The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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

Friday, May 8, 2015

impressive a to z bloggers and #BOTB Winner


         Before I go to naming the winner of my most recent Battle of the Bands showdown, I wanted to recognize a few of the A to Z participant blogs that particularly stood out for me.  As many of you might have noted in the A to Z Reflections posts, there are many of us who agreed that this April Challenge of 2015 was one of the best we've had so far.  Some of the content in the blogs of this Challenge was clever, thoughtful, fun, and in some cases rather amazing.

        I commend everyone who finished the Challenge.   I give acknowledgement to those who tried, but didn't quite make it.   And a special recognition to the following:

Rena at Doctor Fairy Godmother presented a complete A to Z Video series.  A daily video series meant not much writing on the blog, but her presentations were either very well improvised or scripted ahead of time.  Rena's delivery was engaging and had excellent content.  Rena has a good style.

A frequent commenter on my site is Michele from Angels Bark.   Like I am, Michele is a music fan and she put her love of music to work in her series  An A-Z Musical Tour of My Life.

Since I have a fascination with dreams I was very interested in the Dream series offered by Susan Scott at Garden of Eden.   She writes with depth and great intelligence.  I encourage you to check out her blog.

Andi-Roo at The World 4 Realz is a blogger whom I discovered a couple Challenges ago.  She's had some ups and downs recently and is still trying to make it to the end of the alphabet, but at least she's pushing onward and trying to get it done.  Maybe a few of you can stop by to cheer her on.

Visiting Maryann Holloway's If I Only Had a Time Machine is an education, but a fun one that is well worth one's time.  For the A to Z Challenge her theme was World War 2.  If you're a history buff and want your history delivered in an interesting way be sure to take a trip on Maryann's Time Machine.

One of the blogs that had me laughing out loud during April was The Ranting Monkey.  His A to Z posts are apparently not representative of what this blogger normally writes, but still now I'm curious as to what's going to be on the blog the rest of the year.

As one who loves food and eating out, I always enjoy a blog that talks about restaurants.  One of my favorite discoveries this year was The Chinese Quest, self described as "Five hungry Jewish guys on a quest to find the best Chinese restaurant on Long Island and NYC."   Mee Magnum is a clever blogger whose posts made me want to go back east and join them in their quest.  I encourage you to check out this very entertaining blog

      These are but a few of the terrific blogs I discovered this year and I could certainly go on and on and on.   If you haven't done so already, I encourage you to visit the links of those who joined in with their Reflection Posts to find many more great blog links.   And be sure to keep visiting The A to Z Challenge Blog for upcoming information about the journey ahead on the A to Z Road Trip where you can discover some of the blogs you missed during April.


      My recent Battle pitting versions of "Je Crois Entendre Encore" by David Gilmour against Alison Moyet is one that I've had waiting on hold for over a year.  In fact this is a pairing that came to my mind from the point when I first began presenting Battle of the Bands pairings.  Since the song is an aria from an opera it seemed like it might be tough for many listeners.  In fact I noticed that some of my usual voters were absent for this round of competition.  Were they put off by the operatic nature of my selection?

        As one voter Sheboyganboy Six said in his comment:

I know that if you featured ACTUAL opera arias in your BOTBs, probably a bunch of people would skip voting, but I would like the battle better every time!

        Perhaps Mr. Six is correct not only from the standpoint of using actual operatic artists, but even using opera as performed by popular artists.  For many people, myself included, opera is not an overwhelmingly favorite genre of music.  Opera is a musical style that requires some amount of patience as well as an appreciation that often calls for some education about the form along with adapting ones ears to what sometimes comes across as a somewhat alien means of musical expression. 

         Though I cannot cite any statistics, my guess is that a vast majority of people would say that they do not like opera. These numbers would probably be far higher than the numbers of those who would say they don't like classical music which would also be a percentage that would comprise the majority of people.  The talent of the operatic singer is typically respected by audiences, but the music is not the music of choice of most of us.

          Nevertheless there are certain pieces coming out of the realm of opera that are so exquisite that they transcend any aversion to the genre of opera to be able to be appreciated by most who hear the music.  I believe that "Je Crois Entendre Encore" is such a piece of music.  The melody performed by a pop artist extends beyond opera into an ethereal realm that one can accept as beautiful music for the modern listener.

The Contestants

           David Gilmour and Alison Moyet are both very capable artists who present this Bizet aria with equally high degrees of musical skill and professionalism.   For most of the voters it seemed to come down to some genuine quality of Gilmour's voice as opposed to some displeasing quality of Moyet's voice.  On the other hand, there were those voters who found Moyet's voice to be soothing, expressive, and more controlled.  In essence the voting was primarily influenced by a preference of vocal style with some sway factor coming from the instrumental backing.  

         For me this was a very tough decision that took me back and forth.   Gilmour is a sentimental favorite for me as his version of the song was the one to which I had first exposure as a pop interpretation.  I've watched his video repeatedly and I'm a long time fan of David Gilmour's music.  That an artist with Gilmour's pop music stature took this amazing piece of music and performed it with such credibility in concert is to me a wondrous thing.

          But then there is Moyet with her tremendous vocal control.  Unlike many voters, I enjoy the deep sound of her voice--"mellifluous" as one voter indicated.   In the Moyet version I particularly like the instrumentation.   I particularly like the marimba and glockenspiel so uniquely added to the arrangement.  The strings, almost identically arranged as the voices in the Gilmour version, add a truly beautiful haunting accompaniment to Moyet's vocal.

         As I have said, this is a difficult decision for me.  I'm tempted to just throw up my hands and declare my vote a tie as I adore both versions.  However if I must choose then I'm going to go with my greater sense of the musical purist and go with Alison Moyet.  This helps her advance in the race, but still not enough for the win.  But this was a close race indeed.

Final Tally

David Gilmour           14 votes

Alison Moyet             12 votes

A New Battle Coming Soon!

         Next Friday May 15th I will have a Battle of the Bands pairing that led me to some curious findings.  My next Battle will be a piece from the film that I will be presenting as my entry in the Blood, Boobs, and Carnage Blogfest hosted by Alex J Cavanaugh and Heather Gardner on Monday May 18th.  I hope you find this next Battle to be interesting.

        Have you visited any of the blogs that I highlighted from A to Z?   Have you ever watched a complete opera?    Would you be likely to refrain from voting if I presented two versions of a musical piece in a genre with which you were unfamiliar or did not particularly like?


53 comments:

  1. I agree Lee it was a GREAT challenge this year, Good fun and support for each other,
    I think Alison Moyet will get my vote.
    Have a nice day.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Your vote would have brought Alison closer to a win.

      Lee

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  2. I'm also taking part in Alex's next challenge! Big Ali gets my vote

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    1. If your vote would have counted then Alison would have tied

      Lee

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  3. Gilmour for the win!
    And no, I do not like opera. But country music is far worse.
    I did visit Angels Bark a few times.
    And thanks for mentioning Blood, Boobs, and Carnage!

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    1. Alex, you need some music appreciation for those genres. Country isn't all that bad. I've got an interesting film for your blogfest that I doubt anyone will duplicate.

      Lee

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  4. Hi, Lee! It has been fascinating for me to hop around our BOTB circle and notice how many close races there were in this latest round of the competition. I appreciate the point you made about the aversion most people have to opera and, to a lesser extent, classical music. I believe most people who say they don't like something (opera, classical, Brussels sprouts, etc.) haven't given it a fair chance, haven't taken the time to experience it. If they gave it a try, I believe a high percentage of those people would "change their tune" and embrace a new and different musical style. I believe it serves us to shed our preconceived notions about music, about people and about everything else and make an honest evaluation that stems from first hand experience.

    I thoroughly enjoyed your Battle of the Bands and this educational follow-up post, Lee, and I look forward to your next. Have a nice weekend, good buddy!

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    1. If they gave it a try, I believe a high percentage of those people would "change their tune"

      I know of some who might argue this point and then there are those who will adamantly stand by their initial attitude and instead of listening to find what they can like they will listen finding fault as they go. I'll admit to being guilty of this with certain musical styles. I am a believer that we eventually will grow to like unfamiliar music after we've listened to it a number of times under a variety of circumstances. Worst of all is those who refuse to try something because they already know they won't like it.

      Lee

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  5. I followed one of the blogs myself and made it by a couple of the others. The rest I have yet to visit.
    I tend to only do the battle posts if it is a song I know and like. But occasionally I get curious and plunge ahead.
    Stopping in from Life & Faith in Caneyhead

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    1. Next time you see a song you don't know listen and rate it. Then you can actually provide a more objective opinion and not be swayed by the version you know best.

      Lee

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    2. Okay, Lee! Just for you, I will!

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  6. I do refrain from voting when it's a genre or group I don't much care for. I've only seen the Magic Flute on TV and it was pretty good but the solos get tiring. I prefer when the whole ensemble is singing.

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    1. I know what you're saying about the long solos. I've got to get in the right mood for opera or just settle in a approach it as an academic exercise.

      Lee

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  7. I had so much fun this challenge and saw a lot of great bloggers. Now I have a book mark folder for new blogs that I want to check out still.

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    1. I wish I had marked some more of the blogs that impressed me. There were some good ones that I found but now can't recall what they were.

      Lee

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  8. I follow Maryann Holloway since last year's A to Z and love her blog. I love anything about dreams since my dreams are..quite nutty so i will have to check the others you mentioned. I tried sitting through a televised viewing of Tristan Und Isolde by Wagner and that is a bit heavy. I have seen Carmen and loved it. Classical is my first love and I love Opera pieces. In fact many people will say they love a piece and don't realize it is classical music or it is from an Opera or Operettta. I like to give all music, food, people, art a chance so I can always open my mind to new things. How else can we learn and grow

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    1. I'd agree that Wagner is a bit heavy. I've never seen or even listened to any complete performance of any of his works. Even some of the excerpts can be long and tedious. But he does have his hardcore fans.

      I agree that many times people don't equate "Classical Music" with pieces that they do say they like. There is a lot of misunderstanding about classical that causes misconceptions and avoidance. I too like to try things and keep a relatively open mind prior to judging them. And sometimes we have to try something more than once before realizing that it isn't as bad as we thought. True what you say about learning and growing.

      Lee

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  9. I've seen a few operas but didn't particularly care for them.

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    1. Maybe you saw the wrong ones. Or performed by the wrong companies. Or maybe it was the circumstances?

      Lee

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  10. You know this is my favorite part of the challenge, reading about everyone's favorites - then checking them out.

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    1. I've been seeing a lot of blogs where favorites have been listed.

      Lee

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  11. Lee, I thought this was a tough battle. I took my time and listened to everything you posted. I'm a big believer that knowing the language an opera is sung in, is key. However in this one I didn't know the language, so I set my sights on the next sense perception I had - sight. I could see Gilmore perform. Possibly a weak argument, nonetheless, it influenced my vote. The pauses, the inflections that my ears perceived didn't completely kick in. This was a sight thing for me.

    As an example of what I'm trying to explain... I'm listening to Chinese opera. Learning the language is like a bridge that brings me more in touch with all senses. That in turn connects with the musical arrangements, and voices together. (Gee, I hope some of that makes sense.)

    I'll check your blog recommendations!! I'm sure they're all great choices.

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    1. Usually in an operatic performance a libretto is provided so you can follow along. I understand that now in many performance the text of the libretto is displayed above the stage like subtitles. Visuals can be an influence which is partly why I usually just listen to the music rather than watch the video as well..

      Lee

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  12. I discovered If I Only Had a Time Machine somewhere along the way, and really enjoyed the comprehensive posts. There's always something new to learn about the 1940s/WWII, no matter how long I've been immersed in the era.

    I don't recall having seen or listened to an entire opera, though there are some operatic selections on the three-disc Understanding Music set I kept from a music appreciation class I took at university. I know watching A Night at the Opera numerous times doesn't count!

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    1. The depth of Maryann's posts reminds me of the way you do many of your own posts.

      A Night at the Opera is a fun film. There are a number of those older films that featured opera or opera singers within the story unlike films today. Actually the Rogers and Hammerstein musicals are almost operatic in their scope and approach.

      Lee

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  13. Lee, first, I want to tell you that this may have been my favorite BOTB of yours. I loved this piece of music, which I was unfamiliar with before your post.

    I do like Opera and have seen many and listened to others. I admit to liking them better in person. The overall production of every Opera I've seen was simply fantastic and only helped to enhance the Music, I can understand French, so Bizet's Carmen is a favorite. I'm not sure how I ever missed witnessing this one, but I'm really glad you brought it to my attention.

    I just received a Netflix notification today that I should be getting 'The Man Who Cried' movie soon. I am anxious and excited to see it. It appeared as something that I would like a great deal.

    As a founder of BOTB, I admit that I do feel somewhat obligated to visit every participant and listen to whatever they have posted even if it is not my favorite genre or favorite version of a particular tune. BUT, that has paid off in the positive more than once, because I feel that I have been exposed to some genres or versions of songs that I might have never heard another way. (This one is a fine example.) I have very definite tastes and repeated listening to something I don't particularly like is not very likely to sway me over to complete enjoyment, but I do see the merit of being exposed to a variety of musical tastes. There is always something new on the horizon, and often I find that I like that 'new stuff'.

    As you know, I have never withheld my vote from a BOTB because it was a genre or version that I did not like. I might state that my vote was a 'lesser of two evils' in my mind, but I still feel that if a participant has taken the time to put together a BATTLE, I can afford them the courtesy of casting a vote.

    I'll be honest and tell you that with all the knew participants in BOTB, I had a series of mixed emotions about the whole thing. First, I am honored that so many people like an idea that I originated and want to join in, I really, Really, REALLY do. But, at the same time I feel a bit 'run over' and realize that many of these people have no idea who I am, or that I started this whole thing.

    I appreciate the fact that you always credit me along with STMc with that at the beginning of your posts (even though I came up with the idea, it was he who encouraged me to run with it and said that he would join me and promote it to his many friends). I really am not so petty, as to need that recognition, but I guess I am human, and a silly woman human at that, and sometimes I feel a little lost in the shuffle. All that said, I never look to be in the 'limelight' or take credit for things, and am intensely private (to a fault), so in the end, it is as it should be and they way I want it. NOW, did any of that make sense? Probably not, but then you know me. It did feel good to get that off my chest. I hope it doesn't offend you or anyone else.

    This was an excellent BATTLE and I believe that the commenters all enjoyed it, also. I think that maybe your votes were a little off, as were mine, due to the overall excitement of A to Z. People are just so busy during the month of April composing their posts and visiting as many others as possible, it's probably hard for them to take the time to sit back and listen to all of the musical selections we post.

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    1. FAE, let me know what you think of The Man Who Cried. We liked it even though I guess it is a bit sentimental.

      My question about different types of music portends some battles to come. I like to stretch music tastes a bit and I know by doing so I might lose some voters on those battles, but I think it's worth a shot. I'm glad I can count on you and usually most of the others with battles in the contest.

      By all means you deserve the credit and hopefully I won't ever forget to include the reference to you. If I ever do forget then that means I'll forget McCarthy too and no one will get any credit. I'm the same way about A to Z though I try to put myself on equal footing with the co-hosts now since they do so much. Without all of them I'd have probably given up that venture as it has become so much work.

      We'll see what happens next Battle round. I'm hoping since I'm tying in with the BB&C Blogfest that I will keep the voting strong and maybe even add a few new ones.

      Thanks for that cool comment.

      Lee

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  14. Michele's music series was fantastic! Some of of the others you mentioned sound interesting as well. I'll be sure to check them out, now that there's more time. Looks like my pick lost the BOTB, but it was close and the winner's version was good too. When I was 12, living in Germany, my math teacher chartered a bus once a month and took all of his students to the opera. It was a wonderful experience - one I'll never forget. I would participate in any BOTB post of yours, Lee, even if it's Hip Hop (which I don't like at all, so please don't get any ideas! ☺).

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    1. I won't say I'd never do it, but if I ever resort to Rap or Hip Hop then somebody better check on me to make sure I'm okay.

      Lee

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    2. Hahaha! Good to know - also a relief.

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  15. This was a GREAT Battle, LEE, and I thought both versions were very good. Nice to see you had such a close finish.

    As you know, my BOTB ended in a tie. I checked to see and that was my 5th tie in 43 BOTB installments. I love a close race, but I'm not a fan of ties and I'm getting tired of 'em!

    'Blood, Boobs And Carnage Blogfest'... Oh, brother! Yeah, I'm gonna sign myself right up and further celebrate the decline of Western Civilization. (What blogfest will they come up with next?)

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. Well, there is some kind of Beach Party Blogfest at https://hqofk.wordpress.com/2015/03/18/announcing-the-beach-party-blogathon/
      I'll bet you'd have a Beach Movie to add to that one. I'm thinkin' on this but haven't signed up yet.

      The ties aren't all that bad, but it's good to have a clear winner I suppose that's not a shut out.

      Lee

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    2. I looked at it and, well, a Beach Party Blogfest is a little more in line with what I'd be willing to spend some time on, but even so, I'll pass on that. I've got better things to do with my time.

      I could celebrate beaches, but not Blood, Boobs & Carnage. (I'm trying to figure out what ever happened to 2 Corinthians 6:17. I just don't see it happening with the believers.)

      ~ D-FensDogG

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    3. I guess it's a matter of how the Blogfest is handled and how you're interpreting this in relation to the world and in relation to yourself.

      Lee

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  16. I've not been to an opera before but I did live next to an opera singer when I lived in DC. Does that count? :) Honestly I think if your contenders had been actual opera performances, I probably would not vote because I just can't bear the sound, but since you made it clear that your contenders were NOT opera, it did not deter me.
    And thank you so much for recommending my blog Lee. I so appreciate that and I really enjoyed your visits and comments. I'll let you know when I get the One Hit Wonders post up. I'm also going to do a Motown post as well.
    Many thanks!
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. You might want to consider joining us in the Battle of the Bands posts. Debbie Doglady will be joining us come next Battle.

      Lee

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    2. hmm, now that's something to think about for sure. I'll give it some good thought. After the A-Z, I've been thinking how I would like to keep doing something with music; BOTB might be a great way to do just that! Thanks for the invite.
      Michele at Angels Bark

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    3. Just let us know and we'll add you to the list and then you can put up your posts on the 1st and 15th of the months.

      Lee

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  17. Thanks so much Lee for the shout out - much appreciated! As you know I much enjoyed your posts on Dreams ...

    I've quickly checked out Michele at angelsbark and look forward to checking her A-Z out - sounds like my kinda music. I'll definitely swing by the others you wrote about. So kind of you to mention us, thank you. They all sound like great choices!

    I love classical music and go to the occasional concert and often have my radio on the classical music station as backdrop to writing. I'm not very familiar with opera though this can I believe transport the listener to a magical world!

    Meantime, have a great weekend. Here in South Africa it promises to be a lovely winter day. And again thank you for all that you are and do.

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    1. I think opera requires a special listening skill beyond most classical music. The spectacle of the opera probably calls for experiencing the visuals as well as the music, but rarely do I and most other people what to take the time to do that. In some ways opera is somewhat tortuous to the average person.

      Lee

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  18. Interesting post. This year I could not visit many blogs. Of course, I posted some blogs participating in the challenge in my index of posts and thus created a way through which visitors to my blog visit other blogs of the challenge. Next year I shall post all posts before April and concentrate on interacting with other bloggers. Let me support others and get a mention somewhere by somebody.

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    1. The preparation can make a huge difference. I think the index is a good idea.

      Lee

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  19. I have watched a few operas. I've also been in the chorus for three operas. They were Tosca, Turandot, and Aida. Tosca was my favorite. There was a lecherous police inspector, a heroic rebel, his diva girlfriend, etc. There was murder, betrayal, an execution, and a suicide. It was all fun and very entertaining to participate in such a production. I got to run around the stage and sing at the top of my lungs.
    All in all, opera is a better participation sport than it is a spectator sport!

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    1. I've sung arias by Puccini and by Menotti in recitals. I've never tried Wagner. Apparently, it is necessary to wear horns and thick (fake) braids and maybe a suit of armor to carry off Wagner.
      I'm still waiting for that replacement set of horns...

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    2. Alyce, a delight to see you here with your wonderful comments. Being a part of an opera would undoubtedly provide a whole new insight to the event. Also knowing the story and the characters helps a lot. Just watching those singers might be spectacular but without the libretto a viewer would be essentially lost.

      You must be a pretty good singer to be performing arias in recital.

      Lee

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  20. Hi Lee - it's opening our minds to new things and appreciating those who can be professionals in their 'game' .. I do love hearing and seeing new things - sadly music and I love each other, but it doesn't stick very well and I have a completely awful sense of rhythm ...

    I followed Susan's blog ... and know one or two of the others .. but some to search out ... cheers Hilary

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    1. I've seen your comments on Susan's blog. She writes very intelligently.

      Lee

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  21. Thank you for sharing more blogs to check out from the Challenge. It keeps me in reading material for a full year. ;-)

    Cait @ Click's Clan

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    1. Cait, I'm sure you didn't have enough reading material already!

      Lee

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  22. I didn't participate in the A-Z but there certainly where a lot of great entries.

    Sorry I missed the BOTB. I like opera.

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    1. LD, I'm not sure when I'll do another opera selection, but I've got more classical pieces lined up for sometime in the future.

      Lee

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  23. So many top bloggers on the challenge; I look forward to the road trip, and also to reading other reflections post. The video a day idea and also that of writing what is different from one's usual post caught my attention.

    As for opera, I've never been but I do find it moving. Not sure I could sit through hours of it.

    Thanks for the challenge and all you do to make it happen. #aNoviceMumCommentLuv

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  24. Thanks for the mention! There were so many awesome blogs this year, I'm going to spend the rest of the year going through the list!

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
I normally try to respond to all comments in the comment section so please remember to check the "Email follow-up comments" box if you want to participate in the comment conversation.

For Battle of the Bands voting the "Anonymous" commenting option has been made available though this version is the least preferred. If voting using "anonymous" please include in your comment your name (first only is okay) and city you are voting from and the reason you chose the artist you did.

If you know me and want to comment but don't want to do it here, then you can send me an email @ jacksonlee51 at aol dot com.

Lee