Good morning, all! As August edges toward September and the pennant race heats up it feels like a good time for a baseball check-in as well as a couple culture recommendations. I’ll leave the Browns game recap to exponentially more qualified personnel.
At the end of play on Sunday, the Cleveland Indians held a 12-game lead over the second-place Minnesota Twins. The Tribe is well positioned to finish strong and capture their third straight Central Division Championship. The next question concerns whom they will play. The Red Sox (88-37) feel like a safe bet to win the AL East. The defending champion Houston Astros’ (75-49) once-inevitable AL West title appears to be much less certain thanks to Oakland’s (74-50) outstanding second-half play. The Yankees (78-46) are penciled in to host the Wild Card Game against either Oakland or Houston (or Seattle I guess). The field favors the Indians who can tussle with the AL West winner while the Wild Card club is forced to face the dominant Red Sox. Baseball’s playoffs are consistently unpredictable, but I certainly like Cleveland’s chances more against the Astros or A’s in the first round. If nothing else, there isn’t a bad playoff history between either opponent for the Indians.
Last week my wife and I had the tremendous fortune to see “Hamilton: An American Musical” live at Playhouse Square. If you have not yet had a chance to see it yet I cannot endorse this production enough. All the actors tread the boards masterfully and the songs are among some of the most cleverly written text you’ll ever hear. Tickets are still available through the box office though you can always try your luck with the secondary market. In case you’re unfamiliar, the performance is a hip-hop musical that tells the story of the United States’ first Treasury Secretary Alexander Hamilton. I know that last sentence reads like a particularly unlikely Mad Lib, but trust me that it is exceptional from stem to stern. In case you cannot see the show live you can find the music on YouTube, Spotify, or elsewhere on the Internet. I nearly memorized all the songs before seeing the show and it only enhances the experience in my opinion. In case you need a starter, here are a few songs from the show including “Alexander Hamilton”…
… and “Helpless.”
Also, the show is narrated by Aaron Burr who will eventually kill our protagonist and the song “Satisfied” includes the fantastic lyric “Because I’m the oldest and the wittiest and the gossip in New York City is insidious” which will delightfully confound your tongue.
If you’re still looking for music after “Hamilton” I recommend Rise Against’s newest album “The Ghost Note Symphonies, Vol. 1.” Rise Against has historically interspersed their punk sound with softer changes of pace. In this album, the band revisits ten songs from their catalog and re-imagines them in acoustic style. The beauty comes from how the songs are rarely just a lone guitar but instead incorporates strings, piano, and a gentler sound that contrast sharply with some of their earlier work. “House on Fire” is a standout tune as well as “Voices Off Camera” I also want to shout out one of my favorite lyrics from the song “Audience of One” which goes, “I brought down the sky for you, but all you did was shrug.” That’s good writing.1
Hopefully some or all of this music brightens your day!