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


Sunday, February 27, 2011

February Flotsam on Sunday

Okay, among the things on my widely-scattered mind today:

1. In researching other things today, I was looking into a set of stats put forth by David Barton about some of the negative trends in society since the 1962 decision to ban school prayer. You can look at them for yourselves if you like; I was drawn to the rebuttal by a chap going by the name of Abemore who accused Barton of "spreading twisted lies" by selectively presenting his charts. Of course, in the typical vein of evangelical atheists, he starts it out with the pronunciation that Barton "is an idiot" (that bastion of credibility of the liberal fringe- insult, insult, insult); then he goes on to select the one chart he CAN try to overthrow statistically- the spike in venereal disease since the decision. While he does make two valid points- first, that the spikes are closely tied to occurrence of major wars; second, that Barton did not show how those rates have since dropped off- he fails to note two other things that puncture his bubble. One, he does not note that the spike Barton referred to started after major involvement in Vietnam and second, that its peak came 3 years after we were OUT of Vietnam. Not to mention the fact that this peak ran MUCH higher and was already starting from a higher base.The fact that that indicator later ebbed does not invalidate Barton's hypotheses, it merely shows that the symptoms of societal debasement can be mitigated over time- if not the decay itself.

Abemore does not bother to contest anything other than the VD chart, stating that one chart overthrown is basically all charts overthrown- Apparently assuming that the "war" must also have been the cause of higher murder rates, higher teen pregnancy rates, and lower SAT scores. In a sidelight, he also references another of his statistical breakthroughs that claims a connection between being religious and higher rates of divorce. To manage this, he makes the assumption that because Christians have a special relationship with God, that if God exists they should have a supernatural protection from divorce. He sites stats that show that basically everyone has similar divorce rates, therefore Christianity is somehow invalidated. Not surprising since his assumptions about that special relationship between Christians and God are completely wrong; the nature of that relationship focuses on forgiveness and personal responsibility to avoid sin. Atheists refuse to grasp that the Nature of God is such that man's failure does NOT equal God's failure. Also, I find it curious that Abemore's VD chart only includes Gonorrhea and not AIDS, which would have eliminated the dip over the years involved. Mustn't slay our sacred cows, I suppose.

2. I also learned this morning that there is a strong statistical link between legal and Illegal immigration- they rise and fall together. The Center for Immigration Studies states that much of this is because increased legal immigration not only encourages others to try to enter, but the backlogs at INS because of this forced the impatient to cross the river without waiting. What started out this chain reaction? Well, you start with the Hart-Cellar act of 1965 which changed the requirements for immigration from being a person who can positively contribute to society (which, I might add, Mexican law still IS) to a basic quota system; since we were in the era of civil rights, let's give civil rights to everyone, whether they are citizens or not. And this abomination we can lay squarely at the feet of Ted Kennedy, whose first assignment as a Senator was to work this bill through. Being the prescient paragon of rightness that he was, Ted predicted,"First, our cities will not be flooded with a million immigrants annually. Under the proposed bill, the present level of immigration remains substantially the same.... Secondly, the ethnic mix of this country will not be upset...Contrary to the charges in some quarters, [the bill] will not inundate America with immigrants from any one country or area, or the most populated and deprived nations of Africa and Asia.... In the final analysis, the ethnic pattern of immigration under the proposed measure is not expected to change as sharply as the critics seem to think.... It will not cause American workers to lose their jobs."

This I find sadly amusing. Consider this from this very day's Journal Gazette article about the "diversity" in the McKinney-Hessen Cassel census tract in SE Ft. Wayne:
The official census tract breakdown is 653 whites, 726 blacks, 483 Asians, 183 Hispanics. While the tract's population increased 14 percent since 2000, it was mostly from Hispanics and Asians. Non-Hispanic whites in the area declined 28 percent, and blacks dropped to a lesser degree.

Again, not surprising from the man who wanted to put McDonald's out of business for making kids fat. What did you top out at before your illness, Ted?

Oh, and BTW, Illegals in the USA were estimated at just over 500,000 in 1969, shortly after Hart-Cellar passed. That amount had doubled by 5 years later; that number in turn tripled by 1980, and even that number more than doubled by 2000. But our "ethnic mix" is still the same as it was in 1965. That's what Ted said, and I believe him. ;<)

3. My ESPN baseball team got autodrafted this morning. Being a Reds fan (my second team behind Oakland), I was less than thrilled to see I got Adam Wainwright (who is not only a Cardinal but just got scheduled for Tommy John surgery and will miss the whole year) but his teammate Colby Rasmus (which should make KC laugh since he knows I cannot stand Rasmus). Needless to say, I am ejecting both of them ASAP.

4. Robbie Gordon just wiped out on lap 34. Good. That man should have his car impounded and be issued a tricycle in the name of public safety. Now he's weeping about Marcus Ambrose bumped him. Karma from last week's a bummer, huh, Robbie?

5. I see Quaddafiduck's sons told the UN that all the stories of massacres in Libya are "overblown". I think they got ahold of some of those drugs al-Qaeida is passing out to the anti-Duck protesters.

Friday, February 25, 2011

I know I said Sunday, but..

... I'm going to go ahead with the hockey updates tonight. For those whose eyes glaze over the news, skip down to the very interesting travelogues (for want of a better term) on the three leagues that have finished their seasons since Sunday last and their champion cities.

First though, let's do a sitrep on the leagues we featured last time. I'll start alphabetically with the Asia League, which is a short story as their first round playoffs open Sunday ( which is I think around 4:30 am our time tomorrow).

The Czech Extraliga is doing that 7-10 tourney to see who gets playoff spots #8 (and faces champs Ocelari Trinec, who BTW finished at 31-21) and 7 ( who draws second seed Liberec White Tigers). 7th seed Slavia Praha ( the Prague team) is two games up on #10 Karlovy Vary, winning 4-3 in a shootout and 3-1. 8th place Benzina Litinov is also up 2-0 on 9 seed Plzen 1929 with 4-2 and 5-2 wins. Whilst Trinec and Liberec wait on them, the other two second round matches will be Vitkovice Steel v. HC Mountfield and PSG Zlin v. Pardubice.

In Italy, Balzano has swept Pontebba in their first round series, winning games 3 and 4 by identical 3-1 scores. Champ Val Pustera leads theirs 3-1 over Alleghe after splitting 2 games this week, ditto for Asiago over Fassa; and defending champ Renon lost twice to Valpellice this week, 4-3 OT and 4-2 to fall behind 3-1. These remaining three series could be decided tomorrow.

In the Russian KHL, the first round is underway. Lokomotiv won game one handily from Dinamo Minsk, 7-4, but came out flat the next night and lost 4-1. Dinamo Riga scored an upset over UHC Dynamo Moscow, 2-1 OT in game one ( a feat less surprising because Riga beat them 4 of 5 in the regular season), but Moscow snarled back with an 8-4 game two rout. Chris Simon, the enforcer who came over from Vityaz just before playoff time, netted 2 goals in that one. SKA St. Pete has won 2 4-3 OT games over Spartak, both on OT goals by Matthias Weinhandl. Atlant also won an OT game, 3-2 over Severstal; but the first "winning goal" was reviewed and disallowed, and the coaching staff apparently obsessed over the ruling so much that they lost focus on game two and got beat 5-2. Neftekhimik, having beaten league champ Avangard 5 of 6 in season, did so again in game one 2-1 OT. Game two also went OT, but this time Omsk got the only goal in a 1-0 win. Ak Bars, now on their third straight opening round matchup with Barys Astana, have yet to allow a goal to their fellow Snow Leopards; they won 1-0 and 3-0, the latter being the first time in the three series that a game was decided by more than 2 goals. Salavat Yulaev is not surprisingly dominating Sibir Novosibrisk, winning 5-2 ( a game in which they mailed in the third period or it would've been much worse) and 3-1. Finally, Metallurg Magnitogorsk is having a bit of a tough time with Yugra, winning the opener 4-2 in a game closer than the score indicated, and losing the second 2-1.

Wrapping up the first wave, the Slovak Extraliga is just starting round one after Kosice put the finishing touches on a 50-9 season. They kicked off the playoffs with a 6-0 win over Nitra, while 2nd place Poprad opened with a 2-1 win over 36 Skallica.

That brings us to the new stuff. In reverse alphabetical order (so I can put the best story last), we go to Switzerland's National League A, where HC Davos came on at the end and stole the lead from injury-troubled Kloten at the very end. Their 38-12 record pushed them to a one point, 113-112 win for the regular season title and opens them against the last-seed Fribourg-Gotteron. Kloten draws the ZSC Lions, defending champ SC Bern draws the SCL Tigers(who are in their first playoffs since 1998), and EV Zug faces Geneve-Servette.

Davos are the New York Yankees of Swiss hockey. Founded in 1921, they have 29 championships to their credit. They play in Valliant Arena (cap. 7,080). Davos, population 11,000+, is the highest altitude city in Europe at 5,118 ft. In the east of the country, just SE of gigantic neighbor Liechtenstein, Davos was founded prior to 1280. In addition to being the host city to the World Economic Forum (also known to conspiracy theorists as the true government of the world), it is also a sought after ski resort and health spa, whose visitors have included Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This picture I'm told was taken by a paraglider. Neat, eh?

Then we go to the Danish AL Bank-Ligaen, where SonderjyskE hangs on to take their second straight regular season championship, finishing 31-8 to Blue Fox Herning's 30-9. The Danish playoffs are a little more complicated than the norm.. They pair off the top 6 teams (out of 7) into two groups of three. These play a round robin of which the top 2 in each then face each other in a best of 7 semifinal. This opened with yesterday's games: AAB Ishockey's 4-1 over the Rodovre Mighty Bulls, and Frederikshaven's 6-3 romp over Hvidovre. The Champs open Sunday against Rodovre, with Blue Fox taking on Hvidovre.

SonderjsykE, the defending champs, are based out of Vojens and started play in January in the new SYD Energi Arena (cap. 5,000). Founded 1963, they have 6 championships to their credit including last year's. Vojens, pop. just over 7,700, sits in southern Jutland (the main part of Denmark that points up towards Sweden) near the coast (and what isn't?) of the Oresund that runs between Jutland and Sjaelland (that big island just to the east). And you'd be surprised just how hard it is to find info on a town somewhere between Angola and Nappanee in size. Part of the duchy of Schleiswig, which was seized by the Germans in 1864 and partially returned in 1920, it was founded as a railroad town in the mid-1800s (whether by Denmark or Prussia I don't rightly know). It has hosted the World Speedway Cup, an international team motorcycle race, in 2003, 2008, and 2010. The picture is a church that is a local icon, painted the national colors in 1920 in celebration of it's return to Denmark after the Versailles-mandated plebiscite.

And Now we come to the Austrian Erste Bank Ligan, which was pretty much a wire to wire affair for KAC Klagenfurt. They go 43-24 to run up a 78-68 margin over last year's champs, Red Bull Salsburg. The playoffs open Sunday with KAC taking on one of the non-Austrian teams in the playoffs, Croatia's Zagreb Medvescak. RBS draws the other, Slovenia's Olympia Ljubljana; the Vienna Capitals face the Graz 99ers, and my VSV Villacher plays Linz.

Klagenfurter Atheletik-Club (KAC, see?) is also the Yankees of their league. Founded all the way back in 1909, they have 29 titles to their credit, including 11 straight from 1964-74. They play in the Stadhalle Klagenfurt, cap. 5,500.

Klagenfurt has to be the early gem of the stories of cities. Since 2007, it's full name has been Klagentfurt am Worthensee (Klagenfurt on Lake Worth), but everyone ignores the extension since there is no other Klagenfurt to differentiate it from. Pop. 90,000, it sits in the south Tyrol near the Slovenian border, which becomes important to our tale. Allegedly founded in celebration of two knights that slew a dragon on the spot, it was given a city charter in 1252. The name, which roughly means either ford of contention or ford of lament, has been debated by linguists for years; the locals say the name came from a long ago incident where a baker's apprentice was accused of theft and executed, after which he was exonerated and the whole village lamented his wrongful death. The city suffered through a litany of attacks by fire, earthquake, locusts, Turks, and Slavs before burning to the ground in 1518. The Emperor at the time was too cheap to rebuild and gave it to the area nobility, who built it into one of the strongest fortresses north of the Alps. Not strong enough, though, because Napoleon marched in in1809 and left only one gate (which he made them pay for) from their formerly-impressive walls. The Serbian Army tried to claim it for the new Yugoslav state in 1919, but another plebiscite gave it to rump Austria; as such, it got the crap bombed out of it 41 times in WWII. In 1945, the British marched in to occupy the area just ahead of, you guessed it, Tito's Yugoslav army. After a long and heated debate that almost led to a shooting war between Her Majesty's forces and the rapacious Serbs, Yugoslavia backed down and the area was re-incorporated into the post-occupation Austrian state.

And here we end this week's tale. Tune in next week for another update and round of European city history.

Step into my time machine week forty-four

I tried getting to work this morning and actually made it out of the addition before taking the better part of valor at the first available (if not visible) turn around. So as long as I was up, I said, hey, there's no snow in time travel, so here we go. Today, Tony Bennett, the Beatles, Eric Clapton, Donnie and Marie, John Denver (hey, chocolate angel, are ya listening?) and a song that had a brief appearance as a studio single comes roaring back as a live cut.

We had a ten-debut week, but only two songs I knew, on the hot 100, and back to back at that. At 75, the re-appearance of Peter Frampton's Show Me The Way. This was on time machine not that long ago as the studio single, which stalled out. This, however, is the live version, and brings the promise of the coming summer in which Frampton Comes Alive! became the unofficial soundtrack. In the meantime, a song that carries more wintry memories for me comes in at 74- the Carpenters with A Kind Of Hush. Our big dropper this week is Walk Away From Love, which is running away from its former top 10 home, falling 34 spots to #76. The big mover looked for a while (as I searched from the low end up towards the top) like it would be an at-least 4 way tie at 11 notches; then Johnny Taylor lept from 60 to 41, 19 spots, with Disco Lady.

I've got such fun on the specials I don't know where to start. Let's go with our look at #1 in other years, this week featuring the "4s". In 1994 this week, Celine Dion was at the top with The Power Of Love, which is a pretty good song that I occasionally hear on our work carousel (not that it occasionally plays, but since I'm stuck in packing/shipping right now, I'm just in areas that I often can't hear the music). In 1984, Van Halen went pop and lost all interest for me when they hit the top with Jump. In 1974 it was Barry White's Love Unlimited Orchestra with the oft-heard on golf telecasts Love's Theme.

Now comes the fun. In 1964, The Beatles were on top with I Want To Hold Your Hand, the 5th of its 8 weeks on top. In fact, it was the 5th of a 16-out-of-17 week run with 4 separate songs. Let's look at this further. The first two weeks of this run, Bobby Vinton was at #2 (at least it was after his turn at #1) with There I've Said It Again; the next two weeks, it was Leslie Gore's You Don't Own Me that was kept out of the top spot. The remaining month of Hold Your Hands' reign, it was the Beatles themselves at 2 with She Loves You; Gore held third the first week, the next three it was the Four Seasons with Dawn (Go Away). And the three weeks after that, there were FOUR Beatles songs at the top, with Dawn holding on as the highest non-Beatle record at #5. After that, it was 5 Beatles followed by Satchmo's Hello Dolly. Louie Armstrong moved up a notch a week from then on until he finally got #1, only to be knocked out- by the Beatles- after one week.

And before you think the Beatles took it over too, we find Tony Bennett at #1 in 1954 this week with the lovely Stranger In Paradise. From the musical Kismet, Strangers was the last of Bennett's 4 #1's on Cashbox, although when it finally hit the UK charts the next year it was his debut single there. I guess nobody over there ever misplaced their heart in Frisco, eh?

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah, the top 40 debuts this week. Three of them, in fact: Natalie Cole's Inseparable climbs 5 to #39; Those lovely Osmond kids, Donnie and Marie, hit 36 with Deep Purple, a ten spot jump (and a song I always link in my mind as playing at the same time as the aforementioned A Kind Of Hush); and that frisky Maxine Nightengale zaps up 18, one shy of the big mover, with Right Back To Where We Started From.

At this point, I'm going to make a group of call outs for our almost but not quite feature. The Who peak with the slightly-naughty Squeeze Box at 11 this week; The previously featured Somewhere In The Night by Helen Reddy stopped last week at 20, and drops this week to 31; Another song I've boosted in previous TM's, Art Garfunkel's Break Away, has finished its meandering between 36 and 39, and drops to 40 this week; and Linda Ronstadt will stop at 25 (HOW DID THIS SONG GET NO HIGHER???) with Tracks Of My Tears, which Smokey and the Miracles took to #16 (HOW DID THAT SONG GET NO HIGHER???) Sometimes I really have to doubt the sanity of the record-buying public.

A vastly changed top 10 has three songs move in, so 3 songs drop out. ELO slips from 9 to 13 with Evil Woman; Hot Chocolate drops from 6 to 17 with You Sexy Thing; and Barry Manilow at long last drops from 8 to 20 with I Write The Songs, after 12 weeks in the top ten.

Our look at the seventies' #1 albums takes us to the second week of July, 1974, and Elton John's Caribou. Named after the famous Caribou Ranch recording studio, the lp was recorded in just 9 days, so that the band could rush of to an extended tour in Japan. Famous, you ask? Acts from Joe Walsh and Rick Derringer, to the Beach Boys and Chicago, even Amy Grant (both Age To Age and Unguarded) recorded there from 1971 till it burned in 1985. The Album? It contained the singles Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me ( a #2 hit with backing vocals by Carl Wilson and Bruce Johnston of the Beach Boys and Toni Tennille) and The Bitch Is Back (the topper of the recent doggie top ten that Scrappy did, and hit#4). Caribou held the top spot for 4 weeks, into the first week of August.

August 10th saw the ascension of John Denver's Back Home Again. This album contained Annie's Song (#1, written for his then-wife, Annie Martel Denver), the title track (#5, and one of my misty-eyed favorites) and Sweet Surrender (#13, and I'll admit not remembering it so well), as well as the studio version of the big live hit Thank God I'm A Country Boy. For all this, John got just the one week at the top.

He was knocked out on August 17th by 461 Ocean Boulevard, the first album by Eric Clapton after kicking his heroin addiction. Featuring a band that included backup vocalist (and one of my great crushes) Yvonne Eliman, 461 featured the #1 cover of Bob Marley's I Shot The Sheriff (a song Clapton had to be talked into putting on the album). 461 Ocean Boulevard was #1 until September 7th, a 4-week tour at the top.

Drum roll, please: At #10, up 2 spots, are the Bee Gees with Fanny (Be Tender With My Love). Moving up a notch to #9 is Sir Elton's Grow Some Funk Of Your Own. (its B-side, I Feel Like A Bullet (In The Gun Of Robert Ford) has slowed down a bit, sitting at #22.) Flying high through the starry sky, Gary Wright rockets 8 spots to land at #8 with Dream Weaver. Shooting up 6 spots to #7 are the Captain And Tennille with Lonely Night/Angel Face. Donna Summer moves down 3 to #6 with Love To Love You Baby. The Eagles move from 7 to 5 with Take It To The Limit. Paul Simon has finally chosen one of his 50 ways and is leaving the chart, dropping from top dog to #4. Eric Carmen moves up 1 to #3 with All By Myself. The Love Machine churns up 3 notches to #2 for the Miracles. Annnnnd... storming the top to take the top spot, up one...

Rhythm Heritage with the Theme From SWAT!!!!

Okay, guys, stay safe and out of the snow.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Update on last night's rant.

The a$$#ole Dems are sitting in Urbana, making demands before they'll "come home." Governor Mitch Daniels said just the right thing- basic paraphrasing, I don't negotiate with terrorists. Particularly those who take a Hoosier paycheck with them.

I find it hard to keep this a family show as I tell Win Moses, Phil Gia Quinta et al, STAY THE HELL IN ILLINOIS AND DON'T NEVER COME BACK!!! Actually, here's how I phrased it to both (and I use the term EXTREMELY loosely) gentlemen:

I served notice on my blog about my feelings on your trip to Illinois. In my opinion you and any other legislator making this cowardly move is a traitor to American democracy and a coward. You sir, are politically dead to me henceforth.

Your unfortunate constituent,
Christopher W. Martin

You people were elected to do a job in Indiana. How DARE you run to another state to avoid it?
I try not to wish ill on others but I hope a big damn meteorite hits your hotel and wipes you all out, and I hope you're still sticking to it when it bounces and lands on the guys from Wisconsin hiding there too.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thoughts for today

Or "more February flotsam", if you prefer.

1. The situation In Christchurch, NZ. I send my prayers along with grief over "the darkest day in New Zealand". The CBS News report is running behind me right now.

2. The next thing on the news- Quaddaffiduck and the Libyan situation. Its hard to take much amusement out of such a catastrophe, but... The original nut job has stated A) the rebels are just youths who've been paid in drugs (Gosh, if that was possible, just think of all the fun they'd be having in Mexico. Cheech and Chong: Lethal Weapon); B) that they were "taking your children and getting them drunk ( man, he's got a thing about intoxication, don't he?) ; and C), the one I reeeeeally love, being a history buff, that "we will not let the Italians and the Turks take over our country." I like living in the past, too, but I generally don't go clear back to 1911.
I never mouthed off about the Egypt affair because I was too concerned about the aftermath, and am still waiting on that one. But here? Quaddaffiduck says he will die a martyr for Libya. I think that one's going to be arranged before the week's out.

3.My two cents about the pirates that killed those Yachters. ANY pirate ship should be blown to atoms, no questions asked.

4. Annnnnd now, the Wisconsin thing. I would like, without really debating the bill, to comment on two points.
First, my take on unions. I have watched at more than one place while unions let good workers hang while getting every break possible for the scum of the earth. I have watched as what once were proud American organizations become absolutely nothing but Democrat PACs. And I have watched while union workers who really aren't any more skilled or doing jobs that are any more important than mine make 2 and 3 times the pay that I do. And now, when they should be leading the fight to rein things in, make our government and our economy better, they have the nerve to say, "not out of MY wallet." They don't even want to take collective bargaining for pay away from them, just benefits. Meanwhile, these same people who are either being led by the nose or living with a sense of entitlement that says they're better than I, are on the warpath in Indiana too, because they are afraid to compete with non-union shops. I pity the poor people who will work in right-to-work shops in Indiana if we get them, because I'm sure they will do any inhuman thing to make them miserable if they decide not to be a union "brother". So, yeah, for all these reasons, I have utterly no problem with seeing all the unions hang. Since you are all about "what's in it for me", I'm sure you'll excuse me if I act the same.

Second, I think any teacher who isn't in the classroom should be terminated at the end of the year. The kids should be the important thing; the politics is what you pay your dues for union management to take care of. And any legislator too gutless to stay in the statehouse and fight for his position should find himself unemployed after the next election. Of course I realize that Wisconsin has been pseudo-communist for over a century, so that won't happen there. But I will put every state and National legislator from my district on notice: I don't care if you are Republican, Democrat, Tea Party, or George Freaking Washington- if you flee the state to avoid a vote on ANYTHING, I will NEVER, EVER vote, support, or say anything nice about you ever again. I cannot properly express my contempt for these cowards. And like I said on the unions, if you feel that absence makes the heart grow fonder, you won't be upset if I express my fondness when you need my vote.

Rant over, time to make supper.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Damn Winter

All I have to say is, it takes us @50 minutes from Kendallville to home on a usual night. Tonight, 1 hour 35 minutes. But we DID make it home.

Unlike one neighbor.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Euro-playoffs begin

Starting today, I'm going to do an every-Sunday update as the European hockey playoffs begin. Just to spice it up, I'm also going to do a feature on each league regular season champion. C'mon, it'll be fun to learn about exotic places!

Italy's Serie A finished their regular season Tuesday, and their playoffs have already started. The regular season champ, a wire to wire leader, was the Wolves of Val Pusteria. With a 28-12 record and 87 points, they beat out 2nd place Asiago, last year's playoff winners, by 7. Serie A is a 9-team league and 8 of them go into the playoffs on a 1 v 8, 2 v 7, etc. basis. Val Pusteria leads their series with 8th place Alleghe 2 to 0 after 4-2 and 3-2 wins. Asiago leads Fassa 2 to 0 with 4-1 and 5-2 wins; Bolzano likewise up 2 on Pontebba after 4-3 and 2-1 wins; and last year's regular season champ, Renon, and Valpellice are tied after the favorite wins 4-2 and the underdog won 4-3.

The Val Pusteria Wolves were founded in 1954, playing in the lower level until 1971, despite winning titles in 1968 and 1969, because their "arena" was an open field. They now play at Leitner Solar Arena (Cap. 2,100), but have not repeated their successes to date in Serie A.

Val Pusteria (Valley of Puster) plays in the city of Bruncio (German Bruneck) which is a mainly German (83.4%) town at the most extreme north point of Italy. Founded sometime before 1256, It was ruled by the Hapsburgs until Austria's collapse in WWI. It has a population of over 15,000, making it the second largest town in the region.

The Czech and Slovak Extraligas are playing their final games for the season as I type. The Czech Extraliga Has an odd (to Americans) playoff setup. The top six teams automatically make the second round. The first round is in 2 parts. Teams 7-10 will play a round robin to see who gets the 7th and 8th seeds. Teams 11-14 also play a round robin, and the worst of that lot will play the champion of the high minor league with the winner getting to play (or play on) in the Extraliga. The top six teams will be: top seed Ocelari Trinec, follwed by the White Tigers of Liberec, Vitkovice Steel, PSG Zlin, the rapidly sinking HC Mountfield club, and HC Pardubice.

Ocelari Trinec (the Trinec Steelers) are not surprisingly sponsored by the Trinec Iron and Steel Works, from which their arena (Werk Arena, 3,700 seats, 5,200 SRO, which is usually filled) gets its name. Despite being around since 1929, Trinec has not won a championship either in the Extraliga or in the old Czechoslovak First league.

The City of Trinec was founded prior to 1444 and sits at the extreme eastern point of the Czech Republic. The population of 37,000 + has a sizable Polish minority. In Fact, it is one of the areas Poland cowardly grabbed in Hitler's dismembering of Czechoslovakia in 1938. It became part of the CR after the Czech/Slovak split in 1992.

The Slovak Extraliga, a straight 8 team playoff, will begin later in the week. The favorite would have to be HK Kosice, which has a 134-108 lead over second place HK Poprad going into today's final games. While the matchups are just hours away from settlement, we do know that the playoff teams will also include Banska Bystrika, last year's RS champ Slovan Bratislava, Dukla Trencin, HK Zvolen, 36 Skalica, and HK Nitra. The Kosice team, founded 1962, is one of the most powerful teams in Czech-Slovak history, winning the First League championship in 1986 and 1988, and the Extraliga in 1995, 1996, 1999, 2009, and last year. They play in the Steel Arena (their sponsor is the Kosice branch of US Steel), which holds 8,343.

Kosice, population 242,000, sits on the border with Hungary. Founded prior to 1230, it was also a victim of Hitler, being claimed by Hungary; in fact, its bombardment by the red Army in 1941 gave the Hungarian government its excuse to declare war on Soviet Russia. Among Kosice's sister cities is Mobile, Alabama.

The Asia league finished out about 6 this morning our time, and the Oji Eagles defeated the Nippon Paper Cranes 4-3 to win by 2 points, 76-74. Oji (26-10) will face defending champ Anyang Halla in the playoffs, while Nippon will meat the Tohoku Freeblades. Oji, sponsored by Oji Paper, founded in 1925, and playing in the southern Hokkaido city of Tomakomai, is the New York Yankees of Japanese hockey. 34 time All-Japan champions, 13 time Japan League champs, and won the Asia League title in 2008. They play in Arena Hachuko, cap. 4,015.

Pinned between the Pacific and the lava dome of Mt. Tarumae, Tomakomai is a city of almost 174,000. Incorporated in 1948, they are a sprawling industrial and port city.

Finally, the KHL is just wrapping up its last games. If I'm looking at things right, the West playoffs will feature top seed Lokomotiv Yaroslavl v. Dinamo Minsk, Dinamo Riga v. UHC Moscow Dynamo, SKA St. Petersburg v. Spartak, and Atlant Mystichi v. Severstal Cherepovets. The eastern bloc will headline overall regular season champ Avangard Omsk v. Neftekhimik; Ak Bars (Snow Leopards) Kazan v. Barys (Snow Leopards) Astana -yet again-; Salavat Yulaev v. Sibir, and Metallurg Magnitogorsk v. rookie entrant Yugra.

Avangard (Vanguard) Omsk, most famous for being the current team of Jaromir Jagr, was founded in 1950 and is basically taxpayer-funded. They play in Omsk Arena, at 10,318 the largest we've looked at; they have one championship to their credit, the 2004 Russian Super League title.

Omsk, founded 1716, is the largest Russian city east of the Urals at 1, 134,000 and change. This former border post was the seat of White Russian Admiral Alexsandr Kolchak in 1918-9 and the prospective seat of the Soviet government had Moscow fallen to the Wehrmacht in WWII. Situated near the southern border with Kazakhstan, Omsk is sister cities with Milwaukee.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Finally, the snow's gone! Let's walk!

Today was a big day for Scrappy. He got a shot in the butt (rabies), and we took the first really fun walk of the year.

We had to take the long way around to Scrappy's Landing as our usual shortcut was a bit wet.
The water, needless to say, was up. Just before the snow hit, we almost could've walked to that big branch.

Over the winter, we discovered that the south path from Scrappy's Landing had a couple of trees across it.

For the newbies around here, our greenway trail runs between the River and the old canal feeder. Their is an inlet cut that used to go from the river to the feeder to supply it water, but is now ended in a big swampy patch below the trail. Last time we were here, we could both cross on the ice. Today, not so much.

Didn't stop Mr. I-love-the-water from going right in.

He actually broke through the shelf at one point; he scrambled back up in almost a poop-crouch trying to figure out what to do next. Of course, I had JUST stuck the camera in my pocket and the light of re-emerging boomed out the picture. Considering I never could see the screen for the bright daylight, though, I think I did pretty good.

Next, da big black crow. He heard the camera (it has that faux-shutter sound when you snap) and took off, with Scrappy in lukewarm pursuit.

Next, we crossed the old wooden bridge(along the way encountering a piece of driftwood looking enough like a dog to Scrappy that he crouched down in front of it for half a second) , headed down the road, and went in the hidden entrance to the woods. As you will see, all those dry stream beds I wrote about last summer and fall aren't so dry anymore.

Scrappy's sole concern is checking out all the den-holes. Whether he has to drag me down into the ravine or not. I actually grabbed a tree once, telling him, "I don' tink so, mahn!"

Now here's what Stony Run Creek looked like our last disastrous venture through the woods.

And here's today. MUCH better.

And I'm sure we would have been in THAT, too, had Scrappy had his druthers.

I Know There Is A Healing

Lord, I come to You
Sitting in the dark in my bedroom
'cause I been looking out
at the world
and I don't recognize it
Everything's inside-out
of the way that You made it and I'm finding out
that Love can't fix it
So many souls in pain
Because they want to live their lives that way
and I can't convince them,
don't go
All it takes is a simple turn
but they're afraid of doctors and would rather burn
than take their medicine
and be all right

And my Dad keeps looking at me
In all my sightless dreams and
I wish he'd just let me go back to sleep.

A teacher just can't win
kids won't start and parents won't begin
and silence is the only one
to take a grade
Contests crumble under the weight
of pains that cripple and hearts that fail
Let me share it with someone
Yeah, let me share her part
so that other people will not have to cry so hard
and together they can bear
the load
And maybe, piece by piece,
We can re-make the world the way it's 'sposed to be
and our children won't have to eat
the dead husks of faith,
the dead husks of faith

And I know there is a healing
that's the only reason I try
When I reach out, and always
the dying make fun of me
and the buried rise from the dead
at night....

Lord, I come to You
here in the soft light when the morning's new
'cause You remind me of
Your simple plan
And I can see where I'm at
Fifteen-thousand species can't change the fact
You gave us choices that
we might find You;
And when I get tired in this night
Won't You lay me down to sleep so tight
and sing to me in
my soundless dreams
'Cause I know there is a healing
for the soul who waits, who waits for You,
and I'll awake to see
it's all right....

A lot of people will find little bits of them in here. If you don't get a part, it must belong to someone else. Enjoy!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Step into my time machine week forty-three

Welcome back my friends to the show that never ends... oops, wrong lead in. It's another trip back to this week in 1976 for the tops in music from the era when music still meant music. This week is long on hits and short on debuts, and we will have the results for my widely-ignored call out for YOUR personal theme song- and I will show you mine, albeit in a somewhat altered form.

As usual we start out with the songs that debuted on the hot 100 this week. And while 11 songs cracked the list this week, I only recognized 2 of them. Coming in at 96, from the classic album Aqualung by Jethro Tull, Locomotive Breath. "In the shuffling madness..." And at 80, and musically at the other side of the scale, is ABBA with I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do. I'm putting their picture in to capture the Swedish vote as I have the German with Silver Convention.

Now on our big jumper/big dropper this week, we try something I don't believe we've had in the history of TM- the big dropper is in the top 40, but not the big climber. The big jump was from one of last week's debuts, Maxine Nightengale's Right Back To Where We Started From, which leaps from 77 to 50, a 27 notch climb. Since it's not in the debuts in the top 40 (obviously), I can go ahead and tell you that the big dropper was Sing A Song, which tripped down 23 spots to 34 this week.

Let's hit the tops of other year's charts first in our specials this week. We are up to the threes again, and in 1993 Whitney Houston was in the midst of her 8-week run of butchering I Will Always Love You. I absolutely love this song when Dolly Parton sings it. Whitney, to me, sounds like she's singing into the mirror. And no, I never watched The Bodyguard. In 1983 Australia's Men At Work were at the end of a 5-week run with Down Under. Did you ever try the Vegemite? Not I. In 1973 Norman "Hurricane" Smith, an engineer who worked with both the Beatles and Pink Floyd, at the top with the Satchmo-esque Oh Babe, What Would You Say? In 1963, Paul and Paula (who were actually Ray and Jill) were on top with Hey Paula. And in 1953, Teresa Brewer was in the midst of a six-week run with her second #1, Till I Waltz Again With You. What a sweet little voice!

Debuting into the top 40 are, again, 2 songs. The Commodores enter Airplay Alley for the third time with Sweet Love, up 4 to 37; and Tony Orlando and Dawn come in for the last time with a rather subdued version of the much-covered Cupid, climbing from 59 to 35. Our Almost but not quite call-out goes to the amazing Harold Melvin And the Bluenotes, who have peaked at 15 with Wake Up Everybody. Co-written by McFadden and Whitehead, who had already scored a major hit with the O'Jays Backstabbers, and would have a million seller of their own in the coming years with Ain't No Stopping Us Now. This, I am told, was the last hit that the group had with lead singer Teddy Pendegrass, who was disappointed that it wasn't T.P. and the Bluenotes, and went solo.

Now for the look at our top albums of the seventies. First, we have the two albums that were wrapped around by Band On The Run last week. The first Is Chicago VII. A double-album that was half-jazz and half pop, it contained the singles I've Been Searching So Long (#9), Call On Me (#6, written by Lee Loughnane, the last original member to get a songwriting credit), and my all time favorite, Wishing You Were Here (sung on the verses by Terry Kath, who would go on to accidentally shoot himself to death 4 years later, and with harmony vocals by Beach Boys Al Jardine, Carl and Dennis Wilson, # 11). It held the top spot the week of April 27th, 1974.
The next 5 weeks, until the first of June, was dominated by The Sting soundtrack. A movie set in 1936 with music from the 20's it was written by Scott Joplin and performed by Marvin Hamlisch. The Entertainer was the single from that track, and it made it to #3.
Now we move on up to the weeks of June 22-29, after BOTR had had its return to the top, and pick up Gordon Lightfoot's Sundown. This was Gordon's 10th album, but only the fifth to chart in the USA; and while he had 10 top 20's in Canada (and 2 #1's and a #2 on Canadian country), he'd had only one hit in the USA, If I Could Read Your Mind. This album gave him 2 more- the #1 Sundown (which came verrrrry close to being the first single I ever bought) and the #10 Carefree Highway, which would have been a good choice for my theme song if I had limited myself to the 70's. Sundown, BTW, was inspired by then-girlfriend Cathy Smith, who would go down in later notoriety as the woman with John Belushi when he died. For more on that, check out the Eddie Money song Passing By The Graveyard (another tear-jerker for me).

Only one song comes into the top ten. The dropper was Breaking Up Is Hard To Do, falling from 7 to 24.

Coming up 2 notches to enter the top ten at 10, Elton John with Grow Some Funk Of Your Own. At 9 and holding is ELO with Evil Woman. Dropping 4 to #8, former top dog Barry Manilow with I Write The Songs. Climbing 3 to #7 are the Eagles with Take It To The Limit. Hot Chocolate drops from 2 to 6 with You Sexy Thing. The Miracles nose up one to # 5 with Love Machine. Eric Carmen moves from 8 to 4 with All By Myself. Donna Summer holds at 3 with Love To Love You Baby. Rhythm Heritage shoots (so to speak) up to 2 with the Theme From SWAT, a 3-spot climb. Which leaves us, for the third week in a row, with Paul Simon at #1 with 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover.

And now...

I want to thank those of you who responded to the call for your theme songs. Bob, I checked out An American Hymn, but the copy I found was not real good. Even at that, those lyrics sounded really cool. However, I guess I wouldn't have made you for a Floyd fan, although if you listen to Scrappy Radio on pandora, I guess I have no room to talk. Chocolate Angel, John Denver is a very good choice. So were the Eagles, ms nk rey, but I can't Imagine Witchy Woman ever applying to you. Now, my son, the self-proclaimed "main Event", I think The Joker is perfect for you. And since my one friend threatened me with "a right to the chops" should I give my choice for her, I guess you'll all just have to wonder on that one.

And Mine? I have here a video of a live version of my theme song. The video seems to have a couple freeze spots, and the singer adds a new verse to the middle, but this acoustic rendition just blew me away when I watched it for the first time. With out further ado, I give you Counting Crows. See you next week.

Prelude to time machine

I woke up at 4 this a.m.- about 30 minutes ago- and couldn't get to sleep. Whether a symptom of or a defense against, I began thinking about the year of our time machine 1976 and all the things that were happening or about to happen in my life. And the more I remembered, I began to wonder how I would have gotten through without the music.

This was the year I began to transition from the safe haven of Ron Gregory and WOWO to the exotic and dangerous territory of WMEE. Hence my first real tastes of the Rolling Stones and Led Zep, and songs like the Isley's Fight The Power. We were just coming off the trauma of the mid-year replacement in 8th grade of Mr. Walker with Mr. Stork- a replacement we had caused and felt horrible about. A trauma that was mitigated somewhat by the fact that ol' Stork was a decent enough chap for a mildly-repentant hippie. This was the season in which I learned to cuss- unfortunately- and got my first inklings about the nature of sex, and of love beyond the grade school crush of the month.

The safe haven of life in a tiny Catholic school was soon to end forever, an ending I've never truly gotten over in my heart. Soon I would be facing not only the new experience of high school and having to find basically a whole new field of friends (and vastly different relationships with those who remained), but doing in it in an environment where the population of one classroom was close to the size of four GRADES at my old school. I would not only be facing malicious bullying for the first time, but also religious prejudice, which absolutely took me off guard.

I would be facing this in a new framework personally. A lifelong two-handsful of warts would evaporate almost overnight because ( I swear to God this worked) I cut a potato in two, rubbed it on the damned things, and threw it backwards over my shoulder, never seeing where it landed. That was the good side.

The bad side was that I was just months away from my mom's tearful announcement that she had Leukemia and her swift and painful rush to death just weeks before I started high school. Not only was I facing figuring out how one lived without a mother, but I was doing it while taking up her position as the victim of my dad's emotional bullying when drunk. At least this was a transition in the fact that I had been getting more of it anyway as I got older. But now I was getting it all, not to mention the guilt and grief dad felt over mom's passing plus his own very sober and very real trauma of having to be a dad learning to raise a son alone, a son who was learning how to be a father's child alone. It was not a fun time between us.

Mom's death changed the whole structure of our family. The days of Thanksgivings and Christmases with the whole family together vanished in a eyeblink. Rumblings started over doc's treatment of mom and over who got what. And the house got a lot quieter. My faith had begun to change as well, the result of getting a New Testament from the Gideons and actually getting to read a Bible for myself for the first time instead of the pre-digested pieces that Church and school had taught me all my life. Things like Mary, the rosary, confession, purgatory, and most important, salvation came into question. If God gave us the Bible, why wasn't the Bible the last word?

I met my oldest friend this year, the one I mentioned on last night's post, along with her brother. This family became a HUGE part of the transitions going on. We would go on to become the core of our high-school "clique"- the clique that encompassed all those who could never fit into any other clique. This group, and my appointment as the "official" joke-teller to the seniors, were all that bought me survival through my freshmen year.

Did I mention I became a freshman that year? That encompasses all the teenage angst at its genesis, all that "life or death" crap we went through back then, never knowing better until we were too old to do anything about it. Jobs, careers, college, all became part of the worry-set this year. And to top it all off, the two true loves of my life, the Oakland Athletics and the Miami Dolphins, were beginning their own transitions. The A's were about to go from three time world series champs and 5 time division winners to a club that needed good luck and a stiff breeze at their backs to avoid 100 losses every year. The Dolphins would soon have their first losing season in the NFL- something that had been unthinkable for 6 years now.

If anything caused my hatred of change, this year was it. And the only sane and good thing I could wrap around me was the music. And as we shall see, even it was changing. A year like the summer of '75 would never come again. As Don Henley would later sing, this was the end of the innocence. I sometime get crap over on for my top 50 list. Why do you not have any new stuff? How do you explain to a 20-something that it's because these are the years you LIVED through?

First thing I remember was askin' papa, "Why?",

For there were many things I didn't know.

And Daddy always smiled; took me by the hand,

Sayin', "Someday you'll understand."

Well, I'm here to tell you now each and ev'ry mother's son

You better learn it fast; you better learn it young,

'Cause, "Someday" Never Comes.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Frustrations and such

Wow, yesterday's post on the frustrations of being a blogger certainly got me the comments! I guess we all go through that, because we all go through it in life. It just seemed that at a point where I was getting mildly frustrated, everyone I follow was going through it much worse. I'd like to skim the top of a few of these subjects tonight- without naming names, but just kinda putting my take on a couple of the situations.

On one blog the discussion of emotional triggers has come up. For me, I had commented, triggers were like a depression cycle looking for a something to wrap itself around and thus gain legitimacy. I've dealt with that all this week, successfully thus far. And the major line of attack has been through memories and dreams involving my dad. This included a corner-of-the-eye moment that I saw someone else who seemed to be him. Neat trick as he's been dead since 1984. I am not trying to bad mouth my dad here; I stress this because I have two nephews who think the world of him and I don't want them mad at me. At the same time, I think they realize as adults that the grampa they knew as kids was only a part of the story. Perhaps some day I will go more in depth with that, but not tonight. Point being, I've gotten better over the years at recognizing the "depression looking for a cause" and cutting it off at the pass; but somedays, somebody notices me being extra quiet and wonders what's up. It becomes a catch 22- talking about it can become just the cause it wants to wrap around; silence leaves you on your own. No easy answers for that.

Another blog had as part of the theme getting off track of where you intend to be- emotionally and mentally as well as bloggily (?). I tend to do that when I get stressed- doing almost mechanical posts and forgetting that this is my sandbox to mess in. I've got someone who has reminded me of that at times, but prefers to do her commenting by e-mail instead of the comments section, which frustrates me though I have know idea why. Probably 40-60% of the things that frustrate me in life I have no idea why they do so. Anyone else with THAT problem?

Another blog had as the subject fear that her ranting about her job might be found out by someone at her job and used against her. Now me, I'm far too lippy to worry about that. To wit: We are currently in that part of the year that our main focus (patio cushions through the dot-com area) is not surprisingly dead, so we've picked up some of the far more massive retail end of things- which is not a great fit for the size of building we inhabit. Retail customers tend to like their shipments in big waves. We are just about at one of those big waves right now, which means over the last week we have been trying to build up stock sufficient to fill 57, count 'em, 57 trailers. We have packed cushions crammed into every orifice a building can have. So while the sewers and cutters (who mainly work the dot-com stuff) have little to do, and some are getting sent home early, and others (like me) get farmed out to other departments, the stuffers, closers, and packers as well as the warehouse people (who are working with already sewn material from China and Vietnam which we stuff, close, and pack) are not only inundated, but buried. Hope came with the scheduling of 3 trucks for today and more on Friday, which is our OT (10 hr days M-TH). But space was already a problem, so Wednesday the told several stuffers and closers not to come in again till Monday when the space problem would be somewhat alleviated.

Here, anyone who has had to deal with trucking companies in the past can guess the story. For the rest of you, the trucks cancelled. All of today's and all of Fridays. Which of course leads us to OT being cancelled tomorrow. Good for knees, bad for wallet. And just to add insult to injury, Some trucking company called back to shipping at 1:30 after the final buzzer to- you guessed it - schedule a pickup. How much you wanna bet they wanted to pick up tomorrow? Tough break, Nick.

On the bright side, that means I'll be getting Time Machine out tomorrow, where we'll talk about the responses I got on the "theme song" challenge; I may get brave enough to let you all in on what I picked for my aforementioned friend who claims she has no such song, and I will do my own big reveal.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More February Flotsam

As I have spread my blog-following wings the last couple weeks, I had come upon a lot of basically smiling happy people, as REM might say. And it has been nice to be part of a "crowd" at some level. But somehow it can become a bit overwhelming, and you wonder why you ever got out of your small pond. I had been debating that when suddenly, the world began to fray a bit. Without going into other people's details (other than the occasional asking for prayer for them), it seems that many people that I'm following are either going through illness related stuff in their families, dealing with regret or emotional stress, or even just questioning that same overwhelm threshhold that I was questioning.

One thing that gets mentioned is the quantity or quality of responses. Is anyone listening? Why are their no repsonses? Why is it that I put the website on Facebook, it averages 15-50 look-ats a post, and there has been ONE comment made? (Yeah, why is that?) I was recently the only person who took the time to guess at a truth-or-lie quiz on one lady's site (and got them all right BTW). And why is it that NOBODY has stepped up to tell me what is the fascination in Germany over Silver Convention????

Okay, when it gets like this, it's time to take a time out. As I recall, about 13 1/2 months ago, I started a blog under the understanding that this was my place to vent, WHETHER ANYONE LISTENS OR NOT. I've been fortunate in that many wonderful and fun people Do listen- at least at times. And I want to thank all of you who have, WHETHER YOU COMMENT OR NOT. And I thank those I follow for letting me share a piece of their lives, and remind me that there are still a lot of good people out there. And I thank google, who for whatever reason pushed my picture of Silver Convention (from the legendary November 19th Time Machine) to the first row of images for SC, which at least explains why Germans come nosing around my site for the picture if not why they like the picture so much.

And, I have had 4 responses to the TM call for everybody's theme song. Which ain't too bad, I guess. And for those of you who haven't gave me a song, >:P (lol).

And I guess talking about scam e-mails has netted me some responses. Since I did the post on Mary Ozasuma (who is a real person and has nothing apparently to do with scam e-mails) and the dying Mrs. whatshername, I've had:

1. An urgent money gram from Michael Collins who says he wants me to have this $2.5 million he has lying around;
2. A notice from Thelma Davis (who at least is the name of someone I knew like 20 years ago) who works as an auditor at the Oceanic Bank of Nigeria who says that I have either a "contract/Lotto/inheritance" that will pay me a "partial payment" this year of $8.3 million;
3. Some dude from City Capital Bank of Clap-Ham, London, who is holding my $5.5 million inheritance;
4. IMF investigator Frank Nichols, who doesn't give me an amount but informs me that Janet Williams has told him I'm dead so that she can have it;
5. 2 e-mails from my Blue Cross account that... oh, wait, that's not TECHNICALLY a scam.

So I guess as long as the Great Stupidity continues to seek me out, I'm not being totally ignored. And if the point of a blog is glorified talking to oneself, I suppose I'm coming out pretty good.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February Flotsam

Just some odds and ends to put on the air.

First, for those who read the "In support... "blog a few days back, Average Girl decided that the support of her followers was greater than the disgust of the few, and resumed the contest. However, just minutes ago, she posted this:

My unbelievably beautiful, wonderful and incredibly kind sister-in-law had something horrific happen to her and she almost lost her life yesterday. She is currently in the intensive care unit, and as such, I will be delaying the Battle of the Blogs for a day or two or longer while our family deals with this.

I hope to join with all of you in praying for Tracy's SIL and their entire family. Some things really do take a back seat.

Two days ago, Scrappy and I bundled up, taking the mighty camera with us on a quest to see what the world under 16 inches of snow looked like. It quickly became more of a "if we get home alive" sorta ordeal whose exertion made several layers of bundling unnecessary.

That is Stony Run Creek.

As you can see, the aminals haven't kept up with local trail-shoveling laws.

They hardly touched what in warmer days was their main track into the woods, but did stamp down this one nearer the north entrance.

And this is where some unfortunate decided to wipe out across from our parking lot.

Once we hit California road, I said enough is enough and decided we'd follow the plex road back home. However, the Plex had only plowed from building to road, which meant half of our remaining journey would be just as bad as what had went before. When you go out in 20 degree weather and come home soaked in sweat, it's time to revise your hiking plan- which we did on Saturday and Sunday.

I wanted to touch on a couple of celebrity deaths. Chuck Tanner, manager of the mid 70s Pirate "fam-i-lee" died this week. Chuck also managed my A's in 1976,

and we TRADED him the next year for catcher Manny Sanguillen.

The other is Betty Garrett, an actress known for many things; but for me she was Archie Bunker's nemesis Irene Lorenzo on All In The Family.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hockey game that broke out in the midst of the brawls between my New York Islanders and my son's Pittsburgh Penguins Friday night. This nastiness, wrapped around a 9-3 Islander rout of the Pens, was brought on after the events of a few games past when their goaltender broke our goaltender's face with one punch. The Isles were bent on all sorts of revenge, and seem to have gotten it; 346 penalty minutes were mostly concentrated in 3 big brawls, and included 15 fighting majors, 10 10-minute misconducts, a 5 -minute elbowing with intent to injure, and 11 game misconducts, 2 of them on Eric Godard of the Pens. One guy for the Isles racked up 32 minutes worth in the one big fight, and a teammate got 29 in the same melee. One Islander found himself with a ten game suspension (Trevor Gilles) as did one Pen who came off the bench when his goalie and an Islander went at it. The Isles also got another suspension, and were fined $100,000, a big deal for the cash-poor wreck that the once proud 4-time cup champs have become. Not being afraid of violence for the greater principle in sports, I'm of mixed opinions on the incident; but, I will say, EVERYONE KNEW something like this would happen at this game. The fact that it happened to such a degree shows that nobody really cared until it got out of hand. If I were king of the NHL, and disposed to end such shenanigans, I would have also fined the refereeing crew- because this crap never, I repeat NEVER happens if the crew does a competent job of handling it. And I would have suspended BOTH coaches and fined BOTH teams. Although he can hardly be considered a neutral party, Pens owner Mario Lemieux seemed to agree:

"The NHL had a chance to send a clear and strong message that those kinds of actions are unacceptable and embarrassing to the sport. It failed," the Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner said in a statement released on Sunday. "We, as a league, must do a better job of protecting the integrity of the game and the safety of our players. We must make it clear that those kinds of actions will not be tolerated and will be met with meaningful disciplinary action."

The NHL announced just before midnight on Saturday suspensions for Islanders forwards Trevor Gillies (nine games) and Matt Martin (four games), and Pittsburgh's Eric Godard (automatic 10-game ban for leaving the bench).Lemieux, however, said Campbell didn't go nearly far enough and the Hall of Famer who won two Stanley Cup titles as a Pens player questioned whether he still wants to be involved with such an outfit.

"If the events relating to Friday night reflect the state of the league, I need to re-think whether I want to be a part of it," he said. These remarks will surely irk NHL's front office, and Lemieux could soon be the target of his own disciplinary action in the form of a fine.
(Courtesy Fanhouse Sports)

One thing the league should look at is the fact that Godard got 10 games off for going to the aid of his goalie while all on-ice personnel were busy waltzing at the other end, while 2 Islanders drew instigator penalties, which cost just 2 minutes in the penalty box. Once upon a time, the man off the bench penalty was hailed as the cure all for bench clearing brawls, and it by and large works. If the league really wants to eliminate these ballroom events, then those who get hit with instigator and third-man-in penalties need to be similarly disciplined. Though not impartial, Lemieux was right about the league not going far enough. If they would have suspended goalie Brent Johnson for injuring Rick DiPietro in the FIRST PLACE, none of this would have happened. Once again, the NHL has tripped over that fine line they try to walk between what "puts fans in seats" and what "is an embarrassment".

Friday, February 11, 2011

Step into my time machine week forty-two

Hi, guys, and welcome to another frozen foray into the depths of when music was good. Before we take off, I'd like to try something new but am a little wary of it, so I need your help- this is an audience participation gig, to wit: I'd like to have you sit back and come up with the song that defines you, your "theme song" if you will. The song so ingrained in you that you feel a sense of comfort in hearing it, as it tells you you are still you. Post them in the comments section, please; and if I get enough responses, I'll put a video of mine on next week's TM. This does NOT have to be a seventies song to go with TM's theme; in fact, mine WON'T be. But if I crap out on responses, as the Beatles say, "you won't see me".

Okay, so let's strap in and head for this week in 1976. 11 songs debut in the Hot 100 this week, and I'll be mentioning 5 of them. At the leadoff spot (no. 100) we have Hall and Oates with Sara Smile. Two notches later, Styx debuts with Loreli; then we move up to 83 where we have country crossovers Waylon (Jennings) and Willie (Nelson) with Good Hearted Woman. Next up at 77 we have one of the fun songs of the era, Maxine Nightengale's Right Back To Where We Started From. C'mon, can you NOT smile when you hear that one? and finally up at 70 we have Johnny Taylor with Disco Lady. Move it in, move it out...

Let's hit the countdown of the #1 albums of the 70s next. We're at March of 1974 this week, and the weeks of the 16th and 23rd were ruled by Barbara Streisand with her lp The Way We Were. At least that is the once and current title; for a while after its release, she got into it with the producer of the movie to which the title track was the theme, and as a result had to be changed to Barbara Streisand Featuring The Hit Single The Way We Were And All In Love Is Fair. (Geez, did BJ Thomas' writers get ahold of this?) This album was a conglomeration of 4 songs that were new, including the two mentioned in that long title (which hit #1 and #63 respectively), and 6 that were off a 1970 album that was never released that would have been titled Singer.

After Babs' two weeks, we got another album whose title and contents seemed to be at odds- John Denver's Greatest Hits. John was actually just getting his feet wet, superstar-wise, and much of the album was early songs of his that had never been hits, but he reworked them to feel more contemporary. However, it did include the #1 Sunshine (On My Shoulders), the #2 Take Me Home Country Roads, and the #9 Rocky Mountain High, as well as his version of the song he penned for Peter Paul and Mary, Leaving On A Jet Plane. GH held the top in a turbulent time when albums seemed to be bouncing in and out at the top; it was #1 the last week of March, the first week of April, and again two weeks later.

The album that knocked it out would do the same thing itself. Band On The Run by McCartney And Wings is one of the great lps of all time IMHO. It didn't start out so well, though. Paul got the idea of going someplace exotic, and picked... Lagos, Nigeria. (Hey, could you drop off $8,000 to Mary Ozasuma while you're there?*) They found: that Nigeria wasn't as exotic as they imagined; themselves robbed at knifepoint; a dilapidated recording studio where they could only lay the basic tracks; and Paul collapsing from something very much like a heart attack. Y'know it seems like all of these acts wanted to try the "exotic locale" thing, and none of them had a very good time doing it. In any event, this excellent album not only contained the singles Band On The Run (#1), Jet (#7), and Helen Wheels (#10), but two great flip sides, Let Me Roll It and Nineteen Hundred Eighty-Five, as well as the very tasty Picasso's Last Words. After interrupting John Denver's run, BOTR waited patiently for six weeks while two other albums took the top spot, then returned for the weeks of June 8th and 15th.

(*See the post earlier this week about scam e-mails to get this reference.)

The Big Dropper this week, ironically enough, is John Denver's Fly Away, down 28 spot to 43. As the Big Mover is in the top 40, let's go right on there. Going from 41 to 40 is a re-entry; The Wing And A Prayer Fife And Drum Corps' Baby Face peaked at 26 two weeks ago and dropped to 41 last week. Another similar song, George Baker's Paloma Blanca, falls this week to 39 after peaking at 22. I mention them in the same breath because, to hear as much as they got played around here, you'd have thought they were both top 10s at least. So, let's call this a pseudo- almost but not quite feature and move on. The Big Mover goes from 58 to 37, a 21-notch climb for the Bay City Rollers and Money Honey. Our final debut is the best of the lot: Dr. Hook's Only Sixteen, a song that makes me misty from note #1.

Our look at the tops this week in other years hits the twos this week. In 1992, Prince and the NPG were on top with Diamonds And Pearls. Without re-hashing my usual 1990's commentary, I did listen to this song (which I did NOT know) this morning, and found myself paying little to no attention. As John Popper once sang, "the hook brings you back," and I didn't hear one. In 1982, the J. Geils Band was on top for the third of their 6 weeks with Centerfold. In 1972, Al Green was up with the song on which he based so many of his others, Let's Stay Together. In 1962, the #1 song was one of the all time classics- Gene Chandler's Duke Of Earl.

1952 at this point saw Johnnie Ray- yes, "poor old Johnnie Ray" of Dexy's Midnight Runners fame- with one of those songs mom used to try to sing just to annoy us, Cry. He was backed on this single by the Four Lads, who would go on to have their own big career, including another of mom's faves, the 1955 hit Moments To Remember. When I was REEEEEAL little and mom used to play that one, I somehow linked the part "the time we tore the goal posts down" to a flagpole at the Hi-Ho Inn in POE, Indiana, one of dad's favorite dives. It, as far as I know, was never torn down, and I can't even be sure it ever existed. But that's how I put things together back when I was two or three.

Three songs rocket into the top ten, three drop, and two of those take the reeeeally hard fall. Sing A Song drops from 7 to 11; Convoy tanks from 2 (yes, 2) all the way to 17; and Love Rollercoaster screams downward, just missing biggest dropper with a 22 notch fall from 6 to 28.

The Top ten leads off with the Eagles at 10, up 2 spots, with Take It To The Limit, Randy Meisner on the vocals for the only time in Eagles' singledom. At #9 was the fastest written song in Jeff Lynne history. He says he penned Evil Woman, which climbs a notch to 9, in just 30 minutes, expecting it to be an album filler instead of their biggest song to this point. Leaping 6 big notches from 14 to 8 is Eric Carmen with All By Myself, with which he ironically got some help from Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto #2 in C Minor, Opus 18 ( which was at first uncredited since he thought it was public domain- a mistake that he later had to settle with the Rachmaninoff estate over). Moving up one to #7 is the catatonic's version of Breaking Up Is Hard To Do by Neil Sedaka. The Miracles, fronted by Billy Griffin, move from 9 to 6 with Love Machine. Charging up 8 spots to enter the top ten at #5, Rhythm Heritage and the Theme From SWAT (Which I assume is near and dear to Bobby G's heart) RH, I learned, contained at one point Ray Parker, JR, and was formed by Michael Omartian of Christian Contemporary fame and Steve Barri, a producer and writer who had co-credits on Secret Agent Man and forged the careers of the Grass Roots and Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods. Barry Manilow eases down one more notch to 4 with I Write The Songs. Donna Summer moans her way to #3, up 2 with Love To Love You Baby, a song which I understand she recorded lying down with the lights off to get the full effect. Hot Chocolate moves up 2 to #2 with You Sexy Thing. And the top dog again this week is...

Paul Simon with 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover! (Sorry, Paul, no pic; you know the rules.)

That's it for this week; remember, comment me your personal theme songs, and if you're good, I'll show you mine. See ya next week!