Thursday, June 30, 2016

Like Butter

Never Mind

In the latest defeat for the dim-witted food fascists, it turns out that butter is not, in fact, bad for us.

To the complete surprise of absolutely no one with a brain, the long campaign against butter and other foods with saturated fats turns out to have been completely misguided.

Frankly, I don't think the Founding Fathers intended for government to be in the business of demonizing popular foodstuffs in the first place...

"Seriously, are you people retarded or something?"

As an Irishman, I know the perfect way to celebrate this bit of helpful news...

Cruise Update

Today my best friend Skip and his wife Elaine spent the day visiting Tórshavn, in the Faroe Islands (an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark)...

...including an boat excursion to see the famous Vestmanna Birdcliffs and Grottos...

"I'm pretty much a landlubber, but places like this have their charms."

They certainly do, yes...

Third Time's the Charm

Last night my beloved Kansas City Royals won the third game of their four-game home-and-away series with the St. Louis Cardinals, prevailing 3-2 in 12 innings at Busch Stadium. It was quite a pitcher's duel. The Royals took two leads late, but couldn't hold them. It took a third rally to finally put the game away.

Now 5-0, 3.66 ERA
Royals starter Edinson Volquez pitched well into the 7th inning and held the Cardinals scoreless on just six hits, while striking out four.

Unfortunately, All-Star closer Wade Davis failed to protect a 1-0 Royals lead in the bottom of the 9th, and RHP Joakim Soria similarly failed to protect a 2-1 Royals lead in the bottom of the 10th.

RHP Chien-Ming Wang wound up getting the win for his two perfect innings of work when the Royals scored in the top of the 12th.

It was a frustrating night offensively, as the Royals got 14 hits and six walks but only managed three runs of output.

All-Star SS Alcides Escobar was the hero, giving the team a 1-0 lead in the 8th on a sacrifice fly, and driving in the winning run in the 12th with a double.

Kendrys Morales played RF for the first time in eight years and continued his hot hitting, going 3-for-4. With one game left he's hitting .386 for June and has raised his BA 62 points this month.

The news wasn't all good yesterday, though. All-Star CF Lorenzo Cain was placed on the 15-day Disabled List due to an injured hamstring he suffered in Tuesday's game, and won't be back in the lineup until after the All-Star break.

"So we're going for the Busch Stadium sweep today, eh?"

Well, with Chris Young getting the start tonight that seems highly unlikely...

Happy Birthday!

1953 Chevrolet Corvette
On June 30, 1953 the very first Chevrolet Corvette rolled off of the assembly line at GM's plant in Flint, Michigan.

The first-generation Vette, known as the C1, was not an immediate success, but eventually the Corvette became an American icon.

Brexit Strategy

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

Until Next Time...

Although they were always highly-regarded as a live act, R.E.M. was remarkably resistant to the idea of releasing a live recording for much of their career. Lead singer Michael Stipe explained in interviews over the years that the band thought issuing live albums was a sign of creative exhaustion.

This meant that, for most of the band's career, die-hard fans like me could only obtain live tracks by purchasing the band's CD singles, which typically included live material.

After the disappointing commercial performance of the band's Around the Sun album
in 2004, they finally relented on the live album front, releasing the two-disc R.E.M. Live album in 2007. That album consisted of recordings made in Dublin in 2005 on the band's world tour in support of Around the Sun. The positive response to the project encouraged the group to try again.

On June 30, 2007 the band played the first of a series of five concerts at Dublin's famous Olympia Theatre, intended mostly as "working rehearsals" of material for their forthcoming Accelerate album.

This marked a return to the band's early practice of working out new material in live performances before heading into the studio. In addition to the Accelerate material, the band also featured a retrospective of their entire catalog, including some fan favorites that they hadn't performed live in decades.

My favorite aspect of Live At the Olympia is its exuberant energy. The band is clearly having fun, and it shows in their playing and singing. That carried over to the studio work on Accelerate, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in March 2008 and was their most successful album in over a decade.

Today's send-off is the splendid Dublin version of "Driver 8," one of my favorite songs from the band's 1985 Fables of the Reconstruction album. Enjoy...

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Saints, Sinners, and Legends

And Again...

The latest ISIS-inspired terror attack took place yesterday at Atatürk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey.

As I write these words the death toll stands at 41, with an additional 230 people injured.

Possibly because it happened in another country and the terrorists used suicide vests,
the President has yet to use this atrocity as a pretext to campaign for more gun control in the United States.

Or perhaps he hasn't gotten around to that yet because he's too busy golfing...

"Rather a harsh assessment, don't you think?"

I absolutely do not...

Cruise Update

Today my best friend Skip and his wife Elaine are at sea all day, traveling from Scotland to Denmark...

Seven Seas Voyager at sea

"Denmark, eh? Any chance he'll bring you back some butter cookies?"

I consider that highly unlikely...

Feast Day

St. Peter, by Anthony van Dyck
Today is the feast day of St. Peter, venerated as the first Pope of the Catholic Church.

Peter was one of the original Twelve Apostles chosen by Jesus, and like all but one of the twelve he was martyred for the faith.

Among his numerous patronages, Peter is the patron of stationers, people who make writing paper and writing instruments, which I love.

I am happy to live in one of the many parishes named for him.
St. Peter's in Council Bluffs is a charming, old-school church which has become very dear to me.

St. Paul, by Pompeo Girolamo Batoni

Today is also the feast day of
St. Paul, also known as Paul the Apostle, one of the most significant writers and teachers in the history of the Christian faith.

A significant portion of the New Testament is attributed to St. Paul, and his writings form the basis of many important church doctrines, including the important question of justification. In fact, St. Paul is considered the patron saint of theologians.

Requiescat in Pace

December 27, 1931 - June 28, 2016

Yesterday brought news of the death of legendary guitarist Scotty Moore,
at age 84.

Moore made his name playing with Elvis Presley, and his sound, especially his sizzling lead breaks, inspired the generation of British and American guitarists who dominated rock and roll beginning in the mid-'60s.

Scotty was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000.

June 14, 1952 - June 28, 2016

Yesterday also brought news of the death of Pat Summitt, the longtime coach of the University of Tennessee women's basketball team. She had suffered from Alzheimer's Disease since 2011. She had just turned 64 two weeks ago.

I'm old enough to remember when women's college basketball received scant press coverage. The first NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament wasn't held until the 1981-82 season.

Summitt and her Lady Volunteers helped transform the sport. She retired with 8 NCAA Championships and 1,098 wins. In 38 years of coaching her teams never had a losing season, and every player who completed eligibility for her graduated with a degree.

Well done, coach...


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

Until Next Time...

On June 29, 1911 Max Herman was born in New York City. Encouraged by his father to pursue musical interests, and inspired by winning a composition contest when he was 13, he chose to study music first at New York University and then at the Julliard School.

Having adopted Bernard Herrmann as his professional name, he had formed his own orchestra by age 20, and was hired as a staff conductor by the CBS radio network when he was just 23.

Herrmann's greatest claim to fame, however, is his work scoring films. He won the Academy Award for Best Score in 1941 for The Devil and Daniel Webster. By that time Herrmann was collaborating with Orson Welles, both with his radio programs and his film work. Herrmann also received a Best Score Academy Award nomination for Welles's Citizen Kane in 1941, making him one of the rare film composers to be competing with himself for the Oscar in a particular year. In 1951 he composed a truly spooky score for The Day the Earth Stood Still.

Original 1959 "one sheet" poster
Herrmann's place in cinematic history was cemented by his lengthy partnership with Alfred Hitchcock.

All seven of Herrmann's scores for Hitchcock films are marvelous, but my own personal favorite is North By Northwest, which is not coincidentally my favorite Hitchcock film (and one of my All-Time Top 5 as well).

Possibly due to Hollywood politics, none of Herrmann's scores for Hitchcock received Academy Award nominations, but the American Film Institute included the scores for Psycho and Vertigo in its list of the
25 Greatest Film Scores, with seven of his other scores (including North By Northwest) nominated for the honor.

Today's send-off is a suite of themes and motifs from Herrmann's classic North By Northwest score. Enjoy...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Rays of Sunshine

Hope Floats

Unless the delegates to the upcoming Republican National Convention come to their senses and do the responsible thing, the only real choice voters will have in November is which lying, corrupt, Constitution-shredding candidate they prefer.

It is tempting, especially for a natural pessimist like me, to throw in the towel on politics, but the situation is not yet completely hopeless.

Marco Rubio, to whose campaign
I contributed during the primaries, reversed course and chose to run for re-election to the Senate, where his leadership will be sorely needed. He'll rejoin fellow GOP candidates Ted Cruz and Rand Paul there
(I also contributed to their primary campaigns), and I expect all three of them to remain loud voices for Constitutional principles.

Meanwhile, Carly Fiorina (to whose campaign I also contributed) is doing important work to help elect real conservatives and stand up for conservative principles with her Carly for America PAC.

"So you'll keep on 'curmudgeoning' no matter WHO wins, then?"

At least until they succeed in outlawing political criticism (which both Trump and Clinton are eager to do)...

Cruise Update

Today my best friend Skip and his wife Elaine spent the day at Greenock, Scotland...

Among the sights to see there is Lyle Hill, which offers a spectacular view of the
Firth of Clyde. It also has the Free French Memorial, a World War II monument which incorporates a ship's anchor with a Cross of Lorraine. It is quite a striking sight, especially at night...

"That's an awful lot of water..."

Well, Great Britain IS an island, after all...


Last night at Kauffman Stadium my beloved Kansas City Royals won the first game of a four-game home-and-away series with the St. Louis Cardinals, beating them 6-2 for their second straight win.

Now 3-1, 3.24 ERA
Royals starter Danny Duffy gave up a double and a two-run home run in the 1st inning, but settled down the rest of the way. Danny pitched eight complete innings, allowing only four more hits while striking out eight.
He didn't walk a single batter, which helped keep his pitch count relatively low.

RHP Joakim Soria needed only 10 pitches to retire the Cardinals in the 9th inning.

"Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!"
DH Kendrys Morales continued his recent hot hitting, going 4-for-4 with two RBIs. He drove in the tying runs in the bottom of the 1st, which went a long way toward sparking the team to victory.

All-Star CF Lorenzo Cain and All-Star SS Alcides Escobar both had two-hit games, and 1B Eric Hosmer chipped in two RBIs and two runs scored.

"And now we've got Ventura back from suspension, pitching tonight!"

Don't get too excited...he's been pretty good in June, but consistency hasn't been Yordano's strong suit this season, so we'll have to see how the layoff affects him...

Shark Week!

Obama Focuses His Outrage

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

Until Next Time...

During my adolescence there were basically only two ways to see a motion picture:
In its original form in a proper movie theater, or in an edited version on broadcast TV. There were no DVDs in those days (even videotapes were still years away), no streaming services, no internet. For much of my teaching career I struggled to explain to my students just how a movie could become a cultural phenomenon without all of that additional exposure.

In October 1968 Franco Zeffirelli's film Romeo & Juliet opened to glowing reviews.
It was also controversial because it featured 17-year-old Leonard Whiting's Romeo
and 15-year-old Olivia Hussey's Juliet in a nude scene. Nowadays that sort of much-discussed scene would have "gone viral" on YouTube and social media, but in those days you had to actually go to a theater to see what all the fuss was about.

In the case of Zeffirelli's film, the cultural buzz was well-deserved. It remains one of the best film adaptations of a Shakespeare play to date, and one of the most commercially successful such films as well.
Original 1968 "one sheet" poster

The movie's score was the work of prolific film composer Nino Rota (who would later win an Oscar for his The Godfather: Part II score).

On June 28, 1969 Henry Mancini and His Orchestra began a two-week stay at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart with an arrangement
of the film's so-called "love theme."
It would be the only No. 1 hit of Mancini's distinguished career.

There would also be popular versions of the song with English lyrics (under the title "A Time for Us") recorded by artists like Johnny Mathis.

Today's send-off is Mancini's hit instrumental version of the theme, paired with some evocative photographs. Enjoy...

Monday, June 27, 2016



In the final group of decisions announced this morning by the United States Supreme Court, they struck down a Texas law called HB2 that was reviled by the abortion-on-demand crowd.

Predictably, the progressive mainstream media (but I repeat myself) spun the decision
as striking down "restrictions on abortion," when in fact the Texas law was an attempt to require abortion providers to comply with minimal health and safety regulations.

While thinking about the decision itself is depressing enough, the sheer lawlessness of it all is even more discouraging. The dissents ought to be required reading for anyone who still believes we are what John Adams called "a nation of laws and not of men."

"It's going to get worse before it gets better, isn't it?"

Unless the RNC delegates in Cleveland come to their senses, the Supreme Court has been lost for a generation, at least...

Cruise Update

Today my best friend Skip and his wife Elaine spent the day in beautiful Belfast, Northern Ireland...

...including a trip to the Ards Peninsula...

"It's the Ireland part of the cruise that's really getting to you, right?"

It all seems pretty amazing, but seeing Ireland would definitely be a highlight, yes...


My beloved Kansas City Royals snapped a four-game losing streak yesterday, beating the Astros 6-1 at Kauffman Stadium.

Now 6-6, 3.96 ERA

Royals starter Ian Kennedy threw seven strong innings, allowing only a single run on three hits while striking out 11.

All-Star relievers Kelvin Herrera and Wade Davis needed only 18 pitches between them to record the final six outs.

"Boom boom!"

DH Kendrys Morales put the Royals ahead 1-0 with a home run in the 4th inning, and gave them back the lead at 2-1 in the 7th with a second homer.

Later in that same inning, 3B Cheslor Cuthbert belted a two-run homer and 1B Eric Hosmer added a two-run double to produce the final score.

"Now it's time to sweep those darned Cardinals, eh?"

One game at a time, old friend...

Shark Week!

It slipped past me yesterday, but the Discovery Channel's popular Shark Week programming gimmick began once again. In keeping with the spirit of this great American celebration, I'll be featuring shark-related content as the week progresses...

The Real Key to Happiness?

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

Until Next Time...

1964 was a very good year for the songwriting team of Lennon-McCartney. That year The Beatles had six different songs reach No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. The songwriting team received credit for a seventh No. 1 hit, too, although it was not recorded by The Beatles.

Peter and Gordon were a popular British pop-rock duo at the time, and Paul McCartney gave them a song he had written when he was just 16, pre-Beatles. Neither McCartney nor Lennon thought the song was up to snuff as a Beatles tune, so McCartney had first asked popular singer Billy J. Kramer to record and release it. Kramer declined. Peter and Gordon were glad to give it a go, and they proved Kramer's judgment to be faulty.

Original 1964 45 rpm single
On June 27, 1964 their version of
"A World Without Love" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart.

It was the duo's first single, and their only U.S. release to hit No. 1. They did have eight other Top 25 hits, including two that cracked the Top 10.

Their clean-cut image and breezy pop style had fallen out of favor by the late '60s as harder-edged rock music started dominating radio airplay, but their biggest hit still holds up well.

Today's send-off is the duo lip-syncing their hit for a TV broadcast. Enjoy...

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday Potpourri No. 32

Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast Update

"I don't know what 'ubiquitous' means."

Now that the warm weather is here to stay, it is also flying insect season, but I am quite fortunate that my patio is kept relatively free of those pests by a variety of bird species, including the ubiquitous barn swallow...

"You're welcome!"

...and the acrobatic purple martin, whose flying abilities are truly jaw-dropping.

There are probably some other flycatchers and swallows that I haven't identified yet (aerial feeders that don't perch are tough), but in any event I am grateful for their efforts.

Cruise Update

Today my best friend Skip and his wife Elaine spent the day in historic Dublin, Ireland...

I'd give anything to be able to stroll the city's streets with them and do some shopping...

"It looks positively charming!"

Doesn't it, though?

Teenage Catch-22

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


Just one of my periodic reminders to click on at least some of the embedded links in these posts (like this one, for instance). They're designed to enhance the post's content in a variety of ways, so you're missing out on some cool stuff if you don't click at least once in awhile.

I also wanted to mention that comments are always welcome. Agree, disagree, or just to share something, I'd love to hear from you!

"Me too!"

Until Next Time...

On June 26, 1934 Robert David Grusin was born in Littleton, Colorado. The child of parents who were themselves professional musicians, Dave Grusin earned a degree in music at the University of Colorado and went on to an award-winning career as a pianist, composer, arranger, and producer.

I first encountered Grusin's music through his theme for the TV series St. Elsewhere in the early '80s.
I really enjoyed the show, and in 1984 I purchased Grusin's album Night-Lines because that song was included (it wasn't available anywhere else). I found the rest of the music just as captivating at the TV show theme, and over the years I have acquired several other Grusin albums. I have never been the least bit disappointed in any of those recordings.

In his career Grusin received an Academy Award for Best Score (in 1988, for  
The Milagro Beanfield War) and seven additional Oscar nominations. He has received 10 Grammy Awards for his music.

Today's send-off is the album version of the St. Elsewhere theme, still as captivating as it was when I first heard it more than 30 years ago. Enjoy...