Saturday, June 24, 2006

Plat du jour

To make this car go faster, you yell "Mush! Mush!"

Another goat in trouble

Goats are really having it rough, lately. First this, now British Army Demotes Mascot Goat, Billy:
LONDON (AP) - A British army regiment's ceremonial pet goat (picture) was demoted in disgrace after it marched out of line before a host of dignitaries during a parade to mark Queen Elizabeth II's birthday, a military spokesman said Saturday.

The military mascot, a 6-year-old male goat called Billy, was downgraded from the rank of lance corporal to fusilier - the same status as a private - after army chiefs ruled his poor display had ruined the ceremony earlier this month at a British army base in Episkopi, western Cyprus.

Lance Cpl. Dai Davies, 22, the goat's handler, was unable to keep control during the June 16 march. The mascot darted from side to side, throwing soldiers off their stride, Capt. Crispian Coates, a spokesman, said by telephone from the base in Cyprus.

"The goat, which has been the regiment's mascot since 2001, was supposed to be leading the march, but would not stay in line," Coates said. "After consideration, the commanding officer decided he had no option but to demote Billy."

Ambassadors from Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands were among those who attended the march along with U.N. dignitaries.

Since the goat's demotion, soldiers of a lower rank are no longer expected to salute Billy as a sign of respect, Coates said.

Capt. William Rose, a soldier present at the parade, said the goat "was trying to head-butt the waist and nether regions of the drummers."

The 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh, has had a long tradition of traveling with a pet goat used in ceremonies. The Welsh regiment was presented with a goat from the royal herd in 1746, and Billy is a descendant from the same bloodline, Britain's Ministry of Defense said.

A total of 11 ceremonial pets - including a ferret, an Indian black buck and a ram - are kept by the British army, but regiments do not take the mascots to combat zones. British legislators were told last month that keeping the pets costs the equivalent of $55,000 a year.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Plat du jour

We certainly know what kind of lawyer owns this one--unless it's talking about an illuminated reptile (which, come to think of it, is still a good description for a lawyer for some people.)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Weird websearch of the day

stagehand stagehands madison square garden 2006 lists my blog as 11th. Interestingly, if you eliminate the "stagehands" from the search, you get many more results, and I'm nowhere near as high. Not that I ever wrote about a stagehand or stagehands in Madison Square Garden--it's just that I have written about the two subjects in different articles.

With or without the "stagehands," I think it's a kind of unusual thing to search for--the results are all over the place. Lots of the results are like mine, where it's just a coincidence that I've written about two different things, and the search engine (Yahoo in this case, though I tried it with Google and got similar results) put the two together.

What also makes the search weird is that it came from Arizona.

Die Mommie Die!

Monday I went to a staged reading of Charles Busch's Die Mommie Die! at the historic Hudson Theatre. This was a benefit for The Actors' Fund of America, the 124-year-old human services organization dedicated to helping all those in the performing arts and entertainment world.

Though mostly known from its 2003 movie incarnation (which I haven't seen), Die Mommie Die! was originally a play that had a short run in Los Angeles in 1999. This was its first appearance in New York.

There is over-the-top, and then there's over-the-over-the-top. That's what this play is. As Busch (who was the writer and star of both the play and the film) described it, Die Mommie Die! is a cross between Greek tragedy and Hollywood kitsch. Over-acting is suggested, if not required. Add to that the fact the this was a reading--there were laughs generated just by the handling of the scripts, which the actors frequently relied on. There were mispronunciations, mis-readings, and bad word emphases aplenty, and the audience understood and laughed--no one expected a polished performance here.

The biggest star on the stage was Christopher Meloni, best known for his eight years on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, as well as his role as Chris Keller in HBO's prison series, Oz. He seemed the most under-rehearsed. Also in the cast was Jayne Houdyshell, who was nominated for a Tony in the recently closed Well. She did a fine job as the maid, but mostly she reminded me of Conchata Ferrell. Jenn Harris did a great job as the daughter.

I was a bit surprised by Busch's performance, however. Too often he dropped his voice (both in volume and pitch) for this line or that. But it wasn't for any particular type of line. It seemed to be totally random. Of course, I really don't know if this is typical of him--I've somehow managed never to have seen him act before. I did see the one play he wrote that made it to Broadway, The Tale of the Allergist's Wife, but he wasn't in it.

On the other hand, his costumes were gorgeous. Of course, who I'd really like to look like was Harris, in her 60's mini-dresses.

It was really a lot of fun. Afterwards I went down to Lips for a little dinner. I had a nice conversation with a couple of crossdressers, one of whom was from Texas making her first public appearance presenting as a woman. The other was someone from New Jersey who was showing her around. And I can again confirm that Bianca Leigh, the Lips Monday bartender/DJ/singer, is still alive.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Plat du jour

An admiralty lawyer?

Update on Kevin Aviance

Drag performer Kevin Aviance was beaten in gay bashing a couple weeks ago, as I noted in here. A large rally and march protesting the increasing violence against LGBT people was held Saturday.

Kevin was well enough to appear at that, but it's going to be a while before he can perform again. (I've seen various reports of the extent of his injuries, but even the least of them include a broken jaw and knee--which will certainly put a singer-dancer out of action.) He has no insurance for the medical bills.

They've gotten his personal website up again, and you can make a donation via PayPal through that (you don't need a PayPal account, just a credit card). Or you can mail a check to the address at the bottom of his page.

Also Crossdressers International is making its summer barbecue into a fundraiser for Kevin. We'll have excellent food, courtesy of professional chef Michael. Wednesday, July 19. The theme is South Pacific, so get out those grass skirts and coconut shell bras!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Monday, June 19, 2006

I've been busy--the last

There's no way I'm ever going to get caught up with posting about what I've been doing, even "briefly." So I'm just going to list the rest my activities, with maybe a one or two sentence explanation. If anyone wants to read more about any of these, leave a comment. I'll try to expand on what I said. But I'm not going to have much time for that this week. It looks like I'm going to be busy the next six evenings in a row.

6/3: Lorin Maazel conducting the New York Philharmonic in the final subscription concert of the season: Elliott Carter's Dialogues for Piano and Chamber Orchestra, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, soloist. 97-year old Carter came out to take a bow; Igor Stravinsky's Concerto for Piano and Wind Instruments, Aimard soloist again; Hector Berlioz' Symphonie Fantastique. Great; Encore (extremely unusual for a subscription concert): Berlioz' Roman Carnival Overture.

6/6: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at Southpaw in Brooklyn. After dinner with friends. Joan was wonderful--and looked super. I loved her cover of Androgynous.

6/7: Started with a board meeting of the LGBT Law Assn. Foundation, where I was appointed treasurer. Then I went to the annual Crossdressers International (CDI) Prom Dinner at Primitivo. Very nice food, super service.

6/9: All Dolled Up, an off-Broadway play set in the 60's about a crossdressing mobster, seen with a couple of friends from CDI. Full of clichés, but cute. Dinner afterwards at the good but expensive West Bank Café. We were treated to a round of drinks by the owner of Dave's Tavern, where we often go after our Wednesday Open House.

6/10: After a good but over-priced dinner at Sandomenico, a performance of Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella by the American Ballet Theatre. Fun.

6/11: Stayed home and watched the Tony Awards.

6/12: Adequate dinner at Café Un Deux Trois, then a benefit show for the Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre, Broadway Salutes Yiddish. Among the honorees, 95-year old Bel Kaufman, author of Up the Down Staircase (one of my favorite books in high school)--I never knew she was the granddaughter of Sholom Aleichem. Notable performers: Leonard Nimoy (his online biographies say little or nothing of his work in Yiddish plays in Los Angeles in the 50's), Theodore Bikel, Tovah Feldshuh--who sang some numbers from her current play, Hello Dolly. After intermission, backed by the Billy Joel band (sans Billy), numbers from the Broadway/touring casts of Movin' Out, Mamma Mia! and Jersey Boys--the latter still recovering from celebrating their Tony wins the night before.

6/13: After a meeting with the LGBT Law Assn. president and our bookkeeper, I went to a celebration of the 60th anniversaries of Air France and KLM transatlantic service at the newly expanded Morgan Library. Nice hors d'oeuvres, plenty of champagne. We got to see J.P. Morgan's study and his private library room, with one the Library's three Gutenberg Bibles.

6/14: A cocktail party at the apartment of the managing director of the Fresh Fruit Festival. A small gathering of the "Leaders, Movers and Shakers of the LGBT Community." I hardly think I qualify for that--unless they're referring to my breasts. Anyhow, they were looking for ideas, and did a soft sell for people to join their board of advisors. Like many of these non-profit board memberships, there is the expectation that one raises or donates a certain amount of money each year--a commitment I'm not ready to undertake. Afterwards I caught up with some of the people from the CDI Open House down at the Monster Bar. Actually, I arrived first, and had a nice talk with Charlie, the owner. Eventually we went downstairs for Jesse Volt's show. This included a performance by Bianca Leigh, whom I can definitely confirm is not dead. I chatted a little bit about it with her afterwards.

6/16: After a late morning appointment with our lawyer and a quick salad lunch, we went to the New York Public Library to see two exhibitions. The first, in its final days, was Letters to Sala, A Young Woman's Life in Nazi Labor Camps. This was a remarkable collection of postcards, letters, photos and other documents that a Polish Jew managed to accumulate and keep during five years in seven different forced-labor camps. It's pretty much all online at the above URL. I never knew very much about the labor camps, as opposed to the concentration and extermination ones--just about all I knew was from the movie Schindler's List. This was informative and very moving.

The second exhibition was French Book Art/Livres d'Artistes: Artists and Poets in Dialogue. Shown were very limited edition collaborations of writers (usually poets), and artists--some of them very well-known. We went on a tour given by a Library staffer. This really only hit the high points--and I was distracted because it was so cold in the hall. If I go back I'll take a sweater.

6/17: The American premiere of the 1969 French film Army of Shadows. This is the story of a group of French Resistance fighters in World War II--not so much about their actions against the German occupiers, but their own struggles with informers, capture, internal secrecy. It is a dark, chilling story.

6/18: Dinner out with a cousin.

Wow. I'm tired just writing all this. I'll try to stay more current.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

End of an Era

I have let my subscription to TV Guide lapse. I first subscribed over 36 years ago, when I got the first television of my very own, a 12" black and white portable. (I think it's still working. I gave it to a friend of mine when I got my second TV, a 19" color set. She's blind, and doesn't use it, but she has it around just in case a visitor wants to watch something.) I have continued the subscription pretty much continually ever since then--though I remember one period when I didn't renew, because it was being delivered too late. I just bought it at the supermarket.

There are two reasons why I no longer find it useful. First of all, it doesn't tell me what's on. With the advent of cable television, TV Guide was no longer able to provide complete listings. They did try. They published separate editions for each cable system, at least here in New York. But there still wasn't enough space for all of the minor channels.

Now they've given up, in favor of their online guide. But even there, they don't give detailed listings for things like the local access channels. These are available on the on-screen guide from the cable company itself--which has made all external guides pretty much redundant. The only reason I go to the online TV Guide is because it is much easier to do a search there than on the television.

Still, the hard-copy TV guide has a lot of articles about various shows--which I never read. Why? because of the second reason I'm not renewing my subscription: I just don't watch that much TV any more. There are no series I keep up with--not even the ones on HBO, that I did for a while. We do like to watch some of the Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! programs on PBS. But otherwise the only time I have the TV on is to watch a recorded movie or for very specific shows: a sports event here, an awards show there, occasionally a documentary of some sort--though my wife watches more of them than I do.

So a TV Guide subscription has become rather useless, one more thing to stuff the mailbox and clutter up the apartment. I used to be a huge TV fan, watching dozens of hours a week, keeping two VCRs busy. Now, I doubt I average even an hour a day, not counting recorded movies. It is the end of an era.