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Having put up a (mildly) snotty political post, I feel a mild compulsion to establish some common ground, especially with my conservative readers. Rather than get up their noses again, I like to suggest some things we can agree on. After all, when I worked at the Flemingsburg Gazette all those years ago, Jean Denton, the editor, and I disagreed on Richard Nixon but both admired Joan Didion’s essays and Ross Macdonald’s murder mysteries.

Common ground:

The Hamilton Tavern’s Crosstown Burger, the best hamburger in Baltimore.

Psalms sung in Anglican chant by a competent choir.

John Cheever’s short stories.

Small-batch bourbon, Manhattans, gin martinis, Prosecco, and craft beers.

Rossini’s Barber of Seville.

The Monty Python cheese shop and dead parrot sketches.

Jane Austen.

Haydn’s symphonies (all 104 of them).

An e-mail or letter from an old friend of thirty years’ standing.

Even better: an exchange on Facebook with someone once wooed that clears up a misunderstanding from forty years previously.

St. Paul’s Cathedral, seen from the Millennium Bridge.

Julia Child’s beef burgundy. And Cincinnati’s Skyline chili.

A pot of good black tea accompanied by scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

John Philip Sousa’s marches.

Melitta-brewed coffee.

Ingmar Bergman’s film of Mozart’s Magic Flute. (If you don’t know this, get the DVD without further delay.)

The headline that fits and makes sense for the edition closing on time.

Trollope’s Barchester Towers.

The daily newspaper with morning coffee.

Eudora Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.”

The Schubert Octet.  

The comment from a reader who understood and appreciated a post.



Posted by John McIntyre at 2:00 PM | | Comments (22)


You have impeccable taste, Mr. McIntyre. I just knew there was so much more to like about you than your editorial skills alone.

Do you know, I really don't think I've heard all 104 of them.

I don't know that I'm far across the political divide, but inevitably that ocean thing separates us culturally. Nonetheless I've put a tick next to many of 'em.

I bought my son (he's 38) the Magic Flute DVD for Christmas. When he was little, I took him to see it at our local movie theater. He sat quietly through the whole film and on the way home he asked, "Do we have that?" and he listened to the whole recording again, straight through.

I got Barchester Towers as an ebook, but so far I haven't been able to get into it.

WFMT in Chicago played all the Haydn symphonies, one a day, a year or so ago.

Monty Python's Dead Parrot sketch truly withstands time, as does The Ministry of Silly Walks.

About 10 year ago, I sort of twisted the arm my then mid-20s daughter so that she'd allow me to take her to the Lyric to see The Barber of Seville. (Because, although we really never want to say never, I am quite comfortable saying that neither of my offspring will ever awaken one morning saying, "Oh! My soul cries out for an aria!") Daughter was driving home when she turned to me and grinned, "You do know that Bugs Bunny did that one better?"

Can we add Johnny Mercer lyrics to the list of common ground? If you've ever softly crooned a pop song from the mid 20th century, there's a good chance you can thank Mercer for the pleasure.

Manhattans with bourbon, or Manhattans with rye?

Hi Eve,

Thanks for sharing that sweet anecdote of familial arm-twisting w/ you and your daughter experiencing that live production of "The Barber of Seville", together, at the Lyric. (Is the Lyric a local theater in Baltimore?)

As a former (now happily retired) animation artist-----background and character designer----having worked for many years at Warner Bros. Animation without a hiatus from 1989-1996, and sporadically thru the mid- 2000s, I had to chuckle at your daughter's opining, " 'You DO know that Bugs Bunny did that one better' ?" HA!

Indeed, Warner Bros, circa 1949, released the theatrical animated short, "Rabbit of Seville", starring Bugs and his arch rival, shotgun-toting Elmer Fudd, masterfully directed by the great Chuck Jones, w/ a slap-stick-heavy comedic script by Michael Maltese. Warner long-time musical impresario, Carl Stalling arranged the Rossini overture-based score, the operatic backdrop to a mad-cap assault on hapless Elmer Fudd, by Bugs as the over-zealous barber. This was one of Jones' most popular cartoon shorts, and today ranks up high in the official best-animated-shorts-ever category.

Another classic, even more opera-centric early Warner Bros. theatric short, again under the astute direction of Chuck Jones, and starring Bugs and Elmer, was the hilarious "What's Opera, Doc?". As I recall Bugs was doing one of his gender-bending, male-to-female transformations, disguised as the lovely classic Wagnerian Teutonic opera diva, Brünnhilde, from the Valkyries (part of Wagner's famed Ring Cycle), sporting a horned helmut, braided (faux) locks, lipstick, fake eyelashes, and a weird bustier-cum-breast plate 'thingy'. All, to woo the smitten Mr. Fudd.

This was, IMHO, one of the most visually stunning, engaging and just plain hilarious cartoon shorts ever. As a former background designer I can't overlook the incredibly graphically elegant, and broadly-designed backdrops by Maurice Noble; basically two-dimensional stage sets, that provided such a beautiful setting for this over-the-top musical send-up. Those WERE the days.

Eve, I kind of detected a sort of hint of a generational, dare I say cultural, divide between you and your daughter, when she put the great operatic opus, "The Barber of Seville", in a more familiar context (for her)------ a satirical cartoon. It reminds me of, back in the day, how lazy, unmotivated slacker high-school students might, say check out the Hollywood filmic version of Stevenson's"Treasure Island", rather than take the time and deliberation to actually READ the book. Not quite the same situation as what you and your daughter experienced ten years ago, but hopefully you get my drift.

Eve, I too am a huge Monty Python fan, and loved the laugh-a-minute John Cleese ( & Co.) in the "Fawlty Towers" series. Never did see "Spam-a lot" on stage, though.

Ta! Ta!


Ahhh, A McC, long ago, over in the Sandbox, the deranged used to randomly post, "Kill the wabbit! Kill the Wabbit!"

Good times.

Eve, I'm with your daughter on this one!

Dahlink, you think maybe it was Johnny B. Good for a lullaby that set my kids on the path to ruin?


If I may chime in here.

Chuck Berry's uptempo, late '50s smash hit, "Johhny B. Goode", as a goodnight lullaby for your now doomed-to-ruination kids, was a pretty radical move, and could very well have contributed to warping their formative sensibilities for good....... or ill. HA!

I know your offsprings' Pandora's box has flipped its lid, eons ago, and the damage is done, but might I offer you a handful of more placid, contemplative, soothing-to-the-ear, lullaby-worthy tunes that could perchance have prevented your kids from turning to the contrarian side?

1. "Oh Very Young"------Cat Stevens

2. "Imagine"------- John Lennon

3. "Blackbird"------The Beatles/ lead vocals by Paul McCartney

4. "At the Zoo"------Simon and Garfunkel

5. "The Only Child"-------Jackson Browne

6. "Both Sides Now"------Joni Mitchell from her 2nd album. "Clouds" (1969)

7. "California Dreamin'"----The Mamas & Papas


Well, that may have been MORE than your standard handful, but what the hey. HA!

I'm feelin' awful darn nostalgic about now. What say you.?


When Bergman's film of the "Flute" first arrived, a group of us in Syracuse went to see it. (JEM may have been with us. He often was.) Some silly woman turned to the person next to her and asked,"Isn't it wonderful to hear it in the original language.?!" Ah yes. As you are in the 'come let us agree...' spirit, try these: 1)Nearly almost anything by Mozart, including the early symphones, particularly played by a period instrument orchestra. 2) Bach Bach Bach 3) Hamlet 3) Dame Maggie Smith, particularly as seen in the current "Downton" series on PBS. 4) I did sample Prosecco this summer on a hot night - perfect for summers. 5)Key lime pie, as made in Florida. 6) Anglican chant requires a choir that is more than competent. It must be sung as if it were an anthem, with inflections and pauses for breathing. 7)Casablanca - the movie, not the town in Morocco. That's a start.

Downton Abbey is innocent enough, and Maggie Smith is splendid, of course. The shade of Dame Edith Evans seems to hover over the shoulder of most British actresses of a certain age, doesn't it?

Linda Seebach: Barchester Towers is very very highly recommended. Do read it! Trollope at his brightest and funniest, before he took to being serious.

I enjoyed reading this. We seem to to have much in common. But then I'm a former Fleming Countian with liberal political leanings. Keep up the good writing!

Even without the shade of Dame Edith, Maggie is a treat. Her timing is impeccable and clearly she enjoys herself. I wonder if that part was written with her in mind?

Possibly: Julian Fellowes wrote Gosford Park, too, of course.

Oh, I loved Gosford Park. That surreal shooting party in the rain. Maggie Smith was uproarious as Constance, Countess of Trentham. "Bought marmalade? Oh dear, I call that very feeble."

But my favorite line in the movie...
Henry Denton: "You Brits really don't have a sense of humor do you?"
Elsie (Head Housemaid): "We do if something's funny sir."

Thanks for the memory, Laura: I can hear Dame Maggie saying that line.

I'm happy with Casablanca, but then I have dedicated my life to the worship of Miss Bergman. (By the way, it's evident from Intermezzo that she can play the piano: but has anybody actually heard her play?)

And, obviously, Bach, Bach, Bach. But can we add class and put The Mikado on the list? (In the original Swedish, of course.) And, because I've reached the wistful age, Miss du Pre and the Elgar concerto?

Elgar. Cello. Yes.

Back to Julian Fellowes--for those who have enjoyed "Gosford Park" and can't wait for the next season of "Downton Abbey," I can recommend his book Snobs to help while away the time.

Happy Birthday, Professor McIntyre. I hope you'll have the opportunity to indulge in at least a few of your favorite nonpartisan things.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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