Saturday, February 18, 2017

Still Bangin'...

64 Orbits

Today signifies the completion
of my 64th trip around the sun.
It may or not be a coincidence that the collapse of civilization (which continues apace) began on that day 64 years ago. No definitive proof
of a nexus has ever been produced.

As I noted in last year's birthday entry, there is no need for special hoopla in my case. That said, the year definitely had its high points...

The biggest highlight of my year was a visit to my best friend Skip
in Pennsylvania, which I blogged about extensively at the time.

One memorable aspect of the trip (for my wingman as well as myself) was a visit to the Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania in Strasburg.

Skip took this picture of us posing in front of the last remaining EMD E7 locomotive in the world.

Another highlight of the year was seeing my hero Joe Bonamassa live at the beautiful Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha on May 4
(the birthday of another of my musical heroes, jazz trumpet legend Maynard Ferguson, and the seventh anniversary of the show Joe once described as "the greatest night" of his life).

I was fortunate enough to score front-row center seats, the first time I had been that lucky since my first MF concert on February 14, 1984. In the photo above I'm the dork wearing the necktie just to the right of Joe.

I was able to bring one of my former TJ drama kids with me, and the show also included a "meet & greet" opportunity, at which Joe signed the headstock of Amanda, my beloved Alvarez Yairi WY1TS.

"And speaking of irony..."

Yes, yes...on March 13 I'll be seeing Joe in concert at Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland in Kansas City, and Skip will be there to see him with me (and of course to meet Joe with me before the show)...

Miss You, Buddy


The worst day of my past year
was July 1, when my beloved companion Roy passed away after 18 years of friendship.

Today is the first birthday I have celebrated without him since
I turned 45 years old. There isn't
a day that goes by when I don't miss him terribly...

Yup...that was a hard, hard day...

Feast Day

Portrait of Fra Angelico, by Carlo Dolci
Catholic feast days are typically celebrations of saints and martyrs
for the faith. Once in awhile, though,
we observe feast days for people who, although not yet canonized, deserve to be celebrated for the holiness
of the lives they led and also for their contributions to the Church.

Today is one such day, as we celebrate the life of Fra Angelico,
a Dominican friar who was also one of the most gifted and influential artists of his time.

He died on February 18, 1455, and was beatified on October 3, 1982 by Pope John Paul II.

The Annunciation (1437-46)

You'll Need a Bigger Shovel, Mike

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

Until Next Time...

Songs which gain widespread and lasting popularity sometimes have the simplest and most humble origins. The ubiquitous "Happy Birthday To You," claimed to be the most popular and recognizable song in the English language, began its life as "Good Morning To All," music by Mildred J. Hill and lyrics by her sister Patty. It was intended as a song for teachers to sing to their students as a daily greeting (Patty was a kindergarten teacher in the sisters' hometown of Louisville, Kentucky), and was first published in 1893.

The version of the song with the now-familiar birthday lyrics didn't appear in published form until 1912, but almost certainly existed before that time. Credit for those famous lyrics is murky at best, and a convincing case can be made that students spontaneously turned "Good Morning To All" into a birthday song one day, and the practice caught on long before publication. As a lifelong teacher, I find that account both plausible and emotionally gratifying.

Sheet music for string quartet arrangement

In 1988 German composer Peter Heidrich published "Happy Birthday Variations," which cast the popular song in a variety of composers' styles including Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Handel, and others, plus several popular music styles including ragtime, polka, tango, and gypsy music as well.

Heidrich published both an orchestral arrangement of his idea and a string quartet arrangement. The latter version is much more popular, and has been recorded by several prominent ensembles including the Yamato String Quartet and La Pieta.

Today's send-off is a live performance of the string quartet arrangement by the Finnish Savonlinna Quartet, filmed during their 20th Anniversary Concert on October 16, 2013 at Melartin Hall in their hometown. Happy birthday to me!


  1. Happy Belated Birthday Coach!!! ♥

    1. Thanks, Jane! And 2017 should be a great year, with three Joe B shows on my calendar!