Monday, August 29, 2016

Peak Experiences

Natural Disaster

On August 29, 2005
the United States experienced the costliest natural disaster in its history as Hurricane Katrina made landfall along our southern coast in the Gulf of Mexico.

I was beginning my second year teaching in Atlantic, but my first year actually living there (during the 2004-2005 school year I commuted from Council Bluffs).

The devastation and human suffering caused by the storm was obviously a topic of conversation for quite some time afterward. Folks in Atlantic were quite active in relief efforts, including fundraisers organized by students at the high school.

One of the more popular such fundraisers was the sale of carabiners in the shape of houses, with the money going to help find housing for people displaced by the storm.

I bought a red one, which is still on my keyring to this day.

"It wasn't a barrel of fun for the wild kingdom, either."

No, no it was not...

Big Inning

Last night at Fenway Park in Boston my beloved Kansas City Royals enjoyed their biggest offensive outburst in a single inning all season, scoring 8 runs in the 6th inning to cruise to a 10-4 victory over the Red Sox. The win meant the Royals captured the series two games to one, their fourth consecutive series win on the road and their seventh straight series win overall. The team is 19-7 (.731) so far in August.

Now 2-0, 0.68 ERA in 10 appearances
Royals starter Yordano Ventura struggled mightily, and left the game with just one out in the bottom of the 5th inning. Rookie Matt Strahm came one to pitch 2 2/3 scoreless innings, striking out batters and earning his second major league win.

Relievers Peter Moylan and Joakim Soria each pitched a scoreless inning.

The 8-run offensive outburst in the top of the 6th inning erased a 4-2 deficit and basically ended the contest.

The key hit was a bases-loaded triple to center field by rookie 2B Raul Mondesi (the ball would easily have been a home run back in Kauffman Stadium).

All-Star C Salvador Perez, who homered twice in Saturday's loss, went deep again last night, his 20th of the season. DH Kendrys Morales was 3-for-5 with a run scored, and All-Star 1B Eric Hosmer contributed a two-run single.

"A clutch win like that probably has them in the thick of--"


Happy Birthday!

In The Bells of St. Mary's (1945)
On August 29, 1915 Ingrid Bergman was born in Stockholm, Sweden. She lost both of her parents before her 14th birthday, but she overcame her unsettled early life to become one of the most-honored actresses of all time.

Bergman won a Tony Award, four Golden Globe Awards, and two Emmys. Her three Academy Awards are second only to Katherine Hepburn's record four.

The first film I saw her in was The Bells of St. Mary's, the Oscar-nominated sequel to Best Picture winner Going My Way. She received an Academy Award nomination for her role as Sister Mary Benedict. I found her performance endearing, and was a fan ever after.

Friedkin in 2012
On August 29, 1935 William Friedkin was born in Chicago, the son of Ukrainian immigrant parents.

After a nondescript academic career in high school, Friedkin went to work in the mail room at WGN-TV in Chicago, but soon afterward his interest in directing kicked in, and before long he was directing live TV programs and documentaries. His skills as a director led him to move to Hollywood in 1965.

He directed three of my all-time favorite films in succession in the 1970s: Best Picture winner  
The French Connection in 1971 (the first R-rated film to win that honor), Best Picture nominee The Exorcist
in 1973, and the underrated classic thriller Sorcerer in 1977.

Trump's One True Skill

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

Until Next Time...

The protest song has a long history in American popular music. During my adolescence in the late 1960s and early 1970s, the civil rights movement and the Vietnam war were responsible for a substantial number of such songs. They only rarely appealed to me, though, as more often than not they just weren't very good as songs. Every so often
a protest song would become a popular hit, like Barry McGuire's "Eve of Destruction," the first protest song to become a Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit in 1965.

The creative talent in the world of soul and R&B music was not immune to these social currents, of course, and in 1969 the Motown songwriting team of Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong wrote a protest song about Vietnam for the label's popular vocal group
The Temptations. That recording was included on their Psychedelic Shack album, but not released as a single. Executives at the record label decided that "War" was too political for a mainstream act like The Temptations to risk. Instead, the label chose the struggling singer Edwin Starr, who had only had a single Top 10 hit in his career to that point. His recording of the song was much more aggressive and intense, and as it turned out that style suited the public's mood just fine.

Original 1970 45 rpm single
On August 29, 1970 "War" reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart, a position it would hold for three consecutive weeks.
It also became a major cultural phenomenon. No one who grew up in those days doesn't remember the song, or the political climate in which achieved such success.

Starr had a handful of charting singles over the remainder of his recording career, but for better or worse he will always be associated with this one song, and this one moment in history.

Today's send-off is the 1985 remastered version of the song. It was released that year as a single packaged with a remaster of Starr's other Top 10 hit. Enjoy...

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