praying for rainWith the climate operating as it has of late, people have been praying for rain. Or praying for the stoppage of rain. As the cliche goes, “be careful what you wish for.” We’ve seen in the United States in recent years devastating floods after that same region had experienced fires caused in part by severe drought.

Here’s a story originally from the Old Farmer’s Almanac, then in The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, his father Irving Wallace and sister Amy Wallace. It should surprise almost no one who knows me that I own – present tense – the first two volumes of that quirky series. Here’s the interesting case of the farmer who sued the local minister because he had prayed for rain.

It was the 1880s, and upstate New York was in a drought. In the tiny town of Phelps, Ontario County, in the Finger Lakes region, Presbyterian minister Duncan McLeod requested that the resident to cease whatever they were doing at noon one Saturday in August to start praying for rain.

“That afternoon, it did rain, a lot. About two inches fell, washing out a bridge. Unfortunately, the rain was accompanied by lightning, and a barn belonging to farmer Phineas Dodd was struck and burned to the ground. As it happens, Dodd was the only local who refused to take part in the collective prayer, leading others to whisper that his barn loss was divine retribution.

“When Dodd heard that the minister was taking credit for the rain, he sued him for $5,000 to cover his property damage.” $5,000 in 1885 is worth over $122,000 today.

“That put the minister in a bind: Were the prayers responsible for the storm or not? Fortunately for him, it never came to that: His lawyer convinced the judge that the minister and his followers had prayed only for rain, not for the lightning, and the lightning was supplied by — who else? — God.”

Even we Presbyterians need a good attorney from time to time.

For ABC Wednesday

Places to Spend Halloween[Source: U.S. Census Bureau]

Why banning 13-year-olds from trick-or-treating on Halloween is ridiculous:

“The city of Chesapeake [, Virginia] has an ordinance that bans anyone 13 years and older from trick-or-treating. If teens are caught in costume with a sack full of free candy, they could be found ‘guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished by a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100 or by confinement in jail for not more than six months or both.'”

Such laws are not anything new in the state. Rules with undoubtedly selective enforcement – officials say they won’t be actively looking to catch teenage trick-or-treaters in the act – make me nervous about its application.
Here’s a plug for my old boss: If you missed the Monster Art of Basil Gogos campaign on Kickstarter or just want to order an extra book, please go to to place your pre-order. This second chance offer ends on Halloween night!!! Do not miss your chance.
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is a Halloween-themed television special starring Paul Lynde broadcast October 29, 1976 on ABC. It featured guest stars Margaret Hamilton in her first reprisal of her role as The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz.

Also guest starring are Billie Hayes as Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, rock band KISS, Billy Barty, Betty White and, in an unbilled surprise appearance, Donny and Marie Osmond.
The Best Horror Movies in One Boo-tiful List

From the Census Bureau’s Facts for Features. Dating back 2,000 years to the Celtic festival of Samhain, Halloween is an ancient tradition associated with images of witches, ghosts and vampires.

Haunted and Historic Pub Crawl of Ten Broeck Mansion

The Isle of the Dead by Sergei Rachmaninov

Halloween Safety poster

The Official “Trumpkin” Pre-carved Halloween Pumpkin

It takes a village to raise a giant pumpkin

Newly Discovered Goblin Spider Resembles ‘Predator’ Alien

Would you try this candy corn pizza? (NOPE)

5 Halloween Safety Tips for Pets

70 Best Homemade Halloween Costumes for Kids of All Ages

Macabre flower

Home Depot’s New Hauntingly Cool Halloween Decorations

Picasso.portugueseI have my own office at work for the first time in over 12 years. There’s a lot to this story, and I would share some of it. The problem is that in moving into the said office, I have managed to pull something in my back, which makes moving around quite uncomfortable at times.

And I otherwise feel a bit, well, off, including a near-constant headache. I’m waiting to see a doctor after I hear from the HR folks about whatever the worker’s compensation process is.

Meanwhile, I sit in my office putting things on the wall. A picture of me when I was on JEOPARDY! Close up, it’s horrendously pixelated like something from Picasso’s cubist period. From a distance, it’s not bad. Also, a picture of my father, my sister Leslie and I singing when I was 16.

Oh, speaking of Leslie, I mentioned she was going to have surgery on her left arm on October 1. well that didn’t happen because of an infection at what would have been the surgical site. But she went back to the doctor on October 15 and the infection has been stemmed. Now she’s scheduled for surgery on October 23.

So emotionally, I think I would feel really good if I didn’t feel so bad. Y’know what makes me happy? Positive spam messages, such as:

“I’ve been exploring for a little bit for any high-quality articles or blog posts on this sort of area. Exploring in Yahoo I, at last, stumbled upon this website. Reading this info, I am happy to convey that I have an incredibly good uncanny feeling I discovered exactly what I needed. I most certainly will make certain to don’t forget this site and give it a look on a constant basis.”

Thank you very much. You’re too kind.

“You are a very intelligent person!”


“You can definitely see your expertise in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who aren’t afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart.”

Thanks for the good advice.

“The ability to think like that shows you’re an expert.”

Aw, shucks.

Roxy Music

Roxy Music

Some guy I used to know IRL said of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominations, “the least important election this year.” Still, one can cast a fan vote, every day, for five nominees, which, collectively, will be considered in the process.

My Sure Things

#TODD RUNDGREN; Eligible year: 1995
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
I have his albums with the Nazz, Utopia and a number of his solo albums. He’s also produced a chunk of notable albums for others. It’s SHOCKING that he was never nominated before. He’s a wizard, a true star. Can We Still Be Friends

#JANET JACKSON; Eligible year: 2007
Number of nominations: 3; Nominated in 2016, 2017, 2019
I left her off my ballot a couple years ago. Yet she has been not only a commercial success – in the top five women artists, according to Billboard – but a socially conscious one. Seeing her in person this year may have tipped the scale. Rhythm Nation

#ROXY MUSIC; Eligible year: 1997
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
Bryan Ferry and his mates have never been nominated before? Commercially successful and influential. Love Is the Drug

The ones who are influential, and who I should consider

DEF LEPPARD; Eligible year: 2005
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
Not particularly a fan, but surprised it took them so long to get on the ballot. Last I checked, they were neck and neck with Stevie Nicks for the fan vote lead.

JOHN PRINE; Eligible year: 1996
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
Great singer-songwriter. Probably my sixth choice this year. Dear Abby

KRAFTWERK; Eligible year: 1995
Number of nominations: 5; Nominated in 2003, 2013, 2015, 2017, 2019
I KNOW how seminal their music is.

LL COOL J; Eligible year: 2009
Number of nominations: 5; Nominated in: 2010, 2011, 2014, 2018, 2019
It was only last year when I fully recognized his historic import.

RADIOHEAD; Eligible year: 2017
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2018, 2019
I suppose if I ENJOYED their music more, I’d have picked them.

RAGE AGAINST THE MACHINE; Eligible year: 2017
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2018, 2019
An important band. Hope they get in someday.

I voted for them because I like them

#DEVO; Eligible year: 2003
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
They were fun, especially in the early days of MTV. Satisfaction

#THE CURE; Eligible year: 2004
Number of nominations: 2; Nominated in 2012, 2019
The music speaks to me. Boys Don’t Cry

I like them but I don’t know if they should be in there

MC5 Eligible year: 1991
Number of nominations: 4; Nominated in 2003, 2017, 2018, 2019
I’ve had High School stuck in my ear this fall. Yet I can’t quite pick the Detroit group.

Number of nominations: 3; Nominated in 2012, 2018, 2019
I picked them last year, but it was really for her. On the fence about the group. Tell Me Something Good

STEVIE NICKS; Eligible year: 2006
Number of nominations: 1; Nominated in 2019
She was, last I checked, leading the fan vote. She’s already in with Fleetwood Mac. Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around with TOM PETTY and THE HEARTBREAKERS

THE ZOMBIES; Eligible year: 1989
Number of nominations: 4; Nominated in 2014, 2017, 2018, 2019
One GREAT album, and a few fine singles that I LOVE, but… She’s Not There

I make my annual pitch for Estelle Axton, the AX of STAX Records. Her brother, Jim Stewart’s been in since 2003.

Arnold BermanThinking about my end-of-the-year post, I was pondering the question about people I’ve known who died this year. It occurred to me that: 1) I don’t think I mentioned any of them in this blog, and 2) if I were to write about them on 1/1/2019, it would be quite lengthy.

Arnold Berman: my mother’s aunt by marriage, Charlotte Yates (1914-2003), we were all very close to. Charlotte had seven siblings, and I knew them all to some degree.

Arnold (b 1924) was the youngest, and I got to know him particularly well as he was putting together the extensive website of the Barosin/Berman family. He periodically commented on my blog, usually via email, usually with additional insights.

I last saw him at the funeral of Charlotte’s son Donald in 2016, but we remained in touch electronically until early in 2018.

Pat (Curry) Wilson: She was friends with my parents, especially my father. when I was in high school; she was Pat Wilson then, and I had a separate relationship with her.

I remember riding my bike down her dead-end street off Riverside Drive in Binghamton. We would have great philosophical conversations about the world.

I recall specifically how devastated she was when Senator Robert Kennedy (D-NY), who was running for President in 1968 was assassinated. While I was not a big fan of Bobby’s, I felt a great deal of pain on her behalf.

We debated the theological implications of Jesus Christ Superstar. Her Catholic faith, in contrast with my Protestant upbringing – and truth to tell, my fading faith at the time – gave the dialogue a certain yeastiness.

I lost track of her for a lot of years, then rediscovered her, as Pat Curry, on Facebook. My sister Leslie and I thought to visit her when we were in Binghamton in the fall of 2017, but it didn’t work out. She died around Mother’s Day.

Violet Keleshian, nee Khachadourian: She died in May 2018, just a few days shy of her 95th birthday. She was born in Aleppo, Syria, and moved to Beirut, to attend the Lebanese American University. She married and had three children, but was widowed in 1956. In 1961, Violet moved to the United States and became a U.S Citizen in 1966.

I knew her well because she was a member of the First Presbyterian Church choir for several years. Naturally, the choir sang at her service in June.

Gloria Wood, nee Caskey: She was another member of my church. She had been married to David since July 19, 1958; they were a great couple. She’d made a blanket for our daughter when she was born, and she’d created many more to give to young mothers.

I had presented a kente cloth to her a couple years ago because of her gifts, and a couple days after Gloria died on August 24, one of her daughters came to church with David, to tell me how much Gloria appreciated that. I was sorry that I was out of town for her service on September 15.

And there are others, not necessarily close to me, but dear to people I’m close to. And more I know with various serious illnesses.

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