Friday, January 19, 2018

Why Does Love Got To Be So Sad?

Guitar greats Derek Trucks, Warren Haynes, and Eric Clapton at the 2013 Crossroads Guitar Festival.  The song is from Derek & The Dominoes 1970 album Layla on which Clapton and Duane Allman shared lead guitar.  This version features the final incarnation of the Allman Brothers Band.  That's Greg Allman, Duane's brother, on keyboards and Derek is the nephew Butch Trucks, of one of the band's drummers.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Dolores O'Riordan

Dolores O'Riordan, lead singer of The Cranberries, died three days ago at the age of 46.  You could immediately identify a Cranberries song because of her lovely and very distinctive voice.  The band had several hits in the 1990s of which the most popular was Linger, but their most powerful song was Zombies, written by O'Riordan, a mother of three, in the wake of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) bombing on March 20, 1993 in Warrington, England in which two children died.  Despite the horror of the incident, the Irish band (O'Riordan was from Limerick) came under criticism from some IRA supporters.  Below are both electric and acoustic versions:

Another head hangs lowly
Child is slowly taken
And the violence, caused such silence
Who are we mistaken?
But you see, it's not me
It's not my family
In your head, in your head, they are fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head they are crying
In your head, in your head
Another mother's breaking
Heart is taking over
When the violence causes silence
We must be mistaken
It's the same old theme
Since nineteen-sixteen [a reference to the IRA's Easter Uprising in Dublin]
In your head, in your head, they're still fighting
With their tanks, and their bombs
And their bombs, and their guns
In your head, in your head, they are dying

Some other good Cranberries tunes; Dreams, Ode To My Family, The Icicle Melts.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Immaculate Reception

We now are guaranteed a Superbowl in which one of the teams will feature a backup quarterback - the winner of the matchup between the Minnesota Vikings and the Philadelphia Eagles - and it is possible, though admittedly not likely, that the other team will feature Blake Bortles(!?!) at quarterback.  I'm now a Jacksonville Jaguars fan!

Anyway, Mrs THC and I were watching the Vikings-Saints game on Sunday which had one of the most stunning endings of any contest in NFL playoff history, an ending so bizarre it took us a few seconds to react as we couldn't quite believe what we were seeing:

It started me thinking of other stunning NFL plays and what came to mind was The Immaculate Reception in the Oakland Raiders-Pittsburgh Steelers game in 1972  I came across the best video I've ever seen of the play.  Most versions are closeups of the deflection and of Franco Harris without the larger field context.

The Raiders were leading 7-6 in the AFL Divisional Playoff game at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh.  The Steelers, down to their last play on 4th and 10 on their own 40 yard line with just 22 seconds left to play, called a pass play for receiver Barry Pearson.  The play broke down, forcing Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw* to scramble until he spotted halfback John "Frenchy" Fuqua and lofted a pass.

The pass, Fuqua, and Raiders safety Jack Tatum collided at the same time with the ball ricocheting back upfield where it was snatched just before hitting the ground by Steelers rookie running back Franco Harris, who after completing his blocking assignment sprinted downfield in case Bradshaw needed another receiver.  Harris ran it into the end zone, completing a 60 yard play and giving the long-downtrodden Steelers a 13-7 victory.

There was immediate controversy about the play which caused officials to huddle before declaring it a touchdown.  Under the NFL rules of the time if the pass hit Fuqua and was then caught by Harris it would be rule incomplete.  It would only be a completion if it hit Tatum first, or Tatum and Fuqua simultaneously (the rule was changed in 1978).  From the video it looks like it bounces off Tatum's chest and the officials agreed.  And now, here's the call by Curt Gowdy, who was as surprised as everyone else.

* After retiring as a player Terry Bradshaw brilliantly parleyed his reputation as a dumbass into four decades as a football commentator, actor, and reality show star. 

Monday, January 15, 2018

"The Most Important Event . . . Since The Nation Came Into Life"

After his November 1868 election as President, one of U.S. Grant's top priorities was Congressional passage and state ratification of the 15th Amendment, giving the vote to all adult males regardless of race.  Even before his inauguration on March 4, 1869 he urged the new Congress to act, and the House passed the amendment on February 25 by a vote of 144 to 44, with the Senate acting on the following day by a vote of 39 to 13.

Seventeen states ratified within Grant's first four months in office but then the pace slowed.  The President actively lobbied the states to take action, successfully pushing the governor of Nebraska to call a special session of the legislature, writing:
"the earnest desire I have to see a question of such great national importance brought to an early settlement . . ."
Ironically, the state pushing the amendment over the top was the former slave state of Texas, which ratified it in order to be readmitted to the Union as a state.  On March 30, 1870, Congress acted to formally readmit the state and Grant announced ratification.

The President decided that rather than just sending the customary proclamation announcing ratification he would send a special message celebrating its importance, which he did on the same day.

In his message, which reveals the intensity of the President's feelings, Grant refers to the 15th Amendment as "of grander importance than any other one act" since the foundation of the United States.  He also takes a very pointed shot at the Dred Scott decision.  Finally, he stresses the importance of public education in fulfilling the goals of the amendment and he urges white to "withhold no legal privilege of advancement to the new citizen".

Unfortunately, Grant's full aspirations for the amendment were not to be satisfied for a century.  Reconstruction ended with his administration in March 1877, and a resurgent white South imposed Jim Crow thwarting the electoral franchise for black citizens, as well his desires for their education.

It is unusual to notify the two Houses of Congress by message of the promulgation, by proclamation of the Secretary of State, of the ratification of a constitutional amendment. In view, however, of the vast importance of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution, this day declared a part of that revered instrument, I deem a departure from the usual custom justifiable. A measure which makes at once 4,000,000 people voters who were heretofore declared by the highest tribunal in the land not citizens of the United States, nor eligible to become so (with the assertion that "at the time of the Declaration of Independence the opinion was fixed and universal in the civilized portion of the white race, regarded as an axiom in morals as well as in politics, that black men had no rights which the white man was bound to respect"), is indeed a measure of grander importance than any other one act of the kind from the foundation of our free Government to the present day.

Institutions like ours, in which all power is derived directly from the people, must depend mainly upon their intelligence, patriotism, and industry. I call the attention, therefore, of the newly enfranchised race to the importance of their striving in every honorable manner to make themselves worthy of their new privilege. To the race more favored heretofore by our laws I would say, Withhold no legal privilege of advancement to the new citizen.

The framers of our Constitution firmly believed that a republican government could not endure without intelligence and education generally diffused among the people. The Father of his Country, in his Farewell Address, uses this language:

Promote, then, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge. In proportion as the structure of a government gives force to public opinion, it is essential that public opinion should be enlightened.

. . . 

I repeat that the adoption of the fifteenth amendment to the Constitution completes the greatest civil change and constitutes the most important event that has occurred since the nation came into life. The change will be beneficial in proportion to the heed that is given to the urgent recommendations of Washington. If these recommendations were important then, with a population of but a few millions, how much more important now, with a population of 40,000,000, and increasing in a rapid ratio. I would therefore call upon Congress to take all the means within their constitutional powers to promote and encourage popular education throughout the country, and upon the people everywhere to see to it that all who possess and exercise political rights shall have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge which will make their share in the Government a blessing and not a danger. By such means only can the benefits contemplated by this amendment to the Constitution be secured.
According to Charles W Calhoun's new book on the Grant presidency, at a White House reception that evening the president told the audience:
There has been no event since the close of the war in which I have felt so deep an interest as that of the ratification of the fifteenth amendment . . . It looked to me as the realization of the Declaration of Independence.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Painted From Memory

Elvis Costello is the only person Paul McCartney has co-written songs with other than John Lennon.  And Elvis is the only person to partner with both McCartney and Burt Bacharach.  Only 1998's Painted From Memory, Elvis and Burt collaborated on twelve songs of love and heartbreak.  Elvis wrote the lyrics while the two of them worked together on the music, which incorporates Burt's trademark time signature changes, Christopher Walken phrasing, and distinctive horn arrangements.

Here are some favorites:

This House Is Empty Now posing the memorable lyrical question, "does the extinguished candle care about the darkness?"

You hear her voice
"How could you do that?"

Painted From Memory

Those eyes
I try to capture
They are lost to me now forever
They smile for someone else

Such Unlikely Lovers

I'm not saying that there will be violins
But don't be surprised if they appear
Playing in some doorway
Still I can't believe that this is happening

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Pasadena Bomber

Stealth Bomber flying over Rose Bowl during Oklahoma-Georgia game on January 7. Read how photo was taken in The Atlantic.
A stealth bomber flies over the Rose Bowl during the Georgia-Oklahoma game January 1, 2018