Category Archives: Entertainment

Good, and good for you!

Okay, so only half of that is true when it comes to eating donuts.

Fluffy Fresh is my gold standard – especially their cinnamon twists – but Quik Trip makes a shockingly good donut.

So in a spirit of celebration:

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Filed under Entertainment, General & Miscellaneous

Obama in Missouri, GOP counters with rallies

A couple pieces in the Politico with a Missouri connection. First, President Obama comes to Macon, Missouri as the MRP and activists plan to rally in response. I know there were some students talking at MU about going, though I have no report on what turnout may have been like at any event. Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan will accompany Obama when he visits a biofuel plan in Macon.

On a personal note, I’m looking forward to finals and graduation at the University of Missouri. As you can imagine, my schedule has come under increasing demands these last few weeks, and while it’s not a good excuse for not posting much during that time, it’s about the only one I’ve got!

While I’m at it, I might as well point anybody out there to this excellent column in the New York Times this morning, by Ross Douthat regarding South Park’s recent cave to political correctness when it comes to Islam. I don’t want to be rash, but but I’m considering calling it quits with South Park, for precisely the reason Douthat dissects in his piece.

SP has been one of my favorite shows for a while, in part because while it offends the sensibilities of just about any decent viewer at one time or another, it has generally matched the crudity its theatrics with the cleverness of its satirical story lines. Quite importantly, it has lampooned with equal ferocity sacred cows of both the left and the right, which is what has made it such an original on the media landscape.  It’s genuinely funny because it has taken on just about everything, including politically correct causes that you just don’t take on if you’re part of the mainstream entertainment industry.

If South Park is just going to be another raunchy comedy show, however, then I have no more interest in watching. If it’s no longer an original, no longer has the guts or artistic integrity, or whatever you want to call it, to engage in unabashed satire of that which the powers that be declare to be politically correct and thus off limits, then I’m done with it. It’s worthless at this point, if that’s what it’s going to become.

Like I said, I don’t mean to be rash. These are my unfettered emotions at around 3am in the morning, so we’ll see how I feel about it tomorrow:)

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Filed under Entertainment, General & Miscellaneous, Media

Midori in Missouri

Japanese violinist Midori Goto performed with American pianist Robert McDonald last night in Columbia, Missouri. The recital was held at the Missouri Theatre, and sponsored by the Mozart-Higday Music Trust. Earlier in the day I surprised myself by finishing a paper on time when I thought there was no way I was going to make the deadline, so I rewarded myself by calling the theatre for tickets. Even more surprising was the fact that they still had some available, and they had just opened the front row for seating.

If you’ve not been to the Missouri Theatre, it’s a beautiful building. Visually and acoustically, the front row center seats were good but not the best in the house. You’re looking up at a slight angle and, to make an educated guess, missing some of the sound waves coming off the stage you are slightly below.  What the vantage did wonderfully allow, however, was to see in very close detail every movement and expression of the performers. At one point early in the performance, I realized that Midori had  not one but two strings hanging from her bow – one from the bottom and one from the top. Or was it the same string split in half?

It was early in the piece and I nearly held my breath as I wondered if the hanging strings would affect her playing ability, either landing on the strings and disrupting the sound quality, or simply as a distraction to her attention. I watched and waited, at first wondering anxiously whether she would make a mistake, then eagerly anticipating her ability to play through successfully. She finished the piece without error. At the end of the movement, she quickly and quietly plucked the strings from her bow and prepared for the next.  At that point, I was definitely liking the front row seats!

Seeing this reminded me of a story of one of the great classical musicians – was it Mozart, perhaps? – who was performing on stage in front of a very large audience at a major concert. One of the strings broke during the performance, which would have stopped just about anybody from continuing on. Instead, Mozart (or whomever it was) kept playing, not missing a note, transposing every note from the missing string onto another string. To do this in the moment required sheer genius musical ability. Whether this is a real story or the stuff of legends I do not know.

I won’t try to describe all the music I heard because I would not do it justice. However, they played four pieces together, and Midori played one of her own. If I recall correctly most were written by European (or American) composers of the late 17th and 18th centuries. There was one by a Spanish composer which had a great deal of flair to it. At the end of the night, in response to audience applause, the duo came on stage for two brief encore performance, playing Meditation by Alexander Glazunov and  and Syncopation by Fritz Kreisler.

Unfortunately, the event was not sold out. While the Missouri Theatre is a decent sized venue and Columbia is not a large town, I still would have hoped that such a pair of world class performers would have attracted a sellout crowd. Though, it should be noted that Columbia held its municipal elections last night, including a contested mayoral race, and the election parties of the various candidates and their supporters probably did draw away a small portion of the town’s natural constituency for such an event.

I haven’t seen a review yet but I’ll try to add that to this post when I do. Here’s a pre-performance Q&A with Midori in the Columbia Daily-Tribune, and another CDT piece on Robert McDonald.

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Beethoven at his best

Have been a little under the weather, with attention further diverted by school and the like. In lieu of posting something political tonight: Beethoven‘s Piano Sonata #14 in C# Minor, Third Movement.

This is actually part of the “Moonlight Sonata,” which begins with the beautiful, haunting tones and tempo of the first movement so widely recognized. Beethoven’s full brilliance is on display in the powerful release of emotion in this third movement, below.

To speed across the tonal spectrum of the instrument in this way has got to be incredible fun for composer and performer alike. If it’s a joy to listen to, how much more so to write or play? I’ve recently started learning the first movement, and I have fantasies of learning the third, but I think I need to not think about that for some time!

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Musician in the Spotlight: Caleb Johnson

My brother Caleb Johnson is a violist, studying at the respected Peabody Institute of John’s Hopkins in Baltimore, Maryland. He just launched a website showcasing his professional musical pursuits and background.

If you are looking to enjoy live classical music in the Baltimore/Washington D.C. area, consider an ensemble group like Vivre Musicale, Charm City String Quartet, or Peabody Camerata. In the former two cases, you could probably even secure the services of the same.

The site looks great, Caleb! I look forward to hearing you play when I’m in town for CPAC next month.

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Rap Battle extraordinary

But not the kind you’re used to – if you’re used to any kind at all, that is.

Here’s “Fear the Boom and the Bust,” a rap battle featuring dueling impersonations of John Maynard Keynes and Friedrich August von Hayek (Personal note: Read F.A. Hayek’s The Road To Serfdom, it’s heavy but it’ll blow you away). 

Everybody appearing in the video is a professional political scientist or economist. The limo driver, whom we see briefly, actually serves as a department chair at Duke University. (or something along those lines – he sat on one of my professor’s dissertation committees back in the day).

All in all, pretty good. I think they gave a fairly decent presentation of both viewpoints.

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Filed under Economy, Entertainment

And they call it Donny love-love…

My mother is very excited. Donny Osmond is hosting his very own radio show. Will Marie and the Osmond Brothers appear?

~ H.A.

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Filed under Entertainment, Just For Fun, Music