Sunday, December 17, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 17: It's about time!

You know all those ads where the man buys his wife a toaster or vacuum cleaner or something like that? I have the feeling this will go over better, fellas.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 16: Stopping at the five and dime

I loved going to Woolworth's when I was a kid. It was within walking distance for me, so it was a place we went to often. At Christmastime they had a great selection of ornaments and decorations; as I look around our home today, I can still pick out a handful that have survived the past 45 or 50 years. It was a sad day when it went under.

Friday, December 15, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 15: What a sweet gift!

Here's another ad appealing to those of you with a sweet tooth. I don't remember Necco myself, although my wife does, but this would be sure to please any youngster who found it in their stocking. This ad is from 1952, and you notice that despite the fact there are two Christmas trees in the room, they don't display the glitter and stylization that would come to typify the midcentury tree, it's still pretty festive.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Of 42,915 lore, and It doesn't sound right -- and churches are singing it?

Those who read this blog have seen our cases against Pope Francis and similar Protestant liberalism affiliated leadership (they are two peas in the same pod), and also have reached into the crevices of church music corruption.  Before we get to that, however, Sunday night after returning home, I had been out of town doing my annual test Saturday in a 42,195 metre challenge that took just over six hours and eight minutes (when calculated from the absurdly late start caused by traffic) and watching a Daytona 500 and Big Machine 400 winner relaxing somewhere on the island after "Big Mac" (his sponsor tags him that way) finished three hours earlier (now that means I've run a 12k with the most infamous of all Olympic athletics runners and I've run the marathon with a Daytona and Indianapolis winner in the event), which is the perfect reaction when I see people call binge watching an entire season of a premium pay television programme (six to ten episodes) in one setting as a place full of fennels that in Greek gives its name to the battle between the Greeks and Persians that the Greeks easily won.

Unfortunately, the logic of calling binge watching an entire season of shows in a setting a place full of fennels in Greece is lacking any rationale. The real story is  Greek soldiers marched from the plains back to Athens (roughly 40km) in an attempt to stop the Persians at Cape Sounion -- only to see a retreat of Persians to announce their victory.  Legend Plutarch wrote (italics) On the Glory of Athens (/italics) states that soldier ran from those fennels back to Athens, announced victory, and died, of which the story was later retold by Robert Browning through his poem "Pheidippides" that gave us the name of the Olympic, and now well known sporting event, that carries the name of those fennel plains.  How is an unhealthy habit of binge watching on the same level as running from the fennel plains to Athens?

It does not hurt that my reward for 42,195 metres of pain was a nice recital, a second time to see Renée Fleming (left), only to learn a current college student that was in front of me after the event knew Dr. LaRoche, as she knew students in the studio for college students singing there doing what I did a generation ago with the same voice teacher!

As for the other issue on church music, on the way home Sunday evening, an incident at church caught my attention for the wrong reasons.  The church had decided for both the morning (I was in a church near the city where I ran my 42,195 Sunday morning) and evening to substitute youth (morning) and adult (evening) karaoke performances by the respective choirs for church services.  The unprofessionalism of submitting to the large entertainment organisations for Christmas music was dastardly offensive to those who have worked over the years, considering how forgetful they have become in knowing the Advent season comes before Christmas, and how Big Entertainment and their Emergent colleagues have been at work hacking classic hymns and sacred songs to advance their cause.  One such case came from the classic "What Child Is This?," which we noted Easter references have been removed from hymnals, and pop singers will not sing those lyrics, even though we sing parts of the Easter motet in Händel's Messiah.  In Universal's latest Christmas "cantata" packet, which is deemed "Ready to Sing" and pushes choirs into using their karaoke accompaniment, including their featured video, the same hymn is drastically altered to fit their theme, which has the markings of Brian McLaren and other liberal leaders that change songs to fit their theme.

Here's the video that Universal offers (Courtesy Universal Music Group). Does this even sound correct, or does this fit to push Big Entertainment with the lyrics they wrote?  Those who know the song will see the mistake, but a generation in church that has only heard Big Entertainment wares with loud rock concerts will swallow it hook, line, and sinker, sadly.

Works Cited:
"Why the Presbyterian Church in Ireland and I No Longer Sing from the Same Hymn Sheet."

25 Days of Ad-Vent, Day 14: It won't burst your bubble

For me growing up, bubble gum was just the hard, pink stick that came in a package of football or baseball cards. Fleer certainly made their share of those, but here's a nice ad for the stand-alone product. I love the bright colors and one-dimensional animation; it reminds me a lot of Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 12: Make your mark!

Did any of you try these when you were growing up? I remember doing it once; it was a bear to get off the windows. (But it looked like so much fun in the ads!) Do they even make these anymore? I've seen them in antique stores, but I don't remember seeing them anywhere else.

Monday, December 11, 2017

"Joy to the World" and the Second Coming

We understand Advent comes before Christmas.  Albert Mohler, a sage of American conservatism as well as Protestant faith, recently spoke at the seminary where he leads at their graduation.  In his commencement speech, he discussed the history of the 298-year old "Joy to the World," as written by Isaac Watts.

At Advent, we celebrate the anticipation that he comes, and many churches today, including the one headed by the brother of our state National Right to Life Chapter president, forgets the Advent tunes and are singing the latest in Universal's Christmas tunes, we rarely hear any Advent tunes.  (I visited Sunday because of a little incident the previous week.)  We celebrate his birth during the twelve days from December 25 to January 5 (when our 2018 State March for Life dinner happens this year), but in Dr. Mohler's speech to graduates, he notes Mr. Watts developed the English hymnody of the era drawn from the book of Psalms, and this hymn in question is from Psalm 98 when Christ will come to rule and judge. His primary commentary of the song relates to the third verse and the Second Coming of Christ referenced in Paul's letters to Corinth, Philippi (now Kavala, Greece), and Thessaloniki, his letters to Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, in addition to epistles by Peter, John, Jude.  Dr. Mohler makes a reference in the song to Genesis 3, where Eve commits the first sin known to man, causing serious harm that we still have to this day, and yet some churches have performed blasphemous work violating this.

Take a look at this commencement speech where a well-loved Christmas song is found to be not just Christmas, but too, as we've learned in Händel's Messiah written 43 years later, is regarding the time that is to be.  This hymn and the third motet of Messiah go well together.  However, too many have ignored the simplicity of such.

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 11: Let's see him get that under the tree

Similar to yesterday's ad, the vivid colors and the stillness of the night below are very evocative, and very effective. The ads from the '50s are so well-done.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 10: Don't forget your Dextrose!

Here's another ad I'm really fond of. Not just because that Baby Ruth bar looks inviting, but the Christmas tree, the icicles, the ornaments, the bright colors - it's a great ad, isn't it?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 9: What's better than three roses?

Another ad that I'm very fond of. Christmastime in the City is so evocative; it reminds me of downtown Minneapolis when I was small. Memories are a big part of the Christmas season.

Friday, December 8, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 8: How sweet they are!

The Great One, Jackie Gleason, advertising for Manhattan shirts. (Nice plug for CBS, by the way.) I'm not sure why he looks so surprised, though - I thought Santa knew everything!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 6: Home for the holidays

I really like this ad; it perfectly captures the excitement of Christmas, and coming home, and unlimited possibilities. There's just something magic about it.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 5: Have a bang-up holiday!

I'm not sure that mom really wanting this is necessarily a good thing. I guess it depends on the mom, and what else you've got for her under the tree...

Monday, December 4, 2017

Sunday, December 3, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 3: The perfect gift

Because nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like appliances, right? I wonder how Santa gets them down the chimney?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 2: How do you get it under the tree?

Apparently cars have always been thought of as great Christmas gifts - who knew? I'll admit this is a novel way to deal with getting it under the tree, but you'd better be sure the tree is non-flammable...

Friday, December 1, 2017

25 Days of Ad-vent, Day 1: Open me first!

You might remember that back a couple of years ago, I did a December feature called "25 Days of Ad-vent," looking at some of the great Christmas-themed ads from over the years. I thought that this Christmas, being our first back in Minnesota (and  what I hear, it's sure going to look and feel like Christmas next week), it might be fun to do it again. So, for the next 25 days, we'll look at some vintage ads from a time in which people weren't afraid to say the word "Christmas" in public.

To kick things off, I think it's only right to look at this ad for the gift that always says, "Open Me First!" As Dick Van Dyke would tell you, it's the key to a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Greatest Generation loses a great: Sgt. Walter Maynard Moore, Jr.

Sgt. Walter Maynard Moore, Jr., known in the motorsport fraternity as "Bud" Moore, died Tuesday at age 92.  In addition to his motorsport accomplishments that included the 1962 and 1963 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles, he is best known for being a Sergeant of the 359th Regiment, 4th Infantry Division when he fought in both the Siege of Bastogne in addition to D-Day, the Battle of Normandy, earning five Purple Hearts and two Bronze Stars.

Other motorsport accomplishments include building Ford's 1970 SCCA Trans American Championship road racing factory cars, 63 MENCS win, 298 top fives, 463 top tens in 958 races.  Of those 63 wins, one was a Daytona 500 and three were Duels (when they were championship races).  We have a video montage of Sgt. Walter Maynard Moore, Jr. primarily discussing not motorsport as much as his part in World War II with Normandy.

Fox Sports, 2012:  During Fox's annual salute to the military pre-race show, Moore was the featured subject, discussing his legacy with America's Greatest Day of Fighting in World War II -- D-Day.

At the NASCAR Hall of Fame, 2011At the NASCAR Hall press conference, talking D-Day.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

It's not just a Catholic problem

Father Dwight Longenecker's column on "America's Two Catholic Churches," as we've noted with the current problems with Pope Francis, seems to draw a line that I've seen is not just a problem in the Catholic Church.  In the column, he notes a group he calls the "liberal Catholic elites" that run their own publishing arms and institutions of higher learning, pushing the Left's social justice with illegal aliens and sexual perversions.  They focus on advancing their career in academia, and fellow leaders of such have the same background.  He specifically calls out the "politically correct, essentially humanistic and rationalistic agenda using the usual mass media channels where they have friends and allies."  He also notes the Deism of such and the audience that has pushed leaving tehir faith, attacking demographics as the reason for their decline.  What they are not seeing is the same principles as what we have seen in numerous other denominations.

Liberal Protestantism has driven churches out of schools once known for affiliation with churches, such as (Richard) Furman University, where Richard Furman's push for the Baptist faith has given way to a humanist school that beat the public universities to sexual perversion acceptance, and the church that once sponsored it is now falling into the same line as the Catholic churches of elites that Father Longenecker is referencing.  We are seeing that in Belmont in Nashville also, as a post-Obergefell attitude demands perversion has rights and nobody else can run the nation except these elites and their sympathisers.  Note the ties to liberal Protestantism with Wake Forest University (where Sean Hannity's son attends, he is on a partial tennis scholarship) in Winston-Salem and Mercer University in Macon (Cooperative Baptist Fellowship material is printed at Mercer), the University of the South in Sewanee (Episcopal Church), Presbyterian College in Clinton (PCUSA), Baylor University in Waco (CBF), and other such universities -- but very few people identify the correlation between these places and the similarities they have to the liberal elite churches that Father Longenecker referenced.

The Anglican churches in our area belong to a Diocese that left The Episcopal Church, which consists of the liberal elites and social justice, in 2012 and joined African primates that run the Anglican Church in North America following a June meeting.  Some churches that may be part of conservative groups that follow the Bible are wanting to defect to the dark side, as we've seen through the music that is rampantly heretic and ambiguous, as they are using the music of the latest pop stars in churches known for content of the song, a lack of understanding church doctrine, and style over substance, reminiscent of a certain Presidential Administration that one well known radio host often referenced has the same problem.  When I read that column, I saw Antonin Scalia's Obergefell commentary on how the Catholics and Jews had exclusive authority over the court (there is one Episcopal judge, but still lacking the Conservative Protestants or Evangelicals, which Justice Scalia specifically stated created the bad decisions), since it seems the liberal majority consists of the same elite institutions.

In a similar vain to what Americans know after the elections, the elite enclaves lack an understanding of the rest of nation Catholics that support ETWN, the Right to Life, and other conservative groups.  The elites misunderstand and intentionally advance what the original article states are left-wing leadership in line with prosperity teachers.

So this is not a Catholic problem, I see it with many faiths where there is a split between conservative and liberal denominational leaders.  Are churches not seeing the problem with Big Entertainment taking control of church music and advancing prosperity teachers?

Monday, November 27, 2017

Wish I'd written that - and our response

Hey Macy's - why are there so many adult themed songs of sex and heartache instead of songs of thanksgiving and holiday spirit at the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade? It’s really low brow and antithetical to the theme."

-- Chris Loesch (from Twitter;  for clarity, any abbreviations, hashtags, and Twitter handles have been fully extended)

My response:

The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade has become a place to promote the latest regietheater-inspired musical (as some artists performing are singing in those;  Todd Starnes a few years ago was livid when a sexually perverse musical promotes its outlandish propaganda, and it was referenced in his book Godless America) or the latest pop song on the radio from artists performing on these shows.  There is a similar problem in our churches, as many are now singing the Top 40 charts of Universal's latest artist they promote or from heretic teachers that push left-wing activism (Hillsong, et al).

Sadly, even Christmas music isn't prone now. As the nation has been secularised by the Humanist Education System, Bach and Handel give way to the latest Top 40 hits that are adult themed songs of sex and heartache at Christmastime. Why do we have to hear awful songs from Wham!, B. Spears, M. Carey, C. Aguilera, T. Dillard, and these big shots when the classics of 250 years ago fit the season? The University of Ohio marching band even performed some inappropriate gyrations in front of NBC cameras that has people wondering how far we've fallen.  Listen to the latest Christmas songs being promoted from the hot artist of the day.  Have we lost it?

Mr. Loesch's wife Dana is a well-known political commentator and NRA spokesman.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Dmitri Hvorostovsky, R.I.P.

This just came in the wires this morning.  Baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky (Дмитрий Хворостовски), the BBC Canwr y byd Caerdydd (Cardiff Singer of the World) winner of 1989, defeating Bryn Terfel (himself an accomplished baritone too) for the cup, died Wednesday of brain cancer at 55 after a battle of more than two years.

I've always wondered why we always have to watch bad pop music singing competitions every year when the biennial BBC Wales competition in Cardiff which he won is much better and the talent that wins always goes to higher levels, as we've seen.

The Красноя́рск (in Siberia) native thought in adolescence that the toughman society of vice would put him in prison and not on the stage, and his drinking and absurd behaviour took him up to his early 30's, and admitted his first marriage collapsed because of alcoholism.  Going sober, he married Swiss soprano Florence Illi, who survives him, and together they had two children.

The bel canto singer's notable roles include the titular role in "Eugene Onegin," where he performed, among others, with Renée Fleming in her first full production of a Russian-language opera, leads in Verdi's "Don Carlos," "La Triaviata," and "Il Trovatore."  He promoted Georgy Sviridov's music, which the Russian government refused to promote because he refused to join the Communist Party.

He will be missed.

"Eri tu" from Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, which was the song he sang to win Cardiff: 

The Merry Widow (with his wife):

Official YouTube channel of his children.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Golf with your Thanksgiving Dinner?

With the many football protests as a result of Kaepernick's antics last year spread out by inept leadership, it's very interesting how this week NBC will have a Thanksgiving alternative to football with an American superstar playing.


Though the US PGA Tour's 2017 calendar year ended last week in Georgia, the world of golf will close the year with major overseas tournaments.  The European Tour will not have a tournament in Europe until April, as every tournament is in Africa, Asia, or the Middle East, but points will start counting starting this weekend's tournament in China, the UBS Hong Kong Open where Masters champion Sergio Garcia and top European stars are playing (that airs on tape).  In Australia, with two more tournaments left in their calendar year, Wednesday night starts the Golf Channel's coverage of this weekend's Emirates Australian Open, where Jordan Spieth will aim to gobble his third Stonehaven Cup on Saturday night.  The past three years he has spent his Thanksgiving Down Under and has been on the podium, and he is the biggest international star playing.

So Jordan Spieth and his fans can enjoy golf with their Thanksgiving dinner with second-round coverage on Thanksgiving night, thanks to the time difference.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Wish I'd Written That: Al Franken Edition

don't like the guy at all, and that’s not based on politics but an experience with his extraordinary personal jerkiness. I don’t agree all the time with our other senator, but I like her, because she’s a decent person. Franken is an arrogant toad. I am amused that his sonorous pomposity has been pierced by the boob-grabbing photograph of something he thought was funny, because it cuts right to the heart of his self-conception.

"He’s probably always thought he was a comic genius. He’s second-rate. If that. No one searches Netflix for “Al Franken comedy.” No one who watched SNL ever thought “oh wonderful! It’s Al Franken,” and no one ever said SNL was can’t-miss-TV this week because Al Franken was back.

"I don’t think he should have to resign his Senate seat. That seems a bit much, but I didn’t make the rules. Did he say he doesn’t remember doing what he did? Because if I wrote a script so I could kiss a Playboy model, I think I’d remember.

"Quite a bonfire, isn’t it. You might say a wienie roast."

- From today's Lileks

I couldn't have put this any better myself. To be fair, though, his apology was a model of contrition, the kind that every crisis management team should have on file to give to their clients.

Hopefully, he actually meant it. And that's not meant as a reflection on him, as much as it is the general cynicism in which we find ourselves nowadays. You'd like to think that these people really are sincere when they make apologies like this - or at least that they meant it at the time they said it, if nothing else - but unfortunately, we have too much evidence pointing elsewhere to be able to do so.

As to whether or not Franken should resign - yeah, he probably should. In a perfect world, or a lab experiment marked "U.S. Senate," probably not. A formal censure, even a reprimand, would probably suffice. But I'm not sure that kind of thing does any good anymore; we don't value integrity as we once did, or even pay it lip service. Something like a censure would amount to little more than a slap on the wrist; there wouldn't really be any stigma to it. In the age of lifetime politicians, the loss of their office is probably the only thing they really understand.

It's a chicken-and-egg thing. Is the problem how to punish a guy like Al Franken, or is it how a guy like Al Franken got into the U.S. Senate in the first place?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Throwback Thursday: The dangers of social media

If you're a fugitive from justice, best to keep a low profile:

The fugitive, who has been at large since violating probation, made a post on his Facebook page inviting friends to join him for batting practice at a specific location. The police, who had been on the lookout for Patterson, immediately alerted the Caldwell police officers who showed up at the softball field where Patterson was and arrested him on the spot.

This reminds me of a story about, I think, Spencer Haywood, the former professional basketball player.  During the contract wars between the NBA and ABA, Haywood was in Seattle to sign a contract with the SuperSonics.  He was instructed to keep a low profile and avoid publicity, yet he was amazed that no matter where he went, people knew who he was.  A friend told him, "Spencer, if you want to remain anonymous, it's probably not a good idea, as a 6'8" black man in Seattle, to walk around in a warmup outfit with your name written on the back."  If it wasn't Haywood, it was someone similar - that's the way the ABA was.

It also reminds me of Slick Watts, the guard who played, coincidentally, with the SuperSonics many years later.  Told that coach Bill Russell was "incommunicado.", Watts responded, "Then let's go there and find him."

Originally published March 13, 2015

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Short and sweet - Maria Callas (above) and Tito Gobbi perform the spectacular finale to Act 2 of Tosca in a special television broadcast from the Royal Opera House in London. This never gets old.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Food Nazis

One of the things about which it can be certain when it comes to life on Planet Earth is that nobody gets out of it alive. As Harry Reasoner once said, in an aphorism I return to frequently because of its essential truth:

The idea of trying to outguess life, to avoid everything that might conceivably injure your life, is a peculiarly dangerous one. Pretty soon you are existing in a morass of fear. A man makes a sort of deal with life, he gives up things because they are undignified or immoral; if life asks him to cringe in front of all reasonable indulgence, he may at the end say life is not worth it. Because for the cringing he may get one day extra or none; he never gets eternity.

With all due respect to John Greenleaf Whittier, the saddest words of tongue and are not those which read "it might have been," but "we know what's best for you." The phenomenon of the Food Nazi has always been with us, although it was raised to an art form by the actions of our previous First Lady, and the decrees by New York's Mayor "Nanny Bloomberg." It's true, as our beloved Captain Kirk once said, that too much of anything isn't necessarily a good thing, and the same goes for food. The elites often use diet as a way of judging people, of mocking those that they think belong to a lower class, but in doing so they often display their own inhumanity. It's as if they're the spiritual heirs of the Puritans, the proto-fascists who wanted to take all the fun out of everything. The demonization of food, which unsurprisingly has slipped from the government into corporate culture, overlooks the fact that food is not simply a utilitarian item - it's one of the most human things we have, one that speaks most directly to the human condition of man as a social creature.

For example, at my job in Texas, my last boss was one of those Food Nazis. He was a health freak, and one of his first actions when he moved into his office was to get rid of the candy bowl that sat on the counter in front of my desk in the outer office. Chocolate, he opined, was not a good sign to send if you wanted to promote a healthy lifestyle. And if visitors to the office had spent their time grazing at the bowl, or hoarding pieces of candy as if they were planning to use it instead of having to buy Halloween candy each year.

What the Food Nazis often fail to recognize is the power of food as a means of communication if not friendship, an invitation by the bearer to engage in a form of fellowship. The candy acted not so much as a calorie additive, but as a means of human interaction. People would stop in for a bite-size Snickers, but they wouldn't leave without having exchanged a pleasantry or two, or to catch up on the latest news in our respective lives. In this sense, food serves as an opportunity to strengthen a bond that frequently goes wanting in the man-made hustle of the workday. When the candy bowl was abolished - surprise! The level of drop-in visitors to the office diminished to near non-existence. The boss wondered why people weren't more sociable.

His next step was to skip lunch altogether in favor of a power workout, presumably at which people could stop to admire the sweat glistening from his bald pate. Well, perhaps that comment was unfair, but the point is that soon his associates became extremely self-conscious about their own eating when attending lunch meetings with him (meetings that, by his command, no longer included cookies or other sweet snacks). Should they, like him, be abstaining from lunch? Were they being judged on what they did eat when they were in his presence? More than one confided to me that lunch in the president's office became something of an ordeal, that they were indeed being watched to see what they ate.

I can't imagine what a holiday like Thanksgiving was like in his household. I joked to a friend once that I was tempted to take a picture of our dinner table on Thanksgiving, replete with turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, corn casserole, cranberries, and crescent rolls, and text it to him. From one turkey to another, you know. I came to think of him as "The pipsqueak," because although he was not a terribly small man in size, when it came to intellect and feeling for others, he was a small man indeed.

The problem here is that the Food Nazis view food merely as a form of sustenance, a utilitarian means of gathering calories. If one can obtain those necessary calories through foods that supposedly promote a healthier lifestyle, so be it. The problem with this thought is that it misses how food serves as a basic element of the human condition. It provides a level of comfort, of happiness, of an improved quality of life - and since the Food Nazis associate quality of life with number of years lived, they fail to understand how something that objectively may not be healthy is still, in fact, good for you.

Look at the various ways in which food defines our level of humanity. Think of the community social, the "share a plate" mentality that enables people not merely to provide a meal, but to give of themselves. Think of the urge to bake something for the family that has just had a new baby, or to bring to the door a dinner for a family that has just lost a loved one. I can promise you that none of these people paused to read HEPA food standards while they were standing in the kitchen. For these people, food is more than something to consume - it's a way of one person sharing themselves with another. And the act of communal eating is another way in which we are brought together. It's why food is a part of going to the ballpark, or watching a movie. It's why people take their mates to dinner on a date. It's why we wish happy birthday to someone with a cake.

Rockwell's famous painting "Freedom from Want," seen at right, captures the quintessential American moment: the Thanksgiving dinner. Note one of the three words in that title: Freedom. It's something that Americans have always cherished, and while we must always be on guard to ensure that freedom doesn't translate to license, to avarice and greed, we also have to realize that life is made up of simple pleasures - one of which is food - and that someday we're likely to discover that the simple pleasures are the only ones that really matter.

At that first Thanksgiving, the pilgrims understood the ability of food to help form a community, to act as a goodwill gesture. So with the latest edition of Thanksgiving just around the corner, don't be afraid to loosen your belt, to take that nap after the big midday meal - you're in good company. And don't worry about how many years it might take off of your life: none other than Rush Limbaugh reminds us that 100% of those who eat carrots will, someday, die.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Your tuition dollars at work

You have to love this quote from Mark Steyn at SteynOnline:

It is a testament to the wholesale moronization of our culture that there are gazillions of apparently sane people willing to take out six figures of debt they'll be paying off for decades for the privilege of being "taught" by the likes of Professor Bray. 

The Professor Bray to which he refers is Professor Mark Bray of the Gender Research Institute at Dartmouth University, a man whom Steyn says is part of "what passes for the intellectual wing of Antifa." He's one of those guys who thinks that if we just outlaw "hate speech," i.e. speech that he happens to disagree with, then we'll be able to prevent "hate crimes." Says Bray, "We don't look back at the Weimar Republic today and celebrate them for allowing Nazis to have their free-speech rights. We look back and say, Why didn't they do something?"

But as Steyn points out, that isn't exactly how it works:

But the problem with it is that the Weimar Republic—Germany for the 12 years before the Nazi party came to power—had its own version of Section 13 and equivalent laws. It was very much a kind of proto-Canada in its hate speech laws. The Nazi party had 200 prosecutions brought against it for anti-Semitic speech. At one point the state of Bavaria issued an order banning Hitler from giving public speeches.

And a fat lot of good it all did.

If these college professors aren't intelligent enough to know this - especially if they teach, say, history - then they oughtn’t be teaching your children in the first place. And if they do know, then not only are they intellectually dishonest, they're lying in order to prove an ideological plot, and in that case you have no business shelling out your (presumably) hard-earned dollars, while these cheats pollute what Rush Limbaugh refers to as the "young skulls full of mush." The ones who populate groups like Antifa while they spread their own fascist ideas to stamp out freedom of speech on college campuses - and they'll soon be coming to a neighborhood near you.

Either way, this speaks as yet another example of how higher education is destroying the fabric of this nation - while they laugh all the way to your bank.

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Roy Halladay, R.I.P.

I flashed back to this earlier in the year, but it seems appropriate to return to it now, as the year comes to a close. This week former baseball star Roy Halladay was killed in a plane crash. said it well when it referred to him as the "beloved hurler" - not only accurate, but a most appropriate use of retro baseball lingo for a man who by all accounts epitomized the grittiness of the old-time ballplayer.

This post originally ran in 2010, when Halladay became the only the second pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter in the post-season. Read and remember the good times for which Roy Halladay was responsible.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Opera Wednesday

Heard this on the radio this morning, and thought it was worth sharing. It's one of the more interesting scenes in opera, the prologue to Pagliacci, which generally takes place in front of a curtain prior to the start of Act 1, directly addressing the audience. His theme, which is the moral of the story we are about to see, is that "actors have feelings, too." When it's done well it's a real show-stopper, and the applause it garners can be greater even than that for the opera's most famous aria, Vesti la giubba.

Here's the great Sherrill Milnes in a concert performance.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

A repeat of 500 years ago? Francis 2017 and Leo X 1517

Our blog primarily started in Catholicism, and although we have many Protestants and Catholics that both read this blog for its numerous other issues, we have to reflect on the corruption of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis and our articles we've posted regarding his corruption of the Church itself.

Damon Linker noted the current Pope wants to liberalise church doctrine on the sanctity of marriage and the family, lacking support and institutional power, so he attempts to sow seeds of change by undermining doctrinal enforcement.  The way the Pope is attempting to do so is reminiscent of the 19th century Anglicans in the United States, as Anglican Church in North America minister Frank Larisey has referenced when liberal professors were teaching in Episcopal Church seminaries.  What Rev. Larisey noted could be a repeat of what we'll see in Catholic schools to bring such liberal seminaries, hiring more liberal professors, and develop the faith and also the mind of future clergy.

The Catholic Church's splintering now could be a repeat of the exact circumstances that led to a Theology professor at the University of Wittenberg to release a statement which its quincentennial is being observed October 31, after a series of incidents with Pope Leo X, including sales of indulgences to pay for the construction of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome.   You could pay money for forgiveness of sin, and that infuriated Mr. Luther, who noted people were no longer worried about sin since they could pay for forgiveness instead as part of this fund-raising scheme.  That, of course, led to a major schism in the Catholic Church 500 years ago.  Could the actions of the Pope create a repeat of this legendary document at Wittenberg's All Saints Church sent to Archbishop Albert of Brandenburg?

And what is the document that angered Catholics 500 years ago, but the hatred has somewhat softened in recent years?  Furthermore, Luther's anger at Leo X could be similar now to many Catholics' anger with Francis.  Let's observe this all important document from a half millennium ago.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Man and Superman?

I was never a fan of Mike Tyson, back when I used to follow boxing, although I'll admit that the idea of Tyson playing himself as an animated character in Mike Tyson Mysteries is just short of very, very cool.  What Tyson was good at was being a villain, and having a villain around always makes drama, whether of the sporting kind or not, more compelling.

I've never been a fan of Tiger Woods either, not once I came to know more about it.  His first major victory, at the Masters, was awesome, at least in the sporting sense (and that's not a word I use lightly), and while there were other golfers I preferred, I could at least appreciate his talent. However, the more I got to know about him, the less I thought of him.  While I don't rejoice in his current tribulations, I do often think that what goes around comes around.

And that's the most I would have thought of either Mike Tyson or Tiger Woods, but in this column Joe Posnanski draws some real parallels between the careers of the two men, and in the process takes a look at how we regard greatness; I think it tells us a lot about how we look at our own mortality as well.  The punch line:

Call it Tysonography, our refusal to believe that even the most extraordinary talents fade quicker than we expect. There are a lot of “What’s wrong with Tiger Woods” stories out there right now, and some of them are interesting, but I still suspect they miss the point. Nothing’s wrong with Tiger Woods except that he’s human and he’s fading and it’s the most obvious thing in the world but, like with Mike Tyson, we willfully refuse to accept it.

Very true.  Some people just refuse to believe that Woods can't win it all again.  Hey, maybe they're right.  But if they are, it's not because they have the odds in their favor.

But doesn't this speak to our views on our own mortality as well?  I don't mean the "invincible" stage that teens go through when they think there isn't anything in the world that can hurt them, although that certainly is a part of it.  No, I think it's the way we look at life in general - unable to believe that we aren't the people that we used to be.  That's why we buy Viagra, and color our hair to get the grey out (or buy new hair, which is even better).  It's why we gravitate towards fast cars and trophy spouses, why we dress and talk and act like we're decades younger than we really are.  A perpetual adolescence, some call it, an unwillingness to accept the responsibilities of adulthood.  And that's true, but I think it's also our unwillingness to accept mortality, to think about what happens on judgment day.  There's a lot of whistling past the graveyard going on nowadays, but as Harry Reasoner once said, no matter what man does, no matter what he gives up or avoids, "he may get one day extra or none; he never gets eternity."  Not on this earth, at least.

Anyway, read Poz's column.  It's really good, and not nearly as heavy as I make it out to be.

Originally published February 20, 2015

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Opera Wednesday

A friend challenged us with this Tom and Jerry cartoon the other day. He'd seen it on TV while he was surfing around, and immediately thought of us. What, he wondered, was the piece that the orchestra was playing to Tom and Jerry's conducting? Did we know?

It sounded familiar, that was for sure.  I listened to it for a minute, but Judie was the one who came up with it. "That's the overture from Fledermaus!" And so it is. From Johann Strauss' famed operetta Die Fledermaus (which, by the way, has nothing to do with mice!), here's the overture - Tom and Jerry style.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A golf trophy that resembles

The trophy from last week's The CJ Cup at Nine Bridges in the Republic of Korea had me looking at a 1970's (and also 1989) CBS game show which used Quincy Jones' "Chump Change" as its theme song because of the way the trophy was arranged.

According to the PGA TOUR, the trophy consists of movable type that was used in 13th century Korea, which the oldest surviving work is a Buddhist text.  Such classic movable type that is in Hangul.  When the tournament ended, one piece of the text was highlighted in gold, which gives it a feel similar to the Goodson-Todman Now You See It that I referenced above.  I've noted the section that was turned into gold by the engraver following Saturday night's tournament.

The trophy for the restricted invitational tournament consisted of the bridge on the 18th hole and a plaque consisting of the Korean printing press type.  On the trophy, as newsman Chuck Henry can see (he hosted the 1989 version of "Now You See It"), are the names of all 70 players who participated in the tournament.  It becomes a giant game of "Now You See It," and fans could virtually play the game by finding the names of their favourite golfers in the tournament on the press (though it is in reverse image because it is being printed on a piece of paper as a printing press).

As for the tournament winner?  저스틴 토마스, Column 20, circle vertically rows 1-6.  Now You See It . . . and a trophy that will change based on who plays every year.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Throwback Thursday: Y.A. Title, R.I.P.

Yelberton Abraham Title Jr., better known to one and all as Y.A., one of the great quarterbacks in the storied history of professional football, died last week at the age of 90. Our own Hadleyblogger Steve had occasion in the past to use Title's legendary as a source for his "This Just In" news bulletins. You can read those pieces here and here, and remember that it takes a true giant (or Giant, if you prefer) to inspire such lunacy. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Opera Wedneday

I have to admit being skeptical when the Metropolitan Opera announced plans back in 2012 for an HD broadcast of Philip Glass’ opera Satyagraha, based on the life and influence of Mahatma Gandhi. However, having already been surprised once by John Adams’ strangely affecting Nixon in China, we figured there was nothing to lose by checking Satyagraha out in the theater, and it proved to be the right decision.

Satyagraha is an unexpectedly compelling opera, one which is at once both minimal and lush, for although Glass's music is contemporary, it is never atonal, and the notes have the ability to strike at some inner chord. Combined with the effective staging by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, it proves to be, at times, a very moving presentation.

The opera is in three acts, named after people who influenced or were influenced by Gandhi: Leo Tolstoy, Rabindranath Tagore, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Here, from that HD broadcast, is the opera's final aria, the absorbing “Evening Song" (from Act 3; "King"), Gandhi is portrayed by Richard Croft; Dante Anzolini conducts the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Postmodern philosophy shown in Hollywood deaths

There seems to be a postmodern philosophy seen with many in the current generation that history of the past (such as that before they were born, or even their parents in some cases) does not exist.  Such was the case of contrasting Twitter feeds following two recent Hollywood deaths of two television programmes when their developers died within the past two weeks.

When CBS was informed Monty Hall had died, the social media pages for Let's Make a Deal posted a tribute to the 96-year old who developed the show as a tribute to him on social media.  Since the show was taping its Halloween 2017 episode and had two more episodes to tape when word came of Mr. Hall's death, CBS turned the last taping of the day into a Monty Hall Tribute episode, complete with Wayne Brady in an empty set to remember Monty Hall, in a manner similar to that of the pitch film pilot that Mr. Hall used in introducing the show to NBC executives (and it was sold, leading to the legendary franchise).

When MTV learned of the death of Hip Hop Squares creator Merrill Heatter recently, their VH1 channel's Twitter page for the show made no reference to his death.  There was no note referencing the death of the show's 91-year old creator.  It was Wink Martindale, no less, on his Twitter, who referenced the death of Mr. Heatter on Sunday morning.

MTV won't even reference the passing of the show's creator when CBS did with their classic game show's own creator.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Jimmy Carter joins the Curses

The Curse of Jimmy Carter is alive and well following the US Failure to qualify for the World Cup last night.  Talk about so many things happening:

Curse of Jimmy Carter.  Jimmy Carter didn't want Americans marching on Luzinski Stadium in 1980.  Thirty-eight years later, an American Outlaws group will not be marching in the stadium.  It is now officially a curse on American teams at what was Lenin Stadium in 1980, and now Luzinski Stadium now.

For further information on the Curse of Jimmy Carter, this document is now officially part of the curse.

Harvey Weinstein Scandal.  Much of Mr. Weinstein's library is now owned by Al Jazeera through its entertainment brand.  The colossal failure of the United States aired on Al Jazeera, no less.

Worse Than NFL Ratings Disaster for Fox.  This isn't as bad as the price Fox will pay for the US failure to qualify for the World Cup.  It's a double whammy now since it makes all of what they've sold for the World Cup pennies on the dollar.  In effect, Fox is now declaring "bankruptcy" on their FIFA contract since the have to return billions in advertising sold for the games since the US failed to make it.  The colossal failure, which aired on Al Jazeera last night (now note Al Jazeera owns much of the Harvey Weinstein Library through Miramax) since Trinidad & Tobago's football federation has home game rights in the US sold to Al Jazeera, means Fox has a "white elephant" in World Cup rights for Russia.

The NFL ratings flop is not as bad as what Fox will endure all 2018 with the Curse of Jimmy Carter.  They may not make it up in the next FIFA cycle.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Throwback Thursday: On telling the truth

When I think of postmodernism I think of people who want to deny truth: There is no such thing as absolute truth. There’s relative truth, subjective truth … or like my friend Werner Herzog would call it, ‘ecstatic truth.’ … I have my own way of describing ‘ecstatic truth.’ I call it ‘lying.’”

Errol Morris, 2010 (H/T Grantland)

Originally published March 3, 2015

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Opera Wednesday

And now for something completely different, not to mention lighthearted. (And don't we need that about now?) The United Kingdom Ukuele Orchestra, which is actually based in Germany but is made up of British musicians, with a charming rendition of the William Tell Overture. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

The final "Big Deal"

We know Monty Hall from Let's Make a Deal most probable for the Winnipeg, MB native, who died Saturday at 96.  But there are some other well-known clips we've found of the great Monte Halaprin (as he was known) from other television shows besides the show that he is best known (and a statement was posted by the current version).  An ethnic quota ended his dream of medical school despite hard work during the Great Depression and World War II, but he turned to radio and became wanted in the United States.

One of Mr. Hall's first known shows that made him prominent was Video Village, a Heatter-Quigley game show where he was the third, and longest-lasting host, of the CBS Daytime and even Saturday morning (children's version).

Monty and business partner Stefan Hatos developed Split Second, a quiz show that aired from 1972-75 with James Narz (aka Tom Kennedy) and again in 1986-87 with Hall at the helm.

In this 2013 Daytime Emmy Awards ceremony where Mr. Hall was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award, he was presented his award by Wayne Brady, the current host of the show he made famous.  Beware of the Zonks!

An ad for Glen Campbell:

An ad for General Motors with son Richard, now himself a well-known television producer.  Your humble writer owned that generation Cutlass Supreme that was his daily driver in college, and it was part of a series of "next-generation" commercials by the Rocket brand with many offspring of legends (Peter Graves and Mel Blanc were among the others in the campaign).

One of current Let's Make a Deal model Tiffany Coyne's favourite moments was when she and Carol Merrill appeared together to celebrate the show's 50th anniversary in 2013, which now was Monty's last appearance on the show.

But CBS put Monty as a "hostage" in a 2014-15 season ruse that resulted in a wild crossover between the network's two daytime game shows that allowed Bob Barker to host The Price Is Right as the storyline was Drew Carey had been kidnapped.  The Twitter war between the two game shows was Carey and the Plinko board had been kidnapped by Wayne Brady's crew, so George Gray and The Price Is Right crew responded by kidnapping Hall.

Mr. Hall will be missed.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Hugh Hefner, R.I.P.

We are admonished not to speak ill of the dead, and yet sometimes the historical record makes an honest appraisal otherwise. It’s hard to know exactly how much responsibility Hugh Hefner bears for the decline of Western Civilization. Chances are if he hadn’t done it, someone else would have (nobody forced us at gunpoint, last time I looked). His legacy, such as it is – the imprint that he leaves behind as he shuffles off these mortal coils, bound for parts undetermined – is that of the bunny’s head, one of the most familiar corporate symbols in the world.

I don’t know, but I suppose Playboy is passé nowadays, considering the nudity in it is probably tepid compared to that which anyone can find online. But the bill of indictment, as it were, is a long one, for Playboy was but one step on a long downhill road that lead to the mainstreaming of soft-core pornography, the acceptance of female nudity for the purpose of titillation, the creation of an “ideal” body type that most women could never hope to attain without the benefit of airbrushing, the commodification of body parts in the form of breast enhancements and other kinds of plastic surgery, the ideal that the “modern man” could partake in sex with as little concern over the consequences as if he were drinking fine wine and sampling hors d’oeuvres while dressed in his tux and listening to cool jazz at the club. With all this going against it, it’s a wonder that the nuclear family has survived as long as it has.

The idea that Playboy was somehow unable to compete with what was available for free led the magazine to try eliminating nudity, an experiment that lasted only about a year before it became apparent that nudity, tame though it may be, was just about the only reason left to buy Playboy. And it’s true that, setting aside the lithe, tanned bodies that jumped from the pages (if one can), the magazine was known for a literary style, often introducing young writers whose works would become far better known, as well as established authors who’d mastered the short story. There were the provocative interviews, a type of long-form journalism that’s hard to find anywhere anymore, as well as lifestyle pieces that on occasion didn’t have anything to do with sex. Hefner himself was a champion of jazz, and a generous contributor to film preservation efforts, which are good things. But other, better, magazines had once contained the same kind of content only to disappear from the shifting cultural landscape. There was no reason for Playboy to be any different, so the nudity returned. At least it’s something, you might have imagined them saying in the boardroom, with a resigned shrug.

One can’t blame Hef for all the evil in the world today, of course, convenient though it might be. Larry Flynt took the stylish sophistication of Playboy to the next logical step, introducing graphic, hard-core porn to mainstream magazine stands. Helen Gurley Brown morphed Cosmopolitan, a grand old magazine, into a sex club for women. Stag films had been around long before Playboy, but there was still a sense of shame attached to it, the idea that it wasn’t something respectable men could afford to be associated with in public. Since the entire notion of shame was something that the modern man no longer need to be concerned with, though, the consequences of living the Playboy Philosophy in public were far more diminished, if not gone altogether.

Yet it remains true that the legacy of Hugh Hefner will mostly be that he made soft-core pornography mainstream, even respectable, and in doing so he lowered the bar for acceptable public behavior. The very existence of Playboy was another step down the slippery slope; its success in making porn fashionable accelerated the decline even more.

By the end Hugh Hefner was, I think, something of a joke. The Playboy Philosophy does not wear so well on a man in his 90s, and the site of his withered, wrinkled body next to the smooth, surgically inflated contours of his latest paramours, was not just painful, it was grotesque. One’s tempted here to insert a comment about Dorian Gray, but even that might be lending the scene an excessive dignity.

We can’t know the final disposition of Hugh Hefner – that’s way above our paygrade. We can only look at the visible: what he accomplished with his life, whether or not he did justice to the many talents with which he obviously had been born. Put it this way – I’ve lived far from a perfect life, but I wouldn’t want to have his record. In the end, he didn’t have to be Satan Incarnate to wreck havoc on the world; being one of his lesser, more insignificant minions was sufficient enough.

The Grand Guignol that Hugh Hefner left behind speaks for itself and will do so for eternity. May God have mercy on his soul.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Throwback Thursday:

Fox News's John Stossel recently had some interesting things to say about how the police have handled the violence in Ferguson. I think Bobby's right about the irresponsibility of the young man killed by police, but Stossel sounds a cautionary note that the police are hardly blameless, either, suggesting that the increasing militarization of police forces everywhere tells us something about what's happening in American, and that ain't good:

[The Cato Institute’s Walter Olson] notes that a man identifying himself as a veteran from the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division reacted to video of police in Ferguson by tweeting, “We rolled lighter than that in an actual war zone.”

If authorities arm cops like soldiers, they may begin to think like soldiers -- and see the public as the enemy. That makes violent confrontations more likely.

Again, this doesn't excuse the violence of that segment of protestor who's looking for trouble (cough-cough-Al Sharpton-cough), and Stossel makes clear that lawlessness is never acceptable.  But this whole issue with the police is incredibly troubling, something that should have been addressed quite some time ago; but better now than later.  It's further evidence of why the Founders thought we needed a Second Amendment, and proof of their wisdom in understanding that the government, no matter who's in charge of it, should never be completely trusted.  As Benjamin Franklin once wrote, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."  We know that this quote has been misappropriated many times, for many different reasons, but there's still something to it, don't you think?

Where do we stand on that today?

Originally published August 26, 2014

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Opera Wednesday

No matter what it is that's bothering you, an overture written by Mozart can usually cure it, or at least make you feel a lot better. Case in point is this charmer, the overture to Die Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio), first performed in 1782.* It's hard to imagine it not being just as sprightly to audiences at its premiere as it is to us today.

*The role of the benevolent Pasha, a non-singing part, was often played by Werner Klemperer, our beloved Colonel Klink.

This performance is by the Vienna Symphony, under the baton of Metropolitan Opera principal conductor Fabio Luisi, in a 2006 appearance in Japan. Enjoy.

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