Stan’s Obligatory Blog

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An evening at the ballet

Filed under: — stan @ 10:12 am

This evening we went to see Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo. This is a an all-male comic ballet company. They perform classic ballet en trasvesty. The ‘ballerinas’ have faux-Russian stage names like Ludmila Beaulemova and Tatiana Youbetyabootskya and such. The actual dancers are all trained in traditional serious ballet, but they do this as a form of ‘ballet outreach’. A lot of the humor is based on sending up the traditions of classic ballet. Since we’re not that familiar with the conventions of ballet, we probably missed a lot of the jokes. Still, it was very funny and very entertaining. The ‘dying swan’ was particularly hilarious, with feathers falling out of her tutu all over the stage, followed by two very serious-looking janitors coming out to sweep up afterward.

I had seen the Trockadero ballet on PBS’ “Egg” several years ago. At the time, I made a note that we should see them if they ever came to Los Angeles. And we were not disappointed. It was a very fun evening. And Lucinda has a story to tell now that probably no other kid in her class will be able to match.


An afternoon with the Jumbo Shrimp Circus Academy

Filed under: — stan @ 6:21 pm

Today’s adventure was one that Cathy found. An afternoon with the Jumbo Shrimp Circus Academy. This was a three-hour session for the whole family, to teach basic circus skills.

At the start, they had us to a few group exercises for basic human interaction skills. Then we started out. The first was balancing a peacock feather. It’s not all that hard to do, but it does require a bit of focus. The people who got good at it were encouraged to try balancing it on their nose, or to try tossing and catching it while keeping it balanced.

Next was the spinning plate. They passed out plates and sticks for everyone, and we all had a go at it. The trick was to get it started. Once it was spinning, it was easy. But the people who mastered getting it spinning then had to try to balance the stick on their finger, palm, or nose, which wasn’t so easy. The room was filled with the sound of falling plates hitting the floor.

After a short snack break, we tried some new things. There was a tightwire, juggling balls, the diabolo and devil sticks. Cathy and Lucinda both did the tightwire, and I tried to learn basic juggling. Sadly, it’s not the sort of thing one can pick up in five minutes, or even a half-hour. I made some progress, but I’ll have to practice more. Lucinda did some more plate-spinning, and Cathy tried her hand at the diabolo and devil sticks.

The last part of the class involved some balancing and building a basic human pyramid. Cathy and Lucinda did some of the two-person balancing, and I got picked for the base of the first pyramid.

At the end, they opened up all the activities for anyone who wanted to try something again. I had to try the tightwire, since my father had made a tightwire when I was a kid. He strung it up between two trees and we used to practice walking on it. But the last time I walked on it was 1971, when I was 11 years old. So I was a bit rusty. The wire this time was a bit more wobbly than I remember, but that may be because I’m a bit bigger and heavier. Still, it was interesting to try it again.

This was a fun afternoon activity and Lucinda liked it a lot. We had been planning on having a circus theme for her birthday party this year, so this fit in well. We also bought some clown noses, plates, and juggling balls while we were there, so now we have activities for her party. So overall, it was a fun afternoon.

Also, we have this year’s obligatory ‘cute couple’ picture. Cathy and I were wearing sort-of-matching shirts today, so we had to get a picture.


I’m not paying for this!

Filed under: — stan @ 11:00 am

varla's cd
Last night, we had a rare evening out. We dropped Lucinda off with Aunt Maggi and then headed over to Hollywood to see Varla Jean Merman’s new show, “I’m Not Paying For This!”.

We first went to dinner at the French Market Place in West Hollywood. We had a nice dinner and browsed a bit at our favorite gay gift shop, Dorothy’s Surrender. Then we headed over to the Renberg Theater at the L.A. Gay Center.

“I’m Not Paying For This!” is Varla’s new show, and it’s her tribute to the Seven Deadly Sins. She had a song for each, and it was very entertaining.

According to Varla, Lust leads to “guilt, a fractured tailbone, and a soiled clown suit”.

Varla also displayed a new talent, playing the theme from “Star Trek” on the theremin.

At the end of the show, she did one encore, singing “Girl With a Pearl Necklace” and also her “Schoolhouse Rock” medley.

Afterwards, we bought her new CD and she signed it for us. Overall, it was a very fun evening.

Her show runs through February 5.


Wal Mart is even more evil than we’d thought…

Filed under: — stan @ 7:44 pm

Today we went to see “WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price“. This movie is like “Super Size Me” for Wal-Mart. We’ll never be able to go into a Wal-Mart again without feeling a bit sick. We were astounded by the arrogance and greed of the management.

The film talks about several different aspects of Wal-Mart’s corporate behavior, but I thought it was particularly impressive when they tied two of the threads together. They were talking about security problems in Wal-Mart’s parking lots and how the company doesn’t care about people being robbed and assaulted there. They told a story about a woman who was abducted and murdered from a Wal-Mart parking lot in Texas. The abduction was caught on a security camera. But nobody was watching the camera. Because the only reason that store had security cameras was so that management could keep an eye on union organizers. Truly breathtaking.

While it’s certainly not the ‘feel-good movie of the year’, it’s worth seeing.


Mother on Fire

Filed under: — stan @ 6:42 pm

mother on fire
Today we went to see Sandra Tsing Loh’s new show, “Mother on Fire“.

Sandra Tsing Loh and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both half Chinese and half German. We both got degrees in Physics from major universities. We both spent some time working in the aerospace gulag of Hughes Aircraft. But then she went off into performing arts and writing, while I became a computer nerd.

Her latest show is about parenthood, and particularly about the travails of trying to get her daughter into a good school in Los Angeles. Having just been through that particular crucible last year, we were primed for a good time. And she did not disappoint. The show was a hoot, with stories about the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the kids eat candy and are stalked by an obese mountain lion in the hallways, to a bidding war over a house in La Cañada and talk of moving to Utah. It was hugely entertaining and tremendously funny.

If you’re in Los Angeles, go see this show.


Cartoon skeletons

Filed under: — stan @ 9:12 am

DiRT Gallery in West Hollywood is going to be showing “Skeletal Systems” by Michael Paulus. This is a series about what the skeletons of cartoon characters would look like. The show runs until July 23, and they are having an opening reception on June 10.


Artistry in Ink

Filed under: — stan @ 10:04 pm

Highlight for Album: Artistry in Ink 2005
Saturday was the little tattoo show that “Tattoo” magazine puts on every year at the Anaheim Convention Center. It’s not the biggest show, and they always have the air conditioning on too high so it’s freezing cold in there. But it’s still a fun time. I went on Saturday afternoon. I have a whole little circle of friends that I see at these things that I don’t see anywhere else. So it’s fun to catch up with everyone and see what’s new.


Body Worlds 2

Filed under: — stan @ 11:21 pm

Today we went to see the second Body Worlds exhibit at the science museum. The big attraction here was the “Suicide by Fat: Obesity Revealed” exhibit. Lucinda and Daddy went to the museum and met Aunt Maggi there. We had a quick lunch at the McDonald’s in the museum, since there’s nothing like having a Big Mac and fries before seeing an exhibit on the horrors of obesity. I also made a point of eating at McDonald’s before going to see “Super Size Me”, so there is a pattern here.

The new exhibit was as big as the first one, but with different specimens. They even had a camel, which was kind of novel. The human specimens showed a range of different things, from the muscles used for skateboarding to various horrible diseases. It was all quite gruesome and also quite interesting.

Afterwards, we went outside and Lucinda played on the “Big Lever” exhibit outside. She wasn’t quite able to lift the truck by herself, but she did it with the help of another little girl.


Sunday fun

Filed under: — stan @ 7:43 pm

Today we went to the Skeptics Society talk. The speaker was Jared Diamond talking about his new book, Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. We’ve seen him before, and he’s an engaging speaker. I also read his other book, Guns, Germs, and Steel and enjoyed it immensely. From what he said today, it sounds like his new book will be worth a read. Also, he said that the L.A. County Natural History Museum is going to be doing a special exhibit on this topic starting May 1.

It’s been raining for three days straight here, and the lake is back in our yard. Today was the biggest we’ve seen it get in nearly 10 years in this house.



Filed under: — stan @ 11:36 am

This just in…

Mandonna played here in L.A. last weekend. They are an all-male Madonna tribute band. We just read the review in the L.A. Weekly, and we’ve decided that this is a must-see. So we got on their mailing list to find out when they are coming back. Be sure to check out their web site. It’s quite slick, and they have some songs you can download. Their version of “Material Girl” is priceless.

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