Thursday, June 22, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The death of opera

We have discussed here the Adams opera The Death of Klinghoffer, built around the 1985 seajacking of the Achille Lauro that lead to the death of 69-year old Leon Klinghoffer by Arafat-aligned Palestine Liberation Front terrorists. Paul Greenberg has made serious comments about the pro-terrorist angle of the opera.

It would be right in line with our morally neutral era, with its aversion to the judgmental, its fear of taking a stand between right and wrong, good and evil.

(T)hose of us who are disgusted by its taste in this instance, and its willingness to lend itself to the most dehumanizing propaganda, have a right to speak up, too. As crowds of New Yorkers have done outside the Met. We have more than a right to speak up when evil is cosmeticized, even romanticized. We have a duty.

Mr. Greenberg's column also compared the opera to the works of pro-Fuehrer filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl, and had serious words at the end that had me thinking seriously about our nation's future.

Those of us disgusted by this libretto can only echo the accusation that the opera's Marilyn Klinghoffer hurls at the captain of the Achille Lauro, who's been respectfully and even sympathetically negotiating with the murderers aboard his ship. When the ever-neutral captain must tell her that that her husband has been murdered, and his wheelchair-bound body thrown into the sea, she shrieks at him: "You embraced them!" Which is what the Metropolitan Opera now has done, too.

Art seemingly has become a propaganda piece to advance certain causes embraced by a tiny minority that few support, but they are using their platform of the stage to advance the propaganda.  It is working well in various leftist issues, whether it is cannabinoids or criminalising Christianity, or other social causes.  The Bohemians are sadly in control.  That is the a thought considering what the creator of three popular ABC dramas that air on Thursday night is promoting.  It's everywhere on HBO, Showtime, and Netflix.  They need the propaganda to advance what most oppose.

Originally published November 11, 2014

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Sorry for the more-or-less consistent absence from the blog lately; it's a case of not having enough time, what with It's About TV! and the parallel work I'm doing on a TV book. I feel as if I've been behind for so long, I'm just starting to catch up. I hope you'll see me back here more often, but if you go to It's About TV!, you'll see me all the time!

At any rate, I was inspired to look at today's choice because it was on the Met Opera channel on Sirius. It's Igor Stravinsky's opera-oratorio Oedipus Rex, which at the Met was presented as part of a Stravinsky triple-bill, the other two pieces being the ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (better known as "The Rite of Spring"), and the short opera, Le Rossignol (The Nightingale).

Oedipus Rex, based on the familiar Greek tragedy, is unusual in that it is sung in Latin, and has a non-singing narrator, who presents commentary in the vernacular of the audience. I admit to being a big admirer of Stravinsky's work, and Oedipus Rex is no exception - it's modern, but with a classical touch (or classical with a modern touch, if you prefer). Here is the entire performance, running a little under an hour, with tenor Philip Langridge, soprano Jessye Norman, and baritone Bryn Terfel. The conductor is Seiji Ozawa. There are no subtitles, but if you're at all familiar with the legend, I don't think you'll need them.

Monday, June 12, 2017

The next one in isn’t always the best call

A recent discussion locally about the resignation of a baseball coach who happened to succeed directly a legend reminded me this was a problem in college basketball numerous times with successors to Dean Smith, John Thompson, John Wooden, and other notable leaders.

Television has had that issue directly also, most notably, with the recent announcement that Sony and Turner Broadcasting are planning to do a revival of a 1972-75 (network) and 1977-86 (syndicated) game show (with another variant slightly different in 1990-91). Calvin Broadus will host what they say will be a reimagined show, but will turn away from what the Barry Family (which did the 1990 "definitions" format that later adopted parts of the classic format) had done in all three versions. However, it was the 1977-86 version where this problem that is prominent with coaches took flight.

As The Joker's Wild was continuing its successful run as a Barry-Enright Production, Jack Barry had turned 63 in an era when 65 was a retirement age. In preparation for that, he groomed Wisconsin's Jim Peck for the future transition with an occasional week of hosting during the next three seasons, with the plan being Barry would host one more full season after turning 65. That ensuing season, which he intended to be his final, would include a plan that many stations in the syndication world would see that Barry would start the episode by formally turning over the show to Peck in September 1984. Unfortunately, Barry, who was 66, died in May 1984, after his last show was taped and preparing for his formal departure on the next taping, with the successor he and his producer, Ron Greenberg, had planned to take over. Dan Enright, in one of the worst moves in television, decided to deviate away from Barry's plan and hire Bill Cullen to host what would be the final two seasons, effectively spelling the end of Barry-Enright.

Wink Martindale, who was the other host in the syndication double of Joker's Wild and Tic-Tac-Dough, remembered Barry a few years ago. Ironically, he left Tic-Tac-Dough after Enright's actions, where the show lasted just one season with Jim Caldwell.

Jim Peck later returned to Milwaukee in public affairs, and recently retired from radio. For the sesquicentennial of the Gettysburg Address, he recorded this piece as part of its observance.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Does terrorism have to be the “New Normal”?

Editor's Note: Today, for the first time in a long time, I have the chance to introduce to you a new member of the “In Other Words” family! If you read It’s About TV, you’ll recognize David Hofstede as the author of the Comfort TV blog one of the best classic TV sites around. As you will discover, however, David has insights and opinions that run far beyond the world of TV, and he will make for a valuable addition to the team. It’s my pleasure to welcome him to the site, and to present him to you for your consideration.

Over the past few years there have been several prominent news stories about police officers shooting African-American citizens – many of whom were unarmed at the time.

Varied opinions have emerged as a response: some see this as an epidemic of irresponsible authority, and a reminder of the racism they see inherent in our culture. Others find an attempt to conflate isolated incidents into a national trend, and point to federal and state crime statistics that suggest no such pattern exists.

But here’s one reaction you won’t hear from either camp: “This is just something to which we all have to adjust. This is the price we must pay for having a police force.”

Can you imagine the outraged response if some sheriff or politician advanced that outlook? Unacceptable, their communities would say. This cannot stand. We have to do something, so these horrific acts don’t keep happening.

Okay. So why don’t we have the same attitude about Islamic terrorism?

Why have the deaths of a dozen or two African-Americans galvanized public demonstrations and the formation of an advocacy group purportedly designed to remind people that black lives matter, while the deaths of tens of thousands of people since 9/11 evoke only sadness, followed by a resigned shrug over how the world has changed?

Of course, efforts to curb terrorism are ongoing. Plots have been stopped. Precautions have been taken. But when the next Manchester or London Bridge happens, it will produce more heartbreak than anger, and more calls for calm than decisive action.

As David French opined in the National Review, we have become comfortable with terrorism, and those of us that are not are being told by our leaders that we should.

This is the “new normal,” we are told. But it doesn’t have to be.

We monitor terrorist cells and recruitment networks when we could be dissembling them. We put known meeting places under surveillance instead of under a wrecking ball. We “contain” (to use the previous president’s word) the threat of ISIS when we could be destroying the caliphate once and for all. We make relativistic arguments (hey, some Presbyterians are bad apples too!) to avoid being labeled a bigot, instead of clearly identifying the one and only specific credo that perpetuates and inspires mass carnage.

Yes, we now have a president who has clearly identified the threat, sometimes inelegantly to be sure. But even if he expressed himself with the eloquence of Daniel Webster on this topic, the response would likely be just as hostile.

Why is that? I don’t think it’s just anti-Trump sentiment, because for all of the tough talk Republicans muster in election years, the reluctance to mount a more aggressive response is largely bi-partisan: No boots on the ground in the Middle East. No travel restrictions from countries where extremism flourishes. No profiling.

If we do these things – if we even think about them, we are told, the terrorists win. They have won because we have compromised something in ourselves that makes us “better” than they are. But what is this aspiration that is so important it is worth preserving in the face of such barbarism? At some point, it must be weighed against the ever-increasing scores of innocent people around the world whose lives are violently ended by terrorism. Is there a number beyond the thousands already lost when, once reached, that scale no longer balances?

The alternative is to accept the world as it is now, with this prevailing threat that could strike anywhere at any time. Acceptance acknowledges that there will be more attacks. More airports and concert halls and parade routes turned into crime scenes. More dead children.

Don’t the terrorists win then too? If they win either way, what is the rationale against more definitive action?

Yes, there will be consequences. Some will be unexpected and some will be ugly. But it’s long past time we started asking whether those consequences are worse than 8 year-old girls dying at an Ariana Grande concert.

Friday, June 2, 2017

The irony of CNN firing Kathy Griffin

The inappropriate picture of actress Kathy Griffin holding the headed of a "beheaded" caricature of President Trump bloodied led to CNN, a division of Time Warner (NYSE : TWX), which could be acquired by American Telephone and Telegraph (NYSE : T), removing her from New Year's Eve programming. Now that was the correct behaviour since it was inappropriate. But what people forget is this very same Time Warner, through its NetherRealm Studios, is responsible for producing Mortal Kombat, a 25-year old video game franchise where one of the glorified moves is the character "Sub-Zero" pulling the head and spine off losers in the game's signature "fatality" move. Further games in the franchise include beheading (Kitana's fan), cannibalism (Mileena's eat and spit the bones, Liu Kang's dragon), and other copious amounts of violence that led to video game ratings that has furthered the advancement of even more violent video games for "adults only" ratings.

Has anyone noted how TWX will fire Kathy Griffin for doing to Donald Trump what Sub-Zero does to losers in their own video game?

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Opera Wednesday

I haven't been here for awhile, so I'm filling in for Drew this week with this clip from the bittersweet conclusion to Richard Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. My two favorite Strauss operas are the dark sinister pieces - Salome and Elektra, and his Four Last Songs - but even in his lighter moments, such as the comedy Rosenkavalier, there's always something a little unsettling in the music, something that touches you in just that way. And music ought to be like that.

This vintage clip is from the 1960 movie, with Sena Jurinac, Anneliese Rothernberger, and the magnificent Elisabeth Schwarzkopf. Herbert von Karajan conducts the Vienna Philharmonic.

Monday, May 29, 2017

CrossFit Hero WOD's: tribute to the fallen heroes

While preparing for the week's CrossFit workout at the box (as they are called), we were informed of participation in Monday's special Memorial Day class that is designated as a "Hero" workout that honour those soldiers and public safety officers who died in the line of duty.  Their names pay homage to the bravest of the brave who have sacrificed their lives in battle.  Yet that intensity will make you think less of yourself and more of those whose names are attached to them.  While we shall not mention the workouts (that is not the reason for this post), what we shall do is remember these people who are memorialised by their names as workouts.
Murph.  Memorial Day is CrossFit's annual workout named for Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy SEAL who was part of SEAL Team 10 in Operation Red Wings in June 2005, an attack best known from the book and movie Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell, the only member of the team that survived the attack on Team 10 by terrorists.

The Seven.  In Afghanistan, seven CIA officers killed in a December 2009 attack by a man who claimed to be an informant reporting on Al Qaeda.  When he said the magic words, we learned he was a homicide bomber, killing seven CIA officers and a Jordanian working with the seven CIA officials.

Luce.  Captain Ronald G. Luce of the U.S. Army, died during an August 2009 attack when an IED struck his vehicle in Afghanistan.

JT.  A well-seen photo of Petty Officer Jon Tomlinson, a Navy SEAL, who was one of 30 who died in 2011 after a rocket-propelled grenade struck a helicopter, features his dog by the side of his casket during the funeral.  But Tomlinson's nickname is immortalised shortly afterwards when CrossFit named a "Hero" workout in his memory.

We remember our heroes on Memorial Day.  CrossFit's names of Hero Workouts pay homage to those who have fallen for our freedom.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Musings in May

Poitical Panderings.  If it was not clear that Big Entertainment is aligned with the far left, Disney's repeated excuses in canning Tim Allen's Last Man Standing over his conservative character being the lead dog over liberals while protecting The View is a perfect example.  Most viewers do not remember ABC News developed The View in 1996 as a way to take advantage of the 1990's television realignment, and to this day, the show's strongest viewership is in Atlanta, Detroit, and Milwaukee, three markets that ABC took advantage of in that CBS's perennial winner The Price Is Right was not available in parts of those markets (and more) due to weak affiliates.  In a post-Citizens United era, the Left has decided all opposition speech must be shot down in any way, whether it is by court mandates or by control of the media.  Welcome to 1984, everyone.

The Crew Chief.  Fox News is on a decline since the scandals that took down its core: first Roger Ailes and later Bill Shine, then Bill O'Reilly.  Much of the attacks have come from leftist activists such as Mr. Brock, Mr. Soros, and other such leaders who have pushed their way through.  The ratings among the 25-54 crowd, including the Millennials that have tilted solid left from teachings, is proving that point now when a pair of sexual deviants are first (CNN) and second (MSNBC), while nuclear family men at Fox are now in trouble.  Does it say much about the entertainment mentality working to take down Fox?  Have the Murdoch Boys decided they want to remake the channel away from what made it an ace?  Note how many channels remade for management have become disasters. The list includes Spike (was associated with Tennessee), Freeform (was associated with Mr. Robertson), Esquire (was a techie channel), FXX (was a football channel), and others.

So many deaths of men that mattered.

Roger Ailes.  Roger Ailes, 77, whose work in redeeming Richard Nixon later gave way to helping conservative political causes, then pushing Rush Limbaugh to a 1990's late-night television gig before he started Fox News. The fact the Murdoch Boys want to demolish what Mr. Ailes built is sadly allowing us to see how intelligent Mr. Ailes was in the television medium. Despite the controversy over what he knew would work in a visual medium, if it was not for Mr. Ailes, an entire challenger to the one-sided media would never have happened. As the history books noted about the Clinton Administration, the media created "crises" to put their man in power, and Mr. Ailes challenged them.

Nicky Hayden.  Nicholas Patrick Hayden, 35, was the last American to win an international motorcycle racing championship (MotoGP in 2006). His Southeastern humility was shown and ability to win at the highest levels put him on a level of few others during the era where dirt-track sliding techniques mattered more than electronics (traction control included) that has given us the modern Spanish resurgence now that motorcycle road racing now airs exclusively in the United States on Al Jazeera (please see "A Kick in the Ball" from It's About TV! for an explanation). A pity that riding his bicycle during a training run that passed through the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli vicinity, and a motorist was not aware, led to his death.  Share the road, folks!

Sir Roger Moore.  Roger George Moore, 89, was a television and film star on both sides of the Atlantic (Maverick, The Last Time I Saw Paris, Ivanhoe, The Saint, and of course, from 1973 until 1985, the EON James Bond franchise).  After George Lazenby made a mistake (the Australian admits it) to not renewing his Bond gig after On Her Majesty's Secret Service (and letting Sean Connery return for one more film), Moore took the Bond character to a semi-comedic at times Bond for the 1970's into the 1980's.  The era of Bond in the 1970's was a different era than that of the original 1960's, and he has been regarded as one of the better Bonds of the five.

All three of those men will be missed.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Flashback Friday: A decade - more than just dates on the calendar

I've remarked before, perhaps even on this blog, that I frequently get ideas from unusual sources, and it's even better when, as is the case today, I get an idea that has virtually nothing to do with the source itself.

Over at Uniwatch ("The Obsessive Study of Athletics Aesthetics"), an interesting discussion broke out in the comments section as to how one defines a decade.  I know, doesn't seem to have anything to do with sports uniforms, right?  Long story short, the question arose as to whether the 1970 World Series falls within the '70s or the '60s.  Not as stupid a question as you might think; since there's no Year 0, most people know that the Ist Century ran from 1 to 100, and so on.  The 20th Century, therefore, began on January 1, 1901 and ended on December 31, 2000.  The question is, do decades operate the same as centuries?  Do the 1970s begin on January 1, 1971 or January 1, 1970?

From there, a commentator named Wiggle Man speculated that culturally, it is events rather than dates that determine a decade.  He suggested the following:

1930’s – Began with the stock market crash on October 29, 1929 (“Black Thursday”)
1940’s – Began on December 7, 1941 (“A date which will live in infamy”)
1950’s – Began on January 20, 1953 (Eisenhower’s Inauguration)
1960’s – Began on November 22, 1963 (Kennedy’s assassination)
1970’s – Began on May 4, 1970 – (Kent State) (I would also accept June 17, 1972, Watergate break-in)
1980’s – Began on January 20, 1981 – Reagan’s Inauguration / Hostages released).

Other commentators had different ideas; one suggested that the '60s actually started with Kennedy's inauguration, rather than his death, and that Kent State (as well as Altamont) are more indicative of the '60s than the '70s.  Others chipped in that '90s actually began in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the "aughts" (2000s) probably started on September 11, 2001.

I find this kind of discussion exceptionally interesting.  (It's also proof that you should have an eclectic reading list; you never know what you're going to run into.)  I've maintained over at the TV blog that the early years of the 1960s actually are more properly understood as a continuation of the 1950s, and that the last years of the '60s more properly line up with the 1970s - in fact, I'd contend that 1965 might be the prime example of what the '60s would have been like had they not dealt with the JFK assassination (at the beginning) and the Vietnam War (at the end).  Many, if not most, of the mores and visuals of the early '60s (not to mention television programming, which was the point of my musing in the first place) would have been perfectly acceptable in the late '50s, and the late '60s are almost indistinguishable from the first few years of the '70s.

The point is, I suppose, every decade has its own tenor, it's own "look."  I think Wiggle Man is correct in suggesting that decades, properly understood, represent events as much as they do actual dates.   We can quibble with the specific events that signal the end of one decade and the beginning of another, but I think the calendar is perhaps the least important part of the equation.  Anyone out there have other suggestions?

Originally published October 21, 2014

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Robert Merrill and Roberta Peters had some serious star power. Peters, who made her Metropolitan Opera debut at the age of 20, was vivacious, cute, perky - and enormously talented. Merrill could do it all, from high opera to "Autumn Leaves" with Victor Borge, to singing the national anthem for his beloved New York Yankees. Together, they made for a dynamic duo both on- and off-stage (they were briefly married in the early 50s), and were fixtures on popular television, appearing often with stars such as Sullivan and Carson. Ah, those were the days.

Here they are singing the conclusion of the aria "Dunque Io Son" from Act I of Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia in a 1962 broadcast of NBC's Bell Telephone Hour - a wonderful program that brought the best in classical music to the television audience through first-rate productions. (Little-known fact: every episode of the Bell Telephone Hour, from 1959 to 1968, was taped in color - a very forward-thinking move.)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...