Thursday, November 30, 2017

Obits On The Front Page

I don't have too much to say about all the sexual harassment scandals (except that they should be considered on a case-by-case basis, since some seem to be far worse than others).

But it is weird to live in this moment when everything seems to be coming out.  Just yesterday, there were so many new stories, led by Matt Lauer, that I lost count of all the names being ousted.

Some people get their paper each day--or the modern equivalent of the paper--and go to the obits to see who died.

Now you check to see who's the latest guy to be accused of abuse.  It's not quite the obits, though it does kill their career. (For a while, anyway.  I assume while some are so far gone their main hope is to hold on to their money and freedom, others are probably already plotting their return--a while in rehab, followed by an apology tour and a piece in major media explaining how they've been humbled, perhaps?)

I guess the question now is not only who will be next, but how long can this go on?  My guess is a pretty long time, since no one wanted to report on this stuff for at least the last few decades (or forever, except in spectacular cases?), but there was plenty going on.

PS Here's a list The Hollywood Reporter has compiled of entertainment figures who have been accused since Harvey Weinstein.  There are over fifty names.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eminem

I just heard Mitch Margo died.  He was a singer and songwriter best known for his work with the Tokens, whose big hit was "The Lion Sleeps Tonight."

I was surprised that he was only 70, since that song was big in 1961, which means he was 14 when he had a #1 hit.




Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Move It Along

I stayed in town over Thanksgiving weekend.  The place, while not deserted, seemed underpopulated.  Which was nice, since Los Angeles underpopulated is like most other places slightly overpopulated.

The best thing was the traffic.  It went from unbearable to merely annoying.  You could actually move on the freeways, rather than feel like you were sitting in traffic most of the way.

The amazing thing is LA is trying to make it more miserable to drive.  The idea is to force more citizens to take mass transit, or go on foot or bicycle.  This is insane.  I don't ask much of politicians--just don't be actively involved in the pursuit of misery.

If it's even rumored a politician wants more traffic jams, that should be a career-ender.  But when you've got a one-party town, it's hard to stop what would anywhere else be extremism.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Dim Jim

I have to wonder if Michigan fans aren't losing their patience with Jim Harbaugh.  He took over three years ago, and while he's delivered winning records, he doesn't seem to be able to win the big games.

This season--when the players he recruited should be coming to the fore--he really fell apart on this front.  Okay, the team had to switch quarterbacks twice, but they had plenty of talent.  And yet, each time they had to face a tough team, they folded.

Often they'd be ahead a while and just couldn't hold on.  And so there was a loss to Michigan State (I am so tired of losing to the Spartans), Penn State and, ending the season, a loss to Wisconsin followed by a loss to Ohio State.

Perhaps you can't blame a coach for everything, but couldn't his team have pulled off one of these games?  If Harbaugh doesn't deliver soon, will there be a movement to oust him?

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Sparky

Charles Schulz was born 95 years ago today.  He created Peanuts, maybe the most popular comic strip ever. It still runs in papers (as a rerun--like one of his characters), though Schulz died in 2000.

Nicknamed Sparky, he was born in Minneapolis and served in the army during WWII.  He had a talent for drawing and in the late 40s did a one-panel comic known as Li'l Folks.  In the early 50s, he wanted to syndicate, but by this time had a four-panel comic strip that would become Peanuts.  (The name was forced on him.  He never liked it.)

It took a few years, but the strip caught on, and caught on big.  Schulz and only Schulz did the strip, and he provided new material up until a month before his death in 2000.  The strip also led to a series of bestselling books, TV specials, a hit musical (I played the lead in a community theatre production), movie features and millions in merchandising.

The strip developed and changed along the way.  Characters like Patty, Violent and Shermy didn't quite make it, while others, such as Lucy, Linus, Peppermint Patty and Woodstock were introduced and grew in popularity. Also, at first Snoopy was silent, but eventually we could read his thoughts and he became the strip's most popular character.  (At least I would claim it's Snoopy.  If you don't believe me, check out who dominated the merchandising.)

All along, sad sack Charlie Brown was the star.  In fact, the strip was often known as Peanuts, featuring Good Ol' Charlie Brown.

Anyway, here's to good ol' Charles Schulz.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Valentine's Day

Happy 70th, Val Fuentes. Yeah, that name doesn't mean too much to me either.

But he was and is the drummer for It's A Beautiful Day, which is as good an excuse as any to hear their big hit.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Thanks Again

You've got an important decision today.  What to do with all that leftover turkey.  Choose wisely.


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Gratitude And Gravy

Happy Turkey Day.  It's my favorite holiday.





JH

I don't usually blog anything new on Thanksgiving, but I just heard Jon Hendricks, of Lambert, Hendricks & Ross, has passed away.

They were the greatest when it came to vocalese, and while Hendricks lived to a ripe old age, the music he left behind will last quite a bit longer.










Wednesday, November 22, 2017

DC

David Cassidy has died.  I'm old enough to remember when all the girls in my class were wild about him.  (I'm not old enough to recall pre-pubescent girls going crazy over the Beatles or the Monkees, but once you get a bit past that era, I've lived through more than one mania.)

I watched The Partridge Family when I was a kid. (I rewatched some episodes a few years ago--boy was it awful.) I identified more with Danny Partridge at the time, but Cassidy as Keith Partridge became the surprise star.  The show is about a family that becomes a big music act (how big was never clear, just like how big was Seinfeld on Seinfeld).  It was based on the story of the Cowsills--in fact, if that group had been better actors, it might have been their show.

Like The Monkees, The Partridge Family showed--a decade before MTV--that having millions watch you on the tube gets you enough promotion to generate hits.  Not that any show can do it.  The Brady Bunch tried and failed.

The first single from the Partridge Family, "I Think I Love You," went to #1.  They followed with two more top ten hits and several more top forty hits.  They also had three top ten albums.

But though the girls I knew thought it would be David 4ever, I'm sure Cassidy (who came from a show biz family--in fact, father Jack Cassidy was the former husband of his TV mom played by Shirley Jones) knew if you want to have longevity, and be taken seriously, get away from the 10-12 crowd as soon as possible.

But he was never able to escape that image.  By the time the show reached its fourth and final season, you couldn't give away their records, and Cassidy would be forever tainted by the association.  He did a bunch more TV, as well as recordings and live performances, but was mostly forgotten.  (I did hear his band on the radio once and thought they rocked pretty well.)

He kept plugging away.  What else could he do?  But it was never the same.  Which leads to the question--is it better to be blindingly famous for a short time when you're young, or to never make it?

He had problems with alcohol, and in recent years suffered from dementia. He had organ failure a few days ago and is now gone.  But if there's a hall of pre-teen idols, he'll have a place of honor.

What I'm Thankful For

I am not happy with a lot things but I think we need to look on the bright side sometimes.  On a cold rainy day, I am thankful to be reading John Cleese's hilarious memoir So Anyway  and to read funny stories like this.

https://www.rawstory.com/2017/11/reading-rainbows-levar-burton-bombarded-with-tweets-from-angry-trump-fans-who-think-hes-lavar-ball/

Engage

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Maggical Thinking

It's one thing not to like Donald Trump, but it's just silly to blame him for everything that happens.  Thus we get The New Yorker claiming the recent attack on Rand Paul emanates from Trump.

Of course, mindless people who believe they understand politics always like to play this game of magical influence.  To this day, anything that happened in the 80s (especially if it's bad) is laid at the feet of Reagan.

Which is what I was thinking while reading a piece in The Hollywood Reporter about Maggie Gyllenhaal.  Now I don't like to make fun of celebrities when they talk politics, because they generally have nothing to say and it's best to ignore them. But this was a pretty good example of mindlessness. Commenting on all the charges of sexual harassment coming to light, she says:

I really feel that's what's been happening since Harvey Weinstein was instigated by feelings that came from having Trump elected.  When an overt misogynist, who says out loud, 'I grab women's pussies, and they let me because I have a lot of money,' is elected president, alarms go off.  There have to be real consequences for that behavior.

What the deuce?  I don't know exactly why all these scandals are happening now, but this is silly.  For years Harvey Weinstein does this stuff and gets away with it. And then Trump says something (in secret, he thought) and--bam!--over a year later Weinstein is toast.

As long as Gyllenhaal is speculating on how politicians control our thinking, why didn't she mention the other political theory?  That while Hillary Clinton was a going concern, Democrats had to look the other way on sexual harassment.  But after losing to Trump, the floodgates opened.

In fact, Maggie, there was plenty of evidence years ago that Bill Clinton was harassing women, but that didn't seem to affect anyone in Hollywood.  According to your theory, it should have made them wake up.  All I remember is a partisan battle where Democrats said it was just about sex.

So I guess if we're to take her seriously (which I'm against), we'd have to argue she's saying it took a Republican to make Hollywood finally care about sex scandals, just like it took a Democratic loss for them to finally feel troubled about Russian influence.

Monday, November 20, 2017

It's Always Something

I recently saw the musical Something Rotten!.  It was enjoyable enough, but there was a built-in problem.

The story is set in 1590s England, where two brothers try to present plays but can't compete with Shakespeare.  So they decide to put on a musical.  (There was music in Shakespeare's plays, of course, but I guess that's not quite the same thing as a full-blown musical.)

It's a comedy, and the plot isn't really meant to be taken seriously.  But you should at least be able to get involved enough in the story to care about the characters.  However, much--perhaps most--of the humor is based on anachronism, so you're constantly being taken out of the show.

Anachronisms can create easy laughs, but are probably best kept to short comedy bits.  A show that asks you to invest two-and-a-half hours in the story and characters should demand more.

I would guess over half the jokes are based on our awareness (and sometimes the characters' awareness) of life now versus life then.  And quite a few of the big laughs are simply references to modern Broadway musicals in an Elizabethan setting.

There have been plenty of period musicals, but they work a lot better if you believe, on some level, in the story.  Look at Hamilton, the biggest hit on Broadway.  The show may be performed in a modern idiom, but the characters take their situation very seriously, and we believe in them.

And that doesn't change with knockabout comedy.  Consider a show like A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, a farce set in ancient Rome.  The characters have problems to deal with, and the problems are real, while none of their jokes or situations are out of place for the time period.  (The book writers, Larry Gelbart and Burt Shevelove based their work on Roman playwright Plautus.  They made sure to avoid anachronistic jokes, though they would have been easy enough to make.  (The same goes for Stephen Sondheim's lyrics.)  Their original lead Zero Mostel allegedly drove them to distraction with his ad libs, including lines they would never allow, like, referring to wine, "Was 1 a good year?")

So I don't think you could call Something Rotten! a classic. Even the silliest show needs something more.

PS  There were also a lot of near-rhymes that weren't pleasant to the ear.  This is apparently the new standard.  We get the same thing in The Book Of Mormon (though Mormon, even with its outrageous comic plot, takes its story and its characters seriously).

PPS  Something Rotten! is also another one of those musicals that's aware it's a musical.  A surprising number of shows are like this.  Can't say it's a good trend.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

MT

I'm not the biggest fan of country music, but Mel Tillis, who just died, certainly made his mark.








Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Death In The Cinefamily

Sad news.  The Cinefamily, which for years has been showing rare films, old and new, has officially shut down.

It exhibited its discoveries at the Silent Movie Theatre on Fairfax, just south of Melrose.  The theatre itself opened around 75 years ago--well into the sound era--and showed only silent films. (It's said Chaplin would sneak in and watch his classics).

It closed down for a while, then reopened in the 90s, not long after I moved to Los Angeles, and once again specialized in silent films. It was just down the block from me.  Then the proprietor was murdered during a showing, but that's another story.

It changed hands a couple times and a decade ago was taken over by Cinefamily, a group dedicated to spreading the love and excitement of film.  I became a member and attended fairly regularly.

I'm sure I saw over a hundred films there.  It was a lovely spot, with a nice patio out back where you could hang out before of after most shows.

However, in August they shut down when two of its leaders were forced to resign in a sexual harassment scandal.  I was hoping they'd reopen, but it appears they've decided to cease operations.

It's partly due to the damage of the scandal, though the non-profit group was also in debt, and I guess they figured it was time to go.

Here's hoping some new owner will open up and start showing films again.  Hey, Quentin Tarantino owns the New Beverly Theatre around the corner--maybe he'd like to open up a second spot.

Friday, November 17, 2017

For Lorne

Lorne Michaels turns 73 today.  Is there anyone who's had more effect on comedy in the past half century?

I was aware of Michaels before most Americans, because, growing up in Detroit, I saw him on TV as part of the comedy team Hart and Lorne. They were the younger, hipper version of the Canadian institution Wayne and Shuster.

He came to America and, as a comedy writer, worked on various shows in the late 60s and early 70s, including Laugh-In, and picked up an Emmy for a Lily Tomlin special.  He'd go on to win quite a few more, due to the show he invented in 1975, Saturday Night Live.

He came up with the concept, he cast it, he refined it, he argued with the network about it, he turned it into a hit. Then, after five seasons, he quit.  He'd done as much as he could, he probably figured, and wanted to try other things.

And he did other things, but none were as successful as SNL. The show continued without him, though it wasn't quite the same (and if it didn't have Eddie Murphy then one wonders if it would have even continued).  By the mid-80s it was faltering, and Michaels returned to set it right.

He's been running SNL ever since.  No show has created so many stars, and I would guess no show has been as responsible for so many funny moments.  (And no show has so regularly heard it's not funny like it used to be.)

He's also grown an empire from it, producing movies based on sketches or created by those who worked on the show, as well as producing quite a few TV shows, including The Kids In The Hall, Late Night With Conan O'Brien's, 30 Rock, Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and Portlandia.

But really, he'll be remembered for SNL.  And that should be enough for anyone.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

MysteRIous

I've been reading Stephen Galloway's Leading Lady, about Sherry Lansing, the first woman to head a major studio.

It's going along fine and then in chapter 6, Lansing is struck by a car while crossing Wilshire Boulevard.  The year is 1978.  She's rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center:

After an MRI revealed her skull was fractured, a four-hour surgery ensued...

Really?  In the late 70s, MRIs were still in the experimental stage.  I don't think they became regularly available in hospitals until the 1980s, and even then they were rare. I recognize Cedars-Sinai is a leading hospital, and a studio executive like Lansing would have gotten the best care available, but still.

So, unless I'm mistaken, either some source gave Galloway bad information or he just assumed they used an MRI.  Either way, someone should have looked into it before it got into print.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Yates Prates

There's a new London production of David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning Glengarry Glen Ross, starring Christian Slater.

It's a very entertaining play, and doesn't need to be propped up by claims of relevance. Sure, it's relevant, as is any work that demonstrates in a gripping manner how people act, but as with any revival, those behind it feel the need to bang the drum and say it's amazingly prescient and more meaningful than ever.

Usually, the facile claim about this particular piece is it reveals the dark underpinnings of capitalism.  But with Hollywood scandals in the news, director Sam Yates is trying a somewhat new tack:

What's interesting about the play is Mamet's dealing with a kind of toxic masculinity.  It's men all thrown together and you see dreadful behavior--you see the dreadful behavior of men who have power over others.

I think this misses the point.  These are desperate men who have precious little power.  Even those who seem to have some power are afraid of losing it.

It may be a fine production.  But Yates' comments don't give one confidence.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Everywhere A Sign

I was recently walking by a house with a sign in the yard that contained a bunch of political slogans, including "No human is illegal" and "Science Is Real."

Let's ignore that these are trendy, mindless phrases that don't really say anything beyond letting people know what side you're on.

Here's what I want to know.  Why would any people feel the need to put up such a sign? Are they worried that passersby will walk down the sidewalk thinking "I wonder if the people inside this house have their minds right on immigration?--their stance isn't certain so I'm going to assume evil things of them."

Do these people actually believe this will convince anyone of anything beyond the fact they've got an obnoxious sign in their yard announcing their politics?

It might be fun to live across from them and put up your own sign, saying--I don't know, how about "signs are stupid." And when they tear that down, put up "vandal are intolerant despite what their signs might lead you to believe."

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hillary History

On the anniversary of last year's election, a number of columnists have written what would have happened if Hillary won.

Heck, I can do that myself:

I bet she would have fired James Comey for all the trouble he caused.

And certainly she would have made sure the Republicans didn't repeal Obamacare.

You can bet she wouldn't have built a wall along the border.

She also probably wouldn't have passed any significant tax reform.

And Washington would remain the same place, with the same no-name lifers running thing day in day out.

Who did we elect again?

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Unruffled

I was buying some potato chips for a party.  My favorite type is Ruffles.  The three choices offered at the grocery store were original, cheese and sour cream & onion*.

But I noticed something else.  When you look at the small, single-serving bags, they have cheese and sour cream & onion, but nowhere did I see just regular Ruffles.

This is my favorite kind of Ruffles--I don't really eat the others.  I'm sure millions are like me.  So what if someone wants to buy a small serving as part of lunch? Can't be done, apparently.

I'm sure the small original Ruffles bag exists somewhere, just not the stores where I shop.  Why?  Is there a reason Frito-Lay is doing this?

*I generally don't use the Oxford comma, but when the final item includes an "and," that's the best time for it. In this case, it's merely an ampersand so I'm willing to take the chance that the reader won't be confused.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Refuse

I saw a leaflet for a protest taking place in Los Angeles today, on Veteran's Day. The object of protest, as you've already guessed, is our President.

The group is RefuseFascism.org.  And while that gives me some idea what they stand for, it's not clear what they expect.  Let me quote from their literature:

Join us in the streets and public squares holding a movement of continuing protests [...]

A movement determined to not stop until our demand is met:

THIS NIGHTMARE MUST END:

THE TRUMP/PENCE REGIME MUST GO!

Okay, they want our Prez and Veep out.  I suggest they wait till 2020 and vote them out.  Until then, they can vote in representatives who oppose the administration or write their representatives and tell them to oppose the administration.

Aside from that, what do they honestly expect?  Even if a protest moves anyone (and I don't think these protests will--at least not in the direction they're hoping), Trump is President and Pence is Vice President, no matter how much they protest.

Let me quote some more.

...it is our responsibility to drive them from power through non-violent protest that grow every day until our demand is met.

So they're going to keep protesting until Trump says he's had enough and leaves?  Good luck.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Is Kate Great?

What's news on the Rialto?  Top Broadway musical star Kelli O'Hara will be starring in a new production of Kiss Me, Kate.

This follows a pattern--she's already appeared in classics like South PacificThe Pajama Game. and, most recently, The King And I.  But as delightful as Kiss Me, Kate is, isn't this sort of a step down?

For all the attention the King gets in The King And I, it's Anna's show all the way. She gets five songs, not including reprises, while the King really gets only two.

Kiss Me, Kate is more even between the leading couple, but when it comes down to it, Fred gets better numbers than Lilli.

Yes, she gets "So In Love" (which Fred reprises later), and also takes part in "Wunderbar" and "We Open In Venice," but her other solo numbers don't measure up to Fred's.

He gets "I've Come To Wive It Wealthily In Padua," "Were Thine That Special Face" and "Where Is The Life That Late I Led?," all delights.  But Lilli is stuck with "I Hate Men" and "I Am Ashamed That Women Are So Simple."  I'm sure O'Hara can put them over, but they're some of the weakest material in the show.

Meanwhile, in the secondary couple*, Lois and Bill, Lois cleans up.  He gets to dance a bit, but his big song is "Bianca," almost a placeholder.  She gets the killer numbers "Why Can't You Behave," "Tom, Dick Or Harry" and "Always True To You (In My Fashion)."

Kelli O'Hara will be playing the lead, but maybe she should consider trading down.

*A leading romantic couple and a secondary comic couple were an old tradition which Broadway continued in the golden age of the integrated musical.  The only show of that era I can think of with two couples of equal status is Guys And Dolls.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Raising Kaine

Esquire has a fine oral history of last year's presidential election.  Check it out.

But right near the beginning, we get this:

Sen. Tim Kaine:  I thought we would win, but I was more wary than many for the simple reason that the U.S. had never elected a woman president and still has a poor track record of electing women to federal office.

What a jerk.  So much hate and foolishness in one sentence.  Every time I start feeling sorry for Hillary I read something like this and start to count my blessings over what we were spared.

By the way Tim, how was our track record on voting in candidates with no experience in office or in the military? For that matter, how was our track record in 2008 on voting in African-Americans?

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Trumpiversary

We had a presidential election a year ago today.  It's still hard to believe what happened.

I didn't expect Trump to take his party's nomination, much less win the general election.  I'm certainly not alone in this:



It's still one of the biggest shocks in American political history.

In retrospect, it's clear Trump had a populist economic message that resonated with enough people--and with the right people--to hand him the nomination and an Electoral College victory.  There were a number of factors in the general election, including a lackluster campaign from his opponent, as well as a country in the doldrums, but it was his message (and muddled as it may have seemed at times) that made the difference.

Perhaps another Republican nominee could have swept to victory if they had a similar, and made the case credibly, but we'll never know.

In fact, it's hard not to wonder what would have happened if another Republican ran.  It's possible a different candidate would have gotten more votes than Trump--perhaps more than Clinton--but still not won because Blue Wall states Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania wouldn't have switched.

Or maybe, who knows, any halfway presentable Republican was going to win that night--people wanted something which Trump delivered, and if he weren't in the race, they would have gone for the closest available candidate, which likely would have been a Republican.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Cast From The Past

Animated shows (with the exception of topical South Park) have much longer lead times than other shows.  Which is what I was thinking when I watched Sunday's episode of Family Guy.

There are the regular characters, voiced by the regular cast, but also certain recurring characters voiced by guest stars--two in particular I'm thinking of.

There's the Mayor of Quahog, who appears fairly often, and Angela, Peter Griffin's boss, who doesn't show up quite so much.  But they were both there yesterday.  They're voiced, respectively, by Adam West (1928-2017) and Carrie Fisher (1956-2016).

There was good old Adam West, playing Mayor Adam West.  And Carrie Fisher, who left us over ten months ago.  I wonder if they'll be making any more vocal drop-ins.  I would guess, once the show has nothing left in the vaults, they'll retire these characters.

It was nice to hear them, but it gave the episode a sepulchral feeling it probably wasn't going for.

Monday, November 06, 2017

FD

I was away when he died or I would have responded immediately, but let us not forget Fats Domino, one of the greatest rockers of all.














Sunday, November 05, 2017

Drop It

In a recent profile of Amy Adams, New York Times critic Manohla Dargis noted the actress could cry "at the drop of a dime."

That's not right, is it?

You do things at the drop of a hat.  And if you want to snitch on someone, you drop a dime on them (which I assume means calling the cops, or something like that).  Or you can stop on a dime.

How did this get through all those layers of checks and balances?

PS  I've checked, and apparently some people do use this locution, though it seems to have been coined (as it were) fairly recently.  It's likely a confusion of other phrases.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Silver Stars

I was in the library and I noticed both Art Garfunkel and John Oates had books out.

Did they coordinate this, or did it happen by chance?  They should have at least talked to each other to compare notes.

And maybe they should have called up Andrew Ridgeley to see if he was working on anything.  And did they have Jim Messina's number handy?

(Too bad Walter Becker died earlier this year, since maybe he would have been inspired as well.)

Friday, November 03, 2017

Tomfoolery

Some people have too much money. Take Tom Steyer.  He's long been a Democratic activist, and now he's spending his dough on a crackpot mission to impeach Donald Trump.



The best line is he wants us to tell Congress "they have a moral responsibility to stop doing what's political and start doing what's right." As if he's got a serious argument, rather than one based on raw politics. And as if not impeaching the President--which is generally how Congress works--is some extreme political stance.

Not that he has no chance.  If the Dems can take back the Congress, they might be as nuts as Steyer.  But if Steyer truly wants to make a difference, he should do what any self-respecting billionaire would and run for President himself.  Hey, if Trump is so awful and he won, it should be a piece of cake, right Tom?

Thursday, November 02, 2017

You Don't Say

I recently heard an argument that people misrepresent Islam because they don't read the Koran--and more specifically, for those who quote bits in English, that because they don't know Arabic they can't understand the Koran.

Is that true?  Is the Koran (and hence Islam) basically unknowable unless you can read it in the original language.  Does that mean that the many millions of Muslims around the world who don't know Arabic don't really understand their religion?

The same goes for other religions, of course.  The Bible, as Christians know it, was originally in Hebrew and, I believe, Aramaic and Greek.  So do you have to know these languages to truly understand the Bible?  Or, for that matter, to truly understand your religion?

Of course, you can be a believer and not be literate--you can just hear stories from others and accept it.  But if you want to argue about the meaning of the Bible, can you read translations, or is that not good enough?

The irony is that there are many Biblical scholars, and they hardly agree on its meaning.  So while I can understand learning a language to understand certain scriptures better, don't count on that alone for enlightenment.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Trekkin'

A two-volume oral history of Star Trek's first 50 years came out last year.  I bought the first volume, since I'm mostly interested in the first half of the story.

It's been on my Kindle for over a year, but I only just got to it.  I still mostly read old-fashioned books, the kind that are on paper.

It's close to 600 pages, and is a lot of fun.  All the players, in front of and behind the scenes, are here.  And they've all got stories to tell, even if they sometime contradict each other.  And they don't hold back--some people are still angry.

The story of the original series has oft been told, but perhaps never so well.  And I didn't know that much about the movies, which takes up the later chapters--it was both entertaining and informative.

It's been called a must for Trek fans.  I think that's right.

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