Friday, July 21, 2006

Precious Moments

Maria O'Connor and Amy Entwistle skate to the theme from West Side Story.

Precious moments and memories we can not see in the regular Olympics..yet.

Aquatic group from Washington DC prepare for Pink Flamingo swim show.

Physique, physique, physique

Ballroom Dancesport

The Ladies Dance

More Guys


Monica and I went to see the Gay Games VII figure skating competition. The McFetridge Center was packed. That was good. One of the ticket takers was a 50ish woman with long flowing rainbow colored hair. The other was a 50ish woman with short spiky rainbow colored hair. I liked their hair. Short spiky rainbow lady assured me I'd get cold in my shorts and short sleeves. She was right. On the way back from getting my jacket from the car, she pointed an I told you so finger at me. I told her I liked her hair and she started telling me how it was done and then shooed me into the rink because the pairs competition was starting. "You don't wanna miss any of this." Right again.

After the mixed pairs it was time for the same sex pairs. I knew it would be novel and we'd be proud but it was more than that. From the first two women who took the ice the crowd rose to support them. These were not skaters with precision double toe loops and triple jumps, awing back flips or blurringly fast spins. They were of different skating levels. Most jumps were tiny single jumplets, but you'd never know it from the crowd reaction. You would think they'd done a double toe and went right into a quad jump.

But they were good skaters. They were all very precise and in sync which is the beauty of pair skating. The choreography was fun and entertaining and varied with spins and speed and posing and drama and lifts and throws. Lots of oooo's and ahhhh's and wows! You could feel the pride and adrenalin pumping from the skaters to the crowd and from the crowd to the skaters. When the young woman from Germany lifted her partner and skated around the rink, I could feel the joy and emotion and triumph and the politics and the giant social statement being made right there at that moment. It was a familiar feeling that I've had when Debbie Thomas took the ice, when Sidney Poitier won his Oscar or Harold Washington was elected mayor. It was a feeling of see, the sky didn't fall, no children were corrupted. Get over it. Society will be better.

The finale production number included all of Team 2006 skaters. They skated to Christina Aguilera's Beautiful and was dedicated to anyone who had to endure verbal abuse. Each skater wore a tee shirt with a GLBT insult. Embarrassed and afraid they covered the shirt with a jacket. A few were bold enough to throw off the jacket and skate free. Eventually more shed the jacket until they all skated free in a circle holding on to each other. All of a sudden, this rainbow ribbon appeared and encirled skaters! It was truly beautiful. Christina sang "Cause we are beautiful, no matter what they say, words won't bring us down.... "

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Bright Future

Chicago is alive with not only the Gay Games sports competitions but with a festival of arts and cultural exhibits and performances as well.
Tuesday afternoon we went to the Chicago Cultural Center to see a beautiful combination of the arts and a hopeful look into the future.
The concert combined the music of the Diverse Harmony Gay/Straight Alliance Youth Chorus from Seattle, and Chicago (now Los Angeles) singer Alexandra Billings and pianist Russ Long.
The chorus members ages 13-22 are 15 of the most beautiful children I've ever seen. As they were singing I knew some were gay, lesbian, Transgendered and straight. It wasn't obvious which were which and it didn't matter. That's their beauty, and their lesson to us.

Alexandra was fantastic. This is the funniest woman in this world. Her rapport with the audience is electric and her rapid fire ad libs and facial expressions are unbelievably funny. Of course she sings. She sang Judy and Liza songs and told Judy and Liza jokes. We were in heaven.

The young chorus members watching Alex were too. It was obvious she is a role model and now a hero to these kids. They see accomplishment, strength, and hope in Alex. She has paved the way for them. In these young people, we see hope for a tolerant society where people can be accepted for who they are.

The last song was a Russ Long arrangement for Alexandra and the chorus of Carley Simon's anthem Let The River Run . If you've ever heard Miss Billings sing this song you know it belongs to her. The combination of Alex and this very special talented young choir was magical.

Pass the tissues.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

I See Gay People...

I am so proud of Chicago! I am proud to live in a city that is proud and out loud about it's support of the GLBT community. I mean the mayor wants to showcase the city through us. Cool.
We attended the first official Gay Games VII event Saturday morning at 7AM.
The International Rainbow Memorial Run is the symbolic "torch" relay to bring the Rainbow Flag from San Fransico, the "Athens" of the Gay Games, around the world to Gay Games VII in Chicago. The last run event bringing the flag to the 2006 Games culminated at historic Rainbow Beach on South Shore Drive. What a beautiful and emotional morning.
I am an emotional person, what can I say.. Rainbow is a gorgeous beach, the morning was warm but not hot yet, the sun was INTENSE! OMG! BRIGHT! We had been out late over on North Halsted where the usual number of Friday night peeps were tripled, many speaking languages other than English. It is wonderful and exciting.

I am sort of an Olympic nut, so I remember each time the torch traveled through Chicago. I have actually held an Olympic torch, but the running of the Rainbow Flag has even more meaning to me. The Rainbow Run events done in conjuction with Front Runners Clubs and Names Project, raises AIDS awareness and is dedicated to the
memory of GLBT people around the world lost to AIDS with a specific remembrance of Gay Games founder Dr. Tom Waddell.
And, on it's journey to Chicago, this Rainbow Flag was used to lead the very first Pride Parade in a Black township in Africa. 150 marchers took to the streets in Guguletu, Cape Town in what was considered as a triumphant two weeks after a 17 year old girl was beaten and stabbed to death because of her sexuality.

Saturday, there was a signing of a memorial quilt and the pouring of libations for those we have loss to AIDS as my friend Carole's Drummer group accompanied in traditional African garb. NBC5's Lee Ann Trotter was the MC and Keith Boykin gave the moving keynote speech. We gave Tracy Baim (co-chair GGVII) a supportive hug because the week she's worked so hard for had begun, and talked with Lee Ann Trotter about homophobia, her public support, AIDS, and the opening ceremonies that night in which she was going to enjoy as a spectator, not as a reporter. Good to have people in the media that have your back.
Opening Ceremony Gay Games VII
First, we should have taken Metra. We thought about it but decided to drive. Wrong! The parking was $35 blankety-blank dollars at Soldier Field! Oh Well, they have to pay for that flying saucer sitting on top of this beautiful classic Greek architecture. Yuck. Surprise though, inside it is looks very, very nice. The flying saucer actually cut the sun's heat and glare and it was extrememly comfy inside. I do miss the look of the columns of the old building, but it is quite pleasant looking, comfy seats and great sight lines. Soldier Field may have lost it's landmark status since that saucer landed, but it is more user friendly. We got there early. Even though we are about five minutes from Soldier Field we didn't know what to expect traffic wise, so we had time to chill, walk around and go looking for friends.

Again, I see gay people....they came! Thousands of them. I love it.
First, acknowledgements to the Federation of Gay Games and the Chicago Board and staff and volunteers. Speeches by Keith Boykin and others and Megan Mulally introduced Mayor Daley. His speech was quite astonishing in it's passion yet his incredulous attitude reminded me of Lee Ann Trotter's that morning. He said in essence, he just can't understand what all the big deal is. These are people who are here and are going to be here. These are people we know, people in our families, people in every facet of society. So what is all the fuss about. That's his attitude. I say amen.

The athlete march began with San Franciso, followed by the nations, some in native garb. Then the announcer said "And now we have one lone athlete from Uganda." He received a standing ovation and the pride was evident in his strut and grin. It had to take courage and determination for this African man to travel here with his gay self. Next, the USA came out by States. It was interesting noting the number of athletes in certain states, especially the "red" states. Utah had a surprisingly large number and Wyoming had only one. "The great state of California" had more athletes than the entire world. Good grief! New York was well represented but last to strut out was CHICAGO. OMG! What a contingent! "And Chicago is still coming" 2500 strong! WOOHOO!
Chicago athletes enthusiastically come on the field last as the host city.

The world's athletes come to Chicago.

The rest of the evening was divided into four sections to tell the story of gay history. Exclusion, Oppression, Expression and Ignition were told via dance, songs and speakers. The GLBT community was represented by a lone man who acted out each stage.

Highlights were, Billy Porter, very funny Maragret Cho, totally rocking Andy Bell, expressing our anger was passionate cursing and I do mean cussin' Stacyann Chin. Woo! This lady's wrath woke up the house! Raising of the Gay Games flag escorted by my friend Eric, yayyyyy!! And the streaker! Of course there was a streaker, (nice butt).
Ignition, was very exciting with the GLBT guy now "out" and in silver pants doing cartwheels and dancing and running with chariots. Then tremendous fireworks and the lighting of the torch.

Monica said it was like being in her own little world. It was amazing the feelings I had. It was not like the Pride Parade that takes place on Halsted, we are allowed that. But this was huge, and OK and all over the city. It is about more than races and accuracy and faster, higher, stronger. It is about being free to be us without fear and having others, GLBT or not, want to join us. I think the Gay Games are expressing as passionately as Staceyann Chin did, our determination to not be closeted, not be restricted in who we love, where we work, if we can serve our country, teach children, and not be used as political pawns. Now I am going out there and enjoy the Gay Games in Chicago!

Athletes from New Orleans

The athletes make a rainbow.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Saturday July 15, 2006 Chicago will welcome 12,000 athletes and participants from over 70 countries to run, cycle, swim, play ball, row, bowl, dive, lift weights, vogue muscles, throw darts, figure skate, dance, sing, cheer, golf, hockey, wrestle and sail. There will also be a week long arts festival including choral, dance, band and much more. WOOOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!! There will be nightly medal ceremonies at Millenniun Park!

When did the Gay Games Start?: The Gay Games, previously known as San Francisco Arts & Athletics, was established on 1980 by Dr. Tom Waddell, a 1968 Olympic decathlete who later died of AIDS complications in 1987, and a group of San Francisco residents. Today, the quadrennial event is held in various cities throughout the world. The first Gay Games was held in 1982.

Why the Gay Games?: The Gay Games were established to provide a competitive sporting environment where anyone is free to express themselves and "experience camaraderie and validation through sport and culture," as the Federation of Gay Games promises.

Of course, there are some present and former Olympic athletes that are openly gay and many more that aren't out. The Gay Games weren't established to replace the Olympics, only offer a forum for athletes to focus on personal performance without worry of exclusion or discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, physical challenge, health status or athletic/artistic ability.

All that being said. Let the Games begin. I wish luck and fun to all athletes and participants,. I welcome all visitors and hope we all have a memorable week in Chicago.

Thanks to the Staff and Board of Gay Games VII for their tireless work to make this happen.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Seussical Quest

Since Seussical the Musical is in Chitown and in honor of my favorite a-Mayzing peacock I thought I'd post this Dr. Seussical confusical, I saw in the Trib.
I call it a Quest because it's as long as a Test but counts as a Quiz or is as easy as a quiz but counts as a Test. QUEST! Get it? Ok, ok shoot me.

Test your memory for the chanting rhymes and crazy characters that come to life in Dr. Seuss' more than 40 children's books. Answers are in comments. Cheaters.

As Dr. Seuss himself once put it: "Oh, the places you'll go! There is fun to be done! There are points to be scored. There are games to be won."

1. What is Dr. Seuss' real name?

2. Which of Dr. Seuss' books was published first?

A. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

B. "The Cat in the Hat"

C. "Green Eggs and Ham"

D. "And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street"

3. Fill in the blank in these Seuss rhymes:

A. "Oh, the things they will bump!

Oh, the things they [two words]!

Oh, I do not like it! Not one little bit!"

B. "You've nothing to do and I do [three words].

Would you like to sit on the egg in my nest?"

C. "A zoo should have bugs, so I'll capture a Thwerll

Whose legs are snarled up in a [two words]."

D. "I'll just have to save him.

Because, after all, A person's a person, no matter [two words]."

E. "Unless someone like you

cares a whole awful lot,

nothing is going to get better. [Two words]."

4. Identify the speaker in each of the above quotations.

5. Dr. Seuss won three Academy awards. What did he earn his Oscars for?

A. "Hitler Lives"

B. "Gerald McBoing-Boing"

C. "Design for Death"

D. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

6. In what book did a young narrator find a ghair beneath the stairs or a bofa on the sofa?

A. "And to Think I Saw it on Mulberry Street"

B. "The Butter Battle Book"

C. "There's a Wocket in my Pocket"

7. What moral lesson do the Star-Belly Sneetches and Plain-Belly Sneetches teach?

A. Pitfalls of prejudice

B. Effect of materialist society on natural world

C. Ideology of nuclear armament

8. Who was Thidwick?

A. The Birthday Honk-Honker

B. Curious Crandall

C. The Big-Hearted Moose

9. In what year did the "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" first air on TV?

A. 1970

B. 1966

C. 1971

10. Match the quirky location with the book.

1. Who-ville

2. Foona-Lagoona

3. Official Katroo Birthday Sounding Off Place

4. River Roover

A. "The Sneetches and Other Stories"

B. "Happy Birthday to You!"

C. "How the Grinch Stole Christmas"

D. "Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book"

11. What was the Grinch's problem?

A. He did not like feasting.

B. His heart was two sizes too small.

C. He did not like noise.

D. He loathed singing.

12. What was the Grinch's dog's name?

A. Max

B. Ali

C. Mr. Bix

D. Rolf

Sunday, July 09, 2006

My Seussical the Musical Reviewsical

I was never into Dr. Seuss, for his books I had no use,
though mother read to me a lot, (one of my Best remembers as a tot).
She read me rhymes, the nursery kinds
and fairy's tells from all the tellers, and Brer Rabbit and his trickster fellers
then classic poetry and prose, like All of Edgar Allen Poe's.
But no Seuss!

OK OK I got that out of my system.
I saw Seussical the Musical at the Shakespeare Theater on Navy Pier here in Chicago and it's hard to stop the rhymical thinks. But it is true, I could as a very young child and probably still can quote Poe's The Raven by heart, but It was not until I met Monica that I was introduced to Dr. Seuss and his characters.

Seussical the Musical is a clever combination of Dr. Seuss' books and characters. The sweet and loyal Horton the Elephant who lives in the Jungle of Nool along with Gertude McFuzz, Mayzie La Bird and the Bird Girls, the Wickersham's (monkeys), and the Sour Kangaroo. The Who's, who live on the itty-bitty planet of Whoville, include the mayor and his wife and their son JoJo.

It is a story about the power of imagination, the dangers of stifling it and about how everyone is important no matter who (pardon the pun) or how small or plain.
The staging is simple yet so creative it will wake up the sleeping imagination of even the most stodgy adult. I liked especially the bath tub scene with JoJo and the fish in the ocean.

The Cat in the Hat is the narrator played hysterically funny by E. Faye Butler complete with an Oprahish bit and many funny asides to the actors and audience. We were in the front row center(although there are really no bad seats at Shakespeare) so did not miss a single tease. This woman is good!

Horton the Elephant played with such sincerity by Bernie Yvon, rescues the Who's on their tiny planet and drops them on a clover leaf. The Jungle of Nool folks like the Sour Kangaroo and the Wickersham Brothers think Horton is daft for talking to a speck. Well um.... I see their point.

In Whoville, Mr. and Mrs. Mayor are trying to decide what to do about their son JoJo who keeps getting in trouble because of his extraordinary thinks. ( I love that, being a person of extraordinary thinks myself.)

Meanwhile, back in the jungle:
Gertrude McFuzz played by Brandy McClendon has a thing for Horton but she feels she is not going to be able to catch his eye because she has only one pitiful tail feather. Enter the beautiful Miss Mayzie La Bird. Mayzie tells Gertrude that she once was a plain Jane type too until she went to the doctor for some special tail growing pills. They work really well. Mayzie La Bird, who is played to the hilt by Alexandra Billings, is quite a colorful, peacock with a fannietastic tail, and she works it honey!
Brandy and Alexandra are both brilliant comediennes. It's so much fun seeing the difference between Brandy's sexually repressed, bespectacled, kinetic, small birdlike Gertrude energy and Alex's big, sashaying, party over here, sexy, saucy Mayzie energy. This really works!

The Wickersham's steal the clover leaf from Horton and drop it in a huge clover field! I remember Wickersham Travis Turner from Princess and the Pea at Shakespeare and fondly remember Berwick Haynes from Diva Diaries at Lake Shore Theater. These guys along with Devin DeSantis have some great dance numbers, cudos to the choreographer! The kids in the audience especially liked the Wickersham's.

Mayzie who is reluctantly sitting on a nearby nest, (after a one night stand that left her holding the egg) convinces the ever loyal Horton to sit for her while she takes a little vacation. Months go by and Mayzie does not come back.

Monica plays organ music here..........
Will Gertrude finally confess her love for Horton? Does she get that sexy tail? Will Horton even notice? Does Horton save the Who's? Is Mayzie the babymamma? And what about JoJo?
Find out right here!

Seussical The Musical is wonderful theater for children because it moves along quickly with the story in rhyme and lots of dancing and good messages. For adults, it is also cleverly risque but don't worry it's daring will sail harmlessly over the little ones heads.
Congrats to everyone in this company!

After the show Monica and I waited for Alexandra. She and two other cast members signed autographs and posed for pictures for the kids. Alex is amazing with children and they love her. She is very animated and funny and gives such attention to each one, asking great kid questions especially to the shy kids. During the first week of Suessical previews, Alex had a young boy in her autograph line named Charlie. Charlie is Transgendered and his parents wisely brought him to see and meet Alex. During the show watching Alex I was thinking how proud and calming it must have been for this child and his parents to see this amazing artist. How hopeful and encouraged they must have felt after talking with her.
For us, it's always good to see Alex. We are always happy she is in town. But, to see Alex sitting on a nest....that is Priceless!