Hamilton

Full disclaimer, I still haven’t seen it, so I’m not entitled to have an opinion on it. Nonetheless, I think we’re seeing an interesting social phenomenon, and a proof of Marshall McLuhan’s most famous statement, the medium is the message.
For five years, we have all been hearing people sing the praises of Hamilton, the Broadway musical. So far, so good. I tend to like musicals, on the grounds that even if the story is shit, there might still be a couple of enjoyable songs in there. Also, I like historical biographies. Hamilton is not my favorite among the revolutionaries, and I certainly would have voted for Jefferson over him, but he definitely gets credit for being a smart guy who was right about some stuff. And, recently, history has not been kind to Jefferson.
But, back to Hamilton, the musical. It was incredibly popular as a stage play, with all the in-crowd people, those who can afford to pay a couple hundred bucks for an evening’s entertainment, raving about it.
Now, it’s on TV (pay TV, but still TV) and it has been shown to a much wider audience, and it’s like the blazing campfire got doused by a surprise summer rainstorm. Some people are still saying they liked it, but a whole lot of people are saying ‘meh’ or even ‘that kind of sucked.’
Part of it was the idea of black actors playing white characters, which I hadn’t even realized was the deal back when it was just rich people seeing the play. Tricky stuff, there. The Wiz worked. Black Panther worked, even with white audiences. But, a historical drama, I don’t know. When Daniel Day Lewis played Lincoln, he was made to look like Lincoln and part of the casting choice was that that would be possible. When Cliff Robertson was chosen to play John Kennedy in PT 109, part of the reason for that choice is that he looked a bit like Kennedy.
It can be defended, it’s acting, it’s a stylistic choice. But, it’s one that apparently worked with the dress up and go to the theater audience, and not to the people who were watching it on their couch, at home, in their underwear.
Also, I think there’s a bit of confirmation bias at play. If you’ve shelled out a couple of Benjamins to see a show, you are disinclined to come out of that show and say “Eh, didn’t like it that much.” Even most rich people will admit that that is an amount of money not to be lightly thrown away, and nobody likes to admit they got took.
Whatever the specific reasons, it is proof of what McLuhan said. The medium definitely does have an effect on how the message is perceived.

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Kanye West?

The first, and actually only thing you need to remember about Kanye West’s announcement that he’s running for president is that it should not be taken seriously. There is no more chance of Kanye West becoming president than there is of Trump refusing to leave office if he loses. You can file both of those under things that will never happen.
Kanye West is a bit like Vermin Supreme, the guy who wears a boot on his head and says that everybody should get a pony. But, I doubt he’s as smart or as self-aware. Vermin Supreme even admits on his website, sort of, that it’s all a big joke.
I’m not saying no musician could ever be president. Sonny Bono made it to congress. If he’d been a super great congressman, and a better skier, he might have pulled it off.
But Kanye West? He’s famous for making a sex tape that spawned a reality show. He’s famous for being a drunken idiot at the Grammy Awards ceremony. He’s famous as a punch line, a symbol for completely moronic people who have no idea how smart and talented they are not. He’s not all that famous for his music.
He probably has no idea what running for president entails, and will not even be listed on the ballots.
So, in summation, no. No, he should not be taken seriously. At all.

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Weeding

We’re at the cottage. I took the train up this morning, which is, in my opinion, the loveliest and most underrated way to travel. I’d planned to get a bit of writing done but, in the end, the emphasis has to be on ‘a little.’ Helena and Isabel had driven up on Thursday, so Helena was there to meet me at the station.
We had an ice cream outdoors on what passes for a town square in the village of Rovensko pod Troskami, and it’s less than a 5 minute drive from there.
Now, when I go to the cottage, I like to have something to do, because I get bored as hell just sitting around the house, watching Czech TV. So, I was quite happy to go out and pick a couple of bowls of red currants. The bush was absolutely thick with the brilliantly red little globules, it looked like some people got drunk and went crazy while decorating the Christmas tree. So, it was easy.
The next task was less so. Helena and I walked up the hill to just outside the village where her dad has a small potato patch, and spent a couple of hours weeding it. I was short of breath and sweating and aching before we’d even got properly into the first row. After a couple of hours I felt like I’d just completed a marathon, but we did get the job done. Maybe not perfectly, but we got rid of all the big weeds and didn’t kill any potato plants, and that’s about the best you can hope for. Also, the potato field is at the top of a hill so there are spectacular views all around. You can see the troski (ruins, in this case of a 12th century castle) which give Rovensko pod Troskami it’s name (Rovensko under the ruins)
A dip in the above ground pool, a walk down to the pond, a nap, and then we had a cook out. Not in honor of the 4th, just how they do it at the cottage, but that’s O.K. I’m counting it as a holiday meal.

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The Fourth

Well, happy 4th or July, for what it’s worth. Nothing against barbecue and fireworks. It is just a holiday, and has no greater real world importance than any other symbol, like a statue or a street’s name.
But, as a blogger, every symbol can be an excuse for a blog so I’m sure many bloggers are using this day as an excuse to write about what America means to them, so I’m just swimming with the current on this lovely, blue skied summer morning in Prague.
America began as a noble experiment. Like the ancient Greeks, we still had slavery, but July 4th, 1776, was nonetheless a crucial date in the history of democracy. The birth of America spelled the death of royalty as a major form of governance, and thus was a very good thing.
But as Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government ever invented, except, of course, for all of the others.” Democracy gives the people (in theory) exactly what they deserve, and the good old USA is sure getting a shit storm of bad right now. Yes, it’s deserved, but nobody’s celebrating.
Biden supporters are saying we have to vote for him or America is doomed. Many Sanders supporters are saying whoever wins between these two Bozos, America is doomed. Trump supporters are saying bring on the apocalypse.
In any event America, as we once thought of it, is done. Let us move forward into the future, taking the best of that experience – Democracy, Rock and Roll, Jazz, Blues and Hollywood – and leaving the worst behind.
Happy 4th, everybody. Enjoy the fireworks.

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Shut Up and Vote for Me

Cornell Belcher, who I’d never heard of before but apparently he was somebody important in the Obama administration, just went on MSNBC and told us progressives we should ‘shut up, grow up, and get in line to vote for Joe Biden.’ He also said that we could argue with him about policies after he was elected.
It sounds familiar. It sounds a bit Sarah Silverman at the 2016 convention saying “You’re being ridiculous,” which a lot of Bernie people have never forgiven her for. It sounds a lot like what Joan Biden said, way back before the primaries had even begun. “Other politicians might have better positions on, like, health care, but you’re just going to have to suck it up and vote for my husband” or words very much to that effect. In fact, it sounds like something Joe Biden has probably said himself on the campaign trail.
But most of all it sounds like every Biden supporter I’ve ever seen on Facebook, repeating the same damn post over and over and over again. Because they have no other argument. If they say Supreme Court, there are people online who will remind them of Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia. If they say he supports Medicare for All, they are lying, and if they say he supports the Green New Deal (and both of these are things I’ve actually read, that people actually typed) they are lying. Perhaps lying is too harsh a word. Let’s replace that with “haven’t got a fucking clue what they’re talking about.”
You would think, by now, that some of them would have realized the truth, that when they are asked what policy is it of his that they like, they can’t think of a damned one.
You’d think they would have figured it out by now, that if they can’t think of a single policy of his they like, maybe they’ve been bamboozled. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

In lighter news, Herman Cain has caught the Corona Virus, after attending Trump’s Tulsa rally without a mask, and maybe he’ll die.

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