1 Save the “Mikado”! Yesterday I was honored to be able to participate in a Smithsonian Associates lecture on the careers and operettas of Gilbert and Sullivan. The Georgetown Gilbert and Sullivan Society was kind enough to invite me to sing “Tit Willow” as part of its segment at the event, which played to a full house. It’s a shame, and alarming for the future of live theater, operetta, and the vitality of the G$S canon, that the average age of participants appeared to be approximately 94, give or take a decade.
Before I warbled “Tit Willow,” once as well-known to the average U.S. adult as “My Way” (John Wayne sings the chorus in “The Shootist”) I went off-script to say, “As you all probably know, this song is from ‘The Mikado.’ It is a wonderful show, and don’t believe anyone who tells you otherwise.” The statement got nods and knowing looks, because they knew exactly what I was talking about.
Right now, the more than 80 Gilbert and Sullivan performance groups in the U.S., plus various opera and regional theater companies, have almost abandoned the best and most performed of the 14 sui generis shows by the great duo for fear of getting into a political correctness battle. “The Mikado,” you see, is now considered “racist,” because Gilbert had the ridiculous (and typical) idea of presenting a satire of English foibles and personalities as if Great Britain had suddenly been turned into an upside-down version of Japan. The script is self-referential on the gag (“I often wonder, in my artless Japanese way…”; “He might have had initials on his pocket handkerchief, but Japanese don’t carry pocket handkerchiefs!” ), as Gilbert was one of the fathers of post-modern humor. The show has been popular in Japan, and all over the world. A popular Broadway adaptation (“The Hot Mikado”) had an all-black cast—still in Japanese costumes—speaking and singing jive versions of the dialogue and songs. Gilbert included a song (“I’ve got a Little List”) that accommodated current events updates, so the show is arguably the most continuously topical of all the Victorian operettas—and all of them are still funny.
Never mind all that. “The Mikado” has been targeted by offense-mongering progressives, and theater companies, which are always a bad decision or two from bankruptcy, find it easier to cave and just produce “The Pirates of Penzance” instead.
“The Mikado, ” directed and performed properly, is better than 85% of all Broadway musicals. It is also cheaper, can be performed effectively by all ages, is infinitely adaptable, and is free: it’s in the public domain. It is a cultural treasure, as important to preserve as the best Shakespeare tragedies or “David Copperfield.” The battle for “The Mikado” has to be fought, and if there is any theater company out there, amateur or professional, who has the guts to fight it, call me. I can help.
2. Ridiculous Roy Moore defense of the week. I haven’t been listening to Rush Limbaugh for a long time: is he finally losing it? This week he appeared to be suggesting that because Roy Moore was a Democrat when he was lusting after teen-age girls, there is some kind of hypocrisy involved in the controversy over his Senate campaign, saying,
“Did you know that before 1992, when a lot of this was going on, that Judge Moore was a Democrat? Nobody said a word. When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls — he was a Democrat.”
So what? Moore could have been a Rosicrucian when he was molesting girls, and it wouldn’t matter. He’s running for the U.S. Senate NOW, and as a Republican. Either Rush is deliberately making what he knows is a terrible argument that will confuse idiots in his audience, meaning that he is dishonest, or he really believes that it is some kind of mitigation to the GOP’s irresponsible support for Moore that he was a Democrat when he broke the Alabama child molestation law. This would mean that Rush is now an idiot himself.
3. Mark Levin pleasantly surprises me. In contrast to Rush, an influential right-wing talk radio host whom I also seldom listen to, in his case because he is so abrasive and uncivil that I can’t bear it, has taken a high road as the Harvey Weinstein Ethics Train Wreck unfolds.
On his radio show, Levin played a clip of Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., who testified there are at least two sitting members of Congress who sexually harassed their staff members. Levin demanded that the members be named. He also said that Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should resign for their a failure in leadership, as they have allowed a known culture of sexism and misconduct to persist in their Houses under their leadership, and in Levin’s view, must have protected the harassers.
“I’m calling on Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan to resign. Not to be provocative or controversial, but if this sexual harassment has been going on – and I’m quite serious about this – in the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives, and they are the leaders … they know who’s who….Apparently, there are members of Congress who are predators. Predators! And yet there is a code of silence like the mob!”
Good for him.
4. Brain implant ethics. An article in Spectrum asks the question of whether using brain implants to improve ourselves is ethical. Why wouldn’t it be ethical? When was there an ethics rule that humans were stuck with whatever the genetic lottery handed out? Anders Sandberg, the philosopher/scientist interviewed, never suggests that doing this wouldn’t be ethical, although he does believe that it will soon be feasible. Here’s one fascinating comment:
“There was an interesting study that asked students about various mental traits and whether they’d be willing to use an enhancement technology to improve them. The students were very willing to use an enhancement to improve cognitive traits like attention, alertness, and rote memory. But they were loath to enhance other traits like empathy and kindness. Only 9 percent of people were willing to be enhanced in kindness.
The authors had a theory to explain their results. They also asked how central these traits are to the person’s sense of self, their sense of who they are. With traits like memory and language ability, the students said they’re part of me, but rather remote from my sense of self. But emotions, those are close to my heart. If this holds true—and I think this is a great study, it should be replicated—it tells us something very cool about how we think about ourselves. So I think cognitive enhancement will be seen as pretty acceptable. And it’s no secret that in academia there are a number of students interested in cognitive enhancement.”
5. Nah, New York Times journalists aren’t biased! After a tweeter compiled video clips showing former Vice President Biden touching, sniffing, and playing David Cop-A-Feel with women and girls who cane within his grasp ( I posted a few still shots of this from my Creepy Biden file yesterday), Times reporter Nicole Perlroth tweeted,
“In the past 24 hours, a new alt-right fake news meme had emerged of Biden as predator. How will @twitter handle?”
This disturbing proclivity of Biden’s has been well-documented, yet because publicizing it is negative publicity for the latest savior of the Democratic Party, Perlroth attempts to discredit facts by labeling them “alt-right.” I guess that makes me alt-right too. Calling out a handsy white guy is racist; boy, this stuff is counter-intuitive!
She also calls unedited video “fake news.” How “1984” of her! Video is also not a meme. THIS is a meme:
Memorize that young lady’s face. I suspect it is similar to the face made by the women who “feminist” comic Louis C.K. made watch him masturbate. I saw that expression on my young female employees at the trial lawyers association, when 50-80 year-old men would presume to hug them and squeeze their butts at conventions. I had a Greek uncle who was infamous for touching his nieces inappropriately, and a cherished Marshall Family Legend occurred when my younger sister, all of 11 at the time, brought a Christmas gathering to a horrified freeze when she loudly announced to him, pulling away from another attempted feel-up, “Don’t you touch me ever again!”