March 22, 2009
Filed Under (Life in the PNW, Playing on iTunes) by transom

This week was another of the NY Metropolitan Opera’s HD broadcasts. The day on the way to border was beautiful with snow-capped mountains from horizon to horizon. The performance of La Sonnambula put the view to shame. By the end of the day, I was ready to go back and see it again.

This may have been the perfect opera experience. Bellini’s music was beautiful, the casting and singing were spot-on, and the stagecraft (unlike some earlier operas) added to the impact of the scenes rather than fighting for attention with the performer. But the most amazing part is the director’s (Mary Zimmerman) re-imagining of this 19th century period piece transforms as it moves back and forth between the contemporary lovers and the opera within an opera.

It was a clever vehicle that added extra power to the performances as well as providing a means of carrying this story well into the future. No small feat for a story line that almost falls over into English farce (like a two-part episode of Frasier.)

March 21, 2009
Filed Under (Cracks Me Up!) by transom

There must be – I laugh out loud everytime I see this opening from the Craig Ferguson show (on after Letterman) I can’t even begin to provide the context. Just know that using puppets for the opening is a running gag. I MUST resist watching it more than once a day.

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March 10, 2009
Filed Under (Playing on iTunes) by transom

I am mentioning this in case someone else is left scratching their head about why songs that they have left “unchecked” in iTunes are suddenly appearing on their iPod, iPhone or AppleTV.

It appears that the behavior around checked songs in iTunes changed in a recent release. Previously, if you had an item unchecked, iTunes ignored it for all intents and purposes. Now with release 8.0.2 of iTunes (at least that’s when I noticed it), each smart list has a new option “Match Checked Items Only”. I’ve had to go in and modify each Smart playlist to honor that condition. Annoying!

March 03, 2009
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom

It is no surprise that the talented author, Bob Greene, has crafted an appropriate and eloquent eulogy for Paul Harvey – “He was famed for his voice, but the writing itself was so beautiful — his respect for words, his understanding of the potency of economy, his instinct for removing the superfluous. The world heard him speak, but the world never saw him write, and I think he honored both aspects of his skill equally.” You can read the full article on CNN

As it happens Bob Greene and I are about the same age (he is slightly more famous), we both grew up in the Midwest and Paul Harvey was part of the pastiche of our youth. Paul Harvey was so uncool but he was a pleasure to listen to. As a high-school debater, I was in awe of how few words it took for him to express a complete thought. His cadence was exquisite, leading you to the punch-line with a precision that you could only hope to allude to in your own arguments.

Paul never wore his patriotism on his sleeve as so many seem to do today. It wasn’t used to make a point but you had no doubt about his pride in the country and the many cultures and ideals that give its strength (and, on occasion, its failures.) Unlike the bombastic demagoguery that passes for radio today, Paul Harvey was a unique American voice that built upon that which is uniquely, the American experience.

January 24, 2009
Filed Under (Noted in passing) by transom

Dave Winer reminds us that 25 years ago today this commercial introduced the world to the Apple Macintosh.

I distinctly remember, a few weeks later, walking through Marshall Fields & Company (now Macy’s Chicago – yech!) to look at one. The bright white 9″ screen, the few applications (Paint was amazing) and the overall design – unlike anything we had seen before.

It was a few years later in 1996 that I got my first Macintosh. My new employer already had one Mac Fan Boy working there and offered me the choice between a Mac Plus (the “new” Macintosh) and an IBM PC. I went Mac and have never looked back. While I have not made it a point to own every model since (thank goodness, some of them were awful), I have kept up with the times and couldn’t be happier.

I figure that I have probably saved months of time over the last 23 years by not having to fiddle with operating system, chase down viruses, solve incompatiblities, and otherwise suffering through the trials and tribulations of most Wintel PC owners. Now I’ll confess that I have had a PC or two over the years for testing and just to get along in the world (i.e. work with clients whose software product was PC-based.)

But my belongs to Mac – Happy Aniversary Macintosh. Here’s to another 25 years of togetherness.

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November 30, 2008
Filed Under (Playing on iTunes) by transom

November 04, 2008
Filed Under (Opinion) by transom

John McCain is one of America’s great heros. His honor and duty to the country would be enough to make him a figure of history.

As I mentioned in personal discussions throughout this campaign, America would be hard pressed to lose in this election as both candidates were men of honor and civility. Reasonable men can disagree reasonably.

In John McCain’s concession speech, we saw the man that I wished had shown up during the campaign. The one for whom we could reasonably consider casting our vote. The speech’s graciousness and aspirational vision of an America were ideals that any American, regardless of party could relate. It stands in sharp contrast to the worst moments of the campaign itself, we got pandering to the “right”, and to the worst instincts in ourselves.

I doubt anyone will be surprised that once the glow of the fabulous oratory of these election nights speeches fade in the bitter gales of partisanship in the coming month, we find ourselves wishing we could reconnect to the emotions and joys of tonight’s result.

October 08, 2008
Filed Under (Cracks Me Up!) by transom

“SASKATOON, Saskatchewan (UPI)—Police in Saskatoon, Canada, Tuesday shot and killed a 100-pound wild cougar spotted relaxing in a man’s yard.

Young men of Saskatoon had mixed feelings and admitted that they would miss her when last call came around.”

(Via Woot : Bzzt Bzzt Black Sheep: Woot Weads The Wire.)

October 03, 2008
Filed Under (Playing on iTunes) by transom

C3FEA23A-5463-46FB-AD69-386760C77CCC.jpgI am pleasantly surprised at the new album from Linda Eder – The Other Side of Me. I’ll steal one of the iTunes reviewers lines – “Reminds me of Jane Olivor” (another favorite of mine.) The good news is that Ms. Eder keeps the “belting” to a minimum on this album.

This song got **** from me. (and oddly enough, is not reminiscent of Jane Olivor at all!)

Waiting for the Fall • Eder, Linda • The Other Side of Me ★★★★

September 13, 2008
Filed Under (Opinion) by transom

With a tip of the hat to I’m Gina Smith:

“The First Dude and more …

  • If you grow up in Hawaii, raised by your grandparents, you’re ‘exotic, different.’ * Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, a quintessential American story.
  • If your name is Barack you’re a radical, unpatriotic Muslim. * Name your kids Willow, Trig and Track, you’re a maverick.
  • Graduate from Harvard law School and you are unstable. * Attend 5 different small colleges before graduating, you’re well grounded.
  • If you spend 3 years as a brilliant community organizer, become the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, create a voter registration drive that registers 150,000 new voters, spend 12 years as a Constitutional Law professor, spend 8 years as a State Senator representing a district with over 750,000 people, become chairman of the state Senate’s Health and Human Services committee, spend 4 years in the United States Senate representing a state of 13 million people while sponsoring 131 bills and serving on the Foreign Affairs, Environment and Public Works and Veteran’s Affairs committees, you don’t have any real leadership experience.
  • If your total resume is: local weather girl, 4 years on the city council and 6 years as the mayor of a town with less than 7,000 people, 20 months as the governor of a state with only 650,000 people, then you’re qualified to become the country’s second highest ranking executive.
  • If you have been married to the same woman for 19 years while raising 2 beautiful daughters, all within Protestant churches, you’re not a real Christian.
  • If you cheated on your first wife with a rich heiress, and left your disfigured wife and married the heiress the next month, you’re a Christian.If you teach responsible, age appropriate sex education, including the proper use of birth control, you are eroding the fiber of society.
  • If , while governor, you staunchly advocate abstinence only, with no other option in sex education in your state’s school system while your unwed teen daughter ends up pregnant , you’re very responsible.
  • If your wife is a Harvard graduate lawyer who gave up a position in a prestigious law firm to work for the betterment of her inner city community, then gave that up to raise a family, your family’s values don’t represent America’s.
  • If you’re husband is nicknamed ‘First Dude’, with at least one DWI conviction and no college education, who didn’t register to vote until age 25 and once was a member of a group that advocated the secession of Alaska from the USA, your family is extremely admirable.