Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

Covfefe, or Not Covfefe

I trust, if you’ve been on the local Internets at all today, that you’re up to date on the latest Twitter-generated current event … trending topic … meme …

Covfefe.

The tweet read:

Despite the constant negative press covfefe”

And I have to give the Internets credit: by the time the morning commute was over, the responses were just about as creative and snarky and pointed and marvelous as we’ve come to expect from the Internets.

Here’s the thing that we should really be focused on, though:

12:05 in the freakin’ morning, the Toddler-in-Chief is tweeting.

The subject, predictably, starts out as what we might call media criticism if we believed that the thought process were laced with more thoughtfulness than a lot of us suspect it is.

He’s aiming to type “negative press coverage” on his little phone keyboard. At least, I really believe this.

What he actually achieves is “negative press covfefe”.

Granted, the letters “fefe” are, on a keyboard, fairly close to “erage”. You must admit this.

At this point, I’m not sure what exactly went on.

It’s possible that the Toddler’s phone’s autocorrect didn’t kick in. (There are days when I would kill for this outcome.)

Or maybe Autocorrect didn’t have any more idea than we do, as to what “covfefe” was really supposed to be. Which makes me a little better at English, but this is actually to be hoped. Anyway …

Or maybe Autocorrect took something far more bizarre and non-English-based … and its only guess was “covfefe”.

In the normal, “matter” universe, that might be the scariest thing: not that technology with borderline artificial intelligence is coming to take over the world … but that it can be confounded by a toddler’s tweet-spelling.

In the abnormal, “antimatter” universe in which we live, though, here’s what I think is the scariest thing:

The Toddler-in-Chief hit send anyway.

(It’s possible that he looked at the burgeoning Tweet and thought, “yeah, okay; whatever.” I’m not sure what frame of mind one would have to be in, in order to look at “Despite the constant negative press covfefe” and think … “yeah. Greenlight that project.” There’s not a verb or a predicate in it. Come to think of it, that otherworldly non-word is the only thing that really comes close to a genuine, pure noun.)

Sorry. I misled you. That’s not the scariest thing.

This is:

It’s entirely possible that he couldn’t figure out how not to “covfefe”, and panicked. And hit send.

Consider:

At some point in one’s presidency, no matter who one is … as long as one is remotely human, one will encounter situations in which a remotely average human’s immediate gut reaction would be to panic.

What the hell else is this guy likely to hit, the next time he panics?

May 31, 2017 Posted by | current events, Famous Persons, humor, Internet, social media, technology, Twitter | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

I’m Right, I Presume, Part 2: Addendum

[Ed. note: I got to rather uncharacteristically foaming at the mouth about one tiny little detail of Tuesday’s blog post, the one about the father writing the letter to the principal about school attendance policies.

[I almost, almost posted the following text to my Facebook page after having seen a number of my friends, whom I love dearly, linking to the original article about the letter, seeming to agree with the article’s assessment: that the father had written the Best Letter Ever.

[Characteristically, I sat on my post for awhile, as usual not wanting to fly off the handle. I thought further about it.

[And I’m still as cranky as I was. So. You be the judge…]

 

All right … I would like to offer an open letter …

To the 15-seconds-of-fame father, the author of that now-viral letter to the school principal which is now being lauded in some quarters as a righteous stick-it-to-the-schoolmarm smackdown, etc etc etc, blah blah blah, Buzzfeed headline uber alles (with apologies to those of my fine FB friends who are linking to it):

 

Sir, my particular beef with you, in this moment, is separate from the attendance policy issue. In your letter, you wrote,

I can promise you [our children] learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school” …

and then, shortly thereafter, you wrote,

We appreciate the efforts of the wonderful teachers and staff and cherish the education they are receiving at [our children’s] Elementary School.”

On behalf of teachers everywhere who are frankly getting it done in spite of challenges that both have and have never been seen before, I say this: you can either say the first sentence, or you can say the second, but damn it, you can not say them both in the same letter without being revealed as a hypocrite.

If you can’t keep yourself from hurling snark at the professionals who are educating your children, then pull your kids out of school, set up a GoFundMe account and open the Montgomery County Academy for the Blessed.

I’m sick and tired of hearing abuse come out of the mouths and keyboards of people and thinktanks who know everything they need to know about educational practice because they went to school when they were kids.

May 1, 2015 Posted by | education, teachers | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Life Upon the Wicked Stage

Last night, NBC ran the second in what, with luck, will continue to be their series of live televised broadcasts of classic American musicals. Last year, it was “The Sound of Music Live”. This year, “Peter Pan Live”.

Mild irony alert: I missed last night’s appearance of Christopher Walken as Captain Hook because … I was running a choir rehearsal.

Ya gotta do what ya gotta do, I guess.

Although in a way, I really didn’t miss it. When I got home from rehearsal, it was still in the process of wrapping up. I climbed onto the local computer and checked in on my online social media world – and got the idea of what had gone on. As I scrolled down in my News Feed, the News was very clear:

The production was lame.

It was also great.

It really depended on whose comments I was reading at any given moment.

It is … a puzzlement!”

I have been known to live-blog a televised event or two. The Super Bowl. The Presidential Inauguration. Spike TV’s holiday Star Wars marathon. The local Conservation Commission’s meeting on cable access.

Okay, that last one I made up. I went to that one live, before I had a mobile Internet device. And oh, the live-blogging that might have transpired. Good thing it didn’t, in retrospect.

Which, in an odd way, is the point here.

With live-blogging comes snark. Seemingly, with almost everything up to and including State of the Union addresses, comes snark.

Sometimes, the snark is great entertainment. Sometimes, it’s counterproductive only in that “look, that kid is trying hard to sing that song and we should encourage because for heaven’s sake, she’s four years old, cut her a break, hey?” way.

Why do you guys gotta act like there’s a war on?!”

Sometimes at the same time as being great punchlines, the snark is legitimate and honest critique: that was an unfortunate choice of wardrobe … does he know he’s addressing adults? … you cross-checked that guy four times and you didn’t think he’d come back at you? …

I saw a bit of “The Sound of Music Live” last year, and presenting the role of Maria was Carrie Underwood, who rose to fame via “American Idol” and seemed to be more of a publicity hire than a merit hire, at least to the various musical theater professionals who populate my Facebook news feed. She was striving mightily, and it’s true, there is both risk and reward in live television, never mind live televised musical theater where you cannot go back and run that tune again.

But I imagined a small legion of Carrie Underwood fans tuning in because they knew her, and ended up knowing that “The Sound of Music” was, you know, a thing.

I can’t criticize that strategy on the part of NBC. Let’s just say that as a kid, I discovered a few other worthy artistic projects strictly because they featured a certain guy who had previously played a pointy-eared Vulcan.

And this year, the word was that Captain Hook was going to be played by an actor whose range, as far as I know, is “a great Christopher Walken impression and exactly nothing else”. This weekend, I plan to scour YouTube for his performance from last night. As I posted when I first read that Mr. Walken was going to portray the good Captain:

‘… I–! … hate I hate I, hate Peter. PAN!’”

But I digress. And for all I know, Walken may have nailed it. Or “made it his own”. Or provided the audience with many great unintentional laughs. Either way, guaranteed someone experienced Neverland because they’d been a big fan of “The Deer Hunter” or “Pulp Fiction” or, dear heaven, “A View to a Kill”. And again, NBC was counting on that.

It has to be drummed in your dear little ear…”

True, the casting could have included an actor or two with some previous Broadway experience, to satisfy those of us who would prefer Great Performances full of bona fide tread-the-boards Skill Sets.

But if Chris Walken or Carrie Underwood or, hypothetically, Pee Wee Herman drags the viewers in, raises the ratings, and encourages NBC to do this sort of thing more than twice in a row … so be it.

This, from the fellow (me) who positively cringed when the Drum Corps International finals broadcast, in the early 1990s, featured color commentary by legendary sports broadcaster Curt Gowdy. To be perfectly honest, Gowdy suffered from a combined case of “didn’t do his homework regarding ‘what is this marching band (oi!) thing?’” and “talks about everything using professional sports cliches”. He was abysmal, and somehow DCI chose to keep him into the broadcast for what felt like seventeen summers in a row. (Actually just five.) But they did so hoping that average Americans might hear the voice and stick with the show for a while, and get sucked in.

To some, young man, my charms have far from waned.”

Because as happens when time passes and the current generation is, in a great many ways, far removed from the past. There are far too many American kids who have no idea what this means:

Liza! Where the devil are my slippers?”

Or this:

Shall I tell you what I think of you? You’re spoiled!”

Or this:

Tote dat barge! Lift that bale! Git a little drunk, an’ you land in jail…”

So, while I don’t know how “Peter Pan Live” went, last night, except that some of my friends thought it was an embarrassment and others posted pictures of their kids watching the broadcast in costume (I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one with friends like this, nationwide!) … and while I’m sure that a lot of Broadway professionals were probably rightly thinking, “who greenlit this casting decision, that lighting decision, this makeup job, that flying rig, this choice of scenes to cut,” etc. etc. … with any luck, NBC will get the opportunity to screw up many more classic American musicals.

[UPDATE: This just in, as of this very morning: NBC has announced that it’ll be “The Music Man Live” in 2015. Me? I’m lobbying for “The King and I Live”, but I have very little say in the matter. Somehow I don’t think “Cabaret Live” or “Hair Live” are in the pipeline anytime soon, which is a damn shame. Oh well…]

Because what American stage producers in the 1940s and 1950s did when they combined the concepts of operetta, vaudeville and gesamtkunstwerk is unique in the world, and some of the particular instances of that art form are among the truly towering works that humanity has ever come up with.

And more people need to know that “Oklahoma” and “South Pacific” exist, let alone what they say.

So, some of us need to take a deep breath, mutter, “okay then, Walken,” and know that if this morning, one kid went to elementary school and said to their teacher or friends, “did you SEE Peter Pan FLY last NIGHT?!”, it’ll have been worth it.

After all, “I’m Flying” is just a gateway to …

Life Upon the Wicked Stage” … “The Little Things You Do Together” …

You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught” … “A Boy Like That” …

You Were Dead, You Know” … “It Ain’t Necessarily So” …

Children Will Listen” … “Tomorrow Belongs To Me” …

…I got a little more than dough ridin’ on this one.”

December 5, 2014 Posted by | arts, celebrity, music, social media, television | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment