Thursday, March 15, 2007

His Majesty King George....

If I hear his people say that they "serve at the pleasure of the President" ...let alone hear GEORGE say it again, I think I will indeed know that we have gone back in time to the Colonial era.

As Nancy Pelosi brought up today, the Attorney General not only for the president but for the United States. Gonzales has been rewriting law for George since his days in Texas and does not appear to care about the rest of the country, let alone what his Texas buddy is doing to it. He just "serves at the pleasure of the president". Senator John Sununu, Jr. is the first Republican who has called for Alberto to resign, let us hope that he is not the last.

I mean even George is a little unhappy...(that they got caught)

And hey do ya wanna be part of over 1000 actions for peace during this 4th anniversary of the war in Iraq?

Peace --Alex

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

cause I forgot something...

yesterday...vigils! Host one or be part of one. MoveOn is setting up to mark the anniversary of the war as well. So check one out if ya can!

So Bush is still trying to convince Latin America that he "cares"...the man even tried to sound leftist, talking about helping the poor (yeah, like he has with Katrina victims thus far) but Mexico ain't buying it and the violent protests at the US Embassy should have been a sign...

And speaking of things people ain't buying, Alberto Gonzales was on all the morning shows this morning saying that the prosecutor purge is "his responsibility" and he will stay on and take care of it rather than resign. Raise your hand if you don't think he's the guy to "handle" this situation that he was part of?

Today would also be a day to nag your Congressfolk as the debate about Iraq is starting...well, already has to be sure, and you need to let them know that you want the war to END and perhaps remind them as well that you don't want a war in Iran to START. Particularly when you got Cheney continuing to connect Iraq to 9/11...dude, give it UP already!!! (Though that probably came out 'cause he's still pissy about Scooter's conviction...)

And speaking of trying to get your soldiers home, General Peter Pace may find homosexuals immoral, but apparently he's not kicking them out as often. Like with older men, soldiers with mental and physical issues and criminals, the military is trying to keep gay people longer 'cause they need the bodies as they appear to be having trouble getting, if I may be so crass-fresh meat for the Iraq grinder.

AND NOW FOR THE LIGHTER is spring training, the Sox beat the Yankees 7-5 the other night, I got a great gig that starts this weekend, and I have a new little segment for the blog...The Pre Cana diaries.
The gig, by the way is with The Nautilus Project which is a program offered to composers and librettists by New Dramatists. Basically, this once-a-year intensive is an opportunity to learn how to work with a creative partner as well as performers. I get to be one of those performers and can't wait to be part of this process. pays...nice icing :)

And the Pre Cana Diaries...

First, The Why...Why the heck is this baptized Episcopalian, confirmed Congregationalist holiday church goer going to pre cana? Because my Catholic born and raised holiday church goer future husband with an Episcopalian father and Italian born, devout Roman Catholic mother would like to have a priest at the wedding. We thought, okay, dual service, no biggy.

Then the future husband actually talked to a priest.

Our ceremony will be held outdoors, which despite the fact will be held amidst God's creations, apparently doesn't count as a real service. In order for your marriage to count in the Catholic church, you have to do it inside a Catholic church...this of course means that we have to have a separate ceremony the next day (we'll pick a chapel, have us, his mom and a couple of friend offered to be a witness and I would like to take he and his husband up on the offer). And, of course, in order to get a priest, you have to go through pre cana, which is essentially Catholic pre-marriage counseling. After thorough discussion, and a little research (as in, I asked my a friend who recently went through the pre cana process what it was like), I agreed. The future husband also told me "You will have material for your show [stand-up comedy and just overall anecdotal material] for days! months even! and you have every right to use it!" Well, he got me there.

As he works weekends, we chose to do 4 two hour sessions on Tuesday nights. We've done 2 so far.

Week 1:

After scarfing down Thai food after work, we race up and across town to the one place having the class, St. Jean Baptiste. I figure three things: 1) it's held in a Catholic Church 2) it's run by a priest or a nun 3) I am going to burst into flame when we walk in the door as I am not Catholic, have no intention of ever becoming Catholic and will not be raising any future progeny Catholic.

When we walk in from the bitter cold evening, we enter nearly directly into a room that looks like a middle school auditorium, complete with worn dark brown painted stage, a curtain one can only describe as the color of 70's "burnt umber" polyester and shiny, spotless waxed wood floors. Around 200 black folding chairs are lined up along the floor with a handful of people maneuvering amidst them. There is a typical school auditorium podium up front and a woman is arranging papers laid on the stage behind her. It's not a man, I think, so not a priest...she must be a nun...While Jeff finds the restrooms, I grab us a seat: back row, by the doors. When Jeff gets back he remarks "planning your escape route?"

As I look around the room, I notice rectangular cafeteria tables, an old wall clock, and along one wall, black and white photographs of sisters. It has hit me. We are in a Catholic girls' school. Images of girls in plaid skirts and nuns in full habit flash before my eyes...particularly when I see the woman who is about to speak. Not in full habit, but, of course, she must be one of the sisters here.

More couples are entering and it dawns on both of us how many people are getting married this year and how many must be doing this soon if they are here tonight. I see a couple of guys waiting for their fiancees, one looking a bit frustrated. A lot of the guys are in suits coming fresh from jobs that require them. The majority of the couples are white, fairly young (as in no one appears to be over 40), and look to be upper middle class. I am, of course, trying to see I can figure out where-if any-the other non-catholics are...and of course, I have no idea.

The woman leading the session stands before the podium at about 5 after seven, as if it were theatre curtain. As she introduces herself, I at first am appalled yet not surprised by the horrible sound system. High school PA...I suddenly want the sound guys at the theatre I work at to come in and fix this. After I get over the sound horror, I find out that she is indeed not a nun, but a lay person, married for 50 years (which does not seem possible as she looks young enough to have to have been married at 10 for that to be true), with five children. She is a licensed marriage counselor and tonight the topic would be suggestions on how to properly argue and communicate with your spouse. 1st question: What nice thing did your partner do for you this week and how did it make you feel? Tell them right now..."

Jeff looks at me, leans in and says something positively unprintable, yet appreciated and I am left to laugh out loud. I return the sentiment. I relax with the thought that we are both going to hell.

We are then asked to get into groups of 8 couples and introduce ourselves. People are grabbing chairs, circling up and trying to get couples for their group. Some folks seem to even be trying to steal couples from other groups as there appears not be enough people there to have that many couples per group. We end up with 6 couples and start introducing ourselves: names, wedding date and location. As we go around the circle, Jeff and I notice that with each couple, the guys introduce them, hence I speak up and Jeff actually sits back while I introduce woman actually looks a little uncomfortable with this. Otherwise, we seem to have a happy little group. Another woman shakes her head she looks around the room and notices that I have seen this gesture. "I graduated from here," she tell me. "I keep expecting to see Sister O'Shea come through that door!" She points to a door at the far end of the room and can obviously see this nun coming at her in her mind. "I haven't thought about my demerit card in years..."

We are then asked to fetch some materials from the stage. Again, each of the men, including Jeff this time, go up to do the work. And as I look at all the men at the stage, it appears to be the same in all the groups. It is rather amusing. When they come back, we are to look at one of the papers and the woman at the front starts discussing proper listening. (I look at the papers and they all have her name, phone number and the address of her practice at the bottom.) We are then to look at the official pre cana workbook ("Don't look ahead!" Jeff says repeatedly as he sees me look to see if there is a section on the rhythm method...) and look at a list of questions. We are to choose one, tell our answer to our partner and then the partner is to essentially repeat back what he/she heard and prove that they got it. Jeff and I do this and have to chuckle over the fact that we chose the same question. We also surprise each other a little with our answers. As we discuss things further, we have to leave the exercise and move on...

Admittedly, things kind of blur after that save for that the clock seems to be running particularly slow. "That's God time," one guy says. You can practically hear the thwack of the ruler across his knuckles from his childhood.

The last two things I remember are how towards the end. 1) Jeff and I appeared to be the only holding hands nearly the entire time and 2) we are asked to do one more group exercise (we introduced ourselves, listened to the woman, did couple exercises and did not deal with the rest of our group until this moment). We had go around the circle and say what we thought marriage meant to us. The majority of folks talked about good examples that they saw in their own or their future spouse's parents. One talked about his fiancee's father who, when his wife died never married again even after 22 years. He felt he'd had the one. I remarked that my mother was the same way - since my father passed she has said "I already had my Prince..." She has no intention of marrying again. Jeff talked about his father and stepmother and how they really seem so right for each other - both like living in the country, are police officers and just enjoy each other's company. Only one person talked about how he was a child of divorce and he really does not want that to happen to him. He knows that he may have to work at his marriage and he will.

At the end, I noted that there had been no specifically Catholic creeds mentioned - much of the reference work was attributed to a rabbi - and that all the things discussed were your everyday marriage counseling advice: listen, communicate, support... No indoctrination tonight.

And it's advice more couples ought to get before they dive into this, don't ya think?

Week 2: We get there a little later than last time, but I am still able to snag a seat for us: second to last row, by the door. This is also possible because there are fewer people this time. THERE ARE PEOPLE SKIPPING PRE CANA!!! (Jeff remarks at the end that he wants to sign something to prove that we were here "We had other things to do...I wanna prove that I was here!") I am still molling over my mother's reaction to my doing pre cana. She grew up protestant in the 50's with the Catholics who were not allowed to walk into any other church-it was a sin-and believed thoroughly that they were the one true church. She does believe that I am being kidnapped into Catholicism hence I dare not even mention the words "pre cana". She asked me what I was doing tonight and I responded with "the class that shall not be named." She said "Okay, goodbye" and hung up.

We have a gentleman tonight. Fair, graying hair in that relaxed business-man cut. Grey suit jacket with pale blue shirt, no tie. For some reason I can picture him as a character on the Simpson. As he starts to speak, I am brought back to the horror of the sound system I'm thinking MTA this time. (As he continues, though, it does improve...either my ears are adapted or he knows how to work the bendy mic better.) His name is Sim and after a career on Wall Street, he has become a freelance writer having published articles for the Wall Street Journal, Harper's among other periodicals and also has written a book on the evolution debate: "Both sides are wrong," he claims. He has been married for 27 years and has four children "and I've been a closeted gay man the entire time" Jeff whispers in my ear. Sim does not have quite the charisma of our group leader? minion of the church?...but he warms up. I do not necessarily believe that Sim is gay, but as he does his lecture for the night, we definitely get the idea that he is a true Manhattan intellectual...and a bit effete.

...He starts off the night talking about Genesis...and how God called upon Adam and Eve to be fruitful and multiply "yes that means having babies and we'll get to that next week, I believe," he adds. I'm already a little leery as this statement makes me think that 1) he could be anti gay and 2) this is the guy from whom I'm gonna hear about the rhythm method.

His topic this evening is also communication, but also how love is "making the gift of oneself to another". I can't remember who he was quoting, but I do like and agree with that quote. Sim turns out to be very big on quotes. St. Thomas Aquinas to John Gray. He's also a big fan of Pope John Paul II (another big red flag for me as that man turned back the clock on Catholicism during his later years if you ask me).

STILL, I cannot deny that his lecture was good. He referenced the Simpsons, made good comments about how marriage is a continual courtship, quoted Aquinas as saying "Love is to will the good of another"...about how one must truly listen to their spouse, not make rash statements, told some good funny stories,

and he said "Quotidian"!

Okay this just makes me chuckle as my mother has this friend of hers...she is genius level bright. A now retired professor of anthropology and archeology. She would send these letters to my mother which routinely consist of five dollar scrabble words and she does use quotidian in her everyday speech (get it?) I could not help but think that if this guy were not happily married, I would want to hook him up with divorced Catholic Dena. particularly when he brought up having a "saturnine" temperment.

He finished the evening with a story about Mohammed Ali...I think Jeff and I were whispering about something (most likely about a couple in front of us- the guy stepped out supposendly for a smoke or something...and was taking a looooong time for that smoke...his fiancee checking the time...checking the the point of her getting up, going outside and bringing him back in, having him sit back down next to her rather sheepishly) and missed how this story was actually relevant to the rest of the lecture (and that is just what it was. no groups, no workbooks, no exercises...just him talking.) but it basically was about how Mohammed Ali was on a plane and the stewardess told him to put on his seatbelt. Ali replied "I'm Superman, I don't need a seatbelt" to which the stewardess replied, "Well, Superman didn't need a plane..." and he buckled up.

And at 10 after 8, we were done for the night. 2 down, 2 to go...though after seeing the lackluster group this evening, we may end up skipping...not sure...

Peace --Alex

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

let's see...

if I can actually finish a post this time...

this seemed to be so much easier when I started it and now I am ridiculously distracted. Admittedly there have been times when I do feel that I am doing nothing more than preaching to the choir and all, but I have heard from some folks that I have posted events and stories they actually haven't heard about yet, so I am back at it. Particularly as it is a busy week my friends.

It's been a busy TIME.

I mean, "Scooter" Libby got convicted...yes he's a fall guy, but perhaps we can look at this as, if we can get him. perhaps we can move up. And speaking of the White House getting busted, those court firings? First, it was proven FINALLY that the Administration did start all that nonsense...up to two years wonder George loved Harriet Miers so much. And Alberto Gonzales has had to concede that those firings were "mishandled" at the White House. And did we mention that Charles Schumer is leading the Dem pack asking for Alberto to step down?

In another facet of administrative busting, General Peter Pace-our top general- today, after sharing his views on homosexuality, has had to backtrack. He won't apologize for his [backward] "personal opinion" about homosexuality, but said that he should have focused the interview he was giving to the Chicago Tribune on "the policy" rather than his own views on "immorality". And can we just give a round of applause to Representative Marty Meehan (MA) for trying to repeal the "don't ask don't tell" policy? Rock on, Mahty! I mean seriously, is Pace the kind of guy we want as the top general when he believes that 65.000 of our enlisted troops are acting "immorally"? I figure as long as we're cleaning house in the military, why not consider getting rid of Gen. Pace, hmmmmmmm? but that's just me...

In the meantime...when was the last time you hit a good protest?

There is a big march on the Pentagon this weekend (, AND for anyone in New York, join Times Up for The Ride To End All Wars on the 3/18:

I unfortunately have to miss both of these as I just got a gig that starts Saturday, BUT GET OUT THERE PEOPLE! LET THEM KNOW THAT YOU ARE PAYING ATTENTION!!! Cheny may think this is bad for the troops, but what you know what's bad for the troops? Sending them back to duty not fully recovered, not caring for the wounded here, and TRYING TO SEND MORE OF THESE PEOPLE INTO THE MEATGRINDER (Congress' term, not mine, Mr. VP) THAT IS IRAQ!

ALSO...check for their opinions and actions of making sure the Dems know we want action on getting the troops out.

Peace --Alex

Monday, March 12, 2007

Back Evil Bush Spirits! Back!

You gotta love it when, while on his "we actually DO love you Latin America!" tour, Bush not only has dealt with anti-war protesters, but Mayan Priests have said that they need to cleanse places he has visited as they believe that he is leaving evil spirits in his wake.

Could they come here, please?

Peace -Alex