Tuesday, November 25, 2008
For the "uncensored" version, click here.
Monday, November 24, 2008
It's closing. According to playbill.com:
I sincerely hope my enthusiasm didn't curse the show. Sigh...
13, the new middle school-set musical with songs by Tony Award winner Jason Robert Brown, will play its final performance at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre Jan. 4, 2009.
Directed by Jeremy Sams, the new musical that features a cast and orchestra composed of teenagers began previews on Broadway Sept. 16 and officially opened Oct. 5. When it closes, 13 will have played a total of 22 previews and 105 regular performances.
More than mischief: Are recent acts of church vandalism tied to bigotry?
By Steve Gehrke
The Salt Lake Tribune
They've come in the form of a burning Book of Mormon, shattered glass doors, mysterious white powder, graffiti and even a flaming plastic plant. A recent rash of crimes has swept churches along the Wasatch Front and peppered areas of California since Proposition 8, backed by the LDS Church, banned gay marriage there.
While Utah police have not officially connected the vandalism here to Prop 8, it's clear incidents once viewed by many as neighborhood mischief have taken on a new significance and political overtone. Overall, incidents of vandalism at churches, synagogues, temples and other religious buildings in Utah have been rising steadily since 2003.
"We've been watching [churches] a lot closer," said Wayne Hansen, chief
of police in Farmington, where a wall outside an LDS church was tagged Wednesday with the message, "Nobody is born a biggot," [sic] and accompanied by a smiley face and a heart.
While vandals target hundreds of religious buildings each year in Utah, some police officers say the recent incidents are particularly strange because perpetrators are leaving businesses, neighborhoods and car windows untouched.
"This is a little different," said Ogden Police Lt. Scott Sangberg, adding that he has seen nothing like this church-focused crime wave in the 26 years he has lived in Ogden. "Does it look a little suspicious that all these things are happening since Proposition 8? It sure does, but we don't have any witnesses to help pinpoint, accuse or even make an arrest."
Juan Becerra, local spokesman with the Federal Bureau of Investigations, said the FBI is trying to determine whether the crimes qualify as civil-rights violations. "There's been too much that has happened in a short period of time," he said. Recent crimes include mysterious packages of white powder being mailed to LDS temples in Salt Lake City and Los Angeles, as well as a Catholic Knights of Columbus printing press in Connecticut; a burning Book of Mormon left on the steps of an LDS chapel in Colorado; a plant set afire inside Weber State University's LDS Institute building; a junior high seminary evacuated after a mysterious letter arrived; and vandals shooting BBs through the glass doors of at least six LDS meeting houses through Weber and Davis counties as well as one in Sandy City.
Some local Mormon leaders downplay the events.
"We don't have a lot of vandalism out there, so it was a bit of a surprise," said Bishop Lance Garner of the vandalized Oak Forest Young Adults Ward in Layton. "But it wasn't a big deal in my ward.
"Proposition 8 passed through our minds, and we wondered about the connection, but quite honestly, I don't think anybody knows that for sure."
Others are more inclined to blame politics.
Bishop Richard Lambert, who meets at the vandalized South Ogden Highlands Ward, said some members of his congregation assume a Proposition 8 tie.
"The timing is just suspicious," he said. "We, as members of the church, just exercised our political will, and it's unfortunate that they're blaming one organization."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints declined to comment on the recent crimes in Utah, but recently released a statement calling directly on its political opponents to calm the attacks.
"Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues."
Many members of the gay community likewise are urging calm until the authorities can find those responsible. Directors of the Utah Pride Center and Equality Utah -- which work with gay, lesbian and transgender causes -- said they are "deeply troubled" by the crime wave.
"Our hearts go out to the church members that are afraid to go to church as a result of those attacks," said Utah Pride Center Executive Director Valerie Larabee. "It would be natural to draw a conclusion that it is the gay community that's doing this, but that's a very dangerous conclusion."
Larabee said there has been a rise in energy among people who support equality since Proposition 8 passed, but she regrets that many are using their emotions in what she called negative ways.
Equality Utah Executive Director Mike Thompson said his organization is working to find commonalities with the LDS church and push for incremental advances.
Although there has been an abundance of vandalism at Mormon wardhouses in recent weeks, it's just a part of the picture. Statistics from the state Bureau of Criminal Identification show hundreds of crimes are reported on religious properties around the state from year to year -- from kidnappings and aggravated assaults to intimidation and burglary.
In 2006, police agencies statewide reported more than 300 incidents of vandalism at churches, Synagogues, temples and other religious buildings.
The FBI reported 15 religion-related hate crimes in Utah in 2007 and nine related to sexual orientation, up from an equal six and six in 2006. The FBI investigated more hate crimes involving sexual orientation than religion in the vast majority of U.S. states.
If criminals are caught for church vandalism, they could be prosecuted under Utah's new hate crime law, which legislators crafted in 2007 to harden punishments for criminals who intend to "terrorize or intimidate."
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the law's application would simply depend on the facts and circumstances of the case. Prosecutors would have to show the criminals' intent was to intimidate members of the church congregations.
"It would be based upon both what they say in interviews, what they tell others about what they did, and what message was communicated," Rawlings said.
A hate crime conviction would stiffen misdemeanor charges. It would add an aggravating factor to a felony crime, sending a signal to judges and pardons and parole boards.
While Utah has been the focus of the recent rash of LDS-church vandalism, California saw heated protests and sporadic crimes sweep across that state.
But for the most part, California police said Prop-8 related crime there subsided after the election.
"Anytime you have a huge group of people who feel very strongly about an issue, a few will cross the line, unfortunately," said Sacramento Sgt. Matt Young. "It's unfortunate that it occurs on either side because they're not representative of the majority."
As far as Utah's crime spree goes, some LDS church members are more closely monitoring their ward houses for the time being.
Said Sangberg: "This is one of those political hot potatoes that can either stay hot for a long time, or it can begin to go away shortly. It all depends on the atmosphere or climate of the country."
Recent Prop 8-related charges
- Assault » A Torrance, Calif., man is charged with a felony hate-crime assault for allegedly using an anti-gay marriage lawn sign to attack a gay man wearing a "No on 8" button.
- Vandalism » San Jose, Calif., police were called to a house in the southern part of town after homeowners reported their garage had been spray-painted with "No on 8" messages. The homeowners had signs on their lawn supporting the measure.
- Theft » Police in a Sacramento suburb arrested three teens after finding 53 stolen "Yes on 8" signs in their car.
- Vandalism » A Utah man reported his lawn sign, opposing the LDS church's role in politics, was set on fire outside his home near 900 East and 900 South.
This just makes me sick. Seriously, where the hell is the tolerance? Where's the compassion? Do I need to start another rant about gays learning to practice tolerance and Mormons learning to practice compassion? We're all a bunch of friggin' hypocrites and I'm embarrassed to be associated with either group.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
So today as I was commuting to work, I was listening to the show's peppy, yet rhythmically quirky title song. Actually the quirkiness is only in the chorus. Anyway, as I was listening I made a delightful discovery about those quirky rhythms. Care to guess? Here's the song...pay special attention to the time signature during the chorus:
CLICK HERE TO LEGALLY DOWNLOAD THE TITLE SONG FROM www.13themusical.com! Or for kicks, go explore the website. They've got five songs from the show streaming at http://www.13themusical.com/music/.
Before you keep reading, make sure you've listened to the song. Do it! I'll listen with you.
la la la dum de dum dum la la deedle deedle doooo dum ditty la la la la woah woah ba dee ba dah...
Wasn't that fun? Anyway, did you get it? Those oddly structured measures are grouped into a group of six beats, followed by a group of seven. Six plus seven equals...you got it, thirteen! To make matters even more exciting, start counting when the pattern begins and when you get to the number 13, the kids all sing "Thirteen!" Yeah, it's gimmicky and only the die-hard theatre nerds are gonna pick up on it, but I think it's brilliant. Very few people out there are gonna be as giddy about this as me, and that's fine. But I'm certain that Jason Robert Brown wrote that passage with the nerds in mind. So now I've got the song stuck in my head...and that's not necessarily a bad thing for now.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Since the passage of Prop 8 I have been incredibly disheartened by the anger and the name-calling and the calls for retaliation (as in "Let's have the LDS Church's tax exempt status revoked!"). I see nothing productive in such behavior. Quite the contrary, being argumentative and vindictive only solidifies the opposition, and it tends to drive away those who haven't "taken a side" yet.
Yes, we're hurt. Yes, we want someone to blame. Yes, the LDS Church's financial support of the measure was hugely disproportionate to it's actual presence in California. Yes, it's completely unfair. And yes, the LDS Church is a really easy target. But we're not kindergarteners, squabbling over who gets to play in a sandbox. Kicking dirt in each other's eyes accomplishes nothing.
So after a heartfelt conversation on the subject, a friend pointed me to this article in The Huffington Post, which really sums things up well. It was nice to know someone else shares my views.
And then Equality Utah had it's press conference. At last, I thought, something productive from the gay community. Move past the protests and find a way to work with "the opposition" to make much-needed changes. Then, in the reader responses to the Salt Lake Tribune and Deseret News articles, Equality Utah is being accused of trying to "draw them in to a politically charged environment that they have no interest in and would only serve to hype the gay agenda further." The detractors are implying that the church leaders' words are being twisted to further causes that hurt the church.
I mean SERIOUSLY?
Everybody automatically jumps to the conclusion that Equality Utah is trying to twist the words of the
To BOTH sides of the argument: Why does it always have to be “Us versus Them” in EVERYTHING. How the hell are we supposed to accomplish anything without working together. Otherwise rational people sit on either side of the aisle, basking in their own self-important righteous indignation, thumbing their noses at the opposition, and then they honestly expect the opposition to simply cave in. WTF??? Let’s force our venom and our disdain for the opposition’s heart-felt beliefs down each other’s throats and see where it gets us.
I'm so sick of all this bullshit. (Pardon the expression, but you did click the "I understand and wish to continue" button on my content warning page.)
To the LDS community: You claim to be Christians? Start behaving like real Christians. Not the televangelists, I mean the people who genuinely try to act like Jesus. The statement "we love our gay brothers and sisters" sounds so hollow when everything you do is in an attempt to deny them basic human dignity. Regardless of the genuine concern you feel in your heart for all mankind...when you say "I love you, even if I disagree with you" and then you actively work time and time again to strip gays of over 1,300 federal and state rights that the marriage fairy magically bestows on any straight couple who haphazardly says "I do"...do you really think anybody can hear the "I love you" over your actions?*
And to the gay community: You claim to be open-minded and accepting? How about actively practicing that by accepting the Mormons. If you honestly believe you're entitled to free exercise of your values, you have to give that right to everyone else...even those who disagree with you. ESPECIALLY those who agree with you. Your rights to free speech and freedom of religion aren't worth a thing if you can't give those rights to someone whose beliefs are in direct opposition to yours. And until you grow up and stop behaving like a children, throwing temper tantrums every time somebody does something you don't like, you'll never get out of "equal marriage rights time-out."*
Like it or not, we have to live together, with all our diversity of opinion. Personally, I think that's actually a good thing. It's been said that our diversity makes our nation strong, and I believe that's because of our ability to bring our differences to the table and work together for the common good. It breaks my heart that so many people are angrily storming away from the church over this issue. But that's their right. What truly saddens me is that the form letter that's been written to facilitate withdrawal from the church ends with this sentence: "After today, the only contact I want from the church is a single letter of confirmation to let me know that I am no longer listed as a member of the church," effectively cutting off communication.
Whatever people choose to do with their lives, nothing is served by completely severing the ties of communication. Without communication there will be no understanding--a fact that I'm learning with my family the hard way. But for the first time in a long time, I'm truly hopeful.
One last thought from Fiddler on the Roof:
Villager: An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
Tevye: Very good. That way the whole world will be blind and toothless.
*If you're pissed because you took either of these paragraphs to mean either that I don't value the LDS Church's rights to free exercise of their religious beliefs or that I don't wholeheartedly support equal rights for gays, maybe you need to find a new blog to read. Seriously, what I'm saying may not be easy to hear, but it's important that BOTH sides get over their knee-jerk reactions, spend a little time examining their own biases, and come to the table in a spirit of mutual respect. So there. Suck on that, bizatches!
A couple of years ago, I wrote a column in which I announced my official position on gay marriage. Basically, I don't care.
Not only do I not care if gays get married, it is none of my business. As a flaming heterosexual, it's a full-time job for me just to keep my thoughts clean in church. I don't have the energy to fret about somebody else's libido.
The column must have resurfaced on the Internet. I'm getting mail again telling me what a failure I am as a Mormon because I'm not solidly behind Proposition 8. As I understand it, the California ballot item would prevent the domestication of homosexuals. Or something like that.
Here are just a few of the attempts to get me to see reason.
"Are you a member or not? Do you want gays to get married in the temple? Please follow the brotheren's [sic] council [sic] on Proposition 8. This is a important gospel principal [sic]." G., e-mail.
"No unclean thing can enter the house of the Lord. Gays are unclean because of the Scriptures. You have to be hot or cold about it or the Lord will spat you out." T., e-mail.
"Were you listening in church when the letter was read from the First Presidency about supporting proposition eight?" R.Y., e-mail.
"Get with Prop 8 or your [sic] a homo." Anonymous, letter.
Hard as it is to counter such brilliant logic, my position hasn't changed. The only serious concern I have about gays getting married is that they'll register someplace pricey.
The church is serious about the sanctity of marriage. I get that. But aren't more potentially "dangerous" marriages already being performed out there?
For example, I hear in church all the time about marriage being ordained of God. But I also hear about how the glory of God is intelligence.
Shouldn't it be against the law for stupid people to get married? What's more harmful to society - two well-dressed men getting married and settling down, or two idiots tying the knot and cranking out any number of additional idiots?
You should have to pass a harder test to get married than the one we currently have. Essentially, there are but two questions: "How old are you?" and "Is that your sister?" Hell, you could pass this test just by guessing.
There are drawbacks. Most people get married when hormones and youth make them about as dumb as they'll ever be. So, even a relatively easy test would by default raise the age limit to about 40.
With an increased marriage age limit, there would be fewer births. Genealogy would become easier to do. With fewer births, there would be fewer children born gay. Hey, isn't that what Heavenly Father would want?
OK, I was just kidding about that. But if you're really serious about putting a stop to gay sex, let them get married.
Read the original article at www.sltrib.com...
Friday, November 7, 2008
Okay, here's a thought: Let's stop pissing on the French. I'm tired of hearing about "those sissy French people". Really. And the "Freedom Fries" movement post 9/11 was patently offensive. At least one of my ancestors is French. Here's how Bill Maher put it: (be warned, it's a little risque)
And finally, New Rule: Conservatives have to stop rolling their eyes every time they hear the word, "France." Like just calling something "French" is the ultimate argument winner. As if to say, "What can you say about a country that was too stupid to get on board with our wonderfully-conceived and brilliantly-executed war in Iraq?"And a link to the video here.
And, yet, an American politician could not survive if he uttered the simple, true statement, "France has a better health care system than we do, and we should steal it." Because here, simply dismissing an idea as French passes for an argument. "John Kerry? Couldn't vote for him; he looked French." Yeah, as opposed to the other guy who just looked stupid.
Now, last week, France had an election, and people over there approach an election differently. They vote. Eighty-five percent of them turned out. You couldn't get 85% of Americans to get off the couch if there was an election between "Tits" and "Bigger Tits," and they were handing out free samples!
Now, maybe the high turnout has something to do with the fact that the French candidates are never asked where they stand on evolution, prayer in school, abortion, stem cell research or gay marriage. And if the candidate knows about a character in a book other than Jesus, it's not a drawback.
The electorate doesn't vote for the guy they want to have a croissant with; nor do they care about private lives. In the current race, Ségolène Royal has four kids, but she never got married. And she's a Socialist. In America, if a Democrat even thinks you're calling him "liberal," he grabs an orange vest and a rifle and heads into the woods to kill something!
Madame Royal's opponent is married, but they live apart and lead separate lives. And the people are okay with that for the same reason they're okay with nude beaches; because they're not a nation of six-year-olds who scream and giggle if they see pee-pee parts!
They have weird ideas about privacy. They think it should be private. In France, even the mistresses have mistresses. To not have a lady on the side says to the voters, "I'm no good at multi-tasking."
Now, like any country, France has its faults, like all that ridiculous accordion music. But, their health care is the best in the industrialized world. As is their poverty rate. And they're completely independent of Mid East oil. And they're the greenest country. And they're not fat. And they have public intellectuals in France. We have Dr. Phil!
They invented sex during the day, lingerie and the tongue. Can't we admit we could learn something from them?
So, from now on, all you high-ranking Bush Administration officials, because the French are righter than you on most things, when France comes up in conversation, you are not allowed to roll your eyes. The only time you get to do that is when your hooker from Ms. Julia is blowing you.
Not since the Stonewall Riots of 1969 in San Francisco have we as a community really stood up for our rights in a determined way. Our Pride Parades are an event, not a protest. Our court battles are fought by few while we watch from the comfort of our living rooms. Our petitions we sign while shopping online.
Society as a whole underestimates us. They underestimate our size. They underestimate our determination. They underestimate our conviction. They underestimate our power. Now is the time that we need to remind them.
This week the religious activists in California decided to take our civil rights, which they take for granted, and they put it up for a majority vote. Even more despicable than voting to take away rights of a minority is the fact that major religions, especially the Mormon Church, dedicated, and in some instances mandated, that their members dedicate time and money to passing this discriminatory cause.
I move that we rally at the heart of their operations. Let's march around Temple Square and the Church Office Building. Let's show them that we are many, that we are powerful, and that we will not sit idle as they force their religion into our lives and into national politics.
I've contacted the City and the SLPD and have organized a protest rally on Friday, November 7th at 6pm. Please show up with your posters, flags and banners (and dress warmly and fabulously!) . We will meet on State Street at Temple Square. Bring your friends and your relatives. Pass this message along to EVERYONE you know who has any respect for the rights of other people. Let's show the Church
that we've had enough of their political influence in our lifes!
Intending no disrespect to either side of the argument, I feel I need to respond. This is an abridged e-mail I sent back to a dear friend who forwarded the original:
Thanks for the e-mail. I read this, and I must admit when I heard the news that Prop 8 had officially passed, I felt like taking to the streets. But after much consideration I've decided that picketing a religious organization is pointless. Yes, there's injustice in the world. And yes, the LDS Church strongly supported the codification of that injustice into law. What they did was wrong, and I firmly believe it overstepped the bounds of a religious society, enforcing faith-based legislation on a population that is already marginalized.
But picketing the church office building? It seems like all the righteous indignation we're feeling could be directed better at something more productive. I don't anticipate the church will ever change their beliefs on gays in society. And a formal protest directing anger at the LDS Church seems akin to banging ones head against the granite wall of the Salt Lake Temple.
Perhaps there's a way to channel the indignation into something productive. Many of my close friends have requested their names be removed from church records. I'll be getting more actively involved in organizations that promote equality. I am writing letters to people in power on both sides of the issue, pleading for understanding. And most importantly, I'm living my life openly and honestly. I think above all it's absolutely vital for gay people everywhere to be VISIBLE in their contributions to society. The younger generation voted overwhelmingly against Prop 8 in California. Change IS coming. If not in this generation, in the next. And for us to create lasting change, the fight for equality cannot be a fight at all. Fighting closes minds. But a gay person, couple, family...living openly and honestly, contributing to society...THAT challenges misconceptions. If I have a bias and my neighbors are a visible contradiction to my bias, then even if I doggedly hold onto my prejudice out of fear, my kids will see the truth and most likely choose accordingly. When enough people live the contradiction, the prejudices inevitably crumble.
The gay community's hurt and anger are justified. I share in those feelings. And I respect the rights of anyone to express their indignation in the form of protest. But I believe there is a better way. Ultimately, this protest will accomplish little beyond a news blip, unless (as in the case of the Stonewall Riots) things get ugly. If belligerence or disrespectful language or violence ensues, the divide between the LDS community and the Gay community will widen, setting back the movement for equality. I firmly believe love, understanding, patience, and above all, visible honest living will be the means of forever securing equal rights for our children.
Thanks for passing the message to me. I wish you nothing but the best. And tonight, if you do choose to protest, please be respectful...and safe.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
WASHINGTON—African-American man Barack Obama, 47, was given the least-desirable job in the entire country Tuesday when he was elected president of the United States of America. In his new high-stress, low-reward position, Obama will be charged with such tasks as completely overhauling the nation's broken-down economy, repairing the crumbling infrastructure, and generally having to please more than 300 million Americans and cater to their every whim on a daily basis. As part of his duties, the black man will have to spend four to eight years cleaning up the messes other people left behind. The job comes with such intense scrutiny and so certain a guarantee of failure that only one other person even bothered applying for it. Said scholar and activist Mark L. Denton, "It just goes to show you that, in this country, a black man still can't catch a break."
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
I recalled a Sunday School lesson from my childhood (way back in the late 70's) where the teacher mentioned that the church discouraged interracial marriage, though her explanation was that people of different backgrounds have a hard time making it work. While it seemed a little odd at the time that skin color constituted a "different background," I didn't think much of it.
Now, with nearly 18,000 marriages about to be arbitrarily dissolved by public referendum and the unmarried gay population barred from the institution, it seems appropriate to examine the church's changing position on interracial marriage. I dug around, found a whole bunch of quotes (including a single website that listed some pretty offensive stuff), and decided that publishing them here would be nothing short of "sour grapes." Suffice it to say, on civil rights matters, the LDS church as an organization tends to be consistently 20 years behind the nation. Anyway instead of sour grapes, here is a quote on civil rights by Elder Hugh B. Brown:
"During recent months, both in Salt Lake City and across the nation, considerable interest has been expressed in the position of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the matter of civil rights. We would like it to be known that there is in this Church no doctrine, belief, or practice that is intended to deny the enjoyment of full civil rights by any person regardless of race, color, or creed.My heart breaks for our gay brothers and sisters in California whose families have been the victims of the recent capricious actions of the so-called "Christian" community. The gospel of Jesus Christ, in my understanding, is based on love. The LDS church advocates that everyone should be allowed "to worship how, where, or what they may." And Joseph Smith, when asked how he led the church said that he taught the members correct principles and let them govern themselves. For a group of churches to legislate their beliefs on other people is nothing short of a violation of the principles of agency for which LDS people believe "the war in heaven" was waged.
We say again, as we have said many times before, that we believe that all men are the children of the same God and that it is a moral evil for any person or group of persons to deny any human being the rights to gainful employment, to full educational opportunity, and to every privilege of citizenship, just as it is a moral evil to deny him the right to worship according to the dictates of his own conscience.
We have consistently and persistently upheld the Constitution of the United States, and as far as we are concerned this means upholding the constitutional rights of every citizen of the United States.
We call upon all men everywhere, both within and outside the Church, to commit themselves to the establishment of full civil equality for all of God's children. Anything less than this defeats our high ideal of the brotherhood of man." —General Conference, October 6, 1963
How's this for a better approach? Perhaps we should teach our children "correct principles" and let them govern themselves rather than legislate our religious views on each other.
Or better still, let's simply love one another.