This Just In

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And yet another installment of satirical commentary vignettes I had written for a local radio personality back in 2014-15. I’d set up the premise with a true news story from the day, and then add a comment punchline. Some of the jokes are dated, but some unfortunately still make too much sense.

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What-Are-They-On-Crack? Dept:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has established a research and essay competition in honor of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Bin Abdul-Aziz. Army General Martin E. Dempsey said the essay competition is a fitting tribute to the life and leadership of the Saudi Arabian monarch.

Comment: It’s the shared values: torture, the death penalty, elites beyond the rule of law, and the worship of oil.

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Faster-Than-A-Speeding-Bullet Dept.

Days After Government Approved Free Speech Rally, France Arrests 54 People for Offensive Speech

Comment: In related news, scientists have defined a new unit of time called “the hypoc-ri-second”: it is the amount of time elapsed before government officials make complete hypocritical asses of themselves. Scientists say it is the smallest unit of time known to humankind.

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Happy Hanukkah

At sundown Dec. 16 this year, Jews usher in the Festival of Lights.

Comment: Or as Jews call it, the holiday where you have to decide if eight days of small presents are as good as one day of big presents.

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Don’t-Worry-Be-Happy Dept:

Dr. Margaret Chan criticized drugs companies for turning their backs on markets that cannot pay for super-expensive drugs. She said a vaccine to protect millions from the Ebola virus does not exist, only because the disease previously only affected poor African nations.

Comment:  The drug companies responded that their previous actions had been misinterpreted, and that henceforth they looked forward to seeing many more epidemics in Africa.

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Great-Moments-In-Mathematics Dept::

According to  Senator wannabee Scott Brown, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) has voted with Obama “over 100 percent of the time.”

Comment: We’ve checked the authenticity of this story and we are 500% sure it’s true

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Upset-Stomach Dept:

President Barack Obama met with over a dozen prominent columnists and magazine writers Wednesday afternoon before calling for an escalation of the war against ISIS that same night. The group included New York Times columnists David Brooks, Tom Friedman and Frank Bruni.

Comment: Never has such a powerhouse of idiots been seen in one room since the time Bill O’Reilly dined alone. 

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Reasonable-Conspiracy-Theories Dept:

Smooth jazz star Kenny G just paid a surprise visit to support Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests.

Comment: Hong Kong Communist Party officials deny it was part of a plot to clear the area of protestors.

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Ya Got Trouble!

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Monday, Professor Harold Hill, as incarnated by the unmatchable Robert Preston,  both creates and solves a pressing need, in the manner of flim-flam men and politicians everywhere.

“River City ain’t in no trouble…”

“Then we’re going to have to create some—we must create a desperate need in your town.”

Thanks to YouTuber BravoDivine

When Most I Wink, Then Do Mine Eyes Best See

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shakespeare sonnet slam

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It’s the last half of April which means it’s Shakespeare’s Birthday Sonnet Slam time once again. I’ve been participating in the slam for the last four years, and  I’ve written about how to analyze a sonnet for performance several times before  (see here and here as well). Each year participants are assigned a sonnet, and within the space of about three hours all 154 sonnets are performed at the Naumburg Bandshell in Central Park, New York City.

This year I was randomly assigned Sonnet #43. As I’ve written before, I enjoy being told which sonnet to do, because it exposes me to sonnets which I would not necessarily have been drawn to by myself. Here’s the Sonnet:

Sonnet 43

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed;
Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?
How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?
All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

Unlike some of the previous sonnets I have been assigned, at first glance this one seems fairly straightforward, if somewhat repetitious. As usual, the first step is to divide the sonnet into three quatrains and an ending couplet:

When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see,
For all the day they view things unrespected;
But when I sleep, in dreams they look on thee,
And darkly bright are bright in dark directed;

Then thou, whose shadow shadows doth make bright,
How would thy shadow’s form form happy show
To the clear day with thy much clearer light,
When to unseeing eyes thy shade shines so?

How would, I say, mine eyes be blessed made
By looking on thee in the living day,
When in dead night thy fair imperfect shade
Through heavy sleep on sightless eyes doth stay?

All days are nights to see till I see thee,
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.

The first quatrain sets the conceit that runs through the poem: I see more clearly  at night, when you are present in my dreams, than the dull day when you are absent.

The second quatrain seems to say nearly the same, but it’s always useful to see what is new in each quatrain. After a few read-throughs I realized that here there is a request underlying this sonnet, and here the poet is expressing his desire to see his beloved, physically, in the daytime.

The third quatrain seems to be marshaling the same argument for your presence. How to distinguish it from the previous quatrain and make it more interesting? Oh, there it is. In the second quatrain, I say your presence would make me happy—but in the third quatrain I say your presence would make me feel blessed. That’s something to hang my hat onto. Two distinctly different appeals.

The final couplet is usually either a summation of the first three quatrains or a distinctly contrary upending of the previous lines. Here, it seems to be the former, but the last phrase of the last line seems peculiar to me. It reads “when dreams do show thee me.” But that seems backwards to the sense of the rest of the poem. Throughout the poem, I have been doing the dreaming, so I was expecting “when dreams do show me thee.” It scans exactly the same so that can’t be the reason the pronouns were switched. I don’t know the reason for that yet, but I do know I can’t ignore it. I’ve found through past experience that the one difficult word or line is often the key to unlocking everything else.

Here’s an early Happy Shakespeare’s Birthday to all.

“Even My Old Man Looks…Good”

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Monday, I had Friday on my mind.

The Australian Easybeats’, with their hit 1966 pop song that had something extra-Kinksish about it.

Got to love the energetic joyous performances.

Thanks to YouTuber рлин Вълчев

Al Pacino On Acting For The Stage and Screen

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AARP's 2nd Annual Movies For Grownups Film Showcase - "The Humbling"

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Al Pacino is one of only a handful of Hollywood actors who has regularly gone back to his roots in the theater.  At a recent press screening of his re-released films, Salome and Wilde Salome, he held forth on, among other things, the differences between acting in film and acting in the theater. Even at age 77, Pacino is a funny, enlightening, and honest speaker.

You can listen to his talk, as broadcast yesterday on the radio segment I prepared for the WBAI Arts Express radio program, by clicking on the grey triangle above.

 

I Never Cared For You

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Willie Nelson, with his beloved guitar, Trigger; Emmylou Harris assisting on vocals; and Willie’s sister, Bobbi, on keyboard. The poignant lyrics are by Mr. Nelson.

More Willie Nelson at WillieNelsonVEVO

That Reminds Me…

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Magicians know Harry Lorayne as the author of some very popular books of card magic, but Harry, who is now in his 90s and still writing card magic books, really made his bread and butter from a related but different form of show business. He was recognized as one of the foremost “memory experts,” and in the 1960s and 70s, he made scores of television and night club appearances, amazing audiences with his memory stunts.

In this clip he memorizes the names of the people in Johnny Carson’s audience, having met them briefly just once before the show.  It’s fun to see how Harry uses his entertainment skills and enthusiastic personality to turn what could be a dry demonstration into a showstopper.

Thanks to YouTuber Rudy Tinoco