Technological Conundrum

Readers, I need your help. When it comes to technology, I feel that I’m half idiot, half savant. Once I feel I’ve mastered something in computer science or home entertainment, it seems that the next new thing comes along. I had no trouble with social media sites like Facebook or Twitter, but it took me a while to get used to Blogger and then WordPress. Ask me to write code and I’ll stare at you blankly, but I can tell you how to successfully embed an amazon associates link in your blog.

It’s that I don’t want to upgrade, it’s just that I’m wary of jumping on a moving carousel. I held onto my disc-men for years. Finally, I caved and bought my first iPod and wondered how I ever lived without it. I figured I would never use my cell phone for anything other than calls. Cut to this past May when I got my first smart phone (Droid). Now I can listen to music, check my email, tweet and update facebook from something the size of my wallet. And I wonder how I ever lived without it. Who knew? I’m now considering a Macbook for Christmas. My first computer was a Mac, but now it might be time for a return as I’ve spent ten years with PCs and am getting frankly a quite tired of them. (A night in the Apple Store in Midtown will do that to a person).

But the big hold out for me has been Blu-ray technology. I figured I had enough DVDs to last me and why would I need to upgrade? Well, as it turns out, (much like Betamax, VHS and now DVD) the new technology is slowly taking over the market. I’ve recently received two review copies in the form of Blu-ray and I currently don’t have the technology on which to play them. Thank God for my best friend who graciously lets me spend as much time as I need in his basement home entertainment center!

This digital technology fascinates me. I was thrilled when TVs expanded from 4×3 to 16×9 (I’ve been a champion of letterboxing since I was in middle school – that’s how much of a nerd I am). 720i 1080i? I didn’t know what any of this meant, nor what was best for my viewing. Plasma? LCD? LED? I’ve been unable to choose, so I haven’t gotten one yet. Then Blu-ray came about; that seems like a package deal. Why would I want to get a Blu-ray player for my 12 year old console that’s starting to die? My big main problem is I never know what brand I should go for. I’ve been buying Sony for years, but that’s mostly been my name recognition factoring into it, but keep an open mind in case I find out there’s something of superior quality.

I wonder if some day we’ll be able to close our eyes and immerse ourselves into Gone with the Wind or Star Wars in our own heads. Fanciful stuff, but at the rate we make these advancements my imagination may not be as outlandish as it may seem. But for now, I’m left with the task of upgrading my technology and I cannot think of a better way to get information than from my bloggers. What do you think of the upgraded digital technology? And what do you think makes for the best home entertainment experience?

Vocal Selections from "1600 Pennsylvania Avenue"

While I have the vocal score in my possession, I do not have this gem which must be some sort of collector’s item. I find it amusing that a show that played seven performances and folded without a cast album would publish vocal selections, especially since Mr. Bernstein went on to recycle elements of his score into future works. (Bernstein and Lerner made the arrangement with Music of the Times Publishing in November 1974 to publish their collaborative effort). I’m assuming there aren’t many copies of this available, though I did locate several in the NYPL catalogue. Unfortunately if you’re looking to perform the “Duet for One,” that 26 page behemoth has been left out. But there are other hits from the show you can sing around the piano in your living room: “Bright and Black” – “Pity the Poor” – “The President Jefferson Sunday Luncheon Party March” – “The Red, White, and Blues” – “Take Care of This House” – “Seena” – “We Must Have a Ball.”

Opera en el Mercado

Much like that exuberant display of The Sound of Music in the Antwerp Station in Belgium last year, an opera company in Valencia went guerrilla theatre on an unsuspecting group at the largest covered market in Europe. This took place about two months ago and it took that long for it to come to my attention. Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, a new opera center in Valencia, sent some of their singers out to promote their season. The opera singers were disguised as employees, and burst into song for the crowd. Fragments of Verdi’s La Traviata were sung culminating in that perennial favorite “Brindisi,” with the singers handing out glasses of champagne to and dancing with the amused bystanders. It’s not as polished as some of the other videos of this ilk, but it’s hard not to be charmed by the joy being shared by this group of strangers.

Truth be told, I’d actually look forward to food shopping if I had Renee Fleming selling me a canteloupe. Enjoy:

Is It a Crime…?

-to have wanted Grey Gardens to sweep the 2007 Tony Awards?

-to admire every actress who has starred in Gypsy on Broadway and not play favorites?

-to prefer William Warfield’s rendition of “Ol’ Man River” to Paul Robeson’s?

-to want the original production of Follies – sets, costumes, staging – brought back every year or made part of the NYCO repertory?

-for Encores! to stick to their original mission? (More Juno, less Birdie)

-to want a cast album for every musical that opens, regardless of whether or not the show is any good?

-to dislike the British megamusicals?

-for actors to be cast by hard work, discipline and auditions rather than a reality TV series?

-for a musical to be wholly original?

-to admire both Jerry Herman and Stephen Sondheim?

-for a contemporary non musical play to sustain a three year run?

-to prefer integrated musicals over interpolated musicals?

-to delineate between a revue and a jukebox musical?

-to gently correct people when they mistakenly use the term “Broadway soundtrack” instead of “Broadway cast album/recording”?

-to televise the Tony Awards ceremony in a different Broadway house each year?

-for Colony to gouge their prices so?

-to close a cash cow that’s become an industry joke?

-to disapprove of the internet surcharges and service fees when purchasing theatre tickets?

-for the exemplary Jan Maxwell to star in a critical and financial smash on Broadway?

-for the original orchestrations to be respected rather than discarded (I’m talking to you, Roundabout)

-for the Times Square Church to vacate the Mark Hellinger Theatre?

-for a Broadway house to be named for Oscar Hammerstein II?

-to allow more than three minutes for a Best Musical and Revival of a Musical nominee to perform on the Tony telecast?

-to enjoy the new pedestrian friendly Times Square?

-to listen to an overture, entr’acte and exit music uninterrupted by conversation?

-for individuals to turn off their goddamn cell phones, blackberries and iPhones while a show is in progress? (oh wait, it is…)

-for Encores! (or some other group) to present an annual concert series of Broadway flops for us to see how and why they failed?

-to have a hit show play the Lyceum Theatre?

-for contemporary musical theatre composers to write pop scores that aren’t unhealthy to sing?

-to have the Drama Desk Awards aired on PBS again?

-for Off-Broadway theatre to get as much love as Broadway?

-to grab a lamppost and then sing “Sweet Adeline”?

Gwen Verdon – "Walk It Out"

Someone with a lot of time on their hands realized that a vintage clip of Gwen Verdon dancing to “Mexican Breakfast” on 1960s TV synced up with the rapper Unk’s single “Walk It Out.” Reading the commentary, people are discussing how Beyonce emulated these steps. Homage or thief? You decide…

Here’s the original:

Here’s the remixed video:

This is just awesome…

One of the unexpected joys of today. Some Julie Andrews flavored guerrilla theatre at the Central Station in Antwerp, Belgium. (Thanks, Kari!)

Addendum: Turns out this was done on the morning of March 23, 2009 sponsored by a local station that’s hosting a reality show to cast Maria in a new production of the musical. Anyway, this is my favorite flash mob. Enjoy.


Times is Hard…

In case you’ve been curious about the goings-on in my neck of the woods:

The economic crisis is leading desperate people to desperate measures. A financial planner was arrested and charged after robbing a Peekskill bank at knifepoint this week. Here’s where the bizarro comes in:
“Police said that Solomon was wearing a Groucho Marx mask, consisting of glasses, fake busy eyebrows and a fake mustache, when he entered Trustco Bank lobby in a Welcher Avenue shopping plaza a few minutes after its 9 a.m. opening on Jan. 16 and robbed the bank at knifepoint.”

I wonder if this is the first time this stock disguise has ever been used in such a crime…

My Own Limerick

My friend Miles has an uncanny ability to create a limerick off the top of his head. Well, I now have the distinct honor of being the subject of my very own. Here it is:

There once was a man from Westchester
Whose ambitions did fever and fester
He drank his White Russians
With the best of the lushes
And proceeded to pluck out his chest hair!