Sunday, July 31, 2011

Wish I'd Written That

I realize I’m a partisan, and getting worse, I’m afraid. I’ve long wanted to be a nice, above-the-fray neutralist. But life has not allowed that."

- Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online

I know just what he means, and how it's getting worse. I've always been fond of saying that I've no longer the stomach for these political debates; I'm like a cannon that doesn't have the inclination to move. The only way you're going to get blasted by me is if you stand right in front of the barrel waving your arms and saying, "Here I am!"

But every time I'm ready to say that I'm not going to get involved, that I'm just going to take it easy, along comes the left doing precisely that, waving their arms and standing right in the line of fire. In their manner and their choice of rhetoric, they're never able to leave well-enough alone. One wonders what they might have been able to accomplish in enacting their agenda over the years if only they'd learned the lesson of keeping their mouths shut at the right time. It must be genetic. 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Local news report on Mozart's Requiem

The director of the local ballet company is also serving as the arts correspondent for the Fox affiliate's newscasts, and had this about the upcoming performances of Mozart's Requiem that I'm singing this weekend. 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Why cronies are Eastern European, and other troubling issues

Why the Bad Guys are Bulgarian. Last week, while attending a performance of a youth-oriented musical based on Ian Fleming's Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, I noticed the enemies were from Bulgaria. It had me thinking on a literary front based on the novelist why the enemy had to be Eastern European.

Mr. Fleming's novels from his best-known literary franchise is known to feature East Bloc characters, considering names such as СМЕРШ, a Soviet intelligence agency based in Ленинград (now Санкт-Петербург) (even though the organisation is used only twice in authorised EON films based on those novels, in 1964 and 1987) dominated, and his novels and related films have carried a storyline of the character battling Soviet and East Bloc enemies. No wonder Chitty had to carry a Bulgarian villain – it would make perfect sense considering how many times СМЕРШ battled the main character of those well-known novels!

E-Readers Concern Me. Amazon's decision with AT&T to start selling advertising-supported Kindle e-readers scares me considering e-readers are rapidly replacing printed books. What if you purchased an e-reader file of a conservative author's book, and while reading it, you were bombarded on your e-reader by advertising for Organising for America, including Barack Obama's re-election or organisations funded by Soros György, which are extreme leftist groups? What if you purchased religious literature and they posted advertising for atheism, humanism, or New Age? What if you purchased literature for your children through the reader and they sent you ads for adult material? This is the type of abuse that can actually happen now, and there may be no recourse in the future. And of course, we have college literature that automatically expires after the school year ends, thus equaling an extra cash cow for the publishers, as they cannot sell them back on the free market to give home-schoolers a way to study advanced material.

The Real Problem. Listening to talk radio discuss the budget impasse, I learned that the bogus “baseline budgeting” that leads to kayfabe cuts when spending increases are embedded into law was based on Public Law 93-344, the Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act of 1974, one of a series of laws that ruling Democrats passed in an era where they had increasing control of Congress as a result of Watergate. If we abolished the baseline budgeting and the mandatory spending increases imposed in those laws, we would definitely solve much of our problems we have now. Liberals have long wanted to keep the Keynesian economic policy and Public Law 93-344 shows it. The laws liberals passed in 1973-80 in the wake of Watergate show themselves to be part of a permanent push to mandate the Left on us, and when we're broke, they want us to spend more.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Weekend Digest

This weekend's digest of thoughts, collected from a gaggle of reads.

Robert Knight: Obama's Assault on the Rule of Law.

George Nethercutt: Maryland Students Go Green . . . but not the Red, White, and Blue. (Schools push the anti-industry, anti-American, job-killing environmentalist agenda.)

Mike Adams: The Rape of Caleb Warner (a student falsely charged with a crime is punished).

Dennis Prager: Ten Ways Progressive Policies Harm Society's Moral Character.

Albert Mohler: Reparative Therapy, Sexual Deviancy, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Liberals' attempt to bash Michele Bachmann for what husband Marcus' therapy services offer.)

Vincent Vernuccio: Labour's New Strategy: Intimidation for Dummies.

Julie Moore: National Bible Drill tournament (and youth need these events to learn their Bibles). The turning away from the Holy Book has led to the massive push of humanism in society today.

Adam Cooper: Chandok in, Trulli out, for Tony Fernandes' team at the 'Ring.

Paul Magno: Ross Greenburg was not the only problem with HBO (boxing). (Also notes boxing's move from network television to pay-television is part of the sport's downfall.)

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Opera Wednesday: it's Opera Camp!

Summer camps are hitting their stride, and one in South Carolina was kid-friendly with plenty of fun. Yes, they had Opera Camp! Friday, the kidlets did their piece, "We Are Who We Are, and We Are The Opera".

Enjoy! Is the next big name soprano, alto, tenor, or bass on the way? This camp is a great way to get kids into opera, and the next generation needs opera singers, not pop drivel!

"We Are Who We Are, and . . . We Are The Opera!"

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

How much of my youth is gone in just eleven years?

We don't need books. We just need Twitter. Shakespeare in one tweet or not at all. It's like Ray Bradbury said it would be in Fahrenheit 451. Only moving pictures on the walls and little radios in your ear. He was a prophet." -- Ingrid Schleuter

The End of An Era. The death of brick and mortar bookstores continues, and Albert Mohler warned about and now a big one has been claimed. Borders Group, which owned the only local bookstore in town from the mid-1990's (when they bought a chain that Kmart had owned), announced it was doing a Chapter 7 (liquidation), effectively making the prophecy that bookstores are truly declining, as are music stores (as I learned with the demise of the music store I used to purchase my music for Dr. LaRoche). Now the clear winners are Barnes & Noble and Books-a-Million, with the new #2 being a paltry nineteen states. As for what happened when Boarders left town in 2008, we were without a bookstore, devoid of anything for local kids at Prep (Governness' Haley's Hail the Red and Grey) or OCA (the school where Bill Connor is Chairman of the Board) to buy their literature without driving an hour, until the new independent Swift Books came to town.

My Youth Continues To Close. I am only 36, but in the past eleven years, I have seen entire facets of my growth fall by the wayside with this announcement. First it was the school I attended after first arriving in the Palmetto State (shut down in 2000), then the church I grew up attending (shut down in 2001), then the brand of car that I drove for the majority of my driving years at the time (2004), and now the bookstore group where I would frequent many times and we had readers' cards for me to read many books. Progress, yes, but at what cost? Mementos of my own youth -- my green #8 baseball jersey for the Crusaders, my late aunt's minivan (a Voyager), my cars in college (a Cutlass Supreme and a Calais), the bowing alley I remembered (All-Star), and now the local bookstore I frequented are all things that no longer exist.

And Speaking This Sad Thought. National Review lost another of their core members last week. Oh for the times I would drive to that bookstore to buy a National Review.

Laura Ingraham on Civility. Now what are people thinking when they dress like trash to church? Time to put up the old sign at the paddock in church. No shorts, tank tops, or open toe shoes allowed. But the church sign should say No Jeans, No Sneakers, Gentlemen, Jackets Are Required, Ladies, if not wearing a dress, then jackets are required, Business Dress (No Casual) . . .

Ashamed To Be An American. It's time to take down the American flag and trample on it. Raise the Northern Ireland flag on golf courses, and football pitches need to have the Hinomaru raised.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Heat Wave!

When it's pushing 100 in Minneapolis, and the dewpoint is near 80, what says it better?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Retro TV Friday

During a break from practice for the upcoming Summer Chorus II production of Mozart's Requiem, I noticed a picture from a youth opera camp with an instructor teaching youth, and noticed who he was. Two years ago, he was the bass in our production of selections of Haydn's Die Jahreszeiten. With the story that broke out about him, this 1960's song that relates to Retro TV Friday was stuck in my head. Why?

In 1962, Eddie Rambeau was a young teenager whose music was about to be played on "American Bandstand" but was blocked minutes from performing because of a conflict of interest with an ABC employee who wrote the song. It could not be played on ABC owned and operated radio station, which hurt its chart potential. Payola was a major concern at the time. Yet years later, Milton DeLugg recorded an instrumental version of the song, and to this day it is the more familar version of the song, having been used for five different decades.

That song is associated with that vocal instructor and if you understand what happened last month, you can associate the song, him, and the association. What show's theme song was this?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Opera Wednesday

Yesterday we told you about the death of Sherwood Schwartz, the creator of Gilligan's Island, among other TV series. Now, most people would scoff at the idea of Gilligan's Island being highbrow entertainment - but, in fact, here is a series that one could argue was amongst the most learned on television. Why, they were able to present not only Shakespearian tragedy, but dramaticopera - and all in the same episode!

It was October 3, 1966 - the third and final season of Gilligan. This episode, entitled "The Producer," involved famed Broadway producer Harold Hecuba (Phil Silvers), who finds himself, like so many before him, stranded on the island. (Is it just me, or does it seem as if the only people who weren't able to find that island worked for the Coast Guard?) After Hecuba insults Ginger, the castaways decide to show him how talented she really is, by (in the words of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland) "putting on a show."

"Hamlet: the Musical" is perhaps one of the most creative bits of musical theater ever to find its way into an American sitcom. The lyrics are clever and witty, and yet faithful to the Bard's text.  The musical accompaniment is inspired, running the gamut from Bizet to Offenbach.  Here, for example, is Hamlet's (Gilligan) aria "To Be or Not to Be," from the "Habenera" of Bizet's Carmen.  (For contrast, here is the original as it appears in Carmen, sung by the great Marilyn Horne.)

Not to be outdone, here is Ophelia (Ginger) in her duet with Hamlet, urging him to lighten up, to Offenbach's "Barcarolle" from The Tales of Hoffman, along with the same piece as heard in the opera. Finally, there's the showstopper, as the entire cast lampoons Bizet's "Torreador Song" (again from Carmen).  Not quite the same impact as in the original, perhaps, but not bad.

What is brilliant about this is not only the creativity of the lyrics, but the use of music that, in the days when classical music was actually part of mainstream American culture, would be instantly recognizible to most viewers, even if they didn't know where it came from.  And I can't help but wonder if the writers were aware of the appropriateness of using music from French opera, given that the most famous operatic version of Hamlet is by the French composer Ambroise Thomas.

We may ridicule a show like Gilligan's Island, which was critically scorned but was a massive hit with viewers - but I doubt you'll see anything short of Looney Tunes that makes such good use of classical music. And that is nothing less than a shame. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Sherwood Schwartz, R.I.P.

From today's post at It's About TV:

Sherwood Schwartz, who created the iconic sitcoms Gilligan's Island and the Brady Bunch, died today at 94. Courtesy of my home blog away from home, TVParty!, here's L. Wayne Hicks' interview with Schwartz - who may not have been a critical fav, but certainly was a successful one.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

United States Armed Forces, R.I.P.

Well, the Ninth Circus has mandated under the Administration's Intolerable Act in 111-321, to officially lay to rest the Armed Forces, and to replace it with the Department of Social Engineering, Special Rights Division.

Once again, the Gill Agenda is pushed by the Administration to force an agenda opposed by the majority down our throats to show the new power brokers of deviants.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Opera Wednesday

Lucrezia Borgia was a real person, as well as an opera. She lived from 1480 to 1519, and was the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI (don't ask). Lucrezia, like the rest of the Borgia clan, has a wicked reputation. We don't know a lot about the real Lucrezia, but what we do know is fairly sordid (as one might expect if one is the illegitimate daughter of a pope.  Her life story is full of rumors of incest, poison and murder, and it's become part of the pop culture - even Mr. Peabody and Sherman made a trip to Italy to visit her, where she was suspected of attempting to poison her husband. (She wasn't really bad, though - she just couldn't help herself).

At that, it's likely that the real Lucrezia couldn't hold a candle to the operatic one.  The opera Lucrezia Borgia was composed by Donizetti and premiered in 1833, and is a magnificent example of the bel canto style - one reason why it's become a showpiece for sopranos from Sutherland to Caballé to Fleming. The opera heavily plays upon, and even embellishes, Lucrezia's infamous reputation. In the climax final act of Lucrezia Borgia, Lucrezia, in revenge for past insults, fatally poisons six men - including, unintentionally, her own son Gennaro (whom she had thought had already fled the city).* Horrified at the thought of murdering her own flesh and blood, Lucrezia begs Gennaro to take the antidote, but he refuses, choosing instead to die with his five friends. Devistated at her accidental act of filicide, Lucrezia herself crumples to the ground, dead, as the curtain falls.

*Gennaro, it should be noted, didn't know that Lucrezia was his mother. It's a convoluted plot. But then again, it's an opera. What do you expect?

The body count in this opera is truly appalling, but there's nothing appalling about this performance by the magnificent Joan Sutherland in the title role. This clip of the final scene comes from a 1972 TV production - not sure what show, although offhand I'd guess it's either the Bell Telephone Hour or a program from England.  Though it's not stated, the conductor might well be her husband, Richard Bonynge

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Retro TV Friday - Independence Day edition

At the time, Capital Cities-ABC owned Word, the label and church music publishing company that signed Sandi Patty (please note this is the correct spelling; a printer's mistake from the late 1970's on her debut was not corrected until 1993) and writer Claire Cloninger. (Mrs. Cloninger is still with Word, a Warner Music Group company; Mrs. Peslis now her her own label, Stylos, that is distributed by Warner Music Group and features two other artists -- Super Bowl XLI Champion Ben Utecht and Heather Payne.

Naturally, Capital Cities had to cross-promote the Centennial of the Statue of Liberty on Liberty Weekend (which they had exclusive rights) by having their artist do the National Anthem for the event. Here is Claire Cloninger's arrangement (and the "second verse" is written by her) of the National Anthem, as we celebrate the silver anniversary of a famous moment that launched Mrs. Peslis' career after having won five consecutive GMA Dove Awards for Female Vocalist of the Year (she would have a dynastic streak of 11 when it was snapped following her marital infidelity).

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