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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Do You Dare to Be Different? (#IWSG & #BOTB results)




      My Battle of the Bands results will be found down the page where you will see the BOTB logo, but first a word pertaining to my recent Battle post in conjunction with this month's Insecure Writer's Support Group posting.  For more information about the IWSG and a list of participants please visit Alex J Cavanaugh.


Do You Dare to be Different?

       Throughout my life I've tended march to that different drummer which often makes me seem a bit out of step with the rest of life's parade.  Not that I'm totally out of the loop concerning what's hot and what's not or even that I'm some outre weirdo from way out there.   I do have an inkling of societal trends, but they are not always what interests me all that much.  And often what grabs my interest is not what the majority of people around me enjoy.  Is it because what I like happens to be crap?  Or is it just too far out for most of the crowd?

       I'm willing to give just about anything a chance and in most cases willing to go the extra mile if others insist that it's worth my time.  In some cases my reasons for not liking something are reaffirmed by those efforts while in other cases I become enlightened by what I may have missed in my initial exposure to something.  I may be somewhat rigid in my personal standards of what I think makes something worth my time, but then again I don't always let the rules guide me nor do I just fall into the mainstream flow of what everyone else thinks I should enjoy.

        In a recent visit to Alex J. Cavanaugh's blog, author Misha Gerrick discussed the "rules" she breaks in her fantasy books  and how she is not sorry about any of it.  I say good for Misha.  As long as you feel good about what you're doing and you are able offer up a reasonable defense to show why you think your tactics work, then I say stick with what you believe.

        That's probably the direction in which I'll continue to march.  Different is okay in my way of seeing things.  Maybe everyone won't like what I like, do, say, or create, but I'm sure I'm not the oddball of the universe.  I will continue to appreciate different, unique, or what others might chide me for liking.  Everyone may not be on my side of the fence, but I do ask that those who disagree with me at least give me a chance and not immediately dismiss me because I see things differently from the way they do.

       I dare to be different.  How about you?

Battle of the Bands:  Results on a Different Sort of Pairing



       My most recent pairing of performances of the Lorde hit "Royals" drew some volatile reactions from the voting constituency of my BOTB posts.   There's a lot of clown aversion out there and that seems to be the main reason the sad-faced golden-voiced Puddles lost this round.   If he had gone sight unseen I wonder if the results would have been far different than they turned out to be?

      Initially my vote went in the direction of most of you who voted in this Battle.  When I first watched the Walk Off the Earth video my reaction was that this version cinched the contest.  The visual presentation is clever and likable.  The music is very well done and extremely pleasant to my ears.  My vote for WOTE was immediately decided.  And then I listened to the two versions again.  And again.  And repeatedly again.

       The more I listened, the more I began to realize that the WOTE version was very commercial sounding almost to a point of triteness.  Don't get me wrong about this--I like the band immensely and I still think their version is outstanding, It's well arranged and slickly produced.  This version I can easily imagine being played on mainstream radio.

      However, Battle of the Bands is about the music.

    The multi-talented producer/musician Scott Bradlee of PostModern Jukebox is the genius behind the Puddles the Clown music arrangement in this video and his jazz combo is top notch.  This shines through in this particular song.  One point in the video where this really hit me was at the 1:40 mark.  The punch of the piano and drums accentuating the lyric is pretty cool.  In fact throughout the song the instrumentation is so tastily presented with the droll background vocals minimalized to prevent distraction that I hear the professionalism of this entire recording.

       The "creepy" clown persona is a gimmick that might distract some and prevent them from realizing the true talent of this performer, but it is a different take on things that has gained this artist attention that he wasn't getting otherwise.  Now if you check out his booking schedule you can see that he has an intensive tour that's keeping him busy for months to come. He did something different and it has worked for him.  It can pay to be different.

       However the clown difference didn't work for this Battle.  My vote goes to Puddles the Clown, but I am in the minority.  In this voting round Puddles got trounced by Walk Off the Earth.

Final Tally

Walk Off the Earth       24 votes

Puddles the Clown         8 votes


         If you want to give Puddles another listen to hear what I'm talking about then here is an encore presentation.   Let me know if you agree with what I've said above.

   

        Next Battle will be on Saturday August 15th.  More about that on Monday the 10th when I'll also be offering a pictorial about my Jersey vacation.

         Do you think that resorting to a gimmick is a good way to get talent recognized if you are otherwise not getting anywhere with what you've been doing?   Do you think rules in writing or other arts can justifiably be broken?  Have you resorted to any types of gimmickry to gain recognition and if so what did you do?


77 comments:

  1. Pleased with the result of the voting Lee.
    Wonderful post to read and so interesting.
    Yvonne.

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    1. Yvonne, I was really rooting for Puddles.

      Lee

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  2. Rebels are awesome. Different can be fun. I'm a fan of ICP, and while the costumes they wear are intriguing for a gimmick, I think those boys are sheer musical talent. Good music; and if you listen to the lyrics you'll discover they are not singing so much about psycho killers as about retribution. Yeah, sometimes a gimmick gets you remembered past one hit. Clowns don't scare me.

    Is Puddles really that tall? Dang, wish the girls had some life in them. Not sure I liked the song, no matter who sang it. It was kinda bland. But, I didn't get around to the Battles this round. Sorry.

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    1. Dolorah, maybe I'd need to listen to more ICP, but from what I've heard it was not my type of music.

      As far as the lifeless girls, that was part of the droll schtick. In other Postmodern Jukebox videos they are much more lively and actually sing lead vocals in some. Judging from the popularity of this song there were a lot of people who liked it.

      Lee

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  3. Puddles was just too weird.
    That different, unique quirkiness is you. To deviate would be to deviate from yourself.

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    1. Alex, weird is part of his gimmick.

      Lee

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  4. Arlee, you're a zebra in a pony corral. Different is good!! Unique always stands out (even if it's not always appreciated). Go boldly!

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    1. Nancy, I doubt that I'll change at my age.

      Lee

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  5. I'm a free spirit who's a roller coaster junkie, Minion lover, and sees the world better in black & white through a camera lens. I say different is good.

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    1. L.Diane, sameness gets pretty boring.

      Lee

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  6. I feel the same way you do about myself - marching to a different drummer. But unlike you, I was uncomfortable that I felt so different and always wanted to be "normal." Now, not so much. I'm pretty content inside my own different skin.

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    1. Karen, sometimes my differences put me on the outside of things in the mainstream world, but I can entertain myself by pursuing my own interests.

      Lee

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  7. Oh I've always been a square peg. I got teased and harassed nonstop in school for it too. It was one of the many reasons I felt alienated from my hometown and moved to San Francisco where I could be me, free of judgment. The funny thing is, as people began to reconnect with me on Facebook, classmates with whom I had little contact in school said that they'd always admired my fearlessness to just be myself when everyone else was just trying to fit in. Go figure.

    I think Mitchell in Modern Family said it best: "I Was weird ... fun weird. This is the funny thing about growing up. For years and years, everybody's desperately afraid to be different, you know, in Any Way. And then, Suddenly, Almost overnight. Everybody wants to be different. And That Is Where We win."

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    1. JoJo, funny about perspective. What we see at the time we are in a place in life is not the same as we see it later on. Being a square peg is not the same as being "square".

      Lee

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  8. Hi, Lee! Imagine that! This is one of the few times that you and I have voted for the same artist in a BOTB and it was for Puddles the Clown no less. :) Different is good in my world. When I was age three my older brother started taking me to see horror and sci-fi movies. From that early exposure I developed a love of the quirky, the bizarre and the uncanny and to this day I love to watch B-horror, pulp, exploitation, sexploitation, John Waters, Russ Meyer, Ed Wood, George A. Romero, David Lynch, etc. When Alice Cooper came along I was an instant fan. Same with Kiss. On my blog I love to surprise and shock, engage in word play, invent new words and do it my way.

    Thanks for reporting the results of your battle, good buddy. I'm glad you looked past the gimmicky sad clown and recognized the quality of that group's recording.

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    1. Shady, you and I actually seem to be on the same page about a lot of things. You summed up much of my history as well. I don't like to be stuck in a rut or labeled as anything in particular other than perhaps unique.

      Lee

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  9. We have "Danced to a Different Drummer" since early childhood.... and My childhood was "miserable" for doing so... we were "Outcast and Ostracized" by the other students... I was into "Monsters and Horror"... did Not care much about Cars and Sports...
    was treated very badly up till the end of high school... that was when we took the SAT Test.... I scored second in reading comprehension and was third on the list for math, and they realized how intelligent Stacey was.... people who would not even give me the "time of day" were coming up to me and congratulating me ...
    ... the only "praise" that we had previously received was for some of my art work... even won a few "ribbons" in art shows....
    and a creative 3-D ( made of layers of paper , some folding too) door decoration for the Library (my little "name-tag" design for "Smile, You have a Library" won "best design for this entire region of the state.... so we had "talent"... )
    .... now mostly "outcast" by the entire town... you should hear some their "rumors" about me.... one of my favorite more recent ones was, that I was growing "Demon-Possessed Pumpkins".... And these small-minded morons actually "Believe" that.... to them Stacey is the Town Boogeyman.... and was even voted as "Greatest Villain" of this little town (over murderers and big time "criminals".... )
    ... That has been my "reward" for "Dancing to a Different Drummer"

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    1. Dr. Theda, I can relate though I wasn't ever particularly ostracized. The accusation of growing "demon-possessed pumpkins" is very odd. You must live in a rather strange town.

      Lee

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    2. A small Southern Town... and They even listed me as "Greatest Villain"... We were also Accused of "attempted Body Snatching" from back in 84'...!!!
      a very "crooked" ( former "Chief of Police"... till he lost his job for being drunk, and was swerving all over the Highway while trying to break up his Cocaine on his clipboard in the passenger seat...)... just to give you an "idea" of His Credibility.... So his pack of Lies.... and was not allowed to speak in my own defense ... we were Charged (almost a 1/4 of a century later....)
      .. and I did rob a Bank back in 84'... so He convinced most everyone of his lies as "Truth".... so, these folks will believe just about "anything" that "rumor" says about me... sad , but True...
      ... when we die .. I am sure there will be "Ghost tales" of me in this town....
      The Whole "Mess" would be "laughable", if I did Not have to Live it...

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    3. sounds like good fodder for an interesting book.

      Lee

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  10. I know I don't act like everyone else, and no, I'm not sure it's a good thing. It is what make me a good writer though. :-)

    Anna from Elements of Writing

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    1. Anna, writing stands out because of whatever it is that's different about it. You can follow the trends and become lost in the crowd or stand out as a trendsetter yourself.

      Lee

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  11. I absolutely think writing rules can be broken, though it's important to know them first. To me, it's kind of like bands (to use your music as a comparison) who are ahead of the curve and influence a whole movement or generation. When you go back to listen to that early influence, it can sound rough, or even outdated. Maybe it's different, but with writing, trying to reinvent the wheel when you don't know the basics of the wheel often ends up reading clunky and just sounds wrong, After a few manuscripts where you learn the basics, then I'm all about experimenting.

    I recently tried to write a non-linear timeline with a bunch of flashbacks. After several rounds of beta reading and edits, it's essentially a linear novel with one major flashback. I'm not quite there yet with an experimental format, but in a future story I may try it out again.

    Here is my August IWSG post. It's the second post on my blog today because my Pitch Wars mentor bio needs to stay at the top. Thanks!

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    1. Steph, I heartily agree with you. You must know something about the basics before you start messing around with things. Coherency and groundedness is important in anything offered for public consumption. If people can't find some way to relate then you are probably going to lose them unless you have a very special talent of presentation.

      Lee

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  12. I have never resorted to gimmicks, but I think sometimes, for some people, it can work. Take the Rock band KISS for example. The cartoon persona and all that makeup got them noticed and they sold tons of records and made lots of money for several years. Much of that was due to the gimmick they utilized, because without it, their music was basically just straightforward, formulaic, commercial-sounding Rock that wasn't any different from a godzillion other struggling bands who were out there performing at the same time.

    Some rules were made to be broken, but not all of them. I have consistently broken writing rules for many, many years. The thing is though, if you're going to break the rules, you ought to have a justifiable reason for doing so. You should be able to reasonably explain what you think it is about the rule that hinders or simply doesn't work or help, and you need to be able to explain why your alteration corrects that.

    I think a lot of people today break the rules simply because they never learned what the rules were to begin with. And some rules became rules BECAUSE they were beneficial. As Mark Twain, THE genius of letters, wrote: Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.

    As for being "different"... There's nuttin' wrong with "different" (in fact, it's a good thing) just so long as it's AUTHENTIC. There are a lot of people out there who try to look, act, sound, and seem DIFFERENT solely for the sake of being different. They're usually pretty easy to see through, and in my mind, those people are not one whit better'n the people who follow the current trends (in anything) solely because those things are "in" or popular.

    A follower of fashion is no worse than a person who attempts to be "different" for no better reason than they're "trying" to stand out. A plague on both their houses!

    ~ D-FensDogG
    'Loyal American Underground'

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    1. STMcC, great comment and I don't have much to add to it other than I completely agree about the band Kiss. Alice Cooper is another similar artist though I think he may have put on a better stage show and I liked his music better.

      Lee

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    2. We really like the bits of footage that we have seen of Alice Cooper's Stage Show... very "Horror-Themed', as well...

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    3. I saw Alice Coop er in 1972 I believe it was. They put on an outstanding show that was almost like a stage magic show. Actually that's what it was with a healthy dose of decent rock and roll.

      Lee

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  13. I think it's more difficult for less known authors to break the rules and get away with it than it is for famous writers. But to be happy and enjoy our writing, we do have to listen to that inner drummer.
    Susan Says

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    1. Susan GK, that could be and yet somehow formulaic writing by the rules might come across as unoriginal and uninventive.

      Lee

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  14. Rules? Where we're going we don't need rules.

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    1. Andrew, we need to stretch and explore, but stay coherent so readers can follow along.

      Lee

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  15. Whether I dare to be different or not - the truth is I am. And like Popeye I'm good with that. Though what sweet potatoes have to do with it, I don't know.

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  16. This brings to mind a quote "Why fit in when you were born to stand out?" ~ Dr. Seuss
    Aw, it's a pity about Puddles, he has a great voice and could have, I think, an even greater presence with a gimmick that isn't quite so detracting.

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    1. Good words from a "wise" Doctor, dear Lady...
      Thanks for the Smile"...
      a very pleasant evening to you and yours....

      Delete
    2. Diedre, but I think it's the sad faced clown gimmick that has gotten him the attention he has received. The reactions that he received on my BOTB blog post were probably atypical of what he usually receives.

      Lee

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  17. Not high on gimmicks, but writing, yeah.
    I didn't like the clown version, and not just because of the clown, but I'm sure he did himself a disfavor with that get up.
    I break the rules too, surprises me when folks want the same old same old, instead of something new and fresh. Oh well, majority rules.:)

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    1. Yolanda, Puddles is getting the concert bookings and internet hits so I think that says a lot. I think people appreciate fresh ideas when they are presented the right way.

      Lee

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  18. I always follow trends I like, leave the ones I don't. Simple enough.
    I was a geek when it was a derogatory term and before it was mainstream. Now, it's "chic" and comic book movies rock the box-office.

    I'm physically different so, no matter how much I conform, I'd still be on the fringe. It takes all kinds to make a world, you might as well be one-of-a-kind!

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    1. Jennifer, you make a good point. It a big varied world and there's room for all of us.

      Lee

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  19. I am a peculiar person myself, so being different is perfectly normal for me. :D In all things I try to assess reception vs personal like. If I like something, I like it. If it garners popular attention, either good or bad, I'll investigate and analyze. Sometimes it's not for me, sometimes it is. Either way, I'd like to think I give different a chance to shine.

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    1. Loni, if we don't give things a fair chance we can often miss out on a lot. I've found that to be true often in my case.

      Lee

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  20. I don't think it's about the particular style or technique so much as it's about the execution. For example, an unnamed first-person narrator has the potential to be a bad gimmick in many hands, but in Jerzy Kosinski's The Painted Bird, it's absolutely perfect for the storyline, and done beautifully. Too many new writers these days seem obsessed with mindlessly kowtowing to someone else's "rules," and try to tell other writers to do the same. I personally don't understand what's so evil about adverbs, speaking verbs beyond said and asked, passive voice, or directly telling the reader establishing information. Again, it's about execution and avoiding misuse and overuse. Merely using adverbs isn't a sign of bad writing.

    I have very dinosaur tastes in just about everything, and don't even feel embarrassed when I have to ask who some apparently very famous actor or singer is.

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    1. Carrie-Anne, it's uncanny, but your comment could have been mine. We see things very similarly and yet we each have our own approach to doing things.

      Lee

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  21. Oh yes I dare to be different and I wouldn't have it any other way. I give very little time or thought to anyone who has a problem with it.

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    1. Karen, I agree that there's no point in fretting over what others might think when it's negative.

      Lee

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  22. Different is good. As a reader, I love to read about characters who have a completely different kind of life or point of view than me--so I think your uniqueness will make your work stand out.
    I always consider that people calling my work unique is a huge compliment.

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    1. Jenni, I think part of the reason that most of us read is to gain a different perspective from our own.

      Lee

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  23. My head is full of weirdness, but I like it that way. It keeps me entertained at least.

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    1. MRR,, you and me both. And I love knowing the creative weirdness in the minds of others.

      Lee

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  24. I personally don't believe in resorting to gimmicks and other tomfoolery to get noticed. I also have no patience for those who constantly need to tell me how unique they are. If you are truly unique and different the world will surely notice. If you have to keep telling us, maybe it's just your hope that you are really different and not simply following the in crowd of so called non-conformists by trying to be unique.

    Thank goodness this BATTLE turned out the way it should have.

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    1. FAE, it's like the old adage "show don't tell. As far as the Battle it turned out as I would have expected since most of us don't have or don't take the time to truly listen to the song versions in greater depth in order to fully analyze the music. I stand by my reasoning as to why the Battle should have turned out other than it did.

      Lee

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    2. Lee, I think you are selling short everyone who disagreed with you on this battle.

      I complained about the clown in a way that I felt was funny. Perhaps you think that because of that I (and others) did not fully listen to him to discern his stronger points.

      I thought his version was lacking on every level, and I feel as confident in my reasoning as you do in yours. His voice - to my ears - is not a good one. It is only OK, and it is ill-suited to the material. The musicianship was not strong and the recording quality poor, probably because of where he chose to record it. Did he select an apartment living room because he "was daring to be different?" Because of some cryptic message he is conveying to us? Or because he couldn't afford to rent a studio?

      Is the clown persona something he ALWAYS performs in? If so, I think it is a crutch and adds nothing to the music. It puts me off just as much as KISS and Alice Cooper. I couldn't stand either of those groups because of the silly attempt at gaining attention in a way unrelated to music.

      Have you ever seen "Waiting for Godot"? That is how this guy and his MUSIC struck me. Perhaps I am dim (I'm not) and I am missing the point, but pointless shizzle is... well, pointless. My essay on Beckett's play began: "Waiting for Godot has no redeeming features..." That is how this clown struck me.

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    3. SB6, once again it comes down to preference. As to the recording location, I don't know what the initial reasoning for doing it was, but now it's part of series of presentations that you will see in other well viewed videos. In later videos Scott Bradlee has been using more elaborate settings.

      Agree with you on Kiss, but not so much on Alice Cooper. Never seen "Waiting for Godot" staged, but I have read the play and enjoyed it. Not a favorite, but I wouldn't say it has no redeeming features as I understood what Beckett was trying to achieve with the play.

      Lee

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  25. Sadly, or ironically, the only gimmickry that I've used is just being myself. Has backfired immeasurably at work, as they prefer groveling lap dogs over individuality.

    Father Nature's Corner

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    1. GB, maybe the world isn't ready for a unique dog such as you.

      Lee

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  26. I think it's cool to be unique, especially when it's authentic. After all, to each his own and everyone has a right to be exactly who he/she is. I'm all for different. Standing out from the crowd is something that is stressed in my former career (advertising) and as a sales person I was always looking to stand out from my competitors. I did some creative things to land accounts, that's for sure.
    I'm surprised that Puddles the Clown has such a full touring schedule. I know that so many people have clown phobias. Wonder what's up with that? I try to determine just what about clowns makes them creepy and I can't come up with a definitive answer. They just ARE!
    Glad that WOTE won. That video was awesome and made me like the song even more.
    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. Michele, I don't get the clown phobia deal. I don't mind clowns that much though a few whom I've known were kind of odd sorts.

      Lee

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  27. I am in the camp that still appreciates those who are different. If we all liked the same thing, had the same ideals and opinions life would be so boring.
    When it comes to my actual writing I don't let rules hamper me.
    Scary clowns:(

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    1. Doreen, not sure where the "rules were made to be broken" saying came from but I often agree that it's true.

      Lee

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  28. Rebellious by design, I enjoy seeing what happens when rules are broken in creative ways, when things are spun from a different angle. Following a path worn by others will only lead to the same destination--I want to see something else, something new and exciting!!

    Uncharted

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    1. Samantha, I think "creative" is a key aspect of your point.

      Lee

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  29. Dang it, I'm late to the party (as usual)... Sorry, Lee; didn't realize yesterday was Closing Time (well, for the voting). I would have voted for the clown -- but I'm relieved to see (well, sort of) that my vote wouldn't have made a difference anyway. Too bad. His version is definitely more appealing at different levels (to me). Will be early for the next one :)
    Guilie @ Quiet Laughter

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    1. Guilie, timing of BOTB and my travel schedule has led me to cut short some windows. Glad to hear that your vote would have been as mine was. And don't worry--next Battle will be kind of a throwaway in a way due to an even more rigorous travel schedule.

      Lee

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  30. Different? would never dream of it. . . . . I like being Mr Average and am proud of it

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    1. Rob, I've never thought of you as different in any way.

      Lee

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  31. Hi Lee,

    Because I terribly behind in all of your BOTB etc, I shall just focus on your one question. Like you, I rather revel in being different, not fitting into some convenient category. In fact, when so many get immersed in all those blog hops, blog fests, or whatever the heck you wish to call them, I do the exact opposite and just continue to do my own thing.

    Have a good weekend, dude.

    Gary

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    1. Gary, you do march to your own music and when you feel good about that then I say keep on marching and having a good time.

      Lee

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  32. I like different and believe in changing up the rules. Why should there be rules when it comes to writing anyway. yes grammar and all that but creativity could be blocked by too many rules. I liked the clown and thought he was better. I also felt he is quite intelligent and outside the box because he dressed up like the clown from that opera

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    1. Birgit, gotta have some grammar and structure that creates coherency, but beyond that I say write what makes sense and doesn't come across as overly awkward to the readers. If they get what you've done then the "rules" don't matter that much.

      I also thought the Puddles persona and the video come across with intellect and subtle humor. I've enjoyed his other videos that I've watched and would be curious to see how he does in concert setting.

      Lee

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  33. I've always been a rebel and done my own thing. My take is, if you like it - great! If not, that's your loss. Yes, arrogance is also part of my persona. ☺ Good for you, Lee. Keep following that drum beat!

    As for the battle, I did like Puddles' version of the song and was not disturbed by the clown imagine (although it seemed silly, but then so is Lady Gaga and I recognize her amazing vocal abilities.) Still, the other one appealed to me a bit more. Interesting battle, as always!

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    1. Debbie, I liked Lady Gaga better when she sang at the Oscars in a more traditional approach.

      Lee

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  34. Poor Puddles... The clown thing didn't work for him here, but I agree about the music. I didn't watch the video so that helped me enormously with the battle.

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    1. Robin, thanks for listening more closely. I greatly enjoy that jazz trio back up. It reminds me of other things that I like a lot.

      Lee

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  35. Now I like the traditional approach, Lee. Somehow it seems classier to me. I wish talent could speak for itself, but I understand that it is difficult to rise above the noise sometimes. I wish people could just close their eyes and listen to the music. Poor Puddles. I understand the reason to be different, to get noticed. But Puddles reminds me of the Blue Men, although I understand another reason for the blueness. It's like Kiss, remember them? Thanks for sharing this with your readers.

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  36. I've never been one to stray to far from the norm. I guess I just feel comfortable. Not that I would ever disagree with anyone that does stray to far from the norm. Like you, I ofter give whatever I listen to or read the benefit of the doubt, and have found I'm a lover of most genre's i read, listen to or watch. But then I also think, at the same time, that what I have to ofter others in my particular choices, (Music I listen to, movies I go to see, books I read) will not be well liked by many.

    As for the BOTB, I picked a winner this week, so that makes me happy. Gimmicks do work. They still exist for a reason. Unfortunately, this gimmick didn't work with the majority. I never base my vote on the viddeo, but I know a few people do let that sway them.

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Go ahead and say something. Don't be afraid to speak your mind.
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Lee