November 3rd, 2004

(no subject)

Well, it appears Kerry's concession is official. It hadn't been at all unreasonable to hope for victory, but I find I'm more depressed by these results than I had feared. Perhaps the grim resolve I had planned on for this eventuality will kick in shortly. I hope.

I wonder when it was that reasonably perceptive Roman citizens began to realize that their nation was going into its decline. When the Republic became an Empire? Some other time? I believe I know how they might have felt.

Since Bush seems to have won this one fair and square, plus having gained seats in both houses of Congress, all we can look forward to is an even more intense concentration on the neo-conservatives' stupid, violent, corrupt and wasteful agenda, justified by his "mandate." Civilized nations will justifiably percieve that a majority of the American people (including, of course, those that didn't vote at all) support (and therefore take the blame for) the continuation of this brutish program. Weaker nations will also be justified in fearing that a hungry predator is loose on the world with no check. Meanwhile, the religious right will run amok with its attempted return to social puritanism, and those whose major goal is control of the people (ala Ashcroft) will get more and more license to pry and intimidate. The strangling of stem-cell and other biological research will guarantee that these transformative technologies will become the exclusive province of other nations. The rich will go abroad to get such treatments, while the US medical system collapses.

Wherever Osama Bin Laden is, he must be smiling. If we'd just had four years of Bush's bumbling rapine, the chance of his being re-elected would have been small. The terrorist issue gave Bush his victory. A terrorist such as Bin Laden cannot destroy a country like the United States, but he can goad it into destroying itself, and this he may have now succeeded in doing. In four more years, no one may care who has the White House or the Congress: the looters who invested in the Bush presidency (and who are Bin Laden's unwitting confederates therefore)will have stolen everything worth having, leaving the country with the status of a pariah nation, a ruined economy, devastated environment, worthless currency, crippling debt, a military ground back to post-Vietnam levels of low morale and readiness, and a Constitution distorted out of recognizable shape.

It will take the nation decades to recover from this debacle, if it ever can at all. Given increasing scarcity and demand for the natural resources we hog, I think there's a possiblity we never will fully recover. It is said that democracy is the system wherein everyone gets what the majority deserves. Given that, I accept that the vast majority of the people have asked for this and have it coming. I am sorry that there is no viable alternative for most of the rest of us but to ride out the crash as best we may.

I am deeply sorry also, that these events may have signaled the doom of humankind on earth. There are two books which have significantly formed my thinking about the future. The first is the famous Club of Rome report, "The Limits to Growth," published in 1972. Whilst the book did not predict what precisely would happen, it stated that if the world's consumption patterns and population growth continued at the same high rates of the time, the earth would strike its limits within a century. Basically, the book's conclusion was that disaster could be avoided by reducing population and reverting to low-environmental-impact lifestyles--such as herding sheep. The book did not take into account the possiblity of introducing extra-terrestrial sources of energy and industry, as postulated in G. Harry Stine's "Second Industrial Revolution," which gave me new hope for the future. However, at this time, the United States remains our best hope for the exploitation and industrialization of near space, but that certainly won't happen any time during the Bush administration or likely thereafter, and probably never as these efforts become "too expensive." Frankly, I think that the private space efforts are too little and too late, and barnstorming flights into suborbital space are never going to amount to anything else. I have long since given up hope that I would live to see humankind move out into circum-solar space, let alone the greater Universe, but it is bitter, bitter, to think that it will never happen at all.

Cream City Chorus Concert, 10/23/04

And now back to our regulary scheduled program: Saturday after the Tolkien conference finished for the day, we went over to the Village Church of the Arts for the first performance of the Cream City Chorus' new season. We had forgotten that this was a "bistro" show, and were a bit taken aback when we saw the tables, thinking perhaps we had the wrong place. However, we took chairs along the wall wich nevertheless had a good view, and the sound in the relatively small space is always good. One drawback of this arrangment is that there is scant room for any of the choreography that enlivened the Chorus' last show. Most of the pieces were fine without it, but it did seem a bit odd to have the group belting out "Gotta Dance" with no one dancing.

Full chorus numbers tended to open and close the acts, with solo and small group performances filling in. Among the particularly noteworthy:

Yolanda Roth with a big motown sound on "The Boy From New York City," with joyful boogieing by Bill Martin as the "boy."

Shirl Greeb and Bruce Lynch have good musical-theatre voices and put them to good use on a slow tune, "If I Let Myself Go."

Kristen Weber gave a lively rendition of "Another Hundred People," from "Company."

Megan Schaefer was in paritcularly good voice as she gave "Manhattan," that classic nightclub style.

Donna Plaski was effective with "Misty," as was Ebbie Duggins with a reworded version of "Before."

Small ensembles gave us "New York State of Mind," and a barbershop-style medley, as well as some clowning around to the "Green Acres" themesong.

Downbeats were that I did not think that the addition of Michael "KV" Johnston as MC particularly added things, and the auction of leftover bottles of wine and cheesecakes really brought things to a halt and could have been handled more expeditiously. Other than those, it was a good enjoyable show as usual.

MilwAPA 20th Anniversary, 10/30/04

On the 30th, we collated the 20th annish of MilwAPA. Once the APA was much more vital than it was now, but it continues to be a social force in our lives, and keeps us in touch with people who might otherwise have drifted away over time. At any rate, keeping any fannish enterprise going for 20 years is a tribute to the stubborness of the people involved, if nothing else. We had a pleasant collation gathering at our house during the afternoon, and then disbanded, most of us to meet again later at Lytheria for the Halloween party.

Lytheria Halloween party, 10/30/04

We got over to Lytheria for the annual big Halloween party about 8:00PM. it is a costume optional party, but we always have some: this year I went as "Van Helsing," from the movie of that name, and Georgie went as Anna Valerious. I was able to pick up long leather coat, brimmed hat, gloves, boots, and suitable pants from my own wardrobe--. I bought a decent leather vest and a roll-neck sweater that was a perfect match for the one worn by Hugh Jackman in the film, but it was too hot for indoor wear, so I substituted a plain gray shirt. Georgie got lots of complements on her leather corset and boots, and embroidered blouse and jacket, which were referential to the movie character, but in her colors.

As usual, Lee and the Lytherians (good name for a rock band--)set out a feast and had a full program of movies--including "Van Helsing" and "Hellboy." There were a few more costumes this year than some, including Henry Welch as a "hula girl" and Chuck Tritt as "Alladin," among others. We had a good time, but folded up about 11PM due to work and APA party earlier in the day.

Lytheria Trick or Treat, 10/31/04

The theme for this year's Trick or Treat production was "Far, Far Away," from "Shreck 2". After a couple of intensive costume and set years, we thought that this one would be easy and fun. As it turned out, we had some really remarkable reproductions and good effects. Lee really can't do anything simple and paneled in the front porch with white faux brick to suggest the palace facade, complete with flickering sconces and the Fairy Godmother's potion cabinet, with bottles that glowed magically under black light, and which also served as the cache of candy bars.

The cast included:

Jennifer "Stormsinger" Newmark as Princess Fiona (one of our best likenesses, with a very accurate wig, dress, and green makeup);
Paul Sullivan as Shreck, aided by a decent mask;
Georgie Schnobrich as Queen Lillian, very elegant in a gown looted from and American Players Theater costume sale;
Therese Roden as the Fairy Godmother. Her hair sprayed silver and swept up, several people said the resemblance was "frightening."
Mike Davis as the Big Bad Wolf and Steve Hanchar as a clueless woodcutter did a lot of good comic schtick.

We also had help from: Letha Welch as "Malificent," Jackie Hanchar as "Sleeping Beauty", Todd Voros as Captain Hook, Bill Bodden as "The Magic Mirror," and Tracy Benton as a court lady, whose role evolved into that of Keeper of the Secret Door.

Lee Schneider himself was the Palace Guard/Gatekeeper and used his spear to good effect in traffic control.

Me? Oh, I decided to challenge myself and take on the role of Doris, the Ugly Stepsister, bartender at the Poison Apple Inn (voiced in the movie by larry King--). A bit of hunting on eBay found me a close dress in my size, very good wig with a braided front in the stle shown in the movie, and Georgie found me a Shreck picture book for makeup reference. Of course I had to shave off my mustache--the first time in twenty five years--but the effect was worth it.
(There's a good image of "Doris" on the movie website:
It's of course part of the Flash presentation, so I can't link to it directly, but the curious may enter the site, choose "About the Movie," "Meet the Characters." The Ugly Stepsister is right after Prince Charming (scroll down on the thumbnail bar at the right hand side.)That'll give you an idea.
Aha, a simpler link to a smaller pic here:
If we get useable photos I'll see some are posted.)

The schtick at these is pretty much improvised on the spot: here's roughly how it worked out this time: kids ran the gauntlet of the Wolf and Woodcutter out on the sidewalk, and got passed by the Guard. Going up stairs to the house, males got mashed on by the Ugly Stepsister (looking for a date to the ball) and females got comments about hair and outfit. They were snored at by Sleeping Beauty and greeted by Queen Lillian, who greeted them with more or less grace depending if they were pretty costumes ("bride's side") or ugly costumes/no costumes ("groom's side/commoners"). They were then passed on to the tender mercies of the Fairy Godmother, who granted their wishes by giving them candy. Then Captain Hook ushered them to the Magic Mirror, who gave them the 'password' which got them out the secret/side exit controlled by the Doorkeeper. (Lee added side stairs to improve traffic flow a number of years ago.) Yes, we give away full-size candy bars, but we make them work for it!