Saturday, April 9, 2016

Turning Point


On April 9, 1865 the Army of Northern Virginia, commanded by General Robert E. Lee, surrendered to Union forces commanded by General Ulysses S. Grant. The surrender followed the Battle of Appomattox Courthouse, and for all intents and purposes meant the end of the Civil War.

Surrender at Appomattox, by Tom Lovell

I wouldn't presume to attempt any pithy commentary about this topic. If you're actually interested in reading more about it, I highly recommend Bruce Catton's award-winning trilogy: Mr. Lincoln's Army, Glory Road, and A Stillness at Appomattox. Start there...but don't be surprised if you acquire a lifelong interest in the subject matter.

Two For the Seesaw

RF Rey Fuentes's first Royals hit drove in two runs
My beloved Kansas City Royals became World Series Champions last season in large part due to late-inning heroics. All through the regular season, the playoffs, and the World Series itself, opposing teams marveled at the Royals' ability to mount late challenges, no matter the score. Combine that kind of relentless offense with a shut-down bullpen, and you've got the essence of "Royals Baseball" these days.

That approach was on display last night in the Royals' come-from-behind win against the Twins at Kauffman Stadium. It was a seesaw battle all night. The Royals trailed 1-0, then took a 2-1 lead, saw the game tied, fell behind 3-2, and finally rallied late to pull yet another rabbit out of a hat.

After RHP Luke Hochevar gave up a game-tying base hit in the 7th and RHP Joakim Soria gave up a solo home run in the top of the 8th (in addition to striking out three batters), the Royals were six outs away from defeat when they came to bat in the bottom of the 8th. No problem.

All-Star LF Alex Gordon led off with a single. All-Star C Salvador Perez hit a triple (his first in almost two years) to drive in the tying run. 2B Omar Infante then hit a sac fly
to score Perez. Three batters, two runs, one lead. All-Star closer Wade Davis allowed a lead-off walk in the top of the 9th, but two strikeouts and a ground out later, the Royals were victorious.

The middle game of the series is tonight at 6:15 PM CDT. New Royal Ian Kennedy will take the mound for KC. It would be nice if the Royals could just win in a huge blowout for a change. Just sayin'...

"You know that only a couple of people got that movie reference, right?"

I'd say closer to five or six, and it's actually a theatre reference anyway, but the Royals won so I don't care either way...

It's a Jungle Out There, Kid

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

Until Next Time...

As you would expect, there have been many excellent movies and television programs based on the Civil War. Just as there will continue to be books written about it, there will continue to be such theatrical productions. The public appetite for such material appears to be boundless.

My personal favorite among the filmed accounts is Ken Burns's landmark PBS documentary miniseries The Civil War. The series was reissued in HD format just last year, to celebrate the film's 25th Anniversary. It is a must-have.

Part of Burns's style in his documentary films is to make extensive use of period music, which he does brilliantly in The Civil War.

"Battle Cry of Freedom," for instance, is a song written in 1862 by George Frederick Root championing the Union cause and abolition.

The song became so popular in its time that a Confederate version was issued, and it was also featured in some presidential campaigns (notably Abraham Lincoln's in 1864). The song's popularity even resulted in suggestions that it be made our national anthem.

Today's send-off is a simple piano rendition of Root's famous song from the film's soundtrack, arranged and performed by Jacqueline Schwab. Enjoy...

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