Saturday, December 10, 2016


Center Stage

Army uniform by Nike, Navy uniform by Under Armour
By tradition, today
there is one and only one college football game being played: America's Game.

It is the 117th edition
of the annual rivalry game, and this year both teams enter the contest with winning records and bowl trips assured regardless of the outcome of this clash.

No. 25 Navy (9-3) is favored, but Army (6-5) has already beaten No. 24 and bowl-bound Temple (10-3) earlier this season.

Part of the fun of this game is seeing what the teams do with uniforms, which are always designed specially for this game. You can read a detailed analysis of this season's snazzy outfits here.

As always when two of my rooting interests collide, I simply root for both teams to play well and for the game to be hard-fought and exciting...

The bowl game season officially starts next Saturday, and some of my rooting interests will be involved...
Iowa State and Notre Dame will not be playing bowl games following their disappointing seasons, of course. My best friend Skip's No. 5 Penn State Nittany Lions (11-2) will play No. 9 USC (9-3) in the Rose Bowl on January 2.

"It it just me, or did the service academy teams get dissed with these bowl assignments?"

It isn't just you...I was disappointed too...

Feast Day

Icon from inside Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls

Today we celebrate the feast day
of Pope St. Gregory III, who served in the mid-8th century and was the last non-European pontiff prior to the 2013 election of Pope Francis.

Gregory is best remembered for his resistance to the iconoclasm of Byzantine Emperor Leo III.

Ding Ding Ding!

We have a winner!

When I was grocery shopping at my local Hy-Vee the other day, the did one of their period promotions where purchases at the in-store Starbucks there earned cents off on your Fuel Saver card, so I decided to treat myself.

I tried one of their current holiday offerings, a Chestnut Praline Latte, and enjoyed it so much I promptly went home and ordered a bottle of the syrup from their website.

Really, really good stuff!

"Just what you need, another excuse to play with your coffee toy."

My Mr. Coffee Café Barista is not a "toy," sir...

Happy Birthday!

The Belle of Amherst
On December 10, 1830 Emily Elizabeth Dickinson was born into a middle-class family in Amherst, Massachusetts.

An intensely private woman who suffered from frequent bouts of melancholy, she took to writing poetry as an outlet. Only a handful of these poems were published in her lifetime, and it wasn't until 1955 that her complete works, as she had originally written them, became available to the public.

Emily's style was decidedly unconventional, and along with her contemporary Walt Whitman she re-wrote the rule book for American poets. Her influence remains strong to this day.

Her life was the subject of the marvelous one-woman play The Belle of Amherst,
by William Luce, from which many of my students over the years performed excerpts for speech competitions.


From the wry comic strip Zits, by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, which you should read every day, as I do.

Until Next Time...

Beginning with the release of Fresh Aire in 1975, the new-age instrumental group Mannheim Steamroller has been plying a unique blend of classical, rock, and electronic music elements for more than four decades. They didn't crack the Billboard 200 Albums chart until 1984, when they released their first album devoted to Christmas music.

Christmas was the group's first serious success, reaching No. 50 on the Billboard 200 in 1984 and earning six platinum certifications from RIAA.

The group's founder Chip Davis hoped to bring attention to the Fresh Aire recordings with the group's second Christmas album
in 1988. A Fresh Aire Christmas was also a best-seller, reaching
No. 1 on the Holiday Albums chart and No. 36 on the Billboard 200.
It also received six platinum certifications from RIAA.

As of today, the Steamroller has three of the all-time Top 10 best-selling holiday albums in America, and their sound is an iconic part of the Christmas season.

Although the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums (including compilations and special editions they have released 27 of them) consist largely of traditional favorites done in the group's signature style, they occasionally include original compositions
as well. A Fresh Aire Christmas included one such, "Traditions of Christmas."

Today's send-off is the official music video of the song, from the group's YouTube channel. If you're like me, it will remind you of how Christmas season made you feel when you were a young child. Enjoy...

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