Thursday, February 16, 2017

the Barbs happening

Hello, Dolly



I was recently contacted by my parents who, look you see, said that they had acquired if not procured something which I might be interested in. Upon hearing this I said something along the lines of oh yes, I might, might I be, posing it of course as a polite question. Yes, they said, you might well be.

Some images were forwarded to me in order to ascertain whether it might be the case that the possible might be interested which was expressed might well be translated into an actual interest

Upon viewing these images, this was decidedly to be the case.



Yes, indeed. What you can see here, assuming I upload the images the right way around (I am writing all of this at a time long before I shall be posting it), is the decidedly celebrated Barbra Streisand Television Specials box set. This was, I believe, released in 2005, but was always elusive to me in terms of availability and affordability. So, up front, nice one and thank you very much, Mum & Dad, for thinking that I might be interested and offering to send it my way.

What is it? Well, firstly, how dare you be so insolent as to ask so many questions of Barbs. Barbs gives, as and when she wishes to, and gives for a cost. If we ask questions of this she may well throw a wobbler and just take our money without offering us insights into her art.


Beyond that most obvious of answers, what it is would be a coming together of some most splendid, made for television sort of television specials which Barbs did. When? In the 60s, with a partial footprint in the 70s, too. Five in total, since you are being pushy and asking, and so the set consists of five discs.

As you would imagine, I elected to spend several hours just admiring the set, looking at the pictures, reading the words and feeling a sense of connection with Barbs. And then I decided to play one of the discs.



Which one, though? It would have been far too obvious to start at disc one. Somewhat naturally I was really rather drawn to the disc entitled The Happening At Central Park, in which I took it as a given that Barbs would do a concert in Central Park. Some, say a dozen or so, years prior to Mr Simon and Mr Garfunkel doing the same, only with a lot less Barbs songs in the set.




The Simon & Garfunkel Concert In The Park is fascinating. Other than featuring some most splendid music, it does have some curiosities. Like, for instance, the bit where Paul Simon tries to make out like he is not a total reactionary square by cracking a joke about marijuana. And the bits where Paul Simon makes Art Garfunkel stand around on stage doing nothing whilst Paul Simon does some Paul Simon solo songs.

But, we are not here to discuss other, arguably lesser as they are not Barbs artists performing in what must be one of New York’s top three parks. Certainly, you would think, it is the most central of them. No, we are having a look at Barbs in Central Park. Or at least I was going to, until disaster struck.



Yes, dear reader, that old friend of DVD, region code enhancing (RCE) had blessed this disc, and all the discs in the set. The disc was either locked on Region 1, for the USA only, or Region 0, which should make it “multizone” but for some reason Blu Ray players do not like at all.

Most DVD players, if not all, normally have the means to allow you to freely change the setting of the zone, allowing you to play any DVD from anywhere in the world. This is not the case with Blu Ray players, which are locked on to a specific letter for Blu Ray and a very specific zone number for DVD.



I do kind of “get” why they did all this RCE stuff. It was to “protect” markets and distribution rights, all in some sort of effort to protect certain territories from losing out to cheap imports. Understandable from the business side of it, but not so much for us, the poor consumer. Exploiting customers for every penny they can is the way of the entertainment business, of course. For some reason they think we should appreciate this, and all got very surprised when people elected to use something called “an internet” to avoid being so mercilessly ripped off.

So, does the above all mean that I was unable to watch Barbs in action in Central Park? No, not at all. I was able to wield a little bit of magic and know how, and (ahem) was successfully able to have this particular television special play on my TV system with, quite frankly, gay abandon.



When one starts the disc one is confronted with what one might consider to be an interesting bonus. This bonus is the presentation of the Barbra Streisand introduction, by Barbra Streisand, for the 1987 home video release of this televisual feast. Presumably the 1987 home video release was prompted by the unexpected – and highly lucrative – success of the Jane Fonda Workout home video cassette release. Undoubtedly Barbs wanted some of that, but also told all and sundry that they could f*** right off if they thought she was going to wear leotards and legwarmers for something so trivial as money.



Just let that sink in, then. Here I am in 2017, watching a Barbs special from 1967 what features a special message from Barbs recorded in 1987. It’s like FlashForward come real, man, maybe I am a traveller in both time and space.



What does Barbs say in the 1987 introduction? Quite a few things, as it happens. You have to remember, though, that this was all pre-Clinton administration, so at the time Barbs didn’t really care for political statements as there was no invitation from Bill to come and do a sleepover in the Lincoln Room at the White House. Instead, then, she expresses some displeasure with Lloyds of London, and indeed with the authorities of Central Park who did not allow some 25,000 people to come into the park at one in the morning to watch her rehearse.




In terms of the actual show, or if you like happening (and Barbs does like that), it’s splendid. A bit short, perhaps, and rather top heavy on wisecracks and jokes from Barbs, but splendid all the same.



Any particularly interesting wisecracks and jokes? Yes, they are all wonderful as they are all from Barbs. One of the most heart-warming segments is when she assures us, the poor people, that wealthy fabulous people such as Barbs also have to, from time to time, pay for things like glasses. The spectacles variety of glasses.



That might, then, be just about all that there is what I can say about the Barbs box set for now. Undoubtedly I shall be watching the other four discs in the box set, just as soon as I have weaved some more magic what would enable them to work on my tele and that.



Many thanks again, Mum & Dad, for this most splendid set. It is a wonderful and mightily appreciated gift, to be sure.




be excellent to each other!!!!!!




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