Programming note: Tomorrow, Sunday, I'll be hosting another audio edition of Steyn's Song of the Week on Serenade Radio in the UK at 5.30pm British Summer Time (that's 12.30pm North American Eastern/9.30am Pacific). You can listen from anywhere on the planet by clicking the button in the top right-hand corner here.
Afterwards right here at SteynOnline we will launch a brand new Tale for Our Time.
~Welcome to the final installment of our ongoing weekend entertainment: Mark Steyn's Passing Parade, a favorite book of Steyn readers which has proved very popular in its audio iteration over the course of 2021.
I thank you for all your kind comments as we've rocketed along each Saturday, and in particular for your appreciation of our penultimate episode. Gregory Laughton, a Pennsylvania Steyn Clubber, says:
Passing Parade no 32 was just outstanding, particularly on Pope John Paul II, whose clever thumbing of the nose at the communists was instrumental in destroying Soviet domination of Eastern Europe. And the modern media wishes to silence all traditionalists. What have we come to?
Well, as the title says, Gregory, the parade passes: Fifteen, twenty years go by, and you discover you're surrounded by people who think the old virtues are evils to be overthrown. James Laurie, Gregory's fellow Keystone State Steyn Clubber, says:
Pope obit was the best of the best Mark Steyn. Thanks.
Coming a week after the 'God Bless America' Song of the Week which was the best of the best of the best Mark, I remain in awe of the talented Mr Steyn.
Enough with the awe, James. You'll be prostrating yourself like Obama before the King of Saudi Arabia. Josh Passell, a First Weekend Founding Member of The Mark Steyn Club from Massachusetts, writes:
I shall miss these honored dead when they're gone (after next week). I wonder if any of your "Last Calls" can be repurposed to make the eulogies last just a few weeks longer?
We can't start adding chapters that don't exist in the original book, Josh. Next you'll be wanting a CGI battle scene added to Northanger Abbey.
And with that on to the concluding episode of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade - one for the road from a peerless accompanist:
The man playing the piano was Bill Miller, and that intro to 'One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)' is his invention. It's a marvelous thing that works at so many levels: it evokes the tinny sound of a saloon piano, and it meanders a little woozily like a fellow who's drunk a skinful heading back to the bar for one more, and it also has a kind of bleak weary acceptance about it, as if both storyteller and barman know that in the end the one buttonholing the other will change nothing; it's self-aware about its self-pity, it understands that, in everything that matters, it's already past closing time. And it's also an acting performance, in that Miller is playing not just the piano accompaniment to the song but also the role of the barroom pianist in the story the singer's telling. Miller matches the paradox of the vocal performance with one of his own: just as Sinatra gives what Robert Cushman called 'a perfectly controlled performance of a man who's falling apart', so the pianist under the cover of a rinky-dink saloon piano provides an amazing harmonic intensity.
That's a hell of a lot to cram into a few bars. I once tried to say all the above to Bill Miller, and he said:
Members of The Mark Steyn Club can hear me read the conclusion of Mark Steyn's Passing Parade simply by clicking here and logging-in. All earlier episodes can be found here - and some four dozen far more distinguished authors here.
Oh, and if after our audio adaptation, you fancy checking out the book, you can find that here.
Thank you so much for your compliments about Tales for Our Time during the age of Covid. Some like the ripping yarns for boys, some the more genteel social comedy for girls, and some of you even enjoyed last summer whimsy from yours truly. But of the tales in totality all seem to be in favor. Thank you too for your continued compliments about our Sunday poems and The Hundred Years Ago Show.
If you've yet to hear any of our Tales, you can enjoy the first four-and-a-half years' worth of audio adventures - by Conan Doyle, Kafka, Conrad, Gogol, Dickens, George Orwell, Baroness Orczy, Jack London, Louisa May Alcott, Robert Louis Stevenson and more - by joining The Mark Steyn Club. For details on membership, see here - and, if you're seeking the perfect romantic Valentine gift, don't forget our Steyn Club Gift Membership. Sign up that special someone today! And do join me later today for Part Seven of Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey.