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.
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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