Serena Williams: Grand Slam Credit (Times Two, Please)

tennis-ball-clusterIn August, Serena William “failed” to make history and capture a Grand Slam, or winning the four Major tournaments in a single season (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open).  The other day, Peter Bodo  wrote that Williams, a twenty-one (21) time Grand Slam winner, was endangering her legacy by choosing to withdraw from the seasons remaining tournaments.  Williams has gone on record that she needs time to emotionally and physically heal from the long season.  After all, professional tennis players endure a grueling eleven (11) month season.

I have been accused of being an obsessive tennis fan.  I don’t understand recent media attacks on Serena’s legacy.  Folks, she has nothing to prove at this point.  With twenty-one Grand Slam victories, she is undoubtedly the best tennis player of her generation.  Her only two real rivals, her sister Venus and Justine Henin, have seven Grand Slam victories each.  But more to the point, why is Serena being skewered for not winning the four Majors in a single calendar year.  She did, after all, win the four Majors in a row.  Does it really matter if she began her streak with the Australian Open?  Seems incredibly arbitrary to me.

Serena won Four majors in a row people!  And it’s not even the first time!

*2014 US Open, 2015 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and 2015 Wimbledon

This matches Serena’s earlier run of four in a row:

*2002 French Open, 2002 Wimbledon, 2002 US Open, 2003 Australian Open

I did a bit of quick research.  Every tennis fanatic knows in the “Open Era” (1968 and onward) that *Margaret Court won all four Majors in 1970, and *Steffi Graf won all four Majors in 1988.  But I didn’t realize that Margaret Court actually won six Majors in row from 1969 US Open to the 1971 Australian Open.  Steffi Graf won five Majors in a row from the 1988 Australian Open through the 1989 Australian Open.  Wowzers!

There are amazingly, two other streaks of four Majors in a row:

*Martina Navratilova from the 1984 French Open through 1985 Australian Open

*Steffi Graf again from the 1993 French Open through 1994 Australian Open

(I hope I didn’t miss any.)

In my humble opinion, all of these streaks are Grand Slams and should be celebrated accordingly.  Let me know what you think!

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Blog Tour Highlights: Part 1

T.A. ebook cover (final)I’m on a blog tour for my novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.

Here are some highlights so far:

-Guest Post at Science Thrillers about the science behind the story

-Interview at The Book Adventures of Emily

-Guest Post at Freda Hansburg about the city of Philadelphia as a character

-Guest Post at Teatime and Books about love and understanding

-Book Review by Sage

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Why I Battle

A wise man once told me, “Never tell anyone your dreams because if you never see them in your waking life, you won’t have to explain for the rest of your existence why you never made it.”  Sublime advice, right?  Similarly, a good buddy once shared with me a link to C.P. Cavafy’s poem Ithaka.  The journey to my dream is as valuable as the destination itself because that is where I will find true enrichment.

So, I have decided to break protocol.  I want to share one of the reasons I am driven to sit at a keyboard and pound out stories and such.  Of course I want what any writer wants, to be able to provide a living for my family by becoming a storyteller, but for me, there is more.  I want to start a school.

Education is this world’s great equalizer.  Enlightenment is simply impossible without it.  Until enough of our leaders learn how to respect, cooperate, and love, our world will be full of hate, violence, and greed.

The Scholarships

The ideal would be for my University to operate free of charge to the students, including tuition, room and board, cost of living, and travel expenses.  All students are valued the same and treated with equal opportunity.  In my current vision, the University’s student body would be filled via two methods.

Noah’s Ark:  Every country in the world would be invited to send two students, one male and one female, per academic year to the University.  Two-by-two.  Each country would decide on its own framework for deciding who to send.  I know some would fear corruption, but I have faith that this system would work out for good over the course of time.  According to Wikipedia, the United Nations current recognizes 206 sovereign states.  So, that would be 412 students per academic year under this scholarship.

Pro Rata: There are seven billion people in the world with India and China leading the way with over a billion each.  It seems fair to me to offer a second scholarship to students based on the population of his/her home nation.  So, if my University could offer 1000 scholarships each academic year under this provision, a country with one billion people would provide approximately 143 students.  A country like the United States, with approximately 400 million people, would send 57 students each academic year.  Some sort of pooling process would have to be developed in order to accommodate countries with very large populations where the mathematics would not guarantee a student from their nation could attend every year under this provision.  Furthermore, students could apply directly for this scholarship and if they meet the basic academic criteria, they would either be chosen by an acceptance committee or at random (or a combination of both).

Using this process, the student body would roughly model the world population.   With my simple math, each academic year would have 1412 students resulting in a total of 5648 students enrolled in the four year program.

Location

Ideally, the University would need to be established someplace safe yet easily accessible.  Many countries would be suitable hosts.  I envision a single main campus.  But I think it would be awesome if the students rotated through a series of satellite campuses worldwide.  Would it be too much for a student study in a different country each academic year?  Each semester?  I believe if you can experience the world and its different cultures, you become a better world citizen.  It is better to see with your own eyes than to read in a book.  What would a student’s worldview look like if he/she spent a semester studying in Europe, Russia, Israel, The United States, Russia, China, Brazil, Turkey, Africa, etc.

Faculty & Staff

Top notch academic minds would be perfect, of course, while emphasizing diversity.  The instructors should come from all over the world to ensure a broad cultural environment.

Curriculum

A liberal arts program would probably be necessary to achieve the goals of the university, but specialization should be allowed and encouraged.  However, leadership, team building, foreign language study, government, and cultural appreciation would be emphasized in the General Education curriculum.  While traditional class room instruction is important, I believe a focus on practical hands on training and experience would be vital via opportunities like internships and apprenticeships.  The students should leave empowered to enter the world workforce.

Campus Life

The environment should be designed in such a way that the students develop a close bond with one another.  Through class instruction, sports, intercollegiate competitions and activities, students of all nations would learn to understand and value each other.

The campus would be designed in a manner that all students could be comfortable worshiping in whatever manner they choose, if any.  Churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, etc.  In the same way, campus dining options would cover the spectrum of worldwide needs.  Omnivore, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, Halal, etc.

It makes sense to me on one level for their to be some sort of school uniform.  Of course leeway would need to be given to address cultural sensitivities.

Outcome

The ultimate mission would be for university graduates to return to their home countries commissioned to change the world for good.  If they learn to love and respect their peers from nations around the world, they leave equipped for this very task.  As they rise to levels of responsibility and leadership, they would have an established network of like-minded colleagues worldwide prepared to achieve the same goal:   to share this planet in a loving manner.

I know this is an ideal.  But it is my dream, and I will not let the light go out on it.

 

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Star Wars: Instagram Clip and Thoughts

Star_Wars_The_Force_Awakens_Teaser_PosterBy now you have seen it.  The Star Wars Episode VII 13 second teaser trailer on instagram.  If you haven’t, its embedded below.  Like any faithful fanboy, I dutifully spent an hour watching it over an over.  Here are some things I’ve been thinking about:

1. Is Finn, John Boyega’s character, a stormtrooper, a Jedi Knight, both?  Could he be a Jedi that is merely incognito in the soldier’s suit?  I got goosebumps seeing him with his blue lightsaber.

2.  Is Finn Luke Skywalker’s new apprentice?

3. Is Rey (Daisey Ridley’s character) the daughter of Han Solo and Princess Leia?  We are all assuming that they got married after Return of the Jedi, but we have been instructed that everything outside of Episode I-VI, The Clone Wars TV show, Star Wars Rebels TV show, and a few other very recent games and books are apocrypha now.  However, in the recently discarded “Expanded Universe,” Han and Leia had twins…a boy and girl.

3.  Are Kylo Ren (Adam Driver’s character) and Rey (Daisey Ridley’s character) siblings and the children of Han and Leia?  Ren’s apparent obsession with Darth Vader makes more sense to me in this context.

4.  Is it possible that Luke Skywalker has turned to the dark side of the force?  Could he be a Sith Master now?

5. Gwendoline Christie of Game of Thrones fame is playing the stormtrooper, Captain Phasma.  She’s got to have a lightsaber, too.  Right?

6.  What happened to Ahoska Tano, Anakin’s padawan from The Clone Wars series.  She is out there somewhere.  A Jedi.  Ready for action.

7. Harrison Ford famously infamously wanted Han Solo to die a heroic death in Return of the Jedi.  I hope this wasn’t a condition of his return to the franchise!

Is it December 18th yet?

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Chris Cornell: New Music

Chris_Cornell_Higher_TruthIf I could sing like anyone, Chris Cornell would be at the top of my list.  He’s always been one of my favorites, but since he stopped smoking in between the production of the first and second Audioslave albums, he’s ascended to a new plateau.  He’s always had range, but now there is a bucket full of soul splashed onto his vocal rainstorms.

Cornell is following up the successful release of Soundgarden’s triumphant return, King Animal, with a new solo effort, Higher Truth.  The first single, “Nearly Forgot My Broken Heart,” was recently released.  It opens with an eerie acoustic riff.  Is that a mandolin?  It reminds me a bit of the opening from Joan Osbourne’s “St. Teresa” from back in the dark ages.  Cornell’s voice has never been better, but I could have done without the distortion on the chorus.  The track pushes the envelope on being “over produced,” but it is very catchy.  I’ve probably listened to it a million times all ready.  Lyrically, it is dark and thought provoking, everything I’ve come to expect from the crooner.  Pain and suffering often comes in cycles, often by our own repeated choices.  But maybe it is something we shouldn’t attempt to avoid?  Interesting to think about…

The full set is due out in September.  It can’t some soon enough.  For now, you can listen to the lead single and cry yourself to sleep:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/higher-truth/id1028592877

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

 

Collective Soul: New Singles

see-what-you-started-by-continuingThey snuck up on me.  Collective Soul has released three singles this summer from their upcoming release See What You Started By Continuing.

The first, “This,” is a rocker with a catchy, chord based riff.  It is reminiscent of their older work and Ed Roland does a fine job getting the most out of his voice.  I am a big fan and it is a reminder to a world in love with American Idol, The Voice, and the like that a perfect singing voice is not required to front a great rock band if you have passion and write songs that compliment strengths and minimize weaknesses.  The “oooh-ooohs” remind me that the band is really a power pop outfit now, but I am okay with that reality in a post grunge age.  Newcomer, Jesse Tripplet’s solo sears, invoking the band’s glory days.

“AYTA (Are You the Answer),” the second single is more of a ballad and hooked me with the fancy picking during the chorus.  As it is often the case with Collective Soul, the song works as a love song, but even better as a spiritual hymn.  Thought provoking. Compare to classics like “Better Now,” “No More, No Less,” and breakthrough “Shine.”

Blues is the name of the name of the game in “Hurricane,” the most recent release.  The main riff is fun and a upbeat version of something I’d expect from Queens of the Stone Age.  Yet, it is heavy, both musically and lyrically.  I hope there are more moody tracks like this on fully album.

I’m grateful for new music from a band from my youth.  The full album is due out in October. Listen to the singles now:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/see-what-you-started-by-continuing/id1023916182

 

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

 

Cecil the Lion, Steve Zissou, and The Hunter

LifeaquaticposterI am captivated by the Cecil the lion matter.  For those of you who do not know, he was killed by an American dentist seeking a hunting trophy a few weeks ago.  Like many, I had never heard of Cecil before his death, but I find myself thinking about my dog, Pepper, when I read about the lion.  I’m not saying that hunting for a trophy is wrong, but I don’t understand it.  It makes me sad to think about loosing my dog someday in the future, even though he can be a colossal pain sometimes.  I wonder if that is how folks who knew Cecil feel?  I don’t know.

I’ve been thinking about two movies that relate to the subject, at least in my own crazy mind.  The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou is one of my all time favorites.  Many of my friends and family have not been able to appreciate this film when they have allowed me to screen it for them.  Bill Murray, as the title character, is absolute fantastic as the host of a ocean based nature show.  Yes, the movie is very silly.  But it is also insanely serious as Zissou is searching for the fish that killed his best friend in order to get revenge.  As Zissou loses himself, he finds himself, even if he can’t put his finger on how he got lost in the first place.  Check it out and let me know what you think.

 

Hunter_ver3The Hunter with Wilem Defoe flew largely under the radar.  I watched it one night when I couldn’t find anything else more enticing and it has been with me since.  It is haunting.  The story is believable, built around the Tazmanian Tiger, which is believed to be extinct for some time.  Defoe, the titular hunter, is hired to find and bring back a specimen when a lone animal is spotted in the wilderness.   It challenges the audience to a game of bioethics.  Can the Hunter, as wild as his prey, be taught by nature about what makes humanity so special?  .  Are Zissou and the Hunter different versions of the same man?  Tell me what you think.  I’ll be back after spending some time with my buddy, Pepper.

 

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

 

 

 

Review: Mission Impossible – Rogue Nation

Mission_Impossible_Rogue_Nation_posterEthan Hunt drops in for another round.  And like a prize fighter, he delivers plenty of punch.  But this time, it’s not so easy.  Hunt is no longer in his prime (think recent James Bond).  He’s vulnerable as his skill are repeatedly matched by the evil Syndicate.  As always, Cruise thrives in the underdog roll.  I’m not complaining!

There is no shortage of fun and special effects, but this mission is reminiscent of the mystery and mind games of Brian DePalma’s more subtle first chapter of the franchise back in 1996.  To me, that is a good thing, as the audience is right next to Hunt trying to figure out friend/foe and who is really behind the Syndicate.

While the cargo plane scene was greatly hyped–rightfully so–it is the high speed motorcycle chase that stood out to me.  It was impossible to miss how real it feels.  My only gripe is that Jeremy Renner, who was introduced in MI4, was severely underutilized in this installment.  Don’t wait for home video release, go see it now:  feel the breeze–in your hair.

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

Star Wars: A Review of Wilco’s New Album

Star_Wars_WilcoI know. I know. I know.  I’m late to the Wilco party.  But, their new album, Star Wars, is a rockin’ masterpiece.  Known as audio chameleons, Wilco’s offering is punchy and surprisingly straight forward.  That’s not to say it is without its lovable quirks that place the album firmly in the alt rock category.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Star Wars is the mixing.  No muddled instruments, a common theme in recent pop music.  I know, I’m a snob.  Here, each guitar seems to occupy its own edge of the spectrum, resulting in a recording that actually sounds like a band.  Well done, Wilco.  Oh, and did I mention that it’s FREE on iTunes and on the band’s website, Wilcoworld.net?  What are you waiting for?  Go get your light saber.

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com

What is at Stake with Potential Iran Nuclear Deal

1. Is it a potential increase in stability for the Middle East or will it have a major destabilizing effect?

2. The deal proclaims an increase in international access and inspection of the Iran nuclear program will derail any potential weapons program.  How can they be certain?

3. It will end the major economic sanctions for the Iranian people, who by accounts, have been subjected to poverty.

4. May lead to a push for western democracy in Iran.

5. President Obama’s legacy:  finding a way to end harsh economic sanctions that were politically motivated.  Compare to Cuba situation.  These actions may be what he is remembered for long term, not universal healthcare in the United States.

6.  Will the United States alienate its chief allies in the region (Israel, Saudi Arabia)?

7.  The restoration of good relations with Russia / Putin after disagreements over Ukraine.

8. What will Israel do in response?  Operation Opera / Operation Babylon in June 1981 wasn’t that long ago.  Israel is the most threatened by Iran.  Why doesn’t Israel have a United Nations Security Council vote?

9.  The agreement has a “snap back” provision that would reintroduce the harsh sanctions in the event of noncompliance.

10.  Military intervention has not been taken off the table with the agreement.

11.  U.S. congress votes to ratify (or not) in September.

12.  Will this spark a new arms race in the region (Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel, Iraq)?

*Husky Harlequin is the author of the new time travel novel Time’s Alibi or The Quantum of Jazz Between the Sun and the Grave.  It’s more than SciFi; it’s a political statement.  Grab a copy and visit another dimension during your lunch break.

www.HuskyHarlequin.com