Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Opera Wednesday

In a 2010 Greenville Light Opera Works performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's Trial by Jury, set in a South Carolina courtroom, one of the Gentlemen of the Jury was wearing a 2008 Hendrick Motorsports tee-shirt with the #5 team. Now that may sound innocent considering I had seen this performance and discussed it in a previous column on this blog. When seeing the full show, you will understand more of this comedy when news came from the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour.

Wednesday's events included a stop at Hendrick Motorsports, with three of the team's four drivers at the event. The fourth, Kasey Kahne, the 2012 driver of the Hendrick #5, was absent. What was his excuse for not being at the "required" event?

Mr. Kahne was on Jury Duty.

Hopefully he won't be called "Juror Number Five" in any of his cases. But this was life imitating art! A juror in a Hendrick shirt, and now the current driver is on jury duty. Things do think alike!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Life report: 15 years of life!

Our South Carolina Citizens for Life's Life Weekend 2012 (my 15th that I've attended) was busy, but worth every minute of the action. Friday night, the ceremonies began (it's become a frequent event for a Friday event to precede the March for Life, as I remember attending the ones in 2006 (Suzanne Vitadamo) and 2011 (Rick Santorum). This year's "Proudly Pro-Life Dinner" was scheduled to hold 200 people at Our Lady of the Hills Catholic Church, but with over 250 attended, someone forgot and dinner wasn't served to a considerable number of those in attendance, including the children of our keynote speaker! How could that have happened, I can't remember, but a local restaurant was called to finish supplies for those (and the speaker noted that!) deprived. If that wasn't enough, the union airline attendants lost the luggage of our Saturday keynote speaker and she arrived in town without it . . . and the worst part of it was she was shabbily dressed when the contingent were in business suits (and I never appear at major events without a suit)! Oh to think of the old days when people were dressed to the nines for airline flights!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Classic Sports Thursday

Dan Martin at the fine site Sports Man Dan sends us this fascinating detail: an infographic that shows us the pricetag for the "business of football."  Of course, we all know that football, or any sport for that matter, long since ceased being a sport.  And, in fact, the business of sports is often more interesting than the competition itself, at least for me.  Even so, this is still a startling visual breakdown of what it's really all about.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Wish I'd Written That

The great fallacy is that the game is first and foremost about winning. It's nothing of the kind. The game is about glory. It's about doing things in style, with a flourish, about going out and beating the other lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom.

- Danny Blanchflower

Blanchflower, a former soccer great and later commentator, was speaking about sports. But it applies equally well to other walks of life, don't you think? Like politics, perhaps?

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Life Weekend

Photos from Life Weekend 2012, as part of the South Carolina March for Life XXXIX. A further report will be written this week.

At the Friday Night Proudly Pro-Life Dinner, three of the 19 Duggar children play "Be Thou My Vision" on the violin.

Me with the three daughters

A crowd of over 2,000 appeared at the South Carolina March for Life XXXIX.

Numerous organisations at the March for Life, 2012

Abby Johnson speaks of the gruesome stories from her penthouse offices at Planned Parenthood when she worked there.

Me, Abby Johnson (author, Unplanned), Holly Gatling (executive director, South Carolina Citizens for Life), Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Friday, January 13, 2012

Retro TV Friday

This week's look back - as soon as I can get to it - is another goofy retrospective on covers of TV theme songs, reminiscent of our Sammy Davis Jr. essay from a while back.

UPDATED: And here it is - better late than never!  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The chase is on!

Last year, Rick Santorum appeared at the South Carolina March for Life, and everyone seemingly ignored him until Iowa's caucus led to what Mike Joy calls a "Where did he come from" moment, where the caucus came down to a resounding photofinish.

This year, Mr. Santorum has a press conference with Abby Johnson (the 2012 keynote at our March for Life Saturday) scheduled, according to her note. Next Wednesday, Mr. Santorum has an appearance smack in the middle of the hometown, reminding me that in 2000 what happened when a candidate came to speak at the Fairgrounds.

Meanwhile, Rick Perry is scheduled for a Thursday luncheon at a barbecue restaurant, which will likely be the type of venues that we'll see the remaining candidates for this battle (Romney, Paul, Huntsman, Santorum, Perry, Gingrich) find themselves in the ten day war that ends next Saturday. Of course, in the Palmetto State, it has to be one of the three forms of "Palmetto 'Cue," which is considerably different than barbeque from any other part of the country. There won't be Kansas City, Memphis, or Texas style, and tomatoes are not the primary source of the sauce. This showdown will involve copious amounts of Midlands' German mustard-based sauces, the Lowcountry Scottish vinegar and pepper, and the variant in the Upstate and Savannah River, tomato with Scottish vinegar and pepper (similar to the North Carolina Piedmont). As a long-time Midlands resident, I am biased towards the mustard, although in some parts here, the mustard is mixed with a little tomato, the golden mustard is still the evident colour.

Start the barbecue pits, roast the hogs, and cue the candidates! Perry hopes to start his charge, Huntsman is showing life after New Hampshire, Gingrich is on the recovery attempt, Santorum is gaining ground, and Romney is the leader. The next ten days of barbecue, meetings, marches, and rallies will create one exciting showdown that ends next Saturday and will end at the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Classic Sports Thursday

Have you ever noticed how many times people use the phrase, “I could care less,” when what they really mean to say is, “I couldn’t care less”?

Think about it. If it is true that, as Rush Limbaugh often says, “words mean things,” then it’s only fair that we look at how these words are used. To say “I could care less” in essence means that there are indeed things that would be even less important to you than that in question. Now, if someone told me I’d just won a million dollars, I doubt that my first reaction would be to say “I could care less!” but it would be true – there would be many things that I suddenly cared much less about than having won one million dollars. My job, for instance.

So when I say that I could not have cared less about the election returns Tuesday night, I may be guilty of a slight hyperbole; no doubt the New Hampshire primary carries more interest to me than, say, the latest episode of “American Idol.” Nevertheless, the foregone result of Tuesday's vote was far from the most important thing in mind – not when one had the option of watching Thierry Henry’s return to Arsenal.

Henry is probably one of the greatest soccer players ever, and likely the greatest ever to play for Arsenal, so given the choice – well, there was no choice, really, between watching Fox News’ election returns and Fox Soccer’s replay of Monday’s FA Cup match between Arsenal and Leeds United at London’s Emirates Stadium. (Especially when I hadn't seen the live broadcast Monday.) It was a triumphant, and storybook, homecoming for Henry, who came on as a substitute for the last 25 minutes and ten minutes later scored the only goal in the Gunners’ 1-0 victory over Leeds, advancing them to the fourth round of the FA Cup.

It was also a rare opportunity to see an all-time great return to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs, even more rare if those previous moments occurred beyond your memory. Being a relative latecomer to the world’s most popular soccer league, England’s Premier League (sorry, MLS), I knew of Henry’s exploits in Arsenal only through highlights on retrospective shows: the three FA Cups, the two Premier League titles, the undefeated season in 2003-2004. No, the Henry I was familiar with was the one from Gillette commercials, from his time with Barcelona , from the disastrous French play at the 2010 World Cup, and his late-career move to the New York Red Bulls.

A very good, perhaps exceptionally good, player – but not the great Henry. The one voted greatest Arsenal player of all time. The one memorialized with a bronze statue outside the Emirates. The one who would sit in the stands during MLS’ off season, wearing his red-and-white striped Arsenal scarf.

The prospect of Henry’s return to Arsenal, even if for only a couple of months while on loan from New York (whose season doesn’t start until March), was something akin to what the younger generation must have felt when Schumacher came out of retirement to race again in F1. But with that anticipation also came concern: would Henry wind up the same way as Schumacher, not even very good (relatively speaking) but only good enough to not embarrass himself, which would in itself be embarrassing? Would the crowd's roar as Henry prepared to enter the match be the highlight of the evening?

Well, as it turns out, it was more than a night for nostalgia. As Steve Rushin pointed out in this terrific article, Henry's match-winning goal, coming as it did, was a reminder of why we watch sports on TV. Because for just a moment it was as if time had stood still, and for someone who had never appreciated the Arsenal years, that was time enough.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Wish I'd Written That

I don't thank you for coming," [Wolfe] said. "I'm not disposed to thank you for anything. I have reason to believe that you are withholding information that would be of value. Indeed, I think you have lied. Don't bother to deny it. I tell you that only to establish the temper of the conversation. I'll be trying to find support for my opinion. What will you be doing?"

She would be staring. She was staring. "I know what I ought to be doing," she said. "Leaving. I ought to be on my way out."

"But you're not. You wouldn't, even if I'm wrong, because you want to know why. That's what makes us the unique animal, we want to know why and try to find out. We even try to discover why we want to know why, though of course we never will."

- Rex Stout, Please Pass the Guilt

Friday, January 6, 2012

Retro TV Friday

It seems odd with the AT&T Cotton Bowl tonight that it's the only New Year's postseason game left that's on broadcast network television (Fox) when it stayed on network television when the major games all switched to pay television. But that leads to the bigger story of today's column.

To think about it, if it's an SEC matchup, then you'd expect to hear the Super Bowl XXI theme for a major game -- that's right, twenty-five years ago, at the Rose Bowl. CBS decided it would not be used for NFL coverage, but for college football (College Football Association) games at the time, and by 1995 it would be used for the network's Southeastern Conference coverage, a gamble considering CBS was by that time a minor network and wasn't available in suburban areas of some major markets (Detroit and Milwaukee most notably) because of their low-powered affiliates, and two SEC markets were in trouble, as in Georgia, CBS lost its affiliate to Fox and the former Fox affiliate chose to join the WB, so CBS came close to the weakest station in the market (channel 69) before independent channel 46 agreed to join CBS (ratings are still worse than the Spanish language station and independent stations in the area), and in South Carolina, the local CBS affiliate took a partial United Paramount affiliation, and was contemplating joining Paramount full-time if the NFL had not returned to CBS in 1998, leaving cable companies in their metropolitan area ready for backup from the Augusta, Florence (similar to NBC, which had no Florence/Myrtle Beach affiliate until 2008), Charlotte, or Charleston affiliates had WLTX bolted to Paramount full-time in order to boost the Star Trek franchise (which was the main reason they took a partial Paramount affilation). The CBS/SEC gamble worked, as by 2001 the CBS/SEC deal became one where the CBS game would become the only guaranteed national Game of the Week, which has the ESPN-affiliated conferences crying foul, since their games are regional while the SEC's game was national.

I do think the first Louisiana State-Alabama game, however, will have drawn more viewers than the rematch for the BCS title, because of the CBS/SEC tie-in instead of ESPN.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Poetry Wednesday: Journey of the Magi

A special return of Poetry Wednesday is here as we celebrate the Epiphany tomorrow, while today marks Day Eleven of Christmastide, and those eleven pipers piping represent the eleven faithful disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Journey of The Magi

T.S. Elliot

A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.'
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.

Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped in away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death?
There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Opening Night

Well, after months and months and years of anticipation (not to mention debates), the Republican presidential race finally began in earnest tonight, with the caucuses in our neighbor to the south.* At this point we don't know for sure who the winner is, although it looks as if Santorum is having a good night. The pundits are suggesting that Romney is not breaking through his ceiling of support, and Paul may be unable to expand beyond his core.

* Sample Iowa joke: A man from Iowa runs up to the border with Minnesota, holding a stick of dynamite. "I've had it with Minnesota! I'm not going to take it anymore!" With that, he threw the dynamite across the border. It landed at the foot of a Minnesotan who bent down and picked it up, lit the fuse, and threw it back.

The big winner tonight just might be "none of the above." Should the winner wind up with less than 25%, it suggests to me that none of these candidates is really turning on the voters. What this means for the fall election, who knows. As for what the true influence of Iowa is, your guess is as good as mine. Whatever the influence is, it's probably more than it deserves.** Bachmann is probably out, Gingrich and Perry have been hurt but will likely stay in until South Carolina at least, and we won't know about Huntsman until New Hampshire.

** Another Iowa joke: The Universities of Iowa and Minnesota are playing football. A train running past the field blows its horn. Minnesota, thinking it means halftime, runs off the field. Iowa scores four plays later.

It's often said that the campaign is a marathon, not a sprint. Prepare for a long grind. Prepare also to ask yourself, more than once, "Is this the way to pick a president?"

Monday, January 2, 2012

Has New Year's lost its luster thanks to Pay TV having the Bowls?

Does it seem that New Year's Day is no longer the “major” television event it was years ago? The big college football games are no longer staples for local television affiliates, as pay-television has acquired the entire kit and kaboodle, and the major New Year's Day sporting event on network television is the NHL Winter Classic, which thanks to its NBC deal (a new ten-year deal starting today) while the college bowls have moved to pay-television means the only “New Year's Day” bowl left on network television is the AT&T Cotton Bowl, which is not even played at the said stadium, but in Arlington at Jerry Jones' billion-dollar edifice on a Friday night. CBS is left with just their regular daytime programming on New Year's (the game shows and dramas have original programming today).

With the bowls likely moving to pay-per-view in the future, it seems the lustre of the big games has been lost. We learned the first year of the pay-television revolution the ratings dropped considerably, and when the BCS Championship rematch draws less than the same two teams on broadcast network television in November, we've seen that pay television is worse. What we're seeing now is the same thing Britons will see when F1 moves to pay television this year with a price of over $500 for the season (for F1 races only; this subscription for F1 must be ordered to have F1) so the Beeb could save coverage of The Open Championship and Wimbledon – two events that in the US have moved to pay-television exclusively.

With no New Year's programming left on broadcast television, what does this say about the quality of television when raunchy programming is the “standard” of quality?

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Notable Quotables: Best of 2011

It seems the mocking of faith has become clearer each and every day, and Albert Herlong's Communist Goals of 1963 keep marching towards the goals of the CCCP in that bad "art," this time mocking God, is acceptable in the eyes of the modern Left. Pushing such bad art is helping towards the goals of demolishing the church while anything insulting to God is acceptable, as we saw in the last Congress." -- in light of the "Crash the Super Bowl" promotion with a sacrilegious advertisement from a Life Enhancement Centre.

"In the mid-90's, Charleston radio station WTMA (a news-talk radio station that is receivable in the day here) hostess Nancy Wolf ranted on her afternoon-drive show about abusive spending in the Charleston County School District where she called the newly built Calhoun Street building ताज महल , a mausoleum in Agra, India." -- on the bad educational system of today, where many schools in Charleston County were listed on the nation's 100 worst schools list.

"Whatever happened to civility with a former KTUU anchorwoman? It's clear we have uncivilised liberals who attack any conservative at any time, and with both Mr. Morgan's and the Missoula Children's and Community Theater's attacks of this woman." -- on a Mikado and a Saturday Night Live attack each on Sarah Palin.

"We have seen secularism run rampant when the odds of Poulenc's Gloria are more to be heard in the symphony hall than in the church, which is dead-set on rock or karaoke settings of 'The Climb,' 'It's My Life,' or the latest hit from a Sony television series (Granger had their congregation vote on which tune from Glee to perform there) in today's Warrenist Life Enhancement Centre every church wants to become. " -- after a Dawn Marie Wolski concert.

"There was a little irony in watching the Keselowski Brothers draft their way to Daytona and it came as I saw a YouTube video of Rich Mullins and Mitch McVicker performing 'Brother's Keeper' in that Brad was Brian's keeper in making him a Daytona 500 bound driver. I remember Darrell presented an award to Mullins (who had died 18 months prior to his presentation) and McVicker for a song that won a major award at Bridgestone Arena ('My Deliverer') and thought of the irony that 'Brother's Keeper' was the perfect theme for this race." -- to Mike Joy, on a Rich Mullins song that came to me when watching Daytona qualifying. The top two non-exempt drivers in each "heat" race (Brian was not exempt) advanced to the feature by racing their way in.

"Sorry men, you are the weaker sex and women deserve clubs where No Boys Allowed is the rule, but it doesn't work the other way." -- could federal authorities make men's sports illegal in schools in the future?
 "After checking (a video with friends), I am starting to feel depressed about not (participating) with the team that I want to take my life by jumping off the Ponte Vecchio into the Arno. That's how distraught I am about it. " -- After an event. How bad have you got it for opera?

"Humanism, especially Gaia worship, is now recognised by Washington but not the Resurrection of the Saviour. " -- after learning the government won't celebrate Holy Week but instead observed Lenin's Birthday in official statements. Just this week we learned Christmas was ignored, while the White House celebrated Kwanzaa, a Communist-influenced racist event.

"Why has it come to the point where dance, not singing, is the effective mandate of church music? " -- after a choral event at church for youth."That's it. Maybe my truck had a National Guard sticker!" -- on my frustration on attempting to make it to a concert. Failed both times. The National Guard reference was to Memorial Day, when J. R. Hildebrand goes into the wall with just 1,800 feet from the 500-mile point at Indianapolis, and Dale Earnhardt Jnr runs out of E15 just 1,000 feet from the 603-mile point at Charlotte. As Mike Joy said it in the last 1,000 feet at Charlotte, "And as at Indy, the leader at Turn Four does not get to the flag!"

"Is the Humanist Manifesto the official standard, as we see governments persecute churches on the request of sexual deviants?" -- problems with churches today.

"Isn't this the problem with society today, with welfare, freeloaders, and people who want something for nothing, and would discourage those who work the hardest to provide the wanted product? " -- on illegal streaming, welfare, and other major issues today.

"(I)t's clear (Occupiers) want a utopia reminiscent of the CCCP that will fail." -- on Occupy.
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