Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Walk Unafraid

The Fall Classic Begins

I'm really counting on the World Series to keep my mind off of all the political crapola and assorted other nonsense I might ordinarily feel compelled to write about here.

The much-anticipated series got under way last night at Progressive Field in Cleveland, with the Indians beating the Cubs 6-0 in a relatively tension-free Game One. That put
a big smile on this lifelong American League partisan's face.

"Hey, batter batter batter!"

Indians starter Corey Kluber was utterly dominant, setting a new major league postseason record by striking out eight of the first nine batters he faced and allowing only four hits in his six-plus innings. He did not walk a batter.

Relievers Andrew Miller and Cody Allen allowed some baserunners over the final three innings, but managed to preserve the shutout.

"Boom! BOOM!"

Last year's World Series MVP was Royals All-Star C Salvador Perez. The leading candidate this year after Game One is Indians C Roberto Perez, who hit two home runs last night and had four RBIs. Not bad for a guy who hit only .183 with 3 homers in 153 at-bats during the 2016 regular season.

SS Francisco Lindor and 3B Jose Ramirez each went 3-for-4, with Lindor scoring a run and Ramirez chipping in with an RBI.

"If your team won comfortably, what was with all the cursing?"

I didn't curse that much, but let's just say the home plate umpire had a spotty evening...

Pumpkin Pride Nationwide

So it's National Pumpkin Day, which means I need to finally get over to Hobby Lobby and get a couple of seasonal decorations for the apartment. That sort of thing was always a big deal to my mom, who would change the decorations in our whole house
on a pretty predictable schedule.

I'm hopeful of finding something seasonally appropriate for my dining room table,
and possibly something to hang on my apartment's door until it is time for the Christmas wreath to go up (usually Advent for me). I may or may not put something on the door for Halloween as well. Mom would, but there aren't many kids living in this complex, and last year's bowl of Halloween candy was entirely consumed by me.

My kind of "pumpkin patch"
I should mention that railfans often refer to the distinctive green- and-orange locomotives of BNSF Railway as "pumpkins."

We see a lot of them in this area, especially if you drive by one of the rail yards in the vicinity.

While I'm out and about, I might also swing by Village Inn and pick up a piece of their quite marvelous Pumpkin Supreme pie.

I really shouldn't be eating a dessert, but I'm willing to make the sacrifice in order to honor the noble (and delicious) pumpkin on its annual day of celebration.

"That's very selfless of you."

Sometimes you just need to take one for the team, you know?

How the Mighty Have Fallen

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

Until Next Time...

I became a big fan of alternative rock band R.E.M. in the fall of 1983 when I discovered their debut album Murmur in a local record store in Casper, Wyoming and remain one today even though the band broke up for good in 2011. One of the things I always appreciated was the stability of the group's membership: lead singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist/keyboardist Mike Mills, and drummer Bill Berry. Although their records and tours often featured auxiliary musicians, those four guys wrote almost all of the songs and played almost all of the instruments on their records for more than 15 years. It took a serious medical issue to change that.

Berry had suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm during a show on the band's 1995 European tour. Although he made a recovery he left the band voluntarily in 1997,
and the remaining members decided not to replace him in the group, relying instead on session musicians and drum machines for their subsequent recordings. At the time of Berry's retirement, the band had had six consecutive RIAA platinum albums, four of them receiving multiple platinum certifications. The run had also included two Billboard 200 No. 1 albums, 1991's Out of Time and 1994's Monster.

To say that fans of the group were anxious about its musical future after Berry departed would be a huge understatement. No one really knew quite what to expect, and the band's remaining members were cryptic about the topic as well.

On October 26, 1998 the band released Up, it's first album since Berry's retirement. It was a very challenging album for fans, as the band had moved away from its alternative rock sound and toward electronic music. It took me awhile to fully appreciate what the group was trying to accomplish.

The album peaked at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart, but overall sales fell well short of the band's previous efforts. RIAA certified the album gold, but given their string of platinum releases this was widely viewed as a stumble.

None of the single releases made much of a splash, either, although "At My Most Beautiful" and "Daysleeper" became regular parts of the band's live repertoire.

The song I liked the best, "Walk Unafraid," wasn't even released as a single, but for me
it was the closest to the classic R.E.M. style musically, and it also became a concert staple. At the time the album was released I was struggling with a difficult theatrical production at Bishop LeBlond, my first time directing Flowers For Algernon. Given the pressure I was feeling, the song's lyrics resonated with me more than they might have otherwise. Seeing the band perform the song at Starlight Theatre in Kansas City on their 2003 tour was a peak life experience for me, in no small part because the star of that Algernon production had bought my ticket to the concert.

Today's send-off is the remastered version of "Walk Unafraid" from the 2005 Special Edition reissue of the album, from the band's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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