Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Warning: Politics May Be Injurious to Your Health

There are days--most of them--when you don't want to read, watch or hear the news. There is way too much political toxicity in the air. Political news should now come with those warnings drug manufacturers are required to give: "May cause headaches, nausea, desire to throw oneself off a bridge..."

We had hoped to make this blog a politics-free zone, but it is hard to ignore what's happening out there. Lord Acton said, "Power tends to corrupt," but a lot of those aiming for power seem to bring their corruption with them.

In other slightly related matters--have you noticed how often politicians say they speak for the "middle class"? What, exactly, is the middle class? And if they do, who is left to speak for the lower class? Does anyone even dare refer to the "lower class" or the "higher class"?

And just one more thing, as Columbo used to say: it is really boring to see politicians, hoping to prove they are regular guys by appearing in public without neckties. Of course, it is possible that, like Sean Spicer, they don't know how to knot neckties properly. But if they really want to look like regular guys, they should skip the $2,500 suits, as well, and turn up in tank tops and jeans, or even sweats.

Actually, a lot of regular guys do wear neckties. Even the $125 Bugattis.

Monday, March 27, 2017

No Clapping, Please

Off to a jazz performance the other evening. Most pleasant. Good, tight group with fine arrangements of "Joy Spring,""Lush Life," and a lot of Jobim.

So what's the complaint? The audience, feeling required to applaud after each musician's solo. This means that the subtle, often clever and meaningful segue from one instrument to the next gets buried under a chorus of unrhythmic hand clapping.

This same thing plagues opera, where the aficionado believers he/she is compelled to applaud wildly after every aria.

How come? Applause is frowned upon at the conclusion of movements in symphonic and chamber music. Dare to put your hands together at one of these junctures and you'll be frozen in your expensive seat by cold stares from the rest of the audience.

So go to the jazz concert or opera, and smile appreciatively. And put your hands together, and keep them together, in your lap, until the number ends.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Stealing from Stein

Over recent days, a number of US politicians and officials, including the semi-literate Sean Spicer, have used the line "There's no there there."

We would bet any amount that none of these persons, with the possible exception of the first to borrow the line, knows that it originated with Gertrude Stein.

Ms. Stein was talking about Oakland, California, where her family lived during much of her childhood. She spent most of her adult life in Paris. As for returning to Oakland, she said, "There's no there there." (Of course, that was before 1968, when the A's arrived.)

Our recommendation for the Washington hacks now using (and misusing) the line: they should take a few weeks off and read "The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas."

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Another Old Bushmills, bartender!

Once again, we're at the wearin' of the green, and while there are many fine sentimental songs of Ireland (who can forget Ronald Reagan and Brian Mulroney harmonizing on "When Irish Eyes are Smiling"?) our choices remain "Who Threw the Overalls in Missus Murphy's Chowder?" and "Wasn't It a Lovely Time That We had at Finnegan's Wake."

We plan to spend the day reading "Dubliners" and listening to Mary Coughlan (warning: a little dark).

But before we go, one or two Irish blessings:

"May the roof above us never fall in,
And the friends below it never fall out."

"May your troubles be less,
And your blessings be more,
And nothing but happiness,
Come through your door."

"May the saints protect ye,
And sorrow neglect ye,
And bad luck to the one
Who doesn't respect ye.
To all that belong to ye,
Long life to your honor.
And that's the end of my song for ye."

Monday, March 13, 2017

Moving 60 Minutes Forward

Seldom mentioned benefit of Daylight Savings Time: It gets you to Happy Hour an hour sooner.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Eat, It's Good for You!

While those observing Lent may be solemnly fasting, there are others who have holidays to celebrate, with much feasting.

The first is Purim, which takes place this weekend. For this, your menu might include chicken soup with kreplach, brisket, poppy seed cookies, honey cake, and a lot of Manischewitz wine. (Although, as Gerry Altman once reminded us, "It doesn't matter how much bagels and lox you eat, it won't make you Jewish.")

The next great national holiday on our list is St. Patrick's Day, March 17, and one hopes that even for Lent observers, this will be a feast day. To honor St. Pat: boxty, colcannon, and, of course, corned beef and cabbage. Start brining that corned beef now.

Those of us who read George McManus's "Bringing Up Father" with Maggie and Jiggs will remember that Jiggs was a regular patron of Dinty Moore's saloon, where he enjoyed the Irish stew, and perhaps a drop or two of Old Bushmills or Johnny Jameson's. Didn't even have to be St. Patrick's Day.

Eat, already! Sing! Enjoy!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

Tweetin' with Trump

Sounds like a jazz tune, doesn't it? Unfortunately, this is not a rowdy swing number by trumpeter Trump Davidson, it is today's political reality. Or unreality.

It is amazing that Donald Trump, a proclaimed teetotaler, can come up with the kind of crazy middle of the night tweets that, for the rest of us, require three or four hours of serious alcohol consumption. Maybe they're spiking his Metamucil.

Trump, with his latest barrage ("Obama is tapping my phone," "Schwarzenegger sucks"), is beginning to act like Captain Queeg.

Captain Queeg in the White House ("Who stole the strawberries? I'll find that key!") is increasingly weird, if not really dangerous. Who is going to play Lieutenant Maryk and take command of the ship?

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Hail, Caesar! And David.

The year 2017 has only 365 days; thus, no Leap Year, no Sadie Hawkins Day.

The calendar as we know it was set in place by Julius Caesar. Prior to 46 B.C., there was "The Year of Confusion," with 445 days. Big Julie changed all that, determining that the year would have 365 days, plus six hours, with an extra day every four years.

March 1 is also St. David's Day, celebrated in Wales, where David is the patron saint. The national emblem of Wales is the leek, commemorating a Welsh victory over Anglo-Saxons, when David urged King Cadwaladr's troops to wear leeks in their caps.

How to celebrate the day? Perhaps by wearing a daffodil, and enjoying a dish of robust Welsh rabbit, or a bowl of leek soup. And reading Dylan Thomas. With Bryn Terfel on the CD player.