Thursday, January 12, 2017

Voices Large and Small

Mother Faux Courage

This past Sunday they held the annual Golden Globe Awards show, a relatively minor warm-up to the much more prestigious Emmy and Academy Award presentations a few weeks from now.

On the occasion of being given
a Lifetime Achievement Award, actress Meryl Streep used the moment to deliver an awkward and tendentious speech at the expense
of president-elect Donald Trump.

That's not a huge surprise, of course, and it wasn't the only political speechifying during the ceremony, but what galls me is the reaction to Streep's hypocritical scolding.

In some quarters people are actually praising her publicly for her courage, as if standing up in front of a bunch of people who think the same way she does and bashing someone who was not present is just the bravest thing ever. Please.

What it was was crap. And I say that as an ardent and vocal opponent of asshat Donald Trump, who did not receive my vote on November 8.

"This is going to be one of those topics I'll want to avoid mentioning, isn't it?"

Unless you enjoy seeing me give a curse-filled rant, that would be my suggestion, yes...

Charge Off

Qualcomm Stadium. What a miserable hellhole!
Word comes this morning that the NFL's San Diego Chargers are moving to Los Angeles after all. They're doing so because voters in San Diego wisely declined to pay for the bulk of the costs for the snazzy new stadium the team's owner was demanding.

Although everyone involved is spinning this development as a positive for NFL football,
it is anything but. The team couldn't even avoid generating a firestorm of public mockery of their new logo. And because the new LA stadium where they will be playing as co-tenants won't be ready for awhile, the Chargers will play the next two seasons in
a venue smaller than most Division I college stadiums.

"Why do you care? Aren't the Chargers big rivals of the Chiefs?"

Oh, so long as the Chiefs keep beating them like a drum I don't care where they play...I'm just not a fan of greedy owners and franchise any sport...

Happy Birthday!

Today is the birthday of a couple of writers whom I admire a great deal...

On January 12, 1729 Edmund Burke was born in Dublin, Ireland. He went on to have an impressive career both
in practical politics as a member of Parliament and in political philosophy through his writings.

In addition to fighting for Catholic emancipation and publicly (and vigorously) opposing the French Revolution, Burke was a strong early voice in Parliament advocating for the interests of the American colonists.

In particular, his pamphlet Reflections on the Revolution in France would become one of the central documents inspiring the conservative movement in American politics.

On January 12, 1876 John Griffith London was born in San Francisco.

Writing as Jack London, he would become
a significant figure in American fiction, one of just a handful of authors who was able to support himself solely by his writings.

My favorites of his are the adventure novels The Call of the Wild and White Fang, which thrilled me as a young boy just discovering the world of literature. For many years in my American Literature classes I also taught his best-known short story, the 1908 version of "To Build a Fire."

Smart Choice

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

Until Next Time...

During my years teaching high school I made a point of staying at least passingly familiar with the music my students enjoyed, even if the bulk of it was not to my own tastes. It was always my experience that this knowledge gave me a bit of credibility in their eyes that came in handy in myriad ways.

Although I always struggled with the genre known as teen pop, every once in awhile
I'd hear a song that would become one of my "guilty pleasures," and earn a spot in my iTunes playlist with that designation. The artists who produced these songs were often one-hit wonders, but every so often they were much, much more than that.

I was teaching at Bishop LeBlond High School in St. Joseph when 16-year-old singer Britney Spears exploded on the pop music scene in November 1998 (she would turn 17 on December 2 of that year). Unless you spent your days neck-deep in teenagers, as I did at the time, you can't really understand what a cultural tsunami she became overnight.

On January 12, 1999 Spears would release her breezy debut album ...Baby One More Time, and it hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart less than three weeks later.
It also hit No. 1 in February and again in April, for a total of six non-consecutive weeks at the top
of the charts. It was the first of her six No. 1 albums

The record eventually became the best-selling album ever by a teenage solo artist, and one of the best- selling albums of all time, period.
It has received fourteen platinum certifications from RIAA.

Four of the five singles from the album charted on the Billboard Hot 100, including
the Grammy-nominated title track, released back in November, which became the first of her four No. 1 hit singles and one of the most popular and influential videos in the history of MTV.

Today's send-off is that official music video for Britney's biggest hit single (and guilty pleasure of mine) from her VEVO channel. Enjoy...

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