Wednesday, December 7, 2016

75 Years On


USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor

Today is a day for solemn reflection on
a very dark date in our nation's history. It is the 75th anniversary of that event, which of course means some expanded commemorations were scheduled, and have been ongoing for the last few days leading up to today's observances.

My dad got to visit his older brother, a retired naval officer, in Hawaii while I was still in college. It was one of the peak experiences of his life, and in particular he enjoyed telling the story about his visit to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

"Wow! I'll bet that's quite a sight to see in person!"

I'm sure it is, yes...I still have some hope of visiting myself someday...

Cold Snap

"Holy shit, folks, we're gonna freeze our asses off!"

We're now experiencing our first really cold days of the fall season, with nightly temperatures
in the teens, and daily highs in the low 20s.

It is supposed to continue in this vein for the next several days, but at least there is no snow in the forecast (one of the upsides of temperatures this low in the midwest).

"Good! I absolutely HATE when it snows!"

I know you do, old friend, but it's a fact of life here in the midwest this time of year...

Hot Stove League

2014-2016: 1.18 ERA, 51 Holds, 47 Saves
The weather may be cold, but baseball trade activity is certainly heating up. As I write this morning there are reports that my beloved Kansas City Royals have reached an agreement with their successors as World Series champions,
the Chicago Cubs.

The deal sends All-Star closer Wade Davis to the Windy City in exchange for 24-year-old outfield prospect Jorge Soler.

I've never gotten entirely comfortable with the revolving door of players that was ushered in by free agency, but Wade's departure will be particularly rough. He was
a key figure in the team's back-to-back American League pennants, and of course their 2015 World Series triumph.

"Only 24, has 27 home runs in just 211 games..."

I know, I know...I'll be rooting for the kid, of course...but Wade was just...reassuring, you know?

Cultural Lacuna

From the delightfully off-kilter webcomic xkcd, by Randall Munroe, which you should read every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Until Next Time...

Some Christmas songs are the work of brilliant individual songwriters, like James Pierpont's "Jingle Bells" or Irving Berlin's "White Christmas." Others are the product
of songwriting teams, like Jay Livingston and Ray Evan's "Silver Bells," or Bob Wells
and Mel Tormé's "The Christmas Song."

With more overtly religious hymns and carols authorship is usually more complicated. Many of the most beloved such songs are "traditional," meaning no one really knows who composed them. Others are the product of collaborations spanning decades, or even centuries.

"Angels We Have Heard On High," for instance, is based on lyrics to a traditional French Christmas carol, translated into English by several writers, most famously in 1862 by the Catholic bishop James Chadwick. The musical setting is also French, the hymn tune "Gloria," and the most commonly-heard version is the 20th century arrangement by American organist Edward Shippen Barnes.

In the fall of 2006 I was searching online for some new instrumental Christmas music to add to the playlist I used on the last day of school before Christmas vacation
(I typically had such music playing softly in the background throughout that day in my classroom).

One of my pleasant discoveries
was Christmas Piano, an album
by Canadian pianist and composer Chemayne Micallef. Every track
on her album wound up in my classroom Christmas playlist, and
I still use the latest version of that playlist every Christmas Day.

Today's send-off is Chemayne's lovely rendition of "Angels We Have Heard On High," from her YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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