Today's Piano Puzzler
From the archives. This week's contestant is Kristen Zoetewey from Grand Rapids, Michigan. I had an odd result from the contest. When it finished, I had no clue. And yet I should have guessed the composer style because I like the composer a lot. But no. As for the hidden song, I also had no clue -- though about the 3-minute mark there was a passage that sounded familiar, but I just couldn't place it. And even pianist Bruce Adolphe acknowledged that this was a difficult one, well-hidden. As he was talking though, it clicked in -- and before he even got to playing the piece again, I guessed it.
Tweet of the Day
This is just too, too good. Because of how Twitter works, though, I don't want to post it the way I would normally do so, since the pointed-joke wouldn't come across as properly as it should. Just know that the "Tweet of the Day" is not this first one below from Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL). It's the two together, but mainly the response. However, I can't embed that without also repeating the Rubio tweet. Instead, I'll do a bit of jury-rigging, and make a couple of separate screen shots and then two cut-and-pastes.
Yes, I know that full explanation was not totally necessary, but part of it was, and ultimately I do like to be accurate. Anyway, the tweet in response is from a fellow named Benjamin Dreyer, author of the New York Times best-seller, Dreyer's English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.
You Can Call Him Al
On this week’s Al Franken podcast, he has another that has nothing to do with politics but back to the world o’ entertainment. He calls it, “John Mayer on Playing Guitar and Singing at the Same Time.” As he describes the interview, “John Mayer talks about how he transitioned from pop star/tabloid fodder (recurrent Sexiest Man Alive) to the impossible challenge of filling Jerry Garcia’s gigantic shoes with Dead and Company, the current iteration of the Grateful Dead. (If you guessed I’m a big Dead Head, you might be right).”
For Those Who Are a Bit Epicurious
I always like heading back into the kitchen for the fun videos from Epicurious on "50 People Try to...". Today, what their 50 people try to do is poach an egg. And then when they finish, an expert chef will come along and explain the proper way.
Bernie Burns Bernie
After my two articles on Bernie Sanders, I thought this was an interesting coda.
In 2011, Sanders gave an interview to The Guardian. You can read the whole thing here, if you're interested, but I mention all this because one passage stands out --
But, he explains, he is not interested in the White House. '" would likely end up causing a right-wing extremist to be president of the United States. That is not something I would be happy to do," he said.
Clearly he feels differently today, and that's fine. We're all entitled to change our mind. But I do think it would be appropriate for him to at least be asked about this quote, perhaps even during a debate, and let him explain what did change in his thinking.
Putting Miracles On Ice
I wanted to post this a few days ago, but -- as always happens during this administration -- other things came up. And though other things still keep coming up, I wanted to get this already while it's still within the week it happened.
Earlier in the week, there was an event commemorating the 40th anniversary of the 1980 U.S. Men's "Miracle on Ice" Olympic Hockey Team. This is considered one of the great moment is U.S. sport history. The men's amateur hockey team had been crushed by the lead-up to the Olympics by the dominant powerhouse Soviet Red Army team of virtual professional. Russia won 10-3. The young American team was given no chance against the mature, long-standing Russian team. So, when U.S. players won, it brought about announcer Al Michaels' famous call at the very end of the game with time running out, "Do you believe in miracles??? YES!!!" And coming as it did when the United States was feeling down on itself from the Iran hostage crisis, it was a time of overwhelming patriot joy.
Which brings us to early this week. At the anniversary event, 14 members of the team showed up, and it was hosted by Trump. What got so much attention was a photo that the team sent out from their "@1980MiracleTeam" Facebook account -- most of the players, not just standing with Trump, which is understandable and their fair choice, but wearing MAGA hats. It as ghastly, and I have chosen not to embed the photo here.
(To be accurate, these particular hats said "Keep America Great," since this is, after all, a re-election year. They were handed to the players as they joined Trump on the podium, and 10 of the 14 chose to wear them."
Making things worse were a couple of comments made by whoever handles the account, blithely dismissive of any meaning about what they'd done.
As you might imagine, the account was flooded with outraged comments. I wrote a couple in reply.
The first official posting by the team spokesman was "The name on the front is more important than the name on the back." (Referencing the name on "the front" being the words "Keep America Great" and the "back" of the jerseys having a player's personal name.)
To that I wrote -- "What so moved Americans in 1980 was the spirit of a team of outmanned amateurs beating a powerful professional team of Russians when the nation was down. That so many of you now support a fascist administration that is supplicant to Russia demeans all your efforts. It is shameful."
The subsequent Miracle Team comment was "To us, this is not about politics or choosing sides. This is about proudly representing the United States of America. Whether your beliefs are Democratic, Republican, Independent, etc. we support that and are proud to represent the USA. It is an honor and privilege!
What I responded was -- "This is shamefully disingenuous. Wearing 'Keep America Great' hats is entirely political & does NOT even remotely "represent the USA." It very specifically supports a fascist candidate, and you have 100% 'chosen a side.' Please know: a majority of Americans voted against this literal fascist.
"P.S. If you truly believed this is 'not about politics or choosing sides,' you would show American unity & attend campaign events for whoever the Democratic nominee is & wear hats that support them, too -- 'whether your beliefs are Democratic or Republican.' That seems unlikely."
I'm sure there were other online statements from the team spokesman, but that's all I could handle. Please know that as reasonable as the team comments might seem in black-and-white words only, remember that they were written against the backdrop of photos of the team all wearing red "Keep America Great" hats standing with Trump.
Afterwards, amid all the significant outrage, team captain Mike Eruzione did an interview with the Washington Post and said, "I just put (the hat) on. I wasn’t thinking. Maybe this shows I’m naive, shows I’m stupid. I don’t know. I don’t follow politics. I know he’s had some issues and said a lot of things people don’t like."
Yes, it shows he's naive. And stupid. Most likely even disingenuous. Because it's near-impossible for me to believe that someone as bright as Eruzione, who's a public speaker and a "special outreach" representative for Boston University, his alma mater, didn't know about "MAGA" hats and that it was an election year and that it was an election event for Trump and that Trump has had more than "some issues" and merely "said" things people don't like, but was impeached. And that all 10 of these grown adults who put on the hats were just as apparently naive and stupid.
The article quoted Matthew A. Sear, a professor at the University of New Brunswick in Canada who has written about the Trump hats. "It's hard to believe there are still people who don't get that it means, 'Keep America White,' and 'Keep America free of Mexican immigrants." But, he added, "...that's how symbols work. It's basically like a uniform, It's a way to signal in shorthand something.that stands for a whole reason of policies or positions."
How disingenuous were Eurizione's words that it was all just naivety? He went on in his interview to say, "If we knew we were going to piss off this many people, we probably would not have put the hats on."
Probably? Even knowing the reaction of outrage, even knowing that putting on the hats made this totally political, an action that stood for "Keep America White," they -- all 10 -- only "probably" wouldn't have worn the hats. That's not naivety. That's making a clear, aware choice.
“That’s the big question here," Eruzion added. "A lot of the stuff I got was, ‘You guys said it’s not political, but when you put the hats on, you made it political.'
"I told my wife, 'People think we are a disgrace.'"
I don't know if it was a disgrace. It's their own political beliefs which they're entitled to. It was their choice to wear the hats or not as a very blatant, well-aware symbol. If that's what they believe in, so be it. I think it's an awful belief, but it's their individual lives, their individual choices. But the thing is, they weren't just there on stage as individuals, expressing their personal beliefs -- they were there, very specifically, as members of the 1980 Men's Olympic Hockey Team, who together as a unit had represented the United States. They knew well what they were doing, they may not have expected the outrage, but they are not a group of ignorant people. And further, this wasn't their first rodeo -- they've all (individually and together for occasions) been representing the U.S. as members of that team for 40 years. They, more than anyone, know what being a member of that team means. And that's what makes this shameful.
When ESPN ran a feature about that historic game later in the evening, the memory of the game and emotion was wonderful. The perspective of what those players did to it was heart-sickening.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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