Sutherland Springs

It happened again. This time it was a church east of San Antonio. Once again, it was some demented coward taking out as many people as he could find. Once again, the toll of death was alarmingly high.

I guess you can tell I’m getting tired of all of this. But how do you stop someone highly motivated to kill from doing so if the killer is smart about his or her plans?

The left will say it’s the guns, the right will say the opposite. Neither side will compromise, so the stalemate will go on. Then someone else will die needlessly, and the cycle repeats itself, as it now has dozens and dozens of times.

This is our world. This is our time. This is what happens, I guess. All I know is that this isn’t right.

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Manhattan, And Some Deeper Thinking

We began October of 2017 with a vile attack on concertgoers in Las Vegas. Yesterday, we ended the month with the first terrorist attack using a vehicle as a weapon in the United States. As of this morning (11/1/2017), eight people were killed, several more were injured after the attack on the Lower East Side of Manhattan by a jihadist who rented a Home Depot truck went onto a bike path and started ramming that truck into as many people as this one person could find.

Can I clarify that tweet I made this morning a little bit?

My belief in God is both logical and empirical. Someone or some being had to create our species who was brilliant enough to allow us these ways to communicate with each other, so it makes sense that this person is a God by definition.  I see no evidence that contradicts the concept that if you lived a good life, you go to a good place. Likewise, if you harm people, you don’t go to such a good place. I won’t know of the existence of what we call Heaven and Hell until I die, so the belief that exists is good enough for me until there’s some serious proof to the contrary.

That being said, I don’t know what the fascination is with killing people in the misguided belief that a higher being wants those who don’t believe in a certain God to die or otherwise harmed. It is also nonsensical to me that such a killer would be rewarded with a certain double-digit number of virgins in the hereafter upon commuting such a deed. Why would someone want to procreate in Heaven or Hell when your creation, or your “circle of life” to use a more recent euphemism, has already been completed? It just doesn’t make sense to my logic.

We shouldn’t be harming each other like this. I just wish it’d stop. A wall won’t bring this to an end. A better understanding of each other might.

Flashback: “Don’t Do Me Like That” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

As many of you know by now, Tom Petty passed away on Monday night at the age of 66, a few hours after CBS already had him in the grave.

Petty had a lot of hits in his career, though he never had a Billboard number one. The closest he’d come to that honor was his duet with Stevie Nicks, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around” that peaked at number three in September of 1981. “Don’t Do Me Like That” was his biggest hit in collaboration with his “Heartbreakers” band, peaking at number ten in February of 1980, while “Free Fallin” was his biggest solo hit in early 1990, peaking at the number seven spot.

His career spanned over four decades, culminating with his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002. Rest in peace to my fellow Floridian.

Banana Nose

With the passing of so many in Las Vegas and the passing that has affected many in rocker Tom Petty, I wanted to make sure that Lance Russell’s passing was also mentioned.

Many of you who didn’t follow wrestling back in the day might wonder who he was if you didn’t follow that region of the country closely. I could understand that, because before the advent of cable TV took flight in the 80’s, wrestling was a regional enterprise. Before the expansion of pro sports to every little big city, if you lived in most parts of the country, you probably had wrestling cards near you every week or so.

Lance was to the Memphis area and it’s surrounding markets what Gordon Solie was if you lived in Florida and Georgia. Russell is heavily regarded as one of the best commentators of all time, and for good reason. A good wrestling commentator is a good straight man, somebody who tends to appreciate the heroes but can act a bit brusquely to the villains.

In other words, you let both “sides” play their roles and stay out of the way, keeping interjections rare but to the point when such a point needs to be made.

Lance was probably best known for his work during Jerry Lawler’s feud with TV star Andy Kaufman in the 1980’s. For many years, many fans didn’t realize that their feud was scripted, mainly because the story line had great chemistry to it. It wasn’t hard to believe that the wrestler and the actor could hate each other’s guts, and when you have that and it appears authentic, people want to pay to see it.

The best feuds sell themselves, and the best commentators make something bad good, and something good great.

In the 90s, the Memphis territory became a circuit of its own, the USWA. It was kind of a minor league to the WWF of the time, a good place to catch new stars on the way up, and bigger stars the chance to refine their skills before maybe catching another big break. The shows would air here in Tampa on Saturday afternoons on the relatively new Channel 38, a way for them to fill air time here.

RIP, Lance. You were one of the best in your field, adored by many.

Flashback: “Centerfold” by The J. Geils Band

I have to admit this is not my favorite song by J. Geils, but it is the most appropriate one I could think of following the news Wednesday night that Hugh Hefner had passed at the age of 91.

You heard this song everywhere in the spring of 1982, and for good reason. It went to the top of the Billboard pop charts and stayed their six weeks. It always struck me as one of those songs on the radio that was (no pun intended here) overexposed – a good song for its era but in the age of internet pornography available at the stroke (didn’t intend that pun, either) of a keyboard or a mouse, the song seems a bit dated.

As for Hugh Hefner, he was an iconic figure no doubt, though I was born in 1971 and became the legal age to buy his magazines in 1989. By that time, Playboy was pretty much the Disney movie of men’s magazines, and I was much more interested in Penthouse and Hustler because you, ahem, saw more reading those. The stuff you’ve read about Playboy having superior articles is absolutely true, by the way.

Odd that Hefner and Jerry Lewis died a few weeks apart in the same year at the age of 91, isn’t it, considering they were both philanthropists at opposite ends of the spectrum, you might say.

Flashback: “Intermezzo” by Pietro Mascagni

Without looking, I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve had a piece of classical music on the Flashback series.

It was announced Wednesday that Jake LaMotta, the former middleweight boxing champ, had passed away at the age of 95. His life was turned into one of the best sports movies all time for my money, Raging Bull, which premiered in 1980. It brilliantly portrayed the good and bad about prizefighting and LaMotta at the time, and how the Mafia had an influence on the fight game on the East Coast, even telling fighters to stage outcomes of their battles and take dives. No issue was taboo, and the movie didn’t pull any punches about LaMotta’s phobias and paranoia.

Rest in peace, champ. Here’s hoping you don’t go down for anyone in the hereafter as was the case in real life.