Sunday, October 26, 2008

Sunday Funnies & So Much More



As always, click to enlarge www.tomthedancingbug.com for more...

Adding clairvoyance to their brief, Focus On The Family Action has published a twisted 16-page letter to the faithful, purporting to be a communication from "Obama's America" in 2012. The words "homosexual," "homosexuals," and "homosexuality" appear 16 times, mostly in the first six pages. ("Same sex" appears four times and, oddly, "lesbian" only once. One gets the impression that -- like Queen Victoria -- James Dobson and his demonic ilk simply won't believe that it exists.) Among other dire consequences of an Obama administration are gay troop leaders sharing tents with innocent Boy Scouts, gay church youth leaders, and the suppression of "hate speech" (quotes theirs). About the only good news is Antonin Scalia's retirement from the Supreme Court because he's sick and dying or something. The whole sick enterprise is enough to make one question the right to vote...

I spent yesterday afternoon phone banking for Obama. The office was full of volunteers, and neighborhood canvassers came steadily in and out the whole time I was there. We're going to win this thing...

Onward and upward to the Arts:








Tell Tale Signs: The Bootleg Series, Vol. 8 (1989-2006), Bob Dylan. Who would have thought that a collection of demos, alternate versions, old folk songs, live cuts, and previously unreleased songs would be one of the top releases of the year?  It helps when the demos and alternate versions are superior to the original releases. It helps even more when the sum total projects the dystopian vision of a world gone wrong from the most significant American songwriter ever. This world is no great shakes, Dylan says, but listening to the music is at least a way of getting to the truth of it while celebrating the ability of humans to create and communicate through song. Then he takes us on a tour of virtually every popular American music form that involves setting words to a tune. What in lesser hands might have made an interesting collection of an artist in development instead becomes a great album, arguably the best of the year and inarguably one of the best of an amazing career.









Shake Away/Ojo De Culebra, Lila Downs. Crossover albums risk diluting an artist's sound by flirting with a low common denominator aimed at making him or her "accessible" to a wider audience. Too often, an authentic sounds becomes bland and the album neither crosses over nor satisfies the artist's original audience. Happily, the Mexican-American singer Lila Downs uses the opportunity to expand her sound to a pan-Latin musical vision encompassing the border, the Caribbean, and the jungles and beaches of Central and South America. Singing in both English and Spanish, Downs' dazzling contralto bounds from rock to folk to blues to Latino ballads and dances with the exuberance of children rushing to recess on the first sunny day of the year. The creative arrangements fit her like a glove: A soprano sax extends her voice. A New Orleans brass band tuba marks the beat for salsa horns. Guitars swoop in and out like hawks. Seemingly at will, her contralto leaps to a high soprano. Wow.









South Pacific (New Broadway Cast), Kelli O'Hara, Paulo Szot, Matthew Morrison. To these ears, it surpasses the original cast, which is saying something. Opera singer Szot's dashing Emile elicits all of the romance and passion from "Some Enchanted Evening" and the showstopper "This Really Was Mine." Morrison's fine tenor elicits the longing and sorrow of Lt. Cable's doomed affair. But it's Kelli O'Hara's Nellie Forbush that shines brightest. Through the first act, she brings just the right touch of self-importance to Nellie's insouciance and cock-eyed optimism. Then when confronted with her own bigotry, the self-importance gives way to the self-knowledge that makes Nellie a true heroine. It can't be easy to convey this in the soundtrack of musical, but O'Hara is more than equal to the task. Moreover, all of the beloved favorites are performed with just the right touch, especially Loretta Ables' knowing "Bali Hai" and "Happy Talk." Note: As this is the CD era, we get all of the reprises and incidental music that the space limitations of vinyl precluded...

Fan's Notes: We're having internet difficulties at home, so blog entries could be sporadic for a few days.

1 comment:

Scrumpy's Baker said...

We went to vote on Friday. It was the first time in a long time that I was actually giddy about it.