Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Shrove Tuesday 2017

Fat Is Where It's At!

The day before Ash Wednesday
is known as Shrove Tuesday,
aka Mardi Gras (French for "Fat Tuesday"), aka Pancake Tuesday after the traditional practice
of eating pancakes as a way to remove rich foods like eggs, butter, and milk from the household before Lenten fasting began.

The tradition is notably popular among the Irish, so it is entirely possible that I might visit my local Village Inn today in solidarity with my Gaelic brothers and sisters...

"Irish, schmirish, you just want an excuse to eat out today."

It has been quite awhile...I'm overdue...


"¡Uno dos tres CUATRO!"
My beloved Kansas City Royals got back on the winning track in Cactus League action yesterday, bombing the Seattle Mariners 14-3 Monday at the Peoria Sports Complex.

All-Star C Salvador Perez led the offensive outburst with a homer and four RBIs. OFs Paulo Orlando and Peter O'Brien also homered.

"Just taking it one step at a time..."

Royals starter Jason Vargas pitched two complete innings, and thanks to the Royals' four-run top of the 1st inning got credit for the win despite not pitching particularly well.

Of course, at this point the main thing is just having Jason back out there,
as he continues his comeback from his 2015 Tommy John surgery.

"Not wallowing in pessimism today?"

We scored 14 runs and hit three homers...of course not...

Railfan Fun

Baltimore & Ohio EMD E8A in 1964

On February 28, 1827 the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad was incorporated as the nation's first common carrier railroad. The B&O soon became a leader in American railroading both in technology and in its innovative business practices.

Railfans like me will always have a soft spot for classic B&O paint schemes like the one pictured above, which adorned famous passenger trains like the Capitol Limited and the Columbian. The road's famous B&O Warehouse in Baltimore was bought by the Baltimore Orioles when they built Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and now houses the team's offices and other facilities.

"You still hate the Orioles though, right?"

Once baseball season has started? Yes, of course...

Now That's Funny!

So a clever librarian
in Platteville, Wisconsin decided to have a little fun with last Sunday's epic Academy Awards snafu...

Good Call

From the indispensable comic strip Non Sequitur, by Wiley Miller, which you should read every day, as I do (even though Wiley is a squishy liberal).

Until Next Time...

One of the things I miss the most about teaching is chaperoning dances, especially
the more formal ones like Homecoming, Winter Formal, and Prom.

When I returned to the classroom in 1995 after my hiatus, Bishop LeBlond typically
had just those Big Three dances on their calendar each year, as it was a small school whose population was stretched pretty thin with sports, music, speech and drama events, and church-related activities.

Just as it had been for my own generation, the mainstream pop music charts at that time were largely a reflection of the preferences of high school-age kids. The first thing
I noticed when I began chaperoning dances again that fall was that the charts had been taken over by vocalists (mostly female) rather than bands. In 1996, for instance, most of the Billboard Hot 100 No. 1 hit singles were by Mariah Carey, Boyz II Men, Celine Dion, and Toni Braxton (plus that ridiculous novelty song "Macarena"). Rap and especially hip-hop music had began to make inroads with the kids, though, and by the time 2004 rolled around every single Hot 100 No. 1 was by a rap or hip-hop artist or group.

The king of that particular hill that year was unquestionably Usher Raymond IV, who used his first name as his stage name. At both of LeBlond's dances in early 2004 by far the most enthusiastic response I saw my kids give to any song was to Usher's "Yeah!" The song had been released in mid-January and had quickly become a monster hit.

Original 2004 CD single
On February 28, 2004 "Yeah!" reached No. 1 on the Billboard 
Hot 100 Singles chart, a position
it would hold for the next twelve consecutive weeks. It was bumped from No. 1 by Usher's own "Burn," which then ran his streak of consecutive weeks at No. 1 to 19,
the longest such streak for any solo artist in the history of the Hot 100.

Usher also had two more singles that hit No. 1 in 2004, making him the only solo artist ever to have four
No. 1 hits in a calendar year.

Today's send-off is the official music video for the song, which has over 84 million views, from Usher's VEVO channel. Enjoy...

Monday, February 27, 2017



"And the winner is...SENILITY!"
I skipped most of last night's 89th Annual Academy Awards telecast, watching a Blues-Blackhawks NHL game instead. I actually did want
to see who won the "big" awards,
so I tuned in late. I'm glad I did...

In what will go down in Oscar history as the most embarrassing foul-up off all time, doddering fossils Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty actually announced the wrong winner for Best Picture.

Dunaway (76) and Beatty (79) had been chosen to honor the 50th anniversary of their famous film Bonnie and Clyde, which ironically enough (given what was just about
to happen) also did not win Best Picture the year it was nominated (and only won in two of the ten categories in which it was competing).

Needless to say, in the wake of the screw-up some folks on the internet had fun...

"These are the same people who think Republicans are incompetent idiots, right?"

Yes...in fairness, a lot of Republicans ARE incompetent idiots, especially these days, but
it is still pretty comical to watch Hollywood fuck up its Big Night...and that wasn't even their only screw-up...

Can't Win 'Em All

"Not great. Not terrible. About what I expected."

In baseball you can't win every game, and yesterday my beloved Kansas City Royals followed up their first Cactus League win on Saturday with their first loss, a 6-4 defeat
at the hands of the Texas Rangers.

Royals starter Kyle Zimmer was generally pleased with his outing, despite the results, because coming back from injury his main focus is just getting back to where he needs to be with his mechanics.

Given the shaky state of the Royals' starting rotation, it would be great to finally see
a healthy Zimmer (a former No. 1 draft choice) finally ready to contribute.

"The Royals sure do have a lot of pitchers coming off of surgeries."

They do...today's starter against the Mariners will be LHP Jason Vargas, who looked pretty decent last September in the 12 innings he pitched after rehabbing his Tommy John procedure...we need him back in the rotation in 2017...

Daytona Dud

In its latest attempt to drive away its fan base, NASCAR for 2017 has adopted something they've chosen to call "three-stage racing."

It is my default position that if your sport is causing journalists to feel the need to publish a "guide to understanding" something that you're doing, you're doing it wrong.

I tried watching some of the Daytona 500 yesterday, but it became clear early on that
no one really understands the new rules and point systems, although the announcers all bravely pretended that they did. Having three short races instead of one long race simply doesn't do anything for me, as a spectator. So far at least the change is proving to be quite controversial.

The only good thing about yesterday's crash-filled race was that a Ford was the winner, and even that pleasure was attenuated for me because the No. 41 car's driver is notorious douchebag Kurt Busch.

"That jerk still has a ride?"

I know, right?

You're Learning, Kid

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

Until Next Time...

The worst part of the Academy Awards snafu last night, without question, was that
the sheer joy of the winning moment for the Moonlight folks was completely ruined.

Original 2016 "one sheet" poster

There is no way to ever remedy that kind of wrong, of course, but I felt like the least I could do was feature some music from Nicholas Britell's score for the film here.

Composer Britell's unusual music was also nominated, for Best Original Score (Justin Hurwitz's La La Land score, the Weekly Music Recommendation here for the week of January 9, took home the Oscar). This was the 36-year-old  Britell's first Academy Award nomination.

The score is certainly offbeat, and I find it affecting, but it may be one of those scores that needs the visual elements in order to be completely effective.

Today's send-off is a suite of themes and motifs from Britell's evocative score, from
the film's YouTube channel. Enjoy...

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Sunday Potpourri No. 53

Surprise, Surprise!

My beloved Kansas City Royals got their Cactus League season off to a winning start yesterday, beating the Texas Rangers 7-5 at the Surprise Recreation Campus the two teams share in Arizona.

The offense had a good day, scoring seven runs on twelve hits and two walks. All-Star C Salvador Perez led the way with a double, a home run, and four RBIs. OF Pete O'Brien also hit a two-run pinch hit home run in the 8th inning.

The pitchers mostly had a good day as well, with the exception of RHP Jake Junis, who gave up four hits, a walk, and five earned runs in 1 1/3 innings of work. The other seven pitchers the Royals used only gave up a single hit and no runs in a total of 7 2/3 innings.

Before the game, both teams paid tribute to the late Yordano Ventura. The city of Surprise presented Royals Manager Ned Yost with
a special plaque honoring Ventura which will now be permanently hung at the complex.

"It will be good therapy for you, having baseball to talk about again."

Baseball is basically good for my mental health, it's true...

Hard Pass

This evening ABC will televise the 89th Academy Awards ceremony from the opulent Dolby Theatre
in Hollywood.

Once upon a time this was must- see TV for me, and tonight's telecast is expected to draw a large viewing audience, but I'm simply not in the mood for the tiresome political posturing that will almost certainly accompany the presentations.

That's one of the nice features of the modern age: We no longer have to watch such drivel just to find out who won the Oscars...

"Are you rooting for any movies in particular?"

I haven't seen enough of this year's nominees to have many strong opinions, but I really enjoyed Doctor Strange and hope it wins for Best Visual Effects...

Happy Birthday!

Today is the "birthday" of not one but two of America's scenic treasures...

On February 26, 1919 President Woodrow Wilson signed the legislation creating Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona...

...and ten years later,
on February 26, 1929 President Calvin Coolidge's Executive Order established Wyoming's Grand Teton National Park.

Maybe It's a Commentary On Your Taste in Music, Dear

From the droll comic strip FoxTrot, by Bill Amend, which you should read every Sunday.

Until Next Time...

On February 26, 1928 Antoine Domino, Jr. was born in New Orleans to parents who were of French Creole descent. His first language was Louisiana Creole, and his father was a well-known local musician, as was his brother-in-law. The latter taught him the piano, and when he was just 19 he was invited to join a professional band. His new boss nicknamed him Fats Domino because of the similarities in his playing style to the well- known pianists Fats Waller and Fats Pichon.

Domino was a seminal figure in the history of rock and roll, not least because of his establishment of the piano as a lead instrument in that style of music. In this he would precede other key figures in rock and roll history who also played piano, like Professor Longhair, Jerry Lee Lewis, Pinetop Perkins, and especially Little Richard.

Original 1949 78 rpm single
His recording career began with
a bang in December of 1949, with his recording of "The Fat Man" for Imperial Records. Released just before Christmas, it took only six weeks to peak at No. 2 on the national R&B Records chart.

"The Fat Man" is always included
in the discussion of which recording should be considered the first true rock and roll record, and it is frequently cited as the first rock
and roll recording to reach a million copies in sales.

Domino's career included nine No. 1 hits on the R&B chart, and more than three dozen singles that crossed over to become Top 40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100 as well.

Today's send-off is the hit song that launched Fats's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame career (he was one of the Hall's original class of ten inductees in 1986), from his YouTube channel. Enjoy...and don't resist the urge to dance...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Nothing Ever Lasts Forever

Play Ball (Sort Of...)

Surprise Recreation Campus

At 2:00 PM CST today my beloved Kansas City Royals will play their first Cactus League game of 2017 against the Texas Rangers at the Surprise Recreation Campus they share in Surprise, Arizona.

Of course, it is foolish to put much stock in what goes on in a spring training game
when everybody is horsing around with lineups, position switches, etc., but at least
it is baseball, and not curling...

"You'll watch pretty much any sport when you're desperate, won't you?"

Except soccer...have to draw the line somewhere...

Insomniac Heaven

Original 1960 "one sheet" poster

The TCM channel's annual promotion
"31 Days of Oscar" ends on Friday, March 3. Until then, I'll be at risk nightly of having my bedtime hijacked by a classic movie.

Last night it was Stanley Kubrick's 1960 epic Spartacus, one of those films which received mixed reviews upon release but gained critical acclaim over time. It was the only Kubrick film over which he did not have complete creative control (Kirk Douglas's production company had the final say on everything), and he eventually disavowed the final product, but the film won four Academy Awards and is included on the American Film Institute's list of 100 best American films.


Pretty sure the Romans know Spartacus is a biped, dumbass...

Trade That Clunker In, Mr. President

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

Until Next Time...

In the early- to mid-80s popular music embraced the so-called New Wave movement, which included highly successful synthpop acts like Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet, Depeche Mode, and Simple Minds. This was a difficult period for me, since I much preferred guitar-driven rock and blues music. I felt it important as a high school teacher to maintain a passing familiarity with music my students liked, though, and so I did.
I'm not proud of it, but at one point I was even watching Wham! videos on MTV.

There were only a couple of these acts I liked well enough to actually spend money on. Simple Minds was probably my favorite, but Tears for Fears was a close second for awhile. Their debut album in 1983 barely made a ripple on the U.S. album charts, and their singles weren't selling in the American market either. For a couple of years they were just another obscure British band.

On February 25, 1985 the group released Songs From the Big Chair, and suddenly they weren't "obscure" in the U.S. market any longer. The album spent three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart that summer, and went on to receive five platinum certifications from RIAA.

Original 1985 45 rpm single
Only one of the band's previous seven single releases had even charted in the U.S. market, so when Big Chair's lead single "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Singles chart it took everyone by surprise. The song wound up as the seventh-best-selling single of 1985.

Tears for Fears dodged the dreaded one-hit wonder bullet when the album's second single, "Shout," also hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 and quickly became the band's signature song.

I also liked the album's songs "Broken" and "Head Over Heels" (the latter of which peaked at No. 3 on the Hot 100), and I'm not embarrassed to admit actually owning
the album on vinyl and even re-purchasing it in CD format in the '90s. Those four songs still get some play on various of my iTunes playlists. Guilty pleasure, okay?

Today's send-off is the group's first U.S. No. 1 hit, from their YouTube channel. Enjoy...

Friday, February 24, 2017

Winter Returns

Thank Ullr It's Friday!

"Thought you'd seen the last of the snow, eh? Fools!"

Back To Normal

The view from my porch at 9:35 AM CST
We have been having unusually mild weather for February in 2017, especially over this past week. On Wednesday we hit 71 degrees here in Council Bluffs.

That ended yesterday, with a high in the low 40s and a lot of wind.

Last night the temperature dropped even further, and the photo above is the lovely scene I woke up to this morning. It is still snowing as I write this, and is not expected to stop until late this afternoon.

According the the National Weather Service, we might have up to five inches of snow accumulation by then. That is entirely normal for late February here in the midwest,
but I'm still grumbling about it. I had been thinking about an Omaha shopping trip this weekend, but I like to stay close to home when the weather gets like this. Not everyone
is as careful a driver in such conditions as I am.

"Say, wasn't it about this time last year that you drove off the road on a snowy day?"

Never happened...


"I just play wherever they tell me to."

Spring training for my Kansas City Royals in Surprise, Arizona this year is at least in part about getting ready for the looming free agency departures of several core players after the 2017 season has ended.

Those considerations are creating something of a domino effect with some younger prospects. Hunter Dozier, for instance, was originally drafted as a shortstop, but was converted to third base early in his minor league career, then shifted to the outfield
(he has logged considerable time in both left and right field). Now the Royals will be giving the 25-year-old a look at first base (anticipating the near-certain loss of All-Star 1B Eric Hosmer following this season).

There has been some criticism of the way the Royals have handled Dozier to this point, and I don't disagree that at his age he ought to be ready for the majors if he's ever going to be, but the switch to first base just strike me as a reach. Time will tell, I suppose.

"He's a couple of years younger than Hosmer, isn't he?"

Yes, but Hosmer was already a major-league regular when he was just 21, and has won three Gold Glove Awards in the last four seasons...that ain't Hunter Dozier...

Landmark Decision

Marshall quote on the Supreme Court Building

On February 24, 1803 a unanimous United States Supreme Court issued its ruling in the landmark case of Marbury v. Madison.

Although the specifics of the case were fairly trivial, the decision itself was anything but.

Its decision in Marbury established the Supreme Court as the final arbiter of disputes over Constitutional interpretation of laws. It further established the notion of judicial review as an important principle within our system of government, and solidified our understanding of the checks and balances built into the Constitution.

Well, We Have to Name Them Something, Right?

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

Until Next Time...

In just a couple of weeks I'll be seeing my hero Joe Bonamassa in concert again, first
on March 9 in Des Moines and then again on March 13 in Kansas City (I'll be taking
my best friend Skip to the latter show). Those will be my eighth and ninth live concert experiences with Joe, so it shouldn't surprise anyone that I own all of his album releases as a solo artist.

That solo recording career began in 2000 with A New Day Yesterday, and over the next seven years Joe released another five solo albums as well as three live recordings. They sold reasonably well, considering that Joe had chosen not to sign with a major record label. Still, although four of those releases topped the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart, only two of them, the studio album Sloe Gin (No. 184) and the live concert recording Live From Nowhere In Particular (No. 136) were able to crack the more mainstream Billboard 200. Joe continued to work at his craft, and toured relentlessly. All of that hard work paid off in a big way in 2009.

On February 24, 2009 Joe released The Ballad of John Henry, his seventh studio album. It debuted
at No. 1 on the Top Blues Albums chart, and peaked at No. 104 on the Billboard 200, a strong showing.

The album's title track quickly became one of Joe's signature songs, and for his concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London that May he featured several other songs from the album as well, including "Last Kiss," "Stop!", "Lonesome Road Blues," "Happier Times," "Story of a Quarryman," and
"The Great Flood."

When I decided to begin playing guitar again in the spring of 2010 (strictly as a hobby), Joe's name was all over the guitar magazines I had begun to read again, but for one reason or another I never got around to checking him out.

In December 2010 my local Iowa Public Television affiliate broadcast the filmed version of Joe's Royal Albert Hall concert as part of their annual funding telethon, and I was instantly hooked. The next day I went shopping and bought both the DVD of the Royal Albert Hall show and a copy of The Ballad of John Henry at the local Best Buy. Not long after that I ordered an Epiphone JB Les Paul Goldtop like the one Joe played in the video. And on March 5 of 2011 I saw Joe in concert for the first time in Ames, Iowa.
By that time not many of the songs from his John Henry album were still on the set list, but he did play "Last Kiss," one of my favorites from both that album and the exciting Royal Albert Hall video.

Today's send-off is that song the way I first heard it, live at Joe's Royal Albert Hall concert in 2009, from his YouTube channel. Enjoy...

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Judgments Good and Otherwise

AYFKM, Wisconsin?

Dangerous contraband

Whenever I find myself having to explain to someone what I mean when I say that government at all levels has become too big and too intrusive in our lives, progressives always accuse me of being opposed to public schools or fire departments or even roads, which is ridiculous.

I sometimes amuse myself by asking such people to defend government meddling like banning soft drinks above a certain size, mandating how much water your toilet can use per flush, and deciding what kinds of light bulbs you can legally have in your home. Their responses eventually reduce to some form of the claim that government is doing this "for our own good," which is precisely my point. The notion that government should have the power to regulate our lives in this way infantilizes us all, and I will resist that mindset until my dying breath.

Another prime example of the meddling state popped up on my radar today, when I saw a news story about how the state of Wisconsin has chosen to ban the sale of Kerrygold butter in their fair state.

Was this due to an outbreak of deaths related to the product? No, of course not. (It is legally sold in the other 49 states, including my own.) The ban is simply an effort by Wisconsin dairy interests to restrict outside competition (Kerrygold products are made
in Ireland). That's it. As usual, "public health" is just the pretext for the regulation.

I admire the plucky cheeseheads who drive across state lines to purchase delicious Kerrygold butter products. I wonder how long it will be before Wisconsin authorities
set up checkpoints at every border?

No, I don't...when I was growing up in Kansas City, the cops used to stake out liquor stores on the Kansas side of State Line road, follow cars with Missouri plates back across the border, and bust them for breaking state liquor laws...

Feast Day

The Martyrdom of St. Polycarp, by Circignani
Today we celebrate the feast day of St. Polycarp, an associate of
St. John the Apostle who served as a bishop of Smyrna and was
an important Church leader in the first half of the 2nd century.

Polycarp's eloquent Letter to the Philippians is one of the most important documents of that period, and is a principle reason Polycarp is considered one of the three Apostolic Fathers.

The precise date of Polycarp's martyrdom is disputed, but the story of his being speared to death when attempts to burn him at the stake failed is not, and has been the subject of numerous artworks.

Family Dinner

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

Until Next Time...

On February 23, 1944 John Dawson Winter III was born in Beaumont, Texas. Encouraged by his parents to pursue his interest in music, Johnny Winter was playing guitar professionally by the time he was fifteen, and went on to become a legendary figure in blues and blues-rock music.

Johnny was also a legendarily profligate user of drugs and alcohol, and that combined with his albinism (a condition he shared with his younger brother Edgar) produced constant rumors about his being dead. In those days, there was precious little journalism devoted to the music business, so music fans were never entirely sure what to believe when Johnny would periodically drop out of sight.

He even joked about his lifestyle, naming his fifth studio album Still Alive and Well.
That record included songs like "Cheap Tequila" and "Too Much Seconal." Fans of his guitar-playing fully expected him to join the litany of rock and rollers whose lives were ended prematurely thanks to drugs and alcohol, but Johnny continued to record and perform right up until his death in 2014 at age 70. The album he released that year,  
Step Back, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Blues Albums chart and cracked the Top 20 of the Billboard 200. It also received a Grammy Award for Best Blues Album
in 2015, and featured a guest appearance by my hero Joe Bonamassa.

Johnny's fiery playing and awesome tone, especially on his trademark Gibson Firebird guitar, made him one of the most influential players of his generation. He is a member of the Blues Hall of Fame and is a fixture on Rolling Stone magazine's periodic lists of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.

My first exposure to Johnny's incendiary playing was when one
of my high school friends played me his copy of Johnny's 1968 debut, The Progressive Blues Experiment. I had never heard anything like it, was hooked immediately. I have remained a fan ever since.

Johnny's unique Second Winter album (a double-LP with the fourth side blank) is one of the great blues recordings of all time, and features two of his concert staples, Chuck Berry's "Johnny B. Goode" and Bob Dylan's "Highway 61 Revisited."

Johnny enjoyed a career renaissance when he began working with Alligator Records both as a producer of other artists (he earned three Grammy Awards producing Muddy Waters albums) as well as well as his own recordings. His first album for the label, 1984's Guitar Slinger, was also nominated for a Grammy Award.

Today's send-off is my favorite track on that album, from Johnny's YouTube channel.  Enjoy...

Wednesday, February 22, 2017



"Yeah, I've lost a little weight. You like?"

The weather here in the Bluffs continues to be unusually warm
for late February (forecast to hit
70 degrees again today), which
is a reminder that spring is just around the corner.

While I was out taking a walk yesterday, I spotted another harbinger of spring: a pair
of American robins. Before long I expect to see a greater variety of birds frequenting the Wild Kingdom Bed & Breakfast, and of course the local squirrels and rabbits will soon be doing their thing as well.

"Warmer weather also means anthills will be back on the menu soon!"

I know how much you look forward to that...

Spring Training Update

"I'll pitch wherever the team needs me to pitch."

My beloved Kansas City Royals play their first Cactus League game on Saturday, but in the meantime there are plenty of things for its loyal fans to obsess over.

One of the more interesting stories to follow is the progress of 23-year-old flamethrower Josh Staumont, a kid with a shot to make the Royals bullpen despite not currently being on the 40-man roster.

To this point in his minor league career he has been a starter, but if he makes the major league team this season it will almost certainly be as a reliever. He'll be the starter in the game on Saturday, although he'll probably only pitch one inning.

"So, what are his chances?"

Not enough data yet, but the past few seasons the Royals have shown a decided preference for guys who can throw hard for short stretches, and Staumont can hit
100 mph on the gun...

Feast Day

Chair in St. Peter's Basilica, Rome
Today is the feast of The Chair of St. Peter, a celebration of Christ's choosing St. Peter the Apostle to serve as the head of the Church after the Ascension.

Despite the name, the feast isn't about
the actual chair itself, but about what it represents to the faithful.

At one time the Church celebrated two such feasts, one on January 18 and the current February 22 observance. The former feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1960 by Pope St. John XXIII.

Missing the Point

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

Until Next Time...

One characteristic of movies that make my list of all-time favorites is that they are films
I never get tired of watching.  Today's Feast of The Chair of St. Peter puts me in mind
of one such film...

Original 1968 "one sheet" poster

Director Michael Anderson's 1968 drama The Shoes of the Fisherman, based on the 1963 bestselling novel by the same name, is easily the most reverent and detailed exploration of the inner workings of the papacy, and of what it means to be the bishop of Rome as well, that I've ever seen. It's theme of a non-Italian pope being elected during a time of heightened political tensions worldwide foreshadowed the real-life election of Pope John Paul II just a decade later.

The score for the film was done by one of my favorite film composers, Alex North,
a native of Chester, Pennsylvania (which is just 30 miles or so from where my best friend Skip lives).

North has the distinction of having received the most Academy Award nominations
for scoring, including his score for this film, without ever having won the Oscar (he did finally receive the Honorary Academy Award for his body of work).

Today's send-off is the film's old-fashioned "Overture," designed to be heard in its entirety before the film actually begins. It features themes and motifs which appear throughout the score, and is from North's YouTube channel. Enjoy...