Thursday, September 22, 2016

Farewell, Summer

Autumnal Equinox

This year the Autumnal Equinox
fell on September 22, marking the official end of summer and the beginning of fall.

For whatever reason, autumn has always been my favorite season.
I'm pretty sure its not because of
the Pumpkin Spice Everything phenomenon, though.

"A bit of pumpkin spice down the hole is a nice seasonal touch."
Not you, too...

Feast Day

Santo Tomas de Villanueva, by Francisco Camilo

Today is the feast day of St. Thomas of Villanova, an Augustinian friar in 16th century Spain.

Thomas was a gifted speaker whose sermons so impressed Holy Roman Emperor Charles V he remarked "This monsignor can move even the stones!" He was also reputedly absent-minded and had a poor memory, two qualities which endear him to me particularly, as I share those attributes.

Thomas lived an ascetic life, giving alms to the indigent in his community so often that he is called "the father of the poor."

He also resisted efforts to elevate him within the church hierarchy, although he eventually accepted such promotions when ordered to do so by the superior of his order. At the time of his death in 1555 he was Archbishop of Valencia.

Thomas was canonized by Pope Alexander VII in 1658, and is the patron of Villanova University near Philadelphia.

Going Solo

On September 22, 1964 the espionage TV series The Man from U.N.C.L.E. premiered on NBC.

My parents were big fans of Ian Fleming's James Bond novels
(and I had read Doctor No in Classics Illustrated comic book form), so of course the new show was regular viewing at my house.

Like most red-blooded American boys I wanted to be a cool secret agent like the show's Napoleon Solo, a character created by Fleming himself.

One of the best birthday presents I ever got was a cap pistol modeled after the weapon Solo used on the show.

"Tell me you didn't go full dork and wear that yellow badge while you were skulking around."

Of course not...the ID badges were only to be worn around U.N.C.L.E. headquarters...

Say Hey, Willie!

In September of 1969 the major league baseball season was winding down just as my junior year of high school was getting settled in. My beloved Kansas City Royals, in their first year as an expansion team, would finish 69-93.

There wasn't a lot to cheer about for that team, but on September 22, 1969 future Hall of Famer Willie Mays provided one of the season's highlights, becoming only the second man in major league history to hit 600 home runs. I am still grateful that I got to watch him play, even if only on television.

Trust the Professionals

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

Until Next Time...

My guitar hero Joe Bonamassa has pursued an unusual career path. He has never signed with a major record label, and has never released a single. Nevertheless, thanks to his talent and work ethic he has become a chart-topping blues-rock powerhouse, selling out shows all over the world and performing in some of the most hallowed musical venues extant. He now runs his own record company, books his own tours, controls his own merchandising, etc. Joe is the quintessential capitalist!

Joe began releasing studio albums in 2000, when he was just 23 years old. There has been a new studio album almost every year since then, plus a veritable cornucopia of live recordings and concert DVDs (his latest such effort, Live At the Greek Theatre, will be released tomorrow). As a fan I am glad for all of this musical output, even if I worry
a bit about the physical toll of the constant touring and recording.

To some extent, Joe's fondness for including covers of blues classics on his albums has mitigated the workload, but after the successful release of the Driving Towards the Daylight in 2012 (the album debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart and at No. 23 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart) Joe decided to challenge himself even more with his next studio project.

On September 22, 2014 Joe released Different Shades of Blue, his 11th studio album but his first in more than two years. It also debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Blues Albums chart and at No.8 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, his best Billboard performance ever up to that point.

The biggest reason this album took longer than usual to complete was Joe's decision to record all original material. He spent extra time in Nashville working with some of most talented writers there, and
it was definitely time well spent.

Except for a short instrumental cover of Jimi Hendrix's "Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)," Joe wrote or co-wrote every track on the record for the first time in his career. The songs showed a confidence and a maturity in both his writing and his singing that was enthusiastically received.

Today's send-off is the official music video of the title track, filmed during the recording sessions at Studio at the Palms in Las Vegas, from Joe's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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