Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Best New Online Video Ever...Today!

If you're a musical theatre nerd, this video really doesn't need any introduction other than this:

Pee first. Seriously, pee first.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

My Commute

I hate winter. HATE. I frankly don't care that the snow is pretty. I don't give a rat's ass about the skiers. (Have you seen a ski mountain during the summer or fall? It looks like someone's head after the barber had a seizure mid-buzz.) Here's my commute today:

8:20 - arrive at bus stop to catch the 8:25 bus to work
8:25 - the 8:25 goes by...the wrong direction. Either the bus driver is on crack or the bus is just late late late. Turns out, it's just running really late (20 min by my calculations.) The driver recognizes me and signals me to run across the street and get on.
8:30 - the bus gets to a TRAX train station. Because TRAX is a more direct route, I get off and wait.
8:31 - A four car Sandy train goes by. (I'm going the other direction.)
8:33 - A four car Sandy train goes by.
8:34 - A four car Sandy train goes by. Seriously.
8:35 - the downtown train is scheduled to come. I can either take the downtown train and transfer or take the University line. Either way. But though the downtown train is scheduled to come, it doesn't.
8:40 - a University train comes by...15 minutes late, which is okay because I wasn't there when it was scheduled to come. Still, there's only one car...weird...and it's packed like sardines. Brandon doesn't fit.
8:45 - the Downtown train comes...10 minutes late. There's only one car on this one too. Doesn't make sense to take this train, so I decide to wait the 10 minutes till the next university train is scheduled to come.
8:50 - Another Sandy train comes by. Four cars. WTF???
8:55 - the next University train is scheduled to come. It doesn't.
9:00 - another downtown train comes by...packed...only two cars...dammit (mhrip)
9:05 - Yet ANOTHER Sandy train comes by. This is five so far. Or TWENTY practically empty cars.
9:10 - The University train comes. Finally. Two cars. Packed. Brandon forces himself into one of the stairwells on the last car.
9:14 - Train FINALLY leaves the station.
9:15 to 9:50 - the train slowly takes 35 minutes to do a 20 minute route. And it's packed the whole way. And I have to get off every stop because I'm in the stairwell and everybody needs to exit. I still can't feel my toes.
9:55 - I'm at work. 55 minutes late. Cold. Miserable. But I missed Staff Meeting. Totally worth it!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Review of Reviews: The Review

Okay, today I'm gonna talk about something unabashedly un-political! Feel free to nod off, or perk up...whatever is the opposite of what you do when I talk politics.

So the reviews are in. And here's what Salt Lake's City Weekly said:
A New Brain, Eleemosynary & Roundup
Small Stages: Three community theater companies bring new productions.

By City Weekly Staff

A New Brain
If a musical is going to go the “throughsung” route, it’s usually because something about the subject matter feels particularly operatic. William Finn’s musical aims for that level of emotional grandeur, and instead it swings between pleasantly quirky and merely overwrought.

There’s a certain appropriateness to telling the story of Gordon Schwinn (Jon McBride) in this fashion: He’s a composer who dreams of producing great work.

Unfortunately, his current job finds him penning silly ditties for a children’s television program—and his chance for ever creating something more profound is in doubt when he’s diagnosed with a rare brain disease.

Not surprisingly, the diagnosis puts Gordon in a contemplative frame of mind— and from there, Finn’s score spins in multiple directions. We get a glimpse of his childhood with a horse-betting father; a male nurse gets a solo describing himself as “Poor, Unsuccessful and Fat”; a wandering homeless woman (Julie Carrillo) offers odd insights. And it’s hard to get a handle on what a lot of this has to do with a man facing his mortality and turning it into a dark fantasia.

Dark Horse Company Theatre does put together a solid cast of performers to provide an evening’s entertainment. Carrillo is a vocal standout, as is Rhett Richins as Gordon’s lover Roger, who gets a gorgeous solo moment with “Sailing.” And there’s an effectively emotional scene of Gordon’s mother (Karin Gittins) letting loose her parental anguish in “The Music Still Plays On.” You’ll just need to make it through the parts of the story that didn’t quite require a whole song and dance.

—Scott Renshaw
Dark Horse Company Theatre
University of Utah Post Theatre
245 S. Fort Douglas Blvd.
Through Nov. 15

The 1980s were a good decade for thinky, conceptual plays that don’t really go anywhere but instead analyze things like “the relationships among three generations of women.” Lee Blessing’s Eleemosynary is one of those. As such, it’s a humdinger; it’s the kind of script that people describe as “delicate.” This is because it’s all about those relationships, which are tricky.

These plays are really psychological whodunits: After the characters are introduced in all their inscrutable quirkiness, the main point is to drill down through layers of their past traumas until a common root to all their conflicting neuroses and motivations is miraculously revealed. In this case, the three generations of women are represented by metaphysical adventurer Dorothea (Jan Frederickson), her daughter Artemis who had eidetic memory of past events (Holly Fowers), and monomaniacal granddaughter Echo (Aly Dowe).

This particular psychological drill-down centers around the issue of intellectual development: Dorothea’s desire for an education was thwarted during an era when women were discouraged from such pursuits, so she made damned sure Artemis went to college; later, their mother/daughter conflict was played out in Echo, making her a shockingly fierce spelling-bee champion. The sins of the mothers are visited upon the daughter.

As Echo, Dowe is the standout in this production with her budding emotional range. Fowers’ Artemis remains stiff and reticent, and I was wishing for a broader performance from Frederickson as the wacky, free-spirited Dorothea.

Still, despite a few technical glitches, the show’s pacing is remarkably snappy. It’s a modest production, and an ambitious one. And, if Blessing’s play was an odd choice for Pinnacle, the challenge was well met. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

—Brandon Burt

Pinnacle Acting Company
Midvale Performing Arts Center
695 W. Center Street
Through Nov. 14

In Kurt Proctor’s world-premiere play Roundup, the romanticizing of the Old West is explored through family stories and a pile of old cowboy poems. We’re left wondering if that West ever really existed—or if that’s even a question worth asking.

Carl (Joe Welsch) feels he’s missed out on something. His dad was a real cowboy, keeping herds on the land before freerange was a catch phrase. His brother, Randy (Greg Peters), followed in those near-mythical bootprints but doesn’t see what all the fuss is about.

It’s a promising premise, and Peters in particular offers a strong performance. However, the show doesn’t quite hold together. Rather than build and develop its themes and characters, Roundup pummels the audience with history, relationships and prejudices in the opening scene.

Characters talk over each other in a manner that is supposed to come off as naturalistic, but instead feels like an improvised rehearsal exercise.

Similarly jumbled is the depiction of the drinking problem of one of the characters. His alcoholism, its causes and the related concern of his family are unevenly portrayed, giving the development a disingenuous air.

However, the play does give insight to the core question of what it means to live in the West in the shadow of rugged individuals, be they real, imagined or somewhere in-between. The show is at its best when this territory is covered by two characters onstage, talking around a fire, under the stars—like we do in these parts.

— Rob Tennant

Utah Contemporary Theatre
Rose Wagner Performing Arts Center
138 W. 300 South
Through Nov. 21
And ANY of this is useful? So I thought I'd respond:

It's a sad day when a newspaper review reveals more about the writer’s lack of research, experience, and/or writing abilities than about the work they he or she is reviewing. Obviously the above reviewers had only a few short paragraphs' space to describe and critique three entire shows. But that's no excuse for writing an incoherent, rambling synopsis then tacking on a couple critical sentences to pass off a half-assed assessment as a "review."

This does NOTHING for the theatre-going public, the performers, or the producing organization. A review should adequately discuss a production, and give the reader an idea of why your assessment is valid...or at least why youthink your assessment is valid. Regardless of whether the reviewer is dissecting a professional production or a “community” theatre piece, a valid, well-written, critical assessment is essential to the vitality of the theatre community…both the artists and the theatre-goers. If your newspaper can’t spare the resources to write an intelligent review, simply publish the company’s press release and leave it at that.

With a statement like "If a musical is going to go the “throughsung” (sic) route, it’s usually because something about the subject matter feels particularly operatic," Mr. Renshaw simply reveals either his lack of knowledge about the musical theatre genre or his laziness in formulating an opening argument. His entire review, but especially the opening paragraph, is a waste of the reader’s time and the newspaper’s space.

Mr. Tennant’s sweeping generalizations about UCT’s Roundup make the core of his review muddled and unreadable. In his middle paragraphs he has written nothing specific enough to be useful to either the artists or the public. The entire review feels like a first draft, hastily cobbled together from notes he made during the performance--all the while wishing he was working on one of his other "more important" deadlines.

Mr. Burt’s review of Eleemosynary is at least well written, but falls woefully short when, after three long paragraphs about the material, he takes two tiny paragraphs to actually discuss the production. Once again, the reviewer gives the reader very little information about the quality of the performances, direction, and overall production.

Finally, Mr. Renshaw, what the hell is “You’ll just need to make it through the parts of the story that didn’t quite require a whole song and dance.” supposed to mean? Your excruciating review of A New Brain is an embarrassment, plain and simple. If you find the material “swing[ing] between pleasantly quirky and merely overwrought” could you please take a moment to explain why? It sounds to me like you coined (or stole) an intelligent-sounding phrase with big five-dollar words but then not only failed provide context, you failed to check the dictionary to see what the words actually mean.

Rarely does a local reviewer actually write something useful anymore. Perhaps it’s because the newspaper industry is dying and reviewers are most often staff writers whose primary job is something more glamorous. But that’s no excuse for shoddy work. City Weekly readers expect and deserve better.

Suck it, City Weekly.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No More Mr. Nice Gay

WARNING...this is a serious rant...with "adult" language. You might want to skip it and read something nicer if such things are likely to offend you. Perhaps this link would be more appropriate.

So did you hear about the election yesterday in Maine? The Maine legislature had passed a law giving gay couples full marriage rights...well, marriage state rights. The anti-gay marriage people made a big ol' stink, got something on the ballot, and by a small majority vote, the right of same-sex couples to legal recognition (and benefits) for their unions was revoked.

I'm so fucking tired of being nice. I'm so tired of fighting you "defenders of traditional marriage" for basic human rights. If marriage is a civil institution, the government has no business denying it to any two consenting adults. If it's a religious one, the laws have no business respecting one religion over another. Yet while we try to be respectful of your religious liberty, you use your religious freedom to deny our relationships civil equality. Frankly, I don't give a shit whether your church wants to marry the homos or not. Preach bigotry from your pulpit...that's a reflection on you, not on me. But when your religious beliefs trump not only my religious beliefs, but also basic human decency (and decades of scientific social research), it sounds a bit to me like this isn't the democratic republic I thought we lived in...it's a theocracy, governed by your own narrow-minded dogma.

And the thing is, we don't want to overthrow your churches. We don't CARE about your churches. All we want is basic fairness. But you opponents of same-sex marriage aren't concerned with fairness or decency. All you can wrap their filthy little closed minds around is the idea of two men goin' at it. Never mind basic human rights, it's all about bum sex. And someone else's bum sex at that! Why should ANYONE care what happens in the bedroom of two consenting adults. Frankly I don't want to know what my siblings or parents (or any other straight couples) do in the privacy of their own boudoirs!

Okay, brace yourselves, it's "math" time. A disclaimer: these are VERY rough figures, based on cursory examinations of recent numbers on the US Census Bureau's website...I'm not a statistician and I'm sure there are HUGE mathematical errors, but I think the basic principles are sound-ish, and most importantly it illustrates the disproportionate hysteria over a relatively small matter. I'll indent the "math" stuff so you can skip it if necessary.

According to national estimates, in 2008 there were 304 million people living in the US. Approximately 60.1 million of them are married and living together. A little over 20% of the US population is under 15, and while I'm reluctant to include 16 year olds in the "marriage eligible" category, for the sake of argument let's include them. So there are 243.2 million people in this country who are marriage age. According to Kinsey's study in the 50's, about 10% of the population is gay-ish. More realistic estimates put that somewhere between 2% and 5%. So let's say it's 5%...which means there are about 12.1 million homos in the country. Now, given the above stats, about 1/4 of "marriage eligible" people (15 and over...yikes) are married and living together. So...assuming gays are as likely to marry as straights, which is a big assumption, about 3 million gays are actually affected by the illegality of gay marriage...or 1.5 million marriages. And if 3% of the population is gay, the numbers drop to 7.3 million homos, 1.8 million of whom will probably get married, resulting in about 900,000 marriages. Total. That's NOTHING! Definitely not much to warrant the public outrage.

Now...the divorce rate in the US is currently about 3.5 divorces per 1000 people...which works out to about 1.25 million divorces every year (of the slightly more than 60 million "functioning" marriages)...about 1/4 million fewer than gays who otherwise would marry, were marriage available. So the point is this: More "straight" marriages fail EVERY YEAR than gay marriages that would potentially exist. Let me repeat that another way: If gay marriage was legal, fewer than a million same sex marriages would happen. Period. Yet every year, all by themselves, 2.5 million straight people fuck up their own "traditional" marriages.

Who is the real threat to marriage? The six tenths of one percent of the population who actually WANTS to get married or the 50% of heterosexuals whose "traditional" marriages will end in divorce? Of all the straight marriages currently in the US, 2% will end this year alone.

But no, gays are the number one threat to marriage and freedom in this country. Asshole.

Ugh. Fine. If you want to be that way, I say let's REALLY do some damage to the "institution of traditional marriage." Let's get every gay person out there to marry someone of the opposite sex. And then flaunt it. "Oh yeah, we're married, but since marriage is such a farce we don't have sex with each other...instead we fuck around on the side...and while committed same-sex relationships aren't legal, THIS totally is." See what that does to the institution of marriage! I think it's time we give the conservatives what they've been asking for. Up to this point, our goal has been simply to have the same civil rights that every straight American enjoys. Yet they've framed as a war on marriage. Well I think it's time we do declare war on marriage. Obviously it's an antiquated, bigoted institution. So let's get government out of it altogether. Leave it to the churches. Revoke the tax benefits for married couples, for families. Drop inheritance rights completely. When your spouse dies, we're gonna tax the shit out of your house...hope you have savings...and by the way, if it's a joint savings, we're coming for that too. Deny hospital visitation to anyone who can't prove they are a blood relative. Fuck marriage...the institution reeks of your bigotry and hypocrisy. Just like I wouldn't join your church, I don't want your institution. And I don't want my country pandering to your bigotry either. Suck on that.

I really think the gays should stop respecting the rights of the people who won't respect theirs. Maybe it's time to stop begging for rights we won't get till the old bigots die off and start stripping the straights of their rights. And while we're at it, let's revoke the tax exempt status of churches.

Except we're better than that. We believe that fundamental human rights belong to everybody, regardless of religious ideology. And then when our values are attacked, when our rights are denied...we tend to turn the other cheek. Ironic, isn't it, that the so-called Christian right is receiving a fundamental lesson in Christianity from the homos.

Sorry for the rant.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My NYC Itinerary - so y'alls can be jealous

Okay, for those who don't know, I'm flying to NYC tonight. After my week there in May I bragged the city up to my mother. Oh, who am I kidding...I bragged it up to anyone who would listen. Anyway, my mom responded with "Ooooh, I wanna go!" So I said when and she said October. Coincidentally, our trip occurs right smack dab in the middle of the New York Musical Theatre Festival (NYMF).

So here's a brief (not brief) run-down of what we're gonna do...weather permitting...or maybe we'll just brave the rain anyway.

Wednesday, Sept 30
11:59 PM- take off for NYC. The Red Eye. Just like the movie except with more sleeping and fewer creepy bad guys, I'm hoping.

Thursday, Oct 1
6:29 AM - Arrive at JFK Airport groggy but enthusiastic. Collect our baggage (I've instructed mom that if it doesn't fit in her carry-on, she can't bring it) and hop the Air Train and Subway to the city.
8:00 AM (ish) - Drop off our bags at the hotel...tell them we'll be back around 1:00 and beg them to let us check in early. Then find some breakfast.
9:00 AM to Noon - The weather looks iffy for the weekend, but Thursday should be nice. Hopefully mom will be up for a walking tour. I'm thinking Central Park.
1:00 PM - Back at the hotel. Whether or not they let us check in early, I'm gonna park mom there and go solo to see...
2:00 PM - The matinee of A Steady Rain!!! Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig read the phone book for 90 minutes and the crowd goes wild! Wait...no...I'm told it's actually a good play, but for all I care they COULD read the phone book for 90 minutes and it would be worth what I paid for my ticket in the nosebleeds. (I swear my ticket actually says "nosebleeds" on it.) I'm not gonna say exactly how much it cost, but let's just say Hugh and Daniel are splitting a buck a minute on me alone. Totally cheaper than a 900 number AND it's Bond vs Wolverine! What could be better?
3:30 PM - Head back to the hotel. By this time, mom should be checked in.
3:31 PM - Pass out. I'll be running on 4 1/2 hours of airplane sleep. Gonna be tired.
#:## PM - Wake up and take mom to dinner. Somewhere touristy. Maybe. Whatever it is, it's gotta be fast because I'm gonna sleep as long as I can and we've got the evening show at
8:00 PM - Shrek - the Musical! My mother's first Broadway musical. Ever. EVER! Cheesy, catchy, fluffy, heartwarming, and LOADS OF FUN. Can't think of a better introduction to big splashy musicals that she won't be offended by.
10:30 PM - (or whenever Shrek is over) Talk mom into dessert then go back to the hotel and crash. Long day. Need strength for tomorrow.

Friday, October 2
Current weather forecast - Occasional showers possible. Highs in the upper 60s and lows in the low 60s.
8:00 AM - Take mom to Central Park. Obviously we didn't have much time at all to see stuff there, so we're gonna spend the morning dodging the rain. Bring an umbrella.
Noon - Grab lunch and drop mom off at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Mom, the Met is something that you need to experience for yourself. I wouldn't want to rob you of that. Byeee!"
1:00 PM - NYMF show #1 - Fantasy Football: The Musical? A "bromantic musical comedy"? Hmmm... No matter, Christine Pedi is in it so that's all I care about.
4:00 PM - (insert Edward Kleban's "Fridays at Four" here...good song...google that shit.) NYMF Show #2 - Fat Camp. (giggle) That's all. I'm hoping it's a 90 minute musical. But in case it's not, I'll give mom directions to get from the Met to Studio 54. Yeah, THAT Studio 54. Of course it's a theatre now. And guess what's playing there?
7:00 PM - Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher's 2 1/2 hour one-woman show about...well Carrie Fisher. What could be more exciting for mom's second Broadway show! Here's a taste:


9:30 PM - stagger out of the show wishfully drunk (AKA sober), put mom in a taxi back to the hotel and...
10:30 PM - The Cure - NYMF Show #3. According to nymf.org:

In this rock 'n' roll fable, two friends stumble across the world's last surviving vampires. Offered the chance to live forever, one man is seduced while
the other barely escapes with his life, setting in motion an even greater fight
for survival. At the crossroads of humanity and immortality, lies...THE CURE."

Dun dun duuuuunnnnn! Okay, it's intriguing. But even more intriguing is the
list of the show's "themes" on nymf.org:

THEMES: Gay, Sex, Drama, Romance, Science Fiction

Hmmmm....A romantic sci-fi drama about gay sex? A sexy sci-fi romance about gay drama? A romantic gay having dramatic sci-fi sex? WHO CARES! I'm soooo there.
12:00 AM - (or thereabouts) Back to the hotel. Crash.
3:00 AM - freaky gay vampire nightmare

Saturday, October 2
Current weather forecast - Showers. SHOWERS??? Well that messes with my plans. I was gonna take mom down to ground zero and then out over the Brooklyn Bridge. Hmmm...Monday's supposed to be better. Maybe we'll do that Monday morning. Grrr. Maybe I shouldn't have been so excited to see A Steady Rain. Curse you Hugh Jackman and your weather-controlling charm!
9:00 AM - Sleep in. It's raining.
10:00 AM - Tell mom if she's bored, read a book. It's raining and I'm sleeping.
11:00 AM - Fine. I'm awake. Let me hop in the shower and we'll go get some brunch. That's breakfast for people who slept in until 11 am.
2:00 PM - Mom's third Broadway show: Next to Normal! Okay, this isn't her cup of tea, but she doesn't drink tea and I talked it up so much that Mom is actually excited to see it.
4:30 PM - Explain to mom that yes some people do use that many "F" words and that the bright bright lights were part of the show for a reason. Then trek through the rain to Rockefeller Center.
5:00 PM - Top of the Rock. Ooooh...look at all the pretty clouds! This is what New York City looks like from the other side of the rain. Okay maybe I'll have to re-think this one. Hopefully it's just scattered showers because I'm gonna give her detailed instructions on how to get to New World Stages (See that street? You can wander Rockefeller Center and look at all the cool stuff until 7:15 PM. Then get on that street and go past Radio City Music Hall. I will call you when my show is out.)
7:15 PM - Call mom. "Where are you?...What???...How did you get there? Well turn around and head the other direction. I'm coming to get you."
8:00 PM - Altar Boyz "No mom, these boys aren't Mormon. No, they're not a real boy band. They're actors. For crying out loud Mom, 'Christ how'd ya do that' isn't taking the Lord's name in vain."
9:30 PM - Mom admits that beside the sacrilidge she actually did enjoy Altar Boyz. Take her back to the hotel and reassure her that Next to Normal and Altar Boyz are actually more fun than the Saturday sessions of General Conference.
10:30 PM - NYMF show #4: R.R.R.E.D. - a secret musical with special celebrity guest star Former Miss America and Current Broadway Star Kate Shindle! Really do I need to say anything else?

Sunday, October 3
Current weather forecast - Rain. Seriously, more rain? It's "The Lord's Day"...can't he do something to make the weather pleasant? Urgh.
9:30 AM - The Guggenheim Museum. "It's practically like going to church, mom. Besides, it's still General Conference weekend. You can read EVERYTHING you missed when you get home."
1:00 PM - Mary Poppins. No, I'm not going. Mom's doing this one solo. Besides, I have tickets for...
3:00 PM - Hair. Now THAT's a church I could get into.
3:30 PM - Mom gets picked up by the daughter of a friend who's living in the area. They watch General Conference. Which is fine as long as they get back in time for
7:00 PM - Ordinary Days. Okay, I'm REALLY excited for this one. It's the Roundabout Underground...a little off-off Broadway series presented by Roundabout Theatre Company in the 65 seat Harold and Miriam Steinberg Theatre. This show is by the amazing Adam Gwon (he has a podcast with some of the songs on it and I must say...they're delightful!) Plus the cast of four includes Hunter Foster, Kate Wetherhead, Lisa Brescia, and Jared Gertner.
9:00 PM - NYMF show #5: Judas and Me. Now I'm sure it won't be as exciting as my recent brilliance as Judas in Oddsmell...er...Godspell but I can go and be respectful. Kidding. I'm "Pee Excited" for this show. Seriously. Depends City. I may have to be fitted for a catheter. I'd tell you what it's about and who's in it, but I might lose control of my bladder right here and now. Click the link and drool for yourself.

Monday, October 5
Current weather forecast - Fair/Partly Cloudy. Perfect weather to do everything outdoorsy in New York City. Go outside. Have fun on Mother Nature. Frolic in the lovely autumn weather. WTF??? We're flying home today and NOW the weather cooperates??? Well don't tell anybody but we're flying out at 7. Soooo I'm gonna use the day to catch up on all the stuff we missed. Ground zero/Brooklyn Bridge? Totally there. We'll check out, stow the luggage at the hotel, and just wander till 2 or 3.

7 PM - wipe a tear, we're coming home.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Walk for Life

Hey y'all...both of you...listen up! I'm participating in the Utah AIDS Foundation Walk for Life this year and have set a goal to raise $100. So click on the link below and go donate. Until I reach $100, the scary maid picture stays! ;-)


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

If THIS is America, I'm ashamed to be an American

According to the Associated Press:

PHOENIX – About a dozen people carrying guns, including one with a military-style rifle, milled among protesters outside the convention center where President Barack Obama was giving a speech Monday — the latest incident in which protesters have openly displayed firearms near the president.

Gun-rights advocates say they're exercising their constitutional right to bear arms and protest, while those who argue for more gun control say it could be a disaster waiting to happen.

Phoenix police said the gun-toters at Monday's event, including the man carrying an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle slung over his shoulder, didn't need permits. No crimes were committed, and no one was arrested.

The man with the rifle declined to be identified but told The Arizona Republic that
he was carrying the assault weapon because he could. "In Arizona, I still
have some freedoms," he said.

Where the hell were these people when the PATRIOT Act was passed? When the Bush administration illegally monitored our phone and e-mail? In the past decade our freedoms have been systematically undermined at every turn and yet the outrage is over gun control???

Hmmm...I could swear the president was in town to talk about health care.

I am so tired of the lack of rational discourse in this country. One idiot from Alaska says "death panels" and the entire discussion gets derailed, despite the fact that it's a blatant misrepresentation of the truth. (aka a friggin' lie!) Pull your guns out of your asses and do some research, people! Or is all the "righteous indignation" simply a mask for the real reason you hate Obama?

Grow up, America.

And while we're on the subject of the health care debate...


Why aren't we outraged? Why aren't we taking to the streets? Calling for boycotts? Maybe we're just too stupid to research anything or think for ourselves. I'm not saying Obama has all the answers, but at least he's inviting discussion. These people are using a massive P.R. campaign to end the debate and maintain the status quo. According to leading economists, if the health care system doesn't get fixed, it will bankrupt this country. So who's the "terrorist"? The man in the White House with the funny name or the corporate for-profit health care system hell-bent on maintaining a course that will destroy our economy and bring this country to its knees?

Is this what America is about? Mob mentality? Clinging to the right to bear arms while rights of privacy and illegal search and seizure are stripped at every turn? Blindly believing whatever the right-wing pundits vomit onto the airwaves because it's easier than actually considering that the black man in office might have a good idea? Scare an American and he'll do anything for you. Reason with him and he'll shoot you.

Screw that. I'm moving to the moon.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

More from Jonathan Rauch

National Journal Magazine - Saturday, Aug. 8, 2009

A Moral Crossroads For Conservatives

The genie that gay-marriage opponents still hope to stuff back into the bottle is out for good.

by Jonathan Rauch

Last October, Bill Meezan, my cousin, left his home in Columbus, Ohio, for a business trip to Philadelphia. Bill is the dean of Ohio State University's College of Social Work, and he travels quite a bit. In Philadelphia, he thought he felt an old cold coming back. Then he developed a nasty cough. On October 31, he went to the hospital.

He remembers nothing of that day, but Mike Brittenback recalls sharply how doctors in Philadelphia called him in Columbus to say they suspected pneumonia. Mike, an organist and choirmaster, is Bill's partner of 30 years. A few hours later that Friday, they called back to confirm the diagnosis. Mike was concerned but not alarmed.

At 3 a.m. the next day, the phone woke him up. It was a doctor in Philadelphia. Mike needed to come to Philadelphia immediately. Bill had gone into septic shock and might not survive more than a few hours.

* * *

"Here's the key principle," Peter Sprigg, a gay-marriage opponent with the Family Research Council, said in an April radio interview on Southern California's KCRW. "Society gives benefits to marriage because marriage gives benefits to society. And therefore the burden of proof has to be on the advocates of same-sex marriage to demonstrate that homosexual relationships benefit society. Not just benefit the individuals who participate but benefit society in the same way and to the same degree that heterosexual marriage does. And that's a burden that I don't think they can meet."

Can't they?

* * *

Having just been told, at 3 a.m., that his partner of three decades might die within hours, Mike Brittenback was told something else: Before rushing to Bill's side, he needed to collect and bring with him documents proving his medical power of attorney. This indignity, unheard-of in the world of heterosexual marriage, is a commonplace of American gay life.

Frantic, Mike tore through the house but could not find the papers. He would need to retrieve them from a safe-deposit box. Which was at a bank. Which did not open until 9 a.m.
Somehow Mike made it through the next six hours, "crying and frantic and all kinds of awful things running through my mind," fetched the documents, and got on the road. By some higher mercy, those lost hours did not cost Bill his life. When Mike arrived in Philadelphia on Saturday afternoon, Bill was still alive, though in grave danger.

Mike had packed clothes for a week.

* * *

National Review has a cover story this month by Maggie Gallagher, a prominent anti-gay-marriage activist, subtitled: "Why Gay Marriage Isn't Inevitable." She is right, in a sense. Most states explicitly ban same-sex marriage, often by constitutional amendment, and the country remains deeply divided. The national argument over marriage's meaning will go on for years to come.

In another sense, however, she is wrong. Never again will America not have gay marriage, and never again will less than a majority favor some kind of legal and social recognition for same-sex couples. The genie that gay-marriage opponents still hope to stuff back into the bottle is out and out for good.

Oddly, Gallagher, Sprigg, and other gay-marriage opponents don't understand why this has happened. It comes down not to demographics (young people are more likely than their elders to favor gay marriage, but the demographics are changing quite slowly), nor to liberal elites' cultural influence (Gallagher's explanation). It comes down to Mike and Bill.

* * *

At the hospital, Mike found Bill in an induced coma, attached to so much equipment that the only place Mike could touch him without touching a tube was on the forehead.

A vigil began. Mike spent days at Bill's bedside and nights at a hotel. His career and personal life mostly stopped while he fielded queries from friends and relatives, kept in close touch with Bill's anxious parents, and dealt with mail and household business from Columbus. Above all, he managed Bill's care.

Bill had repeated setbacks. Two cardiac arrests. The dialysis machine kept failing. Thrush spread to the lungs. Heart arrhythmia. Hallucinations. Trouble removing a breathing tube. In person by day, on the phone at night, doctors huddled with Mike.

Days stretched into weeks. Thanksgiving came and went. Six weeks passed in Philadelphia. "I never missed a day," Mike recalls. "I felt he needed me there. I really felt he knew I was there. He would smile when I came in, even when he was in an induced coma."

* * *

Peter Sprigg and Maggie Gallagher are cut from different cloths in some respects--Sprigg condemns homosexuality, whereas Gallagher accepts it--but they have in common what they offer to couples like Mike and Bill: silence. The same is true of nearly all other prominent opponents of same-sex marriage. (David Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values is an honorable exception.)

If gay couples can't be allowed to marry, what should they be able to do? Asked this question, cultural conservatives say, in the words of Tom Lehrer's song about the German rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, "That's not my department." Effectively, conservatives are saying that what Mike and Bill do for each other has no significance outside their own bedroom.

But what happened in that hospital in Philadelphia for those six weeks was not just Mike and Bill's business, a fact that is self-evident to any reasonable human being who hears the story.

"Mike was making a medical decision at least once a day that would have serious consequences," Bill told me. Who but a life partner would or could have done that? Who but a life partner will drop everything to provide constant care? Bill's mother told me that if not for Mike, her son would have died. Faced with this reality, what kind of person, morally, simply turns away and offers silence?

Not the sort of person who populates the United States of America. If Republicans wonder why they find themselves culturally marginalized, particularly by younger Americans, they might consider the fact that when the party looks at couples like Mike and Bill it sees, in effect, nothing.

* * *

By Thanksgiving, Bill was stable enough to be brought out of sedation. As he drifted in and out of consciousness, he formulated a plan. Tubes and a tracheostomy prevented talking, but almost as soon as he could write on a whiteboard, he scrawled a message for Mike. "Will you marry me?"
Mike broke down. "I cried. It was tears of joy."

In January, now back in Columbus, Bill was finally released from the hospital, his weight down by more than a fourth. Over the next few months, he underwent weeks of physical therapy, and Mike developed post-traumatic stress disorder, and Bill's mother died, and Bill decided not to renew his deanship. In the press of events, the marriage proposal seemed to recede. In conversations with Mike, Bill equivocated about when to tie the knot.

* * *

Conservatives have a decision to make. They can continue pretending that the bond between Mike and Bill does not exist, is of no social value, or has no place on conservatives' agenda. Doing so would be of a piece with their retreat to economic Hooverism, their embrace of cultural Palinism, and, in general, their preference for purity over relevance.

Or they can acknowledge what to most of the country is already obvious: Whether the nation finally settles on marriage or on something else for gay couples, Bill and Mike are now in the mainstream and the Republican Party is not. If cultural conservatism continues to treat same-sex couples as outside the social covenant, the currents of history will flow right around it, and future generations of conservatives will wonder how their predecessors could ever have made such a callous and politically costly mistake.

* * *

This month, Mike and Bill will vacation on Cape Cod. Mike is expecting to relax. Bill has been shopping, secretly, for wedding rings. His equivocation, of course, is a ruse. Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts. On August 20, without warning Mike, Bill will produce the same whiteboard that he used in the hospital last year, and on it he will again write, "Will you marry me?" Four days later, they will be married in a small ceremony with friends.

"When I asked him to marry me in the hospital," Bill says, "I have never seen a smile on his face like that. I have never seen that kind of joy. Ever. I want to re-create that. And that's why I want this to be a surprise."

And so it will be, reader, if you can keep a secret.


Friday, June 26, 2009

Monday, June 1, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Thoughts on the news from California today...

I'm hopeful today. Granted, I'm disappointed that Prop 8 has been allowed to stand, but I'm hopeful for the future. Honestly, the idea that the court would derail the democratic process is a little unsettling to me anyway. So here are some thoughts about the decision of California's Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8.

First, I've been hearing a lot complaining about how the court caved to political pressure blah blah blah...but the argument to overturn Prop 8 was that it brought "sweeping changes" to the constitution and therefore wasn't constitutional. The court simply upheld the means by which the measure was passed. AND they let the 18,000 marriages stand. That sounds like a victory for equality and democracy to me.

We who oppose Prop 8 need to remember that today's ruling has nothing to do with whether Prop 8 was fair or just. It's the means by which it was passed that was in question. Plain and simple. Ttoday the supreme court endorsed the democratic process, not the fear and prejudice behind Prop 8. Remember, it was a decision by the CA supreme court that made same-sex marriage legal in the state last year. Moreover, they let stand the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before Prop 8 passed. The decision today isn't a defeat. It's not an indictment of the judicial process. And above all, it's no reason to lose hope. On the contrary, this tiny blip in the struggle for equality is an opportunity for Californians to endorse equality the right way.

What I'm suggesting is that everyone in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage needs to chill about the supreme court's ruling today and keep working toward equality. The decision wasn't made today, it was made in November. THAT's what we should be working to overcome. So let's do it by being the good people that we are. Let's be productive members of our communities. Let's be good neighbors. Let's stop labeling opposition with hate. Let's be open and honest about our lives. The public opinion is slowly but surely changing in favor of equality, so let's win our rights that way. As happy as I am every time a state supreme court rules in favor of equal rights, a state legislature passing the same rights sends a much more powerful statement. And if a state were to grant equal rights by a public referendum, THAT would be the most powerful statement of all. As it is, Prop 8 only narrowly passed. Compare that to previous campaigns and it's clear the momentum is clearly building in our favor. Imagine the day when California overturns Prop 8 using the same system by which Prop 8 passed. I am convinced that one day soon the citizens of California will extend full marriage rights to same-sex couples. And that will be a much bigger victory than the supreme court could ever provide, especially by overturning Prop 8 on a technicality. That's the day I'm hoping for.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

NYC, day 1 - New York's Finest

I left the theatre completely overwhelmed by the power of next to normal. After a brief call to Fabio, I hopped onto the train back to Harlem. Twenty five minutes later I emerged into a dark, unfamiliar neighborhood. I blinked a couple times, got my bearings as best as I could, and started walking with purpose in what I hoped was the right direction. I quickly realized I was hopelessly out of place. In my mind, everything from my clothes to the color of my skin screamed “outsider”. Not making eye contact with anyone on the street, I quickened my pace. After several blocks, I started to worry. I was approaching the cross-street that Fabio had suggested I avoid. Granted, it was an area of the street farther from the well-lit Broadway where I was walking, but at the sight of the street sign I surreptitiously slipped my phone out of my pocket and started to dial.

At that very moment, my phone rang. It was Fabio. Because of the pace I was keeping, I had passed his street and was several blocks beyond him. I whirled around and quickly marched back the way I came.

There is safety in numbers, and once I had rejoined my host, the walk home became much less intense. Not knowing the neighborhood, I let Fabio take the lead. We stopped for a moment at an intersection, a bit carried away in conversation, and eventually turned onto the side-street. As we neared the next intersection, I heard a voice from the street. “Excuse me, could we talk to you for a minute.” My natural instinct was to bolt. Thankfully I suppressed that knee-jerk reaction. The voice belonged to a policeman who was stepping out of his car. His partner approached from the other side, and a third officer came approached from behind. We were surrounded.

Apparently there was a robbery in the neighborhood and the suspects were a pare of Caucasian males. The officer asked for identification and I produced my Utah ID card. A bemused smile crossed his face and his partner asked where we were coming from. I told them I'd just been to a Broadway show and offered to show them the playbill and ticket stub. No, they said, that wouldn't be necessary, they had just seen us pause at the intersection then head the other way when we saw the car. Frankly, neither of us had seen the police car, but because our abrupt “detour” up the side street looked suspicious to them, the officers felt it important to investigate.

Ultimately, they just took our information and let us go on our way. As we left, I resisted the urge to ask for a picture with the officers. Nothing would be more entertaining for a scrapbook than a nice photo with the officers who briefly detained me in Harlem on suspicion of burglary.

NYC, day 1 - Next to Normal

(coming soon)

NYC, day 1 - Getting there is half the fun

The adventure began at about 4 am. For some reason on a work day waking up is impossible, yet on the night before a vacation...well, don't even think about trying to sleep. I forced my eyes shut for another 2 ½ hours, then got up. At precisely 7:30, I sent Paul (my ride to the airport) a quick text message. He was on his way, but factoring in the traffic, we didn't actually get on the road till 8. Not to worry...the flight doesn't leave till 8:50...

As we sped down the interstate, the butterflies in my stomach overpowered my ability to pay attention to our conversation. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a big green sign “General Aviation” whiz by. I calmly pointed this out...and by this I mean I squealed “GENERALAVIATIONGENERALAVIATIONGENERALAVIATION,” waving and pointing wildly. Paul swerved off the road into the patch of dirt that divided us from the interstate and the exit we had just missed, dodged an oncoming car or two, and set us on the path to...something that wasn't the airport. Apparently that “General Aviation” sign referred to something Generral and Aviatory, but not the airport. After another five minutes, Paul corrected our course and soon we were at the airport.

I bolted to the unsufferably long security line, passed through the least populated (but slowest) checkpoint, and scurried to the gate with five minutes to spare.

Fifteen minutes later, after my heart quit racing, a voice came over the intercom. “Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that some minor repairs on the cockpit are taking a bit longer than expected. But we should be on our way momentarily.” After nearly an hour delay, the airplane finally moved. Apparently the co-pilot's intercom button was stuck and the maintenance crew couldn't figure out how to put the thing back together.

Miraculously, we touched down only a few minutes late, though for some reason they parked the plane in the middle of nowhere, loaded the passengers on two “People Movers,” and transported us the final 1/8 mile that way. No worries...it's only 4 pm and the show isn't until 7.

90 minutes later, I emerged from the subway in Harlem. Don't worry, that's where I'm staying...on purpose. I called Fabio, my host, and got directions to his apartment, and started walking. A half block later, Fabio joined me and we walked to his apartment, stowed my things, and headed back to the subway. 25 minutes later, I emerged in Times Square and fought my way through the crowd to the Booth Theatre. Sweating profusely, and smelling of a full day of exhausting travel, I plopped down in the front row of the mezzanine.

to be continued...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

My new favorite musical...for today...

Gonna have to discuss this in greater detail when I have the time, but I'm giddy about Next to Normal. There's a lot of great media on the official (and very cool) website, and the Sunday NY Times had a fantastic article.

More later, but for now here's a taste...maybe...

Or maybe not. I keep getting an error when I try to embed the video. Just go to the website and watch the videos. The Montage, I'm Alive, and I Am the One especially.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Go Judge Judy

From a recent interview with Larry King:

Judge Judy: "We've got a lot of trouble in this country. We've got a lot of trouble in the world. Why the state should be interested in proscribing the word marriage from two people who love each other, who are responsible, tax-paying, productive people, who have created a family...why the state would have an interest in proscribing that kind of conduct, I don't understand. I understand the anger about poverty. I understand the anger about AIG. I understand the problem about the banks. I understand the problem about Afghanistan and the Taliban and everything else. But I don't understand the preoccupation with gays being permitted to marry."

Unexpected and refreshing. Maybe it's her demeanor, but somehow I always equated Judge Judy with Dr. Laura. I'm delighted to be proven wrong.

Here's a link to the transcript.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

My May NYC Trip...so far

I'd like to take a moment to tell you which shows I'm gonna see when I go to NYC in May. So far I've got tickets to The Toxic Avenger, the musical (giggle); Rooms: A Rock Romance, and a new play called The Singing Forest which will be playing at the Public Theatre. I know, none of these are big blockbuster New York shows, but THESE are the shows people should see when they go to New York. Not Phantom. Besides, let me just tell you who's in The Singing Forest: Randy Harrison (from Queer As Folk) Jonathon Groff (from Spring Awakening), and academy award winner Olympia Dukakis! Plus, the following content advisory appears on the show's website: "Performance contains nudity."

All can think is, "Dear God, let it be Olympia."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Portia deRossi Apologizes

FINALLY. It's been a long time coming, and I'm glad she's trying to make amends for all the damage she has done.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

A Guide To Understanding Communication Between Brandon And Lisa

It has come to my attention that some people think my relationship with my BFF is somewhat dysfunctional. They cite our constant e-bickering as evidence of their theory. In this post I will recount a conversation with Lisa and translate it for those who don't understand our mode of discourse.

The Subject: Legally Blonde (the musical)
Background: Brandon and Lisa saw the movie version of Legally Blonde together when it was first released (I know it's hard to believe, but Lisa really is THAT old) and were surprised at how much it entertained them. A couple years ago, the movie was adapted into a big splashy Broadway musical. Brandon thoroughly enjoys it...something of a guilty pleasure. Lisa doesn't share his opinion of the musical.

Brandon: I just finished a Legally Blonde double feature! First the musical, then the sequal. Does it get any better than this?
Lisa: Yes. Oral surgery without anesthesia. I can't believe you liked the musical. You're such a douche.
Brandon: Well you're a soulless bitch with no taste. You wouldn't know good art if it was heroin and your drug mule buddies post-keistered it on your face.
Lisa: I have no idea what you just said. Is it possible that crap musicals have rotted your brain?
Brandon: Well, I never!
Lisa: So I've heard. Might I recommend a good urologist?
Brandon: You vindictive little bitch!
Lisa: Watching Legally Blonde the so-called musical is about as much fun as eating glass.
Brandon: You're just jealous. Laura Bell Bundy could kick Reese Witherspoon's ass.
Lisa: Oh no you di'int! Listen here wuckfit, you take it back or I'll poison your autographed Sweeney Todd playbill.
Brandon: Oh yeah?
Lisa: Yeah!
Brandon: Bring it!
Lisa: Consider it brought!
(Slapping match ensues, leaving both participants angry, but unscathed.)
Lisa: You hit like a girl.
Brandon: I didn't want to get too close. I was afraid "stupid" was contageous.
Lisa: And you didn't want to infect me. How thoughtful.
Brandon: I hate you so much right now.
Lisa: Assface.
Brandon: Whore.
(They storm off in different directions.)


Brandon: I just finished a Legally Blonde double feature! First the musical, then the sequal. Does it get any better than this?
Lisa: I didn't much care for the musical. It was irritating to me, but I can understand how a musical theatre enthusiast could enjoy it.
Brandon: You just said "theatre." With an "r-e." I'm so proud of you. I knew you were the classiest person on the planet.
Lisa: I get it from my association with you. Would you mind writing a song about how cool we are?
Brandon: Well, I never...
Lisa: I know, but it would be a fitting tribute. Might I recommend a good urologist?
Brandon: You certainly bring out the best in me.
Lisa: It's funny how we can enjoy different things and still be friends.
Brandon: That's so true. I wonder whether Laura Bell Bundy or Reese Witherspoon's would win in a cage match.
Lisa: Now that would be entertaining! Oh, hey...you know how much you like Sweeney Todd? I found Angela Landsbury's sweat rag from the national tour on e-bay. Happy Ides of March Eve Eve Eve.
Brandon: Oh yeah?
Lisa: Yeah!
Brandon: You're the best friend ever!
Lisa: I like cheese!
(Lisa whips out sweat rag and snaps it playfully at Brandon, who is easily knocked over. He tumbles over, taking Lisa with him. They emerge from this awkwardly hetero-erotic scene laughing and completely oblivious.)
Lisa: You hit like a girl.
Brandon: I learned to fight from West Side Story.
Lisa: Obviously it's paid off. I feel safe when I'm with you.
Brandon: Really? *ahem* I mean...I'm just so glad you're my friend.
Lisa: Assface.
Brandon: Whore.
(They hug and wander off to find some handicapped people to make fun of.)

I hope this clears things up for everyone.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Suck it, Daylight Savings

I woke up an hour early today. Not by choice, by governmental mandate. I understand Daylight Savings is all about conserving energy, but I feel like I'm expending MUCH more energy dragging my tired self around today than I would have if I'd got that extra hour of sleep.

And for all you giddy optimists that are so quick to remind us that we get an extra hour of beautiful daylight after work:

Type Winter Storm Alerts
Expires 3/10/2009 4:00:00 AM
Updated 3/9/2009 4:22:21 AM
First Received 3/9/2009 4:22:21 AM
Severity Advisory
Counties Wasatch Mountain Valleys (Utah), Wasatch Mountains I,80 North (Utah)
416 AM MDT MON MAR 9 2009



So, for everyone who convinced themselves to get up early using the "extra hour of daylight" rationale: THERE WILL BE NO DAYLIGHT THIS EVENING!!! Mother Nature and Uncle Sam converged in a perfect mix of bureaucracy, vindictiveness, and irony to thwart your optimism.

Not to worry, I plan to be in bed by 7.

Dinner is served...

My brother sent me this picture of his son after dinner:

I asked him what he's putting in his kids' food. His reply: Flintstones Chewable Valium.

No wonder his kids are so insanely happy.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Someone actually reads my blog...

...from a field. My tracker tells me where people are reading from. Here's a map:

See that tiny flag just right of center? That's someone sitting in the middle of a field, sipping a cup of something warm, and enjoying my blog.

To the field reader: Keep up the good work. You're the best.

To everybody who is biting their tongue, not wanting to spoil my elation by telling me that the trackers don't return an exact location: Bite me. The mental image I've conjured is MUCH better than reality.

Friday, March 6, 2009

PS...The Story of My Life is getting a recording!

According to broadwayworld.com, the ill-fated Broadway production of The Story of My Life will be recorded by PS Classics on March 13. The recording is scheduled for release on June 2.

*insert HUGE sigh of relief here*

The show is not without its flaws, but it was a crying shame it closed so fast. I'm excited (and relieved) it will be recorded...and I'll definitely be the first (and possibly only) person in line to buy the CD on June 2.

Utah Wins!!!

A recent study reported by ABC News reveals that Utah consumes more online pornography per capita than any other state.

We win the porn race! Suck it, Montana!

Some of my favorite excerpts:
  • Church-goers bought less online porn on Sundays. (Still, I have to wonder if there was a post-church bump...no pun intended.)
  • Residents of 27 states that passed laws banning gay marriages boasted 11% more porn subscribers than states that don't explicitly restrict gay marriage.
  • States where a majority of residents agreed with the statement "I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage," bought 3.6 more subscriptions per thousand people than states where a majority disagreed.
  • A similar difference emerged for the statement "AIDS might be God's punishment for immoral sexual behaviour."
  • One comment by a reader of the New York Daily News: "Its not that they look at anymore porn than anyone else, it is that they are too stupid to get it for free!!"
  • "One natural hypothesis is something like repression: if you're told you can't have this, then you want it more," Edelman says.
I say we should ban church. And exercise. And Mondays.

(here's a link to a PDF of the actual study)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Comments, anyone?

It has come to my attention that my blog doesn't allow comments. I tried to fix it. Here's a lovely picture of my blog settings:

Yeah, I'm at a loss. Maybe Blogger just hates me. Any suggestions? Go ahead and leave 'em in the comments.

UPDATE: Fixed the problem. I'm so brilliant. Now you can comment to your heart's delight! (Say something offensive.)

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

I'm so offensive!

It's come to my attention that some of what I post on my blog might be "inappropriate." Google allows you to put ads in your sidebar, which seemed like a good idea to me, considering the enormous amount of traffic my blog receives. Yesterday I got the following e-mail:
Hello Brandon,

Thank you for your interest in Google AdSense. Unfortunately, after
reviewing your application, we're unable to accept you into Google AdSense
at this time.

We did not approve your application for the reasons listed below.


- Inappropriate language


Further detail:

Inappropriate language: We've found that your website contains content
that isn't in compliance with our program policies. We don't allow
websites with excessive profanity or potentially offensive content to
participate in Google AdSense.

Is it bad that the e-mail made my day?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Reconciliation on Gay Marriage - Op Ed from the New York Times

Published: February 21, 2009

IN politics, as in marriage, moments come along when sensitive compromise can avert a major conflict down the road. The two of us believe that the issue of same-sex marriage has reached such a point now.

We take very different positions on gay marriage. We have had heated debates on the subject. Nonetheless, we agree that the time is ripe for a deal that could give each side what it most needs in the short run, while moving the debate onto a healthier, calmer track in the years ahead.

It would work like this: Congress would bestow the status of federal civil unions on same-sex marriages and civil unions granted at the state level, thereby conferring upon them most or all of the federal benefits and rights of marriage. But there would be a condition: Washington would recognize only those unions licensed in states with robust religious-conscience exceptions, which provide that religious organizations need not recognize same-sex unions against their will. The federal government would also enact religious-conscience protections of its own. All of these changes would be enacted in the same bill.

For those not immersed in the issue, our proposal may seem puzzling. For those deeply immersed, it may seem suspect. So allow us a few words by way of explanation.

Whatever our disagreements on the merits of gay marriage, we agree on two facts. First, most gay and lesbian Americans feel they need and deserve the perquisites and protections that accompany legal marriage. Second, many Americans of faith and many religious organizations have strong objections to same-sex unions. Neither of those realities is likely to change any time soon.

Further sharpening the conflict is the potential interaction of same-sex marriage with antidiscrimination laws. The First Amendment may make it unlikely that a church, say, would ever be coerced by law into performing same-sex wedding rites in its sanctuary. But religious organizations are also involved in many activities outside the sanctuary. What if a church auxiliary or charity is told it must grant spousal benefits to a secretary who marries her same-sex partner or else face legal penalties for discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status? What if a faith-based nonprofit is told it will lose its tax-exempt status if it refuses to allow a same-sex wedding on its property?

Cases of this sort are already arising in the courts, and religious organizations that oppose same-sex marriage are alarmed. Which brings us to what we think is another important fact: Our national conversation on this issue will be significantly less contentious if religious groups can be confident that they will not be forced to support or facilitate gay marriage.

Gay couples have concerns of their own. Most, of course, want the right to marry, and nothing less. But federal recognition of same-sex marriage — leave aside what you think about the merits — is not likely in the near future. The federal Defense of Marriage Act forbids it. Barack Obama and most other Democratic presidential candidates opposed gay marriage. And most Americans continue to oppose it.

At the same time, federal law links many important perquisites to marital status, including Social Security survivor benefits, tax-free inheritance, spousal immigration rights and protections against mutual incrimination. All of these benefits are currently denied to same-sex couples, even those living in states that permit same-sex marriage or civil unions. But these same benefits could be conferred by federally recognized civil unions.

Yes, most gays are opposed to the idea that religious organizations could openly treat same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples differently, without fear of being penalized by the government. But we believe that gays can live with such exemptions without much difficulty. Why? Because most state laws that protect gays from discrimination already include some religious exemptions, and those provisions are for the most part uncontroversial, even among gays.

And while most Americans who favor keeping marriage as it has customarily been would prefer no legal recognition of same-sex unions at either the federal or the state level, we believe that they can live with federal civil unions — provided that no religious groups are forced to accept them as marriages. Many of these people may come to see civil unions as a compassionate compromise. For example, a PBS poll last fall found that 58 percent of white evangelicals under age 30 favor some form of legal same-sex union.

Linking federal civil unions to guarantees of religious freedom seems a natural way to give the two sides something they would greatly value while heading off a long-term, take-no-prisoners conflict. That should appeal to cooler heads on both sides, and it also ought to appeal to President Obama, who opposes same-sex marriage but has endorsed federal civil unions. A successful template already exists: laws that protect religious conscience in matters pertaining to abortion. These statutes allow Catholic hospitals to refuse to provide abortions, for example. If religious exemptions can be made to work for as vexed a moral issue as abortion, same-sex marriage should be manageable, once reasonable people of good will put their heads together.

In all sharp moral disagreements, maximalism is the constant temptation. People dig in, positions harden and we tend to convince ourselves that our opponents are not only wrong-headed but also malicious and acting in bad faith. In such conflicts, it can seem not only difficult, but also wrong, to compromise on a core belief.

But clinging to extremes can also be quite dangerous. In the case of gay marriage, a scorched-earth debate, pitting what some regard as nonnegotiable religious freedom against what others regard as a nonnegotiable human right, would do great harm to our civil society. When a reasonable accommodation on a tough issue seems possible, both sides should have the courage to explore it.

David Blankenhorn is president of the Institute for American Values and the author of “The Future of Marriage.” Jonathan Rauch is a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and the author of “Gay Marriage: Why It Is Good for Gays, Good for Straights and Good for America.”


Monday, February 23, 2009

Another one bites the dust

The Story of My Life, a charming new musical starring the incomparable Will Chase and Malcolm Gets, closed yesterday after 18 previews and 5 regular performances.

I was lucky enough to be in the audience on Friday, February 13th. The musical features a unit set, simple orchestrations, touching and funny songs, and stellar performances by two of the best actors working in musical theatre. The critics major complaints: the story line was too cliché, the emotions too sentimental, and (my favorite) the songs sounded ripped off from Stephen Sondheim.

To be honest, there's some truth to the criticism. Yes, the story of a man exploring where his life-long friendship went wrong may be a bit cliché. And yes, the subject matter lends itself to heartfelt songs that might be a little too much for jaded New York audiences. As for ripped-off Sondheim, I would be astounded if the authors might haven't been influenced by the most influential musical theatre writer of the past 50 years. It's ironic that some of the most tuneful, accessible music is being compared negatively to Sondheim! I think critics talk just for the sheer enjoyment of hearing their own voices.

I thought the sound was familiar. Personally, I was reminded of Sondheim and Jason Robert Brown. But contrary to critical rhetoric, I believe the creators of The Story of My Life have used their training and musical theatre experience and found a voice all their own. Perhaps their stories are a bit naïve, but who says that has to be a negative thing?

The critics' pooh-poohing aside, I found this simple gem of a musical profoundly moving. I first discovered the show via an audio bootleg of the Canadian production in 2006. The sound was distorted but as the emotion of the music settled in, I found myself moved to tears. Knowing it was coming to Broadway and warily having some idea of the critical response it was likely to generate, I had to see it...and fast. And the experience was well worth the effort. For an hour and a half, I sat engrossed in a Broadway show stripped nearly to its purest essentials. No helicopters, no flying monkeys, no tap dancing on the ceiling...just two consummate performers telling a beautiful story. While the show is far from perfect (what does that mean anyway?), the concept is theatre at its best.

Sadly, such a short run will likely leave us without a Broadway cast recording...and it's a shame these two performances won't be preserved. Still I believe that this show has the potential to become a favorite among small theatres around the country. I sincerely hope that this show finds a life beyond what on the surface appears to be a Broadway failure. In my book, what I experienced in the front row of the Booth Theatre on Friday the 13th was anything but a failure. Bravo and best wishes to the inspired cast and creators!

P.S. To anyone wanting a small taste of this beautiful show, two songs appear on the show's official website: thestoryofmylife.com. I don't know how long the website will be up, given the fact that the show is closed, so take a moment and go listen to Malcolm Gets and Will Chase sing two phenomenal songs from this show.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Best Facebook status update ever...

Saw this on facebook. "Depends" moment of the day.

Christopher is wondering why he has been killing himself at auditions when he is currently in a show that shows no signs of clothing.

Christopher is currently performing in the off-broadway musical, Naked Boys Singing.

(BTW, I know he's not in the above picture, and the illustration seems redundant given the title of the show. Still any excuse to include gratuitous nudity on my blog...)