Political satirist Mark Russell will be missed:
With his deadpan solemnity, stars-and-stripes stage sets and fusty bow ties, Mr. Russell looked more like a senator than a comic. But as the capital merry-go-round spun its peccadilloes, scandals and ballyhooed promises, his jaunty baritone restored order with bipartisan japes and irreverent songs to deflate the preening ego and the Big Idea.
Presidents from Eisenhower to Trump caught the flak. He sang “Bail to the Chief” for Richard M. Nixon, urged George H.W. Bush to retire “to a home for the chronically preppy,” likened Jimmy Carter’s plan to streamline government to “putting racing stripes on an arthritic camel,” and recalled first seeing Ronald Reagan “in the picture-frame department at Woolworth’s, between Gale Storm and Walter Pidgeon.”
Did he have any writers? “Oh, yes — 100 in the Senate and 435 in the House of Representatives.” The true meaning of the Cold War? “In communism, man exploits man. But with capitalism, it’s the other way around.” Gun control? “I will defend my Second Amendment right to use my musket to defend my Third Amendment right to never, ever allow a British soldier to live in my house.”
Buffalo Toronto Public Media, who hosted his comedy specials for many years, have put together a compilation:
Merle Hazard, ladies and gentlemen:
I refuse to purchase tickets from the Live Nation/Ticketmaster monopoly, no matter how much I love the act or believe that going to a show would bring about world peace. The Cure's Robert Smith makes it clear the artists themselves hate the monopoly as well:
Hours after Ticketmaster began the “verified fan” process on March 15 to distribute tickets for the band’s first American tour in years — an additional layer of security that Smith insisted upon to prevent scalpers and astronomical prices — the front man wrote an angry screed against the company for the mandatory fees they snuck in for buyers. “I am as sickened as you all are by today’s Ticketmaster ‘fees’ debacle,” he wrote in an all-caps Twitter thread. “To be very clear, the artist has no way to limit them. I have been asking how they are justified. If I get anything coherent by way of an answer I will let you all know … There are tickets available, it is just a very slow process. I will be back if I get anything serious on the TM fees.”
One particular tweet gained virality for showcasing the extent of the company’s malpractice: A fan’s reasonable ticket price of $20 was more than doubled due to processing fees and charges.
At least The Cure have enough clout to get some changes made. Ticketmaster backed down ever so slightly from the 110% surcharges after Smith's complaints:
“After further conversation, Ticketmaster have agreed with us that many of the fees being charged are unduly high, and as a gesture of goodwill have offered a $10 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for the lowest ticket price transaction,” [Smith Tweeted]. “And a $5 per ticket refund to all verified fan accounts for other ticket price transactions for all Cure shows at all venues.”
Unregulated capitalism produces monopolies in short order; that's why we have regulation. But having a history degree means watching everything in the present rhyme with everything in the past. So while the monopolies of today have their moment or rapacious greed, I fully expect that we'll see some serious trust-busting soon, and then, 60 years from now, our grandchildren will have forgotten why.
Christopher Hitchens may have pissed off a lot of people, but I can't dispute the wisdom of that quote. And today, we have a story out of (where else?) Florida, where a fundamentalist Christianist college woke up and discovered that one of the King's Singers "openly maintained a lifestyle that contradicts Scripture:"
The King’s Singers, a Grammy Award-winning British a capella vocal ensemble, announced Monday that their planned concert at Pensacola Christian College was abruptly canceled two hours before the show due to “lifestyle” concerns.
In a statement posted on their website, the group stated that the Feb. 11 concert was due to “concerns related to the sexuality of members of our group.”
“We have performed at Pensacola Christian College before and we entered into the engagement in the knowledge that this is a fundamentalist Christian Institution. Our belief is that our music can build a common language that allows people with different views and perspectives to come together.”
Pensacola Christian College provided a more in-depth justification for the cancelation in a social media post on Monday, stating that the college cannot “knowingly” endorse anything that violates Scripture.
I sincerely hope none of the faculty members there wears garments weaved from two different threads.
Because this sort of thing pisses me off, here's a photo of Cassie from Sunday night, after we walked hither and yon all day:
She has the right idea.
In other news:
And finally, a glimmer of hope that the 10-year project to build one damn railroad station near my house might finally finish in the next few weeks.
We've now got two full years between us and 2020, and it does look like 2022 got mostly back to normal.
- The Daily Parker got 487 posts in 2022, 51 fewer than in 2021 and 25 below median. As usual, I posted the most in January (46) and fewest in November (37), creating a very tight statistical distribution with a standard deviation of 3.45. In other words: posting was pretty consistent month to month, but down overall from previous years.
- I flew 10 segments and 16,138 flight miles in 2022, low for the 21st century but about average for my lifetime.
- Once again, I visited only one other country (the UK, of course), but 8 other states: North Carolina, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Wisconsin, California, Texas, and Michigan. In 2023, I plan to visit a bunch of new countries, but we'll see. Altogether I spent 107 hours traveling.
- I walked Cassie for a little more than 369 hours, somewhat fewer than in 2021 (422) but still an average of over an hour a day. It's about half as much as she wanted.
- I got 4,537,290 steps for 3,693 km of walking, a little below 2021 but about average overall. I only hit my step goal 327 times, though, due to no longer getting worked up about missing it in bad weather. I still averaged 12,393 a day, which doesn't suck.
- I drove 5,925 km on 144 L of gasoline, for an average of 2.4 L/100 km (96.4 MPG). The last four months of the year I used only 4 L of gas over 1,179 km, meaning I'm heading into 2023 with a nearly-full tank I last filled on August 21st. I do love living in the city!
- I worked 1,894 hours for my real job, including 1,260 from home and 580 in the office. The remainder went to conferences and work events. Plus, I spent 103 hours commuting, all of it by public transit (see above re: gasoline use).
- My commitment to the Apollo Chorus went up by a third this year, with 318 hours overall split between rehearsing and performing (220 hours) and my responsibilities as president (98 hours). Last year I spent 57 hours on rehearsals and performances and 71 hours on board stuff, but the first half of 2021 we were still virtual. In the last full year before the pandemic, 2019, I spent 200 hours overall (27 for the Board, 144 on rehearsals and performances, 29 for the fundraiser), so we really did do more this year than in years past.
- Finally, reading stayed the same, with 27 books started (cf. 28 in 2021) and 24 finished (cf. 23 in 2021)—both numbers exactly at median for me. But I watched a whopping (for me) 56 movies and 50 TV show seasons or miniseries. Yeek.
So, yeah, except for the permanent, post-pandemic shift to working from home 2/3 of the time, 2022 really did get back to normal in most ways. I'll take it. Here's to continued normal in 2023!
What a delight to wake up for the second day in a row and see the sun. After 13 consecutive days of blah, even the -11°C cold that encouraged Cassie and me to get her to day care at a trot didn't bother me too much.
Unfortunately, the weather forecast says a blizzard will (probably) hit us next weekend, so I guess I'll have time to read all of these stories sitting on the couch with my dog:
Finally, one of my college music professors died this month. Herbert Deutsch co-created the Moog synthesizer and taught at Hofstra University for 40-plus years.
Both of our Messiah performances went well. We had too few rehearsals and too many new members this year to sing the 11 movements from memory that we have done in the past, which meant that all us veterans sang stuff we'd memorized with our scores open. So like many people in the chorus, I felt better about this year than I have since I started. We got a decent review, too.
Also, we passed a milestone yesterday: 1,000 days since my company closed our Chicago office because of the pandemic, on 16 March 2020. Four days later, the state issued the first stay-at-home order. I didn't go back into the office until June 22nd.
Clearly, I have to get my priorities in order. I've spent the afternoon in the zone with my real job, so I have neglected to real all of this:
Finally, because only one guy writes about half of the songs on top-40 radio, modulations have all but disappeared from popular songs.
Today is the 100th anniversary of Howard Carter poking his head into the 3,000-year-old tomb of Egyptian King Tutankhamen:
After World War I, Carter began an intensive search for Tutankhamen’s tomb and on November 4, 1922, discovered a step leading to its entrance. Lord Carnarvon rushed to Egypt, and on November 23 they broke through a mud-brick door, revealing the passageway that led to Tutankhamen’s tomb. There was evidence that robbers had entered the structure at some point, and the archaeologists feared they had discovered yet another pillaged tomb. However, on November 26 they broke through another door, and Carter leaned in with a candle to take a look. Behind him, Lord Carnarvon asked, “Can you see anything?” Carter replied, “Yes, wonderful things.”
Thus began a monumental excavation process in which Carter carefully explored the four-room tomb over several years, uncovering an incredible collection of several thousand objects. In addition to numerous pieces of jewelry and gold, there was statuary, furniture, clothes, a chariot, weapons, and numerous other objects that shed a brilliant light on the culture and history of ancient Egypt. The most splendid find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for 3,200 years. Most of these treasures are now housed in the Cairo Museum.
Skip ahead 50 years or so into my childhood when two brilliant bits of comedy emerged as the King Tut exhibit traveled through the US. The first needs no introduction, but gets one anyway:
The second came from architect and author David Macaulay, who imagined a future archaeologist finding a late-20th-century American "tomb" in the year CE 4022. If you can find a copy of Motel of the Mysteries, read the Howard Carter story and then Macaulay's take on it. It still cracks me up.