Pundit Wire

The Magic Formula

Sorcerer Houston’s Gilbert and Sullivan Society is staging six performances of the Sorcerer at the Cullen Theatre between July 18-20 and July 25-27.

The Sorcerer is not as well known as H.M.S. Pinafore, the Pirates of Penzance, or the other operettas that followed. But without it, we might not have had its successors. Because it was with the Sorcerer that Gilbert and Sullivan hit on the magic formula that would plant their distinctive brand of musical comedy firmly in public favor, in their own time and to the present day.

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Brat — The protesting Protestant?

dave brat There’s an early Philip Roth story about a bunch of Jewish kids in Hebrew school trying to figure out whether Jesus lived or not.

“The Catholics,” Itzie Lieberman says, “they believe in Jesus Christ, that he’s God.”

Lieberman, Roth adds, “used ‘the Catholics’ in its broadest sense — to include the Protestants.”

I confess, when I was a kid in a largely Jewish town, I was similarly confused. I think I have it straight, now. But I was confused again this week, reading about Dave Brat’s surprising primary election win over Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA)…

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Not Just a Pretty Face

prettyface Last week I was in New York to attend the founding meeting of the Professional Speechwriters Association. While there, I managed to take in a play at Manhattan’s Irish Repertory Theatre. Sea Marks: An Irish Love Story, tells of two middle-aged people: Colm, a fisherman who has lived all his life on a small rocky isle on the west of Ireland, and Timothea, a Liverpool divorcee who works in publishing.

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In Defense of Student Commencement Protesters

graduation Has America entered a Bizarro world in which money equals speech but speech itself gets labeled intimidation?

That’s not a far-fetched conclusion to draw in a political culture that has unleashed campaign spending and given it First Amendment protection while at the same time branding the supposed free speech of college students as bullying, tyranny, censorship, and intolerance.

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In Search of Scotland

SearchScotland On September 18, the people of Scotland will have the chance to vote on whether or not they want to remain part of the 307-year-old United Kingdom, or whether they want to reclaim their ancient status as a sovereign nation.

Anyone curious as to how the Scots could have held on to their sense of nationhood for more than three centuries in tandem with England could do worse than consult In Search of Scotland, by H.V. Morton.

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What if We Really Knew What Media Does To Us

media What if we knew that the fictional rapes in HBO’s mega-hit “Game of Thrones” caused real rapes in the real world?  What if we knew that the portrayals of gay characters in “Modern Family” caused actual states to legalize same-sex marriage?

The catch, of course, is causation.  Medical research can prove that cigarettes cause cancer, but the best social scientists can do is to say whether there’s a “correlation,” or not, between media and behavior.

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Gods, Gold and Greed

Houston-Grand-Opera-Das-Rheingold-April-2014-Photographer-Lynn-Lane_122152 In the year 1848, the continent of Europe was convulsed by revolution. In France, King Louis Philippe was driven from his throne and a republic proclaimed. Northern Italy and Hungary revolted against the overlordship of the reactionary Habsburgs. In Frankfurt, Germany’s first freely-elected assembly was convened to seek the unification of the German states by democratic means. In London, Marx and Engels published the first edition of the Communist Manifesto.

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The ironic ma nishtana

passover If you’ve been to a seder, you know that the Four Questions are about things like why do we eat matzah instead of bread, and what’s up with this biting into a horseradish; they also prompt the telling of the Exodus story, which is the purpose of the holiday: to pass the once-we-were-slaves-in-Egypt legacy to the next generation.

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