Sunday, April 15, 2018

Gentleman Gigi Loses It

Juventus goalie Buffon explains to referee Oliver that he does not agree with the last-minute penalty kick awarded to Real Madrid that might end his team's fantastic fight-back (Photo:  Getty Images)
My beloved L impressed me the other night when she mentioned that she had heard about a great football match that Roma had recently won. I asked her if she had also heard about the dramatic end to the Juventus - Real Madrid tie and she had not. Of course, I had to tell her all about it!

Whether or not you are a tifoso, the sheer drama of that evening was utterly intense. For a full match report, here is something from the Guardian. Suffice it to say that Juve were 0-3 down from the first leg in Italy. They came to the Bernabeu, surrounded by Madridniks, and against all odds fought back to level the aggregate score at 3-3. In the 3rd minute of added time, with the game seconds away from the extension of 30 minutes extra-time, the referee gave a penalty kick to Real. Of course, if they were to score, the game would end immediately, and Juve's fightback would be for nothing. 

L tells me that Gianluigi Buffon, one of the greatest goalkeepers ever to play the game, and coming to the end of an illustrious and successful career, also has the reputation of being a gentleman. She was shocked to hear how he responded in this moment of disaster.

In that moment, Gigi Buffon lost it. I don't think we know exactly what he said. Afterwards he apparently said that he meant every word. Huffpo published quotes including:

"Cosa ho detto all'arbitro? Avrei potuto dirgli qualsiasi cosa ma lui doveva avere la sensibilità per capire il disastro che stava facendo. Se non hai quella sensibilità devi stare in tribuna a mangiare le patatine e mandi qualcun altro perché significa che non riesci ad arbitrare queste gare. Uno che si comporta così, al posto del cuore, lo ripeto, ha un bidone dell'immondizia, perché è troppo eclatante."

With my limited Italian I understand this as not sharing the actual words he used at the time. Buffon basically says that if the ref doesn't have the sensitivity to get what a terrible thing he is doing, he shouldn't be a ref, and should go sit in the stand and eat some chips! Then comes the quote that has already become a meme throughout Italy - the referee has a dustbin instead of a heart!

So, Buffon was sent off, and thus denied his team their best chance of responding to the penalty. Juve had to bring on poor old Wojciech Szczesny to face Cristiano Ronaldo, the scorer of 40 goals in 37 appearances this season so far. Ronaldo buries the penalty. Real Madrid win. 

This is already so last week. Except today L, armed with her new calcio knowledge, greatly enjoyed the latest Snoopy cartoon:

Why would anyone leave the crusts on pizza? Surely they have a dustbin instead of a heart?!
If you find any other examples of this meme, do let me know, and I will link to them. I may also need to send them to the idiots who sent vile & angry texts to the referee's wife. For crying out loud!

Update - here are some Twitter examples of the meme (#BuffonDiceCose):

When Harry Met Sally
Oliver gets some chips
(my favourite so far) Buffonic version of Jane Austen
& finally:
a sweet cartoon of Gigi's mama taking him home after the game

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

John Ehle R.I.P.

John at his table in the Gloriette Cafe in the early 1980's
(Photo:  ajf)

John Ehle was an American author who was one of North Carolina's greatest writers, and considered to be a key figure in the emergence of Southern Appalachian literature as a presence in modern literature. For a couple of years in the 1980's, he and his family lived down our street. Through my youngest sister's friendship with his daughter, I did a little babysitting. John also gave me my second ever non-synagogue-related job (the first was doing the Xmas post), i.e., in those pre-computer days, typing up his handwritten draft pages for the novel on which he was working at the time. Looking at his bibliography, it seems likely that it was The Winter People, but I honestly don't remember. What I do remember was finding him regularly upstairs at the corner table in the Gloriette Cafe where he would happily spot you a hot chocolate and a good conversation. To this day I appreciate the attention and respect he gave to a teenager with literary pretensions.

I was sad to hear this week of John's death at the end of last month. Although we had not been in touch for many years, my sister is still fast friends with his daughter, so I had heard news of him now and then. His beloved wife, Rosemary, sat with my family and friends at my Ordination service, and we were also very occasionally in touch. The thing is, with both of them, no matter how long it was since last you met, they made it so easy to pick up again and once more feel connected. My thoughts and prayers are with Rosemary, Jennifer and the rest of their family at this time. May his memory be for a blessing.

Citizen Times obituary
Winston-Salem Journal obituary

The Journal shares a letter recently made public, in which Harper Lee comments on John's work, saying:

"John Ehle's meld of historical fact with ineluctable plot-weaving makes "The Land Breakers" an exciting example of masterful storytelling ... he is our foremost writer of historical fiction."

NCSSM obituary

Appreciation of John for his 70th birthday from the Greensboro News & Record in 1996

The Gloriette is no more, but the arrow points to where John was sitting in the photo above.

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Bulge in the Old Onion Bag

Sometimes there's a day where, even though the sun is shining, it feels like everything's gone pear-shaped.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Moment of Joy

On a day when there has been such very sad news (thinking of the family & friends of Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame), and when so many friends are making their voices heard in the USA in a struggle to change policies and save lives (#marchforourlives), forgive me if I take a moment to appreciate the absolute joy expressed by a young man beginning his career (who happens to have been discovered by my favourite football team!) Congratulations to Paul Smythmaking your debut for your country today, and then scoring the winning goal!

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Cat Stops Play

Adding insult to injury, the Turkish club Besiktas has not only been knocked out of the Champions League football tournament by Bayern Munich, but they've also been charged by UEFA for allowing a cat on the pitch. According to the BBC, the exact charge is "insufficient organisation". As if anyone has ever been able to herd a cat!

Meanwhile, on Twitter, the cat was voted MoTM:

That reminds me of a previous MoTM winner at Loftus Road vs Leicester City a couple of years ago:

Monday, March 05, 2018

Obstreperous with E-on

Long Google search for pic expressing my current feelings. Found this. Feeling itself well expressed. Just wishing the model wasn't so blonde, so Caucasian, so young.
E-on is my current electricity company. My use of the word current is not meant as a pun (though it did raise a smirk), but rather to suggest that it may well not be my company of choice in the future. The other day there was a power cut. My meter went blank, and I couldn't tell if I had enough electricity to last through the snow. I could not get through on the phone, so I followed the advice on the website, and sent an e-mail.

Today E-on called me back. I've already lost an hour of my life dealing with their rigid protocols, ear-wormingly repetitive music on hold (for over 30 of those 60 minutes), and inefficient complaints procedure, so why should you also suffer? Suffice it to say that it might not have been so bad if, when the representative concluded with the question, "has your complaint been resolved?", I'd just said, "Yes. Thank you. Goodbye." However, being me, I had to be literal. "No," I said. Del was a bit surprised.  Apparently, if the customer says no, the protocol is to refer her/him to the Complaints Department. All I meant was that the meter hadn't been fixed yet. And, being me, I couldn't let it go. Sigh. One hour later I'm no wiser, but perhaps less inclined to be obstreperous in the future.

What has me steaming, though, is that once again I do not understand why customer service training does not seem to include this simple tool:  when you receive a call from a dissatisfied customer, the very first thing to do is to state kindly and compassionately some version of:  I'm sorry that you are unhappy. The customer hears "sorry" immediately, and in most cases this completely diffuses the situation. By saying sorry you are not laying yourself or the company open to litigation. You are not taking personal responsibility for what has happened. You ARE acknowledging that this customer has arrived at your desk because they are upset, and you ARE showing them that you would like to help them. Why is this so difficult? (Especially if you are a man in your early 20's)

Meanwhile, maybe I need to work on being a little less difficult myself. I don't know what got into me!

UPDATE: today was the day that they came to fix the meter. I was given a slot from 8 am to noon. At a quarter past noon, the chap showed up. He couldn't find the fuse, and the building manager had to come over. The fuses weren't marked, so an E-on guy with a machine had to come over. He was in Bedford. He had to go somewhere else to get the machine. When he arrived, he needed batteries for his machine as "guys keep nicking mine".  He changed the meter and the job was completed just before 5 pm.

Sunday, March 04, 2018

Sir Roger Bannister R.I.P.

Rabbi Dr Albert H Friedlander & Sir Roger Bannister
This afternoon we heard the news that Sir Roger Bannister has died at the age of 88. Although he is best known for being the first runner to break the barrier of 4 minutes for running the mile, as I read through the obituaries and testimonials, it is clear that running was more his avocation, and medicine his vocation. Perhaps, therefore, it was all the more so thrilling for Albert to meet him and have a good conversation together.

bottom left: "Friedlander, miler"
It is a gene that lies most dormant in me, but my father both loved running and had some ability. I understand that he turned down an athletic scholarship to LSU in order to attend the University of Chicago. He could run the mile in about 4 & 1/2 minutes in the early 1940's, and his coach thought he might have a chance in the 1948 Olympics. However, his mother would have none of that (he needed to concentrate on his studies) and over the summer managed to fatten him up enough to thwart this plan!

But today is about Sir Roger, so I will conclude by stating how much Albert admired him as an athlete, and as a mensch. With condolences to his loved ones, may he rest in peace.

running with his children in the park

Appreciation from the BBC website including video of the record-breaking run, and an archival interview.
NY Times obit (behind a paywall but a few free articles available)
Daily Mirror (including several tributes & tweets)
Runners World obit (annoying pop-up ads)
Bath Chronicle (former Bath schoolboy)