The World According to Keitho

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Archive for January, 2010

Tacit admission

Posted by keithosaunders on January 11, 2010

It seems to me that Brit Hume recommending Christianity to Tiger Woods as a way to repair his sullied reputation is a tacit admission that Christianity is snake oil.  After all, one doesn’t decide to adopt a religion as a form of branding.  At the very least it would indicate a shallow moral character and it implies that Tiger would not have to convert had he not been caught.

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Church and state: One and the same.

Posted by keithosaunders on January 10, 2010

I think it’s remarkable that Brit Hume, a television journalist had the hubris to advise Tiger Woods about what religion he should practice.   It’s a sad commentary when this is the kind of content we have come to expect, even taking into account the low standards followed by FOX news.   

My disgust would not be any less if Hume had advised Tiger to have his palms read, or to follow signs from tea leaves.  Religion is a personal commitment  and is antithetical to news.  News is (supposedly) fact based, while religion, no matter how strongly one believes, centers around faith. 

It’s no wonder that the U.S. is looked upon with scorn from much of the world.  It’s not just Bret Hume and cable news.  The level of sanctimony from our politicians is appalling.  It’s as if there the provision in our constitution separating church and state does not exist.

Posted in Politics, sports | 1 Comment »

All the money in the world for National Security….

Posted by keithosaunders on January 8, 2010

…but a public option is out of the question.  Where are our priorities.  The chances that any of us will die in a terrorist attack is thousands of times more remote than needing chemo therapy.  Yet we continue to shovel money into a security system that is dysfunctional at best. 

The latest over-reaction to the Nigerian terrorist attack has me very concerned.  The fact that we, as passengers will have to sit with hands in lap for the last hour of international flights — in effect infantilizing us — would be  laughable if it was not so infuriating.  A third grader could see through the flawed logic of this inane policy.

The fact that the would-be terrorist made it through several red flags — no luggage/one-way ticket/already on the watch list — leads me to believe that there is more here than meets the eye.  Is it possible that we are in a pre-totalitarianist state?  What disturbs me is the public willingness to accept these rules in the name of safety.  Time and again I have heard the phrase ‘It is a priviledge, not a right, to fly.’   It is a priviledge, in so much as it is a priviledge to buy a candy bar or a television set.  While we have the choice not to fly, there are many situations in which it is not practical to travel by any other method.  

We are sanguine about getting behind the wheel of a car, or being a passenger in that car.  How many of us take the bus or subway?   We trust that drivers and motor men will safely deliver us to our destination.  What if there was an attack on mass transit?  How many of us would accept a twenty-minute wait to enter the Times Square subway station?

Dehumanization is not the answer to attempted terror attacks.  By reacting hysterically we have given a gift to the terrorists.  In reality they do not have to blow up planes to realize their goal.  They have already bred fear and anxiety, and have contributed to the crippling of our economy.

Posted in Politics, war | Leave a Comment »

Watch Ernest Byner

Posted by keithosaunders on January 6, 2010

A few posts back I wrote about video taping foibles; today you would call them tivo foibles.  Today I am going to document one of my two greatest gaffes.  What is a taping foible?  A taping foible occurs when:

 a)You incorrectly set your VCR to record a ballgame and end up with 3 hours of the home shopping network or the weather channel. 

or

b)You tape a sporting event, doing your best not to find out the score while you are out of the house.  This means no car radio, or at the very least a ‘safe’ spot on the dial such as the jazz or classical station.  You must avoid looking at any restaurant or bar TV, and if someone near you begins to talk about the game you have to immediately cover your ears, begin singing loudly, while running out of the room.  The foible occurs when someone tells you the score, thus ruining the game.

In 1987 the Broncos played the Browns in the AFC Championship game.  My brother was in town and we had plans for that day so we decided to tape the game and watch it that evening.  We knew that our Dad was going to call that day because he always called on Sunday.  Knowing our Dad, if he knew a score, he would blurt it out on the answering machine.  Years ago they used to show the Oscars on tape delay in Los Angeles.  Dad would hear the winners on his way home and tell us before we even had a chance to watch.  He loves to be ‘in the know.’

We had this idea that we would preempt him by calling in advance to let him know not to tell us the score.  When we called, however, we got his answering machine.  We left him a message saying “Whatever you do, don’t tell us the score of the Brown game!”

I don’t remember what we did that day but I do have a vivid memory of returning to my apartment and seeing the light blinking on my answering machine.  Sure enough it was Dad and here is what he said:  “It was a great game!  I know you guys don’t want me to tell you the score, but watch Ernest Byner.” 

Watch Ernest Byner?!  Ernest Byner?!  GOD DAMNIT!  So we watched the entire game waiting for Byner to do something.  Sure enough the Browns were down a touchdown with time running out when they handed it to Byner.  Why would our father tell us to watch Byner if he was just going to score a tieing touchdown.  Why?  Because he didn’t score.  In fact he fumbled on the two yard line.  Denver recovered and that was the ballgame.  We both knew he would blow it thanks to Dad’s heads up. 

Now what can we learn from this experience?  Two things:  First, you may think it’s best to warn someone not to tell you the score, but in reality this method has less than a 50% success ratio.  People just don’t understand the taping concept and for whatever reason, be it wanting to save you from watching a boring game, or just plain old-fashioned meanness, they will spoil it for you.  The second reason is  never, NEVER, listen to your  answering machine messages until after viewing the game.

Posted in sports | 2 Comments »

Is this true?!

Posted by keithosaunders on January 4, 2010

I have read in two different blogs today that Umar Farouk Abdul Mutallab, the Nigerian man who tried to explode his underwear on Northwest Airlines flight 253, boarded without a passport — that he was escorted to the gate by a well dressed Indian man who told the crew that the Nigerian was Sudanese and had to fly without a passport.

If this is true then all of the new security is meaningless.  Even assuming that it’s not true, we are trading basic rights for security that is only microscopically better.  The chances that any one person will die from a terrorism attack on an airplane is over 10,000,000-1 —  considerably less than the odds of being struck by lightning.

The terrorists, in order to accomplish their goal, need not bring down a plane.  They merely must keep us in a constant state of anxiety and fear.  By these standards they are easily winning the war on terror.

The new full body scanners are going to cost over 40 billion to install.  Yet we were told that the U.S. couldn’t have the public option because of the money it would have cost.  How many more people would survive through better health care?  I’m betting it’s thousands of times the amount people who will be saved by enhanced security.

Posted in health care, Politics, war | 3 Comments »

Lost In Queens — The Keith Saunders Trio

Posted by keithosaunders on January 3, 2010

The world’s first concept album…about Queens!  Pianist Keith Saunders (that’s me!) brings you eight  tracks of derangement guaranteed to delight and astound you.  The music is influenced by Bud Powell, Horace Silver, and Lee Morgan, but most of all it is influenced by you, the reader and listener. 

You’ve read the posts, now hear the music.

http://www.keithosaunders.com/id47.html

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Deconstructing New York, New York

Posted by keithosaunders on January 2, 2010

There is a special place in hell reserved for those with the lack of imagination to request New York, New York.  If there is a more clumsy and obvious song dedicated to a municipality I have yet to find it.  That’s right, Randy Newman fans, even “I Love LA. ”  When I’m playing a gig, enjoying myself, minding my own business, creating the magic, as it were,   and I get a request from a patron — “Hey!  Play New York, New York!” — it’s all I can do to refrain from delivering a quick, clean punch to the solar plexus.  “Here!  Here’s your New York, New York!” 

OK, hold on.  I need a minute…

Back.  I got a little emotional, what with the violence and the adrenalin.  Let’s compare Fred Ebb’s pedestrian lyric with a genuine lyricist, Lorenz Hart.  I realize that this is akin to  comparing Moe Howard to Lawrence Olivier, but what the hell…this is my blog.  I’m calling the shots.

In 1925 Rodgers and Hart wrote a song called “Manhattan.”  There’s a verse which establishes that the protagonist doesn’t like to go on vacation due to the aggravation that comes with travel.  He’s got a flat in ‘old manhattan’ and that’s where he prefers to be.  Since there is no verse in New York New York proceed to the refrain.

“We’ll have Manhattan
the Bronx and Staten
Island too.
It’s lovely going through
the zoo!”

Right away, you like this guy, right from the first word, “We’ll.”  It’s inclusive and welcoming.  He gives props to the Bronx and Staten Island, but would it have killed him to mention Queens?!  I’m giving him a pass since the Mets weren’t around back then.  I’m sure if they had been there Queens would have made the song.

Let’s contrast that elegant opening to Ebbs’ pratfall of a beginning:

“Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today
I want to be a part of it – new york, new york
These vagabond shoes, are longing to stray
Right through the very heart of it – new york,
new york”

What a bastard.  Listen to him bragging about coming to the big town.  Who the hell is he?!  I only hope that he arrives via port authority and gets one of those friendly taxi driver that takes you to the Village via Jersey City.

Meanwhile, in “Manhattan…”

“It’s very fancy
on old Delancy
street you know.
The subway charms us so
when balmy breezes blow
to and fro.

And tell me what street
compares with Mott Street
in July?
Sweet pushcarts gently gli-ding by.”

Listen to Lorenz Hart referencing Delancy and Mott streets!  What a sweetheart.  These are not posh addresses but the streets of the people – Lower East Side and Chinatown.

Now back to Ebbs’ elephantine screed:

“I wanna wake up in a city, that doesn’t sleep
And find I’m king of the hill – top of the heap

These little town blues, are melting away
I’ll make a brand new start of it – in old new
york
If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere
It’s up to you – new york, new york”

This dullard of a man has no interest in the cultural melange of downtown Manhattan, but craves raw power.  His desire is to be a master of the universe and he doesn’t care who he steps on to achieve his goal. 

That’s about it for New York, New York;  the rest of the song repeats the lyrics from first half.   Hart, on the other hand,  was just getting started.  Even Yonkers, not technically a part of New York City, gets a shout out: 

“We’ll go to Yonkers
Where true love conquers
In the whiles …”

So there you have it.  You can have prime rib, or you can have spam.  The choice is yours.

Posted in jazz, music | 4 Comments »