Sunday, May 21, 2017

LIGHTS OUT IN HICKVILLE




Summer has unofficially arrived. Nearly 90 humid degrees yesterday (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in Scandinavia). By late afternoon the house was hotter than a Coney Island hoochie dancer.
My knack for spontaneous imagery amazes me.

Irritable and exhausted from my usual lack of sleep, I opted for a nap just after dusk.

About an hour later, a gigantic clap of thunder jolted me out of Dreamland. Lightning flashed menacingly. My desktop computer (which was turned off) inexplicably beeped (yes, beeped) and turned on by itself. No lie.

The lights in the house blinked on, off, on......off..... 
Bingo! Another power failure. I lit a few candles while stumbling over an annoying trio of wayward cats.

There's not much one can do in the dark (when one is alone). I couldn't read. Couldn't write. Couldn't mess with the computer. So I located a transistor radio and took it to bed.

It's tricky trying to get any decent radio reception here in the Daniel Boone boonies. In order to pick up the "local" station I have to conduct a complex series of strategic maneuvers:

Keep my left hand on the Volume dial, with index finger firmly pressed against the AM switch.

Hold the antenna with my right hand in order to generate reception.

Point the radio south-east in the exact direction of where the town is located.

And pray. Pray for reception to be generated - -
and pray that lightning won't strike the antenna while I'm holding it. 

These maneuvers eventually allow me to pick up the "local" station, which is in the process of having a bluegrass fest. That's okay. I like bluegrass. Soon they switch to playing hymns.

Hell, I like hymns, too - but it's slightly unnerving listening to songs about dying and meeting my maker during a severe thunderstorm with intense lightning when you're holding an antenna.

Seems like everybody's going to heaven. It must be damn crowded up there. Kinda like Atlantic City on the 4th of July. I personally want no part of it.

After the hymns, they start reading the local obituaries. 
I've mentioned this before and I'll say it again. These hillbillies are obsessed with death. Every time I turn on the radio, somebody's reading a casualty list. They must have more stiffs here than London did during the Black Plague. Or was it the Red Plague?
Heck, I can hardly remember my own name, let alone the colors of plagues.

Anyway, the power came back on around midnight.....
.......and went off again around 3:00 a.m.
I've never seen a darker night. The rain stopped. The storm was gone. It was completely quiet and still. The only discernable light came from a few random fireflies drifting in the dark.
Power was restored - again - this morning.



Change of subject:
I thought my previous post would generate more attention, but it fizzled like a damp firecracker. The title - Music From the Civil War - was probably a turn-off. Perhaps I should have called it Naked Civil War Soldiers.....

One of my old blog posts, entitled Elizabeth Taylor's Pussy, got over 7,000 hits. Don't panic. I merely posted some photos of Liz with her cats. 
Another post entitled  Gay Hollywood Hunks (on my other blog) got 5,000 hits.

So what's my point?
People don't want intelligent blog posts. They don't give a rat's ass about my piano music.
They want sleaze.
 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

MUSIC FROM THE CIVIL WAR







When I moved away from California I went to the Missouri Ozarks (for reasons I won't bother to disclose here). I lived very close to Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, which is near Springfield.

Wilson's Creek was the site of a Civil War battle that took place in 1861. It's an impressive and haunting place, where I used to spend endless hours wandering around in a solitude that seems to be populated by spirits of the past.

Around this same time, I was intrigued by the Civil War documentary by Ken Burns which had originally aired on PBS - and, as a musician, I was especially inspired by the music. I extracted some of my favorite tunes and arranged them for piano solo. 

A few days ago I decided to make a Civil War video using original photos from that era and my piano music as an accompaniment.

The video is rather long - ten minutes - but it contains seven selections. The fifth song is a sentimental waltz, the Ashokan Farewell. It was used in the Ken Burns documentary, but it's not an original Civil War song. It was composed by folk musician Jay Ungar in 1982. I thought it was too lovely to omit.

I turned the last song - Johnny Comes Marching Home - into a series of variations (which I think is neat!).

I took lots of photos at Wilson's Creek, but they're presently in a Dropbox file and I'm not in the mood to go on a scavenger hunt. These are the only two I have at hand.


 That's me - firing at nobody in particular.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

MOTHER'S DAY





 When a loved one dies we grieve and eventually try to perceive the reality of a loss so devastating that it seems beyond the realms of possibility.

Eventually we seem to heal outwardly, but the wounds deep within are eternal. The distance of time leaves us grasping for tangible remnants, which become fewer with every passing year.
Soon there is nothing left but faded photos and gentle memories that linger like ghosts dancing on a misty horizon. 

I have already lost too many people that I loved. In the enormity of their absence I've had sufficient time to contemplate my own mortality.

The dead often become saints in the minds of the living. We forget their flaws, forgive their sins, and reinvent their histories in order to appease our anguish.

My mother was worthy of being remembered as a saint. She was compassionate, patient, long-suffering, forgiving, and the most honest person I ever knew. She endured a lifetime of physical and mental abuse from my father.

She tolerated my hurricane of an existence, and gave me the strength and encouragement to go on when my emotional lows sunk to lethal depths that were beyond salvation.
She was always my anchor in a sea of chaos.

I had inherited many of my father's wild tendencies and worst traits - all except (thank God) for the insane violence.

I inherited my mother's profound lack of confidence. I always wondered how someone so beautiful, brilliant, and poised could have such low self-esteem. Then I realized that I was her mirror image - only worse. We both had my father to thank for pillaging our self-worth.

My Mom and I shared all the same interests: music, art, literature, history. She was an extraordinary pianist and was also my first piano teacher. She wrote stories and poetry and painted pictures. She had an insatiable quest for learning and was a voracious reader - until she eventually battled macular degeneration and partial loss of eyesight.

My father passed away in 2005. I took care of my mother until she died of a stroke in 2009. It was rewarding to share those final years with her.

I made the Mother's Day video last year, but edited it and tried to shorten it. I'll probably regret posting it, but sentimentality is a large part of my nature.

I hope everyone has a wonderful Mother's Day - generating new memories and treasuring the old ones.

(video is best viewed in full-screen)


Wednesday, May 10, 2017

MAY NIGHT



 New Moon by Maxfield Parrish

May Night is a (once popular) piano composition by Finnish composer Selim Palmgren.
It's also the title of an 1880 opera by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Neither of these things have anything to do with this post. I was merely impressing you with my knowledge. 

My previous post, Lament for Eva Peron, keeled over like a lead balloon. I suppose nobody remembers the musical Evita - which was once all the rage. I saw it in Los Angeles in the original production starring Patti LuPone.

Gawd damn, I'm old......

Yup, I'm old - - but the rumors that I dated Marcel Proust are greatly exaggerated. 

You're not laughing. My knack for generating spontaneous humor is eroding. Or perhaps it never existed.

Strangely enough, I liked the 1996 movie Evita starring Madonna - which is indeed strange, since I personally can't stand Madonna. She could turn a straight man gay - but that's beside the point....

The rain has finally subsided - at least for a few days - and it was very pleasant and 80 degrees yesterday. Carpenter bees, bumblebees, and wasps are rampant and aggressive.

The weeds are now about 15 feet tall and I can hardly see to get my car off the property. Like the naive jackass that I am, I thought the weeds would die during the winter (like they did in Texas). Instead, they thrived and multiplied.
I'm at the point where I no longer give a crap. I have too many other problems (which I seldom mention in this stupid blog).

May night?
Yes, it is a May night as I'm writing this. A warm, very pleasant May night. I had the bedroom window open earlier while I was writing in bed (working on my memoirs). I heard owls and other night birds. The trees seem to be alive with them. There were some distant coyotes howling, but they haven't been close to the house in awhile. I almost miss their visits.
Also, just for the record, I haven't seen the 'possums in a long time - but something is still living under my house.

A few weeks ago there were lightning bugs (fireflies) but ever since the recent cold weather they disappeared. I love lightning bugs. They evoke childhood summer memories.

My cat Scratch left another dead mouse by my back door this evening. An unwanted gift.

I initially intended to post more piano music tonight, but didn't want to overwhelm you with my inexhaustible creativity.

Speaking of creativity, I've been working on numerous new projects (including writing two books). The old adage that there isn't enough time in a day is very true.
That's why I'm up all night.

BTW - lately my blog posts are getting so boring and uninspired that even I don't like them.
                            

Saturday, May 6, 2017

LAMENT FOR EVA PERON





Spring came to the Tennessee wilderness and cheered me up, gave me warmth, and a smidgen of hope.
Then, the ragged remnants of winter saw my contentment and returned to shatter my optimism.

A few days ago it was 82 degrees. Then wild winds blew in with torrential rain. The temperature dropped to 38 last night and today is a chilling 47 (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in the Canary Islands).

Tomorrow is the birth date of Eva Peron - - Maria Eva Duarte de Peron (7 May, 1919 - 26 July, 1952). She died young and became a legend.


During idle hours on a rainy night, I made a video tribute to her (my second one, in fact). The music I used is the  Lament from the musical Evita by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
I found a fantastic rendition of it sung in Hebrew by Israeli singer Riki Gal.

Opinions about Eva Peron differ greatly. She has been damned as a trollop and a fierce social climber. She has been lauded as a great humanitarian, almost worthy of sainthood.

She was in fact an ambitious woman who had a meteoric rise from the slums of Los Toldos, to a film career, to becoming the First Lady of Argentina. Her extraordinary life was cut short by cancer at the age of 33.

To me, her memory is fascinating, haunting, bittersweet. There is a fragility and sadness in the shadow of her flame.

Video best viewed in full-screen

Thursday, May 4, 2017

WET DAYS, DRY CAMELS, AND WRITING

I removed my most recent post solely because I didn't like it. 
Sometimes I say so much of nothing that I annoy myself. I didn't delete it - I reverted it to a draft and kept the comments (Myra, Paula, LadyHawthorne).

It's pouring rain. Again. And again and again....Once in awhile I Google pictures of the sun just to remember what it looks like. That was lame, but I'm not in a funny mood.

I'm considering moving to Saudi Arabia. Sure, they get occasional rain but I've never seen a wet camel.....and I've never seen fifteen-foot-high weeds in the Rub al Khali (like they are in my yard).

I'm used to dust storms and Haboobs. Heck, I lived in West Texas.
And I feel comfortable in sheik garb.



Don't laugh. I'm an old man. I looked a helluva lot better twenty years ago. Okay, maybe forty.
By the way, I'm the one on the right.

Remember that children's book I wrote last autumn? I put it in a drawer and forgot about it. Last night I re-read it and it's surprisingly good. I'm sending it to some publishers.

I just started writing the book about the 1906 murder in New Jersey and my great-uncle who was hanged for the crime (mentioned in one of my previous posts).
I researched that story for several years, published an article on it, and have a surplus of information. Yet, I'm still finding new information that I never knew (via the Internet). I'm amazed.

After careful consideration and major trepidation, I'm also finally writing my memoirs. 
I used to jokingly say that I'm the most interesting person I know -  but sometimes I almost believe it.

I figure it's better to write it now before senility sets in - if it hasn't already.

There's a trend with bloggers lately - especially popular bloggers (which I'm very definitely not): 
they're all writing memoirs. I've read some of them on Amazon - and most are blase. Nothing interesting happened in their lives.

I endured one extremely long chapter about a 1963 trip to the drive-in movies. And I read several chapters about a quirky uncle who drank beer while watching Bowling for Dollars in his underwear.
ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
I don't really give a flying fig.

Trouble is - writing truthfully about oneself is extremely difficult. Revealing all is even more difficult. Not to mention humiliating.

My life has definitely been unique. And colorful. There were many incredibly good times, but even many more brutally bad ones - the ravages of which devastated me emotionally. I never fully recovered.

I could easily write two books: my innocent childhood and my recklessly wild adulthood of destruction and debauchery.
I have an incredible memory. I can remember things from when I was only a few months old. 

Well, this blog post turned out to be even longer and more crappy than my previous one was.

It's far too late to quit while I'm ahead. 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

FUN IN TEXAS

 Twin Buttes
near San Angelo

On my previous post, on my replies in the comment section, I mentioned the fact that I've often used the herb valerian to calm my nerves. That suddenly reminded me of something that happened when I lived in Texas.

I lived in three different towns in West Texas. San Angelo was definitely the most challenging of the three (I'm being very polite with my choice of words).
I'll cut to the chase and get to the valerian story:

Directly behind my house was another house filled with illegal aliens (or immigrants - - "aliens" sounds too outer spacey).

Their back yard was filled with dogs in cages. I don't know whether they bred them or just sold them for taco meat, but it was slightly unnerving. They always kept one particular dog running loose (as a guard...or perhaps a mascot). 
Anyway the loose dog was a non-stop barker. It barked 24/7 and annoyed the holy spirit out of me (among other things). The worst thing was that I couldn't sleep from the incessant nighttime barking.

An aside:
there was no chance of calling the police or Animal Control, because laws don't exist in San Angelo. Trust me on this.

Finally - completely unhinged from lack of sleep - I decided to take matters into my own trembling hands. 
Should I kill the dog? Shoot him?  Smother him?
Naw. I might be a bitch. But I'm usually a sweet bitch.
I decided to sedate him.

This is where the dog lovers are gasping in shock.
This is also why I love cats. They don't bark.

I'd never sedated a pooch before and wondered what I could use. I certainly didn't want to lethally harm him. Well, not much anyway.....

Suddenly-
it dawned on me that I could use valerian root. I've taken that herb very often to sedate myself (God knows, in Texas I needed it). It sure as hell wouldn't hurt to try it on a dog.

I grabbed a leftover hot dog, split it open, and stuffed it with some valerian.
Fed it to the dog (who gobbled it greedily). And waited.
Voila!
Within twenty minutes Rover calmed down, stopped barking........and I got some much-needed sleep.

It sure as hell didn't solve all my Texas problems, but it was a pleasant interlude.

While I have your attention, I'll mention a few more things about my San Angelo neighbors.

The neighbor to my right was a woman who ran a "daycare" center with about thirty screaming kids (I kid you not!).
Here's the kicker: 
She drank and (I strongly suspected) dabbled in drugs. Her son was arrested for giving alcohol and drugs to minors.
AND
let's insert a drum roll here for effect
The woman rented her upstairs rooms to prostitutes.
I swear to Gawd I couldn't make this stuff up.

Are you ready for more? Take a deep breath and hold onto your garters before reading this one. 

The neighbors to my left were drug dealers and at least twenty people lived in the house.
One of the many residents was a huge - and I mean horrendously alarmingly huge - woman who got angry at me 
(I won't divulge details on a public blog)
 and shot at my house numerous times!

And I won't mention the fact that her drug-dealing cronies despised me and used to follow, threaten, and intimidate me......it's a pathetically long story.

  Big Mama was eventually wanted for murder....and she was featured on the TV show America's Most Wanted.
By this time she fled Texas and went to Louisiana - - where she was murdered by some of her drug-dealing "friends".
They cut off her fingers, stuffed her ample body into a car, and set it on fire!

I'm tempted to mention her name - - but I won't.

These are just a few of my Texas adventures. There were many more, far worse ones - - but I'll spare you. 




The photos were taken at Twin Buttes, near San Angelo, where I used to go hiking. I encountered lots of rattlesnakes.

Friday, April 28, 2017

FREAKY FRIDAY




 Bosco and Scruffy
waving bye-bye as I embark for town


Many thanks to the kind people who left  such nice comments about my piano tape on my previous post. I deserved it. I'm damn good. And I'm very often far too modest.

You're also completely full of yourself, Jon.

Hell, if you have it - - flaunt it. 

Actually I'm full of other things: I had two beers, several lethal doses of Daytime NyQuil, and two aspirins that are outdated by a year and a half.

I tried to buy aspirin in the Walmart pharmacy today...but couldn't find any!!
I did a search worthy of Hercule Poirot and came up empty. Where the hell do they hide them? I found rainbow-colored condoms and an alarming array of feminine hygiene products that were beyond my comprehension. But no aspirin.

Yes, I made the perilous and infinitely long journey into town today. The sole reason being that I was completely out of cat food. Again.

Why don't you stockpile cat food, Jon, so you have an extra supply at home?

That would be a great idea if I was a millionaire. Unfortunately, after spending a small fortune on cat food, litter, and other feline supplies - I hardly have enough left for human food.

Yea, I'm human. Some of you will find that debatable , but tough noogies.
Those damn cats eat better than I do.

Speaking of cats, Scruffy has been having bad asthma attacks lately. I can't imagine why but I've been monitoring her carefully.

As most of my regular readers know, I always go into a severe panic mode when I have to drive to town. The narrow, winding, dangerous mountain roads completely unnerve me. 

How unnerved do you get, Jon?

Let's put it this way:
I'd rather be hung upside down, with bamboo shoots wedged under my fingernails, and a group of male orangutans peeing on me.
Maybe.

I don't think I had an hour of sleep last night. I kept getting back spasms so severe that my screams were heard in Kentucky. I sounded like Kirsten Flagstad on a bad day.

Driving to town is bad enough. Doing it in the company of agonizing spasms is worse.

I have no doubt that I'm being punished for past sins. God is probably laughing so hard that he blew a fart and fell off his throne.

It was a very warm, muggy day. 
82 degrees outside......and 175 degrees in the car (that's Fahrenheit, for those of you in Krakatoa).
By the time I got home all the frozen food was thawed, the icing melted off the donuts, and the cottage cheese curdled.
And then I remembered several things that I forgot to buy.

Everything where I live is on a mountainous slant. I have to literally PUSH the door of the car open with both feet (try that with mega back spasms). Then I have to tote all the groceries up a hill to the back door - while trekking through ten-foot-high weeds and being mercilessly attacked by wasps and carpenter bees.

This is getting monotonously long, but I wanted you to get an idea of my dire predicament. Rural life is less than enchanting.

BTW - I got a tick bite on my ankle yesterday. I always have bad reactions from tick bites. Last summer it took me over a month to recover from one. This one is swollen and itching like hell.

Have I said enough? 
Heck, I haven't even warmed up.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

A RARE DISCOVERY





Last night I happened to find some more of my old piano recordings and this particular one shocked me, because I had completely forgotten about it. It's one of the many transcriptions that I wrote when I lived in Hollywood - and (to be brash for a rare change) it's definitely one of my best.

This is my piano arrangement of the theme from the 1960 film  The Apartment, starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine. The music score was originally written by Adolph Deutsch.

Strangely enough, I've never seen this movie - but I always loved the music from it. And I always wondered why such a beautiful film score is so seldom heard. I wrote this solo piano transcription to use in my repertoire when I performed.

Unfortunately, my original piano manuscript was one of the many things that the movers lost when I came from Texas to Tennessee. All I have left is this unedited recording.

Listening to it puts me in a romantic Hollywoodized mood: intoxicating moonlight, dangerous cocktails, soft candlelight.....
....and - of course - an accommodating pianist.
(*smile* inserted here) 

 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

THOUGHTS ON A RAINY SATURDAY

 
Hi - my name is Jon....and I'm a jelly bean addict.

It's true. It happens every Easter. I don't know what I'll do when I run out of my stash. 

Did I ever mention that Tennessee is the rainiest place on earth? The rain never ever stops. It's like Vietnam in the monsoon season. It's like Venice, but with hills and dangerous curves and no canals.  

This place is called The Volunteer State. Hell, they should re-name it the H20 State.
Don't ponder that for too long. You might strain yourself.

Volunteer?
Heck, I never volunteered for anything in my entire life. Except for sex. 
But that's beside the point. 

It's pouring rain, as usual, and it's a cool day. The trees are lush and green, the grass grows taller by the hour. And the mega weeds have reached H.G.Wells proportions.

 I just snapped this pic a few minutes ago from the back porch. Green is in vogue.
 

Rainy days are cozy days. I remember rainy days when I was a kid. Eating Lipton soup with oyster crackers and watching monster movies on TV.

Do they still make oyster crackers? I haven't seen them in 20 years. 
Do they still make Lipton soup?
I'm hopelessly archaic. I'm from an era when June Cleaver was preparing dinner in high heels, faux pearls, and a crisp Betty Crocker apron.

All the letters on my computer keyboard have worn off, so consequently I keep making grievous errors.

Speaking of computers
notice my smooth transition of thought....

My old desktop computer went completely insane yesterday. Last night I spent nearly four hours with Windows "support" getting things repaired. So far it's working again. It's probably the only computer left on earth that's still running on Vista.

Today Firefox went insane on my laptop and it took me an hour to get that straightened out. I'm exhausted.

I was going to post more piano music today but - happily for you - I'm too lazy. And I'm sure you're still recovering from Lohengrin (see side bar).

After careful consideration, I've decided to write a book about the 1906 New Jersey murder (see previous post). I certainly have enough information.
I doubt if the book will be a home run, but heck - - I could just imagine a Broadway musical.....

And I should really think about finishing my memoirs. I've had one helluva interesting life. The only thing that's impeding my enthusiasm is the possible prospect of multitudinous lawsuits.

It's still pouring rain.
I sure hope my cats know how to swim.

That was a dumb ending to a boring post, but it was all I could come up with. 

 

 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

MURDER IN THE FAMILY

It's become an annual habit with me to remember my great aunt Katalin (Kate) Gordon, who was murdered at the age of eighteen on April 20, 1906.

I've told this story on several previous occasions but decided to briefly rehash it solely for those who haven't heard it.

Ironically, I'm related to the murder victim and the murderer.

Katalin Gordon was the eldest sister of my maternal grandmother Anna Gordon Knoll. She was murdered by her uncle Frederick Lang, who was twenty-one years old at the time.

Lang was passionately in love with Kate. He lived in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and came to New Jersey to spend Easter week with the Gordon family. His main intention was to propose to Kate. When she rejected his proposal, he became enraged and shot her through the neck - severing the carotid artery. She bled to death immediately.

Lang escaped into the woods and wasn't arrested until over two months later. The trial took place in July, 1906 and he was found guilty. After numerous appeals and a sanity hearing, he was finally executed in March, 1909. Lang was twenty-four years old, and was the last man in New Jersey to be executed by hanging.

I wrote an article about this, which appeared in The New Jersey Monthly in 1996. That was before I had a computer or access to the Internet. It took several years of research to compile sufficient information and to locate the trial transcripts and attorney briefs.

I now have enough information to write a book - which would be a rather interesting project to pursue. 

 Katalin Gordon
(1887-1906)
 This photo was taken only about a week before she was murdered. The white Easter dress that she's wearing is also the dress that she was buried in.
Kate was the eldest of twelve children. She and one other sibling were born in Hungary. The rest of the children were born in the U.S. 
My grandmother Anna, who was ten at the time of the murder, was born in Pennsylvania.

 Frederick Lang
(1884-1909)
Frederick Lang was the illegitimate brother of my great-grandmother Justinia Schmidt Gordon (Kate's mother). He was the black sheep of the family - wild, tempestuous, with a quick Hungarian temper. He was described as being short and slight, with reddish (auburn) hair.
Lang maintained that if he couldn't have Kate, nobody else would, either. He later expressed remorse for killing her and said that he deserved to die. He attempted suicide on two occasions: by setting fire to his jail cell, and by trying to hang himself.

After Lang was executed, he was quickly buried - at midnight during a storm - in an unmarked grave.
Our family had refused to claim his body. 


 John Gordon (Janos Gurdon), who was Kate's father and my maternal great-grandfather.
Gordon was of royal blood but was disinherited when he married a peasant girl (Justinia Schmidt, the sister of Frederick Lang).

Monday, April 17, 2017

EASTER LIZARD AND OPERATIC MOONWALK WITH SWASTIKAS

I kept hearing scurrying noises in the eaves of the house. At first I thought I was on the brink of insanity - but I crossed that brink years ago (I have no clue what that means - - use your own discernment).

Weird, unexplained noises aren't uncommon around here. After all, I have mice in the walls, 'possums under the house, and there are strange hoof-sounds on the roof late at night, which I'm positive have nothing to do with Santa Claus.

So on Easter morning I step out the back door and suddenly see a lizard emerge from the eaves and climb down the wooden post where the utility box is.

I photographically documented the event for posterity.
Then I emitted a Big Sigh of relief.
Lizards are definitely the lesser of many other evil possibilities.
I'd rather have lizards than rats...

 

Change of subject
 
One of the pleasures that I always indulge in during the Easter season is listening to a performance of the opera Parsifal by Richard Wagner (Wagner preferred to call his creation "a festival play for the consecration of the stage" - but that's beside the point).

Nothing stirs my senses and nourishes my soul more than this masterpiece of suffering, compassion, and salvation.
Speaking of suffering, the opera is nearly five hours long. It isn't merely a performance - it's an event.

Before we go any farther (further?) let me explain that Parsifal is an Arthurian knight, who is on a quest for the Holy Grail. The story traditionally takes place in the thirteenth century.

 Parsifal

Since I'm not in the mood to excavate my old VHS tape of Parsifal, I decide to watch it on YouTube.

I select a performance recorded in Salzburg in 2013. Imagine my complete shock, when I discover that the traditional 13th century theme has been abandoned in favor of a "modern, updated" version. 

Instead of knights and maidens, the cast is arrayed in some sort of bizarre outer space costumes. They look like rejects from an Apollo moon mission casting call.

  the 2013 Salzburg production of Parsifal

Looks like the Space Cadets have seized some fat guy in drag

This updated production is beyond my realms of tolerance. I quickly turn it off in disgust  and search for another version.

My next discovery is a 2012 version of Parsifal recorded at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus - which is the holy grail of Wagnerian opera. The Festspielhaus is a theater built by Wagner solely for his own operas. The premiere of Parsifal took place there in 1882.

What could possibly go wrong?

I was nearly blown to the moon when I discovered that this production was also a new "modernized" version - - which apparently takes place in Nazi Germany! The singers were clad in SS uniforms and the stage was adorned with swastikas!

After I regained consciousness and found my tongue  I screamed What the freaking hell does an 1882 opera by Wagner have to do with Nazi Germany?!!??

 Here it is, folks: the 2012 Bayreuth production of Parsifal

I am a staunch traditionalist. I don't want operatic masterpieces to be "updated" so they "appeal" to modern audiences. I don't want true art to be usurped with carnival tactics and pseudo-intellectual psycho-babble garbage.

I am thoroughly disgusted with these pompous, "innovative" producers, directors, and set designers - who get a degree from Walmart University and think they can trample the course of tradition with their own demented versions of progress in the arts.

These gang-rapes of Parsifal must have Wagner revolving in his grave.

Have I said enough? 

Dammit, Jon, you're cute when you are angry.