Monday Thoughts

Today I attended an introductory class taught by one of my friends on Magic: The Gathering. I cannot say that I am interested in pursuing it as a hobby, but I was impressed by how much he and his friends knew about the rules and conventions of the game. I was also impressed by Wizards of the Coast’s ability to basically print money and siphon kid’s money away one $15 deck at a time.
The other thing of note today was that I watched the Obama Inauguration concert at the Lincoln Memorial that happened on Sunday through HBO’s webcast. Although I was intrigued by the strange choices of “special guests” (Steve Carrell and Jack Black in particular somewhat distracted from the history that they were reading by, well, being themselves), holy cannoli, there was some godawful music. There were signs of disaster from the very first performance when Master Sargent Caleb Green messed up the national anthem because he couldn’t hear the orchestra. The performers may look cool on the steps of the monument, but the logistics were not set up for good musicianship. In many cases, the performers were many yards away from their backing musicians, and there was no way that they could see them.
Aside from that, there was some terrible musical kitsch. Jon Bon Jovi, apart from being a completely irrelevant musical figure, absolutely murdered “A Change is Gonna Come.” Josh Groban sang a horrific version of “America the Beautiful.” The attempt to “update” the song failed for the same reason that it does when Protestant megachurches add rock accompaniment to hymns; the strict cadence of the hymns does not go well with the rock and roll beat. I laughed as Sheryl Crow and just ignored Herbie Hancock’s strange departure from the key signature in “One Love.”
In fact, the surprise standout of the concert, I thought, was Garth Brook’s abbreviated versions of “American Pie” and “Shout.” I know it was a cold day, but he was the only performer that looked like he was ignoring the cold and actually having fun.

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