Of Pleas, Pants, Race, Rights and Lin-Manuel: My Top Blog Posts of 2016

December 23rd, 2016 § Comments Off on Of Pleas, Pants, Race, Rights and Lin-Manuel: My Top Blog Posts of 2016 § permalink

In some ways, it might make more sense if I wrote this post about some of my least-read pieces of 2016, because I value almost everything I write equally and never quite know why some get widely read and others just seem to be of only marginal interest to others. I of course prefer to blame social media and its vagaries, but in some cases it might be the photos I chose, the headline I drafted or the relative idiosyncrasy of the subject. Because this year was the first during which I was writing Continue reading...

For Stan Freberg, Whose Parodies and Satires Live On

August 7th, 2016 § Comments Off on For Stan Freberg, Whose Parodies and Satires Live On § permalink

To a particular subset of junior comedy nerds, of which I was an unapologetic member, 1976 was a watershed year, for a reason only tangentially connected to the official Bicentennial celebration that faced Americans down at every turn. At a time when the vinyl record remained the primary means of owning recorded music (cassettes were coming into vogue, as were, briefly eight-tracks), the comedy sections of record stores were relatively low on product. Without access to a really good used record Continue reading...

88 Years on 88 Keys: Tom Lehrer, The Salinger of the Satirical Song

April 9th, 2016 § 12 comments § permalink

My memory of the moment is quite vivid, if inevitably inexact. It happened 41 years ago, in the early afternoon, in Mrs. Winkler’s seventh grade science class at Amity Junior High School, as we were doing a “unit” on Ecology. In order to brighten our study of the physical environment, Mrs. Winkler announced one day at the start of class that she wanted to play us a song, and proceeded to put a black vinyl disc on the industrial weight turntable, the cover of which doubled as a speaker. The Continue reading...

High School Theatre Wickedness In The Eye Of The Beholder

August 5th, 2014 § 7 comments § permalink

Years from now, when the musical Wicked is eventually made available for school and amateur productions, will some high school administrator declare it inappropriate? After all, among its many plot strands is the story of (spoiler alert) the manipulative Madame Morrible, a school headmistress who schemes against those in Oz who don’t conform precisely to her standards, be they green girl or anthropomorphic animal. It’s a terrible portrait of pedagogy gone wrong and surely doesn’t foster the Continue reading...