Friday, March 11, 2016

Fading Hopes

Thank Onimar Synn It's Friday!

"Play me some heavy metal music. Do it NOW!"


Yes, HELL No, Yes, Nope.

So, there was another Republican presidential "debate" last night, and this one was even less debate-like than usual, as everyone decided to spend virutally the entire evening in Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

Florida Senator Marco Rubio had what many commentators agree was a near-flawless performance. Texas Senator Ted Cruz also did well, by my lights. Ohio Governor John Kasich spoke far less than the others, and didn't say much when he did.

Asshat Donald Trump was somewhat more calm and composed than usual, but his answers were his usual patented blend of rank ignorance and blustery overconfidence. Abysmal as his answers were, at least he avoided promising to commit war crimes this time around. His dreadful earlier performances haven't yet mattered, so I see no reason to hope this time will be any different. The folks voting for him simply do not care what he says, or how ill-informed he is.

The way things are going, Tuesday's elections in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois
will finally push me over the brink, and I can get serious about finding a remote locale
to spend my sunset years...

"If your head explodes from thinking about all this, I'm not cleaning it up."

Duly noted...

Timing Matters

National Review magazine, founded by my hero William F. Buckley, Jr., has been
a key part of my life for nearly half a century.

Today it announced its formal endorsement of Ted Cruz in the contest for the Republican presidential nomination.

It isn't so much the endorsement itself that bothers me (I have contributed to Senator Cruz's campaign multiple times this cycle, and consider him a staunch conservative who would make a good president), as it is the timing of the announcement, just days before several critical primaries take place. The magazine is plainly hoping to influence the outcomes in those races, and certainly intends for its formal endorsement to increase the pressure on Marco Rubio to end his campaign. I find that deeply troubling.

I am far less sanguine than NR is about Senator Cruz's prospects head-to-head against Trump heading into the spring primaries, but even that strategy depends on Kasich also leaving the race, which he seems disinclined to do regardless of what happens in Ohio. He wants to be Trump's VP, at a minimum. With Rubio out, Kasich would have a powerful incentive to team with Trump to defeat Cruz. I sincerely believe that trying to force Rubio out of the race is a terrible strategic error.

Hoop Dreams On Hold

March is not  shaping up to be a joyful time for college hoops in the state of Iowa.

Buddy Hield and the Sooners were too much for the Cyclones
In Big XII Tournament quarterfinal action last night, the No. 21 Iowa State Cyclones lost to No. 6 Oklahoma.

Meanwhile, No. 20 Iowa bowed out in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament, losing to a sub-.500 Illinois team.

Both the Cyclones and the Hawkeyes are still likely to make the NCAA Tournament, and Northern Iowa is already in after winning the Missouri Valley Tournament title, but none of the three teams is likely to get a favorable seeding, so there likely won't be much for the state to root for beyond the tournament's opening round.

"And MY team?"

Yes, yes...the UC Irvine Anteaters blew out Cal Poly last night and will play Long Beach State tonight in the Big West Tournament semifinals. They need to win that tournament to make the NCAA Tournament...

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

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

Until Next Time...

From the time I began 9th grade in the fall of 1967, much of my interest in music was focused on figuring out what girls liked. In my adolescent brain I thought that liking the same music they liked might help convince them to go on dates with me. As you might expect, this approach was a complete and utter failure.

Along the way, though, I did become a fan of some artists whose music I might have otherwise overlooked. That was certainly the case with Crosby, Stills, & Nash, the folk-rock "supergroup" made up of former members of popular groups The Byrds,
The Hollies, and Buffalo Springfield. Their eponymous debut album came out in May of 1969, just as my sophomore year of high school was finishing up. Although neither of the album's singles releases cracked the Top 20, the album peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and got the group its breakout live gig: the Woodstock Festival, held in August 1969. It was only their second live performance ever as a group, but word-of-mouth about that gig built up considerable excitement about them, especially among most of the girls I knew, who were quite taken by the group's three- and four-part harmonizing (by the time of the Woodstock gig Neil Young had been added to the group). My own fondness for vocal harmony (The Beach Boys, Simon & Garfunkel, The Mamas & The Papas, etc.) helped a bit as well.

On March 11, 1970 the group released Déjà Vu, their second album (and first with Young). It became the greatest commercial success in all of their careers, producing three charting singles (including "Teach Your Children" and a cover of Joni Mitchell's "Woodstock," both of which made the Top 20), and eventually earning seven platinum certifications from RIAA.

It is one of the most iconic album releases of the 1970s.

Although I enjoyed the "Woodstock" cover, and the vocal harmonies, I found the album something of a disappointment. It was quite popular with lots of girls I knew, though, so of course I owned a copy. Didn't get a single date out of it.

Other than the Joni Mitchell cover the only track I much cared for was the Neil Young composition "Country Girl." It was actually a suite of three shorter songs ("Whisky Boot Hill," "Down Down Down," and "Country Girl"), which gave it sort of a progressive rock feel, similar to several bands of which I was quite fond.

Today's send-off is the "Country Girl" suite from the 1994 digital remaster of the original. Enjoy...

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