Friday, August 31, 2012

Retro TV Friday

It was 40 years ago that the Republicans last held their convention in Florida, at which they renominated the ticket of Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.  Nixon-Agnew would win 49 states that fall, and less than two years later they'd both be out of office.

Which makes some of the lines in Nixon's acceptance speech ironic, but if you look beyond that you'll be surprised at how much of this speech remains relevant today, from Nixon's concerns about the economy and foreign policy to his comment that one didn't fight discrimination against a group by in turn discriminating against another group.  We are the United States of America, Nixon said, not the Divided States.  Indeed - Mitt Romney could have used that line intact last night.

Here's Nixon's acceptance speech from August 23, 1972, given from the largest, most grandious podium I've ever seen at a convention.  I mean, compare that to the laughably little ones they use today.  That thing has the state seal of every state in the country.  They have television monitors down at the bottom, because it's so tall and so steep that people sitting at the base can't see Nixon up top.  Some people thought it was a little, shall we say, imperial.  Predictably, I love it.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Neil Armstrong, R.I.P.

In the life of every legend, there comes the moment when he ceases being merely a man. For Neil Armstrong, that moment came, in a sense, on September 17, 1962. That was the day he was officially named an astronaut, and that evening his parents appeared on I've Got a Secret to commemorate the event.

It's a stunning moment, given that Armstrong was anything but a household name, when Garry Moore poses the question.  How would you feel if your son was the first man on the moon?  For Moore, born in the decade after the Wright Brothers' flight, the idea of a man walking on the moon was an abstract concept, an unimaginable goal that was inexorably in the process of becoming reality.  For those born or of age in the decade of the 70s, the moon landing was a given; impressive, to be sure, but hardly unfathomable, because they'd never known it any other way. 

Having been born in 1960, I was a child of the space age, growing up with the space program as a part of everyday life.  My memories became cognisant with the final flight of Mercury, and clearer as Gemini progressed.  By the time of the Apollo 1 fire, they were fully formed, and for the rest of the space race I was joyfully along for the ride.  

And amidst the iconic names of the era, the Glenns and Shepards and Grissoms, there was no more iconic name than that of Neil Armstrong.  

It was hard to believe that the images actually came from the moon.  I'm not talking about the kind of suspicion the conspiracy buffs promote, but simply the unbelievability that a live picture could be broadcast from another world.  Are you sure this is going to be from the moon?  They aren't going to just be broadcasting the audio over some kind of animation?

No, it was real all right, and Armstrong's small step propelled him into the unwanted realm of immortality, his name forever to be linked to the unimaginable.  As Arthur C. Clarke would write, "Now history and fiction have become inexorably intertwined."  Armstrong was not a Christopher Columbus looking for personal achievement, but a man carrying out a mission.  It was something that Armstrong, tempermentally more engineer than explorer, was never comfortable with.

But in another sense Armstrong was the perfect hero, a man who exuded integrity.  When he chaired the Challenger investigation committee, there was no thought that the committee would produce a whitewash or a coverup.  You knew Neil Armstrong wouldn't have any part in something like that.  His refusal to stay in the public spotlight, to make something of his renoun, added to that sense.  He always disclaimed personal honors, reminding everyone of all those behind the scenes who helped to make it happen.  And so his refusal to consider himself a hero made him more of one, and even more than that, it made him admirable.  There is a high school in Robbinsdale, Minnesota called Armstrong High School.  It's named after him, as I'm sure are countless others throughout the country.  There was once a coach of the Chicago Bears named Neill Armstrong.  Whenever I heard his name I always thought of the astronaut, as I'm sure many others did. 

And as the years passed, as Armstrong faded into the recesses of history, replaced by reality shows and flavor-of-the-month celebrities, his stature - at least to me - rose even more.  For those of us who realized the total magnitude of the moon landing, how it changed everything into pre-landing and post-landing eras, there was something amazing about the idea that Armstrong still lived, and that we shared that time with him.  It was similar to the way the early astronauts themselves had felt about Charles Lindbergh, who had lived into the early 70s and whom many of them had met.  There was something amazing about it all, and something comforting, to live with that link to greatness.

I doubt that flags will be lowered to half staff this week to commemorate Neil Armstrong's death, but they should be.  This will probably sound trite, but it's not every day that the first man to walk on the surface of another world dies.  We didn't see Columbus land in the new world, or Magellan circumnavigate the globe, or Hillary set foot on Mount Everest.  We weren't at the North Pole or the South Pole, we never saw explorers set foot on foreign lands, but hundreds of millions saw Neil Armstrong live when he walked on the moon, and anyone with a computer can call it up on YouTube any time they like.

The thing about greatness, though - true greatness - is that it tends to outlive itself.  The men and women who reach such greatness live on long after their accomplishments, in the pages of the history they helped to create.  So we'll remember Neil Armstrong, as we should, and marvel that we lived in his times.  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Analysis on The Mindset List

The Mindset List, released annually regarding college freshmen upon entrance, is an interesting read from Beloit University. I thought it would be an interesting read for consumption with analysis.

Humanism In Education - #3. Terms such as “Forbidden Fruit,” “The writing on the wall,” “Good Samaritan,” and “The Promised Land” are unknown to most of them. This is Humanism on Parade in schools, they have never read the Bible because it's not permitted. Even today's Life Enhancement Centres ignore the Bible, and instead people read a certain self-help book from the King of Life Enhancement Centres in Mr. Warren, Mr. Osteen, or have been taught to believe in New Age beliefs through schools.

MTV as a Legitimate Source of Information - #5 and #22. During the 2008 presidential campaign season, Senator Obama ran campaigns, similar to Governor Clinton, on MTV, and appeared on MTV's homosexual network. However, when it came to the Barclays League of news sources, he refused to appear. The Administration recently said they prefer to appear on entertainment media, not news outlets. MTV programming is that revered by a generation.

And Speaking of #22. We've reverted back in technology. We've gone from black and white to NTSC 480, from 480 to near-movie quality 720/1080 High Definition (the only shows not in HD today are Big Brother and Let's Make a Deal), and now we're embracing tiny screens with 240p quality. It's similar to auto headlights -- we've switched from sealed beams back to screw-in bulbs of the 1920's in the past 30 years.

What's Read - #18? Oh we do miss the years of the World Book in our home!

Bad Pop In The Ears -- #15 and #21. Hearing loss and not caring for the car radio. When the car radio has been the source of sports, news, and weather, what else do you need? I was carrying earplugs for events, and even carry earplugs for events. Sadly, this generation even wants loud rock music for church services. No more LaRoche, Harrison, or Cuttino for them as they want the latest from the Michael Jackson Library for church. Huh?

And on #21. As someone who grew up in the rise of talk radio, with the push of Rush, G. Gordon, Dr. Laura, Boortz, and other major radio shows, and even the 21st century leaders of Hannity, Ingraham, and Tom Sullivan, a generation that ignores serious discussion on airwaves will be completely ignorant. When all they know is the latest pop tune on the airwave, and buy the songs at 99 cents to hear what they want to hear, how can you listen to serious works?

Stupid Sexual Deviancy - #24. No gloves for sexual deviancy groups because they want normalisation. Boxing referees but not White House Security need gloves? Oh dear. Maximum AIDS promotion by the deviancy activist groups that would love to contaminate blood supplies with AIDS!

CCCP - #28. Star Wars (when the movie arrived in 1977) was used by the greatest American President of postwar time as a reference for the defence of this nation against the Evil Empire, the dangerous bear, the CCCP. Star Wars Defence could be needed today to fight Al Qaeda!

William Franklin Graham II - #34. The difference in this unlike the gridiron star listed is that the Graham family is a dynasty in religious communities. William Franklin Graham III and William Franklin Graham IV are evangelists themselves, running the family crusades today.

Seatbacks - #39. Now I've never been to the grand opera theatre of all time, but I've seen supertitles on the stage, not the seat for the operas I have attended!

Labour Issues - The answer to #43? Because of internationalisation of baseball that we saw after consecutive Canadian titles, the next year was Japan's year. The finalists were the Yomiuri Giants versus the Seibu Lions. And which two players from the World Champion 1994 kyojin won MLB titles? Hint: One's from Minnesota and the other made a name for himself on the world stage of baseball's premiership that Series. Futbol has been the sport of this generation, but it's women only for the most part as the success is prominent for Americans, but men are still weak (as the Olympic failure to qualify shows).

No Print Please at #47. At this rate, California propaganda can be easily pushed. John Stossel notes the costs are cheaper for physical books.

Jumping Matches at #52. The controversy of figure skating, since the elimination of compulsory figures (on a figure of eight) has changed the graceful skaters into a more masculine power game. The elimination of the sixes proved it! And of course, the modern action sports movement is where power sports matter!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Faking It, MMXII: Don't Have a Cowell, Symphoney!

Here we go again with another round of Faking It at a major event. We saw in Peking four years ago Faking It during major Olympic opening ceremony events (singers replaced with fakes that look better), and later with the RNC, along with the ceremony marking the deification of The Whammy.

I've written checks to musicians, paid a college student accompanist both cash and a home-made pumpkin pie that I made myself, and have walked out of karaoke events at church. But it still does not matter. As classical music fans, we who pay our money for these spectacular concerts, play the instruments or sing in choral events these masterpieces have become highly offended by the trend towards faking. When $200 DVD's replace the church musician, something's awfully fishy. We do not support the awful trends of music, something a friend noted, "Now they spend half their seasons doing pops concerts with geriatric groups like Styx and Sha Na Na so they can afford to play a little Beethoven or Mozart, forget Mahler or Bruckner, that would cost more money for a bigger orchestra."

It's no longer a church problem. A recent concert in Winnipeg with a well-known symphony whose "Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi" from Carl Orff's massive Carmina Burana (Dr. Cornwell, that still is one piece that has such powerful) was used for many years by Sean Hannity to open his radio programme turned nasty when it was revealed that the group was faking it. They were allegedly the backing group for a Simon Cowell prefabricated pop group. Instead of performing, while they were faking it live, the sound system was playing prerecorded accompaniment, effectively making the symphony a glorified fake. Now who are the divos? The group that demanded singing to prerecorded music? It's as bad as the church singers who sing almost exclusively to the can, claiming it sounds better than the real thing. Don't tell me that. If I'm paying for Mary Lee, Jennifer, Mori, or other musicians to play in a concert, I want to hear them. I don't want to hear a recording! Real musicians are not Powerade bottles. Here's the article.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Reflecting on the flame

Thoughts from the five-ring circus as everyone comes home and the Paralympics are coming (great report on Speed Center Sunday about the Italian handcycle competitor).
219 Million at an Event? Comcast claims 219 million watched the Games of the XXX Olympiad, the most watched event in history. Of course, that's spread over 19 days, and coverage was from early dawn (9 AM GMT in some cases) all the way to highlights at midnight ET, including the three days of football tournament coverage before the Opening Ceremony (which we learned only one broadcast team was assigned to football, and only to selected women's games – the men's tournament and most women's games had a Formula One-style broadcast setup that left NBCSN's MLS broadcast teams frustrated.). And it turns out Comcast edited out pieces from the Opening and Closing Ceremony of the Games in question!

Attacking God is Acceptable? During the Closing Ceremony of the aforementioned event (I skipped it fortunately after photos were shown from the event), the theme of the worst music of British history (compared to what we discuss on Our Word) was paraded. Yes, some of the acts were over the top, and some acts were pale, but to push humanism during the event was absolutely appalling when a Communist and Humanist promoting song was played on a recording with children performing sign language to this tune that is acceptable in our society, but if you dare push serious Händel work, you will be censored. It is a sad state of affairs when Händel was ignored, but Lennon was deemed acceptable.

We need to pick it up! A few years ago, CBS shot a pilot for a proposed local adaptation of the ITV stunt show The Cube, an extremely hard game that nobody had completed the seventh, and final, level of the show. Well, one did. Mo Farah, the eventual 5,000 and 10,000m gold medalist at the Olympics, became the first. Is it time this format, with an Olympic champion being the only one to conquer, be picked up for United States television?

Flooring It. Aly Raisman's victory in the women's gymnastics floor exercise event received accolades from Jewish media, and setting it to הבה נגילה (Hava Nagila), a Hebrew folk song, made some think it was a slap at organisers who had refused a moment of silence in memory of the eleven Israeli athletes killed during München 40 years ago by Arab terrorists. It had been used twelve years ago during the 2000 “Summer” Games (held during the spring) by another gymnast, Екатерина Лобазнюк (Россия). But wasn't there a controversy in 1996 when the United States gymnastics team pulled one of its members off the floor because her floor piece was Daniel Emmett's “Dixie” (and that was at the Georgia Dome, the true Bird's Nest (Falcons' Nest actually) of Olympic Games lore)?

Is Title IX Spelling The End of the American Male? Is the government's anti-male policy in schools resulting in the demise of American male sports while the women's sports are growing in winning at the Olympics? We saw it in football, gymnastics, and volleyball most notably, but athletics and swimming are not far behind.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Just In

News item…Ichiro Suzuki was traded last week from the Seattle Mariners to the New York Yankees. “He deserves a chance to play for a contending team before the end of his magnificent career,”  said Mariner’s chief executive, Howard Lincoln. “The Mariners should certainly not stand in his way.”
Chicago Cubs Announce Banks Signing, Trade to Yankees

August 14 (Chicago, IL): The Chicago Cubs today announced the signing of Ernie Banks, their long-retired Hall of Fame shortstop, who will come out of retirement to join the club as part of a trade deal that will then send him to the New York Yankees.

Banks, now 81 and not, as he readily admits, “in all-star shape,” will play a limited role for the Yankees in their expected stretch run to another World Series title. “I will pinch-hit a few times, sit in the dugout, and root the guys on,” said Ernie, known as “Mr. Cub.” “It will be strange not to be at Wrigley Field, but I’m looking forward to being a Yankee and playing in a World Series…finally.”

Banks played for the Cubs for 19 seasons, none of which ended in a World Series appearance. He holds the Major League record of most games played without a postseason appearance (2528).

“He has meant so much to baseball, and we don’t want to stand in Ernie’s way of playing in a Series,” said Cub’s President Theo Epstein. “It never happened with the Cubs, it probably won’t happen with the Cubs, but this gives him a great chance to make it all the way. While there’s still time.”

In a separate, but perhaps related, announcement, Bud Selig, Commissioner of Major League Baseball, has revealed that the New York Yankees have received a special roster exemption. Effective immediately, the Yankees roster will be allowed to carry 80 players for the remainder of this season and into the playoffs, twice the number of other teams.

“Yes, this is unusual,” said Selig, in a hastily arranged press conference at Yankee Stadium, “but we’re excited about the opportunity this will afford other players—a bit gone, but not forgotten—to be in baseball’s spotlight again. We do not want to stand in their way.”

Selig also announced that the roster expansion, as well as the Banks signing, is part of a new marketing partnership with Anheuser Busch Budweiser.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Wish I'd written that

I am completely an elitist in the cultural but emphatically not the social sense. I prefer the good to the bad, the articulate to the mumbling, the aesthetically developed to the merely primitive, and full to partial consciousness. I love the spectacle of skill, whether it’s an expert gardener at work or a good carpenter chopping dovetails. I don’t think stupid or ill-read people are as good to be with as wise and fully literate ones. I would rather watch a great tennis player than a mediocre one, unless the latter is a friend or a relative. Consequently, most of the human race doesn’t matter much to me, outside the normal and necessary frame of courtesy and the obligation to respect human rights. I see no reason to squirm around apologizing for this. I am, after all, a cultural critic, and my main job is to distinguish the good from the second-rate, pretentious, sentimental, and boring stuff that saturates culture today, more (perhaps) than it ever has. I hate populist shit, no matter how much the demos love it."

- Robert Hughes, the former art critic for Time, who died today.  Rarely have I seen anything in print that so accurately describes the way I view myself, or makes me wish I was talented enough to have written it.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Eat Mor Chikin

Some photos from an 8 PM visit to Chick-fil-A on National Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. Our local store is just off Interstate 26 (Exit 145A) and opening in April 2011.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Gore Vidal, R.I.P.

I wouldn't consider myself particularly a fan of Gore Vidal. I’ve only read one novel of his, seen one movie based on a play of his, and watched one teleplay he wrote.

But the one novel was Lincoln, which I thought was brilliant, so much so that when reading biographies of Lincoln, I often felt that I’d read about the events and personalities before. And I had – from Vidal.

The one movie was The Best Man, which was as prescient an analysis of the future of politics as you could get in the early 60s. The Best Man was satire, black humor, but it came mostly from the portrayals, especially that of Cliff Robertson as the over-the-top conservative candidate. Sure, Henry Fonda was as sanctimonious as ever as Robertson’s sensitive, indecisive opponent, but that was as much a satire on Fonda’s own reputation as anything else. Reading the actual play, the black humor is much more evident, but whichever version one prefers, they were both terrific.

The teleplay was “Summer Pavilion,” which he wrote for the Golden Age anthology Studio One, and it had a disturbing, psychological quality that made it a cut above many of the episodes released in the DVD box set from a couple of years ago. A common misnomer is that all TV from the Golden Age was Golden – well, it wasn’t, and a lot of it was poorly written, at least in retrospect. Vidal’s work was as strong today as it was back then.

So Gore Vidal had talent. Gore Vidal could write good stuff.

But he also wrote crap, like Myra Breckenridge and Caligula and virtually all of his political nonfiction. His suggestion that he inserted a homosexual subtext into his work on the screenplay for Ben-Hur is stretching it (although it does produce one of the better Hollywood quotes, as William Wyler said to Vidal, “Don’t tell Chuck {Heston}, he’ll crack up.”) His essays, such as the one he wrote after longtime antagonist William F. Buckley Jr’s death (“RIP WFB – in Hell”) were usually execrable. About his personal life, the less said the better.

I think the most enjoyment I got from Vidal was from his debates with Buckley during ABC’s coverage of the Republican and Democrat conventions in 1968. Vidal provoked Buckley into a rare loss of his celebrated cool. (At one point Buckley called Vidal a “pink faggot” and threatened to “sock” him, “and you’ll stay socked.”) Personally, I loved Buckley’s response, but I can understand how he might have regretted losing control.

Subjective opinion: Gore Vidal wasted the God-given talent he had, which could have been even greater had it been used in the right manner. He might well have hated me for saying that.

Alice Roosevelt Longworth is credited with having said, “If you can’t say something good about someone, have a seat next to me.” Gore Vidal died today at the age of 86, and I have said something good about him - several things in fact. However, I also subscribe to the idea that we shouldn’t speak ill of the dead, and in that spirit I think I’ll just leave well-enough alone.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...