Tag: The Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club (Every Way You Look at This You Lose)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

President John F. Kennedy laid to rest at Arlington; New details emerge about Iran-Contra affair; British forces leave New York; Elian Gonzalez rescued off Florida coast; Baseball’s Joe DiMaggio born.

Breakfast Tunes

TBC: Morning Musing 11.24.14

I have some lighter fare for you all this morning:

Don’t rake your leaves, scientists say

Here’s an excuse to use the next time someone asks you to rake the leaves: Science.

The National Wildlife Federation is encouraging people to leave the leaves.

Jump!

The Breakfast Club (ScrOOGLElicious)

I barely understand this stuff, but it appears that Google has gotten rid of the You Tube “use old embed code” share option again. So if your web site doesn’t use iframes you’re just going to be SOL. Ebay users are going to be pissed. Guess I’ll have to study up. I only know how to post You Tubes the old way. Anyhow I found this workaround that appears to work for now. My understanding is that Google doesn’t want anyone to use the old embed codes anymore because … mobile devices. Yay! ScrOOGLElicious.

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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Today in History

Breakfast Tune: ‘Viola Lee Blues’ GUS CANNON (1928) Banjo Blues Legend

Breakfast News & Blogs Below

The Breakfast Club (Refrain, Audacious Tar)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgLast week we discussed the British composer Gustav Holst and the week before that Mendelssohn (boffo in Britain, I’m telling yah), and this week we’ve had a really excellent parody of I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General (which is of course nothing new, patter songs, particularly the very popular ones lyricized by W.S. Gilbert, are often laced with satiric contemporary references that performers update to reflect their own environment).

All of which means that it must be time to mention Arthur Sullivan.

Ok, I can see you shaking your heads out there, muttering WTF?  It’s perfectly obvious to me.  Major General is from the famous light Opera (sometimes called Operetta or Musical Theater), The Pirates of Penzance composed by Sullivan in collaboration with Gilbert.  Holst idolized Sullivan until he changed his allegiance to (shudder) Wagner.  Sullivan was the first recipient of the Mendelssohn Scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music when he was 14 years old.

See, clear as mud (and remember, mud spelled backwards is dum).  The important thing about my jokes is that they amuse me.

I’ll spare you a recapitulation of my career as Ralph Rackstraw, let’s just say I’m big with captive audiences in school assemblies and relatives who are supportive of macaroni and glue pictures.

But let’s talk about Artie for a while.  In the first place, he would have hated that nickname because he always considered himself a serious and dignified member of the conventional “Art” Music establishment and certainly not a mere tunesmith writing ephemeral crap for beer soaked groundlings in a Music Hall (which everyone knows is the next thing to a brothel anyway).  He composed 23 Operas, only 14 in collaboration with Gilbert, 13 oratorios and other major orchestral works, and 2 Ballets.  This in addition to many pieces of chamber music, piano sonatas, and hymns of which probably the best known is Onward Christian Soldiers.

But he fell into the company of Richard D’Oyly Carte, this kind of sinister Brian Epstein/Tom Parker character who made him fabulously wealthy by forcing him to write wildy popular ditties hardly worthy of his talent.

Though that was not the cause of his split with Gilbert, nope, they broke up over a carpet.

Throughout most of his association with Gilbert they had quarreled over the plots and themes of their work.  Gilbert was a decided populist and Sullivan entirely bourgeoisie.  They both considered themselves better than their commercially successful Operettas.  It was most often Sullivan who would threaten to quit and eventually Gilbert would respond with a libretto that was at least not totally unacceptable to Sullivan’s refined sensibilities and aristocratic asprations, but in the end it was Gilbert who walked away.

D’Oyly Carte used a lot of the money generated by their partnership to build a theater dedicated to staging their productions, the Savoy.  At best he wasted a lot of it on maintenance, at worst-

In April 1890, during the run of The Gondoliers, however, Gilbert challenged Carte over the expenses of the production. Among other items to which Gilbert objected, Carte had charged the cost of a new carpet for the Savoy Theatre lobby to the partnership. Gilbert believed that this was a maintenance expense that should be charged to Carte alone. Gilbert confronted Carte, who refused to reconsider the accounts.

After all, the carpet was only one of a number of disputed items, and the real issue lay not in the mere money value of these things, but in whether Carte could be trusted with the financial affairs of Gilbert and Sullivan. Gilbert contended that Carte had at best made a series of serious blunders in the accounts, and at worst deliberately attempted to swindle the others. It is not easy to settle the rights and wrongs of the issue at this distance, but it does seem fairly clear that there was something very wrong with the accounts at this time. Gilbert wrote to Sullivan on 28 May 1891, a year after the end of the “Quarrel”, that Carte had admitted “an unintentional overcharge of nearly £1,000 in the electric lighting accounts alone.”

So Gilbert sued Carte and won.  Sullivan supported Carte during this dispute and for a while the former collaborators barely spoke and created solo works that were resounding flops.  They were eventually reunited by their music publisher Tom Chappell, but their new productions (Utopia, Limited and The Grand Duke were not nearly as well received as their previous work.

Sullivan died in 1900, Gilbert in 1911.  Sullivan was considered by almost all his “serious” contemporaries a wasted genius.  Of course they all languish in deserved obscurity but you’ll find people like me performing H.M.S. Pinafore to this very day, partly because they are public domain (next time we chat about Sullivan I’ll try and concentrate on their copyright litigation).

The piece I have selected is not a collaboration with Gilbert but does have a connection.  It is a traditional “Grand” Opera, Ivanhoe.  It was originally staged at the Royal English Opera House which was built by Carte expressly for the purpose.  While moderately successful itself, Carte was unable to find enough suitable productions to make the Hall profitable and the Opera House was a commercial failure.

Unfortunately it’s in 13 parts so I’ll embed the playlist and hope that works-

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

The Breakfast Club (Anything Goes)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Thomas Edison says he’s invented the phonograph; Gap revealed on Nixon White House tape; Final victim dies in America’s anthrax scare; Jonathan Pollard arrested; ‘Anything Goes’ opens on Broadway.

Breakfast Tunes

The Breakfast Club (Miss Lonelyhearts)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgWhen I was in school we got assigned Miss Lonelyhearts by Nathaniel West.  The reason you assign a book like this to children is not because they’ll really understand it, or that you do, but because it’s really short.

It was about the first existentialist work I was exposed to and one of the bleakest.

While the write up in Wikipedia (and Sparks and Cliffs for that matter) focus on Miss Lonelyhearts and his sad moral existence and the metaphorical parallels to the Great Depression I couldn’t, and can’t to this day, read it without weeping over the plight of his correspondents-

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts–

I am in such pain I dont know what to do sometimes I think I will kill myself my kidneys hurt so much. My husband thinks no woman can be a good catholic and not have children irregardless of the pain. I was married honorable from our church but I never knew what married life meant as I never was told about man and wife. My grandmother never told me and she was the only mother I had but made a big mistake by not telling me as it dont pay to be innocent and is only a big disappointment. I have 7 children in 12 yrs and ever since the last 2 I have been so sick. I was operated on twice and my husband promised no more children on the doctors advice as he said I might die but when I got back from the hospital he broke his promise and now I am going to have a baby and I dont think I can stand it my kidneys hurt so much. I am so sick and scared because I cant have an abortion on account of being a catholic and my husband so religious. I cry all the time it hurts so much and I dont know what to do.

Yours respectfully,

Sick-of-it-all

Miss Lonelyhearts threw the letter into an open drawer and lit a cigarette.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts–

I am sixteen years old now and I dont know what to do and would appreciate it if you could tell me what to do. When I was a little girl it was not so bad because I got used to the kids on the block makeing fun of me, but now I would like to have boy friends like the other girls and go out on Saturday nites, but no boy will take me because I was born without a nose–although I am a good dancer and have a nice shape and my father buys me pretty clothes.

I sit and look at myself all day and cry. I have a big hole in the middle of my face that scares people even myself so I cant blame the boys for not wanting to take me out. My mother loves me, but she crys terrible when she looks at me.

What did I do to deserve such a terrible bad fate? Even if I did do some bad things I didnt do any before I was a year old and I was born this way. I asked Papa and he says he doesnt know, but that maybe I did something in the other world before I was born or that maybe I was being punished for his sins. I dont believe that because he is a very nice man. Ought I commit suicide?

Sincerely yours,

Desperate

The cigarette was imperfect and refused to draw. Miss Lonelyhearts took it out of his mouth and stared at it furiously. He fought himself quiet, then lit another one.

Dear Miss Lonelyhearts–

I am writing to you for my little sister Grade because something awfull hapened to her, and I am afraid to tell mother about it. I am 15 years old and Gracie is 13 and we live in Brooklyn. Gracie is deaf and dumb and biger than me but not very smart on account of being deaf and dumb. She plays on the roof of our house and dont go to school except to deaf and dumb school twice a week on tuesdays and thursdays. Mother makes her play on the roof because we dont want her to get run over as she aint very smart. Last week a man came on the roof and did something dirty to her. She told me about it and I dont know what to do as I am afraid to tell mother on account of her being liable to beat Grade up. I am afraid that Gracie is going to have a baby and I listened to her stomack last night for a long time to see if I could hear the baby but I couldn’t. If I tell mother she will beat Gracie up awfull because I am the only one who loves her and last time when she tore her dress they Joked her in the closet for 2 days and if the boys on the blok hear about it they will say dirty things like they did on Peewee Conors sister the time she got caught in the lots. So please what would you do if the same hapened in your family.

Yours truly,

Harold S.

Depressed yet?

Well, that didn’t help at all.  But nothing really does, you just forget for a while.

Maybe it’s just that time of year when the time and light change and the pressure of the Holiday season, the sense that another big tick has just tolled on your life clock.

This is mere introduction to the two best Science and Technology posts I found this week which happen to be tremendously depressing.  On the other hand I could be beating you about the head every week about Climate Change and Mass Extinction so there is that.

The law that entropy always increases holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of Nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations – then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations. If it is found to be contradicted by observation – well, these experimentalists do bungle things sometimes. But if your theory is found to be against the second law of thermodynamics I can give you no hope; there is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation.

Sir Arthur Stanley Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (1927)

“I am lonely, will anyone speak to me”: Inside the saddest thread on the internet, ten years later

Tori Telfer, Salon

Wednesday, Nov 19, 2014 06:58 PM EST

This October, a guest user logged onto moviecodec.com – a technical Q&A forum for media file playback and conversion – to post a cry for help on one of the site’s off-topic forums. “[I’]m so lonely,” wrote the user, “feeling sad please anyone talk to me.” It was an almost word-for-word replica of the thread’s title, written 10 years and thousands of posts earlier: “i am lonely will anyone speak to me.” The thread’s creator was also a guest, who logged in as “lonely” in 2004. A decade ago, due to the freakishly searchable title and the fact that the site was already optimized for maximum Google search exposure, the thread went viral. Within days, it was the No. 1 result for “I am lonely” on Google, and hundreds of anonymous lonely hearts were flocking to the forum to commiserate, console and weep.



Today’s bigger, flashier Internet means lonely people don’t have to turn to a random off-topic thread on a tech site to assuage their feelings of isolation. “[The thread] no longer receives as much traffic as it used to receive, and I believe that is mostly due to there now being many more sites and sources on the Internet dealing with loneliness,” says Lundgren. The lonely can take a Loneliness Quiz from Psych Central or join the Campaign to End Loneliness. They can listen to sad arias on Spotify while ordering near-limitless amounts of comfort food from GrubHub. If loneliness is cured by distraction and a sense of interconnectivity, the Internet is a much better place for the lonely today.

But has the Internet also turned crueler? More isolating? Lundgren seems to think so, calling Internet forums “generally more harsh and less helpful than 10 years ago.” (And it’s not just forums. “The distribution system for our beastliness has gotten so much better because we have the Internet now,” said satirist Andy Borowitz on NPR in 2010.) Why the bad turn? “Because as a whole people have become more hurried, more goal-oriented, and less helpful on the Internet,” says Lundgren. “People don’t ‘hang out’ and help each other the same way as before.” If this is true, the “i am lonely” thread reflects this shift. Though the overall tone remains empathetic and helpful, a sense of solidarity, of us-vs.-them, has been lost. As one guest user wrote in August, “This thread signifies the very volatile nature of society. Look at the replies people were getting a decade ago after they confided to a forum that they were lonely and look at the replies people get now … SADDENING.”

Whether or not the Internet is the dark source of all our loneliness is a fiercely debated topic. It’s like the chicken-or-egg conundrum, or the tree-falling-in-the-forest question. Does the Internet cause loneliness, or do lonely people choose the Internet? If one solitary nerd has a thousand online friends, is he still alone in real life?

No one has been able to answer the question conclusively. A 1998 study called the “Internet Paradox” is still an apropos descriptor of the whole mess. We use the Internet to communicate, but is it killing “real” communication? We chat with old crushes on Facebook, but should we really be taking out our headphones and talking to the cute guy in the checkout line? Terrifying think pieces about the links between technology and dying alone are, ironically, all over the Internet; in Public Culture, Zeynep Tufekci points out that this is mostly an “appeal to moral panic,” as there’s not a lot of empirical research to support these hypotheses. But there’s a reason we see a headline about Facebook causing loneliness and think, yes, that makes sense. It’s not empirical, but it’s intuitive. Everybody knows the sort of gnawing ache that hits when you find yourself online late at night. You feel … like a loser. And you want to see if anyone else is out there.

The “i am lonely” thread provides affecting – if inconclusive – contributions to the Internet loneliness debate. On the one hand, without the Internet, where would the lonely Vegas housewife “alone in [her] room and longing for company” go to vent? On the other hand, would user “depresico” have a better life if the Internet didn’t exist? “Another thing for my loneliness is those freaking computers,” depresico writes. “[I] just happend to have my computer as my best friend since i wasnt that socially related to the outer world but now i realized how much i had missed” [all sic]. Another user mourns the sadness of using technology to connect to people “who may not even exist.”

The crux of the Internet loneliness debate isn’t actually the Internet; it’s the tension between Internet reality and real world reality. There’s a sense in which the Internet is somehow fake, and that the real world is better, but we go online to talk about it anyway, hovering in that space between technological connection and physical connection. It’s illogical to think of the Internet as separate from the real world – we’re still regular people communicating regular things on it – and yet we constantly differentiate between the two. Lundgren, for instance, believes that loneliness can only be solved in the latter.  “The Internet will never suffice,” he says. “You need to actually talk to and see people in real life to feel like a real person.” In other words, there’s a fear that a person on the Internet is somehow less real than an unplugged one. And the fear of talking to people “who may not even exist” on the Internet is a relevant, though surreal, worry. If the original poster, “lonely,” logged off forever and never came back to the thread, how much value do we get from thinking of them as a real person with a real life and real loneliness? For all intents and purposes, hasn’t “lonely” become just another search term, another bit of code?

Twine, the Video-Game Technology for All

By LAURA HUDSON, The New York Times

NOV. 19, 2014

Perhaps the most surprising thing about “GamerGate,” the culture war that continues to rage within the world of video games, is the game that touched it off. Depression Quest, created by the developers Zoe Quinn, Patrick Lindsey and Isaac Schankler, isn’t what most people think of as a video game at all. For starters, it isn’t very fun. Its real value is as an educational tool, or an exercise in empathy. Aside from occasional fuzzy Polaroid pictures that appear at the top of the screen, Depression Quest is a purely text-based game that proceeds from screen to screen through simple hyperlinks, inviting players to step into the shoes of a person suffering from clinical depression. After reading brief vignettes about what the main character is struggling with – at home, at work, in relationships – you try to make choices that steer your character out of this downward spiral. The most important choices are those the game prevents you from making, unclickable choices with red lines through them, saying things like “Shake off your funk.” As your character falls deeper into depression, more options are crossed out. You can’t sleep; you can’t call a therapist; you can’t explain how you feel to the people you love. In the depths of depression, it all feels impossible.



Twine games look and feel profoundly different from other games, not just because they’re made with different tools but also because they’re made by different people – including people who don’t have any calcified notions about what video games are supposed to be or how they’re supposed to work. While roughly 75 percent of developers at traditional video-game companies are male, many of the most prominent Twine developers are women, making games whose purpose is to explore personal perspectives and issues of identity, sexuality and trauma that mainstream games rarely touch on.

Although plenty of independent games venture where mainstream games fear to tread, Twine represents something even more radical: the transformation of video games into something that is not only consumed by the masses but also created by them. A result has been one of the most fascinating and diverse scenes in gaming. The very nature of Twine poses a simple but deeply controversial question: Why shouldn’t more people get to be a part of games? Why shouldn’t everybody?

One of the most prominent and critically acclaimed Twine games has been Howling Dogs, a haunting meditation about trauma and escapism produced in 2012 by a woman named Porpentine. The gameplay begins in a claustrophobic metal room bathed in fluorescent light. Although you can’t leave, you can “escape” once a day by donning a pair of virtual-­reality goggles. Each time, you’re launched into a strange and lavishly described new world where you play a different role: a doomed young empress learning the art of dying; a scribe trying to capture the beauty of a garden in words; a Joan of Arc-like figure waiting to be burned on a pyre. And each time you return to the metal room, it’s a little dirtier and a little more dilapidated – the world around you slowly decomposing as you try to disappear into a virtual one.

“When you have trauma,” Porpentine says, “everything shrinks to this little dark room.” While the immersive glow of a digital screen can offer a temporary balm, “you can’t stay stuck on the things that help you deal with trauma when it’s happening. You have to move on. You have to leave the dark room, or you’ll stay stunted.”



This year, Porpentine released Everything You Swallow Will One Day Come Up Like a Stone, a game about suicide. One of her most moving games, it also remains one of the most obscure – largely because she distributed it for only a single day.

“This game will be available for 24 hours and then I am deleting it forever,” she wrote during its brief availability. “Suicide is a social problem. Suicide is a social failure. This game will live through social means only. This game will not be around forever because the people you fail will not be around forever.”

The concept for the game is tremendously simple. A number counter is set to zero, with plus and minus buttons beneath it to make the number bigger or smaller. “I counted this high,” it begins, and then the game is just that: counting up, though the purpose of doing so isn’t clear at first. I’ve played it four or five times now and never made it all the way through without crying.

Sometimes, nothing happens when you click to the next number; other times, words appear like stray thoughts. “Who would you miss if they were gone for a day?” it asks at one point. Keep clicking, and the word “day” is replaced by “month,” then by “year” and finally “forever.” Sometimes it asks you questions. Sometimes it tells you stories. At one point it quotes from the suicide note of a Czech student who killed himself by self-immolation, later from a news report about a woman who committed suicide after being raped. “This is the game,” it says.

The numbers start to feel like days, and the rhythm of clicking feels like passing time, like checking off days on a calendar. It isn’t always “fun,” per se; sometimes, when you click 10 or 15 times in a row and see nothing but an empty screen, a little part of you wonders when it’s going to end. But you keep on clicking. After all, what other choice do you have? It feels like surviving.

But somewhere around the number 300, the game decides to throw you for a loop. Click the wrong link – or the right one? – and it catapults you suddenly into the tens of millions. The moment you see it, your guts twist with panic; the space between where you were and where you are becomes a vast numeric desert, and the idea of clicking millions of times to get back seems impossible. You won’t be able to do it, you think for a moment – you’ll just have to quit the game. Then you remember you’re playing a game about suicide.

“That’s what it feels like to wake up insane or with trauma,” Porpentine said. “It’s like, Oh, God, how do I get back there? It feels like it’ll take a million days to get back, a million steps. That is the crisis. ‘Will I ever be the same again?’ And you won’t.”

Science and Technology News and Blogs

Science Oriented Video!

The Obligatories, News, and Blogs below.

TBC: Morning Musing 11.19.14

I have 3 articles for you this Wednesday morning!

First, on media complicity in framing our drone victims:

ON MEDIA OUTLETS THAT CONTINUE TO DESCRIBE UNKNOWN DRONE VICTIMS AS “MILITANTS”

Since its 2012 report, the Times itself has tended to avoid the “militant” language in its headlines, but often lends credence to dubious official claims, as when it said this about a horrific U.S. drone strike last December on a Yemeni wedding party that killed 12 people and wounded at least 15 others, including the bride: “Most of the dead appeared to be people suspected of being militants linked to Al Qaeda, according to tribal leaders in the area, but there were also reports that several civilians had been killed.” Other U.S. media accounts of that strike were just as bad, if not worse. The controversies over the definition of “militant” are almost never mentioned in any of these reports.

A new article in The New Yorker by Steve Coll underscores how deceptive this journalistic practice is. Among other things, he notes that the U.S. government itself-let alone the media outlets calling them “militants”-often has no idea who has been killed by drone strikes in Pakistan. That’s because, in 2008, George W. Bush and his CIA chief, Gen. Michael Hayden, implemented “signature strikes,” under which “new rules allowed drone operators to fire at armed military-aged males engaged in or associated with suspicious activity even if their identities were unknown.” The Intercept previously reported that targeting decisions can even be made on the basis of nothing more than metadata analysis and tracking of SIM cards in mobile phones.

Jump!

The Breakfast Club (It’s All Been a Pack of Lies)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

This Day in History

Cult leader Jim Jones and hundreds of followers die in mass murder-suicide in South America; Massachusetts high court rules gay couples can marry; Disney’s ‘Steamboat Willie’ premieres in New York.

Breakfast Tunes

TBC: Morning Musing 11.17.14

I have two articles for ya; one not so good and the other pretty cool:

First, probably not the area in which we want a lot of incompetence:

Pentagon Review Says America’s Nukes Are FUBAR

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is ordering a massive overhaul of America’s nuclear weapons program after finding that “we’ve taken our eye off the ball,” he said at a press conference on Friday morning. The Pentagon released a review of the nuclear forces that found outdated equipment, weak leadership, and abysmal morale among the men and women responsible for maintaining and launching some of the most destructive weapons on the planet. It found, for example, that the Air Force had only one wrench to attach and remove nuclear warheads on 450 ICBMs at three different bases. Maintenance officers would FedEx it among the bases.

The wrench fiasco, since remedied, “is reflective and indicative of a system that has been allowed to slowly back downhill,” Hagel said. “We must change the culture of the nuclear force, especially in the Air Force.”

Jump!

The Breakfast Club (Baked French Toast with Blueberries)

A food coma inducing meal that will keep you satisfied all day.

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

 photo 807561379_e6771a7c8e_zps7668d00e.jpg

Today in History


Highlights of this day in history: Dr. Sam Sheppard acquitted of murder in new trial; U.S. and U.S.S.R. form diplomatic ties; Second anthrax letter found sent to Capitol Hill; Actor William Holden dies; ‘Sound of Music’ hits Broadway. (Nov. 16)

Breakfast Tune: Hendrix played on a banjo

Breakfast News & Blogs Below

The Breakfast Club (Poppies!)

breakfast beers photo breakfastbeers.jpgI must have space on my mind this week, as well as Remembrance Day.

The Planets (Op. 32) is a 7 movement suite for a large orchestra.  How large?  Two Piccolos, 4 Flutes, an Alto Flute, 3 Oboes, a Bass Oboe, an English Horn, 3 Clarinets, a Bass Clarinet, 3 Bassoons, and a Contrabassoon.  Six French Horns, 4 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, a Bass Trombone, a Euphonium, and a Tuba.  Six Timpani, a Bass Drum, a Snare Drum, Cymbals, a Triangle, a Tam-Tam, a Tamborine, a Xylophone, a Glockenspiel, and Tubular Bells.  A Celesta and an Organ.  Two Harps.  Your usual compliment of 1st and 2nd Violins, Violas, Cellos, and Double Basses.

Oh and two (count ’em) two Three Part Women’s Choruses (two Sopranos and an Alto), located in an adjoining room thank goodness because there’s hardly any place to put them on stage.

The 7 movements are supposed to be evocative of, what else, the planets.  Can you spot the ones that are missing?

  1. 00:00 Mars, the Bringer of War
  2. 07:21 Venus, the Bringer of Peace
  3. 15:58 Mercury, the Winged Messenger
  4. 20:14 Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity
  5. 27:50 Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age
  6. 37:12 Uranus, the Magician
  7. 43:15 Neptune, the Mystic

Why Earth silly, and also Pluto which wasn’t discovered until March 13, 1930.

Now Holst despite his German sounding name (Gustav) was actually 2nd generation British, his Grandfather Gustavus having emigrated from Latvia in 1802.  As an early 20th century composer he’s perhaps best described as post-Romantic of the Folk Music vein.  He actually admired Wagner (idiot) and would have done much better sticking to his earlier Idol, Arthur Sullivan.  As is typical of the 20th century school he could and did write in many of the established musical forms (Symphonies for instance), but didn’t feel bound by them.  He was a big fan of Henry Purcell and was frequently inspired by poetry rather than nature, a post-Romantic trend, and by Folk Music (a late Romantic trend), a sublimation of the jingoistic nationalism of much Romantic Music.  He was also impressed with Hindu mysticism and did several of his own translations from Sanskrit and wrote a few pieces based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, a more 20th century sort of thing.  Perhaps his best musical friend was Vaughan Williams who was arguably the most influential British composer of the 20th century.  Holst was “traditional” in that he was not nearly as interested as some of his contemporaries in flouting convention just for the sake of it.

The Planets, his most successful work, was written between 1914 and 1916, and received it’s first performance in 1918, just before he left for Salonica to work with British veterans waiting to be demobilized.  He had frequently volunteered for military service but was rejected because of his chronic asthma.  Several of his relatives, friends, and musical acquaintances did serve and a few of them died.

When I listen to this piece, especially the movements related to the Inner Planets (Mars, Venus, and Mercury), I often think of the Great War and speculate about whether the music was effected by contemporary events.  Traditional music history though suggests that the motivation was astrological and the movements reflective of the influence of the planets on the psyche.

This particular recording is the Berliner Philharmoniker under the direction of Karajan and has some nice pictures from NASA.

As for astrology?

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

Julius Caesar (I, ii, 140-141)

Obligatories, News and Blogs below.

The Breakfast Club (Don Quixote)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Nazi Germany bombs English town of Coventry during World War II; ‘Moby-Dick’ published; Nellie Bly begins globe-trotting trek; Leonard Bernstein makes conducting debut; Composer Aaron Copland born.

Breakfast Tunes

The late Leonard Bernstein made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall on November 14, 1943 when the scheduled conductor fell ill. Oddly, the day was also composer Aaron Copeland’s birthday whom Bernstein had met at Copeland’s birthday party in 1938 while Bernstein was a student at Harvard.

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