Lots of swirling going on about here. I'm in Chicago on family stuff, so the elves are in charge back at the Home Office and keeping things running. When I spoke with them they said to send their best.
So, I was out to a late dinner when I finally had the time, and I got a phone call from my Aunt Joan. "Quick, put on WBEZ, they have an hour-long interview with Sheldon!!" Sheldon, in this case, is the great lyricist Sheldon Harnick, who wrote among many things, the Tony-winning Best Musical Fiddler on the Roof, the Pulitizer Prize-winning and Tony-winning Best Musical Fiorello!, and She Loves Me. She can get away with calling him just "Sheldon," since was childhood friends with him in Chicago and went to Northwestern with him.
(About four years ago, I arranged for them to get together when he and I were in Chicago at the same time. They hadn't seen each other in decades, and it was as time has slipped away.)
As it happens, they mention on the show that today -- April 30 -- is his 90th birthday! He sounded great, vibrant. (The interview was done a week ago, but they held broadcast for tonight.) The show was Fresh Air with Terry Gross, so you can probably hear it online. When they get it posted, I'll try to get a link. The show was quite wonderful, because the focus of it was a new CD that's being released tomorrow (maybe they said a double CD??) called Hidden Treasures, basically songs from Harnick's lesser known shows and demo recordings of songs cut from his well-known shows. One that I recall is from Tenderloin (written after Fiorello! and before Fiddler on the Roof), a show with a good score but a problematic book. The song was "What's It Like?". The premise is that it's sung by two young women, both virgins, who are on a religious retreat with the main character, a reformer, and they wonder what it's like to be with a man before you're married. It was terrific. Harnick said that women critics loved the song at the time, (1960), but male reviewers oddly felt uncomfortable by it, so it was cut. But a recent revival of the show put the song back in to a very good response, and then not long ago several of his lesser-known shows were staged in sort of concert versions in New York, and added the song back in, as well -- and he said the audience went wild. I believe he said that the song has now been reincorporated into the show.
He also told a great story as a young man new to New York about being invited to attend a backers' audition for a new, hopeful musical, the first he had ever seen. He said that the score was so brilliant, it almost sent him back to Chicago. "If the unknown songwriters are this good," he said that he was thinking at the time, "then what chance do I have?" He reluctantly met the other young songwriter. It was Stephen Sondheim. He soon learned that, no, all unknown songwriters were not that good. The two became lifelong friends.
Anyway, in honor of his birthday, here's Sheldon Harnick singing the wonderful, "In My Own Lifetime,"one of my favorite of his songs, from The Rothschilds, the last musical he wrote with Jerry Bock.
CNET had a series of pretty good articles covering a variety of issues with mobile phones. They covered topics like security, lost phones, setting up a phone with important features, battery life and much more. For the most part the pieces dealt with all three operating systems, including Windows Phone, though a few focused only on iOS and Android.
I've put them together in one convenient location -- below. So, you can pick and choose. Not all the articles were equally valuable, so you can skim them for what's important to you, but even if you've had a mobile phone for a while, it's good to have a refresher on details that sometimes can fall through the cracks.
Essential steps for securing your phone, and what else can be done to foil thieves
Keep your phone from getting stolen (and what to do if it is)
Six things every new phone owner should do first
How to solve four common problems with your new smartphone (Battery life, not enough storage...)
The secret to saving a wet phone or tablet
I figured that before I have to rush out, I'd post something to fill in the background...
This is the wonderful Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem. Probably my favorite song of theirs. It's a rousing, very funny and totally convoluted song loosely inspired by James Joyce, with heavy emphasis on the "loosely," basically in title only. Bizarrely, I once taught myself to sing this, something I look on as one of my great achievements. Today, I can still get through the chorus at least, and I consider that I victory. I do my best to stumble across most of the rest of the words, but as you'll hearing, stumbling isn't too inappropriate in this case.
(I've always loved the phrase in the song, "Shillelagh Law." I gather it means whacking people over the head wit
The song is "Tim Finnegan's Wake".
It's one of those Hectic Days, so I don't know when I'll get back to the typing device, though hopefully later this afternoon. Updates as they occur...
The cheese dip and lemonade are in the refrigerator.
Well, if I were in charge, they would know that waterboarding is how we'd baptize terrorists."
-- Sarah Palin, at the NRA "Stand and Fight" rally
Reason #647 why Sarah Palin is, in fact, not in charge.
And won't be.
Which is why the half-term governor is limited now to talking to rallies of intolerant far-right radicals who, among other things, think that standing and fighting with unlimited guns for all is the way to make a better world. Who think that torture is the way to make America great and spread its message and keep soldiers safe. Who think that Jesus Christ -- who knows from personal experience a thing or two about torture against those you think are dangerous -- would approve conflating His message of peace and brotherhood with the torture of others.
By the way, in a whimsical update, a day after all this and taking heat from some Christians who took offense at her use of their religion mixed with torture, it will not surprise one that Ms Palin, as is her way, doubled down in a rambling Facebook posting. What she wrote was...oh, who cares? Seriously. If people truly cared about the thoughtful insight Sarah Palin (R-AK-half-term) had to say, she'd be on a platform that mattered and in charge. She couldn't even keep her gig at "Fox News." The thing is, you know what she said. Write your guesses down on a piece of paper and fold it so that no one can see. You're right! Basically she figured out some convoluted way to slam MSNBC and President Obama, and bring up Benghazi. All the while insisting that it was absurd to think that she'd say anything that would put our brave boys fighting in any harm's way. Despite doubling down and continuing to make suggestions about torture that would put our braves boys fighting in harm's way.
Coming up soon. Reason #648 why Sarah Palin is not in charge.
Okay, with this, the trilogy ends. But boy howdy, what a way finish it. This is known as bringing down the house.
Up to this point, I've played two versions of the song, "No Time at All" from the musical Pippin by Stephen Schwartz. The first was a trimmed-down version from the original Broadway cast album, sung by Irene Ryan (best known as 'Granny' on The Beverly Hillbillies). The other was video from the TV production that had Martha Raye in the role -- not as good, but enjoyable, a bit trimmed, too, but it showed the full production, including big scroll coming down with the lyrics for the audience to sing-along.
Alas, there's no video of the song being performed by Irene Ryan who did it so overwhelmingly better than anyone I've heard sing it. But -- all right, here's the major treat -- I have the next best thing: audio of Irene Ryan live on stage, singing it during a performance of Pippin. The whole number, talking with the audience, an extra minute of material beyond the other versions. I could tell you it's absolutely great, but that's subjective. However, there's another way to prove the point --
You'll notice below that the clip says it lasts 7:24. But that's deceptive, the song doesn't really last that long. It just last about six minutes. So, what's the rest of the clip? Dialogue perhaps of the next scene? Nope -- it's applause. Wild cheering. For a full minute-and-a-half. But even that doesn't do it justice. You see, the thing is, as you'll hear on the clip, the applause isn't dwindling out at the end, it's still roaring loud and strong, and even, it seems, building. But the recording just runs out. So, I have no idea how long it actually went on.
If you want the definition of a showstopper, this is it.
It's that good.
I read an piece written by John Rubenstein who starred as 'Pippin' in the show. It was an homage to "dear Irene", and he mentions that every night after the song, he had to stand on stage doing nothing, waiting -- and waiting for the thunderous ovation to finally end. He wasn't complaining, but saying that out of deep admiration. He doesn't say how long it would last each performance, but does mention that on opening night it went on for eight minutes. Now, of course, that might be an exaggeration, but given what we can hear on this clip that just stops, it's not out of the question that opening night enthusiasm could have lasted that long, or at least come close.
This is just a joyful, exuberant, sharp, biting, hilarious, wonderful performance by that gem of a term, a seasoned pro. A real trouper. And it's made all the more emotional by that tale I mentioned the other day, how Irene Ryan suffered a stroke during a performance of Pippin, and passed away six weeks later.
I tried to find the definitive story of what precisely happened, but it's a little hard to track down. Rubenstein, who should know, tells his version -- he mentions seeing her getting weaker over the course of days and his bringing it to the attention of the producers, yet he also says she died three days later. But she didn't. His good friend Walter Willison (who I wrote about here, posting a song he sang in the musical about Noah, Two by Two) tells a similar, but slightly different version. So, it's uncertain if she suffered a slight stroke during the performance but continued on, or suffered it after the show, or collapsed during the performance, or...? One of those first two seems most likely.
In any event, it's so lucky to at least have this vibrant, life-affirming performance on audio tape. So, from 1972, here is Irene Ryan with "No Time at All." The whole thing. Along with some wonderful photos to accompany it all. And joyful laughter and singing along, wild applause and cheering of the audience.
What a way to go.
A week ago, I'd finally had enough and was going to write a rant about baseball players hitting their teammates with pies during post-game interviews. I decided to hold off, though, largely because I wasn't in the mood to devote the time to a pie rant.
As background, baseball players are known for their "pranks" and occasionally childish behavior, but this pie thing is just the pinnacle of being infantile and selfishness. It was cute the first two times maybe, but now -- like football players dumping Gatorade on the coach after winning a game -- it wore its charm out really fast. The Gatorade dump is worse on one level because it's because the default "celebration". But the "pie gag" is worse on the more important level because it involves the fan. When the public has made the effort to stick around specifically to hear the interview with the Star of the Game, it's selfishly rude to interrupt that with a "hilarious" pie that often ends the interview. Guys, it isn't as funny as you think. Anymore and more and more and more. If you want to hit your teammate with a pie in the locker room when a print reporter is asking questions, swell. But stop already in public.
Which brings us to yesterday.
The Baltimore Orioles won when Nick Markarkis got a game-winning hit in the bottom of the ninth inning. His teammates mobbed him at homeplate, and not long after Markarkis prepared for his post-game interview on television. A few minutes into the interview, there in the background you could see his teammate J.J. Hardy comes sneaking up with a pie. And you think...oh, sigh. But -- what Hardy did next puts him in the comedy Hall of Fame. But keep watching because the Orioles mascot wasn't as lucky. Which I have to admit was actually funny and the perfect topper.
"Everyone goes hysterical over two or three sentences. Private organizations can deal with, private businesses can fire people, I suppose."
-- William Kristol, about racist statements by Donald Sterling.
What it's clear at this point in life that William Kristol likes to consider himself wise and an expert on most everything, the one tiny detail he conveniently overlooks in his defense against over-reaction about racism is that Donald Sterling OWNS this private enterprise. It's not even that he's president of it. He owns the team.
But then, at this point in life, after hearing William Kristol be so wrong about so many things, so wrong about the Iraq War, so wrong about elections, so wrong and wrong so often when he speaks, it shouldn't be surprising here. And yet ABC keeps having him back on this show This Week to spout his opinions, as he did on Sunday.
For those not keeping a scorecard, let's refresh our memory on just a bare few things Mr. Kristol has been intensely wrong about. ON NPR's Fresh Air he dismissed concerns of fundamentalist law being created in Iraq, saying "There's been almost no evidence of that at all. Iraq's always been very secular." Except for the 800 years of religious fighting between Sunnis and Shias. Or when he said, ""Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now." This is worse bombastic prognostication than a conniving carnival barker. Or when he was promoting the early days of the Iraq War, William Kristol wrote, "But the war itself will clarify who was right and who was wrong about weapons of mass destruction." In fairness, it did just that -- Mr. Kristol was wrong. No doubt he's still looking for the WMDs. Or that he kept famously writing things like, "American and alliance forces will be welcomed in Baghdad as liberators."
It's not that William Kristol is so often wrong. It's that he's so often so gut-wrenchingly wrong.
The other day I said that it was proper for the media to discuss this topic about Donald Sterling, no matter how obvious it was. What I didn't say is that everything they discussed had to be smart.
Earlier in the This Week show, for instance, William Kristol showed his deep and great insight on the same topic by saying --
"Deeds matter more than speeches I don't think the LA Clippers are a bigoted organization. There's no evidence of that."
Actually, no one is complaining that the LA Clippers are a bigoted organization. They're saying that Donald Sterling is a bigoted man. And, in fact, there is evidence of that.
Microsoft has issued an important advisory (which you can read here) that a bug has been found in most versions of the Internet Explorer browser (from version 6 through the current 11). It creates a vulnerability that could allow users to be tricked to click on fake websites, from which malicious software could be run and potentially gain access to the user's computer.
It's a serious issue, though that doesn't mean most people will be impacted by it. However, if you use Internet Explorer as your browser there are nonetheless two strong suggestions being made until a fix is sent by Microsoft. Using either one would eliminate the problem for now.
The first is to simply temporarily use an alternate browser if you have one, like Firefox or Chrome.
The second is to disable Adobe Flash Player in your Internet Explorer Browser for the time being. This is extremely easy to do:
Open Internet Explorer and go to Tools. Then select "Manage Addons." On the left, you'll see a column called "Add- on Types." The first listing should be called "Toolbars and Extensions" -- click on that. In the right column, look for something called either Shockwave Flash Player or Shockwave Flash Object. (It will be listed under Adobe Systems Incorporated, which likely will be listed first or near the top.) Click on it to highlight, and the click "Disable" at the bottom of the page. That's it. You'll be protected. (The downside of this option is that there could be some animated objects that won't work during your browsing. Most most of your browsing will be unaffected.)
This just in...
Fox has announced that, following the lead of NBC (okay, they didn't say that part...), it too will be broadcasting a live musical, scheduled for 2015. The show they've chosen to do is Grease -- which they're now calling Grease Live."
No cast has been named yet, but the announcement said that the show will feature a "young ensemble cast" For all I know, they'll bring in some of the cast of their network's series Glee. Given that show's success, it's sort of surprising that Fox hasn't thought of doing this before.
I’m not a huge fan of Grease, but who cares? If it’s what’s needed to help push this sort of thing forward, and make live musicals a trend, more power to it. And not just live musicals, but live dramatic productions, as well, like CBS did several years back with George Clooney and Fail Safe.
And besides, what’s good about the choice is that from what I know about the stage show is that it’s quite different from the movie, so people will see a very different experience. Quite a few of the stage show's songs were dropped, and a lot of new songs, included several of the now most-famous were added (like "Hopelessly Devoted to You" and "You're the One That I Want."
That said, in subsequent revivals of the show, they've incorporated some changes that were made for the film, especially with a few of the songs,
I remember when Grease was just a local production in Chicago by a couple guys, Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey, writing an homage to their Taft High School. It’s sure come a long way…
Including all the way Down Under to Australia. Here's the Australian cast performing one of the original songs, "Summer Nights."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor