Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sunday Potpourri No. 23


Now that I've recovered (somewhat) from the sting of last weekend's playoff defeat, it is time to honor those members of my beloved Kansas City Chiefs who were selected to the Pro Bowl. The Pro Bowl game itself is ridiculous, but that doesn't mean it isn't an honor to be selected.

As you might expect, given the team's 11-5 record and franchise-record 10-game regular season winning streak, several Chiefs were selected, including SS Eric Berry, (who was also named Comeback Player of the Year for beating the cancer that sidelined him last season), OLB Tamba Hali, and OLB Justin Houson. Those players have been selected to Pro Bowls before. They'll be joined by two first-time selections...

Second-year TE Travis Kelce caught 72 passes for 875 yards and scored five touchdowns.

Rookie CB Marcus Peters intercepted a pass on his first NFL regular-season snap, and recorded 8 picks on the season, two of which he returned for TDs.

"It's nice to have a talented young nucleus."

It is, yes...


What two feet of snow
in Manhattan looks like...

h/t Jim Dougherty

"You're going to have to go to confession for that one."

Worth it...

Ursine Treachery

From the indispensable comic strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, which you should read every day, as I do (even though Wiley is a squishy liberal).

Until Next Time...

When I taught classes where students were required to keep a daily, in-class journal,
I played instrumental music of various kinds while the students wrote. There is research suggesting that listening to instrumental music can be helpful during free writing. My students over the years confirmed that the music spurred their creativity. I also used the post-journal period for a bit of what is called "enrichment," a brief discourse on whatever piece I played that day, and something interesting about the music, the composer, or both.

Since this was something we did for several minutes each day, I need a large selection of material of the appropriate length (roughly five minutes). I spent a fair amount of time screening tracks of that length and putting the "winners" in a playlist for use in class.
I built up quite a collection over the years, and my students expressed a special fondness for a few of those pieces.

Thaïs is an 1894 opera by Jules Massenet. It is not generally regarded as one of the "standard" works of the operatic repertoire, but "Meditation," an instrumental transition between two scenes in the opera's second act, is one of the most popular short works in all of classical music. It's length and tranquil nature made it perfect as "journal music," and it was among the most popular pieces with my students.

In 1996, violin virtuso Itzhak Perlman included "Meditation" on his A La Carte album, where he performed with the Abbey Road Ensemble under the baton of Lawrence Foster.

Today's send-off is Perlman's exquisite rendering of the Massenet piece, paired with some evocative video and photography. Enjoy...

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