I like it when I get a story from something I’m listening to. Sometimes the story is told by the lyrics themselves, like with a good country ballad. Even better, though, is when there is a backstory. It makes everything much more meaningful knowing, for instance, that Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors album was recorded while both couples in the band were breaking up, or that Beethoven wrote his latest and greatest works when he was completely deaf and could no longer make his living as a performer.

The opéra-ballet, which combines dance with instrumental and vocal music, flourished during the French Baroque era. The emphasis was on spectacle, and common to the genre were exotic locales and ruminations on the nature of love.

New American Songbook: Remembering Phife Dawg

Mar 28, 2016


The recent death of Malik Taylor, known more popularly as Phife Dawg, was marked by dozens of memorials and internet eulogies from all corners of hip hop. Phife was well-known for his role as a founding member of the seminal hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest, alongside rapper Q-Tip and DJ Ali Shaheed Mohammed.

Game music composers mostly work behind the scenes, and with very few exceptions, hardly get mentioned outside of the credits at the end of a game. One of my favorite of these composers is Yoko Shimomura.

'The Young Messiah' Raises Questions

Mar 24, 2016

There's a little mystery about The Young Messiah that suggests to me that there were problems during production.

The Republican National Convention to choose a candidate for president will be held in Cleveland in July. There is no presumed nominee, and there has been no contested convention since 1948. Three candidates, Senator Ted Cruz, Governor John Kasich, and businessman Donald Trump, remain in the race. The Chairperson of the Convention’s Rules Committee, Bruce Ash of Tucson, Arizona, thinks that Cruz and Trump will most likely be the two candidates put forward as nominees at the Convention, but that could change.

This time of year the political news during Kansas’ legislative sessions always gets grimmer and grimmer, and grimmer and grimmer. For the sake of our mental health some of us must seek diversion.

And every recent year, much of that happy diversion has come in the form of Shocker basketball. Coach Marshall probably doesn’t suspect that in addition to shouldering responsibility for getting his team into the playoffs, he’s in charge of keeping progressives like me from utter, devastating despondency.

OnWords: Print

Mar 22, 2016

Many words have been written both in print and online worrying about how we’re writing too many words online and not enough in print.  

One of the more colorful figures in early Wichita was M.R. “Charlie” Cordeiro, who came to town as a scout for the army and later opened a saloon. His time here was turbulent, starting in 1869 with him killing a man out of self-defense. Later, he operated the Texas Hotel/Saloon/Restaurant, albeit in the face of lawsuits among other challenges. By 1874, his former Texas Saloon had been sold in a sheriff’s sale and by 1875, he was a leading member of a party searching for gold in the Black Hills, where some later reports suggested he was killed by Native Americans.

Stephanie Craig

Debut author Jung Yun was born in South Korea and raised in the US. Her dark novel of assimilation, Shelter, is a no holds barred look at the devastating effects of anger and violence as it is inflicted within and upon two generations. In general it is a look at families, but in particular the novel looks at the desperation and redemption in the relationships in three generations of fathers and sons. What price must a son pay for past sins of a father; what kind of father is an inadequate son; and when does desperation get to the point of choosing between redemption and abandonment?