Saturday, July 08, 2006

I'm a googling mouse potato...

but not a himbo drama queen. The Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary added 100 words to its listing this year. I have ringtones, but no spyware (I hope). Nor do I have avaian influenza, a gastric bypass, a soul patch or a unibrow. But I have, I'm afraid, supersized.

Farewell, Martina

Martina Navratilova, my favorite tennis player of all time, has played her last match at Wimbledon. Amid the the hubbub of the same-sex marriage decision Thursday, I missed this. This is ironic, of course--Navratilova is lesbian.

Actually, she played and lost two matches Thursday, her quarter-final one in women's doubles, and her third round match in mixed doubles. The mixed was her final one, unfortunately out on Court 2, not on Centre Court, where a player with her history at Wimbledon should have bowed out. Her partner, Mark Knowles, was understandably tired after his record-breaking men's doubles match. Navratilova will remain tied with Billie Jean King for having won the most Wimbledon championships, 20--another irony, as she helped, practically carried, King to her last title in the 1979 doubles.

Yeah, I said 1979. Navratilova will be 50 in October. She retired once before, but returned after three years. She picked up one more Wimbledon title in 2003, the mixed with Leander Paes, to tie King.

She has said she will retire this year. So, good luck, Martina. Thanks for all the great tennis, and thanks for giving us older folk a reason to smile. I hope you find something as rewarding as tennis has been to occupy your life.

A bouquet of boats

is what I later found out the New York Times called it, which is a pretty good name. But I had no idea it existed until I approached the Lincoln Center Plaza to go to a New York Philharmonic concert last evening (review coming). I saw this huge, colorful, thing a block away, and I didn't know what it was. As I got closer, I saw it was a bunch of boats, just hanging in the air. It looked like a monumental boat crash. I didn't have any time to investigate, but I did manage to snap a quick picture with my camera phone.

It turns out this is "Big Pleasure Point," a sculpture by California artist Nancy Rubins. I found somewhat better pictures on flickr. It's just been put up in the last few days.

I'm looking forward to my next trip to Lincoln Center, so I can really get a good look at this thing. From what I did see, it looks wonderful.

Sad websearch of the day

It's still early, but I think this will hold up as the saddest of the day: transgender mary carillo. Mary Carillo transgender????

What this comes from, I think, is some of the people (probably all men) who dislike her commentating style saying she used to be a man, or at least questioning her birth sex. She states her opinions strongly, she doesn't defer to the men she works with, she doesn't act girly in any way, her voice is a bit low-pitched, so these yahoos think she can't be a woman.

Well, she is. She's given birth (twice I think). She's not transgender, or transsexual. She's just a woman. End of story.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Are things getting a bit uncomfortable in the White House?

So now it's been found that Secret Service logs show that Jack Abramoff, who has pled guilty to influence-peddling charges, made six visits to the White House in 2001, not just the two previously known ones. One was to Dick Cheney's domestic policy aide--just six days before one of Abramoff's associates was appointed assistant secretary of labor. I wonder what they talked about.

Abramoff is cooperating with the prosecutors. One White House official has already been convicted. I doubt he'll be the last.

Plat du jour


Living with bears III

Florida: Bear Family Wanders In Driveway

Thursday, July 06, 2006

NY Court of Appeals denies same-sex marriage

The New York State Court of Appeals (the highest court in the state) has rejected the argument that same-sex marriage is required by the NY State Constitution(decision text). The fight now moves to the State Legislature.

I don't have the time to discuss this right now--I've got to get ready for the rally about it. It's at 6:00pm at Sheridan Square (7th Ave South and Christopher St). In case of rain it will be held at the LGBT Center, 208 W 13.

Join me. You don't have to be gay to want equal rights for everyone.

There are also other rallies across the state:

Hudson Valley
Start time: 7:00 PM
Location: Memorial United Methodist Church (250 Bryant Avenue, White Plains)
Rain location: same location

Long Island
Start time: 7:30 PM
Location: 34 Park Avenue, Bay Shore; march to Bandshell (Main Street at Park Ave.)

Start time: 6:00 PM
Location: Bidwell Park (@ Elmwood Avenue)
Rain location: Unitarian Universalist Church, 695 Elmwood Avenue (corner of West Ferry & Elmwood)

Albany/Capital District
Start time: 6:00 PM
Location: Capitol Park (Washington Avenue & Swan Street, adjacent to the State Capitol Building)
Rain location: Emmanuel Baptist Church, 275 State Street

Start time: 6:00 PM
Location: Washington Square Park
Rain location: First Unitarian Church of Rochester, 220 Winton Road South (coming from 490 take Exit #20 Winton Rd./University; coming from 590 take Exit #4 Highland Ave.)

Syracuse/Central NY
Start time: 7:00 PM
Location: Hanover Square (Downtown Syracuse)
Rain location: Hendrick's Chapel, Syracuse University

Living with bears II

California: Bear pays holiday visit
New York: Close Call after Woman Encounters Cubs, Mama Bear
Michigan: Bear ravages honey farm, taken away by DNR
Tennessee: Black bear caught

500 posts!

I've posted 500 articles on this blog. Actually, this is the 501st. OK, some of them haven't been particularly long. But still, I'm sort of amazed I've kept at it. I've been doing it for nearly 11 months. I've posted via a hotel room television, using a silly little wireless keyboard. I've posted from Spain. I could have posted from my cellphone, but I'm not that driven.

People keep reading it, so I guess I'll keep writing it. I shall blog on, as they say. And special thanks to those who leave comments.

What is he complaining about?

The men's doubles quarter-final at Wimbledon of Mark Knowles and Daniel Nesfor vs. Simon Aspelin and Todd Perry went a record six hours and nine minutes, 5-7, 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 23-21. It would have been longer had they not instituted the tiebreaker rule used in the third set.

Nesfor had the nerve to complain. He didn't like having to work so much. I really don't feel the least bit sorry for him. He and Knowles each won $24,931 more than the losers. Even with the match going that long, that's still $4,053.75 per hour played. Not exactly minimum wage.

You can't take it with you, but...

Assume for the moment that Kenneth Lay did not fake his own death, and that he wasn't murdered by agents of high Bush administration figures afraid of his testimony against them. Who else would profit by his death?

Last Friday prosecutors moved to seize $43.5 million they say Lay illegally earned at Enron. But his death apparently will block any seizure. The money will stay in his estate (unless the shareholders' lawsuits are successful).

So, my question is, what does Lay's will say? And does anyone think he would be noble enough to commit suicide to ensure the money goes to his heirs?


Observation of the day (well, yesterday)

My supermarket put up pictures of its managers, I guess so it's easier to identify them. One is of the Front End Manager. But I saw no picture for a Rear End Manager.

Of course they don't have a Rear End Manager. But I asked, just to make sure.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

You can't win them all

I see the Yankees got some revenge for last night on my Indians this evening, 11-3. Oh, well.

Plat du jour

Hi, Joe!

Living with bears I

There have been a number of news stories lately about the results of the increasingly overlapping domains of people and bears. There are bears in New Jersey, Tennessee, a multinational bear killed in Germany, and more out west. I see a trend. Now:
Tahoe Bear Swills Booze With Pizza Snack

Let's make very sure

Enron Founder Kenneth Lay Dies at 64
I mean, you don't suppose a convicted criminal facing maybe the rest of his life in jail might fake his own death? That's just fiction, right?

UPDATE: Now there are rumors floating around that he was killed because he was going to testify against high officials in the Bush administration in exchange for a lighter sentence.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Take that, George!

I'm not that much of a baseball fan. But I'm from Cleveland. That means I grew up rooting for the Indians. That means I grew up hating the Yankees. Even though I've lived in New York for over thirty years, I still root for the Indians. And I still hate the Yankees.

So when I saw the headline "Indians 19, Yankees 1" all I could do was smile, smile smile.

On top of which, today is Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's birthday, which makes the Yankees' loss even more enjoyable. I detest him. Not just because he bought the Yankees (after being thwarted in his attempt to buy the Indians), but because he was a big supporter of President Nixon. Too big. Steinbrenner was convicted of illegal campaign contributions and obstruction of justice. (At the end of his presidency, Ronald Reagan pardoned him--clearly an early sign of Reagan's mental deterioration.)

Steinbrenner's also just a thoroughly nasty person.

So happy birthday, George. I hope you really enjoy your little gift from the Indians. 19-1. Ha, ha, ha!

So, subscribe!

Want to know what I'm writing about? Subscribe via FeedBlitz. Just enter your e-mail address in the box at the bottom of the right-hand column, and once a day you'll get a nice click-able list of my headlines. For free.

Or, if you can't wait that long, they'll send it to you more frequently--if you're willing to pay for it. But I can't believe anyone is that addicted to this blog.


Last night we saw Wordplay, a documentary about crossword puzzles and the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament. We went across the park and downtown (sorry about that--I couldn't help myself) to the Lincoln Plaza Cinemas for the Sundance Festival entrant.

The film centers on Will Shortz, the New York Times crossword puzzle editor and NPR "Puzzle Master," who founded the tournament in 1978. It explains a bit about how puzzles are constructed--which I find fascinating. It never occurred to me the clues are barely thought about until the puzzle itself is finished--or that Shortz as the editor modifies a great many of the clues on the puzzles that are submitted to him.

There are number of interviews with celebrity puzzle solvers--headlined by, as the credits list him, William Jefferson Clinton--who uses a felt-tip pen to do the Times puzzle. The Daily Show host Jon Stewart, NY Yankee pitcher Mike Mussina and the folk-rockers Indigo Girls are featured.

But the most interesting part of the film is the coverage of the 2005 tournament. The top contenders are profiled (including one who is gay--he's shown in a quick kiss with his partner, which the filmmakers had to fight to keep in), and they are shown going through the competition from the first puzzle through the finals--where the winner is determined from the top three standing on a stage and putting their answers up on boards for the audience to see. (They wear headphones so they can't hear the commentators--or the groans when they make a mistake.) The coverage of their talent show is precious.

It's an interesting hour and a half. I really haven't tried doing the Times puzzle for a number of years. Maybe I'll start again.

Monday, July 03, 2006

My week in review, part 2: Superman, Spelling Bee, Dada

FRIDAY: Superman Returns
I should have known better than to go to a 7:00pm showing of a popular comic book spinoff. The theater was packed, with a lot of kids whose parents decided to ignore the PG-13 rating of the film. Actually, most of the kids were quite well-behaved. It was the adults that were the problem. Most quieted down when the film actually started. But one...

She was in the row behind us, with a kid way too young to sit through a 2½+ hour movie of any rating. She thought the solution to the bored, fidgety kid was to talk to her--basically narrate the film: "See the man? That's Superman. He can fly." My wife asked her to be quiet. Her response was to switch her narration to Spanish.

So my wife asked her to be quiet in Spanish. This actually worked! Except that the kid now became more than fidgety. I heard the mother say, "Stop pulling my hair," but that didn't seem to help the situation. She took the kid and left--but not before cursing out my wife and calling her a bitch.

After that it got reasonably quiet--which was a good thing, because the volume of the audio was not all that high. But there was still one problem. Occasionally a woman in a wheelchair three rows back made some random sounds. I assume it was involuntary, but regardless, nobody was going to complain about her. So I did miss a word or two here and there.

The popcorn was pretty good, though.

Oh yes, the movie.

I liked it. I found it less comic book-ish than the previous Superman films. These were real, multi-dimensional people. Outside of the bad guys nobody was over-acting, and even they were relatively subdued. I really liked Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor. He wasn't a super-villian, he was a criminal mastermind, able to use his brain power to thwart Superman's powers. Almost.

Everyone else handled their roles pretty well. Brandon Routh makes a fine Superman/Clark Kent--quite able to fill Christopher Reeve's shoes (and tights and boots as well). Kate Bosworth's Lois Lane was a bit understated (and a bit too young)--I didn't quite see the hard-driving, Pulitzer-winning reporter there. Sam Huntington was great as Jimmy Olsen. And Frank Langella makes an excellent Perry White--though I'm not quite sure I can buy his "Great Caesar's Ghost!" (I also can't buy a pool table on a boat.)

The story was good, the special effects wonderful. And everything is set up for the sequel.

SATURDAY: After a very nice meal at Caffe Cielo we walked over to the Circle in the Square Theatre for The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I actually could have seen this a couple years ago when it was being developed at the Barrington Stage Company. It was being shown at their "Stage II," which was really the cafeteria of the Sheffield, MA high school the Company uses each summer. But we went there to see the Main Stage (the auditorium) production--I think it was Sweet Charity that year.

We missed it in the Berkshires, but the play followed us back to New York. So now we could see it here, in more comfortable seats, for not much more money--several Broadway shows were offering great deals for Independence Day week, maybe the worst week for the box office all year.

They've done the whole theatre over as a school--apparently one that covers at least middle and high schools, if not the entire K-12. There are banners for the "Putnam Piranhas" even in the upper lobby. Downstairs there is even more: childish-hand posters saying things like "Piranha Spirit! Join the school!" There are a host of plaques for "Student of the Week" and "Musician of the Month"--with real kids' pictures. (I noticed later that these were the names and presumably the real pictures of the people behind the production. The musician of the month was the show's conductor/pianist.) The restrooms are renamed "Boys" and "Girls."

There is also a sign-up desk for spellers. Four audience member volunteers are called up on to the stage and take part in the early rounds.

The spelling bee takes place in the school gym (not the auditorium, for some unknown reason). There are ropes hanging from the ceiling and a small set of bleachers where the spellers sit. There are also tons of banners attesting to Putnam's athletic acheivements.

The show is a lot of fun. Most of the original cast is still there, though not the Tony-winning Dan Fogler as William Morris Barfée (do NOT ignore the accent), who is now off making movies. They call up the four audience member-contestants to the stage. The ones at the performance I saw were able to get into it quite nicely, and went with the flow, as ad lib jokes were made about them, such as the one with the long name being announced as having won his school's bee by spelling his own name. An older woman in a kind of sweatsuit outfit was described as being on her school's mall-walking team. They are given the chance to stay on stage for quite a while--they do have to spell their words correctly, but their words aren't that difficult, at least at first. The audience is rooting for them, of course.

The "real" contestants are shown as a bunch of smart, nerdy but fairly likeable kids, except maybe Barfée, and even he comes around in the end. There's a lot of stereotyping, but nothing really derogatory. Each character, even the adults running the contest, gets a solo song.

The spellers are eliminated one by one, and eventually a champion emerges. There's a happy ending, and everyone gets to go home.

I stopped in the boys' room on the way out.

SUNDAY: We went to MoMA for Dada--the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art on the Dada avant-garde art movement of the early 20th century. This was the first major exhibition in the United States on Dada, previously being shown at the National Gallery of Art in Washington before coming to New York. It originated at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

I didn't know much about Dada before this. I'd seen a few things in general collections, but that was about it. I heard it was "anti-art." I pictured young artists rebelling against the art establishment and their pretty pictures.

The audioguide (free at MoMA!) explained that Dada sprung up simultaneously and independently in New York and Zurich in 1915 in reaction to World War I. Thus the exhibition, which is arranged geographically, has two entrances. I chose the one for New York--as did the other two Americans with me. The European in our group chose the Zurich one. Not terribly surprising.

I was immediately fascinated. The first piece I saw was a coat rack sitting on the floor. Marcel Duchamp had purchased one, but never got around to putting it up. He kept tripping over it, and decided this was art. He nailed it to the floor, and called it the Trap. This was one of his pieces of "readymade" art, objects discovered by chance, "a sculpture already made," as he called it.

Or was it? As I searched the Internet for a picture of the Trap, I found that some scholars believe Duchamp's Readymades were anything but. They offer evidence that these were not simple store-bought items, but objects Duchamp hand-crafted or greatly modified to suit his artistic purposes. The MoMA exhibition makes no mention of this.

But I didn't know any of this as I viewed the exhibition. I did find it curious that so many of his Readymades were not the originals, which had been "lost." They were reproductions that Duchamp did later, from photographs he had kept. The scholars point to various types of trick photography Duchamp was known to use. Duchamp played with photos, he played with objects, he played with words, he even played with his identity. Some of his work was signed "Rose Sélavy" or "Rrose Sélavy"--and there were a couple of pictures of him in drag as "Rose." (Hmmmm) I find it entirely possible that he played with the whole concept of Readymades.

We had arranged to meet back at the exhibition foyer, and by the appointed time I had barely gotten into the second room. I've got to go back. When I do, I'll post a complete report.

Dinner was at Mughlai--slightly above average Indian food--though my Tanqueray and tonic was excellent.

And then there were none

Shenay Perry got blown out of the fourth round at Wimbledon, 6-2, 6-0. So there will be no Americans in the quarter-finals. For the women, this hasn't happened since 1911--when there were no Americans entered at all.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

A fun blog find

I have added a link to David Marc Fischer's Blog About Town in my Blogs and Blogoids section. It's the least I could do, after the nice things he said about my blog.

Actually, I first noticed Blog About Town a couple days ago. It's a lot of fun, full of silly videos and and online jigsaw puzzles, as well as Fischer's great observations on books, films and the city we both seem to love.

Enjoy, as the waiters say. I know I will.

Just move the sign

Kerik's Name Removed From New York Jail
It's too bad Kerik's plea bargain will apparently keep him out of jail--as far as I'm concerned that's where he belongs. Then they could just put the sign on his cell door.

My week in review, part 1

Catch up time.

MONDAY: Her Majesty The King, a retelling of the English War of the Roses through the eyes of Margaret of Anjou, Queen to the feeble Henry VI. This was produced down in Soho at HERE. I barely knew anything about the War of the Roses, other than that it was a conflict between the Houses of York and Lancaster for the throne of England. I didn't even know who won--my English history doesn't really go back before Henry VIII, and he was of the House of Tudor. So the subject matter was basically new to me--and the play did help me understand it a little more. Sort of. At least I now know who won.

Margaret was born into a family where the women exercised authority, and were active participants in politics (Anjou is in France, BTW). Married (at 15) to the weak, maybe mentally disturbed Henry VI, she took over the fight to keep him on his throne. At least that's the way playwright Sarah Overman explains it.

The play was convincing, though how far it strayed from the truth I have no idea. History tends to be written by the victors, and Margaret lost. The performances were very good, and most of the actors had to portray more than one character. A very interesting device was used to handle flashbacks: two actresses, one a bit younger than the other, portrayed Margaret, wearing identical dresses.

I had a good time. HERE's staff was very accomodating, though the facilities do leave a little bit to be desired--a pillar in the middle of the audience, not to mention one in the middle of the stage, made things a little difficult sometimes. And a trip to the restrooms requires one to exit to the street, go a number of yards to another entrance, then downstairs a good way back towards the way one came. It was interesting, I think unique in my experience, to have the urinals named for people, though.

WEDNESDAY: My usual open house at Crossdressers International. Afterwards some of us went to Will Clark's Porno Bingo--except it was (at least for the evening) renamed Broadway Bingo, and no porn stars were present. The reason was that some (or at least this week's) beneficiaries of the event (all proceeds go to the featured organization) objected to the porn connection.

After three games (I didn't win) we went down to the Monster Bar for Jesse Volt's drag show. They were shooting some sort of film while we were waiting, and sometimes the lights did get rather bright. Jesse's show was quite nice, including a couple of nice songs sung live by Epiphany, who is talented, and young and beautiful. Afterwards Edie, in male mode, came over to say hello. She said she had seen us going upstairs at The Threepenny Opera, and that we should have come backstage after the performance. I had to tell her that I didn't know how. Oh well, I would really have liked to do that.

THURSDAY: My last (thank goodness) LGBT pride event of the month: Our Pride 2006, sponsored by The Alliance, the Gay-Straight Alliance of the New York State Courts, and my group, the LGBT Law Association of Greater New York (LeGaL). It was even co-sponsored by my LGBT Issues Committee of the New York County Law Assn.--this despite the fact that it took place in Kings County: specifically, in the Brooklyn Borough Hall. I made it there just before it really started to rain--and found that I was the only one from LeGaL there, apart from our administrator. So again I was dragooned into making a little speech, as I was at the City Bar event last week.

This event featured remarks by Susan Sommer, Senior Counsel of Lambda Legal and lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the same-sex marriage lawsuit in New York, Hernandez v. Robles. Oral arguments before the Court of Appeals (New York's highest court) were May 31 (webcast). She spoke at some length, and took questions from the audience. She said they expected a decision any day now, very possibly Wednesday or Thursday.

The second speaker was supposed to be State Sen. Tom Duane, but he was delayed. Thus we got to the reception a bit early. We could see the rain was very heavy outside, but there was plenty of food, soda and wine, so no one was in a hurry to leave. The turnout wasn't so great, probably because of the weather predictions. So we ate and drank and mingled for a while. An aide to the Brooklyn Borough President (absent due to illness) introduced himself and asked if I lived in Brooklyn. He was rather disappointed when I said I didn't. He explained they are looking for a transgender person active in civic affairs to honor at next year's pride celebration. I took his card, and said if I thought of anyone suitable I'd let him know.

Eventually Sen. Duane did show up, through the pouring rain. He did get a chance to make his remarks, which soon became quite humorous. He noted that nobody was fighting same-sex marriage back when gay and lesbian groups, especially some of the lesbian ones, said they wanted no part of marriage. There was no "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military when gays and lesbians avoided military service. Only when they started wanting these things did opponents pop up and object. So Duane said that if LGBT people want something, we should say we don't. Then we'll get it.

Afterwards, he chatted with various people, and posed for pictures. I chatted with his aide, Colin Casey. We had a nice talk about reapportionment, both of the New York Congressional districts and the State Senate, and also about his job.

Finally the rain let up, and I ducked into the subway for the trip back to Manhattan. I went to Lips for a couple of frozen cosmos and to see Jesse Volt's show there.