Saturday, February 13, 2010

From The Sublime (Jane Austen) To The Ridiculous (The 2010 Olympic Opening Ceremonies)

I usually write on Sunday, I’m making an exception this week because I hate Valentine’s Day and that’s the last you’ll read about it on this blog.

Let’s talk baseball…well, that was a short conversation. There is nothing of real substance to ponder, I truly can’t get worked up about signing a catcher from Australia. Right now and I’m not going to make up baseball topics to discuss; there will be time enough for that beginning Thursday (a discussion that will not end for at least seven months).

"One does not love a place the less for having suffered in it, unless it has been all suffering, nothing but suffering. – Jane Austen"
Was Jane writing about being a Ranger fan?
I am very amused at the recent rock star status of Jane Austen. You’d think all these teenage/twenty/thirty something women had just discovered some hidden secret. I have news for you kids: Jane has never been big secret – she was extremely popular among the teenage and twenty somethings when I was in college and that was the 1970’s. Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the Bronte sisters (Charlotte and Emily). Austen’s books have witty with memorable characters, however they do all follow the common fantasy blueprint of the romance novel: after some minor adversity everyone winds up living happily ever after. The Brontes are darker, earthier, more realistic – their characters are just as brilliant but, as in real life, there aren’t really any happy endings.
However, I do have a soft spot for Miss Austen. She is responsible for creating the finest performance of my (short) acting career: I played Mrs. Bennett in the NDC Masquers Production of “Pride and Prejudice” during my junior year in college (see picture on the left - I'm the one with my eyes closed).
As I mentioned in a previous blog: two books I’ve found by British author Jude Morgan (An Accomplished Woman and Indiscretion) are the best of the “Austen” style that I’ve read lately. Additionally, much to my delight, Morgan is writing a novel about the Bronte sisters. Avoid the Colleen McCullough novel “The Independence of Miss Mary Bennett” – it’s terrible as are all of McCullough’s novels (I loathe “The Thornbirds”). “Pride and Prejudice” with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy is my favorite “tele” version of that novel, and “Sense and Sensibility” with Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant (and in a very small part Hugh Laurie) is the best big screen movie (so far) of an Austen story.
Between the snow storm and the Olympics I’ve been watching a little more television than usual and one local commercial has caught my attention: Michael Buble at the AAC, really? I can see him for 4 or 5 nights at the Myerson, or the Bass Hall or Nokia Theatre. His song stylings, I think, are a little more intimate – I just can’t picture Michael Buble singing “Home” or “You Don’t Know Me” with the same kind of effect in the cavernous American Airlines Center. Since I’m writing about Michael Buble – click on this link for the SNL Skit with Michael Buble and Jon Hamm (“Mad Men”) it is worth waiting a few seconds for the download.
I won’t say I have Olympic fever, but I might have an Olympic cold. I enjoy watching the competitive Olympic events – the ones that truly have a measure of performance: skating/skiing the fastest, scoring the most goals. I do not like the style Olympic events, meaning any event where a judge scores the event – for example: figure skating, ice dancing, freestyle anything and snowboarding. I do appreciate the hard work all the young people put into training for those events – but they aren’t true competition in my opinion since the outcomes are based solely on the subjective conclusions of observers. Unfortunately, network television spends way too much time concentrating on those 2 or 3 events when there are so many more interesting ones taking place.

Bob Costas must’ve repeated at least five times that it was going to be hard to top the opening of the 2008 summer games in Beijing - he was right. The Vancouver opening ceremony was…weird. I’ve been to Canada a few times, really enjoyed it. I have several baseball friends who are Canadian and they aren’t strange at all. Isn’t the opening ceremony supposed to introduce the host country to the world? So where were The McKenzie Brothers? Where were the donuts -Tim Horton’s ?) The Royal Canadian Air Farce?

I know they wanted to include prominent Canadians like Joni Mitchell – but I’m not sure what “Both Sides Now” really has to do with the Olympics or Canadians in general. Although the young man who performed the trapeze like act during the song was about the only thing I kind of liked of the entire production (and Both Sides Now is on the A side of the soundtrack of my life)

 Having KD Lang, who can croon with the best of them was a great idea. Having her signing a Leonard Cohen song must’ve seemed like a good idea – but “Hallelujah”? Did anyone listen to the lyrics? Cohen’s “Closing Time” would have fit in much better with the lively Olympic spirit (thanks to Greg Rogers for introducing me to Leonard).

And since we’ve gone down Leonard Cohen lane – I was really surprised to see Justin Timberlake, Charlie Sexton and Matt Morris sing an excellent version of “Hallelujah” during the Hope for Haiti concert – I was even more pleased find that Justin Timberlake knows about Leonard Cohen.

Finally, that's it - what is the weather like in Surpise?

Only 4 more days until the second most important holy day in the religion of baseball -- Marla Hooch

P.S. The best Olympic moment - EVER:

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