When people say things better than I do

Edgar Bergen with his ventriloquist’s dummies Mortimer Snerd (left) and Charlie McCarthy in Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939), directed by Frank Tuttle. Credit: © 1939 Universal Pictures Company, Inc.

Edgar Bergen with his ventriloquist’s dummies Mortimer Snerd (left) and Charlie McCarthy in Charlie McCarthy, Detective (1939), directed by Frank Tuttle.
Credit: © 1939 Universal Pictures Company, Inc.

Random thoughts on a Sunday evening.

I’m home from just finishing a run of 10 shows between Tuesday and this evening. We resume on Wednesday for the final nine.

But all weekend I’ve wanted to write about a couple of things, but couldn’t find the time or the words. So, for the most part, I’m going to let someone else do it for me.

First up, Nelson Mandela who died last week at the age of 95. I have realized a couple of things, I don’t know enough about him and his life and I want to read his autobiography in 2014.

But I will admit being perplexed by the varying opinions and comments among the political set upon Mandela’s death. And, as someone who believes in redemption, I wonder why they judge Mandela for his earlier life as a revolutionary and not his life and accomplishments following his release from prison. Certainly he was not perfect. None of us are.

Over at Outside the Beltway, Doug Mataconis has an excellent article: On Mandela, Some Conservatives Get It And Others Quite Obviously Don’t

Mataconis writes:

Some people still appear hung up on the fact that, before he entered prison, Mandela did in fact have alliances with Communists and others on the left in South Africa and that he also advocated the use of violence against a government that was, accurately, perceived as oppressing a black majority that under the law had no rights and no ability to peacefully demand its rights in the manner that African-Americans in the American South were in the 1950s and 1960s. It’s also true that, while Mandela was in prison, the ANC and its allied groups became even more violent and radical in the face of increased government crackdowns, including the murder of fellow activists such as Steven Biko. Finally, it’s also true that in the final years before Mandela was released, the ANC turned increasingly toward enacting terrorist-like tactics against blacks deemed to be insufficiently committed to “the cause,” including most prominently the nations large population of Zulus. Mandela, of course, isn’t responsible for all of this, most certainly not what occurred while he was in prison, and it’s worth noting that he was very quick to disassociate himself from many of the ANC’s actions, and even his own wife Winnie, in the years after he was released from prison. However, it is true that he wasn’t the “peacemaker” all of his life, and that he was not a Saint either, although I don’t recall him ever making that claim and doubt that he ever would have. Nonetheless, it is this side of Mandela’s legacy that many American conservatives are choosing to focus on in the wake of his death.

It’s worth your time to read the whole article.

Then there was Carrie Underwood in The Sound of Music.

I didn’t have the chance to watch it live. I was in the third of the ten shows mentioned above. So, we recorded it and I watched it late (very late) Friday night.

While I didn’t think it was the best thing I’d every seen, I thought for live theater on television, it was actually pretty good.

No, Carrie Underwood is not Julie Andrews or Mary Martin. But she shouldn’t be compared to them. Nor should the television presentation be compared to the movie, for multiple reasons. The stage show has always been different, and movies have a chance to use real scenery…and editing.

But what NBC did was bring a live theatrical production to television for the first time in some fifty years. The last being (I believe) Leslie Ann Warren starring in Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella. Mary Martin previously played Peter Pan (twice) on live television and Julie Andrews starred in an earlier version of Cinderella.

As for the Carrie Underwood version, some 18.5 million people watched it. That’s huge for a non-sporting event.

Emerson Collins writes at his blog:

I hear the well-articulated argument that those knowledgeable or trained in theatre should not have to be happy with “what we get” if what we get is not good.

The problem is this argument is naive. Theatre has been losing it’s relevancy in the national art discussion and pop culture dialogue outside of New York City for a very long time. The cost of seeing theatre in New York, or even the vast majority of the national tours now, makes attending the theatre an option only for the wealthy or the middle class willing to splurge.

It’s also important to recognize that this production was an enormous risk. For the network and for Carrie. A live theatrical event of this size and scope has not been broadcast live on network television since long before the advent of social media.

Finally, while I’ve backed off of writing about politics, I still keep up with what’s going on. Following the Republican Party of Virginia “Advance” (should they be calling it a “Retreat?”) at the Homestead, Shaun Kenney writes:

Ladies and gentlemen, the reason why we are getting our butts kicked is because the grassroots are (1) lazy, (2) ineffective, and (3) unwilling to fight for their beliefs in the same way liberals are willing to fight for theirs.

As for the top-side of this equation, the powers-that-be (4) need to quit sending the grassroots into the arena armed with a ping-pong ball and a slingshot when the opposition is using tanks, (5) need to figure out what the conservative movement is for, and (6) need to quit thinking of their own skins and start thinking about what sort of America we want to see in 20 years.

Again, it’s worth your time to read more.

Finally, I should noted that it’s December 8 (as I write this). The house isn’t decorated. The leaves aren’t up. The writing deadlines aren’t met.

But, Christmas is coming.

1 pings

  1. […] Casting a human, Miley Cyrus or not, in the part of Tinkerbell would garner NBC more criticism than casting Carrie Underwood in the iconic role of Maria von Trapp (and I happen to think she did a fine job). […]

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