Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Blood Moon

I don' t know about you, but early this morning, I was up and out of bed to try and see the "blood moon" that astronomers and newscasters had promised would be visible overnight. So, a little after two a.m., I opened the front door and went outside.  I scanned the sky for the moon and finally found it between my house and the next door neighbor's house. The moon was full, but partially covered on one side by a crescent-shaped shadow that looked like a chunk of the moon had been eaten by a hungry mouse, thinking the moon was a wheel of cheddar cheese.

What I was seeing was the beginning of a total lunar eclipse. That type of eclipse only occurs when the sun, the moon and the Earth line up just so.  The eclipse is caused by the shadow from the Earth. Apparently, it is called a "blood moon" because as the eclipse progresses, the moon takes on a bloody reddish brown color caused by the refraction of sunlight in the Earth's atmosphere.

Fascinating stuff and beautiful to see.  If you missed this one, rhe next one w on't occur until October 8, 2014. So, Mark your calendars!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Prairie Home Companion

I have been a fan of Garrison Keillor  and his public radio show, The Prairie Home Companion, for as long as I can remember. Set in the fictional Minnesota town of Lake Wobegone, it is probably the last true variety show in America. And undoubtedly the best.
The show features Keillor, who writes the scripts for the show, in just about every role. Backed by an extremely talented supporting cast, a supurb orchestra and crew, the show (which airs from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Eastern time zone on Saturdays, but not every week, so check the schedule) just flies by. It is filled with equal doses of humor, pathos and beautiful music, all orchestrated by the multi talented Keillor. Keillor sings, does a little dance shuffle, and tells a number of jokes, mostly good-natured ones about the quirks of Minnesota residents.
One recent Saturday night, my wife and I had the good fortune to have tickets to the show at the Fitzgerald Theatre in downtown St. Paul. The theatre is named after the author of The Great Gatsby,F Scott Fitzgerald, who was born in St. Paul. Our seats were on the very edge of the first balcony, where we had a birds-eye view of the show as it was broadcast live across America and the world via Armed Forces Radio. The show began with Keillor walking down the center aisle singing a welcoming song. And the show ended with Keillor  and the other performances singing This Little Light of Mine. In between were comedy skits,  including Guy Noir and Keillor's famous Lake Woebegone monologue as well as performances by the Steele sisters and Willie Watson on the banjo. All the performers received a standing ovation at the end of the show and deservedly so.
If you get the chance, but all means take in a performance.