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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Monday, March 27, 2017

The one and only health care post

I am not going to pretend to be an expert on the misnamed Affordable Care Act, but I can see by observation it is a big failure.  Failure because it is supposed to be affordable, and if you think it is any more affordable than COBRA you are kidding yourself.  Good thing it wasn't called the "Easy Care Act", too, because if you have ever made the mistake of getting on the government website to price things, you quickly find out, in the great scam tradition, signing on means (to them) you are signing up.  The only thing I ever saw comparable to the " snare" is run by the sites that promise you next day loans at 30% interest- trust me, just looking means you have to call them and explain to them why you are NOT interested.  And why would the government want to set up an "exchange" like this?  Well, how about because the whole thing is a gigantic Ponzi scheme, in which young people pay in and the older and sicker reap the benefits.  Except that the young people were smart enough to stay away in droves, so that every passing year, the older and sicker pay more and more.

And God forbid that you work for one of the princes of industry like Wal-Mart, who deal with the odious requirements for employers by just not giving anyone enough hours to rate company-purchased health insurance.  Because then you can either pay between $200-500 a month for this state's plan, or you can watch your tax refund get gobbled to the tune of a $700 penalty.  Look, if I didn't have work insurance, I'd be basically working for rent, gas, insurance, and lights.

I get that it has helped some people out.  But a GOOD law would do it without screwing someone else.  So all it has accomplished is to play musical chairs with who's getting tooken.

And that brings us to the recent attempts to pass a better version.  Was it better?  Debatable.  While as it was written, Laurie would get back to feeling like the taxes she pays actually meant something, others would lose their "musical chair."  But it was a start.  And sometimes you have to take it one step at a time.  However, this effort tripped and fell face first without a step, and I'd like to throw out some thoughts as to why that was.

First, The Donald.  Some people are saying that he just learned a big lesson on deal making when you aren't the biggest dog in the room.  Some are saying he threw a typical tantrum and quit when he didn't get his way.  Some are saying he never WANTED it to pass, just to show that he tried so that when the Ponzi scheme finishes falling apart, he can lay the blame where it rightly belongs and say, I told you so, and start from scratch.  My thoughts:

If it is the first, one must consider it is also the second.  A much better bill SHOULD have been crafted, time should have been spent with all parties involved, and it should have been passed.  The whole "I'm giving you till Friday" thing makes me question his integrity in wanting it to pass in the first place.  Of course, that's giving him credit for not being a big bully and just simply picking up his balls and jacks and going home.  If it is the former, I have to say, I don't appreciate Washington DC playing poker with our lives and would just as soon someone drop a nuke on the whole shebang and let us start over running things from, say, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  If it's the latter, we're in for a very messy four years.

Second, Speaker Ryan.  I have to say that the good Congressman is rapidly approaching Boehner levels with me.  A good Speaker, say a Lyndon Johnson or a Newt Gingrich, knows how to work the floor- kiss the right asses, jerk the right lapels, and avoid embarrassing tableaus like this one.  Here we have to ask, was the task too great, the Speaker inadequate to the task, or did he really not WANT to work for it?  While the first is a possibility, I think the real debate here is over the second and third choices.  And I suppose it will depend on what we see from Ryan in the future to tell for sure.  Would I put it past him to sink the legislation in order to sink Trump?  Not on your life.  What better way to cloak himself in glory for a 2020 Presidential run than to say he saved the nation from the worst effects of a failed Trump Presidency?  (NOTE TO PAUL:  I'd sooner vote for Bernie Sanders right now than you.  Should this be your end game, don't expect your conservative base to fall all over themselves to anoint you.)

Third, the alleged Freedom Caucus.  All-or-nothing is just going to get everyone a big pile of nothing.  Do you really think you won something here?  A quick check of Wiki's latest list shows I have no one from Indiana to yell at- but Marlin Stutzman, I wouldn't bother trying to get your old seat back.  Frankly, I am sick to death of establishment vs Trump, sick to death of establishment vs conservatives, and sick to death of you.  If you can't quit playing The Game long enough to care about what YOUR PEOPLE really need, what's the point in voting for you?

Fourth, the Democrats.  Truthfully, I don't think they are qualified to even be considered here.  Start with Nancy Pelosi.  She said- and here's the full quote- “We have to pass the bill,” she said, “so that you can find out what is in it — away from the fog of the controversy.”  Matthew Yglesias of apparently thinks that is enough different from the "truncated version" we know so well that it holds up her integrity.  I DON'T.  The controversy was caused by the rush of the mammoth bill to a vote before any but the crafters knew what it was about.  If the only way to learn what was in it was to pass it and let it start screwing people, then it did not deserve to be passed.  But did ANY Dem have integrity enough to say, "Hey, whoa, pahdner"?  Nope.  Because Dems align right behind the party line, no matter what- thus Hillary could get away with co-opting the DNC, get away with massive security failures, get away with screwing Bernie Sanders, and they all just got in line and voted for her anyway.  The one thing that makes me mad about Dems venting about Trump is that they would have gleefully voted for him had he run as a Democrat against, say, Ted Cruz.  Because that's what Dems do.  When they show me an iota of backbone about what's right and wrong despite the party line, I'll give them due consideration.  Ditto the Freedom Caucus.  You guys want to become your own "little Democrat party"?  See how well that endears you with your voters.

So there you have it.  The media wants to know how everyone is "assigning blame" in this mess.  Well, this is how I'm assigning blame.  Number one, first and foremost, an American electorate that is THIS stupid.  How stupid?  Look at the people we have put up there to run for President lately.  George W Bush.  Al Gore.  John Kerry.  John McCain.  Barack Obama.  Hillary Clinton.  Donald Trump.  And experts want to tell me James Buchanan was the worst President ever.

Number 2, ANYone we have elected in recent memory.  Every last one of them would rather play The Game once they cross the Beltway than give a flying fig for any of us out here.

And number three, myself.  For not being rich enough, charismatic enough, good looking enough, to get myself elected.  For being too lazy, too uninformed, too afraid to stand up when I should have.  For being too willing to just say, fooey, it's just politics.  Because in the end, all you "me"s out there, we have no one to blame but ourselves.

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Sunday Message: Going to Trenzalore

Ten: I won’t remember either so you might as well tell me.
The Doctor: Tell you what?
Ten: Where it is we’re going that you don’t want to talk about.
The Doctor: I saw Trenzalore. Where we’re buried. We die in battle among millions.
Ten: That’s not how it’s supposed to be.
The Doctor: That’s how the story ends. Nothing we can do about it. Trenzalore is where you’re going.
Ten: Oh, never say nothing. Anyway, good to know my future is in safe hands. Keep a tight hold on it, Clara.
Clara: On it.

Ten: Trenzalore. We need a new destination, because… I don’t wanna go.


“I assure you: When you were young, you would tie your belt and walk wherever you wanted. But when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will tie you and carry you where you don’t want to go.” John 21:18


In a bygone age, when you were about to meet your end, they said you were heading for your Waterloo.  For Doctor Who fans, the destination is now Trenzalore.  And it struck me that both Peter and Paul ended up at their personal Trenzalore- Rome.  The place they knew they would die.  And while we know precious little about Peter's trip, we know that Paul didn't fear the journey- in fact, he demanded it.

…11If, however, I am guilty of anything worthy of death, I do not refuse to die. But if there is no truth to their accusations against me, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” 12Then Festus conferred with his council and replied, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go!” Acts 25:11


What was it that made these two real heroes willing to go where the fictional ones feared to tread?  Because they knew that where they went, where they had the opportunity to go, Christ was leading them.  He had a job for them, in that moment, and they had a DESIRE to do it.  You would almost want to say, in man's understanding, that they knew they were the ONLY men for the job....

But that wouldn't be true.

They thing that triggered this thought-line was the story of Esther.  Sometimes a person wonders what this book, the only one in the Bible to not directly mention God, is even doing in the cannon.  It is a particularly Jewish book, not really a doctrinal book, and such was the reason 1 and 2 Maccabees were bounced from the Protestant text.  But there is one crucial verse, upon which the whole book swings, which is the true core of this book.  And that is when Mordecai asks Esther to go to Trenzalore:

7 And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king's treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them.

8 Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew it unto Esther, and to declare it unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people.

9 And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai.

10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;

11 All the king's servants, and the people of the king's provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or women, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, there is one law of his to put him to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days.

12 And they told to Mordecai Esther's words.

13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king's house, more than all the Jews.

14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father's house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

We all face points at which we have the choice to do that "something extra" for God; and many times, we tell ourselves, "Well, there are others more qualified to do this, get out of the way and let them do it."  But, what if this is the reason we are led to such a position- God giving us the chance TO do the thing?  It wasn't that Peter or Paul HAD to die in Rome or the Church would collapse;  God would have chosen another for the honor.  But they wanted to do it, for, as Paul put it, the prize that awaited them.

When the Doctor at last went to his Trenzalore, he got an unexpected gift- 12 more lives.  When we face our Trenzalore, we add "prizes" TO our eternity.  The apostles looked past the current fame to what awaited ahead.  They trusted Jesus, and He TOLD them what waited ahead was better.  And OUR Trenzalore doesn't even have to be about death, or pain.  It can be as simple as showing Christ in Your life to someone else.  Don't be afraid to go!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Assorted pics from the past week

Ground Hog Road getting busy again

"I KNOW you're in there..."

A dip in the pond, so to speak

The first of the new towers going in early in the week

Scrappy figures out the ground hogs like to hide under the boardwalk
The kids come over for a walk on a beautiful Friday

Peanut in his new stroller.  Almost rolled right into the canal.
Me:  "Geez, Jessica woulda killed us!"
KC:  "Yeah and you'd have took pictures of it and put them on FB, with the headline, ' Baby gone wild, crashes in ditch. Film at 11' ".

The tiny flowers are starting... we've finally rounded the corner

And an escapee daffodil in the woods!

When we jump this log, we know we've made 1/2 mile

Scrappy was convinced there was something in this log- and he was right!

Tucked in the back, a baby possum!

Then, we ran into some deer...

Later, we clambered down to an area we haven't much explored- the creek right off the back trail.

Dead ahead is where the deer were hanging out

And ahead that way is The Spot.  Scrappy unsuccessfully tried to force a 'back door' to it.

There's something you don't often see in the middle of the woods....
And the first two towers are up!

The socceristas are blooming....

And Mich's wonderful portrait of Scrappy is now hung!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Time Machine Co-ordinates VXIII42132460

Somehow trapped outside the Martin Era, we have slingshotted into March of 1960, and landed one day short of the day that Oliver Cromwell's head was buried.  What, you say?  Yes, Cromwell, in addition to being a buzzkill at parties, was so unpopular amongst the GP of England that he was dug up after his 1659 death; his body was dumped in the sea (or a pit, no one's really sure), and his head, after touring the country on a pike, was passed around until finally coming into the possession of a certain family from 1815, and they finally got tired of passing him around and had him planted somewhere in Cambridge.

Legend has it whoever displayed the head never worried about mice or cockroaches in the house.

Well, this week has a lot of somber news before we begin.  You all have heard about the recent passing of Chuck Berry by now, and we'll deal more with that in a bit.  Also this week we lost Boston drummer Sib Hashian, who collapsed onstage during a Legends cruise.  I hope that both of them were happy with where their lives had led, because in music as in other lines, it's easy to lose the life while concentrating on the career.  Just today I saw an article on M10 artist John Mayer, musing on what he'd missed out on.  From FoxNews:

John Mayer is approaching 40, and he realizes he didn’t do everything right during his years in the spotlight.

Mayer, who has a reputation as a womanizer, spoke to the New York Times about his new album, “The Search for Everything,” and the rocker admitted he has some major life regrets.

“I wish there was somebody to throw me the 40th,” Mayer told The Times. “I want the baby with the protective earphones [by the stage].”

The guitarist added, “I’m right on time for my career, and I’m running late for my life.”

Okay, now, let's shake off the melancholy and get to some fun music and trivia, starting with:


The first of three debuts this week.  At #10 we have a new release by a group called Work Drugs...

Their lp, One Foot Off The Merry-Go-Round, comes out this summer.


And now for our Panel picks.  26 stations gave us 11 candidates- and in the end, two of them duke it out in a run-off this week!  The contestants, if you will...

Brook Benton and Dinah Washington with Cashbox's #3 this week, Baby You've Got What It Takes.

Toledo's Johnny and the Hurricanes with their #12 instrumental, Beatnik Fly.

Jackie Wilson with Doggin' Around, which would enter the bubbling under end of things at 125 next week.

Jim Reeves with the national runner-up, He'll Have To Go.

Hull, Quebec hadn't yet got the memo about the holidays being over- they had Harry Simeone's Chorale with The Little Drummer Boy still at the top of their charts.  Needless to say, that's a clue.

Connie Francis' two sided hit Mama/Teddy, which were at #s 9 and 35.

Paul Anka and Puppy Love, at #5.  Hey, BTW, keep an eye on me so I don't slip in a $ instead of an # like last week...

Brenda Lee with Sweet Nothings, at #6.

Percy Faith and orchestra with one of my all time top 5, the Theme From A Summer Place.  It was #1 on CB this week- in fact, it was on week 5 of an eight week run, and kept Jim Reeves out of the top spot for three of those weeks.

Johnny Tillotson with a nifty doo-wop tune, Why Do I Love You So, stuck at #39.

ANNNNNNNNNNNNd Bobby Darin with Wild One, at #4.

And here with your opening clue , our POTM this week, Ms Joan Jett!

Yeah, I thought you were lettin' me do the Chuck Berry thing.

The day's still young.  You never know.

I WANTED to do the Chuck Berry thing.

You know, a lot of POTMs would LOVE the chance to do two features...

Awright.  So the clue is, there are six acts that got multiple #1 votes- Connie and Brenda, that fox Bobby, the Hurricanes, and Percy and Reeves.  And two of 'em tied, forcing a run-off- the #1 and 2 songs!  So you get ta pick from Summer Place and He'll Have To Go.  So place your bets.

See, that wasn't so bad, was it?

Yeah, but I wanna do...

Okay, okay, ladies and gentlemen, Joan Jett with a bit of a Chuck Berry tribute!


One of the great things about Chuck's music is that it was so accessible.  Everybody with a guitar played Chuck's tunes back in the day.  The Beatles, in fact, covered most of his songbook at one point or another, most famously Rock'N'Roll Music.  They didn't release it stateside, but topped the charts with it in Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Austria.  It was also covered by another band he heavily influenced, the Beach Boys, who took it to #5 on Billboard.

Of course, the Beach Boys more famously covered his #2 hit Sweet Little Sixteen- although they changed the words to Surfin' Safari and got sued over it.  That Murray Wilson was a real peach.

Johnny Rivers was also big on covering Chuck, hitting #12 with Maybelline, and #2 with Memphis.

His songs had a few covers hit big on the country charts, too.  Buck Owens took Johnny B Goode to #1, and Emmylou Harris took C'est La Vie (You Never Can Tell) to #6.

Over in England, he also had a lot of covers, with Jimi Hendrix, Peter Tosh, and Judas Priest all doing Johnny B Goode, and Don Lang and his Frantic Five- along with as varied of acts from Gary Glitter to AC/DC- doing School Days.  And over here, a couple last covers to mention:  Linda Ronstadt went top 20 with Back In The USA, and Chris' favorite CB cover- ELO hammering out Roll Over Beethoven!   So if you judge a man by the company he keeps- just look at all the talent that wanted to keep company with him...

Well, done, Joan.  And now, the second debut, coming in at #8, I give you the new tune from a Philly group called Real Estate...


Our 6D victim this time was the song without a vote sitting at #7- the Platters and Harbor Lights.  The fascinating thing about this tune came when it first came out in the fall of ten years before- 1950.  Between September and November, no less than 6 different versions were on the charts basically at the same time.  Three of them were Billboard top tens- Sammy Kaye and his Swing-and-Sway boys at #1, racking up 25 weeks on the chart; Guy Lombardo, who spent 20 weeks and peaked at #2; and Bing Crosby, who took it to #10.  With Ray Anthony, who peaked at #15, these four were all combined as one chart-topper on CB which held the top from November 11th until December 23*, and spent 11 more weeks in the top ten after that.

Also, Billboard charted versions by Ralph Flanagan (who worked sometimes as an arranger for Sammy Kaye) and organist Ken Griffin, who would pass just 5 years later.  They both peaked at 27 on BB, and I found no trace of them on CB.

*That run for the gang of four was interrupted one week- December 17th when Phil Harris- band leader, comedy artist, and the voice of 70's Disney characters Baloo the Bear, O'Malley the Alley Cat, and Robin Hood's Little John, broke onto the top with The Thing, which if you are interested, you can listen to here.  What was amusing as I listened was the YouTube comment speculation of what the "thing" was- including " Kanye West & the Kardashians, U2, Coldplay, Nickelback, Rascal Flats & Justin Bieber all rolled into one", a picture of President Trump, a "penis in a box" ("No because his wife didn't want it either"), an embarrassing party pic of Spongebob Squarepants, a gun, a bag of marijuana, and "Jumanji".


As we are starting to run long this week, I'm going to combine a bunch of untied ends up in one shot here.  The top song in the UK was one of my brother's all time favorites, Johnny Preston's Running Bear (which was on the way down at #44 here).  The 60 at #60 was Della Reese with Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)... and a new feature I'm thinking of starting, "What happened to the guy at #101? " That guy this week was Wilbert Harrison with a sequel to his song Kansas City, called Goodbye Kansas City.  Wilbert was in a bit of trouble at the time- you see, he had released KC on the Fury label, but he was still under contract to Savoy Records.  It would create conditions that would keep him off the charts for almost a decade.  In any event, Goodbye KC was the exact same tune as Kansas City- just with the words changing, having him abandon all his crazy women to return to New York.


And now, the rest of the M10.

#9 is the slowly falling former #1 by Chicano Batman, Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm), which slips 3 spots.  But don't grieve for them because their NEW one comes in at #6:

Barry Manilow, in between all of this, moves up a pair to #7 with the New York City Rhythm/On Broadway medley.

POWERS holds at #5 with Heavy.

The Pretenders et al drop 2 more to #4 this week with Let's Get Lost. (NOTE:  I just caught myself twice hitting that darn dollar sign...)

Tom Jones climbs another spot to #3 with I Know.

The Four Seasons edge up to the runner up spot with Walk On By.

And the number ones?  M10 says...

Melody's Echo Chamber for a second week with Crystallized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And now, the battle at the top of the Panel Picks... we had a tie at 23% each, which means I do a run-off election to see who got the most votes at #2!  And by a 7-3 margin, the winner is....

...Jim Reeves and He'll Have To Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, I can't tell you for sure if our musical Tardis is going to break back into the ME real soon... but I can say next week's journey will be a little... Orwellian...

Monday, March 20, 2017

Oboy, it's spring

And at least we got to have a nice little walk today.  Frankly, I couldn't get warmed up all weekend and laid low.  But today, with a bit warmer weather, and the construction crew away because of the early rain ( or maybe Bobby Orr's birthday is a union holiday), we hit the trail to the trail...

And there's the 2017 new blockage of the trail to Scrappy's Landing...

His Eminence was sing to us...

Caught him with his big mouth open

Outside of birds, we did have one other sighting.  After exiting the boardwalk,  a groundhog came out from underneath, ran up the bank, looked at us, and returned whence he came.  Scrappy, six feet away, wasn't paying attention as usual.  I did snap an upside down pic under the boardwalk (out of the sun...)-

...and if you squint hard that might just be him in that little arc of grass dead center...

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday Message- the prayers of nehemiah

This week, as I finished up Nehemiah, I noted that the thing that separates this book's narrative is the author stopping nine times to pray during it.  In looking those nine times over, the prayers separated themselves into three sets of three.  And I think we can learn from each one about how to pray in certain situations.

The first group, let's call them the hotline to God.  And I do that because they were three prayers that, unlike the others, didn't ask God to keep something in mind, but to act.  And that group leads off right at the beginning, in Chapter 1, v5.  And it is the longest, for good reason.  The situation: Nehemiah had asked a friend about the conditions in Jerusalem (this was just prior to Ezra's rebuilding of the walls), and the report wasn't good.  Nehemiah knew the conditions there were a result of Israel's past sins against God.  Therefore, it started with a detailed confession of sin.  Then he shifted into a prayer of repentance for the people, and finished by asking God to remember His promise to bring the people home if they repented.  I think this is important that this is where we need to focus our opening prayers.  Looking through our lives at our sin, and confessing it, and repenting of it, is the first thing to do when our situation sucks.

The second was exactly the opposite.  This was in 2:4 when he faced King Artaxerxes, wishing to take leave of the court to help his people in Jerusalem.  When the moment came to pitch his cause, he paused "to pray to the God of Heaven".  We are not told what this prayer was; however, it must have been just a reach out from the heart to God, for the whole thing happened between Artaxerxes asking what was bumming him and his answer- and I doubt he had a lot of time to bow down and formally pray at this point.  We learn from this that, in case of immediate need, God requires no more than a deep-seated reflection on our part.  Sorry, any of y'all that use the "I didn't have time to pray" excuse.  See, he prayed the long prayer in anticipation of going to the king- in anticipation of the troubles ahead- so that when push came to shove, all he had to do is think back and remember the time he had already spent on his knees.

The third of this set occurs in 6:9, when his enemies were trying to weaken his resolve.  This too, was a simple prayer, for strength.  Nothing elaborate, no long pleas.  Just a simple request.  And that is all we need at that moment of weakness;  remembering, though, that that strength is a "foot in the door", and we should use the reprieve to avail ourselves of God's mercy and strength.

Which is a nice segue into the second set, a set in which Nehemiah consistently asked God to remember his good deeds.  I heard a pastor not long ago mention how some people take these prayers as a "salvation through works" excuse, but that this is not what Nehemiah is doing.  The first of these occurs in 5:19.  The people are poor, they have been taxed heavily in the past and but a ton of work in on the walls.  they are about tapped out.  But as Governor, Nehemiah has the right to expect lavish treatment, tons of feasting that was described as the "governor's provision."  Nehemiah, though, recognizes the state of the people, and refuses to put a greater burden on them.    In this prayer, he asks God to remember him "for good, for all I have done for the people".  He's not looking at his works winning him salvation; he's putting off the reward that COULD be his in this life, in anticipation of the reward he expects in the next.  This is a huge concept, not so much materially as attitudinally;  the whole idea of "doing your job as if for the Lord" is based on this very idea- not being upset over the rewards you don't get in this life, but keeping on content that the real reward is yet to come.

The second of this set is in 13:14, where Nehemiah, having completed the Temple project, now looks around and sees all is not well- and it's people who know better causing the problems.  The leaders of the people have not been supporting the Levites with tithes- and they have been forced to abandon the Temple and work fields in order to survive.  In the meantime, the leaders have been enriching themselves, even renting Public Enemy #2 Tobiah to live in an apartment IN the Temple.  He takes them to task, reinstating the tithe, straightening the Temple, and applying foot to the butt of Tobiah.  His prayer after all this was to remember his zeal for the Temple, and not to "wipe out his good" from the ledger.  The point here is not to look at it as 'God might be forgetful', but the motivation- that God should be glorified through worship.  Where the first focuses on the reward of the future, the second focuses on the worship in the present.

The third was his explosion over the city being open for business on the Sabbath.  Had the Levites been on the job, closing the gates at Sabbath sundown, this wouldn't have been going on.  So after a little judicious threatening of the merchants there to tempt the city, he assigned the Levites to make sure the Sabbath was kept.  His prayer after that was to "remember my good and spare me for the greatness of Your Mercy".  The Hallmarks of prayer are worship and obedience, and this is the second of those.  So in sum Nehemiah teaches us to focus on worship, obedience, and keeping the final reward in mind.

The final set involved a trio of "remember THEM" moments, the 'them' in question being the enemies of God and the people.  The first was in 4:5, where Tobias and big buddy Sanballat (Public Enemy #1) basically made fun of their work toward rebuilding the walls.  "Why a fox could jump on it, and the whole thing would come down," they said.  And they'll say it to you- you don't do enough, it makes no difference, etc.  But remember, when they mock the work you do FOR God, they aren't mocking you, they're mocking God.  And Nehemiah's prayer focused on that;  he asked that God remember them for provoking Him.  And where Nehemiah asked to not have his reward wiped out because of his worship, he asks that their deeds here not be wiped out, as they were the opposite of worship.

Second in this set comes at 6:14, where they tried to trick Nehemiah into a murder trap, or at least get him to lose heart and flee from the front lines into the Temple to cower.  And here he had another simple prayer:  "remember them for their works".

Finally, they had gained an inroad into the priestly ranks by tempting them into marriages with foreign women.  Nehemiah knew that this seduction was the most damaging; even Solomon, as wise as he was, fell into this trap.  But the crime that upset Nehemiah wasn't the sexual part of it, but that they had allowed the priesthood to be defiled.  This, then was the opposite of obedience.

In all three sets we can see, if we look hard enough, a single thread.  That thread is Worship, Obedience, and the works that come from them.  We learn to focus on worship, which starts with confession and repentance- and beware of those who seek to weaken our worship.  We learn to seek after obedience- that starts in worship and being aware of what God requires- and not to be seduced by the world out of it.  And we learn that works flow from the first two- requiring us to go to God for the strength to do the work- and not fall for the lies of "you can't do it."

Friday, March 17, 2017

Time Machine co-ordinates VXII42031780

Today we push the Tardis outside of the Martin Era, farther than she's ever gone- to St Patty's Day, 1980.  In the news, race riots are sweeping Miami after 4 cops were acquitted in the death of black insurance man Arthur McDuffie.  Arthur, in addition to (or in spite of) being an insurance salesman, was a traffic law violator with a suspended licence who decided to take off on his motorcycle from the police, with a high speed chase, followed by escape on foot, followed by fighting, followed by his death from a cracked skull.  And, Matti Webb became one of five acts this year to hit #1 in their first week on the Irish charts, with her hit Take That Look Off Your Face.

Yes, it's a St. Patty's Day Time Machine, and frankly, I'm not sure what's gonna happen this show!  Welcome to our first show outside the Martin Era, and let's have some fun!

First St Patrick's day Irish chart trivia:  the most hits on the Irish chart is a tie with 70- and if you have paid attention on our English segues, you might guess the two are Cliff Richard and Elvis Presley.


And our only debut this week belongs to a half-Irish Jewish boy from Brooklyn.  I might be a bit remiss in calling him a boy- he turns 74 in June.  This was the guy whose poster hung on my bedroom wall, the man I have called "our generation's Sinatra."  His new lp coming out in April is called This Is My Town: Songs Of New York, and his name is Barry Manilow.

The medley comes in at #9 this week.


I managed to scare up a 15 station Panel for 1980, and they give us 7 candidates for the new POTM, and here to introduce them is our own Irish President of the week, Sir Paul McCartney!

'ello, and welcome to the show!  Once again, I and me mates thank you for this honor, unlike that snooty sod last week.  Your choices this turn are...

A country and western outfit called the Oak Ridge Boys, with, uhm, Buh-Buh, Buh-buh, Bobbi Sue.  It was at #14 on the Cashbox charts this week.

Joan Jett and the Blackhearts have the numero uno on Cashbox this week, with a tune that was first done here in England by the Arrows, I Love Rock'N'Roll.

Hey, wasn't that written by two of the Osmonds?

Er, no.  It was written by Alan Merrill, not Alan AND Merrill.

I know, little joke there.

Very.  Anyway, next we have  Bertie Higgins, another partial Irishman, with Key Largo, which was #11 on the charts.

Journey's Open Arms was at #4.

Folk singer John Denver, and Placido Domingo teamed up for an AC hit called Perhaps Love, which peaked at #59.

Next, my mates in Soft Cell are at #62 and climbing with Tainted Love.

And finally, the lovely lassies of the Go-Gos and We Got The Beat, the #5 song.

There you go, mate!

Thanks, Sir Paul!  And now, I would give you a clue, but I think that outside of knowing that Denver and Domingo aren't your best choice, I'll leave you on your own here.


Next Irish trivia: The most weeks at #1 in Ireland was Bill Whelan's Riverdance at 19 weeks. The most weeks for a song you prolly know is the #3 on the list, Pharrell Williams' Happy with 12.


Thankfully I have all this St Patrick's Day stuff I can horn in here, because I sucked eggs trying to do a 6D on the highest charter nationally without a Panel vote, the #2 That Girl by Stevie Wonder.

(Okay, help me out here.  The blog doesn't come in braille, so everybody just tell Stevie I had a real good story on him.)


And here I have a neat little feature for the UK segment, and I was just about to not do the UK for fear of perturbing the Irish.

So anyway, the #1 in the UK this week in 1980 was a remake of The Lion Sleeps Tonight by a studio act called Tight Fit.  It wasn't too bad, but it got me thinking of all the times that song has charted over the years.  I found 8 times between the UK and the US, starting with Gordon Jenkins' band featuring the Weavers on vocals.  It was one of many that went by the alternate title Wimoweh, and made #14 back in '52.  The Tokens took the best-loved version to the top in 1961, while in Britain a Slim Whitman-on-5 HR Energy type named Karl Denver reached #4 there in '62.  It charted twice in 1972:  Here, it was Robert John who made it to #3, while in the UK a gent by the name of Dave Newman (about whom I could find little other than his death just this last summer) hit #34 there.

Brian Eno, in his early days, just missed the UK top 50 three years later with an electronica version.  Then came Tight Fit, followed by the Tokens reprising it in 1994, which charted at #51.

Now the highest song that hit both charts was J Geils' Centerfold, which was #3 here and #9 there.


I considered doing a top songs by Irish acts deal here, but since I only realized the date when I sat down to type, the best I can manage is a shout out to some of the Irish acts that charted here.  So shouts to Gilbert O'Sullivan, Thin Lizzy, the Boomtown Rats, U2, the Irish Rovers, the Cranberries, Van Morrison, and Chris DeBurgh for a start.

In the meantime, it was a much quicker lookup to learn that the ME has seen three times Cashbox's Hot 100 hit on St Patrick's Day, and thus we have three St Patty's number ones:  Bruce Channell's Hey Baby in '62, Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly in 73, and the Bee Gees with Tragedy in '79.


NOTICE:  At this point, I just discovered that the Musical Tardis was far more damaged by the attempt at the future than I thought.  While my lead in was from 1980... EVERYTHING ELSE is from 1982!  The only reason I discovered that stupidity was that when I went to my notes to do the #80 in '80, I saw that it was ACTUALLY the #82 in '82!  So just in your mind, set everything from the picture of the lovely Ms Webb down to 1982, and if I ever do a 1980, I'll be sure to confuse you with a 1982 lead in!

(But at least I get to use the new meme I made last night...)


Oh, so that #82 at 1982 was Elton John's Empty Garden, his tribute to his good friend and ours, John Lennon, which had just debuted.


And since it is the Beatles' week at the Presidency, I'll mention that they had five songs debut on the Irish chart at #1- Ticket To Ride, Help!, Paperback Writer, Hey Jude, and The Ballad Of John and Yoko.


And now, the M10.

Colony House slips to #10 in their 8th week with the little song that could, You And I.

Sadly for a couple of last week's climbers, room towards the top is at a premium this week, and thus Helpless by John Mayer and Name For You by the Shins do an as-you-were and go back to 8 and 7, respectively.

The former #1 by Chicano Batman, Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm), slips from #2 to #6.  But don't grieve them; they'll be hitting the chart in a big way next week with their latest...

POWERS slams their way up 5 spots to #5 with Heavy.

Tom Jones moves up a precious spot to #4 with I Know.

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons rocket from #9 to #3 with Walk On By.

The Pretenders et al slip out of the top spot to #2 with Let's Get Lost.

And before the reveal, I would like to point out that I was amazed to learn yesterday that, although 31 acts have had multiple hits on the M10, and 16 of them hit #1, there have only been three acts- Beach House, Lucius, and The Explorer's Club, who have had multiple $1s.

Until Now.

 The number ones?  M10 says...

...Melody's Echo Chamber with their second #1, Crystallized!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And winning the Panel by a 7-3 margin over Open Arms...

Joan Jett and the boys with I Love Rock N Roll!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

So, since this foray has been such a "smashing" (more like smashed up) success, let's see if we can slingshot closer to home by going to 1960 next week!