Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 386

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Welcome to 2019! I hope you had a wonderful holiday.

This weekend is the inaugural aFa Weekend Concert Series. Determining the opening concert was easy – The Beatles – but selecting the opening song is difficult. Concert starts Saturday at 1:00 am (Eastern US). PS: For those wondering – YES – The Producer will be involved.

This Sunday evening (Eastern US) I will continue posting about my Eastern Europe trip. This series will feature on various tidbits. The first one is ready, so I better work ahead.

The annual televised production of The Kennedy Center Honors (26th Dec on CBS) did not disappoint! What a great night of entertainment!!! I love seeing big name performers getting into the music of others. The 2018 honorees were Reba McEntire, Wayne Shorter, Philip Glass, Cher, and a special recognition to the creators of Hamilton. YouTube has numerous segments, but click here for the full episode.

I enjoy various aspects of The Year in Review that are available in late December. CBS Sunday Morning did a great one about those that died in 2018. Read it here, but for me, the 23-minute video version (linked) is worth the time. The Interesting Reads below links The Onion’s 2018 review.

We did our share of travels to visit in opposite corners of the state from us. Those 5 days are the reason I wasn’t out and about very much in blogland.

A friend gave me a sample of an interesting herbal tea – Ginger-Licorice. I greatly enjoyed it, so if you want to try, here’s the link.

I think 2019 my the first time ever (for me) that I didn’t see one play of college football to begin the year. All the games were on ESPN, which I no longer have – and I had zero interest in the game on ABC. I’ve always enjoyed watching the Rose Bowl no matter who was playing, but not this year. So, I watched the annual NHL Winter Classic.

Have you noticed how varying uses and misuses of New Years, New Years’, and New Year’s?

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Although I feel for government workers because they are being used as political pawns, I’m unsure how long I would long I would like to see the shutdown go. Several months? For me, and because President Trump initiated and promoted this fight, he would have to give up something that he doesn’t want to do.

While Trumpians use “open border” to justify their wall, the same people cannot apply “open border” to the current situation in the US.

Some wonder why President Trump didn’t push for the wall harder when Republicans had full control. The answer is simple: 1) Democratic control of the House gives him a foil, and 2) its still Obama’s fault.

The Washington Post reports that President Trump averages 15 false claims per day. I say it’s higher because he also talks without cameras or reporters present.

A tip of the cap to Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) for standing up for America and criticizing President Trump. Here’s his Washington Post editorial that contains many great lines. Maybe this will inspire other Republicans to take a stand against President Trump. Then again, I don’t have much confidence in that happening nor in Republican voters.

PS: Senator Romney, keep in mind that talk is cheap.

To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines for the new year, The Onion provides a timely list of pros/cons of making New Year’s resolutions.

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Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)

Report: There is nothing else in bottom of gift bag
Podiatrists recommend getting feet rotated every six months
Man methodically explains origin behind every poster hanging in apartment
Zoologists discover new fastest land animal after pumping white-tailed deer full of steroids
Department of Interior to control mole population by releasing mallets into national parks

(My Combo) Mole full of steroids methodically mallets man with rotated feet into bottom of gift bag

Interesting Reads

Belongings of those who fled
Inside Van Gogh’s mind
A view outside the partisan parties
A lesson about the importance of commas
America’s new religions
Time travel and the US National Parks
The Onion’s Annual Report (Year in Review)
(Photos) 10 powerful pics from 2018
(Photos) Interesting photos submitted to the BBC

To send you into the weekend, enjoy this musical trip back to 1965. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

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Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 342

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Fiona, Cincinnati Zoo’s mega-star, has this major article in the New York Times Sunday edition.

The Kennedy Center Honors are this week, but the telecast is December 27th (9-11 pm US Eastern) on CBS. For me, this annual event is must-watch television! The 2017 honorees are Carmen de Lavallade, Gloria Estefan, LL Cool J, Norman Lear, and Lionel Richie.

If you enjoy “Oh Come Emmanuel”, you may enjoy this handbell piece that we are playing next week. Very interesting rhythms  – and not easy! –  but at least it’s not like the late-October monster. Click here to listen.

Congratulations to Jordan Fisher and partner Lindsay Arnold for winning Dancing With the Stars. He was outstanding from the very start. To our eyes, his technique was over-the-top good. Here’s his Week 1 Tango. (The dance starts at 1:30.)

Cincinnati is lucky to be home to two top-level college basketball teams Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. The rivalry between the two schools that are only 3.5 miles (5.6 km) apart is intense – and this weekend is the annual meeting known as the Crosstown Shootout. Go UC! … but this is the only game of the year where I hope XU loses.

Here’s the beginning of an interesting local story.

Suliman Abdul-Mutakallim was shot in the back of his head, as he walked home, carrying food for himself and his wife. Authorities say he was an innocent and unsuspecting victim. After two teenagers pleaded guilty this month at separate court hearings and were sentenced to prison terms, Abdul-Mutakallim’s mother, Rukiye, offered to hug them. Javon Coulter said she could. Rukiye wants to visit them in prison regularly and help them become better people. (Cincinnati Enquirer)

Just learned about a company named d.light.  Very interesting products! This is a way to help the people of Puerto Rico and other places without electricity. Click to see their products.

Saturday I’m posting a collaboration with an artist. Hope you stop by.

My little corner of the world is approaching several milestones, including 75,000th comment. I wonder who will get the recognition.

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Brilliantly said by Michael Gerson (Washington Post): Not only do we have tribal politics in this country, we also have tribal morality.

2108 is an election year for Ohio’s governor. The four top Republican candidates were in my area recently for a forum. Here’s the way the Cincinnati Enquirer started the report: The Republican nomination for Ohio governor might come down to who loves President Donald Trump more. And who’s least like current Republican governor John Kasich.

I continue to think Roy Moore will win in Alabama.

Two weeks I mentioned writing my Congressional Representative and Senator because their party like to claim, “It’s a mental health issue” when it comes to mass shootings. I asked what the Republican Party has done about mental health issues (purposefully without mentioning gun control.) My Representative responded: 1) Without answering my question. 2) Stating the issue with the Air Force files on the most recent incident has been corrected, and 3) focusing on gun control.

In terms of the plan for the tax cuts, interesting how the effects of the debt is less important to those who previously said the debt is of utmost importance. Ah yes – the nature of politics.

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion offers tips for clean eating.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Buick introduces new self-buying car
Nutella briefly entertained as lubricant
New historic evidence suggests most Pilgrims sailed back home to celebrate first Thanksgiving
Smithsonian acquires rare photograph where whole family looks really nice
Substitute teacher can tell he’s filling in for real asshole

Interesting Reads
Can machines become moral?
26 words we don’t want to lose
Ocean’s most-dedicated mothers
Digital privacy upcoming in the high court
60 years after Brown v. Board of Education
(Images) Bumper stickers for subway riders
(Photos) Random photos of the week

For your weekend entertainment, I continue the stretch of Fab Four songs. In the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 319

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Ohio lost a native son who was a statesman an American hero at age 95. John Glenn is one of the original Mercury astronauts who became the first American to orbit our planet, then went on to be a respected US Senator representing my state for 4 terms, a presidential candidate, the oldest person in space, a fighter pilot, and all around good guy. In the famous words spoken by fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter just before Glenn’s historic launch, “Godspeed, John Glenn.”

The Kennedy Center Honors event was recently held, so mark your calendars for the televised event – Tuesday, December 27th, 9-11 pm (Eastern US) on CBS. To me, it’s one of the best entertainment shows of the year.

The demands on the handbell choir during the holiday season continues this weekend. Veni (by Jason Krug) is an interesting twist on a popular carol … just click to listen.

Despite President Obama’s effort, I overcame his obstacles and found my Spumoni ice cream.

Some of you may remember the use of wine corks in our home. Meanwhile, this 1+ minute video offers some clever uses for wine corks.

Even though we didn’t know any of the songs from the musical, we watched Hairspray Live. We were surprised by the quality of Dancing With the Stars’ Derek Hough’s voice. Jennifer Hudson and Kristen Chenoweth delivered impressive performances.

I’m still getting some hours at the golf course; therefore causing me to wonder about the ones playing on cold days.

I worry about the Bengals playing the winless Browns this weekend.

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President-Elect Trump talks about unifying a divided America, yet several of his Cabinet nominees promote division.

Early in the week I heard only bits of an interview that I imagine I would have greatly enjoyed hearing it in its entirety. I found the author’s 3 categories of voters quite amusing: Hobbits, Hooligans, and Vulcans. Here’s a book review.

The fake news story and the subsequent event about Hillary Clinton running a child sex ring out of a popular Washington pizza restaurant was too weird on multiple levels.

A tip of the cap to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 7-minute tribute from the Senate floor to Vice-President Joe Biden (D-DE). See it here.

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
President-elect Trump’s cabinet nominations
Ridership of Cincinnati’s new streetcar being less than projected
Tiger Woods not winning his return tournament
Republicans being divided on what to do with the Affordable Care Act
Possibility of Kim and Kanye divorcing

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, here’s an actual headline from The New Yorker that is very Onion-esque: Ben Carson warns that the Bible makes no mention of housing or urban development … that is just too good because President-elect Trump selected Dr. Carson to be in his cabinet as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Banana still most popular fruit for pretending to make a phone call
Broken ornament relegated to lonely existence on side of tree facing wall
Divorced friend burning through hobbies at unsustainable rate
Man had no idea cough was going to be a wet one
Oprah purists prefer original British version

Interesting Reads
Pearl Harbor myths?
Magic mushrooms
A look back at the first Rocky movie
Life under the ice
(Video) Black hole eating a galaxy
(Photos) Images capturing beauty across Great Britain

Here’s a 2-fer to lead you into the weekend: hits from two recent Kennedy Center Honors recipients. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

Opinions in the Shorts: Vol. 316

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Last weekend we saw a good movie thriller – The Accountant. Thumbs up!

The season finale for Dancing with the Stars is next week. No question, gymnast Laurie Hernandez and racer James Hinchcliffe are the best dancers of the finalists … but anything can happen.

My heart sank when I heard the news about Leonard Cohen, especially for so many Canadians who loved him.

The months of November and December are typically demanding months for handbell choirs, and our choir is no exception. This piece delivers a lot of energy, so enjoy Toccata on King’s Weston arranged by the young man directing this choir. Note: I like watching the four players on the front row closest to the camera.

I’m looking forward to the Kennedy Center Honors telecast in late December. The 2016 honorees are Argentine pianist Martha Argerich, musical group the Eagles, actor Al Pacino, singer Mavis Staples, and musician James Taylor

Headlines from a story in China (not The Onion): Baby monkey befriends a herd of goats (The story)

Here’s a short, humorous read describing capitalism from different global viewpoints. This is definitely amusing.

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Slogans as “change” or “drain the swamp” are shallow. After all, not only do the slogans continue to happen, so does this – victors bring in experience people to bring on a different version of the status quo.

Republicans declaring the election results as “a mandate” bothers me. After all, not only did Mr. Trump not receive more than 50% of the votes, he didn’t receive the most votes. Then again, a mandate-approach is equivalent to providing enough rope.

Retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) introduced a bill to abolish the Electoral College. A question: Were the candidates trying to get the most electoral votes or the total national vote? Sen. Boxer, thank you for your years of service, but it’s time to quietly move into retirement.

Dr. Ben Carson has declined a cabinet position because (to quote his spokesperson) “he has no government experience, he’s never run a federal agency.” Yikes! … This guy ran for the Republican presidential nomination !

Confusion? Donald Trump has the job as President-Elect and Billy Bush doesn’t have a job.

In the name of full disclosure, I searched for and found a quote in preparation for Donald Trump and his supporters challenging the election results. For whatever reason, I didn’t delete it – and it turned out to be very applicable to many Clinton supporters. It seems many seem to prefer finger-pointing over reflection. Besides the violence from the fringe, others have blamed the election results on the FBI Director, the media, the Founding Fathers for the Electoral College process, the uneducated, the lack of voter turnout by Hispanics and African-Americans, and more … while conveniently forgetting that it’s Obama’s fault. 😉 On to the applicable quote.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has spoken. Let there be no doubt, while I strongly disagree with the court’s decision, I accept it. I accept the finality of this outcome which will be ratified next Monday in the Electoral College. And tonight, for the sake of our unity as a people and the strength of our democracy, I offer my concession. I also accept my responsibility, which I will discharge unconditionally, to honor the new President-elect and do everything possible to help him bring Americans together in fulfillment of the great vision that our Declaration of Independence defines and that our Constitution affirms and defends. (Al Gore, 2000)

President Obama’s Five Faults of the Week
Low gasoline prices
The Cincinnati Bengals lousy record during prime-time games
Latest earthquake in New Zealand
Differences between Chicago and New York pizza
Difficulty finding Spumoni ice cream

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To lead you into this week’s dose of satirical headlines, The Onion lists lessons America can learn from the recent election.

Weekly Headlines from The Onion (combos welcome)
Holding trophy above head still number 1 celebration technique
Matt Damon appears fully nude for first time in local man’s imagination
Incoming class of Subway trainees spend week practicing on sandwich cadavers
Accidentally closing browser with 23 tabs open presents rare chance at new life
Empty inner tube ominously exits mouth of lazy river
Mom learns about new vegetable

Interesting Reads
The brain and bad decisions
Black female figures of western art
Dangerous times for the world’s coconuts
50 years ago: McCarty’s fake death
(Photos) Australia’s wild wild west

To lead you into the weekend, here’s a tribute to Leonard Cohen. Hope all is well with you, and in the words of Garrison Keillor, Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.

On a Mad Monday

For the record, I’m not mad that it’s Monday … nor am I mad that the weekend is over … nope, the hectic nature of the holiday season doesn’t make me mad. Therefore, I’ll explain later.

The holiday season is in full swing, and the weekend before Christmas is always hectic. How was your weekend? Ours involved an evening of ballroom and a whirlwind cross-state trip (3+ hours each way). After returning home, tango formation practice and a Christmas party concluded our weekend.

My wife knows many Christmas carols, but I was surprised to discover that she didn’t know this one. Do you know it?

An important reminder to everyone. The Kennedy Center Honors is one of the shows that we love at this time of year. It’s simply several hours of outstanding entertainment and tributes. This year’s honorees are Al Green, Tom Hanks, Sting, Lily Tomlin, and Patricia McBride, so there will be a plethora of outstanding performers participating in the tributes. The event occurred earlier this month, but CBS will air it on December 30 9-11 pm (Eastern US) … and it’s worth the watch!

Celebrations for your week and ahead

  • (Week) Bird Count Week continues
  • (Mon – 22) Haiku Poetry Day, Date Nut Bread Day
  • (Tues- 23) Festivus, Human Light Day, Roots Day, Pfeffernuesse Day
  • (Wed – 24) Egg Nog Day, Last-Minute Shopping Day
  • (Thurs -25) No ‘L’ Day, Pumpkin Pie Day, Merry Christmas
  • (Fri – 26) Whiner’s Day, Boxing Day, Coffee Percolator Day, Candy Cane Day, Thank-You Note Day, Day of Goodwill
  • (Sat – 27) Howdy Doody Day, Visit the Zoo Day, Fruit Cake Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day
  • (Sun -28) Chocolate Day, Endangered Species Day, Card Playing Day, Call a Friend Day, Chocolate Candy Day
  • (Mon – 29) Tick Tock Day, Pepper Pot Day
  • (Tues – 30) Bacon Day, Falling Needles Family Fest Day, Day of Enormous Changes at the Last Minute Day, Relaxation Day, Bicarbonate of Soda Day
  • (Wed – 31) Leap Second Time Adjustment Day, Make Up Your Mind Day, No Interruptions day, One Voice Day, Champagne Day, Universal Hour of Peace Day, Dice Day, Look on the Bright Side Day, World Peace Meditation Day, New Years Eve

To send you into the week, nope – not a holiday song – but a leftover from Life: The Musical – Act 14: Negative Emotions … thus the reason I’m mad … very mad.