August 18, 2012 - August 11, 2012
. A bad day. A day when I do
despair of America. But one more time, credit where credit is due. For
once, Hotair has been pretty much on
point with its areas of focus. Let
me count the ways, large and small, that I am disgusted by the current
scene. Some will have links. Some won't. If you can't verify the
linkless ones on your own, to hell witcha. These all from the past
week, in no particular order.
I could go on. Obama on 60
Minutes taking credit for his "gutsy call"
without being asked a single question about why his Justice Department
prosecuting CIA interrogators who were acting legally and
acquired useful information that helped kill Osama bin Laden. Fox News interviewers
failing to challenge ex-CIA flack Michael Scheuer who claimed, without
on-screen objection, that three administrations have "lied" to the
American public by misrepresenting bin Laden's hatred of the U.S. as
anything but a desire to get our troops out of Arab countries. "He
doesn't care at all who we are and what we think," Scheuer said with smug finality. Is
that so? Then what of the worldwide push for sharia? And... oh forget
it. Scheuer has books to sell, and he's a Fox News analyst. Frank
Luntz, another Fox News analyst, pretending
that there was anything
significant about an orchestrated second-string Republican debate
South Carolina. News flash to genius Luntz: Nobody cares about
Herman Cain. He's a more polite and admirable version of Donald Trump.
He is not a presidential candidate. Meanwhile, the president's
reelection campaign is already in full swing, with all the usual
uncritical support of the MSM.
The new media are already as corrupt as the old media. And the ones who should be leading the charge are bunkered in fantasies that have nothing to do with either governing or fixing what's wrong.
Which is why I gave credit to Hotair up top. We've had our differences, God knows, but perseverance is a virtue, and Ed Morrissey has assembled a list of "Obamateurisms" that could and should be the basis for real Republican campaigns:
Previous 2011 “winners”:
Not a hat-tip but hats-off to Ed. This time he said it best.
Cheer each other up. You won't make a dent in my pessimism today.
saw this documentary
on the new Ovation Channel and just finished explaining to Mrs. CP why
it couldn't be a post. Irrelevant, elitist, niche-oriented. But it is a post. It's the story of how
the musical "Phantom of the Opera" became the single longest running
theatrical production and most successful entertainment property in
history, playing to more than 100 million patrons for ticket prices
easily ten times (and more) what any movie can command. At a time when
we're falling hook, line, and sinker for a success story in the killing
of bin Laden, it's worthwhile to consider the weird combination of
brilliance, accidents, egos, false starts, reversals of fortune,
bonehead mistakes, high risk intuition for good and ill, and, well, luck (unless it's fate instead) that results in spectacular
I should explain that we saw Phantom on Broadway, and Mrs. CP was absolutely transported. Which was my whole intent in planning it. Nothing prepares you for the array of talent it represents -- actors, singers, dancers, set design, costume design, music, special effects, and emotional immersion in a theatrical experience beyond compare.
So how did it all come to pass? Talented people doing what they do, TA DA. Hardly. It was a long and frequently painful process. Andrew Lloyd Webber had a score with no lyrics. He cobbled together a first act performance at a personal theater on his own estate, and the lyricist he chose for that preliminary performance was committed to humor and what we'd call "camp." There's a video showing the audience laughing throughout. It was enough to secure some initial investors, but the end result that finally hit the stage would cost more than two million pounds, a ton of tabloid controversy, and the firing of a legendary director, the first leading man, the first lyricist (a veteran traded for an unemployed youngster), the music director, and nearly the composer, too, who announced less than seven days from the opening that he was withdrawing his score from the production. His tantrum was defeated only by his inability to carry the record-breaking poundage of the score out of the theater.
And that's not the half of it. The man finally chosen to play the Phantom was Michael Crawford, known throughout the U.K. as a physical slapstick TV comic who sang in a near falsetto that engendered gusts of laughter but nothing like musical praise. And the leading lady was Andrew Lloyd Webber's own wife, who was regarded by critics as more wife than talent. (Indeed her initial understudy eventually took her place and went on to become the most beloved leading lady the show ever had in its London run.)
The problems in its shakedown preview performances were so various, constant, and grave that the London press dreamt up the meme "Curse of the Phantom," meaning that the fictional character behind the play was so unhappy with the proceedings that he was haunting and sabotaging the entire production. The now famous scene in which a boat glides through the waters under the Paris opera was controlled by a remote radio device like those used to pilot model airplanes; the remote control used the same frequency as the London Fire Department, and whenever there was a fire alarm, the boat took off in odd directions, once nearly into the orchestra pit, restrained only by the main force of Michael Crawford, who couldn't sing the key "Phantom of the Opera" number because he was so out of breath.
Crawford became a problem himself. He plunged himself into the character from the moment every day when he began hours of makeup to transform him into the egomaniacal persona he was playing on stage. With all the problems, he took to summoning everyone from musicians to dancers to stagehands to his dressing room, where still in Phantom makeup, he shouted imprecations about their incompetence that could be heard throughout the theater.
What was the real problem? The extraordinary ambition of the production. Every single aspect of theatrical resources was being stretched to the maximum. The set was more spectacular, the costumes more intricate, the effects more complex, and the roles more demanding behind the omnipresent masks than anyone had attempted before.
The end result was an utter triumph. Princess Diana attended the final preview and it went like clockwork. The show never looked back, but many lives were never the same. Andrew Lloyd Webber and Sarah Brightman divorced about a year into production. All the ones fired along the way never got over it fully.
Success is a messy business in any collaborative effort. Something we should maybe remember when we 're holding the top man accountable -- be he Bush or Obama, or even Clinton or Carter -- for everything that doesn't go according to plan.
In retrospect, it all seems inevitable, fated for success. But what's clear in the history is that Phantom could have crashed and burned a dozen times or more. It didn't. Was that luck? Destiny? Or human determination in pursuit of a vision the creators couldn't abandon no matter how rough things got before fortune finally turned in their favor?
Ah, sweet mystery of life...