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


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday message-wherein the challenge lies

For a change, I am not going (for the most part) to quote from the Bible.  Instead I'm going to quote from the book, It's Not Just A Job, by Kenneth Lynch (a "friend" of Al Penwasser's).  Is this a highly-technical, inspired spiritual tome?  No, it's actually a fairly bawdy look at a soon-to-be sailor's start in that man's navy back in the day.  But one of the things you experience in the book is the discipline, the iron routine that gets drilled into the young servicemen.  And one of the amusing things was how that broke down when no longer so life and death:

"Once formed and ordered to march by Blakeley, the twenty of us stepped off like a drunk caterpillar.  You'd think that, with most of us fresh out of boot camp, we'd look better than an accordion in Winter Blues."

And I think that this boils down to your attitude towards the training.  Are you seeing it AS life and death, as an extension of training that will keep you alive in a crisis, or as, "Geez, you don't march on a ship anyway"?  And this has a lot to do with our challenges as a Christian.

This problem has had an enormous effect on the Church today.  The Telegraph quoted from a recent study that showed the declining "discipline" of faith:

The findings also suggest that Muslims have by far the strongest faith in modern Britain, with Christians from smaller evangelical churches the only group coming close to the same levels of certainty.
By contrast only one in six members of the Church of England or the other main protestant denominations say they believe without doubt in God.
Just a third of Roman Catholics in the study said the same compared to 88 per cent of Muslims and 71 per cent of those categorised as evangelical Christians.

But the findings also point to major confusion among the population about beliefs and what even constitutes religion – with a quarter of those involved in the study changing their minds over time on the basic question of whether they would say they had a “religious” upbringing.
More than a quarter of those sampled fell into a middle category of so-called “fuzzy believers” who either said they believe in a vague “higher power” but not a specific deity or that they believed in God or a god “some of the time”.

This week I have heard several sermons that converged, it seemed, on the topic of whether one was really saved or just "dating Christ"- like the seeds that landed on the rocky path in the parable, springing up with joy at first hearing, then withering away in times of trouble because there was "no root" to the faith.  But what constituted a challenge?

One set of sermons dealt with Esther, who was safe in the palace but had to challenge herself to stand up against Haman's hateful politics for her people.  Another marks what I was finding in my own walk, that when I focused on a particular sin, the temptation to it jacked into the stratosphere.  I'm not saying the sin didn't need to be addressed, but by putting your battle in such a narrow area, you allow Satan to concentrate his forces, as it were.  A lot easier to defeat the ministry of a Christian when you only have to defeat him in ONE thing.

But the thing that made it clear to me what God was driving at was a dream I had Saturday morning.  All I clearly remember was being pinned down by a knife (BIG knife) wielding terrorist, point stuck at the top of my abdomen.  For a moment, I begged for mercy, but then realized he was going to do it anyway, and said, "Just do it."  I remember the slash down the belly, which- being a dream- I didn't feel;  but then, a savage stroke down my right temple that I DID feel.  And then I woke up.  And I said to myself, "Why did I ever beg?  Why did I not just say, I'm safe in Jesus' arms, and laugh at him?"

And as I woke up (2:30 AM, not exactly my favorite time to wake up), I was listening to a pastor who was speaking to the subject of knowing your salvation.  And he made the point that our salvation isn't based on our ability, but on God's nature- that His character says "I promise and don't relent," and once your are saved, YOU ARE SAVED.  Unless you have been "dating Christ", and have that "fuzzy belief."

Which took me back to the dream, and what it was a symptom of.  Because my focus had been on the battle, the specific, the "boot camp", it had not spread out to APPLY TO EVERYDAY LIFE.  And this is the point.  Actually it is one I am getting better at.  "Boot camp" for a Christian is more than just buffing your boots, inspecting your "winter blues", and having yourself ready for inspection on Sunday.  It's the morning time in prayer, the stopping before you start your workday to give it to God, the watching the Super Bowl as if Jesus was next to you on the couch.  AKA everyday life.  If I discipline myself to normal everyday life, rather than throwing all my weight into fighting one sin I'll never beat for all that effort, I'll wake up saying, "Isn't it great I told that terrorist in my dream, he can only hurt my body..."

And the net result of that effort... well, let's let Mr. Lynch finish this...

"As we pivoted, seemingly on a dime, I realized what all those countless hours spent on the grinder had been about.  Sure, it was to instill discipline and a sense of order into us.  But it was primarily to prepare us for the moment we became more than a group of guys from Connecticut, New York, Iowa, Kansas, and wherever the hell Otero was from...We became sailors that very day, prepared for whatever the next couple, or more, years would throw at us.  We were ready to serve in our nation's defense...  Hell, if we could handle "Counter March", the Russians would be a piece of cake."

(PS:  It bears noting that the above quote came upon graduating boot camp and the first one came several weeks later.  Discipline takes constant work.)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Time Machine week 9

This week we touch down just one year further up, in 1977.  Today, Roots premieres on ABC (I was likely on CBS watching Switch with Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert), and Pink Floyd's Animals is released (and at this point, the only lp I own is Eagles Greatest Hits- I'm still a few weeks from buying Boston).  On the bright side, it seems to have been a catastrophe-free Sunday, so we can get on with Time Machine for the week that Boston's Long Time, Hall and Oates' Rich Girl, and ARS's So Into You first hit the charts.

Eddie was a retired cop and Wagner a former con man who form a detective agency to "out-con the cons".   Loved that show!

This week, not one, not two, but 3 videos- mostly because I have a "unknown song" that plays out like a six degrees, and a six degrees that plays out like an "unknown song"!  Plus, two instrumentals in the shuffle top ten, the next five of the Great Nineties Countdown, and more fun that you can pack into a much shorter post!  So let's have at it, shall we?  (BTW- sorry, guys, Neil Sedaka does NOT make it 3 six degrees in a row....of course, two is a record that should stand for a long time...)

This week, our panel consists of old favorites KTKT, Tuscon; WDRC, Hartford; WHYN, Springfield;  KROY, Sacramento; WPGC, out of D.C.; WLS, Chicago; CHUM; Toronto; WABC, NYC; CKLW, Detroit; and relative newbies WISM, Madison, WI; WYSL, Buffalo; and CFTR, also out of Toronto.  They combined for six different #1s, including the Jacksons with Enjoy Yourself (D.C.) and Mary McGregor's Torn Between Two Lovers (Buffalo).  Once again, it wasn't much of a battle- #1 (also the Cashbox #1 for a third week) won by a 39-25 margin, not as bad as last week, but pretty convincing.  The panel's selections...

Fourth, with the #1s of Madison and Chi-Town, Manfred Mann's Earth Band and Blinded By The Light;

Third, with the top spot in Springfield, Stevie Wonder's I Wish (one of those votes being for the entire Songs In The Key Of Life lp);

Second, with the #1s from CHUM and CLKW, Leo Sayer with a song I never did like then and, unlike most songs I didn't like then, STILL don't care for now, You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.

And the number one, with the other five #1s, comes up later.


Let's knock off the next buncha the Great 90s Countdown, shall we?  This week from 45-41:

45- Smashing Pumpkins, Bullet With Butterfly Wings, #22 pop and #2 alternative, 1995.  From one of my top lps of all time.

44- Metallica, Enter Sandman, #16, 1991.  The dude that ran karaoke at La Hacienda (back when I could sing) rocked on this one.

43- Love Rollercoaster, Red Hot Chili Peppers, #40 pop, #14 Alt, 1996.  A great funked-up remake from the Beavis and Butt-Head Do America soundtrack.

42- Dave Matthews Band, Ants Marching, #21 pop, #18 Alt, 1995.  Here's one you might like, Bobby!  "People in every direction/no words exchanged, no time to exchange them..."

And 41- Soundgarden, Black Hole Sun, #24 pop, #2 Alt, 1994.  The best imagery of any song on a great record- Superunknown.


As Arlee Bird mentioned last week, this end of the Martin Era was a bit lackluster, and it shows in the charts not having those local surprises like you have in the early years.  And when I do find one, it's not one that I'm real wild about.  Take this week.  The best of the unknowns this week was a disco instrumental called Fighting On The Side Of Love, by the THP Orchestra, which was sitting at 13 on the CFTR chart.  These guys were a studio group, like so many of this genre, and one of the leaders was one Ian Geunther, who was a founding member of one of my favorite Canadian bands- Lighthouse.  He was one of the several "hired gun" classical artists brought into the band at the beginning.  He had more fame as featured violinist for a folk duo called Fraser and DeBolt.   Allan Fraser and Daisy DeBolt never made it big commercially, but developed a cult-like following that years later led a Canadian music trade paper to say of them,  "Fraser & DeBolt were the greatest Canadian band never to have made it."

And their big hit with Geunther in 1971 was a lot better unknown than the THP one.  Here, give a listen.


And our six degrees this week starts in a very pleasant spot- with a recent beauty contestant, Melanie Safka.

Melanie was married to one Peter Schekeryk until his death in 2012.  Peter was a producer who worked back in 1967 with a band you never heard of likely, called Balloon Farm.  BF had a #37 hit that I thought deserved better called A Question Of Temperature.

These boys included a guitarist named Mike Appel- who would go on to fame as Bruce Springsteen's first producer/agent.  Appel was also known as a writer for the Partridge Family, co-writing Doesn't Somebody Want To Be Wanted with Jim Cretecos and Wes Farrell.  And Wes was a writer/producer who gave Kenny Nolan his first job as a writer/producer with his label.  Nolan teamed with Bob Crewe of the Four Seasons to co-write a score of big hits, such as My Eyes Adored You, Lady Marmalade- and the one that Kenny recorded himself and had sitting at #13 this week- I Like Dreamin'.


And that brings us to the shuffle top ten:

Pablo Cruise had one of their lesser hits in 1978 with the #21 song Don't Wanna Live Without It, and it spins in at #10 this week.

Rush's biographical hit Limelight from 1981 slips in at #9.  It peaked at #55 on the main chart, but #4 on MSR.

Since we've already brought up Boston twice, we might as well have them with their second trip into the shuffle ten.  Something About You was on the back side of that first lp, back in 1976-7, and comes in this week at #8.

I promised you two instrumentals in the shuffle ten, and you were probably thinking something from Percy Faith or Paul Mariat.  Truth is, both of them are in the later end of the ME, and the first one is the title track from the Alan Parsons Project's I Robot lp.  While it was released as the album's 4th single (the only one to really hit was I Wouldn't Want To Be Like You), it did not chart.  It takes our #7 slot.

And our country hit for the week falls at #6- Hank Williams, Jr, and Whiskey Bent And Hell Bound.  It made it to #2 C&W in '79.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers come in at #5 with the third single from their breakthrough lp Damn The Torpedoes.  That was Here Comes My Girl, and it peaked at #59 in 1980.  (It might have been a #1 MSR hit, but that chart wasn't started till March of the following year.)

Our Canadian stars for the week are the Stampeders with their #8 hit Sweet City Woman, at #4.

Blues Traveller, who were in last week's G90sC, are at #3 here with Hook.  It hooked it's way to #23 in 1995.

Poco comes in at the runner-up spot with their #20 hit, Heart Of The Night- which featured Phil Kenzie at sax, the same guy who played on Al Stewart's Year Of The Cat.

And at number one this week?  Survey says...

...Rose Royce with Car Wash!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And shuffle says, here's our other instrumental...

... Another Heart Breaks by ELO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

From the lp Time, it was the b-side of yet another "shoulda done better" single, Rain Is Falling, which snuck up to #101 in 1981.

And that, dear friends, is a wrap!  See you next time!

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Martin World News

Well, it's that time again, and here I come with the latest in stupidity...

ITEM:  Just one quote for the "That goes without saying" file:

WASHINGTON (AP) — In a rare admission of error, the White House said Monday that President Barack Obama or another high-level representative should have joined dozens of world leaders at an anti-terror rally in Paris.
While leaders from Europe, the Middle East and Africa linked arms for Sunday's march through the boulevards of Paris, the United States was represented by its ambassador to France. Attorney General Eric Holder was in Paris for security meetings but did not attend the march.
"It's fair to say we should have sent someone with a higher profile," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. 

Barack Obama.... making America look like idiots since 1997.

ITEM: So the mighty Boko Haram, capable of kidnapping unarmed civilians and defeating what passes for a military in Nigeria, got clobbered when they tried to take their game to Cameroon:

Issa Tchiroma, Cameroon's communication minister and government spokesperson, told Al Jazeera that between 200 and 300 Boko Haram fighters had been killed in the attack.

And the reason that so many of these big brave Muslim extremists got killed?

Sources said Kolofata is on a hill, which gave Cameroonian troops strategic advantage over Boko Haram fighters.

So let's put this into perspective:  Not bright enough NOT to attack a heavily guarded position uphill from themselves... but still takes Nigeria to the mat on a daily basis...

ITEM:  My favorite item of the show- a new twist on an old story:

A woman has been arrested after she reportedly chopped off her cheating husband's penis twice.
According to The Mirror, the woman flew into a rage once she discovered her 32-year-old husband, father of five children, had been having an affair.
Fan Lung reportedly used his wife's phone to send photos to his mistress, 21-year-old Zhang Hung, in the city of Shangqiu.
But his wife Feng, 30, found the image and in a rage grabbed the scissors and stormed into the room where he was sleeping, and attacked him.
He was taken to hospital and emergency surgery was performed - but the wife returned to the hospital and cut it off for a second time, reportedly throwing it out of the window where it was lost.

According to The Mirror, a hospital spokesman said: "The first we were aware of what happened was when someone came into the reception area to say a naked man was beating up a woman outside the hospital.
"Staff rushed out to see what was happening and found the patient with blood streaming down his legs hitting the woman.
"He was stopped and the woman was taken in for treatment, and then we discovered she had chopped his penis off again."
Doctors and police officers combed the area outside but failed to find the man’s missing member. They believed it may have been taken by a stray dog or cat.

For the record, this is SO not funny.

ITEM: So what do you do when you're passed-out drunk and need to get home to your 7-y-o son in China?

...why, you call that son to drive your three-wheeler 12 miles down busy streets to come pick you up!

For SOME reason, this incident has gone viral in China as the qualifications of the father (seen here passed out with his feet up in the wagon) to be a father are hotly debated.  But before you condemn him TOO badly, at least he had a designated driver...

ITEM: And now, a good story...

Russian stray cat is being hailed as a hero for using her warm snuggles to save the life of a baby abandoned in a cardboard box near Moscow.
Residents of an apartment building in the city of Obninsk said they heard the cat, dubbed Masha by residents who leave her food, meowing for help Jan. 10 near the building's entrance and they followed the sound to find the feline keeping a baby warm in a cardboard box.

The residents said the baby had apparently been abandoned next to the building's entrance in the box with some food and diapers.

Paramedics said the cat attempted to get into the ambulance with the baby, but was forced to stay behind. Witnesses said Masha seemed to be waiting at the side of the road to see if the vehicle was going to return with the child.

Police said they are working to identify the infant's parents.

Residents said they are rewarding Masha for her heroic deed by showering her in treats and her favorite foods.

Three cheers for Masha!

ITEM:  Some good animals, some bad animals...

RAMAT GAN, Israel, Jan. 16 (UPI) -- An Israeli zoo said it has fired a security guard whose on-the-job snooze was blamed for the on-camera escape of three female rhinos.
The Ramat Gan Safari park near Tel Aviv said the guard fell asleep while manning an open side gate at the facility and the three female rhinos, named Rihanna, Keren Peles and Karnabella, were able to sneak past him.

Passersby alerted police to the rhino escape and the three animals were recorded by a CCTV camera being chased by a zoo manager.

ITEM:  And from Chicago, home of our beloved President...

CHICAGO, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- A Chicago neighborhood group is defending its decision to give a neighborhood beautification award to a strip club, saying the winner was voted on by residents.
The Albany Park Neighbors group said the Block Star Award -- described on its website as a prize for "local businesses who are going above and beyond in the fight against litter, while also providing great customer service and going the extra mile for our community" -- was given to the Admiral Theatre after voting by neighborhood residents using its Facebook group.

Now I have known to appreciate the beauty of strip clubs in the past... I would have never thought of giving one a neighborhood award.  Certain employees, maybe...

...but not the bouncer, lol...

ITEM: In oh-so-progressive Sweden, sex ed for kids has taken a turn... and they are fighting a battle with YouTube censors to show it:

"Snoppen och snippan," from SVT public television kids' show Bacillakuten, features cartoon penises and vaginas bopping along to a song featuring lyrics such as, "Here comes the penis at full pace," and "the vagina is cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady. It just sits there so elegantly."

I was going to just do the story, but the cartoon is just TOO funny....

ITEM:  And now we know how the dinosaurs really went extinct- and it wasn't beavers or squirrels:

COVENTRY, England, Jan. 12 (UPI) -- Firefighters in Britain said they extinguished a warehouse blaze blamed for wiping out a herd of eight animatronic dinosaurs.
The West Midlands Fire Service said crews responded Friday morning to a fire at the Besp-Oak furniture company's warehouse in Coventry, England, and they discovered a group of eight 9-foot-tall animatronic dinosaurs, including a Tyrannosaurus Rex, were burned down to their metal framework when a lamp fell from the ceiling and ignited the blaze.

ITEM:Oh, those enterprising entrepreneurs of Costa Rica...

Police in Guapiles, Costa Rica, are stumped at how a woman was able to steal a plasma TV set by sticking it up her skirt.

The shocking theft occurred two months ago, but is being made public in hopes of finding the robber, ABC Chicago reports.

Surveillance video shows two unidentified females walking into an unnamed store. One of the women is wearing a flowing skirt and somehow is able to tuck a flat screen television between her legs.

...And, if you watch the video,, you'll see she manages a damn fine job walking out with something that big between her legs!  Really makes one wonder...

ITEM:  Thirsty?

An Icelandic micro-brewery has announced its new beer will be flavoured with smoked whales' testicles, it's been reported.

The Stedji brewery's Hvalur 2 beer is being sold for a limited period to mark the Icelandic midwinter month of Thorri, the Visir website reports. The testicles of fin whales - which are an endangered species - are cured "according to an old, Icelandic tradition" before being salted and smoked, with one being used per brewing. "We want to create a true Thorri atmosphere, and therefore we decided to use smoked testicles from fin whales for flavouring the beer," says Dagbjartur Ariliusson, a co-owner of the brewery. "We put a lot of effort into this and it's a long process.

Well, I'm sure it would be better than Hamms was, but...

ITEM:  And what would MWN be without a slap at what passes for science these days?

The Nasa climate scientists who claimed 2014 set a new record for global warmth last night admitted they were only 38 per cent sure this was true.
In a press release on Friday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’.
The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.
Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much.

But by God... er, by golly, it's a record!!!!

The article goes on to mention that despite the scientists' reluctance to admit it, the whole schemology (another new MWN word?) is flawed:

Dr David Whitehouse, of the Global Warming Policy Forum, said ‘there has been no statistically significant warming trend since 1997’ – because the entire increase over this period was smaller than the error margin.

Thank you to the Daily Mail for letting us in on what the inteligencia wouldn't.  SAL-UTE!

ITEM:  Finally, reason #1,267 on why you should be glad you don't live in Mother Russia:

A Russian politician has irked residents in St Petersburg by saying people should clear snow from the city's streets themselves, it's reported.

Deputy Governor Igor Albin made the comment after city authorities were criticised for not keeping the roads clear following heavy snow, the Meduza news website reports. One complaint came from magazine editor Pavel Smolyak, who says in a Facebook post that he slipped and almost fell over because the road hadn't been cleared. But there isn't much sympathy from Mr Albin, a member of the city's development and maintenance committees, who describes dependence on government services as "the disease of modern Russian society". People expect help to "do their dishes, maintain the yard, raise their children, protect them from foreign aggressors, and put things in order in their country and their home", he says. Mr Albin suggests that instead of watching television, people should grab a shovel and get digging, adding that physical activity is "good for one's health and helps to order one's thoughts".

For pity's sake, don't let Mayor Tom Henry read this!!!!

"Why, we could save thousands of dollars in Bobby G.'s neighborhood alone... oh, wait, we already do!"

Monday, January 19, 2015

the fairness doctrine

I wasn't going to go with this story- I was planning a Martin World News and not an Op-Ed.  But someone at work brought this story up, and I've given the whole thing some careful thought.

On the 5th of January, Arroyo Valley High (California) girls' basketball team lined up to play Bloomington.  When the smoke cleared, the scoreboard read 161-2 in favor of Arroyo- and a few days later, their coach was suspended for running up the score.  The Bloomington coach complained that Arroyo ran a full-court press the entire first half.  The Arroyo coach said he never played the starters in the second half.

First half, 104-1.
Second half (without the starters and the press) 57-1.

So, who is the real a-hole here?

Well, I did a little digging.  Bloomington is playing in division 3- out of six divisions in CA.  Their average score against their opponents- NOT including the Arroyo game- is 65-11.  Average.  They have scored in single digits in 7 of 14 games, gave up over 100 points three times, and the only time that they have been beat by LESS than 40 points was a 51-13 loss to Ontario the very next night.

So tell me this- why division three?  Why not division six, where they might play a game that ends in the same zip code?  And why, if it was SO terrible that Arroyo beat them by 159, why do their coach and Athletic Director allow them to play cannon fodder to teams so much better than they?

Here's what I'm getting at.  The coach of Arroyo got suspended because his team "ran up the score", "damaging the other team's self esteem".  Just like in our schools, where we are about to lose the A-B-C-D-F system that served us so well because getting a c, d, or f might damage little Billy's self esteem.  Everyone should feel "equal", no matter what the truth is.

My daughter, God love'r, struggled in school.  Mainly do to application.  Why try hard when you can follow in Mom's footsteps- work only when absolutely necessary, mooch off a gullible boyfriend.  She saw it work fine for Mom, and she was smart enough to do it her way.  So what if she got d's and f's in class after class, she got passed on anyway- despite the best efforts of teachers that genuinely tried to help her- and out through high school, if sans diploma, just like Mom.  If the school had made the grade worth something, it might have made a difference.  And it might not have.

Because, let's face it, self-esteem is NOT built in school.  It is built at home, by a child's parents.  And here is where I will take my fair share of blame.  Shenan struggled in a lot of areas, and her struggles combined with our divorce most likely did a real number on her self esteem, as her Mom's parentage did one on her work ethic.  (So why did you marry her mom?  Well, that's a whole other story, best summed up with the words "Chris", "idiot", and "was".  Maybe I'll tell it later.  But it's pretty far afield of the subject here.)

But what Shenan is a good example of, is accomplishment by the numbers doesn't have anything to do with being a sweet, loving person, which she is.  Now, let's veer back to the original story.  And we left it with a question- if the powers that be at Bloomington HS and the California HSAA are so concerned about the girls at Bloomington, why then not let them play at a level they could be competitive in?  Why blame the coaches of other teams good enough to beat them with three girls sitting in lawn chairs, when it's BLOOMINGTON picking their schedule?  I can't prove it, but I have an Idea...

On the second week of the college football season just past, #9 at the time Texas A&M whalloped FCS lightweight Lamar 73-3.  That same day, another SEC power- Arkansas- destroyed another team that had trouble winning against teams their own size, Nichols State, 73-7.  Why on earth would either of these small, weak schools, play SEC powerhouses- at the SEC teams home field?  Because the payout they get from playing one game in a packed FBS stadium pays for their entire season.  Never mind that their players' "self-esteem" is damaged, by golly, they'll have new band uniforms next year. (Parenthetically, Nicholls State also lost to Lamar 63-21.  As Huey Lewis said, "Sometimes, bad is bad..."

So tell me, what payout does Bloomington get for being the worst team in state history?  For being in the top half of the state's divisions, and being ranked 1271 out of 1279?  Maybe the Arroyo coach shoulda/coulda backed off... but I'd like to hear Bloomington administration tell us why they were playing so far out of their weight class in the first damn place.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Time Machine week 8

This week, we open up the door and it's January 16th, 1976- a day which was apparently only notable for two things- the premiere of the Donny and Marie show, and the release of Frampton Comes Alive.  That is, if you believe History Orb and Dates In History... but when you check the details, IMDB and Wikipedia tells us that Donnie And Marie premiered one week later, on the 23rd, and Wiki also tells us the Frampton lp was released on the 6th, not the 16th.  So what's going on today?  Your guess is as good as mine.

And if you Google images "Donnie and Marie Peter Frampton" you get Peter Sellers and Sophia Loren.  Neat, huh?

Anyway, welcome to this week's Time Machine, a week in which Cashbox had no real notable debuts (other than Rod Stewart's first attempt at This Old Heart Of Mine).  This week, we kick off  the fifty song extravaganza that is the long-threatened Great Nineties Countdown;  a group first mentioned on Time Machine a few years back with a rather unpleasant name; a six degrees that starts with Norro Wilson (?) and ends right where it did last week- with Neil Sedaka!  How's he manage that again?

Let's see that bozo Wayne Newton do THAT!

So let's kick the party off with our panel for this week!  KBEQ, Kansas City; WRKO, Boston- a repeat panelist; KKLS, Rapid City; WIXY, Cleveland;  Charleston, SC's WTMA; WGNG Pawtucket; KROY Sacramento (a city I am getting seriously tired of getting busted by spellcheck on); WRAW, Reading PA; WAVZ, our friends in New Haven CT; Sounding like a drug store station, WCVS, Springfield, IL;  semi-regulars KIKX, Tuscon; and finally, another semi-regular, CHUM, Toronto.  This was a real consensus week, as seven stations had the same #1 (as did Cashbox), and only 5 tunes were #1s out of the 12, including Charleston's pick, Hot Chocolate's You Sexy Thing.  And with 7 #1s, our winner this week was the biggest runaway we've had yet- claiming a 48-26 win over #2!  So let's look at the also rans other members of the top 4 this week.

Fourth, with the #1 vote from Tuscon, The Ohio Payers with Love Rollercoaster...
Third, with the top dog from Pawtucket, Diana Ross with the Theme From Mahogany...
Second, with the #1s from Cleveland and Springfield, Barry Manilow and I Write The Songs...

And the numbero uno... well you know how this works by now.

No, the above picture isn't an editorial comment.  It is road apples, which was the name a Cambridge MA band took for itself, the Road Apples.  Back on week 23 of the original Time Machine (AKA October 1, 2010), I mentioned this group in passing as they made their debut on the Cashbox Charts that week in 1975.  This week in '76, they held the #3 spot in Boston, the #6 slot in Pawtucket, and the #27 position in Reading with this song:

For whatever reason, their career on Cashbox was substantially less than that on Billboard;  they would peak this week at 48, while over on BB they were spending a second and last week at #35.  Led by a gentleman named Flip Morse (who was still recording as late as 2011), they would make a Partners For The Americas trip to Latin America... but just never catch on from there.  If you like old Dr Hook, you'll like this... I hope.

Due to my extreme (re-) tardiness, I am getting the shuffle top ten as I type this... and I'll be darned if Neil Sedaka doesn't show up there, too!

AHEM:  As you know, I try to fit the six degrees to the highest charting song on Cashbox for the week that NONE of the panelists had in the top 5.  And this week's journey starts with country songwriter Norro Wilson.  Norro didn't have scads of luck doing his own tunes - in 1970 he hit his peak on the C&W charts with Do It To Someone You Love at #20, one of only three trips to the Country top 40 in ten charting attempts.  But one of his co-writes was Charlie Rich's crossover hit The Most Beautiful Girl In The World.  The co-writer with him on that effort was a name we hit on just recently- Billy Sherrill.  He had a long partnership with Rich (as well as his more famous partnership with George Jones), and was a producer as well, producing among others (and including the two gentlemen mentioned before) Andy Williams, on an lp titled You Lay So Easy On My Mind.  Andy's only hit off that lp was a song called Another Lonely Song, which hit the easy listening charts (and went to #1 country for Tammy Wynette).

Just so you don't think bringing up Mr. Williams is such a stretch, I bring up another song covered by both Charlie Rich and Andy- Since I Fell For You, which Rich took to #10 country in 1975-6.  The original hit recording of this song was by a gentleman named Lenny Welch, who took it to #4 in 1963.  And Lenny, in 1970, took a number one from the sixties, turning it's fast bubbly pace into a slow ballad, and hit #35 with it.  And five years later, the man who originally did that bubbly number one did it the Lenny Welch way... and was at #12 this week in 1976 with it.  And that would be... Neil Sedaka... and the song:  Breaking Up Is Hard To Do.  And that's how Neil gets the six degrees two weeks in a row.

And now... THE GREAT 90S COUNTDOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I picked out my top 50 songs from the nineties, and I'm gonna share them with you five at a time until we hit spring #1.  Mind you, these were the days that 90% of my listening was alternative... and the count seems to have a handful of acts with a lot of hits, and a LOT of one-hit (or so) wonders.  So without further doo-doo, here are the first five:

50- R.E.M., The Great Beyond, from their Andy Kaufman tribute lp.  Peaked at 57 (11 Alternative) in 1999.

49- Fastball, The Way.  One of our favorite sing-along songs of all time.  #4 on the pop charts in 98.

48- Blues Traveller, The Run-Around.  Our local paper was using this as an example of Alt-rock before it even started playing on the radio. #8 in 1995.

47- Pearl Jam, Last Kiss.  I will have to tell you one day about the first time I heard this song.  It will likely be on a "reasons not to drink and drive" post.  #2 in 1999.

And closing out this week's five...

46- Better Than Ezra, In The Blood.  There is no doubt who my favorite 90's act was.  These guys come in a very close second.


And that brings us to our finally finished shuffle top ten!

Coming in at #10, one of the many songs inspired by the movie Breakfast At Tiffany's- Bread with Aubrey.  It hit 15 in 1973, and is one of my big tear-jerkers, ever since it got woven into a plotline on Guiding Light back in the day.

At number 9, a tune from The Supremes, vol. 2- which I liked so much better than the Diana Ross Supremes- Nathan Jones.  It was a #16 peaker in 1971.

Cowboy up at #8- Waylon and Willie with their 1978 crossover (#1 C&W, #42 pop), Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.

At #7, a tune that just missed the top ten on BB, but made it on CB and in Canada- again from 1978, Steely Dan with Peg.

Next, a song from the 90's a song I used to do at karaoke all the time- but just couldn't quite squeeze into the Great 90's Countdown top 50- Bush with a #30 pop/#1 Alt hit from 1995, Comedown.  Number #6 on the shuffle this week.

I fell in love with Roseanne Cash when her lp Rhythm And Romance hit the air waves.  Her first two hits therefrom, I knew, somehow, were her after but three notes.  The first of that pair, her country #1 from 1985, is I Don't Know Why You Don't Want Me, and it sits at #5 on the shuffle countdown.

And at #4 is where Mr. Sedaka comes in.  His original of the tune popularized by the Captain and Tennille, Love Will Keep Us Together, came up here.  It first was released stateside on the 1974 lp Sedaka's Back.

At #3 was the number one song about a month before my birth in 1962 (and the start of the Martin Era), Shelley Fabres and Johnny Angel.

In the runner up song, what would have been my favorite by Tommy James and the Shondells, had I not heard the live version of Getting Together, and that would be Sweet Cherry Wine.  It peaked at #7 in 1969.

And that brings us to our #1s!  Survey says...

CW McCall and Convoy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, shuffle says...

Well shuffle says a song that I first heard very recently on Robin's Battle Of The Bands post from a few weeks back.  I fell in love with this song right off the bat, and it takes the top spot as this week's shuffle #1.  Ladies and gentlemen...

...Tim McGraw with When The Stars Go Blue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tim hit #4 with this tune in 2006 on the country charts, which not only puts us at 3 country tunes in the shuffle top ten, but also makes it one of the most recent songs on my shuffle, lol!  Tune in again next week, kids, as this is a wrap...

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Insulting the broccoli gods and other musings

So, what is in me?

I often ask this when the music fades, or the news is done for another cycle, and I'm sitting here typing to a world of no one in particular.  I have said a lot of times, you blog to help yourself, to let out stress, to confess, to make a wish in a balloon that someone else might see the world the way you do, and that person might find the balloon, Nena-like, and let it go...

And sometimes you just cuss your fingers and wonder how "the way" typed out as "they wat".

I got up this morning knowing it was one of THOSE mornings.  Where a ball of despair, nameless and needless, sits in the pit of my stomach looking for some good reason to wrap around and make me miserable.  This morning, it was out of luck.  I gave it to God, and he gave me hot orders, parts left off the marker, and left-open punchlines enough to ignore it to death.

Tonight I watched a vlog by a friend in England.  It was neat to see his face, hear his voice, look into the eyes of a man who has struggled with much in his elderly days, and still showing his optimism.

Today, I read another blogger's struggles with cancer.  Reminded me of the war games that KC plays- for every enemy soldier shot down, another rises.  But he goes on.  As Wolverine once said, "Beats the alternative."

Tonight, I wrestled a daemon whose greatest ally is boredom.  In the end, the boredom consumed the daemon.  Imagine that.  When you fight temptation, temptation fights back.  When you roll over for it... it withers.  Sometimes, temptation wants nothing better than a good fight.
ME:  What do ya got?
Tempt: Well, um, uh...
ME:  Same ol' same ol', huh?  Later.

Then I make something to eat.  Saw pepperoni pizza oozing out of my Hot Pockets instead of Philly steak.  Eh, at least it wasn't broccoli and cheddar.

And at the end of the day, I see one little line, a comment on someone else's blog about something totally unrelated that sums up the whole day and the hope that IS what's inside of me...

who would of known? The anti-Christ is a dead chicken 

Yep.  That about covers it.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Martin World News

ITEM:  I was on twitter when the hashtag #ReasonsObamaMissedUnityRally came up.  It was great fun, but got me thinking.  Did Eric Holder, the Attorney General, get sent over to Paris for this (actually for something at the same time) instead of the next officials that SHOULD have been sent- VP Joe or SecState Horseface- because he was the highest BLACK official Obama could send?  Is this a racist thing?  Hang on, the answer is at the end of the post!

ITEM:  Today is the last day of the Great Martin End-Of-Year time off.  Still waiting for UEB to pay a red cent.  Guess I shoulda checked the "Haven't tried to work in ages" button.  And, to celebrate, it's snowing.

Someone LOVED the snow... but it wasn't me...
And to top that off, I am spending the entirety of my morning either sneezing or swallowing snot.  So forgive any spelling miscues, I'm working with eyes at 3/4 power.

ITEM:  So I have to tell you Saturday night's lovely story.  Laurie had just downloaded some dippy number game on her Kindle Fire, and was having a hard time figuring out the rules.  Consulting the game produced a set of instructions that sounded as if a Chinese 2nd-grader wrote them.  So she checked on the internet, and it took her to a porn site that wouldn't go away.  After KC and I got done with the requisite joking, we tried to help her get rid of it- and found the only way to do so was to delete everything down to factory default and download all her stuff all over again.  This did the job, but I decided we should extend our AV protection to her device.  We hadn't done that before, but since Laurie decided to dive into the realm of seedy skin flicks, I figured it necessary.

I quickly found out that to do this, her KF had to have an e-mail account- and KF doesn't like anything from Microsoft.  Which meant paying off our main e-mail, AND the one I hadda open a few months back when I got screwed by Kapersky the last time, would not work.  So I had to set up a g-mail account- which meant that I had to set up a SECOND Google account, or else g-mail would have tried to be our main e-mail.  So, after about two hours of dildo jokes, password creation, and Laurie cussing out slow downloading and some KF password protection she wanted and we never did figure out, she should be safe from Ron Jeremy love notes.  All of that to play something called 1-3-2-4.

I shoulda just told her to take a shoe off...

ITEM:  First thing, I'd like to add a little addendum to Saturday's post.  We hear so much about, "Why don't Muslims stand up to the dirtbag terrorist groups?" but never really see the MSM point out when they do.  Here are a few more examples:

In Iraq, they actually have a reality show that calls out these douchebags:

"In the Grip of the Law," brings convicted terrorists face-to-face with victims in surreal encounters and celebrates the country's beleaguered security forces. The show, produced by state-run Iraqiyya TV, is among dozens of programs, cartoons and musical public service announcements aimed at shoring up support for the troops after their humiliating defeat last summer at the hands of the Islamic State group, which now controls about a third of the country.

The show leads the viewer through the evidence leading to the vermin-of-the-day's arrest, and then gives the victims a chance to "speak"- or whatever- with said douchebag.

On a chilly, overcast day last week, the crew arrived at the scene of one of the attacks for which Motar was convicted, with a heavily armed escort in eight military pick-up trucks and Humvees. Passing cars clogged the road to watch the drama unfold, but were quickly shooed away by soldiers.

After being pulled from an armored vehicle, a shackled Motar found himself face-to-face with the seething relatives of the victims of the attack. "Give him to me — I'll tear him to pieces," one of the relatives roared from behind a barbed wire barrier.

A cameraman pinned a microphone on Motar's bright yellow prison jumpsuit as he stood alongside a busy Baghdad highway looking bewildered by his surroundings.

"Say something," the cameraman said to him.

"What am I supposed to say?" a visibly panicked Motar asked.

"It's a mic check! Just count: 1,2,3,4..."

I'd have told him, "Start with kissing your ass goodbye..."

And if you hadn't seen this story yet:

An employee of the kosher supermarket in Paris that was attacked on Friday was hailed as hero after he was credited as saving 15 people trapped inside.
Lassana Bathily, a 24-year-old Muslim from Mali, said he took 15 people in the store's basement and hid them inside a freezer.
"When they came out they congratulated me. They told me 'thank you, really'. I said 'it's nothing, that's life'," Bathily recalled.

This, douchebag terrorists, is a true Muslim- and a hero.
And finally, one I left out on Saturday:

PRAGUE -- Thousands of Czechs have pledged to eat a kebab on January 9 as part of a mass action launched on Facebook aimed at supporting the country's Muslim residents.

The "A Kebab Against Idiocy" campaign in support of the country's tiny Muslim population -- one of several similar initiatives on social media -- comes in response to controversial remarks by a populist politician attacking Islamic practices. 

On January 3, Tomio Okamura, whose populist Dawn of Direct Democracy holds 14 mandates in the 200-seat Czech parliament, posted a 14-point treatise on his Facebook page about how to protect Czechs’ "democratic way of life" from the threat posed by radical Islam.

Okamura's post -- which he said was drafted by a party colleague -- suggested reminding Muslims that the country's "hospitality has its limits." He called on Czechs to walk dogs and pigs -- both of which are regarded as unclean in Islam -- past mosques. 

For good measure, he also also suggested pub owners whose premises were near such facilities should give their businesses new names like The Good Dog or The Happy Pig. Okamura even launched a scathing attack on what he called Islam’s "cruel" animal-slaughtering practices and called for a ban on halal meat.

"Every kebab we buy is another step toward burqas," he wrote. "How will they taste to your wife when she has to eat them with a veil on her face?"

Funny how a Japanese-Czech thinks his country should kick Muslims out, eh?  Not as funny as the popular reaction:

The organizers of one of the Facebook campaigns, called A Kebab for Tomio, say Okamura's claims are "ridiculous," adding that it was impossible to "respond seriously" to the idea that "the sale of kebabs financed terrorism and eating them thus became an ideological issue."

So now we'll be dealing with a Macadamia nut shortage AND a kebob shortage this year.  What next?

ITEM: Can you imagine Richie Rich doing this?

The son of a millionaire Manhattan hedge fund founder who allegedly gunned down his dad over his allowance has been arraigned on a second-degree murder charge, authorities said.  Thomas Gilbert Jr., 30, was also charged with criminal possession of a weapon and criminal possession of forgery devices in the Sunday killing of his 70-year-old father.

A law enforcement source told the New York Post that Thomas Gilbert Jr. had just been told by his father that he would only receive $400 for spending money per month from that point on in addition to $2,400 per month for rent. The younger Gilbert had previously received $600 per month.

"You cut my allowance 200 bucks.  I'm gonna kill you."  A thirty year old man GETTING an allowance is bad enough...

ITEM:  Sometimes, you wonder if job resumes really get read...

Opening a Champagne bottle with nothing but your bare hands and a knife can be a pretty cool party trick -- but only if you nail it. Emily Walker, wine director for Four Seasons Vancouver, did not -- and she showed the world.

"One, two ... That is not how it's usually done," Walker says, laughing.
After her fail, she let Global News anchor Steve Darling try it, and he fared just about as well as she did.

Although he didn't get Champagne all over himself.

What the two were trying to do is called "sabering." It's that cool trick where you whisk the Champagne cork off with a knife.  According to, you're supposed to remove the wire cage around the cork first, something Walker and Darling didn't do.

Maybe that's where they went wrong.

Word to the wise -- don't try this at home if you're not an expert.

Which you would think the wine director of a 5-star hotel would be...

ITEM: A week or so ago, we saw Lake Superior State's list of words that should be dropped from the lexicon.  Well, Wayne State annually challenges that with a list of words we need to use MORE.  Here's that list.

Caterwaul- I DO use that, usually in connection with Aretha Franklin.
Concinnity- "The skillful and harmonious arrangement or fitting together of the different parts of something."  A word I rarely use for Aretha Franklin.
Knavery- Another one I have used...
Melange- This one, too...
Opsimath- "Some one who learns late in life."  I don't use it, but I DO it...
Philistine- I didn't know this dropped out of use.  Guess Autocorrect can't spell it.
Rapscallion- Use this one, as well.
Subtopia- "Monotonous urban sprawl of standardized buildings."  Sounds like one Lake Superior might get around to NEXT year..

And my favorite:  Obambulate- and it don't mean anything like you think.  It means, "To walk about."

Well, maybe that WAS what you were thinking...
ITEM:  Does your teenager think it's hard to get a drivers licence HERE?  Check this out:

Russia has listed transsexual and transgender people among those who will no longer qualify for driving licences.  Fetishism, exhibitionism and voyeurism are also included as "mental disorders" now barring people from driving.  The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.  "Pathological" gambling and compulsive stealing are also on the list. 

I would bet that in Russia, when people talk about someone being pulled over, they don't ask, "What'd he blow?" like they do here...

ITEM:  Malaysia comes up with the solution to the homeless problem:

Two thousand invitations were sent out to disadvantaged people for the Ministry of Federal Territories' open house event, including 300 reserved for those sleeping rough (AKA homeless), the Malay Mail reports. While the government usually gives out cash on such occasions, this time it decided to give presents. But the gifts selected - coffee-makers, electric whisks and cooking stoves - have raised eyebrows among some volunteer groups. "It was a nice gesture and although I think those gifts might have been sponsored, we must understand these people don't even have a place to stay, let alone a place to operate their coffee maker or cooking stove," Munirah Abdul Hamid, founder of the Pertiwi Soup Kitchen in Kuala Lumpur, tells the website.

But the government wasn't discouraged...

 The federal territories minister, Tengku Adnan, concedes the event wasn't perfect, describing it as a "trial-and-error experience", and doesn't mind if people sell the gifts for money. "They can do as they please," he says. "Next year, we will improve and give something else to the homeless."

ITEM:  When you think of cheating athletes in college, you think the big name powers- the North Carolinas, the Texas Longhorns, (sorry, Holli), the USCs.  How about the Dartmouths?

(NEWSER) – One might expect students taking a class called "Sports, Ethics, and Religion" to know better, but Dartmouth College says that it's uncovered widespread cheating in a class with that title, reports Bloomberg. "I feel pretty burned by the whole thing," says class professor Randall Balmer, who says he found 43 kids were using a clicker to answer questions for absent students. "I’ve never faced anything on this scale before." After he made the bust, and reported it as an honor code violation, another 21 students came forward.

The class was aimed at jocks, and many of those accused are student athletes, notes the Valley News. 

To put in perspective, Dartmouth is Ivy League, which means that they don't play postseason football "so they don't interrupt their finals schedule"; the B-Ball team is currently 6-7.  But the lightweight rowing team isn't doing too bad...

ITEM:  Maybe they should serve macadamia nuts...

Chinese police detained 25 angry plane passengers who opened emergency exit doors before take-off after their flight was delayed by snow.  The passengers were forced to wait in their seats for hours late Friday and early Saturday after their China Eastern flight from the southwest city of Kunming to Beijing was delayed, Xinhua news agency said.

After requesting that they be allowed off the plane for health reasons, some passengers "opened three emergency doors in an attempt to stop the flight" and forced the plane to return to the terminal, a passenger was cited saying.  They were members of a 25-person travel group which got "overly excited", leading to the opening of the doors.

One passenger told Xinhua that those on board were worried that the vice captain could not control himself after he "swore and cursed", the agency said.  The plane had already been delayed for five hours before they boarded, only to face further delays while ice was cleared from the aircraft, the report said.

China's growing wealth has seen a boom in air travel over the past decade, but its airports are plagued with delays and incidents of unruly passenger behaviour have risen.

Last month a budget flight from Thailand to China was forced to return to Bangkok after a Chinese passenger threw hot water at a cabin attendant.  Chinese state-run media branded four unruly passengers on board as "barbarians," reporting that one of them had threatened to blow up the plane in a row over a seating arrangement.  An airport in Kunming saw chaotic scenes in 2013, when thousands of angry passengers were stranded for hours after thick fog delayed flights.  Passengers stuck at the airport for more than a day struggled with airline staff, damaging computer equipment belonging to an airline, while police broke up scuffles.

In 2012 a plane carrying 200 people from Zurich to Beijing was forced to turn back after a fight between two Chinese passengers.

ITEM:  Finally, I have to share with you something guaranteed to brighten your day... The Washington Post's Joe Biden random Compliment Generator!  Persed from Joe's actual compliments to Democrat members of Congress at their swearing in ceremonies, it's hours of wholesome entertainment for the whole family!  As Joe would say...

"This is a happy day."

ITEM:  And the answer to that first question:  NO, it's not racist!  There are two very good, non-racist reasons for sending the AG rather than Joe or Kerry:

1- Holder is the highest ranking official in the administration Obama can send with some hope they won't say something stupid;

and 2- He wanted to give Holder one more trip on the taxpayer dime before he cleans out his desk!