Friday, April 22, 2016

Let's Go Crazy

Thank Lightning It's Friday!

"Yes, I'm still alive. Don't look so shocked."

Road Trip!

My blogs over the weekend will be a bit shorter than usual, as I'll be on a road trip to Kansas City to spend a couple of days having fun with my best friend Skip.

I'm going to show him some sights, like the J.C. Nichols Memorial fountain on the lovely Country Club Plaza...

...and the Rose Garden at Loose Park, where
I married my late first wife on a sweltering August 10, 1974.

On Sunday, we'll attend Mass at
the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception downtown...

...and then we'll visit Kansas City's other beautiful cathedral, Kauffman Stadium, to watch the Royals play the Baltimore Orioles.

"Aren't you forgetting something?"


 IS possible that we might eat some things that are very bad for us, yes...

Requiescat in Pace

Prince ripping it up in New York in 2004
Yesterday's blog entry had barely been posted when the news broke that legendary pop/rock/funk icon Prince had died at his home in Minneapolis. He was 57.

Although he was skilled on a variety of instruments, and his music did not often feature guitar, Prince was one of the most amazing guitar players I've ever heard.

Someone once asked Eric Clapton "What's it like to be the world's greatest living guitar player?" Clapton famously responded "I don't know. Ask Prince."

I haven't followed his career closely in years, but he was a big part of my musical life in the 1980s, and I still have a lot of his music in my iTunes playlists.

It was ironic that yesterday's send-off music (chosen Wednesday night) was a cover of
a Prince song, "Nothing Compares 2 U," which had reached No. 1 on the singles charts 26 years earlier, to the day.

Lonnie Mack and his signature Gibson Flying V
Before I went to bed last night I also heard (via my guitar hero Joe Bonamassa's Twitter feed) that we had lost blues-rock legend Lonnie Mack, who died in Nashville at 74.

Lonnie was a powerful and very influential guitar player, famous for using Gibson's offbeat Flying V model as his main instrument.

Although Lonnie was a gifted singer, his biggest recording successes were with instrumentals. One of his most famous releases was an instrumental cover of
Chuck Berry's "Memphis, Tennessee" recorded in 1963...

Rubber Game

"Steady Eddie" is now 3-0, 1.46 ERA
My beloved Kansas City Royals took Game Three of their home series with the Detroit Tigers last night, winning 4-0 and taking the series two games to one.

Royals starter Edinson Volquez threw seven scoreless innings, striking out 5 with just one walk and five hits allowed. Kelvin Herrera and Danny Duffy each pitched a perfect inning to close out the Tigers. Between them they got 6 outs with just 18 pitches.

As they have of late, the Royals had to scuffle to score runs, but they got enough to win. The decisive 3-run rally in the 4th inning was punctuated by a home run to dead center field by 3B Mike Moustakas.

The Royals welcome the Baltimore Orioles to Kauffman Stadium tonight to begin a three-game series.

"Say, aren't they the only American League team with a better record than the Royals?"

For the moment that is true, yes...for the moment...

Birthday Boys

Two writers I greatly admire and from whom I learned a lot share the same birthday...

Immanuel Kant was born on April 22, 1724 in Königsberg, Prussia. He is arguably the most important western thinker of the Enlightenment.

It is undeniable that his most renowned works, Critique of Pure Reason and The Metaphysics of Morals, are somewhat dense for the modern reader. But the arguments shine through, and that is what is important. They are brilliant.

No matter what modern ethical system you adhere to, your system was influenced by Kant's thinking on the subject.

Vladimir Nabokov was born on April 22, 1899 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Nabokov's writing is noteworthy not only for its sheer beauty, which is difficult to overstate, but also for its inventiveness and clever wordplay.

He is best remembered for his novel Lolita, of course, but I actually prefer  
Pale Fire, and I find his literary criticism and his correspondence to be more delightful than his fiction.

A writer can learn valuable lessons from studying just a single page of Nabokovian prose. Genius.

Prince's First Top 10 Single

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

Until Next Time...

Because Prince was famously obsessive about limiting access to his material online, there really aren't any videos I can play here in his honor. Fortunately, no matter what mood I'm in I can always find something emotionally appropriate in classical music.

When someone has died, my preference in classical music runs to slow tempos and either small chamber groups or solo piano. As it happens, of course, this week's music recommendation is some marvelous Franz Schubert string quartets recorded by the Diogenes Quartet.

In classical terminology, an "adagio" is a section of music meant to be played at a slow tempo. It is typically the second or third movement of a longer work, although a few adagios have achieved fame as standalone works. Adagios usually evoke a wistful reaction in me, entirely appropriate when someone has passed away.

Schubert's string quartets only rarely have movements written in this tempo, but the few examples you can find are among my favorite pieces.

Today's send-off is the group's rendition of the third movement (Adagio) of Schubert's String Quartet No. 10 in E-flat major. Enjoy...and offer a prayer for the repose of Prince and Lonnie...

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