Priorities

Isn’t it about time we give our priorities a critical look?

Today, military goons under the control of Socialist President Nicolas Maduro fired on folks because they were trying to deliver humanitarian aid packages to Venezuela’s starving population. Under the oppressive and inept Maduro government — the legacy of gone and not missed strongman Hugo Chavez — Feed the Poor has become a capital offense in Caracas rather than a moral imperative. AP reports one death and a dozen injuries … if you can find the story.

News of Venezuela was squeezed somewhat stingily into media story budgets because it is a huge news day in the United States. After all, the people need every last detail of Jusse Smollett’s ‘s alleged con in Chicago. He’s in, then out, then in, now out again at “Empire,” which is watched by almost one percent of Americans. News doesn’t get much bigger than that, unless you hear that …

Robert Kraft may have been hanging out with hookers when he should have been hanging up his jacket at home. His bust for solicitation makes the 77-year-old NFL team owner fair game for the media. But is it legitimately a big story?

New England Patriots Owner Robert Kraft

Prediction: Kraft will cop to a lesser offense, take probation and a fine, then sign a $77 million endorsement deal with Pfizer’s little blue pill.

Don’t forget R Kelly, that paragon of virtuous rap lyrics and acclaimed role model for would-be gangstas and rapists. He stands accused of 10 counts of aggravated sexual abuse of four victims, but the charges may be overblown. After all, only three of the alleged victims were under 17. Yup, good old R Kelly: Another blockbuster story to discuss with our grandchildren while their Venezuelan counterparts are chowing down on several meals a week.

Juan Guaido and Nicolas Maduro

Dozens of nations have recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as rightful president of Venezuela, and are demanding that Maduro step down. US President Donald Trump is leading that movement, which would be newsworthy if there was not bigger news: Rumors are circulating that there was a recent screening of Dr. Zhivago at the White House, and that First Lady Melania was cheering for the Russians. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, meanwhile, may have ordered an English-Russian dictionary from Babbel.

God bless freedom of the press, even when it’s abused. And God bless Venezuela.

RIP Peter Tork, 1942-2019

CROSBY, TORK, NASH AND YOUNG?

What would have happened if starmakers had cast the Monkees differently when the made-for-tv group debuted in 1966? Those of us old enough to recall know that the reluctant Monkee, Michael Nesmith, teamed up with zany vocalist Micky Dolenz, token Brit Davy Jones and scatter-brained Peter Tork for an unlikely but meteoric musical comedy success story.

Peter Tork

Tork passed away yesterday at age 77. He was and remains the most under-rated member of the group, and was a terrific bassist and lead guitar player. After the Monkees, his session playing included recording with Beatle George Harrison. Enough said? The kid could flat play.

Tork was brought to the attention of Monkee creators/producers by Stephen Stills, another aspiring artist and future superstar. Stills wasn’t picked, but Tork was cast as a Monkee and with Nesmith, Dolenz and Jones would tape 50-plus Emmy Award-winning episodes of their 30-minute program in 1966 and 1967.

Allowed only to sing on their first two studio albums, the Monkees soon acquired creative control. They turned out some outstanding tracks on critically praised LPs, but a “manufactured group” reputation followed them. They released eight albums in he ’60s, then several more in later years that included a live concert and a Christmas album.

The Monkees

If put to a popular fan vote, the Monkees would be hands-down locks for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But they have thus far been denied by judges with noses to the sky and deaf ears. Davy Jones passed away in 2012, and now Peter Tork is gone. OK, they weren’t the Beatles or Stones or Eagles. But the Monkees were reliably strong on stage, enormously influential on the small screen, and undeniably popular with record-buying fans, if not with snooty Rolling Stone editors.

Buffalo Springfield, 1967. Standing, l to r: Neil Young, Richie Furay, Stephen Stills, Dewey Martin … and Bruce Palmer.

While the Monkees have been overlooked by the Rock Hall of Fame, the same is not true of that guy who was overlooked by the Monkees, Stephen Stills. He’s been enshrined three times and counting — with Buffalo Springfield, Crosby, Stills, Nash & (sometimes) Young, and as an individual — and is deserving of a fourth with Manassas.

Peter Tork death was caused by complications of a long battle with a rare salivary-gland cancer. Rest in peace.

Notable arrivals in history

A look at famous folks born between February 22 and 24 … Choices are entirely subjective, so if you’re famous and we missed you, take solice: You’re not on our famous death list, either.

Feb. 23, 1685 — Composer G.F. Handel, whose masterpiece “The Messiah,” with its unforgettable “Hallelujah Chorus.” is a staple of any classical Christmas.

Feb. 24, 1723 — General John Burgoyne, British commander who surrendered to American rebels at the Battle of Saratoga.

Gentleman Johnny Burgoyne: Smacked down by Benedict Arnold.

Feb. 22, 1732 George Washington: The man who, God bless him, would not be king.

Feb. 24, 1836 — Celebrated American painter Winslow Homer.

Homer’s Gloucester Harbor.

Feb. 23, 1868 — Born three years after the Civil War’s end and Lincoln’s assassination, W.E.B. DuBois pioneered civil rights and wrote eloquently of The Struggle.

Feb. 22, 1874 — The man in black. Not Johnny Cash, but noted baseball umpire Bill Klem.

Feb. 24, 1874 — Hall of Famer Honus Wagner, turn of the century baseball star. 1906 Wagner collectible card is valued at $2.1 million.

Feb. 23, 1889 — Directing either “The Wizard of Oz” or “Gone With the Wind” would be plenty to assure a forever legacy in film making. Victor Fleming directed both.

Feb. 22, 1892 — She said, “Childhood is the kingdom where nobody dies. Nobody that matters, that is.”  Poet Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Feb. 22, 1896 — He Tarzan, Her Jane: Enid Markey was the first actress cast as Jane (opposite Elmo Lincoln), in a 1918 Tarzan saga.

Feb. 22, 1907 Sheldon Leonard was Norman Lear before Norman Lear. Big-time TV producer of shows you could watch with your pastor’s kids.

Feb. 22, 1908 –– “Live from New York” … TV announcer Don Pardo. Also, consummate baseball man and huckster, Charlie Finley.

Feb. 23, 1915 –– American aviator Paul Tibbets and the crew of the Enola Gay released the atomic bomb Little Boy into the skies above Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945, altering world history and speeding the end of World War II.

B29 skipper Paul Tibbets.

Feb. 22, 1921 — Central African Republic strongman Jean-Bedel Bokassa.

Emperor Bokassa also starred as George Jefferson in popular TV sitcoms.

Feb. 22, 1932 — Failed driving instructor and presidential candidate Ted Kennedy.

Feb. 24, 1932 — Actor John “Double Secret Probation” Vernon.

Feb. 22, 1934 –– Play ball! Cincinnati Big Red Machine managerial legend Sparky Anderson.

Feb. 24, 1938 — Nike co-founder Phil Knight.

Feb. 23, 1937 — Nebraska Cornhuskers’ Hall of Fame head football coach Tom Osborne.

Phil Knight founded Nike along with coaching great Bill Bowerman.

Feb. 23, 1940 — Henry’s boy and Jane’s sib, Peter Fonda. Best known for “Easy Rider,” his best work was not as a biker, but as a bee keeper in “Ulee’s Gold.”.

Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper in 1969’s sleeper hit “Easy Rider.”

Feb. 24, 1940 — The other heavyweight champion from Louisville, Jimmy Ellis, who labored in the larger-than-life shadow of Muhammad Ali.

Louisville rivals Muhammad Ali and Jimmy Ellis battle in Astrodome.

Feb. 24, 1942 Joe Lieberman, Democrat Senator, statesman and vice presidential candidate.

Feb. 22, 1943 — Who’s who? Twin brothers and Hoosier hardwood favorites Tom and Dick Van Arsdale.

V

Feb. 23, 1946 — Rusty Young, founding member of pioneering country-rock group Poco.

Rusty Young, George Grantham, Timothy B. Schmit, Richie Furay, Jim Messina in 1970.

Feb. 22, 1949 — Formula I Champion driver and airline entrepreneur Niki Lauda: Austria’s best product since the Viennese Waltz.

Feb. 23, 1949 –– Marc Garneau, native of Quebec who became the first Canadian in space in 1984.

Feb. 23, 1951 — NFL star Ed “Too Tall” Jones.

Feb. 23. 1954 — Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko.

Feb. 24, 1955 — Steve Jobs, the Apple of Silicon Valley’s eye.

Feb. 24, 1958 — Colorful zydeco mainstay Sammy Kershaw.

Feb. 22, 1962 — Steve Irwin, the late great gator man and patron of nature.

Feb. 23, 1965 — Dell Computer founder Michael Dell.

Feb. 23, 1967 — Steve Stricker, accompished pro golfer and captain of 2020 American Ryder Cup team.

Feb. 22, 1968 — Every list needs a pretty and accomplished woman like actress Jeri Ryan.Feb. 24, 1977 — Most versatile fighter of all-time? Multi-times champion Floyd Mayweather Jr. features in any such discussion.

Feb. 23, 1994 — Child actor Dakota Fanning, all grown up.

Wag the dog?

“For I am the Lord. I change not.” — Malachi 3:6

Many Christians believe that we can shape scripture to conform with our contemporary society.

That’s the easy way.

Other Christians believe that we must shape contemporary society to conform with scripture.

That’s the hard way.

What we need to ask ourselves is whether, with our eternal souls in the balance, we should take the easy way out.

Please pray for all delegates to the Special General Conference of the United Methodist Church, coming up February 23-26 in St. Louis. I for one pray that they will not seek the easiest path, but the right one.

God DOES NOT change. Life is not a popularity contest. And maybe, just maybe, we are not meant to order ala carte from the 10 Commandments.

Wrong issue?

Kudos to the feds for cutting future funding for Jerry Brown’s California bullet train boondoggle.

“Good luck with that” to the feds as they seek a 2.5b refund.

But this begs the real issue: Why in the name of the Golden Spike were federal funds ever allocated to this ignorant Golden State pipe dream in the first place? Ole’ Jerry may have fooled California voters, but when exactly did the rest of us jump on his Fruits and Nuts Railway?

Kudos to new California Governor Gavin Newsom for making the biggest no-brainer of a budget cut in history. But shame on him for trimming back Brown’s San Diego to San Francisco route when he should bury the project altogether.

OK, I admit the name Merced to Bakersfield Express has a magical ring rivaling the City of New Orleans and Orange Blossom Special. Who hasn’t dreamed of seeing the Moon over Merced on Amtrak? But the Moon is a lot closer than completion of this steaming pile of pork.

Artist depiction of Brown’s Bullet.

If we don’t need/can’t afford San Diego to San Francisco, do we really need to spend many more billions than promised on a Central Valley corridor connecting — get this — 2.5 percent of California’s population?

The Central Valley is a hard-working place where much of our food originates … in years all the water isn’t diverted to golf courses and estates with walls that work. All but 37 people in the valley have pickup trucks or SUVs, and when they want to go to Chowchilla, Clovis, Visalia or Tulare, they climb in and hop on Highway 99 or Interstate 5.

They don’t need no stinkin’ train that saves an hour but leaves them in Merced without wheels.

Gone and too often forgotten

With all the time we spend complaining about those we share air with, perhaps we should spend more time remembering those who have gone before. A smattering of folks who confirmed life is terminal from February 20-22 …

Feb. 22, 1512 – It’s camp to consider early navigators and explorers despicable biological agents of death. I personally think Amerigo Vespucci was a pretty brave dude. It doesn’t hurt that he had such a rad name, either.

Feb. 21, 1513 – Rex Harrison. Strike that, I meant the Warrior Pope, Julius II, portrayed  by Harrison in The Agony and the Ecstasy.

Feb. 20, 1895 – Frederick Douglas passes. In my book he and Abraham Lincoln stand as the giants of their times, and his path was a lot tougher. Both were born in humble cabins, but Abe was born free.

Feb. 20, 1920 – 99 years after the death of Admiral Robert Peary, and contrary to Al Gore’s predictions, the North Pole still has not melted. Peary reached the pole in 1909 and was celebrated as the first man to do so, but Frederick Cook fans contend he got there in 1908.

Feb. 21, 1965 – Malcolm X assassinated. Maligned by many, revered by many. Mad at the world? Yup. Justifiably so? Yup. Complicated man.

Feb. 20, 1966 – They don’t name aircraft carriers after just anybody. Admiral Chester Nimitz is among those so honored. He was the Eisenhower of the war in the Pacific.  

USS NIMITZ: How’d ya like to have this bad boy mad at you?

Feb. 21, 1974 – Canadian hockey player Tim Horton dies in car crash. Yep, that Tim Horton. He co-founded the popular eatery bearing his name.

Feb. 22, 1976 – Supremely gifted, singer Flo Ballard died much too young.

Feb. 22, 1987 – The inventor of Campbell’s Tomato Soup, Andy Warhol, survived an assassin in 1968 but still died young, at just 58.

Feb. 22, 1995 – Character actor” is defined by guys like Ed “St. Elsewhere” Flanders. His death came at his own hand at age 60.    

Ed Flanders: Talented but tortured.

Feb. 20, 1999 – Rotten Tomatoes? Who needed them when there were Siskel and Ebert? Revered movie critic Gene Siskel died at 53 following brain surgery.

Feb. 21, 1999 – Gert Elion. I didn’t know who she was either. Never made the cover of People magazine. But she did win the Nobel Prize in Medicine for groundbreaking work on leukemia and herpes cures.

Feb. 22, 2002 – It’s an ugly world. Danny Pearl, noted journalist for the Wall Street Journal, was murdered by Pakistani terrorists. He held dual citizenship in Israel and the USA.   

Born to Blog No. 1, Feb. 2019

BY BILL AMICK POSTED ON FEB 19, 2019

Bruce Springsteen was Born to Run. Steppenwolf Born to be Wild. Matt Damon Born to be Bourne. And me? Born to Blog. Allow me to introduce myself…

I arrived in 1951 in Louisville, Kentucky, long before Al Goreinvented the Internet. Now, at 68,  I launch my Born to Blog World Tour ’19. Never mind that I’m an old fart who knows squat about blogging. Come along, and we’ll figure it out together.

Born to Blog will circumnavigate the English language and American society, from politics to pop culture and from spin to spirituality. We’ll nod knowingly and shake our heads in disagreement. We’ll whisper, shout, laugh and cry. And I promise you, I’ll pull no punches and waste your time only for amusement purposes. I also promise that the instant this blogging thing begins to feel like work, I’m outta here.

I have a penchant for addiction with world-class proficiency in destructive habits, which I seldom escape without taking on another. I was the kid you didn’t want your daughter to date. If Jimmy Carter hadn’t pulled the plug on the Moscow Olympics, I was a lock for the Beer Guzzling Gold Medal. I chain-smoked Winstons on Moto Guzzi cycles at 80mph, covering 1,000 miles in a day for the heck of it. Think of the worst addictions confronting our society: I’ve either been there and done that or I’m too darn old to try.

Italy’s finest.

Today, though, I’m bright-eyed, bushy-tailed and giddy with my recent victory over Mark Zuckerberg’s highly addictive Facebookjuggernaut.  I don’t miss FB already, but it leaves a hole in my schedule. The familiar urge to do something to excess is calling with the urgency of Ben and Jerry at 3 a.m. Hence, Born to Blog. Zuckerberg can keep his billion-minus-one customers. I’m motivated by friends, not customers.       

I quit drinking 31 years ago. It was difficult. But when you’re older than the single malt that’s ruling your life and corroding your esophagus, it’s time.

I quit smoking 30 years ago. That was simultaneously easy and near impossible. The habit was slowly killing me, endangering others, and yellowing my pearlies, which made wanting  to quit easy. But stone-cold addiction to R.J. Reynolds’ damned nicotine was a formidable foe.  

I quit subscribing to Hugh Hefner’s Playboy (solely for the articles) 25 years ago. When your kids are older than Miss February, harboring a crush on Barbi Benton gets a little creepy. 

Barbi Benton.

And now I‘ve gone cold turkey on Facebook.

Some people recreate in their garden or on the golf course. They paint and collect things. They read Stephen King and Diana Gabaldon. They play Fortnite and Minecraft and binge-watch Grey’s Anatomy and NCIS on Netflix and Hulu. Me? I dig words. God’s most generous gifts to me, after watermelon and chocolate chips, were consonants and vowels. I learned words with my nose in books, and He blessed me with a modest knack for assembling them.

Writing has always been important to me. Since childhood, I’ve never wandered from my crayon, fountain pen, essay book, typewriter (clanky Royals, clunky Smith Coronas and classy IBM Selectrics), word processor (groundbreaking Commodores and Radio Shack  100s), or computer. I celebrate that writing tools may evolve, but the composition process is eternal.

Facebook’s attraction, while it lasted, was twofold: Sharing warm and fuzzy moments with family and friends is terrific. A forum to air opinions is nectar for a journeyman wordsmith. But Facebookoccupied 90 minutes of my typical day, which was absurd:  I’ve had relationships and open-heart surgery that were more time-efficient. Odds are, Born to Blog will have the lifespan of a Tsetse Fly, but come along and we’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

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Published by Bill Amick

Claims to fame: Survived 67 years with open eyes and ears. Opinionated wordsmith. Unapologetic Christian conservative. Warrior exposing failures of Baby Boomers, aka GenMeMeMe. Quote: You break it, you own it.VIEW ALL POSTS BY BILL AMICK

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Cardinal sin

After several centuries in the shop, The Vatican’s 1402 model Defrocking Carriage is out of the shop. It was sighted near St. Pete Square today, repeatedly backing over the hierarchal remains of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

McCarrick was badly disfigured, but tentatively identified based on the hopelessly soiled red vestments, complete with Pope Francis’ fingerprints and bootprint on the back. There were suggestive photos of the former Cardinal wearing a brilliant red speedo with the lettering “Let me be your Teddy Bare.” And a one-way Spirit Airlines ticket to Perdition was also found.

That McCarrick clown is giving us a bad name!

Any lingering doubt as to the identity of the deceased was erased when phone numbers for lawyers representing Bill Cosby and Jerry Sandusky were found on a note containing only the inscription John 11:35.

Weiner Roast

Lock up your daughters. . .

Among right wingers, conventional wisdom is that late-night TV hosts always Pillory (v., to vindictively villify and villainize) conservatives, and Hillary (v., to poop piles of praise upon) liberals.

But now that the infamous Anthony Weiner is out of prison, look for Jimmy and Seth and the boys to make an exception. Can you blame them? Comedy fruit hangs (sorry) no lower than a disgraced Democrat Congressman with a record of Tweeting his treats to teens.

Fifteen? Sorry, Your Honor. I had no idea she was that old.

Welcome back from prison, Tony. This time, please keep your pants up and your selfies on the shelf with the lost emails. Our courts have more important scum to scrape off America’s hull.

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