Sunday, December 02, 2018

My Tale of Two Messiahs

I performed The Messiah with the Calvary United Methodist Church Festival Choir on Saturday afternoon (, then attended the Pittsburgh Symphony/Mendelssohn Choir performance Saturday night (  That was many hours of The Messiah for one day, though we only sang the first half of it (plus the "Hallelujah Chorus," of course). 

We were good, but, realistically, the PSO/Mendelssohn performance was better. They were all professionals and had a much bigger orchestra and many more singers.   We were mostly amatuers.


I think our tenor soloist (George Milosh) was better than their tenor soloist (Paul Appleby), and our soprano (Anna Singer) was more understandable than their soprano soloist (Rachele Gilmore, who had great tone quality but her diction was lost). I was a little concerned about the PSO hiring a countertenor to sing the alto solos, but Andrey Nemzer was very good, though had a little trouble with a few high notes. 

Much as I like Manfred Honeck as the conductor the PSO, many of the choral pieces, except for "Worthy Is the Lamb," were just too fast. Our conductor, Brian Burns, had a much better sense of how the music should be paced.

It was an enjoyable way to spend a Saturday.  I hadn't been singing with choirs very much the last few years, due to severe insomnia and some throat problems.  It was great to find the Calvary group. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Contact Congress NOW

On July 16, 2018, Donald Trump committed treason by denying Russian influence over the 2016 election and refusing to believe the findings of his own FBI and Department of Justice (and even British Intelligence) about Russian involvement in it. Those of us who believed in Trump-Russia-Collusion spent a lot of time venting on Twitter because it should be really clear to anyone that it happened. Impeach him! Convict him of treason! Maybe even execute him!

But, today, take a deep breath...and fight on but a little more calmly (and this is a reminder to myself as much as anyone else).

I will call my senators and my representatives today, and my message will be:

  1. We need Congressional hearings now on Russian interference in the 2016 election.
  2. We need Congressional hearings now on the Emoluments Clause and the way Donald Trump is enriching himself and his family by being president.
  3. Congress must prevent Mueller and Rosenstein from being fired or their investigation being defunded prematurely.

We are very used to the Republican "witch-hunty" hearings of recent times, where Hillary Clinton spent 11 hours answering many questions over and over again. But while she was accused of many things, the committee could never charge her with anything.

I know Congressional hearings can be meaningful and relevant. Because, when I was 16, I spent part of the summer of 1973 watching the Watergate Hearings on TV.

I felt like was part of the only Republican family in Massachusetts. I did support Nixon, I supported the war in Viet Nam and so on. I even believed he was innocent of knowing anything about Watergate and it was all on his underlings. But, remember, back then, many Republicans were pro-ERA and pro-choice, so you could be a Republican and support women's rights. The party was definitely turning racist, but, sadly, I just didn't notice that as much as I should have.

But watching the Watergate Hearings, it became clear to me that Nixon did know what was going on, and I believed Nixon was guilty-guilty-guilty as Gary Trudeau used to say in Doonesbury.

I told Mom I thought Nixon was guilty, she called me a Communist, I cried about that and didn't talk politics with her again until the '90s. In fairness to Mom, she didn't vote for Goldwater and she wasn't planning to vote for Trump (but died before the election).

The problem is, while millions of us know that Trump is guilty of multiple impeachable crimes, millions are in complete denial, aided and abetted by the lapdog Republican Congress and Faux News reinforcing their fantasy that the Trump Regime is somehow good for the country and the world when it is anything but.

If the Republicans refuse to hold hearings on the 2016 election or on the Emoluments Clause, the Democrats should rent a hotel ballroom and hold mock hearings on Trump. Invite the TV networks to film them. Bring forward witnesses. Show the American people what a functional, Congressional hearing can look like.

If you don't have your representatives phone numbers & E-mails on your phone (and you should!), here's how you can find them.

PS: While it was exciting for the DOJ to have arrested Russian agent and NRA photo-girl Maria Butina, she's a small fish in a big school. She was too young to be anything but a minor player. I hope the DOJ is focusing on her handler(s).

Sunday, January 07, 2018

All Gone to Look for America (Part

Simon and Garfunkel's "America" came out in April, 1968. I always heard the chorus as "All gone to look for America." The Internet tells me I've heard that line wrong for nearly 50 years - it's really "All come to look for America." But, I think my mishearing is a better title for this series of blog posts on a trip back in 1968.

In 1968, our parents took our family plus Grandma on a major trip - a cross country trip mostly by train, returning eastward across Canada. It was an amazing few weeks and fueled my lifelong love of travel. It was also challenging at times for my folks who were traveling with 4 children under the age of 12 - I was 11, Carrie was 10, Jeff was 8 (had his 9th birthday on a train in Canada) and Terry was 3 (turned 4 not long after we got home). This was not the kind of trip middle class families made in the '60s but my grandfather had died in late '66 leaving some money for extras like this trip.

The main argument I had with Mom over this trip was her refusal to fly. She was phobic about flying, and this phobia extended to Dad (who occasionally had to fly on business) and her kids. Her stepmother would fly, but she traveled with us for most of the trip. She left us in Canada for a separate trip to Banff; don't remember if she flew home from there or not.

This story of our trip will be mostly lacking something important - photographs. I know Dad took a fair number of photos as he stored them in photo envelopes in his office drawer for decades. Over the last few years, both of my parents have died. One thing we have yet to find after two years of combing over their stuff - most of the photos from that trip. The one family picture I have from early that summer just before the trip is the single most ugly shot of the four of us, so horrifying in its utter dorkiness that one brother has begged me to never put it online and I agreed. How bad is that photo? Well, here's the picture of me from that photo, and, I agree, it is one of the worst photos of me ever.

Here's a travel shot of us taken in Canada in 1967 (we were all bigger by '68, me especially).

And our youngest brother looked roughly like this in 1968 (though smaller in this case)

And, finally, here's a photo of my parents, taken around the time of the big trip.

While most of the photos of that summer are probably still buried in a box somewhere, one thing we did unearth last fall was the itinerary.  My folks used a local travel agent who arranged the hotels and the like.  So I can tell you that we left Union Station, Worcester, MA on Friday August 2, 5:10pm and took the train to Chicago.  We had sleeper bunks in the train and got to Chicago the next morning.  We stayed at the Harrison Hotel (now the Travelodge on East Harrison St.).  I never had many memories of Chicago, other than it was the first huge city I'd ever been to.  I think we went to one of the museums and walked around. I think we took a sightseeing trip on Lake Michigan.  But the reason I have so few memories of Chicago from that trip is we were only there for about a day and a half.  By early Sunday evening, we were on a train, heading west for Flagstaff, Arizona.