Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983
STMcC in downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

MOVE OVER, DAN BROWN; THE BIG DOG'S IN TOWN!

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BIBLE CODE BOMBSHELL
by R. Edwin Sherman
published: 2005
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As of this date, I have posted on Amazon.com 74 Reviews, 24 "So You'd Like To..." Guides, and 18 Listmania Lists. Now let's imagine, just for the sake of argument, that in reading through my Amazon "stuff" you happened to notice that the word "dog" appeared in one form or another in virtually everything I'd posted -- all 74 Reviews, all 24 Guides, and all 18 Lists. Would you accept that this might have occurred by SIMPLE CHANCE? Or would you be convinced that it was indicative of a deliberate design?
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If you answered "possibly SIMPLE CHANCE", then there is a strong "CHANCE" that you, my dear friend, are rather "SIMPLE" in mind... not that there's anything wrong with that. But I have some marvelous business opportunities I'd like to discuss with you!
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Well, the hidden Equidistant Letter Sequence (E.L.S.) codes that are illuminated in 'BIBLE CODE BOMBSHELL' are astronomically more indicative of intelligent design than even the ubiquitous "dog" hypothesis that I fabricated above.

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For example: Isaiah, chapter 53, from the Bible's Old Testament (documented to have existed at least 100 years before the birth of Christ, and more likely about 700 years prior) is a prophecy concerned with the coming of a Suffering Servant who would atone for the sins of mankind. Cloaked within that chapter at equidistant letter sequences are over 1,600 encoded references to Jesus, etc. Included are phrases such as "HE OFFENDED. THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS. HE IS RISEN INDEED" / "AND IN HIS NAME, AS HE COMMANDED, JESUS IS THE WAY" / "AND WHERE ARE THEY? THE SANHEDRIN IS FINISHED" / "FATHER, THE ASCENSION OF JESUS IS HEAVENLY" / "GOD WILL HAVE HIS OWN DAY" / "JESUS THE GIFT IS MASTER AND MY LORD" / "WONDER! JESUS IS THE TRUTH" / "JESUS IS SALVATION" / "MARY IS THE MOTHER OF GOD" / "DREADFUL DAY FOR MARY" / "SON OF ELOHIM" / "TRUE MESSIAH" / "WHO IS JESUS? MASTER"
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R. Edwin Sherman, an acknowledged expert in statistical analysis, has determined that the odds of these references, and the many others, appearing by chance beneath the plain text of Isaiah 53, are less than 1 in 2,189 followed by 192 zeroes. Meaning: There's effectively NO CHANCE!

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On page 78, the author concludes, "What has been mathematically proven is this: it is an established fact that the author of Isaiah 53 knew at least a century in advance the key details of the life and death of Jesus. In other words, the occurrence of this miracle has been scientifically established." And that does not even begin to factor in all of the encoded phrases found in Ezekiel 37, and other Biblical passages. (And you thought Dan Brown's silly 'DA VINCI CODE' was good stuff?)
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There's still much to learn, but in the "dog-eat-dog" Bible Code debate, R. Edwin Sherman has "unleashed" the "pit bull" of Bible Code publications to date. He answers the skeptics' arguments and shows conclusively that at least some portions of The Bible were encoded by a prescient Superintelligence. Yes, the code exists -- that's not the question now. The question has become: Will it affect how you live your life in any appreciable way?
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2005, DECEMBER 10th ADDENDUM:
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I find that one reviewer has panned this book by casting aspersions on the author's facility with the Hebrew language. He writes, "It should be mandatory for an author of Bible codes to be able to at least read Hebrew but unfortunately it is not."
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Since R. Edwin Sherman is not a Hebrew expert, he collaborates with one. As 'BIBLE CODE BOMBSHELL' clearly states, all of Sherman's research is closely examined by Holocaust survivor Nathan Jacobi, Ph.D. Jacobi (an agnostic) received a Ph.D. in physics from Weizman Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. He received an M.Sc. in physics and a B.Sc. in mathematics from Bar-Illan University in Ramat-Gan, Israel. He is a retired college professor with more than 30 years of research, development and scientific computing in applied physics, aerospace and geophysics. He has taught atomic and molecular physics, quantum mechanics, college algebra, trigonometry and analysis, analytic geometry, and calculus -- in Israel and the U.S. Jacobi received a thorough education in both Biblical and contemporary Hebrew. He reads the news daily in Hebrew, converses with his wife in Hebrew, and has taught Hebrew for several years.
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There are people who hate the Truth, and that's their prerogative as free individuals. But it should be mandatory for a reviewer of a book to have at least read the book he reviews. And YOU can quote ME on that!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Thursday, January 11, 2018

WET DREAMS

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THE CALIFORNIA STYLE: 
California Watercolor Artists 1925-1955
edited by: Gordon McClelland & Jay Last
published: 1985
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THE CALIFORNIA STYLE is an absolutely gorgeous book that I wouldn't even dream of giving less than 5 Stars to! 
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There is a small 2-shelf bookcase that sits next to my bed and it holds my irreplaceable treasures, condensed into one space so that they could all be gathered quickly in the event of some "disaster." Here you find my HOLY BIBLE (with 24 years' worth of notes); my 1st edition copy of Mark Twain's ROUGHING IT; WORKS OF HENRY DAVID THOREAU, given to me by a friend only a few years before he was killed by a car thief attempting to outrun the police. Here is one of the very greatest American novels, A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN -- a birthday gift from my parents; WATERING THE TREE OF LIBERTY, the autobiography of my idol, the counter-revolutionary Norwegian General, Yoey O'Dogherty; and all of my old sketch books; and my unpublished writings (which, incidentally, only outnumber my published writings 321.5 to 0.) And here you'll also find... THE CALIFORNIA STYLE! 
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I discovered THE CALIFORNIA STYLE in the UCLA bookstore when I worked on the campus in the late 1980's and I was immediately captivated by it. I went back to look through it time after time. I'd visit it before reporting to work and again during my dinner break. Day after day, night after night this went on. After a week, I heard that belligerent voice in my head that so often got me into trouble, and the voice said: {"Wassamotta U, Stephen? G'wan an' buy da damn book awready! Gid id over wid, will ya?!"} So I did, and I've never regretted it. It was the first and only time that the voice gave me good advice. How many times I've escaped into the pages of this book, sucked into a rich kaleidoscope of places, activities, fantasies and the mysteries of other times and worlds! 
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The title is a bit of a misnomer in that there is no real stylistic commonality to be found throughout these paintings. The name derives from the fact that all of these watercolorists worked (and often taught) in California between the years of '25 and '55. 
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The reproductions are entrancing, gorgeous. And the myriad styles, subjects, and techniques are executed masterfully. Prior to finding this book, I had mistakenly thought of watercolor as the poor artist's medium -- Oil Paint's snot-nosed little brother. Ah, how wrong I was! I now doubt that the variety of effects obtainable in watercolor can be effectively duplicated by the greatest artists in any other medium. 
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These pictures draw your eyes like a vacuum and beg you to study them slowly, carefully. Experience the lonely, somber tones of Gretzner's 1950's LOBSTER HOUSE - MONTEREY; feel the heat emanating from Gibson's 1950's SOLEDAD CROSSING; explore the frozen moment of midday light in Teague's 1960's SOL Y SOMBRA; squint into the blue breeze of Irving's 1950's SWINGING SIGN; sing with the pastels of Wachtel's 1930's SYCAMORES; melt into the liquid thoughts of Robert's pensive girl in the 1950's DAYDREAMS; or laugh with the playful looseness of Johnson's 1930's I STREET BRIDGE, which looks like it could have modeled for the background cells of Disney's '101 Dalmations'. There's so much loveliness here that I hardly know where to start! 
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I actually credit this book, along with the works of Edward Hopper (my favorite artist), for teaching me the meaning of "authentic" art. 
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If you can find a copy of it, you'll likely also find that this book is not cheap today. But if it makes you feel any better, I bought my copy for a hefty $50.+ back in '88! Taking into account 16 years of inflation and its current scarcity, the steep asking price for a used copy of THE CALIFORNIA STYLE is not so out of line. 
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Like the pictures in my high school yearbooks -- which this book abuts in my bookcase -- the pictures in THE CALIFORNIA STYLE may represent images from a distant past, but this makes them treasures all the more! 
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, January 8, 2018

LET YOUR WALLET DO THE WALKING THRU THE BLUE PAGES!

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THE BLUE PAGES: A Directory Of Companies
by Angie Crouse & The Center For Responsive Politics
published: 2010
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I’m going to begin this book review with a little story, and if you’ll just hang in there, you’ll eventually see how it relates to THE BLUE PAGES.
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Back in 1972, my Pa was the manager of The Machinists, a Little League baseball team whose star shortstop was my little Bro, Napoleon (a nickname). Early one morning -- on “Picture Day” no less, when every boy’s uniform should have looked neat and clean -- outfielder Graham (always a troublemaker) got sassy with Napoleon, and the boys did what boys sometimes will do. Graham was only about twice Napoleon’s size. But we’ve all heard the old adage, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the will and anger in Napoleon!”
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One of the boys told my Pa, “Hey! Mr. McCarthy! Graham and Napoleon are fighting in the outfield!” He saw the knot of boys cheering in the distance and he ran full-tilt to break it up. But as he drew nearer, he saw that Graham was getting quite a thrashing, and (as he loved to tell for years afterwards), he “slowed down to a jog and then a stroll.” Only a bad dad would unnecessarily spoil his son’s fun! We’ve all heard the expression about taking someone “out to the woodshed”. Well, on Picture Day 1972, Napoleon took Graham "out to right field".
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A year or two later, while we were both in junior high school, after an argument, that same Graham and I arranged an after-school meeting in a nearby alley, and as is always the case, news got out and there was an eager gathering of kids in that alley awaiting the two combatants. I can no longer recall the circumstances, but I’m sure Graham must have instigated the fracas because I never started a fight I didn’t start.
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Graham threw the first punch -- a right hook -- which I blocked and countered with my own right hook, introducing my right fist to his left ear. Graham threw the right a second time, I blocked it again, and again bopped him in the left ear. I guess my opponent was thinking, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or maybe, “Third time’s a charm”, because he opted for the right hook yet again, and I countered as before. Graham was a slow learner, and whereas he was merely a half-wit when the fight began, he was undoubtedly a half-deaf half-wit when it ended. Which it did when an old man stuck his head over a fence Wilson-like from ‘Home Improvement’ and mentioned "calling the cops". Every kid ran in every direction! Ah, yes, beating up on Graham -- it was just a McCarthy Family Tradition.
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This past Christmas day, our Sister gave Napoleon THE BLUE PAGES as a gift. It was the biggest hit of the day. She gave me a coffee mug with the BILL OF RIGHTS printed on the side. When hot coffee is poured into it, your rights begin disappearing (i.e., as you “wake up” you notice how the federal government is stealing your rights! Clever idea.) But I couldn’t keep my hands off of Napoleon’s BLUE PAGES. How did I ever live without this book?
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This publication, THE BLUE PAGES, was compiled by a few Leftists and it intended to inform the Libs which of those big, bad companies are giving money to the Republicans, and you know, not honoring the civil liberties of their employees by failing to offer insurance coverage to their “alternative lifestyle partners”, etc. And conversely, which “good” companies should be supported because they support the indefensible and sundry Socialist agendas.
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But the great thing about this book is that it can be used as unintended. In other words, every time Graham threw his right, he dropped his left and lunged, opening himself up for a powwow (or maybe that should be pow!-ow!!) between my right fist and his left ear. In essence, I was using Graham’s punch against him, just like I’m now using THE BLUE PAGES to monetarily punish the very companies it was meant to assist.
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THE BLUE PAGES includes over 4,000 company entries from every consumer sector. It first notes the dollar amount given to the Democrat and/or Republican party by the top three executives for each company during the 2003-04 donation cycle (granted this is now dated and limited information, but it’s a start). Then there’s a small body of text that highlights the significant lawsuits resolved or pending, history of corporate fines, positive and/or negative ecological impact, the social / sexual / gender policies, and the insurance coverage offered by each company.
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I’ll say this for THE BLUE PAGES, although the astute and even just semi-astute reader will detect the “Left Lean”, it’s more balanced than one would anticipate from a Libby publication. It doesn’t shy away from spotlighting infractions against the Left-leaning companies like you might expect. This book really does seem fair enough to be used effectively by both Socialists (Democrats and Republicans), and true conservatives (me, myself, and I).
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I’m an “Independent” Constitutional Conservative, so I detest both the Democrats and the Republicans. But at least the Republican party says the right things even though it’s lying about what it intends to do. Both parties stand for global, totalitarian Socialism. But the Dems institute it quicker and I’d prefer to see our Republic die slower. For many years, I’ve been boycotting all goods from Communist countries and others with terrible human rights abuses (such as India and Indonesia). But now I can boycott the most immoral offenders in THIS country as well!
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THE BLUE PAGES is one of those books you’ll open to look up one thing and find yourself buried in for the next hour. It’s filled with interesting information such as:
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* Although PepsiCo gave nearly 70% of its monetary donations to the Republican party, it “received top scores from the Human Rights Campaign 2004 Corporate Equality Index for its pro-gay, -lesbian, -bisexual, and –transgender policies.” I wish I drank Pepsi so I could quit!
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* The Estee Lauder cosmetics company “earns high marks for its... longtime extension of health care benefits to its employees’ same-sex partners.” Well, I’ve been meaning to quit attending those midnight showings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show anyway.
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* With a name like Smuckers, it has to be good, right? They gave 99% of their dough to the Republicans, but a 2005 report found that their jams advertised as “100% Fruit” often contained less than 50% fruit. Oh well, at least they weren’t giving their money to the fruits.
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* Good news! I can start eating Ben & Jerry’s ice cream because it’s now owned by Unilever which gave only 11% of its money to the Dems. I’m gonna gorge myself on ice cream this year, gain 300 pounds and then sue Ben & Jerry for creating an addictive product that contributes to obesity and clogged arteries. (I mean, that’s how the liberals do it, isn’t it?)
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* Get this! Hooters of America paid two million bucks to settle a class action suit filed by men [sic] denied the opportunity to serve as “Hooters Girls.” Though it was ordered to create gender-neutral positions, the company still maintains that “being female is reasonably necessary” to be a Hooters Girl. Sounds “reasonable” to me. Now, THAT’S a hoot!
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I love this book! It ain’t perfect but it’s my favorite Christmas gift that I didn’t receive this year. I guess I won’t be eating at liberal Denny’s anymore, but then who wants a Grand Slam Breakfast when they can have a pint of “Cherry Garcia”?
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PERSONAL MESSAGE FOR GRAHAM: Hey, buddy, if you’re still out there somewhere (i.e., someone hasn’t beaten you six feet under yet), my Sister is lookin’ fer you. She says it’s her turn!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A WUNDERFUL BOOK FOR SCREENPLAY RIGHTERS!

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SCREENPLAY: The Foundations Of Screenwriting
by Syd Field
published: 1979
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I red SCREENPLAY many years ago before righting my own movie, BILLY 'N' BILLIE. Iliked the book. It was reel good at showing you what elimints are need in construkting a movie that will cell.

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There was only one thing that buged me and that was he says that all good movies follow a certin pairadime. But then on page 118 he says "What about NASHVILLE? Is that an exception?" He then shows how it doesnt seem like it but NASHVILLE reely does follow the pattern. Then he winds it up by saying "Robert Altman... films may look randomly composed but in reality they are executed with sculpted finesse. NASHVILLE fits the paradigm to a tee." (It seems I mispelled paradigm earlyer but you knew what I ment right?) But what bugs me is that NASHVILLE reely doesnt fit the paradigm to a tee at all and SYD FIELD didnt have the curage of his conviktions to come out and say so. and ferthermore NASHVILLE is not a good movie at all. I tryed to watch it three times and never made it. But the rest of this book is good.
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My movie BILLY 'N' BILLIE nobody bought but even tho that happened to me I still think this book is good and I wreckamend it. My copy is totaly dogeared! I still dont no why my movie didnt cell but I might re-right it today on my lunch brake and try it again. Goodluck everyone!!!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, December 31, 2017

GREAT FUN FOR UNDER $14.27

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GOLDEN HITS
by Roger Miller
released: 1965
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This particular ROGER MILLER compilation is a significant aural piece of my childhood. Miller was a real favorite for my Pa, and thus my siblings and I were introduced to his goofy Country-Western hits at a very young age. My Pa always had a wacky sense of humor, which I seem to have inherited in spades. He enjoyed a well-turned phrase and comedy that bordered on (or even reveled in) the outrageous. (One of my great regrets in life is that I never sat him down and forced him to watch 'MONTY PYTHON & THE HOLY GRAIL' -- he would have loved it!)
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Even my Pa acknowledged that Roger Miller did not have what one would describe as a "great" voice. (It was kind of a cross between Willie Nelson and Cold Beer mixed with Warm, Raw Honey. Ya got that?). But Miller's voice was perfectly suited for the tenor of his novelty songs. It is a distinctive voice that definitely grows on the listener to become quite enjoyable to hear.
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Pa felt that after Roger got off "the sauce" his songs suffered. I don't know if that's true (I even dig some of his later, primarily subdued stuff), but these 11 short songs (the "epic" of this collection times out at just 2:26) originate from Roger's "bottle-tipping times", and there's nary a "dog" in the pound.
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Our excursion through Miller's Wacky World is initiated by his signature tune, 'KING OF THE ROAD'. ("Third boxcar, midnight train / Destination: Bangor, Maine / Old worn out clothes and shoes / I don't pay no union dues.")
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Then we move onto his classic of self-loathing, 'DANG ME'. ("Dang me, dang me / They oughta take a rope and hang me / High from the highest tree / Woman would you weep for me?")
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'ENGINE ENGINE #9' is enjoyable, yet rather straightforward by Miller standards, and 'IN THE SUMMERTIME' features his trademark phrasing, irregular meter changes, and some of the funniest yodeling on record!
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More than any other track here, 'YOU CAN'T ROLLER SKATE IN A BUFFALO HERD' reminds me of my youth because Pa (always an early-riser) was fond of blasting it loudly in order to awaken us kids for school. What a way to start your day! (Yes, just like Roger Miller himself, my Pa was a "strange duck", making me a Son-Of-A-Strange Duck, and you know how birds of a feather flock together.)
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The title 'DO-WACKA-DO' pretty much tells it all. ("I hear tell you're doin’ well / Good things have come to you / I wish I had your happiness / And you had a do-wacka-do".)
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'ENGLAND SWINGS' and so does the song.
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My Nephew -- the latest Rogerian convert to the family -- likes 'CHUG-A-LUG' the best. It's about a boy's first experience with "the sauce". ("4-H and FFA on a field trip to the farm / Me 'n' a friend sneak off behind / This big old barn where we uncovered a covered-up moonshine still...". "Uncovered a covered-up" -- only Roger, Dylan, and Tom Waits could've-would've written something like that. That requires an E.M. -- Elastic Mind.)
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'ONE DYING AND A BURYING' is deadly serious. It's sad. It's morose. I like it.
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'KANSAS CITY STAR' is probably my favorite track as it appeals to the overly-developed under-achieving trait in my personality ("Got a letter just this mornin' it was postmarked Omaha / It was typed and neatly written offerin' me this better job / Better job at higher wages, expenses paid and a car / But I'm on TV here locally and I can't quit, I'm a star".)
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'ATTA BOY, GIRL' is fun-4-all boys and girls.
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If you think that life is too damned serious to take seriously; if you think there's nothing wrong with rhyming "purple" with "maple syrple"; if you think "you can be happy if you've a mind to"; and if you've found that "you can't change film with a kid on your back" then ROGER MILLER is just waiting for you. What're you waiting for?
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In 'DANG ME', Miller sings, "Just sittin' around drinkin' with the rest of the guys / Six rounds bought, and I bought five / Spent the groceries and half the rent / Like fourteen dollars and twenty-seven cents." My Pa was admitted into the hospital in the first week of April, 1996 and he passed away on the 10th. He was joking right up until the time he slipped into unconsciousness and then slipped away entirely. When the nurse later turned over his belongings to me, I couldn't help noticing that he had entered the hospital with a total of $14. and small change (I didn't think to count the exact amount) in his pants pocket. Hmmm.... Pa's last little joke came after he was already gone. I used the money to buy beer for his wake -- he'd have wanted it that way. Roger Miller's GOLDEN HITS keeps some of my Pa's life in my heart, but I think it'll put some heart in your life, too.
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"Stay tuned -- we're gonna have a Popeye cartoon in a minute."
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, December 27, 2017

THE "CLIFFS NOTES" TO BARTON'S MASTERPIECE

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AMERICA'S GODLY HERITAGE
by David Barton
copyright: 1993
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'AMERICA'S GODLY HERITAGE' is a 30-page booklet, the text of which is simply the lightly edited, transcribed soundtrack from David Barton's videotape presentation of the same name. Being fairly brief and inexpensive, this booklet would make a fine gift to give away to individuals (and interested groups) who seek to know a little bit about this aspect of America's history that has been swept under the rug of secular textbooks for close to half a century now. 
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Although slight in size, 'AMERICA'S GODLY HERITAGE' packs a wallop, and will make the head (that still believes "separation of church and state" is some principal plank of American government) spin!
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If you've spent any time browsing the Amazon website, you don't need me to tell you that there are MANY reviewers who exhibit much greater devotion to promoting and defending their chosen beliefs than to seeking the truth -- whatever that truth may turn out to be. A reviewer here (I'll call him "Mr. Smith") denounces 'AMERICA'S GODLY HERITAGE' as a misrepresentation of fact. In this case, however, I do not doubt the sincerity of "Mr. Smith" -- I think he genuinely believes what he expresses. But I also believe that he has been misguided and led astray.
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Yes, there are many publications out there that attempt to paint an untraditional and often unflattering portrait of America's Founders. Considering the age we live in, it's not the least bit surprising that the market has been flooded with revisionist history books that tell not just little fibs, but Tsunami Lies! In fact, this has become so prevalent in the last several decades that, as I understand it, the Olympic Committee is seriously considering making both Dog-Sledding and Founding Father-Spinning officially sanctioned events in the next Olympiad!
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I just don't think there are too many different ways a person can interpret this statement by JOHN ADAMS:
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"The general principles on which the Fathers achieved independence were... the general principles of Christianity... I will avow that I then believed, and now believe, that those general principles of Christianity are as eternal and immutable as the existence and attributes of God."
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I think BENJAMIN RUSH (a signer of The Declaration Of Independence) meant exactly what he wrote in his autobiography:
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"My only hope of salvation is in the infinite transcendent love of God manifested to the world by the death of His Son upon the Cross. Nothing but His blood will wash away my sins. I rely exclusively upon it."
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And when JOHN JAY -- the original Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and one of the three men most responsible for the Constitution -- declares, "Providence has given to our people the choice of their rulers, and it is the duty -- as well as the privilege and interest -- of our Christian nation to select and prefer Christians for their rulers", I have a hard time thinking he meant that in some "rhetorical" way. I don't know, call me a moron if you will, but I think I'm fairly bright as morons go. (When the Founding Fathers wrote that they were declaring their independence from England, I wonder if they meant that in a merely "rhetorical" way too, but King George III mistakenly took them seriously.)
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Make no mistake about it: nearly all of the 55 Founding Fathers who worked on the U.S. Constitution were members of ORTHODOX Christian churches, and many of them were evangelical Christians.
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As impressive as 'AMERICA'S GODLY HERITAGE' is, it can't be considered as anything more than the "Cliffs Notes" for Barton's REAL masterpiece, 'ORIGINAL INTENT: The Courts, The Constitution, & Religion''ORIGINAL INTENT' is an exhaustive tome of stellar and scholarly research that covers the same ground, but buries six feet deep the efforts of secular revisionists.
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And while 'ORIGINAL INTENT' is the direction I would ultimately point you in, 'AMERICA'S GODLY HERITAGE' might be the best place for those people unprepared for the startling truth to begin an inquiry. Certainly it would be better to let this little booklet prep your mind and whet YOUR INTEREST, than to dive right into 'ORIGINAL INTENT' and perhaps short-circuit your mind and wet YOURSELF!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, December 23, 2017

WOULD YOU LIKE TO... SEE 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE' COME TO LIFE?

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[I originally published this online on December 4, 2005.]
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FOR A COUPLE OF YEARS I WORKED AS A VOLUNTEER CORRESPONDENT FOR A RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATION'S "PRISON OUTREACH PROGRAM". IT PUT ME IN CONTACT WITH MANY PEOPLE INCARCERATED AROUND THE COUNTRY. THE STRONGEST RELATIONSHIP THAT I DEVELOPED WAS WITH A YOUNG MAN -- I WILL CALL HIM "FRED" -- WHO WAS IN A FLORIDA PRISON. I HAPPENED TO MENTION IN A LETTER THAT 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE' WAS ONE OF MY FAVORITE MOVIES. HE ANSWERED THAT THE MOVIE HAS A GREAT EMOTIONAL IMPACT ON HIM BECAUSE OF AN INCIDENT THAT HAD ACTUALLY TAKEN PLACE SOME YEARS EARLIER.

I'VE CHANGED ALL OF THE NAMES BECAUSE IT WAS PERSONAL CORRESPONDENCE AND I NEVER REQUESTED PERMISSION TO REVEAL HIS IDENTITY, BUT HERE IS AN EXCERPT FROM "FRED'S" DECEMBER 4, 1999 LETTER RELATING THE DETAILS TO ME:

"Jim West (my grandfather) passed away in October of 1990 and as it was, I was already 'off the chain' and headed for serious problems. I was 17 at the time and I remember clearly standing at the wake, shaking hands with too many people, dressed in a suit with combat boots (my punk rocker days), stoned out of mind and reason. My best friend Katy was with me and though she and I were no longer intimate, I was more interested in getting away from that dreadful funeral to be with her and my friends.

"Anyhow, Christmas of 1990 was miserable. I lasted about an hour and finally took off in a rage, unable to cope with all of my aunts, my mom and grandmom, and other family members' tears and emotional misery. Looking back I realize they were dealing with his death as best they knew how and it is healthy to grieve and not stuff feelings. My solution was to get wasted.

"Christmas 1991 was even worse for me. I had recently had my first major run in with the law and was out on bond. I was living with my mom and step-dad at the time because my grandmother was too afraid of me. Mom and Rob are both alcoholics and drug abusers and though one might think this would make us compatable [sic], it actually only complicated matters.

"That Christmas Eve, they came home from a party in quite a state and my step-dad in a drunken rage picked a fight with me and threw me out. It was ugly. He smashed my T.V. through the window and threw me a bag of dog-food saying I might need it when I got hungry. I had my own car and left with the few things I could grab. I went to my grandma's and although she was reluctant to let me stay, she let me spend the night. The next morning she went to Mom's for X-mas and though she tried to convince me to go with her, pride over the night before would not allow me to do it. I ended up doing my usual: drinking like a madman and smoking out. I was driving around town, drunk and out of my mind, swimming in self-pity and decided I was going to end it all, take my own life. I hit the interstate and headed for the big bridge I would jump from.

"Then the miracle happened. On the other side of the bridge is a rest area where I intended to park my car and as I pulled in, parked, and drank some more, I noticed one other car in the rest area and I noticed someone slumped over the wheel of the car. Curiosity filled me, and a sense of urgency and I got out and walked to the car. Slumped over the wheel was a very old woman who I could tell was crying. She cracked her window as I motioned to her and I asked her if she was okay and could I help her somehow.

"She looked frightened (no wonder in the state I was in) but began to explain to me that she was from Tallahassee and had driven over to be with her daughter for Christmas. She had been lost for hours and was confused and at wits end and not even knowing where she was now or what direction to go. She told me where her daughter lived and I happened to know where it was. I offered to show her the way and she followed me. When we passed her daughter's apartment complex, she did not pull in but flashed me and we pulled into a small nearby store.

"At this point, she tried to offer me twenty dollars. I refused. She told me that when she was a little girl the world was a kind place but in her 70 years it had become ugly and she had believed there were no miracles left. She told me I changed her mind, the world was still full of miracles. She hugged me. She wished me a Merry Christmas. She got in her car and drove away. I sat down on the curb and bawled like a baby.

"I don't know if you believe in angels but I do. She was an angel, whether an angel in humanity or an actual celestial being, but the real miracle was that whether she knew it or not, she saved my life. The miracle was hers and she gave it to me.

"I decided at that point to go to my other grandmother's house. I ended up having a Christmas I will never forget. Oh, as I was driving to Granny's for Christmas, there was a $100 bill in my pocket that was not there before. I guess the old woman stuck it in there when she hugged me. God bless her wherever she is! (Just an aside...I noticed that you mentioned It's A Wonderful Life in your last letter. I love that movie. Do you see any similarity in it and my story?)

"Merry Christmas and may the Light of Christ shine on you always.
Romans 8:28. --Brother Fred"

I THINK THAT FRED'S EXPERIENCE IS ONE OF THE MOST "WONDERFUL" TRUE CHRISTMAS STORIES I HAVE EVER HEARD. I HOPE YOU LIKED IT, TOO.

BLESS AND BE BLESSED!

~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, December 18, 2017

Take McQUARTHY'S QUIZMAS QUIZ...

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IT'S A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS: The Best Of The Holidays 1940-1965
by Susan Waggoner
published: 2004
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IT'S A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS was given to me by an old friend last December 25th, and I really dig it. The book is subtitled "The Best Of The Holidays 1940-1965" and if you have Christmas memories that fall within that time frame (as I do), you will enjoy it all the more.

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Susan Waggoner does a nice job of organizing and revisiting so many of the heartwarming aspects of The Ghost Of Christmas Past. The pages are awash in bright color -- this IS Christmas afterall -- and the book is lavishly illustrated with photos and old print ads that will bring out the lost little boy or girl in all but the most cynical among us. IT'S A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS covers most of the secular joys and traditions that we associate with America's grandest holiday.
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There was only one category that Waggoner surprisingly missed, and that was our love for Christmas-themed movies and television programs. Granted, most of the classic Christmas TV specials were produced after 1965, but still 'A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS' ('65) and 'RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER' ('64) fall within the target, and so do many of the popular Christmas movies, the viewing of which has become an important part of the Christmas celebrations in the majority of households.

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Waggoner missed a great opportunity to relate how America's favorite Christmas movie, 'IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE' (which she even borrowed for the title of her wonderful book), started out as just a sketchy little story used as a Christmas card by its writer, Philip VanDoren Stern.
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The only other less than glowing comment I have to make is that the book comes to a strangely abrupt ending. One minute we're reading about Christmas candies, and the next minute the book has come to an en
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You see? Just like that, it's over! It's almost as if the reader has wandered off the edge of The North Pole. I was so taken aback, that I went to the Table of Contents to see if my copy was missing a closing chapter, a summation of what had come before ...something, anything. It's like getting a beautifully wrapped Christmas gift, but one that is missing the bow on top.
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But all in all, IT'S A WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS delivers like Santa. And it contains one of the all-time great Christmas-related anecdotes: Shirley Temple says, "I stopped believing in Santa Claus when my Mother took me to see him in a department store, and he asked for my autograph." Is that classic, or what?!

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Following is my McQUARTHY'S QUIZMAS QUIZ, which I created from some of the trivia I was exposed to through Waggoner's book. Each question is worth 5 points; if you can score a 70 or better, you don't really need this book (but you'll enjoy it nonetheless)...
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1) The first artificial Christmas Trees were made by a... a. vegetable brush company / b. toilet brush company / c. pipe cleaner company / d. bottle brush company
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2) In 1961, what percentage of Christmas cards were purchased by women? a. 80 / b. 83 / c. 90 / d. 95
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3) The White House issued Christmas cards in 1953... a. to ease post-Korean War depression / b. to ease "nuclear war jitters" / c. featuring artwork by President Eisenhower / d. because Moscow had begun printing Winter solstice cards
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4) America's first Christmas postage stamps were not issued until 1962 because... a. there was disagreement over using a secular or sacred image / b. it was believed that few people would specifically purchase them / c. the stamps sent from the printing company in 1961 were lost in the mail / d. some felt it violated a separation of church and state
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5) Macy's department store observed its first open-until-midnight Christmas Eve in 1867 and made how much money? a. $2,000 / b. $4,000 / c. $6,000 / d. $8,000
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6) Gimbel's department store organized its first Thanksgiving parade in 1920. The man who portrayed Santa Claus was... a. a fireman / b. a policeman / c. the head of store security / d. a Salvation Army volunteer
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7) Rudolph The Red-nosed Reindeer was created by... a. the singer & songwriter, Gene Autry / b. the department store employee, Robert May / c. the Hallmark Card Company executive, Ed Goodman / d. the New Jersey store Santa, Yoey O'Dogherty 
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8) In order to ensure that there would always be a maximum number of shopping days, Congress passed a bill moving Thanksgiving from the "last Thursday" in November to the "fourth Thursday" in... a. 1931 / b. 1938 / c. 1941 / d. 1948
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9) In what year was the song,'DO YOU HEAR WHAT I HEAR?' introduced? a. 1960 / b. 1962 / c. 1965 / d. 1967
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10) Retail Santas began appearing as store greeters during... a. the Civil War / b. World War I / c. World War II / d. The Korean War
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11) At one time, Rudolph's creator considered naming his reindeer... a. Robert / b. Randy / c. Reginald / d. Roberta
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12) The Montgomery Ward store did not reissue the story of Rudolph during World War II because... a. it was feared that the name was too Germanic / b. there was a paper shortage / c. there was a dispute over who owned the copyright / d. Mr. Montgomery Ward felt the taunting of Rudolph created a negative impression of the store amongst shoppers
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13) Timex watches became one of the most popular Christmas gifts of the century. They debuted in... a. 1944 / b. 1946 / c. 1950 / d. 1952
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14) For Christmas in 1957, Elvis gave his girlfriend... a). a poodle / b. a poodle skirt with rubies sewn into the waistband / c. a pair of faux ruby shoes used in the movie 'The Wizard Of Oz' / d. a pink convertible Cadillac with ruby radio dials
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15) A popular toy/game that debuted in 1947 was... a. Slinky / b. Tonka trucks / c. Chutes and Ladders by Milton Bradley / d. All of these
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16) According to Art Clokey, the inventor of "Gumby", who always understood the character? a. little girls / b. little boys / c. stage actors / d. hippies
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17) What Disney character appeared on women's briefs in 1955? a. Snow White / b. Cinderella / c. Lady (from 'Lady And The Tramp') / d. Davy Crockett
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18) Mattel created the first talking doll, Chatty Cathy, in 1960. Who supplied Cathy's voice? a. June Foray / b. Shirley Temple / c. Kathy Weizen / d. Cathy Rigby
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19) Kellogg's introduced the recipe for Rice Krispie Treats in the... a. 1930s / b. 1940s / c. 1950s / d. 1960s
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20) What percentage of American households leave milk and cookies for Santa Claus on Christmas Eve? a. 10 / b. 15 / c. 20 / d. 25
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ANSWERS:

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1) b   2) a   3) c   4) d   5) c


6) a   7) b   8) c   9) b   10) a


11) c   12) b   13) b   14) a   15) b


16) d   17) d   18) a   19) b   20) a
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Don't feel bad if you failed this test, as I am undefeated in the game of 'Balderdash'. I'd make a great liar.
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Regarding question #18, I would like to point out that this relatively unknown but incredibly talented "voice artist" was also responsible for the voices of the following famous characters: Rocket J. Squirrel, Natasha Fatale, and Nell Fenwick from 'Rocky & Bullwinkle'; Lucifer the cat from Disney's 'Cinderella'; Aaron's Mother in 'The Little Drummer Boy'; Karen and the Teacher in 'Frosty The Snowman'; the Grandma from 'Tweety & Slylvester'; the Mermaid and the Indian Squaw from Disney's 'Peter Pan'; Lena Hyena and Wheezy Weasel from 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit'; and even the voice for the wife of the man getting dunked on Disneyland's 'Pirates Of The Caribbean' ride ("Don't tell him, Carlos!"); and hundreds of other animated characters.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Attention! This E-Mail Just In From THE NORTH POLE:

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THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC OF JOHNNY MATHIS: A Personal Collection
by Johnny Mathis
released: 1993
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Thanks to the magic of modern communications, I am able to share with you this letter I recently received from Santa Claus. I copied and pasted it below for your perusal.
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Deer Stephen:
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I thank you for the kind letter and many compliments. To allay your fears: no, I do not suspect you of "kissing up" to me (as you so delicately phrased it).
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I have looked over your Christmas Wish List and regret to inform you that we have never made those types of... uh... things up here at my workshop. You'll need to seek out another source. We're a little more "family" oriented, don't you know-ho-ho?
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I can, however, happily fulfill your request for my most highy recommended Holiday music. I'll be brief beclaus -- I mean, because -- this is my busy time of year, what with overseeing the work at the elves toy factory and coal mine, and with the Missus constantly shoving food at me and nagging that I should "Eat! Eat!" No one wants to see a skinny Santa, or so she says.
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Mrs. Claus and I have always been partial to the JOHNNY MATHIS renditions of most Christmas standards. The Missus says they're, "Wonderful! Wonderful!" And though It's Not For Me To Say, Chances Are you'll enjoy them, too. Little Johnny's voice is a "gift" that originates from regions even higher than the North Pole!
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THE CHRISTMAS MUSIC OF JOHNNY MATHIS: A Personal Collection is a readily available single-disc compilation of songs personally selected by Johnny from his previously released Christmas albums.
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There are a few songs that were regrettably overlooked, most notably, his emotionally stirring O HOLY NIGHT from his first release, 'MERRY CHRISTMAS'. Leaving that off nearly landed Johnny on my "Bad Boys" list! And there's no I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS, nor THE CHRISTMAS SONG. That's ho-ho-horrible!
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Missing from the album 'FOR CHRISTMAS', is Johnny's spirited, JINGLE BELL ROCK. Also, GOD REST YE MERRY GENTLEMEN which, while too slow, concludes with two indescribably joyful notes!
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I think we can both agree that JINGLE BELLS is overrated beclaus -- I mean, because -- it is too simplistic and has been played to death. But Stephen, did you ever hear Johnny's version from 'CHRISTMAS EVE WITH JOHNNY MATHIS'? It's even superior to the rendition that the Jingle Dogs barked out many moons ago! It has a marvelously updated arrangement that makes me want to stuff the Missus into the sleigh and go for a Winter ride. Alas, we can't BOTH fit into the thing side-by-side anymore. But then JINGLE BELLS isn't included on this disc either.
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To really do Johnny's Christmas music justice, this should have been conceived as a two-disc set. Nevertheless, what IS included is truly classic Holiday music that's been widely celebrated and publicly played since you were nose-high to an elf. We deerly love it up here at "The Pole". Of course, the elves don't pay much attention to it; they're forever singing their nerve-racking elf songs, but my reindeer team just can't get enough of it -- especially Rudolph! you should see his face nose light up every time the Missus puts it on! Why I even saw it bring a smile to grumpy ol' Blitzen once. (Or else he had gas, and that was only a grimace.)

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You really should own all of Johnny's Christmas music, but if you're inclined to buy just one Christmas music CD, this disc is the way to go-ho-ho.
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Well, I'd better close now beCAUSE we're way behind schedule as it is, and I've got trouble brewing over at the toy shop: two elves recently got caught sniffing snow; one elf ran off to become Denver's most diminutive dentist; another one has a ribbon fetish; and yet another is in therapy because she insists that she's a reindeer; and the whole lot of them are threatening to unionize! ...Yeah, ol' Santa's got his troubles, too.
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I hope this letter has been some help to you.
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Stephen, be a good boy between now and December 24th and perhaps you won't be unwrapping another lump of coal this year. (It hurts me too, Stephen.)
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~ Saint Nicholas
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P.S. -- Please don't forget to leave some milk and cookies this time. A diabetic man gets hungry flying around the world in one night, and Mrs. Claus says that I must "Eat! Eat!"
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Friday, December 8, 2017

By GEORGE, This Is A HANDy Historical Document!

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WHISKEY, SIX-GUNS & RED-LIGHT LADIES: George Hand's Saloon Diary, Tucson, 1875-1878
edited by Neil Carmony
copyright: 1994
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The miner, Civil War soldier, butcher, Saloon-keeper and night watchman, GEORGE HAND, kept a diary throughout most of his adult life. This book includes all of the entries from his Tucson, Arizona, saloon-keeping years of 1875 through 1878, as well as his separate "obituary" sections encompassing the years '72 through '87. Don't let the cheesy, unfortunate title fool you, WHISKEY, SIX-GUNS & RED-LIGHT LADIES is an absolute gem! This really is a Five-Star, must-own book for anyone interested in American West history! 
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Through HAND's day-by-day observations, we get an extraordinarily clear picture of life in the untamed Southwest territory of the 1800s. The Old West comes vibrantly alive as this common working-man records his unvarnished impressions of what was then an unruly outpost on the frontier. WHISKEY, SIX-GUNS & RED-LIGHT LADIES is far from being a dry cataloging of names and events because the effervescent and humorously ironic personality of GEORGE HAND weaves wit and fascinating details into the simple diary, thus exhibiting for us the many textures of real Western life. The dust, heat, danger, boredom, "romance" and hardship of the authentic Wild West are on display on nearly every page. For example: 
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1875, JUNE 21. "...Cockeyed Jones left for Sonora -- what for, no one knows, not even himself." 
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SEPT. 30. "...Bedford was drunk all day -- he talked several men nearly to death." 
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1876, JAN. 27. "...In the evening I had a singing match with Morgan, with McDermott critic and sufferer. It was decided in my favor." 
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JUNE 25. "...The church was busy today. All the whores in town went to get Holy Water and pray off the sins of yesterday." 
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JULY 9. "...I took a bath, changed clothes, and feel tip-top for one who has been drunk for 6 years." 
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1877, JAN. 7. "...Mollie Monroe was arrested for wearing men's clothes and put in jail." 
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JUNE 19. "...A new law firm has been established -- Clark & McDermott. Principal business -- drinking whiskey." 
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JULY 5. "Very dull today. All the boys have the blues." 
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SEPT. 3. "...Stage came -- very little mail. Sorghum Smith arrived with his horse Pumpkins. Very windy and dusty today... got drunk today, the first time in my life." 
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OCT. 4. "...I went to bed at 9:30 -- slept very little -- the streets were full of barking dogs and drunken whores." 
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1878, MAR. 7. "...I raised the flag to the masthead in honor of the birthday of a celebrated old pisser named George Hand -- 48 years old. A few less than three thousand people have asked why the flag was up, but they all went away as wise as when they came." 
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NOV. 26. "...Took a walk with McKey to see a young lady -- we 'saw' her." 
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I find it particularly fascinating when GEORGE HAND mentions well-known historical events which were contemporary to his time. For example, in one place he mentions a telegram informing them of General George Custer's death at Little Bighorn in Montana, and in another, he notes the trouble in nearby Tombstone and the revenge taken upon Frank Stillwell for the killing of Morgan Earp. His corpse having been discovered on a Tucson railroad track, Hand comments, "Frank Stillwell was shot all over, the worst shot-up man that I ever saw." 
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WHISKEY, SIX-GUNS & RED-LIGHT LADIES includes very informative commentary by editor Neil Carmony, an extensive index, and wonderful old photographs showing some of the places and characters mentioned by GEORGE HAND in his diary. While moral flaws of his society (and occasionally even his own character) are exposed in HAND's writing, virtually every American West history buff will find this book thoroughly entertaining, enlightening, and indispensable! 
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The next time you're out Tucson-way, be sure to visit GEORGE HAND. I'm sure he'd love to have you stop by and say hello. His wild Western life behind him now, he resides peacefully on North Oracle Road at the Evergreen Cemetery.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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