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


Saturday, December 31, 2011

New year's eve.

Well, we are moments away from leaving for the festivities.  By the time we return, I'll have (tried to) consume a six pack of selected crafty beers I bought this morning (which I hope to dissect over on the cap blog), and will be ready for the annual crying my way through Counting Crows' A Long December video- and praying for the person I knew long ago who's wedged into the second verse.  I just checked the Death Clock, and it's moved my date of demise from day after Christmas 2012 to 13 days from now on my sister's birthday.  (Hey Pete!  Happy birthday!  If you've got nothing better to do, Chris' funeral is...)  Thanks to Oklahoma's late bowl game last night/this morning, I slept the majority of the afternoon to prepare.

To all who survive, Happy New Year!  I'll probably give you an ill-spelled rundown sometime early next year on how it went.

The Great seventies countdown week 5

A piano sits alone upon the stage of our imagination.  In a dream world where everything is possible, a man two years gone comes back for us.  As the lights go down, Larry Knechtel begins the notes of a song that brings the audience to a hush, and the show begins.

250- Bridge Over Troubled Water, Simon and Garfunkel, 1970, PP #1.  I actually learned this song from Roy Clark doing it on Hee Haw.  But once you hear the power of that last verse, you know which one you will remember.

249- Somewhere In The Night, Barry Manilow, 1978, #9.  The fourth single off the lp Even Now, a cover of Helen Reddy's hit (which we'll see later on.  The first time I heard it, it was one of those "I can name that tune in 2 notes" moments.

248- 25 Or 6 To 4, Chicago, 1970, #4.  What it was- a really good horn-powered song about the creative muse.  What it was "made into"- a song about doing drugs.  Yeah, anytime I sit cross-legged on the floor, that means I'm high.

247- Gypsy Woman, Brian Hyland, 1970, #3.  Certainly seems to be 1970 week so far.  I was surprised to see that this song was composed by Curtis Mayfield.

246- We're All Alone, Rita Coolidge, 1977, #7.  Boz Scaggs recorded the original (which we'll hear later on) on Silk Degrees.  Frankie Valli then did a decent cover that flew under the top 50, before Rita's version first taught me to love this song.  Which is a bit surprising, considering how much I disliked her Your Love (Is Lifting Me Higher) a few months before.

245- It's A Miracle, Barry Manilow, 1975, #12.  Barry's second hit; for years, Barry for me was the "big four"- Mandy, I Write The Songs, Could It Be Magic, and this one (his first four hits).

244- Vehicle, The Ides Of March, 1970, #2.  Any one out there name the band that lead singer Jim Peterik founded after Ides split up?  That's right, Survivor!  I saw this dud at a BTO show at Pierres years back.  Great guitarist.

243- Tears Of A Clown, Smokey Robinson And The Miracles, 1970, #1.  The run of 1970 rolls on with Smokey's all time best.

242- Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee People), Paul Revere And The Raiders, 1971, #1.  Back in my "Daniel Boone" days, this was the ONLY song I wanted.  Never did get it.

241- Midnight Blue, Melissa Manchester, 1975, #6.  Sadly, the best memory I have of this song was on Dickie Goodman's parody Mr. Jaws, when the announcer protests as the shark he's interviewing tries to eat him and the shark's "answer" is the clip from this song: "Wouldn't you give your hand to a friend?"

240- The Closer I Get To You, Roberta Flack and Donnie Hathaway, 1978, #2.  Seems like the only songs of Roberta's I really liked were the duets with the late Mr. Hathaway.

239- It's Over, Electric Light Orchestra, 1978, #75.  This song, which like anything by ELO charted higher in Ft. Wayne, was playing as I drove home from my last day of High School.  I know that the tears in my eyes made me blow off at least one stop sign that morning.

238- My Eyes Adored You, Frankie Valli, 1975, #1.  Actually a Four Seasons group effort, it was REJECTED by their label, it was sold to Valli for $400.  He shopped it around till he found a SENMI-intelligent record exec (Larry Uttal at Private Stock), who none the less wouldn't release it unless it was just Frankie's name on the label.  Dr. Phil, if you would...

"Of course, Chris.  All together now... WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!!??!"

237- Dirty Work, Steely Dan, unreleased, 1972.  Sung by David Palmer, who sung lead at early SD concerts because of Donald Fagen's stage fright, and went on to write Carole King's Jazzman.  Off the first lp by Fagen and Walter Becker, former members of touring Jay and the (F***ing) Americans, whom Jay described as  "the Manson and Starkweather of rock 'n' roll", referring to cult leader Charles Manson and spree killer Charles Starkweather.

236- This Masquerade, George Benson, 1976, #10.  My first foray into jazz vocals.  Just plain smooth.

235- Love So Right, Bee Gees, 1976, #3.  Just now slipping down the charts over on Time Machine.
 "Ah, I could take it in my stride, start living for the moment/ maybe half the things we sought were never there/ simply open up our eyes and break it down to size, it isn't really fair. "

234- Fire And Rain, James Taylor, 1970, #3.  The power of this song is in its biographical nature, especially the last verse and its "sweet dreams and Flying Machines".

233- Your Own Special Way, Genesis, 1977, #62.  Ther was pre-Duke Genesis and post-Duke Genesis.  For me, the best was pre, when they were the most famous progressive rock band who nobody knew a song from.  This was their first US chart single, from Wind And Wuthering.

232- Hopelessly Devoted To You, Olivia Newton-John, 1978, #3.  The long, hot summer of Grease.  Incomprehensible to me that this wasn't #1.

231- An Everlasting Love, Andy Gibb, 1978, #5.  The first time Andy didn't hit #1.  Not exacty sure why, this was a great song.

And just to make this all flow together..

230- After The Gold Rush, Neil Young, 1970, unreleased.  And we end the show much the way we began it; a lone man walks up to a lone piano and begins to play a song from 1970...

Friday, December 30, 2011

Step into my time machine week 88

Welcome to a very special episode of Time Machine (actually not all that special, but I do have a special treat), the lid lifter on the 1977 season!  This week, we have singing dogs in the birthdays and singing chickens in the movers and droppers; a #1s of yesteryear featuring a “I didn’t know he could sing” act; the connection that leads from a somber Elton John to the wild and wacky antics of Aerosmith; a new butt in the grandpa chair (or two); Two songs race for the top at blinding speed; and more positive proof that nobody wants to share a birthday with Jesus.

But first, let me introduce the New Years special.  I got to thinking (since this week’s NEW #1 manages it), how many songs led off the new year with their first week at #1? Truth is, half of the #1 songs from 1950 to 1977 (28 years, leave yer shoes on) managed the feat.  So I ranked them according to weeks at #1, and with a little personal editing, came up with the top ten (or so) songs that christened the new year with their first week at #1!.  To lead things off, here is the eighth place tie on the list:
#8 (tie)- I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, Jimmy Boyd, 1953.  The oldest of the lot.  Man, you give a guy milk and cookies…
     (tie)- Wonderland By Night, Bert Kaempfert Orchestra, 1961.  A recent member of the Great Sixties Countdown, a wonderful trumpet solo that was one o’ me mama’s favorites.
     (tie)- There I’ve Said It Again, Bobby Vinton, 1964.  Another of mom’s faves, from her all time best guy.
     (tie)- Got To Be There, Michael Jackson, 1972.  Young Michael really gets a chance to shine here.
     (tie)- Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress), Helen Reddy, 1974.  A recent member of the seventies countdown.
     (tie)- Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, Elton John, 1975.  Sure don’t hear this as much as the Beatles’ original, do you?
     (tie)- I Write The Songs, Barry Manilow, 1976.  And that’s the start of this countdown.

And on to the start of this week’s countdown.  Nobody wants their birthday next to Christmas- you usually get combined presents.  And so too songs, apparently.  4 songs hit the hot 100 this week, and only one of them noteworthy- a song that will spend all of the second month of 1977 at #1 on my own top ten list that I would start in a couple weeks- 10cc with The Things We Do For Love, coming in at 82.  It was a little busier for those turning 40 this week- Rod Stewart and the Faces with Stay With Me; Apollo 100’s Joy; Joe Cocker’s Feelin’ Alright; and an act with a similar vocal style to Joe (boy, am I gonna get it for that one!), the debut of the Singing Dogs’ version of Jingle Bells.  Turning 45 is Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles and Gimme Some Lovin’ by Spencer Davis’ Group.  And two 50th birthdays, one famous, one just for Laurie.  Gene Chandler’s Duke Of Earl turns 50, as does Jimmy Dean’s spoken word-letter to Russia, Dear Ivan.  Blow out the candles…

#6 (tie)-  REDACTED- you’ll just have to wait till we hit #1 this week.
#6(tie)- You’re So Vain, Carly Simon, 1973, two weeks at #1.  You probably thought this countdown’s about you..

The big dropper this week was the Little River Band’s It’s A Long Way There, falling 40 to just catch hold at 98.  The big mover was the Henhouse Five Plus Too with In The Mood, clucking it's way to a 15-spot climb to 79.

This week, we had another repeater at #49, but that’s okay.  Because, since I picked 49 because of my age, so let’s just move the magic number to 50.  Here we find Al Stewart’s Year Of The Cat.
Cat was the first of 5 chart hits for Al, but not the end of his story.  Noted for his Historical songs (and if you haven’t youtubed Palace Of Versailles yet like I told you WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR???), he has released 7 studio lps and 23 live discs since Midnight Rocks in the early 80’s.  The most recent of the studio records is 2008’s Sparks Of An Ancient Fire (which has been on my Amazon wish list for two years now), and he recently sang a duet with Albert Hammond on his re-recording of It Never Rains In Southern California on Albert’s 2010 Legend lp.  Apparently he’s a bit chincy on bio data, all I could find was he married in the mid nineties and the couple and their 2 daughters live in Marin County, California.

#4 (tie)- Why, Frankie Avalon, 1960, 3 weeks at #1.  I’m guessing he sang this to Annette.
#4(tie)- I Feel Fine, The Beatles, 1965, 3 weeks. One of two on the list for the Fab Foursome.

Three songs enter the top 40.  At 38, up 7, are the ever-rowdy boys of Foghat with Drivin’ Wheel.  At 35, up nine, is Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band with Night Moves.  “Started hummin’ a song from 1962… ain’t it funny how the night moves… when you just don’t seem to have as much to lose… strange how the night moves…  with Autumn closin’ in…”  AHEM. Moving up 8 to #34 this week, the song that will spend the first month of 1977 at #1 on the newly minted Martin top ten, Barry Manilow’s Weekend In New England.

Looking into the #1s in yesteryear this week, I saw someone I never knew sang- Fred Astaire.  Fred would probably have said, “That’s because I can’t,”  from what I’ve read, but he did have a #1 song on this week twice.  The first was 1932’s Night And Day.  A Cole Porter tune (referenced in Little River Band’s Reminiscing-  “and that Porter tune [Night and day…] Made us dance across the room…”), it was in the stage and screen versions of The Gay Divorcee, which marked his first performance without sister Adele and first with Ginger Rodgers.  The second was the non-vocal Nice Work If You Can Get It, in which he danced and played the drums(including with his feet), backed by the Leo Reisman Orchestra, from the movie A Damsel In Distress in 1937.  While I won’t say his voice was exactly enchanting, watching him dance to those songs was absolutely amazing.  In a day where “that dude can dance” is multi-reality-show cheap, that dude, when dancing MEANT something, could DANCE.

#2 (tie)- We Can Work It Out, The Beatles, 1966, 4 weeks at #1.  Can’t say that either of the Beatles’ tunes are among my favorites, but even a bad Beatles song is usually pretty good.
#2 (tie)- The Twist, Chubby Checker, 1962, 4 weeks.  Come on, baby…

Three songs go into the top ten, three go out.  Living Thing falls from 10 to 12; Rubberband Man snaps back from 4 to 13; and Love So Right drops from 6 to 18.

Oh, and before I forget, She’s Gone is gone, and the new tenants of the grandpa chair, at 21 weeks apiece, are Firefall’s You Are The Woman (currently at 32) and Steve Miller’s former top dog Rock’n Me (at 43).

Debuting at #10, up one, are the Sylvers with Hot Line.  Standing not-so-tall this week is Burton Cummings with Stand Tall dropping 4 to #9. That song that you love to listen to the Chik-fil-a cows dance to, Brick’s Dazz, climbs one to #8.  And that brings us to six degrees with Elton John.

Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word was from the double lp Blue Moves, a more somber record for Sir Elton.  Among the acts to pitch in here were a pair of brother horn players- Sax playing Michael and trumpeteer Randy Breckler.  The Breckler boys had been around a while at this point.  Randy was a founding member of Blood Sweat And Tears on the classic debut lp Child Is Father To The Man.  Both had been on a ton of jazz projects, their own bands Dream and Breckler Brothers, as well as rock and roll offerings such as Blue Oyster Cult’s Agents Of Fortune.  They also were both featured on the AOR hits by Aerosmith, Same Old Story and Train Kept A’Rolling.  Both these were on their Get Your Wings lp, which gave them their first top 40 hit with Sweet Emotion.  They then released Same Old Story, which failed to chart, so they reached back in the back of tricks to re-release Dream On, which was on their debut album and flamed out at #59 in ‘73.  Let loose again in 1976, it hit #6, so they tried the trick again.  Walk This Way  was off the Toys In The Attic album, and did not chart the first time.  They re-released it a few weeks back, Time Machine time, and this time it is at #15 on this week’s list.

Mr. Humperdink moves a notch up to #6 with After The Loving.  Now comes the two songs bent on making a mockery of proper procedure.  Stevie Wonder blasts his way up 9 to #5 with I Wish;  Rose Royce does likewise to #4 with Car Wash (a song also currently doing the commercial circuit).  Rod Stewart continues to hang around, Tonight’s The Night slipping but one to #3.  You Make Me Feel Like Dancing also slips to #2.  That leaves me with the New #1, and the redacted-tied for #6 song in our special countdown…

Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis with You Don’t Have To Be A Star!!!!

And now, We here at TM are proud to present the top of our special countdown… drum roll please….

#1- At The Hop, Danny And The Juniors, 1958, 5 weeks at #1!!!!
Feel free to add the harmony chorus here, my friends.  See you New Years Eve for the seventies countdown, and then right back here in 2012… or 1977, if you prefer.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Sports shorts

Just a pair of quick stories here.  First, the last fantasy football post of the season.  Last week was the Purple vs the Gold, and in the main row of games on Saturday, the Gold built up a 40-6 lead and by the end of the day was up 44-21, mostly because of Superfreak Cam Newton and his 18 points.  But Sunday night, enter Aaron Rodgers (who put up 18 of his own) and his trusty sidekick Mason Crosby, and when the smoke cleared, the game was 44-all.  The last active roster player on Monday night was Michael Turner for the Gold; and if he couldn't score to give his team the win, Drew Brees would need to get 24 reserve points for the Gold as the Purple reserves were way ahead.  Turner failed, Brees got 12, and the Purple had an amazing 71-59 OT comeback win.

Also, Lokomotiv played game 5 this morning.  They were home in front of a crowd of 9,000 facing league-leading HC Donbass.  (and yes I see the easy punchline, and am ignoring it.  Perhaps if they were 2-13 like the Colts...)  Danill Yerdakov scored his 13th of the season (2nd with Loko) to put the good guys up 1-0 at 2:20 of the 1st.  Sergei Varlamov tied things at 6:16 of the first, and took the lead in the second.  With Jan Krasvoski and Rafael Akhmetov drawing tripping penalties just 34 seconds apart, Donbass scored on the two man advantage at 9:34.  But less than a minute later, Alexi Kruchinin tallied his 6th of the season (2nd with Loko) to re-tie the game at 2-2 .  Just after 2 minutes later, Oleg Misyul got his first of the season to put Lokomotiv up 3-2.  But as coach Petr Vorobiev noted afterwards, the young team got reckless in the final stanza, and Donbass tied it at 11:49.  After a lackluster 5-minute OT period, it went to the shootout.  While Donbass goalie Evgeni Tsaregorodtsev stoned Loko shooters including Oleg Yashin, veterans Varlamov and Denis Kochetkov beat youngster Nikita Lozhkin to give Donbass the 4-3 win.  Next game, also in Yaroslavl, pits us against basement-dwelling Titan Klin, from a town 53 Mi. NE of Moscow.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

For Aliahna

Wide awake today, I awoke
And the warm light beat down on me
as the waves rolled gentle lullabye
on the porcelain sands where they lie
And I but sat, in peace unknown
watching the water and the golden glow
I saw not time, and was content
nor knew of pain, of earth's torment
But something buzzed within my mind
of a thought, left with world behind
a tiny thing that would not rest.
T'was then upon the low dune's crest
the Little Girl appeared to me
and soft strode across the shoreline weed
to take her place upon the rise
where I'd sat watching waves go by
Nothing was said for longest time,
tho' time was not, in peace sublime.
And then I saw, in corner eye,
Her turn towards me, and subtly sigh
as if she knew that troubling thought
that dwelt within, where strife was naught.
I did not move, afraid to ask,
while soft clear eyes took me to task
"I forgave them already, " she said to me,
and nothing more- I turned to see
her smile; ashamed, I could but look
and remembered this pain that she forsook.
And in my eyes, the question came,
lips parted in words silent and plain;
Her smile was answer to tortured thought,
and angel's voice said, "How could I not?
"Whatever the reasons, whate'er the fears,
"whate'er they did, they sent me here!"
I watched as she turned towards the waves
and watched as I did ere she came;
And smiling, turned back to the sea,
and let it wash the thought from me.


If you don't know the story behind this, read here with extreme caution.

Monday, December 26, 2011

More fun with wastebook

Okay, I've gone through and found another group of lovingly stupid selections our congress has foisted on us, courtesy of Sen. Tom Coburn's Wastebook.  I might add here that I have seen several selections where he has added, "President Obama/Bush/both has called for the elimination of this program."  Obviously they aren't calling loud enough.

#80- This is our #1 "that's rich!" selection.  $425,642 to a program which teaches local lawmakers in INDIA (who holds about $40 bil of our national debt) how to use communications to improve at their job.  Can you imagine anyone from OUR government passing that on with a straight face?

#84- "That's rich!" runner-up: $306,000 to bring students from Denmark, France, Germany, and the UK here to give them college-level classes on "civic activism and environmental leadership."  Hello?  Does anyone remember the French Revolution?  The fall of the Berlin Wall?  GREENPEACE???  I think they have these issues covered.  If not, just send them the pamphlet on Targeted Sheep Grazing.

#79- the Air Force spends $51,474 to make a pagan worship site for the .07% of cadets that are Wiccan or what have you.  Yes, that's three out of 4300.  And it's basically a ring of thirteen boulders with a wishing-well looking altar-thingee in the middle and an outer ring of boulders.
Martin Savings:  120 large boulders (more than enough) can be had for $10,800- $3,000 more for comparable faux boulders.  The wishing well can be had for $670.  Dump 'em off, suggest a little DIY, and voila!  You can do the whole thing for $11,470, a savings of $40,004.

#76- Third place on our "That's rich!" segment.  The San Francisco International Film Festival gets $50,000 from the NEA (yeah, don't go there).  Not so bad- UNTIL you do a little digging and find out that corporate sponsorship ALREADY IN PLACE totals $2.179 MILLION.  That 50 K could have CERTAINLY been used more wisely here:

#73- Our good friends at USAID decided to commemorate their own 50th anniversary- with parties in Afghanistan (bet that one was lively), Albania, Bosnia/Herzegovina, "East Africa", El Salvador, Kosovo (another favorite "duck and cover" tourist destination), the Phillipines, and South Africa (which unlike "East Africa is a place you can find on a map).  Total cost: $156, 273.  $97,000 of that went to the Phillipines, with a banquet, a school painting contest (don't know if that means schoolkids painted, or schools got painted), videos, and a presentation on environmental awareness(?).  They also blew $12,000 of it in the anomolous East Africa, including a dinner and a banner featuring USAID.  Which left $7900 each for everyone else.
Martin Savings:  With catering for a two-meat banquet running $11 per person, they came out pretty good, until you factor in delivery.  Not sure how much a powerpoint presentation on Environmental awareness would cost, but I did find a blog that estimates that UK companies waste the equivalent of $12.16 billion on powerpoint presentations per year.  I can't imagine we take a back seat there.  And that poster, depending on where in East Africa you are in, would need to at least be in English, French, Portugese, Swahili, and Amharic. If you'd have done all parties like the ones the "lower six " got, you could have done them for $63,200- a savings of  $93,073.  But then schools/kids wouldn't have painted/been painted, and the children of powerpoint consultants would have starved.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Message


Tonight I watched midnight mass on TV, as has been my custom the last few years.  I am sorry that Fort Wayne’s Current Bishop does not see fit to televise the mass locally, as John D’Arcy did.  However, 21Alive decided to air midnight mass from Buffalo, NY, for which I shall be thanking them shortly.  In his message, the Bishop started on a topic I’ve wrestled a lot lately- the battle against the poor, unfortunate atheists.  Indeed, even tonight, the subject came up.

I felt moved to offer the olive branch to a group I’ve tilted against much lately, the FFR people.  But instead of being an ass as I have been to my shame in the past, I posted them a simple prayer.  Of course, I received the usual barrage of insults and crassness that I’ve come to expect from them.  I merely responded, for a change, that I realized that I was sowing seeds on the hard road, but God has done greater things, and left it at that.

So I was only mildly surprised to hear the Bishop lead off with a story of dueling billboards seen at a nearby overpass.  One atheist and announcing you don’t need a god for love, peace, or anything for that matter.  The other stood up for the real meaning of Christmas.  But the Bishop’s point in bringing this up became apparent next, and it was in two parts.  First, you’ll never win battles for Christ on billboards.  Second, the presence of such people and attitudes on this earth stands to remind us that we are to be about faith, about our relationship with God, a one-on-one thing that transcends societies and religions and histories.  “You’ll never be able to prove God scientifically,” he warned, because belief in God is about faith, not proof.

And if you have any doubt about that, argue with an atheist.  Assuming you find one willing to speak on an intellectual level, instead of those who just think they write clever crap for Bill Mahre, you will find that they will shut off your every avenue, and will not respect your personal relationship.  I’ve done a lot of this in the past, and I think tonight I got told I was doing it all wrong.

I cannot trade ideas on an intellectual level with these people- not because I’m non-intellectual (the nice way of putting how I’ve been described), but because we have two different, competing, and diametrically opposed mindsets.  I can never reach them on that level.  I can only reach people of that mind by living my faith first, and letting them observe it for themselves.

Am I good at that? No, not currently.  I hope tonight was a start, but posting prayers isn’t the same as just showing Christ through my life.  As Laurie can tell you, it’s hard to take the argument out of a Martin.  And there are times you have to stand up and be counted.  My hope, though, is to put it in Jesus’ hands and get better at it.

And the first thing I’ve got to do is give up the notion that I can prove faith by their rules.  In fact, Jesus pointed me to the ultimate verse that proves that point:

Luk 19:38  saying, Blessed is the King coming in the name of the Lord! Peace in Heaven and glory in the highest!
Luk 19:39  And some of the Pharisees from the crowd said to Him, Teacher, rebuke your disciples.
Luk 19:40  And He answered and said to them, I tell you that if these should be silent, the stones would cry out.

Not much chance of establishing that one “logically”;  But in faith it’s so easy to do.

From all of us to all of you, a safe, happy, and God-blessed Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Scrappy Christmas walk

So we got all dressed up (because Daddy can't handle the temps as well as he did a year ago), and I put on the new gloves that wonderful son o'mine got me for Christmas:

And set out.  Scrappy first wanted to stop off at the rocks that mark the only thing they left when they decided that a wild meadow wasn't as necessary as an 18th and 19th soccer field:

And then moved on across said soccer fields.

Looks nice, don't it?  Too bad the brain surgeons that came up with the project failed to take into account- this is a WETLAND.  The woods sits on a ridge that half drained into the meadow.  It stays soggy long after better drained areas are completely dry.  And, they didn't install any drain tiles.  Just bulldozed, flattened, and compacted.

Think they MIGHT have a problem when they go to play in the spring?

Anyhow, at this point we dealt with the first of two problems we encountered.  It seems when I cinched up my belt prior to leaving, I missed the belt hole, and said belt was now disengaging itself.  No, no pictures for this one.

So we come into the woods, where that nice trail that they just constructed is having the same problem as the fields, for the same reason.

Which, of course, didn't stop Scrappy from enjoying the first ice of his year:

Or his enjoyment of the woods as a whole.

So down the ravine trail we went, and I've never seen it this wet in the ravine:

Into the plex we went, and as we crossed the wooden bridge, four young joggers passed us.  Scrappy was oblivious.  Down the trail behind the IPFW soccer field, around to the point where they had to jump the fence into the closed field.  Down the field to where they could jump the fence again and continue along the river.  All the time, Scrappy is oblivious- until they head back along the river, the farthest point away they'd been the whole time.

And then, he notices.

One last, lonely soccer ball.  Goodbye, socceristas!

Scrappy wishes everybody a Merry Christmas!

the great seventies countdown week four

The Bangles are playing on the mood music as the crowd murmurs and waits for the host.  Just as they sing "Time goes by so fast... when you're having fun..." the host makes his appearance.  "Merry Christmas to all of you," he begins, "and thank you for coming to our show."

260- The Rockford Files, Mike Post, 1975, #10.  A great tune, a great show.  I used to sit up late and tune in the fuzzy picture out of channel 50 in Detroit to watch reruns.

259- Brother Louie, the Stories, 1973, #1.  A powerful tune, of which I learned 2 things this morning. #1, the keyboardist for the Stories was Michael Brown of Left Banke (Walk Away Renee); #2 was the song was a cover of a Hot Chocolate song that went #1 in the UK.

258- Go All The Way, Raspberries, 1972, #5.  Eric Carmen before he went all morose.

257- Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, Crosby Stills and Nash, 1970, #21.  A song I got out of the stack of old jukebox records that Bill Riley was selling at the Zulu store.  Had Long Time Gone on the flip side.  Prompted me to buy So Far, which really got me into them- if not their politics.

256- Sail On, Commodores, 1979, #4.   Oddly enough, I like most of America, had the follow up single, Still, at #1 but not this- and yet, this is the song that more endured.

255- Delta Dawn, Helen Reddy, 1973, #1.  I mused a while back that, in a world of perfect mental health, Helen would have lost three big hits- this one, Ruby Red Dress, and Angie Baby.  All her heroines were nuts- and no jokes about I Am Woman at this point!

254- El Dorado, Electric Light Orchestra, 1974, b-side of Boy Blue (USA) and Wild West Hero (UK), non-charting.  The title cut of one of the best integrated pieces of music I own, it is the end of the dream- and trying to get back there.  This was the song fundementalist groups claimed Jeff Lynne recorded satanic messages on backwards-  which pissed him off enough that he DID put backwards messages on Face The Music.  If you're playing records backwards to see if there's something there, you have WAY too much time on your hands.

253- Sad Eyes, Robert John, 1979, #1.  Wow, three #1s already today!  I remember the first time we heard this (on Kasey Casem's American Top 40), we said this should hit #1 if people had any taste.  It had debuted at 36 and the next week it moved only 2 notches.  When we didn't hear it in the 30's or 20's, we figured the American public had went and let us down again.  Then it played at #19, and the rest was history.

252- We May Never Pass This Way Again, Seals And Crofts, 1973, #21.  The perrenial graduation song is one of those that has grown on me over the years- in five years, this might rank even higher on my list.

251- One Of A Kind Love Affair, The Spinners, 1972, #11.  For me, about everything by the Spinners should have hit #1.

250- Never Gonna Fall In Love Again, Eric Carmen, 1976, #11.  And here's "the morose" Eric Carmen, trying to see how many hits at #11 in a row we can get.  Forever linked in my mind with contemporary Fooled Around And Fell In Love, due to seeing them both in Dick Clark's American Bandstand top 10 one sunny day.

249- Love Hangover, Diana Ross, 1976, #1.  Bizarre for the times, still a great dance hit.

248- Almost Cut My Hair, Crosby, Stills, Nash, And Young, 1970, Unreleased.  A great tune from Deja Vu, David Crosby at his best-  "But I'm not giving in an inch to fear/ 'Cause I promised myself this year...  And I feel... like I owe it... to someone..."

247- Clap For The Wolfman, the Guess Who, 1974, #6.  Wolfman Jack was everywhere in the mid seventies, but this was the best of his cameoes. 7th top ten in the US, 16th in Canada.  You guys up north always did have better music, eh?

246- Hypnotized, Fleetwood Mac, 1973, B-side of For Your Love, Non charting.  Pre- Nicks and Buckinham, with Bob Welch singing lead.  From Mystery To Me, the Mac at their dreamy best.

245- Lukenbach, Texas (Back To The Basics Of Love), Waylon Jennings, #25 (six weeks at #1 on the country charts).  The News-Sentinel used to put the top tens down every Saturday, and I remember how long it stayed at the top of the country charts.  I actually listened to country (a rarity for me) to hear this song, the first time I'd done that ( and certainly the only time on a non-Rosanne Cash tune).  And I loved Willie Nelson at the end.

244- Brandy, Looking Glass, 1972, #1.  One of those songs everyone loves- and that's what made it a one-hit wonder, as Looking Glass was generally much less pop.

243- Turn To Stone, Joe Walsh, 1975, #93.  Let me just say, I love Joe Walsh, whether solo, James Gang, or Eagles.  One of his best solo tunes.

242- The Night Chicago Died, Paper Lace, 1974, #1.  Another song that everybody immediately loved.  Except the "get the story right" crowd, I suppose.  Would have been a two-hit wonder, but Bo Donaldson's cover of their Billy Don't Be A Hero charted first and higher.

241- Here Come Those Tears Again, Jackson Browne, 1977, #23.  This one, and not Doctor My Eyes, made me a JB fan.

And with that, the lights come up on another performance.  "Go home and treat your families to the best of you this Christmas," the host tells them.  "Be the present they want." 

Lokomotiv game 4

The boys from Yaroslavl go to 3-1 with a 4-1 win in front of 2,670 in Izhevsk, a town that sits on the NW side of a circle formed by Perm (Molot Prikamye), Yekaterinburg (Automobilst), Cheylabinsk  (Traktor), Ufa (Salavat Yulaev) and Kazan (Ak Bars).  Kirill Kaputsin put us on the board with a power play goal at 2:30 into thew match, and Maxim Zyuzyakin got the first of his 2 goals at 14:07.  Less than 3 minutes later, a penalty on Vladislav Vorobyev for a high-stick led to a power play goal for Izhvesk to cut things to 2-1.

Less than 5 minutes into the second stanza, Oleg Yashin tallied his 8th of the year (and 3rd for us) to push it to 3-1, and Zyuzyakin got his 2nd of the game (third of the season) shorthanded  with 38 seconds left in the game.  For a change, Lokomotiv outshot the opposition 44-33, and this time it was an even younger goalie in the nets.  Pavel Shegalo, 18 years and 10 months old, stopped 33 of 34  For a team that’s given up one goal or less in three of four outings.

The kids get their first real challenge at home Wednesday against HC Donbass, a Ukrainian outfit who is 22-7-5 and hasn’t lost since the 20th of last month.

Maxim Zyuzyakin

  • Club: Lokomotiv
  • Number: 61
  • Position: Forward
  • Height: 177
  • Weight: 73
  • Birth Date.: 13/01/1991
  • Nationality: Russia
  • Age: 20 years 11 months
  • Clubs by season: Locomotive

Friday, December 23, 2011

Step into my time machine week 87

‘Twas the time machine before Christmas, and the news continued quiet.  The temperature dropped throughout the day, the wind got things bitter cold, and with barely an inch of snow on the ground, by 9 pm we hit 5 degrees with a wind chill of –10.  (Of course, it got into the thirties by the big day, with no further snow.)  And within the time machine, we saw the return of an unusual song from a Where Are They Now past, the return of the #49 curse, the King of Jazz (and no, it’s not Louie Armstrong), And we connect Leo Sayer with former pro wrestler Dick The Bruiser!  Let’s have at it, shall we?

10 songs debut this week in two groups of five (90-94 and 96-100).  The first group featured a returnee- Dickie Lee’s 9,999,999 Tears, which re-enters after peaking at 67 and falling off last week.  Thelma Houston’s Don’t Leave Me This Way comes in at 92, and the novelty hit In The Mood by the Henhouse Five (plus Two), in which the vocals were particularly fowl (Tee Hee) comes in at 94.  The second group included chick magnet Tom Jones with Say You’ll Stay Until Tomorrow at 97; and at 99, reggae band Boney M hits with their version of Daddy Cool, which featured on this program a few weeks back on the Little River Band WATN, when a proto-LRB going by the name of Drummond did a chipmunk version of the song.

In addition to the crew turning thirty-five, here are our other birthday songs.  Three Dog Night’s Never Been To Spain, War’s Slippin’ Into Darkness, and Climax’s Precious And Few all turn forty this week. Turning 55 is Pat Boone’s Don’t Forbid Me, along with an oddity that turns both 55 and 60.  We all know the English folk tune Greensleeves, if for no other reason  than the use of it's tune in the carol What Child Is This.  Well this week in 1956, the Beverley Sisters entered the (top 50) chart at #37 with Greensleeves- and in 1951, Mitch Miller’s Orchestra came in at #38- thus we have a nearly 500-year-old song turn both 55 and 60 this week!

I forgot about the grandpa chair last week, probably because She’s Gone was still in it.  It still is, at least for one more week, but this time it’s also our biggest dropper- falling 31 spots to #79.  Our big mover is at 54, up 18- Steve Miller’s Fly Like An Eagle.

Well, we have a problem with the WATN segment, as #49 is occupied for the second time in three weeks by the Beatles Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da.  As Disco Duck lies above it at #48 (and the last time I went THERE, I got Bill Shatner’s Bohemian Rhapsody), we’ll slide down to the #50 hole, where we find the Bay City Rollers with Yesterday’s Hero.

BCR has been around for a long time, but there are five guys that make up the “classic lineup”. Bass Guitarist Alan Longmuir lives in Scotland with wife Eileen.  He’s been in ill health for years, having suffered a heart attack in 1995 and a stroke two years later.  His brother Derek was the drummer, and since his retirement in 1981 became a nurse in Edinburgh, where he lives still.  For several years he has been fighting allegations of possessing child porn, which he and his family claims was a set-up by an obsessed American fan.  Lead guitar Eric Faulkner still tours with his version of the band, Eric Faulkner’s Bay City Rollers.  Rhythm Guitarist Stuart “Woody” Wood and wife Denise also live in Edinburgh, where they produce Celtic music, such as Julienne Taylor’s A Heart Within, released this summer.  Lead singer Les McKeown has struggled- with drugs (acquitted in 2006 on drug dealing charges); alcohol (he was the subject of UK reality show Rehab, based at an LA clinic); and other things (he recently discussed in an interview his bisexual relationship with manager Tam Paton, who was convicted of gross indecency with a minor boy in 1982 and died two years ago).  He lives with his wife Peko in Hackney, England, and tours with Les McKeown’s Legendary Bay City Rollers.

Yet another oddity occurs with the top 40 debuts- two of them, and I didn’t remember either one!  I did kinda recognize Tavares’ Don’t Take The Music (coming in at 40, up 3)once I played it; not so Earth Wind And Fire’s Saturday Nite (up 6 to 36).

Two songs enter the top ten, two fall out. Dropping are Muskrat Love (7 to 15) and Nights Are Forever Without You (10 to 19).

Checking in on #1s this week in yesteryear, I saw a name come up over and over in the twenties- one Paul Whiteman.  Paul “pops” Whiteman was the most popular bandleader of the 20’s, and by 1934 he had collected some 32 #1 songs.  Whiteman was known as the “King of Jazz” by such experts on the subject as Duke Ellington.  Jazz traditionalists, though, were put off by his eliminating of the impromptu aspect, carefully arranging every song.  In 1926 he hired three up-and-coming vocalists he dubbed the Rhythm Boys- which gave his big break to a rhythm boy named Bing Crosby.  Out of those 32 #1s, 6 of them were at #1 this week- 1920’s Whispering (an 11-week #1 with some 700 covers, including being the lead tune on the recent WATN featuree Whispering/Cherchez Le Femme/ Ci Ci Bon by Dr. Buzzard’s outfit) ; 1921’s Say It With Music (5 weeks at #1); 1922’s Three O’Clock In The Morning (8 weeks); 1924’s Somebody Loves Me (5 wks); 1926’s The Birth Of The Blues (4 wks); and 1929’s Great Day (2 weeks).

ELO gets into the top ten as Living Thing moves up one to #10.  Brick comes in at 9, up 3, with Dazz.  Elton John creeps up a spot to #8 with Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.  Mr. Humperdink moves up a notch to #7 with After The Loving.  The Bee Gees slip a notch to #6 with Love So Right; Burton Cummings flips spots with them at #5 with Stand Tall.  The Spinners lose a spot with Rubberband Man sliding down to 4; Marilyn and Billy take that spot with You Don’t Have To Be A Star at #3.  The world trembles as Rod Stewart finally steps down from the top spot, going to #2 with Tonight’s The Night.
Which leaves us the new #1, Leo Sayer’s You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.
This wonderful song that I love SO much was co-written by Vini Poncia, another of those all over the place types who produced the Peter Criss album when Kiss did their four solos.  Criss brought him over for the next Kiss album, Dynasty, and Poncia fired Criss for substandard drumming.  Criss was replaced by Anton Fig, and you might wonder why that name sounds familiar.  Well, he’s the drummer for David Letterman’s house band, led by Paul Schaeffer.  Before they moved to CBS with Dave, the ensemble was known as the World’s Most Dangerous Band, a tribute to one of Dave’s (and mine) childhood heroes- the late, great pro wrestler Dick “the Bruiser” Afflis.

And with that, we return to the humdrum life we left behind in 2011.  Tune in Saturday for the seventies countdown.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

More fun with wastebook

Here, for your reading pleasure, are four more stories (paraphrased by yours truly) cribbed from Senator Tom Coburn's Wastebook report.  Afterwards, a Lokomotiv update.

#96 on the list:  Montana State University received a $742,907 grant to study how "targeted sheep grazing" could help organic farmers to get rid of their weeds without herbicide or tilling.  Once they do this detailed study on watching sheep eat, they plan to offer 2 new courses on their findings.  Get that?  $742, 907 to figure out that sheep eat weeds and to offer two entire courses to explain that sheep will eat weeds to students.  Martin savings:  The American Sheep Industry Ass'n. has a booklet on this very subject, on sale for $25.  Might seem a bit stiff of a price to read that sheep eat weeds, but, hey, you could buy one for every student in the university for $353,825- a savings of $ 389,082.

#94- The National Science Foundation was granted $338, 998 to study " the impact of women on Icelandic textile industry from Viking times to the 19th century."  Talk about a total waste!!! Give that money back so we can buy targeted sheep grazing booklets for the poor dumb kids at MSU!

#91- a group of researchers lead by Yerkes National Primate Research Center are using part of a $600,000 grant to figure out why captive chimps through poop at visitors.  One of the allied researchers is William Hopkins of Agnes Scott College ( an all-girls school who doesn't even have a football team!), who has also spent your tax dollars on determining whether a chimp is right or left handed and what effect that has on "reproductive success".  Now, as I recall, the tour at Black Pine animal sanctuary in Albion told us they through poop when the observer does something to disturb them or piss them off.  Regular tours go for $7.00 in the summer.  Martin savings- $599,993- less if you buy a pop or some food for the goats and camels.

#90- Once again, our friends at USAID.  $15 million/yr for last three years to "aid the families of civilians killed in the war in Afghanistan".  When the OIG audited their base last year, among the unconscionable things they found:
- absolutely no record keeping;
- piles of rat infested "food";
- "large quantities" of food that expired in 2004 (the program began in 2007);
- "program employees failed to verify delivery on at least THREE QUARTERS of all alleged assistance sent out."
-Wastebook had a picture of an ENTIRE WAREHOUSE full of rusted, twisted, wheelbarrows piled on top of each other.  In trying to copy this pic (which I failed to figure out for about a half-hour), I stumbled onto the actual OIG's report, which has even more disturbing pictures and data- if you dare.

USAID is quite obviously such a slipshod outfit, We could save a LOT of money just by dismantling them altogether.  How much I could not accurately determine, but it has to be somewhere between 3.1 and 39.5 BILLION DOLLARS.
Now, USAID will say in it's defense, and somewhat rightly so, that with the good that USAID does do, simply eliminating them is like tossing the baby out with the bathwater.  But, just like with Second Mile, if you know there's a sexual predator in the henhouse and you do nothing about it, sorry for your luck.  Burn it all down and replace it with someone who can deliver more than 25% of the time.


Yesterday morning (our time), New Lokomotiv lost their first game in a valiant effort.  Trailing after one period, Raphael Akhhmetov tallied his first at 5:49 of the second to tie it at 1-1.  Four minutes later, Molot Prikamye Perm re-took the lead, but Oleg Yashin got his second as a Loko at 2:06 of the third to tie it at 2-2.  They went to OT, but we let the puck loose infront of our own net right off the bat, and Maxim Verevkin scored just 28 seconds in to win the game for Perm 3-2.  Nikolai Lozhkin had another great game, handling 23 of 26 shots.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

“Lord, what fools these mortals be…”

And Puck was never more correct than this is applied to the idiocy in our government these days.  I understand, the Tea Party wants things done under a strict constitutional and financially sane basis.  I understand that the Left side of the aisle wants to protect the interests of their constituency.  But in between the “pass no law that doesn’t complete the job” on one side and the “we can’t cut funds for this necessary and important project- we must raise taxes instead”  are people like the lady interviewed on CBSNews tonight, who got laid off from IBM 24 weeks ago and because Senate Dems keep saying “one man’s waste is another man’s treasure”, and House Republicans aren’t bright enough to say, “y’know, sometimes standing on principles can be accomplished in baby steps”, she’s going to have NO INCOME in about two weeks.

Now, the rub of this is, is that many will say, “She must be willing to take a lesser job.”  And that is right;  she, and many others, must be willing to scale down.  She’s going to have to make changes in her lifestyle to accommodate a lesser income.  We did it;  Laurie and I haven’t always been in the veritable paradise that is Woodbridge.  In fact, in between  the home abandoned to bankruptcy and here, we were living in the “scale down” capital of Allen County.

  Our “neighborhood” was the very same that the FWPD was shooting at when they were missing their targets in the firing range.  (And, may I point out, they would have had to clear about three streets worth of trailer park to hit a living thing.  The back of the park were the trashed out trailer shells that squatters, opossums, and termites took a pass on.)  Our trailer featured: a front door whose base was about ready to rot out; two toilets with lists to one side severe enough that you couldn’t spare a hand to read the paper; a water heater that leaked so bad it had to be replaced after less than a week (supposedly just installed); pipes that froze upon hearing the forecast of below-freezing temps, along with a water meter that shattered on four different occasions; neighbors that had to be dissuaded from stealing the Sunday paper by my stuffing a decoy full of dog poop (which they took twice before learning the lesson); and management that made us sit for three weeks before accepting an inquiry call from Woodbridge.  So, yeah, we get scale down.

But here’s the thing-  ever go to your mortgageholder and say, “I’m not making as much as I did last month.  How about you let me find a “scaled-down” home and let me pay a scaled down payment”?  Yeah, that’s not so easy.  And it’s people like that, chained to mortgages and loans they can no longer afford, that are getting hurt.  We hear a lot about underwater mortgages and what Washington wants to do to fix them, but what good can they do when the only way to “scale down” your payments is in bankruptcy court?

And everyone is all about the big ways to cut spending- get rid of the Department of (insert name here, Rick Perry), slash the military, etc.  But Tom Coburn (R-OK) has just shown a better way- he has released his latest copy of Wastebook, where he lists his top 100 wastes of our money.  I had the idea of going through this bit by bit, until I’ve milked it for all the entertainment value I can, so you can see and enjoy where your money is really going.  Tonight, I thought I’d look at a couple of items from one of my (and I’m sure one of your) favorite places to waste money- that valuable and trustworthy ally of ours, Pakistan.
13) Remake of “Sesame Street” for Pakistan – (U.S. Agency for International
Development) $10 Million
In 2010, Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, a Pakistani arts organization,was awarded $20 million over the next four years,  to create ―130 episodes of an indigenously produced Sesame Street.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provided the first $10 million for the project in FY 2011. The Pakistan Sesame Street would be produced in cooperation with Sesame Workshop , creators of the original Sesame Street.
According to news sources, the show will be renamed ―SimSim Humara and set in a lively village in Pakistan with a roadside tea and snacks stall, known as a dhaba, some fancy houses with overhanging balconies along with simple dwellings, and residents hanging out on their verandas.

The only character adopted from the original Sesame Street will be the furry red monster Elmo. The rest of the puppet cast will be made up of new local characters, including a conceited welldwelling
crocodile named Haseen O Jameel, a spirited adult woman, Baaji, who enjoys family time and tradition, and Baily, a hard-working donkey who longs to be a pop star.
Besides the television show, the grant also includes funding for the following:
 ―Radio programs based on the main puppet characters‖
 ―A dynamic website where children can ‗interact‘ with their favorite puppet characters‖
 600 events with ―live puppet performances using vehicles with trained puppeteers
performing shows‖
 600 events with ―mobile video vans displaying pre-developed puppet-based programs to
children and communities‖
 9,000 small gatherings involving ―thirty trained District Ambassadors playing video
shows using laptop computers.
The television and radio shows will include 78 shows in Urdu and 13 shows in each of the four major regional languages.

Answer me this- even assuming that this was doing anything other than teaching future America-hating terrorists how to read, how many of these children will have access to this “dynamic website,” once the “district Ambassadors” clear the square?  (Answer:  Pakistan has 4.24 PCs per 1,000 people, 158th out of 168 nations.)
Martin savings:  It would cost $2.69 billion to give every child under 14 a tickle me Elmo- and $1.21 billion to give each kid a Elmo hand puppet.  However, when you only give them to the 4.24 in 1,000 who have computer access (and thus might actually give a crap about Elmo), you cut those numbers to $11,429,686 and $5,143,358.  Thus, a potential savings of $4,856,642.

2) Mangled Mango Effort Could Hurt Farmers It Meant to Help –
(Pakistan) $30 Million
In 2009, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) undertook a four-year, $90 million effort to spur hiring and sales among Pakistani businesses. Two years later, the USAID
Inspector General (USAID OIG) found ―no measurable increases in sales and employment.
In four of five product areas USAID targeted – leather, livestock, textiles and dates – the agency abandoned its efforts roughly a year after it began them, with virtually nothing to show. For the
remainder of the project, it focused its effort (and funding) on the fifth product area: mangoes.
USAID‘s goal for mango farmers, to boost their sales by 20 percent, was as ill-fated as its grand plans for Pakistan‘s date farmers,
ranchers, and leather and textile manufacturers. Nearly $30 million into the project, the USAID OIG audited the effort and concluded it was not on track to achieve its main goal. The mango effort, which consisted of providing 13 mango farmers with equipment to clean, freeze and store mangoes, was ―stalled.
What brought the mango effort to a standstill? Although the contractor executing the project, Chemonics, stated it
had implemented several enhancements to mango production, the USAID OIG found only one farmer had received the promised
but could not operate it because
of a design flaw.
To make matters worse, the bungled effort could actually hurt the participating farmers by forcing them into default on loans they had taken out against expected sales that now may not happen, the OIG found.

So $30 mill later, USAID and Chemonics  couldn’t accomplish something you or I could have with a few $600 freezers and $25 K for ten billboards.  Savings by the Martin plan, $29,996,200.  And I priced the freezers at Lowes, so you know THEY’LL work.  Tune in next time for more “fun with government waste”.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Check this out!!

I figured out how to snag a still out of the KHL video of Lokomotiv's first goal, scored by Dmitry Maltsev.

  Needless to say, I also figured out how to get it on my desktop rotation.  Am I great or what?
(Note:  Do NOT answer that question!)
                    A FITTING MEMORIAL….
baxter and cassie 008

In 1997, They were known as Butthead’s Wheel Runners, after my hamster at the time.  After his death, they were renamed the B2s (Butthead #2) after his successor.  The B2s are the hamster’s team, down through the years.  But Cassie was the last hamster (for now); and in the best of memorials, her team won Super Bowl XV.
The Sunset Rangers, exhausted after their very first playoff win last week, and bereft of 2/3 of their running back corps (note: Darren McFadden is, as the Bible says, “a broken reed”) the Rangers fell behind Thursday night on Roddy White’s 2 scores, and never got back into the game, trailing 44-2 after the early afternoon games.
At one point the total was up to 59, but two TDs and a FG got took off the board in about 15 minutes time.  Last weeks’ savior, Mason Crosby, was a dud, and Tom Brady (12 pts) couldn’t do it alone.
Even the struggling Bears added a defensive TD, and Brandon Marshall threw in a 9-pointer.  Arian Foster and Darrel Sproules added a score each, and K Dan Carpenter pitched in 12, more than making up for Eli Manning’s worst game all year.
For a while, it seemed that the B2s would shatter their own record for biggest rout in a Super Bowl, having won their other championship by a 52-12 win over the Beagles nine years ago.  The B2s end the year at 10-4,  While the Rangers close out their best year ever at 11-3.
Carved into the Super bowl trophy-  2011 B2s 10-4.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday message

I’ve been kind of stuck for today’s message.  And it’s not that I’ve run out of prophecies concerning the coming (and now come) Messiah.  Psalms and Isaiah are full of passages that practically spell out His life on earth step by step.  But we here have been focusing not so much on the details but the nature of Prophecied Messiah.

We have seen His big picture ministry- the idea that it is the next life and not this one is where His focus is.  Through Moses we have seen He was to have two ministries on earth- to free His people from the grip of Satan and to lead them to the home He promised.  Through Melchizadek  we saw that He was separate from, and superior to, a simple mortal priesthood.  And last week we saw the gap between the mortal and divine perceptions of Messiah.

There are so many other ways to look at Messiah, too.  I was thinking over the presaging through Moses, and thought about the other man who stood with the Lord at the transfiguration, Elijah.  Elijah was a precursor as well, because in the moment after his greatest triumph, he suffered his greatest defeat, running for his life.  Jesus was acclaimed on Sunday and crucified on Friday.  But Elijah was renewed and returned, for a short time- long enough to anoint his successor (and a few others), and then drawn alive into heaven.  So, too, Jesus rose from death, anointed the Apostles, and ascended into heaven.  Throughout the Bible Jesus is explained not just in prophecy but in example.

And you know, He is not the only one described thus.  Look at this description of the Antichrist from Daniel:
Dan 11:37  He will not regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god. For he shall magnify himself above all.
I have mentioned in other posts the intertwining of radical LGBT and radical atheism.  I never knew it was predicted.  I am minded of Christopher Hitchens, the atheist supreme who died this week.  It always puzzled me how people like him could make the point, “ If God is real, why give us a mind that can question and learn and expect us to believe in Him on faith?”  Not so much for the question itself, but because they never seemed to ask the flip side question, “If God doesn’t exist, why did evolution drive us to develop a mind that can grasp the transcendental if there IS nothing transcendental?”  They can accept a naturally self-occurring universe with no logical starting point that they can reach, but on the other hand believe that the mind that can grasp a subject so far beyond visible reality just crumbles to dust at death.  Hitchens right now knows the answer to those questions, one way or another.  And when I think of him, I think of the ending of the parable of Lazarus and the rich man:

Luk 16:27  And he said, I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house,
Luk 16:28  for I have five brothers, so that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Luk 16:29  Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.
Luk 16:30  And he said, No, father Abraham, but if one should go to them from the dead, they would repent.
Luk 16:31  And he said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead.

Scientists base ideas of the multiverse on wild theories that they cannot conceive of a way to prove, and yet reject God for “lack of proof”.  And even as Christians, we long for things to be spelled out.  God had an answer to each.  For the scientists, He said:
Jer 31:37  So says Jehovah, If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be searched out, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says Jehovah.

Or to put it another way, When you get to the bottom of everything, THEN will My promises fail.  Good luck with that.

And for the believers, a little patience from Daniel:
Dan 12:8  And the words came to my ears, but the sense of them was not clear to me: then I said, O my lord, what is the sense of these things?
Dan 12:9  And he said, Go on your way, Daniel: for the words are secret and shut up till the time of the end;
Dan 12:10  Till a number are tested and make themselves clean; and the evil-doers will do evil; for not one of the evil-doers will have knowledge; but all will be made clear to those who are wise.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hockey update- the game returns to Yaroslavl

Just a glancing blow to the KHL tonight, as they are currently on a 9-day “international break”.  Traktor from the eastern conference has taken over the overall lead, and is certainly pulling away as Amur continues to struggle to maintain their early pace.  Traktor leads by 12 in the East, with Avangard right on Amur’s tail.  Amur has shown a sign of life in a two-game set against Barys; though losing the first 5-2, they blew out Astana 7-1 in the second to go into the break.  Magnitogorsk continues to drive back into the race, winning 4 straight and putting the heat on both Barys and Ak Bars.  Poor Automobilst continues to struggle, posting a 4-20-6 record thus far, despite taking Traktor to OT last week.  And a shout out to Automobist captain Andrei Subbotin, who played his 1,000th top-level game in Russia in a 6-3 loss to Magnitogorsk.

SKA continues to hold a 9 point lead over Minsk in the west, with Dynamo Moscow trying to keep pace.  The other metro Moscow teams wish things were going that good.  CSKA (Red Army) lost 4 straight in December (1 in OT), and Spartak lost 10-2 and 5-1 decisions before an OT loss to close out the break.  Vityaz joins Automobilst with 20 losses (6-20-6).  Traktor is the only 20-win team at 20-7-5.

Now the big news is the return of hockey to Yaroslavl.  The reborn Lokomotiv team played its first two games this week, both at home. On Monday, 9047 fans packed into the arena and were not disappointed.  The opening opponent was Neftyanik  (the Oilmen) of Almetyeusk, an Ak Bars affiliate located just west of Kazan.  Dmitry Maltsev netted a goal at 13:19 of the first to put Loko on top 1-0.  In the second period, Oleg Yashin (who comes over after a 14 game stint at Titan Klin) got his 6th of the season at 2:41.  The third period was a big one.  Cyril Kasputin made it 3-0 at 2:01.  Then on a power play, Daniel Erdankov (coming off a 25-game run at Sokol) scored his 12th of the season to put it at 4-0.  Almetyeusk broke the shutout of Goalie Nikita Lozhkin (who stopped 22 of 23 shots) at 13:41, but justshy of three minutes later, Alex Kruchinin (who played 7 games at VMF St. Petersburg) netted his 5th of the year for a 5-1 final score.  Timothy Tankeev, who also came over from Klin, had a pair of assists as Loko scored 5 goals on just 19 shots.

Thursday a crowd of 9,000 saw Lozhkin be a 20-year-old master yet again, as he stopped all 28 shots in a 2-0 win over Ariada-Akpars of Vollzhsk ( a town halfway between Kazan and Ufa, affiliated with Neftekhimik).  Maltsev assisted on both goals, the first by Daniel Romantsev at 10:55 of the first, and the second by Maxim Zyuzyakin at 5:34 of the second.  Again, the new Lokomotiv team wasn’t especially active on offense (outshot 28-16) but Lozhkin was the hero, having stopped 40 of 41 shots in the two games.  Next game is Tuesday vs  Molot-Prikamye of Perm.

Nikita Lozhkin

  • Club: Lokomotiv
  • Number: 66
  • Position: Goalkeepernl
  • Height: 183
  • Weight: 90
  • Birth Date.: 10/13/1991
  • Nationality: Russia
  • Age: 20 years 2 months
  • Clubs by season: Locomotive (11-12)

The Great seventies countdown week three

The curtain slowly rises, but this time the host stays off stage, allowing the silence to build the drama before the a cappella first lines of the song shatters the silence and the week’s countdown begins.

280- Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen, #1 (1975); #2 (1992).  From the well-named lp A Night At The Opera- which like the following A Day At The Races was taken from a Marx Brothers movie.  Many 70s lists have this and Stairway To Heaven 1-2, but this is sufficient for me.  Holds up remarkably well, especially after watching that horrific William Shatner version.

279- T.S.O.P., M.F.S.B., 1974, #1.  This great instrumental, aka the Soul Train theme, was more fully The Sound Of Philadelphia by Mother Father Sister Brother.  And included the Three Degrees at the end with the “Let’s get it on/ it’s time to get down”.

278- So Fine, Electric Light Orchestra, 1976, unreleased.  Well, you knew I wouldn’t stay on the #1s forever.  The lead cut on the second side of A New World Record which got some play on AOR stations.

277- Albert Flasher, The Guess Who, 1971, #29.  Remember listening to this one riding the bus.  “It was a cold, snowy, rainy Afternoon and we were sitting there in high school, my school…”

1979, #41,

276- Good Times Roll, the Cars, 1979, #41.  The Cars first album, which we talked about last time, was full of great cuts.

275- Waterloo, ABBA, 1974, #6.  I actually got hearing this song after SOS, after it charted.  Bought the cassette at the late Smokey Montgomery's place.  What a character!

274- Come And Get Your Love, Redbone,  1974, #5.  Hail!  Hail!

273- Like A Hurricane, Neil Young, 1977, non-charting.  When he stays out of the political realm, Neil is simply the best.

272- Carry On Wayward Son, Kansas, 1977, #11.  A late friend of mine had this as his favorite song.  He was diabetic, blind, and saved, and knowing him made this song much more poignant.  For you, Mr. Woods.

271- You And Me, Alice Cooper, 1977, #9.  Suddenly, we all figured out Alice could SING, too.

270- That Lady, Isley Brothers,  1973, #6.  Another great guitar riff from Ernie Isley.

269- You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, 1974, #1.  Believe it or not, another song I only heard after it had charted.  For a few years between my sister getting married and my first clock radio (and BFF back then), my music diet must have just been the school bus.

268- Rock'n'roll Lullabye, BJ Thomas, 1972, #15.  A wistful song featuring the Blossoms (Darlene Love's outfit) and Duane Eddy on guitar.

267- Rainy Days And Mondays, the Carpenters, 1971, #2.  We'll be seeing a LOT of Karen and Richard on this list.

266- On And On, Stephen Bishop, 1977, #11.  One of my biggest "teenage angst" hits.  I practically had, "And I smile when I feel like dyin' " tattooed on my butt.

265- Take It To The Limit, Eagles, 1975, #4.  Hard to believe that this most popular of early Eagles hits never took #1.  It sure did around here.

264- You've Got A Friend, Carole King, unreleased, 1971.  You'll also be seeing more from Carole's incredible album Tapestry on this chart.  Another of my big early crushes.

263- American Girl, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, 1977, #109.  A classic from the band's debut album.  Too bad nobody knew them then.

262- I Never Cry, Alice Cooper, 1976, #12.  One of the most powerful choruses to a ballad of all time.

261- Evil Woman, Electric Light Orchestra, 1975, #10.  Sad to admit, but when this first came out, my stupid little kid ears heard "Blueberry Woman."  Yeah, I shake my head too.

The a cappella trail off of Evil Woman fades and the lights come up enough for the host to make his first appearance of the day.  He merely bows, presses a button on a remote that queues up one last video, and walks away.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Nativity scene epilogue

Being the fair person that I am, I posted my "friendly warning " form last time on Freedom From Religion's facebook page.  Of course I got the usual explanations that I'm the one who misreads the US Constitution, the typical list of insults that these so-called intellectuals stoop to, the same old attacks on FoxNews, who provided the story link, one "and what's up with Nixon?"  But the one I really loved was this from Miss Julie Merrill-Quinn:

""frindly advise!" The only thing that link got right is SCIENTIFICALLY a tomato is a fruit."

But at least I can spell "friendly", eh?  Still, Julie, you'll be happy to know that your post has caused me to formulate Martin Laws #s 5 and 6.

#5- Never debate with people who would put a tomato in a fruit salad (didn't think I'd catch that, did you?)

#6- I have no need to celebrate reason- I have a REASON to CELEBRATE!

Step into my time machine week 86

December 16th, 1976 wasn’t a big news day;  the closest thing to a news item I found was that George the Goose died this day at the age of 49 years and 8 months.  I guess that stunning Jimmy Carter election win took the sails out of all of us, huh?  So let’s move right on to the good stuff- the music, dude- and find the answers to the burning questions:  Who was the Levon in Levon , and what was the black dog in Black Dog?  Also, Elvis returns to the hot 100, and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov enters the top 40- sort of.  All this and we connect Rod Stewart to the evil Jafar!  So hop in and let’s go.

The hot hundred features 8 debuts, and we feature 3 of them.  Coming in at 90 is, da da DAAA! The King, with Moody Blue.  Up at 78 we have Kiss with one of their most underrated songs, Hard Luck Woman.  And breaking in at 72 is the Steve Miller Band with Fly Like An Eagle.

Those songs are thirty-five years old this week.  Turning 40 are a trio of tunes, starting with the T-Rex classic Bang A Gong (Get It On).  Also turning forty is Elton John’s Levon, which was not based on the man, but was named for The Band drummer Levon  Helm, who was the vocalist on The Weight.  And third of the 40-yr-olds is Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog.  The title of one of the group’s most recognizable songs had nothing to do with the song; apparently a black lab had been wandering around the recording studio when this song commenced.
Turning 45 are the Four Tops’ Standing In The Shadows Of Love; the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Nashville Cats, which is what I thought the NFL’s Tennessee Titans should have been named; the Electric Prunes’ I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night; and Tom Jones’ The Green Green Grass Of Home.  And turning the big 5-0 this week is Dion’s The Wanderer.  Blow out the candles…

The big dropper this week was Fernando, slipping 14 to #41.  The big mover awaits yet again in the top 40.  And that brings us to #49 and the Where Are They Now segment.  Here we find the lovely and talented Ann and Nancy Wilson, and the boys that make them Heart, with the falling Magic Man.

Heart is one of our most active featurees, having released Red Velvet Car just last summer.  The lp spawned the singles Hey You, which hit #26 on the AC chart, and WTF, which hit #16 on the mainstream rock chart.  They also have toured North America in the last year.  Separately, Ann is coming off a 2006 solo release called Hope And Glory, and is raising two adopted children- Marie, adopted in 1991, and Dustin, 1996.  Nancy’s 24-year marriage to director Cameron Crowe ended in divorce last year.  She had helped him with the scores to many of his movies, including Jerry McGuire.

A half dozen songs enter the top 40 this week.  Up 7 to #40 this week is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird.  Our big mover jumps 18 to come in at 39- The Eagles’ New Kid In Town.  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov made the famous piece Flight Of The Bumblebee; Walter Murphy made it disco in his hit Flight 76, which comes in at 38, up 3.  George Harrison enters at 37, up 8, with This Song;  The Jacksons move up 15 to 36 with Enjoy Yourself; and the high debut, up 9 to 34, is Manfred Mann’s Earth Band featuring the vocals of Chris Thompson, and Blinded By The Light.

This week on the salute to yesteryear’s #1s, I found a song called Elmer’s Tune on the chart tops this week in 1941.  Given the era I was born to, my first thought was, this must be a looney tunes tribute to Elmer Fudd- though I must admit, that’s not the kind of theme I have ever heard from a Glenn Miller single.
In fact, the Elmer in question was Elmer Albrecht, who wasn’t so much a musician, but a mortician who used to wander over to Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom to play their piano on lunch break.   One day, the tune he was playing was heard by bandleader Dick Jurgens, and the rest soon became history.  After Jurgens had a hit with an instrumental version, Glenn Miller, as he often did to Jurgens, swooped in, had Sammy Gallop put words to it, and voila! a #1 hit.  And BTW,  while it wasn’t about the esteemed Mr. Fudd, it would have been a neat theme song for his live variety show.

Two songs enter the top ten, two drop out.  The fallen are Nadia’s Theme (7 to 15) and I Never Cry (9 to 17). 
Holding at #10 this week is England Dan and John Ford Coley with Nights Are Forever Without You.  Coming in at #9, up 2, is Elton John’s Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word.  At #8, up 4, is the legendary Engelebert Humperdink  with After The Loving.  Muskrat Love does the jitterbug down 5 to #7.  Burton Cummings stands tall at #6, up 2, with, er, Stand Tall.  The Bee Gees drop 2 to #5 with Love So Right.  Marilyn and Billy move up 2 to #4 with You Don’t Have To Be A Star.  The Rubberband Man moves 1 to #3 for the Spinners.  Leo Sayer pulls into the runnerup spot after a 3-notch climb with You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.  Which brings us to our third week #1 song and six degrees contestant.

One of the several remakes of Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night was done by disco diva Linda Clifford, who is best known for her remake of the old musical number If My Friends Could See Me Now.  From the musical Sweet Charity, it was sung in the original musical by Gwen Virdon.  This recording was used in the original pilot (though excised for all subsequent episodes ) of the Nanny.  It was replaced there by the theme The Nanny Named Fran, written and performed by the sister team of Ann Hampton and Liz Calloway.  And Liz is an experienced “cartoon” singing voice, including being Princess Jasmine, singing Forget About Love in the movie The Return Of Jafar.

And Bob’s your uncle for another week.  Be sure to tune in Saturday for the seventies countdown, and return here next week for more tunage from the Jimmy Carter depression era.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Poem Of Regret

Fight the battle
Fail the test
Turn your cheek,
and lose the rest
Oh, so offended
by the hard Scandilon
so bring down the display
and worship reason
And oft I forget,
in the heat of debate,
that I’ve the more reason
to celebrate

And this battle on earth means nothing
yet still do I look and see something

as You are mocked,
with nothing to say
blind man takes his soul
and throws it away
Frustrated by walls
they’ll ne’er tear down
I snap at their bait
I stand to showdown
And struggle to fight,
as Stephen has won,
with, “Forgive them, they
know not what they’ve done”

And sometimes I feel so lost from the race
faced with the anger, the frustration, the waste

and I call You out
to avenge Your Sweet Name
to open their eyes,
else end all the games
And sometimes I wish
Your Judgment would come
and pray for the day
when pain is done
And see but a world
where nobody cares,
praying, reap in the harvest
and burn up the tares.

But Your Heart calls out, I’ve still more to love
Come, comfort yourself in your share of My love.

Regret greets my pleas
and shame my prayers,
crying, reap in the harvest, oh Lord,
and burn up the tares.

Nativity Scene part II

FoxNews has an update on the subject of Athens, TX, and the Freedom From Religion group fighting over the town's nativity scene.  Here is a link to the full story.  What I would call your attention to are two sections.

Co-founder Annie Laurie Gaylor says the group received a complaint from one of its members in Athens. She says since the display is right in front of the courthouse, the nativity scene makes it look like county government is endorsing Christianity.
“This excludes non-Christians and non-believers who are 17 percent of the U.S. population," Gaylor said. "So it's necessary there should be changes.”

But, Laurie, you might NOT be 17% of the population of Athens, TX.  And I don't see where the 17% should be able to tell the 83% what to do.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is not just asking that the nativity scene come down. It’s now also asking that a banner go up.
“One of the commissioners said to the effect that other people could put up their views,” Gaylor said. So one group member thought, why not put up a banner?
If you thought the nativity was controversial, wait until you see the banner. It reads: “At this season of the Winter Solstice, let reason prevail. There are no gods, no devils, no angels, no heaven or hell. There is only our natural world. Religion is but myth & superstition that hardens hearts & enslaves minds.”

Laurie, FFR, let me tell you something.  If you put a banner like that within five miles of my home, I would take it, burn it, take a whizz on the ashes, seal it in a non-biodegradable package, and abandon it to the nearest dump.  Just a friendly warning.

Athens, Texas, You ROCK!!!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Nativity Scenes

Since this seems to be the hot topic of the season, as usual, and with a monstrous week of shipping, OT, and probably not a lot of hanging out here (at least coherently), I thought I'd briefly hit on the subject.

Just got done with a "discussion" on the subject on another blog.  Actually, the whole thing started with the host posting a link to a response to Rick Perry's blundering campaign ad about "we can have gays in the military but can't have God in school, etc.  Another fellow chimed in after me, and brought up at the end of his post the nativity topic.  I stated:

" I think that when a town OVERWHELMINGLY wants a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn, they have a right to do so. If a minority doesn't like it, they have the right to do just as you did- drive on by. This is supposed to by a government of the PEOPLE (i.e. the majority of the people) where the rights of minorities are RESPECTED- but not minority rule. I've had atheist pseudo intellectuals tell me that the government is there TO elevate the minority in the face of the majority (not surprising seeing the side of the fence they're on), and I will disagree to my last ounce of freedom with that."

I thought I made my point clear- if a town is united in its desire for a Nativity, they should have that right.  Here's the responses I got.

The Toledo phone book yellow pages lists churches on EIGHT PAGES! Toledo has HUNDREDS of Christian churches! And you still need a religious display on government property to affirm your faith? How profoundly sad!
My faith does not require religious scenes to be constructed on public lands. I feel sorry for you that your faith is so weak. There are not enopugh Christian churches to affirm your belief. That is profoundly sad!
Religious displays belong at religious facilities, not on government land. Period.

So, I am profoundly sad and weak in faith because I think that a town that agrees to put up a scene should not be deterred because of one or two objectors.  There are plenty of things I object to that I have to drive by, and I don't call the Wisconsin chapter of Freedom From Spinach (for example) and get them to sue the crap out of the 95% of the populace that doesn't object.  Because it's NONE OF THEIR BUSINESS and I can always drive on by.  So here are my clear and concise opinions on the topic.

#1. In most towns, There shouldn't be any problem with NOT putting a scene on Gov't property.  After all, The Great Commission doesn't get accomplished by nativity scenes.  Mind you, this does NOT apply to football games and high school graduations.  I don't care how you want to slice it, those are extracurricular activities, and if a graduate wants to speak from the heart, that should be allowed.  Faith in God does NOT abolish free speech.  But as far as displays, etc, I'm easy.

#2.  HOWEVER, if a town has a long standing tradition of Christmas displays on public ground, I do not think that it is fair, reasonable, or constitutional to abridge that right in the name of a handful who think their eyes will dissolve or whatever.  If they want to fight it, have a referendum.  If the objectors total, say 20%- and NONE of them are protestors from out of the community- then, move it.  Otherwise, get a life.

#3.  We must keep in mind that there is a difference between the casual skeptic or agnostic, or even the honest atheist, and the evangelical atheists who run things like Freedom From Religion, who will give you all sorts of excuses like, "All the bad things, wars, persecutions, etc., are because of religion, and I want to eliminate it altogether so that my children can build a utopia a la John Lennon".  Never you mind that there is a big difference between faith and religion (which I've argued with these people a million times and they REFUSE to acknowledge it), nor how the world has changed- and not for the better- since God was "taken out" of our schools.  You cannot argue with this mindset, because they have invested too much of themselves in denying God to cover their own sinful lifestyles.

 Sometimes, you HAVE to stand up and fight;  but I have to agree with my opponant on the other blog- if you've got churches galore within a stone's throw of the court house, this is probably not a fight worth picking.  Too bad he was too busy calling me "profoundly sad" to see that agreement.  But that wass because, despite the other things he said in his posts, the honest truth of his point was, he wants NO God on NO government property whatsoever.

I often think of how these people will fare before God at the Final Judgement.  Sometimes I think it would be entertaining to watch them stand before God and try to convince Him that He doesn't exist.  But then I stop myself and say, remember what happens to the loser in that argument.  And that, my friend, is profoundly sad.