Strikes

Adam Bosch: Mary Taylor starts her Friday night routine by arriving at the bowling alley one hour early, dropping her bag near one of the lanes and heading outside for a smoke.

She walks down the dim corridor toward the double-door exit and passes the cluttered trophy case where her name is pegged twice in little white letters for high scores. She goes past the plaques that celebrate her as a league champion and past the oiled lanes where she has rattled pins since 1955.

Outside Pat Tarsio Lanes, she smokes a cigarette with friends and fellow bowlers as dusk settles over Newburgh. When a longtime friend hands Mary an invitation to the annual Hall of Fame Tournament, she grabs the envelope and heads toward her car.

At the same time, a silver Honda coupe pulls into the bowling alley lot and parks along Route 52. The driver glances at her rearview mirror and sees a closer spot along the bowling-alley facade. She shifts the car into reverse.

The Story Of A Footnote

Anthony Shadid: THULUYAH, IRAQ — Recitation of the Koran, mournful but consoling, played from a scratchy cassette as the men gathered in the funeral tent for condolences. They sipped bitter Arabic coffee, only enough to leave an aftertaste. As they smoked cigarettes, an American helicopter rumbled overhead, its rotors sounding the familiar drumbeat of war.

The men had arrived on this day in June 2003 to pay their respects to Hashim Mohammed Aani, a chubby 15-year-old who was one of three people killed a day before in a U.S. raid through this lush region on the sweep of the Tigris River.

An omen, a soft-spoken former judge called the shy boy’s death. Other mourners called it a tragedy. To the rest of Iraq, it was little more than a statistic, incidental in the killing fields the country would soon be reduced to. The raid itself was a footnote.

That Time Again

The Mike Levine Journalism Workshop is April 29 to May 2, in Livingston Manor, N.Y.

The MLJW is a bit of a throwback, named after a dear friend, mentor, and one of the best story guys ever. It’s more of a gathering than a conference.

We stay in the Shandalee Lake Inn in Livingston Manor, N.Y., for a long weekend, talking shop and getting better at journalism. Writers bring reported material with the goal of working one on one with a coach and getting the story in publishable shape.

Two shining examples of journalism that sprung from last year’s get-together: Janine Anderson’s just-published story, The Wait. And Konrad Marshall’s serial, The War Within.

And there’s some food and no small amount of drink, not entirely different from The Auburn Chautauqua.

Last year, Pete Hamill blessed us with some wisdom at the Eddie Adams barn. We also learned to fly cast from some of the best.

And if you’re looking for a recap, Kruse blogged the living shit out of it.

Go here to learn more and here to sign up.

A Murky Realm

Mark Bowden in Vanity Fair: Detective Michele Deery works in a cubicle in the basement of the Delaware County courthouse, in Media, Pennsylvania. The only window is high on the wall, over a tall filing cabinet, and opens into a well, below ground level. The space feels like a cave, which has always struck Deery as about right, because her job is to talk dirty online to strange men.

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The Last Typewriter

Alex Zayas: TAMPA — For the first time in history, it allowed a human to tap a backspace key and make a mistake go away.

Called “Selectric II,” it was conceived when Richard Nixon was president, when IBM made typewriters and when a hand-typed card catalog tracked every book at Tampa’s downtown library.

Librarians got machines for the public, giving each a room of its own with walls the shade of an avocado. The workhorses spit out labels for spines of books and stamped Dewey decimals on paper cards. They typed resumes, got people jobs.

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Fires Burn Longer

Dan Barry: SACRAMENTO

At 7:56:59 on a Sunday night in November, a citizen known only as Steve called 911 to report a fire in the Curtis Park neighborhood. Flames were rising from the back porch of a handsome old house, burning so hot that the tall bamboo shoots in the backyard were popping like warning shots.

The alarm abruptly ended the light after-dinner conversation inside Station 6, propelling its firefighters into another race against a voracious opponent that doubles in size every minute. But their race tonight would not include their best weapon, the station’s water-bearing fire engine. To save money, it would remain idle.

This would turn out to be a routine house fire, if there is such a thing; no deaths, no injuries. But the fire occurred in Sacramento, the budget-challenged capital of budget-challenged California, where city officials have been forced at times to test the boundaries of a particular factor in their fiscal calculations: risk.

Even a routine fire, then, becomes a study in the worth of seconds.

What Remains

Lane DeGregory: BUSHNELL — The two teenagers got to the cemetery first.

He wore his dark green dress uniform from the National Guard. She wore a long black dress.

They stood on the edge of the road, across from rows of matching military headstones, waiting for the funeral of the man they had never met.

Mike Colt, 19, and his girlfriend, Carol Sturgell, 18, had driven more than an hour from their Tampa homes on Wednesday to be at Florida National Cemetery.

They weren’t really sure why they had come. They just knew they had to be here.

“It’s kind of sad, huh?” asked Sturgell, scanning the sea of white gravestones.

Colt nodded. “Yeah, but it feels kind of important.”

The Miracle Of Father Kapaun

Doctors said Chase Kear’s survival was impossible.

After he hit his head on the ground in a pole vaulting accident last year, they sawed off a third of his skull to relieve the pressure on his swelling brain.

They told his family that all hope was lost.

But Chase’s family lives near Wichita, where a farm kid named Emil Kapaun was ordained a priest 69 years ago. The Kears prayed thousands of prayers to the soul of Father Kapaun, asking him to bend the ear of God. They chanted his name like a mantra.

And Chase woke up.

And he arose and walked.

His baffled doctors said his survival defied medical science. They told the Vatican later that it was a miracle.

So Chase became the latest chapter in the improbable story of Emil Kapaun, dead since 1951.

The story might become more improbable: The Army has recommended Kapaun for the Medal of Honor. The Vatican might make him a saint — if it decides he performed miracles.

Did he?

Mike Dowe and William Funchess starved and shivered with Kapaun in a North Korean prisoner of war camp. So did Herb Miller and Bob Wood and Robert McGreevy.

They say Kapaun sometimes swore like a soldier. They say he gave away his own food as he starved.

They say that when all hope seemed lost, he rallied hundreds of filthy and ragged men to embrace life and forgive their enemies.

They don’t consider themselves experts on miracles.

But they know what they saw.

Here.

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