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...

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