Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Victor Borge, the Great Dane, offers us a little opera comedy - and, let's be honest, who among us couldn't use a little laughter nowadays? The brave Marilyn Mulvey accompanies him.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander: incident at the Renée Fleming recital

The recent recital at the Peace Center in Greenville featuring Renée Fleming that I attended (also scratched her name from the "best singer I've yet to see" list since I have now seen her;  that honour goes to Анна Нетребко) also caused a microaggression by the Left after I entered my seat that cost only one Andrew Jackson (a twenty dollar ticket is still better than a sixty dollar ticket that's 150 feet away for a mega-pop star).  In time, you must show the Left a taste of their own medicine.  As I introduced myself to a few people around our seating area before the event, the young woman next to me introduced a second woman as "my wife".

That was an automatic red light district.  That is not possible -- a woman cannot take a wife (only a man can).  Citing Sections 20-1-10 ("No woman shall marry . . . another woman.") and 20-1-15 ("A marriage between two persons of the same sex is null and void ab initio."), I knew this wasn't real.  This was offensive to anyone, especially the seventy-eight percent in this state that made their vote heard in 2006.  To take from Leviticus 18:22, "(A man) shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination."  In this case, a woman shall not like with womankind, as with mankind.  As Romans 1:27 noted, these two women left the natural use of the man, burned in their lust one towards another, and women with women working that was unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

Thankfully someone had a seat in another section that his daughter was to use but she had been given a ticket to move up to the best sections, and I took that seat in a lower section.  I was pleased that I took the seat, since these people need to learn they are offending The Seventy-Eight Percent with their actions.  Why is it these crybabies get to dictate their mandate to everyone else?

Friday, February 3, 2017

Flashback Friday: The legacy of Steve Jobs

Bruce Frohnen has some thoughts on Steve Jobs, and they're not pretty.*  Example:
To put it bluntly (as is my wont) what I have read about him leads me to see him as a mean-spirited narcissist who translated a certain aesthetic sensitivity and capacity for bullying and hucksterism into a colossal waste of money and collective time, further separating Americans from one another in pursuit of a false control over their environment. As bad, his personality and corporate ethos furthered highly damaging political and economic structures of a kind best described as libertarian socialism, in which corporations and rich individuals behave without conscience, expecting the social programs they vote for but seek to escape funding to pick up the pieces from their own “creative” destruction. I also see him as in many ways a sad character, emotionally and spiritually stunted in part because of the failings of the infantilizing environment in which he grew up. 
*(H/T - I wish I could remember.  A mind is a terrible thing to waste.)

Frohnen looks at Jobs through the lens of what it means to grow up as a spoiled child in the culture of the '60s and '70s, with virtually no restrictions on his behavior.  "Jobs was, frankly, coddled. His father sacrificed his career, moved, rearranged his workspace, and berated Jobs’ teachers, all to see to it that his precious genius would be given the best experiences and life chances possible."  The parents allowed him to quit going to church (not surprising, since "too many parents were mostly going through the motions" themselves), indulged him, sacrificed to give him whatever he wanted.  It was, in other words, all-too typical of the lifestyle one finds in California, "a place people moved to get more money and better weather, and where being the first one on the block to recycle, or get a fancy car, was more important than staying married and taking care of your kids, let alone showing common decency."  More:
Eventually, Jobs moved out of his hovel with the drug den in the attic, travelling to the commune (probably still there—did I mention Reed is in Portland?), to his parents’ house, and to India. He got a girl pregnant along the way, denied paternity, encouraged her to get an abortion (she didn’t), then walked away, still denying paternity for some years after. In other words, he engaged in all the usual “hi-jinks” and “mind expanding experiences” one associates with the adolescent mindset of the counterculture.
I've never been a Steve Jobs fan; visionary though he may have been in certain areas, I always thought it came at too high a price, and was of dubious merit.  I admit, I've got an iPhone and an iPod, and my next laptop is probably a Mac.  Nevertheless, as I've said before, the ends seldom ever justify the means.  So it's no surprise that I'd read Frohnen's words with relish.  But to simply revel in insulting Jobs because I didn't like him is pretty hollow unless it can be put in context - I prefer, whenever possible, to have a good reason for not liking someone - and this Frohnen does.

Because in the end, miserable person though Jobs may have been, one can't help but feel a certain sympathy for him, because he was so obviously a product of his time: let down by his parents, indulged by society, free to come up with brilliant ideas (many of which have had devastating consequences), but free also to live a lifestyle that demeans his humanity.  Whether looking at free sex, drugs run rampant, the fruits of Vatican II, or so many of the things that have come out of the era, it's clear that what we are left with is the wages of sin.  And, as Frohnen concludes, "Thanks in no small part to Steve Jobs, his fan clubs, and his like-minded competitors this is, potentially, our future. And we should be very, very afraid."


Originally published May 26, 2014

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Opera Wednesday

One of the loveliest moments in opera: the unforgettable, bittersweet trio that concludes Richard Strauss' magnificent Der Rosenkavalier. This clip from 1982 features Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Judith Blegen, and Tatiana Troyanos. The conductor is James Levine, with the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Figures lie, liars figure

Those of you who've read the TV blog know that I'm entering a chaotic week, preparing to move from Texas back to Minnesota, and I'll be honest that I've got my hands full over the next few days. My updates here will be infrequent and short, but I'm not leaving you in the lurch altogether.

Tonight, I'll just pause a moment to offer this observation. You've doubtless read in the last few days about how President Trump's approval ratings are way down, that people don't approve of his policies during the first ten days of his administration. What I find interesting about this is that these conclusions are being drawn based on the most recent polls.

When last we read about polls, it mostly had to do with how they'd been totally discredited following their disastrous predictions of a Clinton landslide, and how their methodology would have to be completely reexamined. There was even some thought that, in today's world of cellphones and political intimidation, it might be impossible to ever conduct accurate polls on a widespread basis.

My question, therefore, is this: are the polls indicating Trump's unpopularity the same ones that predicted his defeat? If so, why should we believe them now any more than then? Has something changed? Are we to believe they've been totally redone in two months? Or is the media simply counting on our short attention spans to have forgotten all about those old polls? Considering the job the media's done lately, I see no reason to take them seriously now. Do you?

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Opera Thursday: the return of the wanderer


The aria "Cara amata regina" from Monteverdi's 1639 opera ll Ritorno d'Ulisse in Patria (The Return of Ulysses to his Homeland), one of the first modern operas. Janet Perry and Peter Keller are the singers; the early music specialist Nikolaus Harnoncourt is the conductor.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Excessive control by the fringe left

Fringe organisations pushing extremists views have become rampant, and in the outgoing Administration have become the ones in charge.

We have seen it with the fringe sexual organisations, first with a “thought crimes” law (PL 111-84), then converting the military to social engineering for sexual perversion (PL 111-321), then an executive order written to target Exxon Mobil shareholders after 15 consecutive wins over New York City's retirement system demanding the company install SOGI policies (sexual orientation and gender identity;  I voted against the said policies when it came to a vote each year), and the signature of this Administration, erasing marriage laws because they they believe those with a Biblical worldview must be erased by having the erotic liberty agenda forced down through packed courts after they lose at the ballot box and the legislature;  Obergefell was a federal Reynolds case where the large liberal urban centres gained absolute control of legislation via court order (in Reynolds, states were given to the largest cities, which creates crises in those states controlled by a few cities as Chicago, MSP, New York City, LA/SF, et al, are examples), and the entire nation is not allowed to have a say on issues based on false pretenses that these crybabies out of touch with the supermajority are given superior rights to others.  They have also legalised certain varieties of child abuse (child not having a father and a mother, but two fathers or two mothers), and have gained effective control of the nation by force using the courts.

We have seen it with the race baiters and the BLM lobby, also known as the “NWA Foxtrot the Police” lobby for the song that is their effective mantra (an extremely racist and obscene song), intentionally weakening the police force with riots based on their own feelings that they should not be responsible for .  They believe in a “West Coast Offense” feel for police.  They can force the police to be defenceless while they have rights to take down our bravest, as we see in their attitudes blocking roads when they do not have it their way.  The consequences of such anti-police attitudes have resulted in more police deaths and shootings, and an increasing hatred of police.  Why this attitude?

From race and sex baiting, now we have seen it with Feld Entertainment's announcement that they will shut down the Ringling circuses they have owned for nearly 50 years.  The Feld organisation claims the fringe animal rights groups helped cause the decline in ticket sales.  That forces me to ask the same question as I have noted earlier here – why have radical fringe groups gained control of the country.  They seized our Constitutions, they seized our police, they seized our industry, and now they are shutting down family entertainment and animal shows.  These animal rights activists will target the rodeo and PBR next, then polo, equestrian, and horse racing.  Do they understand the history of animals in competition?  Do they even want people to appreciate animals and their abilities?  They will call anything with animals abuse if it does not fit within their own worldview of not allowing them to sit in the sun and be friends with humans.  They want a primitive view of animals and probably would have wanted to ban domestication of cats.  These fringe activists do not want children to appreciate animals where they can be seen locally and not travel 10,000km to see them attacking other animals.  Meanwhile, Feld will market sensually dressed leather-clad women holding 30-second boards at motorcycle events.

Does this demise of the circus show a worldview where every fringe group – sexual perversion, fringe anti-Trump people, animal rights, Hollywood, and the rest – have rights to overrule the majority?

Oh, by the way.  The media needs to get a grip with President Obama's final days commuting Bradley Manning's sentence.  He was a traitor to the country, and he is being rewarded primarily because of his "Golddust" gimmick.  If he wants to claim to be Chelsea, wear the blue Yokohama Tyres kit and be a supporter of a Premier League club. Bradley, you are a man and you have the X and Y chromosomes.  Quit with Dustin Rhodes' gimmick.  Even Dustin's brother Cody hates a similar gimmick given to him and left WWE for that very reason.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

A meditation on 20 years of life


Saturday, January 7th's state March for Life marked my 20th time involved in this event, but it was the coldest (and least attended) one where tempers flared after Friday's rain cost me most of the Clover Wolf dinner (and the awards), and the March the next day was very short (less than 30 minutes for the rally and) and the lowest attended march in my 20 years.  The snow distracted so many, as when I drove to the CrossFit box that morning for a morning workout it was starting to snow, but the snow disappeared and the sun broke out while the snow melted.  A church in the Upstate had planned to bring their garage band (as I've known it to be) but they were snowed out, and the youth did not arrive until considerably later.

What I fear now is that the left-wing counterprotest that organisers plan for January 21 (a day after the inauguration of Mr. Trump) for baby murder, sexual perversion, and other activists may draw a larger crowd than our crowd, with the cry that Los Angeles and San Francisco should run the entire country.

But as we look back at my 20 Years of Life, the intrigue from that very first March at Finlay Park (the State House was undergoing construction at the time) as a college student has now spread to marching annually.  My very first March was known for a pop star's appearance as a speaker, whose failure at awards shows was a national story because that artist had reached the level of John Elway, Dale Earnhardt Snr, and Susan Lucci, all of whom had failed to reach the big prize in their careers (within a span of 17 months, all four had clinched the lucrative prize that they had failed to reach in their illustrious careers),  though she did sing one of her big hits.   I found a cover of that hit as sung in a church, and it's the header to this piece.  Can you identify who the singer was, and what the song is?

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Throwback Thursday: On the real persecution

At the risk of being disowned by my fellow orthodox Catholic friends, I picked up a copy of Rolf Hochhuth’s infamous play The Deputy a couple of weeks ago at a used book store.  It was no great revelation to me; I’ve read it before, and I bought it on this occasion as a research aid for a writing project that you may or may not ever hear about again.  It went on the bookshelf, between The Complete Works of Ayn Rand and How to Become a Libertarian in Six Easy Steps.

As a work of fiction likely to be taken as fact by readers and viewers, The Deputy is little more than a slanderous piece of Communist propaganda, deliberately promoted to tarnish the reputation of Pius XII through lie and innuendo.  And over the decades since it was published in the early ‘60s, it has indeed gone a long way to smear a man who, in the immediate aftermath of WW2, had been praised by Jews and Christians alike for his efforts to save Jewish lives while in a delicate position.  Evidence has since been uncovered linking Hochhuth with East German intelligence, and it’s likely that the whole thing was part of an orchestrated plot to undermine the Church.

It’s also not that well-written; far too polemical and strident, not to mention the slander I mentioned earlier (which, I guess, means I shouldn’t have to mention it again).  As a play, though, at least in written form, it has some intriguing qualities.  For one thing, Hochhuth’s prose stage instructions go on and on, sometimes for pages.  They’re obviously meant to be more than just directions; indeed, they provide background and commentary in such depth that they become an integral part of the story.  If you’re attending it as a performance without having the book in front of you, there’ll be so much left out that you won’t really receive the full impact.*  With some judicious editing, it would be reminiscent of a book I enjoyed quite a bit, Michael Herr’s Walter Winchell – a prose novel written in the form of a screenplay, complete with descriptions of fade-ins and fade-outs, camera cuts, and the like.

*Of course, there are many who’d argue that this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

If there’s one redeeming factor in my purchase, aside from the research aspect (which has already borne fruit), it’s that I bought it second-hand, which means that neither Hochhuth, his publisher, nor anyone else connected with The Deputy made any money off of me.  Had I been forced to pay full price, I probably would have had to make a trip to the confessional.

There is, however, one thing I’d like to note in favor of The Deputy, although it has nothing to do with the book itself.  It came to me as I was driving in this morning, pondering the Christian persecution that seems to be in America’s immediate future.  Oh, I don’t necessarily mean a persecution on the scale of the Holocaust; it’s more subtle and insidious than that.  It’s the persecution occurring when an individual refuses to conform to the new social order and realize that religion is best kept hidden away in a dark corner, not to be brought out into polite company.  You’re OK if you want to cling to your superstitions, just don’t do it where you can be seen, or in a way that might influence public policy.

It might not be as pronounced as wearing a yellow Star of David, at least not at first.  But when you’re queried at work about political beliefs that have nothing to do with your job, when you can be forced to step down from a job or sell a company because of contributions you’ve made to various organizations, when the government can try to force companies to fund insurance coverage for acts that violate their own religious beliefs – well, you fill in the blanks.

Eventually it spreads.  The skeptic might suggest that, in a free-market economy such as ours, anyone confronted by religious discrimination is at liberty to start their own company, hire people who agree with you, and so on.  But when the prospective business isn’t able to get funding because lending institutions won’t provide it to those of a certain ideological or theological bent, when the business can’t attract customers because of intimidation tactics waged by those for whom freedom of speech applies in only one direction, when the burdens placed by government on the business force an owner to choose between conscience and profit – well, you try explaining it to someone who still has to put food on the table for a wife and children.  There’s more than one form of persecution, and sometimes the unbloody ones are every bit as painful and damaging.  They don’t attack the body, at least not outwardly, but they chip away at the soul.

Which leads me back to The Deputy.  Hochhuth’s claim is that Pius allowed political and financial considerations to prevent him from taking a stronger stance against Nazi persecution of the Jews.  And for all of his preaching, there’s no doubt that Hochhuth’s words (if they’re sincere and not simply a propaganda tool) show a great deal of compassion for the plight of the Jews during WW2.  If he really means what he says, if his fictional Fr. Riccardo (based, supposedly, on St. Maximillian Kolbe) really exemplifies, in his contempt for Pius, a desire to empty himself out for those being persecuted, then one can at least begin to understand the depth of abandonment that the Jews must have felt back then.  To have the entire world abandon you, turn its back on you and ignore what’s being done to you, and then to have the man who carries the greatest amount of moral authority remain silent* - well, that truly speaks to the dark night of the soul.

*To be clear once again: despite Hochhuth’s claim that the play was “ein christliches trauerspiel,” that is, a Christian tragedy, I believe it to be a smear job backed by the KGB, with no intent of sincerity.  However, as Caiaphas discovered (John 11:50), anyone can be an inadvertent prophet, no matter how much the thought might horrify them.

And so, as we enter the once and future persecution, I will put that hat on and look toward Rome and its bishop.  Can you see what is happening here, or are your eyes only on the refugees and the dissenters?  Do you feel the pain that so many are feeling, the choices that are having to be made, the sense of despair that rises, or are you more interested in kissing babies and playing the role of the kindly, benign father?  Are you prepared to confront a powerful government of an increasingly post-Christian nation that wants to marginalize Christianity and its beliefs in the name of progress and majority rule?  Are you ready to speak out for those who have no voice, to show the truth to a world that prefers not to see?

Are you aware of how high the stakes are, of how immigration and social justice and wealth redistribution and all the rest are of no consequence without this basic freedom?

In other words, are you ready to interfere?

Or, like Hochhuth’s fictional Pius, are you all-too willing to allow worldly considerations to influence you to look the other way?


Originally published July 21, 2014

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Back in September, the Metropolitan Opera celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the new Opera House at Lincoln Center, although they didn't do anything at the time to commemorate it. (They'll be doing an Anniversary Gala this coming May.)

The first opera of that first season was the world premiere of Samuel Barber's Antony and Cleopatra, commissioned by the Met expressly for the occasion. The result has been debated ever since; the critics were not kind to Barber's opera, although much of that had to do more with their love of the new and avant-garde and their hostility to Barber's neo-romanticism than it did the actual merits of the opera. I'll take some time to explore that further in a future Opera Wednesday, but for now let's take a look at one of the pivotal scenes from that opera, "Give Me My Robe," performed by the opera's original Cleopatra, Leontyne Price, in concert with the Julliard Orchestra, from October, 1985.
 
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