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Friday, January 23, 2009

An Embarrassment of Riches

Sometimes the newspaper just gives you so much grist for the mill.

(Digression: What is grist and why are we milling it?  "Grist: Grain to be ground."  Well, that answers the questions, but not why we in our decidedly post-millerian lives continue to think about it.  The Solipsist apologizes to all those diligent millers toiling on their flosses.)

("Floss: A small stream of water."  End of digression.)

In today's Times, the Solipsist found the following comment-worthy items:

"Thain Resigns Amid Losses at Bank of America," about the resignation of John Thain from Merrill Lynch, contained this item:

"But despite the mounting losses, Merrill Lynch rushed to pay annual bonuses to its employees before its deal with Bank of America closed on Jan. 1. Those payments are now under investigation by the attorney general of New York, a person briefed on the investigation said Thursday."

One commonly accepted definition of "chutzpah" is murdering your own parents and then asking the jury for mercy on account of the fact that you're an orphan.  There would seem to be many dead parents lying around the offices of Merrill Lynch/B of A.  Annual bonuses?  Yes, it's become a cliche to attack the greed, arrogance, and public-relations tone-deafness of the titans of finance over the last several months, but come on!  Who thinks this is a good idea?!?  Well, OK, we know WHO but HOW could this be thought prudent?  Apparently Thain himself was in line for (and considered himself deserving of) a bonus in the 30-40 million dollar range, which was then reduced to 10 million, which was then reduced to nothing.  Would have been fun to be a fly on the wall for that conversation.  "30 million's too much?  Really?  I mean nobody pays attention to these things, right?  Guys?  [Stony silence.]  OK, OK. . . .I can live with ten. . . .Fellas? . . . .Yeah, all right all right. . . .[mumbling] Stupid economy rassa frassa mrgl mrgl. . . ."

From the ridiculous, to the sublime.  The front page continues with the story of the beautiful, haunting, inspiring "Air and Simple Gifts"--the classical piece by John Williams played by an all-star ensemble of top-flight musicians: Itzhak Perlman on violin, Yo Yo Ma on Cello, some dude on clarinet, a chick on piano, and on drums, all the way from the Great White North, Rush's own Neil Peart!  (OK, that last one was a joke, but wouldn't it have been cool?)  Anyway, this commentator's heart was warmed that these titans of classical music would brave the frigid Washington air to celebrate the historic ascension of an African-American to our nation's highest office.  That their dedication to their craft was such that they would suffer such physical discomfort to bring beauty to the masses.  Indeed, that they COULD, in fact, manage to produce such breath-takingly beautiful sounds in air that by rights should have frozen their fingers to their bows and ivories.  This music, drawn perfectly from their otherwise lifeless instruments that--  Huh?  What's that?


Yes, folks, in the spirit of those other great African-American trailblazers Milli and Vanilli, it seems that Mssrs. Perlman, Ma, et al., were actually string-synching to a pre-recorded version of this work.  Now, overall, this was a minor cover-up, but after eight years of Bush and his secret agendas, it was a bit jarring to begin the Obama years on these questionable notes (pun most definitely intended).

And, finally, from the ridiculous to the pseudo-sublime to the SO ridiculous that it qualifies for its own sort of sublimity after all: an article about lewd sounding place names in England.  The Solipsist is unsure why this qualifies as news, but he's certainly not complaining:

Penistone, Crapstone, North Piddle, East Breast, Wetwang, Spanker Lane, Crotch Crescent, Slutshole Lane, Titty Ho, Pratts Bottom, Ugley (Essex), Gaswork Road, Quare Street, Typple Avenue, Hoare Road, Tumbledown Dick Road, Butt Hole Road, Horrabridge.  ("I've been everywhere, Man!  I've been everywhere. . . .")

Any additional comment would be superfluous.  Happy trails!

1 comment:

  1. I'm relieved to hear that Neil Peart had nothing to do with the pre-recorded debacle of which you speak. He would NOT have stood for such nonsense.