All EU Final

World Cup Semi-Finals. All EU-members. France. Belgium. England. Croatia. Jingoistic fans reflect the return to nationalism in Euroland. France’s team of individual stars has come together as a cohesive force and looks to be the strongest of the four. Only victory was 1998.

The last time England took home the Cup was also the last time the world watched on black-and-white TV’s. They beat West Germany. Yes. Still a Wall. And. A Soviet Union.

It was 1966. I was staying with a friend of my uncle’s in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire when the earth shook. I looked at Hazel as her black great dane Pip jumped.  What’s that?  She laughed and said England must have won!  Won what?  Wembley Stadium’s roars could be felt far and wide. Then hell broke loose. Pandemonium spilled out to London and every country lane. That day into the next. There was crazy serious joy in all the land.

Queens Rule

Ocasio-Cortez had a positive message. She did not focus on her gender or ethnicity nor did she dwell on hating Trump. But rather gave her attention to girls behind the bars and guys in the garbage trucks. Yup. That will win back working class votes. Well done. Even though. She’s an avowed Socialist. So. A blue county turns bluer. Doesn’t change the congressional landscape and moves the party further left. Works in Queens. Swing districts. Not so much.

Speaking of queens. Stephen Frears of The Queen directs the quirky cheeky A Very English Scandal on Amazon. Homosexuality in the Beatles-era. Based on the story of MP Jeremy Thorpe portrayed brilliantly by Hugh Grant. Excellent ensemble cast.

Hats Off

To Meghan Markle. Fascinators aside, hats off to a class act. Timeless wedding gown designed by the first woman to head the French House Givenchy. Simple chic. A veil adorned by flowers from the Commonwealth. Strategic chic. And. She wasn’t worried about children stealing her spotlight. Confident chic. A woman of substance it seems. Here’s to Harry’s partner in life. Here’s to a happily ever-after.

Then. At Pimlico soggy hats at a murky track. Justify pulls off another win. By a feather.

Layered Literary Canvas

The Last Painting of Sara de Vos, by Dominic Smith. A beautifully written history which brings the reader into the art guilds of the Netherlands in the 1600’s. New York’s gritty Brooklyn, isolated rich on the Upper East Side in the later 1950’s. Australia in 2000. The stories are built in layers as is the painting depicted. Sara De Vos’ last oeuvre brings a poignantly perfect masterpiece of an ending to all of the disparate lives affected by her work. Prose is gorgeous. Characters provocative and real. Learned a lot about oil on canvas. One of the best reads this year.

Déjà Jedi

The Forces of the ’80’s have returned. Russia and China expanding nuclear capabilities as Trump touts a renewed arms race. It’s déjà vu all over again. Where are Reagan & Gorbachev? Return of the Jedi. 1983. What’s in store for 2017? Haven’t seen Rogue One. But. It does seem that we are entering a time warp. In the wake of losses. Real and fictional warriors. From Prince to Ali. Today Carrie Fisher. We end the year a bit scared and sad.

Carrie Fisher wrote in one of her books: “What you’ll have of me after I journey to that great Death Star in the sky is an extremely accomplished daughter, a few books, and a picture of a stern-looking girl wearing some kind of metal bikini lounging on a giant drooling squid, behind a newscaster informing you of the passing of Princess Leia after a long battle with her head.” Pretty true. Billie Lourd is her accomplished daughter. That’s a lot.

Oh Da Joy

Don’t remember smiling as much as in the past couple of days. Papa Francesco. President Obama giddy in his presence. John Boehner stepped down in emotional tears of relief. In one day, U.S. Government turned on its head. Standing O and Mo Rocca at MSG Mass. Harlem school kids taking selfies as they chanted and sang. Multi-religious cultural core of Pope’s message.

Teacher, too. I’d never heard of Dorothy Day nor Thomas Merton. Until he included them with American icons Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King. Now I’ve learned who they are. Evoked the gaucho epic poem Martín Fierro at the U.N. Hadn’t read that since Spanish major in college. The quintessential forefather of Pampas Pastor Bergoglio. Inspirational interlude. Grazie Papa.