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


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Omnibus end of June rants

Good evening, everyone; sit down and get ready for a long one.  I have several things to get off my hairless chest tonight, and this first one I'm hopimg for Pat Miller to read and give an opinion on, so I'll go there first as he is a busy man and will be able to read this part and not have to scroll around wondering why I asked him here.

Our Constitutional government is unarguably the best form of government when run by honorable men.  Also beyond argument is the fact that a huge proportion of those currently in charge are not exactly honorable.  Thus, I  have been considering our checks and balances system.  I want you to think about all the things currently stalemated in our government- and the things that are not.  It would almost seem, in a nation that has split into a two-party system, that the tendancy of a checks and balances framework would logically be stalemate.  Perhaps not at every moment in time, but on balance.  Today Mr. Miller was referencing all the different ways the Obama administration is circumventing the other two branches- and in this is included appointing of "czars" to avoid Congressional vetting of department heads- as the Constitution provides for by hearings on cabinet appointments.  In this is included underpublicized executive orders; and in this is included telling his Justice Dpt. not to prosecute laws he doesn't like but hasn't the votes nor the cajones to repeal.

But you know, he's not alone.  How about legislators who, finding themselves in the minority, skip the jurisdiction in order to keep the legislature from doing anything.  How about Legislatures that modify laws to ensure themselves majorities (such as eliminating voter ID requirements so that illegal aliens and dead people can vote in elections, and can vote multiple times).  How about "activist judges" who are determined to stretch, perforate, ignore, and create new "laws" in order to rule in favor of their political view (like the one who said that saying "amen" at a graduation was against free speech rights).  Now you might notice that the majority of all these examples can be laid at the feet of the Democrat party.  Not suprising; honor in the left end of the American political spectrum died with Jack Kennedy.  But over time, the right is learning the easy lesson of how to play the game too.  Because it's either that or surrender to stalemate.

If you think about it, how many of the great things that America has done are the result of a president acting in defiance of, or at least contrary to the wishes of, congress?  The freeing of slaves, the fighting for the freedom to choose in Vietnam, Nicaragua, Grenada, and Korea, reaching the moon, and so many more were done by Presidents with the courage to buck the system.  Name one great thing that America has done that Congress led us into.  While you scratch your heads for an answer on that, let me get to my point.

If we believe that we can still find enough honrable men to fill the voids thereof in the three branches of government, then what we have is fine.  If not, then let's look at a couple of choices. #1: based on past history, put the power into the executive.  Make Congress an advisory body, but draw a line of executive power that says this far and no farther.  After all, we don't need a Hugo Chavez.  #2: do like the Europeans do.  Put the power in Congress who chooses a Prime Minister to form a government.  Have an elected President whose basic job is to salute at funerals and call for new elections when he feels the current legislature and/or PM is out of touch with the nation's desires.  Both would basically do away with stale mate, the first because it's hard for one man to stalemate himself, and the second because at any one time, the majority of oars would be paddling the same direction.  As Americans, we would probably choose to keep the one we have- where honorable men move the country through RESPECTED checks and balances.  Right now, those checks and balances are not respected by a wide swath.  Those men are not always honorable.  So I ask you- is our current government just going through a hard time- or in this world's new morality, is it an ideal that just doesn't work anymore?

Okay Pat, you are excused.

The next thing I want to speak about is a study on 1090 Christian radio by Dr. James MacArthur a night or so ago.  Let me preface this by saying that his main point- that a Christian needs to be in an earthly church (ie a congregation)- I have no problem with.  Really.  But here are some things I did have a problem with:

1.  Dr. MacArthur began the lesson by stating how All the significant moments of his life came in church.  His father was a pastor.  He learned about God, gave his life to Christ, made all his lifelong friends, met his future wife, raised his children, all in his local church.  Thus, he went on, he could not conceive of how someone could not see the church in the same way he did.  Emphasising, "can not conceive".

2. I believe this created for him a "blind spot" that showed itself in the way he then described people who, though Christian, were not in a church.  The first was giving the impression that such people had not been baptized, did not receive the Lord's Supper.  I agree that it is essential (though not  "salvation depends on it" essential) to be baptized, and to take the Lord's Supper as often as your conscience dictates.  His implication that anyone not in a church for whatever reason has NEVER been baptized nor partaken was a bit of a stretch.

3. He went on to attack church hopping, and again in a general, "everybody who does this" way.  He may not have intended it to sound that way, but it did.  God allowed the establishment of different churches for a reason- different people have different needs.  Some people have to search to find the church that is the "fit" for them.  God has you look around, see the different facets, before He sets your roots down.  And sometimes a person changes, for whatever reasons.  I don't believe God wants you to stagnate.

4.He also pointed out, incredibly to me, that part of the problem is that the Evangelical movement focuses on the "personal relationship" of the believer with Christ.  Thus, the community of believers gets second billing.  Hello, which is more important- being in a church or being right with Christ?  I agree that- in most cases- the two go hand in hand.  But not always...

5. At the end, his host asked if their own ministry isn't a problem, a substitute for the church.  Of course he said no, and he is right- used properly, his program is nothing but a study aid.  But it carrys with it the temptation to use it as a sermon substitute- no matter his own intentions.

My thoughts afterwards were, I think Dr, MacArthur could use with a Perspective shift.  You cannot conceive of why someone wouldn't be a member of a church?  Perhaps he should try.  Some people are in the midst of a crisis, or at least personal debate, of faith.  I fall in that category.  I'm at peace with it, though, because when I brought it up in prayer one day, I felt the answer, not from me, " Jesus spent time in Samaria, too."  Get it- no synagogues in Samaria.  Sometimes the Lord's path is a solitary one.  Some people are physically or emotionally unable to attend with a group.  Some have been hurt deeply by "people" in a church, and have trust issues.  And a lot of these people have a peace with Christ about it.  Am I off base here/ Or do we need to move away from a black and white, zero tolerance approach to believers who are non- attenders?  I'd like to here from you all on this subject.

Finally a word about work, that place where we were told today that lollipops were no longer allowed on the work floor because they were a safety hazard. (Stay tuned for the second graders we must be hiring soon- they'll start as soon as they replace all our scissors with rounded end ones.)  Last year around this time, I was begging you all to stop buying our cushions, so we could get off the 70-hour weeks.  Well, a year later, you FINALLY decided to listen.  We're not even going to have a 40-hour week this week.  So let me phrase this concisely- Buy cushions!  In moderation, but don't be afraid.  You know you need them, that chaise lounge is beat to shit, admit it!  You don't have to get a cushion for every square inch of your home, like last year, just enough for those four chairs on the patio with the faded, lumpy cushions.  G'wan!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday thoughts- Psalm 119

I just finished up a long, casual reading of Psalm 119 this morning.  For those of you (like me) that don't have every chapter memorized, this is the "acrostic" psalm- an 8 verse section for each letter of the Hebrew alphabet.  And as I finished, I thought about how many good lessons I could write up from this piece- the central prayer of each stanza, God's reply to each, how to do each concept the right way- it could stretch out to be one of those classic seven week lessons that my son is always telling me he gets nothing out of (he gets more from "one and dones"- and frankly so do I).  So rather than doing this the way suggested by the spelling mistake I just caught and "pslam" you with its entirity, I thought, "You know, I'm not trying to be a Sunday School teacher here.  Just boil down what I learned."  But when you learn a lot, it's not easy to boil down.  However the whole thing does deal with a fairly basic concept- the walk in faith.

The Psalmist begins with the concept of staying in the Word.  Not just the reading of it- though that is central- but also a) considering it- mulling over what is said in your own mind, meshing it with other precepts as well as with your day to day life; b) meditating on it- not just debating it, but breaking it down in to useful facets, in prayer; c) understanding it- which involves the concept of taking each part to God that He might "open your eyes" to it; and d) practicing it in daily life- not just once a day but each moment.  One of the verses says "Seven times a day" the psalmist comes to God to worship and to learn (You'll have to excuse the lack of annotation, I left my Bible upstairs, and I am trying to be general here).

He builds on this with the concept of constant communication with God: whether in rejoicing at His mercy, or in need when he needs refreshing, or for help when it seems everything around him- his friends, his government, his own family- are lying and corrupt and seeking to pull him off the path.  In all things, for the psalmist, all roads lead back to God.

He then goes on to the concept of his own sins and shortcomings- with the same brush that he paints a picture of himself completely following God, he also pictures that he is human, "dust", and flawed.  He expresses his shame at these faults, and calls on God's mercy for his salvation, his only leg to stand on being that he still comes to God for the aid.  He realizes that all these good things he does amount to nothing without the mercy of God.

And he finally ties it all back to the beginning- that simply walking with God and actively learning the steps he must take (emphasis on the "actively") - these things will lead to God's blessings on him.

Like I said, there are a million other things that can and should be gleaned from all this.  A good pastor could take each letter and draw up an outline for a hour sermon from each stanza, or you could do it on your own, as I try to.  But Moses summed the whole thing up quite well in Deut. 6:4:

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.[a] 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Or to put it another way, faith is a muscle.  And Psalm 119 is an excellent exercise program.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Step into my time machine week sixty-one

It's June 24th, 1976- a warm, humid, rainy day.  Welcome to Time Machine, where we delve into the days when music was good, look at a couple of "birthdays", and connect Dorothy Moore with... well, with a lot of things.

Starting off with the hot 100 debuts this week.  There were ten of them, and they featured: at 99, Silver, featuring our old friend John Batdorf of Batdorf and Rodney, with Wham-Bam-Shang-A-Lang; The "Elvis of England", Cliff Richard( who had on his UK resume 68 top 40 singles, 41 top tens, and nine #1s, while in the US he had just 2 top 40s- 1959s Living Doll (30) and 1963s It's All In The Game (25)), with his at-long-last breakthrough hit, Devil Woman at 88; at 78, the recently mentioned Let 'Em In by McCartney and Wings; and at 77, one of my favorite Chicago tunes, Another Rainy Day In New York City- appropriate then, appropriate now.

Our look at the #1s of other years this date is next, and we're back to the zeros.  In 1990, it was New Kids On The Block (groan) with Step By Step.  I hear that title and think of a much better song done by the late Eddie Rabbitt in the eighties. In 1980, top dog was the endlessly annoying Funky Town by Lipps, Inc., which was actually a set of session musicians brought together by disco songwriter Steve Greenberg. 1970- 41 years ago today- The Beatles spent their last week at #1 with The Long And Winding Road.  In 1960, Connie Francis topped the charts with Everybody's Somebody's Fool- a b-side that beat out the a-side (Jealous Of You, which hit #19) and not just in the USA.  In addition to crossing over to the Country and Western chart (24) and the R&B chart (2), it hit 5 in the UK, 1 in Australia, New Zealand, and Norway, and 25 in Germany, where the German-language version she recorded was the top song of the year.  She also got the 15th best song of the year in South Africa.  Not bad for a b-side, eh?  (refer to lesson #1- most A&R men were idiots.)  And wrapping up in 1950, where we have a repeat customer- not surprising as it held the top spot for 11 weeks that summer- bar musician Anton Karras and the theme to the movie The Third Man.

Our big mover this week was Neil Diamond with a song I didn't recognize (although the tonal quality was very Love On The Rocks-ish), If You Know What I Mean, which rose 22 notches to land at 43.  The big dropper was likewise a song that we hadn't mentioned before- a tasty cut by the Isley Brothers called Who Loves You Better.  You should check out Ernie Isley's guitar work on this, it stands up well against Who's That Lady.  This song unfortunately peaked last week at 62, and plummets 25 this week to 87.

This week, I thought I'd do shoutouts to the songs that hit birthdays this week.  Chubby Checkers' Let's Twist Again turns 50 this week; Marvin Gaye's haunting Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology) turns 40.  Other shoutouts this week- Boogie Fever ascends the grandpa chair at 22 weeks on the chart.  Almost But Not Quiters include Today Is The Day by America (today is the day it peaks at #25) and Heart's Crazy On You, which got undeserved short shrift with 2 weeks at 40, and slips now to 41. The acoustic guitar lick by Nancy Wilson was reminiscent of (and inspired by) the one on the Moody Blues hit Question.

Our top album this week- 13 weeks after it hit the top the first time- is Frampton Comes Alive!

Now, our where are they now segment, which falls on the still-climbing Save Your Kisses For Me, a Tony-Orlando-and-Dawn-ish pop tune by the Brotherhood Of Man.  This band, basically a long-lasting set of session musicians- was the brainchild of manager/songwriter Tony Hiller, whose first BOM attempt was headed by singer Tony Burrows.  As longtimers here might recall, Tony was a very busy man- he hit #5 as lead singer of the impromptu band Edison Lighthouse with Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes); #13 as the lead singer for his main band, White Plains, with My Baby Loves Lovin'; #9 as half of the novelty duo the Pipkins with Gimme Dat Thing; and #4 as the singer for the artificial band the First Class with Beach Baby.  He would hit #13 again with BOM on their first big hit, United We Stand.  That incarnation of the BOM would dissolve, only to be resurrected by Hiller and new singer Martin Lee to do songs such as Save Your Kisses For Me (one of those songs you'll recognize once you hear it).  Lee courted and married bandmate Sandra Stevens in 1979, and they remain together to this day.  The band broke up in the mid eighties, but reformed to do a show called The Seventies Story, where they cover a lot of the eras classic hits, including ones that you'd never think of such a vocal group doing, like Foreigner's Juke Box Hero.  They remain together, doing Nostalgia shows, and have become popular in the LGBT community, where United We Stand has become somewhat of an anthem.

Hitting the top 40 this week are 4 new tunes.  Climbing 8 to #40 is Keith Carradine with  a favorite of mine, the one hit wonder I'm  Easy.  Aerosmith joins the forty at 36, up 9, with the third of their 21 top 40s, Last Child.  Funk masters Parliament climbs 10 to #39 with  Tear The Roof Off The Sucker, a song better known by its chorus, Give Up The Funk. And another one-hit-wonder at 35, up 6, former where are they now feature Vicki Sue Robinson with Turn The Beat Around.

Only one newbie in the top ten this week.  Making room for them is last weeks #7 Sara Smile, down to 12.

Claiming that top ten spot is Starbuck, climbing three to 10 with Moonlight Feels Right.  Moving up one notch to 9 is Eric Carmen and Never Gonna Fall In Love Again.  Dropping four spots to #8 is Diana Ross and the former top dog Love Hangover.  The Manhattans move up 2 with Kiss And Say Goodbye at #7. Holding at 6 are (as we used to call them) the Captain and Toenail with Shop Around.  Last week's top dog Silver Convention slips into oblivion, dropping to #5 with Get Up And Boogie.  And the Andrea True Connection noses up a notch to #4 with More More More.

Since last weeks feature-ee is still holding the top spot  sans la balle, we have to slip down to the second highest song without the bullet- and that is Dorothy Moore and Misty Blue.  Dorothy's story spun a web that gave me several interesting links, though I couldn't comfortably get any of them to six degrees.  But here goes, anyway:

#1: Dorothy recorded Misty Blue at Malaco Records, an indy who generally shopped good songs to the major labels.  King Curtis' Groove Me and Jean Knight's Mr. Big Stuff are examples.  But no one would take Misty Blue, so the company ( which was wiped out by the tornadoes of April 15th this year) put every dime it had left into putting it out itself.  The rest is history (and another referral to lesson #1), and the song came in second in the R&B Female Performance to Aretha Franklin's take on Bridge Over Troubled Waters.  Aretha recorded her version live at Filmore West in San Fran, and they made her put in songs like Bridge and Love The One You're With to appeal to what was expected to be "a hippie audience".

#2 Misty Blue was a country song written by Bob Montgomery, who was high school best friends with Buddy Holly, and performed with him as "Bob and Buddy" until Buddy was discovered by Marty Robbins' agent at a show headlined by Bill Haley and his Comets.

#3 This song has been recorded, by Montgomery's estimate, some 200 times, and hit the Country top 10 twice in 1967- once by Wilma Burgess, who took it when Brenda Lee turned it down (#4), and once by Eddie Arnold (#3, and #57 on the pop chart).  Joe Simon was the first to turn it R&B in 1972, though not very successfully (47 R&B, 62 Cashbox).  After Dorothy's version went big, Billie Jo Spears had a hit on country with it as well (#5).

#4 Dorothy's next hit was Funny How Time Slips Away, an old country tune by Willie Nelson that had also been covered a million times, including by Eddie Arnold who seems to have been a real crowd follower.  Her third was the first without a country pedigree, I Believe You.  (The Carpenters did a cover of this on Passage, but the single flopped.) This song was written by Don and Dick Addrisi, who were famous for the Association's big hit Never My Love- a hit so big and so covered that  in late 1999 the Publishing Rights Organization Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) announced it was the second most-played song on radio and television of the 20th century, trailing only You've Lost That Loving Feeling and just ahead of Yesterday.

 And there you have it- Dorothy to Malaco to Tornadoes; Dorothy to Aretha to hippies; Dorothy to Bob Montgomery to Buddy Holly to Marty Robbins' agent; or Dorothy to the Addrisi Brothers to BMI's top songs of the 20th century.

And with that taken care of, we are down to the top two songs this week.  Holding on to #2 for a second consecutive week are Wings with Silly Love Songs; and our new top dog- on the heels of a seven notch leap to the top...

Bill, Taffy, John, and Margot- the Starland Vocal Band, with Afternoon Delight!!!!

That wraps another TM for this week, kids.  See ya next time!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Scams, scams, scams.

These things seem to go in cycles.  I won't get any for a while, then I'll spend a week getting 1 or two a day.

This week I started out with an old favorite- a acronym-filled accusation of my links with terrorism brought to us by the "FBI Foreign Remittance/ Telegraphic Dept.", which I'd already lampooned a few months back.  ATTENTION: NIGERIA- send me NEW stuff!  Do you realize how bored my readers would get if I made fun of the same e-mail over and over again?  To see the original post, click here.

Then, I get one which was somewhat different- it claimed to be from "the republic of India".  It was referencing an account (in another name, but they tracked it down to me) at the greater Iowa Credit union at 600 E 30th, Des Moines- or as they put it, the "GREEATER IOWA CREDIT UNION, LEDD E, 30TH DES MOINES, IOWA".  Scammers, I cannot stress this enough- USE SPELL CHECK!!!  Of course, it will do you little good if you can't distinguish between 3 numbers and 4 letters, but sometimes you MIGHT have to use your brain. (At least for something other than, "Here's today's e-mail addresses, send out, oh... e-mail #35, okay?")

Now the next one gets an A-.  It claimed that someone had tried to access my Citibank account (which I don't have) with my card ending in "7208" (also, corresponding to nothing I own) saying I needed to re-send them my personal data or they'd close the account that doesn't exist.  All very well done, all very professional looking- but since I don't have to put a finger in one ear and say," Gee, Do I have a Citibank account", I realized it was a scam.  Knee jerk reaction bid me reply with a smart ass comment, but common sense told me that would be damn near as stupid.  However, when the reply screen came up, I noticed the header on top-


Cyrillic? As in, sent from the Citibank branch in Moscow, perhaps?  So now even the Molina thinks I'm an easy mark. To you, gentlemen, I have this message: немая задница!!! 

And for those of you that can't translate, here's what the message says:

And just to speak on the subject while I'm on it, why is it that the Democrats in congress are SOOOOO afraid of whacking trillions in waste out of the budget without raising taxes?  If you really need money for worthwhile projects, you'll have some with the budget cuts.  If you think you have to have more money in order to NOT spend it, then you, too, are the victim of a SCAM!!! And this one doesn't come from Nigeria or Russia or India- it comes from 522 Hart Senate OFC. Bldg., 235 Cannon House Ofc. Bldg., and 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., all in Washington, DC.  To report this scam, contact your senator or rep, and ask them- are you against raising taxes, or am I on to YOU?

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Talk to your back about timing...

...but before I explain why, be sure to pop on over to Chris' Cap Collection (see the click through on the right) to check out what I got for father's Day.  CCC has fun stories about not only the collection, but how I got them and the cap's own story if sufficiently interesting.  More than just a dry hobby board- but not too much more.

Our main story begins Monday afternoon when I got in the car to come home from work.  My lower back was stiff all of the sudden and started hurting.  I was hoping that a night's rest would help it, but no such luck.  Tuesday morning, I was hoping a day's rest would fix me up, and took a day off.  Still bad this morning, so today I called in, explaining I would go to the doctor.

So I call my doctor, and the phone nurse said since it happened at work (even though I explained I didn't rightly know WHAT caused it) that I'd have to go to Occupational Health on East State.  But... Uh.. okay, thanks a lot, I says, and go back to bed for a little bit.  I look up the address for OHC and the address that came up was not only wrong (because OHC had moved down the street and was replaced a PT and health branch (all of these under the Parkview aegis, including my doctor), but listed with an Angola zip code, so when you searched the address, google maps couldn't find it.

After arriving at- and getting directions from- the health place, I arrive at OHC only to find out that they wouldn't see me because I hadn't filled out an accident report (Hello, I was in the car going home when I felt it!!!!) so Arden wouldn't authorize.  So I stepped outside and called our HR person, who said a) no AR, no authorization, and b) no return to work slip, no work.  Now mind you, she wasn't being rude with me, she was just caught in the "rules" like me.  So I called my doctor back, and the phone nurse said that workman's comp rules wouldn't let them see me because I was honest enough to say it MIGHT have happened at work.
Let this be a lesson to all of you- honesty is the best policy except when you deal with insurance.  Thanks tons, Barack! 

So I called HR woman back, because, phone nurse suggested faxing an accident report to OHC for me to fill out.  And HR woman said that probably wouldn't fly, and would take a while to prove that because the Company Veep was there and they'd be screwing around in yet another round of unending meetings today.  I suggested just coming back in tomorrow and saying the hell with it, but she said now that I'd opened Pandora's honesty box, I was back to step b) above.

That meant, REDI-MED.

So, calling Laurie- who had conveniently for me gotten sick this morning- to confirm where the nearby Redi-med was, I arrived.  By this time, Mr. back was really complaining, because sitting up (like I'm doing as I tell you this story, so you better appreciate it) made things worse.  Pseudo-doc at RM looked me over and gave me off till Monday along with Naprosyn and a muscle relaxer.  So I hit a Walgreens along the way.  The girl that took my scripts asked all the usual questions- including my birthdate- and told me  fifteen to twenty minutes.  Five minutes later, she called me back to drop off to "verify" my birthdate.  Ten minutes later- or, as soon as they could build up a line at the checkout- they called me up to get my drugs.  First thing checkout girl asks is, "I need to verify your birthday, because the pharmacist never wrote it down."  WTF?

Finally, I decided that after all this, I'd get a jump on the "take one at bedtime" muscle pill.  And just as it was about to knock me out, Scrappy decides to apparently walk in his sleep and pees on me.

Lesson here- Talk to your back.  Tell it, the time to let you know when you've hurt it is WHEN you've hurt it.  Either that or keep a fax machine and a collection of accident reports in your car. Or, just lie when asked where it happened.  Not something I'd recommend, but it sure beats driving all around town, making it worse the whole time, just so everyone can be sure I won't take the money I don't have and sue the company for a workman's comp claim I had no intention to file in the first stupid place.

Rikuzen Takata update #6

Here are some notes from the town we've been following since what is being called the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011.

A recent law passed by the embattled government of Prime Minister Kan allows the government to lease commercial space for free to hard hit businesses trying to recover.  The caveat is that each municipality is supposed to find the vacant parcels eligible, and many of them do not have the wherewithal for the search.  In Rikuzen, applicants were told that the government would lease for free, but the business owners would have to find the lots, since they were having enough problems finding unowned land on which to build the hundreds of temp houses needed.  They added an additional caveat of each lot must be shared by two businesses.  As of last month, 21 applicants had found lots, while others were growing frustrated, wondering how to do a search job the government was incapable of.

That same government just defeated another no confidence vote three weeks ago.  Discontent over the lack of action and Kan's unfulfilled promises is growing.

Black tailed gulls have begun to make their nests in the still-piled debris, afraid of their old seaside nesting areas.  Many residents are looking at this as a sign of encouragement- the birds keep on going, so must we.

Rikuzen is on of six towns in the area unable to provide school lunches.  27 more out of 69 in the area are only providing bread and milk, and malnutrition is becoming a growing concern.

In nearby and hard hit Sendai, the Tohoku Rakuten major league baseball team, which delayed its opener by two weeks due to stadium damage, will bring a ray of hope to their city with one of the JPB's three all-star games coming to Sendai on July 24th.

Design exec Kazuyoshi Kurosawa and former resident based in Germany Koshi Tagaki are volunteering time to comfort the survivors of the disaster by doing oil paintings of lost family members from photographs given them by the victim's relatives.  The portraits seem to be taking a little of the sting of the loss from some of the mourners.

Finally, 100 graft sprigs were taken from the roots of that lone surviving tree in the nearby forest and grafted to rootstocks by the Forest Service's Tohoku Regional Breeding Office in Takizawamura, some 60 mi. NW.  Four of these sprigs are now thriving, and once they are stronger and the area is safe, all but one of them will be returned to their original home to begin the rebuilding of the forest.  The time of season was against all but the four hardy survivors, but due to the danger from erosion and salt water their progenitor was in, the botanists felt they had to move fast before the lone tree died and its dna was lost forever.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Midsummer rants

Before I start my ranting, I have another bit of sad Time Machine news:  Carl Gardner, lead singer of MHOF band the Coasters, died last Sunday at the age of 83 from a variety of illnesses including congestive heart failure.  His son, Carl Jr., has been in his spot since Carl Sr. retired in 2005.

On to the rant.  It's graduation season, and that means it's time for dozens of stories about graduating students claiming "irreparable harm" if they hear God mentioned in a valedictory speech.  Dozens of stories about overzealous administrators cracking down on even the simple bowing of heads.  And more stories about the ACLU singing, "justice is served" every time they abridge the civil rights of people who just want to put credit where credit is due- to the Glory of God.

The latest came this morning on Foxnews- and I'm not going to print it, and you'll see why in a minute.  A valedictorian wrote a speech in which he spoke eloquently about the one thing that transformed his life, the one moment that set him on the path to becoming the man he is on the way to becoming.  I think that anyone- atheist, Christian, Wiccan, or total loon- ought to have the right to express that. And I think a valedictorian has earned the right to do it at his graduation, the biggest day of his life thus far.  But because this young man was a Christian, his principal had to think about the possibility of poor atheist kids running through the crowd with their ears bleeding, judges and lawyers clamping down lawsuits upon the school system for the unspeakable crime of letting someone speak his heart, and the ACLU going on the Today Show to expose the horrible oppression of a minority by a school system that let a student say that totally obscene phrase, "Amen."  So, the principal called him into the office and told him he'd have to delete about half of his speech to avoid trouble.

So, he gave his word.  Because the Bible tells us to respect authority.  Not twist it, lie about it, or throw another lawyer onto the fire.

And when his speech came, he could hear parents and students calling on him to give the full speech.  Stand up for Freedom of Speech, as GUARANTEED in the constitution- or at least, as it is SUPPOSED to be guaranteed in the constitution.  But what did this boy do?

He kept his word.  He gave the censored speech.  He showed more honor than most people on either side of the debate do.  And in honor of his wishes, that's all the details that I am giving.

However, and I've said this a million times before- if I were in high school, I would not attend the graduation ceremony.  If the government and the ACLU are in such a desperate panic to keep the name of God out of school, fine.  While you sit and wonder why it is that we are fighting over the declining quality of schools all the time anymore, I will invite as many as possible to a private graduation ceremony, in a willing church, where we can celebrate the Great God who led us to this wonderful moment.  Some of you will say, "but that's just giving up.  We need to fight the fight, be an example by not giving up."  Maybe so.  And I will continue to pray for those who do fight the good fight.  They are young, and believe that the world can be changed and made better.  I am old, and very skeptical of a world that is desperate to crawl into the fire like a mythical salamander.  For me, it is more important to see God praised and worshipped as is His due than to fight an acrimonious battle with every Michael Nedow that crawls out from under his anti-religious rock just to be a pain in the ass and give Satan the glory.  The only glory Satan deserves is my empty seat.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Step into my time machine week sixty

Boy, do we have a lot to get through this week on Time Machine!  A new #1, Johnny Horton and his premonition come true, two of the greatest bands of all time entering the top 40, George Clinton and some famous covers, and in an idea brought to us by Bob G.,  we play the six degrees of separation game, and link Paul McCartney to Jesus- no doubt to John Lennon's chagrin.  But before we get started...

Pray, if you would, for the Big Man, Clarence Clemons.  The long time sax man for Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band, Clarence went down with a massive stroke earlier this week.  While early reports were not optimistic, as of this composition he was reportedly doing better.  Mind you that better in this case is highly relative- he's stable and responding to the presence of friends and relatives.  But they are saying that even that progress is "miraculous".  And yet, many of us watched the "miraculous progress" of Capt. Phil Harris on Deadliest Catch last season.  Clarence isn't out of the woods yet- and the forest is deep and dark.  So please keep him in your prayers.  I have to add to this story, though, Clarence's version of the first meeting of him and the Boss:

One night we were playing in Asbury Park. I'd heard The Bruce Springsteen Band was nearby at a club called The Student Prince and on a break between sets I walked over there. On-stage, Bruce used to tell different versions of this story but I'm a Baptist, remember, so this is the truth. A rainy, windy night it was, and when I opened the door the whole thing flew off its hinges and blew away down the street. The band were on-stage, but staring at me framed in the doorway. And maybe that did make Bruce a little nervous because I just said, "I want to play with your band," and he said, "Sure, you do anything you want." The first song we did was an early version of "Spirit In The Night". Bruce and I looked at each other and didn't say anything, we just knew. We knew we were the missing links in each other's lives. He was what I'd been searching for. In one way he was just a scrawny little kid. But he was a visionary. He wanted to follow his dream. So from then on I was part of history.

Moving on, this is the way my six degrees game will work.  I decided that the starting point will have to do with the highest ranking song to "lose the bullet", which will normally be high in the top ten.  And that's where it will be this week.

Eleven songs hit the hot 100 this week; we will focus on three of those. Entering at 93 is the man from Michigan, Bob Seger, with one of my all time faves of his- Nutbush City Limits.  At 84 is the second single from Frampton Comes Alive! (and my apologies for forgetting to put in the ! in earlier mentions), Baby I Love Your Way (and can we have Will To Power banned for screwing up the verses in their cover?). And finally , coming in at 82 is Dr. Hook with what probably should be the theme to viagra or cialis commercials, A Little Bit More.  The big dropper this week is former top dog Disco Lady, slipping 22 spots to 61.  The big riser is George Benson and This Masquerade, from 84 to 67, up 17.

Last week I started the Where Are They Now segment, and sitting in the finder's chair (#49) this week is Parliament with Tear The Roof Off The Sucker.  When you say Parliament, of course, you say George Clinton, the founding father of the funk genre.  George started out with a doo-wop group called the Parliaments, though legal hassles over the name turned this same group into Funkadelic, and that nearly same ensemble was also Parliament once George won the right to the name back.  This p-funk empire expanded continually, taking up splinter personalities such as the P-Funk All Stars and bassist Bootsie Collins' side project, Bootsie's Rubber Band.  Such an amorphous grouping can't last forever, and in the early 80's both Parliament and Funkadelic ceased to exist as touring bands.  George continued as a solo act, with the All-Stars, and in various other side projects.  In 2008 he released a solo project called George Clinton and His Gangsters of Love, which was an lp of classic covers with some help from his friends:  Sly Stone and El DeBarge on Ain't That Peculiar, the Red Hot Chili Peppers on a raucous version of Let The Good Times Roll, and Carlos Santana and his powerful guitar on Gypsy Woman.  George will be turning 70 in a couple of weeks, and shows no signs of letting up.

Three songs enter the top 40 this time out.  Coming in at 35, up 11, are the Beatles, 6 years after their demise, with Got To Get You Into My Life.  This song, originally recorded on Revolver in 1966, was their 49th of 52 top 40 hits, the first of 4 post breakup tunes.  Whether it would become their 23rd #1 is yet to be seen.  Queen comes in at 31, up 14, with You're My Best Friend, the third of their 12 top 40s.  And the high debut are the Beach Boys with the 29th of their 36 top 40s, Rock'N'Roll Music.  Also up for debate now is whether this will add to the 3 #1s they already own.

An almost but not quite shoutout this week to Rhythm Heritage, Their version of Barretta's Theme peaks this week at 16.

We are in the nines this week on our look at the tops of other years.  1999 and 1989 have that dreaded thing in common- I don't know them!  1999 had J-Lo's If You Had My Love at #1 this week; 1989 chimes in with Richard Marx and Satisfied.  This week in 1979 was the heart of the disco era, and Donna Summer's Hot Stuff was the top dog.  In 1969, we have one of those 22 #1s for the Beatles- and the only one they ever shared a credit on- Get Back, featuring Billy Preston.  1959 saw us in the midst of the 9-week run of Johnny Horton's The Battle Of New Orleans.  In November of the next year, Horton had a near-overwhelming premonition that he would die at the hands of a drunk.  He desperately tried to beg out of a gig, and once he arrived in town he stayed away from the hotel bar, safe in his room.  He sped to get out of town afterwards, but on a narrow bridge he met up with -you guessed it, a drunk driver in a pickup truck.  Horton could only watch as the 19 year old driver slammed one side of the concrete and then the other before smashing into his own vehicle.  Horton was dead at the scene- just as he foresaw.

Three songs come in the top ten this week, three drop out.  Falling are Welcome Back, from 5 to 11; Fool To Cry, from 9 to 19; and Happy Days, from 10 to 21.

Eric Carmen enters the top ten solo for the second time with Never Gonna Fall In Love Again, moving from 12 to 10.  The Manhattans make a six-notch jump from 15 to 9 with Kiss And Say Goodbye.  The third debut climbs 5 from 13 to 8- Afternoon Delight by the Starland Vocal Band.  Sara Smile slips a notch from 6 to 7 for Hall and Oates.  The Captain and Tenille are at 6, up one, with Shop Around.The Andrea True Connection rises 3 to #5 with More More More.  Last week's top dog, Diana Ross' Love Hangover, plummets to #4.  Dorothy Moore moves up one to #3 with Misty Blue.

That brings us to our highest song sans bullet, Wings and the former top dog Silly Love Songs, reversing course and climbing back into the runner up spot from #3 last time.  We take leader Paul McCartney, and link him to bandmate Denny Laine.  Laine was a founding member of the Moody Blues, singing lead on their first hit, Go Now.  Laine's first professional gig, though, was in a band called Denny Laine and the Diplomats, along with future ELO drummer Bev Bevan.  Bevan, in turn links to Black Sabbath, as he was the touring drummer on the post-Dio Born Again tour.  In the studio, though, that post was filled by original (and newly sober) drummer Bill Ward.  From here, we can go either of 2 ways, or both.  Ward got his start in a band called Mythology, whose lead singer was Mike Gillan.  The new lead singer for Sabbath on Born Again was (the apparently unrelated ) Ian Gillan, who sang the part of Jesus in the original production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar. And there we are: McCartney, Laine, Bevan, Black Sabbath, Ian Gillan, Jesus.

And that leaves us with our new top dog- one certain to get the attention of our German friends.  At #1 this week, up one big notch...

Silver Convention with Get Up And Boogie!!!

Well, I kinda liked how the six degrees game turned out.  What do you think?  Leave a comment- it's cheaper than a self-addressed stamped envelope!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Memmmmm-riiiiies.... of baseball

This morning as I watched the baseball report, I heard it said of the Indians June swoon that since they hit their high-water mark a few weeks back, they've been shut out more than they've won. I could hear my pessimistic Tribe-fan son KC saying, "see, I knew it would happen."  But I can remember another classic collapse by a team that wasn't supposed to be there.

The year was 1977.  The team was the lovable Cubs.  They had taken first in the old NL East on the 28th of May, and by June 27th had pushed that lead to 8 1/2 games.  But reality began to set in on the 29th, when they began a slide that ended July 5th after losing 7 of 8.  Included in this was a 19-3 loss to the Montreal Expos in which starter Ray Burris went just 1/3 of an inning and Ellis Valentine hit 2 HRs- one of them off infielder Larry Biitner in the 9th.

They continued to cling to a lead of anywhere from 2 1/2 to 4 games until a four game set in Philadelphia.  The opener was a twi-night double-header on July 15th in which the Cubs lost the opener to cut their lead to 2 1/2 yet again, and Greg Luzinski of the Phillies hit a game tying two-run shot.  I got to listen to game two on my transistor radio from the hospital- I'd gotten my appendix out that afternoon.  You could feel the panic in the faltering Cubs.   In the sixth inning though, you felt the air go out for good when Luzinski hit the facing of the second deck off of Paul Reuschel to put the Phils up 3-1.  That game went on to become a 9-2 loss, and the home team took three of four.  Still, the Cubs continued to win just when they needed to, including a game I well remember, a 16-15 war with the Reds.  But a loss to struggling San Diego put them under water at last, and the Phillies finished them off for all practical intents with a 4-game Wrigley Field sweep that included 2 more Luzinski HRs and a collective score of 34-14.

In the meantime, "my division"- the AL West- was in the midst of the most savage battle in modern history.  The Minnesota Twins had assumed the early lead on April 30th, but never could shake the Chicago White Sox, with a biggest lead of 3 1/2 games.  The southsiders got hot in late June, and took first themselves on July 2nd, building a 5 1/2 game lead, giving Chicagoans dreams of an intra-city World Series.  But that high water point marked the start of a ten-loss-in-14-games slump.  They were still in first place, though, when the Week That Was began.

On Sunday, Aug. 12th, the Sox lost to Texas 12-9.  That put the Rangers in third, a game back of the Sox, while Minnesota held second despite a 6-5 loss to the Tigers.  Fellow contender Kansas City also lost, to expansion Toronto 6-3 to remain 1 1/2 back.  The next day, the Sox began a 2-game set with the Yankees with a 6-2 loss, which gave the Twins an opportunity.  They took it, hammering the Orioles 13-9 to retake first place by 1/2 game. First baseman Craig Kusick was the star of the show, hitting a three run HR of starter Rudy May to chase him in the fifth; he capped a 5-run 6th with another off Mike Flanagan.  Losses by Texas and Kansas City put them 1 1/2 and 2 games back, respectively.

The Twins continued to lead Tuesday despite a 6-5 loss to the O's as all the contenders lost except Texas, who routed Milwaukee 11-3.  The Sox lost the second game to the Yankees in a heart breaker; after the Yanks got a 4 run 8th to stretch their lead to 9-4, the Sox got 6 in the ninth off Ron Guidry, Sparky Lyle, and Ken Clay to take a 10-9 lead.  But in the bottom of the ninth, reliever Randy Wiles walked Thurman Munson leading off the inning, and one out later, Chris Chambliss hit a walk off 2-run shot to give the Yankees an 11-10 win.

Wednesday, the Twins took their turn at losing to an expansion team, falling to Seattle 3-2, while the Rangers were getting a walk-off RBI single from catcher Jim Sundberg to beat Toronto 6-5 in 10 innings and give the Texicans first place by 1/2 game. The Sox were idle and remained a half-game out, and KC topped the Tribe 5-3 to get back to 1 1/2 out.

Thursday, the White Sox were idle again, and everyone else won.  Texas got a 3 hitter from Dock Ellis in a 8-0 win over the Jays, while Dennis (the menace) Leonard blanked Cleveland 4-0 on a 4 hitter.  So the only change in the standings was that the Sox were now 1 game out.

Things really tightened up on Friday, and the lead changed hands again.  While Texas took its turn at getting hammered by the Yankees (8-1), Wilbur Wood knuckled down the Brewers 3-1- and the Sox were in first by percentage points.  In the meantime, Minnesota was losing to Baltimore 3-2 and KC whupped Boston 9-3, leaving them both a mere 1/2 back.

Saturday gave us the 4th different leader in a mere seven days.  Kansas City, led by the heart of their order,knocked out Luis Tiant after just 2 1/2 innings; after a single by Tom Poquette and a strikeout by Hal McCrae, the Royals got RBI hits by George Brett (single), Al Cowens (triple), and John Mayberry (single).  The Royals won 5-2 while everyone else lost- Texas 6-2 to the Yanks, Chicago 4-2 to Milwaukee, and Minnesota 6-2 to Baltimore.

Kansas City was never headed again on their way to a second straight AL West title and 3-0 pennant series loss to the Yanks.  In fact, while Texas spent the rest of the season going 26-15, the Sox 23-21, and the imploding Twins 15-23, the Royals ran off a 34-9 streak to win going away.  But for one magical week, all the world revolved about these four teams.

And the Cubs? they capped of a string of disappointing 3 game losing streaks with losing their last six to finish at 81-81- not even a winning record.

What does this mean for the 2011 Indians?  I keep telling KC that they are a talented team, if injury bit.  I think they're in it for the long haul.  Not like the poor Cubs, who every time they look good, spend all their time waiting for the other shoe to fall, just like 1977.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Harrison Square, one more time

Having listened to Pat Miller's interview with mayoral candidate Paula Hughes about the big Harrison Square meeting last night, I feel ready to yet again dish out my version of events.  For those of you who have no idea what HS is, let me try to nutshell the whole thing.  Just before he left office, former Ft Wayne mayor Graham Richard swung a deal with the ownership of our single-a baseball team (then called the Wizards, now the Tin Caps) and Barry Real Estate ( which is in a somewhat incestuous relationship with the baseball ownership, which is known as Hardball Capital).  Basically, the city was going to clear room down town for a state of the art stadium, retail shopping, and a condo development.  Thing is, the financial legerdemain involved the condo revenue paying for the stadium and somewhat vice versa.  Long story short, there were three parts to the development, each feeding off the others so that the city could (theoretically) get it all on the cheap.  Problem was, if any one part of the project didn't pull its weight, we the taxpayers would get hung for it.  "This is nothing but a pyramid scheme", I said way back then.  "We are going to get screwed."

Sure enough, the twin disasters of economic collapse and inability to find anybody (outside of Mayor-elect Tom Henry) stupid enough to plunk down $1,000 earnest to get their name on the list.  As the months went by and a big hole in downtown ground remained a hole in the ground, the BIIIG condo plan became a little Condo plan, and then a hybrid-apartment plan, and groundbreaking went from "in the spring" to "next summer" to "early spring of 2011".  Barry missed deadline after deadline, for which they were to be fined under the contract.  Hizzoner failed to inflict such punishment right from the get go, so Barry got free reign to dilly around as we watched them default on other projects around the nation, with Hizzoner singing, "Don't Worry, Be Happy" the whole way.  Last night we were "excited" to learn we had a new "deal" with Barry in which they- in return for the CITY rounding up new investors and THE TAXPAYERS seeing some of their TIF money diverted from more worthy uses- agreed to a start date "sometime in November".

Pat asked Paula what the difference was between this alleged "deal" and the promise last February that they would be ready to start in May.  Paula's answer: "This time we don't believe them."  Sorry, Paula, that ship has sailed.  And the retailers lined up to go into the retail space (if it ever gets built) are at the ticket booth booking passage on the next one, if they're smart.

 So what has been accomplished?  We've gotten a real gem of a stadium (no sarcasm- it's beautiful) paid for by condo and retail rentals (now THERE'S sarcasm).  We've got a leaking hole in the middle of downtown and another one in our TIF account.  And Tom Henry has- bit by bit, little by little, precept upon precept- learned that there is only ONE peak on a pyramid scheme and HE AIN'T IT.  Now, I can understand Hizzoner getting involved with a bunch of crooks like BRE ( use whatever loose definition on crook you want);  What I'd like someone to explain to me is why the heck Graham Richard got involved.  Did he take a few bucks, or did BRE just really see him coming?

God knows I did.  But, of course, the people of Ft Wayne got ZERO SAY in the whole thing.  Don't blame me- I wasn't a citizen at the time, but I SURE woulda voted for Linda Buskirk twice.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Trophee du Beagle.

COVETED Trophee du Beagle.

Paste it on your trophy case and congratulations from
Dick, Scrappy, Myself, and the crack staff

Saturday, June 11, 2011

My new blog

Started a blog for my bottle cap collection.  It will be called Chris's cap collection and will include the history behind my little guys, some funny (at least to me) stories along the way, and news on the continuing additions to the group.  Check it out!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Once upon a time in the forest...

...the animals gathered together in the clearing, just as they did most every night, to tell stories.  Buck Deer told his usual tales of braving the yard at the old folks home for the choicest grazing; Rocky Raccoon told his normal tales of the things he found in the dumpster, during which O. Possum grumbled about not having enough hand-holds to get in a dumpster himself.  Adam West, the bat from the Towne House, told soaring stories of his circular loops around the twilight yards and all the tasty bugs he caught.

Slowly, the young marmot Chuck made his way to the center of the circle.  "Oh, boy," O. Possum grumbled.  "Here comes a delightful story about grubs, like his dad Woody always tells."

Tawny Fox looked him over and said, "Can someone so young have an interesting story?"  Her husband, Red, nodded in agreement.  But Tom Cat spoke up, "like our stories are all that riveting.  Let him speak."

Every one looked to Buck Deer, who nodded his head in ascent.  "Thank you," Chuck began.  "My story is about that Scrappy Beagle..."

Tom Cat laughed.  "Him?" he chortled.  "The dog they say that walks past animals , sniffing for them, without ever looking up?"

Mrs. Deer said, "We're not that sure about those stories.  He is a hound, and they can be ever so treacherous."
"Has he ever spotted you?" Tom asked.
"Only from his bedroom window," one of the deer fawns giggled.

"...Anyway," Chuck continued.  "I was out last night before twilight, along the canal after the soccer games wound down.  I came bounding out of the tall grass when I saw him.  He and his human, the one he drags along with him on that string, were only about ten feet away when I saw him.  I held my breath for a second, and then he saw me."

"He actually looked up and saw you?" Rocky gasped.

"Yes!"  Chuck exclaimed.

"W-w-what happened?" a trembling fawn asked.

"We looked at each other," Chuck replied.  "It seemed like we stood there forever, though it was just a few seconds.  And then..."  The animals gathered closer.  "And then...?" they echoed.

"And then, his human said, 'Get him!!' " Chuck told them.  "I only had one chance, I thought.  there were three den openings on the bank between us, and I had to get to one.  So, I charged full out towards the closest one."

"And then?"

"Scrappy charged right towards me, as if he understood what his human said."

"And then??"

"I could almost feel his breath on me," Chuck said in a wavering voice.  "I didn't think I stood a chance..."


"And then... he turned and stuck his head in the hole closest to him, sniffed around.  By the time he looked up to search for me, I was gone."

The forest erupted with laughter.  "No, no, say it ain't so, " Red Fox roared.

"The... the stories are true!!" Buck Deer said in gasps as he struggled to breathe.  "He's an idiot!!"

Mrs. Deer leaned in close to him and whispered, "I told you, dear."

"Hmph," O. Possum snorted.  "All that noise he makes, and no smarter than that."

"Well, I'm glad of it," Chuck said.  "Otherwise, I'd have been a goner."

Herman Owl sat on a branch high above, awaiting the time for him to hoot down with his wisdom.  "We should all be glad of it, " he said, turning his horned head.  "The forest is much safer with Scrappy beagle in it."

This story is based on an actual incident.  Some names have been changed to protect the innocent because I didn't know them.


In addition to telling you about Scrappy's adventure yesterday, I wanted to brag about how we added 4 new caps to my beer cap collection in a simple walk around the neighborhood this morning.  I found a Miller High Life with the "Miller " smaller than the "High Life"- I had recently found a tall aluminum twist like that, but this was a regular size cap.  Nearby I found a Bud Light Lime.  After that, I found a Miller lite with the legend "Made gold-World Beer Cup" around the rim.  And finally, I managed to pry a George Killian lite from the tar in front of a dumpster.  For those who haven't been down this particular road, four caps in such a short distance in one day is impressive even in the old days.  Thus, I am very excited.  This gets me to 449 different caps of 204 brand variations.  Just for fun, here's what I have the most of:

19. (tie): Colt 45; Coors; Labatt's Blue; Lowenbrau; Olympia- 5 each.
17. (tie): Drewrys; Old Milwaukee; - 6 each.
14. (tie): Coors Light; Hamms; Michelob- 7 each.
11. (tie): Little Kings; Michelob Light; Rolling Rock- 8 each.
8.(tie): Black Label; Busch; Schlitz- 9 each.
7. Falstaff- 10.
5. (tie): Miller Lite; Bud Light- 11 each.
3. (tie): Pabst Blue Ribbon; Strohs- 13 each.
2. Miller High Life- 15.
1. Budweiser- 27.

Okay that's it from the proud poppa of 449 beer caps and one goofy Doofus.

Step into my time machine week fifty-nine

This week on Time Machine- a new feature debuts, who wrote the Hee Haw theme, what on earth is the Wilhelm scream, and who played the sleigh bells on Linda Ronstadt's Hasten Down The Wind album, as well as a new top dog.

First, a bit of sad news.  On the same grim day- last Saturday- that we lost Jim Arness, we also lost singer-songwriter Andrew Gold.  Famous through the use of his Thank You For Being A Friend as the Golden Girls theme, He had first risen to the collective consciousness with the 1977 hit Lonely Boy.  He was an accomplished musician who, in addition to being all the instruments in Art Garfunkel's cover of I Only Have Eyes For You, he was the main force behind Linda Ronstadt's band on her first three really big lps- Heart Like A Wheel, Prisoner In Disguise, and Hasten Down The Wind, playing everything from guitar to drums to- yes, sleigh bells.  Andrew died in his sleep of a probable heart attack at the age of 59.

We open, after last week's 18 debuts, with a measly 7, and the two we all know were instant classics.  Coming in at 93 was Wild Cherry with Play That Funky Music; at 89, the debut of the duo England Dan (Seals) and John Ford Coley with I'd Really Love To See You Tonight.  Our big dropper this week was I.O.U., falling to 47 after peaking last week at 33.  The big climber was darn near a top 40 debut as well;  the Beach Boys come a notch short, leaping 20 to #41 with Rock And Roll Music.  And our grandpa field has narrowed pretty much to two; only Bohemian Rhapsody (25 weeks) and Boogie Fever (20) are in the twenties.

We are going to have another new feature coming up, but first, a bit about how difficult it can be to sustain a feature around here.  Take for example the sporadic nature of the almost but not quite song of the week.  Seeings as this is for a song that's on it's way down, the first thing I do in choosing it is to scan down the list of songs which have "lost the bullet".  Out of 20 such songs in the top 40 this week, 4 of them are in the top ten currently and another ten have been recently, thus disqualifying them.  3 of them have already been featured in one shoutout or another; 3 are actually still climbing, including one of this week's debuts in the top 40.  When you drop into the lower reaches, you hit #66 before you hit one that hasn't fit the above categories- but then you start the new category of "songs nobody's heard of".  And that category eliminates the entire rest of the eligible songs.  Long story in summary, no almost but not quite this week.  Add to that repeat winners on the number one albums list and the grandpa chair, and I have a void with "new special feature" written all over it.

So what I came up with is a "where are they now" feature.  Yeah, I do a lot of that in the normal course, I know.  But to make it random, I decided I'd pick a specific number on the chart to feature- now I had to decide which number.  I first thought about the number 23, for no apparent reason, but because there was no apparent reason I thought I might have trouble remembering the number I picked out (getting old and all that).  So then I considered using the episode of time machine for the week, for example this is week #59.  That would have given me Last Child by Aerosmith and I wasn't happy about starting the feature with Aerosmith.  No disrespect to them intended, but anyone who doesn't know what Steven Tyler is doing these days just isn't paying attention anyway.  So I came up with the brilliant idea of using my age- 49- to pick the spot.

And #49 belongs this week to Vicki Sue Robinson, who moves up 4 with Turn The Beat Around.  Vicki didn't have a lot of success on the charts herself after her big hit, but was successful in a LOT of other musical ventures.  She stayed active as a back up vocalist, notably on Irene Cara's Fame theme in 1980.  She became a big name in commercial jingles, and actually collected the best of them on one of her later albums.  She had a top ten in Australia with a dance version of To Sir With Love, which oddly enough was an instrumental- and while catchy, doesn't begin to sound like the Lulu classic until about a minute and a half into its 5:58.  Later on, she had her own off Broadway show, Vicki Sue Robinson: Behind The Beat, which she started in 1999 and continued as long as her deteriorating health allowed.  She passed from cancer on April 27th, 2000, 35 days shy of being 46.  Cue up The Way We Were and bow your heads.

We also have two debuts into the top 40 this week.  Moving up two to 40 is Heart with the first of what would be 20 top forty trips with Crazy On You.  My second favorite Heart song, my favorite is the b-side of this disc- and I'm going to keep you in suspense because that song would soon become their third single! Up seven is the sixth of 8 songs into the top 40 for (Jim) Seals and Crofts (Innit funny, one brother has his chart debut, the other debuts in the top 40 the same week?), as Get Closer climbs to 35.

This week we're in the 8s in our look at #1s of other years on this week.  In 1998, by which time music was largely dead, Brandy and Monica- two girls who forgot to sew their last names into their underwear, I guess- had the top dog with The Boy Is Mine.  1988 had George Michael at the top with One More Try.  Number one this week in 1978- and for several weeks thereafter- was Andy Gibb with Shadow Dancing, a feat which made him the first solo act in chart history to score #1s with his first three singles. Simon and Garfunkel were the top dogs in 1968 with the classic Mrs. Robinson.  And #1 in 1958 was Shelby "Sheb" Wooley with The Purple People Eater.  Sheb was already an accomplished actor, with parts in westerns such as High Noon and series such as Rawhide.  He would later invent the character of Ben Colder (for another novelty hit called Don't Go Near The Eskimos) and play a recurring role on Hee Haw, for which he wrote the theme.  He also became famous for a stock sound effect called "the Wilhelm scream" which has been used as the sound of someone getting shot and/or killed in movies and shows since 1951, including Star Wars IV and all the Indiana Jones flicks.  Says his widow: "He always used to joke about how he was so great about screaming and dying in films."

One song joins the top ten, one drops out.  This week's victim is Shannon, though it falls only to eleven (which was why I discarded the briefly though of idea of making the where are they now spot #11).

The top ten leads off with Pratt and McLain slipping 4 spots to #10 with Happy Days.  The Stones move up one spot to nine with Fool To Cry.  Coming into the top ten at #8 after a four notch climb is the Andrea True Connection with More More More.  The Captain and Tennille move up 2 to #7 with Shop Around.  Hall and Oates (our third duo in the top ten!) also climb two with Sara Smile  at #6.  John Sebastian and Welcome Back drop one more spot to #5.  Dorothy Moore climbs that spot to #4 with Misty Blue.  Wings, who would pack 67,000 into the Kingdome in Seattle for a show this night in 1976, slip to #3, out of the top dog chair, with Silly Love Songs.  Silver Convention climbs a spot to the runner-up spot with Get Up And Boogie.  And that means our new top dog is......

...Diana Ross with Love Hangover!!!

Bringing it in for a rainy landing, kids.  Hey, if anyone out there has an idea for a new feature, drop by the comments section and my crack staff will give it a look.  See you next week!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The best news of the entire baseball season



Finally! At long last, the worst manager of the Oakland Athletics in my lifetime has been terminated, sacked, stick a fork in him!!!

Let's go to the news room for more details.

What would it take for Billy Beane to fire Bob Geren?

Well, now we know.
It took last place. It took nine straight losses. It took players, past and former, complaining publicly. It took, according to Beane, a constant focus on the manager's job status.

The A's general manager fired his close friend Thursday morning, relieving Geren of his duties and replacing him with Bob Melvin. Melvin, the former Mariner and Diamondbacks manager who had just rejoined Arizona as a special assistant, will serve as the interim manager for the rest of this season, beginning with Thursday night's game in Chicago.

"This was an opportune time for a change," Beane said on a Thursday afternoon conference call.

Bill, any moment of the last two seasons would have been opportune.  The word you're looking for is OVERDUE.

The move will stun some people who thought Beane would never fire Geren, who was the best man at his wedding. Others assumed that Beane would wait until the end of the season, if he fired Geren at all.

But the A's, who expected to contend behind a pitching staff that is one of baseball's best, have turned into a disaster that has only gotten worse. By last week, there were rumblings in the organization that Beane could be ready to make a change.

Players questioned Geren's communication skills, and rival scouts and executives derided him as the worst manager in the game.

See? It wasn't just the fans...

"They'll never win as long as he's there," one scout with Oakland ties told me last month, after the firestorm that began when Brian Fuentes and Huston Street ripped Geren in print.

People close to the team said that Geren had lost the trust of his veteran players.

"He could have said the house is on fire, and guys would have stayed, because they wouldn't have believed him," one A's person said.

Thursday, former A's catcher Rob Bowen ripped Geren on Twitter, writing: "Finally the A's have realized Geren has destroyed a dozen pitcher's careers and doesn't have a clue how to manage a big league club."

Yeah, remember what he did to Gio Gonzales in that relief stint last year?  It's a wonder Gio hasn't had his arm fall off.
Geren was 334-376 in five-plus years with the A's, and never had a winning season. The A's had been to the playoffs five times in the seven years before he took over.

(players) complained about his inconsistent lineups that kept anyone from getting going.
Those complaints helped fuel the questions about what it would take for Beane to fire Geren, and the GM said that speculation led to his decision. He refused to say whether he had talked to A's players about Geren, but it's hard to believe he hadn't.

The 49-year-old Melvin has local ties, having grown up in the Bay Area and playing one year at the University of California. He played 10 years in the big leagues, and he managed the Mariners for two years and the Diamondbacks for a little more than four years. He took Arizona to the National League Championship Series in 2007, but was fired two years later.

Any of the professional criticism of Geren in the above CBSSports article has only been an echo of what the fans have been saying for two years.  I can only hope that Melvin will be able to make progress repairing the damage that having one's best friend work for you has done to this franchise.

Thankfully, there is some hope for the unemployed Mr. Geren.  Here are some examples:

I'm sure you'll be working again in no time!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I got a tweet of Anthony Weiner

Not really, but I thought it might drum up some business.  Actually, I have- until now- managed to stay above the fray in this classic case of over-exposure.  However, there is no room for denying that it would be against my nature not to weigh in on such a pointed topic, so I'll try to be brief.

I think the time has come for me to have my say, as today, most of the threads to this unravelling sweater have come together.  To recap, Friday he makes the in question tweet to the 21-y-o lady. From Saturday to Tuesday, it was "I got hacked", which really didn't help him much because why would he have pictures of his equipment anyway?  Inventorying for insurance purposes?  Only if you're Ron Jeremy.  Apparently, either the absurdity of his claims, the evidence held by blogger Andrew Breitbart, the inability of his forensic people to prove the hacking, or the cloud of other recipients lining up to expose his exposures, forced him into taking Friday through Sunday in hiding to decide what the next best story would be.  Monday he admits, yes that is, is him.  Swiftly followed on Tuesday by 26-y-o Megan Broussard coming out and saying, "Yeah, I got a BUNCH o' those", and today, when Breitbart, apparently feeling his brothers in the media would be honorable, showed the "grand finale" pic he was saving against Weiner sticking it to him to a couple of XM radio hosts, who somehow managed to get a copy and put it online.  But what are the REALLY fun facts about the whole thing?

1.Weiner wanted to be a weatherman before becoming a poly-sci major.  I know there's a joke in there somewhere...

2. Weiner, for the underinformed is a dem from the 9th district.  This is a dem-safe zone in parts of Queens and Brooklyn that in it's 91-year history has also been the 10th (twice), the 11th, 15th, 16th, and since 1993 the ninth.  Weiner himself has been ensconced there since 1998, since taking over for mentor Chuck Shumer.

3.  Weiner actually did a lot of good in both NYC's city council and in Congress, and his stickler for facts attitude has led him to chew through staff at an amazing clip.

4. Things I find amusing#1:  Nancy Pelosi is organizing an Ethics examination against him.  Not that I'm against Nancy actually doing HER job for a change, I think there's a joke here somewhere, too.

5.#2: Wife Huma Abedin is a chief aide to Hillary Clinton.  What is the shelf life on the equipment of a man who pisses off both his wife AND Hillary Clinton?

6. #3: Speaking of said marriage, it was performed on July 10th of last year (that's right, not even a year yet) by that well known reverend William Jefferson Clinton!  And you KNOW there's a joke there!!!  Bill apparently has the authority as a lawyer to do a civil service; although, when asked about Bill's authority at the time, spokesman Mark McKenna said he had the authority and left it at that without elaboration.

7. #4: Can you see this on Leno's "headline" segment?  "And here we have.. the Abedin- Weiner wedding!!"

8. #5: Comes out today that Ms. Abedin is pregnant, to top things off!  Now, we know what it looks like, AND that it works!

9. ANNNNND #7, and you had to know it was coming with the NYC ("Hey, leave Charlie Wrangel be!! He's as honest as the day is long!) electorate-  a poll released today says that 51% of adults in the 9th  think he should stay on.  If we'd just repeal voting rights in New York, Massachusetts, California, and Nevada, we might just be able to run a decent country.

Okay, I think things have come to a head here, so I'm done.  I know I'm going to get it for saying this, but I had to wait until I had a chance to look at the situation before I could comment.  Sorry to have left things dangling for so long, but there are some subjects that I am just a little leery of touching.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

More entertainment at the well of the mistaken

If any of you were curious enough to read Val's response to last night's post, I would like to clarify things for you.  Val, if you are still listening, I'm not so much directing this at you since your post answered for me exactly what I am dealing with in you.  I will be praying for you, you poor deluded dear.  I will also pray for any of those gullible enough to swallow the snippets of coherence you actually show.

For the rest of us, let us take a look at some of the major and many misinterpretations about the Word that Val's response contained.  In order of appearance, we start with the claim that no one goes to Hell, a claim posited from Gen. 3:19.  This is the "man is dust and to dust he shall return" verse.  What Val skips merrily past here is that God is talking to a pair of people who have just lost their glorified, immortal bodies they were created with because of their sin.  God is explaining the rules of their new mortal existence to them.  It has nothing to do with their spiritual future.

Second, the continuing adventures of the woman of Revelation 12.  When I said last night that I had no clue where she was going with this ( which is why I didn't bring any of it up in last night's post- I was too confused), I had no idea that the answer would be that SHE (Val) is this woman, who she believes will be (or she is, it's kinda hard to tell since Val keeps going from first to third person) a prophet who will bruise Satan with the truth.  (And we'll get to THAT sidelight later.)  Anyway, she claims to be the Prophet that Peter referenced in his sermon as being like Moses.  Even a cursory reading of the entire passage shows us that Peter believed Moses (and rightly so) was talking about the coming of Christ.  For someone who chides me more than once in her response as not looking at the whole story, I have to shake my head here.

Third, another example she gives trying to prove that no one goes to Hell is the verse where Christ, in prayer to His father, says that He had lost none of those given Him save the Son Of Perdition.  Val, Jesus was making SPECIFIC mention of His twelve Disciples, and the Son of Perdition was Judas Iscariot.  This is not a passage that you can generalize to fit your purposes.  Do you know the guys over at

Fourth, Val would like to believe that she is the second coming of Elijah prophesied in Malachi 4.  Uh, Val, Jesus Himself says in Matt. 11:14 that this prophecy referred to John the Baptist.  I don't recall Him saying, "And next time around, Elijah will be reincarnated in..."

Finally, a pair of references used to show her authority as this Woman.  Jeremiah 31:22 mentions that " How long will you gad about, O you backsliding daughter? For the LORD has created a new thing in the earth—
A woman shall encompass a man.”  That is the NKJ translation, and Val says it means that she will have power over the man (Which is Satan).  The NIV translation swaps "encompass" for "return to", and adds the note that another possible translation would be "will protect"- either one far from Val's interpretation, which also misses the point that the passage is the end of an allegory having the unfaithful woman (Israel) returning to her Husband (God).  The other is a favorite of Val's- the idea she gleans from Gen 3:15 that she, as the Woman will "bruise Satan in the Heel of time."  OH, how many things are wrong here?!!?  For starters, the woman's ( Eve, not any coming woman prophet) OFFSPRING is the one who will battle with the serpent.  HE (not she) will crush his (the serpent's ) head while "you" (speaking to the serpent) will bruise HIS heel.  So let's see- the wrong woman; the woman's offspring, not the woman herself; the serpent does the bruising rather than getting bruised (although he might sustain theoretic bruises whilst getting his head mushed).

Like I said, I don't suspect that any of this will influence Val, as it is notoriously hard to convince a prophet they are wrong- Check 1 Kings 22 for a good example.  For the rest of you, consider this a PSA in the interests of those who want you to read and learn for yourself.

Monday, June 6, 2011

And now, for the other side...

I admit to being confused and bemused when a customer going by the handle of "val" seemingly responded to last night's "What Is Hell" post on the comments to Friday's Time Machine.  As I read the response, and the website He/she linked to, I can see how it made "perfect sense" to put it on Time Machine ( ;<0 ).  Here is the response:

val said...

I would like to invite you to read a special gift from the wilderness Rev 12:6...Not one child of God will be put in a hell fire no matter what their sins. It never entered the heart or mind of God to ever do such a thing and I prove it by the word of God at The true Gospel (Gospel means Good Tale) now delivered Rev 12:5, 13 sets all free as a witness.

  Yeah, just about as confusing on this website as well.  The gist of the website starts with the logical fallacy I show you here:

John 3:16 all will believe, each in their own order 1 Cor 15:23.

*Rom 14:11-12 For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. 12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

*1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

ALL WILL CONFESS! All will be cleansed from all unrighteousness each in their own order (Isa 1:18).

Get it? If at the coming of Christ every knee shall bow and every tongue confess, and confession merits salvation, then this final confession lets everyone into heaven.  Failing to take into account that, according to Revelation 22, by this time their confession falls on deaf ears:

10 Then he told me, “Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this scroll, because the time is near. 11 Let the one who does wrong continue to do wrong; let the vile person continue to be vile; let the one who does right continue to do right; and let the holy person continue to be holy.”

But building on this misconception, he/she totally verges off the original meaning of the scripture:

*Ps 89:46 How long, LORD? wilt thou hide thyself for ever? shall thy wrath burn like fire?.

God’s emotions are as a fire. Our emotions burn inside us also. All souls will be consumed by the word of God. Everyone will be very emotional when they are in front of the judgment seat of God. They will be in the hot seat. They will be devoured in Love, understanding, forgiveness and mercy because he has directed all of our lives Pro 16:9.

Because we are all going to heaven, the fire that the wicked are to be burned in is a fire of emotions.  Val, I hate to tell you, but treating the Word Of God as an allegory when it is meant to be interpreted literally is what got Harold Camping looking like an idiot.  Re-read- if indeed you read it- my original post on the subject.  I researched the the word meanings through Strong's concordance to see what I would find (rather than "finding" what I was looking for, as you appear to be doing).  God's word leaves absolutely no doubt on two points.  The first you are correct on- there is no condemnation and no second death for the Child Of God.  The second, in which you are sorely mistaken, is that some will alienate themselves from God and merit eternal damnation- a damnation that is called "the second death" and will include the fiery emotion you spoke of, but it will be righteous anger and not love, as well as physical and mental punishment beyond our capacity to understand.

Anyone can find a group of random and misapplied verses such as you have to make any twisted point they want.  As an example, I point out to you that you WILL NOT FIND A LIE in what Satan said to Eve in Genesis 3:4.  And in Matthew 4, he never misquoted scripture.  Do yourself a favor and research the subject of Hell and Eternal damnation, as I did.   Then perhaps it would behoove you to take a heartfelt look at Galatians 1:8:

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

Or Rev.22:18:

18I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. 19And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

God is indeed a God of Love.  That is why He sent His Son, a part of the totality that is Himself, and suffered Him to die on the cross for our sins.  If your theory is correct, then God intends to lower the bar and Christ died for NO REASON.  Jesus does not forgive our sins in the sense of, "you pushed me down in the playground, but that's okay";  He forgives them in the sense that HE PAID FOR THEM.  Thus, when an actual Child of God goes before the throne, God opens the ledger and finds the account marked paid.  God DOES NOT FORGIVE SINS AT THE JUDGEMENT SEAT, as you suggest; if you are a child of God, those sins were wiped away at Calvary.  And if you are a sinner at the end of time, you can bow all you want and Christ will say," 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'" (Luke 13:27)

And the woman of Revelation 12 (which is expressly described as a sign, or allegory) is the Hebrew people, and the travails they will face after the Church is raptured;  what you were getting at, I haven't a clue.

(BTW, my friends:  "val" neither has a public blogger profile nor any attempt at one on his/her page.  Makes me wonder why he's/she's hiding under a basket.)

Sunday, June 5, 2011

What is Hell?

Let me start off by defining this as a musing, not a "lesson"  or a "sermon."  The subject of what awaits the damned was brought to my curiosity this morning by my reading at the beginning of 2 Thessalonians, and with the recent discussion as to Hell's existence, I thought it wise to see what, if any evidence there was for a final damnation of utter annihilation.  I found none.

What I did find gave me a clearer- and curious- picture of the idea of Hell we might glean from the Bible.  I'm not going to put references in, other than to say that I was cross-checking words to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, and if you want raw numbers, that is the place to go.  I recommend downloading E-Sword to help you in this and many other things (although this particular task I did low-tech).

First off, Hell is basically connected in the Greek to Hades and in Hebrew to Sheol.  There I found the base word had, among its uses, the concept of inquiring, demanding, even lusting.  As if Hell was a place designed to suck a sinner in, like a demonic black hole.  As I went on, I began to see how ironic that interpretation was.

Job gives us the concept of Hell being a place extreme from Heaven (11:8) as well as being linked to the almost-physical place called Destruction (26:6) which could be interpreted (by someone with a comic book mind) as the "death of no escape". 

In Jeremiah's description of the judgement in the Valley of Hinnom, we divine that is a result of the utter alienation of oneself from God through idolatry, human "logic", and pleasure seeking. (Chapter 19, if you will.)  It's attributes include the failure of human wisdom, the complete loss of dignity and hope, and utter desolation and despair, made a "hissing"- a mark of derision- by all who escape.

I found that Matthew's references to the outer darkness ( or "obscurity") meshed with a word he used for Hell which carried among its meanings the concept of "unseen".  The parable of the rich man and Lazarus gives us a Hades that is remote and cut off from Paradise; in the final analysis, it will also be cut off from sight.  Not surprising: if our reward is to involve the end of our tears, then it would seem to involve the cutting off of contact from that (or those) which made us cry- or would give us reason to mourn.

Unlike those who claim there is nothing but atomization for the damned soul, the Word gives us plenty of examples of physical punishment, all of which are prefaced with the phrase "everlasting" or "eternal".  Among them is the concept of eternal incarceration in 2 Peter 2, eternal punishment (translating to "infliction") in Matthew, and the lovely thought of "the worm dying not" and the never extinguished fire.  And significant here is the term "fire". 

The word commonly used for "fire" as relating to Hell (as opposed to the one for the common campfire) has a specific use in "lightning".  What does that mean for the damned?  Consider:  the run-of-the-mill blow torch hits around 2400 ° F.  The surface of the sun is in the 10-12,000 ° F range.  Lightning tips the scales at about 60,000 ° F.  In other words, there is a vast conceptual difference between Hell fire and earthly fire.

And before I get into the physicality of things, I want to step back to that word "everlasting".  Both it and "eternal" as used here carry the (possible ) interpretation of reaching both endlessly into the future AND into the past.  Is rejection of God a retroactive thing to beyond even creation and genesis?  A valid philosophical question, but I suspect a moot one to the damned.

And finally, I'd like to look at the description of Hell given by Paul in Romans 2:8-9, to wit:

8But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath,

9Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

Note two sets of two words in the description.  First, Indignation and Wrath.  When you look up the various words used elsewhere translated thus as well as the two specific words, you see that they are very nearly interchangeable; in fact each one is translated as the other word in other verses.  The specific for indignation has a strong tie (through the use of breathing in its extremity) to an anger that directs itself from God to the soul of the damned, in fact, the concept of immolation also ties in in a way that you could (facetiously) say that God was so mad at the soul He was "breathing fire".  The specific of wrath somewhat loses the soul/breath connotation but picks of more of an anger of the mind- an abhorrence so fierce that the root for such a passion gave rise to (the non-sexual meaning of) our word "orgy".  Thus this first part of the description deals with the mind and the soul of the damned.

The remaining pair are quite different.  Linked by meaning like indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish turn to the physical aspects.  (And if you haven't been making a list since I mentioned irony before, start taking notes.)  Tribulation comes from a root that connotes a pressure, or a crowding.  Anguish- and this is not the same word used for when a run of the mill person has anguish- is a combination of roots, combining to the concept of having a narrowed room to move.  Specifically, unlike other forms of the word that imply restraint being used to do the narrowing, this words specific narrowing is caused by the presence of surrounding obstacles, narrowing to the point of physical crushing.

Am I saying Hell is a literal or figurative black hole?  Though you might draw that from what I've found, it's not my point.  My points are these:

Hell is an actual place where actual sinner are body-and-soul punished.

Hell is as separated from Heaven and the eyes of the blessed as it can be.

Hell has no escape.

Hell is the consequence of alienation from God.

Hell is not annihilation; it is incarceration and punishment.

The scale of said punishment is beyond earthly comprehensions of pain and time.

The punishments will have spiritual, mental, AND physical aspects.

If those points sound a lot like a black hole, then here is yet another lesson learned from the evidences all around us (Romans 1:20: "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse") :  The bright and shiny molecules, the particles of light, escaping from the demanding clutches of the event horizon, whilst the others, turning from the light, are sentenced to an eternity of crushing, in a place where man's theories no longer apply, and are lost to sight forever.