Saturday, September 3, 2016

Good Stuff

College Football Returns!

Saturdays in the fall are for college football, and the 2016 season really kicks off today, with almost every team in the country in action. Since I can no longer in good conscience support my alma mater, that leaves me rooting for the Iowa State Cyclones (who play at home today against in-state rival Northern Iowa) and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (who open their season tomorrow night on the road at Texas). I generally root for Catholic institutions, of course, and have also more or less "adopted" a couple of other teams as well.

2016 Army Black Knights

Last night at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia one of my adopted teams, the Black Knights of Army, beat Temple 28-13.

As Temple was a bowl team in 2015 and playing at home, while Army was only 2-10 last season, this result is considered a pretty significant upset. Up next for the Black Knights is a home game next Saturday against Rice at Michie Stadium. Oddly, it will be Army's second straight game against a team whose mascot is the Owl.

"So, how do the Cyclones look this year?"

Hard to say...they have a new head coach, which is not usually the key to a winning season for a team that went 3-9 the previous season...

Feast Day

Pope St. Gregory the Great, by Joseph-Marie Vien
Today we celebrate the feast day of Pope Saint Gregory I, also known as Saint Gregory the Great.

A prolific writer, especially when compared to his predecessors as Bishops of Rome, Gregory made a number of noteworthy contributions to the liturgy during what is known as the Pre-Tridentine period.

Gregory was one of the original four Doctors of the Church named by
Pope Boniface VIII in 1298, along with St. Ambrose, St. Augustine, and St. Jerome. Pretty good company.

Gregory is one of my favorites,
as he is a patron saint of teachers
and students as well as musicians
and singers.

World Chess Olympiad

Yesterday the 42nd World Chess Olympiad began at the Crystal Hall in Baku, the capital and largest city
of Azerbaijan.

The United States defeated Andorra 4-0 in Round 1, with Grandmaster (GM) and World No. 6 Hikaru Nakamura leading the way with a win. World No. 7 GM Wesley So, GM Sam Shankland, and GM Ray Robson all won their games as well. As impressive as that sounds, 50 of the Olympiad's 180 teams began with perfect 4-0 results.

The U.S. team was paired with Scotland today, and World No. 3 GM Fabiano Caruana and GM Nakamura both scored quick victories to lead the match 2-0 early on.

With an average Elo rating of 2765, the United States team was ranked No. 2 at the beginning of the tournament, just 3 points behind Russia, and is considered one of the favorites for the gold medal. The U.S. has not won the gold medal since 1976, and that victory was their lone triumph since 1937.

"Are you going to be as pessimistic about this as you are about baseball?"

What is this 'baseball' of which you speak?

If Only It Mattered

From the incisive pen of Michael Ramirez, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Time...

On September 3, 1934 Freddie King was born in Gilmer, Texas. He began learning the guitar at age six, and when his family moved to Chicago when he was 15 he took a job working in a steel mill but also began spending as much time as he could in the Chicago nightclub scene, where he saw electric blues legends like Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, and T-Bone Walker performing.

By the time he was 18 Freddie was getting regular work as a guitarist, performing as a side man with various local groups. When he was 22 he was leading his own band, but struggled to get a recording contract. Finally, in 1959 he signed with Federal Records, but although he recorded some of his best-known songs for the label (including the Billboard hit "Hide Away," which was eventually honored by both the Rock and Roll and Grammy Halls of Fame), he wasn't making a name for himself outside of the relatively small world of blues artists.
Freddie's first album for Shelter Records

I had only barely heard of Freddie when his new label, Shelter Records, released Getting Ready in 1971.
I bought the album not long before the beginning of my freshman year of college, and was completely blown away. The record features some of Freddie's most popular songs, including "Going Down," which my hero Joe Bonamassa covered on his "Three Kings" tribute tour in 2015.

The following year Freddie released Texas Cannonball, and if anything it was an even better recording, including my all-time favorite "Me and My Guitar," to which I have played air guitar countless times.

Freddie died at just age 42 in 1976, without ever having found the widespread fame enjoyed by the many British and American guitarists he influenced so heavily. For several years it was difficult to track down his music, but the CD revolution in the '90s brought him back to the world.

Today's send-off is a 1995 remaster of "Me and My Guitar," done for Capitol Records' two-disc compilation King of the Blues. Enjoy...

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