Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Travel Update: We're leaving tomorrow for a little road trip to friends and family that will take us to stops in Bernardsville, NJ; Takoma Park just outside D.C.; Greensboro, NC; Norfolk, VA; and West Chester, PA. I don't know how much connectability I'll have along the way, but I'll post if I can.

A very happy Easter and Passover to everyone, and I'll "see" you all again in a week if not before.


The bad news from performing arts companies just keeps on coming. This is the official word of the demise of the artistically significant Granite State Opera which had begun preparation of its most ambitious production yet, Verdi's Macbeth:

Economic Malaise Claims Another Arts Company
Temple, NH – Tuesday, April 7, 2009 -

"Lilliane LeBel, President of the Board of Trustees of Granite State Opera, today announces that the opera company is closing effective April 3, 2009. “It is with heartfelt disappointment on my part, and the part of all of us involved, that we make this announcement. Granite State Opera has brought such joy and enrichment to the community over the past nine years, and we are extremely sorry to have to close.” said Ms. LeBel.

"Granite State Opera is not alone. It follows Baltimore Opera, Connecticut Opera, Orlando Opera and Pacific Opera, not to mention dozens of other arts organizations across the country. Even The Metropolitan Opera has had to cut back on its productions.

"Known for its high-quality productions despite its size, Granite State Opera has won many awards since its inception including “Best Classical Event in NH in 2006” from Hippo Press for its Madama Butterfly and “Best Opera, Best Opera Orchestra, and Best Male Lead” awards from for the eastern US region for its 2007 production of I Pagliacci. In addition it has received many glowing reviews from both national and international critics including the prestigious Seen and Heard International.

"But even the critical acclaim that the Granite State Opera has garnered could not spare it from the downturn. Even as late as this week, the company mulled over a plan that it thought it could survive by extending the season and holding town hall-type meetings, but unfortunately realized that those steps would not be enough to help it weather the next few months. “It was with deep regrets that the Board came to the conclusion that there were no other viable options that would enable us to continue,” she continued.

"Artistic Director Philip Lauriat said, “I am saddened that we need to close the company, but I am proud of what Granite State Opera has offered to its audiences over the years. I hope that we have expanded the love of opera in New Hampshire.”
The company thanks the many supporters, patrons, audience members, singers, instrumentalists, directors, stage and set crews who have contributed to the company's artistic successes over the years."

As many of these companies have gone down, they've taken with them extremely valuable community outreach programs, including in some cases the only exposure to classical music or even music of any kind in local schools. The prestigious Juilliard Music School in New York City is also pressed by the current economy, as this note in the New York Times makes clear:

Poor Children
By Daniel J. Wakin
The Juilliard School’s music-training program for poor minority schoolchildren has been slashed, disappointing dozens of children preparing to audition.

This financial crash looks like it will also impoverish us artistically.


Several months ago, I developed a craving for a pair of red socks. A lot of it had to do, I think, with my tendency to not dress exactly like everybody else, something that decades ago confirmed for me that I would not be going into the business world where everybody has to wear essentially identical business suits, shirts, and ties.

Another part of it is that Fritz and I both find the standard clothing choices available to men to be very dull, mostly in sober colors and lacking much, if any, individuality. So I tried to find red socks and kept coming up empty at store after store. Eventually, I resorted to the internet and found nothing from most of the men's on line clothiers. Finally there was a site that had only socks, from about 50 companies. The first pair that was red were Armani and cost something like $70 a pair--no way THAT was going to happen. Another designer label offered its red socks for $48. No sale there either.

But along about page 24 of the site, Joseph A. Bank had a dandy pair in a color called "berry" for $12 a pair, still a good deal more than at your local Target or Wal-Mart, but those places weren't selling red socks, so I ordered two pair that are now rolled neatly in my sock basket, awaiting my first important event.


Yesterday I completed the first of three raised beds on the hillside above the house that will serve as our vegetable garden. Building them is difficult work as the ground is super rocky (the mini-boulder on the corner of the picture above weighs in at about 50 pounds and is typical of the larger rocks in the soil, which is also crammed with smaller stones locked together in the soil of this long-extinct volcanic blow hole.

The terraces march uphill toward the solar panels, and are also stepped gently downward as the slope drops off gently to the right.

Once I get the next two built (their inside dimension is 25 feet wide by 4 feet deep, seen looking inside the first one, above) a great load of good topsoil will be dumped on the property and we'll fill these with a 6" to 7" layer of it and immediately begin to plant.


One of the most interesting and successful of the early video porn stars, Jack Wrangler, has died. Jack's career was unique to say the least--he began with gay porn, progressed to bi and straight porn, eventually became a musical theater leading man, and his private life was crowned by a long marriage to the jazz and cabaret singer Margaret Whiting that was platonic but seemingly no less loving for that. Here's the obit:

Porn Icon Jack Wrangler Dead at 62

April 07, 2009

Legendary porn star turned musical theater actor Jack Wrangler passed away last night, according to director Jeffrey Schwarz, whose recent documentary Wrangler: Anatomy of An Icon captured the legacy of the late star. Wrangler spoke to The Advocate in November in one of his last interviews.

Wrangler came from a prominent Hollywood family and got his start in Christian television, only to go on to become one of the first gay porn actors to achieve star status and a cult following in the 1960s and ‘70s. He made over 80 adult films, including Wanted and Sex Magic. His rugged, masculine good looks helped define the sexual attractions of a generation of gay men.

Wrangler stunned fans when he switched over to straight porn later in his career -- confounding them yet again when he retired from porn all together after meeting and eventually starting a relationship with singer Margaret Whiting. That relationship would last the rest of his life. Wrangler went on to enjoy a successful career in musical theater.

Wrangler reportedly died of complications from lung disease. He was 62 years old.

He was a hottie. RIP, Jack!
oooh a vegetable garden!
if you want advise on fabulous heirloom veggies or something exotic or tasty, let me know!
Dear Dad,

You can measure your feet. Measure your foot from toe to heel. Measure the top part of your calf where you want your sock to hit. Measure your foot around the narrowest part of your ankle. Measure your foot around the widest part. If lucky, you may receive a pair of hand knit 80% cotton 25% wool socks at Christmas time.

Have a good trip.
he was hot
good blog
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