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...

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