Friday, January 8, 2016

Snow Jobs

Thank Trelane It's Friday!

"No need to genuflect. A bow or curtsy is acceptable."

Wintry Mix

One of the more disagreeable features of the winter season is those mornings when
you wake up to discover that the predicted relatively trivial chance for precipitation has, in fact, materialized...

View from my patio, 7:45 AM CST
For someone who lives in Iowa, of course, this sort of thing barely registers. It is more of an annoyance than anything else.

"But you are annoyed, right?"

Yes, yes I am...

Enough, Already

President Obama with CNN's Anderson Cooper
Last night, President Obama held what was inaccurately described as
a "town hall meeting" on guns and gun control at George Mason University. It was part of his ongoing public relations campaign to defend his pointless executive orders on the subject.

It wasn't really a town hall, of course, since the event was invitation-only, and the questions were carefully screened in advance.

And the exercise accomplished precisely nothing. No minds were changed by anything that was said. That wasn't the point, of course. The point was for the president to do some high-profile virtue signaling, which CNN was happy to help him accomplish.

Perhaps the most galling aspect of the president's performance (which is what it was) was his continued attacks upon the National Rifle Association, as if it were some sinister group operating in the shadows rather than a completely public organization which represents several million law-abiding Americans.

It isn't members of the NRA perpetrating mass shootings, Mr. President. I doubt that the thugs shooting up your adopted hometown of Chicago, for instance, are members of the organization. Perhaps next time you open your yap on this issue (and I know it won't be long before you do), you might have a few harsh words for those criminals instead of NRA members?

"Don't hold your breath waiting for that to happen."

Trust me, I won't...


Once the foliage is finally gone from the trees in the park across Valley View Drive from my apartment building, it is a lot easier to watch the trains that pass by on the tracks just north of the park (mostly eastbound during the day, westbound at night). For instance,
I see (and hear) these two locomotives roll by almost daily...

Engine No. 534,
in BNSF's modern "pumpkin" livery

Engine No. 517, in the famous red and silver "war bonnet" livery, in honor of the glory days of Santa Fe

Both of these locomotives are General Electric Dash 8-40BWs, built in the early '90s
for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railway. When Santa Fe merged with the Burlington Northern Railroad on September 22, 1995 I had just returned to teaching after a five-year hiatus. It took awhile for the locomotives of the new BNSF Railway
to be repainted, and even now there are still a few locomotives sporting Burlington Northern's old green and white livery as well...

Locomotive No. 2967, an EMD GP39

The Real Purpose of Those Executive Orders

From the pen of Mike Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On January 8, 1935 Elvis Aaron Presley was born in Tupelo, Mississippi. In his tragically-short life he would become a cultural icon and one of the most beloved entertainers in the world.

Hard as it is to believe for people too young to remember, Elvis's career was deader than Kelsey's nuts in 1968. In musical terms, his schmaltzy, heavily-orchestrated sound at that time simply wasn't appealing to teenagers like me who were listening to The Who, Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles, etc. He released 8 singles from January 1967 to May 1968, but only two of them charted, and neither cracked the Top 25 of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

Interest in his movies had also waned considerably, and Elvis himself was bored with
the whole "movie star" lifestyle. Never much of an actor to begin with, once he began sleep-walking through those films it didn't take long for audiences to bail.

In an attempt to revive Elvis's flagging fortunes, his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, arranged for NBC to broadcast what was supposed to be a "Christmas Special," with Elvis performing a variety of holiday songs. Fortunately for posterity, the program that came to be known as the "Comeback Special" evolved into something entirely different.

Original 1968 soundtrack album cover
Instead of singing Christmas songs, Elvis performed in a variety of lavish production numbers featuring his old hits. That part of the program was a sort of precursor to the big-budget reviews he would wind up performing in Las Vegas.

The highlight of the program, and the part that is fondly remembered, is the "live" segment, where Elvis and his long-standing sidemen Scotty Moore and D.C. Fontana, plus some additional old friends, sat in an informal setting and simply jammed out whatever songs Elvis felt like singing.

For kids like me, it was a revelation. Elvis was back, even if it was only for a short while before Las Vegas ate him alive.

Today's send-off celebrates The King's birthday with a live performance from that legendary show of one his favorites, the great 1952 Lloyd Price hit "Lawdy Miss Clawdy." This is the Elvis I choose to remember: relaxed, having fun, and singing songs that he clearly loved. Enjoy...

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