Song of the Day: Sir Duke, words and music by Stevie Wonder, is a tribute to birthday boy Duke Ellington. Today also happens to be the birthday of my brother, jazz guitarist Carl Barry, who would sometimes perform this little nugget, with my jazz vocalist sister-in-law Joanne, on club dates. Happy Birthday!
Song of the Day: Where is the Wonder?, words and music by Michael Barr and Dion McGregor, is featured in a sweet arrangement by Peter Matz from today's birthday girl Barbra Streisand's magnificent album, "My Name is Barbra" (audio clip at that link). It was also featured on Streisand's stupendous 1965 TV special of the same name.
Song of the Day: Ben-Hur ("Choral Suite") (audio clips at that link), was composed by Miklos Rozsa and arranged and reconstructed by Daniel Robbins. Happy Easter to my family and to all my Greek and Russian Orthodox friends. And our Rozsa Tribute, which began here, comes to a conclusion. Next year, the tribute will return to mark the Rozsa Centenary!
Song of the Day: Sinfonia Concertante for Violin and Cello, Op. 29, composed by Miklos Rozsa, is one of the maestro's finest concert works. Listen to audio clips from renditions featuring the great violinist Jascha Heifetz, cellist Richard Bock and violinist Igor Gruppman with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, and the Philharmonia Hungarica.
I always look forward to the installment on "American Idol" that focuses on the Great American Songbook. Last night's competition round was, for me, the most satisfying yet insofar as most of the contestants were pretty strong. Of course, some of the great standards were "butchered," as one of the contestants admitted, but it was still an entertaining hour.
Tonight, Rod Stewart takes the stage to showcase his take on the standards. I've not been too impressed with his various volumes dedicated to the Golden Era of American songwriting, but I give him credit for mining the gold therein.
In any event, after tonight, another contestant will "bite the dust" (yeah, they did a Queen-focused show last week).
Song of the Day: Quo Vadis ("Choral Suite") was composed by Miklos Rozsa and arranged and reconstructed by Daniel Robbins. Happy Easter to all my Western Christian friends! Listen to audio clips from the suite here and to Mario Lanza, who provides a vocal rendition of the "Lygia" theme from the film.
Song of the Day: El Cid ("Love Theme: The Falcon and the Dove"), music by Miklos Rozsa, lyrics by Paul Francis Webster, was nominated for a 1961 Academy Award for Best Song from the epic film, "El Cid." This was the only "Best Song" nomination of Rozsa's career; it lost out to another great song: "Moon River." Listen to an audio clip of an instrumental version here.
Song of the Day: King of Kings ("Choral Suite"), composed by Miklos Rozsa, arranged and reconstructed by Daniel Robbins, begins a ten-day tribute to Rozsa that will encompass his birthday and the Easter holidays. Given some of the music he wrote for Biblical epics, it's an appropriate coincidence of dates. Today marks the Western Christian Good Friday; I highlight this magnificent choral suite from the film score to the 1961 version of "King of Kings." It was recorded by the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra, with Erich Kunzel conducting, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, directed by Craig Jessop. Listen to audio clips from the suite here.
Song of the Day: Moonlight Sonata (aka "Piano Sonata No. 14, C-Sharp Minor, Op. 27, No. 2") is one of the great compositions of Ludwig van Beethoven. A full moon today... how apropos! Listen to an audio clip here.
Yesterday, the Yanks took the ninth consecutive Opening Day in Da Bronx. And they did it with "Captain Clout."
Not to be sacrilegious or anything, but HALLELUAH and HOSANNA IN THE HIGHEST (the Western Palm Sunday has arrived, hasn't it?). I finished preparing the Spring 2006 issue of The Journal of Ayn Rand Studies, and I am delighted that it's now going into production. Readers should expect it sometime in the late Spring.
It's going to be a really nice issue for those who are especially interested in Ayn Rand's ethics. JARS had published two critical essays on Rand's ethics some time ago, one written by Eric Mack and the other by Douglas Rasmussen. The essays elicited replies in the forthcoming issue from Tibor Machan and Frank Bubb, and both Mack and Rasmussen have written rejoinders. In addition, we have a very interesting exchange on the issue of egoism and individual rights, which features a contribution from Robert Bass, replies from Chris Cathcart and Robert Campbell, and a rejoinder from Bass.
The second half of the issue features essays on epistemology (Jetton), Rand's descriptive style (Saint-Andre), Atlas Shrugged and Quo Vadis (Keefner), Thomas Szasz and Ayn Rand (Sheldon Richman), and reviews of Stephen Hicks's book on postmodernism (Hocutt), Ed Younkins's book Capitalism and Commerce (Yates), and Robert Mayhew's edited volume on Rand's Q&A's (Brown).
Abstracts and contributor biographies will be made available online when the issue is published and ready for shipment.
Meanwhile, I was just alerted to an ongoing debate at SOLO-Passion, which, apparently, has given rise to some familiar criticism of JARS, a journal that remains near and dear to my heart.
As readers of Notablog are well aware, I resolved at the beginning of December 2005 that I would not be posting to forums anymore. Aside from the occasional cross-post to Liberty and Power Group Blog or the Mises Economics Blog, I have stopped posting to the nearly two dozen forums on which I was once an avid participant. My reputation for spreading myself around led SOLO founder Lindsay Perigo to once dub me "Her Royal Whoreness." Well, this whore has retired to the quiet life of research, writing, and editing. There are just so many hours in the day, and I have chosen to focus my efforts on the things that are most important: My work done my way on my time. Naturally, therefore, Notablog has become the primary place for my regular musings on everything from music to foreign policy.
On a personal note, I should add, however, that my absence from the various forums on which I used to participate has also been necessitated by ongoing serious health problems, which have compelled me to be extremely selective about the kind of time I devote to various activities. Since making these various adjustments in my time, my schedule, and my priorities, I have been feeling more invigorated, both emotionally and intellectually, and ever more productive.
Nevertheless, since JARS has been one of the activities on which I've focused, and since JARS is also the target of much criticism on that particular SOLO-Passion forum noted above, I'd like to make a few general comments in response to the various participants on that thread. I do not intend to engage in any discussion at SOLO-Passion or any other forums for the reasons I have just outlined.
First, Lindsay Perigo and I have had a very long dispute about the character of my work, and I don't expect it will ever be resolved to our mutual satisfaction. That said, however, I don't believe that he has read more than an issue or two of JARS (and, quite frankly, too many JARS critics don't seem to be on our subscription list, so it leaves me wondering how they are able to make such sweeping generalizations about the quality of the scholarship therein). In any event, to dismiss JARS as a haven of "pomo-wankers" is, I think, a slap in the face to so many writers who have graced our pages, including such people as Erika Holzer, George Reisman, Larry Sechrest, Kirsti Minsaas, Mimi Gladstein, Tibor Machan, Douglas Rasmussen, Eric Mack, Marsha Enright, John Enright, John Hospers, Adam Reed, Stephen Hicks, Fred Seddon, Lester Hunt, Ari Armstrong, Edward Younkins, Robert White, and so many others. Dare I say it, but many of these writers have appeared in the pages of The Free Radical, and have been published on SOLO. And last I saw, there was no explosion of "pomo-wanking" going on at SOLO.
Second, with regard to Diana Hsieh's criticisms of JARS: Over time, it has become very clear to readers that I have had some very serious disagreements with Diana, someone to whom I once acted as a mentor of sorts. Diana is now participating regularly at SOLO-Passion; she also runs the Noodlefood blog. Diana remarked at SOLO that she had promised not to comment "on The Russian Radical or the scholarship in the Journal of Ayn Rand Studies ... steer[ing] clear of such criticisms out of consideration for [her] past friendship [with me]." But I think anybody with half a brain could see the fundamental differences that have emerged between Diana and me on many, many significant questions. As my mother used to say: You'd have to be deaf, dumb, blind, and stupid not to know where those differences lie. Diana and I do not have to spend hours upon hours doing a point-counterpoint in order to articulate those differences.
Because I am so focused on my own work at this time, I have taken a very laissez-faire attitude toward all this. I used to spend an inordinate amount of time engaging my interlocutors. But I've learned that there is only so much that one can say in any given context. Ultimately, my work speaks for itself. It is published in books, articles, encyclopedias, and journals. Much of it is accessible on the web as well. Form your own conclusions, go your own way, do your own thing. If I spent my time answering every criticism or every comment on my work, I'd not have enough time to breathe, let alone research, write, and edit.
Finally, for those who wonder, like Phil Coates, whether JARS articles are generally available: We do hope to get many of these articles online over the course of time, but some are already linked from the JARS site. Just go to any particular indexed issue and click into any hyperlinked title. (I should add that all of JARS' contributors have the right to make their articles available on any website or as a reprint in any anthology.)
Our institutional subscriptions are climbing, as are our individual subscriptions, both domestically and globally. And we are now indexed by over a dozen abstracting services in the humanities and social sciences, including three new additions, which had been very resistant to placing JARS in their indices. See here for more information.
Well, that's all for now.
I have watched with some fascination over the last few days, various stories—on "ABC World News Tonight," "Good Morning America," and "Nightline," and today, I read this Elaine Pagels article—all on the subject of the so-called "Gospel of Judas." Once thought lost, the ancient papyrus made its way to the National Geographic, which airs a special on the book tomorrow night.
I am not a theologian, but I have always been a "student" of religion, an interest that goes far beyond my political stance on the separation of church and state, and on the corrupting influences of various forms of fundamentalism on cultural life. Perhaps some of this comes from the fact that I am the grandson of a man who was the founder of the first Greek Orthodox church in Brooklyn, New York. (His name was Vasilios P. Michalopoulos, but he died 7 years before I was born.) The Greek Orthodox certainly know how to put on a ceremony; many of their services are ripe with symbolism and aesthetic beauty. That family upbringing certainly fueled my own interests in grappling with many of these issues.
I have read the Old and New Testaments from cover to cover, and many of the so-called "heretical" Christian gospels of which Pagels speaks in her article. As I said, this hardly makes me an expert in Judeo-Christian religious matters, but the story of Judas Iscariot is one that has always puzzled me.
I know there are many conflicting and contradictory passages in the Bible, and my interest here is not in debating the pros or the cons of theism or atheism or any other -ism. What interests me is how this new "Gospel of Judas" is providing another look at a scorned character in the Christian corpus. Dante placed him on the ninth circle of hell, with Lucifer. It appears that the new gospel projects a Judas who was Jesus's best friend, one who was asked by Jesus to betray him so that the scripture could be fulfilled, so that the Son of Man might be delivered to those who would crucify him, leading to his death, and subsequent Resurrection.
But I don't think this message is entirely lost in the four main Gospels. At the Last Supper, Jesus certainly seems to know that Judas is going to betray him, even if we are left with very little information regarding Judas's motivations, beyond the "thirty pieces of silver." So I've often asked myself: If Judas is needed to tell the story of the Passion, and if his betrayal is predetermined by a divine plan, why on earth, or heaven, should he be condemned to the ninth circle of hell? Without him, there is no betrayal, no crucifixion, no resurrection. He is an essential part of the story, fulfilling a role that is necessary—dare I say, "internally related"—to the whole Christian drama.
In the past, I've asked some theologians why Judas should be condemned for doing what he was "supposed to do." In my own book of ethics, of course, there are no predetermined plans. There is only human choice—contextualized choice, for sure, but choice nonetheless. Some of my religious friends have claimed that Judas suffers that eternal damnation for committing suicide. But surely Jesus would have known that a guilty conscience would have driven his once beloved apostle to hang himself. When he said, from the Cross, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do," he didn't add the proviso: "Except for Judas..."
I know, I know, this must all be a Trickster postmodernist plot to invert heroes and villains, taking us "beyond good and evil."
But I'm truly fascinated by all of this, and I'll be watching the National Geographic special, or at least recording it—while I watch a key episode of "The West Wing," marking the passing of beloved actor John Spencer, who played the character Leo McGarry, and who, last we saw, was awaiting the results of Election Day in the great Santos-Vinick Presidential race. (For those who don't know: McGarry is the Vice Presidential candidate on the Democratic Santos ticket.)
And for those of you who are also interested in religious films, this week offers lots of old and new treats, including a new two-part miniseries of "The Ten Commandments" airing on Monday and Tuesday, and the re-airing of DeMille's classic 1956 version on Saturday, April 10th. Check your local ABC listings.
Song of the Day: My Man (Mon Homme) features French lyrics by Albert Willemetz and Jacques Charles, English lyrics by Channing Pollock, and music by Maurice Yvain. (Additional writing credits go to I. Bibo and L. Woods.) It was sung originally by Fanny Brice, but was revived magnificently by Barbra Streisand for "Funny Girl" (audio clip at that link). My favorite Streisand version of this song is on her classic album "My Name is Barbra" (audio clip at that link).
Song of the Day: Deep Purple, sometimes referred to as "When the Deep Purple Falls," lyrics by Mitchell Parish, music by Peter DeRose, has been recorded in many wonderful renditions. I love an instrumental version by the "Dark Angel of the Fiddle," jazz violinist Eddie South (audio clip at that link). Check out audio clips of other versions by Artie Shaw with vocalist Helen Forrest and Billy Ward and His Dominoes.
Song of the Day: If You Leave Me Now, music by Glenn Gutierrez, Dadgel Atabay, and Stevie B., who also provides the lyrics. Listen to an audio clip of a rendition by Stevie B., but the version that I love most was recorded by Jaya (audio clip at that link). Stevie B. actually produced that track, and provided the background vocals too.
The New York Mets won their opener, 3-2, hosting the biggest Opening Day sellout crowd in their history at Shea Stadium, with 3B David Wright hitting an opposite field home run.
And then, last night, the New York Yankees rocked pitcher Barry Zito and the Oakland As with a 15-2 opening day victory. A-Rod had a grand slam home run, Johnny Damon went 3 for 7 in his Yankee debut, Hideki Matsui tacked on a HR too, and The Captain had 2 RBIs, 2 hits, and scored 2 runs.
That's not all the news: I caught a few moments of the San Diego Padres-San Francisco Giants game on ESPN as well. Former Mets catcher Mike Piazza hit a home run in his first at-bat as a Padres player; he led his team to a 6-1 victory over the Giants. Barry Bonds, under suspicion of rampant steroid use over the last few years, was greeted with quite a few boos; at one point a fan threw a syringe in his direction. Bonds should expect that and more in the coming weeks, as he moves toward eclipsing Babe Ruth's and Hank Aaron's career home run stats.
One game down, 161 games to go.
Oh, and that reminds me: Check out fellow blogger Tom Stone's post on his baseball book project here. I have had some really good baseball chats with Tom, who runs Episteme Links. His Philosopher Stone blog started up last month.
I'm still busy with journal editing, but you can rest assured I'll be watching the Yanks, starting 10 p.m. tonight.
Song of the Day: Song of India, composed by Nikolai Andreevich Rimsky-Korsakov, with English lyrics by Johnny Mercer, has been recorded in countless versions. Though a lovely orchestral piece, it was also a hit for Mario Lanza and became a great Big Band hit for Tommy Dorsey (audio clips at those links).
Song of the Day: What Kind of Fool Am I? features the music of Lesley Bricusse and the lyrics of Anthony Newley, who performed it in the early 1960s musical, "Stop the World I Want to Get Off" (audio clip at that link). Listen to audio clips of other versions by Keely Smith and Sammy Davis Jr. And a Happy April Fool's Day to all!