I don't really care about the Eurovision singing contest, but I thought the tweet below was funny. Apparently, people were so determined to keep Russia from winning that a homophobic Swede won.
News this wonderful can hardly be credited. But there it is. The divine Miss Streep will helm a biopic of the gloriously awful diva Florence Foster Jenkins, with Hugh Grant co-starring.
I cannot wait.
At such a joyous moment, the proper mode of celebration for a true son of Ireland (and on my mother's side I am a Gildea and a Fitzgerald) is to play a beloved old air and have a good cry. Here, then, is "In Derry Vale," sung by the lustrous Maureen Hegarty.
Oh, Derry Vale, my thoughts are ever turning
to your broad stream and fairy-circled lea.
For your green isles my exiled heart is yearning,
so far away across the sea.
Now how could I share this pic without also sharing the classic movie scene below? Not only do the special effects still hold up (no, that was not a real twister), but notice the concern for animal welfare. Uncle Henry lets the horses out of the barn ahead of the storm, and of course Dorothy is more concerned about Toto's safety than her own. We've seen this a hundred times, yet it still grabs us. And at the end, Technicolor!
Nathan Lane, accompanied by composer Marc Shaiman, sings a tribute to retiring Late Night host Dave Letterman.
I already had the sense that the metro musicians, or buskers, or whatever you call them, were better in New York than in D.C. Now they're rubbing our faces in it.
Once again, President Obama outshone the professional comedian. My favorite line:
I tease Joe sometimes, but he has been at my side for seven years, I love that man. He's not just a great vice president, he is a great friend. We've gotten so close, in some places in Indiana they won't serve us pizza anymore.
@huffpostgay My first reaction to that book description was, "Who wrote that shit, Larry Kramer?" Ding ding ding!— Richard Rosendall (@RickRosendall) April 15, 2015
Mattachine Society of Washington President Charles Francis writes of this NYT book review:
The deification of Larry Kramer continues. His latest novel is no history: it is in fact a debasing and vile telling of American history through an obsession of his: the word "shit" beginning in the "penis of America", Florida, with Florida monkeys and the "anus of America", the Everglades. I am not making this up. This is not Annette Gordon-Reed uncovering with meticulous research the "Hemingses of Monticello". Kramer says, "tough shit" in the novel if you ask questions or want more.
Trevor Noah, the young South African comedian chosen as Jon Stewart's successor as host of the Daily Show, has stirred some controversy due to his past material. Here he talks about race in South Africa and in America. Not the safest of subjects, but he is smart and has a facility for voices. His black Hitler is quite good.
Norman O. Scribner, founder and artistic director of the Choral Arts Society of Washington, one of the region’s preeminent symphonic choirs, died March 22 at his home in the District. He was 79.
The cause was a heart attack, said a son, Matthew Scribner.
The late Washington Post music critic Paul Hume once called Mr. Scribner “one of Washington’s finest musicians and one of the most gifted choral conductors in the country.”
Rest in peace, Norman. I sang under him for a while in the 1980s, which enabled me to experience some great music and musicians from the stage. At one point we were doing a Russian piece, possibly Boris Godunov (Washington's symphonic choruses sang many Russian pieces during Mstislav Rostropovich's tenure at the National Symphony), and they had scores in Cyrillic for the purists, one of whom was a ferocious Zionist who told me that Democracy was inimical to Israel's interests. I haven't seen Binyamin since then (I'm kidding, Bibi Netanyahu as far as I know never sang with Choral Arts). Anyway, Norman was a big guy and could be intimidating, but was a pleasure to work with.
In 1986, when I was promoting the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington's first concert in the Kennedy Center Concert Hall (featuring guest soloist Maureen Forrester in the Brahms Alto Rhapsody), Norman graciously lent us the Choral Arts Society's mailing list. I remember him telling me that the flyer we mailed "struck all the grace notes."
Once in the 1990s, the Gay Men's Chorus sang Norman's setting of the "Ode to St. Cecilia," the patron saint of vocal music. Jim Holloway, GMCW's director at the time, was often a rehearsal accompanist for Norman, and they struck up a musical friendship. So after several weeks of rehearsing, Norman joined us at the dress rehearsal for a run-through. He was delightful as always. But I remember teasing him during a break by saying that a line from the text, which (regarding St. Cecilia) mentioned "her sacred organ's praise" (meaning she sang), came out "her sacred organ sprays" if we didn't enunciate clearly. He reacted with mock horror. Choristers find ways of amusing themselves during long rehearsals.
(Postscript: the ferocious Zionist I mentioned might have been from what was then called the Oratorio Society, which I also sang with in the 80s. It's hard to keep my symphonic choruses straight, especially since they joined forces for large works. The guy was bearded, and had the look of a deranged prophet. He was a good singer.)
(Photo by Neshan Naltchayan/Courtesy of Choral Arts Society of Washington)
Salman Rushdie delightfully recounts how he cured his writer's block in 1986 by going to a revolution. The punchline is great even though you can see it coming a mile off.
"Dancing With the Stars" describes this clip from its Season 20 premiere: "Michael Sam & Peta Murgatroyd dance the Cha Cha to 'Uptown Funk' by Mark Ronson ft. Bruno Mars." Looks fine to me. And if Vito is okay with it, then as His Holiness says, who am I to judge?
Sometimes an apology comes too late.
From Sesame Street, the three little pigs take on Frank Underwolf. Frankly, I liked this better than what I binge-watched on Netflix last weekend.
A demon tricked me into blogging this.
Demonic raisins, I rebuke thee!
For another approach, see Georgina and Esther below.
Above, a song that Stephen Sondheim wrote for Meryl Streep's witch for the film version of Into the Woods, and which was filmed before the creative team ultimately decided the movie worked better without it.
Nowadays, these bits from the cutting room floor can be preserved as Extras on DVDs of movies. In the past, such deleted material was usually lost. Thus we will never see the gay kiss between James Dean and Sal Mineo in the 1955 Rebel Without a Cause, nor the portion of To Kill a Mockingbird involving Jem and Mrs. DuBose.
Thanks to Craig Howell for sharing this. As he notes, "It sounds very Sondheim."
Actor Leonard Nimoy has died at age 83. Above is a collection of clips from his banter with the late actor DeForest Kelley on the original Star Trek series. May he rest in peace.
Common and John Legend's "Glory" is basking in the glow of its Academy Award win for best original song on Feb. 22, and is on course for big sales gains in the wake of the Oscars.
A small comfort for a film unjustly snubbed.
Recently Sam said he would continue to pursue his dreams of playing with the NFL. Someone asked if this latest news means a change to that. Don't know. We'll have to see.
Lady Gaga's performance of a medley from The Sound of Music in tribute to Julie Andrews at the Oscars on Sunday night was the introduction for a lot of people to her musical talent. Behind the meat dress, the bubble dress, and assorted other theatrics, she is an accomplished musician. Then the surprise entrance by Julie Andrews herself put icing on the cake. (BTW, Gaga transposed into a lower key during "Climb Every Mountain. The pipes Andrews had cannot be replicated in most mortals.)
Pussy Riot expresses solidarity with Eric Garner and other victims of police brutality.
On Himalayan sea salt, Pocahontas, and how an Ethiopian came to have an Italian last name. Hey Sampson, you have competition.
For all who are far from their loved ones on Valentine's Day. As nationwide marriage equality nears, there are so many for whom it will have come too late. Live in the moment, for that is the only thing of which any of us can be truly certain. Here is to lovers.
I have been a fan of Cuba Gooding, Jr. since his soulful performance in Boyz N the Hood. I like him even better after this bit of play with BAFTA Film Awards host Stephen Fry, a hugely popular British writer, actor, and comedian. BAFTA is the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, and this year's film awards happened on the same day as the Grammys. Fry last month married his partner Elliot Spencer.
This was just a bit of foolery at a glitzy awards ceremony, but it says so much about how far we have come. Gooding has aged quite well, and is getting meaty parts these days on television, in addition to playing civil rights attorney Fred Gray in the movie Selma. His last-minute turn to kiss Fry on the lips was quite charming. Made me a little jealous of Stephen.
Singer and songwriter Sam Smith won four top Grammys last night. Below, in his acceptance speech for one of them, Record of the Year, Smith thanks the man who broke his heart last year for inspiring his breakthrough as an artist.
Ben Terris of WaPo caused quite a stir when he reported Monday on the lavishly redecorated congressional offices of Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), which have been done up in the style of the red room on "Downton Abbey." Here is a lovely display of pheasant feathers.
I am concerned that now everyone will want one, and pheasants will be driven to extinction.
The mean people at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, however, asked the Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate whether Schock broke House ethics rules by accepting the redecorating services.
Schock now says that he expects an invoice from decorator Annie Brahler, and dismisses his critics:
"I’ve never been an old crusty white guy -- I’m different, I came to Congress at 27, I’m not going to -- when I take a personal vacation, I don’t go sit on the beach, I go do active things. I’m also not going to live in a cave," he said, adding later: "As Taylor Swift said, haters are gonna hate."
Followed into his office by Zeleny and his crew, Schock said the walls were "Republican red."
Below, the Dowager Countess, dropping by for a visit, gave the congressman a look when he said he was heterosexual.
On this Super Bowl Sunday, a look back twenty-four years to the memorable rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Whitney Houston before the 1991 Super Bowl. As Tom Sherwood said in sharing it, "This is how you do it." Amen.
PS: Best wishes for her daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown's healing.
Happy birthday, Langston Hughes.
(Hat tip: Tom Sherwood)