Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Poetry Wednesday

I write this column just days before I sing in a choral production of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem and Randall Thompson's The Testament of Freedom that these documents include crucial historical references from three major battles -- the Revolutionary War, the Crimean War, and the Civil War.  For the first time in ten years, I have the opportunity to sing with the husband and wife soloists of Michael (baritone) and Serena (soprano) LaRoche, which those who have known me enough understand Mrs. LaRoche taught me to sing, opening my musical horizons outside of the commercial pop church music and has sent me into Händel, Haydn, Beethoven, Fauré, and others where I've called out the bad Top 40 on KLVR after deeper analysis.

Mr. Williams was influenced by reading the poetry of Walt Whitman, especially his Civil War poetry, which most of us know from "O Captain! My Captain!," an elegy of President Lincoln.  The first of three which we sing, "Beat! Beat! Drums!," was written after he attended a Donizetti opera, and news spread that Fort Sumter had launched the Civil War, which this battle went to the Confederacy.

(Nota Bene:  We're singing both at the SOM Recital Hall in Columbia on June 28 at 7:30 PM and June 30 at 4 PM.  Today's Poetry Wednesday references Whitman's three poems that are war-inspired.)

Beat! Beat! Drums!
Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows—through doors—burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet—no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums—so shrill you bugles blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities—over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day—no brokers or speculators—would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums—you bugles wilder blow.

Beat! beat! drums!—blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley—stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid—mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums—so loud you bugles blow.

Reconciliation
From the 1900 version of Leaves of Grass:

Word over all, beautiful as the sky! 
Beautiful that war, and all its deeds of carnage, must in time be utterly lost; 
That the hands of the sisters Death and Night, incessantly softly wash again, and ever again, this soil’d world:   
... For my enemy is dead—a man divine as myself is dead;   
I look where he lies, white-faced and still, in the coffin—I draw near;   
I bend down, and touch lightly with my lips the white face in the coffin.

Dirge for Two Veterans
From the 1891 version of the aforementioned book:

   The last sunbeam
Lightly falls from the finish'd Sabbath,
On the pavement here, and there beyond it is looking,
   Down a new-made double grave.

   Lo, the moon ascending,
Up from the east the silvery round moon,
Beautiful over the house-tops, ghastly, phantom moon,
   Immense and silent moon.

   I see a sad procession,
And I hear the sound of coming full-key'd bugles,
All the channels of the city streets they're flooding,
   As with voices and with tears.

   I hear the great drums pounding,
And the small drums steady whirring,
And every blow of the great convulsive drums,
   Strikes me through and through.

   For the son is brought with the father,
(In the foremost ranks of the fierce assault they fell,
Two veterans son and father dropt together,
   And the double grave awaits them.)

   Now nearer blow the bugles,
And the drums strike more convulsive,
And the daylight o'er the pavement quite has faded,
   And the strong dead-march enwraps me.

   In the eastern sky up-buoying,
The sorrowful vast phantom moves illumin'd,
('Tis some mother's large transparent face,
   In heaven brighter growing.)

   O strong dead-march you please me!
O moon immense with your silvery face you soothe me!
O my soldiers twain! O my veterans passing to burial!
   What I have I also give you.

   The moon gives you light,
And the bugles and the drums give you music,
And my heart, O my soldiers, my veterans,
   My heart gives you love.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Those who forget history . . .

A recent ABC news release announced that of their two RTL Group television revivals, Press Your Luck with Elizabeth Banks will air after the Rose Ceremony final for The Bachelorette, a production of AT&T.

After noticing ABC's schedule, I found historically, the decision did not sound appropriate for a new generation to play the same games their grandparents played, and a show that many from my generation remembered watching in the 1984 and 1985 summers that was a revival of Bill Carruthers' Second Chance that increased the emphasis of the bonus board and changed how the question round was played.  It also launched the career of Savage Steve Holland, who later animated Eek! The Cat and eventually became known for two movie flops (Better Off Dead, One Crazy Summer) that gained exposure airing on HBO late nights, who animated the show's signature villain.

ABC should have inserted the Joel McHale-hosted revival of Card Sharks after the rose ceremony.  If you're not familiar with that, note the career path of The Bachelor's casting director, Lacey Pemberton.  Think of the connection and see why McHale, not Banks, should be after the rose.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Wish I'd written that: a warning for the future

V
on Tschammer und Osten said that all Roman Catholic and Protestant youth organizations are, like all Jewish organizations, to be expressly forbidden to pursue any sport. As far as the Nazis are concerned, people are going to have to make a choice between religion and sport. The point being that all sports training is to be done under Nazi auspices. He actually said that the Nazis are conducting a cultural war against the church.”

“He said that?”

“Any Catholic or Protestant athletes who don’t join Nazi sports clubs will lose their chance of representing Germany.”

I shrugged. “So let them. Who cares about a few idiots running around a track anyway?”

“You’re missing the point, Gunther. They’ve purged the police. Now they’re purging sports. If they succeed, there will be no aspect of German life in which they won’t be able to exert their authority. In all aspects of German society, Nazis will be preferred. If you want to get on in life, you will have to become a Nazi.”

- Philip Kerr, If the Dead Rise Not

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Classic Sports Thursday: Doris Day edition


Frank Mirahmadi, the track announcer at Santa Anita (winter) and Monmouth Park (summer), once called the horses at Turf Paradise, which is the track where a legendary country sing was written after its writer visited the Arizona mile.

In memory of Doris Day, no less, this scene took place on her 89th birthday.  A horse carrying the same name as one of Day's well-known songs won, and Mirahmadi, known for his antics on more casual races, went crazy again, and the track's video page reacted too.


Friday, May 10, 2019

Retro TV Friday: GLOW and Card Sharks

With the announcement ABC is reviving Mark Goodson's Card Sharks (aka Play Your Cards Right in the UK and NZ) as a summer series with Joel McHale as host (?), this story came back to catch us.

The late Emily Dole, a star shot put athlete who was in the Olympic Trials twice, who played Mount Fiji on the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling "promotion," was involved in a 1988 episode of the Bob Eubanks version. Keep in mind Eubanks had just turned 50 and Dole was 31. (Dole died age 60 in 2018; Eubanks is now 81, and his son is a famous stuntman.) The ten GLOW actresses were asked how many could lift Mr. Eubanks over his head. Dole tried it -- and see for yourself what a shot put star could do trying to bodyslam a game show host.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Wish I'd written that: how tough was it?

I wouldn’t say we lived in a tough neighborhood, but when I was growing up we still called a story with a happy ending an alibi.”

- Philip Kerr, If the Dead Rise Not

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Twenty-Five Years Later. 0817 CET

Outside the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, outside the Variante Tamburello chicane, is a statue where many flowers and Brazilian flags are placed every year, but none more prevalent day than May 1.  It was 1417 CET (8:17 AM EDT) when it happened, twenty-five years ago today.

Thomas Grønvold's archive of that day:



Autosport:


A review of the site.

Newly inducted Class of 2019 Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame inductee Bob Jenkins that afternoon offered a tribute during the broadcast of the Alabama 500 (clip of opening the tribute of silence, which was interrupted by the second Big One). It also includes the Earnhardt interview.


BBC Interview of the booth:


Wednesday, April 24, 2019

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, April 23, 2019

Wish I'd written that: reflections on Earth Day

The main point of Christianity was this: that Nature is not our mother: Nature is our sister. We can be proud of her beauty, since we have the same father; but she has no authority over us; we have to admire, but not to imitate. This gives to the typically Christian pleasure in this earth a strange touch of lightness that is almost frivolity. Nature was a solemn mother to the worshipers of Isis and Cybele. Nature was a solemn mother to Wordsworth or to Emerson. But Nature is not solemn to Francis of Assisi or to George Herbert. To St. Francis, Nature is a sister, and even a younger sister: a little, dancing sister, to be laughed at as well as loved.”

- G.K. Chesterton
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