Thursday, February 18, 2016

Another Trip Around the Sun

63 Orbits

In a more perfect world...

I hit the atmosphere (and immediately began stirring up trouble)
63 years ago today.

It is a cultural expectation that such occasions are to be celebrated with a certain amount of hoopla, but in my case there is no need.

The cats are indifferent on the subject, and there's no one else around, so today will be much like any other day...

I am, of course, glad to have made it this far. As they say, it certainly beats the alternative! And I am truly blessed in more ways than I can count...

In years when my birthday occurs during Lent (pretty much every year), I allow myself a one-day reprieve from the "no desserts" part of my Lenten sacrifices.

I doubt that I'll be able to track down a piece of coconut cake, but I definitely plan on having some kind of cake and ice cream this evening. I'd be a fool not to...

"Would you like some ants to sprinkle on your ice cream?"

I appreciate the thought, old friend, but I'll pass...

Shopping Forecast

As a birthday gift, my best friend Skip gave me the model of the Milwaukee Road Fairbanks-Morse C-Liner I wrote about awhile back. It meant a lot to me to have him here visiting on Super Bowl weekend when I opened the gift, but now it is my actual birthday and I have no gifts to unwrap.

That means there is a small but non-trivial chance that I will go to one of my favorite stores like Hobby Lobby or Bed, Bath & Beyond or Guitar Center or Best Buy and buy myself a new toy to play with.

"Isn't buying birthday gifts for yourself sad and pathetic?"

Possibly, but did I mention the part about having a new toy to play with?

Feast Day

Portrait of Fra Angelico, by Carlo Dolci
For the most part, Catholic feast days are celebrations of saints and martyrs for the faith. Every so often, though, there is a feast day for someone who, although not canonized, deserves to be celebrated for the holiness of the life he led and for his contributions to the Church.

Today is one such day, as we celebrate the life of Fra Angelico,
a Dominican friar who was also one of the most gifted and influential artists of his time.

He died on February 18, 1455, and was beatified on October 3, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.
The Last Judgment

Perhaps I Have Lived Too Long

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

[In case you haven't seen it, the cartoon references this bit from a recent Hillary campaign appearance.]

Until Next Time...

Part of the joy I derive from being a fan of musical artists is watching and appreciating their growth and evolution during their careers (assuming their career lasts long enough to allow for that). Many fans expect their favorite artists to pretty much sound the same from one recording or concert to the next, and will sometimes abandon them if that doesn't happen. That never made any sense to me, and it still doesn't.

R.E.M., one of my all-time favorite bands, had a recording and performing career that spanned thirty years. Despite the fact that they enjoyed a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career, though, not all of their recorded output was greeted warmly by their fan base. Unlike a lot of the band's fans, though, I always found enjoyment in their recordings right up to the end in 2011.

Original 2004 album cover
Released in 2004, not long after my one experience seeing the band perform live, Around the Sun was the band's third album following the departure of founding member Bill Berry due to health issues.

Like its predecessors Up (1998) and Reveal (2001), the record was not embraced by most fans. It was the first R.E.M. release in 26 years to not crack the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart. It was also their first studio album that didn't earn at least a gold certification from RIAA.

I don't consider it one of the best recordings the band ever made, but as usual there were a handful of songs on the album that became favorites. In particular, I enjoy "Around the Sun," the title track. Even though it features some of the experimental weirdness that left many long-time fans cold, I found much to like about the song musically, and the lyrics grabbed me right off the bat.

Today's send-off is the original album track, which I think is especially appropriate for my birthday. Enjoy...

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