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September 27, 2018:

NO RANTING, ALL RAVING

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, as is well know by the likes of you, I occasionally enjoy ranting about this or that as well as that or this.  But today I come not to rant but to rave.  Yes, you heard it here, dear readers, I, BK, come to rave and not rant. In fact I have two things I wish to rave about so let the raving commence, say I.

The first thing I’d like to rave about is the documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, about Fred Rogers and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.  I’d heard many good things about it, as well as lots of people being in tears.  But the funny thing about that is this: There was a time, not all that long ago, where making fun of Mr. Rogers, where being derisive and dismissive and downright disrespectful of him was all the rage.  It was hip to do that because it showed everyone how above everything you were. And now, with the passage of time these smart-alecks have realized that Mr. Rogers was genuine, warm, real, truthful, and a treasure.  They weep. They love him.  And this they do without having the grace to admit what they once did. People with grace acknowledge their bad behavior and apologize for it, with a simple explanation that in those times it was just what one did to be on that train.  And that now that age has set in, they realize how wrong they were. Yes, that is what smart people do and I’ve seen a couple of heartfelt posts that do just that.  But the majority?  Noooooo, they refuse to do so.  I’ve called it out on a couple of boards and the response is always, “So what, you need to shame them?”  To which my answer is, absolutely.

In any case, this is a wonderful film that will hopefully not only receive an Oscar nomination but win the award.  Mr. Rogers was just who he seemed – the nicest man who cared about kids, cared about them in a one-on-one very real way.  My Darling Daughter watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood regularly and I watched with her.  I was fascinated by him – by the caring, the slow pace, the gentleness.  While everything else geared towards kids was slapstick, violent, and crude, he was a guiding light for kids, a role model.  He had a good, long run.  We could use him today.  There is nothing like him in this rather insane world of social media, the bombarding of images, the loud, the frenetic, the violence – TV and movies – comedy that isn’t funny, the sexualization of kids, the entitlement, all of it.  If you aren’t moved by this then I’m not sure you have the ability to BE moved.  I got teary-eyed many times.  The transfer is fine – lots of videotape footage – but this is highly recommended by the likes of me.  Oh, and a tiny rant – Amazon seemingly ordered about three copies of this, because they have never actually had it in stock and it’s now only being offered by third-party sellers.  Way to go, Amazon.

The second rave is for a new eight-CD set of all of Oscar Levant’s Columbia recordings. Let’s start with the packaging – incredible.  It’s designed to look like an old album of 78s, which is how most of these recordings were originally released.  When you open it, four of the discs are held in the inside front cover, the other four on the inside back cover.  The rest is a large book with wonderful notes by Michael Feinstein, and amazing cover reproductions of every iteration these albums have had.  Those old covers are stunning.  There are exhaustive details about every recording session, too.  This packaging should win a Grammy – it’s just brilliant.

Then there’s the music.  Levant was hugely popular, quirky, manic-depressive, and other things, including a great wit.  But he always wanted to be taken really seriously as a musician.  And with this set, he truly should be. It’s magnificent. His recordings of Gershwin’s Concerto in F and Rhapsody in Blue are fantastic, especially the concerto, which is now one of my favorite recordings.  His playing is masterful and Kostelanetz was a wonderful conductor. For Rhapsody in Blue you have Ormandy and it, too, is terrific.  Also included on that first disc is the Second Rhapsody and Variations on I Got Rhythm, both with Morton Gould conducting and both great.

Then there’s a lot of terrific solo music, and then we have wonderful Tchaikovsky, Grieg, and Khachaturian concertos.  It’s basically eight discs of pure bliss, even the final disc, presented mostly in real stereo for the first time, where Levant is not at his best.  This is probably going to be the set of the year and is also highly recommended by the likes of me.  Unfortunately, two of the CDs had bad glitches throughout, so a new set is on its way and I’m returning this.

Yesterday was a quiet sort of day.  I overslept thanks to the alarm not going off.  It actually DID go off – seven HOURS after it was supposed to.  I do believe my first generation iPad is ready for the trash bin.  Once up, I had a lot of e-mails to answer, I had several telephonic conversations, did work on the computer, and then finally around three went and had another Cobb salad, this time with ranch dressing, but not as much as I normally use. It was very good.  Then I picked up some packages, and came home.

By that time, the afternoon was almost gone, so I did a few more things on the computer, then sat on my couch like so much fish and watched Won’t You Be My Neighbor. After that I listened to a lot of Oscar Levant.  I made some scrambled eggs with onions and a bit of cream cheese – very good.  So another keto-friendly day, not that I’m really doing that.

Today, I have a work session for the Kritzerland show, then I have auditions, then a little meeting after, so a long day’s journey into night.

Tomorrow I have a lunch meeting, then who knows what the weekend will bring?  Of course, I’ll finish writing the commentary.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, have a work session, have auditions, eat, hopefully pick up packages, eat, and meet.  Today’s topic of discussion: What were your favorite children’s shows to watch when you were children.  And which did you still enjoy even when you grew up?  Let’s have loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have not been ranting but raving.

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