Editorial License

Rob Hammerton, music educator etc.

The Unlikeliest of Heroes

Marvel Studios have managed to produce a string of movies with some really fine moments in them, in the past few years. Over and over again, they’ve offered the movie-going public some story revelations that cause said public to think, “aha! It really has all been leading up to this.” Somehow, these movies about inherently silly characters – the giant green rage monster, the not-really-Norse god, the “genius billionaire playboy philanthropist” – have all been deftly intertwined, at least within their Cinematic Universe. (Aficionados of the comic book versions of things may need to cool their jets here, as shhhhhhh! this isn’t really the subject of this piece, but instead, as usual, the author needs a hook and this time your favorite characters are it.) Fun to go back and look at certain scenes again and say, “they really were thinking about six movies down the road, there.”

Other scenes are kinda right up in your face, to the point where one could accuse the filmmakers of being almost ham-handed in their need to make sure you Get The Point.

I’ll admit right away: I’ve got one favorite Firmly Telegraphed scene. (Or at least I did, until “Agent Carter” came along, but that’s for another time.)

The scene came in the first Captain America film, “The First Avenger”. Which I didn’t see in the theaters. I got ambushed by the thing on basic cable. That’s how late to this party I was.

And by the way, I will happily admit: of all the silly Marvel Comics characters, to my way of thinking, ol’ Cap was THE flippin’ silliest of them. I’m all for red and blue costumes (rah rah rah Superman), but honestly, between the little teeny wing things on the sides of his helmet and what I perceived, rightly or not, as the “I can win World War II all by m’ lonesome” vibe …

Um, no and no. Sorry. Silly look; don’t want to wallow in the jingoistic; nice artwork, but I think not.

So the filmmakers wrote a nice little series of scenes that served as a nod to the “classic” Captain America look and a reassurance that, well, we’re going to try to sand down as much of the silly and cheeseball as we possibly can. In fact, we’re going to have Cap react to his own cheesy look, his very own self.

I’ll be honest: I don’t know the comic-book Captain America origin story well enough to know whether the moviemakers’ version was an homage, or just a great new idea to link him to the, um, chemistry-set experiments that produced a giant green rage monster. Either way, they made the point, sometimes rather heavily but at least earnestly, that Captain America used to be a 98-pound weakling but he was the 98-pound weakling who had his priorities straight.

The Firmly Telegraphed scene that I like so much is this one:

First, a montage of scenes depicting the physical trials that the US Army is putting two dozen or so soldiers through – the soldiers who are being considered for participation in the Army’s super-secret super-soldier program. Then the Colonel in charge (played by Tommy Lee Jones with gruff charm, like almost every other gruffly charming character that Tommy Lee Jones has ever gruffly and charmingly played) tosses what appears to be a live grenade into the midst of the soldier-candidates. They scatter – all of them except for one, the 98-pound weakling called Steve Rogers. Instead, he throws himself on top of it and wildly waves everyone else away.

Turns out, it’s a dummy grenade. But Rogers is the only one who volunteers to “take one for the team” – on the grounds of some backwater Army training camp, far from The Front, he’s willing to lay down his life for the rest of the squad. Never mind that amongst that squad is one guy whose personality had already been Firmly Telegraphed as arrogant, smug, and a genuine bully to everyone in general and to Rogers in particular. Rogers is taken seriously by absolutely nobody there – with the exception of the scientist whose technology is driving the whole super-soldier project, who has insisted that Rogers be considered for reasons which no one else in the US military establishment quite understands) – but he’s a good guy.

A few other, earlier Firmly Telegraphed scenes in “The First Avenger” have already done their part to build the story point: Steve Rogers is a decent human being. And after Rogers is selected, the scientist puts it to him this way: “This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man who has known power all his life … [he loses] respect for that power. But a weak man, he values his strength. And loves compassion.” And then, he says, “Whatever happens tomorrow, you must promise me one thing. That you must stay who you are. Not a perfect soldier. But a good man.”


Shortly I’ll be heading out for my annual summer teaching fortnight with the George N. Parks Drum Major Academy. For many reasons, a few of which already have been chronicled hereabouts, I look forward to this experience every year, more than almost any other.

One reason has to do with Captain America, or at least the Cinematic Universe’s incarnation of his origin story.

Stay with me. It’s not nearly as silly as that sounded.

In the years in which I’ve head out to the DMA locations at West Chester University and UMass-Amherst, I’ve had the chance to work with lots of high-school seniors, and juniors, and a few sophomores, who arrive at our clinics having been labeled by their high school band directors as Drum Majors Of Their Bands. Some of them are veterans – they’ve gone on this ride before, and for the most part they have a decent idea of what that job entails, what parts of it they’ve been good at, and what they still need to work out, or what the areas are in which they can refine their performance.

Some of them are new to the game. Of these, some put on a good game face at the start of the week, some acquire that game face by the week’s end, and some of them probably clutch the certificate of completion-of-studies on the way home still wondering what in the world they’ve gotten themselves into. Or, more accurately, knowing what they’ve gotten themselves into and hoping for a little divine inspiration that will help them through it.

It’s been fun to see some of the evidence that some of those figured it out. Blessed are the meek, for when they become not meek anymore, their boldness means so much more than that of the People With Good Game Faces.

There was one particular example of this which I wrote about a couple of years ago in this space, in a post called “New Rachel”. And at the end of last summer, I experienced a relative torrent of Facebook friend requests from DMA students (as I wrote then, instead of the usual one or two, there were fifteen or twenty). It was neat to see the “on the bus to our first game” selfies … and by season’s end, it was fun to read the brief anecdotes about “best season ever” and see the photos from band banquets and such.

 

And then, not long ago, I spotted a Facebook status post authored by one of the students who was in one of my “video rooms”. S/He was not the strongest conductor; s/he was not the strongest caller of commands; s/he was desperately trying to keep up with all the material being thrown at him/her; but s/he seemed a genuinely decent person. I saw her/him again at the final presentation (for parents and family and friends) and wondered actively to myself how s/he would fare.

And while I always keep in mind the old “can’t judge a book by its cover” adage … still, by no means did that student fit the standard typical average normal median Drum Major Look. I even wondered if s/he had been one of those kids who had spent a lot of his/her life being on the receiving end of the pranks, or the jokes, or the out-of-the-corner-of-the-eye looks, or even the overt bullying, that can happen when adolescents interact unsupervised.

I wondered if s/he was chosen by his/her director in spite of the skepticism of the rest of the band, deserved or not. I hoped s/he’d do well, of course … but didn’t know.

(An aside: S/He wasn’t even one of the DMA students who had Friend-requested me … but I saw the Facebook post because it was “liked” by several of the DMA students who had. Which was a hallmark of last summer’s group … all season long, they continually urged each other on. It was very cute, and also more than a little reassuring.)

The post went on at great length (or as long as Facebook allowed), as I recall, about things like “greatest year of my life” and “love my band so much” and “grew so much as a person”.

Well. All right then.

By hook or by crook … without necessarily becoming the second coming of Frederick Fennell or of the commander of the US Marine Silent Drill Team (although perhaps something clicked after DMA week was done) … somehow, some way, s/he made it work, and it indeed worked, and s/he came out the other side victorious.

Maybe something happened that was perhaps not quite as dire as throwing him-/herself on top of what could have been a live grenade … but that had a very similar effect on the people around him/her.

Maybe s/he managed to be his/her band’s unlikeliest of heroes.

Maybe what s/he was really meant more, ultimately, than what s/he was able to do.

That’s what makes DMA so much of a big deal to me, I think.

We’ll find out what this summer reveals. See you on the other side…

July 25, 2015 Posted by | band, DMA, drum major, Facebook, heroes, marching band, movies, social media | , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Funny, You Don’t Look…

People who generalize suck.

(Thank you. I’ll be here all week.)

Today’s subject, ladies and gentlemen, is women.

I have, in this space, previously noted that I was brought up in a household in which gender didn’t define worth … and that I grew up (K through 12 and college) surrounded by a pack of friends and acquaintances that included some, um, fairly strong women, who demonstrated their worthiness as human beings, gender aside, most all the time.

So, please to forgive the broken record vibe that I may be sending out.

But there are just people in this world who need to check their whole entire worldview at the door. Or at least, they need to go out and get themselves a weapons-grade filter which they can slam down in front of their mouths just before The Foolish emerges.

Today’s example:

Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner declared, earlier this month, that “the hardest artist to find is a beautiful, funny woman. By far. They usually – boy am I going to get in trouble, I know this goes online – but usually, unbelievably beautiful women, you being an exception, are not funny.”

He said this at an event called the “Aspen Idea Festival”. Interesting idea.

He said this on a stage that simultaneously contained the actor Goldie Hawn – the “you” whom he was pointing out as an exception to his own rule. As if that was going to buy him some time to get off the stage unremarked-upon.

Fella’s got testicular fortitude, I’ll give him that. … Or maybe what I should give him is a copy of the above paragraph containing the words “The Foolish”.

Online articles chronicling this intriguing declaration popped up soon afterward, and gave the man a proper working-over.

The entire premise that the entertainment industry should be seeking out women that 73-year-old men like Eisner find ‘unbelievably beautiful’ is flawed,” said one. “No one is lamenting … that male comics like Louis C.K., Adam Sandler and Seth Rogan don’t look like models.”

[Ed. note: you may judge for yourself, as people are entitled to their opinions; but Ye Olde Blogge does not necessarily think that Messrs. Sandler and Rogan are especially funny, never mind runway-worthy.]

This summer has been filled with pleasant weather, fun barbecues and some impressively sexist commentary from random dudes about women’s bodies,” said another. “Suggesting half the planet has a humor deficiency correlated with shifting, societally sanctioned social norms about beauty is not only highly inaccurate, it’s obnoxious as hell.”

Anyway, since I’m not an entertainment executive, I’m not locked into these Mad Men-era-esque requirements. So I feel a sense of freedom, the freedom to make my own damn decisions about who’s funny and who’s beautiful and who’s both and who’s neither.

And almost unbidden, I began to compile an unscientific list, upon reading these accounts of grievously foolish remarking. The list contained names of some Famous Persons whom I think are funny … and whom I know are women … and whom (depending on the day) I may find physically attractive or not but that’s not really the point is it? … and whom, at the end of whichever day it is, I tend to respect for their intelligence and their humor and the fact that they’re human beings and human beings deserve at least that much.

In one sense, I hesitate to write down one of these lists, in case you should think I’m poring over lists of celebrities (“hmmmmm, whom shall I include?”) and having my attention drawn to certain ones by those pesky societal norms. In fact, says one of those online articles that took Mr. Eisner out back and slapped him around, “It’s clear rating women isn’t something teenage boys do in their parents’ basements – it’s something that grown men believe they can do on the record, or for all to hear.”

Erm…

Hey. I’m admiring, here. Strictly and only that. No “out of 10”s, or leaderboards, etc. Just names, in no particular order, of Famous Persons whom I think are very very funny … and whom I know are women … and whose beauty is readily apparent because their senses of humor help them appear (at the very least) to be decent human beings.

Just some folks who came readily to mind:

Paula Poundstone. “I was in North Carolina once, and they have bugs there that are huge! And the people there don’t seem to think they’re all that big. ‘Awww, that’s just a lil’ ol’ broom-bug; he won’t even hurt cha.’ Really? It’s Got a Dog in its Mouth!…”

Sarah Vowell. She is funny in a much more “This American Life” way than a conventional American sitcom way (and “TAL” is where I first heard her perform her own pieces). Her voice, which can sound like Betty Boop recovering from a bout of laryngitis, definitely helps in this.

Alison Krauss, better known for her dulcet bluegrass tones. But heavens! … get her going on the subject of her bass player’s love of “huntin’ videos” and you’re good for nearly eight minutes of world-championship deadpan humor.

The Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin. Wait, an athlete makes this list? Yes. Por ejamplo, during her obligatory press conference, just after she won a gold medal in Sochi last year, she made a genuine funny … and the only reason it didn’t get a bigger laugh was that your average press type doesn’t expect those Olympic athletes to say anything but “I thank the good Lord and my coach and my mother.”

The singer Neko Case. She got on NPR’s “Wait Wait, Don’t Tell Me!” as part of their “Not My Job” segment, and managed to bring the house down with an utterly improvised riff on, of all things, the Ken Burns Civil War documentary style.

Allison Glenzer, an actor with the American Shakespeare Company. The ASC very often takes the Bard’s work and infuses it with humorous references anyway, and its roster of performers is quite skilled in this area generally. Over the course of my four or five trips to see ASC shows, I figured out that Ms. Glenzer competes hard for the title of Best Of ‘Em. And here’s the thing: she makes it look so easy to be funny and a great actor that when you walk out of the theater, you’re thinking, “that would be such fun to do. I could maybe do that.” You can’t, of course; but that’s the sign of a great performance.

The actor Jennifer Lawrence. Yes, that one. Yes, the international superstar actor person, from the “Hunger Games” movies and all that. Massively popular at the moment, and likely to remain so for awhile. Well … I didn’t necessarily want to put Massive Superstars on this list, but … I think she’s very, very funny. Probably not at all on purpose; not at all in the same way that a professional comedian crafts her material and polishes her delivery. But instead in a goofy way that smacks less of carefully characterized goofy, like the aforementioned Goldie Hawn in “Laugh-In”, than an innate willingness to say any old thing that pops into her head – or perhaps to say any old thing even before it gets to her head’s editor. Watch almost any of her red-carpet or movie-PR-press-junket interviews and see if you don’t agree with me.

The late journalist Molly Ivins. About a recent Congressman from Texas, she once wrote, “If ignorance ever goes to $40 a barrel, I want drillin’ rights on that man’s head.” Check out, from your local public library, any of her books about politics in her home state of Texas. Go. Now. Do it.

The comedian Erica Rhodes. I don’t list her here because she decided to Follow me on the mighty Twitter machine, some time ago. I have no earthly idea why this successful standup comedian could possibly have felt the need to do this, aside from perhaps being polite and Following me after I’d Followed her. (Here’s the thing – I went back and did a little digging … and I hadn’t Followed her first.) I do list her here, though, because she is one of those wonderful comics who gets out there on stage, and looks and sounds a bit tentative, and you start to root for her because the jokes are funnier than their slightly nervous delivery, and you start to think she should be much prouder of her material than she appears to be, and about eight jokes in you realize that this was exactly her plan all along.

This is hardly a comprehensive list. For the moment, I hope it’s helped me to advance this one thought (as concludes the online article whose initial purpose was to give the ol’ Whiskey-Tango-Foxtrot treatment to the former CEO of one of the most powerful entertainment companies in the world) …

[The idea] that women should value their bodies more than their minds … is getting old and boring, just like Eisner’s views on women.”

July 17, 2015 Posted by | Famous Persons, humor | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends, Once More

Full disclosure on this Fourth-of-July weekend: I am the son of an Englishman.

When I was in the third grade, the social studies curriculum included quite a long time spent examining the American Revolution. Cases of tea in the Harbor! One if by land, two if by sea! Whites of their eyes! Give me liberty or give me death! Second of July [look it up]! All that stuff.

(Living in Massachusetts as I do, that period of history is ever-present in my everyday life. School field trips to the battlefields of Lexington and Concord are just a short bus ride away. There’s a 1760s-vintage stone marker around the corner from the house of my youth into which “Boston → 18 miles” is carved, and I imagine fellas on horseback wearing tri-cornered hats looking at the marker, then to the east, and saying, “yep … we can make it by lunchtime.” And the church wherein I do my church-musician-gigging is located in the area of town known as the Historic District … meaning if you want to build anything bigger than a mailbox, it darn well better look like something that was built by those colonial Americans, or no construction permits for you!)

So I was paying attention in class. The California Gold Rush? Lewis and Clark? Even most of the Civil War? Harder to envision. The Boston Massacre? Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride? The Battle of Bunker Hill? We pass that stuff all the time on the way to the mall.

But, unlike my classmates, I was considering that there are two sides to every conflict, and that during the American Revolution, those guys in red coats were human beings, weren’t they?

Thanks, I suspect, to the presence of a English father in my life, I thought often of the British soldiers. Sent far from home, to try to convince the expatriates to calm the heck down … possibly thinking it was the right thing to do, preserve the Empire and all that … and they had to carry out warfare while wearing outfits that kinda didn’t camouflage them all that well.

I didn’t talk about it too loudly, of course. But it may have been among my first moments dealing with empathy.

 

Let me be clear: my dad moved to the US from England’s West Midlands (via Scotland and Canada) as he followed a trail of jobs that led to a chemical engineering career. I don’t think he looked at America the way we Americans romantically imagine immigrants looking at it. I doubt he was murmuring “give me your tired, your poor” as he crossed the border … rather, I bet he was muttering, “give me your map of New Jersey and do you even do tea?” He never relinquished his English-ness and never apologized for it.

That said, he was plenty knowledgeable about, and happy with, this country. I suspect that knew and appreciated more about the sport of baseball than almost any of his countrymen. His accent faked out a lot of unsuspecting ugly Americans, in this regard.

So, with this example of English-ness in my life, I’ve always harbored great fondness for the land of my father’s birth. Rule Britannia! Monty Python! Gustav Holst! (Not an especially UK name, but he was an English citizen.) The stereotypical English reputation for gentility and stiff-upper-lip is both somewhat accurate and often overblown. As adorable as “Wallace and Gromit” are, John Cleese and the “Blackadder” series are only two examples of the English people’s unmatched facility for cruel humor. As stately and majestic as “Land of Hope and Glory” is, well … England also cultivated the early development of punk rock, and that’s not exactly the soundtrack of high tea.

Stiff-upper-lip” is not a phrase often used to describe any sports fandom, English or otherwise – what my dad used to call “English football” surely included. (He called American football “heaps of men”.) Soccer hooliganism was rather a problem in the 1980s, but one sportswriter in particular has chronicled the lengths to which England has gone in the intervening time to put a damper on it. English football fans are passionate, and most inter-club rivalries tend to dwarf all but the most rabid of their American counterparts (Yankees/Red Sox … Auburn/Alabama … Coke/Pepsi …), but at least there’s not so much rioting lately.

But there is a distinct tradition in England of holding people’s feet to the fire, and not being shy about it. If a professional English athlete – particularly one who is representing their country – fails to carry out their patriotical athlete duties, they become a verbal target in the pub and/or the press. If they let down their country … the existence of which clearly hinges on their ability to swing a club or racket, or to boot a ball, or to run fast, or to fling an oddly-shaped object … well, perspective is set aside and …

Well, good luck to ya.

And so it was, earlier this week, following a Women’s World Cup soccer semifinal match between Japan and England, that a set of feet had the chance to be held to said fire – except that it didn’t happen. Almost at all.

 

The match was tied at one goal each. The second half had expired, but play continued in what soccer enthusiasts call “added time”. That’s a few minutes of overtime tacked directly onto the end of a match at the discretion of the referee, based upon how much second-half time had previously been wasted watching players roll around in fake agony on the ground (or similar delays). Important to play 45 genuine minutes of actual soccer per half.

In the second added minute, a Japanese midfielder put a pass forward toward the English goal. To keep a Japanese striker (I’m sorry, but “striker” is a terrific term for a member of the offense!) from getting to the ball and probably drilling it past the goalkeeper for the winning goal, one English defender did catch up to the striker and the ball, and flicked a foot at the ball in order to deflect it away from the goal.

A successful kick of the ball, yes … but oh, the direction.

Usually in nightmares, the event that you can’t do anything about takes place in slow-motion. This was a high-speed chase with a drag-racing fireball of an ending. The ball soared, not away from the goal, but a little bit high and a whole lot toward the net. It glanced off the underside of the crossbar, down, and over the goal line by eighteen inches or so. It took no time at all for the English world to come crashing down.

All the blue-clad Japanese players leapt.

None of the white-clad English did.

Some of them sank to their knees; some collapsed to the ground. Some stood, looking for all the world like they’d been hit in the head with one of those animated Monty Python 40-ton weights. It was not untrue.

The term “own goal” is so very inadequate as a descriptive device.

 

The Women’s World Cup happens only every four years, and no matter how good a player you are, every Cup tournament you get to play in … might be your last. You might not be chosen for the national team next time around; or an injury might dash your hopes.

Even if you’re a perennial (quadrennial?) fixture on your country’s squad, the World Cup is your sport’s Big Moment. The men’s side of the Cup has been the stuff of internationally-televised legend for decades. More recently, the women’s tournament has begun to rise to that level. So a Cup semifinal is a big, big deal. If you’re in it, you want to do well. You want to win. You don’t want to lose, clearly.

You don’t want to screw up. You, yourself, personally.

Here in the US, we have athlete names which need only be whispered, to communicate the concept of “goat” … the guy who let the ball go through his legs as the winning run scored, threw the interception with time expiring, missed the two-foot putt on 18, double-faulted on match point. (We even have guys who hit the winning home run, whose names bring to mind not so much the home run but the pitcher who threw the hanging curveball, or the manager who kept him in the game for just one more batter. We’re amazingly creative that way.)

The defender’s name was Laura Bassett, and until that moment, she was recognized as one of English soccer’s heroic women. Her England team, nicknamed the “Lionesses”, reached the Women’s World Cup semifinal for the first time ever, this year. She had taken a nasty elbow to the face, near her eye, during an early-round match against France, and kept on playing regardless.

Bassett became a professional soccer player in England’s FA Women’s Premier League Northern Division at the age of fourteen. She has been a member of the English women’s national team for a dozen years. She has been the object of WPL bidding wars. In short: no slouch, she.

Because our world has an Internet in it, there were Internet trolls. Following that heart-breaker of a match, nasty Twitter messages immediately popped up, directed at Bassett (likely by people who wouldn’t think of saying these things to her face, as this is the way of the Web). They contained a great variety of snark, from knee-jerk amateur soccer analysts’ instant dismissal of her skills (“Scoring an own goal to ruin the country’s hopes is not quality. @laurabassett6 should be ashamed and should retire”) to unfunny jokes (“Congratulations to Laura Bassett who was officially voted Scotland’s favourite footballer today”). This is, again, very sadly, to be expected.

 

But this moment seemed to generate far more online support than your average professional athletic disaster. Numerous British media outlets have reported on the great wave of sympathy that has arisen.

Of course, fellow pro footballers checked in immediately on Twitter. They understood, better than anyone.

Former England captain Casey Stoney wrote, “If anyone did not deserve that today it was @laurabassett6 she is the most honest, hard working, professional who is an amazing team mate!!!” Former Premier League player Gary Lineker wrote, “What a dreadful way to lose! Poor, poor Laura Bassett.” Current WPL player Kelly Smith wrote, “@laurabassett6 Hold your head up high girl. You have lead by example and been IMMENSE all tournament. We <3 you.” Current England goalkeeper Siobhan Chamberlain (into whose net the errant clear had sailed) wrote, “Football can be so so cruel. Absolutely gutted but so proud to be a part of this team.”

Most affectingly, for me, though, were a pack of Twitter messages that made me think perhaps the United Kingdom in general had its priorities uncommonly straight, in this case:

A young English musician wrote, “@laurabassett6 you played excellently and did your country proud. Literally inspired a nation. Nothing to be ashamed of from that performance” and a young man from somewhere in the British Isles wrote, “@laurabassett6 don’t think for a second that there is a single person who isn’t proud of and inspired by you, chin up! #ProudOfBassett

One Premier League supporter wrote, “@laurabassett6 We’re all proud of you Laura. Onward and upward. That cup[‘]s got your name on it.” Another English football fan with the curious Twitter account name “Invalid Parking” wrote, revealingly, “@laurabassett6 Head up, **it happens. :( Can’t blame yourself, fantastic effort from all of you! (Previously only men’s football fan)!” … and an RAF veteran living in Aberdeen wrote, “#proudofbassett and that’s from Scotland! You should all be proud and look forward not back.”

And it didn’t come from the UK, but it came from Canada, which is a Commonwealth nation, so perhaps it’ll still count: arguably my favorite Tweet on this topic, from a Toronto sportswriter called Eric Koreen.

WE ARE ALL LAURA BASSETT

 

Meanwhile, although England lost in the aptly-named knockout stage, there’s still work to be done. In American sports, we don’t muck around with silly things like consolation games, as there’s no consolation to be had after losing. But in this tournament, there’s still third place to be decided. To advance to the Cup final, the US women had to outdo Germany, and did. So, for the Lionesses, Deutschland awaits. Not a small mountain to climb, and especially for a side that just had their hearts broken in little pieces just this past Wednesday.

If the universe is a fair place … and we know all about that big ol’ “if”, but go with me anyway … if there’s any kind of justice in the world, I will expect my Twitter feed to esssplode tomorrow afternoon, around 4 o’clock Eastern time, on the very Fourth of July. It’ll happen when a beautiful entry pass from an English defender called Laura Bassett, in the midfield, will skitter through the German defense during the 89th minute, and a marauding England striker will bury it in the back of the net for the only goal of the third-place match. #ProudOfBassett, indeed.

If not, though … if England fall to Germany … I still have faith that England’s supporters back home will, in their unique way, come through again.

 

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!
Fathers that, like so many Alexanders,
Have in these parts from morn till even fought
And sheathed their swords for lack of argument:
Dishonour not your mothers; now attest
That those whom you call’d fathers did beget you.
Be copy now to men of grosser blood,
And teach them how to war. And you, good yeoman,
Whose limbs were made in England, show us here
The mettle of your pasture; let us swear
That you are worth your breeding; which I doubt not;
For there is none of you so mean and base,
That hath not noble lustre in your eyes.
I see you stand like greyhounds in the slips,
Straining upon the start. The game’s afoot:
Follow your spirit, and upon this charge
Cry ‘God for Harry, England, and Saint George!’

Henry V, Act III, Scene 1

July 3, 2015 Posted by | Famous Persons, sports, Twitter | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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