Does Bob Dylan have Christmas in his heart? – 4th time around

“When I was growing up, Billy Graham was very popular. He was the greatest preacher and evangelist of my time — that guy could save souls and did. I went to two or three of his rallies in the ’50s or ’60s. This guy was like rock ’n’ roll personified — volatile, explosive. He had the hair, the tone, the elocution — when he spoke, he brought the storm down. Clouds parted. Souls got saved, sometimes 30 or 40,000 of them. If you ever went to a Billy Graham rally back then, you were changed forever. There’s never been a preacher like him. He could fill football stadiums before anybody. He could fill Giants Stadium more than even the Giants football team. Seems like a long time ago. Long before Mick Jagger sang his first note or Bruce strapped on his first guitar — that’s some of the part of rock ’n’ roll that I retained. I had to. I saw Billy Graham in the flesh and heard him loud and clear.”

~Bob Dylan speaking to AARP magazine in 2015

BILL FLANAGAN: You really give a heroic performance of O’ LITTLE TOWN OF BETHLEHEM The way you do it reminds me a little of an Irish rebel song. There’s something almost defiant in the way you sing, “The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.” I don’t want to put you on the spot, but you sure deliver that song like a true believer.
BOB DYLAN: Well, I am a true believer.

~Bob Dylan speaking to Bill Flanagan about the “Christmas in the Heart” album. The album benefits homeless charities and this interview was published in the UK in the “Big Issue” magazine which helps unemployed and homeless people to rehabilitate.

In 2009, Bob Dylan released an album of traditional Christmas songs. Since then I’ve written about it on three occasions and I thought that I had nothing more to say on the subject but then I read a couple of comments that I didn’t really understand and it got me to ruminating on the album again.

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Worth every Pound you invested

Who: Steve Hackett and Band

Where: Hammersmith Apollo, London

When: 29th November 2019

What: Selling England by the Pound, 40th Anniversary of Spectral Mornings and other songs

Someone I know was complaining how expensive concert-going is getting. “Soon”, he said, “no-one will be to afford to go to a show”.

His thoughts have some merit, but my concerns are in a different area. Too many concerts are able to charge their inflated prices because they revolve entirely around nostalgia and people ARE willing to pay to relive a certain period from their lives

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All form is formless, order orderless

What: King John by William Shakespeare

When: October 2019

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company

Where: The Swan Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Three plays? No, just one.

Are you sure? Well, yes as much as I can be sure about anything to do with this production.

But whatever we say, we have to say that the production is an untidy mess.

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The New York Yankees in July 2019 (Part Two) – The Pitchers

On the face of it, the Yankees’ starting pitching in July wasn’t really much different than the way it had been in June. In June, the team had come out 17-9 on the month and the starters had picked up 8 of those wins. Excluding the rather bizarre decision to open with Stephen Tarpley in the second “London series” game, the team had depended on 4 principal starters and one opener, Chad Green who did exceptionally well both as an opener and as a reliever. In July, the Yankees reverted to the more usual tactic of using 5 starters, now that Domingo German was available for the full month. Indeed, German was the pick of the starters but nothing else quite went to plan but even so, the starters just about got away with it. Whilst the win percentage was down (14 out of 25 games), the starters were still responsible for 50% of those wins. However, the real truth can be seen in the ERA (earned run average) and WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) columns.

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The New York Yankees in July 2019 (Part One) – The Batters

July was a peculiar month for the Yankees. After going 17-9 in June, they found themselves struggling with injuries and below-par pitching and having to settle for a weaker record in the new month. They still, however, came out 14-11 and with a half game increase on their lead in the American League East. The two game series at the end of June in London with the Red Sox which was followed by a two-games series against the Mets at Citi Field can’t have helped – but somehow they got through.

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O cunning enemy, that, to catch a saint, With saints dost bait thy hook!

What: Measure for Measure by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon, UK

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company

When: July 2019

“The poetic atmosphere is one of religion and critical morality. The religious colouring is orthodox, as in Hamlet.”[1]

“There have, however, been others, notably in the last century, such unlikely yoke-fellows as Gervinus in Germany and Walter Pater in England who have seen the play neither as expressive of cynicism and disgust nor as filled with the spirit of the Gospels and yet believe it to be no ‘meaningless’ entertainment but serious and coherent exploration of certain moral issues. It is in support of this view that the following pages are written”.[2]

I have two touchstones, benchmarks if you will, when it comes to Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure” and the above quotations are examples of their understanding of the play and the differences between those understandings. Gregory Doran’s production of the play in Stratford-Upon-Avon may have become a third.

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The New York Yankees in June 2019 (Part Two) – The Pitchers

With their surprisingly successful starting pitcher, Domingo German, headed for the injured list on the 9th of the month, where he would stay for most of the rest of June, it was up to the relievers to bolster the pitching staff, even more than they had needed to do in May. Thankfully, the bullpen were more than up to the task. And the arrangement of using Chad Green as an opener paid off even better than it had in May. Green had, by far, his best month of the season.

Again, let’s explore who else led the way:

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The New York Yankees in June 2019 (Part One) – The Batters

The New York Yankees did not quite maintain their May level of performance in June but they weren’t still far off that pace.

In June, they had the somewhat bizarre London series which produced 50 runs in two days to inflate the earned run average (ERA), runs scored and batting average columns.

https://twilightdawning.com/2019/07/03/professional-baseball-in-the-uk/

Despite winning those two “road” games, the Yankees finished the month 17-9, compared to 20-7 in May.

However, they had finished May only one and a half games ahead in the division. Now with Tampa Bay falling off the pace, they led by 7 games.

Let’s see who led the way with the lumber:

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Professional baseball in the UK?

A tale of three cities…

Surely, it could never catch on… could it?

The date: 29 & 30th June 2019

The place: Olympic Stadium, Stratford, London, UK

What: Major League Baseball

Who: The New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox (with Boston playing as the home team).

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The New York Yankees in May 2019 (Part Two) – The Pitchers

The pitchers held their own in May, without being overwhelming. The Yankees’ experimentation with an opener – primarily using Chad Green continued and that seems to be going well. Again, let’s look at things in more detail.

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