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


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Stuff

My typical Sunday morning, as you know, consists of listening to a handful of preachers, starting with Ed Bousman on WLW, and then Bible reading and a walk with Scrappy to digest the lessons.  Today, I fought mightily to stay awake for Ed, read my Bible, and fell back to sleep, waking up in the middle of David Jeremiah discussing the failures of Job's counsellors ( not JOB counsellors, which is all google can comprehend) and the application to us.

If you never actually ready the story of Job, I'll nutshell it here.Job was a very righteous, and very rich, man.  Not only did he make atonement for the sins he wasn't committing, but for the sins he really didn't know if his many sons and daughters were committing.  Satan complains to God that Job is so faithful because God has never tested him.  To test this, God gives Satan permission, and soon, his kids have all died in disasters, his wealth has all been stolen, and he is covered in painful boils.  Not to mention his "loving" wife, whose solution to Job's plight is that he should "curse God and die".  Job, in silence, contemplates his fate in sackcloth and ashes, scraping at the boils.

Along comes three of his buddies, wise old men like himself.  In the wisest thing that they managed to do (says Jeremiah), they sat there in silence with him for one week.  Then, one by one, they began to tell him that he brought this on himself by some terrible, unconfessed sin.  The only sin he actually commits is when he defends himself, saying he did nothing wrong, and thus God is picking on him.

The whole thing is a lesson on A) that bad things happen to good people and B) how not to counsel someone in pain.  Among Jeremiah's points were: 1.  while suffering exists on this world because of sin, that doesn't mean that any particular suffering is because of any particular sin.  Job's buddies begged him to confess to some heinous crime, and were sure to let him know that against a Righteous God, he probably still wasn't getting what he deserved. 2.  That everyone's suffering is unique. How many times do we tell someone in pain, "I understand," even when we don't, just because we can't think of anything else to say?  3.That God has a plan that might not be apparent in the suffering.  The fourth counsellor, Elihu, makes this point later on.

I bring this up because during the last week or so, many of the bloggers I follow talked about some pain that they are in- and I kept basically silent because I didn't know what to say.  You can only say, "I'll pray for you" so many times without sounding, "yeah, sure."  And some of these people have only a casual belief in God, and that means nothing much to them.  Just throwing "I'll pray for you" out there casually robs the sufferer of the most powerful help you can be to them.  Rest assured, I am praying.  It is not a platitude to me.  But sometimes, there's just nothing else to add to that.  This week, I've been particularly frustrated over this.

I've lived a fairly blessed life, when you consider the things people are going through that I can't possibly say, "I understand," to.  But it doesn't mean I don't understand THAT you're suffering.  It doesn't mean I don't beseech God for solutions, healing, or comfort for you. Or to give you that hug I would if I were there (and you wouldn't slap a stranger for doing so).  I have a feeling that I'm not alone in this.  So, if I'm not among the people sending "bloggy hugs" or repeating the prayer promises and commiserating, I'm probably here, silently sitting in the ashes with you.


In the meantime, I've been wanting to share with you all the laziest scam e-mailer I've ever hit on.  Just to bring the mood up, here he is:


The management of central Bank has decided to pay your outstanding

payment of 10m USD, to our beneficiaries VIA MASTER CARD PAYMENT,kindly Re-

comfirm to me your INFO.Dr.Smith Ego

Mind you, it's not bad enough that they don't even come up with a good story; they can't tell us whether the "central bank" is in London, Benin, Lagos, or Libya, they can't end the letter with a "sincerely" (even Interpol says God bless you, remember), or even come up with the name of a supposed relative who died or rival trying to beat me to the account.  No, this guy can't even  get the entire word "ma'am" out!  I'm so glad I get these little rays of sunshine- I don't know what I'd do without the stupidest people still capable to work a keyboard to make me laugh!

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The great 1960's countdown, week one

That's right, I finished that humongous project of my favorite songs of the sixties, and I thought I'd share them with you every saturday.  Now I got my list up to 300, so I'm thinking a twenty- a -week post, with little tidbits, and a video or two for the obscure.

Now one thing I need to say right off the top- good songs got left off.  Can't be helped.  Did everything get into the right order?  Well... mostly.  How could I not have (song name here) on my list?  Either A) I had no room, B) I don't know it, C) I missed the damn thing in either research or writing down, or D) I don't like it.  If you get curious about a song (it's possible presence or lack thereof), feel free to shoot me a comment.  I'll say A) it missed the cut and why, B) what the hell is that, C) Crap!  I need to put that in right there, or D) tough titties. Or E) be patient, it's coming up.  Also, this is MY list, and MY feelings.  Nothing to do with critical opinions, sales figures, or balance in taste.  I was on a album listing site where I took crap because I "didn't have enough of this genre" or "you put that on a list?", or "we really don't like greatest hits lps on the list". MY songs, my choice.  I'm sharing, not being authoritative.

As it is my list, you'll see definite leanings towards certain acts. In fact, by my reckoning, 18 acts account for 101 songs (33.67%); five of those acts log 45 of the songs (15%); and three of them alone account for 33 songs (11%).  And if I figured right, there are 157 acts on the list, and 103 only have 1 song apiece.

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, here are the openning twenty.

300. These Eyes, The Guess Who.  Ever since I heard the Best Of the Guess Who Vol. 1 for the first time, I thought this song is an excellent way to kick off an album.  Burton, Randy, and the guys have four tunes on the list.

299. Hit The Road Jack, Ray Charles.  I used to be a fan of the NBC show Buffalo Bill starring Dabney Coleman.  The dream the lead character had about everyone being out to get him (which was true), accompanied by this song, was hilarious. One of two for Ray.

298. The Last Time, The Rolling Stones.  This is the first of just two Stones tunes on the list.  Sure I'll get heat for that.  Not that I don't like the Stones, but usually I go for songs I have emotion vested in.

297. Good Thing, Paul Revere and the Raiders.  I was kinda surprised I didn't have more than 2 songs by these guys on here- Hungry just missed.

296. Simon Says, 1910 Fruitgum Company.  What can I say, I liked bubblegum.  And I'll like it again- this is one of 2 for the firm.

295. Another Saturday Night, Sam Cooke.  A lot of people didn't know that Cat Stevens was a cover version for Sam Cooke's original.  A good song either way, and one of 2 for the late Mr. Cooke.

294. Tijuana Taxi, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. I have TB's greatest hits on cd.  The next two spots are two of my favorites.  Herb also solos up ahead, so I guess you could put him up for three, or them for two and him for one.

293. Spanish Flea, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.  I figure you've all seen enough "The Dating Game" clips by now to know this one.

292. Crying, Roy Orbison.  Don McLean had a huge hit with his remake of this in the mid-seventies.  But Roy was an original, in every way.  One of three times he's in the countdown.

291. Memphis, Johnny Rivers.  I probably had to leave off more good songs by Johnny than any other artist.  Still, he hits the list 4 times.  One of his great live songs.

290. Expressway To Your Heart, the Soul Survivors.    When I got to the home stretch, this was one of those songs I was determined to squeeze in somehow, along with the next one.

289. Time Has Come Today, Chambers Brothers.  One of the great psychadelic songs of the era, a genre I wish I could have represented more heavilly.

288. Make Your Own Kind Of Music, Mama Cass Elliot.  A one of a kind vocalist, whether with the Mamas And Papas or solo.  Some of these songs I apreciated later in life.  This is one of those I apreciated from an early age- 8, in fact.

287. Oh, Pretty Woman, Roy Orbison.  Believe me, this song was great long before Julia Roberts got attached to it.

286. Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing, Baby, Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  Marvin, before he got away from Motown so he could do his own stuff, was at his best with Tammi.  One of two for this duo.

285. Shakin' All Over, The Guess Who.  This was when it was still Chad Allen's band.  They later did a cool tribute to this on a later album, When The Band Was Playing "Shakin' All Over".

284.  1-2-3 Red Light, 1910 Fruitgum Company.  Like I said, I like bubblegum.

283. MacArthur Park, Richard Harris.  You had to work in a lot of pomposity to overcome the bizarre lyrics on this one, and the Camelot actor made it a classic.  Donna Summer did good, but lost too much in the lyrics that her single cut out.

282.  Return To Sender, Elvis Presley.  Okay, I got my earplugs in- only 2 Elvis songs in the countdown.  That was VERY hard for me.  Please save the death threats for someone who might warrant them (Harry Reid comes to mind).

281. A Kind Of Hush, Herman's Hermits.  This was also a hard group for me; of the four tunes on my chart, we'll hit all of them fairly quickly.  Actually heard the Carpenter's version before this (or so it seemed to my addled memory.  A lot of songs I know I had to have heard back then I really don't remember until after someone else remade them.

Geez, is that twenty already?  Wow, that goes fast.  On the way out, here's one more from this week's bunch. Enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Step into my time machine week sixty-six

Today on a very non-special Time Machine:
-Yet another unusually-named debut;
-Elvis has a birthday;
-Cheech And Chong go Up In Smoke;
-a couple of quick stops into cool jazz;
-and in a biiiig streeeetch, we connect Eternity's Children (who?) to Carl Wilson, using Liberace to get there.
All this plus Where Are You Now, Carly Simon?  (Answer: Never Been Gone.) Oh, and at the top, what's old is new again.
Climb in, and buckle up so we don't get pulled over (it is the end of the month) and let's go!

We crack things open with a ten-debut week on the hot 100.  Four are songs we all know (?); but the first one makes it solely on it's rather unusual name. At 97, we have one Michael Franks with a soft-jazz number called Popsicle Toes.  This is a neat little fun song that I scratch my head was ever released as a single, much less ever hit the charts, but if you need a smile or a little chuckle today, youtube it up. At 92 comes the hardest working man in show business, the late Mr. James Brown, with Get Up Offa That Thing. Just a notch ahead at 92 is the classic Don't Fear The Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult. Up ahead at 83 lies James Taylor with Shower The People ( a song I would probably rate much higher on my list except for the guilt I feel in not taking its advice).  And way up at 71 is Jefferson Starship from the album Spitfire with With Your Love.  Happy thirty fifth birthday to you all!  Celebrating 40th birthdays today are Aretha and the Heavyweights' version of Spanish Harlem; Blood Sweat And tears' Go Down Gamblin'; and Canada's Stampeders with Sweet City Woman.  Hitting 45 today are Wicked Wilson Pickett's Land Of 1,000 Dances and Jr. Walker and the All-Stars' original of How Sweet It Is(To Be Loved By You).  The Platters' I'll Never Smile Again turns 50 today; and it's the big double-nickel for the King and Hound Dog.  "Blow out the candles...."

Our big dropper is a "song" that peaked at 46 2 weeks ago- Cheech and Chong, from the movie Up In Smoke, with Framed.  It falls 19 to #69 this week.  Not their first or last foray into the charts- in fact, they made the top 40 4 times:  Santa Claus And His Old Lady (3), Basketball Jones (15), Earache My Eye (9), and Sister Mary Elephant (SHUDDUP!) (24).  The big mover was Boz Skaggs' Lowdown, up 16 spots to #50.

A glance at the top songs of other years takes us to the 5s.  1995 is a repeat honoree: Waterfalls by TLC. 1985's top dog this week was Everytime You Go Away by Paul Young (which, as I learned, is not the same Paul Young as the late vocalist for Mike + The Mechanics- silly me).  Last year, we were toasting the Eagles with One Of These Nights; in 1965, it was the Stones and Satisfaction.  And in 1955, we had another repeat honoree- Bill Haley and his Comets, in week 4 of their 7 week reign with Rock Around The Clock.

All of which brings us to #49 this week- Carly Simon's version of a Michael McDonald song that the Doobies would take into the top forty, It Keeps You Runnin'.   Carly has been active forever, but unless you personally follow her (or any artist from this era) its hard to know it.  The music biz has changed so much.  Acts like Carly get lost in the shuffle without sex scandals on TMZ and remade songs appearing on Glee.  In fact, this was frustrating Carly, who blamed her record company for not promoting a recent album.  Her son, Ben Taylor, advised her to channel that energy into a new album.  And so in 2009 she released Never Been Gone, filled with acoustic covers of old hits such as The Right Thing To Do, You Belong To Me, That's The Way I've Always Heard It Should Be, Coming Around Again, Anticipation, and of course You're So Vain (which I sampled last night and found very good, especially the guitar intro.) If you're an old Carly fan, check it out.

Just before we hit the top 40, a shoutout to Almost But Not Quite, I Need To Be In Love by the Carpenters.  Co-written by Richard, this song was Karen's favorite of all the songs they ever recorded, and was their 14th #1 on the Easy Listening chart- far and away the most of any act.  Though it peaked at 25 on Billboard and 35 here (slipping to 39 this week), It became the theme to a Japanese show in 1995 and on re-release hit #5 on their chart.

Movement into the top 40 is nearly stagnant once again this week.  Mama Mia re-enters at 38 (after dropping out last week), and the only true debut is Fleetwood Mac's Say You Love Me, up 7 to #35.

You better sit down- we have a NEW #1 album this week!  It was Breezin', George Benson's first foray into a more mainstream sound.  In addition to the title track (an instrumental I'm sure you'll recognize if you youtube it), there were five other tracks- all long jams of George's jazz guitar playing, including the 8-minute version of his Grammy winning This Masquerade and a Jose Feliciano track called Affirmation.

Three songs enter the top ten, three fall out.  Dropping are the Boys Are Back In Town, from 10 to 26; More More More, from 8 to 22; and I'll Be Good To You, from 7 to 14.

Coming in at ten was a song that seems like it might have been a better subject for 6 degrees than the one the Broccoli gods gave me- Get Closer by Seals And Crofts.  The back up singer, as I mentioned before, is Carolyn Willis, who (I didn't mention before) was a member of the Honey Cone ( remember Want Ads?), along with lead singer Edna Wright, who was the sister of another former honoree on the #1s of other years feature, Darlene Love.  The boys and their girl move up 2 to #10.  Queen pauses at 9 for a second week with You're My Best Friend. Zooming up 7 to #8 are Wings and Let 'Em In.  Elton John and his cohort Kiki Dee break 6 spots to #7 with Don't Go Breakin' My Heart.  Gary Wright slips 3 to #6 with Love Is Alive.  John Travolta is stuck at 5 again with Let Her In.  The Beatles climb to #4 with Got To Get You Into My Life.

And that brings us to our #3 song- the highest that is both without the bullet and not having been 6-degreed previously.  That would be Moonlight Feels Right by Starbuck, who though not a true one-hit wonder, was close enough to make this tough on me.  Starbuck was basically the baby of vocalist and keyboard guy Bruce Blackman and marimba player Bo Wagner.  Blackman was a founder of the "sunshine pop" band Eternity's Children, who had a minor (read: non top 40) hit with Mrs. Bluebird (which is also worth a listen if you're so inclined) back in 1968.  Wagner actually joined EC after Blackman left; and after they did a duo thing for a brief time, Wagner spent some time as Liberace's road manager.  Liberace in this time period was exploring the TV end of things; in addition to his command performance as a villain and his brother on the old Batman TV show, he also did a cameo with Desi Arnaz Jr. on Here's Lucy.  Desi Jr. had been in a mid-sixties band with Dean Martin's late son Dino and friend Billy Hinsche called Dino, Desi , and Billy (catchy, no?) who had a hit with I'm A Fool (#17).  Billy was the Beach Boys connection- he toured with them for a while, and his sister married Carl Wilson.  And there you have it: Starbuck to Bo Wagner to Liberace to Desi Arnaz Jr to Billy Hinsche to Carl Wilson.  Moonlight edges up a notch to #3.

Carl's family poses dockside, left to right: Billy Hinsche and his sister Annie Wilson-Karges (Carl's first wife), Britta Wilson (Justyn's wife), and Carl's sons Justyn and Jonah Wilson.

Which means that we have two former top dogs left.  Kiss And Say Goodbye (of which we have a Spanish version playing at work) slips back to the runner up spot after 2 weeks at #1.  Which means, back for a return engagement as top dog....

Starland Vocal Band with Afternoon Delight!!!

Allrightie then!  It's a wrap for this week, see you next time!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

An Open Letter to IPFW and the Plex, Part two

Seeings as so many of you have commented on my post "An Open Letter..." I thought you might like to see the stuff you maybe haven't seen. 
First, I have an e-mail from my friend downstate who doesn't like to comment on blogger because of security/signing up issues.

Isn't it sickening? Our township is zoned rural/farm and they're doing their best to turn it into a barren wasteland. The church across the street had many trees on the property that dated before the beginning of that church (1863). They have pictures inside of horse & buggies tied to those same trees. All gone. They put in an asphalt parking lot. Several more were cut down just for convenience. No kidding, the moment those trees fell you could feel the temperature rise significantly.

A woods less then a quarter mile down the road south went down because the farmer was tired of farming around it. One the same distance to the west is slowly going down to make it 'productive'. A little farther along they are in the process of mulching a huge woods (huge for today standards). Home of coyotes, deer and kind. Who knows why? Just to add more fields?

It seems to be a trend because home owners miles in each direction are doing the same. Cutting down massive healthy trees because they might fall on someone or are in the way.

Not many years past driving home from town you could feel the temperatures drop each mile you headed. Home was always 2-3 degrees cooler then town. Sometimes more.

And the hypocrites have the gall to complain about that starving, poor man in the rainforests. One farmer even told me that global warming is increasing because we're having so many wars! Not because he just cut down a forest!

Damn right!  IPFW will tell you they are green and want to take care of the environment, but here they are disrupting a fragile ecosystem so that sweaty men can chase each other around in the shade.  Which maybe they wouldn't have to if we didn't need those two extra soccer fields so bad.  BTW, I have heard nada from the plex despite e-mailing the link to them.  IPFW, however, had no e-mail link so I put the original post on their Facebook page- and got the following conversation in response:

Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Thanks for sharing the post. I appreciate Chris' experience and insights. He's right -- it's hard to balance development, growth, and protection.
I believe the widened trail Chris spoke of is part of the Rivergreenway system expansion, example of balancing development and protection. The Rivergreenway map (available at shows sections of the trail running next to the soccer fields.
A pristine trail is truly a beautiful thing, no doubt about it. A paved trail encourages more use and gives accessibility to those with mobility challenges, exposing more people to the beauty of nature.
By helping more people experience the outdoors through an accessible trail, perhaps we can grow an appreciation to help protect what's still pristine.
Yesterday at 10:36am

(ME) This is not the treeline along the river. It is the woods on the OTHER side of the plex, clearly marked "IPFW property- no hunting". This is not the greenway's baby, it is your property, patrolled by your security. Perhaps the university should do a little more research into what the university is doing, before answering.

And by the way, a trail is not "pristine" - a natural area in its natural state is. So what is the plan, anyway. Are you going to pave it? Better use better quality asphalt than you did on the lower end of the main trail, it gets rivets ...worn into it every heavy rain. The thing that makes me mad is that, if you followed the deer in that woods around for months (as we have) you couldn't have torn out their preferred trails more perfectly or completely. I agree with your case about mobility issues. Instead of tearing up the home of a band of deer (which we'll probably never see again), why not push the greenway to get off their collective butts and finish the trail along the river like they've been promising? Then you could have left the woods they way it should be- AS IT WAS. Instead, now we have homeless deer, a ruined woods, and an unfinished stone trail just across the way. Nice job.
23 hours ago

Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW) Thanks for your reply... With the extra information, I was able to dig deeper. The path you describe is apparently part of an expansion to the Athletic Department's cross country track. It will be topped with gravel, not paved.
2 hours ago

(ME) Oh, well, that makes ALL the difference.

2 seconds ago

(Sigh.) Cross country and soccer.  I said it before: it's no crime, it's no sin.  Unlike the wanton whackjobs or militant extremists, I have no cause to grab my gun (which I don't own BTW) and shoot a random bunch of socceristas or make the CC team run faster.  But you know what, plex and IPFW? If you'd ever spent any time on this land just enjoying it, you might think differently about what you're doing.  But, go ahead, stay behind your desks, make your great decisions.  Who gives a damn about deer, anyway?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

An Open Letter to IPFW and the Plex

If you wonder what my business in this is, scroll down and hit the tags, "walk", "animals", or "scrappy".  You'll see that for three years, Scrappy and I have been taking walks in the wilderness areas of the university-owned woods along the Plex property and the meadow beyond.  You'll see posts about animal encounters, especially deer and the cute little pair of foxes that used to live in the little patch of trees in the north end of the meadow.

Later on, you'll see my curiosity about the damage construction going on in the meadow- up to and including the tearing out of that little patch of trees.  I hadn't seen the pair of foxes since- until a couple weeks ago, we saw the little red one, roadkill on Washington Center near Maplecrest.  Nice job, homewreckers.

Today, Scrappy and I found the meadow had been bulldozed away, raised and flattened.  A crew was just getting off work, so I put on my best game face.  "What's the game plan, gentlemen?" I asked with as much chipper as I could manage.

"Couple more soccer fields, " they answered with return chip.

"Soccer fields," I echoed flatly.  I could almost feel them sensing the disappointment I was trying to hide.  I headed on towards the woods.

We entered at "north but one,"  aka the entrance where the stone trail through the woods becomes a dirt one.  Something here, too, was different.  The dirt trail was... wider.  Now I knew that just a few feet ahead was a flag marked line where they were either planning to or had in the distant past ran a water line to irrigate the existing fields.  There were small saplings cut down a few feet in from that, but then it stopped.  I returned to the trail, uncomfortable in the knowledge that the widened trail continued.

At the main deer track I've talked about so many times, a trail had been carved.  No little divot, this; a twenty foot wide strip of dirt in the midst of a sliver of sylvan paradise that followed the main deer trail faithfully until just before it hit the dry stream bed that runs north-south along the west side of the woods.  Then it took a south turn, winding around larger trees, careful to only remove saplings no more than six inches across and standing deadwood.  On it wound until it reached the point where the ravine flattens out; then it turned straight west until it hit the old wire fence that runs along the ditch that goes south into Stony Run Creek.  This was an area of thickets and heavy cover- read : was.  Now it was a 7-yard wide jogging path, complete with joggers already taking advantage of it.  The trail turned at the rim of the big drop off into the southern half of the woods north of Stony Run.  Then returning east, meeting the main trail about two thirds of the way from where we started to where the trail goes asphalt.

In other words, each and every point at which we used to see deer in the woods is now chopped, scraped, and weed-sprayed.  All of their normal paths have been swept away because joggers can't be bothered to step over a fallen log.  Scrappy and I never needed a twenty-foot thruway to explore and enjoy the woods.  You'll never be able to explain to me why the rest of the world does.

And so, we trade the beauty of wild life in the forest so that joggers can look at a different set of trees.  I thought IPFW claimed to be good stewards of the land, concerned about the environment.  Oh, they do appreciate trees.  They just prefer them spread out along a blacktop trail with identifying placards.

And maybe a fox lost its life, but what's that against having 22 soccer fields for our increasingly Hispanic population to enjoy, instead of just 20?

It's your land.  It's not a crime nor a sin to do what you did.  I just wish you understood how you lessened a precious slice of God's creation (or Mother Nature's if you prefer- I realize a lot of you are pagan/heathen), and we'll never get it back.  Don't mind me.  I'm just another neo-Luddite who hates change.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Presidentiial Address, the Republican Response, and Me

The President's Side

It continues to amaze me how President Obama still feels the only way to get the sympathy of the American People is to wrap himself up in the banner of Ronald Reagan.  Of course, tonight he also wove in Jefferson, Bush the Elder, and Clinton.  His speech was alright if it was made to educate the American People in something they hadn't been hearing about for the last 8 months.  As it was, he made a fairly good- and fairly deceptive- case for the basics of the Gang of 6 plan, which for all its warts I still think is the better of the plans.  I have said before I'd like to know how rank and file Tea Partiers defend tax breaks to Exxon/Mobil, GM, and their brethren.  But, as usual, he didn't stop there.

It's All Their Fault

He did make a somewhat halfhearted effort to not lump all republicans together, and he did say that his own party needed to quit their crying and be willing to make tough choices on entitlements.  But then he very explicitly let us know who the villains of the piece were IHHO:  John Boehner and the newly elected "young gun" republicans.  He managed to slip in the pro forma "they want to eliminate Medicare" just before mentioning the demand for Medicare reform, thus putting the truth out there, but covering it first with the scary lie that makes you ignore it.  Instead of mentioning the $800 billion in new tax revenue that Boehner had agreed to before Obama changed the rules Friday night, he made the blanket "they won't allow for any taxes" and won't agree to making the richest Americans pay their fair share", which "they (the richest) have stepped up and been willing to do everytime this nation has had bipartisan agreement".  So the rich are ready to pay the new taxes- the GOP won't let them.  Hmmm.

Obama's big score

The one good hit the President got in was on Boehner's new "temporary ceiling raise" , which Obama called "kicking the can down the road another six months". And y'know what, he's right.  This needs to be finished, once and for all, NOW.


For all the "smoke coming out of his ears"  (said Bob Scheaffer) in this "tough speech"  (Bob again),  to my ears a reasonably educated high schooler could have written this and got a 'b' in his civics class.

Boehner Fires Back

The Speaker taught Bob the meaning of a tough speech.  If Obama had smoke coming out, Boehner had fire and brimstone.  Where I don't agree on the no taxes period approach, Boehner did score several hits.
1. Boehner said, "the President came to us in January wanting to do business as usual.  Mr. President, the days of doing business as usual are over."  Any of you liberals in the press and elsewhere that still want to cling to that myth of Boehner as a weepy guy who cries at the drop of a hat, you just keep telling yourself that.  You may soon find tire tracks down your back.
2. Boehner wasn't afraid to mention what all America has already heard- that they had a deal Friday night and the President shat all over it.  "the President changed the numbers, " Boehner said gravely.  I'd surely like to be a fly on the wall when these two get together.
3.  Boehner got to the heart of why he and the President have not hammered something out already:  "He came to us in January wanting a blank check.  He still wants it now.  And he's not going to get it."
4. Boehner's characterization of the democrat idea of a balanced plan; " We spend more, you pay more."  Not completely accurate, but the funniest line of the night.
5.  Boehner felt no need to wrap himself in dead presidents to make his point.  And he was right there.

I Hear A 'But' Coming...

I've said this on my CC&B vs GO6 post last week:  This spot is not the place to bring in a Balanced Budget Amendment.  I don't deny we need one, just that it needs to attach itself to this bill.  Boehner hinted that his new proposal (which I haven't seen) forgoes the requirement for a BBA and instead calls for a bipartisan committee to lay the groundwork for one.   If so, then let's put that into a deal which gets the cuts, caps the spending, and raises the ceiling now, not some six month patch.  Boehner also called the new taxes a job killer- and giving subsidies to companies that are charging us $3.80- 4.00 a gallon for gas ISN'T?? 


This was  the kind of speech you wish the Speaker could've gone first, so we could really see Obama at his pissed-off best.  Still, for all that, it was the kind of speech that, like Obama's you wish you could've heard months ago- and not with one week left before default.

And The Winner Is...

On style and substance, Boehner.  On sympathy, and pathos, Obama.  But for all the good it did us as Americans, they might as well have done this in the boxing ring.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Lessons of Cain and Abel

God, in the scriptures, always teaches several lessons at once.  So too with the story in Genesis 4 of Adam's first two sons, Cain and Abel.  There is the immediate one, the story itself.  But I'm betting that Mormons also note the allegory for the relationship between Christ and Satan in it; and also, the allegory for believers/non-believers.  I'd like to point out today the ones I captured in my meditations today.

As the story opens, Cain is mentioned first, and therefore is presumably the eldest.  Yet, it is Abel who finds anointing from God.  This is a pattern that we see repeated over and over in the Old Testament- with Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, even Saul and David. God is not a respecter of seniority, or bloodline, or any other human means of subdivision.  And we go on to see that Abel's anointing makes him arguably the first priest- the only one entrusted to make sacrifices of animals for the remission of sins (if you flash forward to the end of the Flood story, you see that man was not to get permission to slaughter animals for food for thousands of years.)  Thus, Abel was the only one authorized to kill.

So here, we've already drawn two important lessons- so important that they would be repeated over and over.  First, God chooses who He wants, especially in leadership positions; second, that God brings redemption down one pathway, and one alone.

That second one becomes emphasized as Cain brings his "sacrifice" only to see it rejected.  Why was it rejected?
1. Cain was not the one chosen to do the job.  Psalm 127:1 says, "Unless the LORD builds the house, the laborers labor in vain."  Many times, ministries go fruitless or prayers go unanswered for this very reason.
2.  Cain was a farmer, and as we learned in the previous chapter of Genesis, farming was going to exact a toll in this new, fallen world.  Thus, Cain had to work hard for what he raised, and I'm sure was very proud of his work.  But, it was not the work that God would use for the purpose of forgiving sins.  That didn't make it any less valuable- Abel fed the soul, and Cain fed the flesh.  But Cain didn't see it that way.  Some servants of God are born to worship, others to service, but Cain saw only the relationship Abel had with God- and saw it as more prestigious than service.
3. Thus, Cain offered out of pride, and it was rejected.  But God only rejected it for THAT purpose.  He did not reject it for its true value.  In verse 7 He tells Cain, "If you do well, will you not be accepted?" But again, Cain didn't see it that way.

This teaches several lessons.  First, to be a servant, you must seek the Lord's will for your ministry, not your own.  Not all ministries are glorious; but all done in Christ are accepted.  Second, hard work is blessed by God whether it is devotional or day-to-day.  Third, here is our first Satan-to-Christ comparison.  Satan, as Lucifer, was highly blessed by God, but in His pride wanted to be the Anointed- he wanted to be God.  God did not create him to be a curse to mankind, He created Him to a great service.  It was Satan who chose the wrong ministry, and became upset when it was not blessed. Fourth- Christ, on the other hand, was to be the one person through which the forgiveness of sins would come.  Those who say there are many paths to forgiveness have lost sight of this first great lesson of the Bible.

So then comes the conversation between Cain and God.  Cain is inflamed by pride, but God explains to him that there is nothing for him to be mad about.  God also tells him, that with repentance and the proper attitude, his work would be blessed for what it was.  Then God warns him that he is allowing sin into his heart- and he can overcome it, or let it destroy him.  So here we learn: first, that God is not casting out unbelievers any more than He cast out Cain at this point.  The door is always open.  Second, sin is the thing that bars the door, and sin comes not from God but from us.  Third, we can overcome sin, if we turn to God.  But what does Cain do?  He opts out of the conversation with God- he says nothing. And just like with the unbeliever, by cutting out God, he doesn't stand a chance against his sin.

Instead of adding his heart to the heart-to-heart with God, Cain turns towards the focus of his anger, Abel, and kills him.  Why?  Does it eliminate his rival for God's affection? Hardly.  Or make him greater in the eyes of men?  No, because this is purely between the two of them.  It is pure and simple looking out for #1- getting rid of an annoyance.  With Abel gone, and God ignored, Cain can now build his own "righteousness".  And isn't that really the great divide between believers and non-believers: one listens to and obeys (or tries to) the Word of God; the other tries its best to silence that word, so they can do what they like without concern, conscience, or care.  And you wonder why atheists are so "evangelical".  Like Satan, when you set yourself up as your own "god" , you'd hardly want a light shined on you to show everyone how far away from that you really are.

Anyhow, we move on to that last stanza, the next-to-last meeting between Cain and God.  Just like with Adam, God gives Cain a chance to ask forgiveness: "Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is Abel your brother?” And just like Adam, Cain plays CYA.  But he does it in a much different way.  Unlike Adam, who first tries to hide everything, and then plays pass the buck (with its implied confession of guilt, though "it wasn't my fault"), Cain says the immortal line, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?”

And there's a lot to be said in that statement.  First off, it was a direct lie- "I do not know."  Second, it is the height of selfishness.  What happens to the other guy is his business (never mind the fact that I did it to him). Third, and so like Satan in his time and atheists in ours, it is a smartass response to a God that deserves reverence- a God who knew Cain's sin and still gave him a chance to confess and repent.

But, as God then points out, you cannot hide your sins from Him- not by disbelief, disrespect, denial, lying, or not accepting responsibility.  Like the drunk driving commercials basically say, "You will get caught. And you will pay for it."  And you know what, just like drunk driving, you can get out of it, you can be forgiven.  But if you just return to it, the consequences get increasingly worse.  And eventually it will be a price you cannot get out from under.

"And Cain said to the LORD, “My punishment is greater than I can bear!  Surely You have driven me out this day from the face of the ground; I shall be hidden from Your face; I shall be a fugitive and a vagabond on the earth, and it will happen that anyone who finds me will kill me.” Cain's only idea of remorse has nothing to do with Abel's murder, only with the consequences that he himself faces.  And God relents, and allows him not to pay full price for his sins on earth.  And why would God do that?  Same two reasons He does it for us.  1. While we breathe, we have the potential to repent and be redeemed. 2.  Because when Cain thinks his earthly punishment is more than he can bear, he has no idea- and apparently no concern- for what awaits him beyond the pale.  God has no intention on repaying on this earth alone.  The greatest Biblical testimony against those who believe there is no Hell is God letting Cain "off the hook" here.

And a final couple of postscripts get added to the story at the end of chapter 4.  The second, and most important one, is that Seth was then born and took the place of Abel.  God's will unthwarted, God's holy line goes on.  The first, and more in the line of today's story, is that of Cain's descendants, especially Lamech.  By the time man's line got to him, he had so indoctrinated himself in the sin of Cain, that he felt that the fact that Cain "got off" allowed him free reign to do even worse, to wit;

"Then Lamech said to his wives: “Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Wives of Lamech, listen to my speech!
For I have killed a man for wounding me, Even a young man for hurting me. If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold,Then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”  Each sin from an unbeliever encourages the next to do worse.  Not surprisingly, then, that the verses before this spoke to the building of cities, the coming of technology, and the increasing knowledge of man.  Thus the new slogan at the top of my blog ( and thanks ms nk rey, I told you I was going to use that!).  Man, just like Lamech, advance farther and farther towards knowledge (perhaps should be in quotation marks) and farther and farther from wisdom.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Step into my time machine week sixty-five

Yesterday, our home temp peaked at 102.0.  In 1976, today peaked at 78, so let's go there.  Welcome to a very special Time Machine- not because of the great debuts (almost none) or the great stories (a bit thin), or even the Where Are They Now piece (subject has been dead for 27 years).  But special because today we get Laurie's top ten (actually eleven), to which she affixes the disclaimer of her top "comfort songs", which I've tried to explain that it means the same thing.  YOUR top ten are the ones that make YOU feel good.  And today you'll get a look at the very unusual ten (ELEVEN!) that she picked out.  Here come the first two:

10. The Naughty Lady Of Shady Lane- Ames Brothers, 1954.  Like many of her songs, this was a song that she and her mom listened to together.  "Not a song to listen to on a regular basis, " says she, "but a fun song when you're in the mood."  If you don't know it, you tube it; I guarantee, the last line makes it all worthwhile.  A #3 hit.

9. It's Going To Take Some Time- Carpenters, 1972.  Where would a top ten in this family be without the Carpenters, really?  "The part that catches me, "  Laurie says, "is the lyric

But it's goin' to take some time this time

And I can't make demands
But like the young trees in the wintertime
I'll learn how to bend."

This hit #12 for Karen and Richard .

This was a horrible week for debuts, as out of 8 coming into the hot 100, I found but one worth mentioning (two, if you're a diehard Alan Parsons Project fan and know that their first single, The System Of Doctor Tarr And Professor Fether, debuted at 99 this week).  That one is Waaaay up at 76, Orleans with Still The One, precursor of a couple of seasons worth of ABC shows.  Happy thirty fifth birthday!  And we have a handful of other birthdays coming up here.  Rare Earth celebrates the 40th birthday of, uh, I Just Want To Celebrate.  Reaching 45 today are They're Coming To Take Me Away, Ha Ha! by Napoleon XIV, Bus Stop by the Hollies, and Sunshine Superman by Donovan.  The Jarmels' A Little Bit Of Soap turns 50 today, and at fifty-five is a neat little segue into the next of the Laurie's top ten.  This week in 1956, Frank Sinatra hit the top fifty with a song from the movie High Society called You're Sensational.  This is a great fun movie, you should check it out.  If you already know it, I'll add here that it had three other charting songs, alongside this one (which grazed around the bottom of the top 50 three weeks out of four):  True Love, sung by Bing Crosby and Grace Kelly, which reached #4 in October of '56; Well, Did You Evah? by Frank and Bing, which grazed the hot 100 on Billboard, and Now You Has Jazz, with Bing teaming with Louie Armstrong, which did the same.  However, the song Laurie put on her chart was an unreleased cut:

8. Little One- Bing Crosby, 1956.  A scene between Bing and his (ex) girlfriend's little sister, Laurie says, " I watched this movie with Mom- it was her favorite musical.  For years all I could remember was a scene with a wedding table full of gifts (this was where Frank and Celeste Holm sang Who Wants To Be A Millionaire); eventually, someone helped me remember which movie it was.  The best part of this song is at the end, as little sister says,'I now consider us engaged', and runs off.  Satchmo looks at the camera and says, 'Right song... but the wrong goil!!' "  We actually taped the songs onto cassette a while back. Ironically, this was Grace Kelley's last film role before becoming Princess of Monaco.

7. Don't It Make You Want To Go Home- Joe South, 1969.  When Laurie decided to try to track down this childhood memory gem, we really struggled to find anything about it- until we searched Smoky's Record Shop one day and found it on the back of one of those two-hit discs with Games People Play.  No doubt about it, the late Mr. Montgomery was a city treasure.  "My memories are of Mom playing it, which makes it important."  The song hit an undeservedly low #41 on the Billboard chart, and if you've ever looked longingly at your now-missing childhood home, it might get to you, too.

Our big dropper this week is Taking It To The Streets, which plummets 19 to 36.  Eeek, that's in the top forty!  One of the two biggest climbers is as well, so I'll just say that the other, Fleetwood Mac's Say You Love Me, leaps 21 notches to land at 42.
Which brings me to #49 and our Where Are You Now victim o'the week, Marvin Gaye's I Want You.  Of course, we lost Marvin on April 1st, 1984, in a domestic incident I don't feel is right to go into here.  Suffice it to say, celebrity takes a toll, and it often ends tragically.  Just cue up the Commodores' Night Shift and fade out...

6. Looking For Space- John Denver, 1976.  A recent member of the TM family, this song reached #29 not too long ago (Time Machine Time).  "Like It's Going To Take Some Time, this song reflected how I felt about life in that period."

5.  The Longest Time- Billy Joel,  1984.  The fourth single of An Innocent Man, this tune reached #14.  "I don't know why I like this song, I just have ever since it came out."  I get some small amusement in that Mr. Joel also has one of her least favorite songs, She's Always A Woman.  In this she is like me, in that Billy runs from some of my favorites (Allentown) to some of my least favorites (Only The Good Die Young).
Our look at the #1s of other years takes us to the 4s this week.  1994's top dog this week was Don't Turn Around by Ace Of Base, one of the few pop acts I could stand back then.  In 1984 it was Prince's classic When Doves Cry from Purple Rain.  1974's top song was George McRae's Rock Your Baby. 1964 was one of those years that the release dates were on either side of today's date;  if you round down, you get one of my all-timers, the Four Seasons' Rag Doll;  if you round up, you get the Beatles and A Hard Day's Night.  You can't lose there, folks.  Which reminds me- if you remember a while back, I shared you a hundred or so songs off my mammoth favorite-songs-of-the-seventies list.  Well, now I'm currently working on a similar list for the sixties, and I will share that with you if and when.  1954 has a repeat player- Kitty Kallen's Little Things Mean A Lot, which was in the sixth of her 7 weeks spread over three different times at the top.
Two top 40 debuts this week.  The first is our other big mover- KC and the Sunshine Band's Shake Your Booty, moving up 21 from 61 to 40.  The second is Dr. Hook's racy (at the time) A Little Bit More.  And an almost but not quite shout out to ABBA and Mamma Mia, which peaked at 36 2 weeks ago and slides to 41 this time around.  A #1 song in Australia (who was ABBA-crazy at the time), the UK, Germany, Ireland, and Switzerland, #2 in Belgium, New Zealand, and Norway, and top five in Austria and South Africa, it didn't get near the love in North America (only 20 in Canada).  I assure you though, those numbers hadda be MUCH higher here in Ft. Wayne.

 4. Bread- Look What You've Done, 1970.  A cut from their second lp On The Waters which appears on the second side of Best Of Bread.  "What catches me is the line, 'There is someone you ought to meet/ that's me, Mr. Incomplete' ".  A fine song which to my surprise (though not Laurie's) was never released as a single.  I think it stands well with all but the best of their hits.

3. Papa Gene's Blues- The Monkees, 1966.  It should come as no surprise to any friend of Laurie's that the Monkees would be in here somewhere.  This is a cut from their debut lp that was actually misprinted as "Papa Jean's Blues" on the first run of album covers- a mistake I myself have perpetuated down through the years.  "This is just one of those songs you like, " Laurie says, a statement that can be well applied to most of their repertoire.  I can never remember it because "Papa Gene" is never mentioned in the song; but call it by the chorus line, "I love you and I know you love me, " then I know it.

2. To A Sleeping Beauty- Jimmy Dean, 1962.  A spoken word #26 hit (#15 country) for the late MHOFer, this might be the biggest tear jerker of the lot.  "My favorite 'makes me cry' song.  If you are a father or a daughter, no matter your relationship, it will get to you.  It struck me and my sister because it showed a relationship with a father that we always wanted- and never got."  If this song doesn't get to you, you may need to consult here. 
One song enters the top ten, one drops out.  Falling is Take The Money And Run, from 9 to 14. 
Holding on at #10 are Thin Lizzy and The Boys Are Back In Town.  Coming in at #9 is Queen with probably their only mainstream pop song, You're My Best Friend.  Andrea True tumbles 5 to #8 with More More More.  Then we hit a long parade of songs that move up just one, starting with The Brothers Johnson's I'll Be Good To You at #7, the Beatles' Got To Get You Into My Life at #6, and John Travolta's Let Her In at #5.
Now, I told you that Laurie had eleven songs on the list, but in a sense of numerical symmetry, she's decided to go with 2 #1s- one secular and one Christian.  The Christian one, and I'm estimating the overall top dog, is from Steve Green's 1984 debut lp, called:
1 (a)- Proclaim The Glory Of The Lord- Steve Green, 1984. This is a powerful song, and Laurie usually does it justice by playing it at volumes that I normally reserve for Kiss.  "If you like Christian songs, orchestra, and really big productions, you'll love this.  Plus the message."
And the secular song?
1(b)- Where Does The Heart Go (When The Love Song Ends)- Chuck Easterday.  Yes, Laurie's brother is an accomplished musician, having played with local bands Renegade and Silverado, and even doing a first audition for America's Got Talent.  This particular song was the result of a friend having lost his wife in an accident at an unmarked railroad crossing in Ohio.  " This is the big tear jerker.  What he says in this song is so moving... ' From I Do, He gave her everything and more/ from I Do, she showed him just what I DO was for...few could ever love like this/ how could he ever love again... A heart that up till now had only known how to begin/ tell me, where does the heart go, when the love song ends..?' "  Okay, now I can't see the keyboard.  I haven't the tech to bring you this particular song -yet- but if you'd like to see how talented Chuck is, log onto and search "Slicknickel", or just watch this youtube clip:

Two more song remain on the "move up one" parade:  Starbuck to #4 with Moonlight Feels Right; and Gary Wright to #3 with Love Is Alive.  The Starland Vocal Band holds at 2 with the former top dog, Afternoon Delight.

 Which leaves us with a repeat #1 song, and our six degrees contestant for the week- the Manhattans and Kiss And Say Goodbye.  This song became the second to win the new platinum record for 1,000,000 sales, the first being Johnny Taylor's Disco Lady.  Johnny had a list of guests on the record including Parliament/Funkadelic's Bootsy Collins, and Dawn's Telma Hopkins, who was also for you cable nuts on the first season or so of Family Matters.  Telma also was the one who says "Shut Yo' Mouth" on Isaac Hayes' Theme From Shaft.  Now, in return for doing the movie score, Hayes had been promised an audition for the movie lead (which he did not get, although he did a cameo as the bartender at the No-Name bar).  That role went to Richard Roundtree, which was his second film role. The first was in the Allen Funt adult-candid-camera film What Do You Say To A Naked Lady (where Richard apparently played as half of a naked interracial couple with Donna Whitfield, who I learned absolutely nothing else about other than this might be a picture of her from her only other credit, Torture Dungeon.).

(But which one, I don't know.)
  This film was scored by one Steve Karmen, who wrote two of the most successful beer jingles of all time- When You Say "Bud" and "Here Comes The King".  So there you have it- from a bud commercial to a #1 song in six easy (ha!) steps.

Hope you all enjoyed Laurie's top ten (ELEVEN!!!) as much as I did. See Y'all next trip!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cut, Cap, and Balance vs Gang of 6: the Martin Take

I just was curious what, beyond rhetoric, was in the two versions of deficit reduction duking their way through Congress.  I'm not going to bore y'all with a technical analysis, just a (hopefully) common-sense highlighting.

First, CC&B.  Start with a $111 billion cut in spending by fiscal 2012.  Wow, a whole .7% of the debt as figured on  Achieved by scaling back (non-security related) discretionary spending to 2008 levels, and cutting non-discretionary funding (outside of vet benefits and Medicare/SS) by $35  billion.  Gosh, don't knock yourselves out.

Proceed to a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Various representatives have been trying to get this since 1936, most notably since 1975, and their success has been not far better than that of the Equal Rights Amendment.  And now, we're going to pass this as the "gun to the head" for a debt ceiling raise?  Can we be realistic here?  You've got a better chance at "a chicken in every pot" than a BBA under the best of circumstances.  The hardline GOP know this, thus they added:

A debt ceiling increase of $2.4 TRILLION, if the BBA passes.
Yeah, right.

So to sum up C,C,&B- this is a great propaganda tool but not anything close to serious legislation.  If I was a democrat, I'd take it as an insult to my intelligence (all easy jokes aside, please).  I gather Obama's taking it that way too.  As PT Barnum might say, it just wasn't Obama's minute this time.

Okay, now let's go on to the Gang of 6 plan.  First off, who are the Gang of 6? The “Gang of Six” is led by Democrat Mark Warner and Republican Saxby Chambliss and includes four members of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. The others are Dems Dick Durbin of Illinois and Kent Conrad of North Dakota.  The GOP underwriters are Mike Crapo (boy, I'd change THAT name) of Idaho and Tom "Dr. No" Coburn of Oklahoma.  For more on these men, if you choose, look here.  The plan starts with an immediate reduction of $500 billion (okay, now we're up to 3.4%), though they're not well-defined; discretionary spending caps, budget process reforms, a changeover of accounting methods (liars, damn liars, and statisticians, etc., etc.), repealing Ted Kennedy's beloved national health care insurance ( the "CLASS" act), policy changes including Congressional pay freezes (believe THAT when I see it), among others.

Over the next ten years, the plan is to cut $3.7 trillion (almost 26%).  However, the job of doing it is left to various Congressional committees, albeit with a time limit.  The Finance cmt.  is to reform the SS/Medicare system in such a way to make it solvent for the next 75 years.  Armed Services has to cut $80 billion, Dpts. of Health, Labor, Education, and Pensions each have a target of $70 bil, Homeland Security and Government Affairs $65 bil each. Ag gets to cut $11, as does Commerce; Energy gets to cough up $6 bil, and Justice has to find a way to save billions through basically tort reform.  On top of this, the Finance committee has to: simplify the tax code to do away with loopholes and set up a three tiered tax rate; repeal the alternative minimum tax; effect these reforms in such a way as to stimulate growth ( their WTF moment, fer shure);and still find a way to increase revenues by $1.4 trillion over those ten years.  Plus, they have to find a way to add $133 billion by 2021 for the Highway Trust Fund- WITHOUT a gas tax increase.    And in a final piece of legerdemain, they get to decide on a SINGLE corporate tax rate.

In addition, the CBO gets to work on saving $26 billion by catching the money they're pissing away on medicare cheats.  Now, I do see a lot of good ideas here, but the big question mark to me is getting the Congressional committees to actually do the work.  And here is where the best part comes in:  any committee that doesn't get their report in on time faces ACROSS THE BOARD cuts of the target amounts.  OUCH!!

Still, this is great legislation that contains a large dose of pie-in-the-sky.  A LOT of WTF moments in committee, and the capitol will ring with the howls of outraged PACs and special interest agents.  Thing is, I think it beats the GOP plan by a country mile.  I find this "No taxes whatsoever" attitude stupid and disingenuous.  Not because I want more taxes- or could afford them- but because I think there is a HUGE amount of people (read: BIIIG corporations) that piss in the bucket of what they should be paying.  It's time for the Tea Partyers to realize that the GOP is paying two agendas with their tax refusal- brown nosing them and taking care of their biggest donors.  I think that any legislator that monkeys around with C,C, &B while fighting GO6 is in fact betraying the little guy who voted for them.  IMHO, this is a chance to see the soul of the GOP here and now- is it small business you really want to help- or the guy from Exxon-Mobil (where do you think that Highway Trust Fund money gets to come from if the gas tax is off-limits?)?

And GO6?  Here's the test of your ability.  Will you have the resolve to hold the committees, the Congress, the President, and yourselves, to the laid-out task?  Or will you let Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Barack Obama run rings around this law like they do the laws on the books right now?  It's one thing to commit "the right thing to do" to paper- another entirely to do it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Whole lotta pimpin' goin' on!

First off, I pimp myself, as I have had my very first guest post!  It was on the site Dribble, run by my Australian friend, Mynx.  You should check it out, as it is kind of a Kid Stuff Part Two (and you guys remember what fun THAT was!), and it will give you a chance to snoop around  Mynx's place, which is full of fun, life, and great artwork-in-progress.  (And, if you feel a bit naughty, she's got another blog you can find from there for the literati with a little time on their imagination.) Plus, a lot of the cool kids hang out there, too, so check it out!  (Thus, I kill two pimps with one paragraph.)

Second, I can't help but laugh at how a certain subject has come up in a very short time on TWO of the blogs I follow.  First, we had a treatise on the English language and its offshoot, Likespeak, over at Waiting For God.  Not long thereafter, we get a humorous look at Likespeak's effect on the relatively normal mind over at The 4th Frog Blog.  Any of y'all that enjoyed either on should stop by the other;  the rest of you should stop by both and get the best of both worlds.  Since I'm in a pimping way, I recommend both places as A+ to hang out at.

Moving on to more of a rant, I got this story through Chuck Shepard's News Of The Weird, but this is one of those that is more rant-inducing than funny to me.  For those allergic to clicking links, here's the nutshell.  NYPD cop claims shoulder problem, retires on disability.  Someone finds out he has a construction job.  Pension shut off, told to return to work.  Police physical shows cocaine in his system, and he is eventually fired.  Cop sues the city, saying that they had no right to suspend his pension without a hearing before the pension board.  The parole board is one-half city officials, one-half union.  Show of hands for guessing what happens next?  That's right, the board deadlocks, and thus the pension is supposed to be re-instated.  In a rare show of actual intelligence, city officials are still refusing to pay this travesty.

I know that there are some of you out there that I gain no love from when I attack unions.  Once upon a time, unions were there for a reason, a good reason.  Now, unions only exist to keep sorry ass frauds like this guy on the job and put money into the coffers of the Democratic party candidate with the brownest nose.  When pro-union people start showing me examples of when they actually boot some low-life POS from their organization instead of suing for his back-pay, I'll lay off.  I don't think I'll be holding my breath.  When I become King of this country, I guarantee that unemployment will momentarily spike when all those Congressmen and their staffs, all those Wall Street money-manipulators, and every member of Labor management I can track down will be beating the streets.  I will shortly alleviate this with jobs digging graves for convicted murderers, rapists, and child molesters, and replacement workers for all the illegal aliens who'll get a one-way ticket home.  And that, my friends, is likely why you'll never see me on the throne (at least, THAT one).

Saturday, July 16, 2011

More fun with scammers

Two more semi-original contestants on "Who's Dumber: Scammer Edition" today.  I've got to give our first contestant some real props for weaving current events into the storyline,

Dear Friend

I am Dr John C. Williams, a member of the Emergency MedicalVolunteers team
(doctors without borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières MSF),attached to the
3rd infantry division of the African Union peace keeping forcethat was
deployed in Libyaat the beginning of the recent hostilities. My medical
team was the first toarrive at the scene where the Libyan leader Muamar
Gaddafi's youngest son Saifal-Arab Gadhafi and 3 of his grand sons were
killed in a NATO air strike in Babal-Aziziya compound in Tripolion May 1st
2011.Please visit this web site for true confirmation. our arrival at the scene,
dead bodies were been taken away by the Libyanauthorities who later
granted us access to rescue operation. During our intensesearch for
possible survivors at the scene we discovered among other things, acache
of silver box stashed with millions of US dollars. We did not report
thisbut cautiously we took the box ourselves to a safe location where we
had theopportunity of opening it to discover that the amount in the box is
TwelveMillion US dollar (US$12M). In line with our terms and condition of
service, weare not allowed to have cash on us wile on duty, so we did not
take out a dimefrom the box. After that, we took the box to one of the
western diplomaticmission and secretly deposited it there as our personal
medical effects. Myreason for writing you therefore is to ask you to
assist me in receiving andkeeping this money safe under your personal
custody in your country pending mytime off from duty and my arrival there.
Upon your acceptance to assist me, weshall discuss your percentage and I
shall give you my phone number, togetherwith a break down on how the money
can be moved from here to your place. Pleasebear in mind that there are no
risks what-so-ever involved in this becauseutmost precautionary measures
was applied in this regard. For our safety herein Libya, kindly treat
matter as top secret while expecting your promptresponse via this e-mail

( )

Kind Regards,
Dr John C. Williams

Wow, twelve mill in cash hidden in Libya, and Qaddafiduck's men forgot to grab it before those inquisitive scamps from DWB absconded with it.  I'd certainly try to keep it secret by enlisting a random person by e-mail to help me.  They actually did good spelling this time, but the 18 times their space bar failed them indicates to me that they might want to sift through the ruins and survivors for a new keyboard.

Our next contestant had a lot of trouble with his spellcheck after running it through the Yoruba-to English Google Translator.  You'll note that this from a division of Interpol ( a fact you are told nine time by my count), and that, unlike a lot of scam mails, here you are informed that you have already been scammed for "closer a lot of thousands dollars before".  Damn, what an idiot I was! Rather than pick it apart, let me just highlight the flowing eloquence(with my comments underscored):



Chief Hon, Inspector General Eric Johnson
Inspector General of fraud International Interpol Police Force Unity.
BENIN: +229_93_725_927



Chief Hon, Inspector General Eric Johnson
Telephone: +229_93_725_927
Email address:(

This notification email is coming to you from Benin Interpol Command and please immediately you receive this message do let us know by calling because we need to carry on with this importer’s work accordingly,(And we all know how much work Interpol does for Beninian importers!)
We are written to let you know that we have three gentlemen arrested in the Western Union yesterday name Robert Oleo and Good luck Brown anode of them came from Nigeria and through our investigation we discovered your email address from them which proof that they have scammed you before, The fact that one of them made us clear that they scammed you out of closer a lot of thousands dollars before.
Please we don't have much thing with you for now as you can see we are very busy but all we need from you to sundown your home address and your phone number and you count very well how amount you have loose under scammer’s down here in Africa because first thing tomorrow morning we will lead them to court and from the court they will be charge to jail. (Not really sure how to sundown an address, but whatever can put these ne'erdowells in charge to jail is fine with me.)
So you we mail us back now with this needed details if you don't know the exactly amount you have spent to Benin and Nigeria under scammer's control then you just tell us that you don't know the amount so that court will charge the Countries how much they will pay you as you are scammers then you will have compensation. (Actually, you mean, as I am the scam-ee, right?)Please all we need is the truth and if you never spend just make us clear.
We wait to have the details from yours soon as you get this mail. On whatever happen to Court we will let you know. you can reach us on this line any time,+229_93_725_927 please don’t forward this email to any person from Africa to avid them use itto do their bad work on the name of West Africa Interpol Service please. (I'm confused here; am I trying to prevent scammers from giving Interpol a bad name?)

Chief Hon, Inspector General Eric Johnson
Inspector General of fraud International Interpol Police Force Unity.
BENIN: +229_93_725_927

God Bless
Mr.John Mark
(and two questions here;  Interpol signing letters, "God bless you"- really?; and after all this stuff from CIG Eric Johnson, who the heck is Mr. John Mark?  The Interpol chaplain?)

So there you have it- one from the well-respected Dr. John C. Williams, although it was sent by one "bayo dada" and headered "message from dayo"; and one from the Honorable CIG Eric Johnson, sent by the blessed Mr. John Mark.  The choice is yours.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Step into my time machine week sixty-four

Well, children, it's July 15th, 1976.  It is hot and muggy, and at around 4:30pm we're gonna get poured on.  Jimmy Carter will accept the Democratic nomination for president today in Atlanta, and in Westbury, NY, Joe Satriani will come into the world.  And these are the songs that were hot then- because this is the Time Machine.  Not a Delorean, as Bob G. likes to say, but in my mind, more like Dr. Who's phone booth, but bigger with nice seats.  Today, we visit a band formed at a Marine base, we watch Jethro Bodine direct a movie, we connect a porn star with a wealthy heiress, and get a new top dog.  Enough to make it worth your trip?  I think so- it is free, after all.  Let's go!

A bad day for debuts and birthdays- (unless you're Joe Satriani) - The only noteworthy birthday is CCR's Sweet Hitchhiker turning 40 this week.  And debuts? We have seven.  Three worth mentioning.  And two of them have been this way before.  The only "real" debut is Earth Wind And Fire with one of my faves, Getaway, at 92.  At ninety-five, Bobby Gentry's Ode To Billy Joe re-enters for its 15th week, on the strength of the new Ode To Billy Joe movie that's come out, starring Robby Benson and directed by Max Baer, Jr.- yes, that's Jethro of the Beverly Hillbillies.  And at 92, Atlantic records has decided that now that EVERYONE knows who Daryl Hall and John Oates are thanks to Sara Smile (which, BTW, is our grandpa song at 23 weeks and just exiting the top 40, and was actually PROMOTED by their new record company, RCA), they'll re-release She's Gone, which got only to 52 in it's 10-week attempt two years ago.  Nothing like striking when someone else can do your work for you, huh?

A sluggish big mover week too- Silver climbs 18 to 74 with Wham Bam Shang A Lang.  The droppers were a different story, though.  Four songs dropped 22 notches this week, and they're all in a cluster. Get Up And Boogie falls to 40, Marvin Gaye's I Want You tumbles to 42, the aforementioned Sara Smile to 44, and Love Hangover to 45.  Also, while 41 was a climber, #43 dropped 19 (not the 21 I told Laurie last night, after I thought about the mathematical impossibility and re-figured).  That was, BTW, America's Today Is The Day.

Graciously, Todd Rundgren moves up off the #49 spot this week and gives us a new where are they now victim- Henry Gross, who slips into the honor spot with the dropping Shannon.  Henry was a founder of Sha-Na-Na right outta high school, but left soon after to start a solo career.  Despite an ever growing list of regional hits, he never got the big break until Shannon- and despite constantly recording since, never had another big hit.  These days, he's just released two new CDs , called Right As Rain and Rhymes And Misdemeanors.  He's also contributed songs to a fellow old timer, Johnathon Edwards (remember Sunshine Go Away Today?), and is releasing them on his own Zelda Records, named after his mom.  He claims they are his best work ever on his website ( of course, he also claims he's a jackass for not regularly updating the website, too, so it's all a matter of perspective).

An almost but not quite shout out this week to Cyndi Grecco for her one hit, the Laverne And Shirley theme Making Our Dreams Come True, which slips to 34 after peaking at 21 last time out.  This song, like the Happy Days theme, was written by Norman Gimbel and Charles Fox- veteran writers who'd already hit with such classics as Sergio Mendes' The Girl From Ipanema and Roberta Flack's Killing Me Softly With His Song.  This time, though, they had zero information to go on, according to Fox- all they knew was their names and that they would be blue collar workers (Unlike the Happy Days deal, this show was only in works, and the pilot hadn't been filmed yet).  So they set to work on the concept of two girls who had a dream and were working and hoping to make it come true- even if the writers had no clue what it was.  So they came up with the song "Hoping Our Dreams Will Come True"- which the producers rejected.  "No, these girls won't just sit back and hope.  They're the kind that will go out and take the bull by the horns and wrestle it."  So Norman re-wrote the lyrical dynamic into MAKING the dream come true, and a song was born.  And finished it before the producers had stumbled onto the bright idea that it might work better if the show didn't use their last names in the title (which they did, apparently, in the pilot).

At least we had some debut action in the top forty- five songs came onto Airplay Alley.  At 38, Chicago entered with Another Rainy Day In New York City, up 5.  The second cut from Frampton Comes Alive! enters the 40 at 37 this week- Baby I Love Your Way, up nine.  A 15 notch climber comes in at 36- Wild Cherry and Play That Funky Music.  At 35, up 7, is Candi Staton with Young Hearts Run Free.  And this week's high debut is the Bee Gees' You Should Be Dancing (yeah), going up 12 to #29.

Our look at the top dogs of yesteryear is in the threes this week.  In 1993 was the entirely forgettable Weak by SWV, which stood for Sisters With Voices.  Now there's a unique qualification for a singing act.  1983 this week was headed by the Police's classic Every Breath You Take.  In 1973, we have a Billy Preston song for the second straight week on this feature- this time it's Will It Go 'Round In Circles.  Making a donut, I skip to 1953 where we find Eddie Fisher, who's just replaced previous honoree Percy Faith's Moulin Rouge Theme with I'm Walking Behind You.  No, he's not being a butt-man, he's referring to his daughter and her upcoming wedding.  Back to 1963 we go to find a band put together by Marines at Camp LeJune, NC- The Essex, with Easier Said Than Done.  The lead singer, fellow Marine Anita Humes, died just over a year ago- May 30th of last year- at the age of 69.

Three songs enter the top ten this week, three drop out.  Falling are Silly Love Songs, from 4 to 11; Misty Blue, from 8 to 15; and Shop Around, from 9 to 16. Oh and before I forget (which I already had), the number one album this week is still Wings At The Speed Of Sound.

First up in the top ten is the big hit for Thin Lizzy, The Boys Are Back In Town, climbing three to #10.  Steve Miller climbs a spot to 9 with Take The Money And Run.  Coming in at #8, up 3, are the Brothers Johnson with I'll Be Good To You.  The high debut comes from the Beatles, still weaving their magic with Got To Get You Into My Life climbing from 12 to 7.  John Travolta edges up a notch with Let Her In at 6. Moonlight Feels Right moves into the top 5 for Starbuck, also up one spot.  Continuing the trend is Gary Wright, who moves up that spot to #4 with Love Is Alive.

Speaking of trends, ever since I decided to graft the six degrees special to the highest song that's lost the bullet, I've gotten lots of repeat offenders.  Well, Silly Love Songs finally fell, so of course, Afternoon Delight just had to do the same thing.  Which means that yet again we go to the second-highest song without ammunition, which is Andrea True's More More More at #3 for a second week.  Now, we already discussed Andrea's former (and future) occupation in an earlier TM, as well as the fateful trip to Jamaica where a coup forced her to make some money to get home.  This is where she called good friend Gregg Diamond, a record producer, who came down with the song that she recorded to pay her way.  Gregg became later known for producing a disco studio group called Bionic Boogie, which featured the lead singing talents of Luther Vandross.  He had met Luther through Gregg's brother Godfrey, who was a soundman when Luther was working with David Bowie on his Young Americans lp.  In addition to singing, Luther had come up with the backup vocal arrangement, which included the riff "I heard the news today, oh boy" taken from the Beatles' A Day In The Life.  That part of that song was written by John Lennon, who was also involved in the Young Americans lp, particularly on the song Fame.  Anyway, John had based the opening part of the song ("He blew his mind out in a car/he hadn't noticed that the lights had changed") on the tragic accident that killed 21-year old Tara Browne.  The young socialite was the son of one of the famous "Golden Guinness" heiresses, Ernest Guiness' youngest daughter Oonagh (pronounced "ooo-na"). This would be the third child of her to meet a sad end- a son had died months after birth, and a daughter died as a 14-year-old from a reaction to Diptheria vaccine.  So there you have it- porn star Andrea True to Gregg Diamond to Luther Vandross to David Bowie to John Lennon to Tara Browne to heiress Oonagh Guinness.

Which brings us to the top two, and since I already announced we'd have a new top dog, that means Afternoon Delight and the Starland Vocal Band slip to the runner up spot.  Which also means our new top dog is.....

... the Manhattans, with Kiss And Say Goodbye!!!

Another good week in the books. Have a good weekend!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Blame Canada!

Now before I get a bunch of warmly dressed people jumping on my butt, let me explain the title of this here blog post.  Y'see, what with CBG and Tracy over at Average Girl, I've been learning a lot about our neighbors to the north.  But never so much as I did when an American friend of ours sent this e-mail to us about actual billboards from Canada.  I would have just put the whole thing on here, but since blogger and outlook express can't get along enough to let me do this any way but piece by piece, here are the highlights:

And last but not least, my two favorites.  Our runner-up:

And our champion- one I'd not be surprised if Tracy put up herself:

Now THAT'S an extreeeeeeme hazard!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Yet another era ends

Otto von Hapsburg, died on July 4th.  For the long version of who this fascinating man was, look here.  The short version, he was the man who would have been Emperor of Austria and King of Hungary for the past 89 years, if there was still a Kingdom of Hungary or Empire of Austria.  He would have been coronated in 1922- and because of that, bad things happened:  supporters were butchered by Nazis, possessions were expropriated without appeal, for decades he was a man without a state.  And because of that, good things happened- he worked tirelessly for the unity of Europe, even when the Iron Curtain stood between him and his goal.

Here are some exerpts from a very good article by Michael Shields of Reuters:

It was he who spawned the joke in which an aide asks if he had seen the Austria-Hungary football match the night before.

The deadpan reply: "No, whom were we playing?"

"He died peacefully with his family present," a man who identified himself as a grandson said by telephone from Poecking, on Lake Starnberg in southern Germany, where Habsburg had lived since 1954 during a life spent mostly in exile.


He helped arrange a "Pan-European Picnic" on the Austro-Hungarian border in 1989 which led to a brief opening of the Iron Curtain dividing capitalist West from communist eastern Europe, fostering the movement that would lead to the fall of the Berlin Wall a few months later.


His coffin will remain for three days in a church in Poecking, followed by requiem services in Munich, Vienna, Budapest and elsewhere, his website said.

He is expected to be buried at the imperial crypt in Vienna, where dozens of his ancestors lie, after a funeral at St. Stephen's cathedral on July 16, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn told the Kathpress news agency.
The Habsburgs sometimes bury the hearts of their dead separately. A spokeswoman for the family secretariat in Hungary said his heart would interred in the Abbey of Pannonhalma, in western Hungary.

Former Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel called him "a great Austrian patriot" who "incorporated pan-European thinking like no other and articulated this already at a time when a dark shadow hung over the continent."
European Commission President Manuel Barroso hailed him as "a great European...who gave an important impetus to the European project throughout his rich life."


Otto was a fascinating man; perhaps even more so than his twice-great-grand-uncle, Francis Joseph, the second to last Emperor, and perhaps not so tragic as Francis Joseph's son Rudolph, whose death, along with Franz Ferdinand's, allowed Otto's father to be the last sitting Hapsburg ruler.  Austria's history has always had a magnetic pull on me- and it's late palladin is no exeption.  Rest in peace, your highness.


Just so y'all don't miss it, the cap blog features a tale of my youth at the end of the latest post- a tale of a town that formed a big part of the first 3 decades of my life.  Check it out, on the "boards 8-9 " post.