Archive - Aug 2013


August 6th

Rick Helling, vindicated

Former major-league pitcher Rick Helling, who has several cousins in the Fertile area, blew the whistle on the problems of steroids in baseball long before the whole sordid mess was made public. Good, midwestern values at work here. His family can be proud, as can the rest of us. 

August 5th

Mass in B Minor by Bach

Okay, folks, if you have an extra two hours, here is an excellent performance of the Mass in B Minor by J. S. Bach from last year at the Proms in London. Spectacular. Well thought-out. As good as Robert Shaw's version.  

Bach was Lutheran, but once when he was looking for more money, he applied for a job with a prince in Catholic Poland. For the try-out session, Bach composed several parts of the Catholic Mass. When he got home to Germany, he soured on moving to Poland, but he decided to finish the Mass, which is a masterpiece. It is intellectual, as are all Bach's works, but with magic musical moments redolent of the stuff Mozart doled out in his sleep. 

Bach never had a venue or orchestra this size. One wonders what he would have done with it had he known.

My favorite part starts at 1:02:11. Here Bach outdoes Mozart in the darkness department, exceeding even Mozart's Requiem in masterful expression of despair and gloom. Oh the delicious chord progressions and agonizing suspensions. Bach was all about not resolving anything until the last possible moment. Always leave one note lingering from the last chord while moving on to the next. 

And then it gets even better and more agonizing at 1:05, where the crucifixion is described. 

August 4th


People ask me where I get ideas for my newspaper column. I usually have no problem, but sometimes I have to resort to tricks. Tonight, after struggling for an hour, I made the decision to go to the National Public Radio website. I would find my idea there no matter what. That was my commitment to myself.  I ran across this article, and wrote this column.  

Whew! What if there hadn't been any good topics on the site? 

August 3rd



A young swan saw fit to visit the gardens' pond this afternoon. That is a first. 


August 1st

The other side

Aunt Olive was in fine spirits yesterday when I stopped. We had coffee and banana cake. Very good. Elvis, the nursing home dog, arrives like clockwork five minutes after the snack wagon. By then, I had eaten all the banana cake. Olive dug up some graham crackers, and he was satisfied.

Olive was speculating as to the source of her nightly strokes. She is following in the footsteps of her older brother Roy, she claims. He had several strokes before he died. I pointed out that Olive has already outlived him by thirty years. 

"I have been so many places!" Olive said cheerfully after reciting some of her trips. "I should be ready to die any time!" 

Then she got contemplative. 

"Of course, you wonder what is on the other side," she said. "There's just no way of knowing."

"No use worrying about that," she said, and we moved on to other topics. 

Francis upsets apple cart

I like this guy more and more. Read through the article. Who sounds Christ-like and who sounds like a bunch of prissy Pharisees? 

It is so obvious it is painful! I hope Francis shakes up the whole rotten edifice of the Catholic Church to its core. Look at what his statement, "Who am to judge?" did to the old guard. It undercut every judgemental, stale, dogmatic stick-in-the mud in the church. And he won't recant. And the effect of his statement will only grow with its repetition. 

I am not Catholic, but Francis is fun to watch.