THE NEXT OPERA

Cinderella & Company, by Manuela Hoelterhoff

This excellent book about the inside of the world of opera is amusing, well-written, to the point and short.

Initially, an impression comes to the reader. The book is a story of antedotes – the opera in the 1990s and in the past – but there is more.

A growing realization comes that the author has written the outline for a new opera libretto: Singers of all sexs, shapes and ages are themselves; most have great talent but do not want to sing. Every singer in a libretto based upon this book can sing a few bars from a famous aria and quit, as if to say, “see I know the whole thing.” In the songs of the opera singers sound out their excuses, reasons, or disgust why they will not perform. NOTE: Sets for the new opera cost zero because everything is backstage. It is all in this book including the ending where some singers mature and otherwise grow up, getting over their juvenile, wanton ways in order to return to the silly world of the opera stage. There’s a lot of money at stake.

Read this book to be entertained, or to write a libretto.

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REMINISCENCES OF A STOCK OPERATOR

by Edwin Lefevre

This book came highly recommended, and for someone intensely interested in financial markets, it has value. It may be an Investment Classic. It is written in textbook fashion, meaning it is poorly written and prolix. It is a blue pencil special.

This reader read 100 pages and stopped. The first problem is the text is a narrative using I: Everything must be explained by I, and neither I nor the author do that. I does not explain well the stock market, stock picking or timing. It seems out of nowhere I is in a brokerage shop or a firm where he buys or sells. I happily tells when he’s made money, based upon what analysis of the market, a stock, conditions or being drunk or using drugs? (e.g. Union Pacific)

This reader tired of reading that I had talked to friends, brokerage people, or there was this stock or that, and all the while this reader knew he was reading too many words. There ought to be one-quarter or one-third fewer words in this book, because there is no explanation of analysis or the market or stocks. This reader did not need to read that many words about I’s social career. Hence, the text should be 200-225 pages instead of 300 pages.

GOOGLE GUY

Like everything else on the Internet, this incident has arisen to cartoon character status, because those are the only persons many Americans will believe. The Google Guy was given space on Saturday’s Wall Street Journal op-ed page.

In 1790 in Vienna an honest observer would say Mozart was the most original composer of the times. Franz Joseph Hayden was equally excellent, but in a different way. What about Beethoven? He had arrived and played the piano for Mozart, who unjustly wasn’t impressed. When Mozart heard Beethoven improvise, he said, “The world will hear from this young man.”
Hayden took Beethoven on as a student. The pupil fought with his teacher all the time, but something was conveyed. Fifteen years later during the performance of The Seasons the old man got up to leave. Beethoven was kneeling before him. Embarrassed and overwhelmed, Hayden got Beethoven to stand so he could look at his peer.

In 1793 who would have known the disagreeable student would be the best composer to live, ever. By 1808 Hayden knew it. Beethoven’s collective work shows a steady improvement and use of the imagination. Later pieces are consistently better than the earlier. And who knew after 1808 Beethoven would compose the Fifth Concerto, the Seventh Symphony, Eighth Symphony, sonatas, quartets and when deaf, the Ninth Symphony. He wrote Wellington’s Victory to pay the rent.

I’ve seen the Google Guy interviewed, and who is he? He does not realize there are big grand issues he is not addressing. The issue is, how to prompt an employee’s imagination to do the work presented. The answer is not forthcoming by comparing men to women. To do that one needs gobs of data, personal knowledge and be educated in teaching the disciplines which Google finds important. We’re talking about higher forms of mathematics where 2 + 2 = 5. If a Google employee can teach that, one might be able to evaluate other employees, if there is complete access to academic and psychological reports for each individual.

Remember the Google Guy is looking for distinctions in imaginations. In 1830 Chopin left Poland on his way to Paris. He stopped in Germany to hear Mendelssohn perform. They were both 20 years old. When the music wasn’t very good, Chopin went on his way: “No use meeting Felix.” Mendelssohn had every musical gift Mozart had, but did not know how to use the talents – focus to produce compelling music. Polish speaking Chopin was fleeing a failing revolution at home against the Russian occupier. Chopin’s music is almost always precise, surprising and pleasing.

Somebody who collects gross data off the Internet, and tries to make it comprehensible does not have the facts and figures to conclude anything about anyone. Hence, the Google Guy, likely has a storied career in education, perfect scores on the SAT, and everything else – ornaments for the resume. He also has a list of letters following his name longer than the alphabet, reflecting victories in science and wizardry contests and extending far into his Wazoo. Such credentials are why this guy should not write. There have always been exact answers in his world.

I can tell Google Guy that how he did it is not how writers do it. Sources may be available but what do they indicate? They are not formulas, equations and therms. The studies produced are by researchers seeking answers. Do they ever ask enough questions? Like a political poll the best any one can derive from studies are inclinations and trends. I assume that the A-Hole U which Google Guy attended did not teach him how to research any better than it taught writing and interpretation. Google Guy’s abilities are best left in the imagination, working through math problems, conceptual relationships among sets, numbers and equations and hoping to arrive at a defensible conclusion or a better product. Most human beings and situations are far from those efforts, and being human they don’t always act predictably.

What specifically is not happening at Google? Work is not being done? Someone in management is to blame. Employees need better training. Google is a choice employer. There should be enough scrutiny of new employees so urging them to work is not a problem. They are self-motivating; they have initiative; they use their brains to confront issues before them.

Or does Google hire employees who are not qualified? Are Google employees happy with their performances in academia, and now want to coast during employment? And since this is California, are there substance abuse issues? Perhaps some employees have psychological problems, and a few physical limitations.

What do Beethoven, Hayden and Mozart have to do with Google? I suppose Google hires employees hoping each will contribute often over the long term. Some may be standouts but not fully noticeable today. In a decade how will these people have helped?

FIRST PERSON NARRATIVE

In literature this voice is not used often; there are good reasons why. Having “I” tell the story greatly limits the options a writer has available in any writing. The reader and world already know whose point of view is being presented: I, and to be consistent I must fill in all the action and description. A derivation into description present in a third party tale is noticeable and a flaw.

It may seem that dialogue can be accurately reported by using I. Indeed, some of the sentences may have been previously uttered, but there is not enough paper in the world to record every conversation completely. In all literature conversations reported in dialogue are edited and representative. That selection process picks the jewels coming from the human brain through the mouth rather than a jumbo mix of participles, prepositional phrases and adverbs. Someone writing dialogue I, the first person narration needs to tone down and eliminate as many words as possible: First, the words come from I, a person the reader is familiar with. Second, unless the dialogue drives the story forward, it should be dropped. In a first person narration I is the primary mover of the story. If points in dialogue have not been made, they may have already been implied, or they are not important and possibly conflicting. An author cutting his dialogue – this is my styleHORRORS! It is an impossible task.
Writing a novel is the first person narrative and having flashbacks seems an impossibility. I have tried reading such a novel. The author tried to clarify by dating each chapter of the multi-decade story: Chapter 1, Winter 2008; Chapter 2, Autumn, 1982, etc. Embracing I along with keeping track of incidences in I’s life over the decades is more than a reader should endure: Chapter 3, Winter, 1983; Chapter 4, Spring 1984; Chapter 5, Summer 2008.

The author jumped relying on dates and seasons and dialogue from those times, but I wondered, why bother. The author supposedly wanted to tell a first person narrative about a police investigation of a local heroin distribution ring. It seems a timely subject beset by the awkward telling.

So I put the book down. There are others to read, one by Joseph Conrad.

SHERLOCK – Season 4

This series has begun the slide into fantasy and surrealism. Points are blocked out and seemingly follow one another. But do the blocks make sense? A headline from Favorite Internet Site leads to Sherlock and Watson to follow a line; a note discarded in the Underground on the other side of London stirs them in other directions.

The cartoonish coincidences of blocks mock the whole Sherlock idiom. Most of Season 4 is taken up with the future crimes predicted by past bad guys, James Moriety, killed in Season 2. Note that a few years or more have passed by Season 4. The dead man has joined forces with Sherlock Holmes brilliant sister, who supposedly has not been released from confinement for 30 years.

According to the cartoon story she knows everything. She’s more brilliant than either of her brothers, although she is severely mentally retarded. She keeps that handicap in check while having her brothers jump through her hoops. Episode three of Season 4 is not good science fiction, science fantasy, detective fantasy, etc. It’s more like a pseudo-psycho story with gaps, and the audience is to fill in the blanks while trying to follow improbable actions: A cross between Survivor and Alien [the original].

The Sherlock Holmes idiom presents a man who is different from other human beings. Note that Sherlock is not in a different setting. In the settling that is known to the audience, what delights readers and viewers is Sherlock’s observations of the unknown and unnoticed. When Sherlock pursues criminals, he does not leave reality, the setting the audience is in. When using fantasy leaps, grand coincidences and changes of setting in SHERLOCK – Season 4, the Sherlock idiom is lost. [Robert Downey Jr. movies came close but did not cross this line.]

What the audiences and the writers lose? Nobody cares about Sherlock or how the crimes are solved. Most of the crimes are obvious {cereal (serial) killer}and solvable by the cops; Sherlock isn’t needed. SHERLOCK – Season 4 lost its strongest human being when Mary, John Watson’s wife, is unnecessarily killed. If the truth be known the original Terminator movie has more human beings in it (including Arnold) than SHERLOCK – Season 4.

CRIME 2

On April 23, 2017 I gave a rundown of criminal situations that arise frequently on crime shows. I gave 15 much scenarios, and I’m adding another 15. I cannot say I’ve covered the whole range of basic facts leading to crime. I may write more, but the 20 categories I’ve identified can help anyone to analyze any scene. Here comes Crime 2:

l.   No adult or adolescent female should ever attempt to mother a man who is a boyfriend. There is no reforming the male. That relationship will end badly – violently with psychological issues rearing and separating the couple, and an ugly aftermath.

2. There is a different between support, care and attention and mothering. A mother has
to accept all great aberrant behaviors. But a woman in a relationship does not to go
beyond care, nursing a scrapped knee; she should support criminal acts but she should to ready the man for the consequences of his actions, striving to improve his state of mind if the idiot is capable. She should never tell everyone her man is right and righteous.

3. DO NOT EVER believe having plastic surgery will rekindle a marriage/love affair.
Marital problems usually go to he bone – far beyond skin deep.

4. Marriage, living with another, is real. DO NOT EVER believe a spouse who commits fraud or steals from other is a mate. Theft is theft, whether it be money, time, attention or caring.

5. Missing persons: When a child, adult or relative are missing – not were anyone expected them to be and not found anywhere else – call the cops. When anyone waits for the cops to call them to report, your missing person is dead.

6, Women of all ages, but primarily adolescents and a bit older, should never feel sorry for a guy who tells a sad tale otherwise instantly recognized as a sob story. His life is one
of hard knocks. The guy wants you to cry; he wants you to take care of him; he wants your body. He wants your attention. He wants your money. He says he does but he does not care about you.

Corollary: A sob story is not a good basis on which to establish a long term
relationship.

7. Boys and girls who insist on confronting someone who has wronged them, and they don’t want to go to the cops, frequently their end up murdered or hurt. When a crime is committed, the perpetrators frequently are emotionally dangerous human beings and easily act wantonly a second time.

8, If perpetrators of crimes have a successful run, treat it like a job. Save the money. Have an exit strategy. Train replacements. Leave town. Remain silent. Live a quiet life somewhere afar. Spend time reading books taken from the public library. Try not to see the old gang again.

9. A single adult with a child must realize: Grow up, be mature. The child or any adult the
needs attention and care. The child is offspring; you are not a child. Rules of being single no longer apply. The single person is first an adult. The most important person in life is the child – not the single socialite, and not the pretty person who is offering attention to the single parent. There are no good reasons for ignoring a neglected child.

10. Human thought puts too much emphasis on experience, and not enough on the imagination: identifying an activity, playing through the actions, consider the consequences. The thinking is much better than the reality: Do a stupid, wanton, wasteful act will forever change lives including your own, and your life will be gone.

11. Being a parent means you must also carry the responsibilities of being an adult. But being an adult, does not mean one is capable of being an parent.

12. A teenager of a small town who is going to college, in a larger town should reflect. Where you are going is much more exciting than anything in the hometown. It is not time to paint the hometown red. Too much can happen which usually does, involving crime, injury and death. Instead, rest and read so you can paint the college town red.

13. In America today are large subcultures, devoid of or producing their own morals and
ethics and inflected with with addictions. Citizens live on the edge or off the grid
because they are incapable of joining society in any way.

14. What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Right? There are towns and neighborhoods,
elsewhere, where the Vegas rule also pays out. One such place is the Haight-Ashbury in
San Francisco. There are also yoga communities along the coast of Southern California;
and there’s the spiritual community of Sedona Arizona.

15. Marriage. If you are on drugs, or your marital partner is on drugs, do not marry. If you are on drugs, and the potential spouse is not, neither person knows the other. If both persons are on drugs, neither person has a chance to know the other.
When writing about marriage, any author should mention drug usage when writing a story – crime, romance, family.

NO NOVELIST HERE

I bought 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel, Jane Smiley, and wondered if it was also overblown and overwritten. Yes, it is. The laudatory sentence on the back cover underneath the author’s photograph has errors in it. It states that Smiley possesses a mastery of craft. Mastery is difficult to justify and not complimentary. Stating there is a facility of craft suggests an acuity and uniqueness unmatched in others; they are essential traits in all literature: Every story has its own style and its own way of telling – the characters, the setting and the events are different. Having a facility means the author tells one story from another without effort. If mastery is the standard, there is trouble e.g. A Thousand Acres, derived from King Lear by William Shakespeare. Did old Bill got a lot of stuff wrong or loose in the original?

Next buyers of the book learn Smiley has “an uncompromising vision.” Is this the same uncompromising vision held by that politician, aka the orange turd? The word vision needs no adjective, no adverb, no particle modifying it. Visions are brain images which the brain uses to compile and put together persons, settings and events, essentials to a story. Saying that a story is uncompromising, or a vision is so wrong. The effort is not in its adamancy. Work accomplished by visions are sustained. Visions become continuous, prompting the imagination to prolong them.

When critics like authors use adjectives to puff a piece, inflate a book or aggrandize a writing, the language should be exacting and specific. Otherwise, persons reading the outside of the book [like in the movie Tropical Thunder] may infer an improperly put comment may reflect the author’s abilities, masteries and visions.

REVIEW: NEW YORK TIMES

Delivered to the house was the magazine WIRED (March 2017). I’ve perused it and have comments.

On the cover is a photograph of A.G. Sulzberger, editor/publisher/owner of the New York Times. He appears to be middle age, is bald, mediocre posture of an undead person, and wearing dark clothes he is ready to conduct funerals. It looks very Nineteenth Century – pose, distant vision, presentation of person, but that’s it. None of that works today, 2017.

Inside Sulzberger says that everyone appear and be normal human beings. Nothing about Sulzberger suggests he is a homo sapiens sapiens. He looks like an android sent from another planet to scout out prospects on earth. He is less threatening than Arnold Schwarzenegger, but looks built by the same machine-owned firm that put Arnold together for those movies. Trying to soften Sulzberger’s image, they have him wearing eye glasses, circa 1935 frames.

There are many problems with the New York Times, the most basic ones are not identified in the article. Indeed, one paragraph in the article presents New York Times’ major flaws:

Four books after the election, Times chief executive Mark Thompson
told an industry conference that subscriptions had surged at 10 times
their usual rate. To Thompson, the likeliest explanation wasn’t that
the times did a bang-up job covering the final days of the election –
like everyone else, they failed to anticipate Trump’s victory – that that
readers were looking to hedge against fake news. He suggests a simpler
reason: “I think the public anxiety to actually have professional,
consistent, properly funded newsrooms holding politicians to account
is probably bigger than all of the other factors put together.” In other
words, the president’s hostility to the press and the very notion of facts
themselves seems to have reminded people that nothing about The New
York Times – or the kind of journalism it publishes – is inevitable.

This passage, page 53, like most most journalistic writing is overwrought. 1) It can be cut: ELIMINATE “In other words” and everything after it. 2) Another explanation (third line) is most likely: Democrats and anti-Trump persons believed they missed something, which The New York Times picked up. They ended subscriptions to other newspapers and started up with the gorilla on the block. 3) The admitted failure of The Times and everyone else to predict a Trump victory suggests a grave issue. The Times was believing its own press, it’s own sources, all its fans, it’s own wave. 4) Journalists are supposed to talk to the other side, which many people, Left or Right, have difficulty doing. One wonders if The Times talks to people on the right, or if their reporters have shut their mouths now that new immigration policies are being put into effect. Polls suggest those are popular measures among Americans. [Remember, don’t conduct any penetrating political polling in Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania before the election.]

Other than who is being talked to and reported, what are the facts – misstatements, misconceptions, pure truth. No knows what that is sitting in New York City wondering about an Internet site at the New York Times offices. [This segment is greatly shortened.] All journalism comes from excellent writing, and that is where the Internet and word processing becomes a hinderance. Everything is spelled correctly; words appear to be in the proper order. There are too many words – say eight words where two will do. The Internet has space to waste, not the usual newspaper adage. All those reporters who grew up and got an “A” in eighth grade English, have pyramided that excellence into a newspaper career. They’re still writing at middle-school levels, with the juvenile, horrifying reactions to the unusual, the absurd and the foreign.

Every immaterial, irrelevant reaction part of perceived fad-culture is presented in an article. That is not journalism. What may be journalism is the fact that people believe such temporary moments as important, where as in the long haul, they are not. Newspapers hire journalists for their perspective, but most journalists hooked onto the Internet truly believe in these cultural misunderstandings – it might be 5,000 people without tickets to a concert and they are disappointed. Time to riot. Let’s feel sorry for them? [Is the story about the 5,000 standing around outside waiting for the concert to end? What else is on their mind? Is this the best thing any of the 5,000 can do with time?]

Are journalists trained and do they understand everything? The easiest thing to do is hand them a straightforward story, and learn how many cliches are included in the proffered article. The more cliches, the less understanding.

Keep reporters away from the two-pager in Wired. How to grow your own pot. That will kill initiative, except to cultivate and smoke, and wither away brain cells the user never knew were present. It’s not called dope for nothing.

This final most significant point in the Wired New York Times article suggests doom for the newspaper. It’s not that the Ploughkeepsie Times is stealing advertising dollars. It is not competition from the ankle bitters like the Huffington Post take a few bucks. The big player in the room came in a few years ago, new to newspapers but forever familiar with the internet. Jeff Bezos of Amazon bought The Washington Post, lock, stock and barrel, and likely The Post does not have the Internet issues complicating life at the NY Times. Instead, Bezos must only work to cultivate writing and writers, the most important part of any newspaper. If the Internet is presenting a new way at looking at the world (needs color, illustrations, pictures, cartoons), do it! Recognize newspapers are competing against the Super Bowl, World Series, the Best Voice, Great Dancer shows, Wiccan Conventions and every musician to touch a fiddle.

THE LINCOLN BOYS – JOSHUA ZEITZ

This is not an easy book to write. In its telling this book suffers from sets of styles (different voices) imposed by the text. There is biography (A. Lincoln, John Hay, John Nicolay, Robert Lincoln).

Next comes autobiography. Maintaining the voice of Hay and Nicolay in the third person, the text becomes a memoir. What was it for each of them to write a biography? How do either of them write? How did either of them write differently? In short texts most writers ignore these personal voices when writing or they incorporate them into the text, and no one knows better. However, the author here tried at the beginning to keep everything separated.

There is a shift from biography when writers put together the story of the documents, events, people involved and other biographers. It becomes more so evident when the text becomes historical. In a short passage Our Ideal Hero Chapter, Zeitz efficiently tells of literary and social efforts to return the South to the United States. He adroitly puts together many of the same facts Mark Twain viewed before writing Huckleberry Finn and Life on the Mississippi.

Keeping everything distinguishable, clear and fluid was a challenge for this author. I read hoping everything would be in place. Other than for money I do not know why Nicolay and Hay wrote the Lincoln biography. The writing process for both Hay and Nicolay (the autobiography) was shortchanged.

Why write a ten volume biography of Lincoln? Trying to establish the image of Abraham Lincoln for posterity – was a public relations campaign needed? It might be argued that Lincoln could never be buried. The future of the man was set in stone when he was assassinated: Leader – President who took us through the War – Counseled moderation and a warm embrace to the South without slavery. And next, survivors and posterity discovered speeches to chisel into stone, incredible words. The Gettysburg Address may be the best speech of the century, unless it is superseded by an Inaugural Address.

Without the ten volume biography what might Lincoln’s image have become? Frivolous, goofball and irrelevant as some writers treat it today: Lincoln was a quiet lady’s man, manic-depressive, cold and some say, gay. It is likely that Americans will let these quacks polish their views as much as they can. But Lincoln tells Americans more about themselves, to a human being, than any one has communicated to the country and its people since his death.

LEAVING HOME

Now that Don Trump is President-elect, celebrities can leave the USA.

The biggest obstacle is: Pack the first box.

Some celebrities are Canadian. They never leave North America.

But most celebrities will do just fine, staying:

Politically, Al Sharpton is on the opposite side of Trump. He’s a New Yorker; he has tax problems; he knows the game. He can play his role more fully now than if somebody in the Executive Branch is preempting him. He likely will not be invited to the White House, but he doesn’t make money going to Washington D.C.

Chelsea Handler has released photos of herself on the Internet, just like photos of sundry and various other women. With the election results there will be fewer photos on the Internet. With less diversion and an on-going TV show (hostess is a genuine human female not an ET-Alien), Handler should stay.

Samuel L. Jackson, a premier actor, has seen the good and bad of show business and political jesting. In his work he needs better roles (Snakes on a Plane?????). He is the sort of actor who can insist that scripts and roles be better written. His greatest influence would be in Hollywood procuring excellent scripts, supporting first-class productions and letting his talent reflect that work. Why leave the country?

Did Miley Cyrus really say she would leave the country?