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


Monday, June 30, 2014

This week in WWI- "We were afraid you might..."

NOTE:  Be sure you read the Saturday post first!

Act one begins with a shot, two shots, and the Heir to an ancient Empire being laid in a royal "pauper's grave".  There are two scenes, playing simultaneously.  One is playing in the grubby streets of Sarajevo, where Austrian police begin the investigation into the assassination.  The author of the coming horrors, Gavrilo Princep, is unmoved by the dogs he has unleashed.  He was convinced in his dying days that "the Germans would find another way to start it", had he not killed the Archduke and his pregnant wife (which he claims he was aiming at General Patiorek and missed).  And the grandson of the man who succeeded to the throne in 1916 when "the old gentleman" passed away agreed:

 “If you were to simplify it, you could say that the shooting in Sarajevo started the first world war. But if there hadn’t been the shooting in Sarajevo, it would have kicked off three weeks later somewhere else.” Karl Habsburg-Lothringen, the grandson of the last emperor of the Austro-Hungarian empire, Charles I.

I woulda been Charles the Second... oh, well...

At his capture, he was a loyal Serb, denying a large conspiracy, denying anything that would connect the crime to Serbia, saying he acted alone.  The Bomber Charbonivich admitted that he knew Princep, but claimed they had come up with the idea of killing FF independently.  But by Thursday, organizer Danilo Illich rolled on the three Sarajevo members he recruited to save his miserable hide.  Princep then decided to confess, if he could talk to his co-conspirators first.  He was hoping to keep the hounds from sniffing all the way to Belgrade, but it was too late for that.

In the other arena, that of the diplomatic world, we are about to be introduced to a cast of fools who will seal the fate of millions surer than any Bosnian bullet.  Austrian Foreign Minister Bercthold met with the German ambassador, Heinreich Tschirschky, breathing fire.  But HT, looking back at the last decade of the Kaiser trying to avoid war in the Balkans, recommended caution.  The next day, Bercthold met with another fool, War Minister Conrad von Hotzendorf, who advised mobilization. (In those days, this was the last step preparatory to war- and it was usually easier to just go to war than to back down after mobilization.  Austria had nearly went bankrupt after their last mobilization in 1908, and a false start this time would undoubtedly finish them.)  Ironically, when Bercthold asked for mobilization nearly a month later, Conrad said it would take two weeks before he was ready.

Bercthold:  And I wonder which of us is the bigger idiot...

On Wednesday, a German reporter "well-placed in the German military" sounded out Bercthold's chief of staff, Count Alexander Hoyos.  In a conversation loaded with unconfirmed hints, the reporter advised that the Austrians, if they wanted war backup from the Kaiser, they needed to approach him before his anger over the murder of his good friend FF subsided.

Thursday was when the ball really got rolling.  By then Wilhelm had read the dispatch from HT about his talk with Bercthold advising caution.  Willy's reaction was not pleasant.  "Who advised him to do this?  This is utterly stupid!" he wrote on the margin of the telegraph.  Thus it was that Thursday HT changed his tune, urging the Foreign Minister that Austria should take "vigorous action" against the Serbs.  But if Willy wasn't a problem, Hungarian leader Count Tisza was.  He was not unaware that war with Serbia most likely meant war with Russia, and that that meant the destruction of the Empire.  Neither was Conrad, who told his mistress:

 “(It) will be a hopeless struggle, but nevertheless it must be because such an ancient monarchy and such an ancient army cannot perish ingloriously.” 

There!  I win!

Tisza had written in March a memorandum on Serbian relations (see an earlier This Week), and what must be done PRIOR to any war.  Bercthold then took that memo, attached the thoughtline that clearly Serbia and Austria could not live at peace and Serbia "must be eliminated".  He was going to present it to Willy at FF's funeral, but on Thursday it was announced that the Kaiser was ill and would not attend.  Bercthold needed another plan, and Hoyos suggested he take the memo to the Austrian ambassador in Berlin himself, that the ambassador gets the message across to the Kaiser properly.  Properly being defined as "in such a way that the Kaiser will put enough pressure on us to act that Tisza will back down".  Saturday night, Hoyos left for Berlin; Tisza awoke Sunday to find that the note was on its way- and he had no chance to approve any changes.

Snuck right past Tisza, I did!

The ambassador met with Willy on either side of lunch, and as author Sean McMeekin put it in July 1914:

"Having now twice told (Austrian ambassador Count) Szogyeny that he could not say anything further without consulting his chancellor, the Kaiser proceeded to do just that."

                                                    - McMeekin, p. 99.

What he did was give Szogyeny the first of two "blank checks" that Germany would give the Austrians; if Russia attacked her for attacking Serbia, Germany had her back.  As the ambassador went to report to Hoyos, the Kaiser called a meeting of all his major ministers (at least the ones that weren't on vacation at the time) in Potsdam.  And when they read the note, they... were confused.  Was the message the peaceful part authored by Tisza, or the warlike coda by Bercthold?  The only thing that they were sure of after the meeting was something they already suspected- Austria was governed by idiots.  In an attempt to figure out what was actually going on, sent Undersecretary of State Arthur Zimmerman (if you know the story of the USA in WWI, yes, that Zimmerman) to talk to Hoyos and get answers.  Hoyos confirmed the Bercthold ending, saying you don't think we'd just let this go unpunished, do you?  Zimmerman's answer was as telling about Germany's position on war as it was of their opinion of Austrian diplomacy:

"No, but we were a little afraid you might."

Saturday, June 28, 2014

WWI- The Damn foolish thing...

“One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans (1888).”
― Otto von Bismarck

St. Vitus' Dance

The first Battle of Kosovo, "the battle of the blackbird's field", was on June 15th (old style; now the 28th) of 1389.  In the Church, this date is celebrated as St. Vitus Day.  The battle, a story of half mythical proportions, involved betrayal, intrigue, and a bloodletting that virtually ended true Serbian independence for half a millennium.  But in the end, the Serbs got a Pyrrhic victory- Milos Obilic, a Serb knight, pretended to desert to the Turks.  But when presented to Sultan Murad I, Obilic "slashed him from belly to neck."  Murad would not live to celebrate his victory, nor Obilic his assassination.

Milos Obilic

The day was a sacred day for Serb patriots, and Franz Ferdinand knew it.  It was his day to show he wasn't afraid of Serb terrorism.  Unfortunately, not afraid didn't translate to invulnerable.

The Bomb

The first attempt at his murder, made by the second man who was supposed to do it, was a grenade that was deflected by the alert Archduke, bounced off the trunk of the Royal Car, rolled under the next in the procession, exploding and injuring dozens.  Far from being intimidated, Franz Ferdinand showed steel that hadn't been seen in the Hapsburg family for years.  They arrived at the town hall where the mayor nervously went into his pre-prepared welcoming speech- a speech rendered nonsense by the attack.  Franz Ferdinand strode forward.

"What is the good of your speeches?  I come to Sarajevo on a visit, and I get bombs thrown at me.  It is outrageous! But, go on."

The Sandwich

Modern legend tries to tell us that Gavrilo Princep, despairing of a shot at the forewarned Archduke, was eating a sandwich at a nearby café when the driver of the Royal Car took a wrong turn onto the (ironically named) Franz Josef Avenue.  A writer online looked into that story, because it didn't seem right that sandwiches should be a commonly found meal at that place and era.  Unable to find any first sources, he traced it to a History Channel documentary, whose director claimed he couldn't remember where he got it from.  Undeterred, the writer traced to a historical-fiction novel whose main character was a "Forest Gump of terrorists."  Stumbling into key events, the character had "run into" Princep, with a sandwich in one hand and the Browning pistol in the other.  So, much like the legend of the Kosovo battle, fictitious elements enter the story and find a home.

The Children

The ill-fated turn onto Franz Josef Avenue- yet another part of the story of WWI that has a supernatural feel of "coincidence" to it- landed the car five feet from the assassin- with the bodyguard on the wrong side of the vehicle.  Even as poor a shot as Princep was by all accounts, he couldn't have missed with his eyes closed.

As the car sped across the Lateiner Bridge, a stream of blood shot from Franz Ferdinand's mouth. He had been shot in the neck. Sophie, seeing this, exclaimed: "For Heaven's sake! What happened to you?" She sank from her seat. Potoirek and Harrach thought whe had fainted and were trying to help her up. Franz Ferdinand, knowing his wife better, suspected the truth. Sophie had been shot in the abdomen and was bleeding internally.
"Sopherl! Sopherl! " he pleaded. "Sterbe nicht! Bleibe am Leben für unsere Kinder! " (Sophie dear! Sophie dear! Don't die! Stay alive for our children!) The cars rushed to the Governor's residence. Sophie may have died before they arrived. Franz Ferdinand died shortly afterward.  (From the BYU WWI page)

What happened to the kinder?  Their was one daughter, who shared her mother's name.  Family friend   Prince Jaroslav von Thun und Hohenstein took them in, and they were moved from their homes in what is now Czechoslovakia to Vienna after all Hapsburg possessions were seized by the new Austrian government.  Sophie married Count Friedrich von Nostitz-Rieneck in 1920, and died in 1990, aged 89.  Her oldest son was captured by the Russians during the war, and died in a Soviet gulag in 1949, and another son died on the Russian Front in 1945.

Her brothers were not so fortunate.  Duke Maximilian was an outspoken opponent of the Nazi absorption of his country, and for his trouble was tortured for six months in Dachau.  He married in 1926, and died 5 months before I was born in 1962.  Younger brother Price Ernst shared in the torture, and as a result his health failed earlier, and he died aged 49 in 1954.

It Is Nothing...

So said the Archduke as they rushed him to the hospital in vain.  But the book I just finished, July 1914 by Sean McMeekin, makes several salient points about how the fate of Europe might have changed had the Archduke lived.  Certainly the war with Serbia wouldn't have happened; he had kept War Minister Conrad from attacking Serbia 25 times in 1913 alone!  His problem would have been increasing tension with the Hungarian half of the empire.  Austrian treatment of the many minorities was bound to become more even-handed under a reformer such as himself, and he was already fighting with Hungarian president Count Tisza over their treatment of Romanians- which was handicapping his ability to negotiate an alliance with Romania before the Tsar did.

With the August date of the war removed, McMeekin postulates that war in the Balkans would not have Austria as a major player, but Turkey.  He speculates that the two British warships being built for Turkey (Which Churchill seized for England) would cause a naval race and a Russo-Turkish War by the next year at the latest.  He also saw reason to believe that a Greco-Turkish war was in the offing (that waited till 1920 as it was).  He foresaw a socialist victory in France that might well have led to Franco-German rapprochement, given that the Austrians might have been in a civil war at some point in the future- a possibility that also haunted the UK over Irish Home Rule, and was months from erupting prior to the war.

I found it curious that he didn't mention Italy in all this.  An aggressive Italy would have certainly taken advantage of an Austro-Hungarian civil war- and Mussolini would have been a force by then.  And what of the Russian revolution?  Would it have been fundamentally changed by delay, or merely postponed?  And without a defeated-but-unconquered Germany and a harsh Versailles Treaty, there would have been little chance of an Adolph Hitler.   WWII might have been merely a Pacific War, potentially, had FF lived.

A Superior Power...

When he heard the news of the assassination, Franz Joseph said that "one has not to defy the Almighty. In this manner a superior power has restored that order which I unfortunately was unable to maintain." (wiki)

Franz Josef little mourned the loss of his heir; his own son had committed suicide with a lover in 1889.  Rudolf had chafed in his Father's world, and listened to voices more radical than FJ or FF would have believed.  FJ's beloved wife Elisibeth was killed by an Italian anarchist in 1898.  And his best female friend, he could not even acknowledge in the regimented court society.  This all probably went into his intense resentment of his heir after FF did what the old man could not- thumb his nose to tradition and "marry beneath his station."  But as we spend the next month watching a parade of what I have to call "stupid men doing stupid things" that led to this first war- and directly to the next- I have to consider that while it may have been a "superior power" pulling the strings, I have my doubts that the plan was originated by "the Almighty."

Friday, June 27, 2014

Time Machine week 10

It's June 27th, 1972.  (No, really!)  Today two pioneer video gamers incorporated Atari, launching a whole new era in couch potatoeing.  They were going to call it "Syzygy", but luckily, that name was taken by a Mexican candlemaker.  And more importantly, in a shot heard 'round the sports world, Bobby Hull signed a contract with the WHA's Winnipeg Jets.

Bobby was coming off his 4th 50-goal season with the Chicago Black Hawks; he would add 4 more with the Jets, including a 77-goal campaign three seasons later.

Welcome to Time Machine, and we have a lot going on today- unfortunately including yet another fallen music hero's tribute.  Also, a mixed together top ten in which YOU guess the number one; the story of an undercover PI who had a top 40 hit; a quick stop in on Here's Lucy; and more of the usual madness.  Welcome to the two weeks that saw Alone Again Naturally, You Don't Mess Around With Jim, and Motorcycle Mama enter the charts.

Of course, it was just after the Casey Kasem tribute was put to bed last week that we (read: I) learned of the passing of songwriter extraordinaire Gerry Goffin.

Mainly with then-wife Carole King but with notable others as well, Gerry's songs carved a path across the borders of the Martin Era.  Indeed, I compiled his top 30 charting songs and two of them charted by three different artists and two by a pair of acts.  So as we go along, I'm going to parcel out the top 30 songs co-written by Gerry- and here are the first ten:

30- Hi De Ho, Blood Sweat And Tears, #14 in 1970.  Written as "That Ol' Sweet Roll".
29- Smackwater Jack, Carole King, #14/70.  You can't talk to a man/with a shotgun in his hand...
28- I'm Into Something Good, Herman's Hermits, #13/64.  I was amazed by the variety of acts that recorded his tunes.
27- Keep Your Hands Off My Baby, Little Eva, #12/62. The second of his songs recorded by his babysitter.
26- Go Away Little Girl, The Happenings, #12/66.  Yes, we'll be seeing THIS one again.
25- Don't Bring Me Down, The Animals, #12/66.  The only thing that surprised me more than this song being on the list is that it charted that low.
24- One Fine Day, Carole King, #12/80.  A great song whoever does it.
23- Hey Girl, Freddie Scott, #10/63.  This one will be back, too.
22- Just Once In My Life, The Righteous Brothers, #9/65.  Can't beat the Bros.
21- I'll Meet You Halfway, The Partridge Family, #9/71.  See what I mean about the variety of artists?

This week, since I was going to run long trying to do two top tens (like I did last time we went off-course), here's what I'm going to do in just a bit.  I'm going to combine the top tens of this week and last (which we missed toasting Casey), add 'em up on a 10-9-8 etc scale, and give you the combined top 12 for the week.  THEN, you are going to pick which two were the number ones last week and this.    Coming up in just a bit.  But first...

The top forty debuts for these dos semanas have some interesting stories involved.  Let's go to last week first, where we kick off the list with Joe Tex coming in at 40 with You Said A Bad Word, up 7.  You may have said it, he SCREAMED it.  At 39 is the prayer song Day By Day by the Godspell cast, led in this song by one Robin Lamont.  Robin was mainly a stage actress, but she dabbled in quite a few things.

After Godspell, she worked as an undercover P.I. for an outfit involved in anti-counterfeiting, and went on to be the ADA in Westchester, NY!  She also did a little on-film work, playing a waitress on three episodes of Ryan's Hope, and even was in a horror flick with none other than Tom Hanks- 1980's He Knows You're Alone.

Mouth and McNeil come in with How Do You Do at 38, up six; and the high debut was Donny Osmond with a song called Too Young, originally a #1 for Nat King Cole in 1951.  This song got a boost when Donny sang it for Lucy's niece (played by the Brady Bunch's Eve Plumb) on an episode of Here's Lucy.

That brings us to this week's debuts and it's a BIG list.  Looking Glass leaps from 65 to 40 with Brandy (You're A Fine Girl). At 39 we have a one-and-done artist, an Englishman named Chris Hodge.  He was signed to Apple by Ringo, of all people, and he climbs 7 to 39 with this one:

Donnie Hathaway and Roberta Flack jump 17 spots to 38 with Where Is The Love; Procol Harum enter the top 40 at 36, up 11, with Conquistador;  Alice Cooper hits the big time at 34, up a hefty 18, with School's Out; The Stylistics take People Make The World Go Round up 12 to #31; and Aretha Franklin moves from 42 to 29 (13 for the counting challenged) with All The King's Horses.

The next ten for the Gerry Goffin tribute countdown:

20- Hey Girl, Donny Osmond, #9/71.  Boy, that little punk's getting around!
19- You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman, Aretha Franklin, #8/67.  I saw in researching that Rod Stewart covered this too.  I wonder how he did that?  Did he feel like a natural man or make her feel like a ... aw, who cares?
18- I Can't Stay Mad At You, Skeeter Davis, #7/63.  One of two on this list I didn't know off the top of my head.  Little Eva at #27 was the other.
17- Miss You Like Crazy, Natalie Cole, #7/89.  The latest on the list.
16- Don't Say Nothin' Bad About My Baby, the Cookies, #7/63.  Knew the song, but can't say I knew who did it...
15- Who Put The Bomp In The Bomp-She-Bomp, Barry Mann, #7/61.  Rivals in the writing business, Gerry and Barry teamed up for this one.
14- Up On The Roof, The Drifters, #5/63.  I liked James Taylor's cover, too.
13- One Fine Day, The Chiffons, #5/63.  The original on this one, separated from the other chart version by 17 years.
12- I've Got To Use My Imagination, Gladys Knight und der Pipsters, #4/73. Coming soon to a Time Machine near you!
11- The Loco Motion, Kylie Minogue, #3/88.  Perhaps the most surprising act on the countdown.

But was it talent... or...
All righty, then, it's time to give you the mixed up top tens of last week and this in one pot.  Ties broken by later week.  Looking at the scores, you might not find it terribly hard to get the 2 #1s right- but after last week, I guess I owe you a softball.  Here goes!

12- I'll Take You There, Staple Singers. 1 point.
11-Too Late To Turn Back Now, Cornelius Bros and Sister Rose. 1.
10- Lean On Me, Bill Withers. 3.
9- Walking In The Rain With The One I Love, Love Unlimited. 4.
8- Troglodyte (Cave Man), Jimmy Castor Bunch. 6.
7- Oh, Girl, Chi-Lites. 8.
6- Outta Space, Billy Preston. 9.
5- Last Night (I Didn't Get To Sleep At All), Fifth Dimension. 10.
4- The Candy Man, Sammy Davis, Jr.  16.
3- Song Sung Blue, Neil Diamond. 16.
2- Nice To Be With You, Gallery. 17.
1. Sylvia's Mother, Dr Hook. 19.

If you don't feel challenged enough, try guessing which one hit the top which week.

Time for- You Peaked!

Last week, our peakers were Neil Young's Old Man (dropping from 26), CCR's Someday Never Comes (25), and Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken (11).  This week, sorry LC, Todd Rundgren's I Saw The Light (11).

And wrapping up the Gerry Goffin top 30:

10- Pleasant Valley Sunday, the Monkees, #3/67.  He wrote a few songs the Monkees recorded, such as I Wanna Be Free.
9- Run To Him, Bobby Vee, #2/61.  One of a pair of hits for the Rubber Ball guy in the top ten.
8- Go Away Little Girl, Donnie Osmond, #1 for one week, 1971.  And still not the highest charting version.
7- Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You're Going To), Diana Ross, #1 one week, 1975.  One of the prettiest of the list.
6- Saving All My Love For You, Whitney Houston, #1 one week, 1985.  Ready for me to commit sacrilege?  My least favorite on the list.
5- The Loco-Motion, Grand Funk Railroad, #1 one week, 1974.  And still not the highest charting version.
4- Go Away Little Girl, Steve Lawrence, #1 for two weeks, 1963.  That's the highest of the three versions!
3- Will You Love Me Tomorrow, The Shirelles, #1 two weeks, 1961.  I'll bet a lot of you had this one at #1.
2- Take Good Care Of My Baby, Bobby Vee, #1 for three weeks, 1961.  I'd have never guessed this song was that old.
ANNNNNNNND at #1, a spot it held for three weeks in 1962....

1- The Loco Motion, Little Eva!

Golly, I won?

And that leaves us with one more thing to decide.  Got your picks in?  Here we go...

Dr Hook was on top last week with Sylvia's Mother...

...and Gallery this week with Nice To Be With You!!!!

Hopefully we won't lose anybody else important this week and we'll have a nice, NORMAL Time Machine next time!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Scrappy is disappointed.  Ever since the day we went to the buffalo park, either it's been too hot to walk, or raining, or my back has killed me.  My back?  Well, I think standing in one spot in the heat waiting for the buffalo ride started it... then, Monday morning last week, I helped put up a fabric roll and it went bad on me.  How bad?  I took half a vacation day and went home at 9 AM.  It was mostly cleared up (nod, nod, wink, wink) until  the motor cover incident.  You see, we have fabric for motor covers (sold on BTW) on a big lumpy, fuzzy roll too heavy for one person to easily pick up and with too small a core to put a pole through.  So I had someone far mightier than I put it on our "cradle", got it started on the table, cut the pieces- but when I went to roll it back up (remember, not on a pole, the "lift and tug" method trashed it out again.  I went from, "No, I don't mind working Saturday", to, "better get someone else.  I think walking will be challenging enough."

One motor cover, yours for $44.95 on Amazon

So when my back finally felt akin to normal Tuesday, I thought, now Scrappy will be happy.  Then, at the light at Speedway Drive, the first drop hit the windshield.

"Passing bird,"  I told myself.
Second drop hits.
"Perhaps it's just some little bitty raincloud."

This is 4 hours later.  No walk today either.

But you know, a lot of people have disappointment.  Take my Bloggy pal Bobby G.  He lives in the heart of ghetto land, in a house that became his home before urban blight and politicians sweeping gang crime under the rug turned the neighborhood into a "top ten places to avoid" on TripAdvisor.  Boomcars go past at all hours.  Vehicles will mysteriously appear on the street, drivers walk to a nearby house for five or ten minutes, drive away.  Garbage dumped in his yard, kids left to run wild peeking into his mail box.  Grown men urinating in the middle of the street.  And because of the economics of things, for him to relocate would take Ed McMahon rising from his grave with a check from Publishers Clearing House.

If anyone has a right to be disappointed, Bobby and his Mrs. do.

But instead of whining, he and his wife built the property into an oasis.  Carefully tended flowers, well kept lawn.  A feeding place for squirrels and bunnies, butterflies and birds.  With abandoned and rental properties on all sides, he shows the world what it's like to care, to have pride.

His neighbors, driven by little more than sex, drugs, and how best to avoid work, don't care.  Don't see.  But if they opened their almost more animal than human eyes and looked around, they'd see it.

They'd see hope.

Scrappy is disappointed.  But he knows.  Even if it's only a trip to the bark park, like Saturday:

Brinkley (upside down), Hazel (who I think was in heat), and the mighty Adler.

Scrappy just before getting pounded by Laurie.

The whole gang: Georgia, Brinkley, Hazel, Georgia's mom, Adler, our hero, Adler's mom.

He knows that disappointment is a temporary thing, a state of mind.  And like Bob, he'd rather fill that mind space with hope.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Martin World News

ITEM:  First up is our lovely hosts at Blogger!  Yes, Blogger, because I have just had to go down my reading list one at a time, because the usual list has ONE (1) entry plus a "view more" button that IS NOT working.  I thought to check and see what's going on at Blogger Known Issues- but THAT hasn't been updated since... well, in a few weeks, it'll be a year!  Tell me again why I haven't moved to Wordpress?

ITEM:  I have to start with the latest craze in Japan- and it's better than the "cabbage on a leash" thing!  Apparently we learn two things from this story about our Island friends- first, they like anything "cute", and second, they have a warped idea of "cute".

The Japanese obsession with all things cute has reached new heights, as a craze for pictures of hamsters' bottoms gains momentum.

More than 40,000 copies of photo books of "hamuketsu" - a word that's a mash-up of the Japanese for hamster and bottom - have already been sold, and one of the publishers has set up a Facebook page dedicated to furry hamster behinds. The page has thousands of fans and hundreds of photos have been uploaded so far.

"The great thing about hamuketsu is that it is delightfully cute," a spokesman for Basilico, one of the publishers, tells the Wall Street Journal. "I can't stop smiling when I see these bottoms." Another book on the topic is called Hamuketsu: So Cute You Could Faint.

And who wouldn't want a coffee table book full of hamster butts?  You can get the Kindle edition on for $5.99.  And in a side note, one of the "people who have viewed this also viewed" choices is a book by one Blythe Jewell called Something Smells Like Pee and Other Classy Observations.

ITEM:  Staying on the animal track, guess who was seen at the latest meeting of Parliament in Uganda?

That's right, two piglets, who have been apprehended and are being checked over for whatever a fun loving terrorist might load them with.  Apparently, they were just meant to protest the corruption in government, according to their releasers, the "JBN":

The protesters, Robert Mayanja and Norman Tumuhimbise, face charges of criminal trespass, conspiracy to sneak piglets into parliament and interrupting parliament work.

The two, who call themselves "the jobless brotherhood network", accuse lawmakers of corruption and extravagant spending.

And they aren't the only ones in trouble.  Think about it:  How does one successfully sneak piglets into Parliament?

Several police on duty at the time were suspended over the security breach.

They face charges of neglect of duty, spokeswoman Polly Namaye told AFP news agency.

ITEM: In a somewhat similar protest are the Scottish couple who found a new way to be disrespectful:

A teenage girl and 39-year old man who desecrated an Edinburgh mosque by attacking it with strips of bacon have both been jailed.

Chelsea Lambie, 18, from Paisley, was sentenced to 12 months and Douglas Cruikshank, from Galashiels, to nine months.

They attached bacon to door handles and threw strips inside Edinburgh's Central Mosque on 31 January 2013.

Cruikshank pled guilty. Lambie was found guilty after denying the charges.

During an earlier trial, the court heard a Blackberry mobile phone was found in Lambie's clothing when she was arrested at her boyfriend's house.Messages sent on 31 January included: "Going to invade a mosque, because we can go where we want." A text to the phone asked: "What you do last night?" The reply was: "Went to the mosque in Edinburgh and wrapped bacon round the door handles, opened the door and threw it in ha ha ha."

Cruickshank changed his plea to guilty after racial aggravation was deleted from the indictment.

A third person involved in the attack, Wayne Stilwel from Gorebridge, pled guilty in August 2013 to a religiously aggravated attack on the mosque and was sentenced to 10 months.

Sentencing Lambie, Sheriff Noble said he accepted she was a mother with a very young child, but she had continued to deny her guilt for the offence.

He accepted that Cruikshank had tried for many months to plead guilty and told him that if he had been found guilty at trial he would have sentenced him to 13 months in prison. Given his plea to the amended charge, he reduced that to nine months.

ITEM:  Here's a set of little mini stories:

In South Africa, the head of Public Broadcaster SABC is under investigation for accepting a WIFE (yes, a living, breathing, 23-y-o girl, and a human resources management student at that) from a tribal lobbying group.  Hlaudi Motsoeneng was given the girl, along with a cow and a calf, from the Venda tribal chiefs in return for seeing his way to putting more Venda-language programs on his network.  Like Wife Swap, maybe?

In Iceland, work on a new highway had to stop because it threatened to destroy an Elf-Chapel- a 12 ft high jagged rock which the locals believe is an Elven sacred spot.  Now, you may not know this, but in a younger, dumber age, I was somewhat involved in Rune-magic- and when amongst those who believe, this is not something to exactly joke about.  However, all was rendered well when "  a local lady who claims to talk to elves, mediated and they agreed to the road so long as their chapel was carefully moved and put elsewhere".  How much it will cost to move the 70-ton rock has not been revealed.

In Bryant, Arkansas, 44 y-o James Bushart was charged with DWI and meth possession after he became convinced that the Plymouth Prowler he was following was an alien spaceship.  He cut them off and told them that they needed to take their spaceship back where it came from.  Jay Ward, who actually turned out to be human, called police, who found Bushart talking to himself, making threatening gestures, and generally screwing up Ward's date with a lady who was "afraid for her safety".

In Oklahoma City, Michael Donahue screwed up burglarizing a sno-cone stand in about every way he could.  For example:
-he was drunk.
-it was 1 in the afternoon.
-the stand was OPEN.  Top that one, if you will!

In Stavropol, Russia, two police officers snatched a drugged and very ill Sergei Kozhemyakin, wanted in connection with ordering a murder, sneaking him out while no one was watching.  They then took him to the airport, where every threat in the book would not convince the airline to admit Kozhemyakin as BAGGAGE.  Thus thwarted, they hooked the perp to a bench AND TOOK A NAP.  When they awoke several hours later, he was in respiratory arrest.  Airport police tried to call an ambulance, but the policemen wouldn't release him.  Kozhemyakin soon died.  "The incident is under investigation."©

Finally, the border patrol in Arizona caught a truck driver with a Cheech and Chong solution to drug smuggling.  Packages of marijuana shaped and painted to look like watermelons.

ITEM:  The site Wall Street 24/7 has come out with a list of the worst places in America to work for.  Check and see if your job is on the list, compiled from thousands of reviews on job websites:

11- Radio Shack
10- The Children's Place (can't say I'd heard of this one before.)
9- Family Dollar
8- HH Gregg
7- ADT Security
6- Dillards
5- Brookdale Senior Living
4- Jos. A. Bank (probably all the people coming there trying to get a loan or cash a check and wondering what all the clothes are for)
3- Frontier Communications (Not surprised there)
2- Express Scripts ( a pharmaceutical benefits manager, whatever that is.  “work life balance is nonexistent, you are expected to be available to work all the time.” )
And the worst job in America......

Books-a-million, which I also had never heard of.

Books-A-Million Inc. (NASDAQ: BAMM) employed roughly 5,400 workers at more than 250 U.S. stores as of the beginning of this year, most of which were part-time. Like many retailers with unhappy employees, Books-A-Million institutes commission-based pay structures. Perhaps as a result, high stress and low pay were common complaints on One employee wrote, “to[o] much stress for the pay, very low pay, low chance of promotion, hours are based on magazine and discount card sales. Even if you’re normally good, if you have a bad week you get cut.”
ITEM:  Well, Obama is having a hard time fooling anyone anymore.  Even supporters like MSNBC are starting to see through the Emperor's clothes.  But you know you have hit bottom when this headline comes your way:

Politics: Polish minister: Alliance with U.S. basically worthless

It should come as no surprise that the first countries speaking openly about the worthlessness of Obama as an ally would come from eastern Europe. They understand all too well what a con it is when you have western leaders who talk a good game about freedom and democracy, but do nothing to back it up.
And understand that Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs Radislaw Sikorski was once a big fan of the U.S. But that was when we had leaders who meant what they said about having the backs of freedom-loving friends. That's not the case today, and Sikorski isn't about to pretend otherwise:
Using vulgar language and expletives, Sikorski argued that the Polish-U.S. alliance could alienate two key neighbors of Poland, Russia and Germany.
“The Polish-American alliance isn’t worth anything. It is even harmful because it creates a false sense of security for Poland,” the person said. “(We are) suckers, total suckers. The problem in Poland is that we have shallow pride and low self-esteem.”

ITEM:  Finally, an item a friend pointed out.  I don't have time or space for the whole thing, but here's a link.  Basically, what we have is a recipe board on an Australian radio site.  It's for a cake that owes its charm to cooking surprise birthday age numbers into the cake.  You make up the numbers first, freeze them, and the bake the rest of the cake around them.  The problem began with this Q and A:

 And then swiftly devolves from a that was rude/no, you're stupid conversation -

to a political one:

Which went on about the definitions of liberal for quite some time...

At which point a troll named "Jim From Haywood made several posts that proved a) he knows how to say B!tc#, and b) he doesn't know how to spell "stoooopid".  Then two other ladies skip all the way back to the top and get in a fight over whether you are a good parent if you give smartass answers to your kids.  And then, some 45 comments after it starts, someone wakes up and says:

to which there is but one correct answer:

But I encourage you to follow the link, because the author's comments in between the battle are priceless!  That's it till next time, kids!

Monday, June 23, 2014

This week in WWI

This week, I found an article, published last week,  on the climate of June 1914 from The Nation.  It had two very interesting parts.  The first was taken from an essay on Austria Hungary that was published on June fourth, which started by bringing up the recent death of Francis (Hungarian Ferenc) Kossuth.  Kossuth was the son of the great Hungarian patriot and rebel leader Lajos Kossuth, who virtually stood alone when the Russians invaded Hungary in 1848-9 to re-establish Austrian rule.  The son was a leader in the Independence party, whom was described by essay writer Simeon Strunsky as:

It's aim was the reduction of the relations between Hungary and Austria to a personal union (IOW, two nations whose only connection was the single monarch) ; and there were those who anticipated that even this slender tie would disappear in the death of the venerable Francis Joseph.
Ferenc Kossuth
The problem with this, he said, began with Austria's giving universal male suffrage in 1905 (which Hungary was not minded to do due to the fact that the Magyar (Hungarian) people made up only 55% of Hungary's population, and only 1/4 of men had the vote), and grew worse upon the Bosnian annexation of 1908, which put another three million Serbs and Croats into a minority stew of Slovaks, Poles, Ukrainians, Germans, and Romanians.  Hungary had traditionally dealt with Vienna from a position of solidarity;  but now,
..Events had tended to remind the dominant Magyar element that their case is not so different than that of Austria, of which they have been in the habit of thinking of as a conglomeration of peoples ready to fall apart.
So now, Austria and Hungary were two men on a capsized boat fending off sharks; one could no longer survive intact without the other.  Which is likely why the Hungarian President, Count Istevan Tisza, fought so hard in the coming month to keep the Duality out of a war that might brake the whole nation like a Faberge egg.  After 30 plus years of waiting for the Austrian half to implode, the Hungarians were awakening to the fact that their half of the nation could fly apart at any moment.
The second part in the article involved financial writer Alexander Dana Noyes' article on former Republican Senator George Edmunds of Vermont, published just three days before the assassination in Sarajevo.  The two time presidential candidate (1880 and 1884)  talked about how all the world's political upheaval of the day was part of a cycle:

It will all come out right. The troubles are not political, but social. Human history and experience teach that things go around in circles. We are now in a part of the circle which I shall not endeavor to classify. We are troubled with an epidemic of emotion among people who don’t stop to reflect. Radical doctrines are merely a sign of the times. Some day there will be a further swing around the circle and then you will see a change.
Former Sen.  Edmunds.
This epidemic, this cycle, Noyes likened to the French Revolution of 1789 and the European revolutions of 1848.  He would go on to make two points that seem surprising given hindsight.  The first was on, for want of a better description, what was baby and what was bath water:
...What is even more immediately to the point, leaders in both of those older epoch-making demonstrations, after the real abuses and anachronisms of the period had been successfully attacked, proceeded to indulge in every sort of wild and fantastic propaganda of reform.
Noyes went on to say that you could see the same signs today.  And what did he consider "wild and fantastic propaganda of reform?"  He had a list:
  • In politics, "the recall of judicial decisions";
  • In economic theory, "syndicalism";
  • In social and moral institutions, " Feminism and militant suffragism", which apparently included attacks on the institution of marriage;
  • And in finance, "Government commissions with the power to regulate any incorporated business."
As you pause to reflect on the unpleasant parallels of that with 2014 America, Noyes went on to posit that the closing of the circle would leave things changed, but not that much:
1789 did not introduce a permanent regime of sans-culottes, guillotines, Jacobin clubs, and a calendar in which Year One was the date of the French Convention. The settling down of affairs after 1848 did not establish a world-wide institution of State Socialism. Neither will the aftermath of the present furious emotion upheaval leave the courts or the marriage ceremony abolished, or the banks and the stock exchanges managed by legislative committees. Mr. Edmunds was wise, however, in declining to commit himself as to exactly what part of the circle we are in to-day. That is something which every one would like to know, and which it is not at all probable any one will know until we are considerably further along on the periphery.
To which the modern day Nation closed the article with:
Three days later, Franz Ferdinand was dead and matters were considerably “further along.”
On the 24th, King Peter of Serbia, perhaps presciently, "retired", giving his son Alexander his powers as regent.  He was supposedly pushed into this decision when Alexander won a government power struggle with Dragutin "Apis" Dmitrijevic, the military strongman who was secretly the leader of the Black Hand terrorist group.  Peter spent the war at various spas around Europe;  Alexander led his army both in victory and in their tragic 1915 march to the sea.
On the 27th, Austria warned Italy about its involvement in Albania.  Winning independence just 3 years before, the European powers gave the Albanians a German Prince named William of Wied, nephew of the English-leaning Queen of Romania, to rule them.  He was immediately faced with a Muslim rebellion in the south, being egged on by the Italians, who had been kept by the Great Powers from absorbing Albania after the Italo-Turkish War of 1911.  For their part, the Muslims demanded a Muslim Prince or re-absorption into Turkey.  The Greeks would shortly move into this southern area, as William depended on German and Austrian troops to keep his lamp lit.  The war would end that support, and with Greek withdrawl the land would become a battleground for Austrain, Italian, and Bulgarian forces.
Also on the 27th, Danilo Illic would introduce Princep and his two compatriots to the three locals he had recruited, and pass out the weapons.  The next morning he would line them up along the Appel Quay for their date with destiny.

NOTE:  Tune in next Saturday the 28th for that date with destiny.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Time Machine week 9

Today is September 2nd, 1978.  Today George Harrison married....


Just play along, there is a reason to the madness..., George Harrison married Olivia Trinidad Arias, his second and final wife, in a civil ceremony in South Oxfordshire, UK.  Their marriage would last 23 years until his death.

So why are we in September of '78 rather than June of 1972, like we're supposed to be?  Because Casey Kasem died on June 15th.  A friendly voice, a voice for fair treatment of his people, a voice for integrity in music.

So again you ask, why September 1978?  Because, while it wasn't MY first American Top 40, it was the one I remember the earliest.  The week Casey mentioned the debut of "Two English supergroups who haven't been on the charts for at least five years."  And for whatever reason, that stuck with me (not completely, because I would have swore there were THREE English supergroups debuting- but the third was at #6), so to honor Casey, we're going to be doing a bit of hopping around, with a few quizzes, no less that THREE top tens, and answer the question- what is the arcane connection between Casey Kasem and the Moody Blues?  Hang with me here, because this is gonna be different.


Bobby G. had suggested doing something with Casey's first and last AT 40 countdowns.  The first was in July of 1970; the last (until he came back years later, but the last Billboard AT40) in 1988.  Let's take a look at that last one first.  Some of the acts were Martin Era acts, some not.    So let me do some mini-six degrees to connect the "outsiders" to the ME.  The number ten song on Casey's last top 40:

George Michael, Monkey.  And the best connection I found was that Wham!'s first lp had a cover of the Miracles' #1 Love Machine.

Number nine? Def Lepperd, Pour Some Sugar On Me.  DL's first single release was a song called Wasted, late in 1979.

Number eight?  Chicago's I Don't Wanna Live Without Your Love.  No need to dig here...

Number seven?  Elton John's I Don't Wanna Go On With You Like That.  Again, the connects are obvious.

Number six?  Gloria Estefan's 1-2-3.  The Miami Sound Machine's first lp was an all Espanol record in 1977.

Number five?  Terrance Trent D'Arby's Sign Your Name.  On his first lp, he released the single Who's Lovin' You, whose b-side was a cover of (ironically) the Miracles' Shop Around.

Number four?  Eric Carmen, Make Me Lose Control.  Another ME holdover.

Number three?  Richard Marx, Hold On To The Nights.  I had to resort to a two-step connection here.  He sang background in his first record appearance, on Lionel Richie's You Are.  And Richie led the Commodores from 1974.

Number Two?  Breathe's Hands To Heaven.  A three stepper here- their producer Bob Sargeant once played in Mark Abraham's Band, and Mark Abraham was an original member of Jethro Tull.

And the last number one for Casey?  Stevie Winwood- with previous top forty hits as a member of the Spencer Davis Group- and Roll With It.


Ready for the first guessing game?  Here you go.  If you compared this week's Cashbox Chart with AT40, you'd hear 3 songs on AT40 which you wouldn't see on the Cashbox chart.  And if there was a "Cashbox top 40" show, you'd hear three songs there that you wouldn't on AT 40.  So here's the test:  I'm gonna give you the six artists of these three songs- you tell me, who was on Billboard and not CB, and who was on CB but not BB.  Simple, huh?  C'mon, it's a party game!  Here are your choices:

Andy Gibb
Cheryl Ladd
Steve Martin
Linda Ronstadt
Barbra Streisand
Annnnnd... Crystal Gayle.

(Note: actually, there is one MORE that was on BB but not CB- it peaked at 46 on CB, and its story is next.)


There was just one act that was on the charts for both Casey's first and last Billboard shows- and it is one of those two UK supergroups that debut this week.  And that is the Moody Blues.  Question was on his first show;  I Know You're Out There Somewhere was on the last.  And on the week I'm looking at, it was this one.  In lieu of a "first heard it because of Time Machine" video, here's a "heard it first on AT40 " video:

Other songs debuting this week include (on Cashbox) Foxy's Get Off at 38, a seven notch move; two songs from the Sgt Pepper movie soundtrack back-to-back- Aerosmith doing Come Together, rising 10 spots to 36, and Robin Gibb's Oh Darling, up 14 to #35.  There are two more- but one gives away a contest answer... and the other I'm saving for later.


Now, here was Casey's very first AT40 top ten:

10- Vanity Fare, Hitchin' A Ride.  They are still together, though none of the members were there when they had their hits.

9- Elvis Presley, The Wonder Of You.  Performing nightly at 7-11s across the country.

8- Beatles, The Long And Winding Road.  Sir Paul is still out there making music, and Ringo still tours with his All-Star band.

7- The Carpenters, (They Long To Be) Close To You.  Among other things, Richard hosts a scholarship-talent show every year in Thousand Oaks, CA.

6- Melanie, Lay Down (Candles In The Rain).  Still recording and living in Nashville.

5- Freda Payne, Band Of Gold.  She recorded a duet with Cliff Richard in 2011, called Saving A Life.

4- Blues Image, Ride Captain Ride.  Broke up before the song became a hit.

3- Temptations, Ball Of Confusion.  Were allegedly recording a new album last year, with the only remaining original being Otis Williams.

2- The Jackson Five, The Love You Save.  I'm sure TMZ can tell you what they're up to better than I can.

1- Three Dog Night, Mama Told Me (Not To Come).  More of a Two Dog Night, with Chuck Negron touring with one band, and the others still touring as TDN.


Did you know Casey hit the charts himself?  Grazing the charts was this touching letter put to music:


Quiz #2- When we get to the top ten for "my week" there is one song difference between Billboard and Cashbox- a song coming into the ten on one, a song dropping out on the other.  Your question is:  What is the first name of the vocalist on the song that dropped out?  Your choices:


Good luck with that!


Okay, ready for the answers to quiz #1?  The trio that Casey played but not Cashbox were:

Crystal Gayle (Talking In Your Sleep)

Cheryl Ladd (Think It Over)

and Barbra Streisand (Prisoner- from Eyes Of Laura Mars)
And the Cashbox-but-not Casey group were:

Linda Ronstadt (Back In The USA)

Andy Gibb (Shadow Dancing)

And Steve Martin as King Tut.

And now, the combined Cashbox-Billboard top ten for the week that was, September, 2nd...

At ten, Billboard had Evelyn "Champagne" King with Shame, a song that was #8 on Cashbox.

At #9 on BB, at 10 on CB, Walter Egan's Magnet And Steel.

At #8 on BB, #6 on Cashbox, Andy Gibb's An Everlasting Love.

At #7 on BB, the song that was going up, but hadn't made it on CB, was Exile's Kiss You All Over, with lead singer James "JP" Pennington.  The song that fell out on BB but was still hanging on on CB was Pablo Cruise, with lead singer David Jenkins, with Love Will Find A Way.  If you said David, you LOSE!  The correct answer was, "That's the most ridiculous thing I evah hoid!"

" to putting my ugly mug on a music blog..."
At #6 on BB and 7 on CB, the third English supergroup, which hadn't debuted but was on the way down from #1- The Rolling Stones and Miss You.

At # 5 on BB and also on CB, Olivia Newton-John and Hopelessly Devoted To You.

At #4 on BB and also on CB, Foreigner and Hot Blooded.

At#3 on BB and CB, A Taste Of Honey and Boogie Oogie Oogie.

Which leaves us with one song that is #1 on each, and the other #2.  The number one on Cashbox this week is...

Lionel Richie and the Commodores with Three Times A Lady!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And the song that Casey counted last that week:

Frankie Valli and Grease!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


And that leaves us with one more bit of business- who is the other English supergroup to debut this week?  Well, I saved it for last not only because it is one of my favorites, not only because it's haunting melody is a good fit, but because it's message is a lot of the reason that I do this blog, and a lot of the reason we're here celebrating the life of a fallen legend.  Enjoy it, and, as Casey would say, "Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars."  Goodnight, everybody!