Saturday, September 24, 2016



Mother Nature, in her infinite wisdom, decided that we needed some more wet weather here in southwest Iowa,
so today we got still another heavy, noisy thunderstorm that rolled through the area.

At least she held off long enough for Friday night's high school football games to be played (TJ won big, but Atlantic got pounded). It's the last week of September, so it seems weird to have both hot weather (it is 80 degrees right now) and rain at the same time. It's like a July flashback...

"Is it time to start building an ark yet?"

Not yet, but I'm going to start checking out lumber prices...

When Pigs(kins) Fly

The first Saturday of fall
(the autumnal equinox was on Thursday) will be a full schedule of college football for me, as almost all of the teams for which I root will be in action (only 3-0 Navy has the weekend off).

Even as I type this, the Iowa State Cyclones are playing at Jack Trice Stadium in Ames against San Jose State. ISU needs to get off the schneid today with their first win
of the season.

In the mid-afternoon games, Notre Dame plays host to Duke, while my best friend Skip's beloved Penn State visits Michigan.

Right around dinnertime undefeated Army takes on Buffalo on the road, and the late game on my schedule is undefeated Air Force hitting the road to play Utah State.

"You're not going to budge out of your recliner all day, are you?"

Don't be won't just materialize on my TV tray, and I'll need to make
a few trips to the bathroom as the day wears on...

Happy Birthday!

Fitzgerald in 1921

On September 24, 1896 Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota.

F. Scott Fitzgerald's interest in writing began early in his Catholic school years, first in Buffalo, New York and later back in St. Paul. By the time he matriculated at Princeton in 1913 he was committed to pursuing a career
as a writer, so much so that he dropped out before obtaining his degree.

He certainly succeeded in his ambition, becoming one of the most-celebrated American writers of the 20th century.

I first encountered his writings in high school, and for a couple of years Fitzgerald's work was a serious obsession for me. I read everything of his I could lay my hands on, and in particular spent a lot of time trying ardently to convince friends in my circle that  
Tender Is the Night was a better novel than The Great Gatsby (an opinion Fitzgerald himself held).

During my years teaching American literature I enjoyed sharing my fondness for Fitzgerald with my students, and I often used passages from his work as illustrative examples when I taught creative writing.

My literary tastes changed somewhat as I entered college, and I found new writers to admire, but there is no denying Fitzgerald's gifts as a prose stylist.

Life Cycle

From the indispensable comic strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, which you should read every day, as I do (even though Wiley is a squishy liberal).

Until Next Time...

One of the pleasures of doing the blog is the Weekly Recommendations, in which I share my latest discoveries in books, movies and TV shows, and music in much the same way that I used to share such enthusiasms with students in my classroom. Unlike my classroom, though, I don't generally take time here to tell the stories behind those recommendations.

Today is an exception, as the story behind this week's Music Recommendation appeals
to my sentimental nature so much that I can't resist sharing.

St. Kilda is a small gaggle of islands in Scotland's Outer Hebrides. The last human inhabitants were evacuated in 1930, but thanks to a remarkable chain of events a bit
of the island's culture has been preserved.

When he was a young boy living on the Isle of Bute, Trevor Morrison was taught some of the traditional folk songs of St. Kilda by his piano teacher, who had lived there before the 1930 evacuation. In 2006, Morrison was in hospice care at the Silverlea Care Home in Edinburgh when one of the employees there heard him playing those songs of his boyhood and offered to record them.

Trevor died in 2012, but the lovely recordings he made found their way to Decca Records, where it was decided to use them as the basis for a preservation effort.

The Lost Songs of St. Kilda consists of both Morrision's original solo piano recordings and brand new arrangements of those traditional songs by the fine Scottish Festival Orchestra under the direction of
Sir James MacMillan.

Fortunately for us music lovers,
it turns out the songs of St. Kilda weren't "lost" after all.

Today's send-off is a double-header: Two different renditions of "Dùn," the first by Morrison on solo piano, and the second by the full orchestra, featuring an arrangement by Francis MacDonald. Enjoy...

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