Monday, February 6, 2017

Historic Figures

Epic Failure (and Success)

So, Super Bowl LI turned out to be historic in a couple of ways.

The New England Patriots' 34-28 victory was the largest comeback in Super Bowl history (the Atlanta Falcons had led 28-3 at one point), and it was also the first time
a Super Bowl game went to overtime.

The closeness of the game at the end somewhat masks the fact that this was a game marked by first New England and then Atlanta playing dreadfully. While there were
a handful of truly outstanding plays, for the most part it was dropped passes, blown coverages, sloppy tackling, turnovers, sacks, and sketchy penalties that predominated. Even the overtime period seemed anti-climactic, as New England won the toss and marched down for the winning TD. Atlanta's offense never touched the ball.

Even though I usually root for the AFC representative in the Super Bowl, the Patriots are a bridge too far for me. Watching them win yet another championship was a bitter way to end the 2016 football season.

"All things considered, though, you did have a very good football season."

Yes, I'm not complaining about it...didn't quite get all the outcomes I had longed for,
but still all in all a very good season...

Feast Day

Museum and Monument in Nagasaki, Japan
Today is the feast day of St. Paul Miki and Companions, also known as the Twenty-Six Martyrs of Japan.

Six of the men executed were foreign missionary priests, but
St. Paul Miki was native-born Japanese, and a Jesuit. Today Nagasaki, where the men were martyred for the faith, has the largest Catholic population of any Japanese city.

St. Paul Miki and Companions were beatified in 1627 by Pope Urban VIII, and were canonized in 1862 by Pope Pius IX.

Collectively St. Paul Miki and Companions are the patrons of Japan.

Happy Birthday!

Today we celebrate the birthdays of two great Americans...

Ruth in 1918

On February 6, 1895 George Herman "Babe" Ruth was born
in Baltimore.

His Hall of Fame career in baseball (he was one of the Original Five charter inductees) began in 1914. The reverence felt toward him
by young boys who love baseball growing up is captured well in the nostalgic 1993 film The Sandlot.

There are two kinds of people in the world: Those who recognize The Babe as the greatest baseball player who ever lived, and those who are wrong.

Reagan in 1964

On February 6, 1911 Ronald Wilson Reagan was born into a working- class family in Tampico, Illinois.

I first encountered him on TV,
in reruns of his movies and during his two-year stint hosting the popular Death Valley Days series, which was must-see TV in my household as I was growing up.

Reagan's emergence as a major figure in American conservative politics roughly coincided with my own interest in politics. By 1967 he was my choice to lead the party and defeat the Democrats, but as things worked out we had to go through Nixon, Ford, and Carter before Reagan got his chance.

Reagan was good friends with my hero William F. Buckley, Jr., and Buckley's marvelous The Reagan I Knew was the last book Bill wrote before his death in 2008.

Progressive Consistency

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

Until Next Time...

On February 6, 2011 rock and blues music fans the world over were stunned by the death of Northern Irish guitarist Gary Moore, who had a fatal heart attack while on vacation in Estepona, Spain. Gary's heavy drinking the night he died was the apparent cause of the heart failure.

Although I was never much of a fan during Moore's rock period, when he played with groups like Skid Row and Thin Lizzy, I did enjoy his return to his blues roots as the '90s were getting started. His body of work made him one of the most influential guitarists of his generation.

Gary released Still Got the Blues
on March 26, 1990, eight days before my son was born. The album was an abrupt departure from his previous hard-rock and jazz-fusion work. It was also his biggest commercial success in the U.S. market, reaching No. 83 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart in early 1991 and earning him an RIAA gold record certification.

Although the album's title track became Gary's only Billboard Hot 100 hit as a solo artist (it spent a week at No. 97 in February 1991), my favorite of his original compositions
is this album's "Midnight Blues," which has become a staple of my hero Joe Bonamassa's live shows since Moore died. Joe's heartfelt tribute to a player who inspired him is always a powerful highlight.

Today's send-off is the version of "Midnight Blues" that Gary re-recorded in 2006 for his Old New Ballads Blues album, from his YouTube channel. Enjoy...

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