Friday, June 30, 2006

I got a real thrill the other day when I realized I hadn't weighed myself in close to a month and pulled out the scale. I'm down between six and seven pounds. At 5'9" with a stocky frame (verging on barrel-chested and with a wide pelvis for a man) my ideal weight is supposed to be somewhere between 155 and 159. I'm currently just over 165, meaning that I have about ten pounds to go, along with some firming up. OK, a fair amount of firming, but this still feels pretty good. If I can get rid of another twelve to fifteen pounds it'll feel even better.

I was over-fed as a kid. Also, our diet at home wasn't the healthiest in terms of fat content. My mother was the daughter of an English family and in those days, English "cuisine" was among the worst in the world (it's made big advances recently). My grandfather died relatively young of serious heart disease and I swear my grandmother must have fed him to death. He was never overweight, but every one of her recipes seemed to begin with "Take three leaves of lard and . . ."

My mother didn't like cooking and didn't do it well. She had twelve or so stock dinner menus that she rotated constantly--without any variation, ever. There was a frankfurter and baked bean casserole with molasses and onions. There was a cream-style corn and sausage link casserole (the links weren't pre-browned, so they went into the corn with all their fat intact). Broiled chicken quarters (skin on) were always accompanied by frozen mixed vegetables and mashed potatoes from a box. Friday evening was frequently frozen TV dinner night or if not, then frozen breaded shrimp or fried clam or breaded fish portion night with a mound of frozen French fries. Steak was always served with frozen peas and more French fries. It's a miracle I was able to fit through the door of the apartment.

OK, that's just a bit of hyperbole, but you get the idea.

All this wouldn't have been quite so bad if I'd turned out to be the big high school football hero my father thought he'd generated--I would have run off all the excess. But my weekends spent in Manhattan at Broadway shows or at the opera with the two absolutely least athletic boys (other than myself) at Archbishop Molloy High School quickly put an end to his hopes and expectations. He kept mentioning that I had great muscular legs (I still do) and what a shame it was to waste them. I was too busy seeking out the latest Maria Callas recordings.

For the rest of my life, I've had to be very careful how much and what I eat. They say that even if you get your weight to where you want it, if you were overweight as a kid all the fat cells are still there in your body, just waiting to re-inflate if you step out of line.

Baked goods are my undoing. Fresh, home-baked bread, bagels from a really good bakery, home-made pie crusts, baklava! I love it all and I have to be very careful. For the last month I've been severe with myself, eating my sandwiches with only the bottom slice and no bread on top, cutting down on toast in the morning and not having any pasta, potatoes, rice, etc. with dinner. And here I am, not where I want to be yet, but looking at not being embarrassed on the beach this summer, particularly if we actually get some sun here in the Northeast. Fritz and I will be on Cape Cod for four days in July, and I hope for a trip or two to the naked beach on Martha's Vineyard in August or early September.

Signs of some intelligent life from the "red states": the Supreme Court of Arkansas has thrown out the state's law prohibiting gay and lesbian couples from acting as foster parents. The Court said that what should be uppermost in people's minds is the welfare of the children and that gay and lesbian parents have shown themselves to be excellent parents.

And then Bush got slammed by the U.S. Supreme Court over his illegal mistreatment and denial of basic rights to the prisoners ot Guantanamo Bay. It's those damned, wonderful activist Judges again !

I got a birthday card with a cartoon of Bush and Cheney having dinner in a restaurant. The story went like this:

The President and Vice-President are having dinner out. Cheney orders a Heart-Healthy salad. Bush leans over to the waitress and says, "Honey I'd like a quickie."

The waitress is stunned. "Mr. President I voted for you because I thought you would bring a new era of ethics and morals to the White House. Now I wish I'd never voted for you!" And she rushes off in tears.

Cheney leans over to Bush and says, "George, I think it's pronounced 'quiche'!"
(open card)
Hope you get everything you want for your Birthday!

Weekend plans: heading up to New Hampshire to Fritz's (ie. taking my cat to her country home for the holiday weekend). We're going to Portsmouth on Saturday (either the matinee or the evening) to see "Kinky Boots," Sunday morning is Quaker Meeting, Monday morning early the guy who's doing the construction drawings and design consultation for the new house will stop by for a big conference and to stake out an actual site on the property. Maybe we'll stop by some flooring or kitchen/bathroom supply places and see what interesting fixtures they've got and get brochures and business cards. We don't actually have any set plans for the 4th yet. Mostly we'll just be together, which is celebration enough for me.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

It's turning into movie week for me--this from a man who sees maybe six movies a year in theaters. It's not that I hate movies, but I'm far more tuned in to live performance. And, frankly, not a lot of what Hollywood turns out interests me. The vast majority of movies that Fritz and I do wind up going out for are indies and foreign films.

So it began last Friday with "Nine Lives." Last night was "The Celluloid Closet," which I'd never seen, and that was showing for free at the Boston Public Library; it continues tonight back in Portsmouth, NH with "Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont" that stars Joan Plowright, and introduces a young English actor named Rupert Friend. An extremely good looking young English actor named Rupert Friend, actually. And it winds up Saturday in Portsmouth again with "Kinky Boots," that's apparently like the "The Full Monte" except with women's fashion footwear in men's sizes instead of male nudity, the whole business presided over by an English black drag queen who reinvigorates a whole community. Friends who've seen it are very enthusiastic.

A good friend of ours whose Radical Faerie name is Ruby was at the screening of "Celluloid Closet" yesterday and we agreed that someone should make a companion documentary, dealing with the years from 1995, when "Closet" was released, and today. So much has changed in the last decade, and many new issues have emerged, most notably the extreme paranoia of closeted Hollywood male stars about coming out. Yes, it was always there, but now it's picked up massive national attention and become a "thing" in th blogosphere. I now have three or four new movies on my "must rent" list, including the English film "Victim" from 1961 starring Dirk Bogarde. I hadn't exactly forgotten just how beautiful the gay English star was, but it's always nice to be reminded about these things.

I woke up yesterday to see a new public service commercial produced by MassEquality. It's a celebration of gay and lesbian couples: some of them inter-racial, some with children, some including a partner who's in the police or fire department. The message is that it's about time to honor their unions and families. It is, of course, the first big TV spot by a pro-gay marriage organization about the coming debate and vote in the state Legislature on July 12 over the Defense of Marriage (or whatever they're calling it now) amendment to the state constitution. And a very positive, upbeat, nicely produced first spot it is.

A columnist in Bay Windows declared that Boston's Pride parade "sucks," particularly mentioning the number of rather dull-looking gay-friendly church groups that now make up a lot of the marchers. In an America that's severely threatened by the voracious political ambitions of the radical religious right, I'm not so sure that the alleged dullness isn't the price we should gladly pay for the support of some very good friends.

The Religious Coalition for the Freedom to Marry is a gathering of liberal Christian, Jewish and Pagan groups that opposes any repeal of equal marriage rights in Massachusetts, even if their own denominations don't allow same-sex marriage. A couple of very highly placed clerics are throwing their hats into the ring with the Coalition. At a worship service before Boston's gay pride parade earlier this month, Bishop M. Thomas Shaw, leader of the Episcopal Diocese of Massachusetts, implicitly criticized the Catholic bishops, saying, "Religious leaders that are local to our community . . . have been quite vocal about the need to preserve marriage as they say it has always existed. When they say this, they demonstrate either incredible ignorance or a willful duplicity."

The Coalition and many other supportive clergy are now calling on the Catholic Church to cease its efforts to abolish same-sex marriage here. They've accused Cardinal O'Malley and the three other Catholic Bishops in Massachusetts of "religious discrimination," pointing out that when the Catholic Church seeks to make its personal agendas public law, other religions whose beliefs differ are prevented from practicing their faith freely. Personally, I find these groups and individual clergy courageous rather than dull, and I think ANY opposition to the move toward imposing theocracy on the United States is to be applauded.

On the same front, but in a different forum, a lesbian couple from Rhode Island is bringing suit in Massachusetts against the now infamous 1913 law that was specifically passed to prevent inter-racial marriage, and that has been embraced by conservatives as a weapon against performing same-sex marriages for out-of state gay couples. The law states that no marriage can be performed here that is illegal in the couple's home state. The couple in question maintains that there is nothing in Rhode Island's laws or constitution that specifically prohibits same-sex marriage. This one will be decided in the judicial court system.

We've just had 24 hours without rain! In spite of rain predicted for tonight into tomorrow, we're being promised decent weather for the long 4th of July weekend. I feel for the flood victims in the mid-Atlantic states, but here we're catching a much needed break.

Monday, June 26, 2006


Thanks for the birthday wishes!

We started off the weekend in Portsmouth Friday night seeing Rodrigo Garcia's film "Nine Lives." I thought I didn't know Garcia's work, but I've since done a little digging. He directed five episodes of "Six Feet Under," five of "Carnivale," and one of "The Sopranos," among other TV work, and he's directed a couple of movies, including "Ten Tiny Love Stories" that's also a collection of short films like "Nine Lives." Garcia seems to specialize in the psychology of women in transition or moments of crisis. One critic indicated that his reputation rests especially on the film "Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her."

Technically, the main feature of "Nine Lives" is that each of the individual stories (they average 15 to 16 minutes in length) is shot in one continuous take without any edits. The camera follows characters into and out of rooms, zooming in and out, but the action never stops from beginning to end. It's an interesting achievement that occasionally calls attention to itself but that really captures honest, sustained acting in a medium that usually relies on cuts, some of them extremely short with a great deal of jumping around, to tell a story.

I was reminded of a shot early in Robert Altman's "The Player" that goes on uninterruptedly for something like two and a half minutes as the camera travels through a building complex eavesdropping on snatches of conversation here and there through doors and windows. The effect in Garcia's series of short movies is the same, but writ large. It's not just a gimmick. In "Diana," that features a stunning performance by Robin Wright Penn, the camera restlessly follows her through the aisles of a grocery store as the married and pregnant Diana alternately flees and hopes to encounter a former lover (Jason Isaacs). He too is married but insists on reviving memories of their affair to shattering effect before disappearing and leaving her in turmoil. The endless shot creates a sense of claustrophobia and pitiless, obsessive observation of the event.

A character in one story will turn up in another, revealing a very different side of his or her personality, as with Lisa Gay Hamilton's Holly who is a severely troubled young woman when returning to the family home to confront her father, but a consummate professional in her nursing job when confronted by a panic-stricken breast cancer pre-op. The cast in other stories includes Any Brenneman, Glenn Close, Holly Hunter, Joe Mantegna, Mary Kay Place, Sissy Spacek, Aiden Quinn, and William Fichter.

Garcia doesn't tie up all the loose ends in these people's lives. Clearly, we meet them in the middle of their problems and leave them with many issues still on the table, just as we do with people who pass briefly through our own lives.

Saturday afternoon Fritz decided to make and can a batch of spiced rhubarb. It works particularly as an accompaniment to roast meats and chicken and is also great on ice cream. He has old established plants that grow to four feet in diameter or more, so there's an almost unlimited supply. Whenever I preserve, I usually freeze but I'm learning that with mason jars and a few simple sterilizing procedures, canning is easy and not too long a process.

So we set up the kitchen counter, my job being to follow instructions and get the lids on the jars properly as Fritz filled them.
I had a flash back to those 1950s sit-com shows where the perfectly turned out white middle-class TV mom (the only kind they showed in those days) in her perfect hair-do, apron and pearls, worked joyously in the kitchen teaching her perfectly mannered daughter to cook so that when her husband came home to their spotless home in the beautiful suburb, everything would be ready for dinner.

Well, neither of us is perfect, neither of us has a spotless house and we're a couple of GUYS--but together we got sixteen jars of spiced rhubarb put up with the promise that Fritz is going to do a batch of rhubarb and ginger preserves before the season goes on too long and the rhubarb's past its prime

The crazed cardinal is back. This is not a "Prince of the Church" but a bird, one of a couple of generations of cardinals who've occupied themselves attacking the windows of Fritz's house. This time, for the first time, it's a female. Her mate sometimes accompanies her but only to watch. Like the male cardinals who've crashed against the windows in former years, she will go at it for five to ten minutes at a time, although her technique is different as she hits the window more often per minute than they ever did.
The attacks start early in the day, at or just after dawn, and they're likely to repeat at odd intervals during the day.

And speaking of animals, I found another picture of Owen the baby hippo and Mzee the giant tortoise and couldn't resist it. The plan is to get Owen gradually accustomed to life in the wild again and eventually place him in a herd of hippos out on the plains, but I'm going to bet he and Mzee have a rough time without each other for quite a while after they're separated.

Saturday night we had a Sweat Lodge gathering. Given the heat, obsessive humidity and constant rain of the past month, it might seem strange to go into a confined space with red hot rocks and steam, but the effect was quite relaxing. When we finally came out of the lodge, several of us sat outside in silence for a considerable period of time in the calm evening air with no particular need to rush back to the center.

We were a dozen men all together and there was another birthday besides mine, so there were two cakes. In addition one of the men had brought a pile of some of the best baklava I've ever had and another had made "fruit pizzas," croissant pastry topped with a cream cheese mixture and cut fresh fruits in various combinations. The night before, Fritz had gave me my birthday gifts: a reproduction brass Victorian-era turn bell for my front door, a t-shirt that says "Check out my Blog" and gives the URL, and a tea cozy he'd made for my new tea pot in a handsome bargello pattern done in several shades of blue and white.

Sunday morning we had little to do. We both wake up early, so we stayed cuddled in bed for an extended time, talking about the coming year of transition as I wind up the MIT phase of my life and prepare for the construction of the new house. After breakfast and watching Charles Osgood's Sunday morning program, we got dressed and sprayed against the clouds of mosquitoes that are breeding in all the water left by the incessant rain, and ventured up into the woods. Having cut a road last fall from his driveway to the gate in the old New England stone wall that’s the entrance to my part of the property, he wanted to cut a wide path further uphill to the proposed home site.

In about forty five minutes we cleared a five foot swath with buck saws and a pair of high-torque clippers. Some larger trees will be felled with his chain saw later. Whenever the rain stops for at least a day we're also spraying the poison ivy that's all over the place and a fixture of southern New Hampshire. The new path, that will eventually become a driveway, curves gently as it rises, right around a lovely stand of field pines to a relatively flat area at the foot of the final slope up to the top of the hill. I snapped apart the trunk of a fallen birch and made a circle of its pieces on the ground to mark the place Fritz thinks the new big main room of the house will be. In eighteen months if all goes well, we'll be living right on that spot.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Here's a lovely story that a friend brought to my attention. It's maybe six months old but I haven't seen it elsewhere. A giant male tortoise whose age is variously given as between 100 and 130 years old has adopted a baby hippopotamus who was separated from his herd by the massive tsunami when it hit Kenya.

Owen, now about two years old, was swept out to sea by the retreating waters and stranded on a reef. Coastal villagers rescued him and brought him to the Haller Park animal sanctuary where Owen attached himself to Mzee the tortoise. Mzee was quite stand-offish at first but Owen kept cuddling up and following him around. It took less than a week for Mzee to come around and the two are now inseparable, even sleeping next to each other or with Owen’s head pillowed by Mzee's front leg. Park staff members report seeing undeniable signs of affection between the two.

There were some highly encouraging, if still mixed, signals that came out of the recent big Episcopal Church convention. On the one hand, the convention finally did approve a resolution on avoiding the consecration of any more gay bishops in the American Episcopal Church in order to avoid a major schism with in the Anglican communion. BUT, the resolution is a) non binding and b) the use of the term "exercise caution," particularly when applied to a church whose local divisions have free rein to elect whomever they please to be their bishops, fells far short of the conservative agenda.

Furthermore, the convention went on to elect Katherine Jefferts Schori, Bishop of Nevada, to be the first woman ever to lead the U.S. branch of the Anglican communion. Her election is sure to be controversial itself to the rabid conservatives, but her comments when asked if she thought homosexuality to be a sin will probably cause consternation:

"I don't believe so. I believe that God creates us with different gifts. Some people come into this world with affections ordered toward other people of the same gender, and some people come into this world with affections directed at people of the other gender."

Schori supported the elevation of Gene Robinson to be the first openly gay Episcopal bishop in the U.S. and says the non-binding resolution is not the last word on the gay bishop issue. At last, someone in a position of leadership willing to think for herself!

I'm off to New Hampshire after a couple of appointments and a lunch date at MIT. Fritz and I will celebrate my birthday tonight in Portsmouth with a showing of the film "Nine Lives" at the wonderfully preserved Portsmouth Music Hall and chase that with dinner out, probably at a favorite Japanese restaurant. Back after the weekend.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006


"Angels in America" the opera, part two

Monday night, about midnight, I was just drifting off to sleep when I heard a frantic scrambling sound downstairs. I knew immediately. My cat had caught a mouse and it wasn't going to be a restful night.

I live in a 150 year old house on a massive granite foundation that nevertheless has some chinks in it that allow our little woodland friends to find their way in. So, at intervals, I have mice. Many cats have passed through my life during the years I've lived here. Cornface, the single most intelligent cat with whom I've ever shared the place, was deeply attached to me and after she made her first kill, she lovingly dropped it into one of my shoes by the bed. I had a really bad moment the next morning but quickly adapted and learned--when dressing, always invert and shake.

Sun Grumble was just the opposite. A honey-colored manx cat, she hadn't a brain in her head but was all love and fun. Somehow she'd never quite gotten the genetic predator/prey "kill" message. She'd catch a mouse and trot around with it in her mouth for hours. Every now and then she'd get tired of holding it and open her mouth to yawn. The mouse would flee and she'd look sad because her little friend was gone.

Isis, the non-neurotic Siamese who went to sleep with her chin tucked into my ear, was a snacker, one of the few cats I've had who actually ate her catches. Occasionally I'd find a neatly cleaned miniature skull, spinal cord and tail on the floor in the morning--but nothing else.

Bertie, the big, fun-loving Maine coon cat, was apparently too busy inventing chase games and other forms of diversion to bother. I don't remember him ever catching a mouse--I suspect he found it beneath his sense of cool.

So, now Starr. She's a sweetie and feels that whenever anything interesting happens she needs to share it with me. As soon as she'd secured the mouse, I heard the deep yowl she makes when she wants to know where I am in the house. I usually respond and she comes running, but in the wee smalls of Tuesday morning, I really wasn't up for the Drama of Life and Death right there in my bedroom. There, however, is where she came, the little tail wagging desperately out of the side of her mouth, looking to give me a lecture-demo on how she does it. When she'd caught a previous mouse she brought it up on top of the bed to play with and I certainly wasn't up for a repeat of that.

She began the tormenting thing: the release, pounce, repeat cycle. It was deja vue when the mouse leapt into one of my shoes, which I quickly took out into the hall and shook out. Starr followed, pounced, and I chased her down the stairs to continue what she had to do on the first floor. I then went back to bed and managed to fall asleep.

In the morning I knew just where to look. Right by the side of the bed, just below where my feet would hit the floor when I sat up, was the little cadaver. Starr was sitting next to it patiently waiting for my reaction. I'm a good daddy and told her what a great huntress she is. She looked SO proud and happy. I wrapped up the mouse in a paper towel and put it in the garbage, then we went down to breakfast together.

I got this image from Buff on Buff's Tuff Talk. He, in turn had gotten it from the originator, Kelly in Richmond, Virginia whose blog is Rambling Along in Life Kelly issued a "challenge" to see how many gay bloggers would put this image on their blogs to celebrate pride month. So far, Kel's logged about eighty who have. If you'd like to join in, please feel free to copy the image from here and use it yourselves.

Returning to the operatic "Angels in America," the composer Peter Eötvös is a Hungarian living in Paris for most of his creative life who sets the English language to music better than many Americans. He doesn't do safe things. An established if somewhat arcane avant-garde composer with a major career as a conductor, eight years ago he wrote his first opera based on Chekhov's "Three Sisters." The three young women were cast as male countertenors. The European musical scene sat up and took notice, giving Eötvös the kind of recognition of which he had only dreamed previously.

Opera number two was "The Balcony," based on gay author Jean Genet's drama set in a whorehouse. Eötvös, a married and presumably straight man, obviously has an affinity for gay themes and staging techniques. When commissioned by a Paris opera house for a third opera, he chose Tony Kushner's sprawling two-part play on the onset of the AIDS crisis. Kushner wrote two long plays and Eötvös wanted to write one average length opera, so what got left out?

Turns out it was what I would call the "overt" politics. Simply writing an opera about the AIDS crisis is in itself a political act, of course, but the composer chose to bypass the political corruption on which Joe Pitt and Roy Cohn's relationship is based, for example. And a number of my favorite moments in the plays are gone from the opera, notably Ethel Rosenberg's singing Kaddish over Cohn's just deceased body, chasing it with a hearty and contemptuous "you son of a bitch!" Another is the conversation between Louis and Prior Walter late in part two: Louis, who had abandoned his boyfriend when Prior developed full-blown AIDS, asks if Prior could ever take him back. Prior says he forgives Louis but that no, Louis can NEVER come back.

What's left focuses on the core issues of each character's life. Mari Mezei, Eötvös's wife, crafted a libretto that has won great praise for its skillful stitching together of all the threads in a surprisingly coherent new look at the great work. Her text is Kushner seen in the more optimistic light of a world in which there are now thousands upon thousands of gay men LIVING with AIDS. The great central recognition of the play--that God and the angels have abandoned man and that mankind has to learn to pull together and take care of itself and its loved ones, in this opera is the start of a hopeful finale set to Eötvös's radiantly colorful and expressive music.

Taking the cue from that big recognition, director Steven Maler said that he and others always think of the early AIDS years in terms of "too much time spent in hospitals." The heros, he felt, were the nurses, doctors and orderlies who worked so hard, and under such a frustrating lack of knowledge at the time, to try to save the dying. Thus, with designer Clint Ramos, Maler created a production all of which takes place within the unit set of a pure white hospital room, and whose ensemble of white-clad hospital staff are themselves the angels of the title (photo from the Boston Globe).

Twenty musicians of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and three "chorus" singers shared the stage with the set, playing and singing like angels indeed. The score, like so much modern Hungarian music, is filled with lively rhythm and exotic color. A big part of the score are synthesized effects--phones ringing, traffic, urban noise. The characters do everything from speaking over music, to a kind of sing-song with and without composed pitches and tempo, to full out operatic singing. And part of the score is that they do it with individual body microphones (Eötvös spent a month in New York absorbing its music and theater scene, particularly the Broadway musical, as he felt Kushner's play had an essential New York quality about it).

The cast was outstanding both as singers and actors. There's one performance left, this coming Saturday evening. It's at the Wimberly Theate in the Calderwood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts and is definitely worth seeing and hearing.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


"Angels in America," the opera, part one

CBS news in Boston this morning reports that a Pentagon policy paper lists homosexuality as a mental defect, comparing it to mental retardation and personality disorders. The University of California's center for study of sexual minorities in the military made the discovery. This would be well over a quarter of a century AFTER the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders.

It's completely outrageous, of course. But this document might well force a major re-examination of the government's policies and attitudes. Bush himself has appointed at least one openly gay man to be a U.S. ambassador; there are, and have been, openly gay and lesbian senators and representatives on both the state and federal level for years. Sooner or later, the top levels of the U.S. government, no matter which party, are going to have to stop calling us defective. They'll be forced to face the fact that the gay and lesbian population is made up of perfectly normal human beings, many of whom inhabit the highest levels of the government itself, who are entitled to all the rights, privileges and the RESPECT due to every U.S. citizen.

It's ironic as well, because the Reagan administration's total lack of respect for gay citizens caused much of the anguish of the first decade of the AIDS crisis that is so powerfully treated in Tony Kushner's great play.

So, on to the operatic "Angels in America." By coincidence this morning I discovered the blog of Tom Meglioranza who sang Prior Walter in the opera. He has some interesting things to say about the vocal lines and the relation of what's sung in the score to what the orchestra's doing at any given time. This is a topic that had been covered as part of an entire program devoted to introducing "Angels" on Saturday afternoon. For those who like total immersion, and I'm so there when this kind of programming happens, it made for a rich and rewarding day.

At 3pm there was a vocal recital on themes relating to “Angels.” The lead off was what looked on paper like a strange duck indeed, a twenty minute long three act mono-opera with Epilog by American composer Judith Weir on the subject of Norwegian King Harold’s invasion of England in 1066. A single soprano acts as narrator and all the characters, and she must be a rock-solid musician as the work is sung totally unaccompanied by any musical instrument or device to provide pitch and tempo.

The relevance and point of the piece became apparent in the smart-ass tone of some of the text. Harold has used false intelligence information to launch his attack to take over medieval England. Once there, his army is faced by overwhelmingly superior English forces and slaughtered. Harold is killed. In the epilog, an Icelandic Sage delivers the Epilog: " . . . it seems to happen often, and they always say the same thing: Since so many were killed, we will never forget and make the same mistake; but they do! And it happens again. Why did Harold bother? He should have stayed at home and made the best of it. I could have told him it would end like this." Political comment on current events was hard to miss. Elizabeth Keusch was the virtuosic performer. Several singers from the cast of "Angels" then sang songs by Charles Ives, Ned Rorem, Leonard Bernstein, Max Helfman and Chris de Blasio (from the AIDS Quilt Songbook) that echoed aspects of the "Angles" libretto.

Immediately following was "The Evolution of 'Angels in America'," a panel discussion with Director Steven Maler, the production's designers, and Carole Charnow, Opera Boston's general manager. As there were only about eight of us who stayed after the recital, we had a lot of one-on-one discussion with them and learned a great deal about the compression of the text necessary to make a single opera out of the huge two play structure that is Tony Kushner's original work. There was then a two hour break during which friends joined me for dinner before the 7pm pre-performance talk on the music itself.

"Angels" is playing at the Wimberly Theater in the Calderwoood Pavilion of the Boston Center for the Arts. It's seen here from the stage looking into the auditorium just after the end of a technical rehearsal, the "Angels" cast sitting with their backs to the camera. I've got to stop thinking of the two Calderwood theaters as "new" but they are in fact the first really new theaters built in Boston for three quarters of a century. They're now two or three years old and are very good places to see theater but aren't set up for opera and musicals. Some creative production design is required to accommodate orchestras of any size.

We sat in the Wimberly's balcony at 7pm for a discussion of the choices Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös and his wife, librettist Masi Matei, had made in adapting the plays for the opera stage. We were told that there were many kinds of vocal expression in "Angels": plain speech with music under it; a kind of sing-song without indicated pitch or rhythm; the same thing with pitch and/or rhythm indicated; and conventional operatic singing. It sounds a bit more complicated than it turned out to be on stage, where one kind of utterance flowed back and forth into any of the others with the naturalness of normal conversation--although much of that naturalness was due to the skill of the cast. We watched the final placing of props and musical instruments around the set and then had a bathroom break before the 8pm curtain.

Tomorrow: "Angels" the opera in performance.

Photos from Tom Meglioranza's blog:, with thanks

Sunday, June 18, 2006


Happy Father's Day

It's a couple of minutes after midnight and I've just gotten home after the second performance in the North American premiere run of the opera version of "Angels in America" by Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös.

Yesterday Opera Boston, which produced "Angels" in its Opera Unlimited Festival, built a sequence of events around this production starting with a one hour studio performance of a twenty minute opera by American composer Judith Weir and continuing through a recital of songs by American composers (Ned Rorem, Charles Ives, Leonard Bernstein, etc.) that related to themes in Tony Kushner's ground-breaking play in two parts on which the opera is based. This was followed immediately by a panel talk with the director and designers of the production. I then went to dinner with friends and we got back to the theater for the pre-performance talk on "Angels" itself and then the main event.

I'm up very early in the morning to head up to Fritz's, but will write more about the operatic "Angels" early next week. By that time I hope to have found some pictures of the production to post. It's had a big success here in the press and in audience reaction. Mari Mezei, Eötvös's wife, did a superb job of condensing the huge, almost seven hour structure of Kushner's two part play into a libretto for Eötvös to write two and a half hours of opera. The composer inhabits a distinctive, multi-colored sound world that is engrossing both vocally and orchestrally. More on late tomorrow or Tuesday.

Happy Father's Day to my fellow Gay Dads:
Jim the Persian Guy, late of Way beyond the Pale; Ed and Eddie of Guy Dads; Scotty of The Other Side of Straight; Atari of The Lost Find; to Vic and John of v-hold who are about to become adoptive dads; and to all gay fathers everywhere who are making new lives and new families with their children--HAPPY FATHER'S DAY with much love and admiration from Will of DesignerBlog

This article caught my eye and that of the guys who publish Gaytwogether:
"Pope Vents His Wrath at Gay Sex

"The Vatican has attacked feminists and gay people as it tries to underline the importance of family values. Church leaders blamed feminism for 'exacerbating' problems within marriage and described same-sex unions as an 'eclipse of God'.

"'Never before has human procreation, and therefore the family which is its natural place, been so threatened as in today's culture,' said the document. The report was issued by the Pontifical Council for the Family and had full backing from Pope Benedict XVI. It also attacked the use of contraception and abortion." as quoted on

OK, I have a question: if procreation has never before been so threatened as in today's culture, how come there's a world-wide population explosion and a magnitude more people than have ever before been alive all at once?

Friday, June 16, 2006

The day began yesterday morning up at Fritz's. My elder daughter and son-in-law had slipped away at 4:30am, heading out to Manchester Airport (now Manchester-Boston Regional Airport) to give up their rental car and catch their early morning flight back to Colorado. When Fritz and I got up to the Center D, who manages the office and is resident on the property, had encountered an unusually large female deer on the path leading up to the site of my new house while walking her dog. It was a "soft" morning with a hint of drizzle in the air--calm, quiet and gentle.

I headed out to return to Boston and a full day. For an appointment on the other side of campus, I walked along the Charles. The day was clearing and men were out running in just shorts of various cuts. I spent the afternoon doing the kind of bureaucratic work that has to be done but that leaves you wondering exactly what it is you've been doing all day. I usually hate that but somehow it didn't bother me. I had plans for the evening.

I took the T over the river and down to the harborside for a cocktail party on the rooftop deck of one of the big financial buildings overlooking the harbor and Logan Airport. Merrill Lynch holds these gatherings annually for clients whose finances they manage. The evening was magnificent--brilliant skies with almost unlimited visibility over the harbor islands. In the background planes were taking off and heading south over the Hull peninsula. Fleets of small sailboats were setting sail, some with spinakers billowing; a big three masted mizzen-rigged schooner set sail and headed majestically out to sea. All conversations eventually gathered at the railing as the entire crowd was mesmerized by the activity and beauty of the harbor in clear, late afternoon light.

There was good wine, excellent passed hors d'ouevres and a mix of interesting people. I spoke longest with a former Delta Airlones pilot who now pilots a pontoon-based river cruise boat on the Essex River, exploring its inlets and wetlands with nature lovers. After an hour, I said good-bye to the host, my financial advisor who wanted to know all about the progress of the new house, and headed to Boston's Wang Center for The Royal Ballet of London on its 75th Anniversary Tour.

The ballet was "Manon" based on a famous 18th century novel about a young woman from the countryside who arrives in Paris and turns the lives of the men she encounters into a living hell of desire, rivalry, sexual obsession, and despair. Truly loved by a sincere young man whom she constantly betrays, she is denounced to the authorities by an outraged older "protector" as an amoral woman and deported to the penal colony France maintains in the New World at New Orleans.

There her downward spiral entraps local authorities, including a jailer whom her young French lover murders to protect her. As they flee into the swamps, she succumbs to the ravages of the ocean voyage in chains and to local tropical fevers, dying in his arms as he cradles her body in tears.

Choreography was by the late Kenneth MacMillan who rebuilt British ballet into dance theater, big spectacles of love, sexual obsession and death that eliminated many of the artificialities of classical ballet and substituted visceral drama mated to demanding, technically daring dance. The tone was erotic and exciting.

The current company is filled with young, highly virtuosic Spanish and Hispanic dancers. Tamara Rojo and Carlos Acosta were the leads. She was doll-like, perfect and dangerous, a fascinating yet strangely and seductively innocent presence in the midst of the hell she creates around her. Her ever-faithful young lover was the tall, athletic, intensely hot Carlos Acosta. There were ovations at the end for them and for a company filled with great actor/dancers.

So, a lovely evening. Today, reality. My Jeep's air compressor is dying--faster than Manon, actually and nowhere near as pretty while doing it. Noises I began to hear on Saturday are getting worse and my mechanics are working to locate a new one and prepare an estimate now. Whatever it is it ain't gonna be pretty, but Fritz and I are heading out on July 9th for a little road trip; the consequences of letting the bearing seize up and destroy the big belt that keeps everything running is not something I want to risk while a thousand miles from home.

As I type this, the call has come in with a somewhat gentler estimate than expected ($645) so I'm going to drive over and drop it off for so as to have it done by tonight. A little bit of good fortune, at least.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Karl featured one of these "States I Have Visited" maps on Adventures in Gastronomy, and since I'm a real sucker for these things, here's my tally:

Add St. Thomas and St. John, American Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico (OK, just San Juan Airport), and you have the whole story.
create your own visited states map or check out these Google Hacks.

My experience of the South is even less than it appears on this map, actually. I visited Georgia only as a pass-through state, getting to Florida as a kid when my family chose to drive down the coast instead of fly. South Carolina I know only from Charleston and vicinity (the Spoleto in America music festival) but it was really wonderful on the two occasions when I was there.

When I look at the map I see a pattern. I've been hesitant (and Fritz is very hesitant) to go to many of the "red states" as a gay man. Now, I read blogs. I know of Jim and the Memphis Gaggle, for example, a great group of guys who live their lives in Tennessee ostensibly with no major problems. There are others who live in states whose homophobia is reported by the news media with depressing frequency. Clearly gay men live, work and thrive there but I always wonder--and Fritz says that he grew up always wondering--when the next blow from behind is going to hit. That said, the latest horrific example of potentially lethal gay bashing (performer-drag queen Kevin Aviance) was in New York City's East Village. There have been a number of truly lethal bashings around the country recently, something I expected given the encouragement of Bush and the radical religious right to consider gays and lesbians worthy of contempt and even extermination.

Of the states I haven't visited yet, Oregon really interests me for several reasons, not least that Portland is becoming a major new gay center, in addition to the attractions of the state's scenery. I'd also love to visit some of the great National Parks in the upper plains states but that's precisely where I'd probably feel most nervous of all.

I went to a farewell party at MIT today for a super colleague, retiring Vice President of the Corporation Kathryn Willmore. I got to know Kathryn several years ago during the creation of the big "To Be Out and at MIT" photo exhibit that I got to design. She is the highest ranking out gay or lesbian administrator ever in the history of the Institute. She's also been a great friend and inspiration to huge numbers of people at MIT.

The farewell was planned to be a big, raucous circus-type party with a stilt walker, fortune teller, a couple of mimes, and a jazz band with a singer who's a favorite of Kathryn's. There was champagne as well as excellent Italian wines, good food--but mostly a lot of fun and interesting people saying a reluctant but loving farewell to a really great lady.

I asked Kathryn what she was going to next and she said a lot of travel--Europe, southeast Asia, and eventually Uganda. Then she'll do a consulting job for MIT, chairing the committee planning the Institute's 150th anniversary that takes place in five years.

As for me, I looked at a radiant person surrounded by friends and colleagues wishing her the very best, celebrating her many years on the job and thought, that's me just one year from now.

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Yesterday was Boston's Gay Pride in bad weather that nobody allowed to dampen the spirit or stop the parade. Bryan (Life of Bryan) had been coordinating a gathering of the QBB, but I didn't get the info, so Fritz and I went out with our friends B the Chef and his boyfriend A the Ceramicist, two very old friends of ours who've begun a lovely romance. We met at B's wonderful Federal Period house in the Dudley Square area for brunch and then got ourselves up to Copley Square.

The parade was supposed to have begun at noon but was put off for an hour in the hope that the weather would clear. That was not to be--the rain got heavier, the wind wilder and colder, as the parade progressed. B, who was wearing a kilt in the full traditional manner with nothing underneath, almost literally froze his balls off, so we took refuge in a Starbucks and used the $5 gift cards we'd been given by the company back in Copley Square. And there in Starbucks was Bryan, so we saw each other after all, although I never managed to catch up with any of the other guys.

The parade has changed over the years, and the weather this year affected some other changes. Drag queens in feathers were in short supply as was the usual crowd of half naked leather boys representing the Ramrod. Only three or four hardy guys (one stunning one with an absolutely world class chest) braved the cold and lashing rain (the guys on the left are from a pride parade in warmer times). There were no gay dads marching in an organized group, but lots of gay marriage and marriage equality groups.

And there was only one candidate for governor. Neither Mr. Reilly nor Mr. Gabrielli showed up--and of course Republican candidate Kerry Healey, no matter how hard she's running toward the party's center and away from some of Mitt Romney's toxic philosophy, would ever show upat a gay event. But Deval Patrick, African-American, veteran of the Clinton administration, and Democratic front-runner, marched with a sizeable and jubilant crowd of supporters.

There were the usual large church groups from denominations that welcome and accept gays into their congregations and ministries. And there was Dignity, from the Catholic Church that does neither. There was a Jewish contingent. My favorite religious group was led by two guys carrying an impressive banner that read, Independent Pagans of New England. I'm very pro-Pagan. I may even be proto-Pagan so I was very enthusiastic. These guys were done up in high Druidic style with earthy brown robes held together with rope, and one of them carried a long steer horn that I was hoping he'd blow but it never seemed to happen. As they walked by I realized just how independently Pagan they were--there were no others. All other New England Pagans are apparently allied or associated or amalgamated somehow.

Fritz thought there were more give-aways than previously--not just the ubiquitous beads, but safe[r] sex kits of condoms and lube, candies in various packages, lots of refrigerator magnets, and even one truck that tossed the occasional folding umbrella to people who had come out without one.

We left Starbucks when the combined New Hampshire groups, Capitol Gay Men and Seacoast Gay Men, came into view and we jumped in with them to march the final blocks to the Boston Common. I caught sight of the two Independent Pagans on the sidelines, cheering on the rest of us after they'd finished their march, and gave them a big thumbs up sign. They broke into big smiles and waved back, but still didn't blow their own horn.

The Commom was spongy, muddy and completely saturated, so I don't think anyone was going to be sprawled out on the ground for the post-parade show. But B wanted to hit the Utilikilt tent to see the latest cuts and fabrics--he already has a wardrobe of them and a great set of legs to go with--but didn't find anything that struck his fancy.

We got back to my place for a rest, afternoon tea and a couple of games of cribbage before heading out again to a big pot luck supper with friends in Jamaica Plain. At the height of the party there were about forty men, a combination of old friends, guys who'd been to Fritz's for the Body Electric events or our own Sweat Lodge gatherings, and men we were meeting for the first time some of whom turned out to be boyfriends of the others. Much fun, good food and good talk.

Today we're going up to Fritz's in southern New Hampshire where my elder daughter and son-in-law, back briefly on the east coast for a school reunion of hers, will join us for a couple of days.

Oh--and the sun is shining brightly AT LAST!!

Thursday, June 08, 2006

I don't normally speak of "Biblical" anything but as I tried to get around Boston/Cambridge on Wednesday, the only description I could come up with was "rain of Biblical proportions." Since the ground hadn't begun to dry out from the last major soaking, there was no place for the water to go except to pond everywhere and flood the roads yet again.

I also don't normally get depressed, but it's beginning to be discouraging--the constant damp, being cold and wet all the time outdoors as the wind-driven rain and murk finds you no matter where you take shelter, wading through three inch deep water just to get into the Humanities Building, etc.

The Charles River was dammed at its mouth in 1910 because a tidal river going through a city means that twice a day smelly and ugly mud flats are laid bare. So the dam, with locks for boat passage, was built to turn the lower Charles into a recreational lake. But in a situation like this, the river can't drain fast enough. The water level is way high and no matter how much water they let out during low tide, they can't keep up with it. The Muddy River that drains from Jamaica Pond near where I live into the Charles is completely backed up because the Charles is so full. As I drove home last night, the park on either side of the Muddy was flooded up to the top of the park benches, and almost onto the road on the west bank. More rain is forecast through tomorrow but Saturday looks like it might be dry for Boston Pride. How many people are going to want to stretch out on the ground on Boston Common for the post-parade concert, unless they bring waterproof tarps, remains to be seen.

I sent this e-letter to Macy's today concerning their dismantling part of a window display saluting Gay Pride in Boston; one, just one, small right wing organization got all fluttery and outraged over two male manikins standing next to each other, one of them wearing the rainbow flag like a sarong:

I was deeply disappointed that Macy's Boston caved in to pressure from bigots and homophobes and gutted much of a Gay Pride window display this week. According to the statement made by a Macy's representative, "a few people" were offended.

I and many others like me were also offended--deeply offended--that in spite of its declared support for the traditions, etc. of a diverse population, Macy's chose to knuckle under and remove two male figures from the window. Let me ask you about a very normal show window configuration: a male and female figure together, engaged in some activity or other. If I were to contact you saying I was offended by an expressed heterosexual display, would those figures be removed? I suspect they wouldn't. Why, then was it necessary to deny the reality of gay couples in the middle of a municipally supported week of celebration and gay events?

Gay and lesbian couples make up a certain percentage of your customer base. This week, shopping at Macy's became a less attractive option. I do hope that in future Macy's will stand behind its admirable statement about respect for ALL the members of a diverse population, with action. This week, I feel Macy's failed that admirable principle very badly.

As those of you who have read this blog for some time know, names from the past sometimes pop into my mind and I get sudden, vivid memories of them. Alexander Godunov, the Bolshoi Ballet star who sought political refuge in the U.S. late in the Cold War, is just the latest. He was a meteor who flashed across the ballet and film world for a very short while and burned brightly while he did.

Russian male dancers are frequently less about strict classical style than about athletic strength and showmanship combined with an animal sexuality. That's particularly the style of Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, where Alexander Godunov's career took off in 1971 at age 22. He had strong interests in acting as well as dance and in 1974 starred as Vronski, Anna's lover, in an American film of Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina." He probably got an eyeful of what performing artists could do in the U.S. as opposed to the Soviet Union where the state controlled every aspect of their lives, including what roles they would perform, what companies they would perform with, how much they would make, where they would live, and whether or not they would travel outside the country and under what kind of guard.

When big companies like the Bolshoi went out on tour it was well known that all the dressers, make-up people and other staff were not company members but agents from the KGB. Performers were kept on a very short leash and under constant surveillance. Nevertheless, there were some notable defections when performers found that the guard had been let down for just a moment, seized the opportunity and got away to seek political asylum. One very famous pianist never actually defected but was constantly AWOL--he knew the location of all the boy brothels in every city to which he toured.

In August of 1979 the Bolshoi was playing the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and Godunov got away, leaving everything behind including his wife, another Bolshoi dancer, and asked U.S. authorities for asylum. An international incident followed. The KGB hustled Godunov's wife onto a plane at Kennedy airport to send her home immediately, but the U.S. government had the take-off blocked. The presidents of both countries got involved and for three days she sat confined to the plane at the airport while negotiations proceeded. Godunov wanted to talk to her and get her to appeal for asylum also. He was invited by the Soviet authorities to do so--on the plane. Knowing it was a trap, he gave up and so did the Carter administration. She returned to Moscow, he stayed.

(Harrison Ford, Jan Rubes, Viggo Mortensen and Alexander Godunov)
The American Ballet Theater found a place in the company for him. He appeared live in a couple of televised ABT performances and stayed with them for a several years but his heart was in the movies. He made a highly successful appearance in the movie "Witness" with Harrison Ford, Kelley McGillis, Lucas Haas, Danny Glover, Patti Lu Pone and Viggo Mortensen. He made seven more movies, the most famous being "The Money Pit" with Tom Hanks and "Die Hard" as the high-strung, dangerous terrorist, Karl, opposite Bruce Willis and Alan Rickman. In Hollywood he had an extended, intense affair with Jacqueline Bisset. His final movie was "The Zone," aka "The Dogfighters" which was released in 1996.

In his last couple of years there were a lot of rumors that he had contracted HIV and finally, that he had developed AIDS. In point of fact, it was hepatitis that was complicated by increasingly severe alcohol abuse. In May of 1995, friends became concerned when they hadn't heard from him and sent someone to his apartment, where he was found dead at age 45. He was cremated and his ashes scattered in the ocean at a memorial service only his American friends attended. His family, including his mother, did not come to the U.S. to say good-bye. His was one flight for freedon that led to even greater isolation.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

I was exploring a fellow gay Boston blogger's site in more depth the other day and discovered that he had listed me among his blog daddies, guys whose blogs had in some way inspired or influenced the style of his own. I was touched by his doing this, and began to think of those who had influenced me to blog and how to do it.

The first name that came to mind was Keith Adams. His photojournal had a couple of different names and finally settled on Keithlife. A tall, slender Brit with a high level tech job that required a fair amount of travel and allowed him an extremely nice lifestyle in San Francisco, Keith wrote about his travels, friends, the arts, his family back in England, and his desire to get into making films in addition to rather interesting details of his daily life. Keithlife was spiced not a little by the fact that Keith liked to show off his sinewy, gym-toned body, preferably wet. While reading his account of the performance of a Mahler Symphony, you could scroll through a slide show of Keith becoming progressively less and less clothed--in various, always beautifully lit scenarios.

As the years passed, Keith finally realized his goal to make short films to scripts he wrote himself. Best of all, when he least expected it, a dinner date blossomed into the romance of his dreams. He closed down the blog when he moved to LA to be with his man and devote himself completely to the relationship. But not before giving me a consistently well-written, varied and engaging example of how to use the on-line journal format--I'm not sure there were any (or at least many) actual blogs when he started--to communicate with others like himself. When I began to blog, to develop my own style and gather a small (but choice!) circle of readers, I wished I had his email address to thank him for showing me the way.

I then went back a "generation" to one of the real pioneers. Long before "The Truman Show" dealt with the subject of having one’s life telecast to the world, Sean Patrick Williams was visible 24 hours a day via webcam. He lived in D.C. and ate, slept, cleaned, worked, cooked, entertained, watched TV and occasionally had sex on cam (although he was far more restrained in the latter regard than many other web cammers). As someone who had always been a very private person, I was fascinated by the openness of it all.

In 1998, The Advocate did a small article on Sean Patrick who shortly thereafter succumbed to the pressure of living every minute in public and shut the cam down. I didn't think to ask him at that time if he'd been influenced by some of Andy Warhol's movies, such as "Sleep", which seems like a logical progression. What I admired about his cam site was how powerful and courageous a statement it was for a gay man to take the ultimate "out" position of living a gay life on line for the whole world to see. Visuals were the dominant feature of Sean Patrick (the camsite's official title), but as time went on, he became more and more verbal about everything from his health, having been shot down by a particular date, or his thoughts on the superiority of polyurethane condoms over latex. He did it naturally and without grandstanding, and somehow it became compelling. One cared, and missed him when he was gone.

Now, of course, it's very common to be completely out on the web. I wonder if the openness aroused the current, almost universal voyeurism in American life, or if the voyeurism created and fueled the webcam/blog culture. As with so many other things, perhaps the two are inextricably entwined.

Question: Does anyone know what's happened to Jim (Persian Guy)'s blog "Way Beyond the Pale"? When I click my link or the link to him from other blogs, I get the blog of Sarah King--not the same thing at all. Any information will be gratefully received, thanks.

While I ate and cleaned up the kitchen this morning, Matt Lauer on the Today Show was interviewing Ann Coulter. She was almost enough to take away my appetite. So far in my life I haven't used the "c" word about any woman, but I was practically screaming it at the screen this morning. The rabidly right wing lawyer/commentator's got another one of her poisonous books published and Matt was doing an admirable job of taking her apart limb from limb.

She wanted to push the book but he insisted on calling her on some of her published statements maintaining the brilliance, courage, rightness and enlightenment--in effect the sanctity--of the Bush administration. He even had tape to roll of her pontificating on Bush's successes, all of which have subsequently turned to ashes. She usually has some acid tongued come-back, but Matt finally rendered her speechless and stammering "I don't know" when he demanded her current evaluation of his policies. She finally countered that it all doesn't mean anything anyway since Bush isn't running again, which Matt immediately blew out of the water by pointing out the continuing slaughter of Americans and Iraqi civilians.

She finally insisted on the book--but he was ready for her. He read, among other passages, one in which she commented on the widows of men killed in the 9/11 attacks. There may be a slight paraphrase here but the gist was, "I've never seen a bunch of widows so happy about their husbands' deaths in my life!" Remember, these are women who will have seen television shots of men and women plummeting to a mercifully quick death out of the Trade Center buildings rather than suffer an agonizingly slow one burning to death. Some of those men may have been their husbands.

When challenged, she claimed that instead of withdrawing into their homes and grieving in private, these widows were expressing political opinions IN PUBLIC! Criticizing the President! [How dare they?] Clearly they didn't love these men, she claims, because they were discussing and exploiting their deaths in the media instead of realizing that 9/11 was an attack on all America and not on their insignificant selves and families.

It is to hate-mongering scum like this that George Bush and his gang have delivered us.

I found this on Chad Fox's blog and was really deflated at the outcome. The final sentence tries to cheer me up, but it's obvious I just don't rate on the Evilometer:

You Are 34% Evil

A bit of evil lurks in your heart, but you hide it well.
In some ways, you are the most dangerous kind of evil.
How Evil Are You?

Friday, June 02, 2006

It's done. Wednesday I delivered three copies of the letter announcing my departure from MIT as of June 2007. One went to the current Chair of Music and Theater Arts, one to the new Chair who takes over on July 1, and one to the Administrative Officer who's responsible for the day to day operations of M&TA. It had been discussed. Essentially, everybody knew. But it made a real difference putting it into words and delivering it in concrete form to the proper mail boxes. I realized that a major rite of passage in my life had just taken place.

I'm not given to panic attacks but I almost had one. This is a big transition, one that will also involve moving out of the house where I raised my daughters, a complete change of life style, moving from an urban to a rural environment. I walked down the hall a way to the office suite of my acting/directing and music colleagues just to talk with someone about something, ANYTHING. I found a couple of them, we talked, the moment passed.

I went back to my own office in our little design/production building and called Fritz. Later in the afternoon, two Blue Mountain e-cards arrived with words of encouragement and love. I was back on track. I always knew that I would need something really special and very personal to get me out of my house, and the new one that I'm designing especially for Fritz and me is certainly that. And for the last nine years I've known that leaving the challenging (in such a good way), demanding (ditto), amazing place where I've made the majority of my career would be eased by going TO something even richer and more personally rewarding--a full-time life with Fritz. So everything's cool. I just had to do it, and get through it.

We had a farewell dinner with our special graduating seniors at Marino’s Restaurant in North Cambridge. It’s a good place, with excellent service and you can hear yourself have a conversation. I really hate restaurants where you have to shout to be heard. The cuisine is Mediterranean with a northern Italian orientation. As I hold the department’s corporate credit card, I had the pleasure of charging and signing for a $580 dinner. It was even more fun a couple of weeks ago when we had our farewell dinner for the two guest artists who’ve been with us for the term--that was a $750 tab. I sign these tabs with SUCH suave confidence, waiters and maitre’d hovering appreciatively!

Chris of chris-says tagged me on this one:

Give the best/favorite answer to the questions below. Now if you borrow, you have to add on five (5) more.
Best Summer - 1970. I spent two and a half months on my first European trip with a rented Renault 4.
Best Car Ever Owned – Ralph Nader notwithstanding, an
ancient Chevy Corvair, my very first car. Actually my two Jeep Cherokees are the ones I've loved most and that have lasted longest, but the first car with all that new freedom was just The Best.
Best Cruising Song – Hmmm. I never actually cruised to pick up guys in a car, although I do check them out while I'm driving. (Fritz: "I cruise, you drive.")I take many long drives, particularly while going back and forth to NYC for opera and theater, and then I like long stuff--Russian operas, Wagner, Mozart. Now, I DO listen to rock sometimes and when I do I like ballsy guys--Jon Fogerty, Robert Palmer, Sting, classic Billy Joel, Cream. And late at night at 75mph (65 through Providence) on U.S. 95, Stravinsky's "The Rite of Spring" will take you exactly from the Connecticut border with Rhode Island to the Massachusetts border with Rhode Island--and keep you safely awake all the way.
Favorite Meal – Roast Duck, Peking Duck, Duck a l'orange, Duck choo chee, Duck with Tamarind sauce. When I proof read that, I had a typo, having written Dick a l’orange. Yeah, that works, too. :-)
Favorite Season – Fall, followed closely by Spring and less closely by Winter. Then, except for the chance to garden, Summer after a wide gap. I HATE humidity and high heat.
Most Proud Accomplishment – Raising my two daughters and seeing them turn out to be such great young women.
Best Christmas Gift – The t-shirt with the Welsh Dragon that Fritz embroidered on it for me.
Best Embarrassing Moment – Getting up the courage to come out to family, friends and colleagues only to find out that everybody knew and were all just waiting to be officially let in on the "secret."
Best Slow Dance Song"At last" sung by Etta James. Fritz and I danced to it at our wedding party.
Best Night – May 23, 1997, the night I met Fritz.

Now, Chris’s new five:
Favorite way to cool off – Swimming at the nude beach on Martha's Vinyard
Best position to sleep in – On my left side
Favorite smell/scent – Several: bread baking, paperwhite narcissus, a man, coffee . . .
Best way to get a day off work/school – I schedule all my work into another day, then I leave. There are some distinct advantages to being the head of the operation.
Favorite beverage - Champagne
Best curse/swear – "Fuck, shit, piss and corruption!" Covers all the bases.

OK, my new five:

Best vacation destination –
Favorite American building -
Best underwear brand –
Best job you've had –
Favorite news medium -

I'm always hesitant about tagging people for fear of annoying them, but here are five I'd be interested to see pick this up if, and only if, they feel like it:

Scott (Agent XXX), JC (Ex Post Facto, who DID write that his "love for memes knows no bounds"), Atari (The Lost Find), Scotty (The Other Side of Straight), and Six Shooter aka Kevin (Shoot from the Hip)

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