Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Can We Just Not?

For the love of God, can we PLEASE just let this poor man be clear?

If you're wondering what I'll be doing later this evening, let me remove one item from your list of potential activities: I will NOT be watching the State of the Union address.

I am as patriotic as the next person, but I have never been comfortable with the almost monarchial trappings of this event. It doesn't matter to me whether the person speaking is someone I support or not. The whole thing is, as Kevin D. Williamson put it last year,
a nauseating spectacle.

Williamson's National Review colleague Charles C.W. Cooke, who as an Englishman knows a little something about monarchies, called the State of the Union Address "unutterably rotten," and I don't disagree. Cooke's argument is that SOTU speeches as currently performed are a partisan charade that runs counter to the foundational principles of our form of government. Spot on, Charles.

Beyond all of that, as a lifelong speech teacher and lover of rhetoric I object to the fact that we make such a fuss over speeches that are not ever, in fact, very good as speeches.

"So, what are you going to watch tonight?"

Fortunately, the cable channels give the middle finger to politicians, so I can watch Modern Family on USA, Law and Order on WE, or Criminal Minds on ION. Or I could binge-watch some Game of Thrones from my library of recorded shows. I'll be just fine...

A Champion is Crowned

Last night was the College Football Playoff (CFP) national championship game between undefeated No. 1 Clemson and once-beaten No. 2 Alabama. After the mostly dud-tacular bowl games we've been subjected to the past couple of weeks (including blowouts in both of the CFP semifinal games on New Year's Eve), college football fans had their fingers crossed that the title game would at least be competitive.

Heisman Trophy winner Derrick Henry led Alabama to victory.
It was certainly that, although if you like defense the 45-40 Alabama win probably had you tearing your hair out.

The game was not as close as the final score would indicate, as Clemson scored the game's final, pointless TD with just :12 left.

It was entertaining, though, as high-scoring games often are. Both teams blew large leads before Clemson's mistakes finally proved too much for the Tigers to overcome.


From the droll comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the great things about shopping is when you unexpectedly come across something wonderful while looking for something else altogether. That's what happened with today's selection. I was searching for a particular Irish folk song, and not only found a delightful song with which I was not familiar, but also a wonderful group of performers who had escaped my attention as well. Serendipity.

Sheet music for choral arrangement
"The Gartan Mother's Lullaby" dates back to 1903, when Irish composer Herbert Hughes asked Irish poet Joseph Campbell to write some lyrics for a traditional folk melody Hughes had come across in Donegal. Their collaboration was included in Songs of Uladh, published in 1904.

As is often the case with "traditional" folk music, credit to the people responsible for the song as we know it (Hughes and Campbell, in this case) is often omitted in favor of the person who produced a given arrangement of the song. And there have been lots of different arrangements of this one over the years. It was even recorded by actress Meryl Streep a few years back.

This week's Music Recommendation is the latest recording from the Choral Scholars of University College Dublin (UCD), a group with which I had not been familiar. I'm very glad to have made their acquaintance.

Today's send-off is the official video of the group's performance of the famous lullaby from that record. Enjoy...

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