Saturday, January 9, 2016

Game Day

Anxiety Squared

As usual, football fans everywhere are ringing in the New Year with the first round
of NFL playoff games. There are twelve teams qualified to keep playing for an NFL Championship and the Lombardy Trophy.

CB Marcus Peters got an interception on his first NFL snap.

One of those teams is my beloved Kansas City Chiefs, who face the AFC South champion Houston Texans this afternoon in Houston.

The game is a rematch of the season opener, won by the Chiefs 27-20. The game really wasn't so close as the score would indicate.

Beating the same team twice in one season, especially on its home field, is very difficult in the National Football League, so I'm extraordinarily anxious about the game...

Which Big Ben will show up today?

My best friend Skip's beloved Pittsburgh Steelers are also in the playoffs, the first time that has happened since we've known each other. He's probably an even bigger pessimist about these things than
I am, which isn't easy to do.

The Steelers play the Cincinnati Bengals in Cincinnati this evening. The teams both play in the AFC North, which means they've already met twice already this season. Oddly, the road team won both games: The Bengals won 16-10 in Pittsburgh, while the Steelers won the rematch 33-20 in Cincinnati. In the latter game the Bengals lost their starting QB, Andy Dalton, who will not play today.

It's going to be a high-stress day for both of us...

"Are you an optimistic pessimist today, or a pessimistic optimist?"

Let's just say I'm a bundle of nerves and leave it at that...

Why Model Railroading?

If you could have seen the look on the kid's face...
I went to a model railroading expo at the Mid-America Center last Sunday, and had a great time.
I haven't written about it until now because almost none of the pictures I took turned out well. It was very crowded, and I wasn't able to steady my camera properly for most of the shots.

The picture at left is blurry, too, but for me it's a great answer to the question of why those of us who pursue the hobby do so: It is because we're all just kids at heart.

What Are Friends For?

From the classic Johnny Hart-created comic strip B.C., now being produced by Hart's daughter Perri and his grandsons Mason and Mick Mastroianni.

Until Next Time...

More often than not I choose to listen to classical music for its calming influence on me. It is the music I turn to when I'm trying to step away from the hurly burly of life and relax for a bit. I do some of my best thinking (and writing) while listening to classical favorites.

There are a few pieces, however, that have the opposite effect on me, that get me energized, fired up to take on some daunting challenge or other. And no piece does this quite so well for me as Beethoven's Piano Concerto No. 5 in E-flat Major, Op. 73 (a.k.a. the "Emperor" concerto).

In 1956, piano virtuoso Arthur Rubinstein recorded all five Beethoven piano concertos with Symphony of the Air (a group of former members of the disbanded NBC Symphony Orchestra) under the baton of Josef Krips.

I own many, many recordings of the "Emperor," but this one is probably my favorite. Rubinstein's exuberant playing seems perfectly fitting to Beethoven's intentions, even if it isn't the most technically precise rendering.

Today's send-off is Rubinstein's energetic account of the concerto's third movement.
If I were headed off into battle, this is the music I would listen to just before departing. Enjoy...

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