Friday, January 16, 2015

In Memoriam: Stefan Schack, 1972 - 2014

Back in my single days, I dated four people who had birthdays during this middle week of January.  I always wondered what it was that attracted these mid-winter babies to a summer person like me.

One of these old flames was Stefan Schack, whose birthday was today (January 16).  Sadly, this was a birthday that Stefan did not live to see.  He passed away on July 29, 2014.

Stefan had a beautiful, deep voice.  He was a man with devoted friends.  And, he had a keen photographer's eye.  (His Instagram account is a wonderful tribute to his love for architecture and the places he visited.)

Via Facebook, I still can read the messages that Stefan and I exchanged.  After Eric and I announced our engagement, he was so gracious, writing, "Hey stranger - heard you are getting married!  Just wanted to say congratulations - wish you the best ... "

I pray that you are resting in peace, Stefan.  The world is less for your early passing.

And, "Happy Birthday!" one last time.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Haul Out The Holly

It's that time of year.

For a "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," here is Angela Lansbury and friends singing "We Need a Little Christmas" as it was first heard in the 1966 musical "Mame."


Hat-tip: Rev. Gerardo Ramirez, who made mention of this tune yesterday on Facebook.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Guadalupe's Day

Many months ago, I spied this Instagram photo (snapped by our friend James) showing a statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Thought I'd share it for today's feast day:

Our Lady of Guadalupe, pray for us.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Uncle Joe's Centennial

My great-great uncle, Joseph Berger, was born 100 years ago today on December 10, 1914, in McDonald, Pennsylvania.

Uncle Joe was the youngest sibling of my maternal great-grandmother, Mary Berger Vincenti (1911 - 1999).  He died in 2012 at the age of 97, making him the longest-lived member of my family.

At the time of Uncle Joe's 95th birthday in 2009, I penned a post on his life.  Among other details, it notes he was the son of immigrants from Belgium.

It was through Uncle Joe and Grandma Vincenti and their sister, Ann Berger Barrick, that my generation received a sliver of connection to that immigrant history (including a delicious recipe for thick Belgian galettes).

Here's to keeping their memory alive for many years to come.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sweet, Sweet Spirit

On Friday night, Eric and I saw an excellent performance of the play "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" presented by Manhattan Theater Works at the 14th Street Y.  Written by Carol Carpenter, it's the story of a Texas family grappling with violence, faith, sexuality, money and more.

The play briefly incorporates the hymn of the same name.  As you might expect, the tune has been in my head ever since (notably memories of the bass part that I once sang in a choral performance).

So, for some Monday morning inspiration, here is a dynamic rendition of "Sweet, Sweet Spirit" by the a cappella quartet For You:

Hat-tip: Our friend, Ann Marie Yali, who is chair of Manhattan Theater Works' board.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Smooth as Silk

One hundred years ago today, the great singer and bandleader Billy Eckstine was born in Pittsburgh.

In a segment marking the centennial, National Public Radio called him "a crooner who crossed barriers."

"Billy Eckstine was smooth as silk. He was tall and handsome, sported a pencil-thin mustache and sang in a distinctive baritone," remarked NPR's Tom Vitale.

In honor of the day, here is Eckstine with Nat King Cole performing "Rosetta":

Hat-tip: 100 Years Ago Today at Twitter (curated by yours truly)

Monday, April 21, 2014


A sunny Easter Monday calls for joyful music.  Here, compliments of Voices of Music, is the lively Bulgarian folk tune "Bučimiš"("бучиниш"):

Hat-tip: 500 Years Ago Today (new Twitter account curated by yours truly)

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A Good Story

I love this commercial from Thailand.  It contains a wonderful, life-affirming message:

"No one saves oneself. The community is essential." - Pope Francis

Hat-tip: Heather K.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Quis dabit oculis

For this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend," below is Costanzo Festa's beautiful and contemplative motet "Quis dabit oculis" (written in early 1514).  I think it lends itself well to the home stretch of Lent.


Hat-tip: 500 Years Ago Today (a new Twitter account curated by yours truly)

Monday, March 31, 2014

Friday, March 28, 2014

It Goes Without Saying

I recently have begun to explore the music of Nico Muhly.  His Wikipedia profile describes him as a contemporary classical music composer and arranger.  Two loaded words there: "contemporary" and "classical."  I aspire to one day have the time and talent to properly unpack them.  But, before then, let's listen to one of Muhly's works in this space.

Below is the instrumental composition "It Goes Without Saying" for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."  It's a clarinet piece featuring "metallic noises" (including that of a kitchen whisk) and "warm, woody sounds."  It's a stretch to call this tune "peaceful" but it's a fun ride.


Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Million Miles Away

I love the pacing and peacefulness of "The Moon Song" from the movie "Her."  It speaks well of the quiet and tender moments of love that can be shared by two people.

Here it is below for this week's "YouTube clip for a peaceful weekend."


Here are the tune's lyrics from the pens of Karen O and Spike Jonze:

"I'm lying on the moon
My dear, I'll be there soon
It's a quiet starry place
Time's we're swallowed up
In space we're here a million miles away

"There's things I wish I knew
There's no thing I'd keep from you
It's a dark and shiny place
But with you my dear
I'm safe and we're a million miles away

"We're lying on the moon
It's a perfect afternoon
Your shadow follows me all day
Making sure that I'm okay and
We're a million miles away"

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ever By Your Side

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

From the great John Rutter, a rather Irish-sounding blessing for the day:

Flashback: St. Paddy's 2010

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Emma Claire

Earlier today, my friends John and Allison Welch welcomed their third daughter into the world.  Emma Claire (pictured at right) weighed in at six pounds, 10 ounces.

She is a new sister for Molly and Nora.

Welcome to the party, little Emma!  I know the Holy Spirit will be your guide.

Emma is the second of four babies to be born to friends this year.  I have been remiss in noting the January 22 birth of Catherine Bridget Woods Dionisio ("Bridie"), the daughter of our church pals Nik and Katie.  In the late spring, my college buddy Alicia and her husband Mario are expecting their firstborn. My old friend Kelvin and his wife Courtney are expecting their second child this year, too.

Thanks heavens for this bumper crop!  Cue Maurice Chevalier: