Tuesday, March 7, 2017


Stormy Monday

"Cootchie-cootchie-coo!" - Mother Nature
What began as a warm, pleasant, sunny day here in the Bluffs yesterday turned quite treacherous by mid- afternoon, as a severe storm blew threw the area leaving felled trees, downed power lines, and thousands of residents temporarily without electricity.

"Not to mention the flooded anthills. I just HATE when that happens!"

I know you do, but it is supposed to be sunny, windy, and dry today, so cheer up...

Feast Day

Perpetua and Felicitas, by Félix Louis Leullier

Today is the feast day of Saints Perpetua and Felicity, a pair of women who along with some male Christian companions were martyred for the faith in typically brutal Roman fashion at Carthage in 203 AD.

A text purporting to be Perpetua's diary of her confinement is one of the earliest surviving Christian texts. Perpetua and Felicity are also two of just seven women commemorated by name in the second part of the Canon of the Mass.

Perpetua was still nursing her infant son when she was imprisoned, and Felicity gave birth to her child in prison, not long before her death. The two women are the patrons of mothers and especially expectant mothers.

Happy Birthday!

Composition in Red, Blue, and Yellow (1930)
On March 7, 1872 Pieter Cornelis Mondriaan was born in Amersfoort, in the Netherlands. The spelling
of his last name would be changed to "Mondrian" in 1906, and he preferred the diminutive "Piet."

Mondrian made his reputation as
a practitioner of the Dutch artistic movement known as De Stijl, which in painterly terms he called neoplasticism. He typically painted black grids on white backgrounds, occasionally filling in blocks with primary colors.

When I used to decorate my classrooms with fine art prints, the Mondrian shown above always provoked a strong response from my students, who either loved it or hated it. The whole point of hanging all of those works of art, of course, was to get
the kids talking about communication and how various artists approached the task
of reaching their audience with a message.

Cause for Concern

Joe in Hershey, Pennsylvania on February 28

My guitar hero Joe Bonamassa's spring tour is underway, and I have tickets to see him in Des Moines on Thursday and again in Kansas City on Monday. My best friend Skip
is flying in to attend the KC show with me.

Joe's relentless schedule may have caught up with him just a bit, as he has had to cancel his March 6 show in Peoria and his March 7 show in Milwaukee. Both shows were rescheduled for this coming August.

His next scheduled appearance is the March 9 show in Des Moines, so I'm hoping he's feeling much better by Thursday!

"That young man needs to get more rest..."

He really does...but he really, really loves performing and recording, too, so...

Good Luck With That, GOP

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

Until Next Time...

On March 7, 1875 Joseph Maurice Ravel was born in Ciboure, France, a small town
in Basque country near the Spanish border. Supported by both of his parents in his pursuit of musical interests, by age 14 Ravel had gained admission to the prestigious Conservatoire de Paris.

Ravel's musical skills as a pianist did not exactly flourish at that institution, but after leaving it for a brief period he was readmitted and turned his energies to the study of composing. He excelled there, becoming France's most celebrated and noteworthy composer of the early 20th century.

For the most part I enjoy Ravel's piano works, but he also wrote some nice chamber music pieces. I have several recordings of his "Berceuse sur le nom de Gabriel Fauré," which I have used to dramatic effect in play productions I have directed.

Ravel's Quartet if F major was first published in 1903, and had its premiere in Paris on March 5, 1904, just two days before Ravel's 29th birthday.

Composed in honor of Ravel's former teacher Gabriel Fauré (who did not much like the piece), the quartet is similar in many ways to his friend Claude Debussy's String Quartet in G minor, published a decade earlier.

Like yesterday's featured Beethoven piece, Ravel's quartet has been recorded by some of the world's leading ensembles, including the Melos Quartet, the Budapest String Quartet, and the Juilliard String Quartet.

Today's send-off is a live performance of the quartet's first movement by the Austrian Hagen Quartet, filmed at Mozarteum University in Salzburg in 2000. Enjoy...

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