All the writing books concentrate on beginnings and endings. Very few of them consider the middle, or even the middle of the beginning.
This is sort of akin to concentrating on your flight experience by making sure you have a good takeoff and a good landing and not caring in the least if your pilot decides to do loop-de-loops in the middle.
There are reasons for this, of course. I read somewhere that most of the fatal accidents in flights occur during takeoff and landing, and the same thing sort of applies to a book.
If you fail to capture the reader’s interest within the first few pages, you are clearly not going to make a sale. And if you end the book so disastrously that the reader feels cheated and wants to throw things at your head, you’re probably never going to make another sale to this person (and might have to wear protective head gear while traveling in their region).
But just because the moment of takeoff and landing, and the moments of starting and ending a book matter, it doesn’t mean that what goes in the middle is irrelevant.
I mean, consider the idea that you buy a flight to Poughkeepsie in the fine state of NY. Perhaps you have a hankering to visit the historic Vanderbilt Mansion.
Suppose that your plane takes off beautifully, and lands beautifully, but instead of taking you to the Queen City of the Hudson, the pilot decides it’s less trouble and much better for all concerned if he flies a few circles around the airport and then lands you back where you started.
No one would be that silly, you say?
Ah—you clearly haven’t read some of the books I’ve read.
It is actually a fairly common mistake, particularly of rookie authors still uncertain of their plot, to put all the might of their limited craft into starting and ending the book. Meanwhile, they have what I’ve grown to call “something goes here” middles.
The problem is that, in writing as in flights, if you’re going around in circles, no matter how entertaining you make the trip, calling out all the landmarks, if your book is going nowhere, people notice. After a while your reader starts asking: “Is this all there is? Is she running from the bad guys again? Haven’t we seen this before? But… nothing is solved.”
Last time around, I started quite a conversation about the merits, or lack thereof, of Pink Floyd and Bob Marley.
Now we’re dispatching three additional sacred musical cows to the slaughterhouse:
#3: Stevie Wonder
At the risk of wandering into Elvis Costello territory — yes, he really did say this — I’m gonna come right out with it:
If Stevie Wonder wasn’t black and blind, there’s no way he’d be as highly esteemed as he is.
A white guy who named himself “Wonder” would never hear the end of it. Instead, we never hear the end of Stevie’s songs, especially on American Idol.
OK, so that’s not his fault, but you know what is?
Besides The Secret Life of Plants and “I Just Called To Say I Love You” and “Ebony and Ivory”?
The song below.
I’m indebted to David Stubbs for putting my incoherent dislike of Songs in the Key of Life into words:
“Isn’t She Lovely” transcribes to vinyl every last icky-cooing dollop of sentimental gloop to which once-sentient adults are reduced when they have babies and, true to the album’s form, lasts longer than purgatory. Several minutes into this, with no light at the end of the tunnel of choruses, King Herod seems like one of the Bible’s more engaging and reasonable characters. “I Wish” contains the most ridiculously misty-eyed and excruciatingly doggerel-ridden reminiscence on childhood.
I think Allahpundit hit a home run in his analysis of the impact that pro basketball player Jason Collins’ self-outing will have on the country:
Easy prediction: 75 percent of the public will be casually supportive or casually disapproving but either way almost entirely indifferent. Fifteen percent, including lots of pols, celebrities, and the media, will support him enthusiastically. The other 10 percent will hassle him on the court or from the stands either because they dislike gays or just to spite the 15 percent of “opinion leaders” on the other side. Collins will get a standing O at his first home game next year — if he ends up being signed — and some fans on the road will get nasty with him when he fouls someone too roughly. He’ll do a few ads. Then, after a few months, with rare exceptions, everyone will get bored with it.
I’m already bored with it and it’s been just a few hours since the story broke. I am happy that Mr. Collins is at peace with himself and can now live his life freely. But is he a “hero” for coming out of the closet? Anyone with half a brain could have predicted the outpouring of love, support, and sympathy from most of the country who cares about these things. Everyone wanted to rush out their statement, or Tweet, or Facebook posting, trying to be first in proving just how tolerant they are. I suppose this is better than the alternative, but really — can we try to be a little more realistic and place Mr. Collins’ action in perspective?
A marginal pro athlete at the end of a solid career (you don’t last 12 seasons in the NBA without being a good contributor) admits to the world that he’s gay. I’ll admit it’s a novelty — the first active pro athlete to publicly declare himself a homosexual.
But what does it change? How many bigots will alter their views of gays and come to embrace them? If the reaction from some haters is any indication, not too many. Within minutes of the story breaking, ESPN sportscaster Chris Broussard was telling the world that Mr. Collins wasn’t a Christian:
Personally, I don’t believe that you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle or an openly, like premarital sex between heterosexuals. If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you know them by their fruits. It says that, you know, that’s a sin. If you’re openly living in unrepentant sin, whatever it may be, not just homosexuality, whatever it maybe, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God and to Jesus Christ. So I would not characterize that person as a Christian because I don’t think the bible would characterize them as a Christian.
And American Family Association spokesman Bryan Fischer couldn’t help himself, I suppose:
“I will guarantee you,” said Fischer, “if the ownership of whatever team is thinking about bringing him back, or thinking about trading for him, and they go to the players on that team and they say ‘How do you feel about an out active homosexual being in the same locker room, sharing the same shower facilities with you?’ they’ll say no way. I don’t want that. I do not want some guy, a teammate, eyeballing me in the shower.”
A little projection by Fischer?
Editor’s Note: Starting today, Robert Spencer’s weekly PJ Lifestyle article analyzing stories on Jihad terror from a cultural perspective will appear on Mondays, our day focused on family, parenting, motherhood, fatherhood, and relationships. With this shift in publication date also comes a change in angle. A broader picture of the motives behind the 4/15/13 Boston terror attack is beginning to come into greater clarity. Who radicalized these once American young men? The picture that has emerged is one common throughout the Muslim world: sons drink in the hate and anti-Americanism as they would mother’s milk. The disturbing proclamations of mama and papa Tsarnaev make clear that these were not two sons led astray by malevolent outside influence.
So on Mondays Robert will explore the relevant Jihad stories of the week through a family-centric lens, considering male-female dynamics in the Muslim world and the Koran’s influence on defining the ideals of masculinity and femininity. What does Islam proscribe for how to raise children and maintain a family? What can Muslim parents in America do to make sure their sons do not become Tamerlans and Dzhokhars? And what are other parents like the Tsarnaevs secretly doing right now to prepare their children for the glory of martyrdom? How does one raise a future Jihadist who loves death more than Americans love life? I look forward to seeing Robert explore these subjects and hope you will join us each week at PJ Lifestyle.
- David Swindle
In the movie Prizzi’s Honor, Jack Nicholson plays mafia hitman Charley Partanna, who is known as “Straight-Arrow Charley, the All-American Hood” for dutifully and unquestioningly carrying on the family business in which he was raised. And as more details emerge about the family of Boston Marathon jihad bombers Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, it’s increasingly clear that they, too, were just carrying on the family business: jihad.
Zubeidat Tsarnaeva is proud of her boys. She insists that they didn’t set off the bombs in Boston, and that in fact, the whole thing was staged. The bombings, she said, were just a “really big play” featuring “paint instead of blood.” Consistency is not her strong suit, for she also said: “What happened is a terrible thing but I know my kids have nothing to do with this. I know it, I am mother.” She claimed that her sons were targeted because they were Muslim, and said: “America took my kids away from me. I’m sure my kids were not involved in anything.”
The bombers’ father, Anzor Tsarnaev, struck a tone more of grief than accusation. He assured the world: “I am not angry at anyone,” although he hinted that he also accepted his wife’s conspiracy theory when he added: “I want to go find out the truth.” Go, that is, to the United States, although plans for the trip have since been scrapped due to the possibility that he and/or his wife could be arrested if they do come here. “I want to say that I am going there to see my son, to bury the older one. I don’t have any bad intentions.” He added reassuringly: “I don’t plan to blow up anything.”
Just as Hitler loved his dogs, Tamerlan Tsarnaev loved his mama. Just before getting into a shootout with police in Watertown, Massachusetts, he called her on his cellphone and gave her the news:
The police, they have started shooting at us, they are chasing us….Mama, I love you.
Former President Bill Clinton, who just joined Twitter this month, applauded the decision of NBA player Jason Collins to come out as gay.
Collins, a center for the Washington Wizards, wrote a lengthy piece for the May 6 issue of Sports Illustrated explaining his decision.
“I didn’t set out to be the first openly gay athlete playing in a major American team sport. But since I am, I’m happy to start the conversation. I wish I wasn’t the kid in the classroom raising his hand and saying, ‘I’m different.’ If I had my way, someone else would have already done this. Nobody has, which is why I’m raising my hand,” Collins wrote.
Many well-known names quickly rallied to his defense on Twitter, including Clinton.
“I’m proud to call Jason Collins a friend,” Clinton tweeted, linking to a longer statement at his foundation’s website.
“I have known Jason Collins since he was Chelsea’s classmate and friend at Stanford. Jason’s announcement today is an important moment for professional sports and in the history of the LGBT community,” Clinton said. “It is also the straightforward statement of a good man who wants no more than what so many of us seek: to be able to be who we are; to do our work; to build families and to contribute to our communities. For so many members of the LGBT community, these simple goals remain elusive. I hope that everyone, particularly Jason’s colleagues in the NBA, the media and his many fans extend to him their support and the respect he has earned.”
Jason Collins quietly paid tribute to Matthew Shephard, a young gay man who was murdered in 1998, when he changed his number to 98 in 2012.
— Michael Skolnik (@MichaelSkolnik) April 29, 2013
It was obvious. Jason Collins is the only guy in the NBA not defending a paternity suit. #gaydar
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) April 29, 2013
Last week I wrote about my “evolution” on guns during the Boston manhunt:
In the middle of that night listening to the Boston police scanner, I evolved. I realized right then that if I were holed up in my house while a cold-blooded terrorist roamed my neighborhood, I wouldn’t want to be a sitting duck with only a deadbolt lock between me and an armed intruder. There are not enough police and they cannot come to my rescue quickly enough. They carry guns to protect themselves, not me. I knew at that instant if Dzhokhar Tsarnaev showed up at my door while I was “sheltered-in-place” and aimed a gun at my head and only one of us would live, I could pull the trigger.
Once I made the decision that I would not be a victim, I began to research my options for home protection. I plan to share the experience of choosing my first gun in a future post but first I’d like to deal with some of the moral implications of the decision to purchase, own — and potentially use — a gun.
I wrote about one of the reasons I refrained from owning a gun for many years:
The other thing holding me back was my belief that if you’re going to own a gun, you must be willing to shoot to kill…I searched my heart and realized that in the heat of the moment of an attack, I wasn’t sure what I would do with a gun in my hand. I knew that could be more dangerous than being unarmed; it wasn’t worth the risk.
A gun is an inanimate object and as such is morally neutral. Lying on a table, tucked under a mattress, or locked in a gun safe it cannot kill, inflict harm, or protect its owner. However, the fact that a gun is in one’s home creates the potential for both danger and protection depending on many variables, including the training, skill, and temperament of the residents of the home and the mental capacity and willingness of the gun owners to use the weapon, whether in self-defense or to inflict intentional harm.
While I understand that many who grew up around guns accept them as a normal part of life, for me, it’s a decision that requires serious introspection and moral evaluation. Though I passionately support the Second Amendment, I confess that I had never taken the time to earnestly contemplate its practical applications. Perhaps this is because I’ve mostly lived in safe, virtually crime-free neighborhoods and have never experienced violent crime. Whatever the reason, it’s not an excuse to jump into gun ownership without first embarking on this intellectual exercise.
Last week I maintained that the patriarch Abraham is in certain key ways a paradigmatic figure for today’s Israel. A paradigm, though, would be expected to show some consistency in his conduct. In at least one important regard, Abraham seems to engage in behaviors that radically contradict each other.
When God prepares to leave Abraham’s tent encampment for Sodom, having heard that “sin is very grievous” there and in Gomorrah, Abraham rightly infers that—should the rumors turn out to be true—God intends to do away with these dens of depravity. Yet, at that point, Abraham seems to show incredible chutzpah: he confronts God with a series of questions that seem to challenge the morality of “the Judge of all the earth”—as Abraham, who appears well aware that he’s on shaky ground, takes care to address him.
Yet later in the story, when this same God, whom Abraham has had the audacity to challenge, commands Abraham to “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest” and turn him into a burnt offering on a mountain–Abraham meekly, humbly, and unquestioningly sets out to do exactly that.
How can the same Abraham who seemed to stand up for the people of Sodom and Gomorrah, to the point of morally accosting the deity, immediately accept the decree to sacrifice his son?
Week 12 of my second 13 week season: low-carb diet and more exercise, tracking my weight, blood glucose, and body fat. You can follow me at my 13 Weeks Facebook page for daily updates, and you can join Fitocracy (free!) and follow my daily exercise, and maybe even start tracking your own.
You know what’s worse than a day of nonstop meetings? Five days of nonstop meetings. That was my week at the day job, which meant lots of stress and lots of unusual socializing. Still, it wasn’t all bad by any means, and the numbers this week have done well. I lost all of that peculiar bounce and was down to 269 lbs again on Wednesday; this brought the seven-day average down to 270, and as you’ll see in my bodyweight chart I’ve had more and more days under 270 and am still losing weight, albeit slowly.
In a belated rush of intelligence, I got around to setting up my spreadsheet to compute the standard deviation of both my weight and my glucose. For those of you who aren’t statistics nerds, the standard deviation is a measure of how “wide” a distribution of numbers is, or in other words, how much things vary just randomly. It turns out the standard deviation of my weight is about 2.2 lbs. What that means is that if my weight weren’t changing at all, you would still expect to see it vary outside the range of roughly 268 and 272 pounds 3 days in 10.
The point is: when you’re losing weight slowly, it’s going to be hard to tell you’re losing weight at all.
I’ve got to admit right now I’m puzzled what the best thing to tell people might be if they were doing their own program. We all know that weight shouldn’t matter, but it does. A lot of people have suggested just weighing once a week, but that doesn’t actually help much, as you can see in the table. The standard deviation tells us that you have to lose about 5 lbs before you can have much confidence it’s not just random variation for a single measurement.
What you can do, though, is look at the graph:
On the chart you can see that I’m spending more days under 270 than I was before — something between 20 and 25 percent of the time in the last half of the 13 week experiment.
That’s the question asked in the 1st chapter of a book I am reading called Escaping the Endless Adolescence: How We Can Help Our Teenagers Grow Up Before They Grow Old. From the description:
Do you sometimes wonder how your teen is ever going to survive on his or her own as an adult? Does your high school junior seem oblivious to the challenges that lie ahead? Does your academically successful nineteen-year-old still expect you to “just take care of” even the most basic life tasks?
Welcome to the stunted world of the Endless Adolescence. Recent studies show that today’s teenagers are more anxious and stressed and less independent and motivated to grow up than ever before. Twenty-five is rapidly becoming the new fifteen for a generation suffering from a debilitating “failure to launch.” Now two preeminent clinical psychologists tell us why and chart a groundbreaking escape route for teens and parents.
Drawing on their extensive research and practice, Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen show that most teen problems are not hardwired into teens’ brains and hormones but grow instead out of a “Nurture Paradox” in which our efforts to support our teens by shielding them from the growth-spurring rigors and rewards of the adult world have backfired badly. With compelling examples and practical and profound suggestions, the authors outline a novel approach for producing dramatic leaps forward in teen maturity, including:
• Turn Consumers into Contributors Help teens experience adult maturity–its bumps and its joys–through the right kind of employment or volunteer activity.
• Feed Them with Feedback Let teens see and hear how the larger world perceives them. Shielding them from criticism–constructive or otherwise–will only leave them unequipped to deal with it when they get to the “real world.”
• Provide Adult Connections Even though they’ll deny it, teens desperately need to interact with adults (including parents) on a more mature level–and such interaction will help them blossom!
• Stretch the Teen Envelope Do fewer things for teens that they can do for themselves, and give them tasks just beyond their current level of competence and comfort.
The authors point out that even young people who appear to be succeeding by conventional standards wake up in their mid-twenties clueless about how to find a job, manage money, cook, or live on their own. They are educated but unable to care for themselves. “Twenty-five is now becoming the new fifteen.”
According to the authors, teens are living in a “bubble” that is undermining their development. They have their room at home, school, the shopping mall etc. but it,
“cuts them off from meaningful roles in the adult world, cuts them off from close day-to-day contact with adults, and it hyperexposes them to peer relationships, which become their primary socializing influences.”
The last chapter of the book points out that the staples of the Adulthood Diet are Challenge and Feedback. Teens don’t get much of it in their lives. We have done away with competition (too masculine, I suppose) and real-world feedback (kids need high self-esteem!) and therefore they never learn to master the larger world.
The book instructs parents and adults in how to teach kids to grow up and be an adult in today’s modern world. That’s no small feat. But better late than never because twenty-five should never be the new fifteen.
There was a time in my country when, among other unpleasant duties, the prison doctor was required to assess prisoners for their fitness for execution. Needless to say, not much attention was paid in medical school to this particular skill: the physician was on his own because in those days there were no such things as official guidelines. The rough and ready rule was that a man was fit to be executed if he knew that he was to be executed and why. It was the death-penalty equivalent of informed consent to surgery.
One of the last British executioners, Albert Pierrepoint, who hanged about 600 people, wrote in his memoirs that he was often asked if people struggled on their way to the gallows. He replied that he had known only one do so; to which he added, by way of explanation, “And he was a foreigner.” However, foreign nationality was not in itself a contraindication to execution. Pierrepoint was one of the executioners at Nuremberg.
An article in a recent edition of the New England Journal of Medicine draws attention to the ethical and practical dilemmas of American physicians asked to assess people for fitness to carry concealed weapons. Again this is not a skill taught in medical schools. No firm criteria, beyond those of common sense (which have not been validated by research), have been laid down. It seems obvious that people with paranoid personalities or psychoses, gross depression or mania, those who take cocaine, amphetamines, or other stimulants, and alcoholics should be refused permission to carry concealed weapons. But many of those conditions (if taking cocaine can properly be called a condition) are easy to conceal or difficult to detect. How far is the doctor to go in attempting to detect them? Interestingly, or curiously, the authors do not mention hair or blood tests, which could certainly help the doctor detect drug and alcohol abuse.
Does the new Michael Bay movie Pain & Gain glorify evil? Its protagonist Daniel Lugo (played by Mark Wahlberg) is currently on Death Row in Florida, and the film is mostly seen through his eyes, with his thoughts frequently popping up in narration. Relatives of the victims of his crime spree — an outlandish 1994 kidnapping plot that led to attempted murder and finally murder — understandably don’t find the movie very funny. A Miami Herald story said the families thought the film would make the killers look “sympathetic” or “play down the brutality” of the murders.
Neither is the case. Daniel Lugo was a personal trainer who grew jealous of the business success of a client (played by Tony Shalhoub) who owned a deli by the Miami airport but hinted that true wealth came from shadier dealings. With hardly a second thought, Daniel decides that the American Dream means getting rich no matter who gets in his way, so he enlists a couple of gym-rat pals (Dwayne Johnson and Anthony Mackie) to put on superhero costumes, kidnap the deli owner, and torture him until he signs over his house and property. Along the way the three bodybuilders suffer such misadventures as impotence, getting a toe shot off by police, and the malfunction of a Home Depot chainsaw they are using to try to cut the head and fingertips off a corpse.
The movie treats this nutty plan as an escapade, but with black comic irony. These killers are by no means lovable. And the viciousness of their actions isn’t sugar-coated at all. Despite the kinetic, ultra-modern style of the movie, its underlying stance on good and evil would not have angered the defunct film censor the Hays Office. Rule number one for crime movies was always: Crime must not pay. Rule number two: The criminal may be the most prominent character, but he can’t be the hero.
Both these rules were regularly broken in counterculture hits like Bonnie and Clyde and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But whereas the deaths of the bandits in those films fill us with sympathy, nothing of the kind is happening in Pain & Gain.
Georgetown University professor Michael Eric Dyson appearing on MSNBC to equate the significance of the Boston bombers’ religion with their musical tastes:
While some black studies professors are busy indoctrinating students in strident anticapitalism and racial supremacism, and other inhabitants of the Ebony Tower are preaching only somewhat less extreme versions of the same ideology, a very different message about race has been resonating with ordinary, hard working black Americans. In recent years, the comedian and actor Bill Cosby has been speaking to audiences in black churches and other community centers, lamenting the prevalence among black Americans of unwed teenage mothers and absentee fathers, violent and misogynistic gangsta rap, and black on black crime. He has been calling on young black people to reject these self destructive social pathologies and to embrace traditional American values of self respect and personal responsibility.
In an Atlantic article about Cosby’s crusade, TaNehisi Coates maintains that Cosby’s call for “hard work and moral reform” rather than “protests and government intervention” resonates with “conservative black Americans who are convinced that integration, and to some extent the entire liberal dream, robbed them of their natural defenses.” Coates points out that in 2004, the New York Times found that black parents in Louisville, Kentucky, the site of a historic battle over school desegregation in 1975–76, were now “more interested in educational progress than in racial parity.” Coates also cites a survey showing that 71 percent of American blacks consider rap “a bad influence.” Coates quotes lines from one of Cosby’s speeches in which the comedian assails some black Americans’ uninformed image of themselves as Africans: “We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans. They don’t know a damn thing about Africa— with names like Shaniqua, Shaliqua, Mohammed, and all that crap, and all of them are in jail.”
Theodore Shoebat and Walid Shoebat: The Tsarnaev Brothers and the Coming Savage Empire of Islam
A continued debate yesterday on PJ Lifestyle editor Dave Swindle’s “6 Reasons Why Rational Thinkers Believe in God” article:
Gun control emerged as the primary political battlefront in the wake of the horrific Sandy Hook murders. While the battle to retain our Second Amendment rights remains a superior consideration, statist nannies push on other fronts as well.
A former writer for the Huffington Post, Peter Brown Hoffmeister, claims to have broken ties with the publication after its refusal to publish a piece he submitted regarding the influence of violent video games on troubled teenage males. Self-publishing on his personal blog with the provocative title “On School Shooters – The Huffington Post Doesn’t Want You To Read This,” Hoffmeister reveals his own troubled past while building a case against certain games.
As a teacher, I’ve spent a lot of time this past week [December 27, 2012] thinking about the Newtown shooting, school shootings in general, their causes and possible preventions.
It’s scary now to think that I ever had anything in common with school shooters. I don’t enjoy admitting that. But I did have a lot in common with them. I was angry, had access to guns, felt ostracized, and didn’t make friends easily. I engaged in violence and wrote about killing people in my notes to peers.
But there is one significant difference between me at 16 and 17 years of age and most high school shooters: I didn’t play violent video games.
But Jeff Weise did. He played thousands of first-person shooter hours before he shot and killed nine people at and near his Red Lake, Minn., school, before killing himself.
And according to neighbors and friends, Clackamas shooter Jacob Tyler Roberts played a lot of video games before he armed himself with a semi-automatic AR-15 and went on a rampage at the Clackamas Town Center in Portland, Oregon last week.
Also, by now, it is common knowledge that Adam Lanza, who murdered 20 children and six women in video-game style, spent many, many hours playing “Call of Duty.” In essence, Lanza – and all of these shooters – practiced on-screen to prepare for shooting in real-life.
Hoffmeister ends his retrospective with a call for government action. He encourages readers to “support the bill introduced… by U.S. Senator Jay Rockefeller, directing the National Academy of Sciences to examine whether violent games and programs lead children to act aggressively.”
PJ Lifestyle Editor’s Note:
This is Part 11, the conclusion, of Volume 1 of Robert Spencer’s Jazz and Islam series. Yes — Volume 1 does imply the intent for Robert to return to this subject again in the future so we can someday produce a Volume 2. As the Islamic War Against Freedom has intensified and arisen again into the foreground of public consciousness, Robert and I have decided on a new cultural angle through which he will seek to illuminate each week’s dark, confusing stories of jihad terrorism. I won’t reveal the secret yet of just what Robert’s new focus will be. But perhaps this astounding article today revealing the troubled story of a lost young man who poisoned his mind with deadly ideas will provide a hint of what’s to come…
– David Swindle
Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who along with his brother Dzhokhar murdered three people and wounded nearly 200 more with twin bombs at the Boston Marathon, was a musician. John Curran, Tamerlan’s boxing coach, recalled: “He also played the piano very well.” The Lowell Sun reported that “Tsarnaev also studied music at a school in Russia and played piano and violin.”
As late as 2010, according to Gene McCarthy of the Somerville Boxing Club in Massachusetts, Tsarnaev was still playing:
“I brought him to the registration” for a boxing tournament, “and while he was waiting in line, he saw a piano and was playing classical music like it was Symphony Hall.”
However, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that “in the years before the Boston Marathon bombings, Tamerlan Tsarnaev fell under the influence of a new friend, a Muslim convert who steered the religiously apathetic young man toward a strict strain of Islam, family members said.”
Bitter Clingers Have Taken Over Your Television, or How America Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Duck
Did you hear that? The shotgun blast heard ‘round the world? It happened when A&E Network’s hit reality TV show Duck Dynasty reached over 8 million viewers in its season premiere.
Like any gunshot, it got my attention. I tuned in to see what all the fuss is about and am now hopelessly hooked on this revolutionary bit of televised perfection. I quickly discovered that Duck Dynasty has very little to do with ducks or duck hunting, and everything to do with traditional American values and the current American condition.
Like all great television, Duck Dynasty works because it follows a proven formula. In the case of Duck Dynasty, that formula is the roadmap to realizing the quintessential American dream. Have a clever idea. Sacrifice. Work harder than the next guy. Make it happen. Earn your wealth the old-fashioned way. Pass the business and its blessings along to your children and grandchildren. Have fun. Never forget where, or what, you came from. Give thanks to God. Repeat.
Like most rednecks and hillbillies, the starring members of the Robertson clan of West Monroe, Louisiana, are as clever as the proverbial old swamp fox. And so are the development execs at A&E. With Duck Dynasty they’ve struck more than ratings gold. They’ve struck a vital nerve in contemporary American culture. And I think they know exactly what they are doing.
Each week millions think they’re tuning in to watch the crazy and entertaining antics of a bunch of rich rednecks with beautiful wives, powerful trucks, bountiful firearms, a knack for explosives and avoiding the drudgery of work, and an endless supply of homespun one-liners.