Saturday, July 28, 2007

Falconry!

A travel package for an Irish castle (where some of "The Quiet Man" was filmed), includes falconry lessons. Question is, does the kitchen cook what your bird catches for you? "And for our main course, sir, field mouse pie."

Friday, July 27, 2007

Why the Internet was Invented


So we can all share in the wonder of 1500 prisoners in a Phillipine prison performing the main dance sequence from Michael Jackson's "Thriller."

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Martha Gets Wired


In the most recent issue of Wired magazine, Martha Stewart talks with Mark Frauenfelder about how to keep one's technological life organized.

Money quote: "It's about using your hands and your mind to make things work better. Whether you're a programmer or a seamstress, it's all about new techniques, simplifying old techniques, and consolidating steps. Making things go faster — but not worse. Better."

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

More Federal Overreaching

Every day, it becomes more and more clear that George W. Bush and his cabal want their very own empire. The flagrant abuse of executive privilege, flouting of the rule of law (or rather, having the law apply one way to them, and another way to everyone else), now this. Federal agents raided a medical marijuana outlet, because even though the operations are legal under state law, marijuana is still classified as a dangerous drug under federal law. This is what our federal law enforcement is spending its time on?

What happened to conservatives loving states' rights? Californians made marijuana for medical use legal. The feds say the system is abused and people who aren't sick have easier access to pot. They're absolutely right. But I don't think a majority of Californians really care.

Why don't we retrain those Feds to investigate terrorism?

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Sign of Inequality

This may be a bit of good news in the fight for marriage equality. A judge in California has ordered that a man must continue to pay alimony to his ex-wife, even though she has entered into a legal domestic partnership with another woman (and even took her new spouse's last name). This indicates domestic partnerships are not equivalent to marriage, which seems to be what the California Supreme Court is attempting to determine. If the two legal relationships are seen as equal in rights and responsibilities, the court could conclude there is no need to open marriage to same-sex couples. But since they are not equal (at least in terms of alimony, in this judge's opinion), the court may be more willing to order civil marriage be opened to all couples.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

The New Yorker Agrees

David Denby of The New Yorker shares my opinion of the excellence of Pixar's latest offering.

Money quote: "At a time when many Americans have so misunderstood the ethos of democracy that they hate being outclassed by anyone, when science is disdained as dangerous and expertise as √©litism, this animation artist, working in a family medium, has made two brilliant movies that unequivocally champion excellence. “Ratatouille” suggests that some omnivores are better than others. There’s nothing to do but get over it."

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Double Standard

Read this piece from Slate by Glenn Greenwald -- but only if you want to be pissed again at the hubris and double-dealings of our president and his morally-bankrupt administration. In the piece, Greenwald quotes from a document he discovered in which the US protested offenses against human rights taking place in Russia.

What was Bush saying about the Russians way back in 2001?:

"Authorities continued to infringe on citizens' privacy rights. Government technical regulations that require Internet service providers and telecommunications companies to invest in equipment that enables the [Foreign Security Service] to monitor Internet traffic, telephone calls, and pagers without judicial approval caused serious concern.?

"(P)roceedings took place behind closed doors and the defendants and their attorneys encountered difficulties in learning the details of the charges."

"(T)orture by police officers usually occurs within the first few hours or days of arrest and usually takes one of four forms: beatings with fists, batons, or other objects; asphyxiation using gas masks or bags (sometimes filled with mace); electric shocks; or suspension of body parts (e.g. suspending a victim from the wrists, which are tied together behind the back). Allegations of torture are difficult to substantiate because of lack of access by medical professionals and because the techniques used often leave few or no permanent physical traces."

But when we do it, it's in defense of freedom and liberty, so it's OK, right George? What a joke. It will take years to undo the damage this man has done to our once-great country.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Sunday, July 15, 2007

The New Breed of Terror

As if Islamic terror wasn't enough, now we have to deal with Christianist terror. This story from the Houston Chronicle tells the story of a man who believed God wanted him to kill a gay man: "I believe I'm Elijah, called by God to be a prophet," said 26-year-old Terry Mark Mangum, charged with murder June 11. " ... I believe with all my heart that I was doing the right thing." Just like any good jihadi.

Connie Champagne IS Judy Garland!

We are all on this Earth for such a brief time that it’s vital we waste absolutely none of it. A friend of mine just saw a show in New York and wrote to me saying “that’s two hours I’ll never get back.” On the other hand, there are theatrical experiences one has where the time you invest is repaid with interest: they persist in memory, and you recall them with pleasure, reliving the wonder or the laughter or the insight the performers gave you while you sat in the dark.

Connie Champagne’s latest effort, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road,” in which she appears as Judy Garland, is just such a magical theatrical experience. Playing now in the tiny Theater 3 at San Francisco’s New Conservatory Theater Center, “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” transports you into a world where Judy Garland is alive, well – and still completely in love with music and performing. This is Judy Garland as if aging had been suspended, but time continued to roll on, and Judy discovered new songs that she could make her own. If Judy lived, wouldn’t it make sense for her to do highly dramatic, highly theatrical numbers? Of course – and though you might not think of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” or Aerosmith’s “Dream On” as fitting within the Garland oeuvre, they sound exactly like the sort of thing she ought to have done had she lived.

Champagne and her creative team draw from a wide variety of contemporary music, from Tom Waits to Neil Finn to Janis Ian (a touching interpretation of a song I didn’t know, “When I Lay Down”) to modern Broadway tunes from “Grey Gardens,” “Nine” and “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” And they become perfect songs for Judy.

This may be the most brilliant bit of theater I’ve seen since “I Am My Own Wife.” The brilliance comes from Ms. Champagne’s imagination (and that of her collaborators, director F. Allen Sawyer and musical director Joe Collins) in the invention of a Judy Garland that is at once classic and completely contemporary. A character that is brimming with vivacity, yet still wounded and insecure in the way Garland was. (A brief note: though I certainly appreciate the genius of Judy Garland, I would never call myself a true “fan.”)

Champagne’s impersonation of Garland isn’t precise – but it’s perfect nonetheless. Having recently watched several episodes of Garland’s TV show from the 60s (I’m not a Garland fan, but I live with one), there are gestures and physical ways of being that I think are missing from this show. But at its heart, Champagne’s performance is essentially true, which I think is some of the highest praise that can be given to any work of art. For the entire evening, I felt as if Garland herself, still hungry for the stage, had managed to project her essence into Connie Champagne in order to get just another hour or two in the spotlight.
Of course in one sense, the truth of Garland lies in artifice: she gave the public all she had, but ultimately her stage persona was still a work of art, and it is this tension between genuineness and artifice that made “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” so compelling to me. Champagne gave us a rare treat – a visit from a Judy Garland who would look at modern life and music in the way she might have had she been able to catch some real magic and stay 44 for ever.

I took in the Connie Champagne show on Friday, and followed it up with a similar sort of show on Saturday: “Kiki and Herb: Alive From Broadway!” Kiki and Herb are Justin Bond and Kenny Melman, a San Francisco duo that made it to Broadway with a show based on their creation, a boozy chanteuse and her “homosexual Jew ‘tard” pianist. Kiki is supposed to be in her 70s, I believe. Yet, like Connie’s incarnation of Judy, she’s not stuck in the past, and loves finding contemporary numbers to perform.

Unlike Connie Champagne, “Kiki and Herb” is ALL about artifice and irony and winking knowingness. There’s no sincerity here – that wouldn’t be hip. But when it comes right down to it, sincerity is what you need – on some level at least – to truly connect with an audience. And that is where Connie Champagne delivers.

Kiki and Herb you can skip – but don’t miss Connie Champagne as Judy Garland in “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Stunning


Annie Leibovitz is still the greatest living portraitist, and this photo shows why.

The Police Report

Click here to read the arresting officer's report on Bob Allen. Seems to me like the officer led Allen on a bit, initiating verbal contact with him. Doesn't cut the hypocrisy, but doesn't make Allen out to be such a "predator."

Allen Again


Keeping you all up to date on the latest Republican hypocrite, it turns out Florida state representative Bob Allen also authored a bill extending the definition of "lewd and lascivious" acts to include masturbation performed in front of anyone, not just minors.

Photo is Allen's booking photo from Brevard County jail, taken last night.

p.s. I love the slogan on the flprogressive blog: "The Republican Party: Come for the Torture, Stay for the Pedophilia"

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More On Allen

An update on the Bob Allen case. (I just love hypocrisy exposed -- though I feel very sorry for his family.) Turns out Florida state representative Bob Allen authored a bill to increase the penalty for child molestation to life without hope of parole. Money quote: "One of the sexual predators said it the best: 'I want to do better. But, sir, it's like if someone tried to sit you down guaranteeing you'll do 15 sessions of counseling, and in that 15 sessions I'm going to talk you out of your sexual preference and get you to do something else.'"

Another Republican with a Secret Life


Will they never learn? Yet another elected Republican is caught in a sex scandal. This time it's Florida state representative Bob Allen. He was observed cruising at a public restroom, going in and out three times, then offered to perform oral sex on an undercover police officer for $20. Allen was arrested (this all happened earlier today) and will likely be released on bail soon. Allen calls it a "very big misunderstanding," but I find it interesting that, on his office web site, he lists his favorite recreational activity as "water sports."

He is innocent until proven otherwise, but it's not looking good for the guy. Maybe if he, and Ted Haggard and Mark Foley (what is it with Florida and closet cases, by the way?) had come out and used their energy to fight for equal rights, we'd be a few tiny steps closer to a world where they (and the rest of us) would be able to express their sexuality in a healthier environment than public loos, and with more appropriate companions than underage pages or rent boys.

(The photo, by the way, is credited to "Mark Foley." But it's merely a coincidence.)

Can It Get Any Worse?

This seems to happen over and over with the Bush Administration: they ignore science and rational thought to pursue only their own political aims. Every day comes another reason why this is the worst, most reprehensible set of criminals ever to occupy the White House. Leading us into a trillion-dollar war which has cost over 3000 American lives, plus tens of thousands crippled by injuries, ignoring international treaties (and human decency) to institute a program of torture, suspending habeus corpus, asserting a right to arrest and imprison any person the President chooses to call an "enemy combatant"...it just goes on and on. Bloody depressing is what it is.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Is Golf Really Penal?

The game of golf is generally thought of as a penal one. More than penal. Cruel, even.

Then I happened to catch a few minutes of a show on The Golf Channel that recapped the 2005 Masters Tournament (won by Tiger Woods, thanks in part to the amazing chip on 16). In it, the announcers mentioned a player who'd "hit into a bush and had to take a one-stroke penalty for taking an unplayable lie." And I thought -- one stroke isn't really much of a penalty. The rules of golf could just as easily require a golfer to have to hack at a ball that is visible and within reach until it is back in a better spot. Even if you lose the ball entirely, the penalty is still just one stroke. It could penalize you ten strokes for losing a ball, not just one. So let's have no more complaining that golf is a penal game.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Frustration Building?

Need to take out your anger on a specific person, but don't fancy the jail time that might come with actual assault? Then order yourself a dozen or so photo golf balls imprinted with the image of your favorite nemesis and whack away! That double bogey might not seem so bad if it means you get to smack Dick Cheney in the kisser a couple more times.

I'm Back

Apologies for not posting for the past few days. There was a technical problem with Blogger (the service I use to create and host the Rational Feast), and I just got it figured out today.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

I Changed My Mind


I know I said I didn't want an iPhone. Apparently I was lying. Once I actually got my hands on one (at the Apple store yesterday), I now want one more than ever. Why? Well, there IS part of me that would like the attention of being the first on the block to have one (it was fun having a Honda S2000 when they first came out), and to receive the attention that would come from using it in public for the first week or so, but I think the real reason is how much I dig the interface, the easy synch between my iBook and iPhone (contacts and calendar), plus the mapping feature. And it's thinner than my Razr -- which at one time was the coolest phone in the world and is now almost as ubiquitous as obesity.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Is that a shoe Bush is holding?

And when will it fall? Seems a full pardon could be in the offing for Scooter, so he can get his money back (like he actually paid the fine!) and practice law again and be able to say he's not a convicted felon.

The Science of Gaydar

The title of this article in New York magazine is misleading -- it's not really about how people can tell whether someone is gay or not, it's about the science surrounding all the little things that seem to go along with being gay: the tendency to have a counterclockwise hair whorl, or more tightly packed fingerprints or the greater likelihood of being left-handed or ambidextrous.

But I'm not doing the article justice -- it's filled with all sorts of fascinating research and insights. Two of my favorites:

"Because many of these newly identified “gay” traits and characteristics are known to be influenced in utero, researchers think they may be narrowing in on when gayness is set—and identifying its possible triggers. They believe that homosexuality may be the result of some interaction between a pregnant mother and her fetus. Several hypothetical mechanisms have been identified, most pointing to an alteration in the flow of male hormones in the formation of boys and female hormones in the gestation of girls. What causes this? Nobody has any direct evidence one way or another, but a list of suspects includes germs, genes, maternal stress, and even allergy—maybe the mother mounts some immunological response to the fetal hormones."

"In a universe in which we look for purpose in order to appoint value, what is the purpose of my gayness? Dean Hamer sees one possible answer in the fraternal-birth-order studies. “In Polynesian cultures, where you’re talking about very big families, it was typical to have the last-born son be mahu, or gay,” he says. Explorers described young boys who looked after the family and sometimes dressed as girls. “They suspected that their families had made them that way. But you just can’t take a guy and make him clean up and have him become gay. He’s got to have some gayness inside. Maybe that’s the biological purpose to the mahu: taking care of Mom.”

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Would you like a chutney Squishee?"


Twentieth-Century Fox is taking product placement in movies to a whole new place -- off the screen. In support of "The Simpsons" movie, they've negotiated with 7-11 to rebrand about a dozen 7-11 stores -- into "Kwik-E-Marts," the convenience store that's most convenient to Homer and his family. In addition to the signage change, the stores will sell products created on the show: Duff Beer, KrustyO's and Squishees. It's like the "Tron" episode, where Homer is transported into another world -- one of three dimensions. Now the show is nudging itself into our world.

Knock Me Over With A Feather

Bush has commuted Scooter Libby's jail sentence. By so doing, he sends the message that says: "Scooter was playing a political game. We're in charge of that game and we change the rules however we like. Or hadn't you noticed?"

Yet another reason to distrust these men. As the Bush administration has shown over and over again, if you are connected and/or powerful and/or rich, the laws that apply to ordinary people do not apply.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

"Stay on target! Stay on target!"

Here is another story of an evangelical who believes natural disasters are God's punishment for society's permissiveness, especially in terms of gay rights. This one happens to be English, and says the floods in his country are part of the wrath of the almighty: "Our government has been playing the role of God in saying that people are free to act as they want," the Right Reverend David Cow, Bishop of Carlisle said, adding that the introduction of recent pro-gay laws highlighted its determination to undermine marriage.

My question is, what's wrong with God's aim? If the Supreme Being doesn't like homosexuality, surely He has the power to send an earthquake to the Castro, or destroy Chelsea with a firestorm of lightning. Yet, he leaves what many evangelicals would describe as dens of iniquity completely alone, and instead kills innocents and inundates the Bible belt of America, where so many of His supporters live?

How do these guys keep a straight face when they promulgate this bullshit?

Opinions Keep Changing

A new CNN poll shows that, for the first time ever, a majority of Americans believe sexual orientation can not be changed. According to the CNN/Opinion Research poll, 56% of Americans believe gay people cannot change their desires, even if we wanted to. In 1977, only 13% felt sexual orientation was unchangeable.

More Coveting

These make me wish I had more shirts with French cuffs.