Today, as it happens, I was able to watch the all-important game between the United States and Germany, in the 2014 FIFA World Cup. It was all-important, that is, for the United States to end the game with a draw, or with a win, in order to advance to the next stage of the contest. It was not particularly important to Germany at all (I think) as they had sufficient points to progress whatever the result. And in the end, it wasn’t important to the United States either, because even though they lost the game by a score of one goal to zero, they still advanced to the next stage, thanks to a beneficial result in another game being played simultaneously, between Portugal and Ghana.
And it was exciting, let me tell you, watching the United States team grab that glorious defeat which propelled them onwards to perhaps even greater glories in the future. Continue reading World Cup Blues (United States versus Germany 2014)
It’s a bloody and unspeakable vignette far too common in America and in this broken world generally. A 25-year-old man had been doing odd jobs in a neighborhood in Springfield Township, in the state of Ohio, including for a 92-year-old World War II veteran named Hugh, and his wife Ruby, aged 89. Apparently he got the idea that they might have a lot of cash in their home. One day he knocked on their door, which was opened by the frail 89-year-old Ruby. He made pleasant small talk, saying he’d soon be going to college, which made Ruby very glad. Then he asked if he could come in to use their telephone. On being ushered in, he talked with Ruby’s husband, Hugh, while she left the room. When she returned a minute later, she saw to her horror that he was wielding a knife and demanding money. Hugh was enraged, telling the young thug to “go to hell.” The punk swung the knife, slashing the elderly WWII veteran in the face and throat. He died on the floor from his wounds. The attacker then stabbed Ruby, pushing her to the ground. Then he apparently grabbed what he could find in the space of a few minutes. Cops who later picked him up—still in possession of the elderly couple’s credit cards and Ruby’s wedding and engagement rings—estimated that he basically had gotten away with a couple of hundred dollars in cash. Ruby survived long enough to describe to the police what had occurred, but died a week after the brutal attack. Continue reading A Young Punk, a Knife and an Elderly Couple
When some Scotsmen, already distillers of Scotch, decided in 1999 to begin distilling a gin, they had the good sense not to name it something like MacAlastair’s or MacFarlane’s. I think this counts as a case of mind over matter: no matter what the gin tasted like, with a name that evoked Scotland and Scotch whisky, it would simply not taste right. Instead they christened it Hendrick’s, a name seemingly well chosen for its lack of a very obvious national character. It sounds like a name from the British Isles, to be sure, but from where within them, precisely? It stands fairly solidly on its own, a fate that the distillers may well wish for their gin. Continue reading Hendrick’s Gin
There’s a recently-added video on YouTube of singer Regina McCrary appearing for a talk at Belmont University in Nashville. (Thanks to Ronnie for the tip.) She is interviewed by Mark Maxwell. McCrary is a wonderful singer from a very musical family, and, when only about 21, she happened to be selected by Bob Dylan in late 1978 to be one of his backing singers on the album Slow Train Coming, and she went on singing for him both live and on record during what we call his “gospel phase.” In the interview she talks about how it all came about and shares anecdotes and insights. She seems an extremely sweet and likeable woman with a heart that fairly bursts out of her body, so if you’re interested in Dylan generally, and that period in particular, I think you’ll find it a pleasure to hear what she has to say. It’s a little more than half an hour and the strictly-Dylan-related stuff starts about ten minutes in. Continue reading Regina McCrary Talking Bob Dylan
If you live in New York City, the odds are that you’re going to see famous people now and then. Even if you don’t go to their high society parties and clubs (and I for one toss every invitation in the trash on principle), you’re just fairly likely to run into them as they walk upon the sidewalk, something which even the famous must do if ever-so-briefly. Celebrities are no doubt bothered a lot less in Manhattan than they would be outside of it, because most Manhattanites (whether native or New Yorkers-by-choice) are loathe to act like they are at all impressed or fazed by anything or anyone. And then don’t forget that for every A-level famous person there are at least twenty B and C-level ones, some of whose faces may be only teasingly familiar from bit parts on TV shows, and many of them also live in New York City at least part of the time. Continue reading A Man and His Dog