Just got my CD of “Dinah Washington Sing Bessie Smith [Remastered]” yesterday. Great album. Dinah Washington had an amazing voice. If you like New Orleans Jazz tinged with blues, you’ll like that album.

Went into San Francisco to see a play written by Frank McCourt (“Angela’s Ashes”) entitled “The Irish…and How They Got That Way.” Basically, it was just another in a long string of paeans to being Irish. Beyond the somewhat recycled and lackluster material of the play itself, the presentation could have used some work. The theatre company decided to use an electric piano on stage to accompany the musical numbers, instead of a real piano. This was okay, but it meant that the actors needed to be miked to be heard. Unfortunately, the company decided to use suspended area mikes, instead of miking each cast member. However, when the cast members stood in particular places on the stage, or pointed their voices in any direction that wasn’t directly at the mikes, they were often lost in the noise of the piano.

Another problem with miked actors and amplified instruments v. an “unplugged” performance is that all sounds from the stage appear to emanate from the speakers. In an unplugged performance, the actors voices can actually have spatial qualities. All in all, I would characterize the performance and play as uneven at best. Some quick research on the web turned up an interesting review by the Boston Phoenix.

The Vikings advanced to the next round of playoffs today with a reasonably convincing 27-10 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Game ball to Robert Smith. The Oscar for Best Actor in the Role of a Blocker goes to Leroy Hoard for his multiple phantom blocks during the course of the game, of which at least one led directly to a sack.

As just one example of how expensive real estate is in the Bay Area, a houseboat on the Estuary between Alameda and Oakland is going for $325,000. The sad part is that is not a misprint.