Friday, March 18, 2016

Slammin' and Jammin'

Thanks Erlikhan It's Friday!

"Your NCAA Tournament bracket means NOTHING to me!"

Another One for the Files

If I wanted to do so, I could write every single day about some school district official somewhere doing something mind-numbingly stupid. In an earlier incarnation of this blog I did just that. Nowadays, that sort of thing occupies less of my time, but every so often a story comes to my attention that I can't ignore.

Tappan Zee High School, in Orangeburg, New York, is mounting a production of  
The Producers, the Mel Brooks / Thomas Meehan musical spoofing the world of Broadway theatre.

The goosestep isn't their only dance move
The key to the musical is the play-within-a-play production of Springtime for Hitler, an uproariously offensive musical that is designed to be so awful it will close quickly and enable the show's producers to turn a tidy profit.

Of course the musical becomes a huge hit, causing all sorts of complications for its producers.

Now, you don't mount a production of The Producers without understanding that Springtime for Hitler is at the heart of it, with the associated Nazi paraphernalia and even the F├╝hrer himself as a character. It's baked in the cake.

This fact seems to have eluded South Orangetown Central School District Superintendent Bob Pritchard, who has ordered the school to remove all of the swastikas from the production because "There is no context in a public high school where a swastika is appropriate." He apparently is worried that people won't "get" that the offensive symbols are part of the satire.

Presumably this means students in South Orangetown Central School District are not permitted to watch documentaries about World War II, nor may any of their history textbooks contain the offensive symbols. If context means nothing, and simply viewing the symbols is forbidden, that is the logical course of action.

Except, of course, for the fact that it isn't logical. It is mind-numbingly stupid. God save us from ninnies like Mr. Pritchard...

"Did you ever run into problems like that when you were directing?"

No...I had the good fortune in my career to work for folks with an appreciation for what theatre is, and who trusted my judgment about such things...

Catholic Hoops

Since I have declared anathema
on the university for which I once rooted, post-season college basketball doesn't hold the allure for me that it once did.

These days, I'm mostly interested
in how the Catholic universities are doing.

At this year's NCAA Tournament they are off to a 3-1 start, with Holy Cross, Gonzaga, and Providence having notched victories. The lone defeat so far was Seton Hall, which lost to Gonzaga in an all-Catholic first round game.

Today's first round games include Notre Dame, Xavier, Villanova, St. Joseph's, and Dayton. Holy Cross, having won its play-in game, also plays again today.

I would like nothing better than to see a Final Four featuring all Catholic institutions...

It is unlikely, but "fairy tale" is a little harsh...

Rio Bravo

Original 1959 "one sheet" poster

On March 18, 1959 the Howard Hawks western Rio Bravo was released. It was one of my dad's favorite films, and eventually became one of mine as well.

It wasn't until many years later that
I learned director Hawks and star John Wayne intended the film to be a rebuke to the 1952 Gary Cooper classic High Noon, which they hated.

I take no position on the merits of their objections to High Noon. All I know is that Rio Bravo is a fine film, with a nice blend of humor and action, and featuring splendid acting from a strong cast.

In 2014 Rio Bravo was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress's National Film Registry, an honor it richly deserves.

The Other Final Four

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

Until Next Time...

On March 18, 1844 Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov was born in Tikhvin, Russia. He became
a master of orchestration, and spent much of his career trying to incorporate Russian folk music and non-Western musical structures into a distinctively Russian form of classical music. Several of his works are considered staples of the classical music repertoire.

Sheet music
As we are approaching Easter Sunday, I decided to celebrate his birthday by selecting his Russian Easter Festival Overture, which debuted in December 1888.

The work draws heavily on music from the Russian Orthodox liturgy, in particular some liturgical chants known as the Obikhod.

Rimsky-Korsakov's use of musical elements that would be familiar to almost every Russian was a key to his nationalistic approach to music. Whether he was entirely successful in this project is beyond my expertise to evaluate, but I do enjoy his music.

Today's send-off is a performance of the overture by the Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra of St. Petersburg, Russia. The performance, conducted by Valery Gergiev, was recorded on April 10, 2007. Enjoy...

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