Time to Take the Kettle Off

And get the drinks in


We were two minutes from some déjà vu hoodoo until an English dandy swatted a fly off his scone and headed home.


He arrived early and was soon the beau of the ball. A horde of fanciers nearly smothered him in attention before other divertissement relieved the pressure. Toward evening’s end he spied an empty table, odd in such a crowded party, and called for a hot kettle and his carriage. It had been an active but frustrating eve and he looked to clear his head before bidding his farewells.  


And then she arrived as if from a fog. Eager, coquettish and, most critical, unaccompanied. He knew he would take her home. The sinful thought made him shiver, jerk his head in an unconscious way he hoped no one noticed. Still secluded in a corner of the party it was elemental, primal. He did what he did without forethought or regret.


Finished and on the high street, he had second thoughts, perhaps Sir Harry Kane may fancy a brandy and Montecristo before retiring.


Day Five: The Games

As I age I like to think the dismantling of my self-mythos is a sign of growing wisdom. I think being a man in the U.S. helps me rationalize that the knowledge I’m not that special is itself a sign of wisdom, a true win-win. For example, I was an introspective, bright and moral child. I didn’t bully Peter Adler after school, I include him in a game of “smash, boom, bang” when most others ignored him. It was great fun for everyone. Maybe not especially Peter Adler, but I think he loved the comeraderie.  


In the same vein, I’ve mostly fancied myself a good athlete throughout my life, particularly in my prime years of 8 to 28. During certain moments of delusion I’ll replay all SIX goals I scored for my high school soccer team in nine games. I’ll ignore the goalless hockey seasons, the third-place finish in a three-runner junior high mile race. Skinny and light early and muscle-shy and clumsy in later years I’d opine that I had the skills to be a great wide receiver, but I was just too small to play football.


A typical conclusion to this interior monologue would be the question of what professional sport you could have played with the proper mental and physical training and parents who care just enough about themselves and not you to make your childhood a living hell. I think mine would be baseball. That is until today.


Today I realized that I not only could have played on a professional team, I could have won on the world’s biggest stage without sacrificing one beer, lifting one dumbbell. I could have done it in my 58-year-old body today in Russia. Then again, so could my 80-year-old father.


Jordan Pickford earns at least $100,000 a week to tend goal for Everton. This Sunderland academy grad is the starting keeper for England, who beat Tunisia* with a late, late, late winner. Jordan Pickford had one shot to stop today and his $100,000 per week honed professional body propelled itself in the right direction and he still could not touch the ball. It hit the back of the net. He made no saves. He barely had to shovel the ball out to his teammates and none of his free kicks jump-started goal runs. Soccer’s a weird-ass sport.   


Side note: Who would have thought Sunderland would get more mentions than Man U during the Tunisia-England game because of Khazri of Tunisia?


*Margaret, not even paying attention, wanted a counter to log the number of times Derek Rae enunciated Tu-nee-zee-a per minute. American Aly Wagner, perhaps intimidated, mimicked the veteran. Google translate gives us American English “Too-nee-sha” French, Spanish and, apparently, Scottish, Tu-nee-zee-a. Nothing wrong, just jarring to my ears.  


On to the beer

Two cans of beer during the Tu-nee-zee-a-England game.  Bernardus Wit from Belgium noted in yesterday's post and Old Speckled Hen from England. BA poster erudition: "There is both a clean water lightness to it, yet, at the same time it has a toffee/buttery fullness to it."  


92nd-minute winner

Worth Brewing Short Trip. Good session IPA for when you're trying to finish a blog. 


Warming Up

Another can! On the day I paid for my new small bottling system, I have to admit I love canned beer. I still pour it into a glass but there's a tactile, nostalgic something there. Sapporo Premium Black Beer. Schwartzbier is a thing in Japan and thank goodness. I look forward to this one. My first taste of a canned Sapporo in the 1980s was a revelation. It was my first "dry" beer and it literally seemed to suck breath down my throat.  BA poster erudition: "unCANpromising in its stygian depth. I think that I saw Cthulhu & The Kraken undulating in there!" Too good not to credit: thanks WoodyChandler. 


Artist: Orchestra Baobab

Nation: Senegal

Album: Pirate’s Choice (1982)


“It was you who told me that I was the light of your life...”


Each big football tournament surprises me at about this point in the group stage with how quickly, for some, it’s basically over. 


Right? You drop that first match, you’re in a tough group, you’re not that fancied to begin with, and the world is quick to write you off. Yes, everyone gets at least two more goes at looking resolute for the anthem, but whatever. The scribes back off, the world turns away, and you’re playing to spoil or for pride. 


“It was you who told me the sky would always be blue...”


Orchestra Baobab is a terrific Senegalese group that was one of the more prominent African bands of the 1970s, with veteran club musicians and a melting pot sound drawing on African and Cuban influences among others. This track from their 1982 album (treated at length in this loving 2011 writeup from the Guardian is a beguiling, repetitive, soothing meditation on change and loss. If I have the story right, the songwriter pieced it together while about to divorce his wife. 


“But you went away forgetting everything we were told...”


On Tuesday, Poland-Senegal closes out the first round of matches. And for a few, the story will be all but written. And 31 countries will reach that same conclusion, sooner or later. 


“And you went away saying it was all over...”


Senegal entered the tournament at about 200-1 odds to win, so a betting person would easily place them among the 31. But Group H seems pretty open. We’ll see. I’m not suggesting or willing anything but choosing this song. I just like it. It’s the sound of really good players making it seem easy. It’s so good. 


“Coumba, Coumba, who changed the colors?...”


So for now, in a Senegal-agnostic way, let’s offer up this rhumba as a balm for whoever the already consigned losers are said to be after Tuesday. 


“Coumba, Coumba, the sea is no longer blue for you...”


Poor guy. But listen —when that sax sneaks in, do you get the sense maybe he’s catching a glimpse of a happier horizon? Already feeling a little zen about seeing her walk away?


I do. I’m not sure if there is a Senegalese idiom for “Tomorrow’s another day,” but if not, and if they end up needing one, this song will serve nicely.



Nat's Kitchen

For Russia's unrelenting attack on the tournament lightweights, let's travel to Egypt for  Kushari. Invented by local French as a vegetarian dish in the mid-19th century, it includes rice, lentils, macaroni and a spiced tomato sauce with garlic vinegar. Topped with chick peas and crispy dried onions. Popular among laborers and soldiers. Try this one. Or this one

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