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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Here Comes The Sun

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This morning I was amazed by some kind of new light shining in my window. It seemed to be coming from the sky. And the sky itself — it was some shade of blue, not gray.

What was this? We had torrential rain here in Walrustropolis continually from Sunday through Tuesday night, so it was a shock. Then it dawned on me (literally)  — it’s the sun!

I remember the sun. Warm, bright, welcoming as a good friend. I’d just started wondering if we’d ever see it again in the wake of Tropical Storm Debby. The slow-moving storm dumped a LOT of rain on our little corner of Central Florida. We’ve got some local flood damage, a few new sinkholes (the collection is getting quite impressive), and some other issues, but nothing catastrophic.

So we should be back to normal within a few days. Here comes the sun. And I say …..

Here Comes The Sun

This Just In…

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Breaking News: There’s a Spice Girls jukebox musical in the works. No word yet on whether Betty White will be joining them as Old Spice.

http://tinyurl.com/7eydgte

And if you can’t wait and know what you want, what you really, really want:

http://tinyurl.com/5etbwg

Justice Is Done

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Lots of folks talking today about the Jerry Sandusky verdict. I’d say it’s a perfect example of the judicial system getting it right.

In a past life, I was a newspaper reporter. For the better part of 15 years, I covered cops and courts on a regular basis. I reported on thousands of arrests, hundreds of trials.

Covering a trial as a journalist really is a unique position. From a seat in the courtroom from start to finish, you see things from the jury’s perspective, of course. But especially in a state with strong open records laws, you’re privy to much more information than the jury ever sees. You get to report things the judge rules inadmissible, that the jury never hears. You get to report the conferences between prosecutors, defense lawyers and the judge that the jury leaves the room for. You have so much more information than the jury can even imagine.

You also learn pretty quickly to pick up on the lawyers’ maneuvering. You come to know that Prosecutor A builds a case quietly, methodically, piling fact upon fact to devastating effect. You discover that Defense Attorney B pounds the table, implies the prosecution’s star witness would sleep with his own mother while robbing his grandfather. Another prosecutor turns every trial into an old-time tent revival, with the defendant as either the devil or Judas — take your pick. The well-heeled, soft-spoken defense lawyer calmly lays out the facts, but does so  in a way that some jurors will have trouble telling which way is up when she’s done.

But then you see another pattern emerging. The six, or 12, ordinary citizens sitting in the jury box, do their job. They hear the evidence, and they’re able to put the smoke and mirrors aside.

In all the trials I sat through in those 15 years, I’d have to say the jury — based ONLY on what they actually saw and heard — got it right about 90 to 95 percent of the time. Which is to say, they voted the way I would have, had I been in their place.

Were they perfect? No. There were a few times when I left the courtroom shaking my head, sometimes muttering “what the [bleep] were they thinking?”  But the vast majority of the time, they got it right.

Based on what I know about the Sandusky case — which in this case, is far LESS than the jury did — this is one of those times they absolutely got it right.

Lots of us wondered whether a group of people with strong ties to Penn State could reach a fair verdict of someone who was such a visible part of their community. I’m happy to say they did.

Well done, jurors. Thank you.

Thought for the Day

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This one’s courtesy of an old Dilbert strip, but it’s still sage advice:

 

Sometimes when you stumble upon a big ol’ pot of crazy, it’s best not to stir.

 

A lesson I sometimes remember too late…..

Originality Is The Highest Form of Tribute

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There are some things I just don’t get when it comes to music. The ongoing popularity of The Doors, for example.  How bands such as Train can combine good music with God-awful lyrics.  Or why on earth Judas Priest recorded Joan Baez’s classic, autobiographical “Diamonds and Rust.”

But one of the biggest musical mysteries to me has always been impersonators and tribute bands. I just don’t understand why someone would want to perform in the persona of another artist — and why on earth people pay to see (and hear) them do it.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not talking about COVER bands — a band that performs other people’s songs, but doesn’t try to look and sound exactly like the original artists. A good cover band can be a lot of fun, and a great one can really rock. But TRIBUTE bands that want me to suspend disbelief and think I’m seeing the original artist(s), not so much.

Take Elvis impersonators — please. Elvis Presley was a revolutionary. His arrival was a slap to the face of the stagnant, boring musical establishment of the 1950s. Elvis was cool, sexy, and most of all to the established order, dangerous  (Not as dangerous, perhaps, as the African-American artists whose style he emulated, but that’s another story). Elvis was nothing if not original.

I’ve seen Elvis impersonators, good and bad. I’ve seen imitation Elvii ranging in age from about 8 to roughly 60. And the one thing they have in common, both good and bad, is that they’re safe. They’re wholesome. They’re not dangerous. And that makes them emphatically NOT Elvis.

Same thing with Beatles tribute bands. I’ve seen a few, and while they’re very good at imitating the vocals, gestures and stage presence of the Liverpool legends, all the Faux Fours lack a certain something.– depth, say, or sincerity. Instead of John’s biting wit, Paul’s likable cuteness, Ringo’s goofy sense of fun and George’s spirituality, the tribute bands give us a “performance,” in the acting sense of the word. Once they step off that stage, they could be a completely different person, just waiting for their next acting gig.

I just don’t understand what makes people WANT to take on those personas. Is it insecurity that they’re not original enough to make it on their own? Plenty of folks prove otherwise every day. If you can sing like Elvis, you can sing, period. Why not be an authentic artist in your own right?

As for the audience, I know people want to see their musical heroes. I have a fairly long list of artists I’ll happily pay to see over and over again — think Springsteen, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Elton John — but there are plenty that I never had the chance to see.  I was too young to have seen the Beatles in their prime, and  I wasn’t born when Elvis was in his. I would love to have seen them then; I don’t want to see an imitation of them, no matter how faithfully reproduced, now. I’d rather make do with their recorded music, and with videos of their original performances.

Like so much in music, and in life,  it all comes down to originality and authenticity. Why would you want to be a second-rate member of the Prefab Four or an imitation Elvis when you could be an original, first-rate you?

Epic Sax Walrus!

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Epic Sax Walrus!

OK, you KNEW I had to be all over this one!  Love it!  Rock on, cousin!

A Different Kind of Concert Preview …

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Sorry, Nickelback fans, but this is hilarious!

http://tinyurl.com/6sxtfze


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