Tuesday, October 5, 2010

My dad

It's not father's day.  It's not his birthday.  Today is a random Tuesday and I feel like I need to take a moment to say what an amazing man my father is.

We don't agree on all the issues, but especially in the past 15 years or so, my dad has opened a line of communication that allows me to be completely honest with him.  No fear of judgment or reprisal, just an understanding that regardless of how wacky (or offensive) my positions are, he loves me without reservation.

I am truly blessed.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

I'm a slacker

Not September, 2010

Dear Loyal Readers:

How did I miss blogging in January, June, and September?  Clearly nothing important happened any of those months.  But I'm back-dating this post at least to cover September.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A note to my conservative family - please read

Hey folks...I know you don't like it when I talk politics. I know you're not big fans of our President. I know you tend to support the Republicans that Utah has sent to congress. But this isn't me trying to pick a fight, it's just a comment on a very eye-opening event that happened this past week.  So even if it's just this once, please hear me out.

Yesterday the House of Representatives passed a bill sending $26.1 billion in assistance to the states. The bill passed the Senate last week, and once the House passed it, it was a matter of hours before the President signed it into law. This funding is specifically for two things: to extend additional Medicaid assistance to states and to help states create and retain teachers’ jobs. According to one estimate, in the state of Utah alone this assistance is keeping 1,800 teachers employed.

You might ask, in this economy how can the country afford to pay for it?  What did Congress do to make this "budget neutral" as the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office certified that it was? This bill is paid for in part by closing a tax loophole that benefited multinational companies. In other words, we're saving the jobs of our teachers by not paying companies to ship jobs to other countries. Sounds responsible, right? Sounds like a win/win situation, right?

It is. And every one of our Republican congressmen from Utah voted against it. The congressional Republicans called this a "bailout" of "special interest groups" by "raising taxes." I suppose this is technically true. But you know which "special interest groups" are being "bailed out?" Your mother (a school teacher.)  Your children. Your grandparents. Anyone with a child in school, anyone who teaches, anyone who relies on government medicaid subsidies for their health care.

Utah Congressional Scorecard:
Sen Orrin Hatch (R) - voted no
Sen Robert Bennett (R) - voted no
Rep Rob Bishop (R) - voted no
Rep Jason Chaffetz (R) - voted no
Rep Jim Matheson (D) - voted yes

The Republican position on this legislation is completely indefensible. There is no responsible moral reason to vote against retaining teacher's jobs by fairly taxing companies who choose to stimulate foreign economies over our own. None whatsoever. The only reason for voting no is a political one - Republicans don't want Democrats to "score a victory" in an election year. Our representatives in congress are playing a despicable political game with our teachers' jobs and your children's education. Period.

I'm disgusted and you should be too.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A little population data

Accurate gay population statistics are difficult to come by.  In his 1948 study, Alfred Kinsey estimated that around 10% of the male population is gay.  Other more recent studies have put the number between 2 and 5%. In 2006, The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy estimated that there were about 8.8 million gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals in the United States.

Gary J. Gates, a Senior Research Fellow at The Williams Institute said, "That's the single question that I'm asked the most. The answer is unfortunately not simple. I'll respond with a question. What do you mean when you use the word 'gay'? If you mean people who identify as gay, lesbian, or bisexual in a survey, then the answer is that it's likely not one in ten, but closer to one in twenty. A recent government survey found that 4 percent of adults aged 18-45 identified as 'homosexual' or 'bisexual.' A similar proportion of voters identify as GLB. If you define gay as having same-sex attractions or behaviors, you do get higher proportions that are a bit closer to the one in ten figure."  (link)

According to the LDS Church's website, there are currently 6,058,907 church members in the United States.  The most recent (2009) estimates from the US Census Bureau put the population of the United States at 307,006,550.  That means in the United States, Mormons account for a little under 2% of the population.  1.97%, to be exact-ish.

It's probably reasonable to use the Williams Institute's 2006 estimates.  So assuming that every one of the 6,058,907 LDS Church members is active in the church, the gays in 2006 outnumber the Mormons today by about 2,741,903.  Or in other terms, if you take the church population today and add 45%, you have the number of gays in the US in 2006.  For every 15 Momos there are 22 Homos...and that's not even considering the potential overlap!  If the 4% statistic holds true, there are nearly 250,000 gay Mormons.

I'm not sure what point I'm trying to make with this information, but with all the recent bitching about the court overturning the "will of the majority" it might be nice for our LDS brothers and sisters to remember that they're a much smaller minority than the gays. 

More thoughts on religious freedom and Prop 8

Okay, these may not be more thoughts...if you follow my blog with any regularity, they're probably just regurgitated thoughts you've already read.

Yesterday, Judge Vaughn Walker declared California's Proposition 8 unconstitutional - meaning that according to his ruling, the 2008 California State constitutional amendment defining marriage as "between one man and one woman" is a violation of the US Constitution.  Of course, this sets up an appeal that'll likely make its way to the US Supreme Court.

Upon reflection I have to wonder what all the fuss is about.  I know why the gays and their fair-minded supporters are all riled up, I mean what's all the fuss from the opponents of same-sex marriage?  Don't they realize that only somewhere between 2 and 5% of the population actually identifies as gay.  Kinsey said as much as 10%, but more recent studies put the number of actual honest-to-goodness homos at 2 to 5%.  Assuming that even half of them decide to get married, that's only 1 to 2.5% of the population that will get married.  It's a teeny, tiny percentage of the marriages that would be performed in the US that people would object to.  Completely statistically insignificant...unless you're gay.  As for disapproval, I'm guessing there's more disapproval from all the over-protective mothers who don't want their dear (straight) child marrying "that awful man/woman who is all wrong for you."  Maybe the "protect marriage" people should band together with the over-protective mothers of the nation to deal with the "all wrong for you" marriage issue.  I'm guessing the numbers suggest it's a much bigger problem.

The big argument against same-sex marriage is a fractured religious one.  If you get on the anti-equality websites, you'll see a litany of reasons, most laughably debunked in Judge Walker's ruling...which is an excellent read.  The "scientific" arguments are easily refuted.  Once all the dust clears, the only argument that remains is "Gay marriage is wrong because God says so."  And that's an argument that doesn't hold up in a country that values freedom of religion.  Just because you believe god says something that doesn't give you the right to impose that on other religious people who believe god disagrees.  Look at religion's track record of imposing dogma on other people.  Many of the bloodiest events in mankind's history have been in the name of religion.  But I digress.

Back to the subject at hand, the way I see it, in this country marriage is as much a civil (state) institution as it is a religious one.  If marriage is a state-sanctioned civil institution, then the government has no business discriminating against any pair of committed consenting adults.  If marriage is a religious institution (the whole reason the LDS Church claims it has authority to get involved) then state sanction of one religious practice over another is a violation of the principle of separation of church and state.  Yeah, some people argue that "separation of church and state" isn't in the constitution and that religion shouldn't be forbidden from getting involved in politics...that the principle of that separation is that the government shouldn't interfere with religious practice.  But that's a totally separate issue.  The problem here isn't one of governmental involvement in religion, it's one of religious influence on the state.  Once you start codifying your religious principles, your religion starts to become the "state" religion.  A country that favors one religious expression at the expense of another is a country where freedom of religion doesn't exist.  I value my freedom of speech and religious expression so much that I must allow you that same freedom.  Likewise, the minute you start curtailing my religious expression, yours is in jeopardy.  And if organization should be concerned about the potential ramifications of the establishment of state religion, it's the LDS Church.

Here's a thought: Joseph Smith advocated the teaching of "correct principles" and then allowing people to "govern themselves."  The LDS Church, in its 11th Article of Faith "Claim[s] the privilege of worshiping...according to the dictates of [its] own conscience," but then extends that privilege to people of other faiths (or lack thereof): "let them worship how, where, or what they may."  Tobacco is legal yet the LDS Church calls it a sin.  Alcohol, gambling, sabbath breaking, extramarital sex...all of these are legal and the LDS Church calls them a sin.  How do parents and church leaders deal with legal sin?  They teach.  Teach their version of "correct principles."  As long as this country is one that values religious liberty and is free of established state religion, the LDS Church can teach that booze and cigarettes and Sunday shopping are sins, while the people who subscribe to faiths that believe differently can smoke all the way from the church to the restaurant where their church group is having mimosas with their post-service Sunday brunch.  No law is required here.  And the LDS Church doesn't have to change their doctrine to facilitate legal expression of the dictates of another person's own conscience.

The same should be true of same-sex marriage.  Just like the LDS Church isn't required to perform "traditional" marriages in its temples for people the church deems "unworthy," as long as religious liberty exists in this country the LDS Church will never be curtailed from this form of worship "according to the dictates of [its] own conscience."  LDS Bishops, like Catholic Priests and clergy of all faiths, are currently able refuse to marry couples they're uncomfortable marrying.  How will this change when consenting adults, regardless of their sexual orientation, are free to marry according to the dictates of their own conscience?  It won't change at all.

So here's the scoop: Unless you're gay, gay marriage is no big friggin' deal!  In other words, to 95% or more of the population it shouldn't be a big deal.  You don't like smoking so you don't smoke. Don't like gay marriage?  Don't get gay married.  Teach your children to be homophobes and pray with all your hearts out that none of them turn out to be gay.  (Suicide is rampant among gay teens from intolerant homes and one in three homeless teens is gay.)  So worship how you will, teach your children how you want, marry as you please...but allow everyone that same privilege.  The big friggin' deal here isn't your definition of marriage...it's your religious freedom.  There are a lot of well-meaning Christians out there who are pretty intolerant of Mormons, and the minute we set a precedent for codifying one religious practice in favor of another, guess who they're coming for next.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


I have long been a fan of Jeff Blumenkrantz.  Jeff is an obscenely talented musical theatre composer and actor.   A couple of years ago, he published a songbook and then invited a parade of big-name Broadway stars (his buddies) to sing the songs on a podcast.  Then, once he had run through the twenty songs in his songbook, he started periodically recording other songs of his.  Last weekend, he released yet another.

This morning I noticed the new podcast on my iPod and immediately dropped everything to listen.  I hope you will do the same.  This gorgeous song is a prime example of a master songwriter at the top of his craft.  And I dare you not to be moved.  Or should I say "Touched."

The Jeff Blumenkrantz Songbook Podcast: Special episode 9 - "Touched"

I'm gonna do my best not to gush.  Suffice it to say, Jeff's work is some of the most affecting musical theatre writing I know.  His songs range from sublimely hilarious to profoundly moving.  On the podcast, you'll hear Carolee Carmello frantically beg for help in overcoming her laziness so she can finish writing "My Book."  You'll experience Megan Mullally's heart wrenching "Lament" as a mother breaks the news to her young children of their father's passing.  Add to that Celia Keenan Bolger as the lovesick toll worker pining for the man in the beanie in the blue Chevrolet; Judy Blazer as the pragmatic grandchild-hungry mother of a gay son; Victoria Clark as a childless aunt filling her life with her siblings' children; and the incomparable Sally Mayes reprising her showstopping number from Urban Cowboy...among MANY others.  Many, many others.  Seriously, this is just off the top of my head.  In two minutes I'll be kicking myself for leaving out a dozen songs.

Jeff Blumenkrantz is a composer you NEED to know.  At least his music.  Go to http://www.jeffblumenkrantz.com/ and check it out.  On his site you'll find links to all his podcasts, information about how to buy (yes, own a LEGAL copy of) his music, and even a delightful romp through the Martha Stewart Cookbook!

Do yourself a favor and spend some time on  his website.  Then go buy his music.

Why are you still here?  Go!

Friday, May 21, 2010


This morning while I was waiting for the bus, a sweet elderly Greek woman joined me at the bus stop.  Through her broken English, I could make out that she was on her way to English classes and wanted some help practicing her most recent lesson en route.  What was most striking, though, was the fact that just like American tourists abroad, she spoke loudly and slowly as if that would help her message get through better.  When Americans do that, it's irritating.  When Gigia Immigrantakis does it, it's adorable.  Clearly it's not an issue of behavioral--we Americans are just annoying.

A friend announced her impending trip to the gynecologist in her Facebook status and followed it up with "See you on the other side."  I'm not sure whether it was a brilliant or unfortunate choice of words.  Either way, I giggled like a little girl.

In honor of Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday, the Roundabout Theatre Company in New York City named a Broadway theatre after him.  What once was "Henry Miller's Theatre" is now the Stephen Sondheim theatre.  A Broadway house named after arguably the most influential artist in the history of American Musical Theatre.  And what venerable show will have the distinction of playing under the new marquee bearing this Broadway legend's name?  The Pee Wee Herman Show.  Connect the dot dot dot dot dot dot sitting dot dot waiting...tra la la!  Pity Gerard Alessandrini stopped writing Forbidden Broadway.  The spoof on THIS show practically writes itself.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An academic argument?

Last night on her show, Rachel Maddow interviewed Dr. Rand Paul, the recent recipient of the Republican nomination for Kentucky's upcoming senate race. She (rightly, I think) told him that the media was going to get hung up on one specific issue--his statements about the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Specifically, he alluded to the idea that business owners should be able to set their own rules for the patrons they serve.

The whole debate was fascinating and I applaud both Rachel Maddow and Rand Paul for their civil disagreement. (Video is below...and I highly recommend it.) Considering Dr. Paul's argument, I wholeheartedly support a business owner's right to bar patrons wielding guns from entering the premises. Likewise, I think the anti-smoking laws as applied to private businesses are ridiculous--if a bar or restaurant owner wants to cater to smokers, then those of us who don't like to smell like chimneys simply shouldn't patronize the establishment. And it's the same with seat belt laws. I wouldn't dream of riding in a car without a seat belt, but some knucklehead's choice not to wear one doesn't in any way affect their ability to drive.

Rachel kept trying to get a clear, concise answer from Dr. Paul clarifying his statements about the part of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits a business owner from barring clientele based on their race. Dr. Paul wouldn't give her a simple answer. But instead of a concise answer, he kept repeating platitudes to the tune of "I abhor racism, but the first amendment protects the numbskulls' rights to say offensive things."

While I agree that for the first amendment to work, we have to allow assholes their (ahem) assholery, essentially he was avoiding making a statement his opposition could use as a sound bite to call him a racist. Which makes sense politically, I guess. He's saying that no matter how abhorrent the idea of racism, the first amendment protects the rights of a racist to be a racist...and a racist business owner should be able to express that racism by limiting access to his business. Just like an anti-gun business owner should be able to bar guns from his establishment.

But when it comes to barring someone from a business because of their race, the government has a responsibility to step in.

What Dr. Paul fails to mention is that gun ownership (along with smoking and wearing seat belts) is a choice. Race is not. There's an idea that "Your right to swing your fist ends where my nose begins"--the idea being that your freedom of expression ends when you impinge on another person's well-being. You can be a racist in this country, but not when it encroaches on someone else. You can be a sexist in this country, but not when it becomes sexual harassment. Business owners can bar people from entering the establishment based on modesty (No shirt, no shoes, no service)...they can toss people out for behavior deemed inappropriate...and until 1964 they could prohibit patronage based on race. But one of these things is not like the others. And the government rightly stepped in and corrected that.

Rand Paul spins a pretty argument--one that on the surface appeals to staunch defenders of free speech. But until Dr. Paul acknowledges that it is a perversion of the first amendment to use it to justify the creation of "whites only" establishments, this issue will continue to dog his campaign...and may cost him the election.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

While we're waiting...

My computer is taking forever to boot. So while we wait, here's a photo I took last week at the High Line park. Yay pictures!

My computer is now up and running.  Adding the link and back to work.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Fwd: Multimedia message

Did you know you can blog from your cell phone? Yeah, me neither! Anyway this is kind of a test...

So have I told you about the time Michael Rupert signed my Falsettos playbill?

P.S. Does this playbill make my thumb look fat?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Free Speech/Hate Speech

I'm all for free speech, and have regularly exercised the right to call into question the sanity of the previous president.  But calling for "divine assassination"???  Is this appropriate?  I realize the "Dear God, you killed my favorite actor/actress/singer...Obama is my favorite president" page is supposed to be funny, but why is it that everything we seem to hear from the Right lately is framed in violence toward those with whom they disagree?

Dissent and debate are a part of the political process that makes us strong as a country. But guns at rallies, targets on key electoral districts, prayers for the death of our president...none of this does anything to build up our country. None of this furthers the debate. And none of this makes YOU look like a reasonable human being. And frankly, if you're going to be an ass, we have nothing to talk about.

It's so frustrating that lately the standard M.O. for the opponents of the party in power seems to be simply to appeal to the lowest common denominator.  If you don't like Health Care Reform, make up a lie and say it threatens violence to my grandmother.  If your party wants to pick up seats in congress, put cross-hairs on the districts you want to win so your base knows where you've "set your sights".  If you don't like the president, bring a gun to a rally.

I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech.  I also believe that rational people of differing opinion CAN come together and work toward a better future for this country.  But currently the discourse in this country, particularly the noise coming from the right, isn't based on rational argument.  It's not intended to solve problems.  It's specifically (and I'm afraid almost solely) designed to get the base riled up for political gain.

Hate speech, threats of violence, the fear that's being stoked among the wing-nuts on the fringe...I'm sure it's protected by the first amendment, and I'll defend peoples rights to express themselves...but ultimately it's not good for the country.  15 years ago, indignant about the liberal policies being "rammed down the country's throats" (or just angry that they were no longer in power), the right riled up their base and it could be argued that this mentality directly led to the bombing in Oklahoma City.  Now don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that peoples right to free expression should be curtailed.  I'm just saying that at its most benign, this kind of nonsense is still counterproductive...and at its most extreme, it can be deadly.  And the people in power who prey upon the feeble minded among us, stirring them up to blind violence against a perceived threat...those people have blood on their hands.

I think there's a better way.  There's got to be.  The wing-nuts won't listen to any liberal.  I wish the moral people on the right would stand up and speak out.  Can you imagine the impact of Orrin Hatch or Mitt Romney standing up and saying, "I'm a republican, and I think praying for God to kill Obama is offensive and a symptom of a deeper discomfort with the president that we should address and move past."

Most of my family dismisses anything "serious" I have to say because my views tend to be pretty liberal.  But if people they respect...say church leaders or conservative political figures or talk show hosts...if these people stood up and denounced the lies and the nonsense and called for more productive discourse, I think my family would listen.  And so would the country.

So listen up, Republicans...want to get back in power?  Want a chance at getting my vote?  Stop behaving like children and encourage your constituents to do the same.   Stop hiding behind the lies and the furor of the corporate manufactured tea party bullshit and get off your thumbs and do something!  Stand for something!  Despite our differences, there was a time I respected men like Orrin Hatch and John McCain, not because I felt they were politically right, but because I felt they were honorable men.  Win that back by behaving honorably and encouraging your supporters to do the same.  Then we'll talk.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

John McCain EATS BABIES!!!

Remember during the 2008 election when I flippantly suggested that John McCain eats babies?  Guess what.  JOHN MCCAIN EATS BABIES!!!!  Run for your life!  Hide your children!

Here's proof.  (Warning: it's not for the weak of heart.)  Mind you, I'm only showing the "before" photo.  The "during" and "after" photos are all too shocking.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Pants on fire much?

I'm so tired of being represented in government by people who insult our intelligence, vote against our best interest, and then expect us to blindly reelect them as we do every year.  

Orrin Hatch in the Washington Post:
This use of reconciliation to jam through this legislation, against the will of the American people, would be unprecedented in scope. And the havoc wrought would threaten our system of checks and balances, corrode the legislative process, degrade our system of government and damage the prospects of bipartisanship.
Seriously Senator Hatch, stop with the hypocrisy and the lies.  If you have substantive problems with health care reform, feel free to air them, but I'm personally insulted that you think that Utahns are too stupid to fact check the malarky that comes out of your mouth.  A fourth grader with a computer could disprove your distortions.  

The Republican minority has damaged the prospects of bipartisanship by voting against everything put forward (even ideas they used to espouse...and worse, legislation they actually sponsored.)  

From the
Salt Lake Tribune:

Hatch said Thursday that using reconciliation would be “one of the worst grabs for power in the history of the country” that would permanently impact relations between the two parties. 
“It is going to be outright war and it should be, because it would be such an abuse of the reconciliation rules,” Hatch said. “If they abuse those rules it is going to lead to even more heated animosities between not just the two parties, but even between individual senators.”  

Fascinating political posturing Senator...but in case your memory is shot, let me remind you that you voted for… 

  • The College Cost Reduction Act of 2007 ( passed through reconciliation)
  • The Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (which passed through reconciliation)
  • The Deficit Reduction Act of 2005 (which passed through reconciliation)
  • The Jobs and Growth Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2003 (which passed through reconciliation)
  • The Economic Growth and Tax Relief Reconciliation Act of 2001 (which passed through reconcilation)
  • The Marriage Tax Penalty Relief Reconciliation Act of 2000 (which passed through reconciliation)
  • The Taxpayer Refund and Relief Act of 1999 (which passed through reconciliation)

AND major health care reform has already passed both legislative bodies.  The stuff that's set to pass through reconciliation amounts to a handful of tweaks (and if we're lucky, an option for the general public to buy into some public program like medicare.)

So Senator Hatch, grow a pair.  Stand up and be vocal about things if you must, but be honest with us.  Argue with the democrats on substance, not straw men.  But most importantly, be a part of the solution or get the hell out of the way.  

Thursday, February 4, 2010

My day in tweets...sorta.

  • 15:55 Sigh...those nutty Republicans... bit.ly/ddhA8E The 2010 Comprehensive Daily Kos/Research 2000 Poll of Self-Identified Republicans #
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