pallas_athena: (Default)
US-siders already know about this, but I thought it might prove interesting to the UK contingent. Here's the background:

After a years-long fight, same-sex marriage was finally legalised in Maryland this year. However, opponents of the new law managed to get enough signatures to put it to a referendum on this November's election ballot: a final chance for them to strike down the law before it is due to take effect on 1 January 2013. The campaign is heating up on both sides.

Brendon Ayanbadejo, a football player for the Baltimore Ravens, has been vocal in his support for marriage equality, even offering a pair of game tickets as a fundraising incentive. This has provoked the ire of one Emmett C. Burns Jr., a local politician and church leader who called on the team "to inhibit such expressions from your employee." (Single-page pdf of letter here.)

The team, of course, is rallying behind Ayanbadejo. But the real cherry on the sundae is an open letter written to Burns by another NFL player, Chris Kluwe. With Olympian eloquence, Kluwe writes:

I can assure you that gay people getting married will have zero effect on your life. They won't come into your house and steal your children. They won't magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster. They won't even overthrow the government in an orgy of hedonistic debauchery because all of a sudden they have the same legal rights as the other 90 percent of our population [...] You know what having these rights will make gays? Full-fledged American citizens just like everyone else, with the freedom to pursue happiness and all that entails.


That's just one abridged paragraph from a truly glorious panegyric, the full text of which is available here. I heartily advise clicking, though the text does contain language that may offend any prudes reading over your shoulder at the workplace.

I take away from this incident a certain optimism: it seems NFL football culture has come a long way since I was a kid. Polls show that a narrow majority of Marylanders support same-sex marriage in principle, which makes this primarily a fight for turnout. I very much hope that the state on my doorstep will show itself an enlightened place come November.

Pandagyric

Feb. 4th, 2010 07:38 pm
pallas_athena: (Default)
Washington DC's firstborn panda, Tai Shan, is being flown to China today. Here is a photo gallery displaying his many significant achievements.
Of pandas, monkeys and nostalgia )
pallas_athena: (Default)
I got back to London this morning, and I have to say the weather feels positively balmy compared to the past week in DC-- extremely cold, with a biting wind like Odin's own surgical knife. Factoring in the windchill, it was well below zero Fahrenheit (that's fuck-off cold, Centigrade users! See, I know [zero = freezing] has a certain logic, but [fuck-off cold] is a much more elusive measurement, neatly pinned down by the Fahrenheit system.)

[livejournal.com profile] speedlime and I went to see a movie the other night. Afterwards, I emerged from the building with one sleeve damp from having washed my hands. By the time we got to where the car was parked, my sleeve was crisply frozen. Fuck-off cold.

I was impressed, though, by the sight of snowbound Britain as my flight landed today. As I type, there are flurries falling in London, but not quite settling-- in the centre, at least.

I was going to try and fight the jetlag, but a hot bath and some comic books suddenly look like a much better idea. Abnormal service will resume shortly, true believers.
pallas_athena: (Default)
When I am in Britain, I care about sport. I care, specifically, about the England football team. I care about them losing as severely as possible so that they'll be knocked out of whatever tournament they're in and I won't have to deal with buses, Tubes and streets full of aggressive, loutish fans. This is the extent of my involvement with UK sport.
Wholesome, muscular American pursuits below )
pallas_athena: (Default)
Exposition: I'm in DC right now for my sister's wedding on the 18th. She is marrying someone good, and so far things seem to be going OK with only a minimum of draaaaama. (touch wood)

My sister has kindly asked me to sing. She's not normally the classical-music sort, so we found a Rodgers and Hart song we both liked. The music director of the church, however, vetoed it on the grounds that only sacred music should be used during the ceremony. He suggested Ave Maria instead.

"Screw Ave Maria sideways," thought Laura and I. We looked at a few other numbers and decided to email him back suggesting something from a Handel oratorio: "Where'er You Walk."

Of course, the oratorio it's from is Semele, which is not only TOTALLY PAGAN but also only called an oratorio because it was too full of impropriety to be permitted on the operatic stage in 1743. So I'm singing, at my sister's church wedding, an aria sung by the god Jupiter to his adulterous mortal lover. Result.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Exposition: I'm in DC right now for my sister's wedding on the 18th. She is marrying someone good, and so far things seem to be going OK with only a minimum of draaaaama. (touch wood)

My sister has kindly asked me to sing. She's not normally the classical-music sort, so we found a Rodgers and Hart song we both liked. The music director of the church, however, vetoed it on the grounds that only sacred music should be used during the ceremony. He suggested Ave Maria instead.

"Screw Ave Maria sideways," thought Laura and I. We looked at a few other numbers and decided to email him back suggesting something from a Handel oratorio: "Where'er You Walk."

Of course, the oratorio it's from is Semele, which is not only TOTALLY PAGAN but also only called an oratorio because it was too full of impropriety to be permitted on the operatic stage in 1743. So I'm singing, at my sister's church wedding, an aria sung by the god Jupiter to his adulterous mortal lover. Result.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Come one, come all (if you're in the Washington DC area):

Opera Duets
Starring Peter Collins (bass-baritone), me (mezzo) and Andy Kraus (piano)

Sunday 5 April, 7PM
Church of the Epiphany, 13th & G Streets NW, near Metro Center
Tickets $15 at the door

Program:
Handel, Semele
Juno - Liza Graham
Somnus - Peter Collins
Aria: "Awake, Saturnia"
Recit. "Somnus, awake!"
Aria: "Leave me, loathsome light"
Recit. "Dull god..."
Aria: "More sweet is that name"
Recit: "My will obey"
Duet: "Obey my will, thy rod resign"

Mozart, die Zauberflöte
Sarastro - Peter Collins
Aria: "In diesen heil'gen Hallen"

Mozart, Così fan Tutte
Dorabella - Liza Graham
Guglielmo - Peter Collins
Duet: "Il core vi dono"

Piano solo - Andy Kraus

Rossini: L'Italiana in Algieri
Isabella - Liza Graham
Taddeo - Peter Collins
Aria: "Cruda sorte!"
Duet: "Ai capricci della sorte"
pallas_athena: (Default)
Come one, come all (if you're in the Washington DC area):

Opera Duets
Starring Peter Collins (bass-baritone), me (mezzo) and Andy Kraus (piano)

Sunday 5 April, 7PM
Church of the Epiphany, 13th & G Streets NW, near Metro Center
Tickets $15 at the door

Program:
Handel, Semele
Juno - Liza Graham
Somnus - Peter Collins
Aria: "Awake, Saturnia"
Recit. "Somnus, awake!"
Aria: "Leave me, loathsome light"
Recit. "Dull god..."
Aria: "More sweet is that name"
Recit: "My will obey"
Duet: "Obey my will, thy rod resign"

Mozart, die Zauberflöte
Sarastro - Peter Collins
Aria: "In diesen heil'gen Hallen"

Mozart, Così fan Tutte
Dorabella - Liza Graham
Guglielmo - Peter Collins
Duet: "Il core vi dono"

Piano solo - Andy Kraus

Rossini: L'Italiana in Algieri
Isabella - Liza Graham
Taddeo - Peter Collins
Aria: "Cruda sorte!"
Duet: "Ai capricci della sorte"
pallas_athena: (Default)
I had a strangely blissful two weeks in DC, ending with a concert that pleased both me and my colleagues (and, I hope, our lovely audience.) Our finale, the Presentation of the Rose from der Rosenkavalier, had had us all sweating blood during rehearsals... but in performance, the ghost of Richard Strauss smiled on us, and it went beautifully. (At least, it felt beautiful-- I have no idea what it sounded like from the outside.)
Of DC theatre and such )
I love my city's summers. Exiting an air-conditioned theatre into the humid embrace of a DC summer night is a sensual experience: the full moon blurrily drunk on the moisture in the air, air so warm and heavy you could swear your outstretched arms leave trails through it. Also, the humidity makes my hair go all Alphonse Mucha (see my icon for an example; it was, after all, drawn during a DC summer.)
pallas_athena: (Default)
I had a strangely blissful two weeks in DC, ending with a concert that pleased both me and my colleagues (and, I hope, our lovely audience.) Our finale, the Presentation of the Rose from der Rosenkavalier, had had us all sweating blood during rehearsals... but in performance, the ghost of Richard Strauss smiled on us, and it went beautifully. (At least, it felt beautiful-- I have no idea what it sounded like from the outside.)
Of DC theatre and such )
I love my city's summers. Exiting an air-conditioned theatre into the humid embrace of a DC summer night is a sensual experience: the full moon blurrily drunk on the moisture in the air, air so warm and heavy you could swear your outstretched arms leave trails through it. Also, the humidity makes my hair go all Alphonse Mucha (see my icon for an example; it was, after all, drawn during a DC summer.)
pallas_athena: (Default)
My city has welcomed me home properly. Since I've been here, we've had at least three real DC thunderstorms. Today's was a beauty: rain sheeting down, sky-splitting flashes, a constant thunder like the drums of war (back when war involved drums.)

Tonight, the air is full of the smell of rain. (DC summers have an especially wet green smell, even in the burning sun, so the post-thunderstorm scent here is especially intense.) Yesterday evening, watched by a few curious fireflies, I planted tomatoes, basil and sage in my mother's garden. The rain should make them happy.

Rehearsals with [livejournal.com profile] quesadelia are going well, except that Richard Strauss is stomping all over my brain in spike-heeled boots. He and I will come to an agreement of some sort soon, I hope.

Tonight I went to hear a concert performance of Eugene Onegin at the Kennedy Center. I love that opera, and somehow I was in the right mood for it today. Having heard a bunch of talented people sing about my problems for three hours, I feel much better.

Also, I was officially the last geek in the country to see Iron Man-- but having seen it, I MUST HAVE ROBERT DOWNEY JUNIOR now. If you see him, can you please put him in one of those FedEx boxes and send him along? If you use enough packing tape, he shouldn't struggle too much. Thanks.
pallas_athena: (Default)
My city has welcomed me home properly. Since I've been here, we've had at least three real DC thunderstorms. Today's was a beauty: rain sheeting down, sky-splitting flashes, a constant thunder like the drums of war (back when war involved drums.)

Tonight, the air is full of the smell of rain. (DC summers have an especially wet green smell, even in the burning sun, so the post-thunderstorm scent here is especially intense.) Yesterday evening, watched by a few curious fireflies, I planted tomatoes, basil and sage in my mother's garden. The rain should make them happy.

Rehearsals with [livejournal.com profile] quesadelia are going well, except that Richard Strauss is stomping all over my brain in spike-heeled boots. He and I will come to an agreement of some sort soon, I hope.

Tonight I went to hear a concert performance of Eugene Onegin at the Kennedy Center. I love that opera, and somehow I was in the right mood for it today. Having heard a bunch of talented people sing about my problems for three hours, I feel much better.

Also, I was officially the last geek in the country to see Iron Man-- but having seen it, I MUST HAVE ROBERT DOWNEY JUNIOR now. If you see him, can you please put him in one of those FedEx boxes and send him along? If you use enough packing tape, he shouldn't struggle too much. Thanks.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Good things that have happened recently:

--Went to Kew Gardens with my music-college friend Pete. It was a sunny day, and we spent a lot of our afternoon walking barefoot on the soft, cool grass. We climbed the 18 meter high tree-walk, found an escaped iguana in the Princess of Wales greenhouse, and enjoyed the Philadelphus grove by the pagoda.
Philadelphus are in bloom in the UK right now. They're one of my favourite summer shrubs: the Americans call them "mock orange," since they smell very like orange blossom. If you see one, do pause and smell it.

--Yesterday I flew from London to Washington DC. I do this all the time, but yesterday's journey was especially pleasant: [livejournal.com profile] velvetdahlia was nice enough to join me for a pre-airport lunch and then came to Heathrow with me! It was lovely to have company for a chore that I usually do on my own. Also, Terminal 4 was... wait for it... calm and civilised. BA have moved most of their flights to Terminal 5, so at T4 there were almost no crowds or queues for anything. It was eerie.

--When I got to DC, [livejournal.com profile] speedlime was waiting for me with all the latest news and gossip. As I waved goodnight to her from my parents' front porch, a firefly flew directly in front of my face and flashed at me. I am home.

--Today I had a good rehearsal with [livejournal.com profile] quesadelia for our duet recital on the 28th. We sang through duets from Cosí fan Tutte, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Lakmé and der Rosenkavalier. It all went surprisingly well, considering that my ears are still in a different time zone.

London is a city of uncertain affections, a city I have to run to keep up with, whose moods are sometimes unbelievably generous but often unbelievably arsey. DC, by contrast, is a friendly beast who puts its head under your hand to be petted as soon as you get in the door. So the door creaks and the house is in disrepair: it's inhabited by love.
pallas_athena: (Default)
Good things that have happened recently:

--Went to Kew Gardens with my music-college friend Pete. It was a sunny day, and we spent a lot of our afternoon walking barefoot on the soft, cool grass. We climbed the 18 meter high tree-walk, found an escaped iguana in the Princess of Wales greenhouse, and enjoyed the Philadelphus grove by the pagoda.
Philadelphus are in bloom in the UK right now. They're one of my favourite summer shrubs: the Americans call them "mock orange," since they smell very like orange blossom. If you see one, do pause and smell it.

--Yesterday I flew from London to Washington DC. I do this all the time, but yesterday's journey was especially pleasant: [livejournal.com profile] velvetdahlia was nice enough to join me for a pre-airport lunch and then came to Heathrow with me! It was lovely to have company for a chore that I usually do on my own. Also, Terminal 4 was... wait for it... calm and civilised. BA have moved most of their flights to Terminal 5, so at T4 there were almost no crowds or queues for anything. It was eerie.

--When I got to DC, [livejournal.com profile] speedlime was waiting for me with all the latest news and gossip. As I waved goodnight to her from my parents' front porch, a firefly flew directly in front of my face and flashed at me. I am home.

--Today I had a good rehearsal with [livejournal.com profile] quesadelia for our duet recital on the 28th. We sang through duets from Cosí fan Tutte, Les Contes d'Hoffmann, Lakmé and der Rosenkavalier. It all went surprisingly well, considering that my ears are still in a different time zone.

London is a city of uncertain affections, a city I have to run to keep up with, whose moods are sometimes unbelievably generous but often unbelievably arsey. DC, by contrast, is a friendly beast who puts its head under your hand to be petted as soon as you get in the door. So the door creaks and the house is in disrepair: it's inhabited by love.
pallas_athena: (Default)
But I'm writing this instead. It's deep night, and only a few optimistic fireflies are still out. I've been having a last walk around the yard barefoot, enjoying the different surfaces: damp grass, flagstones still warm from the heat of the day, smooth wooden planks. And water: I stood ankle-deep in the pool for a short while. I probably won't have the luxury of going barefoot outdoors in scuzzy London-- at least not much. There was one memorable day a few years ago when I locked myself out of my flat without my shoes and had to spend all day without them and then walk across Brixton in my socks to find the friend who had my spare keys, but I don't know if that counts.
So here's what I've been up to )

I've thought a lot in recent years about the concept of home. I seem to be able to make myself at home anywhere I happen to be, which is good-- but at the same time, there's no one place I think of as Home with a capital H. I like London, but I don't want to be there forever. I like DC, but if I moved back here for good I think I'd be climbing the walls within a month or so.

So I'm thinking of adopting the stray-cat definition of home as "anywhere I get food and friends." By that token, I'm at home now-- and going home soon.

In an hour and a half, to be exact, so I really should throw some things into a suitcase. See you on the other side, or as I like to call it, "Jetlagistan." Till then, stay out of trouble. If you can.
pallas_athena: (Default)
But I'm writing this instead. It's deep night, and only a few optimistic fireflies are still out. I've been having a last walk around the yard barefoot, enjoying the different surfaces: damp grass, flagstones still warm from the heat of the day, smooth wooden planks. And water: I stood ankle-deep in the pool for a short while. I probably won't have the luxury of going barefoot outdoors in scuzzy London-- at least not much. There was one memorable day a few years ago when I locked myself out of my flat without my shoes and had to spend all day without them and then walk across Brixton in my socks to find the friend who had my spare keys, but I don't know if that counts.
So here's what I've been up to )

I've thought a lot in recent years about the concept of home. I seem to be able to make myself at home anywhere I happen to be, which is good-- but at the same time, there's no one place I think of as Home with a capital H. I like London, but I don't want to be there forever. I like DC, but if I moved back here for good I think I'd be climbing the walls within a month or so.

So I'm thinking of adopting the stray-cat definition of home as "anywhere I get food and friends." By that token, I'm at home now-- and going home soon.

In an hour and a half, to be exact, so I really should throw some things into a suitcase. See you on the other side, or as I like to call it, "Jetlagistan." Till then, stay out of trouble. If you can.
pallas_athena: (Betsy)
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Today it is our patriotic duty to MAKE THINGS EXPLODE. Here in DC, being the nation's capital, we have something of an obligation to make our explosions bigger, louder and generally more explodariffic than anyone else's. KABOOOM )

Tonight I'm going down to the Washington Monument to see the fireworks, where I fear irony will be in short supply. But I'll go with friends and we'll bring a picnic, and when darkness falls there will be ... yes... EXPLOSIONS. Government-sponsored explosions, at that: finally, they do something sensible with our tax dollars.

So, [livejournal.com profile] orkamedies, [livejournal.com profile] wyte_phantom, [livejournal.com profile] rosenkavalier and anyone else who feels inclined: If you were to cause any explosions, say, tonight, you can always claim you were acting on the instructions of the U.S. government. I'll just leave you holding that thought, shall I?

Meanwhile, credit for my splendid patriotic icon goes to [livejournal.com profile] albertbbun and [livejournal.com profile] myriadim, to whom I doff my mobcap in humble appreciation.
pallas_athena: (Betsy)
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Today it is our patriotic duty to MAKE THINGS EXPLODE. Here in DC, being the nation's capital, we have something of an obligation to make our explosions bigger, louder and generally more explodariffic than anyone else's. KABOOOM )

Tonight I'm going down to the Washington Monument to see the fireworks, where I fear irony will be in short supply. But I'll go with friends and we'll bring a picnic, and when darkness falls there will be ... yes... EXPLOSIONS. Government-sponsored explosions, at that: finally, they do something sensible with our tax dollars.

So, [livejournal.com profile] orkamedies, [livejournal.com profile] wyte_phantom, [livejournal.com profile] rosenkavalier and anyone else who feels inclined: If you were to cause any explosions, say, tonight, you can always claim you were acting on the instructions of the U.S. government. I'll just leave you holding that thought, shall I?

Meanwhile, credit for my splendid patriotic icon goes to [livejournal.com profile] albertbbun and [livejournal.com profile] myriadim, to whom I doff my mobcap in humble appreciation.
pallas_athena: (Default)
If you're in or near Washington DC right now, the Shakespeare Theater's annual Free for All in Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Rock Creek Park is on this week (until June 3.) This year's production is their amazing Love's Labour's Lost, set in the 1960s with Indian gurus, hippie rock stars, and the Princess and her ladies in catsuits riding Vespas. I saw this production when they brought it to Stratford-upon-Avon last August, and it was a truly joyful evening. One of the things I liked about it was that they've added some good old-fashioned Shakespearean gender-bending to the comedy: the men are very "feminine" throughout, in an authentically 60s way (long hair, drapey clothing, jewellery) while the women spend most of the action in tight trousers, posing with "masculine" props like motor scooters and guns. And the music--! Since the "lords" are rock stars in this production, their love sonnets all morph into songs, and they do in fact rock out.

Post listing and review here. This production ought to work, if anything, even better under the trees of Rock Creek Park. If I were in DC, I'd be there right now. Go see! Go see!
pallas_athena: (Default)
If you're in or near Washington DC right now, the Shakespeare Theater's annual Free for All in Carter Barron Amphitheatre in Rock Creek Park is on this week (until June 3.) This year's production is their amazing Love's Labour's Lost, set in the 1960s with Indian gurus, hippie rock stars, and the Princess and her ladies in catsuits riding Vespas. I saw this production when they brought it to Stratford-upon-Avon last August, and it was a truly joyful evening. One of the things I liked about it was that they've added some good old-fashioned Shakespearean gender-bending to the comedy: the men are very "feminine" throughout, in an authentically 60s way (long hair, drapey clothing, jewellery) while the women spend most of the action in tight trousers, posing with "masculine" props like motor scooters and guns. And the music--! Since the "lords" are rock stars in this production, their love sonnets all morph into songs, and they do in fact rock out.

Post listing and review here. This production ought to work, if anything, even better under the trees of Rock Creek Park. If I were in DC, I'd be there right now. Go see! Go see!

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