Time--2017 A to Z Theme

My theme for the 2018 Blogging from A to Z April Challenge is "Cleaning the Clutter"--I might literally be cleaning my closets or figuratively clearing the excess from some other part of my life. I'm sure you can think of other things this could mean for you as well.

Always a work in progress--welcome to my blog...


Friday, June 15, 2018

Cowboy Dreams (#BOTB)

        John Wayne would probably not make it in today's entertainment world.  Like so many other screen legends, Wayne has become a relic of the past.  Too bad.  We could use more heroic heroes.  

This was part of my late step-father's John Wayne memorabilia collection.
 Maybe I should have kept that collection, but selling it all on eBay
wasn't a terrible idea either.
Childhood Fantasies

         We'd play lots of made up fantasy games when I was a kid.  Cowboys and Indians was a favorite.  I don't know that many kids pretend to be cowboys and Indians these days.  It might be considered culturally insensitive, too violent,  or something like that.  If kids do play fantasy role games now, maybe they pretend to be activists or lawyers.   Hopefully kids still have fun and stretch their imaginations, but I'm happy that I grew up in the time I did.  You could literally be anyone you wanted to be in your dreams and not be shamed for doing so.  But it was also a time of better morality in many ways.

         For me, the concept of cowboys takes me back to those childhood fantasies.   Today's Battle of the Bands song uses cowboy imagery in a metaphorical way:  A man in love seeing himself as a sort of romantic cowboy hero.   America and the world still has a certain fanciful image of cowboy life so I think that makes the romantic cowboy metaphor work.  See what you think...

Battle of the Bands

     Battle of the Bands is the blogging event started by Far Away Series and now hosted by StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands.   This event happens each month on the 15th and on some blogs there is also a Battle on the 1st of the month.  My blog is one of those with a second Battle on the 1st of the month.   The premise is simple:  Listen to the songs presented below and then in the comments vote for your favorite and tell us why you liked it.  Then visit the links listed near the bottom of this post for more Battle action.

Cowboy Dreams

         This song was written by Prefab Sprout's Paddy  McAloon for the 1994 BBC television series Crocodile Shoes.    Prefab Sprout has been one of my favorite pop/rock groups since I first discovered them back in the eighties.  In my opinion Paddy McAloon is one of the best of modern era songwriters.   Please don't vote on the original, but if you want to hear how Prefab Sprout does the song then you can click this link.  They released their version in 2001.  This is a lovely version with a nice video--please don't vote for it as much as you might be tempted to do.

       The current Battle looks at two other version of the song.   See which you enjoy the most...

Jimmy Nail   "Cowboy Dreams"  (1994)

          Jimmy Nail was the star of the BBC series Crocodile Shoes.  Here is his version from that show. 

Nigel Livingstone  "Cowboy Dreams"  (2016)

       In my brief search I didn't find much about this artist.   He appears to be from Ireland and mostly plays in pubs and such, though he does have several YouTube videos.  Nigel kicks up the tempo on his version..

Time to Vote!

Okay pardner, time to saddle up and vote for your favorite version of the two that I've presented here.  Which song version do you like best? You don't have to know about music to have an opinion since it all comes down to your own personal taste.

         Please vote on your favorite by letting us know your choice in the comment section and tell us why you prefer the version you chose. Then after you've finished here, please visit the other blogs listed below who may or may not be participating this time around. And if you've put up your own BOTB contest let us know that as well so we can vote on yours.

Here are some other places where you might find BOTB posts:

 StMcC Presents Battle of the Bands


'Curious as a Cathy'

Sound of One Hand Typing

Angel's Bark  

Debbie Doglady's Den

Jingle, Jangle, Jungle 

Cherdo on the Flipside 

Winner of this Battle Announced on Friday June 22nd

        I'll be visiting family in Florida about this time so I hope I can get these results up in a timely manner.  Then I'll be in Jersey for several days so I'll likely have limited internet time during my trip.  Please bear with me.  I'll try to make some blog rounds, but I can't guarantee much.

         Hope you have a great summer!

          Did you play cowboys and Indians when you were a kid?     Do kids today still play cowboys and Indians?  Do you think playing this fantasy game is culturally insensitive or politically incorrect or something like that?

Friday, June 8, 2018

This Speed I Don't Need (#BOTB results)

         Oh, for those days of childhood when time would last forever and forever was a day.  
          And holidays and birthdays always seemed a million miles away.
         But now my today is tomorrow and I seem to be missing a lot of yesterdays.
        Yes, such is life.  There's not much more that I can say.
Time to pack up...

          Time really got away from me this week, but I guess that happens every week.   I do have somewhat reasonable excuses like getting ready for our summer trip and working on that song that I mentioned on earlier posts.

           If you missed those mentions, the song is called "Let's Run" and my friends and I finished a reasonably decent demo considering the rush job that we put on it.   I think I will have a surprise of sorts concerning this song in August or thereabouts. 

          For now, though, I do need to "run" in order to get this results post out for the Friday appearance.

Battle of the Band Results

        I'm going to be doing a couple of summer-themed Battles in June and my recent Battle was one of those.   The song was "Tom Sawyer" originally by Rush.  The covers were jazzed up versions by an acoustic guitar trio and a heavy jazz piano trio whose specialty seems to be covers of heavy rock songs.

        I like both of these a great deal, however I think Bad Plus captured the spirit of the song best.  As John and Sixgun noted, any re-creation of Rush should have a massive drummer.  The interplay between the musicians in both bands is amazing, but I felt that The Bad Plus version was more spontaneous and wild flowing as opposed to calculated precision playing--which is not a bad thing by any means.

        In any case, my vote is going to The Bad Plus.   

Final Vote Tally

Montreal Guitar Trio      11

The Bad Plus                    4

Next Battle on Friday June 15th

        Another summer daydream song in the vein of "Tom Sawyer" as I would envision the barefoot boy in Hannibal, Missouri with his pals.  My next song has to do with a boyhood fantasy that Tom and his buddies might have played and I know that I did too.  I don't know if kids still play this, but I'll bet more than a few readers probably did when they were young.

          What was your favorite fantasy game to play when you were a kid?   Do you like to hear artists performing in one genre doing cover versions from very different genres?   Do you prefer precisely composed music or improvisation?  

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Playing the Name Game ( #IWSG )

     If I didn't know people's names then I wouldn't know who was who using an easy identifying label.  However it's all a rather moot point since I usually forget someone's name shortly after they've told me.  So I guess that much of the time even with the names I still don't know who is who...

Join us on the first Wednesday of each month in Alex J. Cavanaugh's Insecure Writer's Support Group--a forum of writers who gather to talk about writing and the writer's life. For a complete list of participants visit Alex's Blog

Co-hosts for the June 6 posting of the IWSG are Beverly Stowe McClure,Tyrean Martinson, and Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor!

June 6 question - What's harder for you to come up with, book titles or character names?

          Coming up with titles is one of my favorite parts of the writing process.  On many occasions I've come up with a title first and then built from there with a story, essay, or song.  In fact, I have lists of titles waiting for something to be created for them.

           Titles come from many sources for me.  It might be something I hear someone saying, a reference to a current or historical event, or some phrase that seems to pop into my head for no reason.  I'll get a title and then start thinking up something to go with it.

        For example, my most recent focus has been on a song that I've written (which I mentioned here and here).  The song idea started with a chord progression, a rhythm, and a somewhat odd melody--no lyrics or title.  As I worked with the song in my head. the concept of running came to me--that's what the music reminded me of.   From there I started with a working title of "Run" which almost immediately changed to "Let's Run" partly because it was a two syllable phrase and it suggested a corporate venture between singer and listener (or writer and reader).  The title came quickly and stuck because it was logical, simple, and I thought it sounded good in context with the song feel.

        The names for characters in stories is a bigger challenge to me.  Since I often picture actual real life people whom I know, it is difficult to disassociate my character with that real person whose name just seems to make sense.  Changing a real name to a fictional moniker rarely feels right to me so I'll try to come up with a name that is similar to that real name or suggestive of something about that real person.  Maybe I should avoid modeling characters after real people, but I think most writers probably come up with characters this way.   After all, it's easier to write about a character whom I can clearly picture in my mind.   That's the way it works for me.

         By the way, regarding my song "Let's Run":   I've been putting together some rough recordings with the help of a couple of my neighbors.  Hopefully, by the end of the summer I'll have something to share with my readers.  I'm writing about it on my blog for legal purposes since I don't know the first thing about getting a song published or recorded.  So this is notice that I've written a metaphorical song with the title "Let's Run."    I'm probably doing this all wrong, but we'll see where this all goes.

          What do you think makes for a good title?   Do you base your fictional characters on actual people?   Do you have any favorite fictional names that other authors have used?

           My most recent Battle of the Bands can be found here.  If you haven't voted yet, please do.  Voting closes Thursday June 7th with winner announced on Friday the 8th.