Friday, April 29, 2005

I watched Bush last night and there were a couple of surprises. First, The Smirk was back. His handlers had managed to get that away from him by the second and third debates during the re-election campaign, but it was back last night, big as life and smarmier than ever. He was also in full folksy mode, explaining things condescendingly to reporters, calling them by their first names or by a nick name in one instance. We learned, for example that when the price of crude oil goes up, the price of gasoline goes up--that one was a real shocker--and that transporting natural gas is very difficult. Seems you have to convert it into something solid so you make it a liquid. Now I'm no scientist, my faculty status at MIT not withstanding, but I do remember from high school that there are three natural states for all matter--solid, liquid and gas--and that you only get one at a time. Bush apparently gets solid and liquid simultaneously. I see a Nobel Prize for Science in the future there somewhere.

But there were some real surprises. He dropped two little bits of myth from his repertory. One is that he claims faith is a personal thing and that he does not take anyone's faith into consideration positively or negatively in the legislative process. He also said he feels opposition to his judicial nominations is based solely on their judicial philosophy, thereby cutting himself off from that fundamentalist charade on TV last weekend where all such opposition was declared to be an attack on people of faith.

He also became the first president in my memory to destroy the myth that Social Security is a trust fund. He admitted candidly that it's a pay-as-you-go scheme and that any surplus in a given year is spent on other programs rather placed into some sort of investment system. He also talked about his inability to affect energy prices short term, claiming that even if his controversial energy legislation is passed, it could be ten years before anybody sees the benefits. All in all, it was a retreat from some of his more arrogant and almost hostile performances, wrapped in the sticky sweetness of grampy sittin' in front of the fire tellin' the grankids about how gov'ment works. Today we get to see how it all plays--particularly with the radical religious right. As his approval rating is down to 31%, I suspect he hopes it plays rather better than I think it will.

I'm seeing FLIGHT, a contemporary opera by American composer Jonathan Dove tonight. It opened to good reviews in St. Louis a season or so ago and is coming to Boston in its original production with a fine cast including hunky countertenor David Walker. FLIGHT is based on the real story of a man who was caught in international immigration and legal bureaucracy and actually lived in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for eleven years. I never saw that Tom Hanks movie but I suspect it came from the same incident (if eleven years CAN be called an "incident").

Several composers recently have taken up "Noah's Ark" plots, the ones where the entire cast is stranded in some single location and their lives intersect intensely for a short period of time, changing everyone forever. The most successful has been FLORENCIA EN EL AMAZONAS by Daniel Catan that places the cast on a riverboat going up the Amazon to the legendary city of Manaus. There's an aging opera singer on board hoping that one last engagement at the famed opera house there will reunite her with a lost love, as well as other couples in various stages of relationship. Riolobo, a kind of baritone river spirit who doesn't wear a great deal of clothing, interacts with all in a series of magic realism encounters and the music has the opalescent color of Brazilian butterfly wings. It was a BIG hit.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

I got home this evening, poured out a glass of Pinot Grigio and surfed through my blogs list. When I got to Albert G's blog, Obliquity, I was startled to see this:

01. DesignerBlog: Erudite and interesting, Will is both a gay father and husband. His background in theatre and love of opera are only two of the reasons I enjoy his weblog so much.

An incredibly generous statement and one I appreciate very much indeed. Albert has an individual voice and style that I like a lot, his interests are wide-ranging, and his political views are forcefully, wittily expressed. He also has a bedroom ceiling in THE most amazing, textured shade of electric lime green (I know this only from the pictures he posted. Honest, Fritz, honest!).

Speaking of Fritz, he's taken up Pilates, which he seems to enjoy. The classes are being held at his Center by a young man who inquired if he could offer them there, and whom he describes as hot and hunky. It occurs to me that my beloved's motives may not be the purest. But it's all good exercise--the Pilates, that is.

At the end of the day today we sat down with the students who help us organize and staff our productions to firm up the plays we're going to produce next year. In the fall, one of our resident directors will do "Time Remembered," a romantic comedy by Jean Anouilh. It's a "pretty show," taking place in and on the grounds of a provincial French chateau, requiring rich interiors and a lot of high fashion. The choice was between that and "In the Heart of America" by Naomi Wallace, a rising young American playwright of great gifts whose work is so good, politically astute and gorgeously written that she's produced more often in Europe than here.
The play's set during the first Gulf War and deals with racial/ethnic prejudices, gays in the military and the imperialist impulse in a series of short, punchy, mostly two-character scenes. It was an impossible choice that was resolved by scheduling the Wallace play into a studio production slot in the spring, which is perfect for its bare-bones scenic requirements and in-your-face style.

For the major play of the winter, we're doing Middleton and Rowley's "The Old Law," a Jacobean play edited, adapted, and directed to great acclaim in the U.K. by a gay English playwright and director who will be in residence with us for half of next academic year. I just got the script last week and will begin analyzing it for
production later this week.

I opened a fortune cookie after dinner tonight and read, "You have a natural grace and great consideration for others." I guess the Chinese for "klutz" is "natural grace."

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

I didn't mean to be away so long but work was to blame. From now on, things are going to be easing up and I'm very happy with that!

The student assistant director of the current production came to my design class today with a very funny story about one audience member at Saturday night's performance. The play is a little-known Tennessee Williams one act, one of a clutch of short plays he wrote in the early 70s that read like early Sam Shepherd--no moonlight and magnolias here. This one is called "The Demolition Downtown" and is set in an America that has either been invaded from abroad or suffered a huge insurrection from within. Since the subtitle is "count to ten in Arabic and try to run," it's probably the former--and remember this was written 34 years ago. Our director is a young, extreme post-modernist whose work involves heavy use of media. He also likes to have the action of his productions isolated in some way from the audience so as to promote a highly objective viewing of the play. I designed a set that places the actors behind the window wall of their high-end condo or architect-designed house, sealed away by this see-through barrier and audible to the audience via microphone. The action is not realistic except in a psychological sense and the short script is played through twice, once in English and once in a combination of Spanish and Korean with an interlude of a drunken party between the two.

Anyway, after the curtain calls, this guy stood up and in a booming voice asked, "Can anybody tell me what this damn play was about?" There was some giggling and everybody tried to ignore him. So, he began to buttonhole individual members of the audience, asking "Can YOU tell me what this play was about?" Again nobody answered him. He then made a few loud, disparaging comments and left. One of my students thought his behavior was rude and unacceptable but I said I wasn't so sure. I think it's refreshing when someone or some number of people in our audiences here in the U.S. make their opinions known, protest a play's politics, or otherwise break out of the polite' sitting-on-our-hands-mode of going to theater. Audiences are far more vocal in Europe, for example, and they tend to let the playwright and the company know about their feelings far more readily than do we--they're more politicized there, aware of the place of art in society as something more than simple entertainment.

Speaking of politics, a new poll here shows steady erosion of Mitt Romney's support for re-election. I know 18 months is a LONG time in politics, but the percentage of voters who think he deserves a second term a year and a half from now has declined from 43% in January to 33% now, a pretty disasterous rating for anyone seeking to be re-elected. And he's in the process of suffering a huge defeat in the Legislature over stem cell research. Of course, if he IS thrown out of office in November of 2006, it probably won't hurt him too much in the Republican Party. They'll all just stand around and bad mouth liberal, decadent, homo-loving Massachusetts and not hold him responsible. Interestingly, part of Romney's slip in the polls has to do with his trips around the U.S. where he DOES bad mouth Massachusetts wherever he goes--a pretty stupid thing for a politically ambitious governor to do to the state he governs. I couldn't be happier!

Friday, April 22, 2005

I’m totally wiped. Since getting back from Chicago, we’ve been in production week for our last play of the year. That always means fifteen to sixteen hour days as we have to teach and do everything else our jobs require by day, and then go into technical and dress rehearsals all night. To make it worse, when I finish a day like that I’m usually pretty wired and have to do something like read or write to wind down enough to sleep.

Understand, I’m not complaining. I love what I do and, although this may sound Pollyannish, hardly a day passes but I don’t think in some way how lucky I am to be able to do things that I love at so fascinating and challenging a place as MIT. But after a while, enough already! I need some time in my garden, time with my husband, and time in my bed—the latter two simultaneously, thank you very much.

I’d like to point out Alex’s blog, “New York, one date at a time.” He’s a writer and he needs what every writer needs: readers. His blog is personal, he doesn’t post either soft- or hard-core porn. He’s a good observer of the scene for gay men in New York City, and he explores the gay branch of The Human Condition as it regards dating and relationships. The link to his site is at the right, the very first one under “blogs I read daily.” He would appreciate some new blood in his readership and some comments on how he writes. He’s sincere in this—when I recently ventured some gentle constructive criticism, I got back a nice note explaining why he writes the way he does and thanking me for taking the time to be in touch. Of course, what I wrote to him was a bit more sophisticated, than a “this blog SUCKS” comment—not that any of MY readers would send that sort of message, I’m sure.

I roll my socks when I get them out of the dryer. This is a habit I picked up from my father. It wasn’t that I was purposely trying to emulate him, it just seemed very practical—you lay the socks on top of each other, roll them from the toe up about three quarters of the way, then tuck the rolled section into the top of one of the socks. This way, they stay together in the drawer and you don’t have to hunt for the mate to the first sock of the right color you find. I’m sure many of you do this also--says he with some confidence--even though most of my friends AND my beloved find this a very strange and laughable thing that I do.

Well, my cat doesn’t. In fact both my very first cat and my current cat were quite happy to discover my neatly rolled socks put out in the morning ready for me to get dressed. That first cat, many years ago, was one of the most intelligent and inventive animals I’ve ever met. She made up cat/human games, caught on quickly to games I introduced, and loved my rolled up socks. If I left my sock drawer open, she’d take them out one pair at a time in her teeth and deposit them in some little nest she’d created for herself around the house. I’d find her lying on her side with three or four pair gathered into her abdomen like nursing kittens, purring away and very happy.

Just this morning, I laid out a pair of slacks, briefs, a nice shirt, and a rolled pair of socks. I went to shower and shave. When I got back, the socks were gone. Not a sign of them anywhere. I finally grabbed another pair and dressed. She was on the bed as she always is, waiting to attack my leather belt as I put it through the belt loops, talking away as she always does, and generally trying to delay me from getting ready to leave. (She often stands in front of the door, trying to herd me back and keep me from leaving). I finally found the socks tonight when I got home. She’d taken them from the bedroom and placed them on my computer chair in the studio. It’s the very first time she’s done this and I’ll be interested to see how far she goes with it.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

So, do we all greet the new Pope with a rousing "Heil, Benedict?" I'm getting very mixed signals from my Jewish friends versus Jewish organizations, many of which are coming out in support for the new Pope on the basis of his friendship with the deceased J.P. II and presumed support for that pope's policies toward Isreal. But my personal friends and acquaintances are very angry, not only over Benedict's time in the Hitler Youth, but by the fact that he spent four years in the Nazi Army doing all the things that army did before he went AWOL and got himself into an American priosoner of war camp. Some of the things that army did were directly connected to the slaughter of Jews and members of the Allied forces coming to liberate Germany.

There had been much speculation that the new Pope would be a reformer, more liberal, a modernizer, etc. I didn't buy it for a minute. And indeed, this one is a hard line reactionary, particularly on social issue that have been fought and won for decades (women's liberation) and those that are being fought now (gay liberation). His homophobia is proverbial and extreme. Bush, of course, was out with a statement slobbering all over him within minutes of the announcement. It will be interesting to see what his relationship with American Catholics turns out to be. I know from the evening radio talk shows here in Boston that rank and file Boston irish Catholics will probably greet him with open arms as the leader who will finally rid Catholocism of any liberal tendencies and perhaps even give back the liturgy in Latin.

Although he says he wants to be an inclusive Pope, the people his message is most likely to bring together are heterosexual males who want their women at home, doing wifely things and bearing children. Gay Catholics--including the large number of gay priests--may be facing decision time: back to the closet and slam the door on themselves, come out and become activists (risking excommunication), or just walk away and wash their hands of the entire hate-mongering, rotten organization.

On a happier note, I love hair on men. The shaved twink look has never done anything for me; when I got into this gay business, it was for the MEN. I like facial hair a lot, full beards, goatees so provocatively framing the mouth, and any of the new styles that guys are using to combine sideburns with other areas of the face.

I started thinking of all of this when Fritz showed me a picture of him taken a couple of years before we met. When I first knew him (in both the social and Biblical sense), he had slightly long, very silky hair that was a great pleasure to run my fingers through at cudly moments like after having sex. So for the last eight years he's had the full beard and the hair. Lovely. Well I thought I had seen photos of just about every phase of his life but when I looked at this new one there he was as I had never seen him before--buzzed. Oooh! Buttons got pushed, big time. Then he casually dropped the fact that he was thinking of getting buzzed again this summer when we go on our big trip in July. Trying to maintain a certain calm, I said I thought that might be nice. Inside I was thinking that I'll be on a river boat sailing through Hungary, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands, on deck in the moonlight with this bearded, buzzed, hunky guy. Life is good.

Monday, April 18, 2005

While I was off in Chicago, my site meter went past the 5000 mark, a nice milestone.

I found Chicago a very friendly place with one exception--the guy sitting behind me at the opera. Since Wagner's RING takes four nights, I had him behind me for the better part of a week.

At first there wasn't any contact between us. He looked like an ordinary married guy, the silent type with a slightly sour look at all times. Then early on night two a portly, highly extraverted guy in the seat directly across the aisle from me suddenly asked where I had come from to see Chicago's production. I said Boston and all hell broke loose. The silent type behind me found his voice and it was far right, ultra conservative and chip-on-the-shoulder opinionated (OK, as if I'm not opinionated; it's just that MY opinions are right!). In a bellowing voice, he started on the Big Dig, how the money going into it was sucking the life out the rest of the country, how Boston's mayor Tom Menino had mis-handled the whole thing and spent the project through the roof (several inaccuracies there, by the way), "--because that's what LIBERALS do!" (pronounce that with a sneer on your face and you'll get the idea of what he sounded like). His wife was terribly embarrassed and finally told him to stick a sock in it. Fortunately, he was the exception that proves the rule.

So anyway, if you've always wondered why one of the most popular terms for penis is a cock, I may have found the answer--erotic Greek and Roman statuary. There was an article about Christianity suppressing the penises on classical statuary and it mentioned a shrine in Greece that had been devoted to worship of the cock. There were several pedestals with sculptures mounted on them of identical penis/balls combinations, most of them with the cocks broken in half by over-zealous Christians in antiquity. But it's on the sides of the pedestals that figures of interest to us are to be found--a rooster carved in high relief, facing the viewer with a big erect penis growing out of its neck instead of a head. As a cock is a rooster, I'm going to surmise that using cock for penis grew out of this pedestal art.

One thing I noticed at the opera is that Chicago gay couples are more demonstrative physically than here on the east coast. Now I know we're talking an opera house here, natural habitat of the gay man; but even in New York and San Francisco I haven't observed two guys walking around +with their arms around each other, one of them holding onto his boyfriend's left ass cheek. There were other instances as well. I was surprised and also pleased at the ease and openness of all this. It seemed to me that this is what life should be.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Blogger ate a perfectly good post I submitted yesterday so we'll see if this one gets through.

The weather here in Chicago has shifted into spring with cool nights but days in the 7os--ideal for walking the city which is something I love to do when I'm away from home. The transit system here is pretty comprehensive and easy to use, so I can get from Hyde Park by the University of Chicago where I'm staying to any other neighborhood with ease. Yesterday I got up to Oak Park and did a day of Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chicago is where Wright got his start, built a home for himself and his family and added a studio building next to it when work got heavy enough that he couldn't manage in the house any more. He then peppered the neighborhood with houses and one church building from all different phases of his career. The house and studio had become a boarding house for young women for about thirty years after the family moved out. While never abused, the house needed extensive restoration and recovery of furniture and art items that had become scattered. The forty five minute tour went to almost twice that since the guide was deeply into the Wright mystique--the great architects seem to develop a cult following--and he gave us lots of extra information and then took an almost unlimited number of questions at the end.

We then got a map to tour the neighborhood but in some ways it wasn't necessary--in the middle of the standard Queen Anne Victorian houses, Wright's distinctive "prairie style" buildings that descend equally from the Arts and Crafts movement and Japanese architecture stand out like stars.

I struck out completely at the Historical Society on research for my book. Their computer research system was given to freezing at odd moments but most of all, the existing newspaper records had almost nothing I hadn't already learned about theater fires in the area from other sources. What they did have was extensive coverage of the awful Iroquois Theater fire that is infamous in theater history but that happened in the age of electricity and my book is devoted to theatrical lighting when some version of open flame--candles, torches, oil lamps and gaslight--provided the illumination.

I spent some time at the Oriental Institute here at the University. U of C archaeologists have been famous for their digs and the current exhibit focuses on Mesopotamia (aka Iraq) with an idea of giving some perspective on the area's massive role in human history. Centerpiece of the exhibit is a 16 foot high, sixteen foot wide, forty ton monolith of a winged bull with the crowned head of King Sargon. It's breathtaking and is surrounded by other, smaller but still impressive panels from Sargon's throne room. The rest of the exhibit focuses on the development of urban civilization in the area--family life, textiles, agriculture, markets, arts, the development of writing and literature, and LOTS on urban planning and architecture. Oh, and ancient
Babylon seems to have had a gourmet cuisine equivalent tothe best French standards.

Wagner's RING--essentially a non-Christian creation to destruction of the world myth set to highly descriptive 19th century music--is going very well. I'm very happy with the production that was conceived almost completely without modern stage technology. The opera house here was going through a bad patch financially when they decided to put on the four opera epic and the stage machinery was pretty much shot. (New machinery is coming from England--they bought the technical installation from the failed Millenium Dome in London at fire sale prices and are having it shipped over). So they built a RING on Asian theater techniques that depend on actors' and stage hands' bodies working rather than hydrolics and electronics. The result is a delight, including the forty foot long Fafner the Dragon who gets killed by the hero Siegfried. Julie Taymor (of "The Lion King") designed him as a combination dinosaur skeletin and Chinese New Year dragon
out of phosphorescent material. The twelve operators are dressed all in black, eight of them wearing big vertebrae on their heads and using their hands to control the giant claws. Four more operate the head whose jaws open and snap menacingly. This sort of invention is all through the production. The fourth and final performance is tonight--the world ends in fire and flood at about 11 pm--and I fly home to Fritz tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I located an internet cafe in the northern part of Chicago and have been catching up a few things. new readers keep finding the blog and I'm delighted to welcome you all.

I've always love visiting this city (European visitors to the U.S. frequently call New York an International City, Boston and San Francisco the most European of America's cities, and Chicago THE American city for its energy and populism). The opera is a kick for me as it always is but I'm getting used to a local custom I have encountered nowhere else. Box dinners from a local restaurant are hawked in the lobby as people enter and are ready for pick-up during the first intermission. This is followed by hundreds and hundreds of people sitting and reclining on all the opera house's stairways and on the floors eating grilled chicken, side dishes, etc. I can't imagine the danger should there be an emergency, but it's a beloved part of the scene here and when I inquired about the custom I was met with "Welcome to the mid-west!"

I also visited a fascinating, somewhat macabre exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry called "Body Worlds." Actual human bodies that have been donated by prople for medical research are injected in various ways with polymers and then the un-plasticized parts are desolved in chemicals. The results allow you to examine how the body works in ways medical illustrations cannot begin to present. There is a woman who died in the eighth month of pregnancy whose baby could not be saves who is opened to reveal the fetus. There is a young woman whose entire artery, vein and capillary system--and only that--is shown standing before you in deep chinese red plastic. It is beautiful and awe-inspiring all at once--and not for the faint of heart. You see people in all their diseases and problems--the artificial knees, the blackened lungs of smokers, the injuries and wear and tear of life.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Take care, guys--I'm off to Chicago and I'll be back on blog for sure a week from today. If I get a chance to log on while I'm away, I'll post from there about whatever adventures I may have. By the way, welcome to a couple of new readers who found me and were kind enough to say some nice things. I hope you'll be back!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Spring has finally really arrived in Boston and not a moment too soon. Most of us have been rushing the season, walking around the MIT campus in our shirt sleeves when the temperature might have dictated a sweater or jacket. But we’re desperate here—it wasn’t a pretty winter and it’s nice to see the back of it as the crocus and snow drops come out by the walk up to my front door.

Some time this weekend, the daffodils will begin to blossom at Fritz’s. His current estimate is 50,000 of them, most prominently on a long sloping bank that lies between the Center and the house and is visible from the street. It stops traffic. People take pictures. It looks like the classic transitional shot from ”Doctor Zhivago” and it’s very, very beautiful. He planted lots and lots of them years ago and they just spread like wildfire, filling in anywhere they aren’t obstructed.

I got interviewed last night by RG, a fellow academic from the general area for his book that’s in development on men who came out late and the institutions that delayed the public acknowledgement of their gayness. I know him two ways—one: as the friend of a lovely couple with whom I have been friends for years, and two: as a member of the gay book discussion group I’ve been a member of since last August. His method is to come with a laptop to the subject’s home and do about a two hour session. He’s interested in the process of coming out—the growing realization of homoerotic attraction; the manner of dealing with it; early sexual experiences; coming out to one’s self; coming out to colleagues, friends & family; consequences, if any, etc..

After the interview winds down, he takes the guy out to dinner in thanks. It’s a good, relaxed process and knowing it was coming, I had my thoughts and memories in order. I had made reservations for Gusto, a gay owned restaurant that opened in Roslindale Square last August. The owners are two Irish guys, one in the kitchen, one as maitre d’, and they’ve laid the place out. in small areas separated by walls so that they’re quiet and you can have a nice conversation without yelling. The menu’s extremely varied and creative and prices are reasonable.

I’m not sure about when the book is coming out. He’s still interviewing but the writing is coming along, apparently quite well. I’ll be looking forward to it

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

I don't normally spend a lot of time checking out women's hair styles unless they're close friends because I gave up designing costumes a long time ago, and the shape of one cut versus another isn't important to me any more. But today was different. Today on the street I saw coming toward me the most bizarre do I've seen in a long time.

She was a totally nondescript--from the scalp down--young woman, thirty years old if that, dressed in some sort of lime green schmatta (the first mistake, given her skin color) but crowned with a tall, maybe ten or eleven inch tall, tapering tower of swirling hair. At first I thought it was retro--a beehive revival. But as she came closer I saw that the effect was as if one of the old Saturday Night Live coneheads had suddenly sprouted long hair and combed it round and round, spiraling upward. Or maybe some Babylo-Assyrian
whirlwind goddess. Or a giant, hairy wood screw perched on top of her head.

I tried not to stare, I really did. I was a good boy, snapped on my clip-on sunglasses and got to examine the thing without making her self conscious. Then she passed by and was gone--the thing was even more unbelievably awful in profile than from front or back. Oh, yes, the back; she had a little coral-colored bow--very 50s--attached at the base of the cone in the back. Then I did something I haven't done in a LONG time: I said a prayer. The prayer was, "Please, PLEEEEASE let this be an isolated case of temporary insanity, or a hairdresser malfunction. Don't let it be a forerunner of some hot new style that will soon be everywhere!"

I'm getting ready to spend next week in Chicago. I'm going out for Wagner's RING OF THE NIBELUNG at the Chicago Lyric Opera, flying out of Manchester, New Hampshire next Monday morning. The four big operas are spread out over a six day period and I'll be staying with a dear colleague and her husband in the Hyde Park neighborhood. He used to be our admissions director at MIT and is now a vice president and Dean of Admissions at the University of Chicago. She's head of the undergraduate Latin Program.

They're up on the fourteenth and fifteenth floors of a fascinating old building overlooking the lake. It was designed by one of my own--a scenic designer/architect. When you enter their living room it looks like the courtyard of a Moroccan house. There are open arches with shutters from upstairs rooms overlooking the living room and a stone and iron-railed spiral staircase set into a niche in the wall. The two story window looks south over the lake and the Science Museum with its dome that's an exact twin to the Great Dome at MIT.

I'll be spending some time at the Art Institute, definitely shopping at Marshall Field, heading up to Oak Park to see the Frank Lloyd Wright homes and studio, and who knows--maybe I'll even see Jake from NoFo running along the lake if his route is anyway near there.

Saturday, April 02, 2005

I was raised strictly, oppressively Catholic by my parents and it took me years to get it out of my system once I began my journey away from Catholicism. The massive Death Watch going on for Pope John comes as no surprise—the Catholic faith is all about death and I figured out pretty early as a child that Catholics were so obsessed with death that they had actually forgotten how to LIVE. I mean life as in living fully, reaching out for life, grabbing it with enthusiasm, celebrating its joys, embracing people, nature, sex, art, friendship, love without excluding any experience because it doesn’t fit with a particular doctrine or religious prejudice.

Michael at Chaosfactor posted the results of an internet quiz that determines what religion you really are no matter what one you subscribe to, if any. You can find it at His turned out to be Buddhist. Mine came back Atheist, chased by the comment that I was probably pretty well aware of that fact already. Very true. One of the points I have had to stress on occasion is that one can have a highly developed set of moral and ethical values without religion, something many people have been so brainwashed about by the standard religions that they simply can’t conceive of such a thing.

As I write this the Pope is still alive but just barely. I haven’ been a fan of his although I will score him a couple of very big points for publicly denouncing the Iraq war to Bush’s face. There was one wonderful, surrealistic moment yesterday morning on the Today show. Matt Lauer had just concluded an interview with some Vatican official and they cut to commercial. At all their various cuts away from Pope news, there had been a brief choral piece from some hymn or Gregorian Chant. But on this occasion the selection was from the final chorus of Carl Orff’s “Carmina Burana.” I laughed out loud, delighted at their slip-up. The text for “Carmina Burana” is based on a cache of medieval poetry and song lyrics by horny students, drunk and defrocked priests and monks, Catholic scholars who had fallen away from the faith, etc. They celebrate the joys of wine, sex, sin, the coming of spring and worldly delights. The selection they played was a prayer to the old Roman goddess Fortuna, meant as an obscene parody of the Virgin Mary, onto whose constantly revolving wheel of fate all men are chained, sometimes riding high in triumph and sometimes sunk in total disaster. It was a moment of delicious irony.

Friday, April 01, 2005

Mouse posted a link to this report today on his "Banks of the Dirty Titt" blog and I am reproducing it in full because it is one of the most revolting and un-American things I can think of. I know that these bigots and homophobes feel totally empowered by the ignorant Bush's victories, but if we allow this to start happening in this country, we are truly going down the same path that led to the Holocaust in Germany. And once again, the Catholic Church is in full agreement and complicity. This, from the Republicans who were hypocritically chanting for "life" during the Terri Schiavo case:

Michigan Preparing To Let Doctors Refuse To Treat Gays

(Lansing, Michigan) Doctors or other health care providers could not be disciplined or sued if they refuse to treat gay patients under legislation passed Wednesday by the Michigan House. The bill allows health care workers to refuse service to anyone on moral, ethical or religious grounds.

The Republican dominated House passed the measure as dozens of Catholics looked on from the gallery. The Michigan Catholic Conference, which pushed for the bills, hosted a legislative day for Catholics on Wednesday at the state Capitol. The bills now go the Senate, which also is controlled by Republicans.

The Conscientious Objector Policy Act would allow health care providers to assert their objection within 24 hours of when they receive notice of a patient or procedure with which they don't agree. However, it would prohibit emergency treatment to be refused.

Three other three bills that could affect LGBT health care were also passed by the House Wednesday which would exempt a health insurer or health facility from providing or covering a health care procedure that violated ethical, moral or religious principles reflected in their bylaws or mission statement.

Opponents of the bills said they're worried they would allow providers to refuse service for any reason. For example, they said an emergency medical technicians could refuse to answer a call from the residence of gay couple because they don't approve of homosexuality.

Rep. Chris Kolb (D-Ann Arbor) the first openly gay legislator in Michigan, pointed out that while the legislation prohibits racial discrimination by health care providers, it doesn't ban discrimination based on a person's sexual orientation. "Are you telling me that a health care provider can deny me medical treatment because of my sexual orientation? I hope not," he said.
"I think it's a terrible slippery slope upon which we embark," said Rep. Jack Minore (D-Flint) before voting against the bill.

Paul A. Long, vice president for public policy for the Michigan Catholic Conference, said the bills promote the constitutional right to religious freedom. "Individual and institutional health care providers can and should maintain their mission and their services without compromising faith-based teaching," he said in a written statement.

I was going to write about a couple of other things but I'll wait until tomorrow--I'm WAY too angry right now.

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