Sunday, December 23, 2018

Ask Arthur 2018, Part 4: About what I like

Today’s questions in this year’s “Ask Arthur” series, both from Roger Green, are all about things I like, which is the only thing the questions and answers have in common. The first one I figured I’d better answer promptly because today, Roger mentioned it in a recent post:

Who are your all-time favorite Republicans?

This may sound surprising, given how often I criticise the Republican Party and/or its politicians, but the list is actually quite long. So, to bring some order to it I decided to list, first, Republicans of the past.

Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican US President, is probably top of my list. Of course he is: I’m a native Illinoisan. Growing up in the centennial years of the Civil War and Lincoln’s murder, he possibly cast a bigger shadow than he did for later generations (I have no way of knowing), but the shadow was large and remarkable.

On Republican I was well aware of was US Senator from Illinois, Everett McKinley Dirksen (after whom the Dirksen US Senate office building is named). He died when I was ten years old, so I don’t remember anything about his politics or ideology or whatever. All I remember are his spoken word recordings, which were played in my school, and how he wanted the marigold to be the national flower, something I remember because of the melodious way he pronounced the word marigold. So, in this case, it was about fond memories, not politics.

There were other Illinois Republicans I liked, who I’ve mentioned on this blog: Sen. Charles Percy, and US Rep. John Anderson. I also liked President Gerald R. Ford.

Okay, now a list of living Republicans: Um, uh, well, um, let me think a minute; no, I got nothin’.

I’m joking, if only just. These days, many of the sane and sensible Republicans have left the party because of who’s in the White House, or else they may as well have done so. MSNBC’s Nicolle Wallace is one of my favourite presenters as well as one of my favourite Republicans. She’s smart and principled, which, of course, means she’s not a fan of the current occupant of the White House, and also that fans of that man probably hate her. Their loss. Since the current regime took power, there’s been a long, long list of Republicans who are now critical of their party as well as the current occupant of the White House. Many of those people are ones I’d never have paid any attention to before, but now we have common cause (probably the old “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” thing).

However, the (GOP) elephant in the room: There are no current Republican politicians I like. Not one. And that’s very sad, because in a functioning democracy there ought to be politicians in the opposing party that can be respected and maybe even admired. The modern Republican Party currently has no one like that I feel deserves my respect, and I certainly can’t admire any of them. Maybe someday when this long national nightmare is over. I hope so, anyway, because my list is far too short.

Roger next asked:

Who was your favorite musical act when you were 13? Your favorite album then?

I had to do the math, and I was 13 in 1972. That was a transitional time for me, as I moved away from older kids’ music (like The Partridge Family) to more adult-oriented music. However, I’m not sure that at age 13 I had a favourite music act.

I looked at the Year End Billboard Hot 100 singles list for 1972, and while I had many of those songs at the time (or later) as singles or on compilation albums, and I liked many of the others that I didn’t buy, there’s nothing on the list that jumps out to me as my favourite or even A favourite.

Not long after that, it would become The Carpenters, but that was probably a year or so later, and Linda Ronstadt was later still. Each year brought more “favourite” artists. But at age 13? I don’t think I had any particular favourite.

On the other hand, favourite albums is an easier question to answer. In turns out there were only 12 Number One albums in 1972, and I owned three of them. I don’t know for sure, but I don’t think I ever again owned 25% of the Number One albums for any year.

Those albums (in chronological order) were:

American Pie by Don McClean, an album I got through the Columbia House Record Club.

Chicago V by Chicago. I bought this album retail, one of the first pop albums I’d bought. It was at the local Jewel-Osco store. The Osco half of the store had a small record department, and for some reason I really wanted to buy an album with a current hit on it, And Chicago V had the hit “Saturday in the Park”.

Seventh Sojourn by The Moody Blues. I got this album through Columbia House, too, and it was a mistake, something that was common for anyone who belonged to Columbia House. I don’t know that I listened to it very much at first, and at one point I even offered it to my brother who replied, diplomatically, that he probably liked different music than me. However, it went on to become one of my favourite albums, but not until after I bought 1974’s This is the Moody Blues compilation album, which would turn out to be one of my favourite compilations, so much so that it got me to re-listen to Seventh Sojourn and to really like it.

Finally, Roger asked:

Who are your favorite composers (classical), artists (painters, sculptors, et al)?

I didn’t have any favourite classical composers until I was university age. Depending on my mood, I was partial to Bach, specifically Brandenburg Concertos, and more specifically still, Neville Marriner and Thurston Dart’s recording with Academy Of St Martin-In-The-Field: Brandenburg Concertos (First Version - First Recording) (1971). My parents had it on records, and I later bought it on CD. Among other composers I liked a lot were Vivaldi, Joseph Haydn, Mozart, Antonín Dvořák, and Tchaikovsky.

I first started paying attention to Tchaikovsky sometime after I was 13 when I was watching Monty Python’s Flying Circus. The connection was that in 1972—the year I was 13—episode 28 included a sketch called “The Farming Club” that morphed into “Life of Tchaikovsky” that included this line:
“Tchaikovsky. Was he the tortured soul who poured out his immortal longings into dignified passages of stately music, or was he just an old poof who wrote tunes?”
I thought it was funny, but it was also the first time I was aware that there were famous homosexuals in the past. It made me especially like much of Tchaikovsky’s music, especially his Fifth Symphony, which I’d been told was about fate, and his Sixth, the Pathetique, the first performance of which was conducted by Tchaikovsky himself, nine days before he died (which is probably why it’s sometimes associated with death). What can I say? I was a university student at the time I began to like those.

Naturally, there are other classical composers I liked, too.

As for painters, sculptors, that would include Michelangelo, Leonardo Da Vinci, Caravaggio, Monet, Vermeer, Vincent Van Gogh, Mary Cassatt, Edward Hopper, and photographer Dorothea Lange.

Thanks to Roger for these questions! Now, go ask him a question!

It’s not too late to ask a question: Simply leave a comment on this post (anonymous comments are allowed). Or, you can also email me your question (and you can even tell me to keep your name secret, although, why not pick a nom du question?). You can also ask questions on the AmeriNZ Facebook page, though some people may want to keep in mind that all Facebook Pages are public, just like this blog. If you’re on Facebook, you can send me a private message through the AmeriNZ Page.

All posts in this series are tagged “AAA-18”. All previous posts from every “Ask Arthur” series are tagged, appropriately enough, "Ask Arthur”.


Let the 2018 asking begin – The first post in this year’s series.
Ask Arthur 2018, Part 1: Perfect place
Ask Arthur 2018, Part 2: Living where?
Ask Arthur 2018, Part 3: About religious stuff

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