Tag Archives: Russia

May the Farce be with you

Now we know what Trump and Putin were talking about in their private meeting in Helsinki. Space Wars. Maybe they already have a board game designed and the whole summit was set up so they could try it out without anyone looking over their shoulders. Maybe they had a couple of those lightsabers from last year’s Star Wars convention and were jousting all over Gothic Hall in Helsinki’s Presidential Palace while their highly-paid advisors were standing outside in the hallways looking lost.

Because if Trump is so gung-ho about creating a Space Force, a sixth branch of the military, you better believe Putin is just as gung-ho about the plan. What better way for the two bullies to distract attention from real issues, award giant contracts to their friends in the military arms industry, and, at the same time, have a heck of a lot of fun acting out their science fiction fantasies.

Nevermind that our space programs already have cost billons and billions of dollars with little real benefit to our struggling species here on earth. Nevermind that we already have plenty of terrestrial wars and genocides and terrorist attacks to keep us busy day and night just adding up the number of deaths of innocent victims.

Maybe Trump will appoint William Shatner as Commander of the Space Force and Harrison Ford as Chief of Star Battles. On second thought, he’ll probably appoint his sons. Their birthdays are coming up.

The symphony that almost wasn’t

My favorite symphony was within a heartbeat of never becoming reality.  This excerpt from The Mighty Five by Victor Seroff explains:

“Yet Ludmilla clung to her belief in her friends.  To force Borodin to finish work on his Second Symphony, she asked Napravnik to perform it during the approaching season, and presented Borodin on his return from the country with the fait accompli.  This threw him into a panic, for besides the fact that the symphony was unfinished and he had not written a single bar on it in the past year, he discovered that he had put the scores of the first movement and the finale in such a safe place that he could not find them. . . To make matters worse, Borodin fell ill, and it was while in bed with his head wrapped in compresses that he rewrote in pencil the score of the Second Symphony.”

Against such odds, a piece of music so beautiful it gives me chills to think about it was created.  If you can find a good recording of it and have a chance to really listen, you won’t be sorry.

Of Korsakov

One of the greatest composers (in my book) was Nicolay Rimsky-Korsakov, and he came from a fine and liberal-minded family, according to the book I just finished: “Even at the time that serfdom was in existence, the Rimskys had only hired servants in their house.  When his father was offered three hundred souls (i.e., serfs) as a reward for one of his services to the government he declined, saying that he did not know how to take care of even one soul – his own.”   — from The Mighty Five, by Victor Seroff.  The book is an excellent portrayal of the five great 19th Century Russian composers, who formed a close-knit group and collaborated on many of their most famous works.