Monday, December 26, 2016

History Lessons

25 Years Gone


On December 26, 1991 the cause
of human freedom got a belated Christmas gift when the Orwellian Union of Soviet Socialist Republics was officially dissolved.

It was a particularly satisfying development for conservatives like me who had long resisted the idea that the Soviet Union was simply
a historical inevitability.

"So, did you you dance an Irish jig that day?"

I absolutely did, yes...

Feast Day


Statue of St. Stephen at Saint-√Čtienne-du-Mont, Paris

Today we celebrate the feast day
of St. Stephen, revered by Christians around the world as
the First Martyr.

Stephen was one of the original seven deacons of the Church chosen by the Twelve Apostles.
His death by stoning is recounted
in Acts of the Apostles 7:54-59,
and was witnessed by a young man named Saul who would later become St. Paul.

Among his many patronages Stephen is the patron of masons and bricklayers.





Merry Chiefsmas

Last night at Arrowhead Stadium my beloved Kansas City Chiefs gave their rain-soaked fans a Christmas gift with a convincing 33-10 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Denver Broncos. The victory kept the Chiefs' hopes for an AFC West Division title alive, and completed a season sweep of the Broncos, something the Chiefs last accomplished 16 years ago. It also put an end to Denver's annoying five-game winning streak at Arrowhead.


Neither the steady rain nor memories of last week's gut-wrenching, last-second defeat could dampen the enthusiasm of Chiefs Nation.

As usual, the noise generated by
the crowd induced some false start penalties on the Broncos...


"Now THAT'S what I'm talkin' about!"

On offense, Pro Bowl TE Travis Kelce, who expressed displeasure about not being targeted much in last week's discouraging home loss to the Titans, had the best game of his career. Kelce caught 11 passes for 160 yards, both Chiefs records for a TE in a single game. One of
his catches was an electrifying 80-yard TD reception.



The Chiefs also rushed for 238 yards and two TDs against the vaunted Broncos defense. The 12 points they scored last night were their first 2nd half points in their last three home games.

Chiefs NT Dontari Poe even got into the act on offense, throwing a TD pass on a wild gimmick play in the 4th quarter.

"Merry Christmas, schnook!"

The Chiefs defense, even without Pro Bowl LBs Justin Houston and Derrick Johnson, completely dominated the Broncos and their second-year QB Trevor Siemian, who gained only 246 yards and turned the ball over 3 times. Denver had just 21:59 in time-of-possession and was forced to punt 7 times.





"That was a nice 'stocking stuffer' Skip's team gave your team, eh?"

Yes, it was...by beating the Ravens earlier in the day Skip's beloved Steelers not only clinched the AFC North championship, they clinched a playoff spot for the Chiefs as well, which took a lot of the pressure off of them against the Broncos...frankly it was the least the Steelers could do after clobbering the Chiefs back in October...



Horror Landmark


Original 1973 "one sheet" poster
On December 26, 1973 the much- anticipated William Friedkin film  
The Exorcist debuted, and promptly
became a box office sensation.

I tell people all the time that you've never really seen this movie unless you've seen it in a proper movie theater. And even then,
it is now impossible to recreate the effect
it had on audiences back then because
so many of the film's groundbreaking storytelling techniques have become commonplace.

Is The Exorcist the scariest movie ever made? I suppose there can't be a definitive answer to that question, since we lack objective criteria with which to find one.
I do know that there are two kinds of people in the world: People who think The Exorcist belongs in that conversation, and people who are wrong.


The World We Live In



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


Until Next Time...

December 26 is the second day of Christmastide, and is closely associated with the popular carol "Good King Wenceslas" because the story told in that song takes place
on December 26, the feast of St. Stephen.

As is often the case with popular Christmas carols, "Good King Wenceslas" is the product of lyrics combined with a popular traditional melody written long before. In this case, the 1853 lyrics by Anglican priest John Mason Neale were combined with a 13th century carol first published in Piae Cantiones nearly 300 years earlier.

Nowadays it is far more common to hear instrumental versions of the carol from popular groups like Canadian Brass and Mannheim Steamroller, but from time to time
I also come across a really good choral version.

In November 2015 the Danish National Vocal Ensemble released Let the Angels Sing, a collection
of traditional European Christmas songs. Renowned recorder artist Michala Petri joined the group for the project and subsequent tour.

Although the album includes familiar Christmas fare like
"God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen" and "Coventry Carol," it is mostly a collection of delightful songs largely unfamiliar to American audiences.

Today's send-off is the ensemble's live performance of "Good King Wenceslas," filmed at their Christmas concert on December 11, 2015. Enjoy...


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