Talent And Success

We are in Nashville to watch the Patriots play the Titans.  While in Music City we decided to take in a little music.  We went to the Five Spot to see some live music.

Sidebar: We were talking to the manager of the Brooks Hubbard Band and he said he was from MA.  It turned out that he and one of the band members both went to the same high schools as MWG.  It can be a very small world.  MWG would recommend BHB even without the high school connection.  End Sidebar.

The four bands we saw, and especially the Brooks Hubbard Band were really good.  They were talented to try to be more specific.  Of course, the exact dimensions of talented are murky.  Does talent include drive to succeed?  Watch Tin Cup to see some of the subtle distinctions that come into play.  Tin Cup brings up the point that athletes and musicians face a similar problem of talent and success.

On the other hand, if you are a talented accountant, your probability of success is really high.  There is much more risk for athletes and musicians.  Risk, as we know, has both upside and downside elements.  The Rolling Stones make more than their accountants even though both are near the top of their professions.

Talent and risk make it a complicated world for making decisions about careers.  It is hard to evaluate your own talent.  It isn’t easy to evaluate others talent.  And very few of us understand risk very well.  And then there are all of the human issues.  It is easy to see why folks have difficulty with career decisions.

 

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SiriusXM Error

We are big fans of SiriusXM.  Well, make that almost always big fans.  We love to listen to Classic Vinyl and variety of other music stations.  On long trips the sports are great for keeping the driver alert and it is joy not to look for new radio stations every hour.

Aretha Franklin recently died.  We are not super fans but the announcer on Classic Vinyl (Meg?) brought it up.    She said she couldn’t play Aretha on Classic Vinyl.  Be serious Sirius.  Aretha is the first woman in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  Play one song and send the fans to the other stations.  Classic Vinyl does it all the time.  If you want to hear more (blues, soft rock, folk, Billy Joel, Grateful Dead, etc) like the song that we just played turn to this station.

It would have been easy and appropriate to for the announcer to play the rebel.  It is rock and roll.  Aretha deserves some RESPECT.

Born Yesterday – The Play

We accompanied the Lady de Gloves to see the opening night of Born Yesterday at American Players Theatre (APT) in Spring Green, Wisconsin.  We encourage you to go to APT any time you have a chance and especially to go “up the hill.”  Up the hill is to the Hill Theatre cut into the top of a hill in the woods.  Some evenings when the lights go out the stars are spectacular.  Other evenings, like ours, it gets amazingly black.  You do have to worry about rain but it is worth the chance.

APT has developed a talented Core Company over the years.  We got to see two of the stars shine despite the clouds: Colleen Madden as Billie Dawn and David Daniel as Harry Brock.  Colleen was wonderful as the ditzy show girl turned into an intellectual with a ditzy touch by a writer at The New Republic.  She gets to wear great styles to stunning effect.  The late forties must have been when The New Republic drifted away from the Progressive cause because the reading list he prepares pays homage to the Founders.  David is the most disgusting cut-throat capitalist you could imagine.  He is ill mannered in speech, manners, and behavior as well as poorly educated and dishonest.  Every moment he is onstage you loath him.  Compared to him The Donald is a model of decorum.

One interesting part of viewing Born Yesterday was the audience.  Spring Green is close to Madison and Madison has a well deserved reputation.  Our first take was that it was a typical bad businessman story was influenced by the audience.  Make no mistake, Harry is one of the most antagonistic antagonists but the play is much more than that.  We think is makes important statements about rights, education, and power.

The first point is that even folks as loathsome as Harry have their rights.  We forget if Billie or the writer is responding to the legality of Harry’s project by saying we’ll change the law.  Here the protagonists have forgotten their principles, specifically rule of law.  Rights are not rationed by niceness.

The second point is about education.  Billie’s education is a classically liberal one with documents from the Founders and classics from writers Charles Dickens.  Billie’s education compares well to most university curriculums today.  We think that important point was missed by the audience.

The third point is about power.  At the end Billie has Harry in her power.  Is she any better than Harry?  We don’t want to resolve that point but as a point of comparison go see Shakespeare’s The Tempest.  Prospero is more magnanimous than Billie.  It doesn’t mean that Billie is bad it just shows her humanity.

It is an excellent play in a great place with wonderful performances.  Go see it.

 

Plagiarism?

We rarely watch TV shows when broadcast so we are always behind schedule but a benefit is that it sometimes shows a commonality that we would otherwise notice.  The two shows in question are Instinct (Owned, episode seven, season one, broadcast on 5/6/18) and NCIS New Orleans (Welcome to the Jungle, episode 18, season four, broadcast 3/27/18).

There are lots of superficial differences between the two episodes but the summaries look like they came from the same plot books.  In both cases the main suspect is black.  It is a man in Instinct and a woman in NCIS: NO.  In both cases the secondary suspect is ethic.  An Eastern European in Instinct and an Argentinian in NCIS:NO.  In both cases there is a white male waiting around to be identified as the perp.

Sidebar: As an additional progressive fantasy in both cases there are women beating up men.  On Instinct it is the star Bojana Novakovic, who’s is listed as an Australian but hails from Serbia.  Check the picture on the link and give your probability that all men in the police force would be unwilling to spar with her because of the beatings they receive.   On NCIS: NO it is the black suspect who we suspect will soon be part of the cast.  The latter was more convincing than the former but there is a reason why fighters have different weight classes.  End Sidebar.

Even though the basics of the story sound the same we don’t think it is plagiarism because it is too widespread.  If you create a Venn Diagram with rich, white, and men the intersection will often give you the perp.  Sometimes you are not sure if the CIA perp was rich.  It would be a fun research project.  All is we need is a bunch of grad assistants to watch crime shows on TV.

S’Wonderful

We had a lovely evening with the Lady de Gloves in the 77 square miles surrounded by reality.  For dinner we went to the Tempest Oyster Bar.  It was excellent although we didn’t go for the oysters because we were going to An American In Paris.  If it was Singing in the Rain we might have had to try them.  We had scallops for an appetizer and jerk swordfish and trout for dinner.  Everything was perfect.  The Pierre Ferrand Ambre cognac was a great finish.

Then we were off to see the touring version of An American In Paris at the Overture Center.  It is about a GI staying in Paris to paint after WWII.  We were never a big fan of the movie so we went with some trepidation.  We haven’t seen the movie in some time so we don’t have our criticisms at the ready but our recollection is that it was OK but given the music it could have been better.

The play is S’wonderful.  It is fast paced (OK, the ballet in the second act is the exception) with wonderful music, terrific dancing, stunning gowns, and great sets.  We are not quite sure how all of the mirrored sets with video work but they worked well.  It has the little touches that make a show ratchet up a notch.  One of the fake names used is Oscar Levant, who played Adam in the movie.  It dabbles with some bigger issues like the fate of the collaborators, without being preachy.  It differentiates between the resistance (and doesn’t diminish it by tying it to the current appropriation) and saving Jews.  It appears that local folks view the former as good while the latter is not entirely virtuous.  Of course, two of the main characters are Jewish.

In short, the play is great fun, beautifully presented, and has a good heart too.

Handedness

As a handball player we are a keen observer of handedness.  This obviously includes in the court but also includes lots of other environments.  We are also a fan of the mystery genre in print, TV, and movies.  We think that mystery writers use handedness as a plot device but that either they don’t understand it or they recognize that everyone accepts probabilistic data as deterministic.  That is, it is more likely that a right hander will commit an act with his right hand but for most people it is far from certain that the right hander will act right handed.

In our experience there are two issues related to what hand a person will use to take an action.  It is likely that there are more but these are enough to conclude that the mystery devices are not convincing.  The first is degree of handedness.  You could measure this on a handball court because the player must use both hands..  What percentage of shots does the person take with each hand?  We are the fairly rare example that takes somewhere near half of the shots with each hand.  Even within in that division there are certain shots that we prefer one hand or the other.  Our guess is that we take 80% of backwall shots with our left hand.  Lots of players are very heavy toward their dominant hand and some (by our estimate) take as many as 90% of their shots with it.  This is the mystery writer model but it is only true for part of the population.

Another part of the equation is dominant eye.  We don’t know how or if dominant hand and dominant eye are connected.  We have a mildly dominant right hand and a very dominant left eye.  It would be difficult if not impossible for us to shoot a gun or a bow with our right hand because we couldn’t line it up.

It is time for mystery writers to drop the handedness but we would like to see something that includes dominant eye.  Handedness just isn’t convincing method to eliminate suspects.

John Whitman Sutter

We just finished Nelson DeMille’s Gold Coast and Gate House narrated by anti-hero John Whitman Sutter.  Nelson has created one of the most interesting characters in John.  We chose not to call John the protagonist or hero as the protagonist is defined as the hero and hero has three definitions according to Dictionary.com:

1. a person noted for courageous acts or nobility of character,
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal,
3. the principal male character in a story, play, film,etc.

John does fit category three, he has a mixed record on courage, but he utterly fails nobility of character and role  model.  To give a short list, he is a murderer, tax cheat (as a tax lawyer), liar, blackmailer, drunk, and highly judgmental.  His complaining about other folks drinking is inspired.  But he is also fun and impetuous.  Much of the judgmental stuff is a joy in our politically correct environment.  In short, John is an strange person from a privileged background but he is very human.  And Nelson puts him in intense situations that test his humanity and lack of it.  Enjoy both of the books.  We did.