Friday, August 25, 2006

An Un-Funky Friday

I'm not a complete rube and actually enjoy peaceful and occasionally inspirational symphonic music. I like it because most works are performed by true musical artists, it is unfettered with vocals, and few opuses fit in the 3 minute radio format (most run 15 to 25 minutes). So this afternoon, I tuned my Sirius Satellite Radio to Channel 80 (Symphony Hall) and got a little work done!

I decided to add an extra note about the composer and/or score that I heard. What follows are the works that transpired during an un-Funky Friday in my home office:

1. Armas Jarnefelt - Berceuse

The Finnish-born composer enjoyed a career as a conductor and composer in Sweden, eventually taking Swedish citizenship. "Berceuse" is one of his better known works.

2. Anton Rubinstein - Don Quixote, Op. 87

The Russian pianist and composer founded the St. Petersburg Conservatory (1862). His compositions include chamber music, operas, and six symphonies; he was also a pianist and highly regarded as a rival to Franz Liszt and has been described by historians as one of the greatest virtuosos in history.

3. Robert Schumann - Symphonic Etudes, Op. 13

The Symphonic Etudes, opus 13 is a set of etudes for solo piano by Robert Schumann, begun in 1834 as a set of eighteen variations on a theme by the Baron von Fricken. In 1852, Schumann republished the set under the name Etudes en forme de variations, and made several revisions.

4. Carlos Chavez - Sonata for Four Horns

The composer was born near Mexico City, Mexico in 1899 and is considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century. During the 1950's and 1960's he received a number of commissions for new works, including three symphonies: Symphony No. 4 (commissioned by the Louisville Symphony Orchestra), Symphony No. 5 (Sergei Koussevitsky Foundation), and Symphony No. 6 (New York's Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts). He died in 1978.

5. Hector Berlioz - Symphonie fantastique. Op. 14

Many believe that the Symphonie fantastique is an autobiographical confession, a symphony to exorcise his then-unrequited love for the Irish Shakespearian actress Harriet Smithson, whom he would later marry.

6. Ernst Boehe - Odysseus' Voyages, Opus 6, No. 1

Taken from a review written by David Hurwitz for "Written in an idiom somewhere between Brahms and Strauss, Boehe for the most part sounds refreshingly free of the usual problems that beset conservative German, British, and American music from the turn of the last century: a fear of exploiting orchestral color to its fullest, a pedantic approach to form, and an emotionally inhibited expressive range."

7. Edward Elgar - Serenade for String Orchestra in E Minor, Op. 20

Elgar is a composer who is probably best known for the Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901).

8. Dmitri Shostakovich - Symphony No. 9 in E Flat Major, Op. 70

The ninth symphony was intended to be a celebration to the Russian victory over the Nazi Germany in the World War II, which the composer once declared in 1943 that the symphony would be a large composition for orchestra, soloists and chorus which the context would be "about the greatness of the Russian people, about our Red Army liberating our native land from the enemy". The Symphony was first performed on 3 November 1945 by the Leningrad Philharmonic Orchestra.

9. Johannes Brahms - Sonata No. 1 in F Minor, Op. 120

Brahms wrote a number of major works for orchestra, including four symphonies, two piano concertos, a Violin Concerto, a Double Concerto for violin and cello, and a pair of orchestral overtures. Brahms idolized Beethoven: in his home, a marble bust of Beethoven looked down on the spot where he composed.

10. Franz Schubert - String Quartet No. 15 in G Major, D.887

This is piece is used in Woody Allen's "Crimes and Misdemeanors" to accompany the death and discovery of the body of the character Dolores, played by Anjelica Huston.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Class of 2010 - I Must Be Getting Old!


At the beginning of the fall semester since 1998, Beloit College in Wisconsin has released the Beloit College Mindset List. This list is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief, it looks at the cultural touchstones (icons and events) that have shaped the lives of today’s first-year students.

Members of the class of 2010, entering college this fall, were mostly born in 1988. Billy Carter, Lucille Ball, Gilda Radner, Billy Martin, Andy Gibb, and Secretariat died before these students were born. I was born in 1962, you can do the math.

1. The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
plez sez: I still remember the drill of hiding under my desk at school in the event that the Soviet Union "dropped the bomb" on us.

2. They have known only two presidents.
plez sez: I was born when Kennedy was in the White House and remember every one from "Tricky Dick" Nixon to W.

3. For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
plez sez: I used to fly to college on Piedmont and Eastern Airlines.

4. Manuel Noriega has always been in jail in the U.S.
plez sez: He's still alive?

5. They have grown up getting lost in "big boxes."
plez sez: I remember when the small town I grew up in opened its first fast food restaurant: a Kentucy Fried Chicken that only had one kind of fried chicken.

6. There has always been only one Germany.
plez sez: The East Germans were as reviled as the Soviets.

7. They have never heard anyone actually "ring it up" on a cash register.
plez sez: As a teenager, I bagged groceries at the first store that had scanners to read the bar codes on packages and every package didn't even have them.

8. They are wireless, yet always connected.
plez sez: My mother still uses a rotary phone in her house.

9. A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
plez sez: Ahhhh... the days of Watergate when every Republican was considered a crook.

10. Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.

11. A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.

12.Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
plez sez: Airline seats used to have ashtrays built into them.

13. Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
plez sez: Faux fur has always been tacky.

14. The Moral Majority has never needed an organization.

15. They have never had to distinguish between the St. Louis Cardinals baseball and football teams.
plez sez: Or how about the Los Angeles Rams and the Baltimore Colts?

16. DNA fingerprinting has always been admissible evidence in court.

17. They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.
plez sez: Paper or plastic?

18. They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
plez sez: You could never read the fine print on faxes anyway.

19. "Google" has always been a verb.
plez sez: You can find ANYTHING on the Internet.

20. Text messaging is their email.
plez sez: In early systems, email was confined to the company that you worked for.

21. Milli Vanilli has never had anything to say.
plez sez: Fab and Rob should've kept their "Best New Artist" Grammy - so what, they couldn't sing. Don't forget my number.

22. Mr. Rogers, not Walter Cronkite, has always been the most trusted man in America.
plez sez: "And that's the way it is..."

23. Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
plez sez: Just think, someone used to have to go around a grocery store and put a small tag with the price on everything.

24. Madden has always been a game, not a Superbowl-winning coach.
plez sez: Go Raiders!

25. Phantom of the Opera has always been on Broadway.

26. "Boogers" candy has always been a favorite for grossing out parents.
plez sez: Never heard of 'em.

27. There has never been a "skyhook" in the NBA.
plez sez: There will ALWAYS be a "sky hook" in the NBA.

28. Carbon copies are oddities found in their grandparents' attics.
plez sez: Press real hard when you write so your signature shows up in triplicate.

29. Computerized player pianos have always been tinkling in the lobby.

30. Non-denominational mega-churches have always been the fastest growing religious organizations in the U.S.
plez sez: I think it was Karl Marx who said, "Religion is the opiate of the masses".

31. They grew up in mini-vans.
plez sez: I hate mini-vans.

32. Reality shows have always been on television.
plez sez: What ever happened to classic westerns like "Rawhide", "Gunsmoke" and "Bonanza"?

33. They have no idea why we needed to ask "...can we all get along?"
plez sez: We owe so much to Rodney King and the Los Angeles Police.

34. They have always known that "In the criminal justice system the people have been represented by two separate yet equally important groups."
plez sez: "Law and Order" is the best show on television.

35. Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.
plez sez: HUH?

36. They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
plez sez: Thank God!

37. Brides have always worn white for a first, second, or third wedding.
plez sez: No comment.

38. Being techno-savvy has always been inversely proportional to age.
plez sez: Back in the olden days (the early 80's), older, rich people where the only ones who could afford new technology.

39. "So" as in "Sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.
plez sez: Whatever!

40. Affluent troubled teens in Southern California have always been the subjects of television series.
plez sez: Let's thank Aaron Spelling for another indelible cultural icon: "Beverly Hills 90210", which started in 1990.

41. They have always been able to watch wars and revolutions live on television.
plez sez: I remember very grainy black and white clips about what was going on in Vietnam during the nightly news, but to this day, I have no idea why we were over there fighting - similar to Iraq, except we now have CNN giving blow-by-blow details in high definition television.

42. Ken Burns has always been producing very long documentaries on PBS.

43. They are not aware that "flock of seagulls hair" has nothing to do with birds flying into it.

44. Retin-A has always made America look less wrinkled.
plez sez: Good thing I am aging gracefully.

45. Green tea has always been marketed for health purposes.
plez sez: Hey, Lipton's with a slice of lemon ain't half bad, either.

46. Public school officials have always had the right to censor school newspapers.

47. Small white holiday lights have always been in style.
plez sez: My parents' Christmas trees always had lights that were all of the colors of the rainbow, and each bulb was about 300 degrees. For some reason, the little candles we put in each window only had blue 300 degree lights.

48. Most of them never had the chance to eat bad airline food.
plez sez: Well, the airlines rarely feed you these days, now they don't even serve peanuts.

49. They have always been searching for "Waldo."
plez sez: Who's Waldo?

50. The really rich have regularly expressed exuberance with outlandish birthday parties.

51. Michael Moore has always been showing up uninvited.

52. They never played the game of state license plates in the car.
plez sez: I always found that game to be boring, because I grew up in New York with 3 older brothers and I always got stuck with states like Montana and Idaho!

53. They have always preferred going out in groups as opposed to dating.
plez sez: And people wonder why we have movies like "Brokeback Mountain" in wide distribution.

54. There have always been live organ donors.

55. They have always had access to their own credit cards.
plez sez: My 5 year old daughter keeps asking me for her own cell phone - what is this world coming to?

56. They have never put their money in a "Savings & Loan."
plez sez: My first bank account was in my town's Savings & Loan when I was 6 years old - $20 I got for my birthday.

57. Sara Lee has always made underwear.
plez sez: Does she still make coffee cake?

58. Bad behavior has always been getting captured on amateur videos.
plez sez: No pictures, please.

59. Disneyland has always been in Europe and Asia.
plez sez: When I grew up, Disney was in California.

60. They never saw Bernard Shaw on CNN.
plez sez: WOW! Bernie Shaw ushered in the cable revolution and round-the-clock news reporting.

61. Beach volleyball has always been a recognized sport.
plez sez: Only at family reunions.

62. Acura, Lexus, and Infiniti have always been luxury cars of choice.
plez sez: Cadillac Coupe DeVille with power windows, 8 way seats, and an 8 track player - now that's luxury.

63. Television stations have never concluded the broadcast day with the national anthem.
plez sez: When I grew up, you couldn't watch TV past midnight, because all of the stations went off the air until 5 am.

64. LoJack transmitters have always been finding lost cars.
plez sez: The first car I bought after I graduated from college had LoJack; my car was never stolen, so I don't know if the damn thing even worked.

65. Diane Sawyer has always been live in Prime Time.

66. Dolphin-free canned tuna has always been on sale.
plez sez: Shhh... don't tell anyone, but that dolphin meat added flavor.

67. Disposable contact lenses have always been available.
plez sez: There's no good excuse not to pick on the nerdy geeks anymore; it used to be in bad taste to hit someone who was wearing glasses.

68. "Outing" has always been a threat.
plez sez: See #53.

69. Oh, The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss has always been the perfect graduation gift.
plez sez: Graduation from kindergarten, I presume?

70. They have always "dissed" what they don't like.
plez sez: How trite.

71. The U.S. has always been studying global warming to confirm its existence.
plez sez: And Al Gore ahs finally confirmed that it exists... only 20 years after starting the Internet.

72. Richard M. Daley has always been the Mayor of Chicago.
plez sez: And Michael Jackson has always been the King of Pop - I had to find a way to mention his name on here somehow.

73. They grew up with virtual pets to feed, water, and play games with, lest they die.
plez sez: Are there virtual pet cemetaries?

74. Ringo Starr has always been clean and sober.
plez sez: "I get high with a little help from my friends" - as sung by Ringo Starr on the Beatle's hit "A Little Help from My Friends" on the "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" album in 1967.

75. Professional athletes have always competed in the Olympics.
plez sez: It all goes back to those dreaded East Germans and their professional athletes and steroids.

© 2006 Beloit College, Beloit, Wisconsin

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

"Survivor" of the Races

The new season of "Survivor: Cook Islands" premiers on Thursday, September 14 on CBS. The group is going to be split into four tribes, with a very interesting twist: the tribes are going to be divided by race! Yes, on Friday morning, September 15, I'm sure the water coolers around the country are going to be a buzz with talk about the newest installation of "Survivor."

There will be a tribe of African-Americans, Whites, Latinos, and Asian-Americans. Does this sound like a good idea to you? Are you offended? Will you watch it?

plez sez: My wife is the Queen of Reality TV, we probably record upwards of 10 hours a week in reality television programming: "Amazing Race", "Big Brother", "I Wanna Be A Soap Star", "Run's House", "Making the Band 3", "Wife Swap", "Supernanny", "Dancing with the Stars", "Project Runway", "Hell's Kitchen", "America's Next Top Model", ad nauseum! She is a little skeptical about the how the tribe members were picked for the show to ensure each racial group has a good swimmer, someone who can function outside, and someone who has ever had to build a fire.

I'm skeptical about the "producers" picking teams that highlight certain racial stereotypes - negative and positive. I'm also worrying what "Survivor" will do in subsequent seasons, pair up KKK and Black Panther tribes, Palestinians and Israeli tribes, Canadians and Americans, Red State and Blue State tribes ... where will it end?!?

To be honest, I'm not offended, actually, it may be a lot of fun! People tend to enjoy socializing with their kind anyway, it may be interesting to see how the teams fare in competition. I wonder if there are any macaque monkeys on Cook Island?

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Senator George Allen: 'Macaca' Is Racist

During a recent campaign stop and stump speech, Senator George Allen (a hopeful 2008 Republican Presidential nominee) pointed out a young man who happened to filming the speech and called him a "macaca."

Like many of you, I'd never heard of the word and didn't think much of it, until I read what Jeffrey Feldman wrote in his Frameshop blog, "Yesterday, when the news broke that George Allen called someone at a campaign stop a 'macaca,' I did some Google searches to find out what it meant. As it turns out, the question is not if 'macaca' is a racist term, but which of the three definitions of the word 'macaca' did George Allen intend when he used it?"

It turns out that the word means the same thing in a number of languages:
  • 'Macaque' - French : racist slang; a dismissive epithet used by Francophone colonials in Africa for native populations of North and Subsaharan Africans, similar to the English word 'nigger.'
  • 'Macaca' - English : racist slang; similar to the word 'nigger', used to describe Arabs.
  • 'Macaca' - English : racist slang; used by American white supremacists in 'insider' talk about African-Americans.

I've posted a clip of the offensive speech here:

plez sez: While standing before a group of his ardent supporters, George Allen shows his true colors!

This is the same George Allen who stirred controversy as governor of Virginia by issuing a proclamation noting the South's celebration of Confederate History Month without the mention of slavery. Now, he goes on the campaign trail using a veiled and racist code word to refer to a person of color, basically calling him a nigger to his face.

Fifty years ago, it's obvious that George Allen would be leading a lynch mob. This isn't the type of man who should leading a state, or righting laws, or - heaven forbid - running this country. It is time for the people of Virginia to send this yokel back to where he came from!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A Musical Interlude

plez sez: All these political posts have given me a headache.

Nothing like a mellow (yet funky) Prince tune and alittle ditty by those hard ass JBs while I throw back this Dewars on the rocks. ENJOY!

Prince - Darling Nikki (album version)

Fred Wesley & The JBs - Doin' It To Death

courtesy of

Joe Lieberman and the Demise of the Democrats

Picture: Joe Lieberman waves good-bye to the Democratic Party

Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic nomination for the US Senate in Conneticut. He still plans to run in November... as an Independent! He's too liberal to be a Republican (ran for Vice President with Al Gore in 2000). He's too conservative to be a Democrat (kisses up to President Bush and gives his support to the War in Iraq). So much for Red States and Blue States!

Joe Lieberman may well be ushering in the demise of the Democratic Party as we know it. During his "concession/announcement" speech last night, he said that he would be running as an Independent Democrat because, "For the sake of our state, our country and my party, I cannot and will not let that result stand." If you ask me, he is running because the "will of the people" mean absolutely nothing to him. If election laws in Georgia permitted it, I'm sure Cynthia McKinney would run for Congress as a Bad Hair Day Democrat.

And it looks like the party will continue to splinter along special interest lines until it no longer exists. On the horizon, I can see Left-wing Democrats, Moderate Democrats, House Negro Democrats, Field Negro Democrats, Latino Democrats, AFL-CIO Democrats, Gay Rights Democrats, and Woman's Rights Democrats in the future. The party no longer has the glue to keep itself together, it couldn't even mount a formidable offense against a weakened George Bush during the last Presidential Election Cycle.

If the Democrats do not win back either the House or the Senate in November, I predict that the party won't survive the next decade (and Joe Lieberman will help the cause by splintering the Democratic vote and will allow a Republican to take that seat in Conneticut). The Democrats may've run their course, like the Whigs!

My Last Cynthia McKinney Post...

...because she lost. And she lost BIG!

Hank Johnson walloped the fading Congresswoman in all areas of the 4th Congressional District. He is quoted as saying, "It is clear, where most people have a low opinion of the work of our Congress, that they want to see things done differently."

U.S. House - District 4 - Democratic Runoff
Hank Johnson 58.8%
Cynthia McKinney (i) 41.2%
100% of the precincts reporting

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that Cynthia McKinney had to take the opportunity to throw some more dirt into the fray by complaining about "voting irregularities" - she claims her name did not appear on some ballots and the voting machines were not working properly in some precincts. But with the results that have been reported, it appears that her complaints are merely sour grapes at losing something that she's held for so long.

The people of the 4th District have FINALLY spoken "Truth to Power" and have given The Cynthia McKinney Congressional Sideshow its walking papers.

plez sez: Good riddance!

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cynthia "Video Vixen" McKinney

I promised myself that I would let it go ... after the debate, there would be no more Cynthia McKinney posts on my blog until after the election next week (I don't want to unfairly swing the vote in her favor!). But I came across this entry on the Georgia Politics Unfiltered blog and I just couldn't help myself.

Here is Cynthia McKinney (and her well-wishers) shufflin' and grinnin' after her bid to return to Congress was thrown into a run-off election. The only things missing are Cindy Sheehan in blackface and a couple of watermelons!
Shake that thang!
Shake that thang!
You gotta shake that thang!

Before you hit the play button, please swallow whatever you are eating or drinking, or I guarantee that it is going to come shooting out of your nose! Enjoy!