Cocktail Friday: Pumpkin Spice Lebowski

pumpkin-spice-lebowskiWe know, we know — everyone does pumpkin spice. But that’s coffee drinks — what about some adult beverages? Try out this seasonal one.

2 oz. Reyka vodka

1 oz. coffee liqueur (Tia Maria, Kahlua, etc.)

1 oz. heavy cream

1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice

Making it: Combine heavy cream and spice into a shaker and shake. Add ice, vodka and liqueur and shake more. Strain into a rocks glass; garnish with cocoa puff.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

REVIEW: DTC’s feminist ‘Christmas Carol’

sally-nystuen-vahle-as-scrooge-photo-by-karen-almond

Sally Nystuen Vahle as Scrooge (Photo by Karen Almond)

Ebenezer Scrooge’s name immediately conjures a dour, angular, mean physicality. You can see his pointy chin, his narrow, flinty eyes, his thin-lipped scowl.

Only the Scrooge at the Wyly Theatre now, courtesy of Dallas Theater Center‘s annual production of A Christmas Carol, isn’t a he at all, but a she. It’s not just gender-blind casting: DTC has had women play Jacob Marley before, as well as a host of the Ghosts of Christmases, and Tiny Tim is often played by a little girl. No, this Ebenezer definitely has two X chromosomes — “Miss Scrooge,” her terrified workers call her. He last surviving relative isn’t Nephew Fred, but Niece Lucy; even the Fezziwigs appear to be a partnership.

Hey, Hillary mightn’t’ve risen to the top, but these revisionist Dickens characters have.

And it definitely adds a new layer to the psychology of Scrooge.

How he got to think of holidays as a humbug has never fully wrung true. Yes, young Scrooge was abandoned by a remote dad, and he lost his devoted sister Fanny; even his fiancee abandoned him. But only after money had driven him cold. His miserliness drove people away, not the other way around.

But now, we see Miss Scrooge as the embodimentliz-mikel-gabrielle-reyes-ace-anderson-chamblee-ferguson-photo-by-karen-almond of The Bitch Conundrum: A powerful man is seen as decisive; a powerful woman as a bitch. Breaking that glass ceiling was sure to imbed some shards.

It’s a lovely little twist on the familiar tale, given a lot of life by Sally Nystuen Vahle as the top-hatted Ebby with perpetual smirk. Kevin Moriarty has updated his adaptation, jointly presenting the dual crises of the Industrial Revolution and the Sexual Revolution — Ebenezer Steinem, by way of The Jungle. The cold, heartless weight of the age linger more than even prior versions of this production, and not always in a good way. Bob Cratchit (here more foreman than bookkeeper, played by Alex Organ) all but disappears into the background of steam engines and furnaces; during the opening scenes, you even lose some dialogue to all the busy-ness on the stage.

But it does provide a striking counterpoint when the set begins to twinkle in colored lights and smiling harmonies as Miss Scrooge’s heart melts away. I see it every year, and every year it gets to me.

Vahle is terrific, of course, by so in Chamblee Ferguson, taking on a variety of small roles (Scrooge’s valet, Mr. Fezziwig, etc.) and proving how brilliant character work doesn’t depend on lots of lines, but rather inventive choices. He, like this version of the show itself, proves that there’s always room to be surprised.

At the Wyly Theatre through Dec. 28.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Nothing ‘lax’ about this out athlete

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Taylor Tvedt

When Taylor Tvedt made the “no-brainer” decision to come out as a high school sophomore in the Twin Cities suburb of Apple Valley, the response was largely positive. Her “progressive” parents were supportive; her friends, and lacrosse and ice hockey teammates, were “awesome.”

Tvedt was relieved. She could be herself … even in the locker room, where she’d worried about what everyone might think.

The only ones who seemed to have an issue were parents of teammates. There was gossip in the stands. One mother did not want Tvedt driving her daughter to practice. Taylor’s mother fought those battles. By senior year, Tvedt says proudly, “No one messed with my mom.”

When Lehigh University recruited her for lacrosse, Tcedt was “pretty sure they knew” her sexual orientation. Visiting the Division I school, she asked about the gay scene. Her tour guide was surprised, but said, “I’m sure you’ll be happy here.”

In her first week as a Mountain Hawk, her coaches met separately with all the new players. They’d never had an openly gay athlete before. Their main concern, Tvedt says, was what they should be saying, and how to say it. Her sexuality was never an issue.

Though most of her teammates come from similar Northeastern U.S. backgrounds, Tvedt says they are accepting of each other’s “little differences.” The women are best friends. They live near each other, and share a tight team culture. “We’re all open-minded, and willing to have conversations about anything,” she notes. “Our coach is good at recognizing that we have personalities beyond our lacrosse skills.”

of1128162Tvedt says that while her sexuality “does not make me the athlete I am,” she also refuses to live a “don’t ask, don’t tell” life. The more people talk, the more they learn about her. And, just as crucially, the more other LGBT athletes will be empowered to come out themselves.

Lehigh had an Athlete Ally chapter. The organization works to end homophobia and transphobia in sports, and educates teams and coaches to stand up against anti-LGBT discrimination.

Last spring, the college’s director of athletic leadership development asked Tvedt to take on an Athlete Ally leadership role. Her goal is to provide awareness and engagement opportunities, and challenge people beyond her own team to have “important dialogues.”

This fall, Tvedt designed and distributed a culture survey to all Lehigh athletes. A sociology major, she knows the importance of data in making a case for change.

She received 410 responses — a very high, 60-percent response rate. Only 3 percent of those athletes identified themselves as “non-heterosexual.”

The surveys showed that male Lehigh athletes are much less likely than their female counterparts to take a “very” or “somewhat” accepting view of LGBT athletes. The open-ended questions elicited a few “jerk” responses from men, she adds.

Athlete Ally sponsored a “lunch and learn” session about homophobia. Thirty-four athletes came. All were women. Tvedt was disappointed. “I’ve got plenty of male athlete friends,” she notes.

At the meeting, she spoke about the importance of being an ally. So far, six teams have signed the Athlete Ally pledge.

Armed with data, she approached Lehigh administrators. She pointed out gaps in the schools written inclusion policies, especially compared with similar institutions. Their response — that it’s “just one of many issues” — surprised her. It also impelled her to keep pushing on.

As she works with Athlete Ally, Tvedt realizes that she wants to continue her efforts after graduation this spring. The connections she’s made — and her awareness of the power of allies — drive her forward.

“I want to leave Lehigh with a legacy,” she says. “And not only on the field. I want to build something that is lasting, and impactful.”

She’s already done that. In advance of National Coming Out Day last October, Lehigh’s sports communications office interviewed Taylor. The resulting story — focusing on her Athlete Ally efforts, but also highlighting her sexual orientation — was wide-ranging, positive and powerful. It included insights from teammate Lauren Beausoleil: “When individuals feel they cannot be themselves, they can start to doubt who they are and feel distant from others. Open communication and having teammates that are both accepting and approachable is one of the greatest things a program can provide.”

To Taylor’s surprise, the story was distributed widely. Thanks to Lehigh’s online presence, and social media, it went far beyond the Pennsylvania campus. It was even included in Lehigh’s football program. As a result, Tvedt has heard from LGBT athletes and allies all over the country.

Lehigh still has a way to go on LGBT issues. Every institution does. But, Tvedt says, “People need to see what’s going on here. We’re doing some good things.”

So is she.

— Dan Woog

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Holiday Gift Guide: Cyber Monday

Here are some items you can click on for easy buying while coming out of your four-day turkey coma.

orthodox-calendarCalendar boys. We all know what a DILF is. Or a MILF, if you swing that way. But a PILF?! That’s Priests I’d Like to… well, you know the rest. We’ve been fans for several years of the Orthodox Calendar, which combats religious hypocrisy by recruiting gay and gay-friendly priests of the Orthodox Church to pose in artistic yet homoerotic settings. The 2017 PILF calendar, with 12 charged months of photos, is available in both classic and explicit versions, and there’s even a video option to see the making-of each calendar. (From Europe, so prices are in euros: 16–30.)

Available at Orthodox-Calendar.com.

(In addition to this calendar, there’s always one of the hardcore collections from our friends at Colt Studios.)

The music and mood of the season. A great gift idea you can get right now? A pair of tickets for you and a loved one to see a show. And the Turtle Creek Chorale’s A Not So Silent Night Holiday Concert — which runs Dec. 8–11 at City Performance Hall, is a queerlicious way to spend time together and get into the holiday spirit.

Available at TurtleCreekChorale.com.

In addition, you can enjoy song and dance with Mistletoe Magic, the annual fundraiser and cabaret from the Bruce Wood Dance Project. It, too, takes over City Performance Hall (on Dec. 20) with Broadway and recording artists Liz Callaway, Hugh Panaro and Joseph Thralken performing live.

Available at BruceWoodDance.org

 

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: Thanksgiving Edition

TMA -  BacardiSo, Friday comes on Wednesday this week … because we all need some liquid courage to deal with the holidays, especially this post-election season. This Friendsgiving Rum Punch from Bacardi creates enough booze for everyone to get along.

1 part Bacardi gold rum

1 part Bacardi superior rum

3 parts apple cider

2 parts sweetened lemonade

1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice

4 sticks of cinnamon

1 apple (sliced)

Making it: In a large punch bowl, combine all the ingredients (you decide on the quantities, just keep the proportions consistent) and pour over an ice block. Stick and add cinnamon and apples as garnish.

Happy Thanksgiving!

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

PHOTOS: Scenes from the Bravo kickoff party with Erykah Badu

Last week, we mentioned that local song goddess Erykah Badu was making her circus-act debut at Bravo, the kickoff party for the 10th anniversary edition of the Lone Star Circus. Badu braved an aerial ring act, then blasted everyone with a 25-minute set of songs in an intimate setting. It was a great night, with tons of fun. Here are some scenes from the festivities. The Lone Star Circus returns to Rosewood Center for Family Arts Dec. 27–Jan. 1.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Kanye cancels tour, including Saturday’s Dallas show

kanyeIf you have tickets to see Kanye West on his Saint Pablo Tour this Saturday… well, you don’t. The rapper has canceled all remaining dates on his concert tour, following a disastrous few days in which he (1) said he didn’t vote in the election; (2) said he would have voted for Trump; (3) performed a concert of precisely two songs plus a rambling political rant; and (4) is still part of the Kardashian family. Tickets will be refunded at point of purchase.

It’s perhaps not surprising that West proved himself to be a black Republican — his stepfather-in-law is Caitlyn Jenner, herself a trans Republican. Let’s see how that works out for them.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Cocktail Friday: In time for Thanksgiving, the Mayflower

7266e3de-mayflower-drinkWe’re on the cusp of Thanksgiving — less than two weeks away — and the weather is beginning to reflect that, with cooler temps. Our palates change too around this time, and it’s even shown in the drink recipes that are emerging. Jonathan Bona, bar manager at the Pyramid Restaurant inside the Fairmont Hotel (he was recently at The Four Seasons), has created this potent potable, and shared the recipe. Or you can ask Jonathan for it directly at the Pyramid, where it will be offered throughout November.

1 oz. Remy Martin VSOP cognac

1/2 oz. Mount Gay Black Barrel rum

1/2 oz. apple cinnamon shrub (chefs Brandon and Chris Dempsey’s new D&D Shrubs company makes one)

2 dashed Angostura bitters

Making it: Combine all ingredients in a mixing breaker and stir with a bar spoon for 30 seconds. Rim a rocks glass with cinnamon and Demerara sugar. Strain over fresh ice. Garnish with a fan of apple slices.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

David Sedaris returns for Arts & Letters Live

David-SedarisIn tomorrow’s Dallas Voice, I have an interview with Patricia Cornwell, lesbian author of the Kay Scarpetta mystery novels, who is closing out the Dallas Museum of Art’s Arts & Letters Live Series next week. And at the same time comes word of the spring A&L series, and the return — for an eighth time — of gay humorist David Sedaris.

Sedaris will appear at the Winspear Opera House on April 28, reading new and unpublished material as part of the museum’s 26th anniversary of live readings. Pre-sale tickets are now available to members of the DMA, KERA and the ATTPAC Circle. Tickets go on sale to the general public on Nov. 14, starting at $35. You can buy them here.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones