Thursday, August 27, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Today's Duluth News Tribune reported that Enger Tower is due for repairs and may need to be closed for as long as one year during repairs. Click HERE to read that story. And... the project may require all of us who cherish this Duluth landmark to pitch in and help. The Duluth Heritage Preservation Commission is supporting this challenge to support the repairs and we all may be called upon to help save this hillside beacon. As you may remember, I wrote about my latest visit to Enger tower on the very day in June of it's dedication by the Prince of Norway 70 years ago. You can click HERE to read about my visit and that history.
Monday, August 24, 2009
To begin with, I am not a Vikings fan. I am not a Green Bay Packers fan. I am not a sports fan. Not that you should care.
But this business about Brett Favre (pronounced FARve, for reasons unknown to mortal man or, of course, woman) has got my attention. How could it not? It’s all over everything in the media. In the upper Midwest it threatens to eclipse the passion of Michael Jackson.
So yeah, as a non sports-page-reading, non TV-game-watching person, I am very well aware of the controversy surrounding Favre’s decision to quarterback the Minnesota Vikings this season, wearing No. 4, his fabled number when he was the idol of the Dairy State, playing for the Green Bay Packers for quite a few years (I wouldn’t know how many, not being a fan).
This switch to the Vikings, by way of the New York Jets, after “retiring” from the Packers, really seems to matter to many people on both sides of the St. Louis, St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. It’s like Jesus deciding to go with Satan.
Even some Vikings fans are upset about it. They seem to resent the fact that Favre held off in announcing he was coming back out of retirement in the state of Mississippi, where he lives, in order to avoid the dusty, hot playing fields of Mankato (Minnesota) where the Vikings gear up for the season.
Hailing from Mississippi (if not Mary), one might think Favre well knows what hot weather is like, but training camps must not be fun, what with a lineman’s actual death during a stifling drill at a Vikings Mankato camp a few years ago.
But I go on, when I probably shouldn’t, insulting Jesus, Satan and Mary along with Michael Jackson and that poor Viking who was stricken at training camp, not to mention the intelligence, where it can be found, of rabid Vikings fans to whom the team’s fortunes are the be all-end all, the alpha and omega, of human existence in the United States of America, as the politicians always put it, apparently assuming their listeners do not know, when they utter the words “United States,” that they mean those ones in America. You know, there are 50 of them.
So to my point: I subscribe to the Jerry Seinfeld theory of professional sports. He noted on Leno or Letterman (can’t recall which, but I was watching) a few years ago that those rooting for pro sports teams root for laundry. Some player fans worship changes jerseys and they hate him.
I guess that is being borne out in spades by Favre.
As for me (and why should you care?), I’m rooting for Favre to do well as a Viking, not that I’m likely to be watching if there’s a good old movie on TCM. I like it when old guys keep trying to do what they did when they were young, being one.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Friday, August 21, 2009
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Monday, August 17, 2009
By Jim Heffernan
Ah “La Boheme.” Such a tragic tale of unfulfilled love. Such pathos. All to the accompaniment of some of the most romantic and stirring music in all of opera.
Bring a hankie to the Duluth Festival Opera’s concert production of Puccini’s grandest opera Thursday (Aug. 20) or Saturday (Aug. 22) in Duluth’s DECC auditorium (both performances at 7:30 p.m.).
But forget the hankie during my favorite part of “La Boheme,” when cast, chorus and orchestra (Duluth-Superior Symphony) all join in one of the most festive parties in all of grand opera.
Bohemians might be huddled in a chilly Paris loft for much of “La Boheme” but there are few more joyous acts in all of grand opera (“all of grand opera” comes up a lot in discussing “La Boheme”) when the young lovers Rudolfo and Mimi join their friends, especially the lovely Musetta, in a street café to toast … well … toast life, and maybe bum a scrap of food from some unwitting benefactor. After all, it’s Christmas eve.
That’s exactly what happens, but as the group toasts and celebrates, out steps the lovely Musetta singing the glorious aria best known as “Musetta’s Waltz.” Even in a concert presentation, it will be hard not to smile from… Well, there’s no other way to say it: Smile from ear to ear.
Smiles are not usually associated with “La Boheme,” but the party scene has always been my favorite because it involves everybody – chorus members, a children’s chorus, the leading singers and an up-volume orchestra. It can’t miss.
I’m a member of the Duluth Festival Opera’s board, so maybe I’m prejudiced, but I don’t think “La Boheme” loses much in a concert performance. It’s the music that wins the day. Besides, half of this opera is set in a drab garret, except for the great party scene and one other.
“La Boheme” is hands down the best opera for people who think they don’t like opera to find out they like it better than they thought. Musetta and her waltz – together with her flirty, devious ways – helps a lot. Go see for yourself. You won’t be sorry, except at the end, when you’ll FEEL sorry for these doomed lovers. That’s where a hanky will be handy.
Plenty of tickets remain for both performances through the DECC or Ticketmaster.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
The writer of the Aug. 13 letter, “Serious concerns underlie health-care heckling,” wrote that people should get their information on the health-care issue from different sources and further stated that “different” didn’t “mean Rachel Maddow and again from Keith Olbermann.”
The writer must have forgotten about the comparable perils of only getting information from a few other opinionated sources — and I do mean Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh.