Baseball on the Radio

Having joined the majority of Dodgers fans in Los Angeles – the ones who have issues with the Dodgers channel – I have found myself in need of an alternate means of following baseball this summer. Turns out you’re not lost without television: there’s actually quite a simple and pleasant way to enjoy a Dodgers game at home. Listen to it on the radio. I’ve listened to Charlie Steiner and Rick Monday plenty of times since I began following baseball,Read more

Ten Little Somethings

Most likely the best known of Agatha Christie’s mystery novels is­­—ah, but there’s the rub—what is it called? For an especially well known novel, the one that ends with the mystery of ten dead bodies and no apparent murderer has gone through three different titles. The play based on the novel has also gone through this retitling process, not always in link step with the book. These days, in English-speaking countries, the title of the novel in question is AndRead more

The Joys of Disagreeing

It’s an expression we’ve all heard. A discussion begins, a disagreement rears its head, and someone says “let’s agree to disagree.” In other words: end of discussion. The phrase, I suspect, is the result of an Anglo-Saxon attitude that finds something vaguely obscene in an open disagreement. It’s probably allied to the mentality that keeps Americans from using the word “toilet” to describe–well, a toilet. Disagreements are viewed as socially uncomfortable, and standing by your guns and defending them inRead more

The Lady in the Alphabet Soup

Two Saturday nights ago, great mystery writers fared very poorly on Turner Classic Movies. At 9:00, as part of his “Noir Alley” series, Eddie Muller hosted a showing of Lady in the Lake from 1947. Two hours later they showed a 1965 movie entitled The Alphabet Murders. The first is a film version of Raymond Chandler’s The Lady in the Lake. The second claims to be based on an Agatha Christie’s The ABC Murders. The two movies are differently bad,Read more

To Split or Not to Split

I’m not entirely sure why Wikipedia isn’t considered a quotable source of information in the academic world. As a refugee from that world, I find the idea of a Universal Repository of Knowledge very appealing, even when it’s overseen by a bunch of crotchety people who have made themselves the de facto arbiters of knowledge. (Click on the View History tab of the next article you read to see just how pathologically crotchety these people are. It almost makes meRead more

The Beverly Sills Phenomenon (II)

The first section of this article showed how Beverly Sills was by far, in America, the most famous American opera singer of her generation.  She was, however, completely unsuccessful in imposing herself on the international operatic public. I recall an Italian friend asking me in 1984 about a record made by some strange American soprano who sang all kinds of weird cadenzas and ornaments. I knew he meant Sills’ Bellini and Donizetti arias record, which was a commonplace among AmericanRead more

The Beverly Sills Phenomenon (I)

If you grew up loving opera in the United States in the 1970s, your American diva of the period was – without question – soprano Beverly Sills. You read her “self portrait” Bubbles, you collected her recordings, you watched her on television, and you heard her sing live. She performed extensively in the American hinterlands, so you didn’t have to live in New York to see her onstage. Sills was a late 1970s phenomenon, and the most phenomenal thing aboutRead more