Harry Connick Jr.

I had high hopes for Harry Connick Jr.’s new album, True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter. After all, not many singers around today (read: people who are still alive) know who Cole Porter is, or can give his songbook the respect it deserves. Harry’s one of them, and still has the youthful cool cred to enlighten a 21st-century crowd.

Accompanying the album is a return to Broadway for Mr. Connick, a two-time Tony nominee though absent from the Great White Way since 2011. He’ll have his own show at the Nederlander Theatre in December featuring songs (and the orchestra!) from True Love.

Something tells me the show will be great. I’ve seen Harry perform a few times live and he is electric.

His studio album? Eh. Better than your average singer doing Sinatra karaoke (it’s hard not to hear it as that). It’s the music that’s great. Harry’s got enough respect in the music business that the best session players in the world want to record with him, so you can bet his bandmates are the cream of our top-flight music schools. And just as important… Harry can afford them. (When you play for the Yankees you expect to get paid.)

Bottom line: great tunes, solid arrangements, expert playing, but the CD lacks the magic of a live performance.

Guess I’ll have to see the show.

Veterans Day

Many times I have lamented the fact that Veterans Day no longer gets the respect it deserves. After all, it used to be a  holiday, right? As in… no school. What happened? (Think about it–Columbus Day is way more controversial and we’ve still got that one.)

Well, it may not be as bad we think.

Last Friday at my son’s school there was in fact a Veterans Day program, and there are further festivities planned today. At schools across the nation (mine included), veterans are being honored with students actually in school, learning about Veterans Day rather than sitting home watching other people play video games on the Internet (or whatever kids “do” these days).

I like it. I like it, America. And whatever the reason, whatever the season, we at mikeoconnelljr.com (that’s me) salute American veterans and those serving all over the world. Every day.

If you ever needed proof…

I’ve written about this many times, and for years it has been getting not only worse but more obvious: the Blue electoral tsunami rising through Northern Virginia, the kind of crest that tips an entire state. Yes, I live in that embarrassingly-blue sector. We’re rich and we vote like it.

But forget names and labels and parties and median family income. You know you’re in a wealthy area–and one that loves public spending–when bond measures totaling hundreds of millions of dollars pass by margins of four to one!

We keep the entire state afloat–might as well serve ourselves too.

Life is pretty good right now

I’m still basking in the glow of my hometown baseball team’s victory in the World Series. My hometown hockey team (that would be the Capitals) has the best record in the NHL. And I can say with some degree of confidence that my hometown NBA and NFL teams (that would be the Wizards and Redskins) are not the worst teams in their respective leagues.

All those silly campaign signs are coming down today and the Christmas decorations are going up. Does life get any better than this?

Sounds of the game

That clinking sound you heard last night was members of the ’72 Dolphins making toasts following the Baltimore Ravens’ victory over a previously-undefeated New England Patriots. (And the snickering sound you heard was, well, me snickering.)

Yes, I realize the 49ers are still undefeated too, but isn’t it much more satisfying to see the Patriots knocked down a peg?

Just sayin’.

It’s even better than I thought it would be

I started following baseball in 1989.

Seven years later my “hometown” team, the New York Yankees, won its first World Series in 18 years. It was one of the more glorious moments of my 14-year-old life.

In December of 2011 I moved from New York to Virginia, and started following the local baseball team a few months later. That would have been the 2012 Washington Nationals, a team that won the NL East but faltered in the playoffs. “Faltered in the playoffs” would become a theme over the next half dozen seasons, a period in which the Nats topped 95 wins four times but didn’t win a single playoff series.

Then this.

After a woeful 19-31 start, my hometown Nats went on a tear, finishing the season at 93-69, winning the NL Wild Card game, then three straight playoff rounds with no less than four wins in potential elimination games.

I guess I just have to follow a team for seven years and let things work out.

A part of me feels guilty for caring more about this Johnny-come-lately fandom of mine. Seven years hardly matches the quarter century I followed the Yankees. It’s official now, though: I care more about the Nats than I do the Yanks. Can’t help it. After all, I live here now. I don’t just reside here, I don’t just work here or play here; I live here. I read the small-time weekly newspapers. I volunteer with my local PTA. My son plays in a kiddie basketball league. I even recognize names in the local obituaries now. I’m part of this place.

It took seven years, but I really consider myself a Northern Virginia resident now. Thirty years from now I’ll tell the story: it was the Nationals’ winning the World Series that did it.

I can’t add anything more to how glorious this championship season has been. In short, it’s even better than I thought it would be.

After all, I got to be part of it.

Only another boxing metaphor will do

It was 45 years ago today, October 30, 1974. Undefeated world heavyweight champion, George Foreman, fought former champion Muhammad Ali for the heavyweight crown in Kinshasa, Zaire. Colloquially it is known as the Rumble in the Jungle.

Tonight the Houston Astros face the Washington Nationals in Game Seven of baseball’s World Series.

Melee at Minute Maid Park?

Skirmish in Space City?

Well, those don’t quite have the same ring to them. And I can’t guarantee the kind of excitement of that legendary bout.

But honestly, does it get any better than this?

One final game to decide a world championship?

Reason number one billion eight hundred and fifty-seven million why following sports is better than following the news.

Two down, two to go

O… M… G.

Two wins on the road?

This is like a dream, no?

My hometown Nats are two wins from a World Series title, two wins that can be secured at home over the next three evenings.

Did I ever think this was going to happen?

Well, yes, I thought it was going to happen like eight years ago.

But this works too.

Just like that

That’s how it’s done.

It’s called stealing one on the road. Just the way we drew it up. (I saw we not because I’m in uniform or anything but because I feel as though I speak for the DMV.)

So this is destiny. This is history in the making. This is fate. Just like that.

And just like that, we’re three victories from a championship.