Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.
-- Prince, "Let's Go Crazy" (1984)
No Sift next week. New articles will appear May 9.
This week everybody was talking about the New York primary
The odds of a Clinton/Trump contest in the fall jumped considerably Tuesday, after both had landslide wins in New York. I describe just how completely this slams the door on Bernie's chances (as well as the options on what to do next) in "Beyond Bernie 2016".
Trump's win was in some ways even more crushing, because Ted Cruz got no delegates at all from New York. Cruz is now in the same position as Kasich (or Paul Ryan, for that matter): His only path to the nomination involves stopping Trump from getting a first-ballot majority at the convention, then convincing other candidates' delegates to switch to him on subsequent ballots. The last time a major party had a convention with more than one ballot was in a different political era entirely, when Adlai Stevenson won the 1952 Democratic nomination on the third ballot.
If you weren't music-conscious in the mid-80s, and haven't had a friend introduce you to Prince's music since, you're probably puzzled by the overwhelming public response to his death (at age 57, two years younger than I am). He's getting tributes not just from the music and pop-culture parts of the media, but from folks like Rachel Maddow and Josh Marshall.
Here's what I think was unique about Prince: Other musicians typically envy pop hit-makers for their success, but not for their musical skills. Prince was the exception. He could play almost any rock instrument at a high level -- check out the guitar solo that begins at the 3:30 mark here -- and he had mastered the entire process that starts with a thought in somebody's head and ends with music coming out of somebody else's headphones. He didn't just perform his songs, he wrote and arranged them, was his own studio band, and sometimes the mixer, engineer, and producer as well. He was famous for blatantly sexy songs, but he also could fit in with the Muppets.
And he was successful at all that. Wikipedia says: "At one point in 1984, Prince simultaneously had the No. 1 album, single, and film in the US; it was the first time a singer had achieved this feat."
Prince also kept his local identity, and created a music industry in Minneapolis rather than move to an existing music capital like LA. The performances in his movie Purple Rain were filmed at Minneapolis' First Avenue Club.
That's why it's so dismal to hear that he has died at a comparatively early age. But if the elevator tries to bring us down, at least we know what to do.
and you might also be interested in
There's still another week of Confederate Heritage Month to celebrate over at Orcinus.
Whether or not our war against ISIS succeeds is not entirely up to us. It also depends on Iraq maintaining a stable government, which might be a challenge.
In Alabama, separation of church and state means that your daycare center can go virtually unregulated, if you claim it has a religious purpose. The Center for Investigative Reporting has been doing a series called "The God Loophole" about the problems that leads to.
The tenured Wheaton College professor who got in trouble for saying that Christians and Muslims worship the same God has reached an agreement to leave the school.
Now that Trump has opened the floodgates, we can expect to see Hispanic stereotypes in lower-office campaigns. Like this ad from a Kentucky Republican running for Congress.
You can tell you're getting old when more and more news stories make you say, "I thought he was dead." Well, it turns out Pat Boone is still alive, and calling for FCC regulations against blasphemy. What set him off was a Saturday Night Live skit, which is a fake movie trailer for a fake movie called God is a Boob Man, in which a Christian baker is pressured by the legal system to say that God is gay.
To appreciate it, you need to know what it's satirizing. In 2014, a film God's Not Dead was made for all those Christians who imagine that they're persecuted. In it, a university philosophy professor "demands his students sign a declaration that 'God is dead' to pass." One student resists, is vindicated, and the professor ultimately converts just before dying. Totally realistic, in other words.
That was successful enough that it's getting a sequel, God's Not Dead 2. (Who knows, maybe this is the beginning of a genre similar to the blaxploitation films of the 1970s, but for Christians. I'm visualizing Shaft with a Bible.) Here is its trailer, which you need to understand is not an SNL parody, no matter how much it sounds like one.
Parodying such nonsense is the blasphemy that Boone thinks TV stations should lose their licenses for broadcasting.
and let's close with some reading suggestions
A few years ago, NPR polled its readers to find the 100 best fantasy and science fiction novels. But lists like that are a bit unwieldy: Where do you start? So the fanzine SF Signal created an interactive guide to help you figure out which one to read next. And that turned into this flow chart. Click to expand.