Friday, April 29, 2011

Duke Ellington: Master Of Music

Smooth, high brow, faultless, sophisticated, American. All of these words describe the music that came out of the world of Edward Kennedy "Duke" Ellington as a composer, performer, and conductor. For fifty years he defined jazz in his own way with his superbly talented jazz orchestra, surviving the onslaught of bebop, rhythm and blues, and rock and roll. His discography includes over seventy hit records out of hundreds of releases spanning seven decades.

Ellington was born on this day in Washington, D. C., in 1899. He formed a band while in his teens and played the circuit in and around the nation's capital before moving to New York. There, his creative fervor and gentlemanly demeanor made him an influential force in the Harlem Renaissance. He was a star much appreciated in Europe as well as the United States by the mid '30s. His collaboration with the brilliant composer and arranger, Billy Strayhorn, later in that decade and again in the '60s enhanced his fame and helped him bridge gaps between jazz and other musical genres.

Ellington passed away almost forty years ago and with his passing the nation lost both a legendary technician at the piano and its strongest advocate for the American musical invention called jazz. To learn more about this extraordinary entertainer visit the Official Website of Jazz Legend Duke Ellington. The Duke Ellington Society website is another excellent information source, including the significant story of the contributions of Billy Strayhorn.

"It don't mean a thing" if OTR posts about music but fails to give his readers an opportunity to hear it. Here are some examples of the Ellington expression in action:

Simply an amazing force in American music history.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Incomparable Ella

What started out Sunday as a mild allergy issue turned into full-blown bronchitis for OTR yesterday. As a result, he missed the opportunity to blog about Ella Fitzgerald, his favorite pop/jazz female vocalist, who was born on April 25, 1917. OTR's not up to writing much today, so here is a link to his tribute from 2010 that includes links to some music posts. What a coincidence that Powerline's Scott Johnson also missed her birthday, but has posted a superb tribute with loads of music. Not to be missed. Here is your link.

Photo: The White House, 1981. (Ella's always had admirers in high places.)

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Nepenthe: The Experience Of No Sorrow

The world is filled with magic places. The right nexus of site, scene, scale, and subject will leave deep and lasting impressions. Forty years ago OTR discovered such a place sitting hundreds of feet above the Pacific Ocean between Carmel and Big Sur. Its name was Nepenthe--meaning "no sorrow" in Greek--and today marks its 62nd birthday. Nepenthe is the story of what happens when a family discovers their home site is so beautiful it demands to be shared with others. Today, the original restaurant and terraces--designed by a student of Frank Lloyd Wright--have been joined by a cafe with a breathtaking view of the Sur coast and The Phoenix Shop, a unique world-themed store guaranteed to grab attention. Every turn you take at Nepenthe is a discovery of human and natural landscapes both real and imagined.

OTR has returned to this special place at every opportunity over these last forty years. Sadly, it hasn't been nearly enough times, but OTR thinks there could never be enough experiences there to be sated. The solace comes in knowing that once you visit, you never really leave the magic.

So "Happy Birthday" to Nepenthe and the Fassett family descendants who run the place and ensure that the hospitality and magic keep flowing.

Readers can learn more about that magic here. Be sure to click on the "Stories & Folktales" link to start. OTR thinks you'll want to visit soon to see "no sorrow" for yourself. The food is expensive, rich, generous, and quite good for what has become a iconic tourist stop on Highway 1. OTR suggests the Ambrosia Burger as a filling, moderately priced meal. The Nepenthe experience itself is free. And priceless.

The illustration is the cover of a new book about Nepenthe by Romney Steele, granddaughter of the founders, Bill and Lolly Fassett. Autographed copies are available from the Phoenix Shop website.

Friday, April 22, 2011

NLRB Challenges A Corporation's Right to Choose

Did you ever think you would see the day in the United States when a federal government panel could tell a major corporation where to build a plant? My friends,the Obama-think dominated National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is attempting to do just that to the Boeing Corporation. It seems the company wants to build its new Dreamliner factory in South Carolina instead of Seattle, Washington. Washington is a union state. South Carolina is a right to work state--no union membership required. It seems that Boeing wanted to not only enjoy a better climate in terms of weather, but also avoid the potential loss of billions in revenue due to "baggage" associated with unions. This decision has been challenged by the NLRB, now dominated by pro-union types appointed by Obama.

Here is a link to a report in The New York Times. Even the Times is a bit taken aback by this unprecedented action.

And there's more here from Gateway Pundit and National Review Online. There are some enlightening comments with both posts.

Somehow, OTR thinks this is not the kind of change Obama fans expected. On the other hand, our friends at Aerospatiale, the builders of the Airbus, would be happy to see a new plant in Washington. The labor issues will bring them business.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Obama The Ignorant

Go back a thousand years in English history and you will encounter King Ethelred the Unready. What we read today as "Unready" translates to "ill-advised" or "uncounseled" in Old English. However we translate it, Ethelred was unable to stop decades of Viking raids from washing over his kingdom. It got so bad he ran to Normandy in 1013 and stayed there for a year.

We don't have a thousand years of history to explore for such a character. Lucky for us, we don't have to go back a day because Obama the Ignorant is with us. OTR has documented Obama's remarkable lack of even basic knowledge of American history over the past two and a half years. Just think, my friends, we have at least two more years to experience this product of Occidental College, Columbia University and Harvard Law School in action. OTR expects to see far more executive ignorance coming from the White House and its "ill advisers."

The latest example comes from Obama's already infamous interview yesterday with a local television reporter from Texas. In that interview, Obama made this statement:

Texas has always been a pretty Republican state for, you know, historic reasons.

Scott Johnson, blogging at Power Line, nailed this unbelievable ignorance today. Taking one point from Johnson, OTR will remind his readers that Lyndon Baines Johnson was a liberal Democrat from Texas.

Obama was a political science major at Columbia. Who would guess? Maybe he was just ill-advised.

UPDATE: Instapundit has commentary and a link at how vulnerable Obama is speaking in a truly public forum.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Tax Day In The USA

Powerline's John Hinderaker had the perfect observation on two headlines in today's news: 45% of Americans did not pay a dime in federal income tax and 43% of Americans thought their federal income tax burden was just about right.

Hinderaker linked to the stories and added only a few choice words that likely echo the thoughts of those--OTR included--who wrote Uncle a check today.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I Wish That I Could Be Here More

Sixty-six years ago today, Franklin Delano Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia. It was a place he had come to love--our title is a 1937 quote about Warm Springs--over the twenty years since his first visit. As this date also marks the beginning of the Civil War sesquicentennial and the fiftieth anniversary of "man in space," the end of the Roosevelt era could be easily forgotten this year. Thanks to William Katz at Urgent Agenda, we have a glimpse of the complexity and significance of FDR on the anniversary of his passing.

Readers can find more information and links here.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Fireballs Ringing In The Night

Our friends at reminded us today that it's not only Spring, but also fireball season. Astronomers don't fully understand why this " bump" occurs, but who cares when you can see dazzling meteors brighter than Venus. Furthermore, no need to get up in the hours before sunrise because the best time to look is around midnight. So far, there have been several notable sighting, including one in New Mexico. Read more at today or access the April 7 post through their archives search.

If you have a meteor obsession, OTR suggests you indulge it at this site. Be sure to read their extensive report on a spectacular fireball that lit up skies yesterday from North Carolina to Arkansas.

Obama Channels Marie Antoinette

Friends, just what will it take for liberal/democrat Americans to realize there is a serious problem occupying the White House? Imagine being an ordinary citizen questioning Barack Obama about your concerns over high gas prices and being told that it may be a good idea for you to buy a new car! It happened yesterday in Pennsylvania.

The usual media suspects--ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NPR, NYT, WaPo, et al--were in damage control mode once they realized this embarrassing story had "legs." Scrubbing, ignoring or otherwise mitigating this aristocratic display became essential for the protection of their demi-god. So much for journalistic objectivity and integrity.

Those who want the real story, including the video, updates and some back story can start here courtesy of Instapundit. Quite revealing.

Being an executive is no cakewalk.