Thursday, July 21, 2016

Welcome to the Jungle


The 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland is failing to achieve its purpose, but at least no one can call Day Three of the proceedings boring.

On Wednesday night, in prime time, Texas Senator Ted Cruz gave a stirring speech, declined to endorse Donald Trump (no one really expected him to do so, and he had informed the Trump campaign that he would not), and encouraged Republicans attending the convention and watching at home to "Stand, and speak, and vote your conscience, vote for candidates up and down the ticket who you trust to defend our freedom and to be faithful to the Constitution."

Of course, Trump's insufferable narcissism wouldn't permit him to simply let Cruz speak. At Trump's direction, his goons organized a concerted attempt to boo Cruz from the stage and humiliate him. That's going to backfire, as so many of Trump's "brilliant" strategies do. Hard to sell the "party unity" message when you have your own staff try to publicly humiliate one of the few people who won't bend the knee.

At a breakfast meeting this morning with the Texas delegation, Cruz defended his decision, and I fully support him in that choice. And as columnist Jonah Goldberg explains, that's what any reasonably principled conservative ought to do. That so many Republicans will not do so confirms that conservatives are no longer welcome in the party. I refuse to be a part of a mindless mob led by a con man.

"They booed him for suggesting they vote their consciences and support the Constitution?" decision to leave the party looks better every day...

Maybe Next Year

"Well, what're ya gonna do, y'know?"
My beloved Kansas City Royals lost to the division-leading Cleveland Indians at Kauffman Stadium yesterday afternoon, losing the series two games to one, the team's second straight losing series since play resumed after the All-Star break.

The team is now back to just .500 at 47-47, and must go 43-25 in their last 68 games just to reach 90 wins. They trail the Indians by 9 games in the Central Division standings, and they're also 6 games out of the final Wild Card playoff spot, and trail five other teams for that position.

They are currently tied for last place in the American League in offense, and the pitching staff has slipped to slightly below-average relative to the league. They have tried eight different starting pitchers this season, and have suffered a rash of injuries to key players. It has just been too much to overcome, and now I'm trying to come to grips with the reality that there will be no playoffs for my team this season. That sucks, but back-to-back American League championships and last year's World Series win are nothing to sneeze at.

The team used its off day today to visit the White House and be honored for that World Series win.

"Cheer up! It'll be Chiefs season again before you know it!"

There is that, yes, but you'll forgive me if I engage in a respectful mourning period for the 2016 Royals...

Enjoy the Ride, Suckers!

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

Until Next Time...

As I've mentioned a few times before in this space, the 1980s were not my favorite musical era. Although there were band and artists whose music I enjoyed then and continue to enjoy today, they were few and far between. This was especially true for straightforward, guitar-based rock music. The vast majority of what was being produced at that time was dance music or what was called glam metal.

The arrival on the scene of Guns N' Roses in 1985 didn't seem like a particularly big deal. From what little coverage they received in the rock music press, they looked for all the world like just another big-hair-and-spandex act from Los Angeles. That perception changed dramatically in 1987.

On July 21, 1987 the band released  Appetite for Destruction, their debut album. Fueled by their popular music videos on MTV and the hit singles "Welcome to the Jungle,"
"Sweet Child 'o Mine" (the band's only Billboard No. 1 hit), and "Paradise City," the album sold phenomenally well, becoming the best-selling debut album in U.S. history, and one of the top sellers of all time, period.

The album is included on almost every list of best rock records ever, including Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Albums of All Time list.

As someone who enjoys heavier, guitar-based music, the album was a favorite of mine as well. The band was doomed because of personality clashes, but the music they produced before breaking up is some of my favorite stuff from the late '80s. The band's original lineup was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2012.

"Welcome to the Jungle" was used quite effectively during the opening credits of the 1989 film Lean On Me, and I borrowed the idea for the very first play I ever directed,
a production of Cynthia Mercati's Winners! in the fall of 1995. I combined the
Guns N' Roses song with The Beach Boys hit "Be True to Your School." That opening remains one of my favorite directorial moments ever.

Today's send-off is the official music video for "Welcome to the Jungle" from the band's VEVO channel. Enjoy...

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