Monthly Archives: May 2013

The Cinch Review

The Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program

Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training ProgramThis dog story was linked on the Drudge Report today, so I suppose about 2.3 billion people have already seen it. However, if you’re among the balance of humanity which has not seen it, and like me you have a special soft-spot for dogs, you should not miss it. It’s by Darci Marchese at WTOP and is the story of the U.S. Army’s Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program, which operates at Walter Reed in Bethesda, MD and a couple of other locations. Briefly, the program gives recently-wounded military veterans an opportunity to do constructive work during their recovery by training dogs who will then help other disabled veterans in a myriad of ways. The story testifies to the emotional benefits that come to those doing this training during what can otherwise be a very dark time for them, and is just another example of the special and mysterious human-canine relationship.

Also fascinating is the way in which the trainers utilize older, experienced dogs to complete tasks, having the rookie dogs watch and learn by example.

Videos below. Continue reading The Warrior Transition Brigade Service Dog Training Program

The Cinch Review

Among the Bravest

Memorial Day in the U.S. is a day to remember those who have fallen in the service of their country, but inevitably also reminds us of those who are risking everything in that service at the present moment. If one does not have a close relative or friend in the military, bearing such burdens, it’s easy to forget that those sacrifices continue to be made. The war in Afghanistan is winding down, right? Imagine how that sounds to someone about to get on a plane and leave his or her family for a tour of duty there, where the threat of attack by suicide bombers and what we could politely call “rogue Afghani security personnel” is more deadly than ever.

Deploying to a war zone is always an act of bravery in itself, but imagine the added challenge of doing it when the mission is so difficult to define. Oh, I have no doubt that those paid to do so have come up with catchphrases for it, both diplomatic and military, but in all honesty, what is it? It is at best something like this: “Complete the drawdown under fire while preserving as much dignity for the U.S. military as possible.” Is that an objective one is prepared to die for? The soldiers must have to reach deep down and see their mission on a broader level and remember somehow that what they’re doing is worthwhile and tell themselves that it contributes to a better future for their kids. But you’d surely like something more sturdy to cling to than an “orderly drawdown.” Continue reading Among the Bravest

The Cinch Review

Bob Dylan at 72 (Finally Acting His Age)

Happy birthday to Bob Dylan, 72 todaySo, Bob Dylan is 72-years-old today. Bob Dylan being that old is not a problem, I think. He wears his age well. As I believe I wrote elsewhere recently, David Bowie being 66 seems a lot stranger than Bob Dylan being 72, and Bowie is a rather uncomfortable and indeed creepy-looking senior citizen. (No offense intended.)

Bob Dylan, on the other hand, started out old. It’s taken him this long to actually become as old as he sounded on his first album. Arguably, he may still have some ways to go. He might be 80 years-old, singing “In My Time of Dyin'” on that debut record.

But he didn’t remain 80 for very long, and he certainly has not aged in the conventional human pattern. Not long after that first album, he obviously got quite a bit younger (“I was so much older then …” etc.). Around 1965/66, Highway 61 and Blonde On Blonde, he was maybe in his late twenties or early thirties. (Although legally and chronologically, he was 24 – 25.)

He made a short foray into his sixties around the time of Nashville Skyline, lazily crooning those old standards he’d just written.

By 1974, and Blood On The Tracks, he had rewound from that and was firmly entrenched in middle age (though his birth certificate asserted that he was 33). Soberly and somberly, he looked back over a life of lost loves and lost chances. Desire, then, and the Rolling Thunder tour, was a mid-life crisis, throwing caution to the wind, dressing silly and hitting the road.

In the mid-1980s, when Bob Dylan was in his early forties, he actually seemed to be that very same age on his records. He sounded just like he was in his early forties! Maybe that was why he felt so apparently disjointed and was dissatisfied with himself and his music.

In the early 1990s, with Good As I Been To You and World Gone Wrong, he sounded at least 20 years older than his actual early-fifties-self, and decidedly more comfortable in his own skin. Continue reading Bob Dylan at 72 (Finally Acting His Age)

Angels of Woolwich

Angels of WoolwichThe story coming out of the public, broad-daylight murder of a British soldier in the Woolwich section of London yesterday includes the actions of three ordinary English women who happened upon the scene: Ingrid Loyau-Kennett, who spoke to one of the killers in an effort to calm him and prevent more bloodshed, and a mother and daughter, Amanda and Gemini Donnelly-Martin, who cradled the body of the brutally butchered British soldier and prayed at his side. All of this took place while the police had yet to arrive. In the British press, they are already being called the “angels of Woolwich.”

So, there is a testimony of actions on May 22nd, 2013, on this street in Woolwich. It looks something like this: The two killers were driving in a car. They saw the soldier, who we now know to be Lee James Rigby. (Whether this was a chance encounter or a carefully planned one is yet to be established.) They swerved their car into him, pinning him against a road-sign or other obstacle. Now that he was injured and disabled, the two men got out of the car with their knives and proceeded to hack him to pieces while yelling “God is great.” That was their act of bravery and their statement of devotion to their god and their chosen culture. And they spent the rest of their time making sure that their pictures were taken and their voices recorded taking credit for what they did and why they did it. Continue reading Angels of Woolwich