Thursday, May 5, 2016

Valleys and Peaks

Wasted Life?

My depression over the inevitable nomination of asshat Donald Trump by the
doomed Republican Party has not abated in the slightest since Tuesday night.

Among other things, the 2016 campaign has caused me to reexamine how I spent my career as a teacher.

I was an argumentation and rhetoric major in college, and throughout my career
I taught those subjects (and coached my schools' interscholastic debate teams). I told
my students that logical ideas couched in persuasive language (spoken and written) were necessary to ensure that truth overcame falsity in this world.

Turns out I was wrong. Democrat and Republican primary voters have proven to me that evidence and logic are useless, that the best thinkers and speakers will be rejected in favor of a screeching harpy or an insufferable narcissist with the worst case of diarrhea of the mouth I have ever seen in politics. Both of them are serial liars, without suffering any meaningful consequences.

"Surely it is not so bad as all that?"

It is every bit as bad as all that, Ari. For 30 years I misled my students with the idea that logic and eloquence were important, and worthy of study and practice. Turns out I was wasting their time with that nonsense, which means I was a failure as a educator. It is a harsh lesson to have to learn so late in life...

Feast Day

The Ascension, by Benjamin West
The Feast of the Ascension is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics, and traditionally it was always celebrated on a Thursday, the 40th day of Eastertide.

Beginning in 1999, American bishops were permitted to move the feast to a Sunday, as a way of increasing participation, a practice of which I am not fond.

The Archdiocese of Omaha continues the traditional Thursday observance, but the Diocese of Des Moines (which includes my parish) chose the Sunday option.

In my heart, I'll observe the feast today in my prayers, even if I have to wait for Sunday's Mass for the "official" observance.


I have had the pleasure of seeing my hero Joe Bonamassa live in concert on six occasions prior to last night, and he has never disappointed me. Last night's show at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha was a peak life experience, though, and at a time when I really needed one...

L to R: Me & Amanda, Joe B, Evac Cave

For openers, it was a special occasion because I had two passes to the pre-show Meet & Greet that Joe always does before a concert.

This was my third time meeting him in person, and he was as affable as ever. I brought along a former student, Evac Cave, who was my theater tech wingman at Thomas Jefferson High School.

Joe graciously autographed the headstock of Amanda, my Alvarez Yairi WY1TS guitar. Joe has one just like her that he plays during his acoustic sets (there was no acoustic set last night, however).

The concert hall at the Holland was awesome, a vast improvement over the Omaha Music Hall (where
I had seen Joe on his two previous visits to Omaha).

The acoustics were far better suited to Joe's highly amplified sound than you might imagine, and I am hopeful that Joe's first experience playing there will encourage him to return as soon as possible.

A big part of what ensured this would be a peak life experience was my seat: front row, center!

Joe posted this photograph on his Twitter account last night, a couple of hours after the show ended. I'm the doofus in the necktie just to the right of Joe in the photo.

I haven't been front-row center for a concert since a Maynard Ferguson gig in Casper, Wyoming more than 30 years ago. And if you are an irony fan, May 4 is Maynard's birthday...

"Isn't May 4 also the anniversary of Joe's first Royal Albert Hall concert?"

Last night was the 7th anniversary of that show, yes...

Just One Minor Flaw in the Plan

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

Until Next Time...

Joe's current tour is intended to promote his latest album, Blues of Desperation, which was a weekly Music Recommendation just after its release. It debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues chart and at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, his highest-ever debut on that list.

Like his previous album Different Shades of Blue, Joe's new album is all original material, and it has some of his best song-writing to date. His passion for the blues-rock idiom is apparent throughout.

"Mountain Climbing" was the second song Joe played in Omaha last night, and was one of the evening's real highlights. Among other things, Joe's soloing on the vintage Gibson Firebird he was playing was jaw-dropping.

Today's send-off is Joe's official video of the song, filmed during the recording sessions. Enjoy...

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