Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

This isn't, strictly speaking, an opera piece, but I think it's appropriate all the same, seeing as how it's Halloween.  From the American composer Michael Daugherty (who has written operas, by the way, so there's my tie-in), here is the charmingly weird and delightfully offbeat Dead Elvis, for Solo Bassoon and Chamber Ensemble.

Friday, October 26, 2012

The real life of TV drama

Over at the TV blog this week, I've got a piece up on my my top political movies, a revision of a similar post I did here a few years ago. One of the additions to that list is a taut, well-done TV docudrama about the Cuban Missile Crisis, The Missiles of October.

As it so happens, Terry Teachout wrote an article about The Missiles of October earlier this month, observing the 50th anniversary of the event that brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.  Teachout describes many of the same aspects of Missiles that I admired in the production, so rather than rehash them I recommend you click on the link and check him out.  (You should anyway; he's one of the most talented culture critics around, and always edifying.)  It's gratifying to know I have such good taste in television!   

Watch The Missiles of October it its entirety, starting below with part 1.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

End of The Streak

One of the biggest college football games of this weekend, if not the biggest, is the matchup between Notre Dame and Oklahoma on Saturday night in Norman. Notre Dame, in its annual ritual of trying to recapture its past glory, comes into the game unbeaten and ranked #5, while the Sooners, losers only to Kansas State, are #8. This ought to be a terrific game, which means it will probably fall victim to ESPN’s hype machine and won’t come anywhere near the buildup.

These two teams have a history against each other, and this might be the most important meeting between the two since 1957. That game, however, made history, and this year’s edition will be hard-pressed to match it.

It was November 16, 1957, and the Fighting Irish brought a record of 4-2 into Norman against the 7-0 Sooners. But Oklahoma was more than undefeated in 1957 – they had not lost a game since 1953. They had been beaten 28-21 by Notre Dame early in 1953, then tied Pitt 7-7, before reeling off a string of 47 consecutive victories (including the tie against Pitt, a run of 48 without a loss).

Today, it’s staggering to think about: three consecutive undefeated seasons (1954, 1955 and 1956) and two national championships (1955 and 1956). Even considering that college football was much more regional in the 1950s, and that Oklahoma had dominated the Big 7 Conference for years, still – 47 straight victories. To put this in context, since World War I only four major college teams have had winning streaks of 30 games or more: Toledo (35 from 1969-1971), Miami (34 from 2000-2002), and – Oklahoma again (31 from 1948-50). For the 11 seasons from 1948 to 1958, Oklahoma posted a record of 107-8-2. Not bad.

Eh, maybe not so much?  The start of the
SI jinx - note the date of the issue
The 1957 game against Notre Dame became legendary, of course, because the Irish ended the streak, beating the Sooners 7-0. The game had everything you could ask for: tradition (two of the most storied teams in college football), mystique (the Golden Dome vs. the Unbeaten), and hatred (the South’s anti-Catholicism vs. the North’s scorn for redneck Okies). Sooner football was everything for a state whose biggest claim to fame was the musical Oklahoma, and the thought of Oklahoma losing was, well, unthinkable.

The Sooners started out strongly but were unable to convert. Notre Dame broke the scoreless tie in the 4th quarter on a short touchdown pass to Dick Lynch, and it began to sink in that Oklahoma might actually lose. In the waning minutes the Sooners started one last drive, knowing that although the winning streak might end, they could still salvage the undefeated run with a tie (in these days before the two-point conversion), but a late interception snuffed out even that hope. The Streak was over and the crowd shocked into silence, followed for many by tears.

Oklahoma would win out the rest of the way, defeating Duke in the Orange Bowl and finishing #4 in the country, but the seniors would carry the burden of being the class that failed to finish their college careers unbeaten. Notre Dame would lose the next week to Iowa and finish the year 7-3, ranked #12.

There’s quite a good book about that undefeated Oklahoma team, appropriately entitled The Undefeated, by Jim Dent, and you can read here for more about the game itself.

Will Saturday’s game have this level of drama? Doubtful – but Oklahoma and Notre Dame should still put on quite a show, in the very stadium in which, 55 years ago, a piece of college football history came to an end.

And here are the highlights of that historic game, narrated by Chris Schenkel.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Paglia on Opera

Camille Paglia is one of the most provocative, incisive commentators on the cultural scene today. I don't always agree with her - frequently, in fact, I don't - but she's one of the few writers who defies expectations by telling it like it is, without regard to what others might think. Whether she's discussing sex, politics, or art, you can always count on something stimulating.  Her own wonderful self-description is that of "dissident feminist."

In this month's issue of Opera News, Paglia turns her eyes toward the world of opera (duh), and lets fly.  The question to her is whether or not she'd agree with interpretations of Lucia di Lammermoor that read Lucia's ultimate desent into madness as a sort of sexual liberation.  I'm not sure what the interviewer, Brian Kellow hoped to get for an answer, whether he thought Paglia would agree with this interpretation, but he couldn't have been surprised that Paglia gave him an earful, touching on an incredible array of subjects all at once.

Interpretations like this, she says, drive her crazy: 

"I oppose the export of feminist or any other ideology into pre-modern works.  But it's epidemic.  It's the heritage of identity politics, which began in acedeme in the 1970s.  It skews interpretation of all kinds of historical works.  When you focus on the woman's angle or the black angle or the gay angle, you're distorting the text.   It's an extrapolation of contemporary assumptions backward so that one never escapes the present.  Do you realize that the word 'Renaissance' is slowly being dropped in English departments?  There's been a steady process in high-level British and American adademe to substitute 'Early Modern' instead.  But when the glorious Renaissance is seen as only the beginning of us, it's a dead end of solipsism."

And with that, Paglia has identified so much of what's wrong not only with opera, but with academe, with politics, with the passing down of culture and the evolution (or devolution) of Western civilization.  It's this kind of provocative discussion that we need now, more than ever - and with the thought police on one hand and political correctness on the other, we're even less likely to get it.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Cutting to the chase: RI school sends students to Dear Leader rally

As they say on television, it's time to Cut to the Chase, and with two weeks and change until the end of this Chase, it has become evident that the government school system has become a source of propaganda promotion, similar to that of the Soviet Union.

Officials at Blackstone Valley Prep Mayoral Academy, a charter school in Rhode Island, rented buses and sent all 250 students and the faculty to New Hampshire to attend a rally for President Obama. One state legislator noted how Mitt Romney's events were not given the same treatment.

This sounds of Soviet propaganda with the promotion of Communism, the promotion of devolution of industry to the point Communist nations overtake us, the promotion of foreign law usurping local, state, and federal laws, sexual deviancy, thought crimes, pushing humanism as the state religion, the elimination of the nation's fundamental freedoms, elimination of the patriots of the nation, and promotion of new “heroes” that advance the liberal agenda. None of this is acceptable to those of us who studied in parochial school. Can you imagine Christopher Columbus is ignored while we promote Harvey Milk and Barney Frank in schools?

Empowering children to become slaves of the entitlement generation, sucking on food stamps, unemployment benefits, and promoting the green agenda that kills industries in favour of “saving mother earth” (Gaia worship) through the wind-and-solar mantra is a serious concern. Furthermore, “Dear Leader” (as Mr. Obama is being promoted via this incident in Rhode Island) is telling the children that being on government money is far superior to those who would rather brown-bag their lunches with home-grown vegetables, local grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, organic fruits and local milk, and spend what they would have spent in purchasing junk in shares in a stock that continuously pays dividends (Lowe's, SCANA) and makes money for its shareholders (Whole Foods Market, Under Armour). Why do you think he tags as a goal over 40% in dividend, capital gains, and income taxes for those who invest well in key staples such as those companies? So if I spend $25 per month in a stock that consistently grows and pays dividends, and I am paid $1 every quarter for dividends, you want to tax me over 50 cents overall on the money that I make? That's the class warfare Dear Leader pushes, and what those children are being taught.

That is poor economic thought, but trying to reverse generations that have learned under the Reagan era to invest in the stock market and instead trust in the government is what this Administration is trying to do with the youth. To the Obama Administration, stocks are bad while government entitlements are good.

DISCLAIMER: Mr. Chang is a shareholder in all four stocks mentioned.

Monday, October 22, 2012

On the decline of orchestras (and classical music) today

I began taking voice lessons after being inspired by a few friends, and in February 2002 took my first official foray into vocal lessons. I never thought I would see the day that classical music became "the" music for me, yet for Serena LaRoche, Leah Hungerford, along with choral directors Jennifer Adam, Peppie Calvar, Susan Kelly, Keith Walker, Lillian Quackenbush, Alicia Walker, and numerous other choral singers (Rebecca Cunningham), soloists (Ashley Briggs, Sarah Rich, Jaeyoon Kim, Jacob Will, Kelsey Harrison), my musical attitude took a turn for the better, and as we learned three and a half years later, perfect for Our Word.

Having sung in four Summer Choruses, two one-offs at various churches, and a Governor's Carolighting in the hastily organised choir, the dearth of choral opportunities at home with pop drivel and karaoke replacing serious material and orchestras concerns me. While listening to a talk radio show, the hostess noted, "We need to pray for the survival of classical music not only because of its beauty, but also because it reminds us of the centuries when our society was so infused by the Christian gospel."

Patrick Kavanaugh in World magazine commented on such musical problems. While he noted it may be economic, market, the bullying of bad rock music in our culture, it was easily noticed that Biblical text and Christian theology dominates classical music, noting Brahms’ Requiem, Händel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis, and Bach’s St. Matthew Passion. Compare the difference between the Mass in C Major and that of a modern rock tune certain Life Enhancement Centres play in their buildings. Nolo contendere est. Keep in mind in our society today, humanism is the official state religion, and to advance the cause they have to prohibit classical works from performance in order to force us to carry humanism's dark agenda found through the modern pop tunes of society today.

Here is Mr. Kavanaugh's thought about the trouble with music today 

Monday, October 15, 2012


No dancing in the booth please." During the "kid-friendly" radio broadcast of the Bank of America 500 available on the Web and trackside at Charlotte Motor Speedway, organised by the circuit, the latest fad dance tune (PSY's "Gangnam Style") was playing as bumper music before the event. Play-by-play man Mike Joy, who was working with his 13-year old son Scott (John Andretti, Bob Dillner, and Larry McReynolds also alternated with their families in the broadcast), warned his son he did not want to see the fad dance performed in the broadcast booth.

Breaking: F1 to Comcast

As was reported by various statements, Comcast (the firm that distributed Senna) has won F1 rights for the United States television market for the NBC Sports Network and NBC broadcast network (likely the three North American races and Brasil), ending News Corp's long reign with F1. I'll speculate that James Allen and Will Buxton will get first dibs at the lead broadcast role trackside.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Is the Roman Alphabet on its way out? ESPN is now posting material in Cyrillic for today's КХЛ broadcast

Start your Cyrillic keyboards and reading in the said alphabet! ESPN has announced a deal with the Континентальная Хоккейная Лига for ESPN broadcasts (not Webcasts) on selected afternoons. The first КХЛ broadcast is today.

Does this mean we are now headed to an era where the Roman alphabet is being phased out globally and either Kanji, Chinese scripts, or Cyrillic are now the global text of the future?

Meanwhile, locks, which are typically placed on MTV networks, are now being placed on Comcast networks based on need.

UPDATE: Here's a review of ESPN's coverage of the game.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

MLB Relegates Pirates to Amateur Leagues

(NEW YORK CITY) – Major League Baseball announced the Pittsburgh Pirates, one of professional baseball's oldest franchises, will be stripped of its franchise and relegated to club amateur status. 

The decision was made after the team has consistently been a jobber, and for 20 consecutive seasons at the professional level, has been jobbing towards large-market teams. Without any hope for the future, MLB decided the Pirates must be relegated to the equivalent of football's Isthmian League, into amateur club status. 

The club must win promotion in 10 consecutive years in order to return to Major League Baseball, and must advance though club levels, to rookie, then low A, high A, double A, and triple A, before being readmitted to MLB.

Monday, October 1, 2012

United States Surrenders to European Union; Brussels New Capital

(MEDINAH, IL) -- United States President Barack Obama has signed the Treaty of Medinah, announcing the Surrender of the United States of America, ceding the end of the 236-year old country, putting it in the hands of the European Union.

Officials at the PGA of America and the European Tour witnessed the historic signing, which gives the European Union the entire former United States, which will now be administered as one giant nation by the European Union. The lawmaking body will be legislated from the member nations of the European Union, which will govern the newly captured territory themselves.

"This monumental collapse Sunday forced our forces to surrender. With the accumulating debt, we have no choice but to give up our flag, currency, way of life, and surrender everything to the European Union." 

The official currency of the captured territories will be the Euro, and the metric system will replace the Imperial system immediately. The nation's new capital will be in Brussels.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...