Monday, February 29, 2016

Leap Day 2016

All Is Not Lost

"You say 'white supremacist' like that's a BAD thing."
So asshat Donald Trump's clown show continued on the Sunday morning talking heads shows, and as he usually does during interviews he managed to get his entire wingtip-shod foot into his mouth.

Asked by Jake Tapper on CNN's State of the Union show if he would disavow the recently-announced support of David Duke (a former
Ku Klux Klan bigwig), he repeatedly refused to do so.

When the crap hit the fan about that, Trump's first line of defense was that he didn't know who David Duke is, or what the Ku Klux Klan is, for that matter. That was a preposterous lie, of course, and when he was called out for it his shifted gears. His latest defense is that he had a faulty earpiece and couldn't understand what Tapper was asking him. This is also a preposterous lie, since he was able to repeat "David Duke" and "white supremacist" and "Ku Klux Klan" multiple times as he stammered out his answer. Trump heard Tapper just fine, and he knew exactly what he was being asked.

When voters go to the polls tomorrow in the Super Tuesday primaries, we'll see if this latest disgraceful performance makes any difference. None of Trump's missteps on the campaign trail have seemed to matter thus far, so I'm not optimistic they'll have any effect this time, either.

Despite that, there does appear to be a glimmer of hope. More and more people are publicly expressing the view that a Trump nomination simply means that conservatives should find another place to hang our hats instead of sticking around as the Republican party destroys itself. That movement got a big boost yesterday, from one of conservatism's rising stars.

"#Never Trump."
Senator Ben Sasse, my neighbor from Nebraska, posted a heartfelt Facebook message yesterday explaining why he will not support Trump if Trump should win the Republican party's presidential nomination.

He also spent a good part of the evening broadcasting the same message via Twitter.

It was a remarkable display of courage for the freshman senator, and I hope it inspires conservatives everywhere. It certainly inspired me. There may no longer be a place for me in the Republican party if it nominates Trump, but I will gladly give my vote and support to conservatives of character like Senator Sasse.

"You know he's a HUGE Cornhusker fan, right?"

I'm willing to overlook that...

Leap Day

Today is the quadrennial "extra" day we call Leap Day. I am completely indifferent to the astrophysical reasons for it. All I know is that Lent is an extra day longer during Leap Years. My response to that is unprintable in a PG-13 blog...

Oscar Night

Original 2015 "one sheet" poster
I didn't watch the Academy Awards telecast last night, and in fact haven't watched it in years. I get my fill of celebrities striking uninformed political poses on a daily basis, and feel no need to subject myself to several hours of Hollywood sanctimony. (Leonardo DiCaprio, for instance, used the occasion of his long-awaited Best Actor Oscar win to lecture us about climate change.)

The winner for Best Picture was something of a surprise: Spotlight, actor/director Tom McCarthy's film about the Boston Globe breaking the sex abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston, had only won a single award the entire evening (for Best Original Screenplay) when it was announced as the winner of the evening's most coveted prize.

And, in an entirely predictable development, the same press who haven't put a question to Hillary Clinton for three months and seem perfectly willing to publish her self-serving spin about her illegal email server and other scandals, the same press who never challenge Donald Trump on his ridiculous claims and give him ten times the free airtime as the rest of the GOP field combined practically dislocated their shoulders patting themselves on the back about how "proud" they were to be reporters. Right.

In a World Where Reporters Really Did Their Jobs

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

Until Next Time...

Every once in a great while a cover version of a popular song surpasses the original, and not just in sales. One of the best examples of this sort of thing is "Respect," a great R&B song written by the legendary Otis Redding.

Redding's version was a modest hit in 1965 (No. 4 on the Billboard R&B chart, No. 35 on the Billboard Hot 100), but in 1967 a new arrangement (with modified lyrics as well) was recorded by powerhouse soul songstress Aretha Franklin for her eleventh album  
I Never Loved a Man the Way I Loved You. Aretha's version rocketed to No. 1 on both Billboard's R&B chart and it's Hot 100 Singles chart. It held the No. 1 spot on the latter for two weeks. It became Aretha's signature song, an unusual outcome for a cover version of someone else's material.

Redding's own unforgettable signature song "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" would spend four weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart less than a year later, although Redding did not live to see it.

Original 1967 45 rpm single
On February 29, 1968 Aretha's recording of "Respect" won the Grammy Award for Best Female Vocal R&B Performance, making her the first winner in that new Grammy category. She would go on to win the award for the next seven consecutive years.

The recording was selected for the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1987, and in 2002 it was selected for the National Recording Registry curated by the Library of Congress. It was also included in the Songs of the Century collection prepared by the RIAA and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Redding's recording of "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" also made the 25-song
Songs of the Century collection, making Redding the only songwriter represented twice.

As for Aretha's cover of "Respect," it became something of an anthem for the feminist movement, but that aside it is one of the best R&B songs ever, and that's good enough for me to overlook the political crap.

Today's send-off is the original 1967 version of the song paired with images of the Queen of Soul. Enjoy...

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Potpourri No. 25

Starting Pitchers

Cactus League games begin on Wednesday, and yesterday my beloved Kansas City Royals made the announcement that top pitching prospect Kyle Zimmer will start the first game.

RHP Zimmer was the team's 1st Round draft pick in 2012, but 2015 was his first healthy minor league season. At age 24, he is still likely to open 2016 in Double-A, but everyone thinks he is very close to getting a shot at the major league club.

Zimmer will start on Wednesday against the Texas Rangers, the team that has invited former Royal Jeremy Guthrie to spring training. It will be odd to see Jeremy in another uniform, but Royals fans are hoping he catches on in Texas. He was an important part of the Royals resurgence the past three years.

It isn't clear yet when Jeremy will make his first appearance for the Rangers, but since they are just across the training complex from the Royals in Surprise, Arizona, it is likely that he'll make at least one appearance against his former teammates.

"He does look weird in a Rangers uniform, doesn't he?"

He really does, but I wish him nothing but success while wearing it...he'll always be a Royal to me, though...


February 28, 1533 - September 13, 1592
The first heroes of my childhood may have been baseball players, but it wasn't long before they were joined by great writers.

One of the most influential writers I found at a relatively young age was essayist and philosopher Michel de Montaigne, who was born 483 years ago today.

His Essays was one of the first non-fiction books I ever encountered, and his reputation as a master of the essay form
is well-deserved. Anyone who wishes to excel at the rhetorical arts would do well to study him.

Not Exactly Montaigne's Heir

From the delightful comic strip FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, which you should read every Sunday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

My social life in high school was almost non-existent, but it was not for lack of trying. One of the stratagems I employed was to become a fan of musical artists favored by girls to whom I was attracted. This didn't get me any dates, but it did lead me to discovering some music I might have overlooked otherwise. Simon & Garfunkel are the leading example of this sort of thing. I began paying attention to their music to curry favor with a cute girl I knew in 9th grade, but although I never got to date the girl I became a lifelong fan of the popular duo.

By the time my junior year of high school reached its halfway point, rumors of the group's impending breakup were rampant. On January 26, 1970, just a couple of weeks before my 17th birthday, the group released what would be their final studio album together. They certainly made it count. Bridge Over Troubled Water became one of the landmark recordings in the history of American popular music. It spent ten weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart that year, and was the best-selling album of 1970. It won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year, and for awhile it held the record as the best-selling album of all time.

"Bridge Over Troubled Water," the album's title track, was released as a single on January 26, the same day the album hit the stores. It began rocketing up the charts immediately.

Original 1970 45 rpm single
On February 28, 1970, just 10 days after my 17th birthday, the song hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, a position it would hold for six consecutive weeks. It went on to be Billboard's No. 1 Single of 1970, as well as winning Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Song of the Year.

It is by far the most commercially successful song of the duo's career, selling more than six million copies worldwide, an unusually high total
for a single.

For all intents and purposes it is now their signature song. That in itself is quite an achievement, considering that in their career they produced 13 Billboard Top 20 hits (including two others that also reached No. 1).
There have been numerous successful covers of the song since its release, including a version by Elvis Presley that was Paul Simon's own favorite, and a version by Aretha Franklin that won a Grammy Award. My own favorite cover of the song was done by my hero Maynard Ferguson for his Alive and Well in London album in 1971. You can enjoy that version here.

Both the original and Maynard's instrumental version are consistently able to reduce me to tears. If there is a more moving musical tribute to the power of friendship, I can't name it. And the irony of its release just as Paul and Art were breaking up was not lost on those of us who were fans of the group. The song will always have a certain wistful quality for me for that reason as well.

Today's send-off is the 2001 remaster of the original album track. Enjoy...

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Curlew Calls

Hoopty Do

The Cyclones lost to West Virginia Monday night
This is the time of year when college basketball fans start getting all twitchy in anticipation of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament, aka "March Madness," which will begin on March 17.

Although they are mired in 6th place in the Big XII Conference standings, the Iowa State Cyclones are currently ranked No. 17 in the country, and Joe Lunardi's Bracketology currently projects them as a No. 4 seed in the NCAA tournament.

With a 19-9 record at the moment, the Cyclones face the league's bottom two teams at home in their next two games, starting with Kansas State tonight. They end the regular season with a visit to No. 2 Kansas.

After that, the Cyclones will look to defend their Big XII Tournament Championship, but they are pretty much a lock to make the Big Dance barring a catastrophic losing streak.

"And what about my team?"

Yes, yes...the UC Irvine Anteaters are 21-8, alone in second place in the Big West Conference standings. They've won four of their last six games. Unfortunately, both of the losses were to Hawaii, the team they trail in the standings (by only a single game).

Of course, their path to the Big Dance requires winning the conference's post-season tournament and getting the automatic bid. No way they make it as an at-large team. Fact of life, old friend...


Photograph by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1868

The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born on February 27, 1807.

The most popular poet of his time, his style and subject matter always appealed to me, and I also felt a bond with him since he spent so much of his life as a teacher as well as a writer.

Oddly, it was Longfellow's very popularity which hurt his reputation among literary scholars, many of whom wrinkled their noses at his embrace of classical poetic forms and his "crowd-pleasing" choices of subject.

While it will never be as "cool" to like Longfellow as he deserves, he will always be on my short list of great American poets. To honor his birthday, here is one of my all-time favorite works of his, a short but evocative poem that speaks to my own life experience...

Future Politician

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

Until Next Time...

My music collection contains a sizable number of guilty pleasures, songs which appeal
to me for one reason or another but which are vaguely embarrassing for me to admit
to liking.

One such guilty pleasure was the pop vocal duo Wham!, which had a grand total of one song that I ever liked, "Careless Whisper." Although I wasn't aware of it at the time, that song was actually the first solo single by George Michael, even though it was included on the second Wham! album. "Careless Whisper" spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart in early 1985, and wound up as the No. 1 Single of 1985. I still have it in my iTunes collection, although it has been ages since I listened to it.

When the group broke up in 1986 I didn't much care, but Michael was about to become an even bigger success all on his own. In the fall of 1987 he released his first solo album, Faith. The album produced several hit singles, received the Album of the Year Grammy Award, sold more than 25 million copies, and received a diamond certification by RIAA. It was one of the landmark recordings of the 1980s. For awhile, at least, Michael was as big a star as anyone in pop music.

But for all of the success the album had, there was only one song on it that I liked.

On February 27, 1988 "Father Figure" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. It was the third of the six singles from Faith that reached the
Top 5 on that chart, and the second of four straight to hit No. 1.

The appeal of the song for me is more about the lyrics, which are a story of unrequited love (a theme which always resonates with me), than it is about the music, although Michael certainly performs the song well. At the time the song was a radio hit, I was at a place
in my life where hearing it could move me to tears.

Today's send-off is the official music video for the song, which received numerous awards in its own right. The usual 1980s music video disclaimers apply. And yes, the song can still move me to tears after nearly 30 years. Enjoy...

Friday, February 26, 2016

Fri(ed) Day

Thank The Beast It's Friday!

"Eat, drink, and be merry while you still can, foolish mortals!"

Debate Night

Last night's debate summarized in a single picture
So the Republican candidates for president, plus Donald Trump, got together last night for another debate in Houston. For reasons that are not entirely clear, Ben Carson and John Kasich were allowed on the stage, but they contributed nothing of interest to the proceedings.

The big news was that Ted Cruz and especially Marco Rubio finally decided to go after Trump, from the opening bell to the end. Trump did not respond well, and at one point even complained to the moderators that they were asking him too many questions.

CNN did its best to minimize the damage, giving Trump nearly 30 minutes of solo interview time immediately after the debate to try to spin his performance, but it didn't do much good. You can tell how effective Cruz and Rubio were in their attacks by the frantic concern-trolling from the progressive mainstream media (but I repeat myself) this morning about the "tone" of the discourse. Apparently it is fine for Trump to insult everyone in sight including the Pope, but for Trump to be forced to answer tough questions and be called out and mocked when he cannot is beyond the pale.

Now the question becomes: Will it make a difference? Time will tell, of course, but as of this morning it does appear that Rubio has no intention of backing off.

"Wow! Wicked harsh, man!"

Trump deserves every bit of this, and much more...

One Less Decision to Worry About

One more reason to be glad I'm Catholic!

What should I have for dinner tonight? That's simple: The Fish Fry Friday at Village Inn. Duh.

"That's the 'all you can eat' one, right?"

That would be correct, yes...

Worst-Case Scenario

From the pen of Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On February 26, 1932 Johnny "J.R." Cash was born in Kingsland, Arkansas, but by the time of his death in 2003 at age 71 it is no exaggeration to say that he was "from" everywhere in this country. In a career spanning nearly half a century, his music and his persona were as much a part of the American landscape as the Everglades, the Great Lakes, the Badlands, the Rocky Mountains, or the Grand Canyon.

February 26, 1932 - September 12, 2003
Blessed with one of the most distinctive voices in the history of American popular music, Cash released more than 100 albums in his career, including dozens that made the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and two which reached No. 1. Nine of his albums hit No. 1 on the Country chart. His 1969 live album At San Quentin hit No. 1 on both charts, and earned triple-platinum certification from RIAA.

Cash also tried his hand at acting, appearing in numerous movies and TV shows. He also hosted a popular music variety show on the ABC Network. He even published Man in White, a novel about St. Paul.

After a creative and commercial lull in the late 1980s to early 1990s, Cash rejuvenated his career by teaming up with famed producer Rick Rubin.

The first fruit of their collaboration was American Recordings (1993), which earned a Grammy Award. They would go on to produce and release five more albums in Cash's American series, two of which were released posthumously. American IV: The Man Comes Around was completed and released just a few months before Cash's death. It is
a remarkable collection of cover songs featuring some of Cash's favorite songwriters, but for me the peak of the album is one of the last songs Cash himself ever wrote.

American IV: The Man Comes Around album cover
"The Man Comes Around" was one of only three original songs on the album, and the only one Cash wrote completely by himself. It had been written a couple of years before the American IV sessions began, following a dream Cash had about Queen Elizabeth comparing him to "a thorn tree in a whirlwind."

A significantly revised version of the song was the first track on the American IV album, and was its first single release.

While the song did not chart, it certainly got plenty of attention, especially following Cash's death just a few months after it was released. The song has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows.

Today's send-off is the updated album version of the song, which added some spoken-word narration. Happy birthday, Johnny...

Thursday, February 25, 2016


Angry Christians?

St. Paul, by Philippe de Champaigne
One of the most tedious aspects of the current GOP presidential race
is the persistence of self-professed Christians in supporting the godless, dishonest serial adulterer and vulgarian Donald Trump.

When asked about this incongruity, an alarming percentage of these Christians justify their support by explaining that they are pissed off about this or that issue in our politics, and that they support Trump as a way of expressing that anger. For most of these nitwits,
his being a vehicle for their anger is more important than the fact that
he is the complete antithesis of every single thing a Christian is supposed to believe.

With regard to the issue of anger specifically, St. Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:26
that while anger is an understandable human emotion, we must not let it lead us to sinful actions, and we should do all that we can to set it aside as quickly as possible.

To take pride in one's anger, to boast about just how angry one is, to use that anger as a pretext for un-Christian behavior (racism, misogyny, bullying, lying, insulting one's opponents, etc.) is disgraceful.

It's a free country (for a little while longer, at least), so if people want to support asshat Donald Trump for president, that's their right. But they should stop pretending that such support is consistent with being a faithful Christian...

"You sound a little angry yourself, you know..."

I'll go to confession...

Spring Training Watch

Local kid makes good in 2016?
A big part of the fun of baseball's spring training season is keeping an eye on how your team's prospects are performing, and speculating about which if any of them might make The Show.

One of the most-watched prospects for my beloved Kansas City Royals will be Derek "Bubba" Starling, the team's 2011 1st Round draft choice.

Bubba had a good minor-league season in 2015, and may be poised for a big-league job if no one else stakes a claim to the job in right field.

Among other things, this would be a great outcome for Kansas City fans because Starling's standout career in high school football and baseball was at nearby Gardner-Edgerton High School.

"Great defense, not much of a stick."

We'll see what happens...he'd be an upgrade over the departed Alex Rios, certainly, and the Royals won a World Series with Rios in right field...

A Fellow Typography Geek

From the droll webcomic xkcd, by Randall Munroe, which you should read every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the most common complaints one hears from musical artists who become successful is how hard they had to fight in order to pursue their own ideas about what they wanted their music to sound like. Thanks to improvements in technology and the decline in influence of record companies, it has gotten easier for artists to pursue their own creative vision, but I'm sure there is still pressure on artists to shape their sound to suit current tastes.

Although he didn't live long enough to write an autobiography, the highly influential Buddy Holly experienced that kind of resistance when he began his recording career at age 20. Even though he had a clear vision of what he wanted his music to be, he had to fight tooth and nail at first to get it done. The story of "That'll Be the Day," the song which launched his career, is a good illustration.

The original recording of the song was made in July 1956 at the recording studio of legendary Nashville producer Owen Bradley. It was released by Decca Records in September of 1957 as the B-side of a single, and was included on the 1958 Decca compilation album That'll Be the Day, Holly's final studio album before his death in early 1959. That version of the song was not a hit, however, and Holly was not happy with Bradley's production of it. He felt that Bradley tried to force him into the country & western mold, when he really saw himself as a rock and roll musician in the same vein as Chuck Berry, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

Original 1957 45 rpm single
On February 25, 1957 Holly recorded a second version of the song for producer Norman Petty at Petty's studio in Clovis, New Mexico. Because Holly was contractually prohibited from re-recording any of his Decca material at the time, Petty released the recording under the name The Crickets, which Holly then adopted as the name of his band.

The revamped song was released
as a single on the Brunswick label in May 1957, and was also included on  
The "Chirping" Crickets, Holly's debut album, later that fall.

The new version of "That'll Be the Day" hit the top of the Billboard Best Sellers in Stores singles chart (a precursor to the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart) on September 23, and was eventually certified gold (1 million total sales) in 1969 by RIAA. It was selected for both the Grammy Hall of Fame (1998) and the National Recording Registry curated by the Library of Congress (2005).

Today's send-off is the version of the song that launched Holly's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career. Enjoy...

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Help Me, Rhonda!

Trumpster Fire

The train wreck that is the current Republican presidential nominating process continued last night with the Nevada Caucus.

To the complete surprise of absolutely no one with a brain,
the state which permits legalized prostitution and is home to the kitsch mecca known as Las Vegas made asshat Donald Trump their leading choice.

The caucus itself was something of a dumpster fire, with all sorts of complaints being reported. I do wish all the people saying "that's what you always get with a caucus" would come watch how Iowa does theirs. Disaster is not "normal" for our caucuses. (Speaking only for the Republican side. Dems are seriously fucked up. Coin flips, are you !@#$ kidding me?)

Given the situation on the ground prior to the caucus, this is hardly surprising.

The progressive mainstream news media (but I repeat myself) have been busy this morning trying to spin this as more Trump "domination," because they desperately hope he is the GOP nominee (he's the only Republican Hillary routinely beats in head-to-head polling).

I view it more realistically...
  • Even though turnout more than doubled over 2012, Trump (46 percent) finished well behind Romney's winning percentage (51 percent). Far more people turned out to vote AGAINST Trump than for him.
  • Trump essentially tied the leading Not Trump options (Rubio and Cruz), and both Rubio and Cruz continue to beat Trump handily in head-to-head polling. After more than eight months of 24/7 media coverage, Trump has reached his ceiling of support, and whenever the Not Trump forces unite, he's toast. Whether they WILL unite is an open question.
  • Despite the media narrative, only 3 percent of delegates for the GOP nominating convention have been awarded, and Trump has received only about 31 percent of the total votes cast so far, a most unimpressive total (especially considering that New Hampshire and South Carolina were both open primaries). He is the weakest "front-runner" in recent memory, well behind even Romney and McCain.
"So, you're not worried?"

Disgusted and pissed off, yes...worried, not so much...still WAY too early to worry...and Trump has all the earmarks of being a paper hairdo...


Me and Rhonda

The title of today's post is in part
a reference to the Beach Boys song featured today, and in part a wry reference to the Republican party's current mess.

That said, it also gives me an opportunity to mention Rhonda,
my 2010 Hanson Cigno guitar. She's a bit of a show-off, so...


Just wanted to throw in a reminder about clicking on the live links provided throughout, like this one. A lot of the content (and some of the humor) depends on you following those links at least now and then. Also, comments are always welcome, of course. Agree or disagree, I'd love to hear from you!

"So would I!"

Dessert Logic

From the essential 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...

The music business was very different for pop/rock bands in the mid-1960s than it is today. There was tremendous pressure on popular bands like The Beach Boys to release new albums every few months, which often resulted in a certain amount of recycling or repackaging of old material. That was certainly the case with "Help Me, Rhonda," a song the band originally recorded in monaural sound for their The Beach Boys Today! album, their first of three album releases in 1965. Recording sessions for that album ended on January 19, 1965. They'd be back in the studio about a month later to begin work on Summer Days (And Summer Nights!!), their second planned album of the year.

On February 24, 1965 the band recorded a new arrangement of "Help Me, Rhonda," complete with new instrumental solos, and used Capitol Records's simulated stereo process called "duophonic stereo" for this version (as they did for the whole album).

The re-recorded version even changed the spelling to "Rhonda" from the original's "Ronda." All of the changes must have made a difference, because the revamped "Help Me, Rhonda" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart on May 29, 1965 and held the top spot for two weeks. It was the band's second No. 1 hit.

The song quickly became a staple
of the band's live shows, and has remained one for half a century.

Today's send-off is the "duophonic stereo" version. Enjoy...

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Criminy, Your Honor!

The Camel's Nose

"Privacy schmivacy!"
I was going to write about the Nevada GOP Caucuses today, but when I got up this morning the political news was a particularly depressing blend of toxic stupidity, so that will just have to wait.

Meanwhile, we're living in the Golden Age of privacy violations, and there isn't a day that goes by without more fuel being added to that particular dumpster fire.

There was a story published today about a decision by a Federal judge in California, Kimberly J. Mueller, which ordered the release of private information affecting more than
10 million schoolkids to two advocacy groups who want to go on a fishing expedition.

There are so many things wrong with this decision that it is impossible to list them all (does the judge not understand that the REAL reason the advocacy groups want the information is to fuel further lawsuits against school districts?), so for today I'll just repeat something I have said many, many times: ANY government entity which promises to keep your personal information private is LYING TO YOU. Period.

All it took for those kids' data to be ordered surrendered is for the people who wanted the data to find a halfwit in a black robe (hardly in short supply on the Federal bench, sadly). Decisions like this are just the camel's nose, of course, paving the way for far worse abuses down the road.

It has been awhile since I've given out one of these, but it is well-deserved in this case:

"That seems a trifle harsh, don't you think?"

No, I don't...privacy is a big deal to me, and folks like Judge Mueller are doing their best to eradicate it...did I mention the part about the laughable "safeguards" that will supposedly be used? What a joke...

Just As Well

World's best candy bar

During Lent I don't allow myself treats like candy bars, so the news today that Mars Candy Company issued a recall affecting its namesake product, among others, doesn't affect me right now.

World's second-best candy bar

Of course, if there are any post-Easter shortages of Mars bars related to the recall, I can just increase my intake of Milky Way Midnights (what they used to call the Forever Yours). That one was always my mom's favorite, and I think of her every time I have one.

Take the Hint, Kid

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

Until Next Time...

On February 23, 1952, Brad Ernest Whitford was born in Winchester, Massachusetts
(a suburb of Boston). He graduated from high school in 1970 (a year ahead of my graduation in Kansas City), and attended the Berklee College of Music before dropping out to pursue his interest in being in a rock band.

After knocking around for a bit with several bands that went nowhere, in 1971 he became rhythm guitarist for the band Aerosmith. Except for a brief three-year hiatus
in the early '80s, Brad has been with Aerosmith ever since, and has been a significant contributor to their multi-platinum, Grammy-winning, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career.

In addition to his work with Aerosmith, Brad has also appeared as a guest star in a variety of other projects, as you might expect from someone who made Guitar World magazine's list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

One of those guest appearances came in 2012, when Brad joined
my hero Joe Bonamassa on Joe's Driving Towards the Daylight album. Brad played guitar on seven of the album's eleven songs.

Today's send-off is the official video of the album's title track, which features both Brad and his 17-year-old son Harrison joining Joe. Happy birthday, Brad!

Monday, February 22, 2016

I Can't Brain Today...

Shameless Plug

I readily admit that I stole the title for today's post from a t-shirt design by the wonderful folks at SnorgTees.

Highly recommended that you check 'em out!

Palmetto Pinheads

South Carolina, known as the Palmetto State because its state tree is the sabal palmetto, held its Republican primary on Saturday (the Democrats have theirs on February 27). The results do not speak well for the intellectual capacity of South Carolinians.

Asshat Donald Trump finished in 1st place with 32.5% of the vote, meaning two-thirds
of voters preferred "Not Trump" options, but because the South Carolina GOP is idiotic, the rules awarded all 50 delegates to the Republican National Convention to Trump.
And you thought the Democrats flipping coins at the Iowa Caucuses was stupid...

A great deal has been made of the "historical precedent" argument that no GOP candidate who won both the New Hampshire and South Carolina primaries has failed
to win the GOP nomination. What this narrative overlooks is Trump's historically weak showing in both primaries. Trump's winning percentage in New Hampshire (35.34%) would be the lowest of any winner who went on to receive the party's nomination, and his winning percentage in South Carolina (32.5%) would also be the lowest of any winner who went on to become the GOP nominee.

"I'm pissed off, and you're gonna have to deal with it!"

One of the frustrating results of exit polling was that only 21% of voters who supported Trump considered "electability" as a factor in their vote. In other words, they don't care if Trump brings the party down like the fucking Hindenburg in the general election. Great!

In many respects, this campaign reminds me a lot of 2008, when "maverick" John McCain (another guy with anger management issues who hated conservatism) got the nomination with weak support because the Not McCain voters waited too long to rally behind a single standard-bearer. If things go on as they have been, the inability of Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to consolidate the conservative vote will be disastrous for the party.

"My PAC spent $100 million for this shit? Damn it..."

One positive was that the hapless campaign of Jeb Bush came to an end, $100 million worth of negative ads being insufficient to persuade voters to give yet another Bush a crack
at the brass ring.

Bush's flame-out ought to put an end to all of the nonsense we hear from progressives about the Citizens United decision, but it won't, of course.

"You should try to calm down. Think about your blood pressure..."

I'm quite calm, thank you for your concern...

Baseball Irony

Just yesterday I wrote about how LHP Brian Flynn was starting his comeback from an injury that ended his 2015 season. Brian is hoping to make the pitching staff of my beloved Kansas City Royals with a strong spring training (he barely missed making the club last season). I included a picture of Brian in the entry, wearing No. 33.

41 - 34, 4.38 ERA in 654 IP as a Royal
After the blog was already up came news that RHP Jeremy Guthrie, whom the Royals did not tender a contract for 2016, had signed a minor league deal with the Texas Rangers. I was glad to hear that Jeremy will have a chance to make the Rangers' starting rotation. He's a great guy, and I'll miss him.

Jeremy, as you can see, wore No. 33 during his Royals career...

I know, old friend, I, too...

Trump in a Nutshell

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

Until Next Time...

A Summer Place was a popular movie released in 1959 based on a best-selling novel by Sloan Wilson. The film is far better remembered nowadays for a piece of music that was used in it than for its merits as a film.

Original 1959 "one sheet" poster

Composer Max Steiner's "Theme from 'A Summer Place'" was originally called "Molly and Johnny Theme" because it was only used in scenes involving those characters in the film, and wasn't the film's primary musical motif.

Recorded as an instrumental by Percy Faith, the song reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart on February 22, 1960.

It would hold on to the No. 1 position for nine consecutive weeks, which at the time was a new record. It remains one of the most instantly-recognizable bits of music in movie history.

Today's send-off pairs the original Percy Faith Orchestra recording with some promotional images for the film. Enjoy...