Rafa

He’s been called the beast though I remember him as a skinny kid playing doubles when he first appeared on the ATP circuit. His revolutions per minute when he hits a tennis ball exceed those of any other player. His passing shots as a result duck at the last minute as though they have Koufax-curve-like fallen off the end of a table.

As to mental strength, he may weaken at times but it never happens more than once even in a major match. Grit is his middle name.

Does he have a visible weakness relative to his great rival Roger Federer. Until a few years ago the answer was no. But in the last few years his high bouncing serve to the ad court has been neutralized by Roger’s larger racketed/more imposing backhand skill.

All that aside, there seems no greater threat, even with the continued, renewed rise of Djokovic and Federer, than the clay court skills of Raphael Nadal. Let us all enjoy this marvelous era and its extraordinary matches between the big three, who, however briefly, appear ageless.

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Time

Time is a word that can only be defined relatively. It appears to move quickly as one gets older. For instance when my wife was driving, I have never asked her on a road trip ” Are we there yet?”

Time doesn’t slog along anymore. It moves as though it were shot out of a cannon to a 73 year old like me.

Recently Kristine and I traveled to the Middle East and return via Los Angeles. I had some concern the one way plane trip of about 20 hours would begin to drag.

Unlike the plane trip home, the first trip lacked a USB connection for my cellphone. I was surprised and concerned. I watched several movies including one of my favorites, The Notebook. To my surprise the trip seemed over rather quickly. The same was true of the return journey. The flights were in essence objective tests of how life seems to get past you in the blink of an eye.

Our time in the Middle East itself was intended to stop and smell the roses. Frequently, time stood still, worshiping our God, and inspiring the overwhelming beauty of that Holy Place.

The Tiger Roared Again

There is no quit in Tiger Woods. The worst pain I have ever endured in my 73 years was back pain and his was a lot worse.

That lack of quit had found him on the practice tee repeatedly twisting that spine since chilhldhold. It is a deleterious movement that impacts the spine of many golfers as it did Jack Nicklaus. The spine he used yesterday was fused following not one but three back surgeries.

Tiger had survived public humiliation over philandering and then the threat in the midst of his back pain and aging body that he would never pick up another club. He taught us all something about getting up off the mat with that too rare quality, courage.

He showed us how much love remained in his heart for his children and for the sport he would not relinquish. Sunday he gave us a memory that will never fade. He defined what the heart of a champion is all about.

A Day of Contrasts

I looked around in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem seated at a café recently. Youthful love was in the air between green uniformed, rifle packing youth. They live in this country surrounded by enemies. They just want a place to live and mature, but, in the blush of youth their lives are at risk.

Just minutes earlier. I had prayed at the Wailing Wall. It is a retaining wall built over the foundation of the first temple. It is called the Wailing Wall because of the response to the destruction of the revered, two, Jewish temples in 586 BC and 70 AD by the Babylonians and the Romans, non respectfully.

These Israeli men and women flirted in a tough world. On the streets of this lovely Jewish Quarter the sidewalks and cafes were strewn with young adults some of whom may not be with us tomorrow.

These were nice young people around me. It was spring and the bloom of love was in the air. Unfortunately hate as well was only minutes away.

H. Robert Rubin, Amazon best selling memoirist and author of Look Backward Angel and How Did I Get Through This? available on Amazon.

The Green Book, a Movie Review

I have meant to see The Green Book since it was first advertised. Somehow life got in the way.

Then, Mahersha Ali who played the wonderful pianist Don Shirley, won the Academy Award as did the film and the screenplay. The movie looked better and better to me.

Tonight I finally got a chance to cry and laugh and cheer through this beautiful film. I was born and raised in the Midwest but received my education after high school in the Deep South. I knew the travesty and tragedy of its racism in the 60s.

That place and that decade were eloquently portrayed in this beautifully written, directed and acted film. The film is filled with much humanity and some inhumanity.

It is Shakespearean in the sense it addresses vital, ever present, relational issues brilliantly. Viggo Mortensen and Mahersha Ali bring it to life. Anyone who hasn’t seen this film should breathe it in deeply and reflect upon its impact. Don’t miss this one. I repeat, Don’t miss it.

The Lighter (?) Side of Federal Taxes

Are there people who do their own taxes? Do some take their chances with software programs as opposed to professional tax preparers? I just save tax records.

I go with my long departed father’s advice here, “Don’t make a federal case out of it.” I do so by telling my accountant of 43 years, “Don’t take any chances and live long enough to accompany me if I am audited.

I figure if I get audited Robert Mueller will show up at the house at 4 a.m. with a swat team, having given instructions to shoot first and talk later. While I am cuffed and hanging from a house beam, the team will find every tax record dating back to 1975, which I have by virtue of my OCD.

They will conclude they owe me $332.50. Nevertheless, I will need to do community service due to my bad handwriting and completely illegible signature.