Downtown Los Angeles, circa 1983

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

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

"GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME . . .

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THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY
by Thomas Woods, Ph.D.
published: 2004
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. . . REALITY TV PROGRAMMING 24/7!" This would seem to be contemporary America's answer to Patrick Henry's famous rallying cry. I am under no delusion that America will ever recover from Her present condition: the dogs of Socialism have "marked" all of the territory well and their program of indoctrination has been too thorough and far-reaching -- polluting minds in every public sector -- to be turned back now. It comes as no surprise to me and others who understand how the Socialists operate, that so many reviewers have condemned this book (with many obviously not having read it).

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In his excellent book, DEDICATION AND LEADERSHIP, former communist publisher Douglas Hyde reveals the organized, systematic attack that Socialists mass against anything detrimental to their cause. And John Stormer in his essential tome, NONE DARE CALL IT TREASON: 25 YEARS LATER, relates how these same lovely folks infiltrate book review panels in order to influence the public reception or rejection of certain publications. A quick glance through the reviews on the product page at Amazon.com testifies to their handiwork.
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Obviously, however, I'm not implying that every negative review that appears there originates with a card-carrying communist. Clearly some of these people simply wouldn't recognize the truth even if it used their head for a bulletin board!
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Anybody who denounces this book as being Republican apologetics has either never read it (just following The Daily Worker's marching orders), or else they have no more comprehension of the English language than does the "undocumented" immigrant living next door to you!

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THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY is an effective general overview that illustrates the orignial concept behind our CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC and the abuses and usurpations that both Democrat AND Republican administrations have committed against "The Supreme Law Of The Land" (the U.S. Constitution) in reconfiguring America into EXACTLY the sort of country that the Revolutionaries, the first American patriots, fought to divorce themselves from. (F.Y.I., George W. Bush is also no friend to the Constitution that he has sworn to uphold and protect!)
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I wish this book had been available when I first took it upon myself to learn about my country. It was a circuitous route of intense study that eventually led me to many of the same conclusions represented in this excellent book. While my acquaintance with Indian Affairs and Antitrust issues were minimal, I can confirm the great accuracy of Thomas Woods' book in the areas in which I have considerable knowledge.
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The writing of Woods is so clear and the book is so reader-friendly formatted that his erudition could be easily understood by most any high school student. This will be particularly appreciated by readers who previously believed that the U.S. Constitution was a document not apprehended by the common mind. THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO AMERICAN HISTORY would still be worth acquiring if all you sought was a basic knowledge of Constitutional principles. Do you want an idea of how far the U.S. has strayed from Constitutional limitations and into totalitarian government? Consider this passage from page 26:
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"For Thomas Jefferson [the 10th Amendement] was the cornerstone of the entire Constitution... Thomas Jefferson determined the constitutionality of proposed legislation on this basis: If he did not find the power spelled out in Article 1, Section 8, then it remained reserved to the states. It would be un-Constitutional for the federal government to exercise the proposed power. If the Tenth Amendment were still taken seriously, most of the federal government's present activities would not exist. That's why no one in Washington ever mentions it."
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THOMAS WOODS, JR., holds a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard and a Master's and Ph.D. from Columbia University. He's a contributor to 5 encyclopedias and dozens of scholarly periodicals. CONGRESSMAN RON PAUL (one of only a very few TRUE patriots in Washington) says, "Professor Woods heroically rescues real history from the politically correct memory hole. Every American should read this book."
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Will Rogers once said that, "The problem in America isn't so much what people don't know; the problem is what people think they know that just ain't so." This book is a welcome corrective, but this is just TRUTH 101 -- the first step to becoming a responsible American citizen. Step Two is to remove all deceiving distractions by killing your Boob Tube and Talk Radio (yes, especially the political Talk Radio) and begin reading. See my guide, 'BECOME AN "EDUCATED" AMERICAN PATRIOT' and read the books I've recommended there. Don't join The John Birch Society, but be sure to visit their impressive site at The New American. Also go to Need To Know News, and you'll be well on your way to becoming another Patrick Henry.
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At this time, approaching from opposite directions are two trains: the Liberty Train and the Tyranny Train. They will each be pulling into their respective stations before long. My friend, at which depot will you be found waiting?
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

DARWINISM STILL HASN’T DEVELOPED A LEG TO STAND ON!

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THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO DARWINISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN
by Jonathan Wells, Ph.D.
published: 2006
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Q: “Is it (primordial) soup yet?”
A: “No, son. And it never will be.”
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The following Letter To The Editor written by a Mr. Kaiser and published in the May 29th 2004 edition of The Arizona Republic newspaper perfectly sums up the current scientific and political milieu:
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“I was a science geek growing up. Like my friends, I believed what I was told in school about Evolution. In fact, for most of my life, evolution was a non-issue. Evolution was simply a fact -- a fact that nicely complemented my atheistic lifestyle.
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“However, all this changed when I accepted a challenge to investigate evidence that was contrary to Evolution. Like you (no doubt), I fully expected to find a set of frivolous, pseudo-scientific arguments from religious zealots. What I found instead shook my worldview to the core.
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“So why is only one side of this two-sided debate presented in our public schools? Is it, as we’re so often told, because religion has no place in the science classroom? No. The real reason is fear. Fear that if both sides of the debate are equally and fairly presented to our students, Evolution would lose -- hands down. Now that would be geeky.”
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Like the other P.I.G.s that I have read, I found “THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO DARWINISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN” to be well written and organized. I had already studied this subject sufficiently that my eyes (irreducibly complex organs that they are) were not newly opened, but the confidence in my intellectual position and the rightness of my stance was further strengthened.
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I wholeheartedly recommend this P.I.G. to anyone who’s asking the questions, “Where did I come from?” and “Am I my monkey’s keeper?” While the book makes plain the controversy between Darwinism and Intelligent Design, and explains the arguments and counterarguments, their strengths and weaknesses, it was the heightened political situation that has arisen in recent years that was a little bit new to me. I was aware that there was a big feud that’s been brewing, but the volatile attitude that Darwinists now exhibit toward any scientist who even mentions the words “Intelligent Design” under his or her breath has developed into a white-hot intensity. (Well, at least Darwinists can now point to SOMETHING that has incontrovertibly “developed” in the name of Darwinism.) It’s really heated up in the nation’s science labs, and some of those Darwinists are now really hot under the collar. This is due, no doubt, to that other scientifically established fact: Global Warming. (Ha!-Ha!-Ha! Sorry. Sometimes I just crack me up.)
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Yes, lots of facts and myths are explored and exploded in THE P.I.G. TO DARWINISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN. You really should read it. Although this P.I.G. is more up-to-date and explores the current bitter political situation that this debate has engendered, I believe my favorite book of this type remains the 1999 publication, TORNADO IN A JUNKYARD by James Perloff, as it is leavened with a trace more humor. But while there is obviously some overlap, I’d also say that one of these books should not be read in exclusion to the other, as they both explore some aspects of this debate which are unique unto themselves.
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According to THE P.I.G. TO DARWINISM AND INTELLIGENT DESIGN, the Darwinian dogmatist, Biology professor Paul Z. Myers of the University of Minnesota, posted the following on his blog: “The only appropriate response should involve some form of righteous fury, much butt-kicking, and the public firing of some teachers, many schoolboard members, and vast numbers of sleazy far-right politicians ... It’s time for scientists to break out the steel-toed boots and brass knuckles, and get out there and hammer on the lunatics and idiots.”
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Hey, professor Myers! While I’m not and never will be a politician (thank you very much!), I’m definitely a “sleazy far-right lunatic”. So, why don’t you show them scientists how it’s done, professor? Why don’t you fold up your eyeglasses, cover your microscope, secure your pocket protector, and drag your (brass) knuckles out here to the desert and start with me? (Sheesh! Myers himself might actually be the best argument AGAINST “Intelligent” Design that I’ve ever encountered!)
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"CAN WE ALL GET ALONG?”
~ Dr. Rodney King
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Friday, May 12, 2017

THEY BLINDED US WITH SCIENCE!

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THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO SCIENCE
by Tom Bethell
copyright: 2005
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In 1983, One-Hit Wonder Thomas Dolby saw his one hit, “She Blinded Me With Science”, go to #5 on the Billboard charts. Of course, Dolby’s song had something a bit different in mind, but in fact, one surely can be blinded by science. And most Americans have been! Actually, ol’ Bob Dylan got it right, too, in his song, “Do Right To Me Baby (Do Unto Others)”, when he sings, “Don’t put my faith in nobody, not even a scientist.” (Dolby 'n' Dylan, two great names that go great together.)
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I gotta say, these Politically Incorrect Guides (PIGs) to various controversial subjects that the Regnery Company has been publishing in recent years for the common man and woman are the dog’s bark. (That’s even better'n the cat’s meow!) They cut through all the politically correct liberal crapola and deliver the goods in a very accessible format that even a high school student brainwashed by the federal education system could understand. 

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Man, I wish these were available when I was in school! They would have saved me many years in the process of deprogramming myself. As it is, I had to slog through a lengthy and tortuous self-initiated period of discovery -- entailing mucho book larnin’ -- before I was able to fully understand and appreciate just how badly I had been deLIBerately deceived by the socialists who rule every thread of our socioeconomic fabric. If these PIGs had been published thirty years ago, I never would have been suckled on swines’ slops, and I would have become a NEO of the political matrix while still a teenager.
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THE POLITICALLY INCORRECT GUIDE TO SCIENCE by Tom Bethell is the third PIG book I acquired (having been previously impressed by the PIGs to American History and Feminism), and this one, like its predecessors, contains eye-opening and mind-piercing illuminations that will awaken its readers like a golden beam of sunlight shining through a hole in the dark curtains of Liberalism and bathing the sleep-sewn eyelids with the cold, hard facts of warm truth. If I had kids in school, you can be certain that they would have PIGs in their bookcase!
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Is it only coincidental that all of the misinformation spoon-fed to children in the public education system and media-fed to their parents, almost without exception, leads to a degraded perspective of God’s Handiwork, and of the Constitutional Republic conceived and constructed by this country’s Founding Dads? Yet conversely it leads to a celebration of, and a shove toward, Secular Humanism and Marx’s Socialism. Do you think that maybe -- just maybe -- full-blooded Communists have infiltrated the highest positions in American politics, American media, American education, American economics, and American science, and have been promoting their kindred fools from within the ranks decade after decade? No? Not possible? Someone give that man strong, black coffee... intravenously!
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The PIG To Science does not make the accusation that I just did, but in a few places it does point out how science has been largely hijacked by political forces, and those forces often seem to have a liberal political and social agenda. For instance, regarding the concept of Global Warming, Bethell observes in the Introduction that “some of the alarmists have a political agenda -- to restrain U.S. economic growth, for example.”
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I know from my own studies (I read books because TV is for maroons) that a good deal of the information contained in the PIG To Science can be found between other covers, but this book brings all of the most pertinent facts together into one book of over 250 pages of easily assimilated text, plus footnotes for further study and an index for future referencing. And even with as much reading as I do, I learned plenty o’ stuffs from this PIG. Here is the lowdown on facts that the media somehow forgot to mention (year after year after year after year) about nuclear energy, DDT, biodiversity and endangered species, AIDS, cloning, stem cell and cancer research, the religion vs. science myth, Evolution, and Global Warming. (OK, maybe Al Gore didn’t really invent the internet, but he does deserve to be acknowledged for helping to “invent” Global Warming! Every stooge has his day.)
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There’s just no excuse for us to be running around with misinformation and disinformation clogging our little American pea brains anymore; the truth IS available. (And after you’ve read the PIG To Science and are satisfied that I did not mislead you, take my equally enthusiastic recommendation to heart and read WORLD WITHOUT CANCER by G. Edward Griffin, and TORNADO IN A JUNKYARD by James Perloff.) Just think, my fellow thinker, you are only one book away from being able to assertively tell the next liberal charlatan scientist you meet to “shove your Global Warming in your Bunsen burner and smoke it!”
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

THE WORLD BEGAN ON AUGUST 14, 1953...

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WIFFLE BALLS
inventor: David N. Mullany
1953

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"Of course I got a bat! What, do you think I'm a fag?"
~ Johnny Crowder
'The Lord Of War And Thunder'
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The world began on August 14, 1953 . . .  that's the day that the first WIFFLE BALLS (invented a year earlier) went on sale in this baseball-crazy country. Mr. David Mullany created the first Wiffle Ball in Fairfield, Connecticut, after seeing his 12-year-old son struggling to throw a curveball. Mr. Mullany (to whom we bow down and show obeisance) cut eight oblong slots into plastic orbs that were used to package cosmetics and the Wiffle Ball, an American institution, was born.
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Oh, Wiffle Ball, Wiffle Ball, it nearly compels me to wax poetic. I'm now 46 years old, but the love that I have for the game of Wiffle Ball will possess my heart long after my body has any capability to throw a breaking pitch!

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My Brother and I were born to a beautiful, baseball-loving woman. Shirley grew up following the Cincinnati Reds, and as a child she acquired a nickname based on a long-forgotten Big League pitcher. As an adult, she worked for the Los Angeles DOdGers and the Los Angeles Angels (that was before they became the California Angels, and then the Anaheim Angels, and then the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, and then the Chicago White Sox Victims). She instilled in her two boys and one daughter a love for America's pastime. (In fact, my sister was the first girl we ever heard of to play on a boys' Little League team.)
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But when we weren't on a baseball diamond with 7 other guys, and when we couldn't scrounge up 2 other guys to play a game of "Over-The-Line" at the park, my Brother, Napoleon, and I were battling it out in a game of Wiffle Ball in the yard.

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We had some outrageously competitive games in our "Glory Days." We perfected the art of pitching a Wiffle Ball and baffled many a batter who tried to hit us. I remember 1990 and a young, athletic college student who, claiming to have played Wiffle Ball throughout his childhood, challenged this old geezer on the UCLA field behind the John Wooden Center. Well, my screwball was only breaking about 10 feet that day, and after taking it for strike three about a dozen times, he just shook his head, and I concluded that whatever game he was playing as a child, it WASN'T what my Brother and I called, "WIFFLE BALL."
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If you have never owned a Wiffle Ball, you've never really been alive, my dear friend! Although they do tend to crack between the oblong cutouts after some time (especially if you hang too many curveballs for my Brother who swings with great authority), they will last for countless hours of baseballesque bliss and excellent exercise! They can be used anywhere outdoors because the Wiffle Ball weighs only two-thirds of an ounce, and if Nappy never knocked one through a window, neither will you!
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And although the Wiffle Ball is light, it does not follow that it should be taken lightly. After San Francisco Giant (man, do I hate the Giants!), Kevin Mitchell, won the 1989 National League MVP award, he publicly stated that he had really learned to hit the curveball by playing a lot of Wiffle Ball the previous off-season. One of the greatest hitters of all-time, San Diego's Tony Gwynn, used to hit Wiffle Balls off of a batting tee because he could tell from the spin where he had struck the ball. Play with a Wiffle Ball and you're in Big League company!
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And SURPRISE! Wiffle Balls are still made in the U.S.A. The day production moves to Communist China, I'll jump. Twelve Wiffle Balls are currently going for $14.95, that's only $1.25 per ball. Do you have any idea how much fun you can have with a Wiffle Ball? Well, take my word for it, you'll get more than a dollar and twenty-five cents worth!
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Now all you need to do is get the regulation, Old School, plastic yellow ("banana") bat. Of course, if you really want to splurge you can purchase the newly invented aluminum Wiffle Ball bat. Funny story: My dear ol' Ma bought an aluminum Wiffle Ball bat as a gift for my Brother on his birthday. But she wasn't sure what size to get, so she called the company. "How old is your son?" the representative asked. When she said, "Forty-one", he laughed loud and said, "I think you'll want to go with the heaviest model."

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One of the great disappointments in my life (SERIOUSLY!) is that they didn't think to organize Wiffle Ball competitions until Nappy and I were in our 40's. We scouted out the competition at the "Wiffle Ball World Series" here in Phoenix a few years ago. (Players fly in from all over the country!) We figured that even at our advanced age and with my arthritis, we could still give those young studs all they bargained for and more, if we polished our long-neglected technique over the next year. Alas, it never happened, what with work and life and all the other crap that gets in the way of Wiffle Ball play.
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But that doesn't mean YOU can't fly into Phoenix next year and win the title! Get to it, man! Get yourself a dozen Wiffle Balls, a "banana" bat and start practicing. Hint: The ball breaks in the direction of the solid half. Want to throw a 'Drop'? Make sure the solid section is on the bottom at your release point. Then get inventive -- there are innumerable variations on that theme! You can thank me for the hint when you see me. You'll recognize me because I'm always the guy who picks up the suitcase that comes around on the airport luggage carrousel with a plastic yellow bat strapped across the top of it!
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, May 7, 2017

MORE “DIAMONDS” THAN “RHINESTONES”, COWBOY

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THE GLEN CAMBELL COLLECTION (1962 - 1989)
Glen Campbell
released: 1997
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Glen Campbell, although he was a major music star for an entire decade (late 1960s through late 1970s), is now more like a punchline of a joke. The joke? I dunno. How ’bout: Is it music yet? No, it’s Campbell’s. (If you don’t remember the old Lipton soup commercial, you won’t get it.)
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A lot of people came to think of Glen as being too hokey, a kind of Wonder bread, pseudo-Country boy pandering to a mainstream music audience. But give an honest listen to THE GLEN CAMPBELL COLLECTION (1962-1989) and you’ll find that, like Dwight Yoakam, Glen’s no jokeum. (Nah, don’t blame me for THAT bad joke. I knew someone who knew someone who said he took a college class with Dwight -- before he was a big star, naturally -– and the teacher used to say in class, “Dwight Yoakam, he’s no jokeum.” Well, Dwight’s bank account ain’t no jokeum either, that’s for sure.)
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With the exception of two songs, every cut on this 40-track collection climbed into the Top 40 of either the Country or Pop music charts, with some appearing on both simultaneously. And some of them really carry me back to my youth, before I was wrecked by women, whiskey, ’n’ Wock ’N’ Woll (i.e., a time when “pleasure” wasn’t synonymous with “emotional and physical pain.” But, man, I miss those times!)
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I actually met Glen once, about 1979. A friend who used to baby-sit his kid took me back to his dressing room after we saw him perform at The Riviera Hotel in “Vegas, Baaabeee!”. And Glen seemed really... uhm... well... sweaty.
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I was playing THE GLEN CAMPBELL COLLECTION (1962-1989) in my car some years back, and my Ma (may she rest in Peace) said, “That’s Glen Campbell?! I never realized before what a good voice he had.” If my Ma liked it, that should tell you something. (Well, it tells you that she liked it, at the very least!)
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Some of these songs are beautiful lilting little numbers with an understated but powerful sentimentality. Such as GENTLE ON MY MIND (a gorgeous song!), WICHITA LINEMAN (reminds me of my Pa), and TRUE GRIT (the theme from the great John Wayne Western). Others wear their emotion right on their sleeves: WHERE’S THE PLAYGROUND SUSIE? (wasn’t he a bit old to be asking?), DREAMS OF THE EVERYDAY HOUSEWIFE (sad but I enjoy it), and BY THE TIME I GET TO PHOENIX (by the time YOU get to Phoenix, I hope to be long gone. I hate it here!)
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But surprisingly, Ol’ Glen really gets across the Joy of Salvation in a couple of upbeat Gospel songs: OH HAPPY DAY (which seriously rivals composer Edwin Hawkins’ version!) and the humorously clever Anti-Hippie statement, I KNEW JESUS (BEFORE HE WAS A STAR). Glen (who you’ll recall once spent a little time playing with... er, I mean “for”... The Beach Boys) was a musical chameleon. He proves in KENTUCKY MEANS PARADISE that he was no slouch when it came to the real down-home Country stuffs, and his WILLIAM TELL OVERTURE displays why he was once such a very sought-after studio musician (a member of The Wrecking Crew): he goes lickety-split over that fretboard.
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And in Glen’s tear-jerking ode to Mother, THE HAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, Ted Harris penned one of my all-time favorite song lyrics. I call it “The Ultimate Anti-Feminism Anthem”. (According to the National Organization for Women, I’m marked for Hell ’n’ ready!)...
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He got here red and wrinkled, scared and cryin'
Then she took him up and held him to her breast
And he sure was glad to get what mama offered
Then he went to sleep and put his fears to rest

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It didn't seem to matter what he needed
He could always count on mama to supply
And regardless of the sleep she might be losin'
He always found a twinkle in her eye

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There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation's most unique and precious pearls
And Heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

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She taught him all the attributes of greatness
That she knew he couldn't learn away from home
And by the time she wore the cover off her Bible
Her hair was gray and her little man was gone

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There ought to be a hall of fame for mamas
Creation's most unique and precious pearls
And Heaven help us always to remember
That the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world

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At the risk of sounding like some sentimental fool (which I am), I just wanna say that I adore those words -- they create a lump in my throat and make my eyes moist. There’s no mention in there of Mama chasing my teenaged brother Napoleon through the house and how God performed a miracle to save him from being beaten to death by his own Mama and with his own walking crutch... but it’s just as well. Besides, Nappy brought it upon himself (like he always did).
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I can recall that my Pa used to like Glen’s SOUTHERN NIGHTS (a bouncy tune if there ever was one), and after he passed away, the song THEN YOU CAN TELL ME GOODBYE reminded my Ma of my Pa and it always made her cry. So diggin’ and cryin’ to Glen Campbell is just a McCarthy Family tradition.
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There are a few tracks on these discs that are more RHINESTONE than DIAMOND, but overall, THE GLEN CAMPBELL COLLECTION (1962-1989) is a REAL GEM.
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Yoey O’Dogherty, that funky editor of Morocco’s cowboy music magazine 'SADDLEBAGS ’N’ SIX-STRINGS', once said to no one in particular, “Play that Country music, White Boy”. Well, Glen Campbell plays it, and he plays it quite well for a guy not named Waylon Jennings.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Monday, May 1, 2017

PURE AMERICANA! (Well, Sort Of)

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THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF TOP 40 HITS
edited by Joel Whitburn
published: 1996
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What is America? How does one go about comprehending the "American Ideal"? Where would you send a foreigner who sought to gain a tangible understanding of the most influential and powerful nation on Earth over the course of these last two hundred and thirty years? Me, I'd send him to three written sources:

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The Declaration Of Independence; The U.S. Constitution; and THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF TOP 40 HITS. The first one explains the premise upon which this country was founded. The second illustrates the dynamic system under which it was organized. The third recounts the progression (or regression) that the country experienced under the world's longest-running Republican form of government.
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OK, OK! Maybe I have overestimated the social importance of this tome, but why not aim as high as we can and see if we can't make some of it stick? (Besides, some suckers will fall for ANYTHING!) Truth is, I almost feel a little embarrassed writing a review for a book like this, but then -- to borrow a line from those old geezers who really do seem to "gather no moss" -- I know it's only Rock 'N' Roll, but I like it! 

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Of course, it's not really ONLY Rock 'N' Roll. American Pop music encompasses a wide range of musical styles: There's FOLK ('The City Of New Orleans' by Arlo Guthrie. #18 in '72); COUNTRY ('Good Hearted Woman' by Waylon and Willie. #25 in '76); BLUES ('The Thrill Is Gone' by B.B. King. #15 in '70); JAZZ ('Take Five' by Dave Brubeck. #25 in '61); SOUL ('I'll Be Doggone' by Marvin Gaye. #8 in '65); DISCO ('Hot Stuff' by Donna Summer. #1 in '79); and RAP...Oh, never mind. Don't get me started! And of course, it's not really ONLY American either. Afterall, those four blokes from Liverpool were from... well... Liverpool.
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THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF TOP 40 HITS is one of those mysterious, time-sucking publications. You pull it off the shelf to look up one little item and the next thing you know, you realize that you've floated from ABBA to ZAPPA and 40 minutes have passed!
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The book has been beautifully organized by the premier music charting-impresario, JOEL WHITBURN. The broadcaster Bruce Morrow's blurb on my back cover says, "Joel Whitburn's books are as much a part of my radio stations as my transmitters. Any time I buy or build a radio station, the first two pieces of equipment I purchase are Joel's book and my Billboard subscription." If you're waiting for a BETTER recommendation, our Republic will be defunct by the time it arrives! I own the 6th Edition (1955-1995), but since my real interest in American Pop music extended only as far as about 1984, this earlier edition suits me fine.
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Although, naturally, the book provides information on all of the music that cracked the Top 40 -- its date, highest postion reached, and the amount of weeks it retained its Top 40 status -- I find the charts toward the back perhaps the book's most interesting feature. Whitburn has concocted a point system formula utilizing info on chart position and weeks charted from which he determines the top songs and artists. He then presents these outcomes to us by decade and overall career position. While each reader might want to tweak the system by making an adjustment here or there according to how he or she prioritizes, I can't imagine that the results would be markedly different. These charts illustrate some surprising findings. For instance...
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Did you know that BOYZ II MEN (whoever they are. I'm 46!) are responsible for 3 of the Top 10 singles of ALL-TIME?
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Did you know that despite the overwhelming perception of their One-hit Wonder status, TONY ORLANDO AND DAWN actually rank as the 16th most popular artist of the 1970s?
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Because of their "un-cool" persona, it was rare to find a teenager in the mid-'70s willing to publicly confess to being a CARPENTERS fan. And yet, the Pop duo was the 4th most popular music-maker of that decade. They sure sold a lot of records for a group that no one admitted to liking!
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Here's the fact that REALLY surprised me: Having been a teenager in the 1970s, I can attest that by then the consensus was that ELVIS PRESLEY was a has-been. Led Zeppelin ruled our world, and 'Stairway To Heaven' was the teen national anthem. I don't think most of us even knew that Elvis was still alive. He seemed as far removed from the contemporary American scene as Washington and Jefferson did. And yet, I learn from Whitburn that "The King" was the 11th most popular artist of the decade! I LIVED through it, and that STILL astounds me!
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And by the way, the next time you hear someone refer to ELVIS as "THE KING OF ROCK 'N' ROLL", don't make the mistake of thinking that's a contestable opinion. According to Whitburn's calculations, Elvis scores 8,002 total lifetime points. The "Fab Four" come in a DISTANT second with 4,549; followed by Elton John and Stevie Wonder with 4,103 and 3,685 respectively. I was never a big fan of his, but I'll concede that Elvis is still "The King".
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Yeah, you probably should acquire a copy of THE BILLBOARD BOOK OF TOP 40 HITS. Without it, how would you ever know that...
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* One month after the plane crash that killed BUDDY HOLLY, he collected his last Top 40 hit, appropriately titled, 'It Doesn't Matter Anymore'.

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* STEVIE WONDER (real name: Steveland Morris) had just turned 13 years old when he scored his first #1 hit song.
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* On the day that the United States Of America celebrated its Bicentennial, the song at the apex of the Pop music chart was "LOVE HANGOVER" by DIANA ROSS. Which begs this question: Were George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and George Mason tapping their toes in their pine boxes, or were they turning over in their graves?
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

ODE TO MAN'S BEST FRIEND

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I AM PUPPY, HEAR ME YAP
by Valerie Shaff & Roy Blount, Jr.
published: 2000
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You can keep your new, gold Lexus;
Fancy cars just ain't my cup of tea.
Don't care about computer games;
These things don't appeal at all to me.


Some folks need the latest gadgets,
And have their homes filled with high-tech toys:
iPods and digital cameras,
Whatever makes electronic noise.


Now they've even got a cell phone
They can use to take a photograph,
But "He kept up with the Joneses"
Won't be written as my epitaph.


Because I know that Palm Pilots,
And expensive name brand tennis shoes,
Silk shirts and laptop computers,
Will never save a man from The Blues.


If happiness is what you seek,
It's really a simple equation:
Jettison computerized junk;
Get a Lab, Shepherd, or Dalmatian!


While some people dabble in fish,
Others try turtles, hamsters or mice.
Trust me and go with the canine --
You'll find yourself in Pet Paradise!


The Woman weeps watching Chick Flicks,
While late at night she cuddles her cat.
Reaching for tissues and chocolate,
She winds up dehydrated and fat.


But Men have the best idea
For getting their emotions to mend:
In the yard they'll romp 'n' rassle,
And play some Fetch with a "Man's Best Friend."


But suppose your yard is too small,
And constant barking makes your head ache.
I know how you can have your dog
Without yapping that keeps you awake.


Buy 'I AM PUPPY, HEAR ME YAP'
For you are bound to smile and to laugh.
The witty verse is by Roy Blount,
The great photos by Valerie Shaff.


All types of dogs will be found here;
Some noble, some filthy, some cleaner;
"The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly"
And one even looks like a wiener!


I've been so grateful for this book,
It makes owning a dog such a breeze!
There's no feeding and no walking,
And I don't miss a house full of fleas.


Happily there are no drawbacks,
But there's one thing the book can't replace:
When I have come home after work,
This publication can't lick my face.


Still, choosing it over a dog --
The decision for me wasn't hard.
I enjoy canine company
Without stepping in poop in my yard.

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

DON’T BOGART THAT VERY “GUILTY PLEASURE”, DUDE (*A Haiku Review)

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THE SPIRIT OF '76
starring David Cassidy
released: 1990

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Loud clothes! Fords explode!
Seventies: silly, zitful.
STILL want Susan Dey!

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haiku review by...
D-FensDogG
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50/50, LIKE FINDING “NUTS” IN MY ICE CREAM (*A Haiku Review)

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RULE BY SECRECY
by Jim Marrs
published: 2000

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Smorgasbord of facts,
Myths, guesswork. Who rules this world?
No -- Shhhhh! -- it’s secret.

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haiku review by... 
D-FensDogG
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SIZE 18 FROM OUTER SPACE (*A Haiku Review)

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GLEN OR GLENDA
directed by Ed Wood; starring Ed Wood
released: 1953

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Ed’s pink angora
IN GLORIOUS BLACK AND WHITE.
“Oooh, that’s scary, kids!”

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haiku review by...
 
D-FensDogG
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THE AGED AQUARIUS Now Resides At THE GOLDEN DREAM Retirement Community (*A Haiku Review)

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THE VERY BEST OF THE 5th DIMENSION
The 5ifth Dimension
released: 1999

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Love’s harmony to
Psychedelic groovyness.
Far out, man! Far out!

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haiku review by...
 
D-FensDogG
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Monday, April 24, 2017

"REAL WOMAN" Defined

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THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN
by Alice von Hildebrand
published: 2002
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In a recent E-mail exchange with a 43-year-old female friend of mine living on the East Coast, I asked her to give me her definitions of the terms "Real Man" and "Real Woman". She replied with a beautiful little one-sentence definition of a "Real Man", but then followed that up with this: "A real woman? That's easy: a girl who rides a motorcycle in a skirt." I can't even begin to describe the depth of my disappointment in that definition, coming as it does from a generally spiritually-minded woman. But then I suppose I shouldn't have been surprised seeing as how she (and every other female of her generation) has been exposed to 40 years of Feminist indoctrination. I thought how sad it was that she -- a woman herself -- seemed to have even less understanding of what makes a "Real Woman" than I had, and here I -- being a man -- am a supposedly insensitive brute of a thing ("a bear with furniture" to quote the very funny comedienne, Elaine Boozler).

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This only goes to emphasize the point that those extremist social engineers we call "Feminists" have been so effective in twisting and confusing the minds of the vast majority of the female gender that even "spiritual" women no longer recognize what they are and what they are supposed to do in support of the human society (as dictated by their Creator, The Lord God).
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I do not read anything without having a yellow (yellow ONLY!) highlighter nearby. I highlight favorite sentences and passages in EVERYTHING I read, that includes fiction and even magazines. 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN' by Catholic writer and thinker Alice von Hildebrand is, at only 108 pages, not much more than a booklet, but don't let that fool you into thinking that she doesn't have much to say about the privileges of being a woman: my copy of her book is thoroughly filled with yellow highlighted sections. In fact, there are so many penetrating insights packed into each page that I have rarely highlighted so many sentences per page in any book other than The Holy Bible!

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When I first read 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN', I was blown away by how much of great value Hildebrand had to say on the subject. (And I finished the book sort of feeling that I had been cheated by being born "a bear with furniture".) Hildebrand dedicated her excellent book "WITH LOVING GRATITUDE TO MY DEAR FRIENDS WHO ALL LOVE TO BE WOMEN." Following is just a very small sampling of the many profound and extraordinary observations Hildebrand shares with us about the privileges of being a woman:
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* As sanctity is devalued in [Socialistic feminist, Simone de Beauvoir's] eyes (as a poor substitute for great achievements), the highest praise that can be given anyone, male or female -- namely holiness -- is, to her mind, only a left-handed compliment. ... What characterizes holiness is this limitless readiness to serve others. [pages 6 & 32]
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* Yet it seems evident that even in the face of their physical vulnerability, given their greater sensitivity, their more subtle intuitions, their talent for feeling themselves into others, women have greater possibilities of uplifting or of hurting others than those usually granted to the opposite sex. [page 9]
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* The feminists acknowledge the superiority of the male sex by wishing to become like men. [page 10]
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* The denigration of women is clearly a sad consequence of original sin which has subverted the hierarchy of values. ... Original sin was a sin of pride, of disobedience, of irreverence, and of metaphysical revolt that led to an inversion of the hierarchy of values. ... As women are weaker than men, and as they do not bask in the limelight as much as men do, as they are less "creative" than the strong sex, they are bound to be the victims of this distorted hierarchy of values. ... but that feminists have endorsed this inversion is still more pitiful. Imprisoned in the spiritual jail of secular categories, they fail to understand that their true mission is to swim against the tide and, with God's grace, help restore the proper hierarchy of values. By living up to their calling, women will succeed in guaranteeing a proper recognition of the unique value of femininity and its crucial mission in the world. ... The "weakness" of the female sex, as far as accomplishments and productivity are concerned, can be more than compensated by her moral strength when she lives up to her calling. ... But feminists -- blinded by secularism -- do what, in fact, will lead to a worsening of women's situation. Feminists are women's great enemy. [pages 21, 26 & 29]
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* Nietzsche perceived clearly that the emancipation of women is a symptom that their feminine instincts are weakening. ... The whole tragedy of contemporary feminism -- which Cardinal Josef Ratzinger [now the Pope] considers one of the greatest threats menacing the Church -- stems from a lack of faith and a loss of the sense of the supernatural. Feminism is inconceivable in a world rooted in Judeo-Christian values. ... The new age philosophy of feminism, in waging war on femininity, is in fact waging war on Christianity. For in the Divine plan both are intimately linked. Not Socialism, as Simone de Beauvoir believed, but Christ is the great ally of women. Modern ideology wages war on the Gospel which teaches humility and that those who lower themselves will be exalted. [pages 30 & 32]

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[Speaking of humility, let's not forget that Jesus Christ said that He "did not come to be served, but to serve." (Matthew 20:28) And after all is said and done, who would you prefer to be remembered in this world as being most like, Bill Clinton and Arnold Schwarzenegger, or Mother Teresa and even Jesus Christ Himself? ~STMcC]
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* Here is a truth worth meditating upon: Women are more geared to piety because they have a keener awareness of their weaknesses. This is their true strength. [page 66]

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[And let's not forget that Saint Paul was directly told by Jesus Christ that his strength would be "made perfect in weakness". See 2 Corinthians 12:9. ~STMcC]
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* (Regarding the context of women and childbirth, the great Christian commentator G.K. Chesterton (1874-1936) writes...) "No one staring at that frightful female privilege, can quite believe in the equality of the sexes." [page 87]
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And in keeping with the spirit of that observation, I am about to reveal one of my secret inner beliefs; something that I -- until now -- have never told a single person, but a thought that I have entertained in my heart and mind for many years. This is an exclusive!:
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It seems to me that if all of the world's masterpieces of art, and all of its most uplifting and poetic writings, and all of its most emotionally moving musical compositions were gathered together in one place, they would still not come close to equalling the beauty in the simple God-created concept of a mother feeding her baby from her own body. Maybe you wouldn't expect such a thought coming from an "old school" man like myself, but there it is! That's what I really think. And the world's most supreme beauty is something that I, being a male, will never experience! (Now, try to imagine the revulsion I felt during that disgusting scene in that disgusting movie, 'Million Dollar Baby', when Clint Eastwood tells his female boxer, "I want you to jab, right in the tits, until they turn blue and fall off." Phuq Clint Eastwood and the horse he rode in on!)
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Never having been a Catholic, the only aspect of this book that I have less than glowing comments for are its few (and I do mean "few") instances of Catholic dogma with which I do not concur. But these are rare occurrences and are easily overlooked. In light of the Spiritually deep and worldview-altering insights that Alice von Hildebrand shares with us, lowering this publication's 5-Star grade because of them would be an irresponsible act.
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It seems that God never intended me to marry and become the head of a family. One problem was that -- in this feminist-dominated era -- I could not find "Real Women" potential mates. One great, notable exception was (my ex-girlfriend) "The Countess", a Real Woman for sure! But evidently marriage was just never in the cards that God dealt to us.

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At nearly 47, a "family" is now out of the question for me. But if I'd had any children, I would have insisted that they read and display a comprehensive understanding of 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN' by Alice von Hildebrand. And I don't mean that just my girls would have had to read it; it would have been on the REQUIRED READING list for my boys as well. Why? Because once a male has understood the awesome privilege and responsibility that God has entrusted to the female gender, he would thereafter be perfectly incapable of physically or sexually abusing or mistreating women in any way!
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I now urge you to read 'THE PRIVILEGE OF BEING A WOMAN' and then pass it on to your own daughters (and sons) before "Real Women" become an even greater rarity in our culture than "Honest Politicians". And as it stands right now, I'd call that one a draw.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Sunday, April 16, 2017

AND EAT YOUR SPINACH, TOO!

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(For the life o' me I can't figure out why I feel inspired to post THIS review TODAY, but much of my life is lived in a stream o' consciousness way. ;o)
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WHO MOVED THE STONE?
A Skeptic Looks At The Death And Resurrection Of Christ
by Frank Morison
published: 1930

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While I am not a "Christian" according to the fullness of the contemporary orthodox definition of that word, I unhesitatingly acknowledge that Yeshua (Jesus) is my Holy King and personal Sinless Savior, and I am well past ANY doubt that The Bible was Divinely inspired -- although certainly not entirely inerrant as "Born Again" Christians somehow insist. I don't exactly recall when or why I came into possession of 'WHO MOVED THE STONE?' but finding it in my "To-Be-Read" Bookcase, and knowing it is considered one of the true classics in Christian apologetics, written by a former skeptic, I read it with interest.
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I appreciated the powerful reasoning ability that Frank Morison brought to the Scriptures and how he -- much like I tend to do -- dissected passages, examining every word for nuance and hidden meaning. A couple of reviewers have complained that Morison uses only the Bible itself to prove the historicity of the Gospel accounts of the Resurrection of Christ. Though this is not wholly true (he occasionally references extra-Biblical sources such as the Apocrypha and the Jewish historian, Josephus), I think that the thrust of his argument is that the New Testament "books" contain many internal proofs of their authenticity. I agree! Even so, one reviewer at Amazon.com wrote, "Though this is an interesting study, this is not a book for newcomers." And I agree with him also (we'll come back to this point later).
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My personal definition of a 3-Star book is: "Worthwhile though notably flawed." In what way is 'WHO MOVED THE STONE?' notably flawed? The book was originally published in 1930 and Morison's writing exhibits the more formal style (read: "stiff") of his times. It's nothing like trying to read Shakespeare, yet be prepared for words like "hitherto" and "hardihood", and phrases such as "wrought to the extremest pitch of anguish" and "ever memorable in human history." These are small prices to pay for the meaning that his careful analysis sometimes wrings from the Scriptures.
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Still, I feel that some of his conclusions are highly arguable -- being based on tortured suppositions -- and I even disagree with one or two basic assumptions (e.g., on page 37 Morison states that at The Last Supper, Judas knew that the Spirit of Jesus was "already bending to the Cross". I am not the only person who believes that Judas recognized Jesus as the true Messiah but didn't recognize the Messiah's true mission. Judas meant to force Jesus into a position where He would have to assert Himself and violently defend his Kingship. Judas was caught by surprise when Jesus went to the Cross rather than fighting for the Crown, thus the "traitor's" remorse that drove him to suicide in Matthew 27). But one doesn't need to agree with every point in a book for it to be well worth the reading.
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I particularly enjoyed Morison noting that it would actually have been strange "if the band of mourners had not been predominantly women". It makes perfect sense these being "the mothers of His men and the woman whose life His influence had utterly transfigured" and that they were in possession of "the mighty and unchanging instincts of the human heart, especially the feminine heart."
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And chapter 12 which takes a good hard look at the motivating factors that drove Saul / Paul, "the man from Tarsus", from being "the outstanding figure on one side of the controversy" to becoming "the outstanding figure on the other" was very well conceived and executed. Morison even observes that Paul believed that Jesus would return in glory to the earth during Paul's own lifetime. This gets overlooked by so many Bible students. There's reason to suspect that John also misperceived the timing of the "Second Coming". Peter, it seems, was the only apostle who clearly understood that the return of Jesus was two thousand years in the future (see 2nd Peter:3).
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Overall, 'WHO MOVED THE STONE' is a valuable lesson in deductive reasoning, and reading it would help train anyone's mind in the way that he or she should undertake a serious study of Scripture. (I'm always surprised when supposedly earnest Bible students give me that blank stare when I mention that there are verses in the Bible that indicate Jesus had the ability to materialize and dematerialize at will PRIOR to the Crucifixion and Resurrection! Aren't they THINKING about what they're reading?)
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If that "Still, Small Voice" inside is telling you to acquire this book and read it now, I am the last person who would attempt to dissuade you from doing so. But I will also point out that if you are new to Scripture study and simply looking for something to get you started and to give you confidence in the reliability of the Bible, there are probably better points of entry. If you want something very brief but potent, I would first recommend the booklet MORE THAN A CARPENTER by Josh McDowell. If you want something more extensive, then go with LEARN THE BIBLE IN 24 HOURS by Chuck Missler. But either way, I would suggest that you EVENTUALLY make time to examine what Frank Morison has to say here, and make double certain that someday you also investigate the book MERE CHRISTIANITY by the brilliant C.S. Lewis. (For the particularly intellectually-minded skeptics, there is no substitution for EVIDENCE FOR FAITH: Deciding The God Question edited by John Warwick Montgomery.)
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As Pope Yoey O'Dogherty VII wrote in his second papal bull, "È necessario leggere tutto il libro di Frank Morison e mangiare il vostro spinaci. Essi sono un bene per voi." I've been told that this translates to, "You must read the whole book by Frank Morison and eat your spinach. They are good for you."
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

“FANTABULOUS!”

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LIVE AT MONTREUX -- 1980 / 1974
Van Morrison
released: 2006
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In a sense, VAN MORRISON has figured prominently in my life and in fact, in an indirect way, he saved me from a life of great regret...
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I was a huge fan of VAN THE MAN in 1986, and one day I returned home practically giddy from having just located what was at that time a few hard-to-find Van Morrison vinyl LPs. As fate would have it, just as I got out of my car, with my new used albums tucked under one arm, Andy, a loyal old friend of mine pulled up to the curb in his battered old pickup truck. Andy and I’d had something of a falling-out over some inconsequential issue and we hadn’t seen or spoken to each other for some time.

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But I was in such a good mood, having just acquired long sought after Morrison music, that in that very moment, I buried the past, forgave Andy for whatever slight I’d been holding against him, and I greeted him as the true friend of fifteen years he really was. We spoke briefly and then parted as the good pals we’d always been. That was the last time I saw Andy -– truly one of the greatest friends I have ever had. Not long afterwards, I learned of his suicide in California City.
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Many times in the subsequent years, I’ve revisited that day in my mind and shuddered to think, “What if I hadn’t just found those Van Morrison records, and hadn’t been in such a magnanimous mood? What if, instead, I had given Andy the cold shoulder? Treated him like a dog? How would I have ever lived with that last memory and the tremendous remorse I would have carried with me all these years?” Fortunately, I haven’t had to beat myself up over a regrettable event that might have occurred twenty-one years ago. In a way, I owe the music of Van Morrison much gratitude for changing my life in an unexpected way!
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This last Christmas, I received the DVD VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980/1974 from my friend, Kevin, “The Kansas Kid.” Perhaps you’ve heard of him? He’s currently wanted in seven states for crimes ranging from bank robbery and train robbery to shooting innocent zoo animals... with a camera. Kevin’s a good buddy and he knows how to please ol’ Stephen T. If you, too, are a fan of Van The Man's music, this selection is a real no-brainer -- you can buy with total confidence.
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I’ve seen Van perform live at least four times in my life. When he’s in the mood, he’s a compelling entertainer. At the Montreux Jazz Festival, he was definitely in the mood, and his band –- as always –- consisted of nothing less than the finest musicians. You know Van, if a musician can’t please the man, they’re out on their can!

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Both discs in this set are excellent, but whereas the June 30, 1974 performance is shorter and more Blues dominated, I prefer the July 19, 1980 show. It contains some of Van’s more extended Jazzy pieces which are rarely, if ever, played live anymore -– particularly those long, meditative works from his underrated COMMON ONE release. Van’s looking pretty trim here (you know, for Van, I mean), and we get to see him with his outrageously talented horn men, Pee Wee Ellis (tenor sax) and Mark Isham (trumpet).
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Some of the performance highlights for me include:
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TROUBADOURS – I always considered this to be one of the lesser tracks on what is easily one of Van’s greatest sets, INTO THE MUSIC. But here, Isham and Ellis are blowing as if to save their lives, and when the audience broke into applause at its conclusion, I very nearly did the same thing right in my own living room!
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During the intro to SPIRIT, John Allair locks into such a spirited, funky groove that he can’t remain seated at the organ -– the music itself demands that he stand!
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SUMMERTIME IN ENGLAND – The song moves from a meditation to unrestrained exuberance, where Pee Wee nearly blows the roof off the place, until the song downshifts back into a meditation just prior to launching into a “fantabulous” rendition of Morrison’s MOONDANCE masterpiece.
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HAUNTS OF ANCIENT PEACE – This gives us a tremendously soulful solo from Pee Wee.
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There’s a wonderful little moment early on in this ultimate version of TUPELO HONEY, where Isham and Ellis simultaneously play their respective horn parts, and then as they back away from their mics, they glance at each other and exchange self-satisfied smiles. Here are two fine musicians in their prime and immersed in the joy of their art. There’s no competition; there’s no race (even though Isham is White and Ellis is Black); there’s no time; there’s just this *NOW* and the knowledge that supreme artists are combining their talents in the act of creating something very beautiful!
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On the downside, despite the quality of musicianship, LISTEN TO THE LION never comes close to matching the studio version from the SAINT DOMINIC'S PREVIEW album, but then how could it? That is one of the most introspective and intense pieces of music ever recorded. Morrison could tap that depth only once. (His version on 1973’s IT’S TOO LATE TO STOP NOW –- unquestionably one of the greatest live albums ever released -– never came close either. Saint Dominic’s LISTEN TO THE LION was just too roaringly glorious to ever be replicated even by Van, the man himself. That was a once-in-a-lifetime performance!) But when Van sings, “I believe I’ve transcended myself, child” in the encore, ANGELOU, for a minute there, it almost seems as if indeed he has!
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WHY do I think this live concert DVD is so good? Well, sure I could talk about the various camera angles, the clear picture, the crisp sound. I could explain why Pee Wee Ellis is a saxgod. I could discuss in greater detail the top-notch, eight-piece band and the Jazz explorations of one of the world’s great songwriters and his Irish muse. Or I could simply quote from one of his own songs:

It ain’t why, why, why.
It ain’t why, why, why.
It ain’t why, why, why.
It just IS!
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Hopefully you have learned two things from this review of mine:
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1) You can purchase VAN MORRISON LIVE AT MONTREUX 1980/1974 with complete assurance that as a Morrison fan (or just a person who appreciates exceptional musicianship) your money will be well spent. And...
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2) You should always treat your loved ones very good because you just never know when you are seeing them for the... very... last... time.
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~ Stephen T. McCarthy

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Monday, April 10, 2017

EXAMINES EVERY FACET OF THE DIAMOND

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THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION:
How To Watch The Game Like An Expert
by Nick Bakalar
published: 1996
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OK, I've got good news and bad news.
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THE BAD NEWS: I read Nick Bakalar's book, 'THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION' in its entirety and only encountered a couple of things about baseball that I didn't already know.
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THE GOOD NEWS: I'm forty-six years old, I've spent my entire life watching, following and playing baseball. I have a lifetime's worth of baseball knowledge crammed into my grey bean and this book covered all of the information that it took me over four decades of devotion to baseball to acquire. So what I'm really saying here is that if you are new to baseball and want to gain a full understanding of how the game is played and the strategies that are employed by managers and players in an attempt to score at least one more run than their opponent does, then this book is all ya really need.
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Some people claim that BASEBALL IS LIFE. I won't go that far, but I will say that baseball is far and away my favorite sport (followed by football and then chess. And if you don't think chess is a sport it's only because you've never sat across a board from me. Chess is not only a sport, but I prove it to be a CONTACT sport!)
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When my Pa married my Ma, he didn't know much about baseball, after all, Los Angeles was football territory and professional baseball didn't reach that city until 1958, the year my parents tied the knot and the same year that the Dodgers moved West. My Ma was already a baseball junkie coming from Cincinnati where she'd dated a couple of the Reds players at different times and followed the team almost like a religion.

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When the Dodgers followed my Ma West to L.A., she took a job with the organization. While Dodger stadium was still under construction, she was told to go down on her lunch break and select her seats if she wanted to purchase season tickets. Being a very smart woman, she went down and chose the two best seats in the stadium. (No, I'm not kidding.) Subsequently, my Bro, my Sis and I all literally grew up at Dodger stadium, raised on Dodger Dogs, peanuts and Cracker Jacks.
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I have photos hanging on the walls of my house that show me hanging out with the likes of Sandy Koufax, Duke Snider, Jim Gilliam, and Dick Bass, etc. (If yer a real sports fan you know that the last name belongs to a famous Rams running back, not a baseball player.)
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Even when our family was fairly poor in later years, with financial help from my Grandpa, we still managed to keep the season tickets and now my Aunt Jane owns them. I'm telling you all this only so you will appreciate the fact that baseball has really been a very significant part of this reviewer's life. I KNOW THE GAME! And if you want to know the game as well as I do, all ya gotzta do is read 'THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION'.
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Nick Bakalar does a fine job in explaining the sport and examining all of its nuances; everything from the art of pitching, defensive positioning, hitting, and even the largely misunderstood science of baserunning / basestealing -- this is where even many serious fans fall short in their understanding. In other words, Bakalar's "got all of the bases covered." (Sorry, sometimes I can't help myself.) He explores the thinking of pitchers, hitters, position players, managers and even umpires, which he claims "are people, too" (although he didn't prove that to this reader's satisfaction). And Bakalar does it all with clarity, humor, and an obvious passion for the game.
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If you've been sitting there watching a baseball game and thinking that it's slow and boring because nothing seems to be happening, it's only in your mind where nothing's happening. You simply haven't grasped the game yet. As my friend, Rick Bass (son of Dick Bass), who played professionally says, "There's ALWAYS something happening in baseball!"

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This book will get your head in the game. I won't say it's a home run; I'll say he's hit the ball into the gap for a three-bagger, only because I take exception to his analysis comparing Dave Kingman with Tony Gwynn. (Gimme Gwynn any day! Bakalar didn't factor in where the two hit in the order: Kingman's job was to drive 'em in; Gwynn's was to be on base to BE driven in. Which one completed his assignment most often, and what was the quality of the players surrounding them?) And in his fun chapter, 'CHATTER: How They Talk Baseball And How You Can Too' (which will have you speaking "Baseball lingo" as well as I do in no-time flat) he missed one of the most obvious: A "Twin Killing" means a double play.
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Ladies, are you sick and tired of hearing your husband say, "Not now, honey. It's the bottom of the tenth with two outs, a full count, the winning run in scoring position, the closer is wild and the cleanup hitter's in the box" and wondering what in the world he's talking about? Then get 'THE BASEBALL FAN'S COMPANION'. The next time you'll be able to answer your husband with, "When he strikes out chasing the high cheese, come here and give me a hand" and yer couch potato hubby's gonna fall right outta the cushion's indentation.
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I need to close this review with one of my favorite baseball stories (not included in Bakalar's book) about Ted Williams -- in my opinion, the greatest hitter who ever lived:
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There was a young pitcher new to the major leagues. He was facing a batter by the name of Ted Williams. "Ball three", said the umpire; and the pitcher walked halfway to the plate and screamed, "What was wrong with that pitch?!" The umpire dusted off the plate without answering. The young, frustrated pitcher wound up and threw; Williams whacked the ball and it flew over the Fenway Park fence for a home run. The umpire walked out toward the pitcher and said to the rookie, "You see, son, when you throw a strike, you don't have to look to me; Mr. Williams will let you know."

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~ Stephen T. McCarthy
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