Thursday, December 10, 2015

Latin Lesson

Trump Ipsa Loquitur

I have spent a fair amount of time and intellectual energy trying to figure out what the hell is the deal with asshat Donald Trump.

It's a free country, so he's welcome to run for president if he wishes. But why is he running as a Republican when he's been a progressive Democrat his whole adult life?

Why is he claiming to be a conservative while taking position after position that are anathema to conservatives?

And then there's his habit of saying something completely outrageous every time the Democrats are about to have a few negative news cycles. Whether it's President Obama or Hillary Clinton the press is about to spend time going after, Trump swoops in to make sure that doesn't happen. It's uncanny.

Or maybe it isn't. I'm fond of Ockham's Razor, the philosophical principle which states that the simplest explanation for a phenomenon is to be preferred over more elaborate and complex explanations. In the case of Donald Trump, the simplest explanation for how he is proceeding is that he wants Hillary Clinton to be elected President of the United States.

There is a Latin maxim that seems appropriate to apply here: Cui bono? Who benefits from Mr. Trump's antics? Who benefits from the increasing perception that the Republican party is dominated by Know-Nothings, misogynists, crony capitalists, fascists, and even white supremacists? That would be none other than everyone's favorite black-eyed skank, of course.

"If you think I'm imperious now, just wait till I'm President!"

From the beginning, there have been conservative voices warning of this possibility. There was another really good one published just a couple of days ago.

It's a simple question, really: If Trump were trying to make sure that Hillary got elected, what would he be doing differently than what he's doing right now? The answer, too, is simple: Nothing at all.

The header for this section is a play on the old Latin maxim res ipsa loquitur, loosely translated as "the thing speaks for itself." In the case of Mr. Trump and his campaign, it certainly does.

"Quod erat demonstrandum."

Prorsum se sic habent, old friend...

Christmas Movies and TV Shows

Fifty years ago today, just about every kid in the United States (including 12-year-old me) went to school on a Friday chattering excitedly about what we had seen on TV on Thursday night.

On October 9, 1965 the original broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas took place on CBS.

The program quickly became perhaps the most beloved of all Christmas TV specials.

Sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company in spite of predictions of failure by both CBS and the show's own producers, the program has been rerun every Christmas season since its premiere, to excellent ratings. It was and is a cultural landmark.

The show won Emmy and Peabody awards, and for good reason. The script by cartoonist Charles M. Schulz did a marvelous job of bringing his Peanuts comic strip characters to life, and the program's message of Christian faith in the face of excessive commercialism still resonates with audiences today.

I was the sort of kid who, like Charlie Brown, felt sorry for the scrawny, unloved little Christmas tree on the lot, and wanted to give it a loving home. I guess I still am that kid, because that scene gets me misty-eyed half a century later...

Me too, old friend, me too...

One Christmas Album I Can Do Without

From the stalwart pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read regularly, as I do.

Until Next Time...

When producers Bill Melendez and Lee Mendelson began putting together A Charlie Brown Christmas, they made a number of choices that were decidedly unconventional for an animated children's program. They eschewed the use of a laugh track, and they hired child actors to voice the characters rather than more professional adult voice actors. Both choices worked out splendidly, as did their selection of jazz pianist Vince Guaraldi to score the show.

The soundtrack Guaraldi produced was the biggest success of his career. A mix of his own original compositions and covers of traditional Christmas material, Guaraldi's jazz-inflected music was unlike anything that had ever been featured in an animated special before. It quickly because a hit, and still sells briskly every Christmas season. Many of its songs are radio staples this time of year. The album has earned three platinum certifications, was elected to the Grammy Hall of Fame, and has been added
to the National Recording Registry, a collection of historically significant recordings maintained by the Library of Congress.

Today's send-off is one of the show's original compositions, "Christmas Time Is Here." Written by Guaraldi (with lyrics by Mendelson), the song appears twice in the program, as an instrumental version (which you can listen to here) and this version, with the lyrics sung by the choir of St. Paul's Episcopal Church of San Rafael, California.


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