Friday, July 1, 2016

Sailing Along

Thank Zephyrus It's Friday!

"A cool breeze on a warm summer day? No problem..."

Small Victories

There hasn't been a lot of good news from our colleges campuses of late, particularly with regard to free speech issues.

That's why we must celebrate what small victories we can find. The latest such victory took place at Northwestern University, whose administration reversed an earlier decision and granted official recognition to a Turning Point USA chapter on campus.

"Why on Earth would something like that even be controversial?"

Colleges are mostly run by progressives, and progressives aren't big fans of free speech, especially when it comes to conservative voices...

Cruise Update

My best friend Skip and his wife Elaine spent the day at sea, heading west on the final leg of their cruise...

Seven Seas Voyager in the North Atlantic

"How much longer on the trip?"

A few more days...they go to Iceland, then Greenland, then back to Iceland before flying home on July 11...

Feast Day

Statue at Mission San Buenaventura
Today is the feast day of St. Junipero Serra, a friar of the Franciscan Order who was one of the first missionaries to the New World in the second half of the 18th century.

After spending many years years as a theologian and philosophy teacher at the University of Padua, Brother Serra traveled to  Mexico in 1750 and spent the rest of his life doing missionary work in what is now California.

He was beatified by Pope John Paul II on September 25, 1988. During Pope Francis's visit to the United States last year, he canonized Brother Serra on September 23 at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
in Washington, D.C.

He is considered the patron saint of California.

Sweet Sweep!

Last night my beloved Kansas City Royals completed a satisfying two-game sweep of the in-state rival St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium, winning 4-2 on a night when both teams' offenses struggled.

"Back to normal!"

Royals starter Chris Young only gave up a single hit in his four innings, but it was a solo home run that tied the game. Chris struggled with his control, walking six batters.

RHP Dillon Gee pitched two solid innings to get credit for the win.

Relievers Luke Hochevar and All-Star Kelvin Herrera handed a two-run lead to All-Star closer Wade Davis, and Wade made up for blowing Wednesday night's save opportunity with an 11-pitch bottom of the 9th, securing his 19th save.


On offense the Royals only managed seven hits, but Kendrys Morales (playing RF again) stayed red hot, going 3-for-4 with an RBI double and a solo home run that provided the winning runs.

Kendrys hit .386/.440/.590 in June, adding 69 points to his batting average and providing a much-needed spark.

Looking More Presidential By the Day

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

Until Next Time...

Back in the days before the internet and hundreds of TV channels available 24/7, information about new bands was tough to come by. There were some magazines devoted to rock and pop music, but they weren't always easy to find living in flyover country as I did. And what few TV shows there were which featured that music only rarely gave any exposure to unknowns.

In the summer of 1968 I was dimly aware of the existence of a group that had spent some time as Bob Dylan's touring band after he had made the controversial decision to go electric. Rumor had it that they were releasing an album of mostly their own music. They had released a single back in January, "The Weight," but it never reached the
Top 40, peaking at only No. 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart. In those days,
if you didn't make the Top 40 it was almost impossible to get your music heard on the radio.

Nonetheless, I liked the song (which didn't sound like anything else at the time), and was looking forward to hearing more of the group, now calling itself simply The Band.

On July 1, 1968 the group released its debut album, Music From Big Pink.
I bought it in part because I wanted to hear more of the group's music, and in part because I really liked the artwork on the album cover, which was (like the group's music) unlike anything else around at the time.

Thanks to their evocative songwriting and peerless musicianship, The Band quickly because one of my favorites, and I still listen to their music with great pleasure to this day. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall 
of Fame in 1994.

As for "The Weight," it quickly became a signature song for the group, and has been covered by dozens of other artists, perhaps most notably by Aretha Franklin, who had
a Top 20 hit with the song in 1969. It is listed as No. 41 on Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time list, and is also included on the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's prestigious Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll list.

Music From Big Pink peaked at No. 30 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, and was eventually selected for inclusion on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list. It has been cited as a key musical influence by artists such as Eric Clapton, George Harrison, and Pink Floyd's Roger Waters.

Today's send-off is the 2000 remastered version of "The Weight." Listening to it takes me back to that hot summer day in 1968 when I first fell in love with the group's music. Enjoy...

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