Saturday, February 25, 2017

Notes from the Road -- The Colonel Carries On #72

By Narya Whisper

“Vacations are good for a change and a rest. The bellboy gets the change and the hotel gets the rest.” --Henny Youngman

Truck stops have the most wonderful assortment of electronic gadgets and connectors, all overpriced.

In many states, gasoline is around or under $2 a gallon.

Those high-velocity hand-dryers are effective, but noisy.

Talking books are great in everyday short driving -- one gets so tired of radio -- but also on long trips.

Virginia’s long-time slogan, “Virginia is for Lovers,” began life as a proposal for “Virginia is for History Lovers,” which drew objections as too narrow. Other adjectives were proposed and rejected. The version adopted in 1969 dropped all adjectives and has lasted.

That slogan history reminds me of Connecticut’s short-lived “Connecticut: A Whale of a State.” It was thought to focus too narrowly on Mystic Aquarium. The criticism may have been valid, but everything since has been feeble. Do you know the current slogan? “Connecticut: Don’t Judge It by I-95!”

Please join me in pronouncing “short-lived” and “long-lived” like “Clive,” that is, with a long “i.”

“Circus Sarasota” can be sung to the same tune as “Gary, Indiana.” We saw it two days after five high-wire performers fell. Nik Wallenda gave a moving talk at our performance about why they do it.

The Sarasota Opera’s production of “Madama Butterfly” was really good. I hadn’t seen Puccini's great opera before. We went to an enlightening opera chat a week before featuring several performers and the director and the maestro.

The maestro bemoaned the alleged American practice of booing the villains when bows are taken at the end. “Respond to the performance, not the role!”

He said the American booing has rattled many a singer who was used to the European practice of responding to the performance, not the role.

The male lead, whose role is “Pinkerton,” was absent from the chat because he knows no English (he’s Italian).

The female lead seemed so full of herself that I resolved to boo her for herself, not her role. But when the evening came, her performance was so wonderful that I would have forgiven her for eating babies for breakfast.

The maestro must have had a word with the singer playing Pinkerton, because when he came out for his bows, and got boos, he shrugged good-naturedly and smiled, as if to say, “It was a dirty job, folks, but someone had to do it.”

The cries of “Bravo!” for the young woman playing Butterfly were disconcerting. Did they know something I didn’t about which locker room she used?

Checking the weather reports for Middletown during my absence caused a feeling I was ashamed of. In looking up the spelling of “Schadenfreude,” I came across the words “Schadenfreiheitsklasse” (literally, “accident freedom class”; probable English “no-claims rating”) and “Schadenfreiheitsrabatt” (literally, “accident freedom rebate”). German insurance talk.

Those chestnuts are by no means unique. Mark Twain enumerated the following “alphabetical processions”:


German has long sentences, too, about which Mark Twain said: “Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.”

But that's not important now. Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” was the basis of the musical “Miss Saigon,” which I saw years ago at the Bushnell. I remember two things about it: the amazing end to the first act, when a full-size military helicopter alights on the stage with deafening finality, and the loud gunshot near the end. No one ever accused that show of not being over the top.

Remembering “30 Rock”:
Tina Fey: “Jack, why are you wearing a tuxedo?”
Alec Baldwin: “It’s after six -- what am I, a farmer?”

Matthew Arnold discovered the purely intellectual importance of humility. He lacked the hot humility of saints and good men, but he had the cold humility essential to intelligence. To see things clearly, he said, you must “get yourself out of the way.” The saints said that without humility we cannot see the better world to come. Arnold said that without humility we cannot see this world. --after G.K. Chesterton

That is all.

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