is the most like her mother.

Mother Courage's children should be fascinating and repellent at the same time, like those horrid things the second ghost reveals beneath the robes in Dicken’s A Christmas Carol - Ignorance and Want. Bestial things, and an obvious by-product of the endless brutality and venality of the war, their true mother. You can still find sympathy with Mother Courage, because in spite of all the horrors she's inflicted on them, she loves them ferociously. Just not as much as she loves gold.

Thanks again for the opportunity to see this - it was really enjoyable, and Frank continues to do well with provocative, mind-engaging productions of difficult works. As usual, I spend as much time processing what I've seen as watching it in the first place. That's a lovely gift for any arts organization to give an audience.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Don't Ask. I'll Fill You In Gradually.

While watching X-Men: The Last Stand last night (feh!), a centipede the size and speed of a small mouse came skittering out from under the radiator and made a beeline for my feet. I leaped across the room in a single bound, but it vanished.

I then perched on the edge of the sofa with my feet tucked up, but now that the thing had scented fear, it soon reappeared and started running threateningly in circles around the carpet.

Boo put an end to this nonsense (not to mention my shrieking) by swiftly and accurately bashing it to death with one blow of his loafer. I love him so much sometimes.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Random Work Venting, 2

A blog entry in song form! Thanks to my online friend Tonya for sharing her bandwidth, and for sharing the song, and to Ray, whomever and wherever you are for singing it. With only a few days to go until the big event, we had our big staff meeting yesterday to determine what was left to do, and make sure that everything was done. As a result, I'd just like to dedicate Ray's little song to all of my readers, Grouchbutt, and, especially, everyone on my work team - except "P", who has vanished this week with two sick days and a poorly-timed vacation, and who will not be returning until the day of the event. Because, as far as we can tell, he hasn't completed a single fucking thing he said he would do.

And if he fails to show on the day of the event, I believe our next dedication will probably involve death metal.

Edit: Here's an mp3 of the same file, since Mac computers don't particularly like wma formats. Can't say that I really do either...

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Horticulture Oh, well. With regard to the last sentence of my last entry, let’s just pretend I was talking about Veteran’s Day weekend, and am therefore wonderfully early. Thus endeth my writer's block.

Took my Boo to see Zero 7 last night at the Fineline as an anniversary present (September 21, in case you’re wondering). About five years ago, he was listening to an online Alpine radio station called Radio Ellébore when he first heard Destiny. He loved it, and also another, completely different track called This World. He ended up ordering the CD from Amazon UK because nobody locally had even heard of them. My how things change.

Last night’s concert was completely sold out, and if I hadn’t gotten tickets the first day they were available, we probably couldn’t have gone. Instead, I was lucky enough to splash out for the last balcony table, which provided an excellent view of the 800 or so folks standing in the audience and some very up-close and personal views of the performers, since we were seated just above stage right. Should have brought the camera. We could have gotten some killer shots of the opener José González for sure, and even the relatively more up-tempo Zero 7 wouldn’t have challenged my low-light skills too much. It was really a fine show. I certainly had no idea going in what to expect from what is essentially a duo – a largely electronica/keyboard duo at that – which generally augments each song they’ve recorded with a large and rotating roster of hired talent. Fortunately, they brought along one of their most frequent collaborators in the form of Sia Furler, the stunningly-voiced Aussie who lends her pipes to their big hit Destiny and my personal favorite Distractions. (And whom some of the more clueless suburban bimbos in our general vicinity seemed to think is Zero 7. Sigh.)

González also sang on a few selections, as he is featured on Zero 7’s latest album, as well as opening the show with a solo-acoustic set. If you’ve seen the commercial with the bouncing balls in San Francisco, you already know everything you need to know about his solo work. It’s nice, but it all. sounds. just. the. same. Still, considering some of the other opening acts I’ve seen this summer, it did not suck.

The crowd was younger than we expected (thank you Garden State, you boring piece of tripe). However, it was a lot more normal than the crowd I encountered a couple of weeks ago at Marty Casey and the Lovehammers. Oy. At least people who go to see movies leave the house once in a while. Much of the Marty fan base seems to live out their entire existence in front of the TV – ordering clothes and jewelry on QVC, eating fresh, hot delivery from Dominos and Pizza Hut, and, of course, becoming rabid devotees of Rockstar InXS. It can be a bit disturbing to find out who exactly shares your taste sometimes. Almost as disturbing as watching grossly obese women with gigantic perms and hair clamps sit in wheelchairs at a rock show and sing along with every. single. word. Not that it’s Marty’s fault his fans are unusual freaky fucking scary as hell. He’s a very charismatic performer with nice biceps and low-slung jeans, and a tendency to talk too much (shut up and sing!) As Jen said watching him, he may have missed his calling, because he’d have been a great dancer. I think that’s why he seems to photograph so poorly – most of his sexy derives not from his looks but from the way he moves. However, whenever I think of him being sexy now, I can’t seem to avoid picturing obese wheelchair-bound women with giant curly perms masturbating furiously while singing along to Hold On. It disturbs me.

A picture of, uh, a sheep...

In other news, Boo and I went to the State Fair a lot, as has been well-documented elsewhere. The State Fair talent contest is another scary adventure, and I can tell you without hesitation that I will never again attend the pre-teen division semi-finals without being high. Really, really high. Retarded-astronaut high. It’s one thing when a 12-year-old plays Purple Haze on his electric guitar – it’s kinda cool. It’s another thing when some sweet 10-year-old dressed like a $15-a-pop crackwhore dances to Gimme Gimme. And when some lovely African-American girl with obvious gospel training wins the nightly competition by belting out, in a faux country-western accent no less, the white-redneck anthem Proud to be an American, you really need dope just to keep your head from exploding in the cognitive dissonance.

Fortunately, the open division competition, the 4-H show, and these guys helped to make the world seem normal again.

Dan Newton and the Cafe Accordion Orchestra

Well, wrapping this up, I think I'd just like to say that milestones suck. There have been a lot of them lately. The “little son” of some friends of ours is now a six-foot four eighteen-year-old as of last week, still slowly recovering from a heart-crushing breakup with his first long-term girlfriend. Some close friends celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary in August, which served as a reminder that our 10th wedding anniversary is approaching like a speeding freight train. Which leads to the inevitable comparisons of what their 10 years seems like and what I wish ours had been. And, well, autumn is always a bit introspective for me anyway. Shorter days will do that. The fact is that 15 years together (we were together for five years before we got married) is fucking difficult. It’s rewarding as you can imagine…but.

Sentences that end with “but” pretty much say it all when you’ve been together a while. “Of course I’m happy…but.” “You know I love you…but.” “I’m deeply attracted to you…but”. Boo and I have had at least two big DTR’s in the past four weeks (third definition). By the way, young readers, if you’re somehow hoping that DTR’s go away when you actually settle in with someone, guess again. You’ll be happier than you’ve ever been…but…and thus DTR. Again. And again.

I’ll just be glad when the month is over, and we’re starting something (the next ten years, I guess, as well as uh, winter) instead of reaching something and trying to decide if it’s a success or not. Honestly, it shouldn’t matter. It is what it is. From here it can be better or worse, which is what we agree to when we wed. As I haven’t been at all sure what I’ve wanted to say about it, it’s contributed a bit to my writer’s block in the past three weeks. So here’s the elephant, now let’s move on. And I’ll keep trying to turn those “buts” into “ands”. “I love you…and I need some things to change” means something different, and more positive, than “I love you…but I need some things to change.”

And so we’re full circle, as I started this post with our anniversary celebration. And now I’m going to listen to Distractions, because last night Sia Furler made me cry when she sang it, and I think I know why.

“I love you, I love you, I love you, I do. I only make jokes to distract myself from the truth.”

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Aliens Kept Me From Posting!

ICE Arrests 15 Aliens in Roswell Working For Military Contractor


Y'know, I CAN do better than this. Just not in the time allotted. Look for an update over the long weekend.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


Random work venting.

Work has been very busy the last two weeks. I don't talk much about work in this blog, and I expect I'll keep it that way; work is what you do so you can do other stuff the rest of the time. However, instead of classroom teaching this week, which I only did one day, I've been working on a large, multi-session, multi-speaker training event for some 2000 employees that my agency is holding September 20th. We got this thing dropped on our unit by the über-boss, whom we'll refer to as Capricia. Every so often, she encounters an idea somewhere, and decides we should do it here, "here" being the very thick of state civil service. Doesn't matter that we don't have resources, or a budget, or a plan for outcomes - just do it, or be prepared to face the consequences. Which can be loud. And involve lasting, carefully-nourished grudges. Or so I'm told. I'm new enough, and far enough down the food chain, that I have yet to face the direct blast; just whiffs of the occasional fallout. And I won't even address any of the the related politics of the situation, which are never far away in any civil service bureaucracy. Just ask Grouchbutt.

This time around, I thought it was a pretty good idea. As a state agency, we don't really get to do much employee development, and a full-day inservice is both efficient and enough out of the ordinary to be kind of fun and exciting. Except...we first heard about it (by which I mean we were press-ganged into compliance) in June, the only reasonable time to do it is September, and lining up 40 or more presenters and presentations that are both reasonably relevant and entertaining, and furthermore have to be delivered for free, because again, no budget (honest, we state employees are really very respectful of your tax dollars.) ...well, three months is not really adequate. Nevertheless, I've put on my best Andy Hardy face, and dammit, we're putting on a show. Actually, I am delivering three sessions myself. And I've had to sell my soul to a few friends in order to get their participation as well. Fortunately, they did not have said soul properly assessed before agreeing to this enterprise. But dammit, it's going to be great. If I do say so myself.

Unfortunately, there are some weeks where it feels like a one-man show, and the last two qualify. Our team is, at best, borderline functional. Most of the time, it's a team in name only - we six all have individual projects that don't really overlap, and none of us can back up the others in any reasonable way. We're all loosely related to "organization/employee development" but that's about as collaborative as we get. Furthermore, we only recently got a non-interim manager - for unknown reasons the manager position was left vacant for about 13 months while the interim manager became increasingly irritated and disengaged (actually, downright pissed off at Capricia might be more accurate), and we largely drifted rudderless for the past year, with regular bitch sessions to keep us vented. Our new manager joined us in late July, well after we'd embarked (by which I mean been shanghai'd) onto this large training event. Unfortunately, the main supervisor assigned to make it a reality, while a great guy, is a terrible project manager. We don't have a task list, we don't have benchmarks, and we don't have scheduled meetings.

This week, the week we really have to publish the sessions so we can get pre-registration going and assign rooms, is also the week that the only member of our team well-versed in the intricacies of logistics, requisitions, and budgets decided he needed to stay home to care for a sick family member. Of which he has several. Mind you, this is the guy who starts each day by telling us how many days he has until retirement (more than 3000 - which is almost 10 years, so shut the fuck up, I don't care, and I don't need to hear it every fucking day - if this event, near and dear to Capricia's heart, doesn't come off well, perhaps you'll have a few less days than that.)

I digress. Let's just say that employee engagement isn't his strong suit at the best of times. See if you can hear the ringing silence when volunteers to help fill the void are me, because the project lead is so not even paying attention. ... Yep, that's the sound. So, see if you can guess who's been trying to come up with a task list, coerce meetings, confirm presentation times and descriptions with the volunteer presenters, write up and layout the brochure (which looks fucking fabulous, thank you very much), figure out how to get it to the printer, accomodate last minute changes, plan meetings (oh, I said that), and still do a small portion of my regular job. Without telling anyone to fuck off, piss off, or bite me. Not even once. Go on guess. Oh, sort of gave it away there, did I? Boo is so! much! better! at this stuff. I'm finding I have a whole new respect now that I'm getting to try it myself.

Nevertheless, and I hate myself for saying this, the thing is, I love this stuff. I have a deadline, some pressure to achieve, and something I care about, and it really is invigorating. Exhausting, but really satisfying when it feels like it's moving forward. It's been a major push to get it rolling, but now that it is, the momentum is starting to drive it forward. I just wish more of my team were inspired about it, because I think it would be even better if they all dug in for it as well.

So, that's why I haven't been writing - I've been spending all day in front of the computer anyway, and coming home I haven't wanted to face a flickering screen for one second longer.

Some things to look forward to, though: Next Thursday, I'm going to see Marty Casey and the Lovehammers at the Varsity. Friday, I'm sleeping late, then going to meet Boo and some friends at the State Fair. And Monday, I'm getting my teeth cleaned, and I just might take the rest of the day off for good measure. Assuming there are no catastrophes. I know this has been the most boring post ever...and now it's over.

Here's some Marty pictures to make it worthwhile getting all the way to the bottom.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Date Night

A little over an hour into the evening on Friday, I realized what an incredibly long time it had been since Boo and I had gone out for a date "just the two of us". We go out a lot, but it's always with other couples, or friends, or people I like that Boo doesn't, or people that Boo likes that I tolerate, and so forth. We hang out at home a fair amount, but we've reached that point in our relationship where he can be sunk down in the cushions watching Big Brother: Return of the Assholes, and I can be in another room listening to what's new on Pandora, and it's not exactly quality time together. So it was nice to not only go on a date "just the two us", but also to realize that we'd gone on a date "just the two of us".

We went to dinner at the Loring Pasta Bar first of all, which is nowhere near Loring Park (can't believe I'm linking Lileks), but in fact over in Dinkytown. It's an offshoot of a restaurant that used to be on Loring Park, but lost its lease and is now only in existence in an ever-expanding Dinkytown empire that includes the Pasta Bar, the Kitty Cat Klub, and the Varsity Theater, our final destination.

Boo called for reservations for 6:30 only to be told that they didn't have any "but we always keep some tables open for walk-ins". The fuck? Boo opted for a reserved table at 7:30, just to be sure we'd be able to eat - Dinkytown is not noted for fine dining options. And I was fine with that - the doors for the show were at 8, show scheduled for 9, and no doubt to begin with some dreadful opener besides. We'd have had plenty of time. However, as noted before, when Boo has released the inner dominatrix, neither obstacle nor policy shall stand unchallenged.

Thus our cab picked us up at 6:30, and dropped us at the restaurant at 6:45. Indeed, there were tables open for walk-ins, and Boo grabbed one without bothering to cancel his reservation. And, really, it is a stupid policy, so too bad for the hosts. One of whom was short, cute, and gay, and the other of whom was tall, willowy, and gay. The tall willowy one was wearing a crocheted tank and a combination of silver chains and white plastic toy links that somehow worked on him, but makes me fear a new trend. Trust me kids, don't try this at home.

At any rate, he fit in with the Loring decor - all of the Loring properties have been set-designed to the last detail, mining the theme of faded, decaying elegance in ways both apropos and a little too precious. The Pasta Bar is in the old Grey's Drugstore, but looks like an abandoned, partially stripped beaux arts/art nouveau hotel lobby. No traces of the drugstore remain except for the clerestory windows which still spell out "Drugs" and help feed rumors that have dogged the owner for a decade.

Dinner was fine - I had the house salad of baby greens with a citrusy dressing that was quite nice, and an orzo, basil and shrimp entree which was light and appealing. Belgium's ubiquitous Stella Artois washed it down - the pasta dish had artichoke hearts with it and I hate the way wine tastes weird and metallic with artichokes. I love that we can get Stella on tap in this country - it's by no means the finest beer out of Belgium, but if I must drink a ubiquitous beer, I'll take Stella over Bud any day of the week.

Naturally, we were done quite early, so went up the street to a coffee house for whatever it is that they're choosing to call their variation on the coffee Slurpee. I went back to the restaurant to get tickets for a different show in August (Marty Casey - yeah, I know. I offer no defense. Except, that voice! and look at those eyes!) and had my little epiphany about the fact that we were out on a date alone. We drank our coffee snowcones, got cash for laters, and walked on in to the Varsity at 8:20. The doors were just opening from the lobby into the theater, and I'm very glad they were - the bartender in the Cafe des Artistes (which is what they call the front lobby) has the scariest voice ever. It's like that Simpsons episode where Bart hears angelic singing from inside the church, and rushes in thinking that it's his new girlfriend Jessica Lovejoy, only to find a disturbingly countertenor Flanders. Yeah, that. Anyhoo, we got our tickets scanned, got sticky armbands mired into the hair on our wrists (ouch!), and wandered in.

I haven't been in the Varsity since it was redone. When I first spent some time in Minneapolis back in 1982, sleeping on Michael's futon a few blocks away, it was a movie theater showing second-run reps. For those of you born after VHS/DVD, this is where you could go see movies from years gone by that wouldn't be too likely to show up on your television. John Waters, Radley Metzger, and Herschell Gordon Lewis alternated nights with the umpteenth rerun of Gone With the Wind or THX-1138. Cult films were invented and sustained here, or at places like it - the long-gone Westgate Theater on 45th and France was notorious for a 100-week showing of Harold and Maude from 1972-74. However, as there was a new video store just across 4th Street, the writing was on the wall for the Varsity, and only a few months after I saw a rerun of 2001: A Space Odyssey while evading the sticky heat of Michael's un-airconditioned apartment in August, it was shuttered.

After I moved to the cities on a more permanent basis I had reason to go back - for about a year it was rented out on a monthly basis for a gay nightclub event that I can't remember the name of, which coincided with the period after David and I called it quits. It was alcohol free, so the crowd could be quite young, the music was way better than either of the downtown bars, and on one memorable occasion I saw Michael Jordan. No, not that one - this one was a hot gay young white dude with ripped jeans and no underwear, whom I didn't work up the courage to talk with at the time. I didn't forget him, though, and a few weeks later, he showed up as my soon-to-be ex's date. That'll teach you to be shy, dumbass. He also turned out to be quite the libertine, and I have fond memories of him indeed! He's also the reason I can claim to have been naked on stage, which is a story we'll save for another time, because somehow, I think all of this is detracting from the romance at hand.

The Varsity is a really great performance space. It was never a large theater, so it definitely has an intimate feel, and the lack of columns, and raised side platforms make for excellent sightlines. As we were so godawful early, we nabbed a table on the right side of the house, and I grabbed a beer. Any performance venue that keeps beer priced at $4, while offering a "shot of the moment" for $3 gets my undying adoration. I think the last beer I had at First Avenue was almost $10. Fucking outrageous. Anyway, they've covered the concrete floor with a big oriental-style rug, there's lots of deep red fabric hanging about, and it's just a great space. Can't wait to go back next month, though I don't know who's going to see Marty with me yet. Not Boo, anyway.

Not so great? The opening act - something called "The Dance Band". Or maybe it's Dance Banned...I've seen worse, but not often, and I'm damned if I'll try to find a link for them. Picture a group that wants to be the B-52's, but is mostly made up of puddingy space geeks in fringe, and you've got it. Novelty entertainment only goes about as far as the second song, and they did at least 12. I think Boo has finally learned his lesson, though, and for the next concert we'll be fashionably on time for the main headliner.

Which was, of course, LOS AMIGOS INVISIBLES!!!! Wheeee! Big fun. Venezuelan 70's-style porn-funk. Nas-tay! Infectious rhythms doesn't even begin to cover it. Two songs in, and straight boys were beginning to shuffle. By half-time, a third of them had learned to mambo. God only knows how many of them ended up going home together; probably not as many as I fantasized about. Boo, who dances better than he thinks he does, even got the itch, and dragged me out for a few booty-shakin' songs - we even got to sing along on Masturbation Session and Superfucker, which they conveniently played back-to-back. The lead singer is extremely hot; a lithe latino in an Enabl t-shirt (fan yourself, Grouchbutt!), which isn't all that obvious in the photos on their website. The lead guitar is not cute, but is one intense player - I'm amazed he still has fingers on his right hand. And he and the bassist can bounce very high when they want to get the audience movin'. Hot loud fun, and exactly why I love live performance.

At midnight, they played a blistering finale set, and we set off in a cab for home, after a little snafu that involved calling Airport Taxi and having them dispatch a Town Taxi without telling us to look for the orange cab instead of the maroon one.

I'm thinking we should get out alone more often. We've been together long enough to bicker viciously on occasion, find fault in every petty thing you can imagine, and to have all manner of doubts about whether we're still moving forward together or growing continually farther apart. But now and then, we have such a sweet romantic evening together that I remember why he's mine and why I'm still in love with him, even though he makes me completely crazy.

To quote the evening's headliners:

What is love? It's in the blood, it's just a way of life

What is love? It's everything, it's something you can't hide

What is love? Is it the way you look into my eyes?

What is love? The things you do that take me by surprise...

Friday, July 21, 2006

We interrupt your peace and quiet...

Sorry to post so unusually often, but it turns out that the Los Amigos Invisibles concert is not tonight, but next Friday. Whoopsie. Therefore, I may as well blog. By the way, don't know if you've actually followed the link to the Los Amigos Invisibles site, but I must say they make a few rather catty remarks about Chaka Khan. I mean, so much for professional courtesy and all. Although, since they spell it "Chaka kan", maybe it's someone else.

Did I just blow my chance to get invited backstage next week?

So, as noted elsewhere, Boo's singing ensemble had an audition for the Minnesota State Fair Talent Competition. My, what a scene that was! You know I'm not referring to the "Open Category" competitors - it's the "Teen" and "Pre-Teen" competitors, and, of course, their "entourages" that really give one pause. Apparently, it is de rigeur for baby boomer stage mothers these days to inflict severe scalp damage on themselves - not a one wasn't bleached to the color of a dingy legal pad, and a few had decided to perm what hadn't fallen out besides. Scah. REE. However, it does explain a lot about the competitors themselves. More particularly, their music choices and costumes. When I arrived, two sweet-looking girls were tap-dancin' away to one of Motown's finest, while wearing fringed flapper dresses. Somehow, there's a huge disconnect somewhere - Diana Ross may be ancient, but I'm fairly certain she wasn't performing at a speakeasy in the midst of Prohibition.

Sadly, it went rapidly downhill from there. Tap-dancing seemed to be the order of the day, but we also got to see a baton act to a Beatles number (poor girl dropped it three times), an utterly lifeless violin rendition of a Mozart concerto, and a blazing rendition of Orange Colored Sky by a singer who really should have sung something, anything, else. Naturally, my gaze tended to wander a bit, and I was surrounded by catty queens anyway, so we snarked about the tap costumes. Well, really - pimp caps? Torn fishnets? Cocksucker Red® lipstick? I really hoped they'd come knock out a performance to Papa Don't Preach, but sadly, it was not to be. Boo referred to them as the "Prosti-Tots" and we laughed so hard we had to leave. I thought the ensemble's audition went fine, but with competition like that, I don't know what the odds are of moving on to the next round.

Either way, I reckon I'll have to try and see the finals this year. I had no idea.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Happy Birthday, Lil Blog!

Wow, a whole year. Thanks, everyone who stuck in for it - it's been fun.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Bam, Bam, Bam

Mu Daiko Rocks the HouseNew experiences this week, both involving drums...

In the department of "We're going where to do what?!?" I was taken along to an event called Drum Beauty - a drum corps competition in Stillwater, by our two friends with whom we traveled to North Dakota last year. It was...well, different. Certainly one of the more unusual things I've attended out doors at a football stadium. I don't have any friends who currently play in marching bands, much less a drum corps (apparently, there is a huge difference, and one must not commit the faux pas of referring to the competitors as "bands"). Therefore, I was amazed at the huge number of people who turned out to see this event that I'd never heard of. Just goes to show that as long as I live, I'll never get to know all of the hobbies and entertainments that occupy the hours of little sectors of the population. I'll ignore most of what happened before the intermission, as this was the "seniors" division competition, and frankly, wasn't all that interesting. After the intermission came the Division I teams, all of whom came from out of state (again - there are hundreds of people in these corps - all practicing, climbing on buses with mountains of equipment and driving all over the country - yet completely off my radar).

The first troupe was the Blue Stars from LaCrosse, Wisconsin, who put on a fine show of Americana. Lots of flag-waving Copeland, declarations and celebrations of freedom (from want, of speech, to worship, from fear, and, well, to be free). It was not as obnoxious as I've found most things of this ilk over the past eight years, because it did sneak in a fair amount of diversity in the worship portions, and in the groupings of dancers, er color guard members, which were not always boy-girl. It was subtle mixing, but I think it was intentional. At any rate, not bad, but not as stunning as what was to come.

Blue Stars Color Guard

For me, though, the hit of the night was next: a performance by The Cavaliers of Rosemont, Illinois. The Cavs are an all-male drum corps and color guard, and performed a very masculine and innovative set called Machine. Set to original music, they explored an ominous future of mechanization that borrowed freely from Tron, I, Robot, and Rube Goldberg. Loved! It! Unfortunately, the Cavs wuz robbed, losing in the overall competition by half a point to the Blue Devils of Concord, California. We were shocked. Shocked, I tell you.

Cavaliers Color Guard gets MechanicalThe Blue Devils performed a set called The Godfather, Part Blue, and while it was probably techically better in some ways that I'll never care enough to understand, it just wasn't that exciting. So congratulations on your half point victory - I'll still praise the Cavs. After all, a quick little search on YouTube reveals that they rehearse shirtless (that's three different links, because I love you, my readers...) And that's worth at least a full point from me.

Not even a week later, I found myself at the Mu Daiko student recital, watching taiko drumming. I love taiko, but have only in the past month gotten to watch it live. It really is an experience, and it really makes you want to pound on something because it looks so crazy fun.

Drummer and Composer Jennifer Weir

Mu Daiko

Next week, I've got tickets for Los Amigos Invisibles, the Venezuelan porn-jazz disco-dub masters. Can't wait!

If you want more pix of this week's drumming, I should have some up on Flickr later this week. I'm still sorting.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy Independence Day!

As is readily apparent from reading this blog, I am anything but a model citizen, unless your definition includes a fair amount of dissatisfaction and dissent (mine does).

Nevertheless, while listening to The Current yesterday, I heard this piece by Nikki Tundel during Mary Lucia's segment. I got about as far as the red, white, and blue flowers before I was wellin'.

Hope you enjoy it, and Happy Independence Day! Go be independent somewhere!

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Say "Cheese!"

Fun week! (Or is it two?) Actually got to spend some time with the Boo, now that he's through the final big event. I got invited to attend the event, and it was pretty nice. Having previously attended events with Boo when he worked in a women's athletic department (just imagine), I was not enthused...but it turned out well. Gore was there, you know. I mean, not AL Gore mind you, no, this was the Gore that invented Goretex®, but still, a celeb. Of sorts. In certain circles. Fry was there, too, the guy who invented Post-It® notes. Well, okay, the food and company were good. Not to mention the bartender - by the time she'd poured my third Jack Daniels, I was just fine wherever I might be; since she also took good care of Boo's required post-event alcohol intake, she got a fine tip.

We also went to Pride this past weekend – for about 90 minutes. I don’t really get it. I used to love Pride. When I spent the summer in Northfield after my junior year in college, I went to my first Pride Festival. 1984. I could not wait. I rode up from Northfield with my friend Edie – the bus dropped us at the depot downtown, and she knew which local would take us to the parade kickoff on 32nd Street east of Lake Calhoun. We found it, we lined up, and marched. Everybody marched in the parade down Hennepin Avenue to Loring Park – some in contingents of organized groups, but an equally large number of people were just like us – average folk marching because after all the shit involved in coming out, and dealing with it, and merging together the selves once separate – one public one private (secret) – well hell, yeah, we were proud! And we marched because “look at us! We made it!”

A lot of folks marched for that, and it made a difference to how I thought about us – we had learned something about ourselves and we knew it to be true about everyone else – the journeys in this life are what matter, and what makes you special, and it is something special to be proud of – so march! March for that, and for those still on the journey who may see and find the guideposts to march with you. All down the route people smiled and waved, and around us people waved back, and so many of them, and so much pride, and so many journeys culminating here. For anyone who’s lived in the loneliness of secrecy, Pride is a big deal – you are so very not alone. So very much a part of a community too big to suppress.

The festival after the parade was pleasant – an array of G & L – owned businesses (we were about 2 years from formally including the B & T contingents). We bought pop in cans to raise money for All God’s Children, and two-for-a-dollar hotdogs to send a team to the Gay Games, originally conceived as the Gay Olympics. Sitting on a blanket facing the one and only stage, we watched a variety of speakers take a turn at the open mike. There was a guy expressing rage about gay bashing, and encouraging the crowd to take up arms – he was roundly booed, though the little voice in my head said there was a grain of truth in his words. A young stripper from the Across the Street bar showed his artistic side, with an ASL-signed and danced rendition of Pat Benatar’s Love Is A Battlefield pretty as a pageant princess. His sincerity was heartbreaking and I ached to fuck him silly. A young politician named Brian Coyle explained why he should be elected to the Minneapolis City Council. A creepy white dude rushed the mike during Miss Cleo’s Donna Summer lipsynch, shouting of sin and wrath. Miss Cleo didn’t drop a step as a burly security guy pulled him off stage, and as Donna sang on, Miss Cleo’s warm chocolate voice reminded us that God loves all his children, loves all the truth-full.

Later on, the dance began, and I danced and danced and danced, alone, and with others, and with everyone. I barely made the 11:58 bus home to Northfield, exhausted, exhilarated, and oh, so proud.

I don’t know when it changed exactly, sometime after the year David and I drove up from Northfield only to find we’d left our tickets for admission to Pride at Parade Stadium at home, sometime after the move to Powderhorn Park while Loring was renovated, sometime after Miss Cleo died, and Brian Coyle died, and Bush followed Reagan into the White House, and our dreams of community died a thousand deaths in committees working on a consensus model.

It changed for sure when someone realized that there was money to be made; when the reward for all our struggles became the honor of becoming a target market. It changed when professional food vendors squeezed out the mom & moms or pop & pops, and when the cost of a booth became prohibitive enough to keep the gay jewelers and lesbian artists from setting up shop for the weekend.

It took 90 minutes to walk through the massive number of booths this year, now featuring Subaru, General Mills, and American Express. Past the food booths selling overpriced food for tickets instead of cash, staffed by sneering hetero rednecks, and the only way to buy tickets is to find a stand selling them in quantities of five and buy far more or far less than you need. Past the numerous stages, the sad drag stage with a purple-wigged dude-in-a-dress synching away badly to Charlene singing “I’ve Never Been To Me.” Short on imagination, short on sincerity. Or maybe I’m just old and jaded. I still get a good feeling when I see all the people. But 90 minutes was enough.

I’ve been scooped on the rest of the weekend, and with better photos, but it was a welcome relief to set off on Sunday with two friends for Stockholm, WI. We stopped briefly in Prescott for a bit of antique critique ("Oh, my, god, can, you, believe, this!?!") then continued down river. Along the way, we saw a sign for the Cheese Curd Festival in Ellsworth, and as we've previously been enthralled by the Civil War Memorial Dairy Queen in Ellsworth (The Cheese Curd Capital of the World), we simply had to go.

Saw the parade, had some curds (much less greasy and salty compared to the items offered at the state fair - I actually thought these were pretty good.) Found the parade very fattening, as several floats hurled candy at us, and one was handing out popsicles. Lots o' great people watching, lots of princesses with embarrassing titles (June Bug Princess! Cheese Curd Princess!) I saw a coworker before she saw me, so made sure I wasn't doing anything too embarrassing, plus gained an alibi should I wish to call in sick on Monday(strongly contemplated such a comment). All good things must come to an end, so we continued on toward Stockholm.

We decided just past Maiden Rock to seek out the "Rustic Road", which is an absolutely beautiful drive along the south drainage of the Rush river. It started raining as we hit the trail, making the little rivulets that you have to drive through along the road a bit more stream-like, though no match for my friends' Forrester. About midway through, we saw a large wild turkey bound across the road, and a bit further in, we found ourselves in one of those beautiful, green-darkness groves that seems to extend for miles in every direction.

If you've ever spent the winter in the Midwest, it's almost miraculous to experience the fecund, overflowing wealth of green life that explodes around you in late June. Beautiful.

We eventually found our way to County Road J, and back on the way to Stockholm via the back way. The population of Stockholm seems to have risen slightly (81, up from 78), and a few of the stores have relocated amongst the handful of buildings since last year, but still a lovely, tiny little town.

We drove up the Minnesota side of the river on the way back, through Wabasha, Lake City, and Red Wing. Really, just a lovely day. Much needed, much appreciated.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Pancakes & Flash In the Pans

Daniel Letterle as Ethan Green, with Diego Serrano and Dean SheltonSo, I see The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green opens this week, starring the oh-so twinkalicious Daniel Letterle. Of course, it's not opening in Minneapolis, but in limited release, and may crawl its way this direction. Sometime. Maybe.

I'm not a huge fan of what has become of the gay movie industry. We've gone from pretty good stuff like the early work of Gregg Araki and Todd Haynes, to, well, Skinemax wanna-bes. Recipe for a gay flick? Two hot shirtless guys (acting ability not required), a mangy drag queen (absolutely no acting required), a disco remix for the soundtrack, 95 gay quips that were old when you heard them at the gym last week, and a script that makes stereotypes we've been fighting against for years look like the new lifestyle pinacle.

But I still have hopes for this, because I thought Letterle was pretty good in Camp, I've enjoyed the comic strip so much over the years that my cat is named after it, and it also features Richard Riehle as a Hat Sister, whom I first saw years ago in a performance with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland. He's probably more familiar to most of you as a frequent alien on various Star Trek franchises.

So, if you see it before I do, and you probably will, don't tell me it sucks. Unless it really really sucks, in which case, damn.

It's Saturday morning, and we're a bit discombobulated. Boo was at his final chorus rehearsal before tonight and tomorrow's performance, and while he was out, we got one hell of a thunder-banging storm. The power went out about 9:45, so I went to bed as the alternative seemed to be sitting around in the darkness and eating things out of the freezer. Not long after Boo got home, the power came on again. Then went off. Then on, then off. On, for now.

As a result, most of the clocks in the house are wrong. But it feels like breakfast time. I'm thinking pancakes.


1 cup flour
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Stir thoroughly.

Combine in a 2 cup measure:

2/3 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup milk
1 egg white

Whisk until frothy.

Combine in a small cup:

1 egg yolk
2 tbs melted butter

Whisk until smooth.

Pour yolk mixture into milk mixture and whisk until smooth, then pour into flour mixture and whisk until only small lumps remain (about 20-30 seconds, no more! Do not overbeat, or pancakes will be tough). Add milk if needed, batter should the consistency of just-melted ice cream.

Heat a griddle, cast iron skillet, or non-stick pan. Spray with cooking spray. When hot enough to make water drops sizzle and dance when sprinkled, pour in batter by 1/4 cup ladlefuls. Gently shake skillet to spread. When bubbles form on top and edges look slightly dry, flip pancake over. Cook other side until done - about 90 seconds for the first side, 60 for the second.

Serve with butter and maple syrup; unless you're a freak, like Boo, and prefer the sweetly cloying taste of Alaga.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nobody Knows the Way I Feel This Morning

monarch coffee ad detail Well, I could obviously use a quiz or a meme to keep things jumping around here lately – I have no particular excuse except a) I’m lazy, and b) it’s way too nice outside to stay indoors and blog.

Since it’s been so nice, let’s take a couple hours out of my day. Think of it as an extra-long episode of 24.“The events of this episode occur between 5 am and 8 am…”.Only without as much suspense. And a lot less torture. And no Kim. We can certainly be happy about that last one, no?

5:23 am
The radio turns on at the designated moment. The station is The Current; however, I have no idea what is playing as the main goal is to stand up as quickly as possible, turn-it-off-turn-it-off-turn-it-off, and stagger to the shower. Cats go flying as I leap from under the covers.
5:25 am
The water runs in the shower as I wait for sufficient heat – being as it is June, it won’t take long. I pee in the shower while I’m waiting, because it seems stupid to use more water for the toilet, plus I don’t want to have to flush it when I’m just getting the water to the right temp. I try to avoid seeing myself in the mirror, because damn.
5:30 am
The water has run over me long enough start feeling conscious. I shampoo what’s left of my hair, and lather for a shave. This nifty no-fog mirror is all fogged up (LIAR!), so I pull it off the wall and run water over it, then stick it back in place. It should hold out long enough for me to finish shaving. POS. It is a mercy that the Fab 5 can’t see me shave, because I do it wrong.

5:35 am
Ethan pokes his head around the shower curtain and yowls. He does not opt to join me in the shower today, as he is sometimes wont to do, loitering around the back end of the tub where the spray doesn’t hit him. He still gets his paws wet, and he has trouble finding his way back out, so I much prefer it when he stays out.
5:48 am
Shampoo, shave, soap, done showering. Towel dry with the fan running.
5:49 am
Brush teeth. Thoroughly. I have no cavities, and I brush for 5 minutes. I also brush my tongue, because otherwise my breath is heinous.
5:54 am
Slap on some antiperspirant, some moisturizer, and take a Q-tip to the ears. Check if the nails have reached a clippable length, and check for nose hairs and eyebrows that have mysteriously quadrupled in size and length. Today, things are pretty good.
5:55 am
Underwear, socks, t-shirt. Yawn. Pet a cat. Yawn.
6:00 am
The radio turns on again, this time for Boo. Were he actually home, he would hit the snooze if the song sucked, and, regardless, lounge about for about another 30 minutes or so. As usual, I turn on the lights. As he has not snoozed the radio, being as he is in Atlanta this weekend, I can listen to The Morning Show. Not one of the better mornings. Some days it’s quite an interesting variety. Today, it is mostly folk and folk-flavored accoutrements. I select trousers and a shirt – khakis and a white polo. I hate polos, but I have no intention of ironing on a sticky Friday morning for a class full of people dressed for casual Friday. I’m teaching today, as I do most Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.
6:05 am
Make coffee. Half a pot should do. As usual, there is one scoop too few already ground, and I have to grind some more. While I’m using the sprayer to fill the coffee maker, I also water the violet and orchid in the windowsill.
6:06 am
Log in to the computer, with the intent of seeing the weather report. Rapidly become involved in reading e-mail (spam, spam, spam), and forum posts. Check my blog. Wonder when the hell I’m going to get my next post done. Wonder why someone is looking for “stall stream loud toilet hissing” on Google. Wonder why I have all of those words on my blog. Wonder why I have a blog. Wonder if the coffee is ready.
6:20 am
Pour coffee into oversize mug, top with milk. Pop some toast in the toaster. Realize I forgot to check the weather report online, and don’t know whether this is a bus day(need to leave in 20 minutes) or scooter day(need to leave in 40 minutes).
6:30 am
Finally get the frickin’ weather report. After I check my e-mail (again) and get distracted by the news photo at the top of my Yahoo! page. Sigh. Sip coffee, hope it will make my brain work. Clear to partly-cloudy, high of 84. Scooter it is! Shit, I think I forgot about my toast.
6:31 am
Flip the cold toast over, drop it down again to get browner (and warm again). Slice some sharp cheddar. Almost done with first cup of coffee. Top it up again. Add milk. Shit! Forgot the toast – well, only a little too dark. Eat toast and cheese.
6:44 am
If I were catching the bus, I would need to be outside already. Instead, I pack a lunch. Since it’s a leftover box lunch from Boo’s work event this week, it takes no time. It does take a lot of room, however, so I decide I must leave the gym clothes at home. I’ll go tomorrow. Promise.
6:47 am
Helmet – check. Bag – check. Phone – check. Wallet, keys, etc – check. Cats shut away from the scratchable furniture...nope. Shoo, shoo, shoo. Quit it bitch! Get your ass back there while you still have one! Bad kitty!
6:48 am
Lock back door, open garage. Realize I set my helmet down while I was shooing the cats. Start scooter, detach key from rest of keyring, run into house, grab helmet. On way back out, realize that potted plants are drooping. Let scooter warm up while I grab hose and water the droopy.
What about the window box? Run around to the front of the house. I should take my helmet off; I look like I'm waiting for the short bus. Damn! Pew! The tree-of-death is in full blossom. This is an ash tree in the neighbor, who may be Maxine's yard. It smells like dead bunnies when it blooms. Gag.
Speaking of bunnies, get your crafty ass out from under that arbor vitae, you long-eared galoot. Or something else may smell like dead bunnies. Move it!
While I’m at it, the bird bath looks like it’s been used for bathing monster trucks. Nas-tay. Dump, spray, refill.
While turning off hose, it rubs across my khakis, leaving a mud smear. Motherfucker.
6:59 am
Turn off scooter. Reattach key to keyring. Stomp back inside. Take off shoes, change trousers, godihatethesetrousers, shoes on, heythisbeltdoesn’tmatch, new belt. Get away from that door, Eloise!
7:10 am
Well, shit, now I’m late. Fucking cat.
7:12 am
End of the alley. Can’t believe they tore a house down on the other side of the block. Looks like they’re pouring a new foundation, though...hope it’s not hideous whatever they’re building.
7:15 am
Minnehaha Parkway. Ah. Lilacs. Much better than tree-of-death!
7:17 am
Minnehaha Parkway. I swear, I always hit this stoplight. Oh, no. A Silverado in front of me. This will be a problem...
7:21 am
Minnehaha Parkway. What kind of psycho golfs at 7 am? “Desperado, why don’t you come to your senses...” fucking Silverado. “ been out running fences, for so long now...” “Desperado...” fucking Eagles.
7:27 am
Try the "Bob Dylan Cure" – this is a method of killing earworms. An earworm, by the way, comes from the German term Ohrworm. It means one of those songs that gets stuck in your head. And will not leave. Like Desperado does, every fucking time I see a Silverado. It’s a term that seems to be rapidly catching on in the English translation, which I think is a good thing. We didn't have a term when I was a kid. We need a better term than “stupid song that gets stuck in your head, and makes you want to destroy all Chevy trucks...” Hooray for the Internets. Hooray for cross-linguistic pollination.
The Bob Dylan Cure involves clearly and specifically imagining your earworm being sung by Bob Dylan. “OoooohHHH! Desspa RA dOH! Whadoncha COME to yasenSES?” It may be working.
7:30 am
The roundabout – who will brake unexpectedly? Who will not brake?
Oh, the perils of European traffic devices in the Midwest...I make it through safely.
7:32 am
Ford Bridge, St Paul, at last, if I can make it across – this is the windiest place in the Twin Cities, I swear. One day, a big gust will come through, and I’ll be all Margaret Hamilton all the way down to the water.
“Fuck you, my pretties!”
7:35 am
Randolph Avenue. Yes, I’m smaller than you, but I am going the speed limit. Oh, fine. Pass me then. Dumbass. Oh, shit, another Silverado.
7:36 am
Randolph and Fairview, traffic signal. Fat lot of good passing me did, eh? Dumbass. Desspa RA dOH!
7:37 am
Mmmm. Flowers. Nice.
7:40 am
Randolph and Albert. Hey, I think that school over there is Cretin Derham-Hall. Funny, I’ve been passing it all this time, and it never occurred to me. I guess I thought it would be on Cretin Avenue.
Of course, I never noticed the giant topiary hedges spelling out “Cretin” next to the football field before.
I’m not sure that’s a good idea.
West 7th Street, almost there! Why is it that even though they just repaired this bridge last year, there’s still this giant ridge of asphalt in my lane? Swerve. I do this every day folks. Impressive, I know.
Awesome! It’s “that woman”! I see “that woman” fairly often along this stretch, and she always looks the same. “That woman” is wearing a long purple formal gown. And a white sash. “That woman” has hair that looks like a Daryl Hannah Splash wig. Not a new one, sadly. ...and full length gloves, and high heels. I wonder what “that woman” does? Is she a receptionist?
Because that would be cool...
This is close to the United and Children's Hospitals so maybe she works there. Some sort of morale thing maybe.
“Look Timmy, you may have cancer, but at least you’re not crazy, like that old bat over there...”
7:55 am
Downtown...downtown... sing it Petula! Right turn! Left turn! Traffic light! Green! .... Hey Fucker! I’m driving here! BEEEEEEEP!

Parking ramp! Sunglasses off! Check! Helmet off! Check! Bag! Check! Security badge! Check! Kickstand locked! Check! Fork locked! Check!
8:00 am
Cubeville, at last. Boy, I’m tired.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cottonwood Seeds in Your Teeth

Bleeding HeartsWell, it’s Ridley Scott weather in Minnesota, where the air is full of pollen, seedlings, cottonwood fluff, blossom petals, and whatever else can be found to blow around decoratively. I’m thinking this post may be a lot like that…

So, first of all, I notice that Minneapolitans have been named the city with the most polite drivers. I must take issue with this. Minnesotans are not polite, they are passive-aggressive. It’s a fine distinction, but just because someone isn’t honking at you doesn’t mean they aren’t plotting your death. And with drivers as abstract and random as those in Minneapolis and St Paul, there is lots of death plotting going on, I assure you. It recently occurred to me (while riding to work, naturally) that all street signs in Minneapolis should be appended with the phrase “Is that so fucking difficult?” As in:

  • STOP – Is that so fucking difficult?
  • SIGNAL YOUR TURN – Is that so fucking difficult?
  • YIELD – Is that so fucking difficult?
  • PEDESTRIAN RIGHT OF WAY – Is that so fucking difficult?

Because, apparently, it is.

In my last post, I mentioned the imminent arrival of family – the family visit went very nicely. Which means Boo and I did not kill each other. We both get so stressed about cleaning the house, keeping it clean, fixing nice meals, planning fun entertainments, scheduling this that and the other thing, that my family must think we fight and snark at each other constantly. I’m convinced they go home after every visit thinking we’re on the verge of divorce. Which, at times during the visit, we probably are, but once the stress lifts we seem to recover nicely. Then we only snark and fight with each other frequently instead of constantly.

It was a very nice visit. My nieces from London are absolutely adorable. The youngest, who her father calls “Destructo,” is very active. She’s just a year old, and has recently discovered bipedal locomotion. She goes everywhere at top speed, and likes rearranging furnishings, books, name it. If it’s not nailed down, she’ll shift it for you. The cats took to slinking through rooms as rapidly and discreetly as they could, but they were often pursued.

About a month before the visit, she was in hospital being treated for a nasty eye infection. The constant attention paid to her became very wearying for her older sister, who is now four. So it was very nice for her to visit, since she adores her uncle Boo, and he dotes on her. She has a thoroughly charming accent, and I love hearing her call my sister “Mummy”. She also has an alarmingly precocious grasp of language and a certain devotion to brutal honesty that is breathtaking to behold. My sister takes delight in passing along these little anecdotes:

  • At a little play date at home to which my sister had invited a couple of my niece’s classmates, my niece suddenly turned to my sister and said “When are they leaving? I’m bored.”
  • Home from the Church of England-affiliated preschool she attends, my niece mentioned that they had held a prayer for Destructo during her illness. “Oh, that’s nice” said my sister, “did you pray as well?” “No...I just closed my eyes and smiled.”
  • Visiting my other sister and nephews in California, my niece was asked when she’s going to stop sucking her thumb (this has been an ongoing discussion since she was about two). This time, her answer was “I suck my thumb because it keeps me from saying bad ‘bottom’ and ‘poo’.”

She’s also quite fond of drawing and crafts, and we now have refrigerator door covered with some lovely drawings, including an illuminated text that reads “Uncle Boo.” Awwww. (technically, it’s Uncle Boo’s real name, but we’ll preserve this illusion of anonymity for now.)

Finally, May is one of Boo and my anniversaries. Fifteen years ago this month, we met for the first time. Boo was casually dating my ex Michael, and coming along to a few friendly group activities with him. Michael and I had a group of about 10 friends that we did things with in various permutations, from brunches with the whole group, movie nights with two or three people, whoever wants to go for cocktails, and so forth. As Michael and I parted on good terms, this was still a pretty typical way to socialize. Once Boo showed up, I kept trying to get the group smaller and smaller, until it was just us. By November, we were living together, and we’ve been together ever since. In September 1996 we got married, so this year will be that 10th anniversary as well. Happy anniversary, Boo – I’m glad we met!

Since a picture is worth a thousand words, and too many of my posts are nearly a thousand or more, we’ll keep this short and put up a few pics from the week. Mom’s camera is always fun to run around with for a few days. Some day soon I hope I’ll have one of my own (Hint, hint!).

Ethan is unaware of impending invasion...

Eloise hears something...

Destructo on the march

Picking dandelions at the park with Uncle Randy

At the Minnesota Zoo...

Animals get the last laugh...

Mexican Wolf

Monday, May 01, 2006

Domestic Blitz

Domestic BlitzWell, the house is clean. The garden is weeded. The guest account is activated. The porn is stashed.

My mother arrives on Wednesday. She will be followed briskly, on Thursday, by my jet-lagged sister and two nieces from London. On Sunday, Dad will appear. Mom and Dad are staying with us; my sister and the girls are staying with one of her college friends. Mom and Dad will be with us until May 11.


Why is it that parents always make you feel like a kid, no matter how old you are?

I know that by Randy Wylde standards, this is practically a haiku. Something tells me I’ll have more to say next week.

Ooooh! Postscript! (My brain is like a sieve, I tell you. A colander. With big holes.) I forgot that I was named City Pages Blog of the Day in "The Blotter" on April 24. Which is cool. If you followed the link to get here, it is usually better than this. A little better.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Who Do You Want to Play You in the Movie?

George ClooneyWe have a couple of good friends, lesbians, who are about 10 years older than we are. So, they’re boomers, we’re x-ers, they’re dog people, we’re cat people, they’re lesbians, we’re dykes...we still get along pretty well. (oh, fine, I’m well aware that I’m not nearly butch enough to be a dyke, don’t rub it in.)

We’ve known each other for about 10 years now; Boo and, well, let’s call her "Brigid" for reasons soon to be made clear, both sing in OVMC. Her partner, whom we’ll call "Maya", is a bit more like me – introverted, but living with a big ol’ extrovert. "Maya" has recently turned 50, and the last few years have been times of upheaval in a life that's had quite a lot of it, all told. She's had two children by two different fathers, only one of whom she married. "Brigid" is her first (and I believe only) long term female partner. Several years ago she attained and began maintaining her sobriety; she has worked for many, many years as a chemical treatment counselor. We’ve watched her daughter finish high school and move on to college; we’ve seen her son grow from towheaded ten-year old little-leaguer to a gigantic, strapping, six-two high school junior and baseball player.

In the past three years, Maya's been pursuing a Master's degree in therapeutic uses of art, which has given her reason and cause to explore her own artistic impulses in new ways. She’s taken up painting and writing, while also taking on a new career as a chemical treatment instructor at the technical college, all while continuing her Master's coursework. So, big changes, big challenges. Part of her schooling led her into a playwriting class with Kim Hines, and, for her first script ever, she took on the enormously difficult task of trying to write an autobiographically-inspired play combining the themes of hers and Brigid’s struggles to become parents again, and the death of her spiritual mentor from breast cancer. I’m very supportive of her efforts, but didn’t think it likely she would be storming Broadway soon.

I had been warned before she sent me a draft to review that Boo and I are characters in this play, and I knew immediately which of the two themes we would figure in. Some years back, when the gals had exhausted significant financial resources trying to get Brigid pregnant with donor sperm, they decided to pursue other sources of sperm closer to home. From people they knew. With an abundant, and largely unnecessary, supply. Where one of the people had even been a donor previously in college and sort of knew the drill. And who only lived about 12 minutes away. I think you know where this is going.

I’m often nervous when asked to review friend’s artistic works. I mean, what if I don’t like it? What do I say? Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised and impressed. For a first work, I’m frankly amazed that she managed to compress all this personal history into a three-act play at all – hell, I’ve been rambling weekly on for almost a year now, and haven’t crammed in as much content. In reviewing, I suggested some minor thematic challenges to resolve, corrected a few grammar and spelling errors, and worked on her horrifyingly inconsistent formatting – Microsoft Word really isn’t intuitive to use, is it? Well, more job security for me, I guess. I set up five styles and she was good to go.

She managed to work it all up into three intertwining themes and stories, backlit by the notion of the triple-goddess (maiden, mother, crone). Which is nicely artistic, but what impresses me most is her ability to honestly and truthfully put forth her own maternal rage as Brigid (the eternal, yet impure, maiden) fails again and again to become pregnant no matter how desperate their efforts; and to touch again her pain and impotence when her best friend Rhea (the wise, yet foolish, crone) dies from cancer and is not reborn. Sounds incredibly dire, doesn’t it? It’s surprisingly witty and amusing. Oh, sure, there’s some devastating moments, but overall, it’s hopeful, and really very cheering about the human condition.

So, Boo and I have now been commemorated in stage characters. We are two of five significant characters in the play, and the only men – the three principal roles are Maya, Brigid, and Rhea (for this post, I’ve decided to just stick with her character names). Our characters are named Ed (that’d be me) and Tony (that’d be Boo). We’re also part of the comic relief...the scene where they ask us if we will be sperm donors turned out very cute, but honest - it more or less jibes with the way I remember the events. A bit later on our characters show up in some scenes in which we were not present, but that’s to keep the actors in the play to a reasonable number – our characters basically take the place of some folks who were there at those events in real life, but didn’t get written into the play. So fair enough. (And, because it somehow seems appropriate: neener, neener!)

Well, I read the draft about a month ago, and right about when I sent it back, she sent me an invitation to, get this! A staged reading of it! By professional actors! Directed by Kim Hines! Awesome!

That was this past Monday, which is when theaters are usually dark, and actors are available. Oh, it was cool! Reading a play is one thing, but seeing it performed? Oh, yeah. The brilliant Beth Gilleland played Maya, well-supported by Angie Haigh as Brigid and Mary Keepers as Rhea.

Ed was portrayed by Charlie Bethel. Well, I don’t think I can describe the feeling of seeing yourself portrayed by someone else whom you’ve never met. It’s kind of cool, but kind of eerie too. I could recognize what "I" had just said, but didn’t really know what "I" would say next. Or why I would be saying it "that way." Fortunately, I had every reason to be pleased: Mr. Bethel gave a restrained, gentle performance.

Which would not be the case for the actor portraying "Tony." Boo, unfortunately for him, had chorus rehearsal and has missed too many rehearsals already this season to miss anymore and still get to perform in June. So he couldn’t go. I’m thinking that may have been fortuitous for the actor who portrayed Tony.

Shall we think for a minute about what the actor had to work with as a description?

Tony: Gay male in his 30’s. Partner of Ed, flamboyant, storyteller. Originally from the south.

Gay, flamboyant, from the south...oh, surely there’s no way an actor could go wrong there, is there?

Oh. My.

Worst southern accent since, well, just about anybody in the second act of Auntie Mame. I won’t even go into his other "choices."

Laughed! My! Ass! Off!

I’m a very bad boyfriend.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

You said you want Too Much Information?

Blah blah, mature content, blah blah. Click elsewhere if you are not mature.

Got this off of Scotty’s The Other Side of Straight. He got it from Bent Collective who got it off of Sam's Live Journal site. This is the all powerful and hard hitting BIG GAY MEME! Well, what's life without a bit of hyperbole...

  1. How old were you when you knew you were gay?
    I remember being interested in boys as early as 6 years old but wasn't aware that it was being gay. In seventh grade, I was aware of being attracted to other boys, but it didn’t really seem sexual yet. By ninth grade I was definitely aware of the physical attributes of guys, and was very emotionally attracted to "one particular guy". At 16, I had gay sex, lots of it. By 18, I was pretty sure I was gay. And that that "one particular guy" wasn’t.

  2. Have you ever had sex with the opposite sex?
    No. Some heavy drunken grappling on the lawn by the observatory after a kegger my freshman year in college was as close as I got. And we kept our clothes on for the most part.

  3. Who was the first person you came out to?

  4. Are you out to your family?

  5. Do you want children?
    We thought about it for a few years. I’ve pretty much decided to devote my creative and nurturing energies in other directions, however.

  6. Do you have more gay friends or straight friends?
    Far more gay friends, at least in real life. Online, it’s probably the opposite. It took me years before I met straight people I felt I could trust. Even now I can count the number of straight male friends I know "in the flesh" on one hand.

  7. Were you out in school?
    High school, hell no. College, yes. I was active in the gay-lesbian community group, and served in a couple of leadership positions.

  8. Is your best friend the same sex as you?
    Yes. He’s my partner, my spouse, my best friend. My Boo.

  9. If your best friend is the same sex, have you ever had sex with them?
    Well, yeah.

  10. Have you ever done crystal meth?
    Fuck no. I’m not a prude about mood altering substances, but I’m not an idiot, either.

  11. Have you ever been in a sling?
    No. I’ve done some other “special menu” items, but I find sex games aren’t for me so much. They detract from the emotions of the experience for me, and those are far more interesting to me. One of the hottest things I ever did was with this guy I’d just met who wanted to “pretend we’re in love.”

  12. Have you ever done a 3-way?
    Yup. And 4. And 5, and 7. And 22. And some where I didn’t keep count. I'm not proud of it, but...oh, hell yes I am.

  13. Have you ever dressed in drag?
    In the privacy of my own home. I have a very masculine body and face and it doesn’t work well, though I look good in eye makeup.

  14. Would you date a drag queen?
    I have. It was a fling, and I don’t know if I could have a long term relationship with someone who was truly transgendered female. I’m very attracted to masculine energy. Therefore it stand to reason that I find some FtM dudes are pretty hot. Of course, this is all theoretical, since I’m not looking for anyone to date.

  15. Are you a top/bottom or truly versatile?
    Versatile. Although I tend to find this kind of conversation kind of limited. There are lots of kinds of sex that make those kinds of terms pointless and boring. It’s almost the worst question to raise with me if you really want to have sex with me. My stock answer is “you’ll know when you need to know.” Which will probably be never.

  16. Have you seen an uncircumcised penis?

  17. Have you had sex with someone of a different ethnicity?

  18. Have you ever barebacked?
    Yes. But to be fair, I was out and active before AIDS was a known threat. I’ve been much more circumspect since then, and slips have been seldom and I’ve been very lucky (and horrified) when I slipped.

  19. How many Cher CDs do you own?
    None. I think my sister has our childhood LP of Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves from about 1971. Thank you Columbia House, and "12 LP's for a penny!".

  20. Name of your first love?
    Redacted. See question 1. Though he shares the same name as a famous billionaire.

  21. Do you still talk to him/her?

  22. Does size matter?
    Not particularly. It’s not owning the equipment; it’s knowing how to use it.

  23. Biggest turn on?
    I’m a mild voyeur and an exhibitionist. See question 12.

  24. Biggest turn off?

  25. Ever been harassed due to you orientation?
    Sure. Been called “faggot” at Southdale by suburban wannabe-thugs. I don’t find that threatening – it’s just insecurity, and it makes me chuckle. Plus I was walking arm in arm with a guy. I mean, did they think I didn’t realize?

    One Halloween downtown, some suburban dude in his lacrosse outfit (so imaginative) stuck his stick in my groin as we passed each other, barely missing the jewels. Our respective friends dragged us off in opposite directions before I started swinging at him. Don’t remember what I was wearing. It may have been my “sassy devil” outfit.

  26. Worst gay stereotype that applies to you?
    That I’m over emotional and slightly effeminate. Tends to make me overcompensate in the macho asshole department on occasion (see question 25).

  27. Ever been to a pride rally?
    Yes, several. And I used to have a good time before they became all about target marketing.

  28. Would you marry if you could?
    Yes. We already had a community ceremony with our friends and family. It would be nice if the government would stop discriminating against us and giving straights special rights.

  29. Would you rather be rich and smart or young and beautiful?
    Hell, I don’t know. I liked being younger, but I wasn’t as smart as I am now. I’ve never been classically beautiful, but I’ve been sexy, and I’ve been with lots of beautiful guys. I’ve never been rich. It might make a nice change.

  30. Do you sculpt your eyebrows?
    No, just trim the long ones.

  31. Do you trim your body hair?
    I periodically run the trimmer over my front, cutting everything down to about ¼ inch. Just looks and feels more groomed. If you’re not classically beautiful, grooming counts.

  32. Ever had sex with more than one person in a day?
    Ha, ha, ha. See item 12 above. My personal daily orgasm record is 12, but that involved only one other strangely beautiful and wonderful person. We talked and had sex, and talked, and had more sex for about 7 hours straight.

  33. Ever been to an orgy?

  34. Have you dated your best friend's ex?
    Again, and again. Funny how that works out sometimes.

  35. Would you vote for Hillary Clinton if she ran for president?
    Dunno. At this point I’d vote for anyone who wants to end the war and restore civil liberties in this country, and isn’t in the pocket of the religiously bigoted. I don’t think Ms. Clinton would be the best the Democrats could do, however. But they’re a scattered mess right now.

  36. Do you want monogamy in your relationships?
    For the most part yes. My earlier relationships were more open, but I’m a bit too insecure for regular polyamory, and it takes too much mental effort. But I don’t think the occasional sexual fling means things are over. Both Boo and I have had our slips, but it’s not the end of the world. I think I’d prefer not knowing as long as it’s meaningless.

  37. Do you believe in true love?
    I believe in love. Do y’all play The Sims 2? The Romance sims are fascinating to me – they strike other players as being giant horndogs, thinking about nothing but sex. But the reality is that they can’t sleep with anyone unless they’ve fallen in love first, and there’s reciprocation by the other party. And jealousy rears its head whenever two or more of their beloveds are in the same room. To me they’re the most complex, and most human of the sim types to play. And the hardest.

    I fall in love easily. I love people generally. I’ve loved many men, in many ways. But I don’t believe that being in love is the same as wanting to live with someone, or share my life’s experiences with a partner. That’s a different, related, and much more complicated emotion. I’m starting to wonder if you can even have that life-sharing feeling without necessarily being in love.

  38. Do you have any tattoos?
    Nope. Interferes with reinventing yourself every few years, I would think.

  39. Do you have any piercings?
    Nope. I pierced my own left nipple several years ago, but got tired of it within a few months.

  40. Would you date a smoker?
    Not seriously.

  41. Do you get HIV tests every 6 months?
    Not that often. You have to be having sex to make it worthwhile, and after all, I’m married and over 40...

  42. Do you know anyone who has died from H.I.V.?
    HIV? No. AIDS? Yes. Jesus. So many.

  43. Do you know what Stonewall was?
    You're kidding, junior.

  44. Strangest place you have had sex?
    Cemetery? Church basement? Public beach?

  45. Strangest place you've woken up?
    Probably the apartment of the North Central Bible College student with whom I had a post-disco hot fling. The giant Jesus posters and Christian pop music were a bit disconcerting.

  46. Are your best years behind or in front of you?
    Don’t know. I’m always uncertain about the future, and unnerved by the past.

  47. Favorite porn movie?
    Hmm. While there are lots that are hotter, it’s hard to beat Stryker Force for being a campy laugh as well.

  48. Are you in love now?

  49. Ever been in love with a straight guy/girl?

  50. Did you ever have sex with him/her?

  51. Have you ever been to a nude beach?

  52. Have you ever been to a bath house?

  53. Ever had sex in public?

  54. Have you ever gotten into a relationship for Money or Security, instead of Love and Friendship?
    No. It’s all about love for me in this lifetime.

  55. Have you ever stayed in a relationship for Money or Security, instead of Love and Friendship?

  56. Have you ever keyed someone’s car?
    No. But I’m tempted when I see Hummers.

  57. Have you ever fantasized killing someone not famous?
    Dunno. Are local politicians famous?

  58. Have you ever witnessed someone dying?
    Aren’t we all in the process of dying? Alright, I know what you mean. I’ve been around the sick, the elderly, and the terminal. But I’ve never been there for the final ending.

  59. Have you ever contemplated suicide?

  60. Are you glad you're still here?