Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 398

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Greetings. Last week was one of those rare weeks without an OITS. I was behind on the writing and replying to comments on the previous post – so I decided to pass.

Hey hey hey – 2 to go to #400! Visit #400,000 may happen during the upcoming week – but maybe not.

FYI: I’m aiming for the next concert to be on Saturday, June 8th.

My Quickstep routine is in the books. Good news: We didn’t crash and burn. (FYI: Quickstep is not an easy dance.) We successful got through it and my partner was thrilled! For me, we did well – but I’m a tough critic on myself, so I only get a C. My partner and I have the same instructor, who choreographed a routine around this scene from An American in Paris – but we danced to this Bobby Darin version of I Got Rhythm that is definitely aerobic.

We recently wrapped up another season of handbells and ushering.

  • The last handbell piece was Shalom Chaverim. An interesting piece that you can watch a large choir in Japan play. Click here
  • The last play was Tiny House, a new play as a joint effort between the Cincinnati and Cleveland theaters. A fun play – and the building of the tiny house was interesting to witness. Thumbs up if it ever comes to your area. Here are two reviews (one from each city): Cincinnati and Cleveland
  • Of the personalities who died this week, I’m connected with two. Doris Day was born and raised in Cincinnati. Comedian Tim Conway and I graduated from the same university (Bowling Green).

If you like rich and creamy, Graeter’s (of Cincinnati) is a fabulous ice cream (past post). They recently introduced a new summer flavor – Malted Pretzel Ball – so, I’ll be trying very soon.

Some may recall that John Roebling built Cincinnati’s suspension bridge before the more famous Brooklyn Bridge. Click here for a short (less than 2 minute) video of the bridge done by a local TV station.

As a viewer of the CBS Evening News, I already miss anchor Jeff Glor – but look forward to Norah O’Donnell anchoring later this year.

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The Democratic field of presidential candidates continues to grow. Now at 24, let’s go for 30! On the other hand, I wonder about the end game of the majority of the field.

This week the Alabama state government passed the most restrictive abortion bill in the country. Although their intent is to challenge Roe v Wade in the Supreme Court, I simply say patriotism, morality, and civic duty cannot be legislated.

I have long been a critic of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Her recent comment about AG Barr lying made me wince. On the other hand, I acknowledge the difficult task she has with her current caucus, and she has been done well during this difficult time.

To describe the current situation in Washington, while some proclaim Constitutional crisis – but I prefer institutional crisis.

Here’s an example of the goofy far right of Republicans. My state senator wants to ban insurance coverage of abortions except for re-implanting an ectopic pregnancy into the uterus. Interestingly, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists says the procedure doesn’t exist. The senator disagrees.

According to President Trump, Hungarian authoritarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is doing “a tremendous job” and “respect all over Europe”. Sorry to say, that comment is not a surprise and follows praise of other authoritarian leaders from Russia, North Korea, and Turkey.

I grew up in the portion of Ohio that mined coal. Being along the Ohio River, multiple coal-burning power are still located nearby. Because we know President Trump vowed to revive the coal industry, here’s an interesting article about the source of energy for Ohioans.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, The Onion provides tips for going through a divorce.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Man starting to think only reason people hanging out with him because they are on same jury
Dress that would have forever altered course of woman’s life patted, placed back on rack
Dissatisfied Taco Bell customer goes rogue
Unsettling study finds two cousins technically fair game
Charity pairs naughty hags with children who taste good in stew
New blender changes guy’s life

Interesting Reads

How much of the Internet is fake
Ancient humans
Nazi looted painting
A camel festival in Mongolia
Enduring McCarthyism
(Graphic) Countries with the worst bad loan ratio
(Photos) Food photography
(Photos) Bikers in Hanoi

To send you into the weekend and as a tribute to Cincinnati treasure Doris Day, it’s time for a Sentimental Journey. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.(NOTE; The video will NOT play embedded here. After you click the video below, then click Watch this video on YouTube.)

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 396

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Because we couldn’t rehearse while in Alabama, last Sunday we had a chance to listen to our handbell choir play a wonderful song for Lent. (Plus, the group played very well.) To listen to In the Wilderness (Jason Krug), click here, and then find the Listen button (after the opening paragraph that is worth reading), then click Listen. Warning: It’s over 6 minutes, but it can serve as background music for those interested.

The Weekend Concert Series returns this Saturday with Carole King taking the stage at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Regarding the concerts, tradition is that I limit comments to one song per person. However, a little known fact is that commenters can return on Day 2 (Sunday) to add more songs.

Did anyone watch the Aretha Franklin tribute show on CBS last Sunday night? We did – and enjoyed it.

OITS number 400 is approaching … and visit number 400,000 is in sight (possibly this summer).

Attention Costco shoppers. From Money magazine – If you spend $3000 per year at Costco, upgrading to an Executive Member will pay for itself and may make save you even more. Once we learned we were passing on money, we upgraded. After all, we love Costco.

Have you ever taken a DNA test as Ancestry DNA or 23andMe?

Last week we sprung forward into Daylight Savings Time (DST). Two US states (Arizona and Hawaii) do not join the fun. Several other states are considering doing the same while several others are considering making DST permanent.

Cheers to the US Women’s Soccer Team seeking equal pay with their men’s counterpart. With Wimbledon tennis approaching, should men and women receive the same winnings when men must win three sets per match while women two?

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AOC is made it known that moderates are not welcome. Nothing like pushing away potential voters. Just because I’m anti-Trump does not mean voting for the Democratic candidate is automatic. So thank you AOC, the odds of Dems getting my vote in 2020 has fallen to 10%.

Now would this be an interesting Democratic presidential ticket for a bumper sticker: Hickenlooper-Buttigieg

President Trump referred Apple CEO Tim Cook as Tim Apple. To me, a simple slip of the tongue. That’s something we’ve all done. However, President Trump is so arrogant, he can’t even admit a responsibility on something like this. Instead, he favored an explanation that is pathetic and senseless: “I quickly referred to Tim + Apple as Tim/Apple as an easy way to save time & words.”

Presidential Weekly Summary: Build the wall. No collusion. Witch hunt. Lock her up. Fake news. I feel badly for Paul Manafort. Obama’s fault.

To lead you into the weekly dose of satire, here’s something different. Viareggio is a popular respite by the sea on Tuscany’s west coast. Actually close to my family. Carnevale di Viareggio is a popular annual event. Let’s just say this event displays a bit of satire. For those who dare, watch a four-minute video here.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Baby feels foolish after realizing stranger waving at toddler next seat over
Limited-edition Russet potato comes with letter of authenticity
Washing machine loses man’s trust
Woman nervous for boyfriend to meet person she becomes around parents
Aging Mount St. Helen’s beginning to think erupting days are behind it
Scientists pinpoint part of brain all hairs grow out of

Interesting Reads

Women and World War II
Thinking about plastics
A bit about stupidity
A view of polarized America
Life beyond Earth?
(Graphic) A graphic worth thinking about
(Photos) Rio’s carnival celebration
(Video) Chile’s marble cathedral in a cave

To send you into the weekend, a duet that didn’t appear at the last concert. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 381

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Good news – After 12 acts and an encore, Pronouns: The Musical closed a very successful run. More good news – starting next weekend, Pronouns 2: The Musical kicks off. This musical will be shorter than the other, so my hopes are that we will complete it before 2018 closes. The first theme features songs with My in the title. Curtain time remains the same: Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US).

Only one more post remains for my western national parks tour. Sometime in the near future, I will start the Eastern Europe series.

Although the She/He Writing Challenge didn’t get much of a response, I think it was a good challenge and I enjoyed doing it.

The wildfires in California continue to bring havoc to many. I encourage anyone able to donate to a charity of your choice to help victims. I suggest the California Community Foundation: Wildfire Relief Fund.

Within four days last week, we had quite the string of musical events.

  • We attended (as ushers) the world premier of Cincinnati King – a play about King Records. What a fun show! Sure hope other theaters throughout the country pick this up in the future.
  • The next day we went to the movies for Bohemian Rhapsody. Thumbs up – and a must for Queen fans!
  • Two days later, our handbell played a surreal arrangement of Tree of Life and Awesome Mystery. Here’s a video of our choir doing this beautiful piece. (I’m on the near side popping in out of view.)
  • That night we attended a concert featuring a handbell soloist. Watching her made me nervous 🙂 … that’s quite the skill!

I have no doubt that voters who don’t know what they are doing have started watching Dancing With The Stars.

For many posts I set a publish time. For others who do that and if you just had a time adjustment with Daylight Savings Time – don’t forget to adjust your WordPress clock.

For whatever reason, the WP Gnomes turned off all my notification settings.

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Looking ahead to 2020, at this point I do not see Ohio as a battleground/swing state because it is unquestionably leaning red.

Dealing with President Trump’s string of lies, exaggerations, distortions, and finger-pointing is one thing, but the continual blind eye, acceptance, and enabling by Trumpians and the majority of Republicans is even worse.

On the same topic, Congressional Republicans have done a very poor job of oversight. That’s what the balance of powers is all about! Then again, a party using oversight to justify politically butchering a president isn’t the intent.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion shares an interesting picture they captured in a jungle.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Ecologists discover 400 species of Charles Darwin living in Galápagos Islands
Friends Excitedly Gather Around Man’s Phone To Watch Shaky Footage of concert
Conservative Floridian Enjoys Living Under Sharia Law More Than He Thought He Would
Couple Nervous To Admit They Met Online In Comments Section Of ‘How To Iron Shirt’ Video
Sunday School Teacher Can Already Tell Which Ones Going To Hell

Interesting Reads

100 years after the Armistice
Artificial Intelligence and wildlife research
Science and religion: not in unison, but in harmony
About the placebo effect
(Graphic) A collection of misconceptions
(Pictures) A collection of weather pictures

To send you into the weekend, a tip of the cap to my Canadian regulars with a song from a Canadian icon. Enjoy Leonard Cohen with Dance Me To The End of Love. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 359

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I knew my Cincinnati Reds baseball team would not be very good, but they have exceeded my expectations of badness. They are more than pathetic. People here complain more about the Bengals while many give the Reds a free pass, but as an organization, the Bengals are much better – an it’s not even close. The Reds fired the manager Thursday morning. I feel sorry for him because it tough to with those players.

Did anyone see 60 Minutes last Sunday? Allegiant Airlines has a significant presence in Cincinnati. After watching the segment about them, I doubt I would consider them in the future.

It’s been a big week for planning our 2019 vacations.

During my teacher days, I was reformed minded and a long-time antagonist toward standards and standardized testing. My cynical side smiled when I read this view of testing results.

Our handbell was preparing an interesting piece for our last song before breaking for the summer – The Day of Resurrection (Jason Krug). Unfortunately, circumstances caused the director to delay that song until the fall. For those who want to hear it, click here.

News earlier in the week of former First Lady Barbara Bush’s death marks a sad time. Besides living into her 90s and being married to the same man for 73 years, I admired her strength and wit – even though I didn’t always politically agree with her . Loved the fact that she was known within the family as The Enforcer. Meanwhile, her granddaughter – Jenna Bush Hager – wrote a beautiful piece for the Today show. Read it here. (Video here @ CBS)

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Cheers to UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for standing her ground after the White House appeared to throw her under the bus. To me, she is one of the few bright spots in the Trump administration.

This is my favorite one of the week. Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) said “I have not” heard President Trump lie. A perfect example of a partisan hack!

A candidate running for a local office in the upcoming May primary. His campaign signs state, “A Real Republican” – which (to me) is code for obstinate asshole.

For those who didn’t see the hair trade deal between President Trump and Kim Jong Un, search the following on Google Images: president trump kim jong un hair deal

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion shows an image of a man fearing he may never trust again after a treasured picture of a duck turns out to be a rabbit. (I have a personal reason for loving this one.)

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man with backed-up shower drain enjoys luxurious foot soak
Shy balloon spends entire party floating in back corner of room by itself
Grandma defiantly taking scone recipe to grave
Controversial theory suggests aliens may have built Ancient Egypt’s intergalactic spaceport
Woman who choked to death alone in apartment kicked out of book club for missing last 2 meetings

Interesting Reads
How France cut heroin overdoses by 79% in 4 years
The dark side of solar energy
Life in the world’s most polluted city
A Nazi who defected to the Soviet Union then became a hero
Ways people cook pasta wrong
Honey bees and bacteria
(Photos) 50 years of powerful photography

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this song from James Taylor. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 356

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Congratulations to blogger, author, and long-time visitor here, Carrie Rubin, on the release of her latest book (The Bone Curse). Click here for the Amazon link.

This Sunday is Eastern for Western Christianity. That also means the handbells will be involved with music on multiple occasions. This Joyful Eastertide is our featured song. For those listening, 1) we will be without the trumpets, and 2) you will easily hear the difference between playing handbells and chimes as we switch from one to the other several times during the piece. Click here to listen.

Cincinnatians treat Opening Day (for baseball) as a festive holiday event. Major League Baseball (MLB) is starting the season earlier than normal, and this year, it happens to be in front of Easter weekend – which conflicts with the businesses that sponsor the Opening Day parade. In other words, the first game and the parade will not be on the same day. Thanks you MLB.

I’m a life-love Cincinnati Reds fan. Given the teams lack of success over the past 25 years, apathy would be a good word to describe my outlook for the season. I wish them well. I will root for them. I will remain loyal – but I don’t expect much.

Sears is a struggling company. How can the Sears Board of Directors in good conscience give their CEO are bonus ?

Do you remember the term tattletails? Even though I haven’t heard in many years, this local editorial focused on the term while relating it to various local and national events. I think this is a worthy read. 

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A few days ago I received a one-side survey for supporting President Trump and Republican Party. Filling it out was worth the time and stamp. In the extra comments box I wondered why the committee would keep sending me these surveys – especially considering my answers and other comments.

I like this question asked by Chuck Todd on Meet the Press: (I paraphrase) Which event will have greater impact six months from now: the gun control rallies or Stormy Daniels?

Because the extremes have a way of digging in, I still find it difficult to believe that America can have a true discussion about gun control. Then again, surprises can happen.

As a whole, I believe most Americans strongly dislike negative campaigns. However, this statement on Politico caught him attention. In preparing to go toe-to-toe with Trump, Democrats will have to take some sparring practice, and not all the punches are going to land. But to insist that candidates shouldn’t treat the campaign like a schoolyard brawl is to deny the reality that one of the candidates is going to make sure that it is one.

The US Supreme Court has their hands full with dealing with gerrymandering.

Thank you Stephen Colbert for continuing to make me laugh as a way of dealing with the current White House occupant and his administration.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides a timeline for 20 years of Netflix.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Man assumed celebrity sighting would do much for his career
Classically trained actor can talk on cue
Dead medieval woman gave birth to baby in coffin
Handwriting expert confirms killer used cursive
Man calls trust fund his savings

Interesting Reads
Resilient life in an Indian coastal town
Is the Democratic Big-Tent shrinking?
Science and social media
World maps with literal names for countries
Censoring in Egypt
Places on Earth that seem to be from another world

To send you into the weekend (and as move toward their Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction), here’s another Moody Blues classic. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 349

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A friend will be my dance partner when we do a Bolero this spring at the studio both of us attend. Several years ago at the same event, she and I did a tango that some people still talk to us about. (FYI: My wife doesn’t like being the only two on the floor). For those interested, click the video below. FYI: Use the music for background while reading the post because not much to see in the video (on purpose). Hope you enjoy the song.

There are teens dumb enough to eat detergent pods?

Recently saw Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. Definitely a movie with only a few good characters. Cheers to Frances McDormand for her Golden Globe performance. Interesting story, so Thumbs Up! The same for Darkest Hour – and to think that movie covered about 2-3 weeks.

Fiona, Cincinnati’s darling hippo, turns one on January 24th.

What a coincidence. On the day when WalMart announces increases in wages and benefits, it abruptly closed 63 of its Sam’s Club stores.

Last weekend our bell choir returned from the holidays to play a song with one rehearsal – and it went well! Click here for the video of our choir playing Day by Day (arranged by Anna Laura Page).

This is post #1998. There will be a post early Saturday, therefore #2000 should be Sunday evening (US Eastern). I hope you get a chance to stop by to say hello.

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I watched (on Netflix) David Letterman’s interview with Barack Obama. Very enjoyable.

I learned about President Trump’s degrading comments about many immigrants after publishing the last edition of OITS. I typically take the high road, but here’s my commentary: A shithole comment by a shithead.

As much as many like to complain about President Trump, I tend to laugh a lot – but complain about the Republicans who a) justify his actions, b) deflect his actions, and/or c) say nothing.

Three US Senators give two vastly different accounts of a meeting led by President Trump. At least 1 of the 3 is intentionally lying – not stretching the truth – intentionally lying. At least one senator, dutifully elected by the people to represent the people of his state, is lying with the purpose of favoring the party on an important issue instead of representing the people. Actually, this action is one step beyond partisanship normally exhibited by members of Congress.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion provides an infographic showing the pros and cons of electric cars.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Wall wishing it were load bearing
Audiobook narrator going for broke with Cajun accent
New after-school program aims to keep children off streets for additional 45 minutes
Opera ends on unexpected high note
Perfectly good dead body cremated

Interesting Reads
Global media habits
Man carving long road in mountain (not an Onion headline)
Tourism and Guinness
Choosing between a bull or a man
Almost wiping-out 16th Century Mexico
(Infographic) Global Millionaires
(Photos) National Geographic: Best Photos of Animals of 2017

To send you into the weekend, here’s another group that will soon be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. What a fun, old-style video! In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 341

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Last week we attended live theater 3 nights in a row: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, An Evening with Groucho, and Cabaret. The first two were at the Cincinnati Playhouse where we usher, and the later was a community theater production.

We saw the latest movie rendition of Murder on the Orient Express. If you don’t know who did it, it’s a good (not great) who-done-it movie … but I thought the beginning was too slow.

Last week our handbell choir played Fantasy on an Irish Tune (one many will recognize). For those enjoying handbell music, here’s a recording (not us) of the song, one that we had only a short time to prepare. Meanwhile, this week we started the preparing for a busy December.

If you appreciate outdoor murals, see these extraordinary works. (Thanks to Raye for leading me to these.)

College basketball season is underway. With two strong teams in my city (that are only 3.5 miles/5.6 km apart), expectations are high – especially after a lousy football season.

Sharing our British Isles cruise will continue this weekend – and the end should be before the next edition of OITS. The next post will feature the biggest surprise of the trip.

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I’m awaiting responses from both my Republican Representative Wenstrup and Republican Senator Portman to the following: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, or Texas: No matter the location of a mass shooting, a common Republican soundbite describe the result as “a mental health issue.” What has your party – Republicans – done to address the issue since December 14, 2012? (As of this posting, no answer from either person.)

Seems Congress is aiming for a temporary tax cut … sunset provisions are not tax reform! Then again, much of what they are doing isn’t reform, just mere tinkering with the existing system. The Republicans are stuck between a pushy president and the desperate need to do something. So, they have backed themselves into the corner and can’t make good politics out of bad policy. On the other side, the Democrats are stuck with only saying “No” because they can’t develop a message of a better way.

A divisive president, partisan-driven Congress, and the blind rhetoric of partisan voters has turned me into more fervent independent than I was before. I enjoyed this article from Pew Research Center and the interactive (also from Pew) I listed in Interesting Reads below.

Now this is a classic. A statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry referred to President Trump as an “old lunatic” – so President Trump responded, Why would Kim Jong-un called me “old”?

Not to be outdone, radio bloviator Rush Limbaugh offered this head-banging-against-the-wall  defense for Senator Roy Moore (R-AL): “When he supposedly was attracted to inappropriately aged girls, he was a Democrat.”

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers a list of ways to make a difference your local community.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Toddler scientists finally determine number of peas that can fit in the ear canal
Neither boss nor employee paid enough to deal with each other
Flu takes down biggest guy in the office as warning to rest of staff
Doctors discover the purpose of appendix is to contain human soul
90% of bike accidents preventable by buying a car

Interesting Reads
Relationships: Saudi Arabia and its neighbors
How Cincinnati made the JFK files
People and information
Glass terrarium that changed the world
The most painted woman in the world
(Interactive) Political polarization in the US since 1994
(Photos) Facts about sunsets

For your weekend entertainment, here’s Sir Paul performing another classic Beatles song. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.