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


Saturday, April 30, 2011

SUPERMAN # 900, or The Day The Comics Died

First off, let me be honest and say that, in the long run, me telling Dan Didio that I will never buy another DC comic will have minimal effect even if I hadn't decided a couple of years back that spending $20-$35 a week on comics was too much (and I was not "capable" of picking and choosing any more ruthlessly) and quit them cold turkey.  (Of course, unlike cigarettes, you can "re-smoke" a comic book and thus I have plenty of "packs" left.)  But the truth is, even if a world still existed where a comic could be had for a quarter (or even a dollar), I would be done- at least with DC- after their reveal of the 900th issue of Superman.
You see, writer David S. Goyer (whose made his name in Hollywood as a screenwriter for superhero and sci-fi flicks) is having Superman announce he is renouncing his American citizenship, saying that "Truth, justice, and the AMERICAN WAY"  just isn't big enough in the world of today.  ISN'T BIG ENOUGH.  Let that sink in for a second while I show you some examples of this teeny, tiny American Way of ours.

" We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."- the Declaration of Independence

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."- A. Lincoln, Gettysburg Address

"Let every nation know... that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty... Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country."  JF Kennedy

"Two thousand years ago the proudest boast was civis Romanus sum [I am a Roman citizen]. Today, in the world of freedom, the proudest boast is 'Ich bin ein Berliner!'... All free men, wherever they may live, are citizens of Berlin, and, therefore, as a free man, I take pride in the words 'Ich bin ein Berliner' " JF Kennedy

"I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: 'We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.'... I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character...I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood.... This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day."  ML King

"Some people see things as they are and say, why? I dream things that never were and say, why not?" - RF Kennedy

"A young monk began the Protestant reformation, a young general extended an empire from Macedonia to the borders of the earth, and a young woman reclaimed the territory of France. It was a young Italian explorer who discovered the New World, and 32-year-old Thomas Jefferson who proclaimed that all men are created equal. "Give me a place to stand," said Archimedes, "and I will move the world." These men moved the world, and so can we all. "- RF Kennedy

"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Emma Lazarus, on the Statue of Liberty

The right to live and be happy.  Liberty. Devotion.  Freedom.  Resolve.  Assurance. Character. Togetherness. Dreaming, Yearning, MOVING THE WORLD.  Whether you believe that our nation is doing these things now, or did them anytime in the past, it doesn't matter.  THIS is the AMERICAN WAY.

Tell me, Dan Didio, David Goyer, what part of this is TOO SMALL for today's world?

This has been coming, just like in the rest of our society, for a long time.  Alan Moore's Watchmen "taught" us that dictatorship in America was just a wink and a nod away.  In Marvel's Civil War, we read as a Scotsman, Mark Millar, told us what was wrong with the way we do things in America. A Scotsman, a people that have rode someone else's coattails for 800 years.  Brad Meltzer in Identity Crisis took comics from a fantasy land where we could escape from the everyday and look at justice and nobility, and turned it into a world where "heroes" commonly "adjusted" the minds of the villains they fought- and the friends that objected.  Is it any wonder that all of these people have Hollywood connections?

This is their vision, a vision they've been hyping since Hanoi Jane sat on a NVA artillery piece.  America sucks, America is evil.  They've infected our schools with this "philosophy".  And our government. And our tvs and theaters.  And now, they've sickened even the Man of Steel.

Can I tell you something about Superman?  The thing that made him great, that made him an icon of some seventy years standing, is that he came to this planet an alien and EMBRACED THESE CONCEPTS. He doesn't fight for the American Way because he is a nationalist.  He does it because the American Way is more than just a nation.  It is a wide ranging, powerful ideal of freedom and liberty and simple human respect and kindness.

Do you think that Goyer et al just don't understand this?  That their lost concept of the American Way has driven them to this extreme, and that they just need to be reminded of it, and everything will go back to normal? I don't.  I think they have a VERY CLEAR idea of the American Way as I laid it out above- AND THEY JUST DON"T BELIEVE IN IT.  We know these people and their concept of truth (which is fluid so it can be changed to fit "the needs of an evolving society") and justice (which involves the seating of judges and electing of officials that will tailor the rules to fit their needs, and woe to those who believe otherwise).  Why should we be surprised that the American Way is also anathema to them?  Mark Millar showed us in Civil War what there conception of the American way is- first Iron Man, representing a government that will enact any law and repress any freedom in the name of a false security and order. Second, a patriotism, symbolised by Captain America that will fight stubbornly for an ideal no matter what it does to a people who really don't want it. And finally, a populace, represented by Miriam Sharpe, who will listen to any sound byte fed them by the media and smilingly throw away all their freedoms if CNN tells them they ought to.

And, truth be told, that is the world these creators want, because this is a world where they wield POWER.  They can overrule any law, set themselves above any moral dictate, and get everyone to go along with them.

A nation that elects a Barack Obama will eventually end up with a David Goyer Superman. "Toute nation a le gouvernement qu’elle mérite"- Joseph de Maistre- "Every country has the government it deserves".

Superman, the iconic concept, dies the real death today.  Oh, not the death that sells comics, like the Doomsday thing; and it's not like his comics will now sit unread in comic novelty stores around the nation.  But the Superman that came to really exist, as Santa Claus and Uncle Sam once did, has now been disconnected from our reality.  Now he stands among the shopping mall Santas with their fake beards and charity bells, and the Uncle Sams that hawk used cars and tax preparation services.  But the Man of Steel who came from Krypton, was raised by Jonathon and Martha Kent, joined the boy scouts and flew hundreds of miles to bring an old lady's kitten down out of a tree, that Superman was laid to rest in Superman 900.

God rest you, Kal-el.  I for one shall miss you.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Step into my time machine week fifty-three- year 2 begins!

On this day in 1976, a young future 20 game winner named Mike Norris gave up a triple and 4 singles in a six-run third inning (or, more precisely, he did it the night before) as the Oakland A's lost to Detroit 8-1 behind a 2-hitter by Dave Roberts, who went to 3-0.  The loss drops the A's to 8-8, a half-game back of the Texas Rangers.  In the news, the Netherlands initiated the fluoridating of their water supply. And the weather? High of 62 wind at 7 mph (sounds familiar, huh?)  BUT AT LEAST WE HAD MUSIC!!!

Welcome to the first Time Machine of year number two.  Today we feature how to remember how to spell the name Papathanassiou (and why we'd want to), a guest appearance by Arthur Fiedler (albeit a brief one), an explanation of what "quiet storm" music is (also brief), and a guy named Homer who's at number one. (no, not THAT Homer.)  Step in, sit down, strap on, and let's go!

This has to be a record thus far on TM- we have but six hot 100 debuts.  On the bright side, though, we're going to mention a whopping 67% of them! Coming in at 99 are the Starland Vocal Band with Afternoon Delight.  At 94, my favorite funk song of all time, the Brothers Johnson with I'll Be Good To You.  At 85 Paul Simon charts with the title track to Still Crazy After All These Years, which may well have been his last song I actually liked.  And up at 77, Eric Carmen's second single off All By Myself, the slightly less morose Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.  (Don't take that to mean I don't like the song; I just have to reach for the anti-depressants after playing that album.)  The big dropper this week is former top dog Theme From SWAT, falling from 53 to 76 (23 notches); the big mover belongs to the Stones, with Fool To Cry rising from 69 to 47.

An almost but not quite shoutout to CW McCall and There Won't Be No Country Music (There Won't Be No Rock And Roll).  I was amazed to see this song, which I KNOW was top thirty pop locally, peak at 52 this week.  To exacerbate my WTF moment, I looked at it's Billboard stats and saw that while it made #19 on the country charts (and I had zero exposure to country back then, so no I'm not just confused), it only made 73 pop.  You guys look it up and see if you don't remember it.

Let's check out our countdown of the #1 albums of the seventies next.  We are up to the summer of '75, and for the four weeks of the 26th of July to the 23rd of August, the Eagles ruled the roost with One Of These Nights.  This album spawned the #1 title track, as well as the #2 Lyin' Eyes and #4 Take It To The Limit.  It also contained concert favorite After The Thrill Is Gone and a song called I Wish You Peace.  Written by Bernie Leadon and his then girlfriend Patti Davis (yes, Ronald Reagan's youngun), Don Henley described it as "swarmy cocktail music" that he wished they'd have cut from the album.  I'm sure Henley's attitude had something to do with Leadon's co-writer being a conservative's daughter; but after listening to it, he wasn't really far off, just a bit exaggerated.
After a quick return by Elton John's former #1 Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy on the 30th, we moved into September and the best selling Jefferson Airplane/Starship album ever, Red Octopus.  Containing the #3 Miracles and the #49 Play On Love, It was dominated by the return of Marty Balin to the fold, and he wrote 5 of the ten tracks.  It would return to the top 2 weeks later, but in the meantime two other lps took their turn.
The first of these, on the 13th of September, was The Heat Is On by the Isley Brothers.  Considered their best effort, it combined their rock-funk blend with what was called "quiet storm" music.  This genre, named for an example of the type by Smokey Robinson, is basically the kind of mellow, late-night soul you generally heard Venus Flytrap play on WKRP In Cincinnati.  The example they released was For The Love Of You, which hit #22; the non-example was the rowdy Fight The Power, which hit #4.

We have three new songs in the top forty this week.  At 38, up 10, is Neil Sedaka's Love In The Shadows.  His 19th overall top 40, it was also the sixth since his comeback after a 12-year slump that saw him score just seven chart hits- only three of them hitting the hot 100, and the highest making #76.  At 37, up 5, is the first of 2 top 40s for the Andrea True Connection, More More More.  True, who came to New York to be an actress, and actually got a bit part in a Diana Ross film, was working as a porn star with 60 films under her belt (so to speak) when she went to Jamaica to do a commercial spot and was trapped there when a government crisis prevented her from leaving with her hard earned money.  So she used it to record a song - this one- and became a singer until her third album flopped.  She returned to her previous calling, but finding there wasn't that much use for a 30+yo  porn actress (back then), she tried to return to music.  A throat goiter ended that, as well.  Last but not least, the high debut jumps from 41 to 23- Diana Ross' 12 th top 40 since leaving the Supremes, Love Hangover.

Nobody new came in the top 10 this week, so nobody leaves.

Taking our glancing blow at the #1s of other years, we're in the twos this week.  At #1 this week in 1992 was Jump by Kris Kross, which while not my idea of classic music is at least catchy.  in 1982 the top dog was by Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou (think papa- than- ass- i.o.u.), mercifully shortened on the single to Vangelis, with the Chariots Of Fire Theme.  In 1972, we were in the midst of the four week run of Roberta Flack's The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face.  1962 finds us just a couple weeks shy of my birth, and Dee Dee Sharp at #1 with Mashed Potato Time.  To give you an idea of how much better music once was, take into consideration that Sharp had knocked Johnny Angel out of the top spot, and Soldier Boy and Stranger On The Shore (by Mr. Aker Bilk) loomed on the near horizon.  Oh, and Dee Dee was also at #6 assisting Chubby Checker with his hit Slow Twistin'.  In 1952, we have an instrumental piece called Blue Tango by a protege of Arthur Fiedler's named Leroy Anderson.  A composer of light classical pieces, this was the first hit composition he had after returning from a 1950 stint in the Korean War.

For at least my own benefit- Shannon sits just outside the top ten, with Strange Magic also moving up 3 to #15.

No more hall of fame!! Feel free to keep coming up with suggestions and we'll revisit the MHOF in October or so.

The Commodores slip a notch to open the top ten with Sweet Love.  Dr. Hook peaked at 5 last week and falls to 9 this week with Only Sixteen. Former top dog Johnny Taylor and Disco Lady tumble from 4 to 8.  The Elvin Bishop Band moves up from 10 to 7 with Fooled Around And Fell In Love.  Queen sits a second week at six with Bohemian Rhapsody.  Oddly enough, when I looked up the Kris Kross song, I saw he was two weeks away from being supplanted by this very song, in its 34th week and second chart run thanks to the Wayne's World movie.  Peter Frampton moves 2 to #5 with Show Me The Way. John Sebastian surges up 4 to the number four slot with Welcome Back.  Maxine Nightengale drops off the top spot to #3 with Right Back To Where We Started From.  The Sylver family move up one to the runner up slot with Boogie Fever.  And that means the new top dog this week is...

...the duo of David and Homer (who went by his middle name of Howard for some reason) Bellamy with Let Your Love Flow!

Okay, we're done here.  Step out of the vehicle, smoke 'em if you got 'em, and have a great weekend.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


I remember being a child and watching a tornado warning be issued after the thing had formed over us on the way home from my aunt's, flattened the grass across the road, and was already clear to Hobson road (we lived a good five miles east of New Haven).

I remember in sixth grade when the super-outbreak of '74 happened.  We were just returning from a field trip when they hit, saw a funnel behind us but way in the air.  When we got back to St. Louis Besancon, the nuns had everyone else herded into the basement, and the little kids were crying.  We were laughing and joking about it.  The one nun asked "How can you joke at a time like this?" and we said, "We saw it!"  Instant celebrity.  We sang the school song (I swear in six years I had no idea we HAD a school song) and told ghost stories.  We were scared, but it was an excited scared, a fun scared.

By the time I had kids of my own, storm chasing was in vogue, so we tried it one afternoon after church.  By the time we got to the place where we were going to "follow" it, it was following us, preceded by rain heavy enough I could barely see where we were fleeing to.  I think I finally began to re-think the fascination.

I lived on Dupont road during the Northcrest tornado, and it passed right over us -in our mobile home.  No place to go to, I sent the kids into the solid-est place I could think of under a pile of blankets- and the phone rings!

Me:  What?
Kids' mom: What are you doing?
Me: Taking shelter from the tornado!
KM: What tornado?
Me: Look on the tv! CLICK.

I turned to see that my daughter had wandered back out to see if she could talk to her mom and was staring at me.  Needless to say, she only bounced once, right in front of the bedroom door, and scrambled back where I put her.  Now I've been through winds that shook the trailer back and forth, no big deal.  This was rocking the trailer UP AND DOWN. 

So obviously a lot of the fascination of close looks at tornadoes has worn off.  But last night I watched the video that kid took of the Tuscaloosa tornado.  I've never seen a blacker, more merciless monster in my life, and it scared me even separated by time and distance.  I looked at video of Tuscaloosa and thought, JAPAN.  We followed the live feed out of Birmingham, and even as they gave hope- describing one last line coming into the state that was the "dry line", i.e. the end of the storms- and THAT line sprung up a twister and sent it through the middle of a town that had already for all practical intents been wiped out by an earlier tornado.  Then I saw the sky-cam video of THAT tornado- how it went from a wispy little nothing into a hulking finger of Armageddon in something under thirty seconds.  I saw a post on facebook where a woman was holding a hailstone that covered two-thirds of her hand and said, "here's another one".

And I said, "Another one?"  Then I saw the first one.

I won't say that I'll ever get to a point where the "severe thunderstorm warning" comes on and I don't shout, "Bring it on!" just as I have for decades.  But I believe I might throw some more disclaimers on with the request.

180 dead just in Alabama.  And today you can watch it on radar as it approaches.  I shudder to think how many more it might have been if Birmingham got its warning when the storm was halfway to Talladega like it was back in '72, on that day we said, wow, that really was a tornado.  My thoughts and prayers go out to those people who are wondering where their lives will go and where their town went.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

april stuff

Ah, where to start.  Scrappy and I just got back from an after-work walk that involved a "Scrappy's choice " tour of the woods along the greenway.  In this escapade, I give him a lot of leeway about the trail to be taken, as long as A) I can get through reasonably safely, and B) we keep out of the muck.  This is rarely all that good a thing for me.  Scrappy is pretty good at obeying "no" and will divert to "Doofus, what are you doing?", but "wait a minute " and "let Daddy get through " might as well be "kjyrfihgvkyhufjth do."  Still, he found us yet another orphaned golf ball in a spot I would have never gone to, and was a real good boy on the way home.  We cut back over into civilization at that point, and he was very good at not only stopping at all the crossings and sitting as I trained him ( his "sixth grade ejication"), but waiting for me to tell him to go again- which is typically hit and miss.  At least until we passed a puppy and his mistress, and the rest of the trip was "where did he mark?  I have to find where he marked so I can mark over it!"  He never did find any, despite a thorough effort.

Last night I think Laurie broke my record for passing a kidney stone.  My first stone began its journey about 8 am one day and passed sometime around 12:30 pm.  Laurie told me afterwards that she had felt a twinge on the way home from work (after the fact, so not too bad), but we had company last night and everything was fine until about 45 minutes after everyone left.  She came down in tears or close to them to inform me of the little darlin's approach.  I spent about 15 more minutes finishing what I was doing and giving Mr. Dog a last trip outside for the night, and when I went up to check on her, THE WHOLE THING WAS OVER.  My sister the human stone machine would kill for stones like that.  She gets one per kidney every six months- on a staggered schedule so that she's almost never without something on the way.  They put her on an experimental drug a few years back, and it worked good- for a little under a year, then it was back to the quarry.

And now, we bring you Martin's second and third laws, both based on work- one on a really rotten day and one on the realization that I tend to force my way through things that just don't work. Law number II:  Every person has the potenial to go to hell exactly once.  Therefore, the more of it you give me on earth, the less likely I am to give much of a damn.  Law number III: Nowhere in the Bible did Jesus say to move the mountain by pushing.

On the subject of Jesus, I was hit with a thought this morning about His words on the cross.  Specifically, "My God, my God, why have You abandoned Me?"  We all (?) know He was speaking to His father, who withdrew His grace from Him as He took upon Himself the sins of the world.  Now, flip it.  Say "My God, my God" like we usually do- as an exclamation and not an address.  Put that way, He's talking to US, the sinners whom He's going through all this for.  Why have we abandoned Him?  That puts a more personal spin upon the crucifixion, doesn't it?

Laurie's family is having an estate sale this weekend at her late father's place.  Lots of tools, some radio equipment- Bob was a big ham guy, although I think Chuck's already gotten shed of the big stuff on e-bay- and enough stuff that Laurie and her sister Mary have spent the last three weekends prepping it.  Location is in  New Haven on Dawkins Road (the former Indiana 14 east) right across from Robinson's Wrecker place.
Friday-Saturday, I believe is the plan.  I've stayed pretty much out of the way, because I'm a lazy cuss and have no real desire to work on my weekend, but I will be there at least Saturday depending on work schedules (now, how's THAT for a draw!  Meet the Tilting At Windmills guy!)

Oh, and just over the wire- UN is going to put Syria on the human rights committee!  Yep, right there with Iran!  Talk about that UN credibility.  Word is that Sec-Gen Ban the Moonie is a) too busy getting re-elected to give a hoot about Human Rights, and/or b) doesn't want to piss off the 56 votes he'll need from the UN's Islamic conference. IDK about you, but in a world where I can't say a prayer at my graduation or enjoy a nativity scene on the courthouse lawn, I'm a bit fed up with people telling me I need to kiss the Muslim butt.  You want to cut some waste out of the budget? Tear up that IOU the UN holds from us for $1.3 billion in dues, and tell the beggars "Don't let it hit you on the way out". That building would make a kickin' 39-story homeless shelter!

And Finally, we say goodbye to Phoebe Snow. Circumstances prevented her from having more top 40s than the #5 Poetry Man and the duet we had on TM a month or three ago with Paul Simon, Gone At Last.  With a voice like that, she should have undoubtedly had more.  I salute her courage when it became more important to her to take care of her daughter than to pad her Billboard stats.

Okay, guys, I think that's it for now. Enjoy you evening and watch the weather just in case.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

And, on a less serious note...

Here's Scrappy's second foray to Johnny Appleseed yesterday. 

First off, when we went Thursday, there were soccer-istas everywhere.  But late Saturday morning, 70+ degrees and sunny?

That's right, not a soul.  They were all in the plex building.
Of course, we had to go through the same puddle splashing as before...

On the other side of california road, the feeder doesn't have drainage access to the river anymore- good for Geese...

This time, Scrappy pays his respects...

...before indulging in the much-closer waters of the boat ramp.

(Caught him in mid-shake there!)

I went to Johnny Appleseed and all I got were these lousy bottle caps!  : )

We saw a couple of turtles sunning themselves in the swamp on the way back ( but they saw us first, so no pics).  Then, as we approached the hidden entrance, I heard a splish-splash.  No, it wasn't Bobby Darin taking a bath;  remember that the ravine is now a waterway- and what I heard was two deer in the water, looking up at me at the edge of woods and ravine.  Scrappy didn't see or hear them, but he sure SMELLED them, and immediately began turning circles trying to figure out where.  I did try snapping a pic or two..

...if you look between the first big tree on the left and the one before it, you'll see a tiny head poking out.

Anyway, the one took off when he heard our camera's simulated shutter sound, but the other remained watching even after we continued on.  The woods itself was a blanket of flowers...

...with a little bunch of dutchman's britches nestled up agin each tree.

That's today's trip, hope you like.

Easter sermon

I've been debating on how to do this post and what to say for a good long while this morning.  A lot of times, I come into these things thinking, how do I present this to the non-believers who so desperately need to hear it, and I think it might distract me from being able to help those who aren't "seeds cast on the hard path".  So bear with me as I ramble a bit.

Despite the fact that we celebrate the Resurrection today, I find myself drawn to the story of the Exodus and its parallels to the life of a Christian.  For example:  It was only after 400 years of gradually increasing slavery that the Hebrews realized that they should seek God's help.  They called out to Him and He answered in HIS TIME- a journey that took 40 years to make Moses a prince of Egypt, 40 years more being humbled.  Similar to Jesus, who left one life in the Glory of Heaven for another as a humble, inconspicuous carpenter, before finally assuming His ministry of freeing the people.  Somehow, though, Moses does not exactly play Jesus in the allegory- more like a pastor of influence, or the section of the soul that knows instinctively to seek and follow God.

By signs both miraculous and disputed, the people- representing the proto-Christian- work their way to the step of faith needed to cross the Red Sea so that God can slam the door of slavery to sin behind them.  From this point on, sin becomes a choice, not an ingrained, hardwired part of one's DNA.  But does it prevent sinning? HA!

Time has to go by (again, God's time) as the "old man" (represented by Moses and his generation) is replaced by the "new man" (represented by Joshua and his single-minded pursuit of God's mission).  Only once the "new man" is completely in charge is the Christian able to enter the Promised Land.  Neat, huh?

But along the way, we hit the golden calf.  And that is something I've always struggled to figure out until lately.  First, let's look at what is driving the Hebrews at this point, and see how they are things the proto-Christian also faces. One, they are driven by their needs and wants.  Instead of going to God for their needs, it was constantly, "We have no water! We have no meat! Moses, you suck!"  They were more concerned with the perceived need than trusting in God to deliver, even when God showed them (through the quail that made them sick) that sometimes what we don't get isn't any good for us.  Two, they are driven by impatience.  God takes time to set things up for our lives- and boy, has my life been a continuing example- and they were not inclined to wait.  "Aaron, do something!"  And Aaron, like many pastors today, did something- he began to shape the concept of "God" to the demands of the people instead of remaining faithful to WHAT HE KNEW TO BE TRUE.  Third, they were driven by incomplete knowledge of the situation.  "As for THIS FELLOW MOSES, we don't know what has happened to him" (Exodus 32:1).  It was only through their relationship with their leader that they maintained contact with God, and so if the leader falls, the sheep are scattered.

And so, Aaron, led by a misguided emphasis on what the people wanted, designed what they wanted.  The calf was not a false idol; he designed them to be an "artist's conception " of God.  And it satisfied the demands that people had of God-  it was real and tangible; it fit their limited conceptions; and, as the later revelry proved, it allowed them to do what they wanted.  How like many of man's religions, including the teachings of some "Christians" (examples:  Dove Outreach's insistence on provoking the Muslims, Westboro you-know-who's insistence that God hates people instead of sin, and this new gig about "a loving God would have no need for a Hell".), as well as the atheist mindset that has to have a tangible in front of them, that they can conceive without the dilemma of accepting that some things are beyond their conceptions and always will be, and frees them up to be "free thinkers" who can find random aberrant examples to explain why it is natural to be a homosexual.

But what did Jesus bring us?  First, He brought us something that had to be accepted by faith.  Despite the fact that He showed them all along what the scriptures said must happen, and explained it to them over and over, they were unable to immediately accept the impossible happening right before them.  His resurrection was not a "tangible", not at first.  Second, it was beyond their conception, and like the early Hebrews, remained that way in spite of evidence, until the Spirit came to them at Pentecost.

 Moses, God bless him, was involved in the politics of the day.  Despite his devotion to God, he was dealing with the complaints of the people, the infighting with other "leaders" even the family squabbles with Aaron and Miriam.  It was only under the focused on God leadership of Joshua that they moved forward.  We too, have to accept the "impossible" on faith, wait on God's timing, and unchain our relationship with God from our ability to "conceive" Him, if we want to move forward.

Here's an example of that.  I was tuned into Redeemer radio  (the Catholic station) on Good Friday, when I heard a q-and-a show where a lady described that her nephew and his wife had become evangelicals, and had been talking to the couple's daughter about Christ.  The lady and her husband were a Catholic/evangelical split, but had formed an agreement not to press the issue.  The nephew's evangelism was causing a schism in the family, and she wondered what to do about it.  The host told her it was "unfair" for the nephew to do as he was because Jesus came to bring peace and unite us.  To which I said, "That is a golden calf; it is man's conception of God."  In Luke 12, Jesus says, " Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”  And this is PRECISELY the situation for which He said it.  Too many Christians want that golden calf, letting them be huggy-feely with sin, and not responsible for doing what they know they ought to (like Aaron).  But that was the OTHER thing that Jesus brought with Him out of the grave- the elimination of the ability to say "what do we do now" in the face of your responsiblities.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Updates on Rikuzen Takata, walking with Scrappy, Eurohockey, and general stupidity

The plan here is to start tomorrow on a fresh slate by talking about all that is crossing my mind now.  Let's start with the general stupidity- or should that be Gen. Stupidity, 4 stars.  I am referring to the Dove world outreach boys, "pastors" Terry Jones and Wayne Sapp.  Long story short (er), Jones et al went to Dearborn, MI, to stage a Good Friday protest in front of the city's Islamic center.  The city police hauled him in, citing the potential for violence and lack of a permit.  As peaceful citizens, veteran's groups, and the Mayor begged him to reconsider, Jones faced a judge who was not thrilled with him.  Jones was told he would have to post a $46,000 "peace bond".  Jones deferred and asked for the proper permits (hmm, shoulda thought about that earlier) and was denied.  The judge told him, pay the bond or face trial by jury in the morning.  Apparently having spent all his money on Qurans and lighter fluid, he chose trial.

Then he goes to a local radio station for an interview, and afterwards shot his floorboard by accident and got the police's attention a second time.  Then came the trial today, where officials and community leaders claimed that the planned demonstration would cause severe problems and lead to unneccessary police headaches.  Jones and Sapp, defending themselves as all true whackjobs do,  claimed they would burn no books (I've heard that one before, and people died when it wasn't true), and presented corroborating nutjobs who basically said that the problem isn't Jones, it's the bloodthirsty Muslims who don't apreciate the humor in burning their sacred texts.  The jury just came in as I was typing, and agreed with prosecutors that Jones and co. are not only a nuisance, but a danger.  We're still waiting on the judge to issue his conditions for Jonsey's bond.  Jones claims that if he can't do it today (which looks pretty certain), he'll be back next Friday.

We'll check back here later.  Let's move on to another story, from Rikuzen via the Dialy Yomiyuri:

Battle to protect sole surviving pine tree

Toru Asami / Yomiuri Shimbun Staff Writer

RIKUZEN-TAKATA, Iwate--Local people have embarked on an attempt to protect a 200-year-old pine tree--the only survivor from a Rikuzen-Takata pine forest that was wiped out by the March 11 tsunami--from decay caused by seawater salt.

Takata-Matsubara area--a two-kilometer stretch of seashore with 70,000 red and black pines--is a nationally designated scenic spot. Now the area lies in ruins with debris widely scattered after the pines and sands were swept away by the tsunami.

The 10-meter-tall solitary pine tree that miraculously survived is now drawing attention as a symbol of recovery. "The city will come together to protect this pine tree at all costs," Mayor Futoshi Toba said.

However, a recent survey conducted by the prefectural government found the pine tree is in danger of dying.

Before the disaster, the forest was about 300 meters from the water's edge, but the sea encroached on this area after the tsunami struck the Tohoku coast.

Due to the resulting erosion, the pine tree now stands at about five meters from the water's edge, and this puts the tree in danger of being killed by salt in groundwater, sources said.

Although the prefectural government scraped out the sand around the tree and built a makeshift barricade with scrap wood as an emergency measure, there are still fears that waves will wash over it all.

Meanwhile, the prefectural and municipal governments have their hands full with the task of supporting disaster victims and removing debris, so have few resources to devote to the protection of a pine tree.

After learning that the tree is in danger of dying, Takata-Matsubara o Mamoru-kai, an association devoted to protecting the pines of Takata-Matsubara, set about trying to find a solution to the crisis.

The association's vice chairman, Yoshihiro Oyama, 59, and two of its members started investigating the salinity at the root of the tree, and are also considering erecting a two-meter-high protective fence to prevent the tree from exposure to seawater.

The association was established 10 years ago when Seiko Yoshida, a former middle school principal who lived near Takata-Matsubara, invited about 50 local people, including landscape gardening contractors, to the association.

They held study meetings to prevent the pine trees from being infected with pine wilt and protected the trees for free.

Sadly, Yoshida lost his life to the tsunami.

"It's difficult for us to take full-scale measures to protect the tree, but we cannot let the Takata-Matsubara area that we've all protected simply die out completely. I'm sure Mr. Yoshida would agree," Oyama said.

Wow.  Of all the miraculous survival stories, how about being the only tree in a FOREST swept away?  It is seriously hard to comprehend the beauty washed away here.

Next up, a brief word about the protests in Syria that today claimed seventy-five lives.  Why do we not have NATO moving in to do something here?  Not in their area?  Turkey and Greece are neighbors and NATO members.  Not an evil dictator killing the people?  People are still dying, you judge.  Not an enemy of the USA? Please.  Because they have no oil?  Iraq does, where's our share?  How about because the same reason we went after Iraq instead of Iran-  one is a desert, low population, no mountain areas or jungles.  Which means, a battle we COULD win.  Which brings us back to my main point about Libya- this was a chance for Obama to gain popularity by waving the flag- unfortunately, he found out that, like many other important things other than making promises, he wasn't very good at it.  Thus, he passes it off to NATO and hopes for it to go away quietly.

Okay, now we finish off the Eurohockey updates.  In Germany, we left 4th place Eisbaren Berlin with a 1 to 0 lead on Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg, the season champs, in a best of five final.  In game two, goals by Sven Fels and Florian Busch snapped a 3-3 third period tie and Berlin won 5-4.  Game three saw Derrick Walser hit a shorthanded goal and Constantine Braun snap a 4-4 tie with 3:22 left to overcome 2 John Laliberte scores and give Berlin the 5-4 win and sweep over Wolfsburg.

Eisbaren Berlin was founded in 1954 and won 15 East German championships.  Moving to the German Bundesliga and its DEL successor after reunification, the club has 5 DEL titles, tied for most with Adler Mannheim.  They play at 02 World (cap. 14,200), where locals sing the EB fight song, Hey, wir wollen die Eisbaren Berlin ( roughly "Yeah we wanna see the polar bears").

Berlin, at 3.4 million, is the largest city we've featured, and 8th largest metro area in Europe.  Needless to say, we all have a pretty good idea of Berlin's history from its division in 1945 to its reunification some 46 years later.  It first came to light as a twin city of Berlin (founded 1244) and Colln (founded 1237, which Berliners call the official founding).  The two towns united in 1307.  It became the seat of the Margraves of Brandenburg (and later the Electors) in the 1400s, and in the Thirty Years War lost half its population.  In 1640 an edict of religious tolerance was enacted that led many of the Salzburghers we mentioned last week there, as well as French Hugenots in the early 1700s.  In 1701 it became the capital of the new Kingdom of Prussia.  It was occupied by Napoleon in 1809 (the last time a Frenchman with a gun got that far), and in 1999 officially resumed its place as the capital of united Germany.  Still heavilly populated by non- natives, Berlin is 25-30% non German, the largest part of these being Turks.  It also has the odious distinction of being the most heavily atheist city in Europe.  Somewhere, I thinkl there's a moral to that story.

In Finland, the finals revolved around 3 players for HIFK.  Robert Nyholm scored crucial goals in the first three games, after netting just 5 on the season.  Juha-Pekka Haataja had 2 goals, including an empty netter, in both game 2 and 3, after 16 on the season.  And Ville Peltonnen, the team's leader with 28 goals on the regular season, gave HIFK the lead in game one and had a hat trick in game four.  All of which led to a 3-2, 5-1, 5-3, and 4-2 series sweep and the S-M Liiga championship.  This championship is curiously called the Kanada Maljia ("Canada Cup") since it was donated by Finnish expats in Canada.

                                                                There it is!

HIFK is one of the teams in Helsinki, bitter rivals with the other, Jokerit.  The club was founded in 1897, their first hockey match in 1928, and the hockey team founded in 1945.  They play in the 8,200 seat Helsinki Ice Hall, and hold 7 titles from when Finnish hockey was basically amateur, and 4 now in the S-M Liiga which was started in 1975.  The 1998 team, considered the best in Finnish history, included 14 NHLers Christian Ruutu among them as well as at least four current NHLers.

Helsinki, at the far south of Finland, was founded by Swedish King Gustav I Vasa in 1550 to be a competitor for the Hanseatic city (and current Estonian capital) of Tallinn (then called Reval).  But Gustav soon acquired Reval, and Helsinki, well, hellsanki until Russia annexed Finand in 1809.  What there was of the town was near wiped out by plague in 1710.  A city built on bays, penninsulas and islands, Helsinki has a population of not quite 589,000.

UPDATE:  Jones and Sapp were ordered to pay $1.00 bail.  They refused, and were led to jail amidst catcalls and supporter's boos.  As the Detroit Free Press reporter said, what a day.

Finally, here are some pictures of Scrappy's first trip to Johnny Appleseed yesterday.

Here's the re-filled swamp on California rd. That tiny white dot in the center was a white duck that I tried to catch.

KC called while we were walking, and Scrappy took advantage by plunging into every muddy puddle along the way.

                                                That's the path under Coliseum Blvd.

                                                             Underneath the bridge...

                                                         General Beagle and his tank.

                                                      Seriously fast-moving water.

Among the things you don't know about when you just go to Appleseed for the festival- ther's a overlook for the spillway.

                                                   A boat ramp!!??!! Aces!!!

Step into my time machine week fifty-two: One Year Done

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they crucified my Lord?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they crucified my Lord?

Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they nailed Him to the tree?

Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?
Oh! Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble.
Were you there when they laid Him in the tomb?

Hello and welcome to what is not only the one year anniversary episode of time machine, but a Good Friday edition.  This is quite possibly the second or third Good Friday I've had off work in 20 years so I wanted to do something special.  I thought about a GF top ten, but could only find three hymns that say Good Friday to me- and I'll be sharing the other two with you as we go on.
Good Friday was always a church day when I was young- mass at noon, somber music like Were You There, incense, the Stations Of the Cross, the rosary.There was one celebration called Veneration of the Host, which I don't know if some of my catholic fellows out there remember, that was mystical and, to the emerging Christian that I was at the time, a tad on the idolatrous side.  My extremes have modified with age, though; and while I'm dubious of the ceremony myself, like much else of the "tradition" side of the Catholic Church I feel whatever grows your faith is okay.
Anyhow, I've got a BIIIG show lined up here, not only including the Martin Hall Of  Fame, but a Heavenly top ten to go with today's theme. Plus all the usual antics, the invention of the Musitron, the metamorphosis of Brother Love, and a HUGE pot of debuts.  Oh, and if I'd had the fortitude, it could've been much bigger.  I was going to find out just how many songs had been mentioned in 51 weeks and two specials of TM, along with the top ten most mentioned song.  After a 3 1/2 hour attempt that had only gotten me to week twenty-eight and listed 1,453 songs (with Love Will Keep Us Together leading the pack with 15 mentions)- and facing a 52 song per week average, figuring a MINIMUM of 33 songs each following week, and trying to sort through going into a sixth page of three column, 32-per-columns of chicken scratch- I gave up.  So I came up with all this other delightful stuff instead.  So let's get on with it! SHEESH!!
We kick off with the first three of our heavenly top ten.
10. I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For- U2.  From The Joshua Tree, a semi-gospel album for the band that many Christians into pop music have appropriated for one of their own, this song basically puts into words Bono's search for a spiritual fulfillment.
You broke the bonds
And you loosed the chains
Carried the cross
Of my shame
Oh my shame
You know I believe it
But I still haven't found what I'm looking for

9. Do Right- Paul Davis.  A nice linking of love with faith.

8. Superstar-Murray Head and the Trinidad Singers. This is High concept from Andrew Lloyd Webber, why DIDN'T Christ come in our day? No phones, no radio or tv, having to get the message out on foot.  Of course, that's the earthly perspective.

We had 12 debuts this week on the hot 100, and here are 8 of 'em! At 99, the Manhattans with Kiss And Say Goodbye; at 93, BTO with Looking Out For #1; at 92, the Michael McDonald era on the Doobie Brothers begins with Takin' It To The Streets; at 91, Heart breaks into the national scene with a song that's still my fave of theirs, Crazy On You; at 84 yet another tv theme, this one from Laverne and Shirley- Making Our Dreams Come True by Cyndi Grecco; at 72, the follow up to Money Honey by the Bay City Rollers, called Rock'N'Roll Love Letter; at 71, the follow up to top dog Lonely Night/Angel Face, the Captain And Tennille's cover of Shop Around; and finally, at 69, the Stones with Fool To Cry.  Our big dropper this week is Carole King's Only Love Is Real, falling 17 notches to 59 this week.  The big jumper, another of our tv themes this week, is in the top 40.

Now onto our look at the top lps of the 70's, where we find ourselves in May of 1975.  And the three weeks starting on the 17th were topped by Earth Wind And Fire's That's The Way Of  The World.  The soundtrack to a movie starring Harvey Keitel caught between the band he's trying to promote (EWF, playing as "The Group") and the one the company's trying to push (and he thinks is just another cookie cutter act), "The Pages", this was considered EWF's finest effort.  Besides the #1 Shining Star and the #12 title track, it had 2 #1 disco hits- Africano and Happy Feeling.
They were blasted out of the way by Elton John with the autobiographical Captain Fantastic And The Brown Dirt Cowboy (which were him and longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin).  On July 7th, this became the first album to DEBUT at #1 on the Billboard top 200, and it stayed until the week of July 12th- a six week run.  The only single actually from the album was the top dog (#4 on BB) Someone Saved My Life Tonight; however, the non-album singles Philadelphia Freedom and Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds and Pinball Wizard from Tommy were added as bonus tracks on subsequent CD issues.
After this came Wings with Venus And Mars.  This was their first effort as a 5-piece outfit, and contained top dog Listen To What The Man Says, the #12 Venus And Mars/ Rock Show, and Letting go, which peaked at 39 on BB and 41 on Cashbox.  The b-side of Venus And Mars was, for you comic groupies like me out there, the song Magneto And The Titanium Man, which I'm going to have to give a listen to someday.  They hold the top spot the week of July 19th.

Keep in mind

that Jesus Christ has died for us
and is risen from the dead.
He is our saving Lord,
He is joy for all ages.

Our look at the top dogs of other years is in the ones this week.  1991 this week, #1 was Amy Grant ( semi-appropriate for an faith-based week) with Baby Baby.  1981's top this week was Sheena Easton's debut Morning Train, which was called Nine To Five in the UK but changed here to avoid confusion with the Dolly Parton movie theme of the same name and ultimate chart position. In 1971 Three Dog Night was enjoying a six-week run with Joy To The World.  In 1961, Charles Westover and his drummer/co-writer Max Crook (better known as Del Shannon and Maximillian) were at #1 with Runaway, an all time classic featuring the Musitron, which was a heavily adapted clavoline (one of the first keyboard synthesizers, invented in 1947) on the instrumental break.  Max designed and played (and, I guess, named) the musitron. And in 1951, we have a song by Patti Page called Mockin Bird Hill.  This was another one of those combined dealies, with the ever-present-in-the-fifties Les Paul and Mary Ford doing a version as well, putting them over the top though Billboard had Page's version peaking at 2 and the duo's also making top ten.  Billboard had Perry Como's If and How High The Moon (which you long timers know was also Les and Mary) at the top during this time period.

Given the nature of today's remembrance, we have an ironically appropriate (at least in name) list of top 40 debuts this week.  Moving up five is the King's 99th top 40 hit, Hurt.  At 32, up 9, is Billy Ocean's Love Really Hurts Without You, his first of 12 top 40 hits (and his last for 8 years).  And finally, at 30 we have our big jumper- 18 notches from 48- for the Happy Days theme from Pratt and McClain.  This duo was put together by Christian star and then-producer Michael Omartian, who seems to know everybody.  Calling themselves Brother Love, they did commercial jingles until the producers of Happy Days pegged them (thanks Michael) to do their new theme.  Their only other top 100 hit was a cover of Devil With A Blue Dress that went nowhere, and they went on to other things.

7. The Lord's Prayer by Sister Janet Mead. This one I did a feature on when it hit the top 40 a while back.

6. Carry On Wayward Son- Kansas. Penned by the ever-searching Kerry Livgren, encouraging himself in the path that would on day see him become a Christian.

5. Hold On -Kansas. This song was the fruit of his labors; a plea to his wife to share his faith.
Outside the door He is waiting
waiting for you
sooner or later you know,
He's got to come through...

4. Spirit In The Sky- Norman Greenbaum. Suspect theology, great tune.

Two come into our countdown this week, two fall out.  Our droppers are the aforementioned Lonely Night/ Angel Face, from 4 to 11, and dream Weaver, from 8 to 12.  Also want to give a shout out (that I was going to do last week and forgot whilst typing madly away) to two of my all timers climbing up the chart.  Shannon has moved up 7 to land at 14 this week; Strange Magic does likewise to 18.

O Sacred Head, surrounded

by crown of piercing thorn!
O bleeding Head, so wounded,
reviled and put to scorn!
Our sins have marred the glory
of Thy most Holy Face,
yet angel hosts adore Thee
and tremble as they gaze

I see Thy strength and vigor
all fading in the strife,
and death with cruel rigor,
bereaving Thee of life;
O agony and dying!
O love to sinners free!
Jesus, all grace supplying,
O turn Thy face on me.

3.Property Of Jesus-Bob Dylan.  From the Album Shot Of Love, which was full of cool Christian based tunes (especially Heart Of Mine and Every Grain Of Sand), this was the most appropriate to the list.

I'm the property of Jesus,
I'm in Him to the bone;
You've got something better-
 You've got a heart of stone.

2. My Sweet Lord-George Harrison.  I know, I know, what about all the hare Krishna stuff?  I just "alleluia" over it.

1. Jesus Is Just All Right- the Doobie BrothersJesus, He's my friend/ Jesus, He's my friend/ He took me by the hand/ led me far from this land/ Jesus, He's my friend..

Our top ten (finally!) leads off with the Elvin Bishop Band moving up 4 to 10 with Fooled Around And Fell In Love.  At #9, up one, are the Commodores with Sweet Love.  John Sebastian makes the top ten, up 3 to #8, with Welcome Back.  Peter Frampton and a crowd of thousands moves up two to 7 with Show Me The Way.  And Queen edges up one to 6 with Bohemian Rhapsody.

And now, the third and final- for now- class of the Martin Hall of Fame!
From cat one:with 14 top 40s and a #1, Eric Burdon and the Animals.  With 18 top 40s and a #1, Fleetwood Mac.  With 58 top 40s and4 #1s, everyone's favorite duck, Elton John.

And with 10 top 40s and 3 #1s, an act actually nominated by Laurie that I decided to change one of my own picks to- the Monkees.  (See, I do listen to your requests.  You shoulda tried me!)

From cat 2: with 14 top 40s and 4 #1s, John Denver.  And with 14 top 40s and 2 top dogs, BJ Thomas.

From cat 3: with 13 top 40s and 1 #1, Carole King. And with 20 top 40s and 3 #1s, the Carpenters.

From cats 3, 4, and 5:  With 18 top 40s and 3 #1s, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. With 10 top 40s and a lot of Dr. Pepper ads, Kiss. And with 27 top 40s and 3 top dogs, the Everly Brothers.

And now, your nominations.  Lorraine suggests a song wing in the Hall , and wants to open it with Amazing grace.  Given the nature of today's post, my agreement with the basic idea, and the fact that Judy Collins did have a hit with an a capella version, I see no problem here.  It might be a while, though, before I add to this particular subject.  KC strained his brain, God bless him, but could only come up with the Rolling Stones as an appropriate act meeting his standards and mine, and they were already in.  Laurie brought up the ever -present Captain and Tennile and Bread, both of which I will defer to a later time; and Jimmy Dean, whom I think is a great nominee for the Not necessarily R'n'R room. So with 7 top 40's (17 country) and 1 #1 (2 country), I give you the 34th member of the Martin Hall Of Fame, the late Jimmy Dean.  Congrats to everyone! And now, as they say, on with the countdown.

Dr. Hook moves up one, but loses the bullet, with Only Sixteen at #5.  Last week's top dog, Johnny Taylor's Disco Lady, slips three to #4.  At 3, up 2, are the Sylvers with B-b-b-boogie Fever.  The Bellamy Brothers settle for the runner up spot, up one, with Let Your Love Flow.  All of which means that our new number one is...

Maxine Nightingale with Right Back To Where We Started From!!!

All righty then kids, we have one year of time machine in the books.  It's a melancholy triumph for me; it almost seems the songs are slipping away faster this time than they did back them.  The difference being, that in an odd way, I realize the "loss" now. The lost time- not wasted per se, just gone beyond retrieval.  The innocent days, the long warm summers.  Billy Joel says, "the good old days weren't always good, and tomorrow's not as bad as it seems", and in my head I know he's right.  But Time Machine began because there is a part of me that will never accept that, will never accept growing up- or growing old. (God, don't I wish that part was my back, feet, or knees, or eyes!)  A part of me will always be in the lawn chair after cutting the grass, waiting for the storm to roll in.  Part of me will always be in my room next to my first clock-radio.  And that part will always have the radio on.  Have a blessed Good Friday, my friends.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Peek! It's me

I was offline last night (for the most part) due to a package I got in the mail.  Y'see, I mentioned once before I've had a jones to get back into my long neglected beer cap collection.  I started this about the same time Time Machine kicked off (1975, not last year) when I started wanting to get into the beer can collecting thing without the competition- a niche to myself, IOW.  Simple enough to strat as we were always down at the Zulu Tavern and Cliff Coulardot and Bill Riley ( God rest both those beautiful men) would save the week's caps for me to go through.  It was shortly thereafter that I learned the seats of my dad's '37 Chevy were a repository for old beer caps- all of them with the cork insides.  Later I found out behind our shed a 24 oz Falstaff bottle with a tall twist cap that had the Georgia state seal for taxes paid on it.  This openned the world of state seal caps; and about this time in 1976 I went with my brother's family to Florida and virtually doubled my collection by the power of Florida and Georgia state seals.  Over the years I looked forward to spring so I could comb the roadsides and parking lots.  My nephew helped out (not by my request) by openning bottles IN THE STORE. ("you have this one?"  "No..."  PSSSSSHH....)

Time went on and I began wasting my time with girls (for all the good it did me), and for decades the collection has drifted through the 225-280 range without my concentrated attention.  Still, they were the top of my prized possessions all those years, and if I found something I would grab it- not always ever getting around to doing something with it.  A few weeks ago, though, they began to sing softly to me once again, and were encouraged when Laurie's brother and brother in law decided to experiment with one of those beers-of-the-world six packs from which I claimed the caps.  I had also recently found a couple interesting specimens nearby, and it got me looking.  Laurie, as fortune would have it, had just openned an e-bay account, and I discovered a handfull of people actually selling lots of 20, 50, even 500 mixed caps.  Temptation winning out, I spent around 8 bucks on a lot of 100, figuring I wouldn't get much out of it after weeding out 35-40 common caps.

Seventy-eight new caps went into the collection last night- expanding the collection by 26%!  Foreign jobbies (with a tip of the hat to Laurie for helping figure out what several of them were), microbreweries and crafters, and quite a few new variations on old themes.  My favorites were not the more exotic, but the more common.  A Budweiser twist cap like a million others, but missing the A with the eagle inside;  a Miller MGD that had the © on the Miller and the MGD, where the one I already had had nothing on the Miller and aTM on the MGD.  A Yeungling, which I hadn't thought about since the old can collecting days.

There are still a handfull I cannot ID and add to the collection.  A blue cap with a big red ! in the middle, no writing;  a silver shark silhouette on a pink field (which I suspect might not be beer, and thus disqualified; and a set of three with green spiral leading into a tiny red center, with somewhat odd sayings in the inside" Keep the flowers, send me Growlers"; "Peel off your skin to see we're all kin"; Land (sic) your ear to someone who's dear").  Some other highlights include an outfit called Smuttynose brewery, whose cap has a seal looking at you with a mountain at its back, and the caption "Make mine a Smutty".

Some dude from Germany has a site where he shows his collection of 68,000 + !!!! I'm going to see if he can help with some of my new oddballs.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Updating the Eurohockey update

It takes a while, but always updates the game reports in English.  So those mysteriously untranslatable penalties were:  throwing the puck ("emitting the washer"), tripping ("footstep"), and holding ("delay of the hands").
 They also had a highlight video of the game.  As the trophy is the Gagarin cup (after Yuri Gagarin) and the home fans in Ufa didn't want the series going back to Mystichi, the signs around the arena said, "Gagarin has landed, 4-16-11, Ufa."  Now that's clever.  The Marek goal was a 5-on-3 (they won't take more than two guys off the ice) and they just ran out of guys to cover Marek out front on the tying goal.  Kutekin's goal was just a shot from the blue line, straight out front- not even a "blistering slap shot"- that Barulin was screened from by about a million people.  Svitov's 3-1 score came on a pass behind the net that took one hop off the boards and went right to Saprykin in the corner, who fed it to Svitov all alone in front, and it was in the net almost simultaneously with the goalie's realization that Svitov had it.  Just like on the first goal, Atlant's coach shook his head at his team's inability to cover out front.  Glukhov's goal that made it 3-2 was neat-  with a man on his back, he faced the goalie from the goal's left.  The netminder was braced, thinking he had the angles covered, and never moved.  There was one angle he didn't have covered- a very small one just over his right shoulder- and that's where Glukhov put it. 
Apparently a lot of celebrities were there, including SKA management and the man that is expected to be their next head coach, former NHLer Craig MacTavish.

(Luke 19:40)

Hosana! Happy Palm Sunday, everyone!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Eurohockey update

We are almost to the end, with the KHL championship being won just as I sat down to write, and Only Germany and Finland still playing.  In Germany's DEL, we left Berlin's Ice Bears facing the Metro Stars of Dusseldorf for the right to face Grizzly Adams Wolfsburg for the German championship.  Berlin won those games 4-3 and 3-1, and then went on to win the opener of the finals 4-2 as Andre Rankel wove a pair of goals in between three roughing penalties.

HIFK has taken the first 2 games from the Blues of Espoo in the S-M Liiga finals.  In game one, Robert Nyholm got the winner at 12:35 of the third in a 3-2 victory.  He also scored the second goal in a 5-1 win in game 2; Ville Peltonnen and Juha-Pekka Haataja hit empty-netters with 1:26 and 0:06 left to make it look worse than it was.

In leagues where the regular season champs win the finals, we go first to Switzerland, where HK Davos had been leading 3 to 2 over Kloten when last we met.  Kloten forced a game 7 after a 4-3 in which Mark Bell tallied 2 goals and Michael Liniger scored 15 minutes into OT for the win.  But Davos won the title, their 30th, when Peter Guggisberg netted 2  in a 3-2 victory.

In the Czech Extraliga, It was Ocelari Trinec winning the cup. Leading the finals against their fellow Steelers of Vitkovice when we left them 2 to 0, they let Vitkovice score first in game three; but them goalie Peter Frolik stopped the next 30 shots, and Trinec rolled to a 4-1 win.  Vitkovice needed a win in game 4 to stay alive, and had a 3-2 lead in the second period.  But Trinec stormed back and Vitkovice had to get a goal from Lukas Klimek with 3:05 left to go to OT.  They ended up going to a shootout, where Vitkovice's Ondrej Sedivy got the only score and Vitkovice won 5-4.  The fifth game, though, was all Trinec.  The champs outshot the losers 41-23 and David Kveton and Jan Peterek each had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 victory.  Trinec wins their first Czech  (or Czechoslovak) title.

In Norway, Sparta Sarpsborg finished off Stavenger 3-0 in game 5 to take the GET-Ligaen title 4 games to 1 behind Phil Osaer's 27 saves. Stavenger gets to be bridesmaid for a second straight year, as Sarpsborg wins their first title.

Now we go to the new winners- those who were not the season winners.  We start out in Austria, where we left KAC and Red Bull Salzburg tied at 2 games apiece.  Mike Siklenka scored at 7 minutes into OT in game 5 to give KAC a 3-2 win and a 3-2 lead in the series.  A wild game in Salzburg saw the teams score 5 goals in the 4 minutes between the 6 and 10 minute marks of the first period, Red Bull getting three of them, but then the game settled down.  Thomas Koch, the Salzburg captain and third-leading scorer in the league at 28-43-71, netted the back-breaker at the 19 minute mark of the second, and RBS wins 5-2 to send the series back to Klagenfurt.  The game was a 1-1 tie until late, when Steven Reiger scored for Red Bull about halfway through the third.  But with 2 minutes left, Tyler Schofield tied the game and sent them into OT for all the marbles.  Once again it was Koch, scoring on a rebound 3 minutes into OT and Red Bull Salzburg had won their second straight Erste Bank Liga title, and 4th in 5 years.

RBS was founded in 1977, but has won all its championships in the last 5 years.  Their home ice is Eisarena Salzburg, cap. 3,200.

Salzburg, on the Bavarian border, was a Roman city called Juvavum but had fallen into ruin when St. Ruppert picked it to be his base of evangelism in 700.  Naming it after the salt barges going up and down the river, in the late 1500's it became an independent Archbishopric.  In 1731, the reigning bishop expelled most of the city's protestant population, which ended up scattered across Europe.  Some of them ended up in the new English colony of Georgia by 1734, and founded a town called Ebenezer.  During the Napoleonic era, the city was secularized, and changed hands, along with Berchtesgarden, from Austria to Bavaria, and then finally back to Austria sans Berchtesgarden in the Vienna settlement in 1815.  During the Nazi regime it was home to a Roma (Gypsy) concentration camp.  It became the home of Austria's American zone of occupation after GI's occupied the city on May 5, 1945.  The Old Town section has been designated a World Heritage Area, and it has a sister city in Atlanta.  Among its notable natives were the Von Trapp family of sound Of Music fame, and of course Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

In Sweden, we have two of the teams that ended up in the 3-way tie for first- the technical winner, HPK, got swept in the first round.  The remainders were Farjestad and Skelleftea, and we left off with Skelleftea up 3 games to 1.  Farjestad got back in it with a 5-3 win in game 5; Anders Bastiansen had 2 first period goals and the winners picked up 2 power play goals in the second to make it 4-0.  But Jimmie Ericsson's goal 24 seconds into the third pulled the score to 4-3, before Marius Hollet scored the backbreaker at 13:49.  The next game was dominated by Farjestad, outshooting Skelleftea 41-27, but it took a goal by Mikael Johansson 33 seconds into OT to give them a 2-1 win and a 3-3 series tie.  Game seven was all Farjestad; they outshot fading Skelleftea 34-16 en route to a 4-1 win and the Elitserien title.

Farjestad plays in the city of Karlstad, in the Loftsburg Ice arena (cap. 8,600).  This is their ninth title, and 4th since 2002.  Founded in 1932, they were the original (and last) home of NHL great Haaken Loob, who holds the team season record with 42 goals.

Karlstad, the "city of Charles", was founded by King Charles the IX in 1584 in an area known to have had pre-Viking settlement.  It was the site where the negotiations securing Norway's Independence from Sweden was negotiated in 1905. Population 58,000 plus, it was also the home of Ulf Sterner, the first Swede to play in the NHL (4 games in 1964-5 for the New York Rangers). It is located in south-central Sweden at the north end of Lake Vanern.

In Denmark, Herning trailed Frederikshaven in the fifth game until Tobias Salmelainen tied it with 5:46 left; then it was league leading scorer, American Bryan Marshall, with his second goal of the game at 6:45 of OT to give Blue Fox Herning a 4-3 win and the AL-Bank Ligaen title.
Herning is the 14 time Danish champs, founded in 1947.  They play at KVIK Ice Arena.  The last seven Danish titles have been split between them and regular season winner SonderjyskE, four of those to Herning.

Herning, population 45,000, is approximately dead center of Jutland.  In 1840 it was a tiny hamlet in the moors boasting 21 residents.  But when Schleswig and Holstein were stolen from  Denmark by Prussia in 1864, Denmark decided that they would increase their land area by increasing their usable land.  They drained the moors, planted trees, and doubled their useful land in about 20 years.  Herning, in the heart of the new heathland, was a major beneficiary of this work, as their growth shows.

Finally we go to the KHL championship,m where we left Salayat Yulaev leading Atlant 1 to 0.  Game 2 was a 3-1 win for Salavat, with Igor Grigorenko netting 2 goals just 27 seconds apart in a 3-goal third period.  Salavat then pushed Atlant to the brink of elimination with a 3-2 victory in which team captain and leading scorer Patrick Thoresson hitting the winner at 12:45 of the third.  Atlant hadn';t quite given up yet, though; Konstantin Barulin stopped all 30 Salavat shots in game 4, and Jan Marek had a goal and an assist, as Atlant wins 4-0.  This morning the final game was played, with Andrei Taratukhin putting SY up 1-0 after 1.  It stayed that way into the third, when three Salavat penalties in a 59 second span (and I tried to figure out what they were, but Cyrillic to English translation came up with "emitting the washer", "a footstep", and "delay of the hands") led to a PP goal by Jan Marek.  But that would be all for Atlant until they were 3-1 down and 4 minutes left.  Andrei Kutekin and Alexander Svitov got the other SY goals as they hang on to win 3-2 and take the Gagarin cup.

Salavat Yulaev Ufa had one Russian Super League title to go with this one, along with 5 in the next league down.  Founded in 1957, they play in the Ufa Arena, cap. 8,400.

Ufa is a city of over a million that sets near the illusory boundary between Europe and Asia, about 975 miles by rail from Moscow.  Founded in 1574 as a fortress by Ivan the IV, it was granted town status in 1583.  But it was under the Soviets, who discovered nearby oil, that Ufa blossomed.  From a population of 92,000 after the revolution, it doubled in less than 20 years, doubled again in 20 more, and again by 1989.

Next week, we "finish" off with the Finnish and German champions.  Go Wolfsburg!!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Bob wants pictures...

So here we go on a blustery early afternoon journey into the woods.

Patiently waiting.
 Putting the leash on.
Ready to go!!

Getting there was a windy, cold experience as I had opted against a coat and forgot my hat.  But it became nicer in the woods, where the first little flowers are in bloom.

We decided to follow the main deer trail deeper into the woods.  About 3/4s of the way to where you hit the old stream bed, Scrappy got a scent of something, but with his sense of direction was trying to go in about 15 different directions before we saw what he smelled- four of our deer, running away to the north end and the thickets at that end of Stony Run Creek.  Did you get pictures, Chris?  Of course not, because a) it all happened too fast, b) Scrappy was trying to figure out how to get where they were, c) the zoom on our camera might just as well be labelled "unfocus", and d) it's been a while since I played with it, and as is typical, I was trying to take pictures with the on/off button.

Here we have a sign that was formerly at the edge of the meadow.  Neighborhood rampscallions pulled it out last summer, and it now is at the west side of the woods.

Now this sign- IPFW Property, no hunting- is legitimately posted, though why you would post it 10 yards deep off any human trail is beyond me.

I often wonder if "E.W. and B.R." are still together.  The "+ me" underneath it makes me doubtful.

Scrappy the mighty hunter.

So then we headed down to The Spot, which wasn't easy because a) mighty hunter was in duck under brush and shoot through bramble mode, and b) I was one ridge off on my right turn.

Of course, Scrappy likes The Spot because he likes to play in his drink.

I just wonder if anyone in the overlooking senior appartments know what neat spots they have right under their noses.

After leaving The Spot, Scrappy headed us toward the creek, to the spot where we ford in the summer.  Just down the ways from the bridge...

The bridge is that little white line just left of center.

After that, we went down to the ravine.  As I think I said yesterday, the formerly dry stream beds are not so dry anymore...

As Jerry Lee Froggy says, whole lotta croakin' goin on!

And just for those that don't think we are talented enough to take a picture without a third party...

And that's the woods and those in it, early spring 2011.