Sunday, November 14, 2010

As We Approach Advent

[We often see the bastardized version circulating via email; it was added to erroneously.] The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS Sunday Morning Commentary, Sunday, 12/18/05.

Herewith at this happy time of year, a few confessions from my beating heart:

I have no freaking clue who Nick and Jessica are. I see them on the cover of People and Us constantly when I am buying my dog biscuits and kitty litter. I often ask the checkers at the grocery stores. They never know who Nick and Jessica are either. Who are they? Will it change my life if I know who they are and why they have broken up? Why are they so important? I don't know who Lindsay Lohan is either, and I do not care at all about Tom Cruise's wife.

Am I going to be called before a Senate committee and asked if I am a subversive? Maybe, but I just have no clue who Nick and Jessica are.

If this is what it means to be no longer young. It's not so bad.

Next confession:

I am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me. I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu.

If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period.

I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution, and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.

But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Friday, November 5, 2010

4 degrees of separation

check out Chiyoko Szlavnics' website. kinda cool.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

I Was Handled

Photo by Bruce Zinger

The word handle comes from a source akin to the old Norse meaning to seize or to capture; without venturing too far into the world of bad puns, I certainly had that experience last night at Opera Atelier's Acis and Galatea. Running through November 7th, this English baroque opera by Handel is thoroughly charming.

Co-artistic director Marshall Pynkoski somewhat downplayed the piece, reassuring the audience that despite its shorter duration, it had received the same rehearsal and production budgets as any of their offerings, but noted that it was simpler. Well, less is more, apparently.

For example, the company had the collective smarts to use synecdoche: one feather in the hair to indicate that a dancer was a bird. Why does that suffice? Because members of the Opera Atelier Ballet can convey their role through their movement alone; they don't need a 'bird costume'. The one set and lack of costume changes for the principals hleps us focus on the narrative. Tafelmusik Baroque orchestra seemed especially fresh, and the Tafelmusik Chamber Choir were definitely of one voice. It was as sweet a love story as one could hope to see.

I noted the classics class with their teacher from my alma mater in attendance. Indeed, I wish I had had her in grade 8. Last night's performance was perhaps the first time I have ever really enjoyed a story from mythology (sorry, Mrs. Fenning). That's anathema, coming from a Latin teacher, but heus! I do my best now.

Despite the bittersweet/tragic ending, there were a couple of gags which OA managed to pull off well. These involved goats and a cyclops. This cannot be an easy task in baroque opera and ballet. But then, Opera Atelier has been pushing the envelope for 25 incrementally improving years now. Kudos to them. I'm looking forward to their next quarter century.