I am going to try to bring back the “What Are You Listening to Lately?” feature I used to post regularly.
While I haven’t exactly been successful in making it an Earth Day tradition, today I did listen to Gustav Mahler’s great orchestral song cycle, Das Lied von der Erde. The Decca compact disc with Leonard Bernstein conducting the Vienna Philharmonic–and soloists James King and Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau–is my only recording of this music, but I don’t feel the need to own another, such is the quality.
I will try to upload previous editions of “WAYLTL?” as time permits.
If you needed any more evidence that Chicago is the greatest city in America, tonight’s Rays vs. White Sox game provides ample proof. It is presently the bottom of the eighth inning, and the Rays are up 12-0. In spite of that, and in spite of the fact that it’s extremely cold in Chicago tonight (which you can tell by looking at the players’ breath), there is still a sizable, and astonishingly enthusiastic crowd at Comiskey Park. Almost all of them are covered in blankets, huddled together for warmth. But every strike their pitchers throw, and every put-out their fielders make generates tremendous cheering. Dewayne Staats, the outstanding Rays broadcaster (who announced Cubs games when I was a boy), just noticed that the scoreboard indicated a temperature of forty degrees. “I think they’re just trying to brainwash the fans”, he said.
“Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud…”
My first indication that the tide was turning came when Satchel’s switched from Coke to Pepsi. Old Man Satchel put a notice on the back of the menu saying that he didn’t have a preference one way or the other, but that the Pepsi people made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. A short time later, the University of Florida announced that it had signed a new exclusive contract with Pepsi, and before long all the Coke machines on campus disappeared. Last year, I walked into Big Lou’s to find them serving drinks in all new glasses printed with the Pepsi logo. They, too, had switched.
Meanwhile, Pepsi is substantially underselling Coke. I have noticed that both Wal-Mart and Publix have priced two-liter bottles of Pepsi at just a dollar, while Coke, when not on sale, is $1.79. (The exception is at Major League Baseball parks, where I paid $8 for a Pepsi a week ago.)
Finally, Pepsi has introduced some new, old products that have soda fans excited. Pepsi Throwback, which I first had last summer, is made with real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. It tastes noticeably better. I had assumed it was a limited-time-only sort of thing, but around the New Year, my friend Harris, a soda fan, told me it was back, along with Mountain Dew Throwback. Both are still available, and both have wonderful retro packaging, with the Pepsi cans, in particular, especially evocative. And though it isn’t a Pepsi product, per se, I recently discovered Dr. Pepper Heritage, also made with real sugar. Dr. Pepper is an odd drink, but I enjoyed this reissue.
Now, it may be that sugar is once again less expensive than corn, and Pepsi is simply taking advantage of that. Or Pepsi might have taken the pulse of the soda buying public, and realized that fans have a taste for real sugar. Coke needs to do the same.
And, unless Coke is really doing as well as they’d like, they need to look out: Pepsi appears to be taking over. Coke still has McDonald’s and Walt Disney World, but for how long?
If you’ve ever seen a crime-themed film or television show, you have no doubt heard a character–generally a detective or investigator–instruct a lowly technician to “zoom and enhance” some bit of surveillance video. No matter how distant or grainy the footage, the technician merely turns a few knobs on a console, and, ta da!, perfect high-definition video quality. It’s ridiculous. Or so I thought.
Tonight the History Channel is broadcasting a special entitled Stealing Lincoln’s Body. “Outstanding”, I thought when I saw the listing, since not only is the Rays vs. Red Sox game currently on a rain delay in the ninth inning, but I am a passionate Lincoln fan, and am presently reading David Herbert Donald’s wonderful biography of the greatest of all Americans. History Channel productions, however, have frequently failed to impress me, commonly employing silly reenactments, and generally lacking the authoritative scholarship associated with PBS efforts. Stealing Lincoln’s Body has some slightly silly reenactments, sure, but it is much better than average for a History Channel project. And it has something else that struck me as revolutionary.
Describing Lincoln’s funeral procession through New York City, a famous image of a young Theodore Roosevelt observing Lincoln’s coffin passing beneath his window is shown. But, like magic, the image appears to come to life, and from the apparent distance at which the photo was taken, the camera zooms in on the two figures in the window, and, lo, there is the boy Roosevelt. They zoomed and enhanced! They did it with a couple other historic photos, too, and each time the effect was startling.
I’m sorry I ever doubted you, television detectives.