Monthly Archives: April 2013

The Cinch Review

George Jones’ funeral to be open to the public

The funeral of country singer extraordinaire George Jones will be this coming Thursday at 10 a.m.; it will take place at Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry House (where else?) and the public will be permitted to attend.

My guess is that it will prompt a kind of outpouring rarely seen. There will an awful lot of ordinary people who will want to pay their respects to George Jones, people who felt like they knew him, and felt like they were somehow blessed and helped through some of the darker times in life by his way with a song.

It would be nice to think that George might be watching from a window up above.

Hey, that reminds me of a song. Indeed, “Window Up Above” is one of George Jones’ greatest hits, dating from about 1960. George has been known primarily as a vocalist, but this is one of his own songs, and a beautiful tune it is too, a song of broken love of the kind Jones sang so well, with a melody both lilting and mournful. Continue reading George Jones’ funeral to be open to the public

George Jones

George Jones, Now Resting in Peace

George Jones, Rest in PeaceGeorge Jones is reported to have died, at the age of 81, after being hospitalized in Nashville with a high fever and irregular blood pressure.

He had a life that was full—at times far too full, which makes it such a blessing that he lasted this long—yet there’s something unusually sad about the news of his loss for me today, and I’m sure for countless others. We’re commonly told of how so many people are irreplaceable, and no doubt everyone is irreplaceable, but George Jones must then count as being exceptionally irreplaceable. I wasn’t much of a fan of his as a young lad, but grew to deeply love his music in recent years. His ability to wring so many spoonfuls of nuance out of the singing of a single syllable … the peerless way in which he expressed vulnerability, pain, and hopeless love. And, then, the way at other times he could be a supreme hoot. Continue reading George Jones, Now Resting in Peace

The Cinch Review

One Penny Might Kill a Pooch

zinc pennies toxic to dogsMost dog owners would be familiar with the list of things you’re supposed to keep away from your dog: chocolate, chicken bones, recordings of “Old Shep” and the like. However, this one was new to me: Apparently, one cent coins minted in the United States since 1982 contain zinc, and if such is swallowed by a dog and remains in the stomach long enough for the gastric acid to penetrate it, the zinc from a single cent can lethally poison the dog. It apparently interferes with red blood cell production.

The story happened to hit the news after this very scenario unfolded with a Westie named Sierra, owned by a lady named Maryann Goldstein in Colorado, who is now endeavoring to draw attention to the risk. Continue reading One Penny Might Kill a Pooch

The Cinch Review

The King of Love My Shepherd Is

Psalm 23 - The King of Love My Shepherd IsToday was what is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday” in many Christian churches, the appointed psalm being Psalm 23, and the gospel from John, chapter 10. And the second reading one may have heard, from Revelation, chapter 7, has this:

For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

It’s natural to focus on the promise of every tear being wiped away, which is that which we all long for, but the image of the Lamb being the shepherd is such a beautiful and mysterious and imponderable thing, and all the more worth pondering for that. Continue reading The King of Love My Shepherd Is

The Cinch Review

Questions Avoided and Answers Evaded

Boston marathon bombings - avoided questions and evaded answersI don’t personally watch very much television, and essentially zero television news. Like many others these days, I suppose, I largely read about the news that interests me on the internet. Yesterday was an exception, albeit that the television news broadcasts I was watching came via the internet, consisting of local Boston coverage of the pursuit of the marathon bomber(s). The tone of what I was watching fairly shocked me, the more so as the day went on. I know that political correctness is a very powerful force, but I would have thought that given the gravity and drama of what was going down, it would be superseded by a more fundamental journalistic drive to get at the truth. In this I was naïve.

The syndrome at work was epitomized by an interview I saw take place with some casual friends of 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev at UMass Dartmouth. They regularly played soccer with him, and, as with seemingly the great majority of his acquaintances, they had only benign things to say about him. The reporter interviewing them (I think it was WBZ but I couldn’t swear) was naturally enough trying to dig up anything that might have indicated that the younger Tsarnaev was capable of setting bombs to kill random innocent people. She was coming up empty in terms of his general demeanor. People seemed to find him likeable, if quiet. So, she asked: “Did he ever talk about politics?” She got a negative response. The interview went on a little bit, and then she asked the same question: “Did he ever talk about politics to you?” The same answer came back: no, he did not seem very concerned about political issues. The interview continued, with more on his general behavior and school-related activities. Then (as I recall it) she asked yet another time: “Did he ever talk about politics?” It got the same answer from his soccer-playing acquaintances as before: no, he did not. Asking the same question three times seemed kind of silly, but the really crowningly-silly thing was the avoidance of asking a fairly similar question that surely was crying out to be asked, given the circumstances. That would have been: “Did he ever talk about religion, about Islam?” Despite the knowledge at this point that he was a Muslim from Chechnya, where an Islamist insurgency has been active for years, and despite the knowledge already being disseminated elsewhere regarding various internet postings by him and his older brother indicating their favor for extreme Islamic ideas, a simple question to his friends about whether he discussed religion with them was seemingly off-limits. I have no idea what their answer would have been—whether he kept that aspect of himself private or not—but surely the question begged to be asked. Asking about “politics” over and over again was, I think, the reporter’s attempt to ask it without actually using the relevant word, as if some kind of crime would be committed by the mere suggestion from her that religious ideas might possibly have played a role in the violent terroristic actions of two young Muslim men. Continue reading Questions Avoided and Answers Evaded

The Cinch Review

Mayhem in Watertown and Boston

Mayhem in Watertown and BostonJust a couple of thoughts this morning as the breaking news from Boston continues to break with regard to the hunt for the April 15th marathon bombers:

The story of the pursuit of the two (who’ve been identified as Chechens, and Islamists by ideology, although apparently living in the U.S. since childhood) through the streets of Watertown sounds like something from a TV show like “24.” The most mind-boggling thing of all is that one of the terrorists succeeded in escaping, despite being pursued by every law enforcement resource that could be thrown at him. This happens on TV and in the movies all the time; you just don’t seriously expect it to happen in real life.

With the lock-down in Watertown, adjacent towns and cities (and indeed almost the entire Greater Boston area, the last time I heard) one can only imagine how anxious many people in the area feel. Women living alone, elderly people, parents with young children and indeed everybody. They’ve been told there is an armed terrorist killer on the loose, and advised not to leave their homes. Well, what do you do if he comes to your door or window? By the time you called the police and they arrived, you and your family could be dead as dead can be. Or, at the least, hostages. (And it is obviously highly likely that the fugitive is in someone’s home keeping any occupants as hostages right at this moment.) It does seem to yours truly that this is a time when the only possible source of any peace of mind would be the Second Amendment. But not too many people in those neighborhoods would be owners of firearms.

Here’s praying for a conclusion to this drama without further injury and loss of life, and also a prayer for those who have already been injured or who have lost loved ones. Continue reading Mayhem in Watertown and Boston

The Cinch Review

In a Bend of the River, Driftin’ Too Far from Shore

Bend of the River Driftin Too Far from ShoreYours truly and his better half happened to be watching the classic western movie “Bend of the River” the other night night (directed by Anthony Mann and starring James Stewart and Arthur Kennedy), and I had one of those weird Bob-Dylan-fan-déjà-vu moments. A line spoken by one of the characters started a Bob Dylan song going in my head, but I didn’t quite locate which song it was in my mind until after the film was done. The line is spoken by Arthur Kennedy (playing the outlaw Emerson Cole) to Jimmy Stewart (playing the reforming-outlaw Glyn McClyntock), as Cole is leaving McClyntock behind after hijacking the wagons that were bringing desperately-needed supplies to some settlers in Oregon. Previously, the Stewart character had saved the Kennedy character from being hung by vigilantes. Since then, there had been a number of additional violent scrapes, and Kennedy’s character had arguably saved Stewart’s life at least a couple of times. So, after robbing and abandoning him, he says this to Stewart/McClyntock: “I figure we’re even. Maybe I’m one up on ya.”

Dylan incorporated this into his 1986 song “Driftin’ Too Far from Shore,” in the last two lines of the following verse: Continue reading In a Bend of the River, Driftin’ Too Far from Shore

The Cinch Review

Carnage at the Boston Marathon

Three people dead, at this point, after the bombings in Boston yesterday, and over one hundred and seventy people injured, many seriously and with lost limbs. IEDs on the streets of an American city, targeting the most helpless in their moment of innocent joy.

Maybe you’re like me and you went to bed last night thinking: Well, there’s a lot of rumors and speculation flying around, but by morning things will have been pulled together and we’ll have a clear idea of what this was about. The big surprise today is that this is not the case. There is only a “person of interest,” a young Saudi, who’s apartment has been searched but apparently has not been arrested. We have become accustomed, in the wake of jihad attacks across the world, to know almost immediately who was responsible (at least in general terms) because the perpetrators very much want everyone to know who committed the carnage and why. So either this is the work of one or more jihadis who are for some reason not following the script, or it is the work of some monster or monsters with a different kind of motivation.

The thought that people capable of such despicable evil may still be at large and planning more such acts is no doubt giving the investigators a radical sense of urgency. And here’s to their quick success.

Dylan Taylor Mitchell Anti-Communist Agents

Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell: Anti-Communist Agents?

Dylan, Taylor, McLean, Mitchell, anti-communist agentsOf all the stories that could potentially be generated from the millions of secret documents recently released by Wikileaks, this one seems to be getting the most attention today. In 1975, in a memo to Washington and the Kissinger-led U.S. State Department, the then-U.S. Ambassador to Russia, Walter Stoessel Jr., suggested that various top musical acts should be entreated to tour in the Soviet Union, apparently with the ultimate goal of weakening the communist system. Names he mentioned included Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Carly Simon and Carole King. One’s initial reaction has to be that it seems a curious group to be approached to undermine communism in the U.S.S.R., as some would have argued that (at least) one or two on that list were promoting the same thing at home in the U.S.A.. Continue reading Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Don McLean, Joni Mitchell: Anti-Communist Agents?