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December 29, 2018

It's a Cali Christmas!

I could not resist posting this photo, since this has been our first Christmas with our new cat and most beloved family member, Cali, who just turned 1 on June 21, 2018. Here she is on her Christmas comforter and we look forward to many more Christmas holidays to come!

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December 25, 2018

Song of the Day #1652

Song of the Day: Christmas Swing [YouTube link], composed by Django Reinhardt, was recorded by the Quintet of the Hot Club of France, with the immortal Django on guitar and the legendary Stephane Grappelli on violin. You can swing your way into Christmas Day, watching Santa make all his stops on NORAD, in keeping with the situation [Yarn clip]. A very Merry Christmas, with peace on earth, and good will to one and all.

December 21, 2018

Wanted: A National Dialogue on U.S. Foreign Policy

Whatever one's views of Trump's overall politics, the real question, at least with regard to foreign policy remains: Will he stick firmly to his commitment to start bringing U.S. troops home---now that he has raised the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria over the next 30 days? This was one of the only issues on which I believed that candidate Trump raised legitimate concerns about the extent to which the U.S., which indeed has not been "so innocent," could sustain its un-ending commitment to "perpetual war for perpetual peace."

Of course, even if Trump pulled all U.S. troops out of the Middle East, the National Security State, with its infringements on our civil liberties at home and its destabilizing influence abroad, will remain unscathed. Still, though I've heavily criticized Trump on many issues [and folks like Patrick Buchanan], at the very least, let this start a national dialogue on the problems inherent in U.S. foreign policy.

The neocons within the Democratic Party and the Republican Party would have you believe that it is possible to engage in democratic "nation-building"; if the last seventeen years has taught us anything, it is that no "democracy" can be imposed from without on countries that don't even have a concept of individual rights, let alone "democracy."

Postscript: Here's another interesting take on the character of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East (hat tip to Ryan Neugebauer for alerting me to this article by Andrew Sullivan): "The Establishment will Never Say No to War."

December 17, 2018

The Don Dumps on SNL but SNL Dumps on Everybody!

In the news: President Donald Trump thinks that "Saturday Night Live" is colluding with the Democratic Party in its ongoing skits that "defame and belittle" him and he thinks that the show should be taken to court! Good luck with that! Not even the Rehnquist court (in an 8-0 decision) would interfere with public parodies of Jerry Falwell that appeared in Hustler magazine!

I've been watching SNL since it began, and not a single President has been spared its parodies. In fact, prior to Trump, I could think of no President who caught more heat or hilarity than Bill Clinton, who, last time I checked, was still a registered Democrat. Do people forget those unbelievable skits with Phil Hartman or, even more biting, those of Darrell Hammond, impersonating our "feel your pain" President biting his lip as he apologized to the nation for his upcoming impeachment trial? Or those absolutely classic John Goodman skits portraying Linda Tripp during the whole Monica Lewinsky debacle? Not even Obamacare was spared; indeed, SNL's spoof of the Obamacare website fiasco was noted as far closer to fact than hilarious fiction.

So my message to The Don: Lighten up!

December 14, 2018

Song of the Day #1651

Song of the Day: Guess Who I Saw Today, music by Murray Grand, lyrics by Elisse Boyd, was originally written for "New Faces of 1952," a Broadway musical revue by Leonard Sillman, and sung by June Carroll [YouTube link]. The song was later recorded in 1957 by both Carmen McRae and Eydie Gorme [YouTube links]. But it became a signature tune for jazz song stylist Nancy Wilson, who recorded the song for her second album, "Something Wonderful," released in 1960. I learned today that Nancy Wilson passed away yesterday at the age of 81 after a long illness. One of my all-time favorite singers, whose music filled the air of my youth, Nancy Wilson was one of those singers with a truly distinctive style. Check out the album version of this song, with its Billy May arrangement, as well as two live presentations, which combine her singular interpretive style with an understanding of both the comedic and dramatic elements of performance: a 1987 Newport Jazz Festival appearance and a 1994 concert (with a tip of the hat to "Miss Otis Regrets") [YouTube links]. RIP, Nancy. You will be greatly missed.

December 12, 2018

Song of the Day #1650

Song of the Day: Ain't She Sweet, music by Milton Ager, lyrics by Jack Yellen, was published in 1927 and became a Tin Pan Alley standard. In 1962, it was recorded by Frank Sinatra for a Neal Hefti-conducted album, "Sinatra and Swingin' Brass." For those who remember my Frank Sinatra Centenary Tribute, today marks the 103rd anniversary of Sinatra's birth. Check out this wonderful rendition of a timeless classic [YouTube link].

December 11, 2018

Song of the Day #1649

Song of the Day: Psycho ("Main Title"), composed by Bernard Herrmann, is heard over the opening credits to the 1960 classic Alfred Hitchcock thriller. This is just a little precursor of what is to come in our fifteenth annual Film Music February, which celebrates songs, cues, and other music heard in the movies---en route to the Oscar broadcast on February 24, 2019. I post this entry today, however, for two reasons: First, it comes from a film that was featured in my very first Film Music February tribute (which highlighted the "Murder" that occurs in the famous shower scene). Second, for film fans who might remember, this is the exact time and date on which the action of this film begins: at 2:43 p.m. on December 11th (a Friday in the film, a Tuesday this year). A classic Herrmann score for a classic Hitchcock film. And tune in to Notablog for the 2019 Film Music February tribute!

December 09, 2018

Song of the Day #1648

Song of the Day: Young Man with a Horn ("Get Happy"), music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ted Koehler, was introduced by Ruth Etting in the 1930 Broadway musical "The Nine-Fifteen Revue." It was performed by Kirk Douglas (dubbed by the great Harry James), who turns 102 today, in this 1950 film, based on the novel by Dororthy Baker, and inspired by the life of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Check out the film clip (with the legendary Hoagy Carmichael on piano) and vocal versions from Judy Garland (from the 1950 film "Summer Stock") and Ella Fitzgerald. [YouTube links]. And a Happy Birthday to one of the greats!

December 04, 2018

Chris Sciabarra Memes for Dialectical Teens

A couple of fun-loving Facebook friends have put up a Facebook page of "Chris Sciabarra Memes for Dialectical Teens." Follow the frivolity of this page, as I am following it. I have no clue what to expect, but indeed, it is "Just for Fun."

December 02, 2018

Song of the Day #1647

Song of the Day: Change features the words and music of Johan Carlsson, Ross Golan, and Charlie Puth, who turns 27 today. The moment I heard the opening chords of the song, without even looking at the track listing off of "Voicenotes," Puth's second studio album, I thought to myself that it sounded like a James Taylor song. And sure enough, Puth duets with Taylor on this song. I celebrated Puth's music this past summer, and anyone in pop music who can incorporate a Bill Evans chordal phrase into his compositions [YouTube link] has earned his way into my musical heart. Check out the album version with Taylor, Puth's live concert performance with acoustic guitar accompaniment (at 37 minutes in), and his live March for Our Lives performance [YouTube links].