Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday 2016

Terrorism Tango


As if it weren't bad enough that President Obama watched a baseball game just hours after the horrific terror attack in Brussels, last night he and First Lady Michelle were photographed dancing the tango at a state dinner in Buenos Aires.

According to him, doing such things is how you defeat terrorism: “We defeat them in part by saying ‘You are not strong, you are weak.’”

Some of us, of course, are not convinced that eating hot dogs with the likes of Raúl Castro and auditioning for an eventual gig on Dancing With the Stars will do anything to demoralize the sort of people who are carrying out such attacks.

The president's fans in the progressive mainstream media (but I repeat myself) are tying themselves in knots trying to make the argument that Obama's approach is "working," and that we simply need to give it time. But he's running out the clock on this issue, and that is becoming clearer by the day. He's not going to let Islamic terrorists disrupt his victory lap...

"It's almost like he doesn't care what people think of him anymore..."

He actually says so out loud these days...

Three Days

The Easter Triduum begins with The Mass 
of the Lord's Supper this evening.

Every Catholic Mass includes a commemoration of the Last Supper, of course, but this Mass does so more fully. The ritual washing of feet is typically part of the Mass (and is where the name "Maundy Thursday" comes from), for instance.

Although it unfolds over a three-day period the Easter Triduum is, liturgically speaking, a single day in which the faithful celebrate the Paschal Mystery.

Requiescat in Pace

After enjoying a brief respite from such sad news recently, yesterday brought word of the passing of two public figures who played meaningful roles in my life...

As Ken Reeves on The White Shadow

Actor Ken Howard passed away in Los Angeles at age 71. He enjoyed
a long and successful career both in front of the camera and as a political figure. At the time of his death he was serving as president of SAG-AFTRA. He was first elected as a union president in 2009.

In the fall of 1980 I played in a charity basketball game at the high school where I was teaching in Topeka, Kansas. Howard's CBS series The White Shadow was at its peak at the time, and my students (who knew I liked the show) began referring to me as "the Red Shadow" after my marginally-impressive performance in that game.

From that point on I followed Howard's career with special interest, and whenever I'd see him it would bring back fond memories of my brief time in Topeka.

Catcher with the St. Louis Cardinals

By the time I started paying serious attention to baseball, Joe Garagiola's career as a player had long since come to an end. The St. Louis native spent five and a half seasons as a bench player for the hometown Cardinals, then bounced around with the Pirates, Cubs, and New York Giants. He was a career .257 hitter who had some defensive value. In 1951 he led the National League in passed balls, and the following season he lead the league in most times caught stealing (35).

Of course, I remember him as a regular announcer on NBC's Game of the Week broadcasts, and as a raconteur who frequently appeared on The Today Show, The Tonight Show, and other talk shows.

He was one of the best ambassadors the game ever had, and he received numerous honors for those contributions in his lifetime.

Joe died yesterday at his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. He was 90.


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

Until Next Time...

Although we are unsure about precisely when J.S. Bach composed his famous Brandenburg Concertos, we do know that he presented the handwritten compositions to Christian Ludwig, a local nobleman, on March 24, 1721. It is believed that Bach was hopeful of gaining employment from Ludwig as a result of his gift, but if so the gesture was a failure.

That aside, these works are among the most beloved and most-performed in the entire Baroque repertoire.

Each concerto in the set has its own unique charms, and I never tire of hearing them. I take no position on the relative merits of period versus modern instruments, and I'm not qualified to comment on the ongoing battles over tempo (though I do prefer slightly slower renderings). I enjoy it all.

One of my favorite aspects of Concerto No. 6 in B flat major is the unusual instrumentation, which includes no violin parts. It was written to be played by four violas (two each of two different types), a cello, a violone, and a harpsichord. 

No. 6 is also a splendid example of Bach's complete mastery of polyphony.

Today's send-off is a superb performance of the No. 6 in B flat major in its entirety
by Freiburger Barockorchester (Freiburg Baroque Orchestra). It was recorded live on March 24, 2000 at Köthen Castle, where it is believed the Brandenburg Concertos made their public debut in 1850. Enjoy...

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