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


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Debt, Bankruptcy, and Nehemiah 5

This morning, Charles Stanley wanted to talk about debt.  And as usual, the subject made me mad.  Let me set the stage here a bit.  First off, I've filed bankruptcy a few years back.  About half of the people I know have done likewise.  Second, I understand that there are things that can be done short of bankruptcy.  I get that you should live within your means.  I realize that as a Christian, I should always strive to pay my debts.  And I know that there are people who spend without concern, conscience, or care, and then go to the courts to reset their bank accounts.

All that said, I would like just once to hear a pastor who seems to get that there are times and circumstances when you just cannot help it.  Now, Dr. Stanley mentioned that he wasn't talking about people going through "catastrophic" events, i.e. medical crises, natural disasters, etc.  But beyond that, the body of blame he placed more or less on obeying your desires and deluding yourself that they are necessities.  You need to look at what you're going into debt over and pick and choose carefully.  And also, that going into debt is a sign of doubt that God will provide.  To me, this is a nice one-size-fits-all for someone who hasn't been there lately.

Now, I'm not going to claim that I was "doing everything right" or "putting it all before God" when I filed.  I was partying (mostly on other peoples bankrolls, though); I had not one but two live-in girlfriends who didn't work, whether through health incapability or sheer fat laziness.  Still, I went without a TV for two years, until someone gave me one; I had a second job (which basically bought the gas for both and threw in a little grocery money- it wouldn't do that now with $4 gas);  my kids didn't even have a bed to sleep in when they visited.  The bankruptcy was not a direct cause of irresponsibility.  It's direct cause was that in 5 years my lot rent went up 40-50% while my pay remained static.  The mortgage on the trailer (which I admit I didn't understand at the time) was adjusted twice by the finance company, and they could do no more.  My sister paid a couple of months of phone bill once.  I simply couldn't make the money necessary to keep up with the greed of the park management.

And there are a lot of people who go through the same thing.  It doesn't take a "catastrophic" event, just go on disability, or SSA.  It doesn't take lavish spending, just fixed expenses that rise and pay that doesn't.  It doesn't take maxing out your card, just hitting a bad stretch at 25-30% interest payments.  And the Church here on earth can and will be helpful when needed, don't get me wrong.  But sermons nearly always make you feel that filing is a sin, because you're not paying what you "promised".  And they never BUT NEVER mention the other side of the story.

I want to look at Nehemiah Chapter 5 to show you what I mean.  I have only ever found this talked about in a pastoral discourse on debt ONE TIME.  And my question is, why is that?  Let me post the chapter and go along from there.

1 And there was a great outcry of the people and their wives against their Jewish brethren. 2 For there were those who said, “We, our sons, and our daughters are many; therefore let us get grain, that we may eat and live.”

3 There were also some who said, “We have mortgaged our lands and vineyards and houses, that we might buy grain because of the famine.”

4 There were also those who said, “We have borrowed money for the king’s tax on our lands and vineyards. 5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brethren, our children as their children; and indeed we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have been brought into slavery. It is not in our power to redeem them, for other men have our lands and vineyards.”

6 And I became very angry when I heard their outcry and these words. 7 After serious thought, I rebuked the nobles and rulers, and said to them, “Each of you is exacting usury from his brother.” So I called a great assembly against them. 8 And I said to them, “According to our ability we have redeemed our Jewish brethren who were sold to the nations. Now indeed, will you even sell your brethren? Or should they be sold to us?”

Then they were silenced and found nothing to say. 9 Then I said, “What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies? 10 I also, with my brethren and my servants, am lending them money and grain. Please, let us stop this usury! 11 Restore now to them, even this day, their lands, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also a hundredth of the money and the grain, the new wine and the oil, that you have charged them.”

12 So they said, “We will restore it, and will require nothing from them; we will do as you say.”

Then I called the priests, and required an oath from them that they would do according to this promise. 13 Then I shook out the fold of my garment[a] and said, “So may God shake out each man from his house, and from his property, who does not perform this promise. Even thus may he be shaken out and emptied.”

And all the assembly said, “Amen!” and praised the LORD. Then the people did according to this promise.
Okay, now let's look at what I highlighted.  The first two passages, in VV 3-4 tell us that we are not looking at (and since the Bible is the inspired Word Of God, God is telling us) people who are prodigal spenders.  They were taking out loans for the necessities of life.  And yet, they were struggling.  How many times do we these days talk about the government "buying now with our grandchildren's savings"?  These people are in that same boat.  They are mortgaging their children's futures for the necessities of life, and cannot pay it back because all of their resources are being devoured by interest!  Pastors, when you preach about debt, why do you condone this???
Nehemiah then calls a spade a spade; interest is one thing, usury is another.  If God requests 10%, who are we as humans to ask 25-30%?  And yet, when laws are enacted to protect lenders, the financial world cries foul and raises rates in other spots to keep their "necessary cashflow".  When nobody can pay their mortgages, the government gives the money to the financial institutions (to "stabilize"them), and they pocket the money and SELL THE BAD MORTGAGES TO THE GOVERNMENT!  All this when you could have paid most of our mortgages off free and clear if you'd have combined the stimulus money with the price paid for the subprime mortgages and JUST PAID THEM OFF!!  Pastors, when you tell me that I am sinning in going to bankruptcy court, what about them??
Nehemiah then goes on to re-institute the Jubilee year- he tells them to restore the title to the people's resources, and even to pay back some of what had been charged them.  What bank has EVER done that?  I don't quite think that getting "cash back" on my Discover card covers this.  Pastors, when you tell me to pay, do you ever go to my creditor and tell them to restore?  Huh??
Finally look at v 13.  There is a retribution to failing to do so, and this is from God, His inspired word.  Loss of "property" for non-compliance.  Is this not, in essence, what filing bankruptcy IS?  Rewinding all the caveats I began with, bankruptcy is not this sin I commit against my creditor- it is the fulfillment of God's promise to the oppressed against the usurer.  Why, o pastor, have I never heard THAT from the pulpit?
Man screws up, man judges. God comforts.  And I really feel that this is a huge area where the Church today fails.  So ready to play by the rules of man when it comes to money, instead of bringing God's comfort.  What good is it to help me dig my way out, if I must feel guilty about doing it in the first place?  Pastors really need to wake up and realize that there is a difference between bankruptcy that is a sin against God and bankruptcy that is a sin against money.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Big Walk

Today, Scrappy and I decided that we were going to see if the greenway under Parnell Street was finally open.  It was; and here is our story.  Forty minutes from home to the path under Coliseum Blvd. Another ten into Johnny Appleseed park.

Dadddy takes break #1 at the overlook at the dam.  Scrappy wants to go!

I couldn't believe how low the river was.  This is just down from the dam.

Proof?  Here's the wall at the river's edge, from the river side.  Walked about 20 yards along the bank this way.

Remember this spring, when there was water 50 feet past this pole?  This is from the current river's edge.

One of the places we usually couldn't go was this idyllic stretch behind the boat house.  Last time? This was water.  Now?  Just watch for the mole tunnels.

This path took us quite a ways along the road out of Appleseed.  Along the way we found a bright yellow softball, a HR from Turner Field.  We climbed back up to the road soon after and threw it back in.

        As you can see, the way was open- if a little creepy.  The boardwalk here really creaks!

This path was so cool, though!  Dark, peaceful, quiet- and we still ran into more people than anywhere else on the walk.

We emerged, I didn't know where, except that it was along a road and right under an electrical tower.

But guess what?  We found the marker to Stevie's Island at long last!  Couldn't see the island, though- the bank was wide, steep, and overgrown.
Soon later, we learned that we were following Spy Run Ave.  After another break soon after, we continued down the trail until we found ourselves where the trail splits at Tom Steele Tires...

Oh, but I forgot! Just before the wooded trail opened up into this more city-like scene..

We found this painting, just sitting here at the side of the trail!  Weird, wild stuff.

Next thing we knew, trail became sidewalk, and we were going down State Street!

From there, we made our way past the Tom Kelly North Side Empire to Northside Park.

Scrappy was still rip-raring to go!  But I needed a break, so we went into the park to a) find a restroom, b)call Laurie and alert her that we might soon need a pickup (the walk now well into the second hour), and c) figure out where it is that, as a sign told us, the greenway picked back up.

The first two were easy; the third we were having a time with.  We finally decided to try the trail that wrapped around the park's three ball diamonds.  However, when we rounded the corner at the last diamond (after break #3 in the dugout)...

...yup, the trail ended.

So we cut cross-country back towards State Street.  We ended up going BEHIND the Acme Pizza and Package Store..

And would you believe, there was one of those IPFW Mastadons back there!
Moments later (after stopping Scrappy from going into the Pizza place's back door), we made the corner of State and Crescent.  We were now at 2:20 into this thing, Scrappy still going strong, but it was starting to get warmer.  Time to call Laurie to have her come fetch us while we proceeded north.

Scrappy actually finally showed signs of tuckering out at Crescent and Kenwood, and when we took break #4 there, he actually sat down insteadof whining to go on- for about 1 minute.

Soon Later, Laurie caught up to us at Crescent and Anthony.  This was our previous farthest south we'd walked.  By Google earth, total walk, 5.06 miles.  Time at pickup, 2 1/2 hours.

the great sixties countdown week five

Okay, I've fully updated myself on Irene- she's a bit pokier than I expected- and I'm ready to give y'all another twenty of my favorites.  And this week, the girls are going to start making their presence known.

220- Over You, Gary Puckett and the Union Gap.  The Gap had a talent for powerful choruses, and this might have been the strongest.  I miss real horns in music.  Of course, I've been saying that since Chicago hit their first #1 with If You Leave Me Now (currently on Time Machine).

219- Lightning Strikes, Lou Christie.  I used to love the high vocals like this, although a lot of songs like this one have slid for me over the years.  Probably as I started listening to the lyrics- Lou was such a male slut.

218- All Along The Watchtower, the Jimi Hendrix Experience.  How do you beat Dylan's words and Hendrix's guitar?  I loved the way this song was woven through the last season or so of Battlestar Galactica- I have the version played when Kara returned from her trip to Earth burned on CD.  Frackin' cool!

217- You're The One, the Vogues.  This is one of those bands that I didn't know how much I liked until I got their greatest hits (on tape) and saw how many of their songs I really loved.  It's a real shame that most people only know 5 O'Clock World, and that thanks to Drew Carey.

216- I Dig Rock And Roll Music, Peter Paul and Mary.  It took me a long time to realize this was just PPM trying to sound like the Mamas And The Papas instead of the real thing.  Of course, then you realize that it's kind of a backhand slap against the genre, but I get back at their "snobbery" by just digging the song.

215- Monday, Monday, The Mamas And The Papas.  Unintentional irony here, I assure you.  Anyone out there remember watching the Groovy Ghoulies, and having a song from the Mummies and the Puppies?

214- How Can I Be Sure?, The Turtles.  I wasn't much into Flo and Eddie, but this was a great song for rocking back and forth.

213- You Were On My Mind, We Five.  "And I got a feeling/ way down in my shoes, and/ way down in my shoo-oo-ooes" gives me a chill way up in the back of my neck.

212- Summer Rain, Johnny Rivers.  This was his last big hit for quite a while, and one of a handful that seemed appropriate for the occasion (I can think of at least two more songs farther on that fit this bill as well).  A wistful, sad-with-a-smile song.

211- Kicks, Paul Revere And The Raiders.  I kinda surprised myself that the raiders never got any higher on my list.  Of course, Indian Reservation and Mark Lindsay's solo stuff were all on the other side of the decade.

210- The Boxer, Simon And Garfunkel.  An underrated, oft-forgotten song from the Bridge Over Troubled Water lp, just on this side of the decade.  Frank and cold.  "Well, I'm laying out my winter clothes/ And wishing I was gone /Going home/ Where the New York City winters aren't bleeding me/ Bleeding me, going home..."

209- Dance To The Music, Sly And The Family Stone.  What a neat way to give everyone their props.  At the beginning, the Family did a lot of just fun music.

208- You Keep Me Hanging On, the Supremes.  As I may have mentioned  before, despite a semi-crush (toddler version) on Diana Ross, the Supremes weren't my biggest cup o' tea.  But I did have a weakness for "whoo-whoo" songs, and this was a good one.  One of the songs with the most good covers in history(#1 here and by Kim Wilde, and the psychedelic version by Vanilla Fudge that just misses the countdown).

207- Catch Us If You Can, Dave Clark Five.  I liked a lot of DC5 songs, but this is the one that stands out.

206- A Must To Avoid, Herman's Hermits.  I really liked the harmony.

205- A Boy Named Sue, Johnny Cash.  The biggest pop hit of a ton of great songs Johnny did in this era.  First song I ever heard with a bleep-out.  Rolling around in the mud and the blood and the beer.

204- I'll Say A Little Prayer, Dionne Warwick.  I can't say she was a crush, but she was definitely my first favorite girl.  First of four for Dionne.

203- It's the Same Old Song, The Four Tops.  This was the opening theme of some movie they showed us in grade school.  The first time I remembered hearing it, and I don't think I payed much attention to the movie thereafter.  What a heartbreaker.

202-  Teen Angel, Mark Dinning.  Another can't-be-the-sixties-without song.  If you listen to it sentimentally, it's a tearjerker.  If you listen with your head, it's downright silly- which I think is what Dinning was aiming at.

201- I Started A Joke, the Bee Gees.  This is really a strange song, when you get down to it.  Somehow, though, in listening it becomes a classic.

Wow, another twenty in the books.  Hope you enjoyed it, and until next week, here's a little fun from the countdown.

Friday, August 26, 2011

step into my time machine, week seventy

Good morning, and welcome to another trip on the Time Machine.  This week, we visit the real estate agent to the stars, see what Steve Miller's been up to, and hit the most well connected six degrees ever. Plus, a couple of videos for your enjoyment!  But first, a bit of serious business.

As I mentioned yesterday, I want to take a look at two great songwriters who passed on Tuesday.  Nick Ashford was half of the songwriting/performing duo of Ashford and (wife Valerie) Simpson.  The pair became a big name when Motown paired them up with Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell.  In addition to writing their big hits including Ain't No Mountain High Enough and Ain't Nothing Like The Real Thing (both of which have been featured on my Great Sixties Countdown on Saturdays), they wrote scores of others, including Chaka Khan's I'm Every Woman.  They hit pop success themselves in the late seventies and early 80's with Found A Cure (#36 pop/#2 R&B) and Solid (#12 pop/#1 R&B).

Jerry Lieber was the lyrics half of the partnership of Lieber/(Mike) Stoller that dominated music in the fifties.  Just a small sampling of their hits include Elvis's #1s Hound Dog and Jailhouse Rock; the Coasters' Yakety Yak and Charlie Brown; Wilbert Harrison's #1 Kansas City; and the Drifters' On Broadway, along with something we'd be featuring later on normally, the #1 song this week in 1959- There Goes My Baby.  They also collaberated on Ben E. King's modification of an old gospel song into the classic Stand By Me, which did tours of duty in the top ten in both the fifties and the eighties.  The duo also did a lot of production work, topping that off with Stealer's Wheel's Stuck In The Middle With You.  Ashford was 70, Lieber 78.

We get nine debuts this week, of which I'm mentioning four.  Kiss rockets on to the hot 100 at 94 this week in 1976 with Detroit Rock City.  Starbuck's follow up to the top ten Moonlight Feels Right, called I Got To Know, comes in at 89. All you ABBA nuts out there, Fernando debuts this week at 86.  And a Beach Boys song I honestly hadn't heard until now (Mostly thanks to the critical indifference that kept most of their songs down) comes in at #80- take a listen to It's OK.

Was that not great?  Screw the critics, the Boys were the BEST American band ever.

Other birthdays this week include:  hitting 40 years old, two of the best female vocals of all time- Carole King's So Far Away, and Karen Carpenter's Superstar.  Celebrating their 45th are the Association's Cherish and 96 Tears by ? and the Mysterians.  Hitting the big 5-0 is the double sided #1 by the King, Little Sister/ (Marie's The Name) His Latest Flame.  And hitting the double nickel this week is a song from that doo-wop collection I mentioned last week, the Five Satins' version of In The Still Of The Night.  Blow out the candles...

The big mover yet again this week is Disco Duck by Rick Dees, moving 20 to land at #50.  Not much downward movement this week; a tie for ten notches down between Seals and Crofts' Get Closer (14-24) and the Carpenters' I Need To Be In Love (51-61).

Bringing us to our #49 Where Are They Now Segment, and the winner is Steve Miller's Take The Money And Run.  After a hiatus from recording of 17 years, the band was brought back together to record a pair of albums- the first was Bingo! which was released in June of last year.  An album of blues covers, it included a song co-written by Jimmy Vaughn (the late Stevie Ray's brother) called Hey Yeah, along with a remake of BB King's Rock Me Baby.  The other was called Let Your Hair Down (and Laurie stumbled onto this album's cover last week in a rather dubious listing of the worst album jackets of all time), released in April of this year.  Steve is married to his 3rd wife, Kim, and has homes in Ketchum, ID and Friday Harbor, WA.  When he isn't there, he's at USC, teaching in the Thornton School of Music's popular music and music industry programs.

Moving swiftly, we take a look at the newbies in the top 40 this week. Coming in at 38, up 4, is Lady Flash with Street Singin'.  Old timers to the genre recognize this name as Barry Manilow's backup singers, and the song was written, produced, and arrainged by Barry (and sounds very much like something the girls might do mid-concert while the Main Man took a break).  Coming in at 35, up six, are the powerful horns of Earth Wind And Fire with Getaway.  And the highest debut, finally getting its day in the sun on its second try, is Daryl Hall and John Oates' classic from Abandoned Luncheonette, She's Gone.  It jumps 15 to land at #30.

Before I forget, our new grandpa song is Andrea True's More More More in its 24th week; and the #1 album remains Frampton Comes Alive!

We're at the "9s" in our look at the #1s of other years this week, as you might have assumed by the mention at the beginning of There Goes My Baby.  1999 was topped by Christina Aguillera's Genie In A Bottle; 1989 by Richard Marx's Right Here Waiting.  1979's top dog this week was My Sharona by the Knack, and this song has a true story behind it.  The guitar groove and drum part were come up with years before by the band's future drummer, Berton Averre, and played for future lead singer Doug Fieger.  Fieger couldn't come up with lyrics for it though, and it was shelved, until Fieger fell in love.  Her name was Sharona Alperin, and when Doug looked at her, he heard music- specifically, the groove and drum lick Averre had played for him.  That's actually Sharona Alperin on the single sleeve- she became a big band booster- and she has gone on to become a real estate agent for Sothebys International, realtors to celebrities.  Here's Sharona then...

...and Sharona now, off the Sotheby's website:

The top dog this week in 1969 was the Stones' Honky Tonk Women (no reflection on Miss Alperin, there), and of course the Drifters were #1 in 1959.

One song into the top ten this week, one falls out.  The Beatles slide from 9 to 11 with Got To Get You Into My Life.

Our six degrees victim this week, the highest no-bullet not previously featured, takes us out of the top ten for the first time.  George Benson sits at #12, up one notch with This Masquerade.  Now, I'm not going to quite get six degrees here, but what it lacks, step #4 will make up for.

This Masquerade was written by veteran session man and singer Leon Russell, who released it as the b-side of his 1971 hit Tightrope.  Leon has played with damn near everyone over the years, and was involved in the Great Superstar Controversy a while back.  Among Leon's early credits was keyboards on Gary Lewis and the Playboys' giant hit This Diamond Ring.  In fact, none of the Playboys actually played on this song, and Gary's voice is only there in heavily modified form.  Joining Leon on bass guitar was a lady  I had never heard of- or so I thought- by the name of Carol Kaye.

Carol was not just another session musician. In fact, she's probably the most famous musician you've never heard of.  When I got to reading the songs she played on, my jaw dropped. She played on songs as obscure as Love's Andmoregan, and as ubiquitous as the Monkees' I'm A Believer, as pop as the Grass Roots' Midnight Confessions and non-pop as Tennessee Ernie Ford's Sixteen Tons.  She was Brian Wilson's bass player of choice, featured on songs like California Girls, Sloop John B, and Help Me Rhonda, with album credit on the greatest album of all time, Pet Sounds.  She played with Simon and Garfunkel on their hits, for example, Homeward Bound, and Scarborough Fair.  She was bassist on the Raiders' Indian Reservation, Elvis' Suspicious Minds, Barbara Streisand's The Way We Were, the Lettermen's Going Out Of My Head/Can't Take My Eyes Off You, and both Wichita Lineman and Rhinestone Cowboy by Glen Campbell.

In addition, she played 12-string guitar on Frank Zappa and the Mothers Of Invention's Freak Out! lp, and wrote a book on how to play the bass.  Her tutoring credits include Jeff Porcaro of Toto and a guy who got mentioned a few times here a while back, Tony Sales (small world, isn't it?)

And if this ain't enough, let me give you a PARTIAL list of the TV themes she's played on:  Cannon; The Streets Of San Francisco; Mission:Impossible; M*A*S*H; Kojack; Get Smart; Hogan's Heroes; The Love Boat; and The Cosby Show.  WHEW!

And now, almost as an afterthought, the top ten.  At 10, down 3, are the Manhattans with former top dog Kiss And Say Goodbye.  At #9, up one, is Walter Murphy's Big Apple Band with A Fifth Of Beethoven.  #8, coming into the ten from #11, KC And The Sunshine Band with Shake Your Booty.  Afternoon Delight finally abandons the upper regions, dropping 4 to #7. England Dan and John Ford Coley climb 2 to #6 with I'd Really Love To See You Tonight.  Lou Rawls edges up one to #5 with You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.  Also up one are Wild Cherry's Play That Funky Music at 4 and the Bee Gees' You Should Be Dancing at #3.  The dynamic duo of Elton John and Kiki Dee slip from the top to #2 with Don't Go Breaking My Heart.  Which means we have a familiar face behind our new #1 song:

McCartney and Wings with Let 'Em In!

Finally for a special treat, I thought I'd throw in some of that great Steve Miller from Bingo!  Enjoy, and till next week...

Thursday, August 25, 2011

August Angst

Which is my way of saying I'm going to be throwing a lot of different things into this post.  Buckle up and enjoy the aimless ride!

First, another wave of scammers, which I wanted to bring up in part because of one that was almost good enough to fall for- an e-mail from "Comast/xfinity"  that notified "dear customer" that something had went wrong with their last payment, and would you click this link to see how to fix it.  While Laurie called comcast to determine for sure our suspicions, I did my tried and true discovery tool- click the reply button.  The top blue bar gave me the one word confirmation I needed- "Cyrillic".  Another Russian scam, and a damn good one.
In another, Mathew Goora of the Benin Republic advises me that since he can't send the funds that ' I confided with him about' through Western Union, he has literally been moving heaven and earth to make sure I don't lose them.  But I'm going to have to send him a $185 "clearance fee" to get my... oops, I neglected to notice he didn't even tell me how much it is he's protecting from the forces of evil for me.
Also, Mrs. Farida Waziri informs me that she was told by Mr. Gershom Shapiro that I was dead and he wants to be my next of kin over another unnamed amount.  Gersh, ol' buddy, knock yourself out.

Next, I want to mention some famous deaths this week.  Two of them, Jerry Lieber and Nick Ashford, I'll be spending a little time on tomorrow's Time Machine discussing.  The other was the apparent suicide of former Baltimore Oriole Cy Young winner Mike Flanagan.  Mike was part of a great O's pitching staff that put them in the thick of the AL playoff race year after year.  Now that baseball is all about the Yanks, red Sox, and Phillies and their piles of money, the Orioles have had a long stretch of hard times, and Mike worked to try to alleviate that as a GM from 2002-8.  Sadly, many commenters on seem to think that his failure to salvage the team is what led to his death.  Maybe that had a small part in things.  But I have to believe that for a man with a wife, 3 kids, and a good career in broadcasting and the respect of fans and colleagues alike, there has to be something more than that to make you put a gun in your mouth and blow your face off.  What, I don't know and don't need to.  His demons, his own.  I salute a fallen hero and pray for the family left behind.

Moving on, I saw last night a lady being interviewed by CBS, crying her eyes out because she was having trouble evacing from Hurricane Irene, days and miles away but 'certain to be the east coast's Katrina.'  It appalls me that the media feel that they need to add enough hyperbole to any news story to sell it: any world leader can become a Hitler, any thunderstorm a Katrina, any vent of sulphur in Iceland a Krakatoa.  Let me tell you what Katrina means to me.

No, I was not there.  I was on vacation that week and had recently discovered the weather blogs on Weather Underground.  We watched all that week as Kat worked her way across Florida, through the Gulf, getting bigger and more monstrous with every hour.  Many of us- myself included- sent messages to government officials, newspapers, and other media as we watched Kat's forecast models converge day by day on New Orleans.  We begged them to evac.  This was as early as Wednesday.

Saturday night, with the monster less than 24 hrs from landfall, I was listening to WWL in New Orleans interview Mayor Ray Nagin.  His first words were, "I thought I had a pretty good handle on this hurricane thing.. "  He then went on to describe how he was sitting down to supper with his family when Max Mayfield, director of the National Hurricane Center called him.  "You have got to get those people out of there NOW," he was told.  Despite the fact that the rest of the world knew that this was coming for a week, Nagin thought of it as no big deal until that moment.  Because of his attitude, many thousands of his "constituency"  - the poor, black population of the city- paid it little heed as well.  Even then, with the most respected meteorologist in the nation at the time begging him to evacuate, his response was that he would have to get with the city's LAWYERS in the morning before he could start the evac procedures.

FEMA's piss-poor showing and the slow death of the levees have somewhat covered his ass in the media over the years.  His "constituency" rallied behind him as he tried to blame the whole mess on GW Bush.  I know better.  There's a lot of blood on that dumbass's hands.  A LOT.  My blood boils to this day any time Katrina or Nagin are mentioned.  I feel he should have been held criminally liable for this, but apparently having your head up your rectum with lives on the line isn't prosecutable.  God has told me I need to forgive;  and I hope you will all pray for me, because to date I have done a miserable job of it.

That ranted, the media may be right on this one.  WU's Dr. Jeff Masters is the most ironclad authority on these things that I know.  And if you read his blog here, You see he is NOT fooling around here.  If you are on the East Coast, pay attention.  DO NOT let some Ray Nagin lull you into complacency.  If you have someplace to go this weekend, go there. If the Government tells you to evacuate, haul ass.  And if you are a responsible official, make a responsible decision.  The hell with the LAWYERS.

One last thing today, in case I haven't been apocalyptic enough.  I am re-reading Susan Wise Bauer's History Of The Whole World, vol. 2.  If you are any level of history buff, you need this series.  She is the flat best in bringing history that is accurate, well-researched, and entertaining.  Anyhow, I was at the part focusing on the plague of Justinian's time, 536 AD.  I've always been darkly fascinated by plague stories, and have more than one book on the Black Death lying around.  I've often thought about how very few people these days consider the plague a threat.  Our sanitation and hygiene is much better; we've survived similar disasters to the ones that weakened the population in those days without incident (for example Krakatoa 1887 and Tambora).  And now, research indicates that much of the European population that survived the last round did so because they possessed some level of genetic immunity to Y. Pestis, the bug that causes the disease.  But keep three things in mind.  #1, if you are a Christian, consider that if God wants a plague unleashed, He can overcome worldly obstacles to accomplish it.  #2, if you are not a Christian, and believe in evolution, then surely you must believe that Y. Pestis can evolve a new vector.  #3, from Justinian's plague to the start of the Black Death was 810 years.  From the start of the Black Death, 810 years forward is somewhere around 2155.  And trigger disasters?  How many disasters have we been told are overdue and could happen at any time?  The Cumbre Vieja volcano and subsequent tsunami in the Atlantic; the great Yellowstone lava field (which the Branch Davidians believed would erupt signalling the end of the world in 2012); the New Madrid fault, just to start.

Am I predicting anything like that? Who, me?  If I could do that, I'd be hitting lottery numbers in Benin.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

a lot of Lot, a lot of football, and why prayers don't always get answered

This morning, Ed Bousman talked about the things that Jesus did, even though he didn't have to, focusing on the story about the temple tax and the coin in the fish's mouth.  Which got me to thinking of other moments when God did what he didn't have to.  I settled on the story of Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18-19) and Moses saving the Israelites after the Golden Calf (I think Ex. 33).  Both of them related moments where a large group was about to be destroyed by God for unrepentant wickedness, only to be somewhat spared by the intercession of holy men.  But even the prayers of these two pillars of faith- Abraham and Moses- were not sufficient to save all.  The more I looked at them, though, the more I got the most out of the story of Abraham and Lot.

You see, I figured out that while there were certain common elements in the stories- Both men appealed to God for others not necessarily appealing for themselves; both men were praying for God's will to be done, Abraham that He would uphold His Righteousness, Moses that He would stand by His promises- I got thinking how it went a little deeper for Abraham.  You see, Abraham talked God down to ten righteous people would be enough to save the cities- and I think he had a reason for that number.  Now at the climax of the story, Lot was saved with 2 daughters- but that wasn't ALL of his daughters.  Look at v 7 in Gen. 19.  The cowardly Lot offers two daughters THAT HAD NOT KNOWN MEN.  Then, in v 12, we established that he had MULTIPLE sons-in-law that had married his daughters (though it doesn't say how many).  Finally in v 15, he's instructed to take "your two daughters WHO ARE HERE" with him and his wife to escape the destruction.  So how many daughters (and sons-in-law) were there?  Let's say there were three sets.  That makes 3 sons-in-law, five daughters, and Lot and the Missus- 10 people in all.

You get the point?  I think that, while Abraham was praying for the lives of WHOEVER might be righteous in Sodom, he had his heart set on ten- the members of Lot's family that, he hoped, were righteous.  And God answered that prayer as prayed.  Unfortunately, even God couldn't squeeze 10 righteous people out of Lot's family.  Why is that?

Let's look at Lot's character or lack thereof.  So timid was he, that he stuck too close to Abraham and his herds until Abraham had to tell him to move on.  And instead of going on his own, he based himself in the nearest city, Sodom.  And when Sodom was moments away from fiery ends, he was so scared of being on his own, he asked the angel to spare Zoar so he could hide there.  And when the angel complied, he was too scared of what the Zoarites might think of him that he didn't stay there, either.
Not only fearful, but prone to trying to fit in.  He even was going to sacrifice his two youngest daughters to the mob to save his guests (and probably his own skin, more importantly).  He tried to both keep his morality and to fit in, and as a result, his neighbors rejected him too.  “This one came in to stay here, and he keeps acting as a judge", they snarled at him, before the angels- in accordance with the prayers of Abraham- saved him.
And that he had enough morality to annoy his neighbors (think about that phrase) didn't mean he was living an especially righteous life.  I say this because, if you think about when he and his daughters finally fled to the mountains, and they got him drunk, not once but twice-  HOW IS IT that a man fleeing into the desert had BOOZE on him?
Finally, he didn't have enough courage of his convictions to even get out of the city without the angels dragging him and family BY THE HAND out of the city(v16).  It's no wonder he had so little respect even in his own family that they laughed at him (v14) and his own wife even turned back (v26).  It all came back to Lot never having the backbone to stand up and take his rescue, his salvation, into his own hands.

So what is it I'm trying to draw from this?  Two lessons- one to myself (yourself) personally, and one regarding God and who we pray for.  The first should be obvious- the consequences of not having faith, and the courage of our convictions.  The second, even when God answered Abraham's prayer, it didn't accomplish much, 3 of the ten survived, and by the way their story ended, it's unclear whether that survival did them any real favors.  Did Abraham's prayer fail?  No.  Did God not "do the job"? Again, no.  But here we see why so often our prayers for others seem to fail- the person prayed for simply did not take advantage of the opportunities that the answered prayer gave them.  It was Lot that failed God, in action and authority and example.  A prayer "successfully " answered by God contains three elements- It must be prayed in faith;  it must be according to God's will; and it must be accepted and embraced by the beneficiary.And it's not like God didn't give Lot plenty of chances to embrace his own salvation.  After all, God gave Lot: 1- the best example to follow in the whole world in Uncle Abraham; 2- He not only gave Lot plenty of warning (to the point of dragging him out by the hand), but also gave the one praying for him advance notice; 3- he gave him an example of divine power (when the angels blinded the mob, which would have made me sit up and take notice); 4-He even gave him a means of escape and support (Zoar, such as it was).  All of these things Lot ignored, and thus he ended up a drunk with two kids that were also his grandkids.

It's kinda like the joke about the blonde that kept praying that God would let her win the lottery.  The lottery was provided, the number was right there for her, God was willing- but she had to do one thing- BUY THE TICKET.  We can pray for our loved ones all we want, set them as good of an example as we can, drag 'em by the hand-  but in the end, they have to buy the ticket.


Friday was the 15th annual NHFFL fantasy football draft.  Yes, that means that soon we will be at that time of year when one day a week you'll say, "Crap, here's one of those boring fantasy football posts."  This year, KC and I decided that we would do things different.

And that difference is, we have suspended my daughter's teams until such time as she sees fit to involve herself again.  This sounds heartless on the surface, and I regret it has come to this.  But For various reasons, it has become impossible to deal with the reluctance of her mother to give us time with her- and concurrently, her reluctance to fight for that time.  Also, KC has had a break with them both over certain things that we won't go into here, and since she had not really "participated " in the league's activity in about 4-5 years, we decided to make it official.

So, we debated and decided to continue a 12 team league, with each of us (me, Laurie, and KC) taking on responsibility for a 4th team.  Then we decided on 3 options- either three all new teams, or re-activate one of the three teams that we shut down long ago, or just each take one of Shenan's teams.  KC opted to re-activate the Greenwoods, who were the winners of Super Bowl I so long ago, a 31-27 win over my KCAs.  I re-activated the Aguascalientes (Aguas for short), who established a rep for being the highest scoring team that never won a title.  And Laurie opted for a whole new team- and since Scrappy and Cassie both have teams (Fiery Beagles and B2s, respectively), she named her team after KC's cat, the Flying Porkchops.  We will be going back to the Purple and Gold division format, with the Greenwoods and Aguas joining my KCAs, Laurie's Beagles and Angels, and KC's Rangers in the Purple, and the Porkchops joining my B2s and Ducks, Laurie's Elks, and KCs Clock BBQs and Buzz Lightyears in the Gold.

The Rangers made Tom Brady the #1 pick.  The Angels made Aaron Rodgers the #2, and later backed him up with Mike Vick.  The B2s made Arian Foster the #3, and went on from there to build an unconventional team  (since conventional picks they make ALWAYS get hurt) which included Colt McCoy as the starting QB  and Dolphin rookie RB Daniel Thomas.  The Elks took Drew Brees with the 4 pick, and the Ducks grabbed Michael Turner with the 5th, adding WRs Desean Jackson and Larry Fitzgerald later.  The Clock BBQs built a team of bruisers starting with #6 pick Chris Johnson, and quickly adding Peyton Hillis and Fred Jackson to a team led by Peyton Manning.  I don't for sure remember which guy Buzz took first, either Sam Bradford or Adrian Peterson, but he got both so it doesn't matter.  I've run the KCAs for 20 years now, four in another league, and this is I'm pretty sure the first time I didn't take a RB with the first pick, grabbing Matt Ryan at QB instead, and building a stable of Steven Jackson, Ryan Mathews, and Mark Ingram afterwards.  The Beagles opened with Phillip Rivers;  KC decided to use the Greenwoods as his experiment team, and took Matt Stafford #1.The Porkchops got the biggest groan and chorus of "Aww, f---" when they took BenJarvis Green-Ellis (and Followed up with Rothlesburger and Frank Gore).  And finally, the Aguas grabbed Maurice Jones-Drew and Rashard Mendenhall with their first two.

The season opens in a few weeks with the defending champ KCAs opening against the team that beat them in that long ago first Super Bowl, the Greenwoods.


Finally, if it seems like I lost track in mid-sermon there, thank Blogger.  Among its many lovely recent traits is erasing whole paragraphs at random, especially when one uses spellcheck.  Since our gracious hosts give us no real way to contact them (and I can see why), I can only hope they search out the word "Blogger" on a regular basis to see what we're writing about them, so that they can hear me say, thank you VERRRRRY MUUUUUUCH!!!!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

The great 1960's countdown, week four

Once again time for my new favorite time of the week- when I share with y'all another twenty songs off the mega-list of my top sixties tunes.  Last week, I had to break Bob G's heart and tell him that Pleasant Valley Sunday didn't make the cut.  When you only (!) pick 300 songs out of a decade, you're going to break a LOT of hearts, including your own.  Let's see who gets it this week, shall we?

240- Get Together, The Youngbloods.  Lyrically, one of the best of all time.  "Some will come and some will go /We shall surely pass /When the one that left us here /Returns for us at last/ We are but a moments sunlight /Fading in the grass "...  Somehow I got this in my 4-yr-old mind mixed in with a Jan-Michael Vincent movie where he played somebody named Youngblood Hawke- my memory hears the announcer grumbling the name as if it was a piece of poop sandwich.  Nothing to do with the song, I guess, but you know how kids are. (Note- it was James Franciscus who played Youngblood Hawke- I just always THOUGHT it was JMV.  Aren't you glad I factcheck?)

239- House Of The Rising Sun, the Animals.  The Animals, I think I mentioned before, grew on me over time.  This one especially after I heard Amazing Grace sung to this tune.  Awesome!

238- Wedding Bell Blues, Fifth Dimension.  If the radio stations we listened to would have played more 5D than Up Up And Away, I'd have probably had the crush on Marilyn McCoo that I did on Diana Ross.  My dad always said that our old bartender/shopkeeper in Zulu, Bill Riley, was convinced to marry the widow Yvonne Kneuve by her playing this song.  Apocryphal? Maybe, but it worked.

237- Ticket To Ride, the Beatles.  This one gets me at the "OHHH..." before the later choruses.  Laurie told me that she never knew the Beatles did this, she had only known the Carpenters' version.  As steeped in music listening as I've been since a fetus, that one really tripped me out.

236- For Pete's Sake, The Monkees.  The closing theme for the TV show, which was usually my favorite part.

235- Stormy, Classics IV.  A moody, sad tune. "Yesterday's love was like a warm summer breeze/But, like the weather you changed..."  Santana did a great remake on this mid-seventies.

234- Don't Bring Me Down, the Animals.  You know, I think its just Burdon's gravelly voice that draws me to the Animals.  I'm not as drawn to the down-and-struggling lyrics, but as they say, "It's not what he said, it's how he said it."
233- Gimme Little Sign, Brenton Wood.  This one had me going because the title is NOT in the song, but as soon as he started, I said, "Oh, yeah!"  Kinda like trying to hunt down For Pete's Sake up there.

232- Turn Turn Turn, the Byrds.  The Byrds at one point WERE the sixties.  The jangling guitars and tight harmonies just conjure up incense , lava lamps, and bead doors.  Not bad for a song basically wrote by King Solomon 3,000 years ago.

231- Sugar Sugar, the Archies.  Admit it, you dug the tunes that the gang used to play on the old cartoon.  It was happy, innocent fun.  The way music should be.

230- Secret Agent Man, Johnny Rivers.  How cool was Johnny's live at Whiskey-a-go-go stuff?  One of those songs to get you moving at note #1.  I remember Saturday afternoons watching shows like Secret Agent Man and 77 Sunset Strip with my sister when I was a wee one.  Not much past the theme music, mind you, but I watched.

229.  Opus 17 (Don't You Worry 'Bout Me), the Four Seasons.  I guarantee you, we'll be hearing a LOT of these guys on my countdown.  For years, one of my prized possessions was a vinyl Four Seasons Second Gold Vault Of Hits (which, curiously enough, had the earlier hits like Sherry and Rag Doll) that I got at our church garage sale at St. Louis Besancon.

228- (I Want To Take You) Higher, Sly And The Family Stone.  C'mon, who can resist "BOOM-chacalakalaka-BOOM-chacalakalaka"?

227- Sunshine, Lollipops, and Rainbows, Leslie Gore.  Another of my crushes.

226- Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead, the Fifth Estate.  Great Wizard of Oz inspired tune; a lot of kid-friendly tunes hit the charts back then.  Not like today, with Hannah Montana et al.

225- A Wednesday In Your Garden, The Guess Who.  An album cut from Wheatfield Soul, if not for No Time would be my favorite from these guys, who are one of my Hall Of Famers.  Always chokes me up.  Even though I never knew it until about a year ago, when I stumbled across it on Frostwire.

224- Ruby Tuesday, The Rolling Stones.  The highest charter for Mick and the boys on my chart.

223- Eight Miles High, the Byrds.  I got this on the flip side of Turn Turn Turn at Zulu when the aforementioned Mr. Riley was selling old jukebox 45s for like 50 cents a pop at the general store.  I didn't know it then, but ended up getting played more than Turn.

222- Different Drum, the Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt.  A Mike Nesmith (Monkees) composition.  What a turn down!  Started my lifelong love of Linda.

221- Ruby (Don't Take Your Love To Town), Kenny Rogers and the First Edition.  The First Edition were a highly underrated band, over shadowed by what Kenny would become.  I could listen just to the guitars on this for hours.  One of my mom's tunes, as well.

And that wraps (ALREADY???!??) another week on the countdown.  I'll leave you with a bit of harmless fun from earlier in the countdown, and if you're my age, feel free to skip around the room as you listen.  Next time!

Friday, August 19, 2011

Step into my time machine week sixty-nine

This week, through the magic of doing surveys that pay off in Amazon gift cards, I acquired a doo-wop greatest package called Streetcorner Symphony.  Those songs really take me back to another day, a seemingly more innocent day.  I know when I listened to them, I was more innocent.  I kills me to think that the kids that slowdanced to Earth Angel and Sixteen Candles are in their seventies now.  It's not right.  That music should have went on forever, and why did we get old?  It's why I love American Graffiti so much: the mythical night that never ends, until the sky starts turning blue, and you take one last mad dash at making it stay, but you crash and burn as the dawn wraps its fingers around the smoke rising from the debris and pulls you, somehow lessened, into a new day.  One day time will say to me, Chris, remember the bad times I got you past, and the things I allowed you to learn and do.  But that day ain't today, and tomorrow's not on the schedule either.  Until then, I will be here doing Time Machine as my terrorist war against time, my bird flipping at the implacable enemy until the mousetrap bar finally slams down on me.

And this week, we feature, what has to be the summa cum laude graduate of the BJ Thomas School for Long Titles; The first Billboard hot 100 #1; our first outside the top ten six degrees, which will take us by truck from Nashville to the Space Shuttle; and, at long last, a new geriatric in the grandpa chair!  Get yer bird ready, and let's go!

Six debuts on the hot 100 of this week in 1976, and we know three of them.  One is kind of a carryover, though; with the success of the singles from Face The Music, ELO re- Released a previous single, Showdown.  This is ELO at its critically-ignored best, and spends its 12th (or first, depending) week on the chart at #87.  At 82 we have Eric Carmen, who after trying to thouroughly depress us with All By Myself and Never Gonna Fall In Love Again, tries to cheer us up with Sunshine.  It never did work for me, BTW.  That was an album that I could count on bringing me down no matter how low I started listening at.  And the top debut was sweet miss Linda Ronstadt with her cover of the Crickets' That'll Be The Day.  Happy 35th birthday to you!

Our other birthdays today include 45th birthdays for the Beatles' two sider Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby, Neil Diamond (boy, he's gettintg alot of mention on TM and the Sixties countdown lately!) and Cherry Cherry, and Jimmy Ruffin, brother of the Temptation's David, with a song originally written for the Spinners- What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted?  Celebrating it's 50th this week is Roy Orbison's Crying, as well as the longest titled song I know of:  Ray Stevens and Jeremiah Peabody's Poly-Unsaturated, Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting, Pleasant-Tasting, Green And Purple Pills.  If you don't know this one, well, allow me:

As my "ma" used to say, all righty, then!  Our big movers for the day are: going up, Disco Duck  from 88 to 70, eighteen spots; and going down from its peak at an undeserved low of 76 back to 93, the Spinners with a song called Wake Up, Susan.

At 49, we actually have a song with no previous connection to the position (for a change); I Can't Hear You No More by Helen Reddy.  Miss Helen stopped performing in 2002, and in 2008 definatively announced you'd never catch her on a stage again, because her voice had deepened beyond the point of being able to do justice to songs like Delta Dawn.  In the meantime, she has among other things become a practicing licensed hypnotherapist.  In 2008, USA Today found her "living simply and frugally off song royalties, pension funds, and social security... renting a 13th floor apartment with a 180 degree view of Sydney Harbor."  Apparently she nearly lost this when the property was re-appraised; but the landlord, upon finding out his tennant was THE Helen Reddy, told her not to worry- for all the things her music did for women everywhere, she never had to worry about a rent increase as long as she lives. (Now THAT must be nice...)  Helen currently struggles with an adrenal problem called Addison's disease, which has more symptoms than I can share with you without turning this post into "Step Into My Ambulance".

I should mention before we hit the top 40 that our new oldest song is Misty Blue, leading a pack of five 20+ week songs (if you include the second run of Ode To Billie Joe) with 25 weeks.

Debuting in airplay alley are but 2 tunes.  Chicago's If You Leave Me Now zooms up from 55 to 38; and Natalie Cole comes in with Sophisticated Lady (She's A Different Lady), up 3 to 40.

The #1s of other years segment is at the 8s this week, and 1998 means a replay of Brandy and Monica's The Boy Is Mine-  last time in the eights we hit the beginning of its 13 week run; this time, near the end.  1988 was topped this week by veteran Stevie Winwood and Roll With It.  In 1978, Lionel Ritchie was in the midst of his 4 week run with Three Times A Lady.  In 1968, we had one of my FAVORITE groups (please note the sarcasm here), the Doors with Hello, I Love You.  They were almost sued over this tune, as Ray Davies of the Kinks thought they cribbed the riff from their song Sunny Afternoon.  Not so, said the Lizard King, Jim Morrison.  We cribbed that riff from Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love.  Oh, Okay, that makes everything all right.  Moving on to 1958, the top song- and the first #1 on the newly minted Billboard Hot 100 countdown- was bandleader Perez Prado with Patricia.

Two songs enter the top ten, two fall out.  Dropping from 7 to 14 is Get Closer, which it will not; and dropping 2 to twelve is the highest song sans bullet that we haven't six-degreed; Keith Carradine's I'm Easy.
Carradine wrote the song for, and performed it in, the movie Nashville.  This movie about the music biz featured pastiches on many real characters, including Keith's portrayal of a (apparently unflattering ) version of Kris Kristofferson.  Many of you have already heard the legends of Kris pushing brooms at Sun Records whilst Elvis recorded his greatest hits;  the first song Kris got someone to record was called Vietnam Blues, and was sung by Dave Dudley.  Dudley is best known for his deep tones on Six Days On The Road, a #2 country and #32 pop hit in 1963.  And this song, somewhat modified, was the wake up call on day six of STS-3, the third Columbia Space Shuttle mission.  This song was a request by Commander Jack Lousma, who was famously behind the earphones at mission control when Jack Swigert said the most famous words in space, "Houston, we've had a problem".  It was modified by a recording studio to "Eight Days On The Road" for Columbia's 8-day mission at the request of  Communications boss for the ground mission Brewster Shaw (who would go on to command Columbia's ninth mission).  Lousma's response?  "Okay, that's good music."

Taking Carradine's #10 spot is Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band with A Fifth Of Beethoven, up 2 spots.  The Beatles drop to #9, down 5, with Got To Get you Into My Life.  At #8, up three, is our second debut, England Dan and John Ford Coley (who get BJ Thomas props for both name AND song) with I'd Really Love To See You Tonight.  The Manhattans grudgingly give ground, dropping but one to #7 with former top dog Kiss And Say Goodbye.  Lou Rawls, another BJT grad, climbs 2 to #6 with You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine.  Wild Cherry rockets up 4 to #5 with Play That Funky Music.  The Bee Gees move one to #4 with You Should Be Dancing.  Speaking of stubborn, how about Afternoon Delight?  After 8 weeks in the top 2, and two seperate tenures as top dog, it finally slips to #3.  Wings say Let 'Em In, and so SVB does, Paul and Co. moving one notch to #2.  Which means that we have at #1 for the third week,

Elton John and Kiki Dee, with Don't Go Breaking My Heart!

Tune in again next week as we snub our noses at Father Time yet again.  As Hawkeye Pierce once said, "Don't Let the Bastard win!"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

More fun with scams

But before we go there, news from the Great Postcard campaign- I got my first postcard!  It was our fearless organizer's turn to send out the cards to all of us, and she quickly found out that some small town P.O.s are a bit behind the times (IOW she had to go to a bigger post office to find someone who knew the cost of a postcard to Mynx in Australia.)  I think this is going to be neat, although with the way work is right now, I'm glad Tracy at Average Girl gets the next round.  Again, you can still join up!  Check out the story here.

Okay, so let's have a look at the latest crop of unscrupulous con men. First up is a contestant who is a first- good elocution, good spelling and grammar! 

I know that this letter will come to you as a surprise. This letter also will certainly not be enough to tell story of friendship that lasted for years. I am Mr. Kamzi Alex Kokou (A Lawyer by profession) I am currently in the United Kingdom purposely to trace / track down a family member of my client. Mr. Fabio Fuller and his newly married African wife were involved in a car accident after a night out. He died instantly while his wife died two days later in a hospital in Lome Togo where they both lived.
Please do understand that not only that he was my client, we were also friends. In one of our casual conversation he told me that he is of Spanish / English origin was born in South America. He told me that he had two sisters (Imelda) who died as an infant, and (Amelia) who is married to Peruvian who my client told me reside in United Kingdom. My client made a Fixed Deposit with a UK bank valued at Ј7,800,000.00(Seven Million Eight Hundred Thousand British Pounds).
He died on 6th September 2010, and I have tried severally to trace or track down his only surviving sister Amelia through different medium and all my effort proved abortive. He died without a WILL, and possible Next of Kin or relations in all his official documents, including his Bank Deposit document. This sum of Ј7,800,000.00 is still intact in the UK bank, as I have written to the bank as his Lawyer and the holding bank also acknowledged knowing that I am his Legal adviser. Since the UK bank is now aware of my clients demise, my proposal is that I need you to stand in as the Next of Kin to the late Client.
Should you indicate your interest to partake in this transaction, I am willing to direct and provide you with information required for this transaction to pull through. The Funds will be paid to you as the Next of Kin. As the originator of the transaction I will be entitled to 50%, for your role you will receive 40%, while 10% shall be aside to carter for expenses that both of us might incur in this transaction. There is no risk involved in this transaction as my knowledge of my client death guarantees the successful execution of this transaction.
Feel free to reach me on my UK direct line +44-7425837578 or if you are interested to claim this funds as the Next of Kin, it is upon your response that I shall then provide you with more details and relevant information that will help us go about this transaction.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Mr. Kamzi Alex Kokou.

Nothing out of the standard, as you can see, just well-written and almost touching as he references his good friend whom he's trying to give their life savings to a stranger.  So I decided to write him back- two words:  "Why me?"  No response as yet.
Our next contestant had no real intention of being convincing.  It was sent by "Chase":  not Chase bank, or Chase Ryan, or what have you- just "Chase".  Although it soon becomes evident who we're supposed to think it is:
Account Requires Complete Profile Update, We have recently detected that different computer user had attempted gaining access to your Online Banking account, and multiple password was attempted with your user ID. It is now necessary to re-confirm your account information to us. If this process is not completed within 24-48 hours. We will be forced to suspend your Account Online Access as it may have been used for fraudulent purposes.

Please update profile immediately by downloading the attached file.

Needless to say, the Attached File was downloaded into the trash.  Come on, you lazy sh!t, You don't even put the name of who you are in the e-mail!  You should go back to my last scam post, and see how often Interpol uses its name in the letter.  As my old boss used to say, "Let's put our thinking caps on."
Next up is possibly the most bizzarre one I've gotten in a while.


Since I can't stick a picture into a free translator, and I can't copy the words since they are IN a picture, I have no clue what this says.  What do we learn here, people, as Prof. Burke says?  #1, Don't put your message inside a picture.  #2, choose your target audience carefully. BTW, this was originally sent to  Is that a real place, outside of Norman Bates' shower?

Believe it or not, that gem and our final contestant both showed up today!  I'll bet Western Union wishes it got the business these guys claim it does!  Not wanting to bore you with the entire rundown of sloppy syntax, etc., I will comment afterwards on the parts I boldened.

Attn: Beneficiary,

Payment information:
Track the payment here on:
MTCN= 6481295755
Sender First Name = Samson
Sender Last Name = Abala
Amount Programmed: $6.000.00
We sent the above first payment of $6.000.00 to avoid any doubt from you, doubt is another reason why we didnât ask you to pay $56 endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee before sending the above first payment of $6.000.00 but you cant pick it up because it is on hold till you pay $56 endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee.
Since you havenât pay $56 endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee. Your $ 10..4 Million (Ten Million Four hundred thousand ) is not activated which means non of our branch world wide can show you the money till you activate it. Once it is activated it is only Benin branch can activate it because its was approved by The Management of the Benin Lottery Organization Head Branch Benin. Your money will be sending to you with different MTCN under installment payment of $6.000.00 daily till the amount is completely paid.
We are given you 30minse benefit of doubt to pay $56 endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee. To enable us proceed with the activation of your payment to be available for pickup in your country/Address. Because if you cant pay $56usd endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee.
it will result that your total funds of $ 10.4 Million (Ten Million Four hundred thousand) will be confiscated and used in supporting charity organization, Because of the long dormant of the funds, Of which I would not want the Federal Government and the Debt Re-conciliation center to confiscate this funds and use it in supporting charity organization because it coffers as a free will to the Charity organization.
But if you are feeling refusing to make the payment, then you are been advised to immediately send to us a letter of refusal stating that you are not interested in claiming the funds that initially belongs to you so as to enable us terminate and cancel your transfers immediately within 2 hours.
You will pick up the above first installment payment at any western union office nearest to you with the above information's as soon as you send the $56usd endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee. You are to track your first installment payment online at OR
Call Western Union tracking for available fund for your verification purpose.
The endorsement, daily activation fee and tax clearance fee of $56usd will be sending to our office here in care to our account officer Mr. Michael Wallace through western union Money Transfer nearest to you:
Cashier/Receiver's Name: Mr Onyeka Francis
City & Country:Benin republic
Amount: $56
Text Question: go?
Answer: come.
Once you make the payment, you are been required and advised to acknowledge us with the transfer Mtcn to help us proceed with immediate transfer release of your installment payment without further us through this e-mail ( ) or you call our office phone ( +229 98185 492 )
Once your payment is being confirmed, we shall proceed with the activation of your payment to be available for pick up in your country/Address.
We anticipate your kind co-operation.
Thanks For Using Western Union Office
Sincerely Regards,
Mr.Rick koroma
Payment Department
western union money transfer (Benin branch)

#1- Damn, I need to pay the fee to get my money!  Wait... what money? Why am I getting it?

#2- Ah! I'm getting it from the MBLOHBB for hitting the Benin Lottery!  Amazing that a country that has about 2 pots to piss in actually has a lottery, but if I've got to suspend my brain to believe I won a lottery I've no ticket in, I guess I can go along with that too.

#3- Wow, never heard of a lottery who gives you a choice between lump sum and $6,000 A DAY for just under 5 years!

#4- Okay, I'm just a little rusty on my Benin Republic time perionds, I guess.  Is a "minse" like a minute, or a month, or what?

#5- Crap!  I need to figure out what a minse is soon, or they'll donate it all to charity!

#6- And we sure wouldn't want to coffer it as a freewill to a charity, would we?
#7- Okay, just one grammar thing.  "if I'm feeling refusing"?

Okay, that's the group for this time around.  I'd like once again to thank these Ignoranuses (Ignoranous- both stupid and an a-hole) because without them we couldn't have as much fun making sport of people without guilt.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A dog's life

Hello, everyone, this is Scrappy Beagle.  Dad thought it would be fun for you to see the expressions I give over the course of a day.  Thus, he was going to call this A Day In The Life (but it took about 4 days, so that was out) or Faces of Scrappy (which he said sounded too much like some dumb TV show).  So right now, I don't know what he's going to call it, but I know he'll name it something because he hates not titling posts.  Anyway, could we have the lights, please?  By the way, these are in random order.

Giving Mommy the "baby eye."

My daddy.

Please, can we go for a walk? Pleeeeease?

I said, I'm hungry...

Reading with daddy on the porch.

The bowl! Put it in the BOWL!

No, I DON'T want it on my head!

Could you please get off your butt and let me OUT?

I love my mommy.


Incredible Hulk-dog! ZOOOM!

Doo, doo, doo, Looking out the win-dow...


Pull, daddy, PULL!!

Are you comfortable? Good, I have a request...

I told you, I'm hungry! Didn't I raise you better than this?

"Scrappy!  Want some Popcorn?"


Are you about done on the computer?  I need some attention!

Hey!  I said, WATER!

Man, I'm hot! Time to cool off in the bathroom!