Friday, March 30, 2012

Retro TV Friday

After nearly a dozen years of insulting people around the world, Auntie Beeb announced Saturday, one of their most famous international franchises is ending. The Beeb's legendary Weakest Link airs its last episode that day. In tribute to the most insulting game show franchise (and one that was enjoyable with the right amount of sarcasm, and a reason why you don't want to give wrong answers), we offer this tribute from many countries that aired The Weakest Link. Goodbye!

Domestic (One, Two, Three)









New Zealand

The original!

All-Nations Clips 

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Greetings from Raleigh!

Well, hi y'all! (A little Southern lingo there.)  We're coming to you tonight live from Raleigh, North Carolina, the soon-to-be headquarters of Our Word.  And for those of you back in Minnesota, we don' t suppose we should tell you that the the azelias are in bloom, the grass is greener than the Grinch with an upset stomach, and the high temperature today was somewhere in the low 80s.  On the 29th of March.  I'll pause for a moment while you fume.  Our thanks as always to Hadleyblogger Bobby as always for keeping the home fires burning while I'm on the road.  (And to think - by next month, the entire center of gravity of this blog will be somewhere between North and South Carolina.)

There's a great deal going on this week, between Florida and Washington and the Supreme Court, with the Final Four thrown in for good measure.  But you know what?  On an evening like this, enjoying a little Southern Hospitality, we're not inclined to think about any of it.  Perhaps next week - or maybe not.  After all, isn't life too short? 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Opera Wednesday

We've commented on Die Fledermaus, and a friend informed me they are doing a production of the Johann Strauss opera. But a setting of "Mein Herr Marquis" in a soprano's concert is something none of us envisioned would happen -- ever -- anywhere except for the recent reference to the Washington National Opera where judges were needed for Tosca's suicide off the castle!

Soprano Sirkka Lampimäki goes crazy on all of us in a concert setting in Lahti, Finland of "Mein Herr Marquis" in Die Fledermaus! Her voice goes crazy at the end, but what happens to her? Calling Caroline Lewis-Jones!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The book without a cover

There's no doubt in my mind that whenever one moves forward, something gets left behind.  It doesn't mean that progress should be avoided; just that there will always be something that gets lost in the translation.  Such is the case with one of my new and favorite toys, the Kindle.

I got a Kindle Touch from the sainted missus for Christmas.  It was invaluable to me on my recent trip, when it helped kill two airport layovers - I mean, to have two books in something that's smaller and easier to handle than a magazine, well, who could ask for more?  It is as advertised - easy to use, easy to read, a space saver.  And for someone who's preparing to move in the next month, saving space is no mean feat.

And yet, nothing's perfect.  As we look through our library, going through the books that we're planning to replace when time and need (and budget) permits, there's a sense of sadness at losing the tangible.  One of the great pleasures for a book lover is to look at the libraries of other people, looking at the titles on the spines of their books, admiring the quality of the binding, getting an insight into the personality of the owner - their likes, dislikes, interests, passions.  Where does that go when the titles disappear inside a tablet?  We've already lost that with music, where the album gave way to the CD, and now the iPod.  Look at all those great scenes in 60s TV shows where the man, upon entering the woman's apartment, looks through her albums while she slips into something more comfortable.  One of them might even put a record on the turntable, setting the proper mood.  It just isn't the same with an iPod.

What of the autographed copy?  I'm still not sure about that, how one goes about getting an ebook personalized by the author.  A little thing perhaps, but it still removes a level of intimacy between the author and the reader.  And as someone who hopes to have a book published next year, I'll be curious to see how this plays out.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Opera Wednesday

A few years ago during one of our roundtable discussions I mentioned how I didn't think John Adams' Nixon in China was a very good opera. I made this comment, of course, without having seen the opera fully staged from start to finish. However, I'm man enough to admit when I'm wrong, and I will admit that I was wrong about Nixon. (The opera, at least.) Having seen last year's production at the Met, I found Nixon in China to be strangely affecting, quite unlike what I might have expected. I still wouldn't say that it takes the place of Wagner or Puccini for me - for one thing, Nixon is a very visual opera. The music alone, without seeing the action, can be static, lacking movement, and that is what I based my original comment on. In its fully staged version, however, done by a company like the Met, it is a completely different experience.

Here's a clip of the moving final scene from its original production at Houston Grand Opera, with James Maddalena, originator of the role, as Nixon (he also played it at the Met last year), Carolann Page as Pat Nixon, and Sanford Slvan as Chou En-lai.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A welcoming place

Our faithful and esteemed colleage Steve has had an article published at a real and legitimate site, as opposed to this somewhat unreal one - check it out here. It's another example of why we admire his talent and abilities.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cee-Lo Crazy, Qantas Mayhem, and Official State Religion?

$100,000, 25 points, and a six-week suspension. No, I am not discussing Chad Knaus (but a Husqvarna lawn tractor television commercial that features one of their locally-manufactured tractors sold at Lowe's featuring him will have to be pulled from the airwaves) but instead, this is about pop star Cee-Lo Green, who deserves the said penalty after a fund-raiser for President Obama in Winnipeg Friday night featured the obscene ditty. In earlier fundraisers in the day in Winnipeg, references to obscene rapper Christopher Bridges were also made. A decade ago, Mr. Bridges featured in an album the lyrical reference of calling Fox News analysts an obscenity-laden piece.

Invented lawmaking and now this. In school we were taught reading, writing, and arithmetic. Now, they are teaching everything but fundamentals. In Massachusetts, they are now discussing free condoms for students as young as 12. What have we come to in this nation? Add that to the dollar-a-month surcharge we must pay on our insurance in order to fund killing babies, this nation is truly in a downhill spiral to the bottom.

Red, red, red, red, red . . . No lights! Jenson Button zips away and takes a commanding victory for McLaren at the Qantas Grand Prix Sunday. Bernie Ecclestone's arrogance continued, as he wants Melbourne to switch to a night race.

Night races in the Pacific Rim so Europe can see them reasonably. Unlike domestic formulae that favour night races for areas where heat would be an issue, Mr. Ecclestone has one reason why Formula One needs night races; that provision is he wants all races to air in a reasonable time in Europe. The 5 PM (local) start in Melbourne, with one hour of daylight left when the chequered falls after 58 laps, is a dangerous provision to please the Central European 7 AM start time (2 AM US EDT). Sunday's Petronas Grand Prix has a 4 PM local start (10 AM CET). Singapore has a 8 PM (local time) start for the same absurd reasoning. But Bernie's idea is no night races in Europe, only for Asia and Australia, and the Americas have afternoon race times that allow for prime-time European television.

Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion . . . But with ObamaCare, Shepard-Byrd (a law passed by Congress, but by the way it's been interpreted by the judiciary), the DSE/SRD (by management), and other court cases, it's clear that the Courts, Executive Branch, and Departments of Education have made laws establishing humanism as the official state religion. It seems the attitude of modern humanism has established itself when the courts have been establishing a state religion simply by decree, along with other branches, just not Congress. The Founding Fathers did not envision every branch of government except Congress is establishing humanism as the state religion, which has sadly happened in this nation.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Classic Sports Thursday

A typical Cessna airplane takes off around 60 MPH. Jet airplanes usually takeoff at 180 MPH. What happens when a car tries to go 300 MPH?

This weekend's Tire Kingdom Gatornationals in Gainesville, FL, marks the 20-year anniversary of Kenny Bernstein's 301.70 mph (speed in the last 66 feet) speed record, and also the 299.30 mph backing speed later to ensure the 301.70 was a record. (NHRA rules require in order for a record to be official, the record must be backed up within one percent during the meet – wonder what would happen in athletics of the 100m world record had to be backed up by 1% during that meet?)

Here's a celebration of the Drag King's rise to 300 on 1,320 (note that the switch to 1,000 foot drag racing for fuelers was not made until 2008).

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Opera Wednesday

It's the cat's meow, isn't it? Some people say that the character Carmen can be catty, but I've never heard anyone call her a mouse. OK, enough, right? Or else Mitchell will come back and kick me out!

Here's Tom and Jerry with a classic from 1962.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Not so-Super Tuesday

I don't know what happens tonight with Super Tuesday - probably Romney wins, possibly Santorum springs an upset, possibly Gingrich springs back (once again) from the dead. But Jim Geraghty, to whom I linked yesterday, kind of sums up what I'm thinking about the state of the race, once again written in light of Breitbart's death:

…As Thursday wore down, several conservatives remarked that they felt more unified than they had in a while; our mutual shock, grief, and admiration for Andrew reminded us all how much we share with each other — after a primary season in which it has often felt as if we’ve all been at each other’s throats. Perhaps on Monday I’ll expand on this point, but for now, if one of my less-preferred candidates ends up getting the nomination (COUGH, Newt, COUGH), hey, affix bayonets and charge, and let’s make that guy president. We can deal with his flaws after the inauguration. Right now, this country’s being run into the ground by the president who got elected by all of the folks who chose to dance a jig at our friend’s passing. Like Hell are my boys going to grow up in a country where these losers set the standards of behavior and their juvenile sneers at the recently deceased are normal.

Remember, these are Geraghty's words, not mine. And yet I can't help but think this is the GOP's best bet for winning in November. All of the candidates seem, to one extent or another, to have a fatal flaw that would ordinarily keep them from defeating even a weak candidate like Obama. They all have a sizeable percentage of the vote against them, and a lot of the GOP faithful can't stand any of them.

What to do, what to do? Well, after last week, and after seeing the continuing war on freedom of speech, freedome of religion, and the Constitution in general, I've come to only one conclusion, and that's that any of the Republican candiates are better than what we have now. Even Ron Paul. That's saying a lot, coming from me (you note I haven't written much about politics, or anything else, lately), but no matter who it is who wins the Republican nomination, I'm behind him (or her - are you listening, Sarah?), aAnd a sizeable percentand in the end it doesn't matter how enthusiastic I am about my vote - that candidate sitll gets it. In for a penny, in for a pound, right? Discuss.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Wish I'd Written That

Jim Geraghty on the crass reactions by many liberals to Andrew Breitbart's death:

"Really, holding one’s tongue, offering even disingenuous expressions of sympathy, typing the letters “RIP,” when did that get so hard? When did that bar become too high? We have these cultural traditions for a reason. (A quite conservative sentiment, I suppose.) We have them for many reasons, high among them, avoiding mourners’ registering their objections across the noses of the snide and obnoxious. (It’s one of the reasons I strongly suspect that if some grieving parent were to machine-gun a whole flock of the Fred Phelps funeral protesters, every witness would suddenly get struck blind and every jury would remain stubbornly unconvinced.) We shouldn’t suggest that mocking the dead in front of those mourning a loved one is an invitation to violent retribution; the American people are a kind and patient people. But even the most kind and patient people have their limits.

"I had observed, yesterday, that there were not merely a handful of folks on the left sneering about how happy they were that Breitbart had suddenly died. There were gobs and gobs of them, all over Twitter and the web at large.


"You can call this whatever you like — the Daily-Kos-ification of the Left, perhaps — but it confirms what many of us suspected and/or feared. I didn’t want to believe it, really. I personally know too many people I’d identify as Democrats, if not liberals, who are too decent to ever express such raw hate and cruelty. But a large chunk of the rank and file of the Left — way more than a small percentage — really don’t believe that their opponents deserve anything resembling basic human dignity or respect.

"We’re not really people to them. It’s not an accident that a New York Times columnist referred to his critics on Twitter as 'right-wing lice.' They’re not good, decent Americans who just have some different ideas about how to make the world a better place. They run on hate. It appears their entire sense of self-worth is driven by demonizing those who disagree with them and celebrating their political viewpoints as the cardinal measurements of virtue and good character. They are positively energized by the thought of lashing out at those of us who have the audacity to think differently than they. They really do project and accuse the opposition of all their worst traits: rage, closed-mindedness, cruelty, intolerance, bigotry, and an inability to empathize with others. And they completely lack self-awareness. They are blind to the irony of their actions. As someone said on Twitter today (I can’t find the comment now), 'How many of the people celebrating Andrew’s death have a ‘NO H8′ icon on their avatar?'

"If, in their minds, we’re not deserving of that respect they clamor for endlessly — if their instinct, upon seeing us mourn is to “get in our faces” (a phrase that our president once strangely used) — they really cannot be entrusted with any power. They really would do away with us if given the chance.Does our side have jerks? Sure. Someday, some prominent liberal will unexpectedly pass away, and someone will make some horrid, snide comment. I doubt it will be in the same volume, though I’m sure much of this is in the eye of the beholder. But I do think that if some righty says some variation of 'Hooray, that lefty died suddenly! I’m so glad his wife’s now a widow and his children are fatherless,' you will see other righties denouncing that. Even if the liberal you detest most keels over tomorrow, that’s not right. No liberal voice in America deserves to have his death celebrated the way we righteously celebrated the death of Osama bin Laden. Don’t take pleasure in others’ grieving.

"We want them to grieve the political loss of the presidency, not the loss of their loved ones."

In the meantime...

Fishin' in Minnesota in March? Well, not exactly, even though it's supposed to hit the 50s this week. But I will be taking the next couple of weeks off to take care of some other business. In the meantime, I'm leaving the blog in the capable hands of Drew, who's agreed to come out of semi-permanent retirement to fill in, and Bobby. And maybe a guest post or two. I'll be back in case anything breathtaking happens, but in the meantime you can still catch me over at It's About TV, where I'll have some pre-written pieces up over the next couple of weeks, including the popular "This Week in TV Guide" feature. See you soon!
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