Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Look Up in Perfect Silence

Simple Pleasures

"Smile, and smile, and be a villain..."
I've never been impressed with Katie Couric, but it is undeniable that she has been and continues to be an important figure in the news business.

Thus, I derive considerable enjoyment from her current humiliation, and still hold out some hope that she might get fired this time.

After days of insisting that she did nothing wrong, and that she "stood behind" the documentary film Under the Gun, of which she was a key element, Couric today apologized for her role in making 2nd Amendment rights activists look like they couldn't answer a simple question by deceptive editing of her interview with them.

The only thing she actually regrets, of course, is getting caught...

"She's got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll's eyes..."

Nice Jaws reference, buddy...


My beloved Kansas City Royals continued their winning streak yesterday night at Kauffman Stadium, beating the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 on Armed Forces Night. It was
the team's fourth straight win.

Pre-game ceremonies at The K
Since it was Memorial Day there were several observances designed to honor our military men and women.

There was a stirring pre-game ceremony which included listing names of deceased Missouri and Kansas servicemen during a moment of silence.

There was also a flyover featuring a pair of A10 Thunderbolt II aircraft (also known as "Warthogs") from nearby Whiteman AFB.

Both the Royals and Rays wore special uniforms featuring military camouflage hats and uniform lettering.

Ian lowered his season ERA to 3.03
Royals starter Ian Kennedy struggled a bit with his control, walking five Rays (with some "help" from the home plate umpire), but he also struck out six and didn't allow an earned run on just three hits in his six innings of work. The Royals led 2-1 when he departed.

Reliever Kelvin Herrera allowed the tying run in the top of the 8th, but got the win when the Royals roared back in the bottom of the inning.

As they have so often of late, the Royals rallied mostly with singles (they had four of them in the winning flurry).

The third straight one-out single, by CF Lorenzo Cain, gave the Royals a 3-2 lead, and then 1B Eric Hosmer put the game out of reach with a towering three-run homer.

The three-game series resumes tonight, and if the Royals win either tonight's game or Wednesday's finale they will have won their sixth consecutive series...

"Careful, you're starting to sound like an optimist..."


Count the Clock That Tells the Time

"Elizabeth Tower," Palace of Westminster, London

On May 31, 1859
the 13-ton bell known officially as the Great Bell or Hour Bell of the Great Clock of Westminster, but referred to most often simply as "Big Ben," struck the hour for the first time.

I doubt that I'll ever get to visit London, but this would certainly be high on my list of sights to see if I were ever to make the journey.

The title of this section is a reference to Shakespeare's Sonnet 12, one of my favorite poems, and to one of my favorite short stories by Harlan Ellison.

Happy Birthday!

May 31, 1819 - March 26, 1892

On May 31, 1819 Walter "Walt" Whitman was born in West Hills, a hamlet in Huntington, Long Island, New York.

One of my greatest joys in teaching American Literature was introducing my students to Whitman. His influence on poetry was profound, and every modern American poet owes a debt to the man.

By far the poem I most enjoyed teaching them was "When I heard the Learn'd Astronomer," since its message (it is more important to experience the natural world directly than to merely study about it) is one grade-conscious teenagers need to hear...

 I appreciate your concern, old friend, but I'll be fine...we might go to Omaha later...

TrumpWits™️ in the Workplace

From the comic strip Dilbert, by Scott Adams, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

Regular readers of the blog know that I have a fondness for liturgical music, especially on occasions like Memorial Day when we are encouraged to think more deeply about the meaning of life and our relationship to God.

This week's Music Recommendation is liturgical music of a high order. The debut album from the San Francisco-based Vajra Voices ensemble offers beautiful renditions of music by St. Hildegard, a Benedictine nun who served as abbess at two different monasteries she founded herself in the middle of the 12th century in what is now Germany. I enjoyed listening to the album yesterday while writing the Memorial Day blog entry.

Statue of St. Hildegard at Eibingen Abbey
I have always had a special fondness for
St. Hildegard because of her interest in theatre. Her Ordo Virtutum (Order of the Virtues) is the earliest known example of the Medieval morality play, and the only such example in which authorship of both the text and the music are known.

In addition to being a playwright and composer, Hildegard was also a noteworthy theologian and scientist.

Pope Benedict XVI used the "equivalent canonization" process for Hildegard on May 10, 2012, making her an official saint. He named her Doctor of the Church on October 7 of that year, making Hildegard one of only four women in church history to be so honored.

Today's send-off is Vajra Voices' gorgeous performance of Hildegard's Kyrie. Enjoy...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day 2016


Requiescat in pace, dad.

Some Companies Just Get It

America is a capitalist country, so I can't really complain too much about the plethora
of Memorial Day sales that merchants put on each year. But there are some businesses that understand this holiday is about something more important than selling a few extra mattresses or big-screen TVs or cars...

I just love this grocery store's Memorial Day Coca-Cola display...

...and this "missing man" table setting at a Chick-fil-A restaurant...

...and this beer display at a Walmart.

Thrill Ride

According to the percentages, my beloved Kansas City Royals should have gotten swept by the Chicago White Sox in their weekend series at Kauffman Stadium: The Royals trailed by at least two runs in every game entering the 7th inning. Yet it was the Royals who swept the series, regaining 1st place in the Central Division, by staging three consecutive late rallies.

"Not a line drive, but it got the job done!"
The Royals rallied for three runs in the bottom of the 8th inning yesterday, turning a 4-2 deficit into a 5-4 victory.

3B Cheslor Cuthbert drove in the game-winning run with an infield single, and All-Star closer Wade Davis recorded his 14th save. RHP Chris Young, just off the Disabled List, got the win after pitching a scoreless 8th inning.

"Go ahead. You know you want to do it..."

Well, if you insist...

Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast Update

"Don't mind me, just passing through."

There are a lot of bird species that regularly visit the B&B, but yesterday was only the second time I have ever seen an American robin actually up on my patio.

The first one I saw wasn't eating, he was looking for nesting materials (the patio had some debris thanks to a rainstorm). The one I saw yesterday was actually eating seed, though, which is unusual, as they typically eat insects, fruits, and berries. He must have been really hungry.

Never Forget

From the pen of Nate Beeler, editorial cartoonist for the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch.

Until Next Time...

As I mentioned in this space yesterday, at my parish church St. Peter's we sing patriotic songs for the entrance and recessional music at Mass on or near patriotic holidays. For yesterday's entrance song our music minister chose "God Bless America," the beloved Irving Berlin standard. As with many other patriotic songs, I knew how to sing this one before I had finished 1st grade.

On September 21, 2001 the four major broadcast networks presented a telethon-style program featuring major popular music, TV, and motion picture stars. Aired without interruptions or commercials, the program raised more than $200 million for United Way's September 11 fund.

Canadian pop vocalist Celine Dion did a heartfelt and powerful rendition of "God Bless America" near the end of the program, a performance considered one of the high points of the evening.

Dion's version was included on the album of musical performances from the show, and also on a subsequent compilation album, God Bless America, that was issued in October of that year to raise money for the Twin Towers Fund. That album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and Dion's performance also charted as a single.

Today's send-off is her stirring live performance from the telethon, paired with a slideshow of images that evoke the true spirit of this holiday. Enjoy...and remember...

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Corpus Christi 2016

Feast Day

Corpus Christi Procession (1913), by Amadeo de Souza-Cardoso
In some parts of the world, the Feast of Corpus Christi is celebrated on the Thursday following Trinity Sunday.

In the United States, since the feast is not a Holy Day of Obligation, we celebrate it on the first Sunday following Trinity Sunday.

Pope Francis with Eucharistic monstrance on Corpus Christi 2013

Catholics are not the only Christians who believe in the Real Presence, but our belief in transubstantiation sets us apart from our Protestant brothers and sisters.

Today is also the final Sunday of May. At St. Peter's, we say a rosary before 8:00 Mass on Sundays in May to honor the Blessed Virgin Mary.


While my beloved Kansas City Royals have acquired a reputation over the past couple of seasons as a team that never quits, and a team capable of executing Houdini-like escapes from defeat in a game's late innings, what happened in the bottom of the 9th inning at Kauffman Stadium yesterday had never happened before in the team's 47-year history. Trailing the Chicago White Sox 7-1 with their closer on the mound and one out, the Royals staged a furious rally to score seven runs and win the game 8-7.

"We did it AGAIN!"

The rally went like this: single, double, walk, walk (forcing in a run), two-run single (deflected off the pitcher's glove), run-scoring ground out (CF Lorenzo Cain beat the relay throw, thereby avoiding a game-ending double play), run-scoring double, run-scoring double (tying the game), wild pitch (runner to third), intentional walk, intentional walk, single.

Rookie DH Brett Eibner, who got his first big league hit in Friday night's game, had a double AND the game-winning single in the same inning. Quite a day for the young man, whose family was there to see it.

Reliever Chien-Ming Wang got the win with two scoreless innings, improving his record to 3-0 with a 2.41 ERA. The Royals won the series, their fifth straight, and will go for a sweep this afternoon.

It will be interesting to see how the White Sox respond, having lost the first two games after leading 5-1 and 7-1.

"That actually happened???"
It actually did, yeah...

Happy Birthday!

Patrick Henry (1815), by Thomas Sully

On May 29, 1736 Patrick Henry was born on the family farm in Hanover County, Virginia.

Henry was an important and influential figure in the run-up to the American Revolution, and his oratorical skills in particular played a significant role in the our country's founding.

G.K. Chesterton, photo by E.H. Mills in 1909

On May 29, 1874 Gilbert Keith Chesterton was born in Campden Hill in the Kensington district of London.

Chesterton is one of my favorite writers AND one of my favorite thinkers. I have enjoyed his fiction (especially his Father Brown stories) and his non-fiction (Orthodoxy is one of the best examples of Christian apologetics ever written) ever since I first encountered him in high school.

Chesterton's thoughts on language and style were also very influential in my development as a writer.

It's Just a Scratch, Really

From the ferocious pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of my favorite things about 8:00 Mass at St. Peter's on patriotic holidays is that our music minister at those services always selects patriotic hymns for the entrance and recessional music.

Today's recessional made me cry, as it almost always does. "America the Beautiful," which combines music written in 1882 by Samuel A. Ward with an 1895 poem by Katharine Lee Bates, was first published in its present form in 1910. It is one of the most beloved patriotic songs of all time, and I could sing it before I had finished 1st Grade.

In my opinion, nobody has ever sung it as well as the incomparable Ray Charles,
who had a long association with the song.

In 1972 Ray released A Message From the People, an album of songs about America and its citizens. The album was a modest success, but Ray's version of "America the Beautiful" went virtually unnoticed.

That began to change following Ray's live performance of the song on The Dick Cavett Show on September 18, 1972. The album cut was released as a single in 1976, and it cracked the Billboard R&B Singles chart. His soulful rendition quickly became a staple of his live performances for the rest of his career.

Perhaps his most famous performance of the song came at the Republican National Convention in 1984, where Charles closed the convention with an especially heartfelt rendition.

Today's send-off is Brother Ray's live 1972 performance on the Cavett telecast. Enjoy...

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Movin' On

Unify This, Buster

"We must unify behind The Destructor, or all is lost!"

On the weekends, my preference is to avoid writing about political topics if I can help it. Thanks to this morning's Council Bluffs Daily Nonpareil, I can't help it today.

So Jeff Kaufmann, head of the Iowa Republican party, was in the Bluffs yesterday
to plead with the 75.7 percent of Iowa voters who rejected asshat Donald Trump in the caucuses to line up behind him now.

His own bio on the Iowa GOP website gives me ample reason to consider this man an unprincipled sell-out. He claims to be "a fiscal conservative," but says we should support the man who advocates defaulting on our national debt. He claims to be "a Second Amendment defender," but says we should support the man who agrees with President Obama on the issue and supports popular progressive anti-2nd Amendment policy initiatives. He claims to be "a tireless advocate of property rights" who "authored a key anti-eminent domain bill," but says we should support the man who thinks the notorious Kelo decision was "wonderful,"  and who has a long history of abusing eminent domain to enrich himself.

But sure, Jeff, let's line up behind Trump just because he published a list of potential SCOTUS nominees (then backed off of it within hours). Right. No con artist could hope for a more gullible mark than Mr. Kaufmann.

I have already changed my voter registration, and am no longer a Republican on the voter rolls, but Kauffman's pathetic defense of Trump confirms that I was right to do so. His argument is just a version of the "But...but...Hillary!" nonsense that TrumpWits™️ have been peddling for months. Sorry, no sale.

But thanks for making me feel a whole lot better about leaving the Republican party, Mr. Kauffman. Well-played, sir...

"Did the door hit you in the ass on your way out?"

Nope...I was moving briskly...

Roller Coaster

Beautiful Kauffman Stadium, where my beloved Kansas City Royals play, is just a few minutes' drive from the Worlds of Fun / Oceans of Fun amusement complex (where
I worked as a security "ranger" for a couple of summers back in the late '70s), but every once in awhile the best roller-coaster rides happen at Kauffman. Last night's 7-5 win over the visiting Chicago White Sox was quite a thrill ride.

"Yeah, I'd like that last pitch to Melky back..."

Royals starter Danny Duffy, staked to a 1-0 lead in the first inning, didn't allow even a baserunner until one out in the top of the 6th inning, retiring the first 16 hitters he faced.

He then gave up three straight singles, followed by home runs to Melky Cabrera and Todd Frazier back-to-back. Just like that, it was 5-1 White Sox.

As they did so often in their drive to the World Series Championship last year, the Royals clawed their way back into the game. 1B Eric Hosmer, who went 3-for-4 with 4 RBIs, hit a solo home run in the bottom of the 6th.

Then the Royals staged one of their patented "quiet" rallies in the 7th: With one out, a double, a walk, and an infield single loaded the bases. 3B Whit Merrifield then delivered a two-run single (his first major league RBIs) to make it 5-4, and after a wild pitch moved the runners, Hosmer delivered a two-out single to make it 6-5 Royals. They added an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th, and All-Star closer Wade Davis racked up two strikeouts in recording his 13th save. No sweat.

"Yeah, right. You were freaking out after those White Sox homers."

And your point is...?

The Big Move

On May 28, 1957 owners of National League teams in Major League Baseball unanimously approved the move of two NL franchises, the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Giants, to the west coast. They became the first MLB outposts west of the Mississippi River (St. Louis, which on that river, doesn't really count).

The Dodgers had been the more successful of the two franchises in the years leading up the the move, and in Los Angeles they would become even more so, winning an additional nine National League pennants (as many as they had won in Brooklyn) and five World Series titles (versus only one in Brooklyn).

The move west certainly helped the career of young left-hander Sandy Koufax, who blossomed into a Hall of Fame pitcher in pitcher-friendly Dodger Stadium, which opened in 1962.

It took more than half a century, but eventually the Giants found success out west also, winning World Series titles three times in the past six seasons.

Willie Mays would have been a Hall of Famer no matter where his team played. He won Most Valuable Player awards in both cities. He spent a total of 15 seasons in a San Francisco uniform.


From the perspicacious pen of Lisa Benson, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

One of the major differences between popular music nowadays and the way things were when I was growing up is the almost complete absence these days of instrumentals. When I was a kid, instrumentals were not only commonplace, they frequently topped the singles charts, and instrumental albums often did the same.

Even someone like me, who became a fan of guitar-driven music early on, had artists like The Ventures, Duane Eddy, and Mason Williams to enjoy.

Because of my dad's interest in jazz, I also had plenty of instrumental music of that sort shaping my tastes as well. In 1966, not long before dad relocated the family to Kansas City, he became a big fan of trumpet player Herb Albert, and of his recording band
The Tijuana Brass. To say that Alpert dominated the album charts that year would be a huge understatement.

Alpert's recordings outsold The Beatles (and their three No. 1 albums) in 1966, and he had five albums in the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 simultaneously, an accomplishment which has never been repeated by any recording artist. Three of those albums spent time at No. 1 on that chart, and in early April four of Alpert's albums were in the Top 10.

On May 28, 1966 Alpert's What Now My Love album hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, a position it would hold for eight straight weeks, the longest stretch at the top of the charts of Alpert's career. It returned to the top spot on September 3 for a total of nine weeks in that position.

Earlier Alpert recordings had had a decidedly Latin flavor, which my dad really enjoyed, but this album marked the beginning of a change in Alpert's sound as he began to focus on covers of pop standards and show tunes.

Today's send-off is the original monaural recording of the album's title track. Enjoy...

Friday, May 27, 2016

Tough Stretch

Thank Papa Legba It's Friday!

"Èske ou pale avè m '? Mwen pa ka tande ou!"

The Conservative Trail of Tears

"You can't spend principles, know what I'm sayin'?"
One of the most shameful rituals of the 2016 GOP presidential primary has been the public humiliation of stalwart conservative politicians and opinion leaders who have chosen to throw their support behind asshat Donald Trump. Some have even gone so far as to publicly assail Trump's conservative opponents.

I have taken to calling this process the Conservative Trail of Tears, a reference to the forced relocation of Native Americans in the mid-19th century. At the current rate of attrition, there won't be much
of a conservative movement left by the general election in November.

The most recent victim is one of the most painful for me, personally. Florida Senator Marco Rubio announced yesterday that he would attend the Republican National Convention, release his delegates to vote for Trump, speak on Trump's behalf at the convention if asked to do so, and would even consider being Trump's running mate.

It is traditional for defeated candidates to eventually line up behind their party's nominee and endorse him. This is a special case, however. Back when I was contributing money to his campaign, I actually thought Senator Rubio (young, highly intelligent, articulate) represented a bright future for conservatism and the Republican party. Now he has abandoned his principles in exchange for...well, what he's getting out of it isn't clear yet (money to run for re-election to the Senate is a likely possibility, if the VP slot isn't offered), but it is still deeply disturbing.

"Going to take awhile to get over this one, is it?"

Not sure I ever will, honestly...

When It Rains, It Pours

Yesterday was supposed to see
the beginning of an important four-game series at Kauffman Stadium for my beloved Kansas City Royals against the visiting Chicago White Sox, currently the Central Division leaders.

The game wound up getting rained out, which is always disappointing, but the team also announced that All-Star 3B Mike Moustakas would be lost for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Mike was injured in the same collision on May 22 that broke a bone in All-Star LF Alex Gordon's wrist, putting him out of action for up to six weeks.

The Royals' prospects for defending their World Series Championship were already daunting, but now they are grim indeed.

The rained-out game won't be made up this weekend, so it is now a three-game series with the White Sox (assuming the weather doesn't intervene again).

"Man, we've had a ton of injuries this year, and it isn't even June yet."

They were pretty lucky in that regard the past two seasons, but it would appear that their luck has run out...

Happy Birthday!

Although I first became attracted to mystery and detective fiction through the Sherlock Holmes stories as a young reader, my real appreciation didn't begin until my sophomore year of college, when I first encountered writers like Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald who would become lifelong favorites (and major influences on my own writing). That same year I also got introduced to an excellent practitioner of this unique art form whose birthday we celebrate today.

May 27, 1894 - January 10, 1961
On May 27, 1894 Samuel Dashiell Hammett was born on a farm in St. Mary's County, Maryland.

Hammett grew up in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and dropped out of school at age 13 to take on a variety of jobs. He worked for the famous Pinkerton National Detective Agency for seven years, from age 21 to 28. It was those experiences that formed the basis for his mystery and detective stories when he began writing in 1922, publishing under the name Dashiell Hammett.

Hammett created some of the most memorable characters in all of mystery fiction: Sam Spade, Nick and Nora Charles, and the Continental Op. Although he only published five novels in his career, Hammett's place in the pantheon of mystery/detective fiction is secure.

May 27, 1925 - October 26, 2008

Hammett shares a birthday with another favorite mystery author of mine.

On May 27, 1925 Anthony Grove Hillerman was born in Sacred Heart, Oklahoma. He moved to New Mexico in 1952, and began working as a journalist and teacher.

He published his first mystery novel in 1970, under the name Tony Hillerman. I was introduced to his work in 1983, not long after moving to Wyoming. Some of my faculty colleagues there were big fans, and once they found out I liked mystery writing...

From that time until her death in 1996, my mom made sure I always got the latest Hillerman mystery for Christmas or my birthday. She was a fan of his work also, so it was fun passing the books on to her once I had read them myself. She made me promise not to give any spoilers.

Hillerman's two most famous characters are Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer Jim Chee, both members of the Navajo Tribal Police. These characters were featured in a series of novels, sometimes alone, sometimes working together to solve a case.

Neat Trick

From the indispensable comic strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, which you should read every day, as I do (even though Wiley is a squishy liberal).

Until Next Time...

On May 27, 1935 Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis, Jr. was born in Chicago. Taking up the piano at age 4, Ramsey joined his first jazz group at age 15. By the time he was 21 he had his own combo, the Ramsey Lewis Trio, and released his first album. He has had several popular hits, and has received three Grammy Awards.

I had the pleasure of seeing him perform live in Casper, Wyoming in 1984, and his 1981 Live At the Savoy album still gets regular listens on my iPod to this day.

One of Ramsey's biggest hits was his swinging arrangement of
"Wade In the Water," a traditional Negro spiritual first published around the turn of the century.

In 1966 Ramsey released his Wade In the Water album, which he had begun recording the day before his birthday that year. The album included the Grammy-winning song "Hold It Right There," and the title track soon became a staple of Ramsey's live performances.

Today's send-off is Ramsey's original 1966 recording of one of his signature songs. Enjoy...

Thursday, May 26, 2016


Dark Day

"Conservatism is DEAD! Long live TRUMPISM!"

It is all over the news this morning that asshat Donald Trump now has 1,238 pledged delegates for the Republican National Convention being held in Cleveland in July.

I was always taught that despair is an affront to God, but there are times when it is difficult to resist the temptation insofar as human affairs are concerned. Today is one of those times.

I continue to hope that the RNC delegates will find a way to reject Trump at the convention (his refusal to release his tax returns seems like a suitable pretext to me,
as it does to voters), but I am also hopeful that other alternatives to the major party candidates will emerge.

At the very least, if Trump is in fact nominated by the GOP in July, that will be the death of the party. It might well be the death of the conservative movement as I have known it my entire adult life. I have had better days...

"I should probably keep a low profile for awhile, right?"

Might not be a bad idea...

Feast Day

Today is the feast day of St. Philip Neri, known as "The Apostle of Rome."

I have always had a fondness for
St. Philip due to his reputation for using playful humor in his ministry and his founding of the Congregation of the Oratory secular order, which used theatrical techniques in its mission work. The famed composer Giovanni Palestrina wrote music for St. Philip's popular services.

As an educator, I always embraced
St. Philip's belief that humor was an excellent way to reach the hearts and minds of students. That approach served me well for 30 years in the classroom.

Philip was beatified by Pope Paul V on May 11, 1615. He was canonized by Pope Gregory XV on March 12, 1622.

St. Philip Neri is considered the patron saint of laughter and humor.

Happy Birthday!

The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962
On May 26, 1907 Marion Robert Morrison was born in Winterset, Iowa. His middle name was later changed to "Mitchell" when his parents wanted to name another child "Robert," but Morrison made his mark in the world under a third name, John Wayne.

In a Hollywood career spanning nearly 40 years, Wayne became the biggest box office star of his generation.

Although he did a splendid job in films like The Quiet Man and The High and the Mighty, his greatest claim to fame was his career starring in westerns.

Three of his best, The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, The Searchers, and Rio Bravo are all on my all-time favorite movies list.

Marshal Matt Dillon in Gunsmoke, 1955-1975
On May 26, 1923 James King Aurness was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Just as John Wayne is the iconic figure of American western movies, James Arness (he dropped the "u" at the outset of his acting career) is the iconic figure for the TV western, starring in Gunsmoke for 20 seasons.

It was Wayne who recommended Arness for the role of Marshal Matt Dillon (Wayne also did a voice-over
for the pilot episode). He and Wayne became close friends, and Arness appeared in several Wayne films.

Arness also appeared in one of my all-time favorite cheesy science fiction movies, playing the alien in The Thing from Another World in 1951.

Arness had a younger brother Peter, who enjoyed a successful acting career of his own under the stage name Peter Graves.

"Pretty ironic that they'd share a birthday, eh?"

You got that right, pilgrim...

Thrill Ride

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

Until Next Time...

One of John Wayne's most acclaimed non-western movie performances was in
William Wellman's 1954 drama The High and the Mighty, considered a precursor of the Hollywood "disaster" films that gained great popularity in the 1970s.

Original 1954 "one sheet" poster
Based on a best-selling novel by Ernest K. Gann, the film was a box office success, and Wayne received praise for "playing against type" in his role as Dan Roman, the First Officer on the flight.

The production received a total of six Academy Award nominations, including a Best Director nod for Wellman.

The movie's lone winner on Oscar Night was Dimitri Tiomkin, who won for Best Original Score. In one of the Academy's oddest quirks, Tiomkin's title song for the film was nominated for Best Song, even though it did not actually appear in the film itself. It did reach No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, though.

Today's send-off is a suite of themes and motifs from Tiomkin's thrilling score. Enjoy...